City of Barrie to close downtown parking for snow-removal operations Family Day weekend – Barrie


The City of Barrie will be performing snow-removal operations this long weekend.

According to a news release issued by the city, the snow removal will begin at 10 p.m., on Sunday, Feb. 17, and continue on Monday, Feb. 18.

The City says any vehicles that are not removed from metered parking spots by 6 p.m. on Sunday and Monday will be ticketed and towed.

“Snow lift operations in the downtown area are an essential part of the City’s efforts to keep the streets clear and passable for residents, as well as emergency vehicles,” the release reads.

Blustery winter weather on the way for Barrie, Collingwood, Midland: Environment Canada

According to the city, overnight on Sunday, the following roads will be cleared until 7:30 a.m.:

  • Bayfield Street from Sophia Street to Simcoe Street
  • Clapperton Street from McDonald Street to Dunlop Street East
  • Owen Street from McDonald Street to Dunlop Street East
  • Mulcaster Street from Codrington Street to Simcoe Street
  • Poyntz Street from Collier Street to Dunlop Street East
  • Codrington Street from McDonald Street to Mulcaster Street
  • McDonald Street from Sophia Street East to Mulcaster Street
  • Worsley Street from Bayfield Street to Mulcaster Street
  • Collier Street from Bayfield Street to Sampson Street
  • Dunlop Street East from Bayfield Street to Poyntz Street
  • Chase McEachern Way from Bayfield Street to Meridian Place
  • Simcoe Street from Bayfield Street to Mulcaster Street

Overnight on Monday, Feb. 18, the following roads will be cleared until 7:30 a.m.:

  • Ross Street from Wellington Street West to Bayfield Street
  • Park Street between Parkside Drive to Toronto Street
  • Dunlop Street West from Eccles Street South to Bayfield Street
  • Simcoe Street from Bradford Street to Bayfield Street
  • High Street from Park Street to Dunlop Street West
  • Bradford Street from Dunlop Street West to Simcoe Street
  • Toronto Street from Ross Street to Simcoe Street
  • Mary Street from Ross Street to Simcoe Street
  • Maple Avenue from Ross Street to Simcoe Street

According to the release, the snow-removal operation will involve rolling road closures, which will be co-ordinated by Barrie police and city staff.

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A photo taken on Toronto’s Corso Italia 49 years ago became a family legend. No one saw it — until now


Mary and Nick Pascale have always told their children about the summer day, nearly 50 years ago, when a newspaperman snapped their photograph on Corso Italia.

In 1970 they had just started dating. Nick was 19, welding in a factory by night and studying at the Marvel Beauty School by day. Mary was nearly 16 — in high school, working part time at Mr. Textile on St. Clair W., the place where Italian ladies shopped for imported silk, wool and Crimplene, that miraculous stretch fabric.

On St. Clair Ave. W. in 1970, photographer Bob Olsen asked Nick if he would pose for a photo, then he saw Mary walking toward them and changed his plan slightly.
On St. Clair Ave. W. in 1970, photographer Bob Olsen asked Nick if he would pose for a photo, then he saw Mary walking toward them and changed his plan slightly.  (Bob Olsen / Toronto Star)

It was a Saturday in July when Mary and Nick decided to meet on St. Clair. Mary had lived in Canada for about four years, and the street felt like home with all the Italian voices. Money was tight, and if she wanted the latest fashions, she sewed them herself. Nick can still remember the softness of the jersey knit fabric of her red paisley mini-dress. He was about two years in Canada then, by way of Milan, and he lived with his sister in Toronto, where fashion was “zero.”

A Star photographer named Bob Olsen was walking along St. Clair W. and College St. that summer, taking pictures of Toronto’s growing Italian community.

According to the 1971 census, there were 270,000 Italians in Metro Toronto, many arriving after the Second World War. Men found jobs in the construction industry, and many Italian women worked in factories. More than 90 per cent of Italian families owned their own homes or were planning to buy them, according to a survey by Corriere Canadese, the city’s Italian-language newspaper.

