Ombudsman’s report slams police training as the problem

Update:

Toronto police cruiser. In a biting indictment of police training, Dubé’s report concludes that people in crisis are dying at the hands of police not because officers aren’t following their training. “It’s because they are.” photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Toronto police cruiser. In a biting indictment of police training, Dubé’s report concludes that people in crisis are dying at the hands of police not because officers aren’t following their training. “It’s because they are.” photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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People in crisis like Sammy Yatim are dying not because cops don’t follow the rules, but because they do, says Paul Dubé’s report, which makes 22 recommendations to change that.

Nabil Yatim believes that if police officers in Ontario received more training on how to use words instead of weapons, his son Sammy would be alive today.

“I’m almost positive he would be,” Yatim told reporters at Queen’s Park Wednesday, after the release of a much-anticipated investigation by Ontario’s ombudsman into how the provincial government trains and directs police on use of force.

Sammy Yatim’s high-profile death in July 2013 at the hands of Toronto police Const. James Forcillo prompted ombudsman Paul Dubé’s investigation. Since Yatim’s death, 19 more people have been shot dead by police in Ontario. In many cases, they were people in crisis, Dubé writes in his report.

In a biting indictment of police training, Dubé’s report concludes that people in crisis are dying at the hands of police not because officers aren’t following their training. “It’s because they are.”

His 90-page report makes 22 recommendations, ranging from ramping up training to calling on the province to create a regulation requiring police to use de-escalation techniques in all possible conflict situations — before resorting to force. The report calls for that regulation to be in place by this time next year.

“The issue of how police are trained to handle situations of conflict with people in crisis is not a matter of academic debate. It is literally a matter of life and death, and one that has been neglected in this province for too long,” Dubé said at a news conference.

Dubé, who officially took over from André Marin in April, said the need to improve police training is “urgent.”

Toronto Police Headquarters. Toronto Police Constable Fievel Kan turned off the in-cruiser video camera and issued 19 fake tickets to 12 individuals who were either homeless or suffered from mental illness over a two month period in 2014. He was charged with discreditable conduct and insubordination as a result and found guilty of both charges. He was fined fifteen days pay.
Among the probe’s most troubling findings was that constables get far less basic training in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada — just 12 weeks at the Ontario Police College, compared with 24 weeks for new RCMP recruits. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

(Some police services do provide additional training after the mandatory provincial training. Toronto police recently upped their additional training to 11 weeks, adding more de-escalation training.)

More importantly, the kind of training officers receive at the college needs to change, Dubé found.

“The majority of their training focuses on exerting authority and establishing control over armed or hostile subjects, principally by drawing their weapons and yelling commands,” he writes in the report.

Among Dubé’s 22 recommendations for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services:

  • Revise edged-weapons training for recruits to stress de-escalation techniques as the first option wherever possible when facing a person with something like a knife.
  • Expand the Ontario Police College curriculum to offer more training on mental illness.
  • Institute a new use-of-force model “that is easy to understand and clearly identifies de-escalation options.”
  • “Formally and publicly” respond to all recommendations that come out of coroner’s inquests into police-involved deaths, and keep a complete record of actions taken in response.
photo by fightyourtickets.ca
photo by fightyourtickets.ca

In addition to Yatim’s death, the report references other cases of fatal police shootings of people crisis in Ontario — the “human toll” — including the deaths of Evan Jones (Brantford police in 2010), Michael Eligon (Toronto police in 2012) and Steve Mesic (Hamilton police in 2013).

Speaking to reporters after the report was issued, David Orazietti, the new minister responsible, said he accepted all of the recommendations. “I recognize that things need to change,” he said.

They align with the goals of Ontario’s ongoing review of the Police Services Act, the legislation that governs police in the province, Orazietti said, including the urgent need to modernize policing to meet changing demands.

Asked if a new rule requiring police to use de-escalation techniques will be written into the Police Services Act, Orazietti said he was “absolutely committed” to that.

But when asked, twice, what sort of teeth would be built into the regulations — how officers could be disciplined if they did not use such techniques — Dubé did not elaborate.

“We’re not talking about enforcing; we’re talking about arming officers with the skills they need,” he said.

photo by fightyourtickets.ca
photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Camille Quenneville, chief executive officer of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Ontario Division, said the buy-in from the province is promising.

“The other piece of this story, of course, is whether there is a will to do something, and I believe there is,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

Jennifer French, the NDP’s Community Safety critic, said Orazietti’s vow to accept the recommendations is different than acting on them.

