Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New taxes, asset sales on plate for Toronto?

TORONTO - City council needs more of your cash.

Mayor John Tory and city manager Peter Wallace said Monday that a bevy of new taxes and public asset sales could be in the offing to generate much-needed money to fund transit expansion and social housing repairs.

But while promising in one breath that “nothing is off the table” — including contracting out services — Tory also nixed hiking property taxes.

“As far as I’m concerned, we cannot put our financial problems on the backs of homeowners through their property tax bills,” he said.

Tory said council must have difficult discussions about selling city assets, including Toronto Hydro. Previously held beliefs around what a city should or should not own have to be abandoned, he said.

“I am here to say all of these things have to change. At least to the point where you’re open to having a discussion about doing these things,” Tory said.

Wallace warned that a six-year run of delivering low tax increases and service improvements is about to come to an end.

In order to keep transit and housing investment promises, council must consider creating new revenue sources by hiking fees, taxes or selling assets, he insisted. A report on specific measures will come this summer.

Wallace said council has to shift focus, using new revenue-generating measures to achieve long-term goals — not to deal with short-term budget shortfalls.

Councillor Gord Perks was critical of the call to sell assets and contract out services. He challenged Tory to name the new taxes and asset sales he supports.

“If he’s not prepared to say what services he cuts in order to keep property taxes low, then he’s doing exactly what he has blamed previous administrations for, which is not being honest with the people of Toronto,” he said.

Tory, meanwhile, also said the budget process has to be more transparent. He singled out two examples of budgeting brought to his office’s attention that he said hide debt financing costs from the public.

A previous administration used an “unfinanced capital” fund to finance debt. In 2013, that fund grew by $300 million, he said.

Tory also singled out two debt issuances the Toronto Community Housing Corp. took on to finance work done on Regent Park and other buildings. The debt, totalling $450 million, now has to be financed with $23-million-a-year interest payments.

“It was never approved by city council and was not accompanied by a repayment plan of any kind,” Tory said. “Now we’re beginning to set this right, at a cost to taxpayers of $23 million per year.”
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Slain pregnant woman Candice Rochelle Bobb, 35 'lovely person', brother says

TORONTO - A premature baby delivered via emergency C-section shortly before its mother died from gunshot wounds is in stable condition, Toronto police said Monday as they appealed to the public for help identifying those responsible for the "outrageous" death.

Police said Candace Rochelle Bobb, of Malton, Ont., died late Sunday night when she was shot while returning from watching a basketball game.

They said the 35-year-old woman was in a vehicle in the city's northwest end with three other people at the time of the shooting. The occupants of the vehicle were not known to police, but officers said the vehicle was the clear target of the shooting.

Bobb, who was five months pregnant, has become Toronto's 29th homicide victim in a year that's seen a marked increase of guns on city streets, police said. There were 56 documented homicides in Toronto last year.

Divisional Supt. Ron Taverner said the "outrageous" death comes at a time when police are dealing with a spike in violence for which they have not identified a cause.

"There's no doubt that there's obviously more guns on the street. More young people and people in general carrying guns," Taverner said. "It's a sad day when we have to come together to talk about a woman being shot and not knowing what it's about...The outrage in the community is phenomenal."

Police declined to speculate on the number of shooting suspects they're seeking in Bobb's death. They indicated the shots were fired from a vehicle, but did not provide descriptions or details citing the early phase of the investigation.

Police said the shooting occurred around 11:30 p.m. as Bobb and three others were returning from an organized amateur men's basketball league game.

The shots rang out as the car stopped to drop off one of the people in the car, police said, declining to say whether the person in question was Bobb herself.

Police did not release any information about Bobb's baby, but data suggests the infant faces a difficult struggle for survival.

The World Health Organization says pre-term birth complications are the leading global cause of death among children under the age of five, leading to a million deaths in 2013.

The WHO said about 15 million children around the world are born before 37 weeks gestation.

Taverner said the latest homicide has been a particular blow for the community.

"We're all kind of in shock...The whole city is outraged that this can happen. Yes, this woman was pregnant, and hopefully this baby survives, but any shooting is very tragic. Anything where people are going to that level of violence is just disgusting."

Police are appealing to anyone with information about Bobb's shooting to come forward.
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Toronto must stop tolerating senseless murders

TORONTO - He doesn’t have a mother or the benefit of being able to develop in her womb — let alone growing up with her love.

He doesn’t even have a name.

But what Toronto’s youngest and tiniest shooting victim does have, thanks to our amazing emergency and medical professionals, is a fighting chance at life.

“Uphill battle,” a source says of the one-day-old, who was extracted during a frantic C-section from his mom after she was heinously shot Sunday. “But miracles do happen.”

So do tragedies.

This boy’s mom was five months pregnant with this little guy, to be her third child. He was four months premature.

What kind of city could have a child born thanks to a shooting? Toronto — on pace for a record year in homicides and shootings.

There have already been 29 murder victims in 2016 — and if one death still under investigation is deemed a homicide, the total will be 30.

There were 15 at this time last year.

Homicide number 30 in 2015 came on Aug. 4 at superstar Drake’s party at Muzik — another innocent victim named Ariela Navarro-Fenoy, 26.

Innocent Candice Rochelle Bobb, 35, meanwhile, was shot Sunday in the chest in a car at Jamestown Cres. and John Garland Blvd.

“Disgraceful,” said Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner of 23 Division. “I can’t tell you how appalled we all are.”

In more than 40 years as a Toronto cop, he has seen a lot of things.

“This is a new one,” said an emotional Taverner. “I can’t say I have ever seen anything like this and I don’t ever want to see it again.”

Maybe this will be the one that finally gets people’s attention?

But we said that earlier in the day with the shocking shoot-up at the Shops at Don Mills. We said that with the elevator gun battle on Front St. We thought that with Ariela’s senseless murder.

