At the end of the Toronto Star’s debate on “Big Ideas” to improve Toronto’s future, the top two mayoral candidates presented starkly different views on the city’s present.
Doug Ford (open Doug Ford's policard), effectively running as the incumbent, took issue Monday with John Tory’s frequent promise to take Toronto “from good to great.”
“I believe that we have the greatest city in the world,” Ford said. “And I also believe in not reinventing the wheel. If things aren’t broken, we move forward.” He added: “To say that we have a ‘good’ city? That’s a shame. We have the greatest city in the world. We have a prosperous city. We have a city that’s thriving right now.”
Tory has run as a relentless Toronto-booster, and he has projected a cheery optimism in recent weeks as he has tried to solidify his lead. In his own closing speech, though, he enumerated the reasons he sees the city as flawed.
“I’m sorry: I can’t declare this the greatest city in the world, and something that is thriving, when you have 20-per-cent-plus youth unemployment. I can’t declare it the greatest city in the world when it has unemployment levels generally that are above the national average and have been for some time,” he said.
“I can’t declare it the greatest city in the world on something smaller and more granular in the transit area, like the fact that people wait 12, 15 minutes for a bus and streetcar and then three come all at once. I can’t declare it the greatest city in the world when we can’t even use a debit or credit card to buy subway tokens.”
Chow weighed in at the beginning of her post-debate media scrum — after she overheard Ford repeat his “greatest city in the world” boast in his own scrum. Without being asked a question, she scoffed.
“Ask the kids that are having trouble finding enough food, especially after school. Ask them how wonderful this city is,” she said. “Just ask the kids that we just met in the afternoon at Jane and Finch about how great the city is, and how the housing is in disrepair for years and years, and how ‘great’ their neighbourhood is. Anyway. I digress.”
The Star held the debate in conjunction with the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute. One week before the Oct. 27 vote, the three leading candidates debated many of the top 10 “Big Ideas” chosen by Star readers from a reader-generated list of 1,000. Twenty-three thousand votes were cast to choose the winning 10 ideas from a short list of 35.
The number-one idea was the downtown relief line subway, which is the top transit priority of Ford and Chow. It was Tory’s own top priority, the SmartTrack rail line, that received the most attention.
Ford, returning over and over to the “what’s the story, Mr. Tory” rhyme-attack, raised Tory’s belated acknowledgment of the need for SmartTrack tunnelling after months of saying none was needed. Chow again questioned Tory’s ability to raise $2.7 billion through tax increment financing.
Speaking at the U of T’s Rotman School of Management, both Chow and Ford questioned the credibility of U of T engineering professor and transit expert Eric Miller, whose effusive endorsement of SmartTrack is being wielded by Tory to fend off rivals’ attacks. Both Chow and Ford misleadingly said Miller is a mere “friend” of Tory’s.
“I know you don’t know who Eric Miller is,” Tory told Ford, “but you didn’t know who Margaret Atwood was either.” He dismissed criticism of the plan as nothing more than “hand-wringing.”
The number-eight idea was to “use the city’s full revenue-generating capacity.” Both Chow and Tory said the city does indeed have a revenue problem, but both said the ideal solution is to secure more money from the federal and provincial governments. Neither wants to use the city’s power to impose new taxes.
The number-six idea was to improve police accountability by requiring officers to wear lapel cameras. Chow endorsed them; Tory stopped short of taking a definitive position, but he said he believes the current police pilot project will prove that the cameras are effective. Ford was mostly negative, saying the cost of the cameras is a budget problem.
Chow pleaded for the city to choose the transit plans preferred by “experts.” She said the Ford administration had wilfully misled the public on transit issues: “A streetcar,” she said, “all of a sudden became an LRT.”
Asked after the debate about the Fords’ “subways, subways, subways” mantra, Chow said, “It makes us stupid.”
Oscar de la Renta, one of the world’s most well-known fashion designers, has died at the age of 82.
His death was confirmed by his wife, Annette de la Renta, according to the New York Times.
Two of his company’s executives released a handwritten note saying that the designer died at home surrounded by family, friends and “more than a few dogs.”
“While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much (with) us. Oscar’s hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company,” the statement said. “All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit. Through Oscar’s example we know the way forward. We will make Oscar very proud of us by continuing in an even stronger way the work that Oscar loved so much.”
