Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs calls out ‘racist and sexist’ treatment of Wilson-Raybould


A group of First Nation leaders is calling on the prime minister to quash what they view as  « racist and sexist innuendo » dogging Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould

The former justice minister is at the centre of recent claims that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured her to help Quebec -based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.

Over the weekend, The Canadian Press ran a story quoting anonymous sources who described Wilson-Raybould as someone who had « become a thorn in the side of the cabinet » before she was shuffled to her new role last month. She was also called « someone … [who] was difficult to get along with, known to berate fellow cabinet ministers openly at the table, and who others felt they had trouble trusting. »

A source, described as an « insider who didn’t want to be identified, » told the news agency that Wilson-Raybould has « always sort of been in it for herself » and « everything is very Jody-centric. »

Those comments « cowardly low blows, » says a statement released Tuesday by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

« They perpetuate colonial-era, sexist stereotypes that Indigenous women cannot be powerful, forthright and steadfast in positions of power, but rather confrontational, meddling and egotistic, » says the news release from the group, which has been critical of the Liberal government in the past on pipeline issues. 

« These comments from your staff must be recognized for what they are — blatant sexism. »

Investigation launched 

Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes also leapt to her caucus colleague’s defence online, tweeting Sunday that Wilson-Raybould is « fierce, smart, and unapologetic. »

« When women speak up and out, they are always going to be labelled. Go ahead. Label away. We are not going anywhere, » she wrote.

« It has been reported by insiders of your government that she was someone ‘who others felt they had trouble trusting’ and has reportedly ‘been in it for herself’ such that « everything is very Jody-centric. »

The B.C. group — headed by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip —  urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau « to take responsibility for your behaviour and that of your government, » and called into question his commitment to the Crown-Indigenous relationship.

« If you do not condemn these harmful statements and apologize … you not only reaffirm a colonial belief system that Indigenous women are inferior and disposable, but the hypocrisy of your professed feminism and ‘most important relationship’ with Indigenous people will be laid bare for all Canadians to see, » the group’s release concludes.

On Monday, federal Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion launched an investigation into allegations the PMO wanted Wilson-Raybould to direct federal prosecutors to make a « deferred prosecution agreement » (DPA) — a deal akin to a plea bargain — to avoid taking SNC-Lavalin to trial on bribery and fraud charges.

Dion informed the NDP MPs who requested the investigation that there is sufficient cause to proceed with an inquiry.

Watch the Power Panel discuss the latest developments in the SNC-Lavalin controversy

The Power Panel – Rachel Curran, Brad Lavigne, Yolande James and John Paul Tasker discuss the federal ethics commissioner’s announcement that he’s looking into the SNC-Lavalin controversy. 11:58


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Union calls for binding arbitration to end Saskatoon Co-op contract dispute – Saskatoon


The union representing striking workers at Saskatoon Co-op is calling on the company to agree to binding arbitration to settle a contract dispute.

UFCW Local 1400 made the request after talks between the two sides broke down on Friday.

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Judge dismisses petition to remove Saskatoon Co-op board of directors

At issue between the two sides is Saskatoon Co-op’s desire to introduce a second-tier wage scale.

“In the spirit of true negotiation, (we) started to bargain a second tier,” the union said in a press release.

“It provided proposals allowing for a second tier that included a bridge that provided a limited number of employees who had been working at Co-op for four years, to finally move to the main wage grid.”

Co-op said the offer made by the union substantially reduced the wage difference between new and current employees in key positions.

“We came to (Friday’s) discussions ready to make compromises because we wanted to get another offer for our employees to vote on and, hopefully, end the labour dispute,” said Saskatoon Co-op CEO Grant Wicks in a statement.

‘It was disappointing to see the union go back on an understanding we’d already reached, refuse to consider our counter-proposal and then walk away from the negotiations.”

Striking Saskatoon Co-op employees reject latest contract offer

UFCW said the next step is to submit to binding arbitration, with both sides presenting their last offer.

“Management’s excuse that they would rather bargain is no longer credible,” the union said.

“Their repeated refusals to bargain once again leads us to invite management to participate in the process of binding arbitration.”

Co-op said UFCW has negotiated other contracts that include wage tiers.

“The union continues to push binding arbitration, but they have bargained multiple wage tier agreements with our competitors in Saskatoon without arbitration or labour disputes,” Wicks said.

