Vigil to be held for 8 victims of Bruce McArthur on Sunday – Toronto

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A vigil will be held on Sunday for family, friends and community members to grieve the lives of eight men killed by Bruce McArthur after his sentencing hearing wrapped on Friday.

The vigil will be held at the Metropolitan Community Church Toronto at 7 p.m., and it will be led by Rev. Deana Dudley and Rev. Jeff Rock.

“We are offering this Sunday evening at our vigil for a grieving community to be able to come together to mourn the friends and family that we’ve lost,” said Dudley.

“[It’s] to remember and honour the men who were killed as the wonderful individuals that they were and not simply as murder victims.”

A vigil will be held at MCC Toronto on Sunday for the victims of Bruce McArthur.

Erica Vella/Global News

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On Friday, an Ontario judge sentenced serial killer Bruce McArthur to serve life in prison and ordered that McArthur not be eligible for parole for 25 years.

READ MORE: Serial killer Bruce McArthur receives life sentence, no parole eligibility for 25 years

Justice John McMahon sentenced McArthur to life in prison for each of the eight counts. He said McArthur won’t have consecutive periods of parole ineligibility.

Last week, McArthur, a 67-year-old, self-employed gardener, pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder. Most of the killings, which happened between 2010 and 2017, were described as being “sexual in nature.”


In a statement, Karen Coles, the sister of Andrew Kinsman, told Global News, “We would like to say thank you to everyone on behalf of the Kinsman family. Thank you to Andrew’s friends, the media, the police and the Crown.

“The police worked tirelessly and under much criticism to catch the killer. [Bruce McArthur] was caught because Andrew left a note. Andrew’s death saved many more lives, he is a hero to our family.”

Rev. Dudley spoke in the courtroom, sharing a victim impact statement on behalf of the LGBTQ community.

“There is grief. There is anger. There is immense sadness about all of this,“ she said.

“People continued to be traumatized just by watching that process… It’s the case that just won’t go away.”

READ MORE: Neither Bruce McArthur or Alexandre Bissonnette were served consecutive sentences — here’s why

Reflections and prayers will be read and leaders from other faith groups will be participating during the vigil. Monetary donations will be given to the Alliance for South Asians AIDS Prevention.

“We offer a safe space for people to come and talk about it and be with other people to know that we are a community,” Dudley said.

“This is never going away but I’m hoping this will be the beginning of the end and the beginning of healing.”

– With Files from Nick Westoll.

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

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Two victims of Quebec City mosque shooting receive medals for acts of courage – Montreal

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Two victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting are among eight Quebecers being honoured Monday by the provincial government for their acts of courage.

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque shooting: Remembering the victims and moving on 2 years later

Medals were awarded to Aymen Derbali, who was left paralyzed from the waist down, and to Azzedine Soufiane, one of six men killed in the Jan 29, 2017 attack.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec City mosque shooting widow to get compensation






The 57-year-old Soufiane managed to pounce on the gunman and overpower him for several seconds, but he died when the shooter broke free and fired his weapon.

READ MORE: After nearly two years of fighting, Quebec City Mosque shooting widow will get compensation

Derbali, who was hit by seven bullets, put himself in the line of fire in an effort to distract the shooter. He now uses a wheelchair.

WATCH BELOW: Money raised to buy accessible home for Quebec mosque shooting victim






Alexandre Bissonnette, who is to be sentenced on Friday, has pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder.

READ MORE: François Legault backtracks on Islamophobia comment after outcry by Muslim groups

Justice Minister Sonia LeBel presented the medals at a ceremony at the National Assembly.

WATCH: Canadian Muslim alliance remembers Quebec City mosque shooting.






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s where you can sign the book of condolences for the Ottawa bus crash victims – Ottawa

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After the deadly double-decker bus crash at Westboro station on Jan. 11, the City of Ottawa since Monday has been inviting residents wanting to honour those affected, injured and killed in the collision to sign a book of condolences.

A westbound Route 269 express bus smashed into the overhang of a shelter at the Transitway stop last Friday, claiming the lives of three civil servants and injuring 23 other passengers.


READ MORE:
UPDATE: Ottawa police accept technical support from TSB in Westboro bus crash probe

Ottawa police on Monday identified the three victims as 56-year-old Bruce Thomlinson, 57-year-old Judy Booth, and 65-year-old Anja Van Beek. Many injured passengers remain in hospital and have “a long road ahead of them,” police said in an update on Wednesday.