Italians had changed Toronto forever, and it wasn’t just the cement verandas. “The town’s cosmopolitan flavour, due in large part to the Italian influence, is several kilometres removed from the homburg-and-briefcase, roast-beef-sandwich Toronto of the early 1950s,” Star reporter Trent Frayne wrote in 1970, noting that Italians had worked hard for a good life in Canada, but faced challenges. Children learned English in school, but the language divide was hard on adults.

According to the 1971 census, there were 270,000 Italians in Metro Toronto, many arriving after the Second World War.
According to the 1971 census, there were 270,000 Italians in Metro Toronto, many arriving after the Second World War.  (Bob Olsen / Toronto Star)
The image of Nick and Mary, who in 1970 had just started dating, was arresting. But what became of the photo, and the couple?

Olsen asked Nick if he would pose for a photo, then he saw Mary walking toward them on the south side of St. Clair, east of Lansdowne Ave., and changed his plan slightly. He didn’t know that Nick and Mary were an item ever since they met at La Rotonda, a restaurant and dance hall on Dufferin St., where every Sunday afternoon Italian teens danced to live bands. Southern Italian parents were especially strict so Mary pretended she was going to the library, but her dad knew better.

One Sunday, Nick was there. He ordered a Coke, and held a cigarette to look cool. He saw Mary in her red leather skirt and white blouse, turning down every guy who asked for a dance. What’s she here for if she doesn’t want to dance? he thought. He walked over to her, prepared to make a point, but he asked her to dance instead. She had already noticed him when he walked in, handsome in beautiful Italian clothes.

Part of a photo series on Toronto's Italian neighbourhood in the summer of 1970.
Part of a photo series on Toronto’s Italian neighbourhood in the summer of 1970.  (Bob Olsen / Toronto Star)

They danced all afternoon.

They were both born in small towns in Calabria, the sun-drenched southern region where the air was fragrant with sage, rosemary and oregano, and a faint smoky smell from the small fires that always seemed to be burning.

At the dance, someone had a car, and a group of them went to Vesuvio’s Pizzeria in the Junction. Nick passed her a family business card for a painting company. Call me, he said. “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles was playing on the radio.

Olsen didn’t know any of this, when he snapped their photo in front of a small grocery store on St. Clair. The story about the Italian community ran that fall, but not their photo, which was filed away in a plastic box of slides in the newsroom. The couple married four years later. Mary sewed the blue silk bridesmaid dresses. Three children followed. She worked at COSTI, an organization that had been founded to help Italian immigrants adjust to life Toronto. (As the city became more multicultural, the organization widened its focus.) Nick became an in-demand hairstylist in Yorkville.

  (Bob Olsen/ Toronto Star)

In 1993, they opened a gourmet grocery shop near Yonge and Eglinton, with Italian deli, cheese and imported food. All the while, they wondered about the photo. It became a family legend, and even this past Christmas they were talking about it. Their daughter Cinzia always wanted to see it. Her parents didn’t have a lot of money then, and cameras were expensive. There weren’t many photos.

Toronto Star visuals editor Kelsey Wilson, who runs the @torontostararchives account, recently found the box of extrachrome slides in the newsroom. She posted the photos online in January, and one of the most arresting images was a woman in front of a St. Clair grocery shop, a young man beside her, with a child in an apron holding an orange. People recognized her face.

Not long after, Mary was at the back of Pascale Gourmet when a customer came in waving her phone: Is this you?

Mary and Nick Pascale and their daughter Cinzia hold a framed copy of the photo taken by Bob Olsen in 1970. They're pictured at the grocery store they own, Pascale Gourmet.
Mary and Nick Pascale and their daughter Cinzia hold a framed copy of the photo taken by Bob Olsen in 1970. They’re pictured at the grocery store they own, Pascale Gourmet.  (Toronto Star)

Mary saw the sunny Saturday of 49 years ago on the screen. She screamed. She jumped up and down. She drove home where Nick was busy making dinner. He shrugged it off at first, and then he “really saw it.”

