Tag Archives: toronto

Blue Jays, ballet, strippers seeking G20 compensation

The Canadian Press

The Toronto G20 summit struck out big time with the city’s baseball team, prompting the Blue Jays to seek almost half a million dollars in compensation from the federal government.

The Jays filed a claim for $470,854 after the high-level, high-security meetings forced the team to shift a series of games to Philadelphia, records obtained by The Canadian Press show.

The move spoiled the keenly anticipated appearance of ace Philadelphia pitcher Roy Halladay, whom the Jays traded to the Phillies during the off-season.

Downtown Toronto became a high-security zone late last June when leaders of the G20 countries met for talks, disrupting many popular events at the height of tourist season.

“It was, to put it mildly, a huge inconvenience,” said Patrick Taylor, executive producer of Toronto’s jazz festival, which has claimed $235,155 in compensation.

The festival experienced lost ticket, food and beverage sales, and spent additional money on security as demonstrators descended on the city, Taylor said. A lucrative sponsorship arrangement with a large hotel also evaporated because the rooms were needed for G20 summit participants.

Porter Airlines, which operates from a downtown airport, topped the list of claimants, seeking more than $1,110,411, according to the records released under the Access to Information Act.

The owners of the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower requested $629,375, and the National Ballet of Canada applied for $355,265 because the summit put a crimp in audience numbers.

Not far away at the Zanzibar Tavern on Yonge St., lithe dancers of the more exotic variety apparently saw fewer patrons as well, prompting a claim of $10,832.

Leaders of the G8 countries gathered last year in cottage country near Huntsville, Ont., before joining other politicians for the G20 summit in Canada’s largest city.

Security for the major events involved more than 20,000 personnel from across the country and a budget of $930 million. Steel fencing transformed Toronto’s downtown core into something resembling an armed camp.

More than 1,100 people were taken into custody and there was extensive damage to shops and vehicles during G20 protests.

The Foreign Affairs Department says a total of 411 claims were submitted by businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals due to lost revenue and unforeseen expenditures.

Several claimants, including the Blue Jays, declined to discuss their compensation applications. “We will not be making public comment on this issue,” said Jays spokesman Jay Stenhouse.

Taylor said federal officials recently went over the jazz society’s application, filed last August. “They did a very intensive review of our claim.”

The festival has yet to hear anything further.

All claims are assessed by Audit Services Canada to ensure they meet compensation criteria.

Foreign Affairs said it expected to complete work on 214 of the 411 files by late this week. “More files are being completed daily and payments are being processed to those eligible.”

The department declined to discuss the amount paid out to date. However, documents tabled in Parliament earlier this year said the total amount claimed to date was $10,656,869.

The University of Toronto‘s claim of $798,111 was recently turned down because “insufficient evidence was provided” to justify the application, says a federal letter provided to The Canadian Press by the university.

Judith Wolfson, the university’s vice-president for media relations, said the school basically had to shut down when the Ontario legislature — smack in the middle of the university’s campus — became the official G20 protest area.

“We deemed it to be unsafe for our students and faculty and staff,” Wolfson said.

It meant moving students out of residence and cancelling events, resulting in a “very significant cost.”

“We don’t have extra funds, and so we would have hoped that the federal government would have compensated us for something that was beyond our control.”


Sgt. Ryan Russell….the unlucky hero

I’ve been meaning to share my two cents on this story for quite some time. I was hesitant at first because my views on the matter are slightly controversial. I would also like to add that my opinion of the Toronto police officers has been tainted ever since the G20 Summit and their abusive treatment of the citizens of this great city.

Sgt. Ryan Russell attempted to stop a man in a stolen snow-plow that was causing havoc throughout the city. He was unable to subdue both the vehicle and the individual driving, and died as a consequence. This event was headline news for a few days and Sgt. Russell was hailed as a hero by his peers and by the media.

When I understood the details of the story I reserved the right to call him a hero and considered a lot of other factors. I asked why he tried to do this on his lonesome, what the police procedures would be in such a scenario and why wasn’t something more concrete put in place in order to avoid tragedy. Nevertheless, the sad and horrific death of Sgt. Russell was the end result and now we all must deal with the aftermath.

My criticism towards the situation is simple. Sgt. Russell has left behind a wife and child. Who is to care for them? Days after the tragedy, the feeling was that the entire city would care for them, but when the dust settles I suspect they will be forgotten like many others who were hailed in such a light in the past. Secondly, Sgt. Russell funeral price tag was a cool quarter million, covered by yours truly, the tax payers. I’m not sure how I feel about that just yet, but I was not consulted on the matter and I think neither were you.