“Because the proposal we wanted to share with the union is strong and includes compromises that employees have asked for, we’re still optimistic that we can work with the union to share our proposal with employees and give them a chance to vote.”

UFCW picketers rally outside FCL in downtown Saskatoon

Co-op said current employees are still being offered a two per cent annual raise, back pay, signing bonuses, and industry-competitive benefits.

Roughly 900 UFCW members walked off the job Nov. 1, 2018, after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Co-op said the retail landscape has changed and a second-tier wage scale will help ensure the long-term vitality of the company.

Sixty per cent of UFCW members who voted rejected an offer by the company at the beginning of January.

Co-op said roughly 200 union members have returned to work since the strike started.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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U.S. ambassador to Canada calls on China to release Canadians from ‘unlawful’ detention


The U.S. ambassador to Canada said Saturday her country is « deeply concerned » about China’s « unlawful » detention of two Canadians.

Ambassador Kelly Craft said in a statement to The Associated Press the arrests of ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor are « unacceptable » and urged China to end the arbitrary detentions. It is her first public comments on the cases.

China detained the two on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 at the request of U.S. authorities.

Meng is the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei and the daughter of its founder.

The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she committed fraud by misleading banks about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.

Craft said the U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal case against Meng is based solely on the evidence and the law.

« The United States appreciates Canada’s steadfast commitment to the rule of law, » she said.

Michael Spavor, left, and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig were taken into custody in December. (Associated Press/International Crisis Group/Canadian Press)

Some analysts have said the U.S. response to China’s arrests of the two Canadians has been muted. President Donald Trump has not commented on the Canadians. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has, saying China ought to release them. The State Department has also issued statements of support.

Craft made no mention of China’s planned execution of a third Canadian. China re-sentenced a convicted Canadian drug smuggler to death last month as part of an apparent determined campaign of intimidation and retribution against Canada.

Beijing threatened grave consequences for Canada after Meng was arrested.

Watch: How can Canada, China mend relationship following Meng arrest?

Canada-China relations are at their worst since the 1970s, according to some analysts. What can be done to mend the fences, and what’s the state of Canada’s broader foreign policy strategy? Our At Issue Panel is here to discuss. 12:17

Canada has embarked on a campaign with allies to win the release of Kovrig and Spavor and many countries have issued statements in support.

The two were detained on vague allegations of « engaging in activities that endanger the national security » of China. They remain locked up without access to lawyers.

Meng is out on bail in Canada and living in one of her two Vancouver mansions awaiting extradition proceedings.

Despite the escalating frictions resulting from the detentions, trade talks between Beijing and the Trump administration remain ongoing. The U.S. has taken pains to emphasize that their trade talks are entirely separate from the U.S. case against Meng.


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Halifax woman posthumously calls for fix to Canada’s assisted dying rules


A Halifax woman who died in November is posthumously calling for an amendment to Canada’s assisted dying laws that would get rid of a requirement for late-stage consent to invoke medical assistance in dying, also known as MAID.

« People like me who have already been assessed and approved are dying earlier than necessary because of this poorly thought-out law, » Audrey Parker said in the video released by Dying with Dignity Canada on Wednesday.

The video was launched Feb. 6, the four-year anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in favour of medical assistance in dying. 

But that ruling came with a stipulation: it only applied to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering who could clearly consent to ending their lives.

Parker had terminal cancer and chose to die Nov. 1, 2018.

She said she would have liked to have made it to Christmas, but worried that if she became incompetent along the way, she would lose out on her choice of a « beautiful, peaceful and — best of all — pain free death. »

Her amendment to Canada’s assisted dying law would be to allow people who are approved for MAID to continue with their wishes, even if they lose their mental capacity.

« I can assure you that no one chooses death lightly, we just don’t want to suffer anymore, » Parker said.

Parker’s friend, Kim King, said she and other people who were close to Parker have been working with Dying with Dignity Canada to help move the amendment forward. 

They envision an amendment could be something like an additional form or declaration that would clarify what should happen if someone who wants MAID loses mental capacity or becomes unconscious.

King said Parker started thinking about making a video when she found out her cancer was moving to the lining of her brain. It was then they realized Parker could lose her mental capacity and then lose her ability to invoke MAID.