It was the photo. The photo.

“I had tears,” he says. “I really had tears.”

At their shop, where you can buy sandwiches named for customers, or try “The Mary” or “The Nick,” they hold up the slides to the light and Mary reflects on how they “grew up together.” “The Long and Winding Road” was on the radio this morning, she says. It’s been the song of their life.

“We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re still together. That’s what I find is amazing,” she says. “Here we are 50 years later … still very much in love the way we were then.”

  (Bob Olsen / Toronto Star)


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Family rallies around Wilson-Raybould as First Nation chiefs blast Trudeau over reconciliation ‘farce’


After Bill Wilson got off the phone Monday evening with his daughter Kory Wilson he said he got the sense that there was something wrong, but he couldn’t quite place the unease or link it to his other daughter, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

He immediately remembered the phone call on Tuesday, when he heard the news Wilson-Raybould had resigned from cabinet.

« There was something wrong, she seemed to see something was pending, » said Wilson, a Kwakwaka’wakw hereditary chief who faced off with former prime minister Pierre Trudeau in heated constitutional talks in the 1980s.

Wilson said that as the scandal evolved, triggered by the Globe and Mail reporting that Wilson-Raybould was pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene in the criminal prosecution of multinational engineering firm SNC Lavalin, he started to doubt she could remain in cabinet.

« If this moves out the way it is, it’s not because of Jody, but because of what I consider to be a crime committed at the highest level, » said Wilson. « It could very well bring down a government. »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly denied he directed Wilson-Raybould to intervene on the criminal prosecution of SNC Lavelin. On Monday, Trudeau said he had « full confidence » in her as Minister of Veterans Affairs. Justice Minister David Lametti has also denied the PMO exerted any pressure on Wilson-Raybould on the SNC Lavalin case.

Kory Wilson, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s sister, says the family is rallying around the former cabinet minister. (BCIT)

Kory Wilson said she went out for supper in Vancouver with her children and Wilson-Raybould on Sunday, but their conversations focused on personal matters. 

Wilson said her sister expressed excitement about her new portfolio at Veterans Affairs.

« I feel bad for the veterans, she was very excited to have that file, » Kory Wilson said. « She enjoyed the meet and greets. »

‘I text her I love her’

Wilson said she is in constant communication with her sister via texts and phone.

« I text her I love her, » said Wilson. « In difficult times, family rallies around their family and that is … what we do. She is a very strong person. »

Shortly after news of the cabinet resignation surfaced, Wilson tweeted:

Wilson said she was referring to the rubber boots people wear in the village where their grandmother comes from.

Wilson said it has been hard for her to see her sister go through this ordeal and face sniping from unnamed Liberal sources in the press.

« I think no one likes to see a family member thrown under the bus, » she said. « It’s a hard road to go … I am behind her and a whole pile of people are behind her. »

B.C. First Nation leaders alarmed

In B.C., news of the resignation rocketed through First Nation political circles.

B.C. First Nation Summit Grand Chief Ed John said it will be a year on Feb. 14 since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s House of Commons speech where he declared the beginning of a new chapter in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, through the tabling of an Indigenous rights recognition framework.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embraced by Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould after delivering a speech on Feb. 14, 2018, on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights in the House of Commons. Wilson-Raybould resigned from the federal cabinet on Tuesday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Wilson-Raybould embraced Trudeau after the speech and the moment was captured in a photograph.

The framework promise — which allegedly caused friction between then Minister of Justice Wilison-Raybould and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett — is now essentially dead.  

« It’s just staggering to see how this is transpiring, » said John.

John said he last spoke to Wilson-Raybould while they were on a flight from Vancouver to Ottawa on the day before the Jan. 14 cabinet shuffle. He said she didn’t give anything away.

« It’s a pretty drastic move on her part, to take this step, we don’t know where the chips will fall at the end of the day, » he said.

