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Ontario’s police watchdog says it has evidence Peel detective conducted ‘biased’ investigation

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Ontario’s police complaints watchdog alleges that a Peel Regional Police detective conducted a “biased” extortion probe against two men, including a York Regional Police sergeant, then authorized a “misleading” media release containing “inaccurate” information.

After a lengthy investigation, Ontario’s police complaints watchdog says it has found evidence that a Peel Regional Police detective conducted a “biased” extortion probe against two men, including a York Regional Police sergeant, then authorized a “misleading” press release erroneously linking the men with firearm offenses.

The findings of an investigation by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) are the latest developments in a complex case that has already seen two York police officers and a Brampton businessman sue the Peel Regional Police Services Board , alleging they were victims of a “malicious” investigation into an alleged extortion scheme investigated by Peel Det. Robert Crane.

The watchdog’s findings come as a relief to York police Sgt. Gurdip Panaich and civilian Surjit Brar, both of whom say their health, relationships and reputations have suffered as a result of being charged in March 2015 with extortion. Panaich was also charged with obstruction of justice and was briefly suspended from his job with York Regional Police.

The charges against both men were withdrawn by the Crown a few months later. The OIPRD investigation alleges that Peel police did not have reasonable grounds to arrest and charge the two men, and that Crane’s evidence against them did not fit the Criminal Code definition of extortion.

“I hope and pray that no other person in the community is subjected to such false charges and a fabricated press release,” Panaich told the Star, calling the OIPRD’s findings “a big relief for me and my family.”

The allegations against Crane have not been tested at a police disciplinary tribunal. The OIPRD, which investigates complaints against police, has found evidence to substantiate five counts of misconduct as defined under Ontario’s Police Services Act, including discreditable conduct, unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority, and neglect of duty.

However, professional misconduct charges have not yet been laid against Crane. Panaich told the Star that, because the probe by OIPRD investigators took longer than six months, the Peel police board must now determine whether the delay in the case was reasonable, a provision in the Police Services Act intended to avoid prolonged misconduct investigations.

Peel Regional Police Sgt. Josh Colley confirmed Monday that Crane has not been formally charged under the police act and said the OIPRD report is under review.

 “Once the review is complete, Peel Regional Police will proceed as directed,” Colley said.

Colley said Crane would not be able to comment because of the ongoing review. Crane did not respond to a request for comment from the Star Monday.

Peel Regional Police Board did not respond to a request for information by email or phone Monday.

The Peel police board has denied allegations of a negligent investigation in response to a $1-million lawsuit filed in 2016 by Panaich, Brar and York Const. Sukhdeep Brar, Brar’s brother, who was investigated by Peel but never charged. In a March 2016 statement of defence, lawyers for the Peel police board and Crane, who is also named in the lawsuit, “expressly deny” malicious prosecution and false arrest.

“Det. Crane was, at all material times, acting in good faith in his conduct of the investigation and in compliance with his duties under the (Police Services Act),” the statement of defence says.

The incident dates back to 2014 and involves multiple players connected to a Brampton real-estate broker Dale Mundi, who came to Peel police with allegations that he was being defamed online.

As previously reported by the Star, and based on the Panaich and the Brar brothers’ statement of claim, the ordeal stems from a dispute with an employee who Mundi later suspected was responsible for a website containing defamatory statements about him.

According to the statement of claim, in late 2014 Mundi and Surjit Brar met with a man who apparently had text-message evidence implicating Mundi’s employee in the posts. The man was hesitant to give Mundi the evidence, so Mundi offered $25,000 for the text message that the man could use if a lawsuit arose, the statement of claim says. Mundi and the man proposed that Surjit Brar hold the money because he could be an independent third party.

Surjit Brar then contacted Sgt. Panaich, who worked with his brother in the York police, to tell him about this proposal, according to the statement of claim; Panaich and Const. Brar later told Surjit Brar not to get involved, the claim states.

But when Mundi met with Crane, he claimed the man with the text message had, in fact, demanded $25,000 in exchange for the evidence, according to the statement of claim. Mundi said these men could get away with such extortion “because of their ties to the police,” the claim says.

Bhupinder Nagra, Mundi’s lawyer, told the Star Monday she was unable to comment due to ongoing litigation.

Surjit Brar and Panaich were arrested in March 2015. According to the OIPRD, the charges were later withdrawn at the request of the Crown after thoroughly reviewing the case.

