School dress codes apply to teachers too, Peel director says

August 27 2014 02:51PM

School dress codes can put a “double standard” on students, and teachers need to make sure they practise what they preach.

That’s according to Tony Pontes, director of education for Peel Region, who reminded members of the country’s second-largest school board that books are often judged by their covers.

“Quite simply, we need to strengthen our expectation and enforcement of appropriate dress in schools,” Pontes told school trustees and administrators at a conference on Wednesday. “And, if we have expectations for students about dress code, staff should adhere to the same rules.”

The address was inspired by the mother of a Peel student who last year was disciplined for wearing his pants too low on his hips and exposing his underwear, Pontes said.

“When she went to the school, one of the first things she saw was a female teacher wearing a blouse that was overly revealing,” he said. “To the parent, there was a double standard.”

The director singled out exposed underwear among staff as having “a direct impact on a school’s reputation, and how the Peel board is perceived.”

While the board formally bans messages depicting violence, profanity, discrimination, hate and sex from all schools, it relies on individual school administrators to set the tone for what’s appropriate at each school.

For staff and students, covering up midriffs and underwear should be a minimal standard, according to Pontes.

“I have seen female teachers who, in my opinion, might have been wearing something that’s too revealing,” Pontes said.

“If you see a teacher who’s inappropriately dressed, you have a perception, and all of that ties into whether or not this is a disciplined place of learning,” he added.

One recent York Region grad, Arezoo Najibzadeh, said she felt that dress standards unfairly targeted her female teachers while their male colleagues got away with much more.

“We were taught how we shouldn’t bully each other and how body shaming is wrong,” Najibzadeh, 18, said. “But we see how our own teacher — because she was a bigger lady and her cleavage may be more visible at times — she is told by the school admin that maybe she should cover up.”

Trevor Sookraj, one of two student trustees on the Peel board, said he is unaware of any teachers dressing inappropriately at his school.

“Teachers are role models for students,” the 17-year-old student at Glenforest Secondary School said. “If teachers all obeyed the dress code, then students are likely to do it as well because they look up to those teachers.”

His fellow student trustee, Paul Okundaye, from Chinguacousy Secondary School, said he has never seen a teacher dress inappropriately either, but that he still thought it was “a good idea” for the board to “raise awareness about professionalism” at Peel public schools.

“We’re simply saying that schools are a place of learning and of business and there’s an appropriate dress for staff and students,” Pontes said

Santos DFA'd by Blue Jays, again

August 27 2014 12:51PM

The Toronto Blue Jays have designated pitcher Sergio Santos for assignment.

NHL shoots down expansion rumors (The SportsXchange)

August 27 2014 12:26PM

The NHL denied reports on Wednesday that the league is planning to expand to Las Vegas, Quebec City, Seattle and Toronto. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Canada's TVA Sports that expansion is "not in our plans. Daly said the four cities have been named "every time there's talk of expansion in the NHL but it would be surprising that all four would get a team at once." The NHL hasn't expanded since the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild joined for the 2000-01 season.

Girl, 9, kills shooting range instructor with Uzi during lesson

August 27 2014 08:35AM

PHOENIX—The death of a firing-range instructor at the hands of a 9-year-old girl bracing an Uzi submachine gun has set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns, with many people wondering what sort of parents would let a child handle an Uzi.

As the girl opened fire at a black-silhouette target, the recoil wrenched the fully automatic weapon upward, and the instructor was shot in the head and killed.

Instructor Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl Monday at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range in Arizona, south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger.

The instructor's death generated angry social-media comments about why a child was allowed to use an automatic weapon. Many readers expressed sympathy for the girl while questioning whether the adults at the gun range were to blame.

Sam Scarmardo, a former Lake Havasu City Council member who operates the shooting range, said Wednesday that the girl's parents had signed waivers saying they understood the rules of the range and were standing nearby, video-recording their daughter, when the accident happened.

“I have regret we let this child shoot, and I have regret that Charlie was killed in the incident,” Scarmardo said.

