ontario news watch

EDMONTON — The Alberta Human Rights Commission has fined the Edmonton Police Service after ruling two Black men who had called police for help were instead racially discriminated against by officers during a wrongful arrest.

The commission, in a decision issued earlier this month, said that the two South Sudanese men named Yousef John and Caesar Judianga were each entitled to $40,000 for “injury to dignity” they faced after calling police for help in May 2017 for a crime they had witnessed.

The men told the commission they had witnessed a woman throwing a rock through a car window. They made a citizen’s arrest and were waiting for police.

Court documents say that, instead of helping the pair, the first officer to arrive pepper-sprayed the men, ordered them to get on the ground and put them in handcuffs while he helped the white woman the men were trying to report.

“All persons are equal in dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, colour, ancestry or place of origin,” said Erika Ringseis, a member of the commission in the court documents.

“This was not the experience of John or Judianga.”

The commission was told police arrived to a chaotic scene, “with people shouting and the accused crying.”

The men were arrested and placed in handcuffs while the woman was taken to a police car and given support.

“The men were sitting on pavement, had to share minimal water, no one took their statements, no one apologized for the misunderstanding, no one appeared to be interested in helping them with the damaged property, they were told that they needed to calm down and they were sent home walking,” the documents said.

The documents said an officer who arrived later to the scene also told the men they should feel “lucky” they weren’t shot after they expressed their anger and frustration towards what police were doing.

“Certainly, the complainants received the statement, and the manner in which it was delivered, as a racially charged comment,” Ringseis said in the documents.

John told the tribunal the arrest changed his life. He said he doesn’t sleep or eat well and “no longer goes out in the evening or enjoys activities in the city.”

Judianga told the commission he felt similar anguish and had injured his knee after it was pressed into the ground during the arrest.

Edmonton police have also been ordered to compensate John for lost wages after he took time off from work to recover. Judianga will be compensated for a torn jacket.

The men had asked in their complaint that Edmonton police write an apology letter, but the commission said it would “likely lack sincerity.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The rare special session that Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has called to pass legislation ensuring President Joe Biden appears on Ohio’s fall ballot could take several days.

Due to differing interpretations of the proclamation DeWine issued Thursday, the Ohio Senate scheduled a single day of activity for Tuesday but a spokesman said the Ohio House plans to begin with two days of committee hearings before taking its vote Thursday.

A Senate spokesman said it’s possible the upper chamber can convene Tuesday and then recess to wait for the House.

Negotiations between the chambers on a solution to Biden’s ballot conundrum began Friday. State Rep. Bill Seitz told reporters during a conference call that he and state Sen. Rob McColley, both Republicans, are leading the talks.

The legislation needs only to move Ohio’s Aug. 7 ballot deadline so that it falls after the Democratic National Convention where Biden will be formally nominated, which is scheduled for Aug. 19-22 in Chicago. Ohio has moved the deadline in the past for candidates of both parties.

But the Senate sent its version of the ballot fix to the House after attaching a prohibition on foreign nationals donating to Ohio ballot campaigns, stopping it in its tracks.

DeWine urged legislators to pass the combination measure during the special session — but Democrats have balked, saying the proposal goes beyond the foreign nationals ban to add requirements intended to make it more difficult to mount future ballot campaigns in the state.

That’s after Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved three ballot measures last year, including a constitutional amendment protecting access to abortions opposed by Republicans and an initiated statute legalizing adult-use marijuana.

A “clean” House bill containing only the adjustment to Ohio’s ballot deadline may also be considered.

Julie Carr Smyth, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A New Jersey electrician who repeatedly attacked police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, siege at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Friday to 12 years in prison by a judge who called him “a menace to our society.”

Christopher Joseph Quaglin argued with and insulted U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden before and after the judge handed him one of the longest prison sentences among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

“You’re Trump’s worst mistake of 2016,” Quaglin told McFadden, who was nominated to the court by then-President Donald Trump in 2017.

