Angry U.S. voters head to midterm polls in referendum on Trump

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WASHINGTON—It’s a referendum on President Donald Trump. According to Trump’s predecessor, it’s also a referendum on the very character of the United States.

Polarized and energized, American voters will cast their ballots on Tuesday in a midterm election that will determine control of the U.S. Congress and indicate how the country feels about Trump’s divisive presidency.

Turnout is expected to be high. A driving force, on both sides, is rage: rage toward the president; rage the president has tried to foment against migrants, the news media and Democrats, among others.

This is not a “the economy, stupid” kind of election. Despite the low unemployment rate, Democrats are favoured to win the popular vote and win control of the House of Representatives on the intensity of opposition to Trump among people of colour and college-educated white women. Trump, going with his gut over the guidance of some party officials, has chosen a fearmongering focus on immigration over a sunny-days message of rising prosperity.

In a three-rally blitz on Monday, Trump painted an apocalyptic and wildly dishonest picture of what might happen if voters pick the “Democrat mob” over Republicans: cities overrun with dangerous illegal immigrants, steel mills shut down, citizens kicked off their health care.

Democrats, who have campaigned on health care above all else, closed with a more factual warning: Republicans have long tried to replace Obamacare with laws that would weaken protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, and they will do so again if they are given new majorities.

The midterms battleground is much wider than in presidential elections, with competitive contests everywhere from the plains of North Dakota to the wealthy California coastal suburbs of Orange County. Hovering over every race is Trump, who is both a blessing and a curse for his party.

The election will be decided in two distinct kinds of places. Many of the key House races are in affluent suburban districts where Trump underperformed in 2016 and polls suggest many women have grown ever more dismayed by his behaviour. Republican House strategists worry his scorched-earth rhetoric will do more harm than good in these districts.

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But many of the key Senate battlegrounds are conservative states, like Missouri and Montana, where Trump excelled in 2016 and remains popular. Republicans are favoured to maintain or slightly expand their slim 51-seat to 49-seat Senate advantage, and Trump’s ability to strategically inflame white-working-class and rural conservatives may be a key factor.

Democrats need 23 seats to take the House. Aided by Republican retirements and an unprecedented flood of donations, most of them from women, they appear to be nearly guaranteed to gain at least somewhere in the mid-to-high teens. But 23 is no sure thing: polls suggest their leads are narrow in many of the seats that could push them into the mid-20s or even the mid-30s.

The final polls varied, but they were generally good for Democrats. A CNN poll gave Democrats the largest margin, a 13-point advantage; an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had the Democratic lead at 7 points. Forecasting website FiveThirtyEight gave Democrats an 88 per cent chance to win the House, Republicans an 81 per cent chance to keep the Senate.

Even if Republicans do hold on in the Senate, a Democratic takeover of the House would be a pivotal moment in Trump’s presidency. Democrats would gain the power to thwart Republicans’ legislative agenda, launch investigations into Trump’s activities, subpoena his officials, obtain his tax returns, and, possibly, to impeach him at some point in the future.

A Democratic House victory would also serve as a warning to Republican officeholders about their policies, their devotion to the president, and the brand of campaigning they have chosen this time. Trump has closed the race with a torrent of lies, mostly about immigration, and a television ad so racist that Fox News announced it would stop airing it. “The character of our country is on the ballot,” former president Barack Obama said on Twitter on Monday.

Trump began last week to warn that a loss might be coming, suggesting it would not be a big problem: “My whole life, you know what I say? ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ll just figure it out.’” Bracing for defeat, he said on a conference call with supporters Monday that he wasn’t sure the election could fairly be considered a referendum on him. But at a rally in Cleveland later, he conceded, “In a sense, I am on the ticket.”

The surest sign of Trump’s concern about the House came in an interview with conservative Sinclair Broadcasting. For the first time in his presidency, he offered an actual answer when he was asked if he had any regrets.

“I would say tone. I would like to have a much softer tone,” he said. “I feel, to a certain extent, I have no choice. But maybe I do.”

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8

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‘Send her back!’: Woodstock protesters angry killer Terri-Lynne McClintic now at healing lodge

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About 200 people protested outside a courthouse in Woodstock, Ont., on Saturday against the transfer of convicted killer Terri-Lynne McClintic from a federal prison in Ontario to an Indigenous healing lodge in Saskatchewan.