We thought the same thing when 12-year-old Lecent Ross was shot to death, allegedly by a 13-year-old boy. We thought that when Joshua Yasay and Shyanne Charles were gunned down at a Danzig St. barbecue. We thought that when Jane Creba was slain on Boxing Day 2005 on Yonge St.

“It’s like they don’t have any regard for life,” Taverner said of today’s gangsters. “And there are an awful lot of guns out there.”

Just look at the crime statistics that some don’t want to talk about: Shooting occurrences are up 60% over last year.

Shooting victims are up 24%. Homicides are up 100%. Shooting homicides are up 216%. Unknown shootings with injury or even a located crime scene are up 253%.

“We need do something about it,” said Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack, who has taken out a full page ad in Tuesday’s Toronto Sun and National Post to express average officers’ “frustration” over what they believe to be the elimination of “proactive” policing.

Who is going to be the first politically correct politician to say Toronto does not have the murder numbers of Chicago?

Please tell that to the tiny preemie clinging to life. Please explain to him what the hell you are talking about.

I don’t want much to hear from the politicians who threw the police under the bus on street checks, but there is one thing we can agree upon. If this little guy beats the odds and pulls through, we need to make an exception to the normal rules and ensure this child does not ever have another major hurdle in life.

Maybe a university could pledge a scholarship, maybe a company could donate clothes, food and, one day, a computer.

We owe him that much.

We can’t give him back his mother, but her slaying should be the final senseless murder that we tolerate.
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Toronto needs three new councillors, report says

TORONTO - A new consultants’ report calls for city council to grow by three members — to 47 councillors, plus a mayor — in time for the 2018 election.

The findings of a two-year ward boundary review were presented by the Canadian Urban Institute during a public information session Monday. The report recommends adding the councillors and drawing up new wards.

Here are a few details from the report, which will go to executive committee May 24:

• Add three councillors to city council, increasing to 47 wards.

• Each ward would have an average of 61,000 residents.

• The report calls for the creation of three new wards downtown and one new ward north of Hwy. 401, between Bathurst St. and Victoria Park Ave.

• There would be one less ward west of downtown and south of Eglinton Ave.

• The consultants anticipate the proposed change will trigger complaints and a subsequent hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board that will take most of 2017 to resolve.

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Toronto Police searching for two by Shops at Don Mills parking lot shooting, Black Lives Matter

TORONTO - Toronto Police are hunting two men following a daytime shooting at an upscale North York shopping complex.

Police were called to Shops at Don Mills, in the Lawrence Ave. E.-Don Mills Rd. area, around 3 p.m. Sunday after receiving a call about a shooting.

“Officers arrived on scene and found a man with injuries and he was taken to hospital,” Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook said Monday.

The victim, a man in his 30s, had been shot once and was in non-life-threatening condition.

“We have possibly two male suspects who were seen fleeing the area on foot, and then shortly after, a dark-coloured sedan — possibly a Mercedes — was seen fleeing the area southbound on Don Mills,” Douglas-Cook said.

The shooting took place in the plaza’s parking lot and the wounded victim went into a nearby restaurant, where emergency personnel were called, she said.

Before gunshots rang out, an altercation had reportedly taken place outside a Jack Astor’s restaurant located inside the complex.
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Toronto: City-funded consultants say public does not want smaller council

TORONTO - Toronto Council could be getting larger, despite public support for a smaller governing body, if a team of city-funded consultants has its way.

The consultants were tasked to lay out options to change the city’s ward structure to improve “effective representation” for residents. Their list of options, however, doesn’t even include the one most residents would support.

At every stop, in every neighbourhood, every time former mayor Rob Ford talked about reducing the size of Toronto Council from “44 to 22,” everyone applauded. It was a campaign promise that united voters from every walk of life in Toronto: cut the size of council.

Even today, it resonates on my Newstalk1010 radio show. Caller after caller guffawed Sunday when I told them a team of consultants will report tomorrow there is “no public support” for reducing the size of council.


In an interim report last year, the consultants dismissed the idea of a much smaller council, saying it “gained virtually no support during the (study’s) public process (so) it has not been pursued as an option.” But, that’s not entirely true.

How do they know what the public supports?

Well, they didn’t spend any of their $800,000 fee on a statistically valid public research. Instead the consultants conducted two rounds of “civic engagement” receiving “input” from, at most, 1,700 self-selected people. This equates to about 6/100ths of 1% of Toronto’s population. Hardly a valid sample.

Even still, the consultants’ own report summarizes key findings from stakeholders’ input saying “an overwhelming majority of stakeholder responses suggest Toronto’s ward boundaries should follow those of the federal or provincial ridings.” Guess what? There are 22 (soon to be 25) provincial and 25 federal ridings in Toronto.

The study also argues a one-ward, one-riding system would have wards far too large to provide effective representation: up to 123,000 people in some wards — by 2026. And yet, our MPs and MPPs offer pretty good proof that representing 100,000 plus people isn’t impossible. They do it every day.

Effectiveness is not simply a function of how many people are being represented. It’s about having effective representatives, which means being able to hold your representatives accountable. This means knowing who your councillor is and making city governance more effective, not less.

Having common wards and riding boundaries with one MP, MPP and councillor each, would mean our elected officials could work more effectively together to address common local issues. It means citizens could more easily know who represents them at each level of government. And, it would produce a much more manageable city council. Imagine, a 25-member council would take half as long to debate its business. They might even listen to what their colleagues are saying.

Councillors argue against larger wards because they’re lazy. They say they won’t be able to provide quality service to their constituents if there are more of them.

The truth is, most of them provide lousy customer service now — it’s not about how many residents they represent, it’s about how they do their job. With a larger ward, they’d reasonably be granted a larger budget to hire more staff who do the real constituent work anyway.