Residents wanting to sign the book of condolences can do so in Jean Pigott Place at Ottawa City Hall until end-of-day Sunday, Jan. 20.

From there, the book will move to the Eva James Memorial Community Centre on Stonehaven Drive in Kanata. The city is inviting residents of the west-end, suburban community — the area where the bus was headed last Friday — to sign the book at the centre between noon on Monday, Jan. 21, and end-of-day Sunday, Jan. 27.


READ MORE:
Civil servant launches $1M fundraiser to support families of those severely injured, killed in Ottawa bus crash

Residents wanting to pay their respects who are unable to visit either of those two locations can sign an online version of the book of condolences.

The possible causes of the crash remain under investigation by the Ottawa Police Service and its partners, including the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

WATCH: Ottawa police say many injured bus crash victims have a long road ahead





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

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Federal watchdog says 4-year-old victims rights regime falling short

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The new federal watchdog for victims of crime says rules meant to give victims and their families louder voices in the justice system have fallen short.

The previous Conservative government introduced what it called a victims’ bill of rights almost four years ago that allowed victims of crime to get information about offenders in the corrections system and have their views taken into account when decisions are made about them.

The regime to enforce those rights doesn’t go far enough, says Heidi Illingworth, who late last year became federal ombudsman for victims of crime.

In an interview, Illingworth says she wants to see the regime strengthened to give victims « legally enforceable » rights because « we still are not there yet. »

« To me, it doesn’t go quite far enough, » Illingworth said. « If we’ve given rights in legislation, there has to be a remedy to that right otherwise it’s not an actual right. That’s what the problem is right now, is that there is no way to enforce the rights that have been given to victims. »

She used the example of how relatives of Tori Stafford weren’t able to provide their thoughts on transfer decisions for the two people convicted in the eight-year-old’s 2009 murder, finding out only after the killers had been moved.

Terri-Lynne McClintic had been moved to an Indigenous healing lodge, which corrections officials later reversed, and Michael Rafferty from a maximum-security prison to a medium-security facility.

« It’s a second victimization to many folks when they’re dealing with these big systems, » Illingworth said this week. « They’re not able to give input. A decision is made and then they’re informed after the fact. »

Giving judges discretion

Illingworth plans to launch a special review of the victims’-rights framework to highlight the issue and provide recommendations for the government to consider.

In late September, Illingworth became the third person to hold the post of victims watchdog, after the Liberals took months to fill the position vacated by Sue O’Sullivan, who had held the post for seven years.

Prior to her appointment, Illingworth spent two decades at the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, having become interested in victim services during her post-secondary studies when she did a placement with a victims agency.

Her corner office has the usual pictures of friends and family, but there is also Indigenous art Illingworth brought home after a victims conference nine years ago in the Northwest Territories.

Indigenous people are over-represented in the justice system as both victims and offenders. Illingworth said the artwork reminds her of the need for more holistic services for Aboriginal victims, such as access to elders for traditional treatments, and provide better supports on- and off-reserve.

Those and other victims’ services need more money, she said.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law requiring people convicted of crimes to pay fees for victims services. The surcharges have existed since 1988, but the previous Conservative government removed judges’ authority to waive or lower the fees when they deemed them inappropriate in particular cases.

The Liberals introduced legislation in 2016 to return discretion to judges, but later folded the measure into an omnibus justice bill now before the Senate.

Illingworth is hopeful the bill, C-75, will soon become law, restoring most of the money stream but allowing judges to make exceptions.

« The judge needs to have some discretion, but it’s really, really critical that victims’ services get funded properly and not just after-thought funding. We have groups and communities who don’t have enough, » she said.

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Measures to protect victims’ rights don’t go far enough, federal watchdog says – National

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OTTAWA — The new federal watchdog for victims of crime says rules meant to give victims and their families louder voices in the justice system have fallen short.

The previous Conservative government introduced what it called a victims’ bill of rights almost four years ago that allowed victims of crime to get information about offenders in the corrections system and have their views taken into account when decisions are made about them.


READ MORE:
Cut down on court delays in Canadian justice system by supporting victims of crime: ombudsman

The regime to enforce those rights doesn’t go far enough, says Heidi Illingworth, who late last year became federal ombudsman for victims of crime.

In an interview, Illingworth says she wants to see the regime strengthened to give victims “legally enforceable” rights because “we still are not there yet.”

