Peel Police charge father of dead girl, 11, with first-degree murder

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An eleven-year-old girl is dead, and her father facing a charge of first degree murder, in a case that has shaken the region.

Riya Rajkumar was supposed to be celebrating her birthday, but, instead, became the subject of a late-night Amber Alert on Thursday night.

Peel Region police said they have found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, seen here with her father Roopesh Rajkumar, hours after an Amber Alert was issued late Thursday night.
Peel Region police said they have found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, seen here with her father Roopesh Rajkumar, hours after an Amber Alert was issued late Thursday night.  (Peel Regional Police)

She was found in her father’s home in Brampton on Hansen Rd. N., near Marshall Dr., hours after she vanished while in the care of 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar.

In front of the brown brick duplex, Friday, pink and white balloons blew in the wind, tied to a tree in front of the home, next to a growing pile of flowers and a bright pink teddy bear.

“Riya was like the princess of the family,” Roopesh’s cousin Ryan Ashadalli told reporters outside the home.

“She was just full of positive energy. She always had a smile wherever she went, he said, adding she had just returned from a vacation at Disneyland.

“I loved her.”

Police found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar in this Brampton home on Hansen Rd. N. early Friday morning.
Police found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar in this Brampton home on Hansen Rd. N. early Friday morning.  (Toronto Star)

Officers had to force their way into her father’s home around 11 p.m. Thursday evening. Rajkumar was arrested by Orillia OPP shortly after midnight, almost 130 km. away. He was suffering from a “medical issue,” Const. Danny Marttini told reporters outside Peel Police 22 division.

The birthdays of the girl and her mother fell on the Thursday.

“It’s very heart-wrenching,” said Marttini, who added that, in the final analysis, there’s a mother “moving forward without her daughter.”

Amber alerts were sent out late Thursday night and early Friday morning for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar.
Amber alerts were sent out late Thursday night and early Friday morning for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar.

Meadowvale Village Public School posted a statement on its website saying “this tragedy has brought tremendous sadness to the students and staff” and that grief counsellors will be at the school for as long as needed.

“Riya was a well-liked student, and her death is deeply felt by everyone at the school,” the statement read. “Even students who did not personally know Riya will also be affected by this tragedy.”

Rajkumar was taken into police custody shortly after midnight. He was taken to a hospital and then a trauma centre.

Police have charged him with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter.

The girl did not live with her father on a full-time basis, police said, but was dropped off at a Mississauga gas station at about 3 p.m.

“In a tragic situation like this, when your daughter goes to spend her birthday, especially on Valentine’s Day, with her father and you expect your child to come home, my heart aches for this family,” Const. Akhil Mooken told reporters shortly after the body was found.

“As a parent, I can’t even begin to imagine what the mom is going through, and it’s something that we never want to be involved in, but it’s a terrible situation.”

Police said Riya’s mother called the authorities when the pair did not return at 6:30 p.m., and reported that Rajkumar made comments indicating he could cause harm to himself and his daughter.

“That obviously set off alarms,” Marttini told reporters earlier. “It was of extreme concern, which is why she attended the division, saying ‘I’ve got that information and I’m concerned for the well-being of my daughter.’ ”

After police took measures such as searching where the two were last seen, pinpointing the location of the father’s cell phone and checking areas they were known to frequent, they asked for an Amber Alert to be issued.

Police visited the father’s home at around 7 p.m., but did not receive a response when they knocked on the door. At about 11 p.m., Marttini said, police forced entry into the house and found the girl’s body.

“At that point in the investigation, we had received enough information that they felt that the 11-year-old girl would, in fact, be in the residence and was in need of assistance,” Marttini said. “So, with that threat to somebody’s life, they were able to force entry.”

Asked how long the girl had been dead before police found her, Marttini said she didn’t have the exact timeline, and more will come out after the postmortem.

Emergency Management Ontario sent out an Amber Alert on mobile devices just after 11:30 p.m.

Read more: Late-night Amber Alert prompted multiple complaints to 911

“Peel Regional Police activate AMBER Alert. Victim is Riya Rajkumar age 11. Suspect is Roopesh Rajkumar age 41. Vehicle is silver Honda civic plate #ARBV 598. Last known location Eastbound 401. If observed, please call 911,” the alert read.

Peel police had requested an Amber Alert to be issued by OPP earlier in the evening, but the notification was not sent until after 11 p.m., Marttini said in a phone interview. She could not confirm what time they submitted the form.

A tip from the public, following the alert, led to Rajkumar’s arrest shortly after midnight by OPP near Orillia.

The brown brick house on Hansen Rd. N. was blocked off with police tape Friday morning, as was the side street, Crawford Dr.

Residents of the quiet residential neighbourhood were shocked.

Emmanuel Okafor saw the Amber Alert on TV late Thursday night and said he was praying it would have a positive ending.

“It’s unimaginable,” said Okafor, who didn’t know the family, but has a 6-year-old daughter of his own.

“No parent should ever have to bury their kid.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie tweeted that “there are absolutely no words to explain the senseless and tragic loss of young innocent Riya.

“As a mother of three, this makes me sick to my stomach. My heart grieves for the mother and family,” Crombie tweeted.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown thanked Peel police and the OPP for the quick arrest.