“This is a government that has chosen not to act before; we’re hoping that this is going to be a different case,” she said.

Julian Falconer, the lawyer representing members of Yatim’s family in a civil suit, also pointed to decades of inaction on the issue of police use of force.

Dubé’s report is an addition to “an already large body of work that recognizes that police use-of-force training in Ontario is an anachronistic exercise.” This “constant re-statement of the obvious” is becoming embarrassing, he said in an email.

“That this Ombudsman had the courage to restate the tragic reality is not a bad thing but I wonder when the political and police leadership will show the courage to actually institute change.”

The ombudman’s office conducted 95 interviews, including with academics, psychiatrists and psychologists, family members of people killed in interactions with police, and employees at the Ontario Police College.

The report was produced with the help of two retired police chiefs — Vern White, former Ottawa police chief, and Mike Boyd, former chief of the Edmonton police — who acted as special advisors.

But Margaret Parsons, executive director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, wonders why her organization was not consulted. She was disappointed the report failed to acknowledge that race is too often a factor in police use of force.

“How could you talk about police use of force, and in particular deadly force, without wanting to address race and racism?” she said.

Yatim was shot eight times by Forcillo while alone on a downtown Toronto streetcar, after wielding a small knife and exposing himself to passengers. The shooting was captured on bystander video, which was quickly disseminated, prompting public outrage.

The Court House at 361 University Ave. This is where Constable James Forcillo's trial took place. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The Superior Court House at 361 University Ave. This is where Constable James Forcillo’s trial took place. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Forcillo, 33, was charged and ultimately found not guilty of second-degree murder for the first three shots that killed Yatim, but guilty of attempted murder for the second volley of six shots fired six seconds after the initial three. Superior Court Justice Edward Then is now deciding Forcillo’s sentence, to be pronounced in late July.

The ombudsman’s investigation was one of three systemic reviews of police use of force launched in the wake of Yatim’s death.

Just weeks after Yatim’s death, then Toronto police chief Bill Blair initiated an independent review of use of force within his own police service, tapping retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to conduct the recommendation.

One year later, Iacobucci released a comprehensive report making 84 recommendations, including increased training, changes to hiring practices, and a shift in the workplace culture. Toronto police said last year they had implemented, in full or in part, 79 of the 84 recommendations.

Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, said he welcomed “any recommendation that will improve the outcome of interactions between officers and citizens.”

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), a provincial agency that reviews police complaints, also launched a systemic review of police use of force following Yatim’s death — only the second systemic review launched by the OIPRD since its inception in 2009.

Rosemary Parker, spokesperson for the OIPRD, said in an email that the agency expects to release the first of two parts of the review this fall, and the second in early 2017.

Toronto Police Sue Attorney General in Unusual Civil Suit

Update:

Toronto Police Headquarters. Toronto Police Constable Fievel Kan turned off the in-cruiser video camera and issued 19 fake tickets to 12 individuals who were either homeless or suffered from mental illness over a two month period in 2014. He was charged with discreditable conduct and insubordination as a result and found guilty of both charges. He was fined fifteen days pay.
Toronto Police Headquarters. Three cops have launched what legal observers call an unprecedented lawsuit against Ontario’s Attorney General, after the officers claim they were wrongly accused of police brutality in court. They are seeking ten years wages (or $1.25 Million) as damages in their civil suit. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Three senior Toronto police officers have launched what legal observers are calling an extraordinarily rare lawsuit against Ontario’s attorney general — a move the officers say they are making to restore their reputations, claiming they were wrongly condemned in court for police brutality.

In a statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Wednesday, Sgt. Jamie Clark and Det. Sgts. Steven Watts and Donald Belanger allege negligence on the part of Crown attorneys, the same prosecutors they worked alongside on a 2009 armed robbery case.

Instead of successful convictions in a brutal gunpoint robbery, the case produced two scathing rebukes from judges about the officers’ conduct.

The Court of Appeal tossed the convictions against one of the accused and called the officers’ behaviour akin to torture — comments that prompted an immediate defence from then police chief Bill Blair.

The claims of abuse were found to be unsubstantiated by an investigation by Toronto police professional standards, findings that were upheld by an OPP probe of that internal investigation.

The Special Investigations Unit, the civilian watchdog that investigates serious injuries involving police, also began investigating the injuries suffered by the man alleged to have been more seriously injured, but the watchdog found he had not suffered a serious injury during his interaction with the officers.