Quaglin, 38, joined the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. He injured a police officer when he choked and tackled him to the ground. Quaglin assaulted other officers with stolen police shields, metal bike racks and pepper spray as he clashed with police for roughly three hours.

“What an outrage. What a disgrace,” the judge said.

Quaglin complained about his jail conditions and pushed conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 siege during his rambling remarks in the courtroom. He also took issue with labeling the Jan. 6 attack as an insurrection.

“If I wanted to bring an insurrection, I would have brought a long gun,” he said.

The judge, who cut him off after several minutes, told Quaglin that his combative remarks were a “really bad idea” before sentencing.

“It’s a kangaroo court,” Quaglin responded.

Prosecutors urged the judge to sentence Quaglin to 14 years in prison. They said he was one of the most violent rioters on Jan. 6, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

The judge convicted Quaglin of six separate assaults on police. Prosecutors say he struck or pushed another dozen officers.

“Quaglin understood the constitutional significance of January 6, and intended to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election by any means necessary, including by viciously assaulting police officers for hours,” prosecutors wrote.

Approximately 1,400 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Nearly 900 of them have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds receiving a term of imprisonment ranging from a few days to 22 years. Only seven Capitol riot defendants have received a longer prison sentence than Quaglin, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

McFadden convicted Quaglin of 14 counts last July after a “stipulated bench trial,” which means the judge decided the case without a jury and based on facts that both sides agreed to before the trial. Such trials allow defendants to maintain appeal rights that are waived by a guilty plea.

Quaglin traveled from his home in North Brunswick, New Jersey, to attend then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on Jan. 6. Leaving the rally early, Quaglin recorded a video of himself as he marched to the Capitol wearing a helmet, a gas mask and a backpack.

After storming barricades near Peace Circle, Quaglin repeatedly attacked officers who were trying to hold off the mob. Capitol Police Sgt. Troy Robinson was injured when Quaglin grabbed him by the neck and tackled him to the ground.

“Quaglin’s attack ignited a short brawl,” prosecutors wrote. “With Quaglin on top of Sergeant Robinson, other rioters came to Quaglin’s assistance and chaos broke loose.”

Quaglin “waged a relentless siege” as he joined other rioters in attacking police in a tunnel on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace, prosecutors said. He helped another rioter steal a shield from an officer. He pepper sprayed several officers in the face. And he joined the mob’s collective “heave ho” push against a police line.

“Quaglin was part of some of the most gruesome attacks in the tunnel as he worked with other rioters to ensure that officers were under constant attack,” prosecutors wrote.

Quaglin later celebrated and bragged about his participation in the riot.

“It was a great time. I got bumps and bruises. And we’re having a good time,” he said in a video posted on social media.

Defense attorney Kristi Fulnecky claims Quaglin has received inadequate medical treatment while jailed for the past three years. Fulnecky also said one of Quaglin’s former attorneys coerced him into accepting a stipulated bench trial instead of a contested trial.

McFadden told Quaglin that his actions on Jan. 6 were “shocking and lawless.”

“January 6th is not simply an anomaly for you,” the judge said. “You’ve allowed it to define you.”

Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump, at his rally this week in the Bronx, invited two rappers on stage who have been charged in a sweeping gang case, with one of them facing attempted murder charges.

Michael Williams, better known as Sheff G, is a 25-year-old rapper whose songs and videos have millions of YouTube views and Spotify streams. He’s also a central figure in the gang case unveiled by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez over a year ago, while he was serving a separate attempted weapons possession sentence.

Tegan Chambers, 24, who raps as Sleepy Hallow, has close to 11 million monthly listeners on Spotify. He faces conspiracy charges in the gang case. Both he and Sheff G have pleaded not guilty.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s appearance with suspected gang members comes as Trump is on trial himself in his New York hush money case and as he recurringly slams New York and other Democrat-run cities as crime-ridden. Trump has railed against the Manhattan district attorney who is prosecuting him for “letting violent crime run rampant all over our city.”