“Words cannot describe such a senseless and horrific act,” Brown tweeted.

With files from Marjan Asadullah, Ilya Banares and the Brampton Guardian

Stefanie Marotta is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @StefanieMarotta

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11

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Amber Alert issued for 11-year-old girl allegedly taken by father, last seen in Mississauga

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An Amber Alert has been issued by police for an 11-year-old girl who was allegedly taken by her father.

Peel Regional Police said Riya Rajkumar is with her 41-year-old father, Roopesh Rajkumar.

Police said comments were made by the man that indicated he might “cause harm to himself and (his) daughter.”

It is believed the pair are travelling in a silver, two-door Honda Civic with the licence plate ARBV 598. The two were last seen in the Hurontario and Derry roads area in Mississauga.

Riya was described as being four feet tall and weighing 60 pounds. She has a thin build and below-shoulder black hair.

Police said she was last seen wearing a pink dress with hearts, black boots, black tights, black jacket with a fur-lined hood. She also had a black and white purse with a pink heart and the letter R.

Anyone who sees either individual or the vehicle is asked to call 911.

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

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Politician, advocate, husband and father Paul Dewar succumbs to brain cancer

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When former Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer early in 2018, he was given some straightforward advice: Face death and walk back into life.

Dewar, who died at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday, did both, with all the dignity and purpose he could muster.

According to a statement from his family issued Wednesday, Dewar was with his wife, Julia Sneyd, and sons Nathaniel and Jordan when he died.

He was 56 years old.

Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer early in 2018, Paul Dewar has died. 3:03

Before his death, Dewar wrote a letter that his family posted on Facebook Wednesday. He said his illness made him truly appreciate the beauty in the world

« I told you that I thought my illness was a gift and I genuinely meant that. In this time in between, I got to see the wonder of the world around us. » 

On Feb. 14, 2018, Dewar underwent surgery to remove a large tumour caused by the same incurable brain cancer that had killed Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie just a few months earlier.

Dewar chose to go public with his glioblastoma diagnosis in June 2018. He won widespread praise for facing his impending death with courage and grace, and for his resolute approach to the time he had left.

« It’s Grade 4, which is terminal. There is no cure, » Dewar told Robyn Bresnahan, host of CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. In the same interview he also revealed he’d undergone the full range of treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

« Then you hope for the best in terms of how much time you have to live. »

As the disease progressed, Dewar’s brain tumour affected his motor control, impairing movement in his left arm. Because he was left-handed, tying shoes and writing became more difficult. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Strong voice for human rights 

The support and admiration he received during his illness crossed party lines.

In an interview with Rosemary Barton, host of CBC’s The National, Dewar spoke of how MPs had reached out and shown him « love and support » in his illness — including Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who defeated Dewar in Ottawa Centre in 2015.

« While we may sit on different sides of the aisle, we’re all colleagues together, » a visibly shaken McKenna said in the House of Commons after news broke of Dewar’s diagnosis.

Dewar, seen here during question period in the House of Commons in April 2013, was a strong advocate for human rights around the world and often berated the government for what he saw as Canada’s failings abroad. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Politics in the family

Politics was a family affair for the former teacher. His mother was former MP and Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar. Dewar won the Ottawa Centre riding in the January 2006 federal election, taking over from former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.

On his first day on the job, Dewar told CBC he was aware of the high expectations resting on his shoulders.

« Yes, there is a gulp in my throat, » he said.

Dewar retained his seat through the 2008 and 2011 elections, winning a reputation as an engaging, down-to-earth politician.

Opposition critic

Then-opposition leader Jack Layton appointed Dewar foreign affairs critic, and he continued to hector the Conservative government over Canada’s failure to intervene in social injustices around the world.

During his nine years in office, Dewar championed many causes. He called on the Conservatives to denounce Uganda after its parliament introduced an anti-LGBT bill that included life in prison for those convicted. He spoke out against the mass murder of civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan. He criticized human rights abuses in Iran and Saudi Arabia, to which Canada had sold armoured vehicles. He also condemned Canada’s dwindling role in global peacekeeping, penning an editorial chiding the Conservatives for « a pattern of disengagement and withdrawal from the international community » and warning of the dire consequences of Canada’s new « arrogant isolationism. »

Paul Dewar’s mother, former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar, spearheaded Project 4000, a campaign that brought 4,000 refugees fleeing Vietnam to Ottawa under private sponsorship. (CBC)

Dewar also refused to remain silent on issues closer to home, such as the raw sewage that for years had flowed into the Ottawa River during heavy downpours, the city’s lack of cycling infrastructure and the need for affordable housing at LeBreton Flats.

Dewar was also a vocal defender of federal public servants, especially when it came to threats against the independence of government scientists.

After Layton’s death in August 2011, Dewar announced his candidacy for NDP leader, but withdrew after finishing poorly on the first ballot.

Advocate for refugees

Dewar watched in 1979 as his mother, then mayor, spearheaded Project 4000, a campaign to bring 4,000 desperate Vietnamese « boat people » to Ottawa. In 2015, Dewar picked up that mantle, urging the Conservative government to fast-track thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing that country’s bloody civil war.

Speaking in 2015, the day after photos of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi’s corpse on a Turkish beach horrified the world, Dewar issued a call to action.