B.C. First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed John said chiefs needed to bring proposals to the table on the Indigenous rights recognition framework. (CBC)

B.C. Assembly of First Nations regional Chief Terry Teegee said he brought up his concerns about the cabinet shuffle during a meeting between the AFN chiefs executive and Trudeau along with some of his ministers held the day of the shuffle.

Teegee said he thinks Wilson-Raybould, based on her speeches as Justice Minister, was facing resistance from Trudeau’s inner circle and the senior bureaucracy on moving the Indigenous rights file forward.

« She was seeing push back from her colleagues … and perhaps the party, » Teegee said.

Terry Teegee, a regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, says he believes Jody Wilson-Raybould faced resistance on her push for Indigenous rights from within Trudeau’s Liberal government. (Courtesy of Terry Teegee)

Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said the narrative around Wilson-Raybould has destroyed Trudeau’s credibility on reconciliation.

« To me it smells and reeks of collusion within cabinet … the words that the prime minister spoke about reconciliation and the (UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples) are simply a farce, » said Chamberlin.

Chief Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, says the Jody Wilson-Raybould affair has undermined the credibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on reconciliation. (CBC)

Sending a message

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former Saskatchewan judge, has watched the arc of Wilson-Raybould’s career for about 20 years. She said Wilson-Raybould would not have resigned over something trivial or personal.

« My instinct is that she is standing up for an impartial justice system and a nation based on the rule of law, » said Turpel-Lafond, currently director of the University of British Columbia’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre.

« It is a hard stand to take, but it’s essential. »

Turpel-Lafond said she saw a connection between Wilson-Raybould’s resignation and Trudeau’s statement Monday.

Trudeau said on Monday that he had a recent discussion with Wilson-Raybould where « she confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone. » 

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former Saskatchewan judge, said she sees a link between Trudeau’s revelation of a conversation he had with Jody Wilson-Raybould and her decision to quit cabinet. (CBC)

The Globe and Mail reported that the PMO pressured Wilson-Raybould to intervene with the director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to drop the criminal prosecution of SNC Lavalin in favour of a plea bargain deal.

« This comes on the heels of the prime minister’s statement yesterday where he said certain things about their conversation, » said Turpel-Lafond. « One can’t help but think if this [resignation] was linked to that. »

Turpel-Lafond also said that Wilson-Raybould’s choice of lawyer, former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell, sent a message.

« She has retained a very noted individual who is a person of high expertise and integrity. That also sends a signal that there will be some kind of defence of the rule of law and the administration of justice, » said Turpel-Lafond.

« It sends a bit of a message to me. »  


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Family doctors can no longer claim ritzy drug dinners as professional training


Canadian family doctors can no longer earn educational credits for attending swanky drug dinners, where pharmaceutical companies wine and dine physicians at some of the country’s most upscale restaurants.

The change, part of larger efforts to protect the integrity of the continuing medical education doctors are obligated to take, is outlined in a new report released by the College of Family Physicians of Canada to its more than 38,000 members.

Although doctors can still choose to attend the dinners, they will not receive credits.

“Our view is that (the dinners) are basically marketing evenings,” said Dr. Jeff Sisler, who oversees medical education programming for the College.

“We’re trying in that decision to discourage members from that kind of learning, and remind them that it is not viewed by the College as appropriate continuing professional development.”

In Ontario, physicians are required to attend continuing medical education to keep their licence in good standing.

Read more:

Drug companies wine and dine family physicians

Critics have long said that in providing professional development, pharmaceutical companies are disguising a sales pitch as education, and doctors are encouraged to prescribe a sponsoring drug maker’s product over other options.

A 2016 Star investigation exposed questionable practices at some of these dinners, where everything from the speaker to the food and wine was bankrolled by the drug company. In Toronto, the soirees included a three-course meal at Sassafraz in Yorkville.

