Dans une vidéo publiée dimanche dernier sur sa chaîne YouTube, RizArt a avoué qu’il n’avait pas 12 ans, comme il l’avait prétendu jusque-là.
« Je suis vraiment désolé de ne pas avoir dit la vérité à tout le monde », a-t-il déclaré.
J’ai vraiment honte de vous avoir tous menti.
Pris dans la spirale du mensonge
RizArt a raconté que tout avait commencé lorsque les autres joueurs avaient supposé qu’il était très jeune en raison de son apparence juvénile et de sa voix enfantine.
Il a choisi de ne pas rectifier la situation et de laisser les gens croire qu’il était un petit prodige du jeu vidéo, car il pensait que cela l’aiderait à augmenter le nombre des abonnés de sa chaîne YouTube.
Après avoir battu le record du monde d’adversaires éliminés au jeu vidéo Fortnite Battle Royale au mois de novembre, RizArt a vu le nombre de ses abonnés doubler pour atteindre 187 000 personnes.
Se faire pardonner
« Je ne m’attends pas à ce que vous me pardonniez tout de suite. Cependant, pour me repentir, je veux donner [l’équivalent de] trois mois de revenus [générés par] ma chaîne YouTube à des organismes de charité », a-t-il dit.
« À partir de maintenant, j’agirai comme il se doit afin de regagner votre confiance », a-t-il ajouté.
Membre de l’équipe de sport électronique Crazy Raccoon, RizArt a été sélectionné pour participer à Katowice Royale 2019, un grand tournoi Fortnite qui réunira 100 équipes au début du mois de mars.
Participer à des compétitions Fortnite n’est soumis à aucun critère d’âge au Japon.
On Dec. 21 at 9 p.m., three men were shot in Etobicoke. Two were found in a bullet-riddled BMW. One, Cimran Farah, 20, died in the hospital six days later.
Farah’s death was the 96th homicide in Toronto in 2018 — the latest, as of Monday afternoon, in a year in which the city surpassed its previous record of 90, from 1991, by mid-November.
The youngest victim was a 3-week-old baby girl, one of ten minors killed this year.
The oldest was 94-year-old Betty Forsyth, who was killed in April along with nine others in the Yonge St. van attack.
Forty-six of those killed — just under half — were under the age of 30. Seventy-five were men and boys. Twenty-one were women and girls. By the Star’s count, police have neither arrested nor issued a warrant for arrest in 33 of these killings, excluding one apparent murder-suicide.
In a year-end press conference this week, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders called 2018 a “unique” year marked by increases in gun violence and two exceptional mass casualty events. Looking ahead to the new year, Saunders was optimistic that homicide numbers will decline — a pattern the city has seen before, following the previous record-high year 1991 and another spike between 2005 and 2007.
But, as criminologist Scot Wortley notes, without better understanding why shooting and gang-related violence has increased, it is difficult to know if this year was an outlier or a sign of a larger trend.
The year began with the Jan. 29 arrest of an alleged serial killer who is accused of targeting men connected to Toronto’s Gay Village since 2010. Bruce McArthur now faces eight charges of first-degree murder.
Even without the 12 deaths from these two tragedies, Toronto’s homicide numbers for 2018 are high — significantly higher than in 2017, which saw 65 homicides, 2016, which was 75 and 2015, which saw 59.
More than half of Toronto homicides this year, 51, were fatal shootings, just two less than 2005, the city’s infamous “Year of the Gun.”
The victims include 22-year-old Yohannes Brhanu, found dead after a gun battle on a residential street in a car surrounded by bullet casings and shattered glass; 29-year-old Ruma Amar, shot in the back of the head in a hail of gunfire meant for someone else as she, her husband and sister were leaving a North York bowling alley; and 31-year old Jenas Nyarko, a shelter worker killed in a drive-by shooting while sitting in a car outside her apartment with friends after attending a funeral.
The number of shootings in the city this year also appears to have broken a record: In the latest police numbers published Monday, 2018 had seen 424 shootings, more than 2016’s year-end total of 407, which is the largest tally in any year since 2004, according to police data.
Saunders has attributed the gun violence to increased street gang activity and pointed to similar trends across North America. And while he outlined enforcement challenges for police that come with arresting and charging gang members — including witnesses with justifiable fears of retribution, poor community relationships with police, and a “team sport” mentality in gangs that means individual arrests of gang members have limited impact — he emphasized the need for solutions that go beyond policing at his year-end press conference.
“The enforcement piece plays an important part. I’m not here to say that it’s softer policing. I’m here to say that it’s smarter policing. There have to be agencies at the front end that prevent these young boys from shooting others. There’s a lot of funding that needs to be put in. Not grant funding; core funding, into the communities. Nobody’s ever, that I know of, born saying ‘I want to be a street gang member,’” Saunders said.
“To think we can arrest our way out of this is a falsehood.”
In mid-December, the federal government announced Toronto will get $6.76 million in Public Safety funding over a five-year period for a program called the Community Healing Project. Police will also get up to $400,000 over two years to enhance the Neighbourhood Officers Program in eight priority neighbourhoods. Consultations about a handgun and ammunition ban are ongoing.
Wortley, who has researched gangs and gang violence in Toronto and Ontario, noted that while Toronto did have a record high number of homicides in 2018, the population of the city and the GTA overall has also grown rapidly since the previous record was set in 1991.
Accounting for population, the city has had a homicide rate of approximately 3.5 per 100,000 in 2018 — a number which does not account for the frequent movement of people into Toronto from the GTA on a daily basis.
In 1991, there were 3.8 killings per 100,000, the highest in city records. It would take 111 homicides in 2018 to reach the same rate. The long-term average in Toronto is about 2.4 homicides per 100,000, though it has risen above 3.0 in recent years.
