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Hearing into whether ombudsman should examine Taverner appointment won’t be fast tracked, judge says

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An Ontario Divisional court judge has ruled there’s no need for an expedited hearing that could force the ombudsman to investigate the appointment of a close friend of Premier Doug Ford to head the OPP.

Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel ruled Monday that there is no reason to jump the queue, though he wants the matter dealt with “in a timely manner.”

Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair, who served as interim OPP commissioner until going public with complaints about the Progressive Conservatives’ controversial hiring of Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner, wants ombudsman Paul Dubé to review the matter.

Public confidence is … essential in policing,” Blair’s lawyer, Julian Falconer, told the court, noting “political interference in the running of the OPP” should worry all Ontarians.

“This is not a personal attack on Mr. Taverner,” Falconer said of the long-time Ford friend.

Wilton-Siegel stressed that no evidence of that was before the court.

Blair filed an application to Divisional Court “to determine and enforce the jurisdiction” of hiring process on an “expedited” basis.

But Dubé has declined to investigate, insisting it is beyond his jurisdiction.

“The ombudsman has no standing whatsoever to keep someone from being appointed,” said Frank Cesario, the ombudsman’s lawyer.

“The ombudsman simply has the power to make a report,” said Cesario.

Falconer countered that “there is some irony that I am debating with counsel for the ombudsman whether the ombudsman can be effective — it’s weird.”

Integrity commissioner J. David Wake is conducting a probe into the hiring after a complaint by New Democrat MPP Kevin Yarde (Brampton North).

Wake is examining whether the premier breached the Member’s Integrity Act in the appointment of Taverner, 72, whose Toronto police command in the northwest corner of the city includes the Ford home base of Etobicoke.

Falconer argued that report would be ineffective because the legislature can ignore it.

Ford’s government appointed Taverner OPP commissioner on Nov. 29, triggering concerns about the independence of the force, which has investigated provincial governments in the past.

The 51-year police veteran asked his appointment be postponed during the integrity commissioner’s review. Taverner has returned to his previous Toronto police duties in the meantime.

Ford has insisted he did not push for his friend to be hired, but he has blasted Blair for complaining.

In December, the premier said it was “sour grapes” because the 32-year OPP veteran was a runner-up to Taverner.

“There is a lot of misinformation going out there,” said Ford, pointing to Blair’s nine-page letter to Dubé on Dec. 11.

“I get it that he’s upset that he didn’t win a fair process. I understand. Did he step over the line on a lot of things? I’m going to let the media decide that — and I wish you would look into that actually,” he said

In his letter, the OPP deputy commissioner alleged the premier’s chief of staff, Dean French, asked the force “to purchase a large camper-type vehicle … modified to specifications the premier’s office would provide us” and keep the $50,000 customization costs “off the books.”

On Dec. 18, Ford called that “a baseless claim without merit.”

“That’s just not accurate whatsoever. I asked if they had a used one,” he said.

The premier did not say why he needed the van or why his office allegedly wanted the costs of customizing the van kept hidden. He is currently driven around in a police SUV.

Blair served as interim commissioner after the retirement of commissioner Vince Hawkes last fall.

In the wake of his letter to Dubé he was replaced by Gary Couture.

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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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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