Challenging the reelection of President Joe Biden, Trump is trying to make inroads with Black Americans, who are traditionally supportive of the Democratic Party. AP VoteCast found Trump won just 8% of Black voters nationwide in 2020 versus 91% who voted for Biden.

He has claimed that his criminal indictments have boosted his support among Black voters, comparing his legal challenges to anti-Black prejudice in the U.S. legal system.

At a rally on the Jersey Shore earlier this month, Trump was joined on stage by NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who pleaded guilty in New York in 2011 to misdemeanor criminal charges of sexual misconduct and is a registered sex offender. Taylor said he had always been a Democrat until he met Trump.

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the Bronx in Congress, said it is an offensive strategy for Trump to associate with people who are accused of violent crimes in order to appeal to Black voters.

“The conflation of communities of color with criminality is a racist trope that Donald Trump repeats,” said Torres, who is Black.

Images captured on Thursday show Sheff G walking into the park where the rally took place with cameras following him as teenage boys seem visibly excited at spotting the rapper. One of them said, “Oh my God. It’s Sheff G.”

Toward the end of his speech on Thursday, Trump asked his supporters, “Does everybody know Sheff G? Where is Sheff G?” before also introducing Sleepy Hallow.

“President Trump, my man,” Sheff G was heard saying before Trump gestured to him to approach the microphone.

“One thing I want to say: They are always going to whisper your accomplishments and shout your failures. Trump is going to shout the wins for all of us,” Sheff G told the crowd before Sleepy Hallow moved to the microphone to utter Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”

A spokesman for Trump’s campaign was asked about whether the campaign knew about the charges and whether it was the former president who sought the rappers’ support or the other way around.

“As Sheff G said: ‘They always whisper your accomplishments and shout your failures.’” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung responded in an email.

A spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service, which provides protection for Trump and secures his rallies, did not respond to a request for comment about Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow’s appearance on stage.

Trump called other speakers to the stage Thursday, including Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida and the Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr., a former Democratic city council member in New York and state senator.

Both Sheff G and Sleepy Hallow are due back in court next month. Sheff G’s attorney, Arthur Aidala, said Friday that “intense litigation” was ongoing and “we’re cautiously optimistic that Mr. Williams will be exonerated.” A message seeking comment on the case was left with Sleepy Hallow’s attorney.

After being paroled in his weapons case in June 2023, Sheff G was held on the new charges until last month, when a judge set bail at $1.5 million cash. Sleepy Hallow was released on $200,000 bail in May 2023.

Prosecutors say Sheff G’s money fueled and rewarded multiple shootings as members of the 8 Trey Crips and affiliated 9 Ways gangs affiliates battled foes. He treated Sleepy Hallow and others to a steak dinner to celebrate an October 2020 shooting that killed a purported member of a rival gang and injured five others, prosecutors say.

“It is how, in part, Sheff G and Tegan Chambers — Sleepy Hallow — assert influence, right? Because they take people out, and they’re able to spend money, and they’re able to encourage others to do some of the gang violence that’s just critically important to them and their status in the community,” Gonzalez said at a May 2023 news conference with New York Mayor Eric Adams. Both are Democrats.

Prosecutors have said they have surveillance video, text messages, social media posts, cell phone data and more to back up the allegations. While Gonzalez has noted that the rappers’ songs refer to gang retaliation and some of their rivals, he has said the lyrics weren’t used as evidence.

Prosecutors also say Sheff G chauffeured three co-defendants to and from an April 2021 shooting that targeted a gang rival but instead hit two bystanders.

The DA’s office declined to comment Friday on the case.


Gomez Licon reported from Miami.

Adriana Gomez Licon And Jennifer Peltz, The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — While some New Yorkers headed to the beach for Memorial Day weekend, a few set up camp outside the courthouse where Donald Trump’s criminal trial is set to resume next week, hoping to snag a seat inside the courtroom for the start of closing arguments.