Wortley said it does appear some of the spike in homicides this year are the result of gang-related activity, as well as neigbourhood conflicts that may be intensified through social media. Gang violence seems to have a “cyclical quality,” he said, but without knowing what’s causing the increase, it’s hard to predict whether it will relent.
One potential short-term cause for the increase may stem from the legalization of marijuana, he said, though it remains to be seen to what extent the violence reflects gangs trying to reposition themselves in a shrinking drug market, and trying to move into meth, opioids or cocaine, or into other crimes such as robberies.
However, a longer-term area of concern lies in “disturbing social patterns” that have emerged in Toronto in part due to affordability, he said.
There has been a decline in the quality and availability of affordable housing, an entrenchment of very poor areas in the city, increasing barriers to social mobility and a growing divide between rich and poor as well as a shrinking middle class, Wortley said. It is also important to consider the psychological impact of frequent shootings and violence on communities.
“To what extent is social inequality contributing to higher rates of violence?” Wortley said.
And if it continues, will Toronto begin to see more violence stemming from hopelessness and alienation?
Wortley agreed with Saunders on the need for long-term investment into non-policing solutions but noted that some of the most effective interventions — like early childhood programs — take a long time to show results which makes political support difficult to maintain.
“Do we have the patience to continue to fund those programs so that we can see the benefits of that investment?” he said.
With files from Wendy Gillis, Jim Rankin, May Warren and Star Staff
Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and court. Follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati
In January 2000, a paper was published in a respected academic journal that trumpeted the successes of a Canadian lab in a burgeoning area of drug testing.
The researchers who wrote the paper claimed they had analyzed strands of hair to trace long-term exposure to illicit drugs, such as cocaine, and used gold-standard testing to verify its results.
What everyone failed to notice — from the medical institution where the lab was housed to the federal agency that funded the study to the journal that published the article — was that the gold-standard claim was a lie.
In fact, Dr. Gideon Koren’s Motherisk lab at The Hospital for Sick Children rarely confirmed its results with gold-standard testing before 2010.
That lie was exposed in 2015, amid a scandal that tore apart vulnerable families and prompted two government-commissioned inquiries, which found Motherisk made millions selling its hair tests for use in criminal and child-protection cases despite the fact that it often failed to verify its preliminary results. This was contrary to international forensic standards for evidence presented in court.
The paper has been cited 54 times, as recently as May 2017. The journal told the Star this week that it will be “looking into these issues.”
Citations — when other researchers cite the study as a reference in their published work — is an indication of its influence.
A researcher’s publication record is the currency of modern-day science. It is the pre-requisite to securing competitive tenure-track positions at prestigious universities, the key to unlocking funding and the measure by which research institutions are assessed.
But it is a moment of reckoning for medical publishing. Last week, SickKids, which housed the Motherisk lab, announced it will undertake a wholesale review of Koren’s vast body of published work, after the Star presented the hospital with findings from this investigation that identified what appear to be problems in more than 400 of Koren’s papers, including the Jan. 2000 hair-testing article, collectively cited more than 6,000 times.
These papers appeared problematic because they have been inadequately peer-reviewed, failed to declare, and perhaps even obscure, conflicts of interest, and, in a handful of cases, contain lies about the methodology used to test hair for drugs.
We identified just 18 instances in the 400 studies flagged by the Star where it appears journals have taken action, in the form of a correction or clarification.
Sick Kids’ announcement follows a similar cases in the U.S. There, a research misconduct scandal recently prompted the resignation of Dr. Jose Baselga, the former chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City, after a New York Times-ProPublica investigation found he failed to disclose payments from healthcare companies. Elsewhere, Ohio State University cancer scientist Ching-Shih Chen resigned after he was found to have falsified data.
The Star’s review of more than 1,400 papers co-written over 30 years by Koren, one of Canada’s most prolific scientific authors, reveals the inability — and unwillingness — of journals and research institutions to preserve theintegrity of the scientific record.
Several concerns about Koren’s research were identified in 2015 by a SickKids internal review. The hospital posted a summary of its findings on its website, and told the Star it sent a copy to the province’s medical watchdog, which is investigating Koren.
The Star’s investigation has found the system of medical publishing is one with little accountability, where the onus is on authors to voluntarily disclose conflicts of interest. Journals don’t vet these claims (or the authors who make them). Institutions have discretion to investigate allegations of misconduct as they see fit.
Corrections, if they happen at all, routinely take years to be published.
The Star’s findings are consistent with the systemic problems that have been identified by Retraction Watch, a pioneering organization with an online database of retractions and corrections.
Founded in 2010, the organization began collecting retractions, by searching journals online and in print, and, by the time the database went live in October 2018, it had amassed more than 18,000 retractions. This made it the most extensive catalogue of such notices available, says the site’s co-founder, Ivan Oransky, a doctor, journalist and professor at New York University.
Despite the commonly held belief in the power of peer-review and the ability of academic publishing to root out cases of misconduct and fraud, Oransky describes “the vaunted self-correction mechanism of science” as one that is “held together by spit and bubble gum.”
From the institutions who rely on researchers to bring in grant money to the journals and authors whose reputations and careers are at stake, “at every stage the incentives are against doing the right thing,” he said.
“I don’t know if the barrel is totally rotten, but there are a lot more rotten apples in the barrel than people would like us to admit.”
Koren, who retired from SickKids in June 2015, has continued to publish since his departure. Neither he nor his lawyers responded to emails and phone calls seeking comment for this story.
Koren, who now lives in Israel, had been working as a senior researcher for Maccabi Health, a healthcare provider. In late October, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, a medical ethics’ watchdog, wrote to Maccabi Health with concerns that Maccabi may not know about Koren’s role in two SickKids controversies, including the Motherisk scandal. On Dec. 5, Maccabi, in a letter obtained by the Star, wrote back saying it had appointed a committee to “examine the role of Professor Koren in these incidents.”
