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Almost a year after Sammy Yatim, Toronto Police get a report on how to deal with people in crisis

(Image: William Mewes)

(Image: William Mewes)

Almost a year to the day after the shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, a long-awaited report on police encounters with mentally disturbed people is finally available for public consumption. The 400-page document was prepared at the request of police chief Bill Blair by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci in the aftermath of the tragedy. While it doesn’t deal specifically with Yatim, it does contain 84 recommendations intended to make the Toronto Police Service better at dealing with people like him, who seem to be suffering from some kind of extreme mental or emotional distress when they come into contact with cops. (Yatim, remember, is believed to have been intimidating fellow streetcar passengers with a knife before police got involved.)

There are a number of seemingly useful ideas among the recommendations, including a proposal to arm some front-line police officers with tasers on a trial basis, to give them a new alternative to lethal force. (It’s an idea that has been floated several times already.) The report also calls for the creation of a mental-health oversight committee that would consist of police officials and representatives from healthcare organizations and psychiatric facilities. Ultimately, though, the greatest idea to come out of the whole exercise is probably best summed up by Iacobucci’s statement at today’s press conference, quoted in the Star: “The premise of the report is the target should be zero deaths when police interact with a member of the public,” he said. “No fatalities” would be a fairly low bar to success for most organizations, but in the case of TPS, we’ll take it.

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Murder in Muskoka

For three years, Ian Borbely told everyone that his girlfriend, Samantha Collins, had abandoned him and their young son. Then a cottager found a mysterious crate hidden beneath his floorboards

Murder in Muskoka

Murder in MuskokaSamantha Collins met Ian Borbely at a mutual friend’s party in 2003. They came from different worlds. She was 25 and striking, with long black hair and fair skin. She’d been raised by a single mom in Mississauga and never knew her father. She got pregnant in high school, dropped out and gave up custody of her baby. After that, she started selling drugs and working as a stripper at a club near Pearson to earn a living. ­Borbely was three years ­older, a body­builder from Bracebridge, the son of ­doting ­middle-class parents. His friends describe him as a gentle ­teddy bear—the nicest guy in the room. He’d moved to ­Toronto to work as a personal trainer, taking a fence-building gig on the side. He was attracted to Collins, and after that first hookup he invited her to move into his place.

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Politics

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Rob Ford’s sister Kathy talked to the police

tl_ford_now-whatAs far as we know, Rob Ford has never cooperated with Project Brazen 2, the Toronto Police–led criminal probe into his activities, but it seems as though his sister Kathy doesn’t feel the same reticence. The Sun reports that she spoke to police investigators following the Globe and Gawker stories about the second crack video, which is believed to have been filmed in her basement. The Sun’s sources say Kathy didn’t incriminate her brother, and it’s unknown what significance her involvement will ultimately have for the case.

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Behold: the Toronto Police Service press release of the decade

toronto-police-press-release

Let this be a lesson to all library-goers: keep your phallic vegetables to yourself. Here’s a mugshot of the alleged perp, from the Toronto Police Service website:

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Survey says: most Canadians think selling sex should be legal

66%

—Percentage of respondents to a Department of Justice online survey who answered “no” when asked whether selling sexual services should be a criminal offense in Canada, according to CTV News. Oddly, 56 per cent of respondents thought buying sex should be illegal.

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A judge settled a dog-poop dispute between two Forest Hill couples in the most sarcastic way possible

(Image: Skirt PR)

(Image: Skirt PR)

Only in Forest Hill could a dispute over dog poop escalate into a lawsuit. Fortunately for all of us, Justice E.M. Morgan, who was recently forced to spend precious time adjudicating just such a case, turns out to have been the perfect person for the job. His written judgment, released online yesterday, takes what may be the pettiest local legal dispute of the year and smacks down everyone involved in a way that is both devastatingly sarcastic and completely dignified. Wealthy people of Toronto, take note: this is what happens when you actually make good on a threat to sic your lawyer on a neighbour who annoys you.

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Global News figured out where all of Toronto’s sex offenders live

A closeup of Global's sex-offender map. (Image: Global/Screenshot)

A closeup of Global’s sex-offender map. (Image: Global/Screenshot)

Don’t panic, Liberty Villagers, Parkdalians and Corktownspeople, but listen carefully: your parts of the city are home to above-average concentrations of sex offenders.

For that delightful piece of information, thank Global News, which spent six years battling the provincial government in court in order to get this information released. A map prepared by the news outlet and released on its website earlier today helpfully colour-codes all of Ontario’s postal codes according to the number of registered sex offenders living in each of them, per 100,000 residents.