This isn't the first accidental shooting by a child using an Uzi. An 8-year-old boy died after shooting himself in the head at a gun expo near Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2008. Christopher Bizilj was firing at pumpkins when the Uzi kicked back.

Ronald Scott, a Phoenix-based firearms safety expert, said most shooting ranges have an age limit and strict safety rules when teaching children to shoot. He said instructors usually have their hands on guns when children are firing high-powered weapons.

“You can't give a 9-year-old an Uzi and expect her to control it,” Scott said.

Scarmardo said his policy of allowing children 8 and older to fire guns under adult supervision and the watchful eye of an instructor is standard practice in the industry. The range's policies are under review, he said.

A video released by investigators shows the 9-year-old, whose identity hasn't been released, holding the stubby weapon in both hands. Vacca, standing to her left, tells her to turn her left leg forward.

“All right, go ahead and give me one shot,” he tells the girl, whose back is to the camera during the entire 27-second video. He then cheers when she fires one round at the target.

“All right, full auto,” Vacca says. The video, which does not show the actual incident, ends with a series of shots being heard.

Arizona has long had a strong pro-gun culture, including weapon ranges that promote events for children and families. Some of these ranges offer people the thrill of firing weapons such as the Uzi that are generally illegal for members of the public to own.

The Scottsdale Gun Club in recent years has allowed children and families to pose with Santa Claus while holding machine-guns and other weapons from the club. Children as young as 10 are allowed to hunt big game such as elk and deer in Arizona, provided they have completed a hunter safety course.

The gun range operator said he doesn't know what went wrong to cause the shooting, pointing out that Vacca was an Army veteran who had experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On mobile? Click here to see reactions to the shooting.

Scarmardo, who has been operating the gun range for more than a year and has run another for 14 years, said he hasn't had a safety problem before at his ranges.

Boston Red Sox (58-74) at Toronto Blue Jays (66-66), 7:07 p.m. (ET)

August 27 2014 08:31AM

The Toronto Blue Jays came into their series with Boston hoping to get their playoff push back on track. Instead, the Jays will be trying to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox in Wednesday night's finale.

Things you need to know in Toronto for Wednesday: News, weather and events

August 27 2014 05:12AM

Weather and traffic:

It’s shaping up to be a beautiful summer day in Toronto. Expect sunny skies with a few clouds throughout the day.

The high is predicted to hit 24C and the low will drop to 13C.

This pleasant weather should extend to Thursday.

Due to a minor CN derailment south of York University, Barrie GO Transit trains will detour on the Richmond Hill line. GO Transit is predicting delays of up to 20 minutes. There is no service to the York University Station.

TTC is not reporting any major issues and flights are departing from Pearson and Billy Bishop airports on time.


TIFF in the Park is screening its final free movie of the summer at David Pecaut Square. Catch Pitch Perfect at 8:30 p.m.

Stop by Bathurst and Bloor Streets to see what Canada’s first verified local farmers’ market has to offer. MyMarket, which features farmers who only sell what they grow, runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. today.

The Canadian National Exhibition is still running. Experience all of the thrilling rides and daring food at the Exhibition Place from 10 a.m. until midnight.

Click here for a full list of events across the city.

Top headlines:

A lawyer has been arrested and charged with fraud on allegations that he swindled about 150 North York condo buyers out of $14.9 million in deposits for a building that was never constructed. 63-year-old Meerai Cho is facing 75 charges for fraud, possession of property obtained by crime and breach of trust.

About 6,000 people living in the east-end of Toronto were without power on the hottest day of the year. Toronto Hydro restored the power at around 6:15 a.m.

Mayor Rob Ford has falsely denied hiking recreation user fees which have increased steadily since he was elected. Toronto’s recreation fees are lower than those of many other municipalities, but they have been raised by at least the rate of inflation in all four budgets of Ford’s mayoralty.

