Drunk WestJet passenger who caused plane to reroute ordered to pay $21,000 for the fuel


The U.K. man whose « absolutely disgusting » drunken behaviour caused a WestJet flight to turn around and land back in Calgary must pay the airline $21,260.68 — the cost of the wasted fuel. 

David Stephen Young, 44, pleaded guilty last week to charges under the Aeronautics Act and Criminal Code of failing to comply with safety instructions and resisting arrest.

« One has to feel some sympathy for the accused but as in all criminal legislation, it is trite to say that the voice of the victim must also be heard, » said provincial court Judge Brian Stevenson in delivering his sentencing decision.

The victims, Stevenson noted, include the flight crew, passengers, WestJet and its shareholders as well as the police and CBSA officers, who were also at the receiving end of Young’s tirade.

Young is an alcoholic but had been sober for 18 months until Jan. 4, when he consumed about six drinks while waiting to board his flight. The U.K. resident had been visiting his mother in B.C. over the holidays and was depressed because of a death in the family and a failed marriage, according to the facts of the case presented in court last week.

Once Young boarded a flight in Calgary bound for London, he became belligerent with flight crew and a fellow passenger, and repeatedly tried to get up during take-off to use the washroom.

About an hour into Young’s abusive behaviour, the decision was made to turn the plane around.

The pilot had to burn off and then dump 20,000 pounds of fuel in order to land safely, according to the facts of the case, read aloud in court last week by prosecutor Lori Ibrus.

Ibrus had requested a $65,000 restitution order but Stevenson said he didn’t want the court-ordered payment to bankrupt Young.

WestJet’s total losses — which include the cost of the fuel and compensation for its passengers — could be more than $200,000.

Week behind bars

In a written statement read by his lawyer last week, Young apologized for his behaviour and for the « damage and inconvenience » he caused to his fellow travellers. 

Defence lawyer Michelle Parhar had sought a $5,000 to $8,000 restitution order for her client.

Young also spent one week at the Calgary Remand Centre before he was released on bail.

It will be very difficult for Young to ever enter Canada again, said Parhar.

Once Young returns to the U.K., « he’s essentially barred from entering Canada, barred from seeing his mother in B.C., » said Parhar.

Stevenson noted WestJet could make a civil claim against Young if it wanted to try to recover more of its losses.


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Alberta political leaders fuel early provincial election speculation


Let the election speculation begin.

The seats in the Alberta assembly are still warm from the fall sitting that ended Thursday but we’ve already moved past that.

Now, we’re focused on the next Big Thing in provincial politics: the timing of the 2019 election.

Premier Rachel Notley has helpfully added fuel to the speculation fire by declaring she might not have a spring sitting of the legislature, not even a day-long event where she’d introduce a feel-good speech from the throne.

‘May or may not be’ a budget

That would suggest she is thinking of going earlier next spring, not later.

« I will commit to ensuring that we consider all the options that are available to us to ensure that Albertans have a good understanding of what their options are before we go into the next election, » said Notley, in a comment to journalists that seemed to convey nothing but actually telegraphed a lot.

By refusing to commit herself to holding a spring sitting of the legislature — one that typically begins in February — Notley is opening the door to the possibility she’ll kick off the campaign as early as February.

Supporting that possibility was her comment she might not even introduce a budget before dropping the writ: « There may or may not be a budget. There are two options and one of those two options will happen. »

Those betting on an earlier election point out Notley will want to avoid releasing a budget that would be filled with bad fiscal news. But if Notley doesn’t have a financial plan she won’t be able to attack United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney for not producing his own pre-election shadow budget outlining what he would do as premier.

There is one thing she will commit herself to: « The election will be held within the times that the current legislation suggests. »

That legislation says the voting day must fall sometime from March 1 to May 31.

If Notley wanted to hold the election on the earliest day possible, she’d drop the writ and start the 28-day campaign on February 1.

That’s just what Kenney is urging her to do.

« Albertans don’t want to wait until May or June, and so I’m calling on the premier to hold that election as soon as possible under the legislation, » said Kenney. « That would be at the beginning of February. »

Last hurrah

There was definitely a feeling of denouement inside the legislature this week, as if the MLAs could sense this was the last time they’d be in the assembly before the election, perhaps forever.

