Toronto man raises privacy concerns after dealership employee turns off his dashcams – twice

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A Toronto man is speaking out after an employee at his car dealership turned off his dashboard video camera twice while working on his vehicle, and now he’s warning others their devices may be tampered with without their knowledge. 

Haider Firas, 24, took his car to Parkview BMW this past November. Firas has a camera pointing out to capture video of other vehicles and one pointing inside his car to protect his property.

The mechanic was captured on the video noticing the cameras and turning them both off.

« Well that kind of raises a flag, » Firas told CBC Toronto. 

« Why did he do that? Now I don’t know what happened to my car for that time being. It’s under their control now. They could do anything, they could speed off with it, they could have damages done to it, I don’t know. »

Unsatisfied with Parkview BMW’s response after an employee there turned off his dashcam video, Haider Firas went to the media to alert others to what he says could be an industry-wide problem. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Dashcam data deleted on 2nd visit

Firas said he complained to the dealership, but decided to take his car back to the same company a couple of weeks later.

Not only did the employee turn off his recording devices the second time, but that time the employee also deleted the videos on the file, Firas said.

« This is raising a concern with privacy because I have my family in my car and we have conversations. [The employee] actually had to go through footage to find their own footage to delete and this is a 100 per cent no-no, like you can’t access people’s private information to get rid of your own footage. »

Firas also uploads his videos to YouTube, and said they are particularly valuable to him for that reason. 

Firas recorded a phone conversation between himself and the dealership’s director of fixed operations.

The director at the dealership said some employees are not comfortable being watched without their knowledge and argued it is common practice in the trade.

« I don’t think it’s ok for you to disconnect the camera without asking the owner’s permission, » Firas tells the director on the recording.

The two dashcam video recorders in Haider Firas’s vehicle were both turned off by an employee at his dealership. He also says they deleted files on the second occasion. (Chris Glover/CBC)

« For example, if I have a house and I hire contractors to come work in my house … and they disconnect my cameras, … you can’t do that, because I’m recording for my safety for my property. It’s the same thing. It’s my car, you’re not allowed to disconnect it without permission. »

Parkview BMW’s general manager did not respond to CBC Toronto’s request for comment.

Other dealerships weigh in: ‘We don’t touch them’ 

Art Safonov, the parts manager at Volkswagen MidTown Toronto, said at their facility it’s policy not to touch an owner’s property without contacting them first.

« If the technician does decide that they want it off, we would notify the customer that it is going to be turned off … because we are totally transparent, » Safonov said.

« Generally, we don’t touch them; there’s no reason to touch it, » he added.

« But is it standard across the board? I have no idea. From dealer to dealer it may vary. »

Over at Lakeside Motors, owner Mike Colangelo said his shop hasn’t encountered the situation yet, but suggested it would be best to let the owner know.

« I don’t think it’s a bad idea to tell the customer, because if anything happens … they’d say it happened while the camera was off, » he said.

« It’s a bit of a grey area. I don’t know what the logistics are around this. You could go both ways. You’d almost need to be a lawyer. »

Potential privacy violation by employee, not Firas, lawyer says 

Privacy lawyer Alice Tseng says in Canada privacy violations pertain to entities such as businesses or governments, not private individuals or consumers.

She doesn’t think it was against the law for Firas to record the employee, or for the employee to stop the recording.

But she says the situation could be problematic for the employee.

« If the employee just stopped it and no more I don’t see a privacy issue, » Tseng said.

« If the employee deleted files, I don’t think it’s a privacy issue, but I do think the consumer could have some sort of recourse, because you can’t just damage other people’s property or delete other people’s property, » she added.

« To the extent that the employee actually had to access or watch any past files, that could be a privacy violation. »

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‘Hundreds’ of Canadians held by China raises the stakes for Trudeau’s government

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OTTAWA—Around 200 Canadians are currently detained in China for a variety of reasons, the Star has learned.

The staggering number paints a worrying picture of what is at stake for the federal Liberal government — and for many individuals abroad and their families here — when it comes to dealing with Beijing’s newly aggressive posture towards Canada.

It also highlights how carefully Canada must tread as it navigates an explosive international trade and security dispute between China and the U.S., at whose request Canada arrested a high-profile Chinese Huawei executive.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adopted a deliberately measured tone Wednesday as news broke of a third Canadian detained by China.

Trudeau said it does no good to “politicize” or “amplify” consular cases because it can actually hinder what he said is the ultimate goal of securing Canadians’ release from detention and their safe return home.

Federal sources have told the Star the number of those currently detained stands at about 200.

Global Affairs has not yet responded to the Star’s request for clarification on how many of those detentions have occurred since tensions heightened.