Let the feds hire the expensive consultants to do population research. We should just mirror their boundaries as an “overwhelming majority” of Torontonians desire.


Ward Boundaries

Since 2000, Toronto has been divided into 44 wards, each represented by 1 councillor. Each ward is roughly half of one of the former 22 federal ridings.

The city’s population has grown unevenly, leaving some wards with almost double the population of others.

The federal government recently adjusted its ridings so Toronto now has 25 ridings.

In 2014, Council hired a consulting team to review ward boundaries. They will present their recommendations at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The study team held two rounds of “consultations” in-cluding public meetings and online surveys.

They received input from up to 1,700 people. This represents just 6/100ths of 1% of the city’s population.

An “overwhelming majority” of stake-holders consulted felt the wards should remain aligned with the federal (and provincial) ridings.

Despite this, the study team dismissed the option of having 22 or 25 wards as having “virtually no public support.” Instead they’ve considered 5 options, each with one councillor per ward:

    47 wards: Average ward population: 61,000.
    44 wards: No change to number of wards/councillors but with different boundaries so average population is 70,000.
    58 wards: Smaller wards with average population of 50,000.
    38 wards: Larger wards with average population of 75,000.
    41 wards: Strict alignment with natural/physical boundaries (rivers, roads, railways, etc.) with an average population of 70,000.

The report will go to Executive Committee May 24. Mayor John Tory has said he will not support an increase in the number of city councillors.
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Friday, May 13, 2016

Drake finally explains 'The Six' Rapper reveals he rejected 'The Four' as Toronto's nickname

Sure, you’ve probably referred to yourself as living in “The Six.” And you’ve even been in a club in Vegas and gone extra crazy when the DJ started pumping Drake’s Know Yourself (OK, actually, maybe that was just me).

But if you’ve ever wondered what “The Six” is, Drake stopped by The Tonight Show this week to explain our hometown moniker to host Jimmy Fallon.

“This is definitely the tallest building in Toronto, right?” Fallon asked as he held up a copy of his LP Views, which shows “mini-Drake” sitting atop the CN Tower.

“It was once the tallest building in the world,” Drake told the late-night host. “But I think it’s the objective in Dubai to outdo everything, so I think they built a building that’s 900 levels taller.”

Fallon then asked Drizzy about The Six – “It’s a Canada thing, right? It’s a Toronto thing?”

“Yes, our area code is 416,” Drake said, laughing. “We were debating on The Four, but I went tail-end on them and went 6. And at one point Toronto was broken up into six areas (Old Toronto, Scarborough, East York, North York, Etobicoke and York), so it’s all clicking man.”

Fallon added another way “The Six” is a fitting term for Drizzy: “Girls think you’re six-y.”

The rapper also riffed on the viral meme that allowed users to insert “mini-Drake” into any of their own photos when he placed a small version of himself on himself.

“Drake on Drake! This is so meta,” Fallon enthused.

Drake said his rapping wordplay comes from his mother.

“I get the words from my mother; she was an English teacher and taught kindergarten to Grade 5. She’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met; Scrabble champion. She’s a top-shelf lady, top-shelf kind of gal.”

The music, he said, comes from his dad. But he told Fallon that he hasn’t listened to Views yet.

“I said, ‘What’s your favourite song?’ And he went, ‘Drake, man, I’m going to be honest with you ... I’m going to get around to it.’ “
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dear Toronto Star: Grow a pair

The next time the Toronto Star publishes a piece by Haroon Siddiqui -- also quoting Torstar Chair John Honderich and now-retired publisher John Cruickshank -- where Sun Media is accused of Islamophobia, a modest request.

Have the cojones to cite specific examples and name the writers you’re accusing, instead of engaging in a broad-based smear of your competitors.

Because when you’re calling them anti-Muslim -- Siddiqui, the Star’s former editorial page editor, slammed both Sun Media and Postmedia in a recent speech the Star published excerpts from -- without citing one example from either newspaper chain in the article, you’re being unprofessional.

Which is why I was surprised to see Honderich and Cruickshank -- both accomplished journalists I respect -- feeding into Siddiqui’s lazy attack on us by saying he was right -- again, without one concrete example provided in the article of what they were talking about.

Anyone who’s an editor knows what was going on here.

If you start naming individual writers as Islamophobic, as opposed to talking about a media corporation, the risk of libel suits skyrockets.

Corporations get called names all the time.

But calling an individual working for that corporation anti-Muslim and, in essence, a bigot, raises the stakes considerably.

As a long-time editor at Sun Media, here’s my answer to Siddiqui and the Star.

Since Sun Media includes the Toronto Sun and a substantial portion of our commentary on Islamic issues comes from two Muslim writers -- Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan -- your allegation is absurd.

I edit their columns and the idea that in being critical of Islamist terrorism and radical Islam they are being Islamophobic is ridiculous.

If you mean to suggest Fatah and Hassan are Islamophobic because they agreed with the majority of Canadians that a niqab-wearing woman should unveil her face at the moment she takes the oath of citizenship to Canada, why don’t you say it?

I’ve discussed this issue with both of them and their argument is that the niqab is essentially the political flag of radical Islam and should not be catered to in free and democratic societies.

One can disagree with this view, but to suggest it has no place in rational debate on the subject by labelling it “Islamophobic” would be ridiculous.

Hassan, Fatah and I constantly have editorial discussions about the importance of avoiding such concepts as group guilt and blaming all Muslims for the actions of some Muslims.

That said, writing that while most Muslims are not terrorists, a worrisome minority is and that their deadly attacks are often aimed at other Muslims, is not Islamophobic.

I have known Fatah and Hassan for years and work with them every week. They are thoughtful, learned and courageous individuals, who often have to endure vicious and unjustified attacks from radical Muslims against them.