« It was really, really upsetting. It took something that was so comforting to Audrey, you know, to have that control and it took it away. And therefore made her have to take the courageous step to end her life early, » King said.

King said Parker shot the video three days before she died. She said it was Parker’s final message to lawmakers and Canadians.

« It was really having that final poignant message thanking the lawmakers for the fact we even have MAID but clearly pointing out there is a flaw in this law with the late-stage consent. »

King said watching the video is difficult, especially knowing how much pain Parker was in at the time. She said Parker shines in the video because her message was important.

« When you look at the video, Audrey looked beautiful and I think she was really standing in her own power, » King said.

« She never thought she would be an advocate. This was a very unexpected change at the end of her life and she was really, really passionate about it. »

King said she hopes the video will serve as a tool to get Canadians to sign an e-petition on the Dying with Dignity website to send a message to Canada’s justice minister to change the legislation to have Parker’s amendment passed.

She said the e-petition launched Monday and the goal is to get around 15,000 Canadians to add their names to it.


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Crown calls for consecutive life sentences for serial killer Bruce McArthur


Crown attorneys said Tuesday that « sexual predator » and serial killer Bruce McArthur should be sentenced to six consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole for 50 years.

McArthur, 67, pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder last week.

However, two of the killings took place before 2011, when federal laws were introduced that allow for consecutive life sentences. For offences committed before the law went into effect, all life sentences and related parole ineligibility periods are served concurrently.

The murders of Skandaraj Navaratnam, 40, and Abdulbasir Faizi, 44, happened in 2010.

Crown attorney Craig Harper argued that McArthur’s decision to plead guilty should not be considered a sufficient mitigating factor in the sentencing « when you take the enormity of McArthur’s crimes » into account. The fact that McArthur revisited images and « trophies » from the killings shows a lack of shame or remorse, he argued.

He also told Justice John McMahon that granting McArthur a parole hearing after 25 years means the families of McArthur’s victims may have to face him again in court.

« There are no similar offenders to Mr. McArthur, » Harper said to the court. He added that McArthur’s killing spree stoked widespread fear in Toronto’s LGBT community, forcing people to compromise how they lived their lives.

The Crown has avoided using the term « serial killer » during the trial, saying that it is « woefully inadequate » to describe his killing spree.

In addition to the murders of Navaratnam and Faizi in 2010, McArthur has also admitted to the killings of Andrew Kinsman, 49, Selim Esen, 44, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, 37, Dean Lisowick, 47, Soroush Mahmudi, 50, and Majeed Kayhan, 58.


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Unifor calls for Canadian boycott on GM vehicles built in Mexico


The union representing workers at General Motors’ Oshawa assembly plant on Friday called on Canadians to boycott any of the automaker’s vehicles manufactured in Mexico. 

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said the union has done « everything possible » to avoid a boycott but their efforts have fell on deaf ears at the multinational auto giant.

« We need to remind [GM management] that we are not going to forgive them for walking away from us, » Dias told reporters in downtown Toronto.

« So as GM has choices, Canadian and American consumers have choices. »

Last November, GM announced it would close the sprawling Oshawa plant in December this year, putting some 2,500 employees out of work. The move was part of a global restructuring that also included the closure of four U.S. facilities.

« General Motors is arrogant to the point that they think that they can close our assembly plant in Oshawa, that they can close four plants in the U.S., while ramping up production in Mexico, » Dias said, adding that the boycott is not supposed to be an attack on Mexican workers. 

The ultimate purpose of the boycott is to pressure GM to keep the Oshawa plant open until December 2020. During negotiations of the last collective agreement in 2016, GM management said that there would be no closures in Canada during the duration of the deal, according to Dias.

« There word must mean something, » he said. 

Dias said that polling commissioned by Unifor has suggested widespread public support for a boycott. The campaign will include ads on television, in the media and on billboards in both Canada and the U.S. 


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‘You have to be on the ground to believe it’: MPP calls for action over Cat Lake housing crisis


A Northern Ontario MPP is calling on the provincial and federal governments to take immediate action to end Cat Lake’s housing crisis.

The community, which is located about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, declared a state of emergency last week over problems with 87 homes there.

The problems include mould, structural and foundational issues, problems with electircal wiring, and leaking roofs.