In their statement of claim, Clark, Watts and Belanger allege the judges never could have found that they beat and tortured the men if the Crown prosecutors had conducted a “reasonable and lawful prosecution.”

They allege that by the time the case arrived at the Court of Appeal, the Crown knew there was “compelling evidence” that assault allegations against the officers were a “complete lie and fabrication,” yet took no action.

If it weren’t for negligence by the Crowns, “the resulting irreparable damage to the officers’ livelihood and reputation never would have occurred,” write Michael Lacy and Lorne Honickman, the officers’ lawyers.

“I feel I have been forced to file this claim,” Clark, who now works undercover with a major crime unit, said in an interview. “I want the judges to know that they were duped.”

The officers, who were members of the hold-up squad at the time, are asking for $1.25 million in damages and a declaration that the officers did not assault the two accused, Randy Maharaj or Neil Singh.

The allegations in the statement of claim have not been proven in court. A statement of defence has not yet been filed.

Toronto police cruiser. The three senior police officers are attempting to clear their names and reputations. In addition to the damages, they are seeking a declaration that the officers did not assault the two accused. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Toronto police cruiser. The three senior police officers are attempting to clear their names and reputations. In addition to the damages, they are seeking a declaration that the officers did not assault the two accused. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

All of the Crown lawyers named in this story were individually contacted for comment. Brendan Crawley, spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General, provided a statement to the Star on behalf of the ministry and the Crowns, saying it would be inappropriate to comment because the matter is subject to litigation.

Reid Rusonik, the Toronto lawyer who represented Maharaj, contests the claims the officers did not assault his client. He insists that when Maharaj appeared in bail court, he was badly beaten and complaining of injuries all over his body, including where his fractured rib would be discovered.

“I suppose it’s theoretically possible some other police or custodial officers caused these injuries in the tiny interim between the hold-up squad finishing with him and the bail hearing but I would think that could only be on the same theoretical standard that makes it possible the Titanic didn’t really hit an iceberg,” Rusonik said in an email.

Anil Kapoor, a defence lawyer who represented Singh on appeal, said this week that he stands by the record that was before the Court of Appeal, including Singh’s claims that he was seriously beaten by the officers.

Lacy, one of the lawyers representing the officers, said the public has the right to be concerned about “rogue bad-apple police officers” who engage in corrupt practices. The problem is, in some cases, judges don’t have all of the relevant information.

“Officers get improperly maligned in ways that affect their psychological and emotional health, their credibility generally and their careers. This lawsuit seeks to expose one of those cases,” he said.

The officers’ lawsuit stems from a 2009 armed robbery at a warehouse for Crane Supply, a wholesale distributor of copper pipes in Toronto. Kamran Sheikh, the only employee on shift, was tied up and blindfolded at gunpoint, and $389,000 worth of product was stolen.

Watts, Clark and Belanger, all members of the hold-up squad, began investigating. Four months later, the officers arrested Singh, an employee of Crane’s, and Maharaj, believed to be one of Singh’s associates, according to the statement of claim.

The Court House at 361 University Ave. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The Court House at 361 University Ave. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

As previously reported by the Star, during an interrogation by the officers, Maharaj confessed to the robbery, while Singh denied knowing Maharaj and involvement in the robbery. Both men were ultimately charged with armed robbery, forceful confinement and conspiracy to commit both offences.

Soon after their arrests, Maharaj and Singh claimed that while they were being interrogated at a Toronto police division and before giving video statements, they were punched and kicked, primarily by Clark.

At Maharaj’s first court appearance, his lawyer stated his client had bumps and scratches under his ear caused by the beating. At the preliminary hearing, Maharaj’s lawyer expanded on the allegations, saying Maharaj had been kicked on the side of the head.

The officers were called to testify and “vehemently denied the allegations under oath and were unshaken in their denials,” says the statement of claim.

The case was sent to trial, but prior to its start Rusonik, representing Maharaj, brought forward an application to stay the proceedings and exclude his confession based on allegations police had beaten him up, according to the statement of claim.

Rusonik said Maharaj had suffered a serious injury at the hands of the police and provided Sheila Cressman, the Crown lawyer on the case, with an X-ray taken at Scarborough Centenary Hospital, showing an acute fracture of one of Maharaj’s ribs. Court records indicate the X-ray was taken 17 days after Maharaj was arrested, following his release from jail on bail.

