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Woman who admitted to attack at Canadian Tire found guilty on terror charges

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A Toronto-area woman who admitted to attacking workers at a Canadian Tire store with a golf club and butcher knife in an effort to help ISIS has been found guilty of several terror charges.

Jurors deliberated for just over an hour on Thursday before delivering the verdict in the case of Rehab Dughmosh, who was arrested in July 2017 after the attack at a location at a mall in east Toronto.

Dughmosh initially faced a total of 21 charges, but in the end she faced four, including two counts of assault with a weapon and one of carrying a weapon — all in the name of ISIS.

She was also charged with leaving Canada for the purpose of committing a criminal offence in connection with an attempted trip to Syria in April 2016.

Dughmosh, who represented herself in court, did not enter a plea on the charges but not-guilty pleas were entered on her behalf. She did not present a defence and declined to make any closing statements to the jury.

In his closing arguments today, Crown prosecutor Jason Wakely said an agreed statement of facts presented in court — the only evidence brought in the case — shows Dughmosh is guilty of all offences.

« She could not have been any clearer that she was doing this for the benefit of ISIS, » he said, using an alternate name for ISIS.

« She literally declared the words ‘This is for ISIS,’ she draped herself in an ISIS banner, she wrapped an ISIS bandana around her head and she repeatedly said words to the effect that she did this for ISIS. »

‘The elements of the offences have been proven’

Superior Court Justice Maureen Forestell told the jury that when facts are admitted, no further evidence needs to be presented to prove those facts.

While it is unusual for a trial to proceed on admitted facts alone, it is appropriate to do so, and jurors should not speculate as to why it played out this way, Forestell said.

Dughmosh « has not disputed that the elements of the offences have been proven, » the judge said.

The statement, read in court Wednesday, says that while Dughmosh initially denied she was travelling in an effort to join ISIS, she admitted after her arrest in 2017 that it had been the true purpose of the trip.

The statement also says Dughmosh began contemplating an attack in Toronto about a year after her return and quickly began to build an arsenal of store-bought and homemade weapons. It says she also made an ISIS banner using black spray paint.

On June 3, 2017, Dughmosh decided to move forward with an attack and packed several bags with makeshift weapons, including a hammer, 31 metal barbecue skewers, 76 straws with screws glued to the tip, scissors and a child’s shovel « converted to claws, » the statement says.

She also hid an archery bow and 20-centimetre butcher knife inside her robe, it says.

However, on her way out, Dughmosh ran into her estranged husband with whom she still shared an apartment, and he confiscated the bags of weapons, the statement says. He did not know about the concealed weapons.

Once she arrived at Canadian Tire, Dughmosh tried to obtain arrows but they were locked in a display case and an employee said he could only bring them to the cashier, the document says.

Dughmosh did not have money so instead she gave up on the arrows and walked through the store collecting tools in a shopping basket, it says. She then went to get a golf club, it says.

On the afternoon of June 3, 2017, Rehab Dughmosh walked to this Canadian Tire store at the Cedarbrae Mall in Scarborough. (Google Maps)

Shortly after 5 p.m., Dughmosh pulled an ISIS banner from under her robe, tied an ISIS bandana around her head and took out the bow, the document says. She then grabbed the golf club and walked over to the paint section, where three employees were helping customers, it says.

The statement says Dughmosh charged at them, swinging the club and chanting « This is for ISIS, » but staff were able to grab the club from her hands. She then pulled out the butcher knife, but the employees managed to wrestle her to the ground and eventually seize the knife, it says.

No one was seriously hurt, although one employee suffered bruises and was also bitten by Dughmosh, the document says.

Police arrived and called in RCMP due to the possible terror link, it says. In her interview with the RCMP’s national security unit, Dughmosh admitted that she had unilaterally pledged allegiance to ISIS after reading about the terror group and watching videos online, the statement says.

She told investigators she chose that day for the attack because « there would be many people at the mall, » the statement says.

« She said she wanted to hurt people and make them feel fear but not kill them, » the document says, explaining that the alleged attack was meant as payback for what she saw as the public’s tacit agreement with governments killing Muslims.

« She wanted news of her own attack to be published, she believed ISIS would be happy with what she had done, » it says. « She was disappointed that she failed to hurt anyone in her attack but also stated that the important thing was to try. »

Police later searched her home and found the bags with the weapons confiscated by her estranged husband, as well as a cellphone that contained propaganda videos and a handwritten will in which Dughmosh asked to be granted martyrdom, the statement says.

Dughmosh previously underwent a psychological assessment and was deemed fit to stand trial.

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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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