If the public opinion polls are prescient, many of the NDP MLAs will not be returning. This week seemed to be their last hurrah.

On Tuesday, for example, NDP members spent so much time introducing guests that an exasperated UCP MLA Nathan Cooper finally interrupted to request they get on with question period.

On Thursday afternoon, when the fall sitting formally wrapped up, veteran MLA and NDP house leader Brian Mason, who will not be running next election, seemed to be waving goodbye.

« I love this place, » he said. « I’m going to miss it very much. »

He said afterwards that he has « no idea what the premier is going to decide » when it comes to the election. But his sentiment Thursday appeared to be one of a politician heading into the sunset, not one expecting to return once more to the legislative breach.

Final decision Notley’s

The final decision is, of course, Notley’s.

Journalists didn’t have much time to press her on the issue Thursday as she headed to Montreal for the first ministers meeting.

It promises to be an odd gathering with all kinds of strange bedfellows.

Notley, for example, is at odds with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe over the federal carbon tax. But the two are snuggled under the covers, politically speaking, on the need to have the leaders talk about the oil price differential that is playing havoc with Alberta’s economy and the provincial treasury.

Notley is likewise at odds with New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, but the two are canoodling when it comes to reviving interest in the defunct Energy East pipeline project.

Depending on the issue, various premiers will be jumping in and out of bed with an assortment of other premiers. It’ll be more confusing than a British bedroom farce.

Notley, though, is mostly alone — an NDP premier who has more political foes than friends, who has been publicly critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and who is at odds with a litany of conservative premiers and is even feuding with Canada’s one other NDP premier, John Horgan of British Columbia.

Even if she makes allies in Montreal, they’re not going to be much help to her on the election campaign trail, whenever she calls it.


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Teacher Strike Eats: ‘Strike Tacos,’ Delivery Pizza, and Bagged Lunches Fuel a West Virginia Walkout | Healthyish


Earlier this year, teachers across the state of West Virginia left their classrooms and went to the State Capitol Building to demand better wages and healthcare for all public employees. After nine days standing and holding signs on highways in bitter February weather, the teachers won a five-percent pay increase from the state legislators. Jessica Salfia, a public school teacher at Spring Mills High School in Berkley County, West Virginia, says that she and the teachers couldn’t have kept going without the steady arrival of gift packages, pizzas, and what became known lovingly as “strike tacos” from supporters locally and across the country.

Since the West Virginia teachers returned to their classrooms, similar statewide strikes have happened in Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Salfia has been a public educator for 15 years and is one of the editors of 55 Strong: Inside the West Virginia Teachers Strike, an oral history of the strike published by Belt Publishing. Here Salfia talks about how the West Virginia teachers’ strike was fed. – Brooke Shuman

That first night of the strike, my friend and I drove to Charleston, West Virginia and spent the first two days at the Capitol, lobbying. That was exciting. I learned a lot about what legislators know and don’t know about the struggle of the public educator. I learned a lot about how legislation works, which the whole public needs to take a course in because I think we’d get a lot more done if we all were as engaged as the West Virginia Public Employees were then. I’ve never been more inspired by my fellow West Virginians, by my fellow teachers. I don’t know if I’ll ever see anything like it again.


Photo courtesy of Jessica Salfia

A sign at the West Virginia teachers’ strike.

A lot of legislators, when it looked like we were for-sure going to be walking out, began using lunch and food as a weapon to vilify educators. They said, ”If teachers leave their classrooms, kids aren’t going to eat.” Our local delegate published an op-ed in the Berkeley County paper leading up to the strike that said, « Teachers are threatening to strike against our students, » which was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. ​People don’t realize that, in schools every day, teachers are feeding kids that need fed. They’re putting clothes on the backs of kids who need clothes. They’re going on home visits. They’re buying school supplies for kids who don’t have it. So if we’re not gonna take care of our teachers, then those kids are not gonna get taken care of.

Local school boards issued ads in the paper and sent out emails saying they would accept food donations. Then teachers converged on those locations to pack a grab-and-go-style lunch. They had such an overwhelming response to the first couple calls for donated food. It was all day on the picket line and then an evening of lunch packing somewhere. The packing of the lunches was first an act of love but also an act of strategy because it sent a clear message to both the public and the legislators that this was not about leaving our students behind.