But sources told the Star up to three arrests a week is common, often involving dual Canadian-Chinese citizens (China does not recognize dual citizenship), in cases of drunkenness, drug use, other kinds of criminality and alleged visa violations, with only a small number considered political cases. Still, the broader picture of those who remain in detention right now is alarming.

China publicly admitted Thursday it has detained a third Canadian, Sarah McIver, an English teacher, for an alleged and unspecified violation of her work visa.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing that McIver has been detained because “a local Chinese public security authority imposed (an) administrative penalty on a Canadian national for illegal employment.”

And while China and the Canadian government have differentiated McIver’s situation from those of the two other Canadian cases, pointing to “national security” allegations in the latter, the timing of her arrest in the wake of Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the U.S., has raised alarms that Beijing is further cracking down on Canadian travellers in that country.

“Sometimes escalation is not the right political path or right substantive path to getting Canadians out of difficult situations they find themselves in,” Trudeau told reporters Wednesday at a year-end news conference in Ottawa.

Former ambassador to China David Mulroney, who headed Canada’s mission there from 2009 to 2012 said the cases require lots of attention.

“We worked hard deploying consular officials to every corner of China to call on them. Dual citizens are heavily represented in that number, often because of business deals gone sour. Commercial disputes can often morph into criminal cases. In those cases in China, the foreigner almost always loses. Few if any were political.”

He said it’s hard to know if there is a new crackdown: “What I think happens is that local officials hear the sound and fury coming from Beijing and assume that they should take a harder line with Canadians.”

The Chinese government has demonstrated its fury over Meng’s arrest by warning Ottawa of “grave consequences” if she isn’t released. Chinese state security forces then arrested two Canadian men, levelling vague allegations they “endangered China’s national security.”

Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, an analyst for respected non-governmental organization International Crisis Group, and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, who runs Paektu Cultural Exchange, described as a non-profit group that facilitates sport, culture, tourism and business exchanges with North Korea, are still in detention.

Little is known about their condition.

Canada’s ambassador in Beijing, John McCallum, has had one “consular access” visit with each man to ascertain the basis of their detention, whether they have legal advice, and their health condition.

Officials have said nothing further about their cases, citing Canadian privacy law.

However Trudeau told reporters Wednesday the detention of the third Canadian — whom he did not name — “doesn’t fit the pattern” of the other two.

It is not clear, however, how many of the other “hundreds” of detentions occurred before or after Meng’s arrest drew Beijing’s wrath. But given the current climate, families are worried, with McIver’s Alberta relatives turning to their Conservative MP and later foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole for help.

Trudeau insists that he will continue to engage with China despite the current tensions, citing the need to deal with the world’s second-largest economy.

However as the broader picture becomes clear of just how many Canadians are at the mercy of China’s judicial system, it’s obvious Trudeau must maintain engagement with the Chinese despite the uproar over Meng, in order to preserve their rights as well.

Meng’s company, Huawei Technologies, was founded by her father, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei, and is regarded as a corporate jewel in China’s eyes.

It is also a company whose ties to the Chinese government are at the centre of global scrutiny right now as Canada and allies develop the next or fifth generation of ultra-high-speed wireless networks, known as 5G technology.

Meng has since been released on $10-million bail and ordered to remain in Vancouver to await an extradition hearing.

But her release on strict bail conditions has not led to the liberation of Kovrig or Spavor — whose detentions were widely seen as tit-for-tat measures by Beijing.

Beijing’s ambassador to Ottawa, Lu Shaye, published an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail — and on the embassy’s website — that said Meng’s detention was “groundless” and is “not a mere judicial case, but a premeditated political action in which the United States wields its regime power to witch-hunt a Chinese high-tech company out of political consideration.”

He slammed Canada for agreeing to it, and scoffed at the bilateral extradition treaty Ottawa has said obliged its police authorities to act.

“While Canada has continued to stress its judicial independence, did it insist on that independence when facing the United State’s unreasonable request? The Canadian side has not made its judgment independently, otherwise it would not have arrested Ms. Meng.”

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

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Petition raises questions about how Edmonton bar kicked out man later found dead – Edmonton

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Some friends of a man found dead after being asked to leave a south Edmonton bar over the weekend are calling for the business to make major changes to how it operates.

The Edmonton Police Service said officers responded to a sudden death call in the area of 103 Street and 63 Avenue on Sunday.

“The death was determined to be non-suspicious in nature,” police said Monday night. “At this time, the EPS will not be investigating this incident further.”

On Monday night, the Ranch Roadhouse issued a statement via email to Global News. It said the man found dead had been at the bar and it was “deeply saddened by this tragic loss.”