« Sometimes it takes that kind of image, and it was those images that my mother saw on the TV in 1979 that pushed her to act, » Dewar said.

Dewar often acknowledged his mother’s strong influence on his own politics.

« My mom was a strong feminist, and she said something very important and I learned at an early age: Don’t be afraid of power, know how to use and share it, and give it to those who don’t have it. »

Paul Dewar is flanked by his family after losing Ottawa Centre to Liberal Catherine McKenna in October 2015. (CBC News)

Created youth movement

After going public with his diagnosis, Dewar created Youth Action Now, an initiative to raise money to help engage young people to get involved in their communities. That movement will be among his lasting legacies.

As his disease progressed, Dewar took part in an immunotherapy drug trial at a Gatineau, Que., clinic aimed at prolonging his life.

« I really want more time with those two guys and Julia, » Dewar told CBC, his voice cracking with emotion.

« If I could steal more time, and hopefully I will, that’s what I want. » 

A celebration of Dewar’s life is expected to be announced in the coming days. 

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Burlington father whose three-year-old died in hot car gets absolute discharge from Milton judge

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MILTON—A Milton judge said the case of a father charged with accidentally leaving his three-year-old son in a hot car to die is one of the saddest cases she has dealt with.

In giving Shaun Pennell an absolute discharge, Justice Lesley Baldwin said Pennell’s family has suffered so much — and continues to suffer.

Pennell, 38, appeared in Milton court on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to provide the necessities of life to his child, Wyatt Pennell. The Crown was asking for a suspended sentence and probation.

Wyatt died from hyperthermia after being left in a hot vehicle on May 23, 2018, by his dad, who was supposed to drop him off at daycare that morning.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Pennell forgot Wyatt was behind him in a car seat and instead drove to his workplace, NUVO Network, at the Burlington Crossroads Centre.

The court heard that Jennifer called her husband, who became hysterical when he realized what had happened. The parents called 911. Police and paramedics were unable to revive the little boy.

Pennell was charged with failing to provide the necessities of life and negligence causing death. The second charge was withdrawn.

Pennell, clad in a grey suit, could be seen occasionally wiping tears from his eyes during the proceedings. Jennifer attended court with him.

“It is difficult to contemplate something more devastating than losing one’s child. It is even more so when you are the cause of that loss,” said assistant Crown attorney Nick Chiera.

“Mr. Pennell did not mean to cause his son any harm. Quite to the contrary, he loved his son. He grieves for him along with everyone else who also cared for Wyatt. That’s what makes this a difficult case.”

Defence attorney Brian Greenspan said Pennell’s actions have already devastated him. In a statement to the court, Jennifer said Pennell cried constantly for months following Wyatt’s death.

She also said he has lost weight and has sleep issues and frequent disturbing flashbacks.

“He struggles to make it through the days, but he continues to go to work and provide for his family. He is haunted by what he has done. He knows why our son is no longer here and it is torture,” said Jennifer.

“My husband is a loving father who made a terrible mistake and that has forever changed us.”

Greenspan said Pennell is also undergoing psychological counselling and plans to use his experience in the tech industry to design and develop some kind of device or program, possibly a car seat alarm, to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future.

Greenspan said no good would be served for Pennell to leave the court with a criminal record and called for him to be discharged. He also argued that if probation was imposed it should be no longer than six months. Pennell declined to address the court.

Justice Baldwin argued a harsh sentence for Pennell would have zero deterrent value given the nature of what happened and the fact that Pennell is now hypervigilant when it comes to the care of his two-year-old daughter.

As well, the justice said she was impressed that Pennell wants to develop technology to prevent similar tragedies.

“There is no reason for Mr. Pennell to leave this building with a criminal record given these tragic circumstances,” said Baldwin. “He has done everything he can to address this tragedy from the moment it happened.”

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Ontario teens fled their allegedly abusive father in Hungary. Now they could be deported back

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Elizabeth Alamasy and her two teenage sons Adam and Marton fled Hungary in 2011 after years of alleged physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their father.

This included multiple instances of inappropriate touching and molestation, the two boys said.

“When [our father] got mad, it was just anything goes. It was anything. The nearest wall, person, couch, whatever. He would just hit or push a person,” Adam said, describing an incident in which he says his father threw his mother into a glass cabinet.

“I was scared for her. I’m scared for us,” he said. “He was always controlling and at times [it] really seemed like no one can stop him.”


READ MORE:
Family in Canada for 6 years set to be deported Christmas Eve

Elizabeth says she remembers being severely beaten by her then husband.

“He hit me with a broom and I was unconscious,” she said.

But the refugee judge who heard their case thought Elizabeth was lying: about the reasons for her divorce, the details of what happened between her and her ex-husband and the sexual abuse the boys allegedly experienced.

The judge said it was clear something happened that caused Elizabeth to leave her ex-husband, but none of her other claims were believable, he said.


READ MORE:
Asylum seekers caught up in battle amid Tory, Ford and Trudeau governments

“The panel finds that the events as recounted have not occurred and that the female claimant has used the circumstances of a routine divorce as the basis for a specious claim for protection,” wrote IRB judge Reid Rossi in his June 2018 decision.