Israel Hayom, a national newspaper, reported on Dec. 18, that Maccabi Health said Koren will be on leave until the end of the investigation. Haaretz, another Israeli newspaper reported that day that Koren defended the Motherisk lab by saying it was clinical, not forensic, and “won praise.” He said, according to the newspaper, that claims of biased or misleading research were outright libel.
SickKids said last week that it is “regrettable” that an audit of Koren’s work had not been conducted sooner and that there should have been “closer oversight of his disclosure and publication practices.”
In the 30 years he spent at the helm of Motherisk, Koren’s staggering publication record helped make the program the foremost source of advice for generations of pregnant women and their doctors. He held editorial positions at more than 15 academic journals, attracted more than $29 million in grants from public and private sources, won prestigious awards and supervised up to a dozen graduate students per year, the Star found.
The institutions and journals that benefited now face possible problems in hundreds of papers in a case that reveals problems ailing the system of academic publishing, and provides a prescription for much-needed improvement.
The Star’s findings were in many ways foretold 15 years ago, when the University of Toronto’s dean of medicine tried — and failed — to get a journal to retract one of Koren’s papers.
In April 2002, at a faculty council meeting, Dr. David Naylor, who is now interim CEO at SickKids, recorded a finding of research misconduct against Koren related to a 1999 study published in the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring.
The public chastisement was intended as a coda to Koren’s dispute with Dr. Nancy Olivieri, a blood diseases specialist at Sick Kids who, like Koren, held cross-appointments at U of T. Tensions boiled over while the pair was running a clinical trial with partial funding from the Canadian generic drug-maker Apotex. Olivieri voiced concerns about the efficacy of the drug, which Koren did not share.
In 2000, the heads of SickKids and U of T suspended and fined Koren, who was also stripped of an endowed chair for “repeatedly lying” and sending anonymous “poison pen letters” to doctors and the media disparaging Olivieri and her supporters. He denied writing the letters until DNA evidence provided irrefutable proof.
A committee formed by the U of T Faculty of Medicine found that Koren had published the 1999 paper without consulting the other researchers, failed to disclose Apotex’s support for the trial, and had not discussed the safety concerns about the drug.
“I sincerely hope that resolution of this … brings the entire episode to an end,” Naylor told the faculty council in 2002, according to the meeting minutes.
Naylor said that he insisted Koren write to the journal to acknowledge his error and request the article be deleted from the scientific record. “He has done so, and also sent appropriate personal letters of apology,” Naylor said, according to the minutes of the faculty council meeting. “I consider the matter closed.”
The article was never withdrawn.
An erratum was published in April 2004, stating that “the specific industry sponsor, Apotex Inc., of Weston, Ontario, was not mentioned.”
Koren’s failure to consult with his co-researchers and discuss the safety concerns, were not addressed in this correction.
In response to questions from the Star for this story, Naylor said Koren contacted the editor, Dr. Steven Soldin, within weeks of being notified of Naylor’s decision.
Naylor said Soldin was made aware of the “inappropriate use of shared data” and the “non-disclosure issue,” but that Soldin declined to retract the article.
Soldin, who is now a senior scientist at the National Institutes of Health Research in Maryland, told the Star he doesn’t recall a conversation with Koren about the paper after it was published and said he was never contacted by any official from U of T.
“If the Toronto academic faculty felt strongly about something, they should definitely have spoken with me,” he said. “It’s got to be a serious conversation, or it’s not going to be taken seriously.”
The matter was still outstanding when, in early 2004, Koren became North American editor of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, based in part on the recommendation of his predecessor, Soldin.
In February 2004, Naylor wrote to Olivieri with an update. In that correspondance, obtained by the Star, Naylor said he wrote a letter urging retraction of the 1999 article, and, “as agreed,” Koren passed it to the publisher.In a recent email to the Star, Naylor said that he reached out to the publisher who rejected his request.
The current journal editor, Dr. Uwe Christians, said he “cannot comment further on the matter,” but, in general, “the journal editor and editorial board have full editorial independence; the publisher is not involved in editorial decisions.”
Arthur Schafer, founding director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, said Koren should have been fired for his conduct in the Olivieri affair. That U of T and SickKids allowed him to continue publishing after his proven research misconduct, apparently without adequate oversight and supervision, is “astonishing,” he said.
Naylor, speaking in his capacity as U of T’s former dean of medicine, said he rejects the suggestion that the university’s “handling of this case somehow accounted for Koren’s ongoing failures to disclose industry funding sources and personal payments.”
“(Third) parties gave critical and wide public airing of Dr. Koren’s disclosure misconduct during and after these proceedings,” he said, referring to U of T’s investigation into the research misconduct allegations. “(His) aberrant conduct apparently continued regardless …. He was evidently impervious to discipline or criticism.”
A spokesperson for SickKids said that the issue surrounding the 1999 paper, “was addressed many years ago by the University of Toronto and the Hospital has no further comment.”
In his recent book, Doctors in Denial: Why Big Pharma and the Canadian Medical Profession are Too Close for Comfort, Dr. Joel Lexchin, a health policy expert at York University, writes that since the ’90s, pharma money has increasingly flowed to scientists who are regarded as having a favourable view of a company’s products and could be a willing, positive ambassador at conferences and dinners with colleagues.
Doctors who receive money from pharmaceutical companies “are almost uniformly resolute that they are promoting the product because they believe in its effectiveness and that they are independent and able to say what they believe,” Lexchin writes. He adds that “they sometimes indulge in self-censorship to avoid the risk of losing funding for research and attendance at conferences.”
In the U.S., federal law requires drug companies to disclose payments to doctors.
No such law exists in Canada.
Legislation, passed by Ontario’s former Liberal government last year to make these disclosures mandatory, has yet to be proclaimed by the new Tory government.