Olympic gold medalist Donovan Bailey pled guilty to driving while intoxicated. Bailey was caught with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit in 2012 while he was driving home from a wine tasting. He was fined $1,500 and given a mandatory one-year driving ban.

Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard defeated Olga Govortsova of Belarus at the U.S. Open on Tuesday. It took Bouchard just under an hour to reach the second round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Govortsov.

Did you know:

Approximately 200,000 customers pass through the GO Station concourse every day.

A look back:

A baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers was delayed for 35 minutes due to a plague of gnats that infested the stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27, 1990.

Slower speeds a quick fix for Toronto streets: Hume

August 27 2014 04:30AM

Death is a way of life on the streets of Toronto, and that’s just how we like it. We wouldn’t change that if we could.

Oh sure, all hell breaks loose when a pedestrian is hit by a car and killed — especially if the victim is a child — but our refusal to take steps that would minimize if not eliminate the carnage is clear evidence that Torontonians accept these deaths as the price that must be paid for driver convenience.

The car lobby tells us that lowering speed limits and adding traffic lights, stop signs and speed bumps will exacerbate congestion, costing us time and money.

The assumption behind the argument — that as traffic goes, the city goes — is at best misleading; at worst, pernicious nonsense.

Yet when we hear proposals to reduce speed limits on neighbourhood streets to 30 km/h, the outcry is as noisy as it is predictable. When Toronto’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David McKeown, suggested that in 2012, our loutish mayor, Rob Ford, pilloried him publicly, suggesting noisily that McKeown wasn’t worth his salary.

More recently, in the aftermath of the killing of 7-year-old Georgia Walsh by a driver in a hurry, Ford called for speed bumps to be removed and speed limits to be increased.

“I believe our streets are safe,” Ford said when asked if he would support cutting speed limits on neighbourhood streets to 30 km/h. “I do not support reducing the speed limit.”

Yet the numbers argue persuasively for speed reductions; get hit by a car going 30 km/h, your chances of getting killed are roughly 5 percent. Get hit by a car travelling 50 km/h, and the chance soars to 85 percent.

How does endangering pedestrians, cyclists and, for that matter, drivers make Toronto a better place to live? How are the deaths of dozens of pedestrians every year good for the city, let alone drivers?

In 2013, 38 pedestrians were killed on Toronto streets, 22 of them seniors. The majority were in the right when struck.

The usual response from Toronto police is an embarrassingly fatuous call for pedestrians to wear brighter coloured clothing or a crackdown on jay-walking.

The tone, of course, is that, yes, it’s unfortunate when another little old lady is run over at some hideous six-lane intersection, but, ultimately, what can you do? It’s just the price of life in the big city.

Except, of course, that it need not be.

The solution to this crisis — and it is a crisis — could be implemented tomorrow morning if the will to do so existed. The techniques are known and their effects understood. Indeed, other cities — Paris, New York, Winnipeg — have successfully lowered speed limits and deaths and not destroyed themselves in the process.

In the aftermath of the Walsh killing, Councillor John Parker wants limits reduced to 30 km/h. It’s doubtful anyone in the Leaside area where she was run over would disagree with such a measure. Yet ask Torontonians in general if they agree with slower traffic across the rest of the city and they’d say no.

The street where they live should be safe, but the rest of Toronto … . My backyard — and my street — is one thing, yours is something else.

Several decades ago, this city and others faced a similar choice about public smoking. Despite all the to-ing and fro-ing, we made the right decision in the end. Today, no one would disagree. The same thing will happen with attitudes to driving. The only question is how quickly we get there.

Christopher Hume can be reached at

Toronto’s real power job is up for grabs — but not your vote: Keenan

August 27 2014 04:00AM

The race is on to replace the most powerful man in the city’s government. But you won’t get a vote in the decision. In fact, you probably won’t hear much about the competition for the job at all. You may not even know who the current guy is.

On Tuesday, city council officially got notice that city manager Joe Pennachetti will be retiring this fall. Speaking briefly with reporters (his formal farewell to councillors, full of candid advice, is promised for today) he said that in a new term, “a new mayor and council should look for a change.”

