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Toronto cop who left gun at bar after night of drinking pleads guilty to misconduct

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A long-time police officer who left his service-issued gun and ammunition inside a bar after a night of drinking has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct at the Toronto police disciplinary tribunal.

Toronto police Const. Bradley Karges, an officer with 19 years on the force, was off-duty when he went to Milton’s Rad Brothers Sports Bar in September 2017 with another officer, bringing with him his unloaded semi-automatic handgun and three rounds of ammunition stored inside a lunch cooler.

Toronto police Const. Bradley Karges, seen here in a police handout photo from Oct. 6, 2017, has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct for leaving his handgun and ammunition at a Milton bar after a night of drinking.
Toronto police Const. Bradley Karges, seen here in a police handout photo from Oct. 6, 2017, has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct for leaving his handgun and ammunition at a Milton bar after a night of drinking.  (Toronto Police Service)

After consuming what a police tribunal document characterized as “several alcoholic beverages,” Karges left the bar, forgetting the cooler. One of the officers had been cut off by bar staff, criminal court heard last year, though Karges disputed it was him.

Staff later opened up the cooler and, finding a gun, called Halton Regional Police, who charged Karges with careless use of a firearm.

Karges also contacted Halton police after realizing he’d forgotten his gun and surrendered to them the same day. He later entered a guilty plea and was granted a conditional discharge, sentenced to one year of probation and had to perform 100 hours of community service.

“It goes without saying that the offence here shows an incredible lack of judgment,” said Crown Michael Godinho during Karges’ criminal plea last year. “That things didn’t turn out worse — that someone with some nefarious means or intentions didn’t get a hold of the firearm — is lucky, I think.”

“Obviously the public, the patrons of the restaurant, the staff, were all put at risk,” he said.

Police officers who are criminally charged automatically face a professional misconduct charge under Ontario’s Police Services Act. In a hearing Tuesday, Karges pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct for having been found guilty of a criminal offence.

His lawyer Lawrence Gridin and the Toronto police prosecutor brought forward a joint submission asking for 17 days’ docked pay, an equivalent of thousands of dollars in missed salary. Karges is currently working in 23 division, in the city’s northwest corner.

Both the criminal court and police tribunal heard Karges pleaded guilty early, had no prior criminal record or workplace disciplinary issues, had volunteered extensively in his community and received commendations from supervisors and senior officers.

“All those reference letters recognize that, while they didn’t try to defend what he did, it was their view that this was a lapse and it was very out of character for officer Karges and they don’t expect to see it repeated again,” Karges’ criminal lawyer, Bryan Badali, said during last year’s court plea.

Godinho and Judge Richard LeDressay also acknowledged the mitigating circumstances in the case, the judge saying it was clear Karges was a contributing member of society and Godinho remarking on his “spotless and quite impressive work record.”

Nonetheless, LeDressay had to impose a sentence serious enough to publicly condemn the behaviour and deter others from doing the same. In addition to probation and community service, Karges was ordered to pay a $1000 victim fine surcharge.

“There was a certain danger or risk to the public that was involved with respect to this matter,” LeDressay said.

During his criminal guilty plea, Karges apologized to the court and the public, saying he recognized he put them at risk and that a day didn’t go by where he didn’t regret what he did.

“I feel bad about everything,” he said.

The Toronto police hearing officer reserved judgment on Karges’ 17-day penalty.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar is the Latest to Hatch in West Island’s Bubbling Restaurant Scene

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Wings are the thing at the latest restaurant to make its mark on Montreal’s West Island: Birdhouse Wingerie & Bar.

At the buzzy new Dollard-Des Ormeaux eatery, the bird limbs come aplenty, with a menu listing eleven “wet & messy” wings, including smoked apple habanero, sriracha lime, and cherry cola BBQ; and four — cacio e pepe, ketchups chip, Nashville hot, and the garlicky, lemon pepper “vampire slayer” — dry rub flavours. They come 10 for $18 or 20 for $34, plus the option of ranch, parmesan, or blue cheese dipping sauce.

Tacos, nachos, poutines (one made with bone marrow, another with tater tots), smashed burgers, salads, and a classic buttermilk fried chicken dinner are just sampling of the other dishes that round out the offering. On the drinks side, there are cocktails, sangrias, and spiked milkshakes in popular chocolate bar flavours: After Eight, Skor, Bounty, or Reeses.

Opened on July 5, Birdhouse is among a recent influx of restaurants to grace the island’s western end, including birria taco slinger Tacos Don Rigo and barbecue joint Smoke Box — a double whammy in the same Pierrefonds area strip mall. That comes in addition to plans for Fairview Pointe Claire’s incoming “District Gourmand” (slated to usher in Tommy Café), and, of course, a number of the area’s longer-standing stalwarts — from southern belle Bistro Nolah to old-school casse-croûte Smoked Meat Pete — that have helped bolster the West Island’s culinary credentials.

The brand-new Brunswick Boulevard restaurant is the brainchild of Montreal entrepreneur Lorne Schwartz, restaurateur George Massouras (of Madisons and Arahova Souvlaki), and among the other partners involved, Brahm Mauer, son of the founder of beloved buffalo hot wings expert Wings ‘n’ Things. Mauer has tried his hand at reviving the original Wings ‘n’ Things recipe — the restaurant originally opened in 1986 — over the years, including with a Royalmount Avenue location in 2012, then as a roaming summertime food truck and NDG pop-up. That same truck has now been made over with a Birdhouse-branded livery to be deployed for private events.

A likely draw to many, Birdhouse is reprising the “famous flavours, untouched” of the once-upon-a-time NDG staple, represented on its menu as “The Legendary WNT Buffalo” chicken wing.

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