Fatah responded to Siddiqui’s generalized smear against Sun Media last week in a column titled “The Toronto Star’s glass house” which you can read here.

Note this was in response to Siddiqui’s and the Star’s attack on us and that it cites specific examples from Siddiqui’s Toronto Star columns over the years to make the case he has often been an apologist for medieval Mideast dictatorships and an excuse maker for terrorism.

If you’ve got something to say, that’s how you say it -- naming names and citing examples.

As for the Star, it started this fight. Now, it’s finished.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sunrise Propane Victims in Downsview Have Yet to See Class-action Money

TORONTO - Almost eight years after the Sunrise Propane plant exploded in the middle of the night, Vinicio “Victor” Viani has yet to see a penny from a class-action settlement.

“I hope they’re going to look after me before I pass on,” the 76-year-old said on Wednesday. “Because we did suffer quite a bit.”

The deadly Aug. 10, 2008, explosion killed one young man working at the now-defunct plant, and displaced around 6,000 people from their homes in the Keele St.-Wilson Ave. neighbourhood.

Viani was one of them.

His Murray Rd. Bungalow — which he had lovingly bought in 1964 and raised four children in — was destroyed in the blast.

Luckily nobody was home at the time, and home insurance covered rebuilding his current home, he said.

In August 2014, a $23-million settlement was approved in court, and almost $8 million was earmarked for injuries, uninsured expenses, lost income, and inconvenience suffered by members of the class-action suit.

A website was created — www.sunrisepropaneclassaction.com — for affected people, likely numbering in the hundreds, to file their claims, which Marsh Canada is tasked with administering.

Almost two years after the settlement was reached, Viani said he is surprised it’s taking so long to send out cheques.

“The subject is really important because I think we’ve been ignored completely,” he said.

Viani’s not alone. Resident Jeff Green and his parents were also affected by the blast. His father has since died.

“Overall, I have not been impressed, to say the least,” he said of his efforts to reach anyone with answers about why claims have not been paid out yet.

Marsh Canada spokesman Colleen Vesci said there has been “no delay.”

The appeals stage of the claims process recently wrapped up, she said in an email. Final payment amounts are being calculated and will need court approval before distribution.

Vesci could not say when court approval can be expected.

“As with any class action of this size and complexity, there are a number of steps that must be completed to ensure funds are distributed appropriately,” she wrote.

“Class actions of this nature often take several years to resolve. The length of time it has taken to resolve this one is really not out of the ordinary.”

Class counsel Ted Charney said the class members number in the thousands.

“We expect to be in court within the next 30-60 days,” he said. “The distribution will take place soon after.”

Councillor Maria Augimeri shared her constituents’ frustration with the process.

“We thought this was going to be taken care of two years ago,” she said. “They were assured they would get this money two years ago.”

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Black man wanted for random downtown Toronto attack: Black Lives Matter BLM

TORONTO - Just walking downtown can be dangerous these days.

Yet another person was attacked recently for no apparent reason, Toronto Police said Tuesday.

The latest random act of violence unfolded May 4 around 8:30 p.m. near Yonge and Gould Sts. — a block away from the Eaton Centre, where a senior was head-butted as she shopped 11 days earlier.

“A man and his wife were walking southbound on Yonge St.,” Const. Caroline de Kloet said. “An unknown man brushed past them, going in the same direction.”

She said the unidentified man then “turned around quickly” and punched the man in the face.

The victim suffered a “serious facial injury.”

While there have been numerous similar random attacks in the city, the most recent occurred April 23 in the nearby mall.

A 68-year-old woman was walking through the Eaton Centre when she was suddenly head-butted by a man and chest-bumped to the floor.

The senior suffered a head injury and broken wrist.

With help from mall security cameras, which captured the attack on video, investigators identified and arrested a suspect days later.

Police also say the same man allegedly chest-bumped another woman, 50, without provocation at an undisclosed Toronto hospital on Feb. 24.

Jonathan Gallant, 33, faces two counts of assault for those attacks.

Investigators have now released images of a suspect in the May 4 attack, captured by a security camera, hoping the public can help identify him.

The man is wanted for assault causing bodily harm, de Kloet said.

Mom nabbed in Toronto gang war kidnapping, son Lincoln Richards still on loose: Black Lives Matter BLM

TORONTO - The mother of a 23-year-old man wanted for last month’s gang war kidnapping of two teen boys has been nabbed.

But Lincoln Richards is still on the loose for the abduction and torture of the 17-year-olds.

“Now that his mother has been arrested, hopefully he’ll turn himself in,” Staff-Insp. Mike Earl, who heads up the Holdup Squad, said Tuesday of the suspected Young Buck Killas member.

“His surrender could be sort of a belated Mother’s Day present.”

The violent kidnapping occurred in the wake of a wild April 19 shootout that saw YBKs ambushed by a street gang known as the Queens Drive Crips at a condo on Front St. W. near Blue Jays Way.

Earl alleges YBK members blamed the two boys for tipping off their rivals about a party they were attending at the condo.

The victims were tied to chairs, beaten and forced to play Russian roulette as well as perform sex acts while they were held captive for several days at various homes in the city.

The boys were allegedly only released after their families paid a ransom.

Cops have since arrested two men and a boy for the kidnapping as well as two other men and a boy on gun charges.

But for over two weeks, police been trying to locate Lincoln Richards, an aspiring rapper known as Ranski Gleechie.

They’ve also been searching for his grandmother, mom and sister — all of whom Earl believes were present during a portion of the abduction.

In the aftermath of the kidnapping, Earl said the entire family cleared out of their High Park townhouse where it’s alleged the victims were initially held.

Police have been watching the Swansea Mews location and caught a break Monday afternoon.

Suzette Richards, who is in her early 40s, was arrested at her home. She is charged with kidnapping and forcible confinement.