« Send her back! » the protesters chanted at the rally.

McClintic, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Tori Stafford, 8, in 2010 and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years. Stafford, a Woodstock school girl, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered in 2009. 

Many of the protesters in her hometown wore purple, which was Stafford’s favourite colour. 

Rodney Stafford, Tori’s father, told the protesters that McClintic doesn’t deserve to serve out her sentence in a healing lodge.

‘It’s not right,’ father says

« A convicted killer was moved somewhere she doesn’t belong and I want do everything I can to put her back because it’s not right. Why should these criminals be able to live a better life than myself, the one going through this issue? »

« Terri-Lynne’s got to go back to max security where she belongs, » he said. « My little girl Victoria deserves so much better and she deserves justice. »

Stafford said, when Tori was born on July 15, 2000, he was sitting in a chair, holding her, and he told her that he would protect her until the day he died.

« You can’t understand the pain and the hurt that goes through you when you realize that one of your bear cubs has been taken, one of your children is gone. It’s tough to deal with every day, » he said.

« On the inside, it’s killing me. But each time I walk past one of you guys, and you guys give me support, that gives me that much more strength to stand here and do what I want to do, and that’s stand up for my daughter, » he told the protesters.

Tori Stafford, 8, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, murdered and left in a farmer’s field in 2009.

Stafford said he was only one voice against the transfer, but support has grown since he first found out.

« A month and half later, I have a nation of support. It just goes to prove that one person can actually make a difference. »

McClintic moved earlier this year

McClintic was serving time at the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a maximum security prison in Kitchener, Ont. After four years, she was moved into the prison’s medium security area.

Earlier this year, Correctional Service Canada moved her to a healing lodge on the Nekaneet First Nation near Maple Creek, Sask., according to Stafford’s grandmother, Doreen Graichen.

McClintic and her boyfriend, Michael Rafferty, grabbed Stafford from a Woodstock street. The girl’s body was found three months later in a wooded area near Mount Forest.

Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for kidnapping, sexual assault causing bodily harm and first-degree murder in Tori’s death.

Terri-Lynne McClintic received a life sentence after she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder of Tori Stafford in 2010. (Canadian Press)

The protesters said they want the federal government to pass legislation, which they call « Tori’s law, » that would ensure any person convicted of the murder of a child would spend his or her entire sentence in a maximum security prison.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Thursday that a review into the decision to move McClintic​ from the federal prison to the healing lodge will be coming shortly.

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Cyclists angry over wintertime closure of Jacques Cartier Bridge path – Montreal

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A group of cyclists gathered at the foot of the Jacques Cartier Bridge on Saturday morning to protest the closure of its bike path for the winter.

“There’s about 4,000 a day in the summer who depend on this bridge because it’s the only cycling link between the South Shore and Montreal,” said Daniel Lambert of the Montreal Bike Coalition.

Many of them don’t want to lose the convenience of the bridge during the winter because cycling is good exercise and presents an alternative to driving, Lambert says.


READ MORE:
Multipurpose path on Jacques Cartier bridge to be off-limits for winter season

“Especially with all the traffic congestion caused by all the construction projects, including the Turcot and the Champlain Bridge,” he tells Global News.

But the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, the Crown corporation that runs the bridge, says the structure is unique.

“It’s a concrete slab,” explains spokesperson Nathalie Lessard. “It’s sitting in the air; it’s exposed on all four sides to the weather conditions.”

She points out that because the bridge is not insulated by materials like those under a road bed, even if the company keeps it clear of snow, there’s always a risk of black ice.

Protesters agree that it’s fair to close the bridge when conditions are bad but argue that its bike path should be kept open otherwise.

The problem, according to bridge officials, is that black ice is hard to predict.

“It’s keeping the path really clean and safe for cyclists, that’s the issue,” says Lessard,


READ MORE:
Active transportation advocates argue for year-round access to Jacques-Cartier Bridge bike paths

This was the conclusion reached after the company conducted a study earlier this year to find a way to keep the path open, Lessard explains.

“We looked at different options for snow removal and de-icing products but to date we haven’t been able to find a viable and safe solution,” Lessard says.