Rossi also said Elizabeth wasn’t believable because she agreed to a divorce settlement giving her husband visitation rights and because she agreed to let him take the boys on vacation after she learned about the alleged sexual abuse. Rossi said this was inconsistent with the behaviour of someone trying to protect their children.

Hungarian mother describes alleged physical abuse from ex-husband






Because of this decision, the family is set to be deported on Feb. 3 by the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA).

Global News attempted to contact Rossi but received no response.

IRB spokesperson Anna Pape, meanwhile, said Rossi is prohibited from discussing his work, adding that for him to do so would violate the Board’s code of conduct.

“The Board is unable to address any specific refugee protection claims publicly,” Pape said. “The decisions and reasons rendered by the Board’s independent members speak for themselves.”

Family waited 7 years for claim to be heard

The Almassy’s are what’s known as “legacy” refugee claimants, meaning they filed their application for asylum before December 15, 2012, when the government implemented a new system for reviewing refugee claims.

But because of a lack of resources and a backlog of more than 32,000 legacy claims at the IRB, they were living in Canada for 7 years before the IRB heard their case.


READ MORE:
CBSA told to ‘pick up the pace’ on removing rejected refugee claimants

Their claim was heard by Rossi, a member of the Legacy Task Force, a group of roughly 33 retired IRB judges brought back to deal with the last of these outstanding claims.

He said the fact Elizabeth continued to work alongside her ex-husband after reporting the alleged abuse – even though she says she was financially dependent upon him – was not credible. He also said she was lying about the trauma she and her family endured because she did not behave the way he thought an abused woman should.

WATCH: ‘I was devastated.’ Family in Canada for 6 years set to be deported Christmas Eve






Elizabeth’s claim that she sought protection from the police was also “fabricated,” Rossi said. He also ruled that consultations with a doctor, psychiatrist and a lawyer describing abuse the family endured did not constitute evidence needed to prove her claim.


READ MORE:
New U of A study suggests some Syrian refugees ‘abandoned’ by private sponsors

“What is so incredulous to the panel is that the female claimant allegedly worried about a lawsuit from a sex offender and pedophile as her reason for not seeking assistance,” Rossi said. “If her anger and distress were as great as she alleged at the hearing, it makes no sense that the female claimant would then agree to work alongside her ex-husband.”

Because their claim is a legacy case, the family was denied the right to appeal Rossi’s decision. And if sent back to Hungary, they fear Elizabeth could be arrested because she took her children to Canada without her ex-husband’s permission.

Ongoing problems at the IRB

The Almassy’s decision came on the heels of a series of reports published by Global News in 2018 in which lawyers accused other IRB judges of not following the rules, including allegations of “sexist” and “aggressive” behaviour against one former Board member.

Then, in December, Global News received more than 1,300 pages of documents under access-to-information laws related to complaints involving the conduct of judges at the IRB from 2012-2017. More than 400 pages of those documents were completely withheld.


READ MORE:
Immigration board ‘revamping’ complaint process after Global News investigation

Buried in the documents were details of complaints the IRB received from three of its employees who said they overheard an immigration judge make a sexist and “upsetting” comment during a training session held in 2015 on how to handle cases involving sexual assault.

“When participants said that the case was dismissed [because] the witness was unreliable, the member in question said it was ‘because she’s a slut,’” the complainants said.

Despite acknowledging the comment was made, the Board said it could not take any disciplinary action because it could not confirm with absolute certainty who made the comment and in what context it was said.

‘Serious problems’ with decision-making

Following the 2018 Global News investigation, then-head of the IRB Paul Aterman said things would be done differently at the Board and the bad behaviour of a few should not take away from the good work done by the majority of decision-makers.

Almassy’s lawyer, Lorne Waldman, said some refugee judges at the Board – including Rossi — continue to deliver problematic decisions, employing stereotypes and outdated views on how victims should behave.

WATCH: Video shows newcomer children experiencing first Canadian snowfall in Toronto






Waldman said the decision in the Almassy’s case violates the IRB’s guidelines for dealing with victims of alleged gender-based violence .

“We deal with a lot of people who’ve suffered abuse and the one thing we’ve learned is it’s very dangerous to make assumptions about how people are going to react,” Waldman said.


READ MORE:
After hiding in a church for months, woman to be deported — because Canadian government says she lied about being gay

Waldman said Rossi’s decision is an example of a judge imposing his own ideas about how a battered person should behave when confronted with abuse, something he says the law strictly prohibits.

“What we see in this case, and in other similar cases, is that members say this is the way I would react and I’d expect you to react in the same way,” he said. “That’s completely wrong.”

Deepa Mattoo, an immigration lawyer who specializes in cases involving victims of sexual and gender-based violence, agrees it’s wrong for judges to assess cases based on their own expectations of how someone should behave.

“[It’s] more than just stereotypes,” Mattoo said. “What I see time and again is there’s a lot of trivializing of women’s experiences.”


READ MORE:
‘Illegal’ or ‘irregular’? Debate about asylum-seekers needs to stop, experts warn

According to Pape, members of the Legacy Task Force participate in several days of “refresher courses” before being allowed to hear cases again. Depending on experience, these courses task force members are required to take can vary.