Those first days, there was a line that wrapped out across the Capitol grounds and you had security walking down the line saying, « You’re at two hours. You’re at three hours, » to get in. So once you got in you didn’t want to get back out. You didn’t want to leave because maintaining presence in the Capitol was so important to keeping pressure on legislators, and so those pizzas, that food that got delivered to the Capitol, was critical to keeping teachers present and keeping pressure on the legislation. I would say there were hundreds of pizzas delivered from all over the country to the picket line. I know pizzas got delivered from California, from Wisconsin, from neighboring states. I think I cried every day over food. I have never seen support in the form of food in such a way.

We were right outside this little Mexican restaurant called Cinco de Mayo; it’s in the strip mall, and someone stopped by, a parent, and went in and purchased like $200 worth of tacos. They’re so good. And so here comes the guy who owns Cinco de Mayo out with these giant pans and you could just hear this hush come over the crowd, like, « Are those strike tacos? » Another day these two teachers from Michigan took the time to ship a six-pack of beer with a sweet little note inside of it that just said, « Hey, you guys are crushing it. Stay strong, keep going.”

And just the knowledge that so many teachers, not just in West Virginia but all over the country, were watching our fight for respect and for healthcare—it was just so important to see that recognition come in the form of food. And I mean, it was cold. It rained really hard. It spit snow. The weather was not good. And that’s something that made that food that people brought over so special, because when you’re cold and tired and someone shows up with hot coffee and hot soup … that is love in its most pure form, in my opinion.


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Infuriated by Trump, female Democrats fuel a push to win back Congress in midterms


WASHINGTON—Barack Obama’s first midterm was the election of the angry white man. Eight years later, Donald Trump’s first midterm is shaping up as the election of the angry liberal woman.

Democrats are heavily favoured to win back control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, an outcome that would thwart most of Trump’s legislative agenda and subject him to a barrage of congressional investigations. If they do, it will be largely because of the women he has infuriated into action.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, women have donated more than $308 million to Democratic congressional candidates this year — more than three times what women donated to Democratic congressional candidates in the 2014 midterms.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, women have donated more than $308 million to Democratic congressional candidates this year — more than three times what women donated to Democratic congressional candidates in the 2014 midterms.  (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The Resistance, as Trump’s fervent grassroots opposition calls itself, is mostly female. Democratic women have run for office in unprecedented numbers, gifted campaigns an unprecedented army of midterm volunteers, and poured unprecedented cash, a few dollars at a time, into candidates’ coffers.

They are people like Beth Headrick, 49, who makes $10.80 an hour working the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift at a convenience store in St. Augustine, Fla. She had ignored every midterm before this year.

Now, filled with “hate” for Trump even though she holds some conservative views on immigration, Headrick is not only a midterm voter but a midterm donor: $20 to the Democrats’ governor candidate in Florida, $20 to their Senate candidate in Texas, $10 to their governor candidate in Kansas, $12 to their governor candidate in Georgia. And she has a new goodbye for young customers at the store.

“I no longer say, ‘Hey, goodnight.’ I say, ‘Hey, don’t forget to vote,’ ” she said.

Read more:

Rust Belt stats sour on Republicans

The Trump strategy: fear and lying

Tariff talk only a faint echo

Dionne Mitchell, 38, a software developer in the Atlanta-area suburb of Buford, didn’t even watch the news before Trump was elected, let alone vote in midterms. Now she watches left-leaning political channel MSNBC, nothing but MSNBC, from morning to night as she works, worrying about the future of her 9-year-old Black boy. Incensed about Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, she “went on a rage-donate” spree, sprinkling cash to Democratic candidates as far away as North Dakota.

“I was just like: I’m so mad I gotta do something,” Mitchell said.

Dionne Mitchell, a software developer in Buford, Ga., had never voted in a midterm. She's now addicted to MSNBC's coverage.
Dionne Mitchell, a software developer in Buford, Ga., had never voted in a midterm. She’s now addicted to MSNBC’s coverage.