According to the statement of claim, Cressman consulted with Dr. Farley Moss, a doctor at the Scarborough hospital, who confirmed it was possible the injury could have been caused on the day Maharaj was arrested. Cressman, after consulting with fellow Crown Frank Armstrong, stayed the charges against Maharaj.

But in their statement of claim, the officers accuse Cressman of withholding vital information from the doctor about Maharaj’s behaviour in the interrogation video. Moss had told Cressman that anyone with this type of injury would be in excruciating pain if he made any movements with his arms or upper body, but Cressman did not tell Moss that Maharaj does this in the video, according to the statement of claim.

Courtroom. The officers were called to testify and “vehemently denied the allegations under oath and were unshaken in their denials,” says the statement of claim. They deny assaulting the accused, Randy Maharaj or Neil Singh. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Courtroom. The officers were called to testify and “vehemently denied the allegations under oath and were unshaken in their denials,” says the statement of claim. They denied assaulting the accused, Randy Maharaj or Neil Singh. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

She also did not ask the doctor any questions about other potential time periods of when the injury could have occurred, according to the statement of claim.

Moss was later shown the video — after the charges against Maharaj were stayed — and said that, while it was still possible for the injury to have occurred on the arrest date, he believed it was older and had already healed at the time of the videotaped interview, according to the officers’ claim.

The statement of claim also criticizes Cressman for failing to bring forward Maharaj’s medical records from Maplehurst Detention Centre “clearly showing that Mr. Maharaj never complained of a rib injury while he was incarcerated.”

The trial against Singh went ahead, where both he and Maharaj — who was called as a witness — testified. Singh said he was beaten up by Clark and that Watts did not intervene, and Maharaj testified that he was assaulted by Belanger and Clark.

The statement of claim alleges Cressman “called no evidence to challenge or contradict this false testimony.” She did not bring in the officers to testify, which “came as a shock” to them, the claim states, since Cressman had stated they would be called as witnesses in the days leading up to the trial.

A jury convicted Singh of armed robbery and forcible confinement, but Superior Court Justice Julie Thorburn reduced his sentence because of the “police brutality” in the case. The statement of claim alleges Thorburn based that finding solely on the testimony of the accused, and only because Cressman made no effort to challenge their accounts.

Following Singh’s conviction, the SIU launched an investigation into the allegations of police brutality, but Maharaj refused to participate and the watchdog closed the case.

Meanwhile, then police chief Blair ordered an internal probe by the force’s professional standards, which concluded after interviews and reviewing audio and video statements that the beating allegations could not be substantiated — though it did not include interviews with the officers.

In 2013, Singh appealed his conviction. According to the claim, Watts attempted to tell the new Crown, Amy Alyea, that “an egregious mistake had occurred,” but “she took no steps to investigate further.”

Alyea’s alleged wrongdoing included a failure to provide the court with any details about the findings of the Toronto police internal investigation — even though Justice David Doherty questioned her about whether disciplinary action was taken against the officers, according to the statement of claim.

Alyea never advised Doherty about the findings, the officers say.

“As such, the Crown, either negligently or deliberately, attempted to protect its own agents’ conduct, rather than respecting their duty of care and responsibility to the officers and the administration of justice,” the statement alleges.

We are all Equal Before the Law. In December 2013, the Court of Appeal threw out the conviction against Singh and harshly denounced the officers for using beatings and threats to get confessions out of suspects. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
We are all Equal Before the Law. In December 2013, the Court of Appeal threw out the conviction against Singh and harshly denounced the officers for using beatings and threats to get confessions out of suspects. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

In December 2013, the Court of Appeal threw out the conviction against Singh and harshly denounced the officers for using beatings and threats to get confessions out of suspects

As previously reported by the Star, the testimony given by two men alleging abuse was not contested in court by the Crown, at trial or on appeal, so the appeal court took their testimony as the “factual framework for what actually happened.”

In an interview with the Star, Clark and Watts said the appeal hearing was their greatest source of frustration.

“The Crown made a mistake (at trial) and then it progresses. We are not expecting perfection. But at the Court of Appeal, that was their chance to step up,” said Clark.

Immediately after the Court of Appeal decision, Blair spoke out in defence of the officers, saying Ontario’s top court only got one side of the story.

“Quite frankly, I don’t understand why that decision was made. The officers were anxious to testify but were not afforded the opportunity to do that by the Crown attorney,” Blair told the Star in 2013.