Since returning to the Board, Rossi has taken courses in values and ethics, how to assess claimants’ credibility, IRB rules, and up-to-date case law.

Almassys fighting to remain in Canada

About to graduate high school, Adam Almassy was recently awarded a $2,000 annual scholarship to study mechanical engineering at Carleton University.

But if the family is sent back to Hungary, both Adam and his brother will be placed in Grade 9. According to a letter from Hungarian school officials, neither Adam nor Marton have the required courses to graduate high school in Hungary.

The boys say they also worry their dad could target the family if they return — making worse the severe depression and anxiety both boys were recently diagnosed with.

“He would put us through abuse, myself and especially my brother,” Adam said.

WATCH: Teen refugee from Saudi Arabia says she wants to live ‘normal, private life’ in Canada. Jamie Mauracher reports.






Marton, meanwhile, worries he could be placed back in his father’s custody if his mother is arrested upon their return to Hungary.

Waldman has applied to the Federal Court for intervention and the family has submitted a humanitarian and compassionate application to remain in Canada. They’ve also asked the CBSA to delay their deportation.

But with only days left before their scheduled removal date, they worry none of these decisions will come soon enough.

They’re asking Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to intervene in their case, at least until their application to stay in Canada can be heard.

“It’s seven or eight years that we spent here we’ll not get back,” Adam said. “Canada provided such a barrier between [my father] and us that can protect us in such a way that no other country can.”

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

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‘It felt like a movie’: Single father of twin girls returns to Canada after surrogacy ordeal

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A Canadian man who was shocked to learn that twin girls born to him overseas didn’t automatically qualify as citizens has finally been able to bring the newborns home after being stranded in Kenya for over a month.

Joseph Tito arrived back in Toronto on Wednesday after a weeks-long ordeal and 36-hour flight that left him « exhausted » but relieved to finally be home.

Tito says he’s ready to take on the challenge of fatherhood.

« Being a first-time parent is overwhelming for everybody, but being away from the comfort of your home caring for two newborns has been tough, » Tito wrote in an Instagram post earlier this week announcing he had been granted the visas to bring the girls, Stella and Mia, home.

« What a ride this has been but at the end, like I said a million times, I would go through hell and back for these two precious beings. »

‘I didn’t think it was real’

Tito chronicled his surrogacy process in a blog after noticing there were few online resources about it for men or same-sex couples.

He says he’d taken every precaution to make sure the process was completely above board and chose Kenya in part because the cost of finding a surrogate to bear his children was least prohibitive in the east African country.

His children don’t qualify as citizens because of an amendment to Canada’s Citizenship Act in 2015 that limited automatic citizenship for babies born to Canadians outside of Canada to one generation. For Tito, who was born in Italy and automatically received Canadian citizenship, that meant he couldn’t transfer citizenship to children born abroad. 

« Even before I started this journey, I looked into it. I contacted the embassy, I contacted the clinic, I contacted lawyers, » he told reporters when he landed in Toronto on Wednesday.

That’s why when he learned his children weren’t automatically Canadian citizens, he was « floored, » he said.

« It felt like a movie, » Tito said. « I didn’t think it was real, especially for a country like Canada. »

‘Incredibly arbitrary’ 

It’s a change that immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk has long felt was « problematic. »

« What it essentially does is it creates two separate classes of Canadian citizenship — one which is inherently more valuable than the other, » Sandaluk said.

« Certain Canadian citizens are able to pass along their citizenship to their children even if they’re born outside of Canada whereas other Canadian citizens are not, » he added, noting the legislation applies only to people born after Feb. 14, 1977.

« It’s also incredibly arbitrary. I know of a number of individuals [who] have more than one child, one of whom may have been born outside of Canada and it is maddening for the parents to realize that even within their own family there are different classes of citizenship. »

For his part, Tito says he understands why the law was put into place, but would like to see it changed.

Sandaluk echoes that sentiment. 

« I believe the intention of the government at the time was to make sure that people couldn’t constantly be having more Canadian citizens and the number of Canadian citizens and citizens couldn’t be constantly expanding outside of Canada to a group of people who had no connection with Canada whatsoever, » he said.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not respond to CBC Toronto’s request for comment. 

The girls’ exact status in Canada isn’t known, but they aren’t yet permanent residents, says Tito. Tito says he’s sent in sponsorship papers for the girls and plans to take the necessary steps to secure their citizenship after he settles in.

For now, though, he says he’s just looking forward to spending quality time with the tiny new additions to his family.

His first order of business: « Feed them, bathe them in fresh water and put them in their nursery. »

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Toronto’s ‘Sheriff of Squash’ rose to dominate his sport. First he had to defeat his father

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He’s 73 years old now and slowed by a recent stroke. But the man who lives in a humble basement in-law suite near St. Clair Ave. and Dufferin St. was once the undisputed ruler of a booming sport.

They called Sharif Khan the “Sheriff of Squash”— hardball squash, to be exact, the North American varietal of the walled-in racquet game that enjoyed a rise in popularity during the fitness-club boom of the 1970s and 1980s. From 1969 and 1980, Khan won the North American Open, the top tournament on the continent, a dozen times. He was the subject of hundreds of newspaper stories and profiled in Esquire magazine. He rubbed shoulders with tennis stars John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, once beating both in a made-for-TV competition to determine the greatest all-round master of racquet sports of the day.

