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I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers because they’re credible, not because I ‘believe all women’

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Brett Kavanaugh maintains that he “never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever.”

The U.S. Supreme Court nominee spoke to Fox News on Monday, seated strategically, it would seem, next to his wife, Ashley. She claimed on camera that he was a decent man—that is, not the sort of guy who pins a woman down and forces a hand over her mouth in order to muffle her screams while he tries to rape her.

Emma Teitel writes that Brett Kavanaugh’s defence against sexual assault accusations — namely, that he was a virgin when the alleged incidents happened — is completely irrelevant to the accusation. “A virgin, after all, is perfectly capable of committing sexual assault.”
Emma Teitel writes that Brett Kavanaugh’s defence against sexual assault accusations — namely, that he was a virgin when the alleged incidents happened — is completely irrelevant to the accusation. “A virgin, after all, is perfectly capable of committing sexual assault.”  (T. J. KIRKPATRICK / The New York Times)

Kavanaugh — who presently stands accused of assaulting two women, Christine Blasey Ford in high school and Deborah Ramirez in college — seconded his wife’s claim and made another: Ford’s allegation was spurious because he, Kavanaugh, was a virgin when the alleged assault took place.

Conveniently, Kavanaugh failed to explain how his then-chastity is relevant to an accusation of attempted rape. A virgin, after all, is perfectly capable of committing sexual assault, unless you’re under the truly spurious impression that anything short of forced intercourse is not a big deal.

Ramirez, meanwhile, alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a college party and thrust his penis in her face, an act that, once again, meets the definition of sexual assault, even if a mere virgin is the one carrying it out.

Whether Kavanaugh did these things, we don’t know. (There will be a formal hearing on Thursday.) In the meantime, however, some will tell you they do know. In fact, many already assert that Kavanaugh is guilty because they “believe all women,” a mantra that, I have to admit, makes me deeply uncomfortable. To believe all women, after all, is to assume the guilt of all alleged predators, unless of course the alleged predator is also a woman, in which case the imperative paralyzes you.

Read more:

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After second allegation against Kavanaugh, top Democrat calls for delay in nomination hearing

And I don’t believe it’s wise or right to assume the guilt of anybody who has not stood trial, nor been subject to a formal investigation. I also fail to understand how anyone can advocate in good faith for an investigation into the Kavanaugh affair while at the same time maintaining that they “believe all women.” If you wholeheartedly believe one party’s account in the absence of an inquiry, what purpose does the inquiry serve? Your mind is already made up; new evidence will not change it.

Personally, I find Kavanaugh’s accusers credible because there is nothing to be gained for anyone by going public with an assault allegation, unless it’s a litany of pain. And I understand why any friend or relative of an alleged victim might take an absolutist stance about the truthfulness of an accuser — that’s what friends and relatives do. But for anyone else, journalist or not, the absolutist road is a tricky one to travel.

In short, I don’t believe all women. But I also don’t believe Brett Kavanaugh. And if I’m put off by a trend of absolutist thinking in feminism, I’m even more put off by the notion that the #MeToo movement “has gone too far.” Too far for whom exactly? For Harvey Weinstein, for Bill Cosby, for Jian Ghomeshi and Louis C.K.? (The latter an accused predator whose penance didn’t involve jail time, but a vacation from the spotlight followed by a standing ovation upon his return to it.)

#MeToo detractors like to argue that thanks to the movement, ordinary men live in a culture of fear—that they can’t so much as ask a girl to dance or give her a hug without risking an assault accusation. This argument would be a bit more credible if the high-profile men routinely targeted by #MeToo were under fire for garden variety creepiness: for, say, making the occasional salty joke at a board meeting. But that’s not by and large what this moment is about. This moment is about exposing dangerous, serial, abusers to the bracing light of day.

Women claimed that Ghomeshi punched and choked them. Cosby and Weinstein allegedly raped them. Louis C.K. allegedly masturbated in front of them without their consent. And in this case, Kavanaugh allegedly attempted to sexually assault one woman and forcibly thrust his penis into the face of another without her consent.

These aren’t allegations of garden-variety creepiness. They are allegations of serious assault and harassment.

And yet, in the minds of many conservatives, including the panel of Republican women who recently spoke out in defence of Kavanaugh on CNN, the judge’s alleged sins were minor and commonplace.

Here’s one such Republican voter, Gina Sosa, on the matter: “But we’re talking about a 17-year-old boy in high school with testosterone running high. Tell me, what boy hasn’t done this in high school?”

What boy hasn’t pinned a girl down against her will and held his hand over her mouth? Well, most of them, I hope.

It’s odd, Conservatives love to accuse Liberals — and feminists especially — of hating men. But do you not have to have a profoundly dim view of the male gender to believe that Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged crimes are normal? Or am I the only person left on earth who thinks that most men are decent human beings?

Emma Teitel is a columnist based in Toronto covering current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @emmaroseteitel

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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