De la Renta’s last major design was the ivory gown Amal Alamuddin wore for her late September wedding to George Clooney in Venice.
The designer was also on hand for his self-titled fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 on Sept. 9 in New York.
De la Renta was born in Santo Domingo. He had first planned to be an abstract painter and studied art in Madrid. After the wife of the U.S. ambassador to Spain commissioned him to design her daughter’s debut gown, which wound up on the cover of Life magazine, the painter segued into fashion. Positions at Balenciaga and the house of Lanvin followed, and de la Renta opened his own firm in New York in 1965.
“His Russian and gypsy fashions were cited as pacesetters in 1967 when he received the ‘Winnie,’ the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award,” the Star reported in 1977, noting he won a second Winnie the following year for his belle époque fashions inspired by Toulouse Lautrec, Gustav Klimt and an “intriguing use of transparent fabrics.”
He was known for intricate, embroidered evening wear and his fashions were worn by first ladies and Hollywood celebrities alike.
De la Renta was one of the few designers to penetrate the Manhattan social scene. After the death of his first wife, Françoise, in 1983, de la Renta became society’s favourite escort, until he shattered more than a few hearts by marrying socialite Annette Reed.
In 1977, on a visit to Toronto, he commented on the changing role of fashion and women.
“Four or five years ago, women were inspired by a mannish way of dressing,” he said, “but today liberated women realize they can wear skirts and use them as a weapon.”
He noted the world around him changing — people were more conscious of quality, he said.
“(People) are working hard to improve the quality of life. That’s why they want to look well, eat good food and entertain at home… With so many women working today, clothes must have a more relaxed feeling.”
De la Renta catered mostly to his socialite friends and A-listers, but eyed more mass appeal with several fragrances and accessories licences.
During a visit to Toronto in 1990 for a perfume promotion, de la Renta said: “I have the least ego of any designer, but I know that my collection, probably of any American collection, will stand up against any European ready-to-wear collection.”
With files from Star staff
When councillors running for re-election in Caledon delivered campaign material for mailing to Canada Post last week, they naturally expected the flyers to make their way into the mailboxes of the town's citizens.
They most certainly did not address any of the documents to a Brampton car wash, and yet, that's exactly where hundreds of the flyers ended up over the weekend — in the trash.
New Image Car Wash manager Adam Tassone said he found the discarded mail in his garbage bins on Sunday morning, including flyers for Peel Regional Councillor Patti Foley and Caledon town Councillor Rob Mezzapelli, as well as promotional material for real estate agent Rose Perdue and copies of Our Neighborhood, a Vaughan magazine.
“I have close to 3,000 pieces of mail in my garbage bin,” said Tassone, who contacted the candidates, the RCMP and Canada Post.
Canada Post spokeswoman Anick Losier said the Crown corporation is investigating. “While very rare, we take these incidents very, very seriously,” she said.
It is unclear who threw out the flyers, and there is no indication it was a Canada Post employee.
Doug Hacking, Metro Toronto national director for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said it's possible a person was throwing away extra flyers, but acknowledged that the volume “sounds pretty high.” He said the union also takes the incident very seriously.
Foley said about 300 of her “campaign postcards” were found at the car wash. She said she personally delivered her entire mailing to a Canada Post facility on Oct. 14. She said the cost to mail the 300 flyers would have been about $40.
“The real loss is that by the time we discover which 300 homes did not receive them, the election will likely be over,” said Foley. “As a candidate, it's always your hope that every household will receive your message.”
Mezzapelli, who represents Ward 5 in Bolton, said he has notified Canada Post that about 850 of his postcards were trashed.
“It was important to me to have Bolton voters receive my postcards to assist them in deciding who to vote for. Approximately 850 will not receive this, which is unfortunate,” he said. “Voters should be empowered with as much information as possible from all candidates to help them determine who they wish to support.”
Foley said she does not believe that she and Mezzapelli were specifically targeted. Perdue, the realtor, said she just uses Canada Post and spends about $600 a week on delivery.
“This is very upsetting to say the least and I am hoping that this will get resolved and someone is held accountable for their unacceptable actions!” she wrote in an email to the Star.
Tassone's complaint to police was forwarded to Canada Post security and the RCMP will not be investigating at this time, said Jean Turner, the RCMP's acting media relations officer for Ontario.