At more than one dinner, the Star found the speaker recommended a medication to treat certain conditions — the medication made by the same company that funded the event. In the days following a company-sponsored dinner lecture on managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, a rep from the pharmaceutical company visited the clinic of one of the doctors who attended with samples of its latest product.

The new report reveals that the College’s professional development department received nearly $80,000 from the pharmaceutical industry in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The money came from fees drug companies paid to have their educational programs reviewed and certified.

Since tightening the rules last year to no longer certify educational events put on by drug companies, the College expects that amount of direct revenue from industry to drop to zero, the report said.

“That’s been a big change for us,” one prompted by concerns of a “high risk (of bias),” Dr. Sisler said.

But that change does not mean medical education will be completely free of industry money.

Pharmaceutical companies can still give money to groups putting on the educational events, though new restrictions put in place by the College and other doctor organizations bar the sponsoring drug makers from participating in choosing a speaker or developing the presentation.

In 2017-2018, 31 per cent of the applications to have an event certified by the College declared some kind of funding support from drug companies, the new report said.

Dr. Sheryl Spithoff, a family physician at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, said the College needs to go further and not accredit any educational event put on by a group funded by industry.

“We know that when the pharmaceutical industry funds physician education, it leads physicians to prescribe drugs more often, and prescribe less appropriately,” Dr. Spithoff said

“What we really want to stop is to stop the influence,” she said. “The only way to change that appears to be stopping the funding.”

Dr. Sisler said the College, however, continues to support “a mixed model” of funding for professional development.

“There is no direction or intent at the moment to move to a time when pharma support is not permitted period. That isn’t the way things are moving at the moment,” he said.

Jesse McLean is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @jesse_mclean


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Peterborough family seeks to raise awareness of stem cell donation in memory of son – Peterborough


A Peterborough family is speaking out about the importance of stem cell donation after a stranger’s transplant helped their son, Harrison McKinnon.

Harrison was born on Sept. 15, 2014, but just after he turned one, the young boy got very sick.

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“He was ultimately diagnosed with lymphoma — anaplastic large-cell lymphoma. It’s a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which we were told is the good kind,” said Harrison’s mother, Shannon McKinnon.

Harrison went through a year and half of treatment, and in March of 2017, he had a stem cell transplant.

“He was matched to this anonymous donor so he was able to get the stem cell transplant, but unfortunately part of the process is that they eradicate the immune system so that the body doesn’t reject the stem cells, and that made him susceptible to infection,” McKinnon explained.

Harrison’s immune system got very weak, and he died of a bacterial infection in June 2017.

READ MORE: Alberta woman shares stem cell donation experience to raise awareness

But while Harrison is no longer here, his legacy lives on. On Thursday, the Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Canadian Blood Services organized a stem cell swab session in Harrison’s memory.

“They will mail you a self-swab kit. You do your cheek swabs: there’s four very long Q-tips, you’ll rub the inside of your cheek, send it in the sealed envelope back to us and then you are part of the registry,” said Debbi Barfoot, territory manager of Canadian Blood Services.

If you are someone’s match, it could have a far-reaching impact.

READ MORE: ‘Needle in a haystack’: Stem cell drive seeks match for man with two rare forms of cancer

“Basically, anyone in the world who has this unique marker profile could (be) matched to someone in this country and need their stem sells, basically to try and save their lives,” McKinnon said.

Harrison’s family is also organizing blood donor clinics on Feb. 19, 21 and 22 at Canadian Blood Services on George Street in Peterborough. They urge everyone to come out and donate and help honour little Harrison’s legacy.

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


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‘We haven’t let his memory go’; Vigil held for Boushie family 1 year after verdict


A vigil was held for Colten Boushie at the Chapel Art Gallery in North Battleford on Feb. 9, 2019. It included a pipe ceremony, reflections on the year, speeches from family and a candlelight vigil at dusk.

It marked the one year anniversary of Gerald Stanley being found not guilty of murder in a case that attracted international attention. Colten Boushie, from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation, was shot and killed in a Saskatchewan farmyard in 2016.

