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Peter Khill files statement of defence in $2M civil suit saying Styres acted ‘menacing’

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Peter Khill, who was acquitted of murder after he killed a Six Nations man on his property, has filed a statement of defence in a more than $2 million civil suit brought by the man’s spouse and two young daughters.

In court documents filed on Nov. 2, the Hamilton-area homeowner denies Jon Styres’ family suffered the injuries, losses and damages described in their statement of claim and rejects most of the other points raised in the suit filed by Hamilton’s Hooper Law Offices.

Khill, a former Canadian Forces reservist, admitted he shot and killed Styres in Feb. 2016. He was found not-guilty of second-degree murder in June after a two-week trial in Hamilton Superior Court.

Khill’s statement of defence takes the same position as he did in his criminal trial, that he fired in self-defence. His civil case defence also claims he felt an « immediate threat of death and/or serious bodily harm » to both him and his wife when he woke up around 3 a.m. and saw someone had broken into his truck.

The defence rejects the lawsuit’s claim Khill fired « suddenly and without warning » and that he intentionally shot to kill the 29-year-old man from Ohsweken on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve as he « fled. »

The direction Styres was facing when he was shot was a point of contention during the criminal trial, with prosecutors arguing blood spatter evidence showed he was facing toward the truck and the defence claiming he was facing away.

Investigators marked 74 separate specks of blood inside the passenger side of Peter Khill’s truck. (Ministry of the Attorney General)

In his statement, Khill says he knew a garage door opener in his truck could be used by Styres to gain access to the house leaving him to fear a « potentially armed home invasion » was imminent.

The defence adds Styres was « acting in a menacing and or threatening way. »

In their lawsuit, Styres’ family said Khill made no attempt to contact the authorities before confronting him. But in his statement, Khill denies this, despite testifying during the criminal trial that his actions that night were dictated by his military training, which did not include calling 911.

None of the allegations in the suit have been tested in civil court.

Brian Simo, the lawyer representing Khill, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on his client’s defence.

Khill claimed self-defence

In the criminal trial, a jury found Khill, who is white, not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in Styres’ death.

The former military reservist never denied firing the two close-range shotgun blasts that killed the First Nations man, but said he pulled the trigger because he was following his training and believed Styres was armed with a gun.

Khill never denied shooting Styres twice with this 12 gauge shotgun at close range, but maintains he fired is self-defence. (Ministry of the Attorney General)

Court heard Styres did not have a gun. He did have a folding knife, but it was closed and found by police in the pocket of his pants.

Public reaction to the verdict was deeply divided. Some some supported the decision, while others pointed to race as factor in the jury’s decision despite each juror being screened for bias during the selection process.

The case drew comparisons the death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, who was shot and killed by Gerald Stanley, a white farmer, in Saskatchewan.

A jury with no visibly Indigenous jurors reached its not guilty verdict for Stanley in August 2016. The decision led to outrage across the country and a pledge from federal ministers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to change « systemic issues » in the justice system.

Following the Khill verdict, Indigenous leaders and activists also called for changes to Canada’s justice system and for the verdict to be appealed.

Family and friends of Jon Styres hug outside court after hearing Khill was found not guilty on June 27, 2018. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald issued a statement describing Styres as « another victim of senseless violence. »

« This sort of extreme violence – shooting an unarmed man – is not acceptable in Canada, » she said. « No one should place the value of a possession over the sacred life of a human being. »

In August the Crown announced it is appealing the not guilty verdict on the basis that Superior Court Justice Stephen Glithero failed to properly instruct the jury about self-defence and let an unqualified witness give opinion evidence on military training.

The lawsuit launched by Styres’s spouse, Lindsay Hill and her two daughters was filed on Jan. 31, 2018.

In it the family claims damages of $2 million, aggravated and punitive damages of $250,000, pre and post-judgement interest and any other costs the court deems just.

The damages are based on « mental distress, » a loss of income and services from Styres as well as a loss of « care, guidance and companionship as the result of his death. »

A trial date has not yet been set.

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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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