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Ontario kids don’t have up-to-date sex-ed, but they can learn from Conservative politicians

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When I was in Grade 6, my teacher gave me some great advice.

I had written a little note, inspired by some revolutionary-themed book I had read, recruiting my classmates to join a playground rebellion.

MP Tony Clement was kicked out of Tory caucus this week after admitting he was lured into sending a blackmailer sexually explicit photos. According to Tory Leader Andrew Scheer, "numerous" other incidents and allegations involving Clement have since emerged.
MP Tony Clement was kicked out of Tory caucus this week after admitting he was lured into sending a blackmailer sexually explicit photos. According to Tory Leader Andrew Scheer, « numerous » other incidents and allegations involving Clement have since emerged.  (Adrian Wyld / Toronto Star file photo)

“Tired of SCUMBAG Burt?” it began.

Mrs. Burt found it among the math homework I’d submitted. I remember how my classmates laughed and howled as she called me out and read the note aloud.

Then, before sentencing me to months of indoor recesses writing lines, she said: “You can think what you want. You can even say what you want. But never, ever, ever write it down.”

I went on to pursue a career of writing things down. I’m incorrigible, clearly.

Still, the lesson that if you make a record of something you may be held accountable was, and remains, valuable. It’s becoming clear, though, that her phrasing may need an update.

We live in the digital panopticon now, as a bunch of players from the Ottawa Senators were reminded this week. They didn’t write anything down, but wound up accountable on front pages across the country when an after-work gripe session in an Uber van, in which they badmouthed one of their coaches and expressed their own growing indifference to their work, was recorded on video, apparently on a dash camera, and released publicly.

“Anything you say can be used against you,” seems now a warning not just necessary for U.S. police arrests, but to chatting in any public place, and perhaps in a lot of fairly private places too. This is a sad development. People need to be able to talk things out, think out loud, vent. If you can’t whine about your clown of an assistant manager at the bar after a rough shift, the very nature of how we deal with work stress is going to have to change.

It’s a case where you wish the person who released the video had taken some different early advice: “Don’t be a jerk.” But it’s hard to even think of how to update the advice a teacher might give the players that would have come in handy, beyond the old faithful “if you don’t have anything nice to say …”

The same isn’t true of Tony Clement, the federal Conservative MP who stepped down from the shadow cabinet this week after revealing he’d been catfished. That is, some wannabe blackmailer posing as a sexually interested woman lured him into sending sexually explicit photos and a video of himself.

From this bit alone, it was easy to have some kind of sympathy for the guy getting suckered and shamed for what he thought was a private sexy interaction — albeit illicit and extramarital. But by now, shouldn’t our full-grown middle-aged adult politicians be getting the message that practically no one wants to see pictures of their junk, and that any pictures they do send — especially to strangers online — become beyond their control?

The whole brave new world of intimacy in the age of digital communication is full of really difficult and tricky issues to navigate. But surely “if you’re a prominent politician, don’t send strangers nekkid pictures of yourself” should be obvious enough. Think what you want, say what you want, but never, ever go fishing with an image of your bait and tackle.

But then it emerged, almost immediately, that Clement had a bit of a reputation — that there were “numerous reports of other incidents, allegations,” as Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer put it in throwing him out of caucus. It’s reported he was known to be sort of the Instagram equivalent of a creepy leering uncle, following and obsessively “liking” and responding to the photos (especially self-portraits and in at least one case a nude photo) of young politically active women, sometimes sending them chatty private messages late at night.

Nothing illegal about that, but plenty of women seemed to find it creepy and “aggressive” and off-putting. Maybe it’s hard for a 57-year-old man to understand why, when a young woman’s phone buzzes repeatedly with push notifications telling her he’s thumbed the heart button on another one of her months-old photos, she might conclude he is a creep (or, as sexual violence educator Julie Lalonde told Vice, “a thirsty old man”). Maybe it’s not obvious. But it should be.

In related news, Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently showed the door to one of his most senior cabinet ministers, Jim Wilson, and one of his key aides, Andrew Kimber. Both men are under investigation. Kimber is accused of sending PC staffers sexually inappropriate texts with photos attached, while Wilson is accused making a sexually inappropriate remark to staffer.

Hearing all this, you might think, “if only there were a lesson these men might have been taught in grade school that would have helped them understand how to avoid these situations.” If it’s too late for them, at least something to help our new generations of children do better. Lessons in consent so they’d clearly understand how and why to avoid inappropriate advances, or lessons about the potential pitfalls and dangers of sexually communicating online.

And then you might remember, we were supposed to have a sex education curriculum for our kids that taught those exact things. Just this past summer, the provincial Progressive Conservative government scrapped that curriculum, and warned that teachers who dared to teach its lessons would be disciplined.

The new wise warnings about respectful behaviour and accountability, it seems, can’t come from teachers. If we want our children to learn about these dangers, I suppose we just have to get them to read the news reports about Conservative politicians instead.

Edward Keenan is a columnist based in Toronto covering urban affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @thekeenanwire



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Toronto officer pleads guilty to misconduct for using database for personal gain – Toronto

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TORONTO – A Toronto police officer has pleaded guilty to misconduct at a tribunal hearing for using his position to obtain a woman’s information for personal gain.

Const. Vincenzo Bonazza admits to using his authority and police databases to search information about a woman who approached him in 2008 asking for help.


READ MORE:
New video appears to show on-duty Toronto police officers partying; conduct investigation continues

Bonazza first admitted to the misconduct during a criminal trial in 2018 where the woman accused him of raping her shortly after the two met 10 years earlier.