Monica Hutchinson, 38, spends her days knocking on doors in Black and Latino communities in central Virginia. She had volunteered for Democratic campaigns for years. But after Trump got elected, she quit her job at a pharmacy and her pre-pharmacy university program and became a full-time progressive organizer, working to mobilize the marginalized neighbourhoods that elections sometimes seem to forget.

“Me being a Black woman in America, I just don’t have time to sit around and wait. It’s now,” she said. “For me, it wasn’t so much a great awakening as much as: enough is enough.”

Monica Hutchinson became a full-time progressive organizer after Trump's election, abandoning plans for a career in pharmacy. She spends her days talking to people in marginalized Black and Latino communities.
Monica Hutchinson became a full-time progressive organizer after Trump’s election, abandoning plans for a career in pharmacy. She spends her days talking to people in marginalized Black and Latino communities.

In Simi Valley, Calif., the women of professional singer Leanna Brand’s chapter of the resistance group Indivisible toil on the midterms every day of the week. Monday morning is for standing on highway overpasses and holding up “ginormous” signs to commuters below. Tuesday is for writing postcards to Democratic neighbours, Wednesday for hanging flyers on doors. They go back to the overpasses for the Thursday evening rush. Then they knock on doors all weekend.

Brand, 58, choked up as she contemplated Nov. 6. Like many Democrats, she sees the election as a pivotal moment for the country.

“I’ve gotta feel like, on November 7th, that I have done everything I could do,” she said. “No matter what happens, I’ve gotta feel like I didn’t leave anything in the tank.”

Leanna Brand is co-leader of the Indivisible chapter in Simi Valley, Calif., and seen here with the big VOTE sign. The largely female group does a midterms activity every day of the week. On Monday and Thursday they stand on highway overpasses with large signs.
Leanna Brand is co-leader of the Indivisible chapter in Simi Valley, Calif., and seen here with the big VOTE sign. The largely female group does a midterms activity every day of the week. On Monday and Thursday they stand on highway overpasses with large signs.

A Democratic victory is no sure thing. The party needs to gain 23 seats to take the House. They appear very likely to get at least somewhere in the teens, but they are not certain to get the rest.

Angered by Democrats’ treatment of Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault, Republican voters have closed or narrowed the gap in polls of voter enthusiasm. Republican House candidates in some states have the benefit of district boundaries gerrymandered to their partisan advantage.

The forecasting website FiveThirtyEight gave Democrats an 85-per-cent chance to win the House as of Thursday. But Republicans had an 85-per-cent chance to keep control of the Senate, where they currently hold a 51-49 advantage. This year’s roster of 35 Senate races is especially rough for Democrats: 10 involve Democratic incumbents in states Trump won in 2016, five of them states Trump won by 19 points or more.

But the president’s party almost always loses seats in the midterms, Trump’s approval rating is stuck below 45 per cent, and all those $12 donations to Democrats have mattered. Many of the party’s candidates have large cash advantages that have allowed them to hammer their opponents with television ads.

« Democratic enthusiasm has led to an avalanche of financial contributions, which has allowed Democratic candidates and interest groups to vastly outspend their GOP opponents in these final weeks,” said Cam Savage, a Republican political consultant in Indiana, where Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly is in a tight Senate race. “Republicans are being swamped not just by the billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, but by tens of thousands of contributors across the country. It’s a massive problem in this election, but a catastrophe in future elections if not righted.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, women have donated more than $308 million to Democratic congressional candidates this year. That is more than three times what women donated to Democratic congressional candidates in the 2014 midterms.

The cash disparity has widened the House battleground. Nate Silver, the prominent analyst at FiveThirtyEight, said as many as 99 seats are at least somewhat competitive — almost as many as in the anti-Obama Tea Party wave midterm of 2010, when Republicans gained 63 House seats.

Most of Democrats’ best House pickup opportunities come in affluent suburban districts. College-educated white women in suburbs around cities from Los Angeles to Miami to Denver to Minneapolis to Detroit appear to have soured on Trump’s party, creating a historic gender gap that has made long-Republican seats suddenly attainable to Democrats.

It is white men keeping Republicans competitive. In one Marist College poll in October, for example, 44 per cent of men said they planned to vote for the local Republican, 43 per cent for the local Democrat — while 56 per cent of women said they planned to vote for the local Democrat, just 35 per cent for the local Republican.