It’s easy to say that Sgt. Russell was overzealous in trying to apprehend the out of control plow. Perhaps he was following instructions, perhaps his own intuition. I don’t want to demean his actions because whether successful or not, his motive was noble. He was trying to do his job – protect and serve. In that sense, yes he is a hero, but maybe if the police department had been better organised and prepared, the headlines would have been different and slightly more positive.

One last thought….who determines our worth?

…Canada is still an active force in the ‘fight against terror’, and our soldiers are in the line of fire every day. Some make it, some do not. Where is their hero’s welcome? I would say that the role of a soldier is comparable to that of a police officer; in fact I would say that it’s probably more dangerous.  So why do they not get the same treatment?

I have spoken to a lot of people on the matter and most have a reserved opinion. They do not want to sound harsh and cold hearted, but many have similar views as my own.

Is Sgt. Russell a hero? Do you think the funeral costs are justified? Should that money have gone to a trust fund for the family instead? Please let me know what you guys think. Any comment is appreciated and valued.


Toronto Police Officer Sgt. Ryan Russell

Selflessness cost Toronto police officer his life, widow tells hushed mourners

By Allison Jones and Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Sgt. Ryan Russell‘s widow says the fallen officer always put others first, and that selflessness cost him his life.

Christine Russell, with a laboured voice and through tears, addressed thousands of mourners Tuesday at her husband’s memorial service.

“It is with Ryan’s courage and his bravery, and along with all of you and your support, I am able to stand here,” she said.

“I find so much comfort when I look at my little boy because I see so much of Ryan in him,” she added.

“We will love you forever and always.”

Russell was the first Toronto officer to be killed in the line of duty in almost a decade. The 35-year old was fatally struck by a stolen snowplow that led police on a wild chase through Toronto streets last Wednesday.

Russell’s widow walked hand-in-hand with the couple’s son, Nolan, as the memorial service for the fallen officer began at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Nolan, dressed in a dark suit, his blond hair newly cropped, talked innocently as his father’s casket was laid on the podium and his mother stroked the little boy’s head.

Staff Supt. Jeff McGuire told those assembled he first met Russell just one day before he was killed, on Yonge Street where police were dealing with a report of an armed man in a car.

McGuire said Russell, as the officer supervising the situation, smiled and was happy, and was clearly “in charge of his people.”

Christine nodded in agreement during accolades heaped on her husband and managed a brief laugh at a story of how he brought home a stray cat that turned out to be pregnant.

“I don’t think that there is a heart in Toronto so strong that it has not been touched by the images of Ryan Russell, husband and father, embracing his wife and his child,” police Chief Bill Blair told the service.

“It is an image that has defined the man for us. And it has helped us to understand the full extent of his sacrifice.”

Former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino, now a federal cabinet minister, called Russell a “modern day hero.”

The officer was a “remarkable person,” added Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley.

“In life and death, Ryan represented the virtues we admire most as a city, as a province, as a nation. The virtues are courage and character,” Onley said.

“Our outpouring of respect for him is a large part of who he was as a person and who we are as a people.”

Earlier Tuesday, hundreds of people lined the streets of Toronto to watch the funeral procession — clapping as his hearse moved past.

A pipe and drum band led the motorcade, which was preceded by a procession of 12,500 officers in full dress uniform from acrossCanada and the United States.

The massive turnout delayed the service, which was to begin at 1 p.m., for nearly one hour. Some 10,000 chairs were set out, yet hundreds more lined the walls of the cavernous convention centre. Still more were directed to an overflow room.

Chief Blair was to present the family with Russell’s forage cap and the Toronto Police Service flag.

Members of the public who watched the procession to the convention centre said the police support citizens, so it’s important to support them in a time of tragedy.

“They serve the country and it’s an honour to be here,” said Hamilton resident Linda Court.

“I was bothered to see how he died. It was tragic.”

One woman’s eyes filled with tears watching the procession go by, too emotional to put into words why she was so moved.

At the front of the huge convention hall above a display of plush bears and between several bouquets, there were photographs of Russell with his wife and infant son.

In front of one baby picture of Nolan was a small floral arrangement, with a white ribbon draped across it. On the band was just one word in gold letters: Daddy.

Officers gave each other hugs Tuesday morning at 52 Division, where members of the guns and gangs task force — Russell’s old unit — also gathered.

Const. Brenda MacIntosh, of Cornwall police, said she came to support the police “brotherhood” in a time of grief.

“We all feel that we’re part of one big family,” she said. “It’s overwhelming to see the sea of officers that are here.”

Det.-Const. Sheldon Steinke of the Regina police said he was “in awe” of the sight of thousands of uniformed police officers marching through the streets. He said he came a long way, but it’s important to show solidarity within the policing family.

Canadian tenor John McDermott performed “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and a family friend sang an original piece composed for the memorial, “Ryan’s Song.”

The service was broadcast on the big screen at the mid-town Yonge and Dundas Square and outside the Air Canada Centre.