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Features

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The Captive: John Greyson’s time in Egyptian prison

John Greyson is the quintessential loud-and-proud gay activist—earnest, ardent and perpetually revved up about one cause or another. On a trip to Cairo last year, after being arrested, beaten and thrown into a fetid cell with 37 other men, his subversive background became a serious liability. Fifty days inside Tora Prison

The Captive

Before he travelled to Egypt last summer, John Greyson had been arrested twice in his life. The first time was in 1983, when he happened to walk perilously close to a bathhouse that was the subject of a police stakeout. The second time was a few years later, at an Eaton Centre “kiss-in” held by the LGBT activist organization Queer Nation. On both occasions, he was held only briefly and was never charged with anything—men making out with men in public, to the chagrin of the cops, was not a criminal offence.

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People

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Toronto socialite accused of stealing millions from a 92-year-old with dementia

Nancy Tsai at a Toronto charity ball, date unknown. (Image: Courtesy of Brazilian Carnival Ball)

Nancy Tsai at a Toronto charity ball, date unknown. (Image: Courtesy of Brazilian Carnival Ball)

Here’s a story Toronto will be hearing more about: Nancy Tsai, once a key figure in Toronto’s charity-gala scene and founder of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, has been charged with defrauding a 92-year-old out of millions of dollars. The alleged victim, Helga Marston, was being treated for dementia at an assisted living facility in West Palm Beach. According to the Globe, Tsai, now 66, had been living in Palm Beach since at least 2006, when she divorced her Wall Street fund-manager husband, Gerald Tsai.

The Globe says police believe Tsai gained Marston’s power of attorney and was eventually given discretion over a large trust fund. Investigators allege that Tsai spent the money on a vast array of luxury purchases, including a $2.3 million oceanfront condo, a Bentley coupe and around $18,000 in restaurant meals.

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QUOTED: Rob Ford’s sister Kathy, on almost missing a court date, again

Kathy Ford, at Rob Ford's campaign launch. (Image: Christopher Drost)

Kathy Ford, at Rob Ford’s campaign launch. (Image: Christopher Drost)

“Thank you and I am very, very sorry.”

-Kathy Ford, apologizing on Monday to Justice of the Peace Diane McAleer after arriving hours late to court. According to the Star, Kathy was convicted two years ago of stealing “a quantity of toothbrushes” from a Zellers and ordered to do 25 hours of community service. Monday’s hearing was related to her failure to provide of proof of having done those hours. In February, she actually did miss a court date, and was arrested and released on $500 bail. Creative day-planning must run in the family.

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Columns

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Memoir: a group of street thugs became my surrogate family—until one of them betrayed me

Memoir: when I was a teenager, a group of street thugs became my surrogate family. I felt powerful and fearless—until one of them betrayed me

I grew up in the Vineways, a townhouse in Willowdale populated largely by immigrant and working-class families. It was a low-income housing development, with walls so thin you knew what your neighbours were having for dinner—but it was home. The Vineways was one of several projects in the area, all with similar names (the Willoways, the Briarways, the Fernways). It always seemed funny to me that every complex nearby had the suffix “way,” as if we were going somewhere.

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Woodbridge shooting may have been a gangland hit

The Woodbridge strip mall parking lot where Thursday's shooting happened. (Image: Google Street View)

The Woodbridge strip mall parking lot where Thursday’s shooting happened. (Image: Google Street View)

It’s organized-crime week in Toronto, apparently. On Thursday, the same day reports of possible mob infiltration into Toronto’s construction industry surfaced in the press, a man was shot and killed outside the Regina Café in Woodbridge. Today, the papers are reporting that the dead man is Carmine Verduci, an alleged mobster with ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, an Italian crime organization with international reach.

The National Post interviewed Verduci in 2011, after Italian authorities put out a warrant for his arrest. The paper’s description of that interview today is incredible:

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Politics

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Toronto police officers can no longer accost you for no reason

(Image: William Mewes)

(Image: William Mewes)

At a special meeting on Thursday, the Toronto Police Services Board approved a long-awaited new policy that forbids police officers from questioning civilians for no clear reason—which, yes, is something police officers were able to do. If you didn’t know that already, you’re statistically very likely to be a white person. That was the problem.

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Reporters probe possible mob ties to Toronto’s construction industry

What is this, Montreal? An investigation published jointly by the Star and the CBC last night suggests that organized crime has, at the very least, a fingerhold on Toronto’s construction industry.

The story’s main character is Cosimo Commisso, a man who was convicted of a number of crimes in the 1980s, including conspiracy to commit murder, and whom the Star and the CBC say police continue to suspect of being a major figure in “traditional organized crime.” Evidence uncovered by the reporters who investigated the story suggests that Commisso is a key figure in a small local company called Construction Labour Force. CLF is a labour supplier that two years ago entered into an unusual collective agreement with LiUNA, a major construction workers’ union with a big Toronto local.

The details are fascinating and well worth reading in full, but they boil down to this: nobody—not even Canadian Labour Force’s spokespeople—can explain why the union would want to get cozy with a private labour-supply company. Also, Commisso denies being in control of the company even though some documents describe him as its contact person, and despite the fact that his nephew and brother are both involved.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions. For the time being, though, just go read the piece.

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