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Doug Ford parts ways with another top aide as sex scandals continue to roil premier’s office

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Doug Ford has parted ways with another top aide as the fallout from two sex scandals continues to roil the premier’s office.

John Sinclair, who was executive director of the Progressive Conservative caucus bureau, left Thursday night.

John Sinclair, former executive director of the Progressive Conservative’s caucus bureau has left his post on Nov. 8, 2018. Sinclair left after Premier Doug Ford indicated he did not speak up soon enough about the conduct of Andrew Kimber, who had been the premier’s executive director of issues management.
John Sinclair, former executive director of the Progressive Conservative’s caucus bureau has left his post on Nov. 8, 2018. Sinclair left after Premier Doug Ford indicated he did not speak up soon enough about the conduct of Andrew Kimber, who had been the premier’s executive director of issues management.  (John Sinclair (Twitter))

Sources told the Star Friday that the well-regarded Sinclair exited after an irate Ford felt he did not speak up soon enough about the misbehaviour of Andrew Kimber, who had been the premier’s executive director of issues management.

Kimber departed Nov. 2 after it was revealed he sent unsolicited and sexually charged texts to at least five female Tory staffers.

Included in the texts were photographs of Kimber, who was married in September, in his underwear. He has since apologized for the “unacceptable” conduct and vowed to “seek the help I need going forward.”

Wilson has not been available for comment since Ford asked for his resignation from cabinet and the PC caucus a week ago.

Sinclair, described by associates as “a good guy,” appears to be collateral damage in an ongoing internal probe of Conservative activities.

He did not immediately reply to a Star query seeking comment Friday morning.

His alleged transgression was that he did not flag Kimber’s inappropriate actions online as soon as he became aware of them.

Conservative insiders, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the internal machinations, said other Ford aides were surprised when Sinclair provided them with additional information on Kimber’s after-hours conduct.

But with an already erratic premier’s office further crippled by a mood of recrimination, Sinclair’s friends say it is unfair that he was singled out.

One source noted there is always gossip in political offices where the mix of long hours in close quarters can lead to questionable conduct.

Former minister Jim Wilson (pictured) was ousted from caucus along with Andrew Kimber, Premier Doug Ford's executive director of issues management and legislative affairs, due to inappropriate behaviour.
Former minister Jim Wilson (pictured) was ousted from caucus along with Andrew Kimber, Premier Doug Ford’s executive director of issues management and legislative affairs, due to inappropriate behaviour.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

Ford, however, was furious with Kimber, whom he had grown to trust and whose wedding he attended in September.

“Doug feels a sense of betrayal,” said one Ford friend.

That has led to a hunt to root out anyone and everyone who may have been aware of what was happening.

Ford was asked earlier this week about the screening of potential cabinet ministers and political staff to make sure their backgrounds are clean.

“We have a pretty good vetting process, but there can always be improvements anywhere,” the premier replied during a news conference Wednesday at an air force museum next door to CFB Trenton.

“I would say we can always improve, which we’re doing,” he added, urging any staff who have allegations to come forward as an independent firm conducts an investigation into the accusations against Wilson and Kimber.

Regarding Wilson, Ford told reporters he had no idea that the Queen’s Park veteran,who was first elected in 1990 and served as a cabinet minister in the previous Harris and Eves governments, had problems.

“I didn’t know. But when that happened, I don’t care who it was. I don’t care if he was there for 40 years. We acted decisively.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1



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114th Santa Claus Parade marked largest parade in city’s history

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Zyana Mangubat didn’t care that she was about to witness the largest parade — of any kind — in the city’s history.

The antler-wearing Stouffville tot was there for the star of the show.

The Fernandes family takes a selfie.
The Fernandes family takes a selfie.  (Steve Russell / Toronto Star)

“Santa!” Zyana, 7, erupted when asked what she was most looking forward to Sunday from Toronto’s annual Santa Claus Parade.

But before she’d see the rotund elf — and bid him bring her a Hatchimal egg — some 32 floats, 21 marching bands and thousands of clowns, knights, skunks, fish, princesses and upside-down monkeys would pass by her University Ave. perch.

And those combined floats and players would make the 114th edition of the Christmas season kick off larger than any of its predecessors, says Clay Charters, the parade’s executive director.

“And if the Santa Claus parade has always been the largest in the city and this is our largest Santa Claus parade, then I’m inclined to agree with (the largest parade ever claim),” Charters says.

“The previous high mark was 30 floats, so we’re two floats longer than there’s ever been before.”

The parade’s fanciful new entrants included a float sponsored by Sunwing.ca and Autentica Cuba featuring sunning elves on a Caribbean beach as well as a Canada Protection Plan entrant called Sledding Fun.

There were also 19 returning sponsors who’d done complete rebuilds of previous floats, Charters says.

Celebrity clowns smile during the parade.
Celebrity clowns smile during the parade.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)

Charters says his not-for-profit organization relied on more than 3,000 staff and volunteers to build, march in, and marshal this year’s parade.

Kalayce Brown — a parade sticker on her 6-year-old face — also enjoyed Santa and was asking him for an L. O. L Surprise Doll.