“You’re going to have a lot of suburban households where the wife is voting Democrat and the husband is voting Republican,” said Mark Weaver, a Republican political consultant in Ohio. “That’s not true in exurban (areas). In exurban, you’re going to have wife and husband voting Republican. In urban areas, you’re largely having wife and husband voting Democrat.”

With big cities largely secure for Democratic incumbents, party supporters have poured resources into nearby suburbs. Swing Left, an organization founded after Trump’s win to channel progressive energy into competitive districts, says 100,000 people have signed up to volunteer in the last four days of the election.

Hundreds of liberals have driven from Los Angeles to the surrounding cities, trying to help Democratic House candidates knock off Republicans in long-conservative communities. A remarkable 300 people showed up in California’s 25th House district on a recent Saturday to knock on doors for Katie Hill, a 31-year-old Democratic challenger who ran an organization serving homeless people.

“This is unprecedented,” Hill said while grabbing lunch near her campaign office. “We’ve never seen volunteerism like this. We haven’t seen this in a presidential. It’s massive.”

The outpouring of female enthusiasm could create lasting change in the party. The surge has produced a record number of Democratic women winning nominations for not only Congress but for state positions — and a record number of women of colour. After six years of state-level defeats under Obama, Democrats now have a chance to replenish their bench with potential female stars like Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams, a Black lawyer locked in a tight race with a Trump-backed Republican, and Michigan governor candidate Gretchen Whitmer, a heavy favourite in a Midwestern state Trump won.

Supporters film a speech by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, who was campaigning with Stacey Abrams, the party's nominee for governor of Georgia, in Morrow, Ga.
Supporters film a speech by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, who was campaigning with Stacey Abrams, the party’s nominee for governor of Georgia, in Morrow, Ga.  (MELISSA GOLDEN)

The women leading the resistance “are not hyper-ideological but progressive and practical,” said Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank and a close adviser to Hillary Clinton in 2016. “They are building a broad coalition with people of colour and millennials. And if they stay engaged, they will shift America in a more progressive direction for decades to come.”

Turnout in early voting has been much higher than in 2014, where the 37-per-cent total turnout was the lowest since the Second World War. Conversations with people in four states in October suggested a country not only deeply divided but deeply confused, each side unable to fathom how the other side views Trump the way it does.

“He’s just so unhinged,” said Dianne Hilliard, 62, retired from a General Motors plant, after she voted in Martinsburg, W.Va. “It’s scary. Why don’t these people that support him — why don’t they see it? I’m not an educated person. I didn’t go to college. But it doesn’t take a scholar to figure this out. I don’t understand. I really don’t understand.”

“He’s a brilliant man, and he’s headed in the right direction,” said fellow retiree Pat Schafer, 61, of Ebensburg, Pa. “He may not speak up to what he should be, but he’s getting stuff done. And that’s what we want. And I don’t think they’re treating him fair.”

Republicans losing the House, even while keeping the Senate, would represent a significant repudiation of the president. But a narrow House loss, in which Democrats gain only a slim majority, may give him reason for optimism going into the 2020 presidential election.

The president’s party almost always loses seats in a midterm. Republicans won back the House and the Senate in Bill Clinton’s first midterm in 1994. Democrats won both chambers in George W. Bush’s second midterm in 2006. Republicans won both chambers in Obama’s first midterm in 2010.

Trump has expressed optimism about the Senate but made clear he is uncertain about the House.

“I know we’re doing well in the Senate,” he told reporters Wednesday. ”And it looks like we’re doing OK in the House. We’re going to have to see.”

Women gather for a rally and march at Grant Park in Chicago in October, to inspire voter turnout ahead of midterm polls. -
Women gather for a rally and march at Grant Park in Chicago in October, to inspire voter turnout ahead of midterm polls. –  (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI)

Even a slim Democratic majority in the House would radically alter Trump’s presidency. Democrats would have the power to launch investigations, subpoena White House officials for public testimony, obtain Trump’s long-hidden tax returns, and, if they wanted, to impeach him — though Democrats would not have the two-thirds votes in the Senate to remove him from office.

One way or another, Trump is a central factor in every congressional race. Most Democrats, though, are not emphasizing him in their advertising. Rather, their overwhelming focus is health care — an issue they mentioned in 61 per cent of their television ads between mid-September and mid-October, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, three times as much as they mentioned anything else.