“To me, it doesn’t go quite far enough,” Illingworth said. “If we’ve given rights in legislation, there has to be a remedy to that right otherwise it’s not an actual right. That’s what the problem is right now, is that there is no way to enforce the rights that have been given to victims.”


READ MORE:
Federal ombudsman calls for changes to fund for parents of murdered, missing children

She used the example of how relatives of Tori Stafford weren’t able to provide their thoughts on transfer decisions for the two people convicted in the eight-year-old’s 2009 murder, finding out only after the killers had been moved.

Terri-Lynne McClintic had been moved to an Indigenous healing lodge, which corrections officials later reversed, and Michael Rafferty from a maximum-security prison to a medium-security facility.

“It’s a second victimization to many folks when they’re dealing with these big systems,” Illingworth said this week. “They’re not able to give input. A decision is made and then they’re informed after the fact.”

WATCH: Stafford says McClintic is out of healing lodge and back in prison






Illingworth plans to launch a special review of the victims’-rights framework to highlight the issue and provide recommendations for the government to consider.

In late September, Illingworth became the third person to hold the post of victims watchdog, after the Liberals took months to fill the position vacated by Sue O’Sullivan, who had held the post for seven years.

Prior to her appointment, Illingworth spent two decades at the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, having become interested in victim services during her post-secondary studies when she did a placement with a victims agency.


READ MORE:
‘I don’t understand’: Indigenous advocates question why non-Indigenous offenders in healing lodges

Her corner office has the usual pictures of friends and family, but there is also Indigenous art Illingworth brought home after a victims conference nine years ago in the Northwest Territories.

Indigenous people are over-represented in the justice system as both victims and offenders. Illingworth said the artwork reminds her of the need for more holistic services for Aboriginal victims, such as access to elders for traditional treatments, and provide better supports on- and off-reserve.

Those and other victims’ services need more money, she said.

ARCHIVES: Harper unveils victims’ rights bill

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law requiring people convicted of crimes to pay fees for victims services. The surcharges have existed since 1988, but the previous Conservative government removed judges’ authority to waive or lower the fees when they deemed them inappropriate in particular cases.

The Liberals introduced legislation in 2016 to return discretion to judges, but later folded the measure into an omnibus justice bill now before the Senate.

Illingworth is hopeful the bill, C-75, will soon become law, restoring most of the money stream but allowing judges to make exceptions.

“The judge needs to have some discretion, but it’s really, really critical that victims’ services get funded properly and not just after-thought funding. We have groups and communities who don’t have enough,” she said.

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St. Mike’s hospital trauma surgeons are using battlefield techniques to treat victims of gun violence

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“One major difference is that today, when someone comes in, we start to give them a blood transfusion very early on,” he said, noting that until just over a decade ago, these patients were immediately given saline IV fluids with blood to follow.

But a 2007 study, of which Rizoli was a contributing author, showed that trauma patients suffering from major hemorrhagic bleeding have much better outcomes if they are immediately given massive blood transfusions.

“They do much better if they get blood from the start,” he said.

Many of these survivors owe their lives to the health professionals such as Rizoli.

St. Mike’s — one of three trauma centres in the city — sees about one shooting victim a week and is able save approximately 80 per cent of them, Rizoli said.

The Star recently spent some time with a Rizoli and the team of trauma surgeons at the hospital to learn how they are trying to keep more of these patients alive.

Rizoli said it stands to reason that shooting victims are faring better today. The increase in gun violence sadly means trauma surgeons are getting much more experience in dealing with these patients.

These days, St. Mike’s averages about one victim of gun violence a week.

“During my training 25 years ago, gunshot wounds were uncommon and many Canadian surgeons had to train in the U.S. to gain experience in treating them. The growth in the number of victims to gun violence and the progression to more lethal weapons had been fortunately balanced by enormous advances in trauma science and practice,” Rizoli said.

Advancements have been made in research, technology, drugs hospital design, workflow, protocols and best practices, he noted.

Much of the learning has come from the battlefield.

“We have learned from wars that patients who have lost a lot of blood cannot clot appropriately,” Rizoli explained.

They suffer from what is known as “trauma-induced coagulopathy,” and if not treated quickly, it can lead to a patient bleeding to death.

“We give them blood, and tons of blood, to start with. Then we try to diagnose, as quickly as possible, exactly what is wrong with their coagulation,” Rizoli said.

They do this by using a piece of equipment, purchased by the hospital about five years ago, which quickly analyzes blood-clotting properties. Called ROTEM, short for rotational thromboelastometry, it guides health professionals in determining what blood products trauma patients require so that their blood clots properly.