But Panaich and Brar say damage was already done, thanks to a Peel media release sent out after their arrests. The Peel media release linked Panaich and Surjit Brar to “an extortion plot” involving five men. It referred to 14 firearms-related charges against a Caledon man.

The OIPRD’s findings back up Panaich and Surjit Brar’s claims that the charges against the Caledon man stemmed from an “unrelated investigation.” Panaich and Surjit Brar say the inclusion of that man’s charges tarnished their reputations further, making it appear that there was a gang operating in Brampton involving police officers and people with guns.

The watchdog alleges the release contained misleading and inaccurate information and the name of an individual who was not connected to the investigation involved Panaich and Surjit Brar.

Crane made a number of comments during an interview with Mundi that demonstrated “bias in his investigation” and that he had “made a determination regarding arrests and charges at the commencement of his investigation,” according to the OIPRD.

 

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Government of Canada Launches Pre-Budget Consultations

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Canadians Invited to Offer Their Ideas on How to Grow and Strengthen the Middle Class

Department of Finance Canada Our government is working hard to grow the economy and provide more support for the middle class. Over 500,000 new jobs have been created since 2015 and the unemployment rate is nearly the lowest it has been in a decade. Canada now has the fastest-growing economy in the G7, giving the Government the ability to reinvest the benefits of that growth back into the people who contributed most to that success. As Canada’s economy continues to grow, it is important to ensure that the benefits of that growth are shared by the middle class and those working hard to join it. That means continuing to make smart investments in people and communities to ensure continued progress for the middle class, and investing in lifelong learning to give Canadians the tools they need to find good, well-paying jobs in the economy of tomorrow. It also means ensuring that government policy and budget decisions consider impacts on all genders and advance gender equality. Leona Alleslev, Member of Parliament for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill is inviting residents, businesses and non-profit organizations to provide their input for Budget 2018. Let the government know what your family, community, and country need in order to position for the future with confidence. Canadians can submit their ideas and suggestions online through the website launched today, www.budget.gc.ca/pbc18 and to MP Alleslev by email at Leona.Alleslev@parl.gc.ca. Quote “Our Government’s plan to strengthen and grow the middle class is working. It is creating jobs, improving lives, strengthening communities and growing the economy. But we still have work to do. This is why we are continuing with our plan to invest in the middle class and those working hard to join it. Our government needs the ideas and suggestions of all Canadians on how we can strengthen our country together. I look forward to hearing from residents of Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill to ensure we work together on Budget 2018 to build a strong foundation in order to position our nation for the next 150 years. – Leona Alleslev, Member of Parliament for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hilll

 

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Wynne’s hospital privatization scheme diverts millions of dollars from front-line care

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

QUEEN’S PARK — In question period on Thursday, NDP Health critic France Gélinas said the Liberal government must answer for its privatization scheme, which is now forcing hospitals to divert resources away from front-line care in order to cover millions of dollars in maintenance costs that private contractors refuse to provide.

The 2017 Auditor General’s report, released Wednesday, revealed that hospitals are diverting millions from operating budgets to pay for high privatized maintenance costs, which privative contractors now argue are not included in the price of the public-private partnership (P3) contracts Liberal and Conservative governments signed.

Previously, the auditor found that Ontarians were paying $8 billion extra because of those P3 deals.

“Yesterday, the Auditor General revealed that 16 P3 hospitals where ongoing maintenance and repairs have been privatized by this Liberal government and the Conservatives before them are being forced to take money from nursing and front-line care to cover millions of dollars in maintenance costs that the private contractor refuses to cover,” said Gélinas. “Every hospital the Auditor General contacted told her the exact same thing. They are not seeing the benefits that were promised under this privatized model.

“How can this government force our hospitals to take money away from nursing and front-line care just to mask the failure of this health care privatization scheme?” asked Gelinas.

P3s are a form of privatization in which a government pays extra to have a private sector company finance and sometimes also maintain public sector assets, like hospitals.

“Those P3 contracts were supposed to cover all hospital maintenance costs—that was the entire point of signing those contracts,” said Gélinas. “But now, hospitals are being forced to divert their operating funds—funds that this Liberal government froze for four years straight. Money meant to hire nurses, open up new beds, cut wait times, provide quality care—that money is instead being diverted to pay private companies that won’t hold up their end of the deal, that refuse to do the work.

“Why is this government forcing people to wait longer in our hospital system and forcing nurses to work without the proper staffing levels instead of stopping this massive failure of this health care privatization scheme?” asked Gélinas.