Dr. Andrew Boozary, an assistant professor at U of T and the co-founder of Open Pharma, a leading advocate for pharmaceutical payment transparency, said that there is no universal standard for disclosing conflicts of interest, ties to industry or anything else that could be seen to bias academic publishing.
When submitting a manuscript, authors are often asked to complete an online form that asks a simple “yes” or “no” question: “Are there any relevant conflicts of interest?”
Journal editors told the Star they rely on authors to be honest.
Koren has acknowledged in published papers and on one version of his C.V. that about 10 drug companies, including Pfizer, Duchesnay and Apotex, have provided him with money.
The Star found nearly 300 papers that contain concerns related to undisclosed, or possibly obscured, conflicts of interest. That includes roughly 30 papers that discuss morning sickness or Diclectin, the only medication approved by Health Canada to treat this condition, and do not acknowledge Koren’s long-term support from Duchesnay, the Quebec-based maker of the drug. Duchesnay provided funding to Koren beginning in 1994, according to his C.V.
Of the nearly 300 papers, about 270 cite “The Research Leadership for Better Pharmacotherapy During Pregnancy and Lactation.” SickKids, following its internal probe of Motherisk in 2015, said Koren created this name to refer to funds donated “by a variety of individuals and organizations.” In the years leading up to the Motherisk scandal, the primary donor was Duchesnay, the hospital said, and, in some cases where Koren used the “Research Leadership” name, he did not acknowledge funding from that drug company.
The Star requested a complete list of donors and the amount of money provided, but SickKids said this is “not possible,” because this was “not an actual fund set up at the hospital.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Duchesnay confirmed the company “terminated its partnership with/and funding of” SickKids and Motherisk in 2015, but said “it is not our policy to announce the specific amounts it pays or has paid to Canadian health professionals for various consultations, speaker and research services.”
None of the other drug companies provided to the Star the amount or details of the funding to Koren or Motherisk.
Thomas Knudsen is editor-in-chief of the journal Reproductive Toxicology, which has published 13 papers co-written by Koren that the Star deemed problematic, because they relate to hair-testing, cite the Research Leadership name or discuss morning sickness or Diclectin without acknowledging support from Duchesnay.
Knudsen said that his editorial staff does not generally investigate conflict-of-interest disclosures. Peer reviewers are “not going to do a Google search” of the author, Knudsen said; their job is to review the science. Without a whistleblower or a note from a researcher’s institution, he asked, how was he supposed to know who or what to look into?
“We are not police officers,” he said.
“That’s up to the university.”
The journal published two more of Koren’s articles this year. A third was stopped by reviewers with concerns about the study design and conclusions. Knudsen recently rejected this study. He said that information provided by the Star about the findings of the news organization’s investigation into Koren’s papers, and the problems at Motherisk “made it easier” to render the “unfavourable” decision.
SickKids vowed to communicate the results of its recently announced review to “all involved journals.” This could prove a monumental task. The more than 400 papers identified by the Star as containing possible problems were published in roughly 75 journals and co-authored by more than 450 doctors, nurses and academics.
In these cases, publications can be slow to act, if they do at all, said Oransky of Retraction Watch.
Retractions, the most severe form of punishment a journal takes, are rare.
Corrections, known as “errata” or “corrigenda,” are more common.
But they can take years to materialize, are difficult to find and tend to be opaque.
In a search of three online scientific article databases, the Star found corrections related to 18 of the more than 400 articles we flagged.
Most are not appended to the online versions of the original articles.
The problems in the system were evident in our search for corrections related to five hair-testing papers that retired judge Susan Lang identified in her 2015 report on Motherisk as containing lies about using the gold-standard testing to confirm results.
In her report, Lang said that Koren told her that he had sent erratum letters to the affected journals explaining the inaccuracies in these articles.
SickKids reiterated Koren’s claim in the press release last week.
Three years later, the Star’s online search found corrections related to two of those articles: an erratum related to a 2007 article published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, and a corrigendum related to a 2009 article published in Forensic Science International.
When asked why Forensic Science International did not publish a correction related to the 2000 paper discussed at the beginning of this story, the editor, Dr. Christian Jackowski said “no further corrigendum/erratum was published or provided by the author.”
The editor of a third journal, on request, sent the Star the corrigendum that was published in relation to a 2007article.
None of these notices mentioned that the Motherisk lab has been discredited.
They claim that, despite the fact that results were not confirmed with gold-standard testing, this did not affect results.
Dr. Ronald Cohn, SickKids pediatrician-in-chief, took issue with Koren’s assertion that the gold-standard lie “had no impact on the results” of the study.
That prompted Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, one of the journals, to also issue an “expression of concern,” a stronger statement, about one of the articles.
Jackowski, the editor of Forensic Science International, said he told a SickKids official that he would additionally publish a letter to the editor stating the hospital’s position. But it was never submitted, he told the Star. SickKids told the Star it did send the letter, but would reach out to the journal again to clear up any misunderstanding.
Meanwhile, Dr. Togas Tulandi, the editor of Elsevier’s Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, which published an opinion piece by Koren in 2017, said that he was unaware of Koren’s research misconduct until he was contacted by the Star. He said his associate is “looking into it” and the journal may “withdraw (Koren’s) article.”
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, which Koren edited until 2015, has recently taken the most aggressive approach of any journal towards Koren’s articles; Christians said the current president of the society that runs the journal asked Koren to step down as editor after he learned of the Motherisk scandal. Koren “accepted the termination without question,” he said.
In 2017, the journal reviewed all of the roughly 90 articles Koren co-authored, and sent 19 to independent reviewers for additional scrutiny. In seven, the reviewers recommended action, such as requesting proof of confirmation testing and ethics-board approval from the authors.
Christians said that the follow-up on these actions was delayed by the transition to a new editor, but that it “is now being prioritized.”
Following the Star’s inquiries, Christians said he is now considering retracting the 1999 paper that resulted in the research misconduct finding against Koren.