He denied the sexual assault allegations saying the two had consensual sex.


READ MORE:
Pot-eating former Toronto cop gets 9-month conditional sentence

Bonazza was acquitted of the charge after the judge found the complainant’s testimony to be inconsistent.

The tribunal’s prosecutor and Bonazza’s lawyer have made a joint submission of four days docked pay.



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Canada’s wholesale and manufacturing sales fell slightly in November: StatsCan

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The Canadian economy showed signs of weakness in November as both wholesale and manufacturing sales fell.

Statistics Canada said Tuesday wholesale trade fell one per cent in November to $63.0 billion, more than offsetting the 0.7 per cent increase in October.

Meanwhile, manufacturing sales fell 1.4 per cent to $57.3 billion in November, the second consecutive monthly decrease.

Economists had expected no change in wholesale sales and a drop of 0.9 per cent in manufacturing sales, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said the data confirms the moderating growth narrative.

‘Temporary shocks’

« Sub-par manufacturing performance is still expected in the near-term, as Alberta’s production curtailment plan starts to reflect in manufacturing sales volumes, » Abdelrahman wrote in a note to clients.

« It is important, however, to note that these are temporary shocks. As these shocks fade, manufacturing sales should receive support from strong economic performance south of the border, a weaker loonie, and expectations of increases in investment spending in the face of elevated capacity constraints. »

Fabricator Mike Caldarino uses a grinder on a steel stairs being manufactured at George Third & Son Steel Fabricators and Erectors, in Burnaby, B.C., on March 29, 2018. Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 1.4% to $57.3 billion in November, the second consecutive monthly decrease. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Royal Bank senior economist Nathan Janzen noted that labour markets still look solid and, notwithstanding recent market volatility, the U.S. industrial sector is continuing to expand.

« We still expect a ‘data-dependent’ Bank of Canada will ultimately view more gradual rate hikes as appropriate this year — but very likely not until confirmation emerges that the expected slow patch over the next couple of quarters is temporary, » Janzen wrote.

Petroleum, coal down 13.8%

Manufacturing sales were down in 13 of 21 industries, representing 45.3 per cent of total manufacturing sales. In volume terms, manufacturing sales fell 0.9 per cent.

The petroleum and coal product industry fell 13.8 per cent due to lower prices for petroleum and coal products as well as maintenance and turnaround work at some refineries and lower production at other refineries.

Partially offsetting the decline was a 1.3 per cent increase in the transportation equipment industry and a 1.5 per cent increase in the food industry.

Meanwhile, wholesale sales were down in five of seven subsectors. In volume terms, wholesale sales fell 1.2 per cent.

The machinery, equipment and supplies subsector fell 2.3 per cent, while sales in the building material and supplies subsector dropped 1.9 per cent.



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Roma, The Favourite lead the Oscar noms with 10 nods each, several Canadians nominated for awards

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Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite led all films with 10 nominations each to the 91st Academy Awards, while Netflix and Marvel each scored their first best picture nomination.

The nominees for best picture are: A Star Is Born, Roma, Green Book, The Favourite, Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody and Vice.

With Roma, Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought. Marvel, too, joined the club with Black Panther, the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture.

Pixar production Bao by Toronto-raised Domee Shi picked up a nomination for best animated short, as did Animal Behaviour by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden. The live action short film category has two finalists from Montreal — Jeremy Comte for Fauve and Marianne Farley for Marguerite. Other Canadians up for the golden statuette this year include sound mixer Paul Massey for Bohemian Rhapsody and set decorator Gordon Sim for Mary Poppins Returns. Shi is the first female director to helm a Pixar short film.

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The nominees for best actor are Cooper, Christian Bale (Vice), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Viggo Mortensen (Green Book).

Up for best actress are Yalitza Aparicio (Roma), Glenn Close (The Wife), Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Lady Gaga and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

The nominees for best supporting actress are Amy Adams (Vice), Marina De Tavira (Roma), Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), Emma Stone (The Favourite) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite). Tavira was something a surprise, while Claire Foy of First Man was left out.

Up for best supporting actor are: Mahershala Ali (Green Book), Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born), Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) and Sam Rockwell (Vice). Notably snubbed was Timothy Chalamet (Beautiful Boy).

The lead-up to Tuesday’s nominations was rocky for both the film academy and some of the contending movies. Shortly after being announced as host, Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before the Feb. 24 ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.

Some film contenders, like Peter Farrelly’s Green Book and the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, have suffered waves upon waves of backlash, even as their awards tallies have mounted. On Saturday, Green Book won the top award from the Producers Guild, an honour that has been a reliable Oscar barometer. In the 10 years since the Oscars expanded its best-picture ballot, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture eight times.

The season’s steadiest contender — Cooper’s A Star Is Born — looked potentially unbeatable until it got beat. Despite an enviable string of awards and more than $400 million in worldwide box office, Cooper’s lauded remake was almost totally ignored at the Golden Globes. Still, A Star Is Born was the sole film to land top nominations from virtually every guild group.

The academy is reportedly planning to go host-less following Hart’s exit, something it has tried only once before in an infamous 1989 telecast that featured a lengthy musical number with Rob Lowe and Snow White.

The Oscars last year hit a new ratings low, declining 20 per cent and averaging 26.5 million viewers. Though ratings for award shows have generally been dropping, the downturn prompted the academy to revamp this year’s telecast. Though initial plans for a new popular film category were scuttled, the academy is planning to present some awards off-air and keep the broadcast to three hours.



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