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Shah Rukh Khan roped in as the host for Lux Golden Rose Awards 2017

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

 Setting a milestone in its premiere edition, being the first ever awards show to celebrate India’s female cinematic legends, the second edition of Lux Golden Rose Awards 017 is geared up once again to raise the bar further.

Gracing the occasion with his well-known charm and popularity, the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan will reprise his role as the host in the second edition. As a prelude to the awards, SRK hosted a chat show – Lux Golden Divas – Baatein With Baadshah, where he engaged with leading ladies Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Katrina Kaif and had them reveal their unseen sides and beauty through the characters they portray onscreen.

Presented by India’s very first beauty soap, Lux, this year’s ethos is #IAmMoreThanYouCanSee; a tagline which encapsulates the passion, individuality, sensitivity and strength the remarkable leading ladies put into creating timeless iconic characters that stay etched in the hearts of millions. Fans and connoisseurs of the Indian film industry are abuzz with anticipation for the second edition of the show which honors Bollywood actresses for portraying versatility with zest. Lux Golden Rose Awards has an unparalleled and original concept that celebrates the women of Bollywood, recognizing them for the beautiful, glamorous and gutsy characters they have portrayed on the silver screen.

Commenting on the occasion, Sandeep Kohli, Executive Director and Vice President – Personal Care at Hindustan Unilever Limited said, “Our brand- LUX has an iconic status in the beauty market, as a forerunner in associating with the most gorgeous faces of Indian Cinema. Instituting Lux Golden Rose Awards, we aimed at building an extravagant and unified platform to celebrate these women and the powerful roles they have essayed on the silver screen. Taking this basic ethos ahead in our next edition of the awards, we will  be taking the camera lens closer to these beauties and unveil facets and secrets which make them iconic personas they are today. Following last year’s spectacular response, we are looking forward to bringing audiences another year of an exceptional extravaganza.”

Power-packed performances lined up include acts by the vivacious Alia Bhatt, the unassuming Sushant Singh Rajput, and the energy filled Jacqueline Fernandez and Mouni Roy to name a few. The Lux Golden Rose Awards show will be held at Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai on 10th December 2017.

 

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Alia Bhatt to star opposite Ranveer Singh in Simmba?

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Fans of Ranveer Singh were extremely dejected when they found that Padmavati, that promises to show Ranveer at his best, was postponed indefinitely. But a few days ago, what made them happy was the formal announcement of Simmba, the official Hindi remake of the Telugu hit Temper. Directed by Rohit Shetty, the first look of this film was also released that showcased Ranveer Singh as a rowdy, notorious cop. It completely suited the real-life goofy and energetic persona of the actor. With the title and even the release date being announced, fans and even the industry and trade collectively waited to see who’ll be the lucky girl who’ll get to share screen space with Ranveer in this flick.

And looks like the team of the film have already found the girl. As per reports, it’s none other than Alia Bhatt who’ll be cast opposite Ranveer Singh in Simmba. Incidentally, both Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt are already doing a film together – Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy. Simmba will hence be their second film together and it’ll be great to see two powerhouse performers coming together for this film, which promises lot of masala and action. However, the actress is yet to sign on the dotted line. As of now, she has only given her approval.

Alia Bhatt till now has been a part of 13 films, not counting her special appearances, and including her unreleased films. If she signs Simmba, it will be her 14th film and her 10thfilm that she has done with her mentor, producer Karan Johar. She was launched by the filmmaker in Student Of The Year. She then acted in his productions like 2 States, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Shaandaar, Kapoor & Sons, Dear Zindagi and Bardinath Ki Dulhania. Besides, she’ll be seen in Raazi opposite Vicky Kaushal, Abhishek Varman’s next with Varun Dhawan and in Brahmastra, co-starring Ranbir Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan.

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Inside details: All about Virat-Anushka’s mehendi, sangeet, wedding

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Well, it is almost confirmed that two lovebirds dating strongly for a long time is going to be officially one. Yes, we are talking about Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma. Wedding bells is soon going to ring but not in India, Italy is the place where the couple will take wedding vows. On Thursday night, Anushka Sharma with her family including her Guruji headed to Italy for the nuptial.

To avoid media, Virat Kohli took off to Italy from Delhi with his family. The two families flew off to Italy on the same date and time but from different locations.

The much talked about wedding is going to take place on 12th December in Milan.

As per sources, they will first land in Tuscany, and a few pre-wedding functions are also likely to be held in Milan. Tuscany and Milan is 155 miles away and will take is just 38 minutes by air.