“We believe she knew what was going on and allowed it to happen in her home,” Earl said.

He said the hunt continues for Lincoln Richards, his grandmother and sister.

Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts should call the Holdup Squad at 416-808-7450 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Toronto student 17, lured into sex trade by Henry Borrego-Salinas, 25, and Justin Ferguson, 26

TORONTO - A 17-year-old girl lured a student at a downtown all-girls Catholic high school into the sex trade, Toronto Police allege.

Investigators say a month-long human trafficking investigating revealed the victim attended St. Joseph’s College when she was “recruited” by a former student who introduced her to two men in March.

“The two men befriended the 16-year-old, telling her she could make a lot of money working for them,” Const. Victor Kwong alleged Tuesday. “Controlled through intimidation and threats, (she) was forced to work as a sex trade worker for them.”

He said the 17-year-old allegedly snapped photos of the younger girl in various states of undress and posted the images with an advertisement for sexual services on backpage.com.

Men allegedly took the victim to various Toronto hotels where she was “forced to have sex with clients,” Kwong said, adding any money earned was turned over to the two men.

Kwong alleged the men also sexually assaulted the girl while she was under their control.

The older girl, who can’t be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was arrested on Friday. She is charged with procuring a person under 18 years and advertising another person’s sexual services, as well as possessing, making child pornography and distributing child pornography.

Two men were arrested in the human trafficking case on April 21.

Henry Borrego-Salinas, 25, and Justin Ferguson, 26, each face seven charges.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Driving while on drugs up 150% over last year: Toronto Police

TORONTO - More people are getting behind the wheel while on drugs this year compared to last year, Toronto Police say.

There have been 25 drivers have been charged with impaired driving due to drug use so far this year, up from 10 at this time last year.

That's an increase of 150%

Meanwhile, the number of alcohol-related charges has dropped by roughly 7% -- 431 as of last week, compared to 464 to the same time last year.

Drivers impaired by drugs face criminal charges but do not currently have their licence automatically suspended like those who fail a breathalyzer test.

That is set to change this fall after legislative amendments take effect.

Four black alleged gang members charged in fatal shooting of Charles Shillingford: Black Lives Matter BLM

TORONTO - Four men, including one already accused in a double killing, face first-degree murder charges in the shooting of Charles Shillingford last fall.

Toronto Police Staff-Insp. Greg McLane say the four men are allegedly members of a street gang called Hearts of King, which has ties to Toronto and the East Coast.

Shillingford, 25, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest early on Oct. 31, 2015.

Police responding to a call for a collision in the Yonge-College Sts. area found the Toronto resident in his Chrysler 300. The victim died a short time later in hospital.

McLane said Shillingford was shot on Charles St. and got into the collision as he tried to drive away.

Jahmal Joseph Richardson, 31, who was arrested in Oakville; two Nova Scotia residents — Mitchell Mannette, 20, and Denzell Desmond, 19; and Kyle Sparks-MacKinnon, 26, of Toronto, are accused of murdering Shillingford.

Sparks-MacKinnon already faces second-degree and attempted murder charges in the 2016 deaths of David Eminess, 26, and Quinn Taylor, 29 — who were shot on Spadina Ave. north of Dundas St. W. in Chinatown on Jan. 31. He was arrested Feb. 11.

“He was charged with these two homicides in 2016, and as a result of ongoing investigations, he was charged with the one in 2015,” McLane explained.

McLane alleged that Shillingford was targeted, but would not elaborate on a motive.

He called on people who have knowledge about the killing to come forward to police.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Better enforcement needed for noise complaints in Toronto

City officials are plugging their ears to the adverse affects noise has on health, insists a group clamouring for a quieter Toronto.

Toronto Noise Coalition (TNC) released a survey conducted by Public Square that found 72% of Torontoians are interested to some degree in the issue of noise pollution.

The survey of 600 people — commissioned by the TNC — also found 12% of respondents had filed a noise complaint with the city. And two-thirds of complainants were unhappy with the response from the city.

TNC spokesman Ian Carmichael said there is insufficient enforcement when it comes noise bylaws.

“Noise complaints have increased ... over the last five years,” said Carmichael. “Part of that is just due to development — there is construction noise — but there has also been a lack of enforcement of existing noise (regulations) by the city.”

Construction noise, leaf-blowers, and “amplified sound” account for some of the top complaints.

“The provincial officer of health and the city’s chief officer of health have both indicated that noise pollution is a serious health issue in terms of sleep, concentration, all of those things,” said Carmichael. “We believe it is a question of ... educating people about noise, of setting clear boundaries, and enforcement.”

In a briefing note, Dr. David McKeown, the city’s chief medical officer of heath, says noise causes sleep disturbances, which are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and viral illnesses.

Mark Sraga, of Toronto’s municipal licencing and standards department, says there are 200 officers available to deal with general complaints. But noise complaints may take a back seat to others in terms of response time.

Health and safety issues — a swimming pool with a downed enclosure, for example — must take priority.

“We prioritize, yes. Life and safety, life and death, those are priority issues. Noise is not one of those life and safety issues.”

Sraga said his department will be presenting a report to the city’s councillors which outlines will address the issue of better enforcement and ways of dealing with construction noise.

The poll was accurate within 3%, 19 times out of 20.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Honest Ed's: The past and future of Bloor and Bathurst in Toronto

Now, before I get started with this week’s column I freely admit that unlike my previous contributions it is a very personal story.

As such some of my readers may not find it historical enough in nature something that I consistently incorporate into each week’s “The Way We Were” column and have done so for many, many years. On the other hand, some readers will find the story as fascinating as I did when I first saw the preliminary drawings that had been prepared for the proposed Mirvish Village project that will transform the block bounded by Bathurst, Lennox, Markham and Bloor streets. Plus, after some research I was able to discover some interesting history related to two of the old buildings on the site thereby fulfilling my mandate.