Like most of what he’s said in public in the past six years that he’s been running the municipal civil service, his remarks were understated, spoken quietly so the handful of gathered press had to lean in to hear him. Acknowledging that the four years under Rob Ford have “not been normal” and presented “additional challenges,” Pennachetti said he was proud that “with the political turmoil, we’ve marched ahead in our role.”


Joe Pennachetti speaks truth to politicians: James

Toronto needs new taxes, city manager says

That role involved a “balancing act”: demands for budget cuts on one side of the teeter-totter, and a responsibility to preserve services for residents on the other. 

“I don’t have any regrets,” said the man who was hired under Mel Lastman, promoted to the top job under David Miller, and served as point man for Rob Ford during the tense hearings into proposed budget cuts in 2011.

And make no mistake; soft-spoken as he has been, the role he’s played is the biggest stick in the city. Who has more power than the city manager? Not the mayor, as Rob Ford’s losing vote after vote in recent years has shown. Not any city councillor, who makes do with a single vote among 44. The police chief? Maybe, though he influences only his own department, as large and important as it is.

“Without a doubt, he’s the lynchpin of the city’s government,” says Jaye Robinson, who worked with Pennachetti as a department manager before working with him in her current role as a city councillor. “The importance of the role can’t be overstated. More than the mayor or council, the city manager is responsible for keeping the city moving forward.”

Our politicians lead the city, but it’s the city manager who runs the place.

All of the city’s 35,000-plus employees report up to the city manager, and the city manager reports to city council. Though the politicians make the decisions, they generally do so relying on advice and information provided to them by the city manager and his staff. And even then, it is the city manager who has latitude to figure out how to implement their decisions — or sometimes avoid implementing them, as we saw in recent years when positions remained vacant in some departments even though budgets had been approved to fill them, or when work on a study to tear down the Gardiner Expressway and work to repair that same road were both quietly halted for a time, the money budgeted for them spent on other things.

You could argue — and I would — that in many ways, who replaces Joe Pennachetti will be more important for the lives of Torontonians than who wins the mayoral election.

Pennachetti has recommended that deputy city manager John Livey serve as interim replacement, and Livey is considered a leading candidate for the permanent job. He’s been a deputy to Pennachetti for three years, handling important files such as the waterfront, transportation and garbage collection, and served as Markham’s city manager for more than a decade before that.

But he won’t be the only candidate considered. While offering very high praise for Livey, Robinson says it will be important to stage an international search, for someone who can “make a clean break from the circus of the past four years as we start really focusing on city building and restoring the reputation of the city.” We may, she says, wind up finding Livey or another internal candidate is best for the job after such a search, but given the critical role of the job in Toronto, we need to “do our due diligence.”

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, a longtime member of the Toronto public service who was appointed to fill a vacancy on city council this summer, says the new city manager will need “walk-on-water skills,” because the job is so big and complex and important.

The next mayor and council will appoint the new manager after a selection process that will start now with compiling a list of candidates.

Who will oversee that first stage of the candidate search? City staff, under the direction of Joe Pennachetti. The most powerful man in city government, still.

Math: Number one problem for Ontario school boards

August 27 2014 04:00AM

This year in Peel Region’s public schools, it’s the math that counts.

The country’s second largest school board is going all-out in its bid to improve student achievement — making numeracy the main focus in every school, providing more training for teachers, improving everyone’s attitude toward the subject and even getting parents in on the solution.

“The harsh reality is that our Grade 3 and 6 (provincial test) scores in mathematics have fallen steadily over the last five years,” Tony Pontes, the Peel Region District School Board’s director of education, will tell staff and teachers at a conference on Wednesday before unveiling the aggressive new plan.

“And while our Grade 9 math scores have improved, there are still too many students performing below provincial expectations, particularly in the applied level. That is not inspiring. That is not a definition of greatness. And not what our students deserve.”