“We’re doing persuasion,” said Jason McGrath, a Democratic pollster involved in congressional races. “You don’t persuade somebody to like or dislike Trump. They have made their mind up for the most part. We’re trying to persuade people on things that really do affect them.”

Republicans’ 2010 midterm triumph was fuelled by voter discontent about Obamacare. In a dramatic reversal, the law is now popular, and Democrats now want to talk about it. Their ads pummel Republicans for their attempts to replace Obamacare with much weaker insurance protections for people with “pre-existing” health conditions.

The issue mentioned second-most by Democrats, at 21 per cent, is taxes. Trump and Republicans had once hoped that they could campaign on their 2017 tax cut, which favoured the wealthy and corporations. But even a humming economy has not made the law popular. McGrath said bringing up Republican candidates’ stances on health care and taxes has been a more powerful Democratic attack than even bringing up the candidates’ personal ethics scandals.

“People they have a rooting interest in what happens to their own bodies and to their own wallets,” he said. “And so we have a real advantage on this, insofar as they have overplayed their hand.”

Trump seems to be especially weak in the Midwest-and-Pennsylvania Rust Belt that put him over the top in 2016.

“I think Trump thinks that Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana … those states are ‘his states’ because he won them,” said Democratic strategist Jeff Hewitt. “But I think he’s going to be rudely awakened on election day that he’s tied those candidates to himself and he’s sunk them.”

Trump and Republicans have responded to the health-care barrage by insisting that they, too, will protect patients with pre-existing conditions, no matter what their voting records show, and by changing the subject.

Trump’s preferred subjects have been the supposed unfairness of the news media, which he has returned to gleefully calling “the enemy of the people,” and immigration, the issue that polls suggest is paramount to Republican voters. In the last two weeks of the campaign, Trump has used dishonesty and racial fearmongering to motivate his base.

Trump has attempted to gin up anxiety about a shrinking and slow-moving caravan of Latin American asylum seekers, portraying it as a dangerous horde of “very bad thugs” and “unknown Middle Easterners.” He has deployed thousands of troops to the border, supposedly to help with the eventual arrival of these migrants; critics have called this an obvious stunt. He has promised to try to eliminate “birthright citizenship,” which grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil. He has run videos featuring violent mobs, his preferred campaign word for Democratic supporters, and an unauthorized immigrant who is an unrepentant murderer.

It is a return to part of his successful 2016 playbook — but only part of it. Trump was uncharacteristically disciplined in the waning days of the 2016 election, keeping much of the news focus on Clinton. This time, his haphazard race-baiting has unnerved some Republicans in competitive House districts, who would prefer the president and immigration out of the headlines.

“Political malpractice,” tweeted Ryan Costello, a Republican Pennsylvania congress member not running for re-election, warning of the impact on suburban candidates with high numbers of immigrant voters.

The gambit, though, may be a triage attempt focused on saving the Senate. Most of the key races are occurring in heavily white states with a large proportion of very conservative voters, including North Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Indiana and Missouri.

Walking a tightrope, Democratic candidates in Trump-friendly states have stretched to align themselves with the president on immigration. Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill said she “100 per cent” supports Trump “doing what he needs to do to secure the border.” Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly said he was open to legislation changing birthright citizenship.

As he did in 2016, Trump is ending the campaign with a rally blitz — this time 11 rallies in eight states over six days, including three rallies planned for Monday. His travel is centred around Senate races in states he won, a sign of his unpopularity in much of the most important House terrain.

Trump’s closing argument that Americans should fear foreigners, or see the left as a mob, has been undermined by the anti-Democrat attempted bombing spree allegedly committed by an American Trump devotee, and the mass murder of Pittsburgh Jews allegedly committed by an American white nationalist. And Trump’s long history of Congress-bashing has complicated his effort to motivate his supporters to vote for members of Congress. At the insistence of his aides, he eventually declared at a rally the first week of October: “I’m not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket, because this is also a referendum about me.”

By Halloween, though, he had taken a long break from suggesting the outcome would say anything about his own popularity. At a rally in Florida, he dutifully read his prepared text about how this was “one of the most important elections of our entire lives.”