It all began when I came across a story in the media that described a fascinating project that would transform and revitalize the block bounded by Bathurst, Lennox, Markham and Bloor streets. What really caught my eye was the fact that this was my “neighborhood” when I was just a kid way back in the 1940s when I’d roam the back alley playing cops and robbers with the Di Cresce kids, who lived next door. Or those far off days when my parents told me stay away from the old frames, busted handlebars, wheels without spokes and other bits and pieces and greasy parts that crusty old Mr. Ingles, our landlord and owner of the Bathurst Bicycle Shop on the ground floor, would store in “our” backyard.

Just up the street was Paul’s Lunch, where dad was a frequent visitor or across Bloor, the good, old Alhambra Theatre, one of four easily accessible on a Saturday afternoon if, that is, you had enough pop bottles to trade in for few pennies to a ticket. By the way, the other nearby movie houses were the Bloor, Midtown and Metro. On the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst was one of those horse troughs very much in use with all the equine-powered ice, bread and milk wagons clattering through town as they made their daily (but never on Sunday) deliveries.

Down Bathurst, in the basement of the United Church at the corner of Lennox, was the K-Club. It was run by the Kiwanians and headed up by a Mr. Harris (don’t know if he had a first name). And at the north end of that alleyway was a fellow named Honest Ed who had just opened some kind of store that quickly became familiar to my mother. Suffice it to say my brother and I always had lots of socks and underwear.

Actually what really drew my attention to the sketch was the discovery that while most of the old Bathurst St. buildings were gone, two were still there. Under a magnifying glass one appeared to be, yes it was, good old number 758 the place where on the top floor I spent my first eight years on this planet. While I never really gave much thought to the history of the building a little sleuthing by friend Victor Russell, who spent many years in the Archives department at City Hall, came up with a map (specifically from the remarkably detailed Goad’s atlas and fire plans for 1903) that helped us determine that old building, and it’s neighbors on either side, were probably erected sometime around the year 1900.

Seems that while Markham St. will retain many of the historic features of this part of our city when the new Mirvish Village (see mirvish-village.com) takes shape a few years from now, numbers 756 and 758 Bathurst St. will still be there. At least that’s what present plans call for.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Vigil held for Cynthia Mullapudi, 24 who was fatally shot in car at an LCBO in the Victoria Park Ave.-Ellesmere Rd. of Toronto

“The guns need to go” says the father of a young woman killed in a shooting.

“Enough is enough,” said John Mullapudi at a candlelight vigil for his daughter on Friday evening.

Cynthia Mullapudi, 24, and Joseph Anzolona, 24, were shot to death on the evening of April 29 while sitting in the back of a SUV at an LCBO in the Victoria Park Ave.-Ellesmere Rd. area.

Two people in the front seats weren’t injured.

Police say Anzolona — who was known to them — was the target of the shooting. A Toronto man has been charged with first degree murder.

“My daughter’s life was taken just like that,” a weeping Mullapudi told a gathering of about 200 at New Life Christian Church in Scarborough.

“We will never know if she was in pain or scared in her last moments.”

Mullapudi told the crowd how his daughter was working towards a medical degree at University of Toronto and volunteered a Sick Kids Hospital.

“I remember how she would come home from Sick Kids so happy that she could make a child laugh,” he said.

“She was a kind, passionate woman who was heading in the right direction. I had many hopes and dreams for her.”

Mullapudi’s wife and two youngest daughters were by his side.

“There is a void that can’t be filled. She was her younger sister’s role model. She was a good girl.”

Mullapudi’s friend, Katrino Ferro, says she doesn’t want people to just think of this as the city’s 28th homicide.

“Cynthia was a beautiful person who had just begun her life. She was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ferro said.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Massage parlour owner Salvatore Badali,47 of Toronto guilty of youth prostitution rap

TORONTO - A 47-year-old former massage parlour owner will be serving jail time after being found guilty of offences connected to a youth prostitution investigation.

Salvatore Badali, of Toronto, was convicted April 29 of living on the avails and obtaining the services of a juvenile prostitute and procuring a person to become a prostitute, York Regional Police announced Thursday.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Glass sentenced Badali to 34 months behind bars.

Police say they began investigating in July 30, 2012 after a 16-year-old girl was found to be working at the Blue Pearl Spa, a massage parlour on Dufferin St., near Wilson Ave., in Toronto.

Badali, who owned the parlour, was arrested Aug. 3, 2012.

Alleged black 'ringleader' in Toronto gang war kidnapping nabbed: Black Lives Matter BLM

TORONTO - A 17-year-old boy wanted as the suspected “ringleader” in the recent gang war kidnapping of two teen boys has been nabbed.

Toronto Police have been hunting the accused teen and a man, 23, since last month when members of the Young Buck Killas allegedly abducted and tortured two boys, 17, after a gun battle with a rival street gang at a condo near the Rogers Centre.

“We kicked in the door of a residence in North York last night,” Staff-Insp. Mike Earl, who heads up the Holdup Squad, said Thursday.

He said the wanted teen was “hiding out” at a home near Leslie St. and Sheppard Ave. E. — not far from another home that was raided earlier in the kidnapping investigation.

ETF officers and members of the Gun and Gang Unit took the boy into custody.

Earl said the accused will face charges for the kidnapping. But he wasn’t immediately able to say if any charges will be laid against anyone for helping him evade capture.

The boy’s name and photo were released last week after cops sought a court order, but he can no longer be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Investigators believe the kidnapping was precipitated by a shootout involving YBK and the Queens Drive Crips that unfolded April 19 in the 25th-floor hallway of 300 Front St. W.

In the aftermath of the gunfight, alleged members of YKB blamed the two young victims for tipping off rivals about a party they were attending in the condo.