It is also strongly buzzed that the after the hush-hush wedding the newly married will host a grand wedding reception at J W Marriott (Juhu) on December 22. While J W Marriott refused to confirm the news, “We do not reveal any information. It’s confidential.”

Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma will register their marriage at the Bandra family court on January 4. Anushka has apparently already picked up the registration forms for that date.

Anushka Sharma’s neighbour also got an invitation from the wedding. Selected residents of Badrinath Tower at Versova, where the actor resides, have received invites for the nuptials. Anushka’s father Ajay Kumar Sharma has personally invited their neighbours.

A source reveals, “The star dad has made calls to some building folks, inviting them to the wedding that is slated for next week. As everyone cannot travel to Italy, he was keen to make them aware of the developments and seek blessings for the couple.” The source adds that the neighbours have been requested to keep things hush-hush considering the media attention surrounding the impending marriage.

It is to be recalled that Rani Mukherjee and Aditya Chopra also got married in Italy.

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Anil Kapoor to play Salman Khan’s father in Race 3

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Anil Kapoor fans were an unhappy lot when the starcast of Race 3 was officially announced. After all, the maverick actor was missing and it was surely sad news for many since he rocked in the first two parts of Race. As Robert D’Costa aka RD, he was funny, suave and got to mouth some great one-liners.

But yesterday, Salman Khan made an announcement on Twitter that Anil Kapoor is now a part of Race 3. As expected, it was a pleasant surprise and immediately, the buzz for the film increased manifold. However, it seems that though Anil is a part of this slick franchise, he might not be playing the lovable and smart RD. Reports state that he will be playing leading actor Salman Khan’s father in the third instalment of the film! He will be playing the head of the family that Salman Khan is a part of. His character is integral to the plot.

Surprisingly, while Salman Khan is 51, Anil Kapoor is 60 and hence just nine years elder to him. It would be hence interesting to see Anil playing father to the superstar. Reportedly, the actor had reservations over the age gap and his character. Salman Khan however persuaded him to take up the role and what’s more, he was also offered a handsome remuneration.

As per the sources, the same role was also offered to Amitabh Bachchan. After mulling over it for a while, the senior actor had turned it down.

Race 3 producer Ramesh Taurani was asked to comment on these reports. He however only said that Anil Kapoor plays the head of the family and his role is not what he played in the earlier parts of Race. There was no comment from him on whether he plays Salman Khan’s father.

Race 3 also stars Jacqueline Fernandez, Daisy Shah, Saqib Saleem, Bobby Deol and Freddy Daruwala. It is directed by Remo D’Souza and it releases on Eid 2018.

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Canadian mayors look to Ottawa for new partnerships

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Mayors of Canadian cities have won partnerships with Ottawa and provinces on housing and transit.

After big wins with Ottawa on transit and social housing funds, the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities want partnerships on mental health supports and fighting the opioid crisis.

Mayors John Tory of Toronto, Valérie Plante of Montreal and Gregor Robertson of Vancouver hopped off a new Toronto streetcar early Thursday to talk with reporters and look at the King St. transit-prioritizing pilot project.

The trio then strolled to the Front St. convention centre for a full day of closed-door meetings with 19 other mayors from across Canada.

Their Federation of Canadian Municipalities caucus has gained clout in recent years, amid international recognition of urbanization and the Trudeau government’s commitment to long-term partnerships with cities rather than the one-off federal pledges of the past.

“We’ve made huge progress in recent years, particularly thanks to the new federal government – the Trudeau government have been stronger partners on transit, on housing specifically,” Robertson said. “We’ve come to the table with resources too.”

But while they work to get money flowing on those two priorities, cities are looking for other challenges they can tackle with Ottawa and their respective provinces.

Tory said he asked that mental health be added to the mayors’ agenda because the issue affects all cities and encompasses homelessness and the need to operate shelters, substance abuse, policing and public health. “We need a partnership” with senior governments, he said.

The federal government also needs to co-ordinate a “pan-Canadian response,” to the overdose crisis, added Robertson, whose city is Ground Zero for Canada’s opioid epidemic.

In an interview after several of meetings, Robertson elaborated on the need.

“Public health questions loom large because vulnerable populations cluster in our cities because that’s where our services are,” he said.

“But without real, functional partnerships with the provinces and the feds, we’re on the receiving ends of those challenges. So we’re talking about ‘How do we position cities as partners for the next round of breakthroughs beyond housing and transit?’”