Other problems include falling ice from the superstructure and the narrowness of the bike path.

Still, protesters like Claude Lefrancois argue it’ll never be 100 per cent safe.

“We have learned how to cycle,” says Lefrancois. “Even for the drivers of the cars, it’s not safe in the winter. You have to learn how to drive safely.”

Montreal mayor Valérie Plante also tweeted her disappointment about the wintertime closure of the path.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante tweeted her disappointment that the multipurpose path on the Jacques Cartier Bridge will be closed for another winter.

Bridge authorities say they plan to do further studies, but for this year they expect to close the path sometime in December or as soon as the weather dictates.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Tori Stafford’s family angry after child killer sent to Saskatchewan healing lodge

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The family of murdered schoolgirl Tori Stafford says they’re angry after receiving official notice from Corrections Canada that one of the girl’s killers has been transferred to a minimum security aboriginal healing lodge in Saskatchewan.

Terri-Lynne McClintic, 28, pleaded guilty in 2010 to first-degree murder in the death of Stafford, the eight year old whose disappearance captured the attention of the country for months as police scoured the countryside in what was then the largest-ever search for a missing person in Canada. 

Corrections Canada would not confirm McClintic’s current whereabouts citing privacy reasons, but a spokeswoman said McClintic is serving « an indeterminate life sentence » for first-degree murder and won’t be eligible for parole until May 19, 2031. 

Tori Stafford was eight years-old when she disappeared in 2009. Her body was later found in a clandestine grave in a farmer’s field about 100 kilometres north of Woodstock, Ont.

McClintic lured the young girl

When Tori vanished while walking home from school in Woodstock, Ont. on April 8, 2009, it was McClintic who lured her into the waiting car of Michael Rafferty.

Rafferty, McClintic’s then-boyfriend, is also serving a life sentence for first-degree murder in the little girl’s death. The pair drove the girl first to Guelph and later Mount Forest, 100 kilometres north of Woodstock, where Rafferty sexually assaulted and murdered the girl before the pair buried her body in a clandestine grave in a farmer’s field. 

Terri-Lynne McClintic and Michael Rafferty have both been convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Victoria Stafford. (Canadian Press)

Stafford’s family say they recently received official notice from the federal government that McClintic has been transferred, from  the Grand Valley Institution for Women, a maximum security facility in Kitchener, Ont., to the Okima Ohci Healing Lodge for Aboriginal Women on Nekaneet First Nation in southern Saskatchewan. 

Created in 1995 and located 400 kilometres from the nearest Corrections Canada facility, the Okima Ohci Healing Lodge is unique in the prison system, according to the federal government’s website. 

The facility was, according Corrections Canada, « built with the intention of housing incarcerated Aboriginal women. The focus on ‘Healing’ was to be the priority for Aboriginal women offenders. »

« The practices, culture and values of the Nekaneet is taught to the residents, » the website said, noting that prisoners are taught, « empowerment, meaningful and responsible choices, respect and dignity, supportive environment and shared responsibility. »

Ontario Provincial Police detective Jim Smyth, right, has been praised for eliciting a confession from Terri-Lynne McClintic, left, about her involvement in the death of Tori Stafford.

While Indigenous women get priority at the open-concept facility, « non-Aboriginal offenders can also live at a healing lodge. However, they must choose to follow Aboriginal programming and spirituality. In all cases, we thoroughly assess an offender’s risk to public safety before a decision is made to move him or her to a healing lodge, » Corrections Canada spokeswoman Esther Mailhot said Monday in an email to CBC News. 

Child killer told court about difficult upbringing

McClintic spent days under the glare of the national media spotlight when she testified at her former boyfriend’s murder trial. During those proceedings, the court heard about her troubled childhood, one where she was abandoned by her birth mother, who gave her to a fellow stripper named Carol McClintic.

They moved every couple of years and McClintic went to many different schools, where she was bullied for being a stripper’s daughter and her attendance was a problem.

The court heard how McClintic began taking illegal drugs when she was only eight-years-old, often wrote out violent fantasies in letters and journals and once microwaved her dog. 

McClintic was convicted in 2012 for beating up another inmate in prison and reportedly said she regretted the incident, but only for not causing the woman worse injuries. 

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