Justine Olmstead, a 24-year-old Humber College police student, showed up to lend her support. She said the tragedy has not deterred her from wanting to join the police force. If fact she is even more encouraged to do so.

“It’s brought a lot of joy to me to see how Toronto shows so much respect for the police force,” said Olmstead.

“This could be me one day. Hopefully I would have the same respect shown back to me.”

A 44-year-old drifter, Richard Kachkar, who was shot and seriously injured by police when arrested, faces first-degree murder charges and was expected in court Friday for a bail hearing.

Toronto police said Tuesday that Kachkar is out of hospital and being held at a Milton, Ont., detention centre.


And Ford takes the race

Ford next Toronto mayor, defeats Smitherman

By Maria Babbage, The Canadian Press

TORONTO -Right-wing juggernaut Rob Ford will take the top job in Canada’s most populous city, defeating former deputy premier George Smitherman in a bitter, 10-month race to become Toronto’s next mayor.

With 99 per cent of Toronto polls reporting Monday night, Ford took 47 per cent of the vote, compared to Smitherman’s 35 per cent and deputy mayor Joe Pantalone‘s 12 per cent.

Smitherman was considered an early favourite to win, but couldn’t compete against Ford, a scrappy city councillor who tapped into a potent well of voter fury with his promises to cut taxes and kill big spending at city hall.

“This victory is a clear call from the taxpayers, enough is enough,” Ford told cheering supporters. “The party with taxpayers’ money is over. We will respect the taxpayers again, and yes ladies and gentlemen we will stop the gravy train once and for all.”

The polarizing Toronto race was marred by ugly incidents, including homophobic ads targeting the openly gay Smitherman, and a newspaper article — later pulled from the Globe and Mail website — that took a shot at Ford’s weight.

His win is likely to send shockwaves all the way to Premier Dalton McGuinty‘s office. Many experts have predicted that a Ford victory could herald a Conservative sweep in next fall’s Ontario election. A grinning Mike Harris, Ontario’s former Conservative premier, called on both the provincial and federal governments to work with Toronto’s mayor-elect.

“It’s a good opportunity for Rob to reach out, for council to reach out to him, for the provincial-federal government to reach out to him, listen to what the voters of Toronto said and help him deliver,” Harris told TV station CP24 at Ford’s victory party.

After two terms of majority rule, recent polls suggest that McGuinty’s popularity is waning amid voter concerns with pocketbook issues, such as rising electricity bills and his controversial introduction of the harmonized sales tax. That may have played into the Toronto race, given Smitherman’s reputation as McGuinty’s former right-hand man and top enforcer.

“Differences aside, as a Torontonian who loves my city, I hope for your success Rob,” an emotional Smitherman told his supporters. “Toronto is too important, there are no boos tonight.”

Pantalone — the left-wing candidate endorsed by outgoing Mayor David Miller — was curt in his reaction to the night’s stunning outcome. “The people of Toronto have spoken and democracy is beautiful,” Pantalone said.

The night also saw Mike Layton, son of federal NDP Leader Jack Layton, walk in his father’s footsteps as he won Pantalone’s Trinity-Spadina ward — the same neighbourhood stepmother Olivia Chow represents federally. Meanwhile in Ottawa, another former provincial cabinet minister — Jim Watson — easily won the mayor’s race against businessman-turned-politician Larry O’Brien, in a race dominated by transit and urban development issues.

Watson, who served as the city’s mayor before a successful foray into provincial politics, took 49 per cent of the vote with nearly 98 per cent all polls reporting. Conservative incumbent O’Brien had 24 per cent.

Earlier this month, O’Brien made a startling admission that his first two years as mayor were a “disaster,” but implored voters to give him a second chance. His rocky term as mayor of Canada’s capital included allegations of influence peddling that forced him to step down temporarily as the matter went to trial. He resumed his duties after being acquitted.

By contrast, the race just west of the city in Mississauga has been decidedly uneventful, where voters simply watched to see how well 89-year-old Mayor Hazel McCallion performed in her 12th election campaign. “Hurricane” Hazel typically doesn’t campaign, put up signs or buy political ads. Her 31-year tenure as mayor is considered to be so rock solid, but a conflict-of-interest scandal appeared to put a dent in the 90 per cent voter support she’s known to command. With more than three-quarters of polls reporting Monday, McCallion had 76 per cent of the vote — a decisive victory for any politician but not the numbers of old.

In Vaughan, ex-Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua took the mayor’s seat from incumbent Linda Jackson, who is headed to court to face Municipal Elections Act charges.

Other interesting races include London, where former Liberal MP Joe Fontana was in a tight race to keep long-standing Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best from winning a fourth term. In all, there were 444 municipal votes in Ontario.