“The individual was asked to leave; our team assured that he was in the hands of a capable friend, who assured us that he would take care of him,” the bar said. “The individual and his friend left the premises together without incident.

“Our thoughts are with the individual’s family and friends.”

Global News has confirmed the 20-year-old man who died was Mohamed Abdi — also known as Mo.

Kennedy Vanderhoek, who said she was a friend of Abdi’s, wrote about the incident in a Facebook post on Monday.

“My boyfriend… removed himself from the club to go follow Mo as he was intoxicated and was not in the right mindset to be on his own in the cold without anyone else,” she wrote.

Abdi’s frozen body was found underneath a parked vehicle not far from the bar, according to Vanderhoek.

An online petition is calling on the City of Edmonton to look into the bar’s protocols — including how it handled Abdi’s removal. It had already gained thousands of signatures by Monday night.

The Ranch Roadhouse said it worked closely with police as they investigated what happened and that the “safety and security of our patrons and employees has always been and continues to be our highest priority.”

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

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‘Cause for Paws’ telethon raises more than $100,000 for Saskatoon SPCA – Saskatoon

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Cuddly kittens and precious pups had all eyes on them on Saturday.

The sixth annual Cause for Paws Telethon, in support of Saskatoon SPCA, took over Shaw TV to raise funds for the SPCA in hopes of providing animals with healthy homes.

“What we are seeing right now, though, is a growing population of homeless animals. The population is up about 50 per cent in terms of running at large in our city over the last five years, “said Patricia Cameron, executive director of Saskatoon SPCA.


READ MORE:
Cause for Paws telethon raises $25K for Saskatoon SPCA

“Lots of cats in particular, so we are urging [residents] to spay and neuter, and if you adopt from us, your pet comes spayed and neutered and ready to become part of your home and community.”

WATCH: How Saskatoon zoo animals brave the cold






In 2013, the telethon’s first year, $10,000 was raised, and each year that total has grown. This year, the accumulated total will be more than $100,000.

“In addition to raising a lot of money, we have also brought a lot of people and animals together over the years,” said Simon Hiatt, co-host producer of Cause for Paws Telethon.

“We have heard so many success stories that people have seen the animal on television with us, or segments with Global. It’s just such a great partnership with the SPCA and the media.”


READ MORE:
Saskatchewan SPCA says animal protection officers need more support

Not only will the donations help provide homes and medical care for 4,000 animals, but the telethon has also inspired an 11-year-old girl to give back.

“I started a charity called Paws ‘n Claws Food Fund, and I used my birthday money this year to start it up and keep it going,” said Kelsie MacDougald.

“My first run I went to Dollarama and bought some pet food and some toys. I take all that stuff I buy to the SPCA, and then, of course, I have to pet every cat and visit every dog.”

With the help of the community, the SPCA hopes to find loving and caring homes for all the animals.

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

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Bank of Canada raises interest rate, this time to 1.75%

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The Bank of Canada has raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter point for the fifth time since last summer, pushing up the cost of borrowing for Canadians.

The bank’s rate is now set at 1.75 per cent.

Known as the target for the overnight rate, the benchmark is what Canada’s big banks charge each other for short-term loans. It filters down to consumers, because it affects the rates the banks offer their customers for things like variable rate mortgages and savings accounts.

Canada’s central bank kept its interest rate at record lows for several years to stimulate the economy following the economic slowdown of 2008, but has since begun to ratchet it higher as the economy gets back on sounder footing.

Economists are expecting a few more rate hikes to come, but the bank hinted on Wednesday that there may not be as many increases as some economists have been expecting.

« In determining the appropriate pace of rate increases, [the bank] will continue to take into account how the economy is adjusting to higher interest rates, given the elevated level of household debt, » the bank said.

In explaining its decision to raise the rate, the bank noted the recently announced free trade deal with the United States and Mexico as a reason for optimism about Canada’s economy.

The bank also said it expects household spending to increase at « a healthy pace. »

The bank’s next decision on its interest rate is expected in six weeks on Dec. 5.

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Sidewalk Lab’s use of cellphone data in proposed U.S. deal raises concern in Toronto

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Your cellphone knows when you are sleeping. It knows when you’re awake. It knows where you’ve been and it sends all that information to Google.

As Toronto contemplates allowing the American tech behemoth to build one of the world’s first “smart neighbourhoods” on the eastern waterfront, details have emerged of how Google proposes to collect and commodify data collected from millions of cellphones — and sell it to government.