St. Mike’s surgeons have recently begun to use another technique developed on the battlefield, this one to stop traumatic bleeding.

The minimally invasive procedure is known as REBOA, or Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta. It involves running a catheter up the femoral artery and into the aorta. A balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated, stopping the flow of blood.

The procedure can be done in the trauma bay. Previously, patients would have been moved to the opening room where their chests would be opened and aortas clamped. That took much longer, was more invasive and carried a higher risk of death.

Before using the new REBOA catheter on patients, St. Mike’s tested it out on a high-tech mannequin. The simulation served to educate those in the trauma program — including nurses, respiratory therapists and surgeons — on how it works.

“It’s like crash-testing a car. You wouldn’t drive a car if it hadn’t been crash-tested first. We do the same thing with new processes. We crash-test them and make sure they work like we anticipate they will,” said Dr. Andrew Petrosoniak.

He and colleague Dr. Chris Hicks are emergency physicians, trauma team leaders and simulation educators at St. Mike’s. Their work on simulation exercises has helped improve the workflow in trauma resuscitation care. It has also informed the design of a new trauma bay at the hospital, scheduled to open in 2019.

One of their exercises involved tracking the movements of three nurses treating a simulated trauma patient. It was videotaped and the movements of each nurse were followed, using an overlay tracing tool, with a different colour for each nurse.

The end result looked like colourful child’s scrawl to the untrained eye. But to Petrosoniak and Hicks, it revealed how the nurses lost time criss-crossing the trauma bay to get different pieces of equipment.

If the equipment needed was closer at hand, nurses would need to criss-cross the room and seconds could be saved. There would be less risk of nurses bumping into each other and dropping instruments.

“So now we understand where they’re moving and we can improve their efficiency,” Petrosoniak said. “The whole point of efficiency is to get the care faster. If you are thinking about gunshot wound patients, time matters significantly.”

Hicks said the information has also been used in the design of the new trauma bay to show how much room is needed around each bed.

The pair have also worked on creating a new “massive transfusion protocol.” They examined steps taken by everyone involved in the transfusing large amounts of blood into trauma patients.

That includes, as an example, porters charged with picking up blood from the blood bank at the other end of the hospital and carrying it over to the trauma bay.

Petrosoniak and Hicks realized seconds could be lost by waiting for an elevator, so now porters must take the stairs. As well porters must announce themselves when entering the trauma bay instead of waiting to be noticed.

Through changes such as this, delivery time for blood has been cut by 12.5 per cent to nine minutes.

“In the past you might have been waiting for blood,” Hicks said, citing research showing that every minute blood is delayed results in a 5 per cent increase in mortality.

Trauma surgeons at St. Mike’s are also working to reduce the need for their services by campaigning to reduce access to guns. Two surgeons with much to say on this happened to be on duty the night of the Danforth shooting in July. Drs. Najma Ahmed and Bernard Lawless say that the Danforth shooting prompted them to increase their activism.

“I think there is greater public awareness that this is a public health crisis. I think there is also greater awareness that guns can be lethal beyond just crimes. They are very often used in adolescent suicide in Canada,” Ahmed said.

This past fall, she helped draft a position statement, calling for limited civilian access to firearms, and then assisted in getting endorsements for it from medical associations, including the Trauma Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.

She and Lawless have also been lobbying politicians to take steps to crack down on gun violence.

“Dr. Ahmed and I have been contacting decision-makers at all levels,” Lawless said. “It’s going to take political fortitude to make change. When you look at this from a common sense perspective, it’s really not a difficult issue.”

Calling gun violence a “disease,” Ahmed said it makes perfect sense for physicians to be involved in trying to eradicate it.

“It has its own risk factors and own epidemiology, its preventable strategy,” she said.

Lawless said the profession has a long history in working on injury prevention: “Trauma surgeons have long played a role in injury prevention, whether it’s around seatbelt use, drinking and driving, and even working with engineers on how cars and roads are designed.”

Rizoli said diseases can be eradicated and points to smallpox as an example.

“No one should be injured by a disease that is completely preventable. No one in Canada should he a victim of gun violence. There could come a time when this could end.”

Theresa Boyle is a Toronto-based reporter covering health. Follow her on Twitter: @theresaboyle

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Tories’ Bill 66 would undermine clean-water protections that followed Walkerton tragedy, victims and advocates warn

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“Do not drink this water,” warned the signs taped to fountains and bathroom sinks in a small Ontario town.