More from the G20 Summit

Who gave the G20 Commander his Commands?

An excellent piece from theRealNews.com that raises a lot of important questions surrounding the G20 Summit.

Toronto G20 Summit

G20 lawsuit seeks $45M in damages

Jayme Poisson Staff Reporter

Office administrator Sherry Good made her media debut Friday. The 51-year-old is now the face of a G20 class-action lawsuit launched against the Toronto Police Services Board and the Attorney-General of Canada who represents the RCMP.

Filed Thursday in the Ontario Superior Court, the lawsuit seeks $45 million in damages for all those wrongfully arrested, detained, imprisoned or held by police during the G20 summit at locations across the city. According to Good’s lawyers, Murray Klippenstein and Eric Gillespie, the Ontario Provincial Police may be named at a later date.

“I’m just an ordinary person. I’m not an organizer, I’m not an activist,” Good told a news conference at Queen’s Park. “I just feel that what happened to me and to hundreds of others was very wrong.”

More than 1,000 people were detained during the summit after black-clad vandals broke away from peaceful demonstrations to smash windows and burn police cars. The 800 released without charges are the individuals the lawsuit is seeking to represent.

Good was approached by Klippenstein after posting her story on websites asking for G20 accounts.

“When I read her story, I could tell it really came from the heart,” Klippenstein said, adding that Good is representing hundreds of others with similar accounts.

On the evening of June 27, Good was caught by a police technique known as “kettling” when about 250 people — some protesters, others bystanders — were encircled by a wall of police officers at the intersection of Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. She was walking home when she decided to join an informal demonstration.

Good said she was held in a downpour for hours with no food or access to toilets, and was “terrified” by police. She was later released but said she was so shaken up by the experience she couldn’t sleep that night, didn’t attend work the next day and had a panic attack as a result.

It wasn’t Good’s first protest of the week. On the Saturday, June 26, she joined the major protest that erupted into chaos. Good said she had nothing to do with any property destruction and decided to protest only because she had witnessed intimidation by police leading up to the G20 and wanted to exercise her “right to speak up.”

“The biggest consequence was that I lost all trust in police,” she said. “Now I am nervous when I see a police car. I consistently look over my shoulder.”

For Good, it is a privilege to represent all those detained without charge even though she feels the lawsuit “could be a difficult journey.”

The next step involves the court’s approval of the class-action lawsuit; a process Gillespie admitted could take longer than a year.

“We’re going into this with our eyes wide open,” said Gillespie of the long haul ahead. The legal team confirmed they are not getting paid for their services.

Those who wish to be involved in the lawsuit can contact the legal team or go through the website www.G20classaction.com.

Gillespie said the team’s reasoning behind launching a class-action lawsuit was to give individuals who may not otherwise have access to the justice system that access, and to encourage efficiency in the courts.

One person — Good in this case — can be the representative of all the others who were detained without charge.

Precedents include a similar lawsuit launched after mass arrests in Washington, D.C. in 2000 near the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings. The district was ordered to pay $13.7 million in damages to some 700 demonstrators and bystanders last month.

If the G20 class-action lawsuit gets that far, it would be up to the courts to divvy up any monetary award.

Klippenstein said a full judicial inquiry into police actions during the G20 is the only real solution, but that the intent of the lawsuit is “to help reaffirm our freedoms.”


Toronto G20 Summit

More G20-related arrests

Police arrest 7 more suspects in its sweep of mischief makers

By DON PEAT, Toronto Sun

Six men and a 17-year-old boy are the latest arrests by Toronto Police’s G20 investigative team.

Police said all the charges relate to the violence that swept the city on Saturday, June 26.

Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux alleged one of the men nabbed was trying to reach into a trashed police car to steal the laptop inside.

Another arrested man is charged with allegedly torching one of the four police cruisers set ablaze in the downtown during the rioting, police said.

Two the men were arrested Sunday and five of them were arrested Monday.

Last week, Giroux released photos of 10 of the “most wanted” suspects in his G20 investigation.

Six people allegedly captured in those pictures have been arrested.

Giroux said more photos will be released Wednesday of the 20 most wanted.

That list will include some photos of suspects released earlier that police are still hunting for, he said.

Andrew Loughrin, 23, Jeffrey Delaney, 23, Robert Kainola, 24, all of Toronto, are charged with mischief over $5,000. Delaney is also facing a charge of attempted theft over $5,000.

A 17-year-old is charged with two counts of mischief over $5,000. He cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Three of the men arrested were the subject of arrest warrants police announced on Friday.

Kurt Roarco, 22, of no fixed address, is charged with arson, mischief over $5,000 and failing to comply with probation. Michael Corbett, 29, and Bryan O’Handley, 19, are both charged with mischief over $5,000.

Six were released on bail Monday. Roarco has a bail hearing Tuesday.