Toronto Police Chief William Blair ordered an internal probe by the force’s professional standards, which concluded after interviews and reviewing audio and video statements that the beating allegations could not be substantiated — though it did not include interviews with the officers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Toronto Police Chief William Blair ordered an internal probe by the force’s professional standards, which concluded after interviews and reviewing audio and video statements that the beating allegations could not be substantiated — though it did not include interviews with the officers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Blair asked the OPP to review the Toronto police internal investigation. The OPP ultimately agreed with the conclusions of the professional standards investigation, but noted the officers should have been interviewed during the professional standards investigation.

That is something that both Clark and Watts said they have always been willing to do, but no one took them up on the offer. (Belanger declined to be interviewed for this story).

“The one time I don’t get to testify, I have no credibility,” said Watts.

Following the Court of Appeal decision, the SIU launched a second investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing by the officers against Maharaj. Jason Gennaro, a spokesperson for the watchdog, said the SIU “determined that the man had not suffered a serious injury in his interaction with police.”

Watts said he wondered why the suspects have not filed a lawsuit against the Toronto police for brutality. “You have a court saying there was torture. But since then, crickets.”

Trevor Farrow, associate dean at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, said legal actions against the Crown are normally filed by defendants who allege they have been wrongfully convicted.

“A civil suit brought by potential witnesses, in this case police officers, is certainly unusual,” said Farrow, whose research and teaching includes a focus on legal and judicial ethics.

Farrow added that anyone suing the Crown has a high legal bar to overcome to be successful in court.

“The justice system seeks to be fair to all participants, including all witnesses. Equally important, is the wide latitude the system gives to prosecutorial discretion, in the way Crowns pursue cases,” he said. “What is usually required is to show purposeful conduct or malice that is something more than negligence.”

B.C.: Cyclists want Ontario’s One-Metre Rule Between Cars/Bikes

Update:

What is the penalty to drivers for not leaving a minimum of one-metre distance when passing a cyclist? The penalty for not leaving a minimum one-metre passing distance is a set fine of $85.00 plus a $5 court fee plus a $20 victim surcharge fine for a total payable of $110.00. Drivers who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500 if found guilty (fine range is $60 to $500). Upon conviction, two demerit points will also be assigned against the individual’s driver record. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
B.C. Cyclists want the B.C. government to adopt Ontario’s one-metre spacing rule between vehicles and cyclists which came into effect on Sept. 1/15. On that date, Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, Bill 31 came into effect. It means that motorists must give cyclists 1 metre (3.28084 feet) of space when passing them. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Reaction on social media to a CBC video about the new law has been interesting, to say the least

A Metro Vancouver cycling advocacy group is calling on the B.C. government to adopt a controversial new Ontario law that requires motorists to give one metre of space when passing cyclists.

Ontario is beginning to enforce the new legislation, passed last September, aimed at making roads safer. It includes a $110 fine and two demerit points for motorists who don’t give cyclist at least one metre of space.

“It’s actually something that we’re pushing for here in B.C.,” said Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB.

“It’s indicating to motorists when you have a law like this that you can’t just squeeze by people on bikes, you have to wait until it’s safe.”

Reaction to a CBC News video about police pulling over drivers as part of an awareness campaign included many complaining that vehicles would have to cross the centre dividing line to give cyclists a wide enough berth.

But O’Melinn said that is the safest tactic for keeping cyclists safe.

“You can go into the opposing lane if it’s safe to do so, and if it’s not then you need to slow down and wait until it is safe,” she said.

Police in Ontario agree. They say crossing the centre dividing line is exactly what drivers should do when it’s warranted and safe, just as they do on rural roads to pass slower vehicles.

Some Facebook comments called the law “hypocritical” and “sick.”

“What’s a better way than extorting citizens already taxed to drive a car and on the road and on gas only to deal with idiotic cyclists who never abide by any traffic laws ever,” wrote Nick O’Brien.

In B.C. there are no rules around how close a motorist on the road can legally get to a bike. However, there is a law that says cyclists must stay as far to the right as is practical.

Judge refuses to recuse himself over complaint about his ‘scowling visage’

Update:

The Court of Appeal for Ontario. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The Court of Appeal for Ontario. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CQLolk2UcAATZR6.jpg
Justice David Doherty of Court of Appeal for Ontario. photo by Phil Brown Twitter.

Complainants can’t ditch judges over “specious partiality claims,” says the ruling.

The stern look from up high on the bench was apparently a bit too much for one man.