« I’m very proud and honoured for everybody that showed up here today and their support, » said Debbie Baptiste, Colten Boushie’s mother. « Just happy that everybody showed up. »

Baptiste said the past year has been very hard.

« We continued going to ceremonies, praying and we haven’t let his memory go, » she said.

A ceremony and candlelight vigil was held for the Boushie family to remember Colton Boushie. Debbie Baptiste, Boushie’s mother, said she was honoured to see many people come out. (Samuel Desbiens/Radio Canada)

« My heart’s going to be broken, » Baptiste said of the candlelight vigil. « But with the candle lights and the support and the prayers behind me, I’ll be okay. »

Jace Boushie attended to show support for his little brother. He said the family has attended a number of ceremonies recently and he said he’s tired.

« These kind of anniversaries — we try to continue on with prayer, » he said. « It’s our culture, tradition. It’s what we do. »

It hasn’t gotten easier over the year, Boushie said.

« [It’s a] great big hole. It’s never going away, » he said. « Cope with it, still coping with it. »

Jace Boushie is an older brother to the late Colton Boushie. Jace said it hasn’t gotten easier over the past year but when he saw Indigenous people on the jury for the Whitstone case it was a start. (Samuel Desbiens/Radio-Canada)

« I’d like it to be, » he said, adding that he has a family of his own, and that the « post traumatic stress, it’s not good for our children. »

Baptiste said she gives support to others going through similar situations and she’s noticed some change in the justice system, but more needs to happen.

« I did see some Natives on a jury trial, » she said. « I was like in shock. Surprised, happy, I said there’s still hope that we can get fair, equal justice in a courtroom. »

Family of Colton Boushie delivered speeches at the Chapel Art Gallery in North Battleford. (Samuel Desbiens/Radio-Canada)

« We need more Native advocates out there, » she said. « We need more people to go into the courtrooms and help these people out. »

« And I will continue speaking, » Baptiste said. « I probably will never stop speaking. »


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Kingston couple sift through red tape in search of family doctor – Kingston


Kingston’s Griete Wemekamp, 67, and her husband Bernd Rummel, 72, are on the hunt for a new primary health-care provider.

“It’s really scary and this in a province, in a country — that prides itself on its medicare system. It’s clearly broken.”

On Friday, Jan. 25, the couple received a letter stating their family physician was leaving Meadowbrook Family Medicine in Kingston at the end of April.

“A doctor, obviously a young doctor in particular, has the right to pursue their career, and to do different things — like the rest of us,” said Wemekamp. “However, I think there is a professional responsibility on the part of doctor and clinic in which they work, working together, to ensure that patients are not left holding the bag.”

Kingston needs to pin down concrete numbers on doctor shortage, says medical consultant

Rummel has several chronic medical conditions that require constant monitoring from a physician and they are bracing for a gap in care.

“There was no indication that there would be a transitional arrangement at the Meadowbrook clinic,” Wemekamp said. “Instead, we were told to go and find another doctor as soon as possible, and to also call this Health Care Connect line.”

Health Care Connect is a government agency meant to assist Ontario residents in finding a family doctor.

In order for Wemekamp and her husband to get onto the waitlist, though, the couple would first have to ‘de-register’ with their current doctor. To do that the couple were directed to call Service Ontario and confirmation on being de-registered could take up to 10 days and will arrive by mail.

“Now that I find very strange,” Wemekamp said. “It’s 2019. Ontario doesn’t have a computer system that allows input from one person to be seen by another person for 10 days? I don’t understand that part of it. In any case, we sit here waiting.”

Doctor at Kingston General hospital on what occurred during lockdown

A spokesperson for Meadowbrook Family Medicine told Global News they are in desperate search to find a new physician and said that the current payment model — fee for service — is not helping to attract and retain young doctors.

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


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Supporters rally in support of Hamilton family facing deportation to Hungary – Hamilton


Thirty people have rallied outside of the Bay Street Federal Building in support of a Hamilton family that faces deportation to Hungary.

