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Cache of ammunition, 9/11-conspiracy films seized from Danforth shooter’s home, documents reveal

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Nearly six months after Toronto’s deadly Danforth Avenue shooting rampage, newly released details from court documents reveal a startling amount of ammunition was found in the apartment of gunman Faisal Hussain, along with a number of DVDs by the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

In the hours after the shooting, which claimed the lives of 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis, police entered Hussain’s highrise apartment in the city’s Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood.

According to details revealed Tuesday, a sniffer dog trained to detect explosives zeroed in on a bedroom, locating two AK-47 magazines, two 9 mm handguns — all fully loaded — other handgun and shotgun ammunition, and a white powdery substance.

Hussain, 29, died of a self-inflicted shot to the head after a gunfight with officers on the night of July 22, 2018, a police source previously told CBC News. Police found cocaine on his body and a cellphone, still ringing with a call from “home.”

The court documents — less heavily redacted versions of those released in the fall — don’t offer a clear picture of Hussain’s motive, but do show he had a large cache of ammunition when he left home for the Danforth neighbourhood, never to return.

9/11 conspiracy films among items seized

Also found in the bedroom were DVDs, mainly involving 9/11 conspiracy theories, including three by Jones, the founder of the far-right conspiratorial website Infowars. Those were The Road to Tyranny, Terror Storm and American Dictators.

“His anti-establishment conspiracies were picked up by extremists of all stripes,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, senior research fellow at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue.

The Jones films feed into the view that Western governments are “not to be trusted, that most of what we see is a sham, and that some mysterious powerful elite was secretly orchestrating, for their own benefit, most of the evils that we see in our societies,” Amarasingam said. “The 9/11 conspiracy theories are part and parcel of this kind of thinking.”

Other titles included Painful DeceptionsIraq for SaleWeapons of Mass Deception and one bearing the handwritten title “What is Islama.”

The documents also say investigators found two receipts for cash payments totalling $9,310 to a community housing facility in Rawalpindi, a district in the northern part of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Hussain’s father told investigators he had taken his son to Pakistan two to three years earlier to visit family.

While there, he said in the documents, “Faisal was happy on the trip and did not want to return because people left him alone there.”

Hussain, 29, lived with his mother, father and brother in a highrise in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

Shooter had no real friends, family says

Hussain had no real friends, his twin brother told police. On the day of the shooting, Hussain arrived home around 2:30 p.m. He and his brother talked about Hussain “getting his life together, getting married and getting direction,” according to the documents. 

During the conversation Hussain repeatedly referred to himself as “mentally retarded,” before going out to the balcony for a cigarette.

Hussain’s mother told police her son saw a psychiatrist, while his father told police he didn’t have any mental health issues. His brother said Hussain wanted to kill himself and had been on anti-depressants.

Video posted on social media showed Hussain dressed in black pulling out a gun and firing at least three shots into Danforth restaurant. (@ArielAnise/Twitter)

But while Hussain had no criminal record, as CBC News previously reported, guns, gangs and drugs weren’t far away. Court records show Hussain’s older brother, Farad Hussain, in a coma in hospital since early 2017, had ties to a Thorncliffe Park street gang. A police source previously told CBC News he may have once possessed the handgun his brother used in the Danforth shooting. 

As part of their seizure, police also obtained a number of electronics including a laptop, two iPads and various cameras. In the documents, police argued that the “only way of understanding the true extent of what occurred or was planned” was to go through a number of the devices seized. 

Toronto police did not immediately respond to comment about the status of the investigation, the results of their electronic search, updates on Hussain’s motive or if any other charges are outstanding.

The province’s police watchdog says it intends to release its findings on the case “in the coming days,” said spokesperson Monica Hudon.

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Federal Budget 2021: Ottawa adds $1B to broadband fund for rural, remote communities

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The federal government will add $1 billion to a fund for improving high-speed communications in rural and remote areas of Canada, bringing the total to $2.75 billion by 2026, the Liberals said Monday in their first full budget since the pandemic began last year.

The money is going to the Universal Broadband Fund, which is designed to support the installation of “backbone” infrastructure that connects underserved communities to high-speed internet.

It’s one of many government and private-sector initiatives that have gained urgency since the pandemic began, as Canadians became more dependent on internet service for applications ranging from e-learning to daily business operations.

Ottawa says the additional money will keep it on track to have high-speed broadband in 98 per cent of the country by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.

Money spent on high-speed communications will be good for a recovering economy, said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, a non-partisan think-tank.

The latest data from Statistics Canada says there were about five million people working from home during the pandemic, up from about two million prior to that, Antunes said in an interview.

“That’s a quarter or so of the workforce,” he added. “And I think a fair number of those people are going to continue to work from home, at least in some part-time way.”

Improved connections to high-speed broadband and mobile communications will add to the productive capacity of the economy overall, especially as it reaches beyond Canada’s cities, Antunes said.

He said there’s been a “real issue” with economic growth outside major urban centres and the improved connectivity “is something that can help stimulate that.”

The Universal Broadband Fund was initially mentioned in the 2019 budget, though specifics were not available until last November’s fiscal update.

The $1-billion top-up to the broadband fund announced today is in addition to $1.75 billion promised to the fund by the federal government’s November fiscal update.

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COVID-19: What you need to know for April 19

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Provincewide

  • Per today’s government report, there are 4,447 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 421,442 since the pandemic began; 2,202 people are in hospital, 755 of them in intensive care, and 516 on ventilators. To date, 7,735 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 40 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 36 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 127 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,755 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • Per the government’s report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 7 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 66,897 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 3,904,778 since December 2020. 3,212,768 people have received only one dose, and 346,005 people have received both doses.

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Federal budget 2021 highlights: Child care, recovery benefits, OAS increases – everything you need to know

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The federal government’s first budget in more than two years certainly looks the part: At 739 pages, it is a hefty document chock full of billions in new spending.

Those funds will be spread among a number of key groups – students, seniors, parents and small-business owners, to name a few – as Ottawa looks to bolster Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 but also plan for life beyond the pandemic.

To that end, the deficit is projected to hit $354.2-billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which just ended – better than expected about five months ago, given the economy’s resilience over the winter months. It is estimated to fall to $154.7-billion this fiscal year, before dropping further in the years to come as pandemic spending recedes from view.

Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s budget.

The budget outlines tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies for a national child-care program, a promise the Liberal Party has made in some form since the early 1990s. Child-care supports became a point of national debate during pandemic lockdowns as parents with young children struggled to juggle work and family responsibilities.

In total, the government proposes spending as much as $30-billion over the next five years, and $8.3-billion each year after that, to bring child-care fees down to a $10-a-day average by 2026. The proposal, which requires negotiation with the provinces and territories, would split subsidies evenly with those governments and targets a 50-per-cent reduction in average child-care fees by the end of 2022.

The federal program is largely modelled on Quebec’s subsidized child-care system, implemented in the 1990s in an effort to increase women’s access to the labour market. Since then, labour participation rates for women aged 25 to 54 in the province have grown to exceed the national average by four percentage points.

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