Earl has said the two boys “feared for their lives” as they were tied to chairs, beaten, and forced to play Russian roulette with a loaded gun and perform sex acts while they were held captive for several days at various homes in the city.

The victims were only released after their families paid a ransom to their captors.

The investigation so far has led to the recovery of a handgun as well as the arrests of Akil Whyte, 23, Deshawn Walters, 18, and a boy, 16, on gun charges.

Quinton Gardiner, 19, was also arrested for the kidnapping and firearms offences. Gardiner is an aspiring rapper known as Pressa and suspected YBK leader, according to police.

Sources say Gardiner’s brother, Chermar, was one of YBK’s leaders when he was arrested at 19 in 2011 during Project Marvel — an operation that targeted the gang’s gun and drug pipeline stretching from Toronto to the West Coast.

Chermar is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.

Their father, Mark, was paroled in 2014 after spending 18 years behind bars for the 1996 murder of Dave Williams, 26, who was volunteering as a doorman at a dance for high schoolers in the city’s west end.

Late last week, cops arrested Michael Hollinger, 51, for allegedly allowing YBK members to confine the two kidnapping victims in his Lawrence Heights home.

“We’re still looking for the 23-year-old man who we believe was involved in the kidnapping,” Earl said.

Lincoln Richards, who raps using the name Ranski Gleechie, has known ties to the Windsor area but police have yet to track him down.

Richards’ grandmother, mom and sister — who Earl believes were present during a portion of the abduction — are also sought.

“The whole family disappeared after the kidnapping,” he said.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Richards or his family members should call the Holdup Squad at 416-808-7450 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Two black 17-year-olds charged with murder in teen's stabbing at 551 The West Mall in Toronto : Black Lives Matter BLM

TORONTO - Two teen boys are now in custody charged with murder for allegedly hunting down and viciously stabbing a 17-year-old to death in Etobicoke three months ago.

Earlier this week, Toronto Police released video of the young victim running for his life as two unidentified assailants gave chase outside a highrise at 551 The West Mall, south of Rathburn Rd., on Feb. 3.

The security-camera footage captured the final terrifying moments of Saed Keyliye’s life after he and two friends met with his suspected killers behind the apartment building that evening, Homicide Det. Andy Singh explained at a news conference Monday.

“Shortly after they met, there was an altercation which resulted in Saed being stabbed,” he said.

Singh refused to elaborate on the reason for the “prearranged meeting.”

But he did say the teen’s slaying was not thought to be gang related and the victim was not known to police.

In the disturbing video clips, Keyliye can be see fleeing as one of his suspected killers rushes to head him off. The victim then runs the opposite way as the attacker stalks him while apparently pulling something from the back of his pants.

Another video clip captured a suspected getaway car, described as a four-door, grey Honda Civic, as it headed west on Rathburn Rd.

Two 17-year-old boys, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, are charged with second-degree murder.

Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said the teens were taken into custody Wednesday with help from Peel Regional Police.

“No other suspects are being sought at this time,” Sidhu said.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Toronto Star’s glass house

Former Toronto Star columnist and editorial page editor Haroon Siddiqui recently accused Sun Media and Postmedia of pandering to Islamophobia.

Notwithstanding the fact that Sun Media and Postmedia give far more prominence to secular liberal Muslim columnists than the Star, it’s time to put Siddiqui’s role as an editor and columnist in perspective, as he fanned the flames of victimhood among Muslims, while looking the other way as Islamism spread.

Let's begin with 2001.

In February, 2001 while the 9/11 terrorists, 15 of 19 of whom turned out to be Saudis, were arriving in America and planning their attack, the Star’s Siddiqui was on a tour of Saudi Arabia writing a series of positive columns about the medieval dictatorship.

On Feb. 4, 2001, Siddiqui praised developments in the Kingdom, showered accolades on then crown prince Abdullah and said this about the unelected Saudi Consultative Assembly:

“Members are grilling cabinet ministers, even if away from live television cameras. Whatever else their shortcomings, neither group is short on talent. Eighteen of the 24 ministers and 58 of the 90 Majlis members have PhDs – surely the most educated lawmakers anywhere.”

If Saudi Arabia -- with its medieval treatment of women, fanatical religious police and global funding of Wahhabism, the extreme religious theology of the jihadists -- struck Siddiqui’s fancy, the Islamic Republic of Iran came in for equal praise.

On Feb. 27, 2000, Siddiqui wrote: “Iran has reconfirmed its position as the most democratic country in the Muslim world, with arguably the freest press and certainly the best record on gender equality.”

He went to say, “it is stunning how revolutionary Islamic Iran has empowered women, after initially suppressing them.”

Remember, he’s talking about Iran, which would go on to violently suppress demonstrations for democracy in 2009 and is a known state sponsor of terrorism.

Two days after the horror of 9/11 struck America, on Sept. 13, 2001, Siddiqui was at the ready with a column deflecting blame from the terrorists, who had taken radical Islam to its logical extreme.

Instead, Siddiqui wrote that the attacks “represent the dark underbelly of globalization”, meaning Western capitalism.

“America was targeted,” he speculated, “because it … is indifferent to the suffering of too many peoples, from Afghanistan to Chechnya to the Middle East ...”

In the post-911 era, Siddiqui was often the champion of all things Islamist, including Muslim mediation/arbitration courts for divorce proceedings in Canada, while attacking Muslim opponents of sharia.

Siddiqui, for example, mocked a Quebec Muslim legislator, Fatima Houda-Pepin, who led the charge against creeping sharia, as “reportedly not a practising Muslim” and suggested she was “reviled” by many Muslims.

On Jan. 21, 2001, during an infamous case of a young Nigerian woman who was sentenced by a Nigerian sharia court to 100 lashes, he trivialized the outcry against the punishment.