Tassone uploaded surveillance footage to YouTube from Saturday evening, showing a person exiting a dark-coloured car at the outdoor vacuum island. The person, who is unidentifiable in the video, proceeds to drive to several vacuum islands on the video.
It is unclear in the footage if the person is actually throwing away flyers in the nearby bins. Tassone said the person is the only one who appears between the time Tassone was at the islands for cleaning, around 6:30 p.m., and the time his stepson went to the garbage bins around 10:30 p.m. and found the discarded flyers.
MONTREAL—A 25-year-old Quebec man killed by police after striking two Canadian Forces personnel with his car was known to national anti-terrorism investigators as someone who had taken to radical Islam, the RCMP says.
The individual, who was shot dead following the incident in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., was identified by friends as Martin Rouleau. They described him as a struggling entrepreneur and father of a young son who converted to Islam and began distancing himself from his large circle of friends south of Montreal.
For those friends who had tried to reason with him over the last year and a half, the last straw came this summer when they say Rouleau was stopped by border authorities trying to leave Canada to fight abroad with the Islamic State.
In the end, Rouleau waged his religious battle in the parking lot outside the Integrated Personnel Support Centre, one of several offices run by Veterans Affairs Canada and the Department of Defence that serve as an outlet for injured veterans accessing support services from the federal government.
St-Jean-sur-Richelieu is also home to the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the French-language university run by DND at which officers and officer recruits receive their training.
There, a man later identified as Rouleau rammed two Canadian military personnel with his vehicle, a Nissan Altima. The incident left one of them with minor injuries, but sent the other to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
As Rouleau fled from the scene, La Presse reported, he called a 911 dispatcher and explained that he was “acting in the name of Allah.”
All of this happened with local police chasing him along one of the town’s main thoroughfares and into a residential area, where Rouleau lost control of his vehicle, flipped, and landed upside down in a ditch.
He reportedly emerged from the overturned car with a knife in his hands, a threat that drew the gunfire of police.
But it was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, following an afternoon briefing from the head of the RCMP, the Canadian Armed Forces and his national security adviser, who gave the first indication that something more sinister than a simple hit-and-run had occurred. In response to a question from a backbench Conservative MP in the House of Commons about a “possible terror attack,” Harper said the situation was being closely monitored.
“We are aware of these reports and they are obviously extremely troubling. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” he said.
The RCMP said in a statement Monday night that Rouleau’s activities had been flagged to federal authorities responsible for national security.
“This individual was known to federal authorities including our Integrated National Security Investigations team in Montreal who, along with other authorities, were concerned that he had become radicalized,” RCMP Cpl. David Falls said in a statement.
The RCMP statement was echoed by one from the Prime Minister’s Office, which said “federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized.”
A friend, Jonathan Prince, confirmed that Rouleau had turned toward Islam more than a year ago after having encountered problems with a business he had started with a friend that specialized in cleaning the exteriors of buildings.
Prince also confirmed the authenticity of a Facebook page Rouleau had operated under the name “Ahmad Rouleau.”
The page includes several photographs of Harper and other world leaders posing for photographs with Jewish leaders. He also rails against “Jews” and “Zionists” and cites passages from the Qur’an.
An individual by the name of Ahmad Rouleau also registered a Twitter account under the name “Abu Ibrahim AlCanadi.”
He made no posts of his own on the social media account, but followed several dozen other individuals whose accounts espouse the ideals of Islamic State, also known as ISIL, the radical Islamic terror group operating in Syria and Iraq.
Canada’s top general has already warned that military personnel in Canada could be at risk because of Ottawa’s decision to launch combat operations against Islamic State extremists in Iraq.
When the first contingent of military personnel headed to Kuwait from CFB Trenton in eastern Ontario last week, military officials barred the media from identifying any of the soldiers for fear they could be a target.
“It’s a recognition I think that we want to minimize any risks at all with being posted into this deployment,” Gen. Tom Lawson, chief of defence staff, told a briefing.
The Islamic State “has made it clear they would aspire to present a threat” to the citizens of those nations that have joined the coalition efforts, he said.
“We watch that very closely,” Lawson said.
“There is no indication of direct threats yet but I think we are doing everything we can to ensure that we minimize any threats at all,” he said.
Harper’s Conservative government has deployed up to six CF-18 fighter jets, along with support aircraft, to join the ongoing air campaign against Islamic State targets in Iraq. Those aircraft are exhibited to at their Kuwait base and ready to begin missions by the end of October.