A great of his sport, Sharif Khan, now 73 and slowed down a bit by a stroke, has told his story in a new memoir, “The Sheriff of Squash.”
A great of his sport, Sharif Khan, now 73 and slowed down a bit by a stroke, has told his story in a new memoir, “The Sheriff of Squash.”  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

But his rise was hardly easy. Born in colonial India, in a small village near the Khyber Pass that would later become part of Pakistan, by age 11 Khan was shipped off to a boarding school in England to fulfil a destiny chosen for him. He’d never eaten with a knife and a fork and he didn’t speak English. But as the eldest son of a great squash champion – Hasim Khan, the patriarch of the so-called Khan dynasty that ruled the game for decades — he was expected to become one. Forced to cope with the realities of being a poor, brown boy at a rich, white school — saddled with a young life, not of his choosing, including an arranged marriage he would later call a “sham” — Sharif Khan ultimately thrived.

And now he’s told his story, with the help of squash writer Rob Dinerman and his third wife, Karen Khan, in a new memoir, The Sheriff of Squash.

“It’s a fascinating journey, and I’m amazed that I’ve done it,” Sharif Khan was saying in an interview one wintry recent morning.

But as much as Sharif Khan always told reporters his competitive drive came from his deep need to uphold his family’s great sporting tradition, there were moments he felt oppressed by it, too. The Sheriff of Squash details an exchange between father and son in the late 1960s, wherein Hashim Khan — a remarkable titan of the sport who won his first of seven British Open championships in his late 30s before carving out a life as a pro at a Detroit racquet club — reacts to Sharif’s announcement of his intention to move to Toronto, where, on account of the sport’s modest prize money he would teach lessons at various clubs.

“You’ll never be half of what I am,” Hashim says to Sharif, according to Sharif’s memoir. “Half, you’ll never be a quarter of what I am.”

Writes Sharif, explaining his side of the discord: “Is it too much to ask that a father should have some pride in his son? All along the way I have been set up by his plans, his rules, his customs, and yet he has never given me any support, let alone love.”

Imagine the tension, then, in the lead-up to Sharif’s quarter-final match at the 1970 North American Open. Sharif was the reigning title-holder after a breakthrough win the year before over his cousin, Mo Khan. But to earn the right to move into the semifinals, Sharif needed to beat a towering figure — his father, who was still defeating younger pros late into his late 50s.

Sitting in an easy chair in his living room, Sharif Khan remembered the psychological strain of the moment, the only time he and his father met in tournament competition.

Khan at home, in front of a photograph of himself in competition.
Khan at home, in front of a photograph of himself in competition.  (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star)

“I said, ‘What the heck do I do now? Where’s the psychiatrist? I need a shrink. I need someone to help me,’” Sharif said. “Because I was going against a giant, a legend. Plus, I was going against my father.”

As Dinerman writes in one of the dispatches that dot The Sheriff of Squash: “It was almost as though this endlessly wise patriarch of the Khan clan had decided his eldest son could not be entrusted with being handed the family torch without first being required to wrest it from his predecessor, who had carried this emblem so proudly for so long.”

The match lasted more than an hour, to Sharif’s recollection.

“It seemed like it lasted hours and hours,” Sharif said.

When it ended with the son the victor, three games to one, Sharif said he felt more unease than elation, even though he was on his way to another in a line of championships.

“I didn’t know how my dad would react to it all. Because it was a brutal, brutal match. I pushed out all the stops and hammered him,” Sharif said. “And he hugged me. Big smile.”

It was the first time his father had hugged him since he was a child. When Hashim Khan died in 2014, he was thought to be 100 and possibly as old as 104; he had no birth certificate to go by. Before the patriarch passed, Sharif Khan had the chance to speak with him in their native tongue of Pashto.

“I thanked him,” Sharif said. “I told him that without him incentivizing me, I could not have achieved what I achieved.”

Sharif Khan’s journey still comes with obstacles. He’s been enduring regular bouts of physical therapy to counteract the effect of the stroke he suffered. For a man once known for his superior athleticism, moving around isn’t as easy as it once was.

“My dream, and literally I dream this, is that I will be back on court one day and feel the weight of the ball against my racquet,” he writes in his autobiography.

The weight of the ball against a racquet, the weight of a familial legacy well upheld. In the beginning, Sharif Khan didn’t choose the game, it chose him. And all these years later, he’d give a lot to play another.

Dave Feschuk is a Toronto-based sports columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @dfeschuk

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Stoney Creek father wins $75K with instant lottery ticket – Hamilton

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A Stoney Creek father of four is celebrating a recent lottery win.


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Millennials uninterested in gambling

Selvir Peckovic won a $75,000 top prize with Instant Reindeer Games.

He plans to use the money to buy his son a new vehicle and help his family.


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Couple cleans up their house, finds a winning lottery ticket

The winning ticket was purchased at the Fortinos on Upper Centennial Parkway.

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


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Woman calls for improved Toronto police response times after father fatally beaten – Toronto

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Melissa Tomas never stopped believing she would be reunited with her dad Joseph Perron, with whom she lost touch more than two decades ago.

But when the 51-year-old man was beaten to death on June 13, she was cheated out of her dream to know her father.