Naylor said Koren’s case is an “ugly and outsized” example of the systemic problems with conflicts of interest and protecting the scientific record.
The “only way to move forward,” he said, is for institutions to keep better tabs on researchers’ financial relationships, ensure the penalties for not disclosing are clear and collaborate with journal editors to “work out a more explicit system” to share information and “oversight of the processes for correcting the scientific record.”
Naylor said it would be “a huge help if all industry payments made directly to physicians were simply disclosed publicly by the payers.”
Koren continues to submit manuscripts to journals to be considered for publication.
He published a study in August about a severe form of morning sickness. The paper acknowledges he is “a consultant for Duchesnay.”
In September, Koren was singled out among the world’s “hyperprofilic” authors in an article in Nature. These were researchers who wrote more than 72 papers in any year from 2000 to 2016 — roughly one paper every five days — which, the study authors noted, “many would consider implausibly prolific.”
Lead author, Stanford University professor John Ioannidis, said the study is an attempt to understand hyper-prolific authorship, for better or worse.
Koren responded to a request from the study authors to comment on his output. He credited teamwork, 16-hour work days, and two “very supportive work environments.”
“I perceive myself as an individual who is highly committed to scientific discovery,” he said. “I do not feel I have to apologize for my high productivity.”
With files from Tania Pereira, May Warren, Stefanie Marotta, Jason Miller and Brendan Kennedy.Ryerson note: The Star’s investigation into Koren’s publications was conducted in partnership with Ryerson University School of Journalism students Stefanie Phillips, Emerald Bensadoun, Kate Skelly and Alanna Rizza.
Rachel Mendleson is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @rachelmendleson
Michele Henry is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @michelehenry
WATCH: Can Man Dan camps out to support Edmonton’s Food Bank
Right now, the anti-poverty activist is on a mission for the city. He’s on his third of five camp outs, and the next is for the Edmonton Food Bank.
“It feels good,” Johnstone remarked, “but I still have a lot of work to do before Christmas.”
When it comes to exactly how he was able to raise over $50,000 in toys for Santa’s Anonymous, he said it comes down to the relationship he has with Edmonton.
“This city and I have this weird relationship where I can ask them for whatever I want,” Johnstone said. “Whether I want to fill a truck full of food, clothes, or toys, they’ll just do it — and that’s why I love Edmonton.”
But it doesn’t happen overnight. Can Man Dan is an initiative that started when Johnstone turned 18, after being on the other side of those donations.
“Growing up poor kick-started this whole initiative,” he said.
“I remember vividly some of the things I got as a kid and I wanted to keep the cycle going.
“We relied on so many different social services like the Food Bank and Santa’s Anonymous- basically every program you could think of.
“So, I turned 18 and started the whole Can Man Dan initiative and since then we’ve raised millions for our city.”
Since the initiative started, he’s helped thousands of people and there’s always another project he’s working on.
This is his eighth year of camp outs for local charities, and in total this year, he’s spent 12 days outside in Edmonton’s bitter cold climate.
“It was cold, to be honest,” he said, but he does find a way to stay warm.
“Seeing all those smiles, and getting all those hugs and handshakes, and loading all these toys into the truck, that’s what kept me warm,” Johnstone said.
“The Christmas spirit was alive and well. It was special.”
Johnstone was born and raised in Edmonton, and has a tireless love for the city.
“I love this city. There’s not a thing I wouldn’t do for it.”
He’s able to achieve charitable successes like this one because of Edmonton’s generosity — and Johnstone says it’s chart-topping.
“This is the most generous city in the entire world. I know I might be a bit biased, but I truly believe it,” he said. “I’m so glad we could help thousands of kids this Christmas.
“This victory is for Edmonton specifically.”
You can find Can Man Dan camping outside of the Heritage Safeway at 2304 109th Street from December 13th to 16th, and again at Southbrook Sobeys at 1109 James Mowatt Trail from December 22nd to December 24th.
He’ll be gathering food, toy, and monetary donations for Edmonton’s Food Bank.
LISTEN BELOW: Full Interview with Can Man Dan about his record-setting donation
This one ranked Canada 11th out of 37th countries when it came to accurate understandings of major issues.
At that rank, it trailed countries such as Hong Kong (1st), New Zealand (2nd), Sweden (3rd), Hungary (4th) and Great Britain (5th).
One area of misunderstanding — climate change.
WATCH: Minister of the environment presents Ontario’s climate change plan without a carbon tax
The survey found that Canadians are underestimating the number of years that the planet Earth has set heat records over the last two decades.
It also found that Canadians are overestimating the share of energy that they consume from renewable resources.
This chart from Ipsos shows Canadians underestimating the heat records that have been set in the last 18 years.
Canadians estimated that Earth set heat records in 10 out of the last 18 years.
In reality, the planet set heat records in all but one of those years.
Even though the estimates were off by seven years, Canadians nevertheless ranked fourth out of 37 countries when it came to an accurate understanding of this matter.
WATCH: Critical UN talks aim to tackle global warming
The survey also showed Canadian respondents overestimating how much renewable energy they use.
Respondents estimated the renewable share of their energy use at just over 30 per cent, when really, the share was 22 per cent.
This chart shows how much of their energy use Canadians believe comes from renewables.
The results provided some insight into the difficulties that governments across Canada have faced trying to agree on how to combat climate change, Mike Colledge, president of Canadian public affairs with Ipsos, told Global News.
“You see we miss it by almost 50 per cent,” he said.
“You can understand why it’s hard to get traction for either side of this discussion.”
WATCH: Vancouver landmark tackling climate change head on
Colledge said Canadians are locked in a debate over climate change in which neither side has appeared to convince the other.
“When you try to move people, it is not about moving them with facts,” he said.