Friday found a handful of people already in line for Tuesday’s court session.

They included professional line sitters with pup tents — and Richard Partington, 43, of East Hampton, New York, sitting on the hard pavement with a sleeping bag, pillow and blanket plus a journal to write in. He said he got in the line for the courtroom on Thursday.

“I think a lot of people didn’t even realize you could go inside the courtroom,” Partington said. “And now that the word has spread there’s just a lot more interest.”

Most of the seats inside the courtroom where Trump is on trial are reserved for lawyers, members of Trump’s entourage, security personnel and journalists. But a handful of seats are open to the general public. With news cameras banned from the trial, only people inside the courtroom or in a nearby overflow room with a video link have been able to watch.

In the early days of Trump’s hush money trial, getting one of those few seats for the public required an early start and some dedication. It has only gotten tougher since then. More would-be spectators are showing up as the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president nears its conclusion.

On the 16th day of the trial —May 13 — spectators Joe Adams and Ruth TeBrake told the AP they got seats in the overflow room by joining the line at 6:30 the night before.

“I’ve never done anything like this since I was young, since the ’60s,” said TeBrake, who hails from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. “There was electricity in the air.”

Adams, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, said they used the bathroom at a nearby bar during their overnight stay, tipping the bartenders $20 each for granting permission.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has been charged in a 34-count felony indictment with scheming to bury allegations of extramarital affairs that arose during his first White House campaign in 2016. He has pleaded not guilty and has denounced the proceeding as a politically motivated witch hunt.

Partington, a part-time teacher at a private school, said he’s been inside the trial courtroom four times and inside the overflow room another four times since testimony started on April 22.

“It’s such a learning experience,” he said. “Trump was president and he could be president again, so learning more about him is just interesting.”

Partington said he has not talked about the trial much with his friends or family — just his fellow trial watchers waiting to get into the courthouse.

“To be honest I mostly talk to people here who have been part of the experience because like they can relate to it, you know, what it’s like being in the courtroom and all these things,” he said

Trump’s trial is not the first Partington has attended. He also went to a few sessions of the trial for fallen cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried, which was held in a federal courthouse around a corner from the state court where Trump is on trial now. Partington said he found that, too, “very interesting.”

Impressions of the Trump trial so far?

Judge Juan Merchan “has done a really good job,” Partington said. “I think he’s kept a really, like, orderly courtroom.”

But he doesn’t blame Trump for appearing to possibly nod off at times.

‘I don’t know how he sustains any kind of energy throughout this whole thing,” Partington said, citing long days inside the courtroom and fluorescent lights that “just make you tired.”


Associated Press journalist Julie Walker contributed to this report.

Karen Matthews, The Associated Press

OTTAWA — A panel of United Nations experts say Canada is failing to ensure equitable justice, citing trial delays and problems with initiatives meant to lower the rate of Indigenous people behind bars.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also says there needs to be a cap on how long Ottawa can detain foreigners without charge.

And it notes the Canada Border Services Agency lacks any official oversight body, despite border guards interacting with some of the most vulnerable people in Canada.

Ottawa can detain foreigners without charge when it can’t identify them, or when immigration officers suspect they won’t show up to hearings that determine whether they can stay in Canada.

The panel visited four provinces just as Ottawa announced plans to use federal prisons for immigration detention, after provinces pulled out of agreements to use jails for that purpose.

Panel chair Matthew Gillet told reporters in Ottawa that oversight and accountability is what prevents countries like Canada from violating international law.

“Whilst we certainly hope that CBSA officials are conducting their jobs professionally and with the right ethical values, if there is no oversight mechanism, it simply in increases the risk of mistakes and potentially even abuses occurring,” he said at a news conference Friday.

The committee also said that initiatives meant to cut down on Indigenous people being disproportionately jailed are not being adequately run or funded.