Defending sharia as “good law,” Siddiqui wrote, “The sharia, however, is popular. It has restored order to a corrupt, lawless society.”

Instead of falsely accusing others of Islamophobia, perhaps Siddiqui should reflect on his own lack of contribution in fighting the forces of international jihadism.

Perhaps the Star should as well, given its editorial policy of giving a voice to some of Canada’s most radical Islamist groups.

Because at every opportunity Siddiqui and the Star have had to do so, including the reporting of his recent lecture in the Star, they have chosen the wrong side.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Toronto Double slaying victim had been celebrating pal's birthday, Cynthia Mullapudi, 24, and Joseph Anzolona, 26

TORONTO - A Markham woman was out celebrating a birthday when she was killed by a gunman who police allege targeted a man sitting beside her in an SUV.

Toronto Police announced Monday that homicide investigators nabbed a 24-year-old alleged gang member who’s suspected of fatally shooting Cynthia Mullapudi, 24, and Joseph Anzolona, 26, of Toronto, last Friday night.

The victims were in the back of a parked SUV outside an LCBO store at Parkway Mall, in the Victoria Park Ave.-Ellesmere Rd. area, around 10 p.m. when a gunman attacked. A man and woman in the front seat were uninjured.

A man who identified himself as Mullapudi’s father said Monday that his daughter was celebrating the birthday of the surviving female passenger.

“At this time, we don’t know anything ... Cynthia took a ride with the other girl ... that’s all we know,” John said. “The other surviving female, that was the girl who picked her up for some birthday party. That’s what our daughter told us ... She was going for the girl’s birthday.”

John said his daughter had graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in life sciences and had recently started working for a “health-related manufacturing” company. “She just found this job about a month and a half ago and she was very excited about finding this job,” he said.

Staff-Insp. Greg McLane said Monday Toronto Police’s guns and gangs unit is involved in the investigation.

“A lone gunman approached the vehicle, opened the rear door, and fired numerous rounds into the seating area in the back of the vehicle, striking Anzolona and Mullapudi numerous times,” he said.

McLane said the suspect was previously known to police and is allegedly a gang member, but would not elaborate.

Anzolona, believed to be the target of the shooting, was also known to police, he said. Mullapudi was not known to police and was likely an unintended target, he added.

Harris Nnane, 24, of Toronto, was arrested Sunday and charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Spike in gun murders in Toronto shouldn't be tolerated

TORONTO - Just in case you are keeping score, there has been a 200% increase in shooting murders since this time last year.

You read it right — 200%.

There’s no spin. No politics. You can check the statistics on the Toronto Police website yourself.

It will show you that by May 3 in 2015, guns were used to kill victims in six homicides. This year, killers armed with guns have so far claimed 18 lives.

That’s a dozen more shooting murders in 2016 compared to the same time frame the year before.

Overall, murders are way up, too — 100% to be precise.

At this time in 2015, Toronto had 14 murders. There have been 28 so far this year.

Of those 28, 13 have not yet resulted in arrests.

So there is a baker’s dozen of murderers out there — and who knows how many of them are looking for revenge. You can help by calling Crime Stoppers.

Either way, the killing and shooting numbers are appalling.

Just a blip?

That was last year’s misleading talking point.

Those hoping it will even out and land at around 60 homicides at year’s end can’t be oblivious to the fact we are on target to match the record 86.

The start of 2005, which was marred by the Summer of the Gun, was only half as deadly as the first four months of 2016.

And the warm weather has yet to hit.

Short of a massive sweep designed to put most gangsters behind bars, it’s looking like one bloody summer. It has been a bloody winter and spring.

Staff-Insp. Greg McLane, the head of Toronto Police’s homicide unit, is clearly concerned.

“Guns are a problem and it’s going to be a bigger problem,” he told reporters Monday.

His team did some excellent sleuthing over the weekend to quickly arrest and charge Harris Nnane, 24, with two counts of first-degree murder in the close-range shooting deaths of Joseph Anzolona, 26, and Cynthia Mullapudi, 24. The allegations against Nnane have not yet been tested in court.

Mullapudi was not the intended target and the only one of the three involved not known to police. She’s the same as Shyanne Charles, Brianna Davy, Jane Creba and Bailey Zaveda, to me.

In the wrong place at the wrong time.

We have had far too many young people murdered by horrible thugs and it amazes me how all of the politically-correct politicians stand for it.

It’s not like they don’t know who most of the problem people are and where they live. Most of the killers have been before the courts in the past.

None of this violence should be tolerated and all means, from soft to hard, should be employed to curb it. All good people should agree to work together to save our young people from being the next record-breaking statistic.

“It’s clear to me that they’re oblivious to being stopped by police,” McLane said of the heartless gang members. “They do not seem too concerned about carrying their guns.”

Get out your calculator.

Video shows Toronto teen stabbing victim running for life

TORONTO - A teen ran for his life from an assailant moments before he was stabbed to death, video footage released Monday shows.

The security-camera footage contains the final moments of 17-year-old Saed Keyliye, who was murdered outside the rear of a highrise at 551 The West Mall on Feb. 3.

Det. Andy Singh said Keyliye and two friends met that night with two unidentified suspects close to that highrise.

“Shortly after they met, there was an altercation which resulted in Saed being stabbed,” said Singh, who added the meeting was not a random encounter.

“This was a prearranged meeting. But in terms of what the meeting was about, I’m not prepared to elaborate on that.”

Singh said there is nothing to indicate this killing was gang related, and the victim was not known to police.

One video shows Keyliye running outside the building and “suspect number one” attempting to head him off. When Keyliye runs in the opposite direction, the assailant chases him and appears to pull something from the back of his trousers.

A second clip shows what police believe to be the two suspects walking toward where Keyliye was felled.

A third video shows a suspected getaway car — a four-door, grey Honda Civic — driving west on Rathburn Rd.