Dinosaur-mad James Chong, 7, hoped to see a Jurassic World movie float, but would have to make do with a Toronto Raptors raptor dribbling a basketball across a Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment entrant.

Charters is not surprised that the parade is still growing and beckoning hundreds of thousands of kids and their parents to Toronto’s downtown sidewalks in this video-game age.

“I think that even if kids are attracted to video games and their screens, inevitably everyone wants to be able to share experiences with people they love,” he says.

“And that’s what the Santa Claus Parade offers is a chance to get outside, to share something with your friends and family and to build traditions with them.”

The three-hour parade travelled from Christie Pits, wending along Bloor St., University Ave, and Wellington, Yonge and Front Sts. before breaking up at the St. Lawrence Market.

The North Toronto Marching band. The 114th Santa Claus Parade starts at Christie Pits and ends at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.
The North Toronto Marching band. The 114th Santa Claus Parade starts at Christie Pits and ends at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto.  (Steve Russell/Toronto Star)



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Puppies saved from Korean meat trade up for adoption in Calgary

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Two puppies rescued from a meat farm in South Korea are looking for forever homes in Calgary.

The dogs were born and raised for meat but with the help of an Alberta animal rescue group, the two canines are getting a second chance at life.

After a 16-hour flight, puppies Alison and Liz arrived in Calgary over the weekend met by members of Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue (RMAR).


READ MORE:
110 pooches rescued from dog meat festival arrive in Canada

In partnership with Go Rescue Korea, RMAR was able to carry out the rescue — the first of its kind for the Canadian group.

Both dogs were found on an illegal dog meat farm in South Korea where the conditions were described as horrific by RMAR volunteer Krishneel Prasad.

“[The dogs] were living under a bridge in cages with 10 to 15 dogs and drinking out of muddy rainwater,” said Prasad. “They were just waiting for their time to be slaughtered.”

Alison arrived in Calgary over the weekend after being saved from a South Korean dog meat farm.

Global News

Because of the abuse Alison and Liz endured, they have been reluctant to leave their kennel since landing in Calgary. Amanda Lo, operations manager of RMAR, is optimistic the dogs’ demeanors will change.

“When they came [to Calgary], they were extremely fearful, which is understandable for their history,” Lo said. “But I think they’ll do really great.”

Officials estimate there are still more than 17,000 dog meat farms in South Korea.

Despite a decline in demand over the past decade, millions of dogs are slaughtered every year for their meat, RAMR said.


READ MORE:
Terrified dogs rescued from Korean dog meat farm recovering in Montreal shelter

Both Alison and Liz are Jindo Cross, a breed described by the American Kennel Club as being “alert, bold and intelligent.” Prasad said these pups just need a second chance.

“They’re our best friends and they don’t know what it’s like [to be pets],” said Prasad. “They just need to have that opportunity.”

Liz arrived in Calgary over the weekend after being saved from a South Korean dog meat farm.

Global News

The next step is to find homes for Alison and Liz in Alberta or British Columbia. Lo said the families who adopt the dogs will need to be patient as the animals transition from being livestock to family pets.

“I need to wonder what their personalities will be like and what sort of family I should be matching them up with,” said Lo.

RMAR said it will continue to try to save more dogs from meat farms across the world in order to give them the same opportunities as Alison and Liz.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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‘Just something you do’: Bystanders save man from burning vehicle

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Four bystanders used a muffler to break the windows of a burning vehicle to save the driver inside on Saturday morning in Upper Rawdon, N.S.

Ronnie Densmore was working behind his home at around 11:20 a.m. when he heard a vehicle’s tires spinning out of control on Highway 14.

He looked over, saw a vehicle off the road that was on fire. He hopped on his all-terrain vehicle and headed over.

Densmore joined three other people there to carry out the rescue. He grabbed the muffler that had broken off the vehicle and used it to break some windows.

« It’s just something you do, » Densmore said Sunday. « You can’t see whether there’s someone in there or not. I thought I saw a glimmer of something moving, so I thought, ‘We got to get that smoke out to see if there’s someone in there.’ It turns out there was. »

The other three bystanders then pulled the 30-year-old man from the vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle was airlifted to hospital in Halifax. (Submitted by Beth Densmore)

Densmore said first responders arrived in what seemed like no time and he was back home by about 11:50 a.m.

RCMP said the driver was airlifted to hospital in Halifax with serious injuries.

One of the bystanders who helped with the rescue was Richard Dorey-Robinson, of nearby Rawdon Gold Mines. He’s a volunteer firefighter and got a page about the fire.

Rather than head to the fire station, he went straight to the scene, which was about two kilometres away. His brother, James, was also involved in the rescue.

It’s not clear who the fourth person is who helped with the rescue.

‘The right place at the right time’

This wasn’t Densmore’s first time rescuing someone from a burning vehicle. He was a volunteer firefighter for 31 years, but only stopped when he retired and moved from Noel to Upper Rawdon.

He said the experience brought back the feeling of adrenaline he encountered on so many other rescues.

« It feels good you were able to help somebody, being in the right place at the right time, » he said.



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