Tomas said Perron had severe schizophrenia and had recently suffered from brain damage. She said she struggled over the years to find her dad, who lived in Nova Scotia, but had recently returned to Ontario.


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Toronto police response time under fire after Parkdale murder scene left unattended

Perron was allegedly killed by a complete stranger on West Lodge Avenue, just a kilometre from the rooming house where he lived. His daughter says Perron became disoriented and ended up in a field behind a building where he was attacked. Raymond Moore, 42, has been charged with second degree murder.

About a week after Perron’s murder, the Oshawa woman says she received a message from a Toronto police officer through Facebook, asking her if she was related to the 51-year-old.

“He messaged me that my name had come up in an investigation. So I called and that’s when I found out that my father had been murdered due to an extreme beating and died from internal bleeding for his spleen,” she said.

“That’s a horrible beating. A long process, to go through a beating, to die of such serious injuries.”

A short time later, Tomas says she learned more about her father’s death. After seeing a story on the Global News website, she found out that it took officers hours to respond to the crime scene.


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Toronto police chief defends response time after murder scene left unattended for hours

So she started pushing for answers, and now, after months of trying to speak to police about the case, she has finally met with the superintendent in charge of 11 Division, Heinz Kuck; the detective in charge of her father’s case, Kathy Stephenson; and the crown attorney assigned to the case, Michael Callaghan.

“I found out that the police just did not attend his crime scene for an exponential time. I don’t understand how no one was available,” said an exasperated Tomas, after meeting with officials for about an hour. “They can say that they only have eight police cars at a time, but wow, honestly, that’s ludicrous.

“I don’t understand how they can’t break one officer off to stop an assault in progress, which turned into a murder, I honestly hope that never happens again.”

WATCH: Toronto’s deadliest year on record: A look back at homicides that happened in 2018






She also says it took paramedics about 45 minutes to arrive and police officers did not attend the crime scene for four to five hours, only returning to the scene with paramedics after eventually going to the hospital where Perron died.

“I don’t feel like my father would have died if an officer had shown up in time to stop this beating,” Tomas said.


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A few days after the fatal beating, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders acknowledged that a review was underway into the handling of the case.

“We will look to see what we can do to better any call,” Saunders said. “But to be clear, to isolate and cherry-pick a call and say, ‘That’s the Toronto police,’ it’s inflammatory. It’s wrong.”

The investigation is now complete. “The issues we were concerned about in June, regarding deployment of resources and consideration of other calls for service,” wrote Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray in an email to Global News, “were substantiated by that review.”

Tomas says she has also filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

“I believe that if the police had arrived to break up the assault in progress, then my father would not have been beaten to death,” she wrote on the complaint form.

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

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I want to thank the world for holding my hand as my father, Harry Leslie Smith, died

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At 3:39 a.m. on Nov. 28, as daybreak prepared to be born, my father, Harry Leslie Smith, at the age of 95, died in my arms.

Politicians, journalists and ordinary folk knew him as “the world’s oldest rebel.” But he was much more than that to me — not only my father but my friend, my political comrade and my mentor, who I had the great fortune to accompany on a spiritual and political odyssey that spanned the last nine years of his life.

Harry Leslie Smith, the “world’s oldest rebel,” and his son John, who will pick up where his father left off and travel by bus to the Mexican border in California to document “the injustice, the cruelty, the inhumanity that is being shown to the caravan of migrants.”
Harry Leslie Smith, the “world’s oldest rebel,” and his son John, who will pick up where his father left off and travel by bus to the Mexican border in California to document “the injustice, the cruelty, the inhumanity that is being shown to the caravan of migrants.”  (Family photo)

Harry, a survivor of the Great Depression and veteran of the Second World War, was on a mission to warn younger generations not to make his past — one filled with politically driven austerity, private health care and raging, intemperate populism — our future.

Driven by the poverty of his childhood that had seen him scavenge through rubbish bins in Depression-ravaged Britain, we travelled the world, much of it at our own expense, so he could speak to both the ordinary and the mighty, to make a last stand for a return to a decent society in the 21st century.

Now, at 55, I am alone, faced with rebuilding my life and preserving the legacy of Harry Leslie Smith. It is why I will resume his refugee tour and complete his Last Stand. This holiday season, I will travel across America by bus to the Mexican border in San Diego to document — on Harry’s enormous social media platform — the injustice, the cruelty, the inhumanity that is being shown to the caravan of migrants by a Trump government intent on ruling by fear and intimidation rather than by compassion, pragmatism and good governance.

Harry feared that humanity was at a juncture in history just as dangerous as Hitler’s rise to power and if we didn’t change course we would spiral into war and economic mayhem.

Over these last years, as he approached the eventide of his life, his intellectual and emotional vitality never seemed to tire, despite many health issues. It’s why it didn’t seem possible to me, even at his deathbed, that he could die.

"With a smile and a joke that it was best to enjoy yourself because it's later than you think, my dad, who had protected and loved me as child, teenager and adult, lost consciousness and never returned," writes son John.
« With a smile and a joke that it was best to enjoy yourself because it’s later than you think, my dad, who had protected and loved me as child, teenager and adult, lost consciousness and never returned, » writes son John.  (Paul Hunter/Toronto Star File Photo)

When I kissed his hands and cheek while telling him how much I loved him, I thought this must be a nightmare, because I felt he had so much left to do and contribute.