For thousands of people in the rural community 150 kilometres northwest of Toronto, the water they once used to brush their teeth, bathe their children and prepare their meals had become a hostile enemy.

Seven people died and thousands fell ill in 2000, when Walkerton’s water supply became contaminated by E. coli.
Seven people died and thousands fell ill in 2000, when Walkerton’s water supply became contaminated by E. coli.  (Jim Rankin / Toronto Star file photo)

Jugs of clean water had to be delivered to a depot. Hospitals were overrun with new patients. Children were pulled out of school. Businesses closed.

The tainted-water scandal in Walkerton in the spring of 2000 devastated the community, with thousands falling ill and seven people dying. It was one of the worst health epidemics in the province’s history.

Nearly 19 years later, environmental advocates say Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government is posing one of the greatest risks both the environment and public health have faced in decades.

Last week, the government tabled a new piece of legislation, Bill 66, that, if passed, would allow commercial development to bypass several long-standing laws meant to protect the natural environment and the health of residents, including the Clean Water Act that was put in place following the Walkerton tragedy.

Read more:

New bill aims to reduce red tape for business, says Ford government

Environmentalists fear provincial changes mean Greenbelt is open for development

Opinion | Keenan: That ‘red tape’ Ford is cutting? It was meant to protect the environment, workers, lives

The stated purpose of the proposed bill, called the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, is to cut “red tape” around planning approvals for businesses looking to invest in local communities.

Under the proposed legislation, if a development has the support of both the municipal government and the province and can demonstrate it would create 50 new jobs in areas with populations under 250,000, or 100 jobs for bigger cities, it could get the green light despite possibly being detrimental to the environment.

Bruce Davidson knows what’s at stake.

It’s been many years since he became a spokesperson for himself, his family and his concerned neighbours.

Reached by phone at his home in Walkerton, he said many couldn’t have found his town on a map before the outbreak. He continues to educate others on clean drinking water.

But he worries that as time passes and the Walkerton tragedy becomes a part of history, a distant memory, it’s easy to forget why the hard-won protections were put in place.

“I think as Walkerton sort of moves more into the rear-view mirror … the tendency is sort of to say, ‘Well, is that really necessary?’” Davidson said.

“I think it sends the wrong message to industry and to everyone that if we have enough dollars in our pocket, the economic impact will win over the environmental impact.”

Walkerton resident Bruce Davidson, who became an unofficial town spokesperson during the tainted-water tragedy in 2000, calls the Ford government's Bill 66 "ill considered."
Walkerton resident Bruce Davidson, who became an unofficial town spokesperson during the tainted-water tragedy in 2000, calls the Ford government’s Bill 66 « ill considered. »  (Toronto Star)

He called the Ford government’s plan “ill-considered,” noting that the protections in place since 2006 are being studied as best practices as far away as China.

The bill, which would also circumvent legislation protecting the Greenbelt, Great Lakes and other environmentally sensitive areas, is set to be debated next year. It was introduced without any public consultation or warning.

According to the conclusions of an inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy, in May 2000, some 2,321 people became ill from two types of bacteria, including a type of dangerous E. coli, after heavy rainfall caused flooding that flushed the bacteria from cow manure near a farm into one of three groundwater wells that was the source of water for Walkerton.

The number of people who fell ill represented about half the town’s population.

It was concluded after much investigation that the water coming out of the taps in Walkerton had not been properly treated so as to kill off the deadly bacteria, and the tragedy could have been prevented if proper monitoring, protections and oversight had existed.

The E. coli subgroup that affected local residents, typically carried by cattle, causes intestinal disease with multiple symptoms, including the possibility of kidney failure and other life-threatening issues.

For Walkerton residents, it caused debilitating sickness — including for a two-year-old boy who was nearly lifeless, suffering from bloody diarrhea, and who experienced heart failure as he underwent dialysis, according to an account given by his mother at the time.

Following the outbreak, the Ontario government called a judicial inquiry, led by Justice Dennis O’Connor, which made conclusions in 2002 about the lasting impact, source of contamination and recommended next steps for both local and provincial governments.

It specifically recommended the provincial government “develop a comprehensive, source-to-tap, government-wide drinking water policy” and noted: “It is reasonable for all those in Ontario to expect that the government will do all it reasonably can to support a safe drinking water system.”

In 2006, under then-premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government, the Clean Water Act was passed.