Across the province, schools have seen declines in math achievement, with a little over half — 56 per cent — of Grade 6 students achieving an A or B on standardized math tests last year, down from 62 per cent in 2009. Provincial results from the 2013-14 school year are to be released Wednesday.

Over the past decade, Ontario has slipped in comparison to other provinces and countries on international tests. Some have blamed a move away from math basics toward a problem-solving or discovery method; others have said teacher training is key, given that most educators have a liberal arts background.

The Ministry of Education recently provided $2 million to help teachers pay for specialty math courses — taken on their own time — and so far almost 2,000 teachers have applied for the subsidy.

The province also provided $1.5 million for summer learning for 800 teachers, and $500,000 for 100 principals and vice-principals.

In Peel, the math action plan — called EngageMath — includes a board-wide numeracy conference for parents next April.

Pontes is also asking principals to focus all teacher professional development on numeracy. The Peel board ran a math camp for 150 teachers this week to learn effective teaching strategies and how students best learn math.

“It’s teaching and learning for the now,” said organizer Mary Fiore, the board’s math co-ordinator. “It’s not the mathematics that’s changed, but what we know about how students learn math that’s changed.”

Tara Beattie, who attended the camp, wanted some help as she moves from teaching kindergarten to a Grade 7 class.

“I feel so much more confident going into the intermediate grade now; I see those ideas that I have are on the right track — it’s not that learning where the teacher is at the front and talks and you copy it down,” but getting students to learn the basic facts and then giving them hands-on practice, she said.

Lynda Colgan, a professor in the faculty of education at Queen’s University, has created math tip sheets for parents for the education ministry and the provincial literacy and numeracy secretariat. They will be available online and also distributed to schools this fall.

“Parents are very confused about the math curriculum — it looks so different from the math they did in school,” she said. While the terminology and procedures are different, “in the end, kids are getting to the same point.”

The math debate has become very polarized, she said, adding the Ontario math curriculum is a blend of the basics and the discovery approach.

“There has to be a balance — the curriculum has always said that. Anyone who says the curriculum is discovery-based has not read the document thoroughly.”

Boards always face an onslaught of new initiatives and, in recent years, literacy and bullying have taken centre stage; Colgan now expects math to be the focus.

The Toronto public board, which has pledged a 10 percentage point increase in math scores by next June, has hired 10 coaches focusing on math and another 10 focusing on science, engineering and technology, to work with groups of schools to identify where kids struggle, said Christopher Usih, executive superintendent of student success.

Education Minister Liz Sandals said in a statement to the Star that despite gains in graduation rates and some test scores, “we know there is more to do to ensure our students succeed, particularly when it comes to math. Improving student achievement in math is one of our top priorities.”

Mississauga couple has won two lottery houses in five years

August 27 2014 04:00AM

Dawn Krolikowski really doesn’t want you to hate her.

Why would you hate Dawn Krolikowski? She is in many ways quite a normal person: Mother of two. Mississauga resident. Commuter. City of Toronto employee. Really very nice once you get to know her.

But she is also unbelievably, annoyingly lucky. In the past five years, Dawn and her husband Jerzy (he goes by Jerry) have won the Princess Margaret Lottery not once, but twice, earning them — if earning is the word — not one, but two large houses, which they have sold for a combined $2.6 million.

It’s the first time anyone has won two houses in the hospital’s lotteries, they say. “That hasn’t happened in our history,” said Christine Lasky, vice-president of strategic initiatives at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Dawn’s plan for dealing with the stigma of her unprecedented luck? “You just have to be very humble and hope people don’t hate your guts.”

It’s worth noting that neither of the Krolikowskis are bankers or shipping heirs or oil magnates. They are, in fact, deeply normal. Dawn is 36 and does administrative support for the city’s Transportation Services division; Jerry is 38 and owns a business retrofitting buildings for fire resistance. They live in Mississauga with their two kids, ages 9 and 12, and a large dog, Boomer, a mix of Rhodesian ridgeback, beagle and Lab.