« The state of emergency is necessary, » said MPP Sol Mamakwa (NDP — Kiiwetinoong). « The dangerous living conditions, to be allowed in Ontario, Canada, is completely unacceptable. »

Mamakwa said he visited the community on Wednesday. Now, he’s urging his counterparts in the provincial and federal governments to do the same.

‘People are dying’

« You have to be on the ground to see it, you have to be on the ground to believe it, » he said. « They need to visit the community, that’s number one. »

The responses so far, Mamakwa said, amount to « jurisdictional ping-pong. »

« While Ottawa blames Queen’s Park, while Queen’s Park blames Ottawa, our people in my riding, such as Cat Lake, they are hurting, » he said. « Even to the point where people are dying from that lack of action. »

A statement from Cat Lake leadership issued last week said some residents are undergoing medevacs due to lung and respiratory problems brought on by the housing crisis. Building assessments have also called for the demolition of 87 homes in the community.

Talk of evacuation

Mamakwa said he’ll be keeping in contact with Cat Lake leadership, as well as Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN).

« When I did the community visit, there was some talk about evacuation if there’s no action, » he said. « We need to respond. »

« Our people have treated this way for far too long, » Mamakwa said. « We are treated very differently, treated as second-class citizens, as if we do not matter. And we’ve gotta get away from that. We need humanity back in these processes. »

NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler also issued a call for a « coordinated response by the federal and provincial governments » to address the Cat Lake state of emergency. »

« It is unacceptable that the people of Cat Lake suffer in living conditions that would be intolerable in mainstream society, » the statement reads. « We will support Chief and Council to ensure that the necessary housing improvements are made available as quickly as possible, especially for high-risk community members such as infants and youth, the infirmed and the aged. »


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‘If it is not my daughter, it will be somebody else’s’: Family of Crystal Papineau calls for changes after woman’s death


“If I have anything to say about it, there won’t be any more of those bins,” said Kuno. “It is not the Canadian Mint. It is clothes. If it is not my daughter, it will be somebody else’s. These containers, from the sounds of it, would never be safe.”

Kuno spoke to the Star on Saturday from the bungalow where his daughter grew up, about 40 kilometres south of Ottawa.

“She left a mark and I guarantee she won’t be forgotten,” he said.

Papineau was a regular guest at drop-ins and respite sites, places that provide shelter and community for people who don’t have housing, are living in poverty, or are dealing with mental health and addiction issues.

While she spent almost two decades in Toronto, that bungalow near Ottawa was where she grew up. The little girl with blond hair and a stubborn streak came to them at age 5, said stepmother Evelyn Simser, who said they loved each other as mother and daughter.

“Crystal had whatever she wanted here. We weren’t rich but she got everything that I could possibly give her,” she said. That meant a bedroom decorated with new white wallpaper, with yellows stripes and roses, and a yellow shag rug in a house on an acre of property where the sometimes wild little girl could run free.

During those years she took her father’s last name. Papineau was her family name on her mother’s side.

Papineau loved unicorns and butterflies and was obsessed with Kraft Dinner. At age 8 she would climb up an antenna on the side of house so she could dance on the roof with a neighbourhood friend, said Simser, clearly not amused by that activity.

She developed an early and distinct sense of style, Simser said. “The worse she could put on, the better. We had dresses for her here and she would put on a pair of jogging pants or an old T-shirt. She didn’t want to be pretty.”

Simser said Papineau was beautiful and bright but despite years spent trying to make her feel loved and secure, she never seemed able to overcome challenges with her mental health. She could lash out and acted out more as she grew older, they said.

“You could get close to her, but only close enough. Because she didn’t want to lose you,” said Simser. Papineau was with them until age 15 and soon after was in Toronto. She could always come home but was devoted to her chosen family in the city, said Simser.

She takes some comfort knowing the young woman is at peace now. “I can almost guarantee she is telling me not to cry and worry. She is always going to be here. She is always going to be with me.”

But Simser shares her husband’s anger over how Papineau was found, and like him believes there is a need for better services.

“They have no right putting those so close to women’s shelters knowing those people are freezing and need what is in those boxes,” said Simser. “Maybe they shouldn’t be in them, but they are starving and freezing … I just wish I could get to Toronto. There wouldn’t be a box there. I’d smash every one of them. They need to be off the street.”

While the drop-ins and sites Papineau visited provided a temporary safe haven, advocates and people close to those lost to poverty and homelessness say they shouldn’t exist — that people need more mental health supports and places to live.

