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Man who says he faced racism at worksite alleges he was purposely shot with nail gun

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A man is facing charges after a construction worker in Pictou County said harassment by a colleague escalated last month from racist name-calling to being purposely shot in the back with a nail gun.

Nhlanhla Dlamini, 21, said he was working at the site of a new home in Abercrombie when his co-worker pulled back the safety on the air-powered tool, aimed it at him and waited for him to turn and run before firing.

RCMP said Wednesday a 43-year-old man was arrested Sept. 27 for criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

A lawyer for Dlamini’s employer, P.Q. Properties Ltd., has vigorously maintained the shooting was an accident, dismissing the police investigation as « ridiculous. »

On the day of the incident, Dlamini, who is black, said his co-worker accused him of working too slowly before threatening him with the nail gun.

Dlamini says he was struck with a 3½-inch nail. The company says the shooting was an accident. (Steve Berry/CBC)

« He turned around and pulled the safety on the gun and points at me and says, ‘I’ll show you how to speed up,' » Dlamini said in an interview with CBC News.

« I just looked at him and I was just like, ‘What are you doing that for?’ And he just smiled.

« And when he smiled about it, I just turned around and started running. And that’s when he shot the air nail and it hit me in the back. »

His lung was punctured with a 3 ½-inch framing nail, he said.

Dlamini said he was screaming and yelling, trying to make sense of what happened, when the man came over to him as he lay on the ground, plucked the nail out and threw it away as a small crowd gathered to see what was going on.

The man told the three other people on the crew and their boss, Paul Quinn, that a smaller finishing nail had accidently ricocheted and nicked Dlamini, he said.

Dlamini says the nail gun was loaded with 3½-inch framing nails the day he was shot. This nail is the same size. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Dlamini said because he was in shock, struggling to breathe and talk at the same time, he couldn’t tell his side of the story. There were no witnesses to the incident.

« It was just me and him and that was the scariest part and he used that as an opportunity to tell them whatever he wanted, » he said. « I’m still in shock. I can’t believe it. »  

One of the workers put a Band-Aid on Dlamini’s wound. Dlamini said Quinn drove him home and did not offer any medical attention. 

When a friend drove him to the hospital over an hour later, Dlamini said his doctor told him it could have been far worse if he hadn’t gotten medical attention.

Dlamini said he required emergency surgery to repair a collapsed lung and spent four days in the hospital with a chest tube.

His mother, Stacey Dlamini, told CBC News she called Quinn and informed him her son was undergoing emergency surgery and asked why he hadn’t been taken to hospital. She then called the RCMP. 

Stacey Dlamini, in her home in Pictou, N.S., says she told P.Q. Properties Ltd. owner Paul Quinn the details of her son’s injuries in a phone call from the hospital on the day Nhlanhla was shot with a nail gun at a worksite. (Steve Berry/CBC)

When reached by phone by CBC News, Quinn referred questions to his lawyer, Craig Clarke. Quinn is a New Glasgow-based property developer and landlord. The workers were building him a new home when the incident occurred.

In a Sept. 23 interview, four days after the incident, Clarke disputed that Dlamini was seriously injured. He said the nail shooting wasn’t intentional and that the wound only required a Band-Aid. 

Quinn did not contact the RCMP after the incident because « there was no reason to, » said Clarke.

He said Quinn offered to drive Dlamini to the hospital or call an ambulance but he refused. Dlamini’s refusal was documented in an incident report Quinn prepared with statements from people at the worksite, said Clarke.

He declined to share the report with CBC News. Quinn is not required to give the report to the RCMP, he said.

« I would not concur with RCMP’s position at all that a serious injury happened. I would also strongly take the position that the RCMP, based on the information that I reviewed, have no reason whatsoever to be involved in any criminal investigation whatsoever. Zero, » said Clarke.

Quinn, owner of P.Q. Properties in New Glasgow, tells CBC to leave Centennial Drive in Abercrombie on Sept. 27. The road leads to the construction site of a new home where a workplace incident occurred on Sept 19. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Reached again Wednesday, Clarke said three people who were on site that day don’t support Dlamini’s allegations and there’s no basis for any charge.

Dlamini said he had been on the job for just three weeks when the nail gun shooting occurred. During those few weeks, he said the co-worker who fired the gun called him « Squigger » and occasionally referred to him as « whatever the F they call you at home. »

The co-worker also threw nails at him, hammered his booted foot and stapled his jacket to a staircase, Dlamini said.

Dlamini said he was the only person of colour on the worksite and the only person who was bullied by the man.

He said he first introduced himself as Nh — a shortened version of his South African name — but the name Squigger stuck. 

He said at first he did not understand what the nickname meant, until a friend told him.

« I’ve been letting them literally call me the N-word, just without the N being the first thing, » said Dlamini. « I was repelled by that. I was taken aback. And I just feel uncomfortable ever going back to a job site that would be like that. »

Dlamini says he won’t be returning to work for Quinn and fears for the safety of the other employees. Dlamini moved to Canada with his family from South Africa five years ago. (Steve Berry/CBC)

He also said the man who shot the nail told him everyone should own a black person.

« I don’t want to rush into pulling the racist card. But in this incident, knowing that Squigger was the N-word, low-key, » said Dlamini. « I can say that it was a racist act and a racist situation. »

At one point, Dlamini spoke to his co-worker directly, saying he was uncomfortable and concerned for his personal safety. The man responded that he would keep doing what he wanted, said Dlamini. 

Dlamini said he feared for his job and tried to keep his head down. He was worried the man would retaliate if he shared his concerns with Quinn, he said.

Clarke said he was unaware of any bullying or racism at P.Q. Properties. 

« I have no knowledge of that whatsoever. I couldn’t comment on that. But in the incident reports I reviewed, there’s nothing about that, » said Clarke. 

« If somebody’s making an allegation like that, they should be prepared to back it up. »

P.Q. Properties is building a new home on Centennial Drive in Abercrombie. (Steve Berry/CBC)

There have been no charges laid against Quinn or P.Q. Properties, Clarke said. 

The Department of Labour said they were notified of the incident by the RCMP but they are not involved while the criminal investigation is ongoing.

Employers in Nova Scotia are required to report serious injuries to the Department of Labour within 24 hours.

Clarke said he’s not aware if there was any communication between Quinn and the department.

Department spokesperson Chrissy Matheson could not comment on the incident but said there is no requirement that employers seek medical care for injured workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The department said it has not placed a stop-work order or any conditions on the worksite.

A construction worker in Truro, N.S., demonstrates how to pull back the safety and fire a nail gun similar to the one that Dlamini alleges was used at P.Q. Properties. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia 

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Anglais

‘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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Anglais

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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