Nor, until recently, were the Krolikowskis particularly lucky. Dawn had been to Vegas three times and always came away empty-handed. “I never win — ever,” she said. “Nothing. I’m not necessarily very lucky in anything else but this one thing.”

The first Krolikowski windfall came in 2009, during the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Welcome Home Sweepstakes. Dawn bought three out of 267,000 tickets, but won the grand prize: a mansion in Oakville listed at $3,560,000.

Her reaction at the time: “Holy moly.” Well, or something like that.

“The call was on the air — I think they had to bleep it out,” she said.

She and Jerry sold the house the following year for about $2 million (about $1.2 million in cash, plus a parcel of land and a bungalow in Oakville worth around $800,000).

For a while, they lived large.

“We tipped really well at all the restaurants we went to,” Dawn remembers. They also bought a cottage in Muskoka, went on a Caribbean cruise with friends, sprinkled around a few cash gifts, and did some backyard landscaping.

As penance for their sinfully good luck, they even sold off some of the show home furniture and donated the proceeds — about $2,000 — to Princess Margaret. (Still freighted down with knickknacks, Dawn is desperate to offload some. “Need a vase?” she said. “I got a vase.”)

Before long, they settled down and invested the rest. “I wanted to have some fun with it, but the hubby’s a numbers man,” Dawn said. “I didn’t buy an Escalade or anything like that. We’re not even 40 yet, so we gotta make it last.” (Jerry declined to comment.)

More importantly, she noted, “You don’t want to piss off the karma gods.”

In that, they succeeded.

Cut to May 2014. Dawn is sitting at her desk in an office building near Finch Ave. W. and Weston Rd. The phone rings. Guess who?

This time the prize was a house in Mississauga worth $668,000 and an Audi Q5. (The contest was the Home Lottery.)

Her first thought: “You’re joking, right?”

For the second time in five years, Dawn left work early to begin shouldering an enviable burden. This time, she and Jerry are selling the house for $625,000 (it’s closing this week) and taking the cash equivalent for the car (listed at $38,037).

Conspiracy theorists may note with interest that the second time she entered the lottery, she went by “Dawne” — with an “e.” But Dawne is her legal name. She was getting Dwayne a lot, so she started going by the shorter version in her everyday life. That created some technical issues when claiming her first prize, so she reverted to her birth name this time around.

That will be cold comfort to the thousands of hard-luck gamblers who haven’t won the lottery once, let alone twice. They just might find themselves begrudging her success ever so slightly.

Dawn knows this, and is paying the habitual price of good fortune: seeing envy in every smile. Even those of her colleagues.

“They all seem happy for me,” she said. “But you never know.”

Toronto child poverty rate at ‘epidemic’ levels

August 27 2014 04:00AM

Child poverty in Toronto has reached “epidemic” levels with 29 per cent of children — almost 149,000 — living in low-income families, according to new data being released Wednesday by a coalition of community activists and social agencies.

Among Canada’s 13 major cities, Toronto is tied with Saint John, N.B., as having the highest child poverty rate, the coalition says.

Across Toronto, almost 40 per cent of the city’s 140 neighbourhoods have child poverty rates of 30 per cent or more, according to the coalition’s analysis of Statistics Canada’s recently released 2012 tax filer data.

But neighourhood disparity varies dramatically — from 5 per cent in Leaside, Lawrence Park and the Kingsway to 50 per cent or more in Regent Park, Moss Park and Thorncliffe Park, the data show. And residents of African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and Latin American background are more likely to be living in poverty.

Most troubling, however, is that after gradually decreasing to 27 per cent in 2010 from a high of 32 per cent in 2004, child poverty in the city is on the rise, the coalition says.

The alarming statistics cry out for strong municipal leadership, starting in the mayor’s office, says the coalition, which includes the Alliance for a Poverty-Free Toronto, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Family Service Toronto, Social Planning Toronto and others.