The mayors also debated how to make cities more financially self-sufficient, and less reliant on property taxes, so they don’t have to lean heavily on other governments, Robertson added.

Options include lobbying for a share of income or sales taxes, which grow with the economy and reward cities for innovation, he said, “but there isn’t a consensus for one tool that would work for all of the 22 mayors around the table.”

The Montreal mayor, elected earlier this month in an upset win over incumbent Denis Coderre, said she was eager to meet her mayoral colleagues and learn from them.

Elected on a pro-transit platform, Plante was enthusiastic about her ride on a Toronto streetcar.

“I’m pleased I was able to get in a streetcar just to see what are some of the solutions we can put together, because mobility is the key to social and economic developments in our city…” Plante said. “It’s fast. It’s comfortable.”

An aide to Plante, however, said her transit priority is a campaign promise to build a 21-kilometre extension of the city’s subway system.

 

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Below freezing temperatures expected to return mid-week

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

After a week of mild temperatures, cold weather will be back later this week with temperatures dipping down below zero.

Get your parkas and scarves back out. Environment Canada is forecasting flurries with the temperatures dipping below the freezing mark starting Wednesday.

The weather agency is calling for above seasonal temperatures to start off the week. Expect a mix of sun and cloud with a high of 10 C and a low of 8 C on Monday.

You’ll need your umbrella on Tuesday with rain and wind in the forecast. A high of 9 C is predicted, falling to 4 C in the afternoon. There’s a 30 percent chance of flurries with a low of -3 Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, the cold returns with the mercury only hitting 0 C. It will be a mix of sun and cloud with a 30 percent chance of flurries. Temperatures will dip down to -6 in the evening.

Thursday and Friday will be a mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries for Thursday and Friday as well. Temperatures will continue to hover around the freezing mark with a high of 1 C on Thursday and -2 C on Friday.

For TFC fans planning to attend the MLS Cup Final on Saturday, you better bundle up as the forecast suggests the high will only be -1 C, dipping down to -5 in the evening. It will be mainly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of flurries.

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This holiday season give your child the gift of literacy

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Literacy has a profound impact on our lives. Children and teenagers who love to read and take good reading skills with them to school each day have an invaluable head start on career success and personal happiness. Those burdened by poor literacy are significantly more likely to struggle.

Canadians understand the power of strong reading skills to transform lives. A recent Environics survey exploring attitudes about literacy found nine-in-ten believe improving literacy skills will improve everyone’s quality of life, and 87 per cent think more needs to be done to improve literacy rates.

When asked about the negative outcomes of struggling with literacy:

•          86 per cent believe poor literacy hinders employment opportunities

•          76 per cent think it increases the likelihood of poverty,

•          40 per cent believe poor literacy rates are detrimental to physical health

Other studies clearly show the love of reading, not just the ability to read, is a huge predictor of school success. Conversely, children who struggle with literacy are up to four times more likely to drop out of high school.

The holiday season is a wonderful time for parents to encourage children and teenagers to read. By creating opportunities for reading, parents can spark excitement about reading and begin laying the all-important foundation for strong literacy skills.

“Learning to read fuels a child’s imagination,” says Stephen Faul, president of Frontier College, a national charitable literacy organization. “There is no more powerful way to expand horizons, improve self-confidence and spur creativity. Simple activities to get your kids reading can have a profound impact on their future success. One of the key lessons we’ve learned from providing literacy programs to thousands of people in need each year is the crucial importance of reading from a young age.”

Frontier College offers these tips get your kids reading this holiday season:

•       Establish a tradition by reading the same book each year around the holidays.

•       Think about what interests your children (start with their hobbies) and find materials to read aloud (i.e. magazines, flyers, and newspaper articles).

•       Encourage older children to read to younger children. Both develop their reading skills through this experience.

•       Visit your local library and let your child choose books and materials to bring home to read.

•       If you are on the road visiting family and friends, encourage children to read street signs.

•       If your family receives greeting cards, have your children read them aloud, or help them create their own personal greeting cards and write messages to family and friends.

•       Ask your children to help make a grocery list or read labels in stores.

•       Encourage your children to read recipes and help with the measuring and baking.

 For parents, the true magic of the holidays is creating family traditions and memories that last a life time and even impact future generations. Reading and storytelling traditions offer an easy and powerful way to strengthen the fabric that binds families together and increase the chances of future happiness and success.

This holiday season give the gift of literacy. Read to your child, give them a book and plant a seed.

To learn more visit frontiercollege.ca

 

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