The Sidewalk Toronto plan is a proposed 12-acre development along the eastern waterfront intended to use technology to improve the lives of its residents.
The Sidewalk Toronto plan is a proposed 12-acre development along the eastern waterfront intended to use technology to improve the lives of its residents.  (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google’s parent company, recently entered into negotiations to sell the state of Illinois an urban planning tool that maps out commuting patterns based on people’s cellphone location data, which the company “de-identifies” to protect privacy.

The tool, called Replica, is a real-world example of what Sidewalk Labs — which has been vague about its plans for the future Quayside development — says it will do with data. And the company has said it will bring the program to Toronto.

Read more:

Waterfront Toronto ‘not shying away’ from Sidewalk Toronto data privacy questions, senior official says

Tech expert resigns from advisory panel on Sidewalk Toronto over data ownership concerns

Sidewalk Labs launches research grants to study human behaviour

“GPS data should provide the characteristics of individual travellers,” said two Illinois public servants in a public procurement document filed in February, adding that the depersonalized data allows for “analysis of not only what trips are being made, but by whom.”

The state began negotiations for an anticipated three-year, $3.6 million sole-sourced contract for Replica earlier this year. The contract hasn’t yet been signed, a state official said this week.

In the wake of two high-profile resignations of Waterfront Toronto advisers who question whether the future development will benefit the public, and an Associated Press investigation that showed Google tracks people even when they turn off tracking on their phones, critics question whether Toronto should volunteer to be a guinea pig for the company’s urban experiment.

According to the documents filed in Illinois, Replica will be used to build a travel demand model that would allow city planners to “run alternative scenarios for where traffic would go if a new bridge or road were constructed.”

“It’s clearly in the public good for some of this info to be used for city planning,” said Brenda McPhail, director of the privacy, technology and surveillance project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “But do people even know their data is being collected?”

“Is it reasonable for that data to be used by a for-profit vendor to sell back to the government?” she asked. “It’s a morass of ethical issues.”

The tool, which Sidewalk is in the process of selling to Kansas City and Illinois, has been offered for Toronto to use in the future free of charge, said Sidewalk Labs spokesperson Dan Levitan.

Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google, is planning a major project at the waterfront's Quayside location. The primarily residential project is set to feature buildings made entirely from timber.
Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google, is planning a major project at the waterfront’s Quayside location. The primarily residential project is set to feature buildings made entirely from timber.  (Supplied)

Jim Balsillie, former CEO of Canadian technology giant Research In Motion, reviewed the Illinois procurement documents for Replica and said it reinforced his belief that Waterfront Toronto should have developed a policy on how data would be handled before signing a deal with Sidewalk Labs, not after.

“This is precisely the type of technology that shows the unique power of citizen and sensor data. If this is introduced in Toronto it will have major implications for privacy, prosperity, values and democracy,” he told the Star.

The Sidewalk Toronto plan is a proposed 12-acre development intended to use technology to improve the lives of its residents. A detailed project description hasn’t been released but in public meetings, Sidewalk Labs has discussed sensors on roadways that could measure things like temperature or air quality.

Critics of the project warn it could result in “mass surveillance” and privacy invasions, and there are also calls for the data collected to be controlled by government rather than a large profit-oriented U.S. corporation.

The sales pitch for Sidewalk Lab’s Replica is simple: Cities spend millions on household travel surveys for traffic planning. Data gathered from cellphones provides much more reliable data, that updates more frequently, at a cheaper cost to the government. Replica uses sophisticated algorithms to protect the privacy of people whose phones were used to create commuting projections.

“Cities, transit agencies, and planning departments are already buying anonymized and aggregated location data to understand how people move around in cities. Replica combines this data with census information to create a richer and more accurate model of how people travel, while using a synthetic, virtual population to ensure much more rigorous privacy,” Nick Bowden, who leads the team building Replica, said in a statement sent to the Star.

“It’s clearly in the public good for some of this info to be used for city planning,” said Brenda McPhail, director of the privacy, technology and surveillance project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “But do people even know their data is being collected?”
“It’s clearly in the public good for some of this info to be used for city planning,” said Brenda McPhail, director of the privacy, technology and surveillance project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “But do people even know their data is being collected?”  (Supplied)

In April, Bowden wrote a blog post on Sidewalk Toronto’s website introducing the Replica tool for city planners and said the program would be used in Toronto.

“We are currently building Replica to support the development of plans for Sidewalk Toronto,” Bowden wrote. “We’ll be sharing Replica with local Toronto researchers and public agencies to gather feedback and make it more useful to them.”

Contacted this week, Sidewalk Labs spokesperson Levitan said those statements were aspirational and while Replica may be brought to Toronto in the future, “the Replica team is now focused on developing their model for other cities in the U.S.”

