One of two men sought in a hit-and-run in Scarborough last month that left two women and a toddler with serious injuries has been arrested by police
On the morning of Oct. 13, a grey Dodge Journey SUV struck two women pushing a small child in a stroller near Ellesmere Road and Pharmacy Avenue.
The vehicle was located in the area of St. Clair Avenue East and O’Connor Drive the following day.
Several days later, police said 40-year-old Toronto resident Jeremiah Cook was a passenger in the SUV and was responsible for dumping the vehicle.
Cook was wanted on charges including obstructing police, failure to comply with probation and two counts of failing to stop causing bodily harm.
Thirty-four-year-old Derek DeSousa, believed to be the driver of the vehicle that day, is still at large.
Toronto police Sgt. Jason Kraft says Cook was taken into custody on Thursday.
He is expected to appear in court at 1911 Eglinton Avenue East sometime on Friday.
MONTREAL — Québec’s highest court largely upheld a human right’s tribunal’s ruling requiring a comedian to pay damages to a disabled singer he mocked, while overturning the part of the decision that ordered Mike Ward to also pay $7,000 to the victim’s mother.
In a split decision, two of the three judges argued Ward’s comments about Jeremy Gabriel’s disability compromised the young performer’s right to the safeguard of his dignity and could not be justified, even in a society where freedom of expression is valued.
In 2016, Québec Human Rights Tribunal ordered Ward to pay $35,000 in moral and punitive damages to Gabriel based on comments Ward made during shows between 2010 and 2013.
Gabriel has Treacher Collins syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by skull and facial deformities. He became a celebrity in Québec after he sang with Céline Dion and for the Pope.
In his act, Ward joked that he thought Gabriel’s illness was terminal and people were only nice to him because he would soon die. Ward joked that after he realized the child was not going to die, he tried to drown him.
In a written decision, Justices Claudine Roy and Genevieve Cotnam noted the comments that were deemed discriminatory were those that related specifically to Gabriel’s disability, including the shape of his head and his hearing aids.
“The Tribunal carefully analyzed the evidence and its conclusion that Mr. Gabriel showed a distinction, exclusion or preference, based on his disability, that has the effect of jeopardizing his right to full equality in the recognition of his right to dignity, honour and reputation is not unreasonable,” they wrote.
In a statement posted to his Twitter account, Ward said he would refuse to pay the fine and planned to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
He said comedy is not a crime.
“In a ‘free’ country, it shouldn’t be up to a judge to decide what constitutes a joke on stage,” he wrote. “The people in attendance laughing already answered that question.”
During the appeals process, Ward’s lawyer had argued that the jokes, while distasteful, were not discriminatory, and that a comedian’s right to speak their minds must remain legal in a free and democratic society.
The appeals court disagreed, noting that freedom of expression has its limits, and that “comedians must nevertheless realize that artistic freedom isn’t absolute and they are, like all citizens, responsible for the consequences of their actions when they exceed certain limits.”
A third justice, Manon Savard, disagreed with their conclusions.
While it upheld the $35,000 in damages awarded to Gabriel, the Court of Appeal ruled that Ward should not have to pay $7,000 to the singer’s mother as previously ordered.
While Gabriel’s family were undoubtedly hurt by the comments, there was no evidence that his mother was directly the victim of discrimination, the court ruled.
‘Partial victory’ for defence
The comedian’s lawyer, Julius Grey, said he would seek leave to appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
The rejection of the mother’s claims, plus the strength of the third judge’s dissent, amounted to a “partial victory” despite the defeat, he said in a phone interview.
Grey said his client was willing to continue the legal battle largely in order to defend the right of comedians, and all citizens, to artistic expression.
“I think we’re living in a society where freedom of expression has played second fiddle to all the other considerations, and I think it’s time — I hope its time — to reinstate freedom of speech as a fundamental value, a transcendental value really,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Nov. 28, 2019.
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TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he will not raise Bill 21 when he meets with Quebec Premier François Legault on Friday, even though his government passed a motion condemning the law just days ago.
“There’s no place for Bill 21 here in Ontario — never will be under my watch,” Ford said at Queen’s Park in response to a question from HuffPost Canada on Thursday.
“We’re going to talk about things we agree on. I totally disagree with it. He knows it.”
Bill 21, which became law in Quebec in June, bans teachers, police officers and all other public servants from wearing religious symbols at work. Those include hijabs, turbans and kippahs. The law also forbids anyone giving or receiving a government service to cover their face, effectively barring Muslim women who wear niqabs.
“I believe that we in Ontario have to continue to stand up and speak out as Canadians against any form of discrimination, prejudice, racism and intolerance. Silence is never an option,” Horwath said in the house on Monday.
She told PC MPPs who voted for her motion to “talk to your premier” and make sure he takes the “historic opportunity” to stand up for the fundamental rights of people in Quebec when he meets with Legault.
“I don’t believe this is just about not allowing a bill like Bill 21 to ever come into this chamber for debate or discussion; I think it goes further than that,” she said.
Watch Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh spar over Bill 21. Story continues after video.
Bill 21 has been a point of contention between Legault and Canada’s other premiers. The Manitoba government launched newspaper and online ads on Thursday encouraging people in Quebec who feel threatened by the law to move to the Prairies.
“Here in Manitoba, we have respect for diversity,” Premier Brian Pallister told The Canadian Press.
Ford stressed Thursday that he wanted to focus on points of agreement when all the premiers meet next week.
“We’re going to make sure that we send a clear message to the entire world and give them certainty that you can invest in Canada. We have a united country,” he said.
“With any big family, as we are, there’s going to be a few disagreements … We’ll get over these bumps.”
He said there will be common ground on issues like health care and economic development.
Ford and Legault are set to meet in Montreal on Friday evening before the all-premiers summit in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday.
With files from The Canadian Press
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