“So you have a debate in the country now on climate change, where you have people largely yelling facts over the wall at each other, and if you disagree they call you a denier, and if you disagree on this side they call you a liar.”
He noted in an op-ed that people are unlikely to shift each other’s opinions with facts, that there are “other emotions and values bundled into this debate.”
“There’s no debate bringing people to the middle and saying, let’s understand what the real concerns are around this issue,” he said.
“I’m not absolving anybody… but that’s what’s unfolding.”
With 15 per cent of Canadian respondents considering climate change one of the top three priorities facing the country, Canada ranked third in terms of its concern, tying it with Germany, Belgium, Australia, Sweden and China.
That was higher than the global average of 11 per cent.
The survey also found an inverse correlation between concern about climate change, and issues such as corruption and crime.
Climate change ranked as a low priority in countries with high crime and heavy poverty, Colledge said.
WATCH: UN Secretary General calls for swift action, says ‘we are in deep trouble’ with climate change
Only one per cent of respondents in Argentina, for example, saw it as a major priority.
The issue didn’t rank close to the top when considering averages, either.
Globally, the top issue for countries was financial and political corruption, at 34 per cent.
It was followed closely by unemployment, at 33 per cent.
When it came to unemployment, it turned out that Canadians were actually overestimating rates in their country.
The survey showed respondents estimating unemployment at 24 per cent, when in fact it’s six per cent — for a gap of 18 per cent.
That demonstrates a level of concern around the economy that goes beyond the metrics, Colledge said.
With people apparently over-concerned about the economy, and perhaps under-concerned about climate change given the facts, Colledge was asked whether there was room for people to dampen their worries about one issue and heighten them about another.
“The space for climate change to grow doesn’t automatically open up because the economy gets better,” he said.
“Unless we can convince people that the economy is better.”
The survey carried out interviews in 37 countries between Sept. 28 and Oct. 16.
About 1,000 people were surveyed as part of the Canadian study. Canada was one of 21 countries in which a representative sample was surveyed.
Data for each question was taken from a variety of verified sources.
When results didn’t sum up to 100, or the difference appeared to be +/- more or less than the actual, this may have been due to rounding, numerous responses or the exclusion of “don’t knows” or not stated responses.
Data were weighted to match the profile of the population.
In the “normal” course of violence, thoughts might turn immediately to gang-bangers, street crime, drug turf wars or a revenge hit.
But these were both police officers.
And the crime has been couched in wall-to-wall no-comments.
What the hell happened in the cop-on-cop shooting around noon on Thursday, down a rural road, about 22 kilometres south of St. Catharines?
How did gunfire erupt from what had apparently been nothing more than officers with Niagara Regional Police conducting a follow-up investigation of an impaired driving collision 17 days earlier?
A constable and a detective sergeant who crossed paths, apparently crossed words, and suddenly one of them was bleeding out on the ground, struck several times, and rushed to hospital in critical condition.
The SIU is investigating and they are notoriously close-mouthed, so different from the press conferences frequently called when a homicide or serious shooting event occurs. The OPP criminal investigation branch is conducting a parallel investigation but parameters and jurisdiction are unclear. “It would be inappropriate to provide further details or comment on this incident, given that this is an ongoing investigation,” OPP highways safety division spokesperson Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told the Star in an email.
From Philip Huck, vice-chair of the Ontario Association of Police Service Boards, in an email to the Star: “At this time, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to comment on this issue, as it is currently under investigation.”
From Bob Gale, chair of the Niagara Regional Police Board: “I’m sorry, but I cannot converse about yesterday’s occurrence, as it is in the hands of the SIU.”
The board did release a statement to the media: “The board is deeply concerned by the shooting incident involving two Niagara Regional Police Services officers on Nov. 29, 2018 in the Town of Pelham. The law requires that there be no public comment as discussion of the specifics of the occurrence under investigation until the SIU investigation and the Chief’s external review are completed.”
Chief Bryan MacCulloch referred all inquiries to the media department.
While not confirmed by the SIU, the officer shot in “the altercation”, as per the SIU — in critical, but stable condition last night — has been identified by several sources as Const. Nathan Parker. The officer who discharged his weapon has been identified as Det.-Sgt. Shane Donovan.
Again, in the “normal” course of events, in particular when an officer has been shot and seriously injured, that cop would be a object of deep sympathy. And not to say that this victim isn’t because he’s certainly in the “thoughts and prayers” of his colleagues. But the personal background is disturbing, suggestive of a person with a temper, impulsive tendencies and menacing habits.
It’s all there, in Parker’s police jacket: a disciplinary record which certainly indicates a long and troubling history over a nearly three-decade career.
In 2006, Parker was convicted by a police tribunal of using excessive force in pepper spraying a teenager handcuffed in the back of a cruiser.
The tribunal believed the evidence of the teen, who’d testified that Parker had reached into the back of the vehicle with his canister and asked: “Will you be saying ‘yo’ to me again, you (expletive) piece of (expletive)?” as he hit the young man with a short burst of pepper spray.
The tribunal rejected Parker’s testimony that he’d only used pepper spray to subdue the teenager during a struggled outside his cruiser after striking him with an open hand and being unable to handcuff him.
Parker had originally claimed to have little recollection of the incident, but then told the investigator he’d sprayed the teenager outside the cruiser. “Oh yeah, he got what he deserved,” Parker was quoted as saying by the internal investigator.
The officer didn’t mention use of pepper spray in his occurrence report, nor submit a use of force report as required by law. The superintendent who presided over the hearing concluded that Parker’s evidence had been “misleading, inconsistent and untruthful” on many key issues.
Parker was docked 56 hours and ordered to take anger-management counselling.
Afterwards, in a memo to his superior, Parker requested overtime pay for the time he spent at his hearing, which he described as “a witch-hunt.” A separate charge of insubordination was laid over that memo.