But Harry knew. I am sure he knew that only the briefest of moments were left to him because days before his death, Canada’s immigration minister, Ahmed Hussen, came like a pilgrim to his bedside in the ICU of the Belleville hospital to thank him for his advocacy to help stop the refugee crisis.

With a machine pumping compressed air into his lungs, a PICC line in his right arm and bags of IV fluids dripping into his left arm, my dad, in a weak but prophetic voice, told the minister that time was running out for him and for a compassionate solution to the refugee crisis.

John Smith travelled the world with his father, Harry, "so my dad could thunder like a warning from history."
John Smith travelled the world with his father, Harry, « so my dad could thunder like a warning from history. »  (Family Photo)

Still, it just didn’t seem conceivable to me that since we had set out on this journey together nearly a decade before, covering tens of thousands of miles so my dad could thunder like a warning from history, that he would not complete his Last Stand.

But he didn’t. He couldn’t because his body was just too damaged by age and the strain of our travels and advocacy.

My dad’s body, nearing 100 years, didn’t stand a chance against the pneumonia, sepsis, congestive heart failure and weakened kidneys that were killing him. It’s why he gave permission to his doctor and nursing staff to discontinue the medical treatment that was prolonging his life but stripping it of all quality and dignity.

He did it with the words “no more” and a final demand that he be given a beer as he’d been starved of food and fluids for a week because doctors were afraid he’d aspirate.

Author and columnist Harry Leslie Smith and his son John in younger times.
Author and columnist Harry Leslie Smith and his son John in younger times.  (Family Photo)

And with a smile and a joke that it was best to enjoy yourself because it’s later than you think, my dad, who had protected and loved me as child, teenager and adult, lost consciousness and never returned.

Harry held on to life for 12 hours after medical supports were removed, and I did not leave his side for one moment of it. I sat by his bedside in the ICU and played for him his speech to the Labour party conference in 2014, where he galvanized Britain with his reminiscence of the brutal, short and cruel life the working class endured before public health care was introduced.

I read to him from the books he’d written and I’d helped research, five in total — 1923: A Memoir; Love Among the Ruins; The Empress of Australia; Harry’s Last Stand; Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future — stories about the rich working-class canvas of his youth in Depression-era Yorkshire, his experiences during the Second World War and his search for love in the rubble of postwar, Allied-occupied Hamburg, where he was redeemed through his marriage to Friede, my mother.

Author and political activist Harry Leslie Smith at the Calais migrant camps in France in 2016.
Author and political activist Harry Leslie Smith at the Calais migrant camps in France in 2016.  (Family Photo)

I thanked him for teaching me how to be a decent human being while hearing his last breaths. It hurt me so much to feel his body grow cold as death approached. Then I heard, while I whispered to him that it was time to join history, his breathing grow faint, as if he were an exhausted swimmer, too far from shore to reach the safety of land, before sinking beneath the cold, dark waves.

I hovered over his corpse and stroked his cheek, knowing that after that moment, I’d never again have the opportunity to touch my dad. And something lingered in me, still lingers in me — and that was the enormous love, respect and understanding that we had shown each other for my entire life, but especially during the last years of his life when we dared to change the world for the better.

After placing one last kiss on my father’s cold brow, I placed in his hands a picture of my beloved mother and walked from the hospital out into the morning air. Too tired for tears, in the frigid indifference of late November, I made a quiet promise to my father, and to myself. “Dad, I will finish what we started. I will use the example of your life to teach others that a better society can be built on the foundations you and your generation laid at the end of the Second World War. You will not be forgotten, judging by the grief expressed by tens of thousands of people across the world at your death. A new tomorrow is possible.”

"There are no words to express my gratitude to all those people who ... became our friends during our journey of the heart toward a more decent world," writes Harry's son John, seen in an undated photo with his father.
« There are no words to express my gratitude to all those people who … became our friends during our journey of the heart toward a more decent world, » writes Harry’s son John, seen in an undated photo with his father.  (Family Photo)

What Harry accomplished could not have happened without this love and commitment to him. Each time we travelled, both Harry and I were moved by the simple kindness of strangers. I’ve cried many times over the thousands of tweets from people all over the world expressing their condolences and love for my dad. It has made this walk of mourning less lonely. Thank you.

My dad was an ordinary man, born into extreme poverty, then raised out of it by the creation of the welfare state after the Second World War — his generation’s hard-won legacy for future children of this planet. It is truly humbling that his efforts in later life to make society better have been recognized by so many as noble and heroic acts.

However, now, to preserve his legacy, I must conclude his travels to the world’s refugee hot spots, finish his book on the refugee crisis, write my own book about life with my dad, continue his advocacy on social media and begin speaking to anyone who will listen about the life history of this remarkable man, Harry Leslie Smith — my dad.

Harry Leslie Smith, a survivor of the Great Depression and veteran of the Second World War, with a copy of one of five books he wrote in the last years of his life.
Harry Leslie Smith, a survivor of the Great Depression and veteran of the Second World War, with a copy of one of five books he wrote in the last years of his life.  (Facebook)

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