The groups have invited leading mayoral candidates to address the issue at a community event in downtown Toronto on Thursday morning and to sign a pledge in support of city council’s unanimous April 2014 motion to develop a poverty reduction strategy for the city by early 2015.

“We want to make sure that mayoral candidates and city council candidates recognize the severity and the importance of the issue,” said Laurel Rothman, of Family Service Toronto.

“Now is the time for the next mayor of Toronto to take political leadership of this important work and deliver results,” she added.

The coalition’s analysis is part of a larger report on child poverty it is planning to release this fall as the city develops its larger strategy.

“The fact that in 2011 and now again in 2012 we see no reduction but an increase in the number of children living in low-income families is quite disturbing,” said Michael Polanyi of the Toronto CAS.

“The hope was we were coming out of the economic downturn,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem to be translating to improvements in the lives of children.”

Toronto single mother Veronica Snooks, 51, struggled to raise five children in poverty.

Although her children are now adults and only her youngest, a 20-year-old son, still lives with her, Snooks worries about other families following in her footsteps.

The city’s lack of affordable housing meant she stayed in abusive relationships longer than she should have, causing her to lose her children to child welfare and spiral into addiction and depression.

“You stay longer because of poverty. It just seems easier to take the abuse,” she said. “We suffer for our children.”

Snooks, who moved into a Toronto Community Housing townhouse in Flemingdon Park eight years ago, credits the affordable rent and social programs aimed at assisting single moms for helping her beat her addictions and turn her life around.

However, her low-income neighbourhood, where 46 per cent of families live in poverty, is often “like living in the midst of a fire with all the police and drug busts,” she said.

“I love the community, but not the way we are treated by police and housing management,” she said.

The coalition’s analysis is the first detailed look at child poverty in the city since a 2008 report by the Toronto CAS.

But unlike that earlier report, which compared Toronto to other GTA cities, the current analysis looks at how the city stacks up nationally.

“We’re the highest in terms of poverty, but we’re also the highest in terms of wealth and opportunity,” Rothman noted. “We need to make sure that the wealth and opportunity is also spread widely and deeply.”

The analysis is based on Statistics Canada’s After-Tax Low-Income Measure, (LIM-AT) which represents households living on less than half of the median household income after taxes in the city. In 2010, the LIM-AT for a single person in Toronto was $19,460 and $27,521 for a single parent with one child. It was $38,920 for a family of four.

The coalition’s Toronto child poverty rates are not comparable to provincial and federal child poverty data because groups tracking those rates use census and StatsCan’s Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics data.

Huge 11th inning sends Red Sox over Blue Jays

August 26 2014 09:56PM

Mike Napoli and Allen Craig both homered in a seven-run 11th inning, Dustin Pedroia homered and had four RBIs and the Red Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-7 Tuesday night.

Conservatives ready with big hugs for Tim Hortons: Tim Harper

August 26 2014 08:42PM

Five years ago, Stephen Harper delivered a speech at a Tim Hortons instead of the United Nations General Assembly, which pretty well sums up the ranking of both institutions in the prime minister’s hierarchy.

He’s rolled up the rim at a hockey game in Saskatoon and hoisted a Timmy’s at a British Columbia rink.

His former finance minister, the late Jim Flaherty, once hopped a Challenger to deliver a financial update at a Timmy’s in London, Ont.

When she launched her bid for the Liberal leadership, Sheila Copps went to the original Tim Hortons in Hamilton, a place I remember as a kid as a doughnut destination after dusty evenings on the baseball diamond.

There is likely no politician in this country whose road to electoral victory did not go through a Saturday morning of glad-handing at the local Tim Hortons and Canadian politicians — particularly Conservatives, who proudly placed an outlet in Kandahar, Afghanistan — have been a key part of the patriotic marketing buzz which has grown the ubiquitous chain in this country.

Now the Conservatives have another reason to give Tim a hug.