A news database search finds that, in 2012, Parker pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct — he forfeited 60 hours pay — over another incident involving his platoon commander. In that episode, Parker had alleged the commander made an improper gunpoint arrest without submitting a use-of-force report afterwards. Parker apparently conducted his own investigation, despite the commanding officer having been cleared of any wrongdoing.
In a previous unrelated incident, Parker was found guilty at a disciplinary hearing of using unnecessary force while arresting a cyclist without legal cause. He was docked 90 hours of leave time and ordered to undergo retraining.
In yet another incident, from 2013, Parker pleaded guilty (two years later) to discreditable conduct and two counts of using unnecessary force against a prisoner or other member of the public. Those charges arose from a confrontation where Parker, who was off-duty, stopped his car in front of a motorist he believed was driving aggressively. Witnesses said Parker yelled profanities at the driver as he approached.
That driver felt so threatened by Parker — the driver feared for his safety — that he refused to exit the vehicle. The hearing was told Parker attempted to remove the driver forcibly, but was frustrated by the man’s seatbelt. A bystander, concerned about Parker’s aggressive behavior, called police on his cellphone while another officer, who’d been in the car with Parker, urged him to get back in the car, and they left.
Following Parker’s guilty plea, the hearing’s prosecuting officer recommended that he be demoted from first-class constable to second-class. He was docked 120 hours pay.
Not, perhaps, a person you would want to encounter in an “altercation,” even if you’re a cop.
As of Friday night, no charges had been laid.
Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno
More than 2,000 hate crimes were reported to Canadian police last year, marking a record high since comparable data first became available in 2009, according to a new Statistics Canada report.
In 2017, Canadians reported 2,073 hate crimes to police services, a sharp rise of 47 per cent compared to the previous year. This growth was primarily fuelled by Ontario, which saw the biggest spike in hate crimes with 1,023 incidents — a 67 per cent increase from 2016, with the majority of cases targeting Muslim, Black and Jewish communities.
This was followed by Quebec, where hate crimes grew by 50 per cent and largely victimized the Muslim community — especially in the month after the Quebec City mosque shooting, which accounted for 26 per cent of anti-Muslim incidents reported in the province last year.
For anti-racism and advocacy groups, the report is just the latest testament to an alarming rise in hatred — and the time for effective action and leadership is long overdue.
“These attitudes remain prevalent in our society and this is unacceptable,” Brittany Andrew-Amofah, a board member with the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, said in a statement. “It’s time for political leaders to unequivocally speak out against hate and intolerance and in support of a multicultural society where everyone feels safe to participate and contribute.”
This new data comes with caveats. It’s unclear whether last year’s spike is due to a rise in incidents or improved reporting and hate crimes still represent a small proportion of overall crimes, accounting for just 0.1 per cent of the 1.9 million non-traffic crimes reported by police last year.
But police data also depends on a service’s ability — and resources — to effectively investigate hate crimes, which are vastly under-reported. In 2014, another Statistics Canada survey found that Canadians self-reported more than 330,000 criminal incidents motivated by hate, but only a third filed police reports. Groups like the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Anti-Hate Network also criticize the current classification systems for being overly broad — making it difficult, for example, to discern whether a Muslim Arab man might have been targeted for his race, religion or both.
There is no specific offence under the Criminal Code called “hate crime,” but any crime can qualify as such — and, accordingly, increase a person’s jail sentence — if hatred is proven to be a motivating factor. Three sections under the Criminal Code also deal with hate propaganda, but the bar for laying charges is particularly high.
Last year, the majority of reported hate crimes were non-violent and involved incidents of mischief, like graffiti or vandalism. But violent incidents accounted for 53 per cent of hate crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation; by comparison, 24 per cent of hate crimes targeting religion and 47 per cent of incidents based on ethnicity were categorized as violent.
The leading motivation for a reported hate crime was race or ethnicity, with 878 incidents last year — an uptick of 32 per cent from 2016. The Black community was the most frequently targeted, with anti-Black incidents up by more than 50 per cent and accounting for 16 per cent of all hate crimes across Canada.
Hate crimes based on religion also grew by more than 80 per cent, with the biggest rise in incidents targeting Muslims. While anti-Muslim hate crimes dropped in 2016, the number of reported incidents more than doubled last year to make a total of 349.
“The numbers are quite astonishing,” said NCCM spokesperson, Leila Nasr. “At the same time, I have to say it’s not surprising to us. 2017 was a massive year for the Muslim community, starting with the massacre of six Muslim men while out praying in (a Quebec City) mosque. So I really think that set the tone for the rest of the year.”
Proportionally speaking, Jewish people were targeted the most, with anti-Semitic hate crimes accounting for 18 per cent of all reported incidents in 2017. Recent years have seen a growth in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, but anxieties within North American Jewish communities have become particularly acute since 2017 — especially in the wake of the violent rallies in Charlottesville, Va., which were characterized by blatant anti-Semitism, and last month’s synagogue attack in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people, making it the deadliest anti-Semitic attack on North American soil.
“Whenever you have polarization, distrust of mainstream authorities and a dynamic of political demonization, this is where anti-Semitism can find an environment in which to grow,” said Steve McDonald, director of policy with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “Often you’ll see that when people are angry about a current political situation, if they’re anti-Semitic, they’ll link it back to Jews and point to Jews as a source of evil in the world.”
Canada is now at a “critical moment” and politicians — especially those who are increasingly resorting to dog-whistle politics and xenophobic rhetoric — need to examine their own role in fuelling this growing tide of hatred, said Mohammed Hashim, a board member with the Urban Alliance for Race Relations.
“Economic anxiety is creating a level of discord amongst people and politicians are using minorities as scapegoats for it,” he said. “This is the result of continued and increasingly amplified scapegoating done by politicians who are preying upon people’s anxieties.”