“We have all been so angry for so long … you hope to God that something breaks, that people are in the right mood to pay attention to what you have been saying for years and are saying again,” said Meg Inwood, 34, a close friend of Papineau. “There were no beds for her that night. There was nothing in the f—ing city.”

Inwood met Papineau when they were teenagers in Toronto. When Inwood left her home, Papineau took her under her wing.

“She helped show me the ropes. She helped show me how to survive on the street,” Inwood said, adding that they bonded over a deep love for the printed word.

“She, like me, just ate novels for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

Inwood said her friend struggled with addiction and mental health problems, and experienced homelessness for periods of her life, although the last year was particularly rough. But no matter what shape she was in, she said, she still always gravitated to others in need or in pain.

“When you were upset, she would not let you push her away and instead of getting mad she would make you feel better,” Inwood said. “She was laughing, you know, but knew how much you were hurting because she had hurt that much, too.” She also kept private the details of her past hardships.

“The fact that the world just kept hammering and hammering her and she never lost that generosity of spirit … it was beautiful.”

Mayor John Tory has called for an expedited review of how donation boxes are licensed and has asked the committee charged with that work to immediately instruct staff to remedy any safety issues identified throughout the process. The city has also pledged to create 1,000 new emergency shelter beds by 2020 and has created a new planning and housing committee.

On Thursday, as Toronto shivered through its first cold weather alert of 2019, the city’s 4,430 emergency beds for women, men and youth were nearly full, according to city data. A block of about 2,850 motel and hotel beds — added to reduce the strain on the system — were 85 per cent full.

An additional 1,034 people took shelter inside drop-ins, the warming centre at Metro Hall, three locations of the Out of the Cold program and the first of the city’s new winter respite sites — domed structures with space for 100 cots.

Despite the persistent winter cold, makeshift encampments remain the living choice of some, often alongside major roads or beneath the Gardiner Expressway. Last week people at some of those sites were told they would face eviction in 14 days, as first reported by the Toronto Sun.

Brad Ross, head of communications for the city, said that members of Toronto’s Streets to Homes Program are working to provide them with access to shelter and housing, or any additional services they need. A key concern, he said, was the risk of fire as people try to stay warm inside tents and makeshift structures. Some sites are also dangerously close to traffic, he said.

“At some point we need to say you can’t camp on the street. We need to remove the structure,” said Ross, speaking with the Star on Saturday. “It becomes a public safety issue, whether for the individual themselves or for the public.”

Several hundred people gathered in the freezing cold to honour Papineau’s memory on Thursday, at a makeshift memorial set up near where she died, and to call on all levels of government to provide more support for people in need.

“This is not a death by misadventure,” said Lesley Wood, with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. “This is death by neglect. Neglect of housing. Neglect of shelters. Neglect of services.”

One place where Papineau was well known was Sistering on Bloor St. W., where women can find safety and support all hours of the day and night.

“Crystal left us a gift. And the gift was the beginning of this gathering,” executive director Patricia O’Connell told mourners at the Thursday night vigil.

“She has given us this opportunity, sadly, to say homelessness in this city, in this province, in this country, is an epidemic,” she said. “Crystal’s death was the result of extreme poverty … we cannot let her death be in vain.”

Emily Mathieu is a Toronto-based reporter covering affordable and precarious housing. Follow her on Twitter: @emathieustar

Laurie Monsebraaten is a Toronto-based reporter covering social justice. Follow her on Twitter: @lmonseb


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Senator calls for national bad doctor registry in wake of Star investigation


For decades, Marilou McPhedran worked to strengthen patient-protection laws in Ontario. The human rights lawyer chaired three task forces to combat sexual abuse of patients by doctors, producing hundreds of pages of reports for government with bold recommendations.

But all McPhedran sees is unfinished business.

“There can be, there should be, there needs to be a national database,” of disciplined physicians, starting with those guilty of sexually abusing patients, says Senator Marilou McPhedran.
“There can be, there should be, there needs to be a national database,” of disciplined physicians, starting with those guilty of sexually abusing patients, says Senator Marilou McPhedran.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star file photo)

She’s now seizing her position as independent senator to make one more aggressive bid to spark a federal review of the issues and solutions that she says medical regulators and health ministries across the country have ignored at the public’s peril.