The four members of the Almassy-Palfi family have spent more than seven years building their lives in Canada, but will have to leave this weekend without a last-minute suspension of their deportation order.

Elizabeth Almassy has a PhD and was a college professor in Budapest, but has been working in Hamilton alongside her husband as building superintendents.

Elizabeth says she fled domestic violence in Hungary, along with her now teenaged sons, claiming refugee status in September 2011 but their claim was rejected last Spring.

If the deportation order can be suspended, she is hoping to eventually get the right to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Otherwise, the deportation order will be enforced on Sunday.

Her sons, 18-year-old Adam and 16-year-old Marton Palfi, just started new semesters at Westmount Secondary School. Adam hopes to start his post-secondary education in the fall, noting that he was just accepted into Carleton University.

Hamilton-East/Stoney Creek Liberal MP Bob Bratina says he supports the family’s desire to stay in Canada and is still advocating for what he calls “the right decision” to their active file.

In the meantime, Elizabeth says they are “so nervous, so stressed,” and “wish to stay here forever if we can.”

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


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Flawed system: Canada’s family reunification program comes under fire – Montreal


Nivin Zaim dreams of the day her father can move to Canada permanently.

He lives in Denmark, and the 23-year-old flight attendant only sees him once a year.

“He feels life is too short and too precious. And it’s difficult for him to be away from me,” said Zaim, who was born in Denmark but has lived in Montreal with her mother since she was seven.

“Imagine only getting to see your parents once a year. It’s tough, it’s really tough.”

Zaim got excited when she heard about the government’s parent and grandparent sponsorship program. The program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to apply to bring their grandparents and parents to Canada as permanent residents.

Canadians vent frustration on social media after online applications to bring family to Canada fill up in mere minutes

To apply this year, the government turned to an online application process, open at noon on January 28th.

Zaim took the day off work to submit the application. But she never got a chance to actually do that.

She tried logging in at noon, but the application form was nowhere to be found on the Immigration Canada website.

Within minutes, a notice popped up, informing her the application process had closed.

“I could not believe it. I thought surely it was a glitch. I didn’t understand what was going on,” a frustrated Zaim said. “Why is it the system isn’t fair for everyone? Isn’t that something we pride ourselves on, fairness and equality?”

WATCH: Many frustrated after online applications to bring family to Canada fill up in just minutes

Immigration Canada told Global News more than 100,000 people tried accessing the application form on Monday. Only 27,000 succeeded.

In a statement, press secretary Mathieu Genest told Global News:

“We understand that those who were not able to make a submission are disappointed. The Parents and Grandparents program has always been popular….Which is why we quadrupled the intake of applications to 20,000 from 5,000 under the Conservative government.”

Last year, the Trudeau government held a randomized lottery to apply for the program, which also came under heavy criticism for being unfair.

This year, the government changed the system to a first-come, first-served format.

Canada’s parent, grandparent sponsorship program criticized for lack of fairness

Genest said older systems also came under criticism.

“Under the Conservatives, the process favoured those who could pay courier companies to submit application at local offices.  In response to feedback about this practice, IRCC moved to a random selection process,” Genest wrote. “After extensive consultations and hearing directly from Canadians across the country, we implemented this first come first serve online system to ensure it was fair and created safeguards to ensure the system is not abused.”

Thousands of Canadians who couldn’t access the system complained online on social media. Some are starting a petition to complain about the process.

Experts admit the system’s isn’t perfect.

“Any system to some extent is going to be flawed, in that all the people who want to come in are not all going to be satisfied,” said immigration lawyer David Cohen.

Immigration Canada says relatives can still apply for “Super Visas,” allowing them to stay for two years.

But they won’t have access to health insurance or employment.

“It’s not necessarily because someone is in a dire situation that they want to come to Canada.”

Zaim said she’s already looking ahead to next year, when she hopes, at the very least, she can get her application submitted.