Replica analyzes people’s movement through a city without actually using real people’s data, according to the Sidewalk Labs’ website. Instead, a “synthetic population” of “doppelgangers” is created with GPS data from millions of actual cellphones and then adjusted according to the census data to make it statistically accurate. This way, there are precisely the correct number of rich people and poor people, of single mothers and university students, of cyclists and truck drivers, in each area of the city. But none of these people are real; they’re simply modelled on real people.

Replica’s location data “is collected by third party mobile apps with all identifying information — like names and phone numbers — removed,” the website states.

It is unclear whether Replica, if brought to Toronto, would later come with costs. The Illinois procurement documents describe a “charter customer program” that allows customers “to evaluate Replica risk-free and only pay when the customer acceptance criteria has been met.”

Ironically, just before Illinois entered into negotiations to purchase Replica, the state was poised to enact one of the strictest cellphone privacy laws in the world, which prohibited companies from collecting geolocation data from anyone’s phone without their express consent. After it was passed by the state assembly, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the bill.

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Logan Boulet fund raises more than $70K in support of KidSport – Lethbridge

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The Logan Boulet effect continues in Lethbridge, where the local KidSport chapter was presented with more than $70,000 as part of a fund honouring his memory on Thursday.


READ MORE:
The ‘Logan Boulet effect’: Humboldt Broncos player’s family feels pride, heartbreak in wake of tragic death

The fund was first established by Boulet’s parents as a way to keep his spirit and love of sports alive while creating opportunities for more children to participate in athletics no matter their family’s financial position.

Boulet was one of 15 people killed on a Saskatchewan highway when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team collided with a semi-truck. Fourteen others were injured.

Just after the collision, the 21-year-old defenceman was put on life support in hospital. But days later, he was taken off life support and his organs donated to science, as well as six people in need.

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet taken off life support, organs donated

He had just signed his donor card a short time before he died, the family told Global News.

Boulet’s parents, Toby and Bernie Boulet were both in attendance to share the special moment.

“Logan gave lots to the community, and so does our daughter Mariko and so do ourselves and coaches and everyone,” Toby Boulet said, “To us, to have Logan, his name, to give back to other children, is huge for us.”

“Kids need to be out, they need to be active, and be part of a team,” Bernie Boulet said. “That’s just part of growing up that everybody should have the opportunity to do.”

The fund has already raised more than $72,000.

“Having known Logan, and having coached him, I know that he had a true understanding and appreciation of what sports can do for young people,” KidSport Executive, Jonathan Dick said.

With files from Heide Pearson

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

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Community raises allergy awareness years after Saint John-area teen’s death – New Brunswick

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Runners and walkers of all ages came out to honour a 14-year-old New Brunswick girl who died as a result of anaphylaxis.

The Sweet Caroline Run 2018 saw an estimated 750 people head out to Rothesay High School to take part in the event.


READ MORE:
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Lorette passed away after a severe allergic reaction to food she consumed in 2014.

Caroline Lorette passed away in 2014 due to a severe allergic reaction

Food Allergy Canada

Since then, the Sweet Caroline Foundation was established, raising awareness about allergies and anaphylaxis.

“Just be aware of people out there that do have allergies,” said David Lorette, Caroline’s father. “It’s not just a matter of a stuffy nose, and that it can be life-threatening and we certainly learned that it is life-threatening.”

David Lorette, Caroline’s father says raising allergy awareness is an important way to carry on the legacy of his daughter

Callum Smith/Global News

There are already awareness and education programs in place in schools within the Anglophone South School District. The goal is to partner with the province to grow the campaign.

“We can make New Brunswick the most allergy-friendly and aware province in the country,” said Lorette.

WATCH: Jack.org: an online support network raising awareness amongst young people






A national campaign is set to launch in 2019.

After the run, a cheque for $25,000 was handed over to the Sweet Caroline Foundation.

And aside from the awareness, it’s clear that Caroline had a major impact on the community.

“We grew up with this family in the neighbourhood,” said family friend Krista Jones. “Our children grew up together. We camped together. [Her loss] is a total hole that’s missing in all our lives.”


READ MORE:
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“It’s a great cause in support of a lovely young lady who was a wonderful friend of our family,” said Craig Maguire.

Despite the tragedy, those taking part in the run are pleased with the efforts of the family and foundation.

“It’s really important for us because you can walk, and Caroline was a sweet girl,” said Hunter Steeves. “She’ll be remembered up in heaven.”​

Hunter Steeves (left), alongside his brother Luke, took part in the run

Callum Smith/Global News

More details and information about the foundation can be found at sweetcarolinefoundation.ca.

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