It followed directly from a dozen of the inquiry’s recommendations and was meant to be a science-based approach to protect the sources of clean drinking water — lakes, rivers and aquifers.

“Keeping source water free of contamination is smarter, safer and more effective than cleaning up problems after the fact,” said a release at the time from then-environment minister Laurel Broten.

The act required the creation of protection plans that would identify and then mitigate contamination risks to sources of drinking water: For example, preventing manure or harmful pesticides from leaching into a drinking water system from a nearby farm.

Bruce Davidson, seen in a 2001 photo, says the economic costs of the Walkerton tragedy have also been great ? he estimates as much as $200 million was spent on cleanup and payouts to victims.
Bruce Davidson, seen in a 2001 photo, says the economic costs of the Walkerton tragedy have also been great ? he estimates as much as $200 million was spent on cleanup and payouts to victims.  (Jim Rankin/Toronto Star file photo)

On Friday, Theresa McClenaghan and Richard Lindgren, respectively the executive director and counsel for the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), posted on the organization’s website that Bill 66, together with other recent moves by the Ford government — including the decision to abolish the office of the province’s environmental watchdog — “constitutes the biggest and most significant environmental rollback to occur in a generation in Ontario.”

In particular, they said the attempt to prevent a particular section of the Clean Water Act from applying to certain types of new development is both “objectionable and risk-laden.”

The particular section of the act that would not apply to new developments approved under the “open for business” rules is not some “obscure” provision in the law, but the key part of the act that requires land-use planning decisions in the province to protect safe drinking water, they said.

“In our view, this important provision must remain applicable to all municipal planning and zoning decisions in order to protect public health and safety,” their post reads.

“CELA is extremely disappointed to see that the lessons from the Walkerton tragedy are being discounted or ignored by the current Ontario government.”

Municipal politicians have also come out against the new bill.

Toronto councillors Josh Matlow, Gord Perks, Mike Layton and Mike Colle — who have all individually campaigned for stronger environmental protections, both as activists and in office — have written to Ford saying the exemptions should be reconsidered.

“Eroding environmental protections like the Clean Water Act, legislated in the wake of the Walkerton tragedy, will put the health of the people you serve at risk and make our province less attractive to prospective companies looking to create new jobs,” the letter said, referring to another town that has seen a crisis of contaminated drinking water.

“Businesses from around the world are lining up to invest in places like Toronto and Ottawa, not Flint, Michigan.”

The human cost of Walkerton has been long-lasting.

Those who were affected continue to face health challenges, including lasting kidney damage.

The Star’s Paul Hunter recently reported on the life and assisted death of Robbie Schnurr, a long-suffering victim of Walkerton’s tainted water who died with the help of a physician earlier this year after becoming confined to his bed following complications that caused debilitating pain.

The economic costs have also been great.

What was saved by not properly treating and monitoring the water before the epidemic has been grossly overshadowed by what was spent on the resulting cleanup and payments to victims, Davidson said.

He estimates it cost as much as $200 million.

Davidson said the protections now in place were the result of scientific planning involving public consultation. They were not designed to stall development and cover very little total land mass.

He’d like to see evidence of where there are onerous restrictions or significant roadblocks and a discussion of how to address those instead of boycotting the rules long in place.

Protection is often confused with treatment, he said — a situation he likened to putting five forwards on during a hockey game but leaving the net without a goalie or proper defence. Eventually a puck or two gets through.

“I think its really sort of a false narrative to suggest it’s an either-or,” he said of creating new investment and protecting the environment.

Davidson and his neighbours have seen what happens when there isn’t a strong defence in place.

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The 90 victims of Toronto’s record year in homicide

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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.

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Peel police sergeant charged with assault after allegedly leaving three victims with minor injuries

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A Peel Regional Police sergeant was arrested and charged with multiple counts of assault on Friday.

Badal Kaushal, a 19-year veteran, is facing three counts of assault and one count of assault with a weapon, police report.

According to the seven-month-long investigation by the Peel Regional Police Professional Standards Bureau, Kaushal was charged with two counts of assault and one of assault with a weapon in relation to an incident that happened while Kaushal was on duty in May 2017 in Brampton. Two female victims, 44 and 33, respectively, sustained minor injuries.

Kaushal was also charged with one count of assault for another incident in July 2017, when he was on duty. The victim, a 53-year-old man, suffered minor injuries.

Peel police launched the investigation after someone came forward with the allegations in March, constable Harinder Sohi said. Kaushal was suspended with pay.

He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 17 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton.

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

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