Then he improvised: “Although I will say: not as important as 2016. »

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


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Two men dead after fuel tanker crash in Vaughan


WARNING: YouTube video contains graphic language

A fuel tanker crashed through a concrete barrier on Highway 407 flipping over and careening into oncoming traffic, killing two and filling the sky with fire and a plume of smoke on Halloween night.

Driving home from work on Highway 407 (October 31, 2018).

Ontario Provincial Police said they responded to a collision involving two vehicles on Highway 407 between Dufferin and Keele Sts. The collision originated on the eastbound side of the highway between Dufferin and Keele.

The two victims were the driver of the tanker and the motorist in the other vehicle involved in the collision, OPP spokesperson Kerry Schmidt, said in a video posted to Twitter.

The truck driver was a 41-year-old man from Brampton who collided into a 49-year old male driver from Mississauga, he said.

Schmidt described the truck as crossing over from the westbound lane to the eastbound side, crashing into an oncoming vehicle on the eastbound lane. The collision caused a fire and “significant” damage to the highway, OPP said.

“The collision is massive, the fire is still burning,” Schmidt said on social media around 6 p.m.

OPP Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne said accidents involving any type of vehicle carrying fuel can be dangerous: “There is always the risk of fire with a fuel tanker or any vehicle carrying dangerous goods.”

Paramedics said they did not take any other patients to hospital.

Spokesperson Gary Fineberg said two people were pronounced dead at the scene.

Fire on Highway 407 at Centre St. Two people were killed after a multiple vehicle collison on a highway in Vaughan. Ontario Provincial Police said they responded to a collision involving multiple vehicles on highway 407 between Dufferin and Keele Sts. OPP could not confirm the number of vehicles but spokesperson Kerry Schmidt said one of them was a fuel tanker truck.
Fire on Highway 407 at Centre St. Two people were killed after a multiple vehicle collison on a highway in Vaughan. Ontario Provincial Police said they responded to a collision involving multiple vehicles on highway 407 between Dufferin and Keele Sts. OPP could not confirm the number of vehicles but spokesperson Kerry Schmidt said one of them was a fuel tanker truck.  (Warren Liebmann / Warren Liebmann)
Fatalities occurred when a tanker truck was involved in a collision on Hwy 407 ETR between Keele Street and Dufferin Street exits.
Fatalities occurred when a tanker truck was involved in a collision on Hwy 407 ETR between Keele Street and Dufferin Street exits.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

Robert Kostiuk, said he was driving down the route, which he takes every day, when he saw the truck go from being straight on the right lane, to suddenly turning perpendicular and flipping over the concrete barrier on the highway.

“There was no in-between, there was no kind of swerving over,” he said. “It was a 90 degree turn but still at full speed it looked like.”

He said the explosion after the truck flipped over was immediate.

“Instead of even just smouldering, it exploded,” said Kostiuk. “It wasn’t a fire, it was an explosion.”

Kostiuk said he pulled over to call 911, who told him they had already received several calls about the accident, and then he drove away, as the fire grew bigger.

“When I was passing by you could feel the heat inside of your vehicle, that’s how intense the fire was — it was a fireball.”

The highway remains closed as police investigate.
The highway remains closed as police investigate.  (Rick Madonik)

York deputy fire chief Andew Zvanitajs said around 6:30 p.m. the fire was under control, with 30 firefighters on scene responding to the 3-alarm fire.

Zvanitajs said fire services haven’t yet determined exactly what fuel the tanker was carrying other than it’s a hydrocarbon. The emissions caused by the fire don’t warrant an evacuation, he said, but added that tests were going to be conducted.

OPP shut down the highway’s eastbound lanes at Keele St. and the westbound lanes at Dufferin St. as well as ramps from Hwy. 400 to Hwy. 407 on the eastbound lanes.

Schmidt said around 9:30 p.m. on social media that he expects the westbound lane to reopen in several hours and the eastbound lane to be open before the morning rush hour, but with some lane restrictions.

“This will be a significant investigation and closure.”

In the first half of 2018, the OPP responded to 33 fatal collisions involving transport trucks, a 38 per cent increase over last year. A total of 41 people died in those collisions.

With files from Theresa Boyle


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