“There can be, there should be, there needs to be a national database,” she said, that identifies physicians found guilty of serious misconduct, starting with those who sexually exploit and abuse their patients.

McPhedran lauded the Toronto Star’s ongoing “Medical Disorder” investigation as an impetus for her new campaign. The Star tracked more than 150 doctors who have held medical licences on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border and faced regulatory discipline for misconduct or incompetence. The data showed that in 90 per cent of cases, Canada’s medical watchdogs failed to share these doctors’ disciplinary histories with the public, even when they involved charges of rape, murder and child pornography.

Creating a “permanent record” that captures sexual offenders across the country is just a start, McPhedran said. In light of the Star investigation, McPhedran said she’s reviewing the evidence to support broadening the database initiative to include doctors who are disciplined for all forms of misconduct and incompetence.

Read More:

Bad doctors who cross the border can hide their dirty secrets. We dug them up

Canada’s medical watchdogs know more about bad doctors than they are telling you

Regulators expect doctors to tell the truth about their past. Here’s what happens when they don’t

The federal health minister’s office confirmed Ginette Petitpas Taylor has met on several occasions with McPhedran to discuss this issue, most recently in December 2018. McPhedran is submitting a report to Taylor that explains why a national registry is critical to public safety in the hope the proposal will be added to the agenda of a forthcoming federal-provincial health ministers meeting.

“Canadians put their trust in their health professionals and we need to do everything we can to prevent misconduct and abuse,” Minister Petitpas Taylor said in a statement to the Star. “I have raised this matter with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and will never hesitate to raise it with my counterparts in Provinces and Territories.”

A Canadian study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety a month after the Star investigation found that one in eight physicians disciplined by regulators across the country went on to re-offend. These 101 repeat offenders each had up to six disciplinary events between 2000 and 2015. Four of these doctors faced discipline in more than one jurisdiction. The majority were men. The proportion of obstetrician-gynecologists was higher among repeat offenders compared to physicians disciplined only once.

The physician researchers concluded the “distribution of transgression argues for a national disciplinary database which could improve communication between jurisdictional medical boards.”

Many of Canada’s medical regulators have told the Star that what information they share with the public about physician discipline is less important than the fact that they are sharing these details with each other.

“That is a disturbingly self-interested definition of serving the public,” McPhedran said. “All I can deduce from that practice is that they are serving the privilege of their organization. Regulators can’t serve the public interest and demonstrate that they’re keeping the promise that these organizations have made under the law across this country if they are not accountable and transparent. It doesn’t add up.”

Diana Zlomislic is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Email: dzlo@thestar.ca. Twitter: @dzlo


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Trudeau calls byelections for Burnaby South, York—Simcoe and Outremont for Feb. 25


OTTAWA—Jagmeet Singh will finally get his chance.

After weeks in which the NDP leader bemoaned what he felt was an unjustifiable delay, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scheduled the byelection in the British Columbia riding of Burnaby South.

The vote will take place Monday, Feb. 25.

Byelections will also be held that day in York—Simcoe, a seat that was previously held by former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Van Loan, and Outremont. The latter riding was home to former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. His victory there in 2007 is widely seen the first step toward the historic “Orange Wave” breakthrough in 2011, in which New Democrats vaulted the Liberals to become the official opposition for the first time in Canadian history.

Trudeau did not call a byelection for the fourth vacancy in the House of Commons: Nanaimo—Ladysmith, where the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson resigned this month to run for a provincial seat that could alter the balance of power in the B.C. legislature, where New Democrat Premier John Horgan heads a minority government supported by the Green Party.

Singh’s absence from the House of Commons—the former Ontario MPP has never held a federal seat — has been repeatedly highlighted as the NDP leader has faced a series of challenges over the 15 months since he won the job. Fundraising returns, for instance, have plummeted from levels seen three years ago, to the point where Singh has foregone a salary from the party he leads.

His decision to try and win his breakthrough seat in Burnaby meant that he had to relocate from Ontario to the B.C. riding, where he now rents an apartment with his wife.

Singh will face Liberal nominee Karen Wang, a local daycare business owner, and Conservative Jay Shin—a lawyer—in the coming byelection.

In the 2015 general election, New Democrat Kennedy Stewart won the riding by just 547 votes over the Liberal candidate.

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga


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