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


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After McArthur’s guilty plea, a devastated family of one of his victims wants him punished to the ‘maximum sentence’


The “devastated” family of one of Bruce McArthur’s victims says they want the serial killer punished to “the maximum sentence,” and are renewing calls for a public inquiry into police handling of the case.

Ferhat Cinar listened in from his home in London, England, Tuesday as McArthur, 67, pleaded guilty to killing his brother, Selim Esen, and seven other men in Toronto between 2010 and 2017, most of the killings sexual in nature.

Esen, a 44-year-old native of Turkey, was McArthur’s seventh victim, killed in April 2017. Esen’s DNA was located in McArthur’s van, as well as on the murder weapon, which was not specified in court Tuesday. A statement of facts read out said police found “evidence of the use of a ligature.”

Found in McArthur’s apartment was a notebook kept by Esen, who was described by his family as a lover of sociology and philosophy who had an “inquisitive mind.”

“We can’t come to terms with his savage murder,” Cinar said in a statement sent to the Star Thursday, on behalf of Esen’s family, many of whom remain in Turkey.

Submissions are scheduled to begin at Ontario Superior Court Monday, where McArthur’s lawyers and Crown prosecutors will begin deliberations on McArthur’s sentence. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, when McArthur will be 91 years old.

The hearings will decide whether McArthur serves the sentences for each first-degree murder concurrently, or if he will be granted consecutive sentences, pushing his parole eligibility far into the future.

Next week’s proceedings will hear at least two dozen victim impact statements, including from Esen’s family.

“We feel and think strongly that the murderer must be punished with the maximum sentence,” Cinar said.

Renewing a call he made last year when he travelled to Toronto for Esen’s funeral, Cinar stressed that more needs to be done to determine how McArthur went undetected for years. The former landscaper killed his first victim, 40-year-old Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, in 2010, seven years before Esen.

In between, McArthur killed Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam. After Esen, McArthur killed Andrew Kinsman, his last victim.

“We think that a full independent public inquiry must be carried out in order to get into the bottom of this neglect over many years,” Cinar said.

“Lives could have been saved, including Selim’s, if there were proper investigation in time and place.”

Former Ontario Court of Appeal judge Gloria Epstein is conducting an independent review of how Toronto police handle missing person’s investigations. The probe was commissioned by the Toronto police board in the wake of controversy over the McArthur case and other high profile disappearances from the city’s Gay Village.

On Wednesday, Epstein wrote a letter to Toronto police board chair Andy Pringle asking that her review be broadened to allow her to examine the police investigation into McArthur himself. Currently, Epstein cannot review Toronto police handling of the serial killer — including past contacts with him — due to restrictions created to preserve McArthur’s fair-trial rights.

Pringle said the board will consider the request at a future meeting, considering McArthur’s fair-trial rights are now no longer a concern due to his guilty plea.

Toronto police spoke to McArthur twice in the years before his arrest, once during a previous investigation into the disappearances of his victims and again in 2016 after a man reported to police that McArthur had attempted to strangle him, but he was let go.

While many within Toronto’s LGBTQ community have praised the actions of the Toronto police officers whose work led to McArthur’s arrest, some feel a public inquiry could identify systemic issues that may have prevented McArthur from being caught sooner.

Mayor John Tory said this week there may be cause for a “broader inquiry” into the case — beyond Epstein’s missing persons review — and Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province would consider it. A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General said Wednesday that any consideration of an inquiry would happen after McArthur’s sentencing hearing.

“A full independent public inquiry should help learn the lessons and put measures in place in order for people of any sexuality, whatever their background, feel free and safe to express themselves and live in harmony,” Cinar said.

Esen’s family described him as selfless, someone who loved playing with his cousins, supported his sister after her husband’s death, and borrowed money to help his friends when they needed financial support. He had many talents and interests, Cinar said, including “nature, growing trees, textile design, managing a café among many other things.”

“We all loved our youngest brother Selim and miss him so much.”

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


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