With a file from Joanna Smith, Tonda MacCharles and Les Whittington
A new study predicts that three Ebola-infected people from West Africa will try and board an international flight every month — and more than 60 per cent of travellers from the outbreak zone will fly to lower-income countries with weak health-care systems.
But the study, led by Toronto researchers, also found that airport screening measures are far more likely to catch infected passengers at their departure points than at arrival airports, especially when their destinations are countries like Canada, which receive relatively few travellers from the region.
“I think we’re seeing a lot of countries implement entry screening even though there are no direct flights,” said the paper’s senior author, Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician and scientist with St. Michael’s Hospital. “It’s not a particularly efficient thing to do . . . and it’s potentially drawing resources away from other areas that might be more productive.”
Recent Ebola cases in Spain and the United States have triggered alarm over the virus’s ability to spread through international travel and a number of countries have started screening arriving passengers, a measure that is not currently recommended by the World Health Organization.
Governments in Canada and the United States, for example, have recently implemented mandatory health screenings and temperature checks for tourists arriving from Ebola-affected countries. Meanwhile, Western countries, including Canada, are still reluctant to send medical teams, which emergency responders have identified as West Africa’s most urgent need.
“At this time, we are not going to be sending any more medical personnel until we feel strongly that we have a guaranteed medical evacuation (for them),” Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in a news conference Monday. “We are exploring every option possible.”
The new study, published on Monday in The Lancet, analyzed just how effective such entry screening measures will be. Drawing from 2013 travel records and upcoming flight schedules, along with epidemiological data from the outbreak, the researchers also predicted which countries are at greatest risk of receiving an infected traveller.
They found that the world “should expect more exportations in the weeks and months ahead,” Khan said. Their projections showed that an average of 2.8 Ebola-infected travellers will board an international flight every month in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, the three countries at the heart of the epidemic, if there are no exit screening procedures in place.
Of course, all three countries are currently screening passengers, but those who are asymptomatic can still slip through, as was the case with Thomas Duncan, the Liberian man who was diagnosed with Ebola eight days after arriving in the United States.
Between September and December 2013, the top two destinations for travellers from the Ebola-affected countries were Ghana and Senegal, which together received 32 per cent of total passengers. These countries were followed by the United Kingdom and France, which received about 9 and 7 per cent, respectively.
Canadian airports, however, received only 1,299 visitors from the outbreak region, less than 10 per cent of the total travel volume. Of those, the highest number of travellers, 44 per cent, landed in Montreal, followed by 21 per cent who flew to Toronto.
But Khan is far more concerned about the countries receiving 64 per cent of total passengers, all of which are low-income to lower- middle-income nations with poorly resourced health systems that “might be unable to detect and adequately manage an imported case.”
For example, in Ghana, where most travellers from the Ebola-affected countries visited last year, there is only one doctor for every 10,000 people.
“I think this is an important concern about where this virus could end up, how capable these countries are in managing a potential case,” Khan said.
When comparing the effectiveness of exit and entry screening, the study also found that the former would allow health officials to assess all departing passengers, a far more efficient strategy than trying to detect infected passengers as they landed at one of the 15 countries receiving direct flights from the outbreak zone.
Trying to detect cases at airports that don’t receive direct flights is even more inefficient, Khan said. Over the next few months, an average of 2,512 travellers will need to be checked across 1,238 cities in order to identify just one person from the Ebola-affected region, who may not even be infected.
“That’s clearly less efficient and more challenging from an operational standpoint,” Khan said, adding that the international community should help Ebola-stricken countries strengthen their exit screening.
Khan acknowledges that his study has a number of weaknesses; it makes several assumptions and the epidemiological data is evolving rapidly along with the outbreak.
But given the urgency of the crisis, he and his co-authors wanted to take an objective look at the usefulness of screening measures now being adopted by an increasing number of countries. And while many people are calling for travel bans in and out of West Africa, Khan strongly believes they are not the answer.
“Ultimately, I think that would set back the effort and increase the risk of having this spread even further,” he said. “The most proactive way of preventing international spread is to get the outbreak under control in the source area.”
To date, Canada has pledged $65 million towards the outbreak response, with Ontario announcing another $3 million on Monday. The Public Health Agency of Canada has also sent personal protective gear, experimental vaccine, and a mobile laboratory for diagnosing cases in Sierra Leone.
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