Both CIJA and the NCCM are calling for more intervention from the Canadian government, including a national strategy on combating online hate and strengthening anti-racism efforts at the federal level. Local police services also need to be better trained on hate crimes, Nasr said; many Muslim-Canadians who report incidents to the NCCM say they were not believed by local law enforcement.
This latest report by Statistics Canada speaks to the urgent need for more funding and resources dedicated towards hate crime policing, said Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. As a category of crime, “hatred” is particularly difficult to investigate and prosecute and recent years have seen an atrophying of hate crime units within police services, he said.
“There is no question that hate crime has the potential to lead to violence and even death, and we ignore that to our peril,” Farber said. “It is time for hate crime units to be restored and given proper funding and to get it back on track.”
Jennifer Yang is a Toronto-based reporter covering identity and inequality. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar
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RCMP officers were given permission to break the law 73 times on the job last year — the highest number on record — according to a new report.
Police officers are not immune from criminal liability while doing their jobs, but a decade-old tweak to the Criminal Code allows for a temporary dispensation during investigations.
The provisions are subject to a legal requirement of reasonableness and proportionality. High-ranking officials can grant permission if they believe breaking the law could save someone’s life, protect the identity of an undercover officer or save evidence from being destroyed.
In 2017, senior officials gave the green light to 94 scenarios, resulting in the 73 committed crimes.
They were mainly linked to organized crime investigations which saw undercover officers taking part in bets, pool-selling, bookmaking and unlawful possession of tobacco products, according to a recent Public Safety report quietly tabled in the House of Commons in late October.
RCMP officers were authorized to break the law 73 times on the job last year. (Public Safety/CBC)
Going back to 2003, the first year the report is available, Mounties have committed just a smattering of green-lit crimes.
On average, they’ve been authorized to break the law about six times a year, making the 2017 calendar year an anomaly.
Forgery, bribery and other offences
The only other year that saw a spike was 2015, when 20 crimes were committed in the name of anti-corruption and terrorism-related investigations.
That year, the offences ranged from bribery to unauthorized use of a computer and passport forgery.
The crimes vary by year, but often involve forgery and false statements.
During a 2013 terrorism investigation, officers were given authority to provide and make « property or services for terrorist purposes. »
Neither Public Safety officials nor the RCMP would explain why 2017 saw a huge spike.
« We are evaluating the increase in the 2016-2017 numbers, but cannot provide any details at this time. We will not speculate on trends related to 2018 statistics, » said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Marie Damian in an email to CBC News.
« RCMP procedures and policies governing undercover activities are continually reviewed to ensure undercover operations are applied pursuant to all laws, procedures, and policies governing undercover operations while not jeopardizing the safety of our members, suspects, their families, or the public. »
Former RCMP deputy commissioner Pierre-Yves Bourduas said after the Parliament Hill shooting in 2014 some operations and investigations were set aside to focus on national security investigations. (CBC)
Why crimes spiked in 2017
Former RCMP deputy commissioner Pierre-Yves Bourduas said after the Parliament Hill shooting in 2014 some operations and investigations were set aside to focus on national security investigations.
« It would make sense for me that all of a sudden the resources that were re-profiled on national security investigations were brought back to look at organized crime and money laundering and these other types of operation, » he said in an interview.
It would make sense for me that all of a sudden the resources that were re-profiled on national security investigations were brought back to look at organized crime and money laundering and these other types of operation.– PY Bourduas , former RCMP deputy commissioner
Bourduas, who now runs PY Public Safety Management Inc., said these operations involve lots of oversight and planning.
« These are highly sensitive cases and operations, and you try to work as many possible scenarios and options, because this is a very dangerous type of work. Hence the reason why sometimes you ask permission to conduct illegal activities, » he said.
« There’s also an additional legislative obligation for the officer to report what he’s done in the course of his or her investigation because, as we all know, the ultimate consequences, if these officers don’t abide by the law, is that a case could be thrown out of court. »
Under the law, which was introduced in 2002 after a Supreme Court case, officers are never allowed to cause bodily harm, sexually violate another person or obstruct justice, and an annual report summarizing the crimes has to be tabled in the House of Commons.
During the past 14 years, there has been just one occasion where a designated officer proceeded without a senior official’s authorization « due to exigent circumstances. »
According to a briefing obtained through access to information, the RCMP asked the federal government to table the 2017 report in June, before Parliament rose for the summer break, but it was put off until late October.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, at around 1:30 p.m., a male was shot to death in an apartment building in the West Hill neighbourhood.
Police responded to reports of gunshots near the intersection of Lawrence Ave. and Kingston Rd. in Scarborough. They located shell casings inside a building and also found a man suffering from gunshot wounds. The man succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
The victim, who hasn’t yet been identified by police, is the 90th homicide in Toronto this year. With his death, Toronto has passed its record for killings in a year — 89, set in 1991 — with 44 days remaining in 2018.
These are the victims of homicides in Toronto this year. The Star will continue to update this file until the end of 2018:
With files from Bryann Aguilar, Annie Arnone, Marjan Asadullah, Fakiha Baig, Ilya Bañares, Samantha Beattie, Emerald Bensadoun, Bianca Bharti, Alina Bykova, Premila D’Sa, Amy Dempsey, Rosie DiManno, Brennan Doherty, Peter Edwards, Claire Floody, Jacques Gallant, Victoria Gibson, Wendy Gillis, Tamar Harris, Alyshah Hasham, Jack Hauen, Michele Henry, Vjosa Isai, Rhianna Jackson-Kelso, Alexandra Jones, Brendan Kennedy, Nicholas Keung, Stefanie Marotta, Emma McIntosh, Jesse McLean, Jenna Moon, Gilbert Ngabo, Marco Chown Oved, Jennifer Pagliaro, Mitch Potter, Clare Rayment, Alanna Rizza, Inori Roy, Fatima Syed, Kenyon Wallace, May Warren and The Canadian Press.