Kersasp Shekhdar recently tried to have Ontario Court of Appeal Justice David Doherty — considered the top criminal law jurist on the court —recuse himself for, among other issues, his tone of voice and “scowling visage” while presiding over a previous case involving Shekhdar.

Doherty refused to step back from the matter, while writing rather detailed reasons about the importance of an impartial justice system and why judges should take any claim of bias — real or perceived — seriously.

Court of Appeal for Ontario Office. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Court of Appeal for Ontario Office. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“In my view, a judge is best advised to remove himself if there is any air of reality to a bias claim,” Doherty wrote in his decision released this week.

“That said, judges do the administration of justice a disservice by simply yielding to entirely unreasonable and unsubstantiated recusal demands. Litigants are not entitled to pick their judge.

“They are not entitled to effectively eliminate judges randomly assigned to their case by raising specious partiality claims against those judges. To step aside in the face of a specious bias claim is to give credence to a most objectionable tactic.”

Shekhdar, who represented himself, lives in Pakistan, according to the decision. He told the Star by email that he intends to ask a panel of three appeal court judges to review Doherty’s decision.

Doherty also denied Shekhdar’s motion for extra time to seek leave to appeal a decision from a lower court. A request for comment from Doherty sent to the court was not returned.

“Different judges conduct themselves differently in court; some of them are very reluctant to intervene, some ask a lot of questions, some have a very kind and soft manner and some are a little more aggressive,” said Howard Krongold, a lawyer who specializes in criminal appeals and who was not involved in the case.

“I think anybody who has ever appeared in front of Justice Doherty would know that he’s exceedingly fair-minded, and perhaps this litigant got the wrong impression because of what he perceived in the tone of his voice.”

The Court House at 361 University Ave. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The Court House at 361 University Ave. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Doherty sat on two previous appeal court panels that heard matters involving Shekhdar.

The man argued that in both instances, the panels’ reasons for dismissing his cases “are so lacking in substance and so clearly wrong in law as to be explainable only by ‘racism, corruption and/or criminal case fixing,’” Doherty wrote, quoting part of Shekhdar’s written submissions.

Shekhdar further alleged that Doherty’s tone of voice and “scowling visage” while delivering the reasons in the previous case demonstrated his contempt for Shekhdar.

“He writes that he ‘suspects’ that my ‘contempt’ reflects my racism and disdain for anyone who is not a ‘white Canadian.’ Finally, the moving party (Shekhdar) asserts that I did not pay attention during the proceedings and fell asleep,” Doherty wrote.

He noted that Shekhdar has made allegations of misconduct against many judicial players in the past, including a number of other judges. Doherty found there was “no air of reality” to his accusations of bias.

“Judges are able in almost all instances to carry out their jobs impartially, and there are rare instances where a judge may create the appearance of bias, and in those cases it’s necessary for the judge to step away from the case,” said criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown, who was not involved in the case.

“Simply showing a facial expression is not a basis to prove bias in any way, especially when there is no jury who could potentially be influenced by those facial expressions,” he said. “In fact, in many cases, the facial expressions are helpful to guide a lawyer on the weaknesses in their own arguments, and what they need to do to persuade the judge of their position.”

Toronto: To Adjust Timing of Traffic Lights at 350 Intersections to Fight Gridlock

Update:

Vehicle traffic gridlock is a huge problem in Toronto. Any motorist who has driven in the city understands the excessive delays and frustration navigating the streets through constant gridlock. There are two seasons in Toronto, winter and construction. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Vehicle traffic gridlock is a huge problem in Toronto. Any motorist who has driven in the city understands the excessive delays and frustration navigating the streets through constant gridlock. There are two seasons in Toronto, winter and construction. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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In an effort to get traffic moving, Mayor John Tory says Toronto will re-time more than 350 traffic signals on 17 key routes throughout the city.

Tory made the latest gridlock-fighting announcement Thursday morning, adding that the expansion of the existing program will see 1,500 traffic signals re-timed by the end of 2017. The mayor says once that’s done it will mean that 60 per cent of the city’s traffic signals will have been re-timed.

The Yonge St and Dundas Street intersection. This is one of the most vehicle/pedestrian travelled intersections in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets
The Yonge St and Dundas Street intersection. This is one of the busiest intersections in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.

The city says that signal re-timing reduced travel times on 11 of Toronto’s busiest roads last year.

“We’re taking action to keep Toronto moving by targeting some of our most congested routes in the city,” Tory said, adding that it is a low-cost, high-impact initiative.

Signal re-timing is part of Tory’s six-point congestion management plan.