It may not be as warm and fuzzy as a frigid ice rink on a winter’s dawn, but the $12.5-billion takeover of Tim Hortons by Brazilian-owned Burger King is now a powerful symbol of Harper’s cuts to corporate taxes and his move to make Canada more business-friendly.

“Canada is open for business.’’ Finance Minister Joe Oliver crowed Tuesday.

Industry Minister James Moore’s office said the “extremely positive’’ deal will bring jobs and investment north of the border.

It touted a KPMG study from June showing Canada to be the most competitive business tax environment in the world, far outscoring the United States on tax considerations.

Expect the Burger King deal to be part of Harper’s key economic message going forward, even if the tax savings for the burger chain may not be all they seemed at first glance.

Canada’s basic corporate tax rate is about 26 per cent, while it is about 35 per cent in the U.S., but both companies paid a rate in the range of 27 per cent at the time of the deal.

Burger King, facing a consumer backlash south of the border where “tax inversion” has become an issue, said the deal was all about growth and the Canadian market and that was why the newly merged company would be headquartered in Oakville.

The main message here is that Timmy’s will remain Timmy’s and our politicians will continue to pander to its patrons.

The symbiotic nature of the relationship between Tim Hortons and Canadian politicians was neatly captured by my Star colleague Susan Delacourt in her 2013 book, Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them.

“Tim Hortons voters don’t like fancy, foreign synonyms for their morning coffee and they like their politics to be predictable, beige — just like the doughnuts and decor at their national treasure of a food retailer,’’ she wrote.

On that day in 2009, Harper was celebrating Tim’s “return home” after it had been bought by U.S.-based Wendy’s in 1995.

Its iconic status did not suffer during that period. It won’t now.

“The United States is a great place to visit, but let’s face it, there is no place like our home and native land,’’ said Harper, joined by Flaherty and six Conservative MPs.

Harper managed to evoke the former Leafs defenceman Horton, the great Toronto teams of the 1960s and the original six. He even quoted Pierre Berton and spoke as a hockey parent who knows “that when it is -20 C and everyone is up for a 6 a.m. practice, nothing motivates the team more than a box of Timbits, and nothing warms the parents in the stands better than a hot double-double.’’

It was, as Delacourt wrote, “an unsubtle way to persuade Canadians of Harper’s true patriot love and homespun authenticity.’’

But the real point of the speech was to tout his carving of corporate tax rates, a move that he said brought Tim Hortons back home.

It is again controlled by a foreign conglomerate, but this time the story is much cuddlier for the government because the Canadian company is staying home and Burger King is coming north.

Expect the Conservatives to double down on their favourite double-double.

Tim Harper is a national affairs writer. His column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Twitter:@nutgraf1

NHL to add Toronto, Quebec City expansion teams: Report

August 26 2014 08:01PM

NHL to add Toronto, Quebec City expansion teams: Report

Neil Young to divorce wife of 36 years

August 26 2014 07:20PM

Canadian music legend Neil Young has filed for divorce from wife of 36 years, Pegi Young.

Rolling Stone first reported the news Tuesday night that the 68-year-old rock ‘n’ roll institution filed for divorce on July 29 in San Mateo, California, where the couple lived.

The singer-songwriter was born in Toronto and has two children with his American wife.

It is said that Pegi was the muse for many of Neil’s most moving love songs, from “Once an Angel” to “Unknown Legend” to “Such a Woman.”

Young’s career spans more than 45 years, including the production of over 30 albums; he has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame and has won multiple Juno Awards, including Artist of the Year at the 2011 ceremony. In recent years Pegi Young has embarked on a musical career of her own, releasing three solo albums since 2007.

The pair have two children — daughter Amber and son, Ben, who has cerebral palsy. Their son’s ailment inspired Pegi to found the Bridge School in Hillsborough, California, a non-profit organization for children with severe speech and physical impairments.

Young has one child from a previous relationship with late actress Carrie Snodgress.

A divorce hearing is scheduled for December.

Neil Young’s most recent album A Letter Home was released this April.