They cited Gladue reports, which are meant to help courts understand how colonization shaped an offender’s life, as an example of a system that is not working.

The panel argued the process to craft such reports can be ineffective and traumatizing for accused people.

The UN officials found that Canada does well overall when it comes to police avoiding excessive force and following proper arrest procedures.

It praised initiatives that have reduced incarceration, such as Ontario reforms for youth in custody.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press

The House of Commons committee studying food prices recommends that the federal government consider policies to tackle “excessive net profits” in the food industry.

In a report, the committee detailed its research into the causes of food inflation and insecurity in Canada, including the high-profile testimonies it drew from grocery executives.

The report lists a number of recommendations that range from lowering the barrier to entry for new companies to Canada, to making legislative changes to strengthen competition law regarding mergers.

The committee is also recommending that the government discuss with the provinces and territories legislation to make the grocery code of conduct mandatory.

That recommendation comes on the heels of an announcement from Loblaw that it plans to sign on to the code after months of pressure on the country’s largest grocer to participate.

The voluntary code is intended to help level the playing field for smaller companies in the industry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The union representing workers at the Canada Border Services Agency says a possible strike could affect Canada’s borders this summer.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says 9,000 of its members who work for the CBSA have secured a strike mandate.

It is warning that could lead to “significant disruptions” at Canada’s borders ahead of the busy summer travel season, though the government says most front-line workers would have to keep working.

The union says workers will be in a legal strike position in June, which is also when mediation sessions are scheduled to begin.

It says members have been without a contract for two years, and issues include getting wages in line with other law enforcement agencies and securing remote work options.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government will continue to negotiate.

“We know when it comes to CBSA, the work they do is extremely important and extremely difficult,” he said at an unrelated news conference Friday.

“But we also know that the best labour agreements happen at the bargaining table, and that’s exactly where the ministers are focused and we will continue to do that.”

The Treasury Board of Canada says it is willing to continue bargaining.

“Rather than planning for disruption, PSAC should focus on negotiation so we can reach an agreement as quickly as possible that is fair to employees and taxpayers,” it said in a press release.

It said 90 per cent of front-line border employees are classified as essential, which means they would have to continue providing service in the event of a strike.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

Anja Karadeglija, The Canadian Press

VICTORIA — The leader of British Columbia’s official Opposition says the BC Conservatives have rejected a proposal to avoid vote-splitting in the provincial election this fall.

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon says talks between the two right-of-centre parties concluded with Conservative Leader John Rustad ultimately deciding against a proposed “non-competition” agreement.

Falcon says in a statement that Rustad has “placed his own ambition” above B.C.’s interests and is risking the re-election of the governing NDP.

He says there were talks between two representatives of each party this month, most recently on Wednesday, and BC United had proposed a non-competition framework.

Falcon says the proposal included that the parties would not run candidates against each other’s members who were seeking re-election, and the BC Conservatives would run in 47 seats and BC United in 46.

But Falcon says despite common ground between the parties’ representatives, Rustad rejected the proposal on Thursday night and made no counter-offer.

Rustad has previously pledged to run candidates in all 93 electoral districts.

Other points in the BC United proposal included that the parties would not merge and that they would refrain from attacking each other during campaigning for the October election, Falcon says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the International Court of Justice’s latest ruling is in line with Canada’s position on Israel’s military operations in Rafah.

His comments come after the United Nations’ top court ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza Strip city, but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire for the enclave.

The sharply focused decision sent a three-pronged message to Israel, ordering the country to halt the Rafah offensive, allow war crimes investigators access Gaza and immediately increase humanitarian aid into the region.

Trudeau reiterated Canada’s call for a ceasefire, for Hamas to lay down its arms and release all hostages as well as for the need to get more aid into Gaza.

The prime minister notes the ICJ’s ruling is binding and Canada expects everyone to abide by it as a matter of international law.

The ruling is a blow to Israel’s international standing, but the court doesn’t have a police force to enforce its orders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2024.

— With files from The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press