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‘Lives could have been saved’: Family of McArthur victim Selim Esen calls for public inquiry

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The “devastated” family of one of Bruce McArthur’s victims says they want the serial killer punished to “the maximum sentence,” and are renewing calls for a public inquiry into police handling of the case.

Ferhat Cinar listened in from his home in London, England, Tuesday as McArthur, 67, pleaded guilty to killing his brother, Selim Esen, and seven other men in Toronto between 2010 and 2017, most of the killings sexual in nature.

Esen, a 44-year-old native of Turkey, was McArthur’s seventh victim, killed in April 2017. Esen’s DNA was located in McArthur’s van, as well as on the murder weapon, which was not specified in court Tuesday. A statement of facts read out said police found “evidence of the use of a ligature.”

Found in McArthur’s apartment was a notebook kept by Esen, who was described by his family as a lover of sociology and philosophy who had an “inquisitive mind.”

“We can’t come to terms with his savage murder,” Cinar said in a statement sent to the Star Thursday, on behalf of Esen’s family, many of whom remain in Turkey.

Submissions are scheduled to begin at Ontario Superior Court Monday, where McArthur’s lawyers and Crown prosecutors will begin deliberations on McArthur’s sentence. First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, when McArthur will be 91 years old.

The hearings will decide whether McArthur serves the sentences for each first-degree murder concurrently, or if he will be granted consecutive sentences, pushing his parole eligibility far into the future.

Next week’s hearings will hear at least two dozen victim impact statements, including from Esen’s family.

“We feel and think strongly that the murderer must be punished with the maximum sentence,” Cinar said.

Renewing a call he made last year when he travelled to Toronto for Esen’s funeral, Cinar stressed that more needs to be done to determine how McArthur went undetected for years. The former landscaper killed his first victim, 40-year-old Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, in 2010, seven years before Esen.

In between, McArthur killed Majeed Kayhan, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam. After Esen, McArthur killed Andrew Kinsman, his last victim.

“We think that a full independent public inquiry must be carried out in order to get into the bottom of this neglect over many years,” Cinar said.

“Lives could have been saved, including Selim’s, if there were proper investigation in time and place.”

Former Ontario Court of Appeal judge Gloria Epstein is conducting an independent review of how Toronto police handle missing person’s investigations. The probe was commissioned by the Toronto police board in the wake of controversy over the McArthur case and other high profile disappearances from the city’s Gay Village.

On Wednesday, Epstein wrote a letter to Toronto police board chair Andy Pringle asking that her review be broadened to allow her to examine the police investigation into McArthur himself. Currently, Epstein cannot review Toronto police handling of the serial killer — including past contacts with him — due to restrictions created to preserve McArthur’s fair-trial rights.

Pringle said the board will consider the request at a future meeting, considering McArthur’s fair-trial rights are now no longer a concern due to his guilty plea.

Toronto police spoke to McArthur twice in the years before his arrest, once during a previous investigation into the disappearances of his victims and again in 2016 after a man reported to police that McArthur had attempted to strangle him, but he was let go.

While many within Toronto’s LGBTQ community have praised the actions of the Toronto police officers whose work led to McArthur’s arrest, some feel a public inquiry could identify systemic issues that may have prevented McArthur from being caught sooner.

Mayor John Tory said this week there may be cause for a “broader inquiry” into the case — beyond Epstein’s missing persons review — and Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province would consider it. A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Attorney General said Wednesday that any consideration of an inquiry would happen after McArthur’s sentencing hearing.

“A full independent public inquiry should help learn the lessons and put measures in place in order for people of any sexuality, whatever their background, feel free and safe to express themselves and live in harmony,” Cinar said.

Esen’s family described him as selfless, someone who loved playing with his cousins, supported his sister after her husband’s death, and borrowed money to help his friends when they needed financial support. He had many talents and interests, Cinar said, including “nature, growing trees, textile design, managing a café among many other things.”

“We all loved our youngest brother Selim and miss him so much.”

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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Ecology

Globe Climate: Canada’s resource reckoning is coming

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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.

This afternoon, the Alberta government announced that it is restoring a coal mining policy it revoked last spring. At the time, the move provoked a widespread public backlash detailed by The Globe. The original decision, which opened up more than 1.4 million hectares to exploration, was made without public consultation. Premier Jason Kenney previously defended the changes.

Lots more on coal and Canada’s resources industry in this week’s newsletter edition.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.

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Ecology

‘Incredibly destructive’: Canada’s Prairies to see devastating impact of climate change

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As the climate continues to warm at an alarming rate, experts warn if dramatic steps to mitigate global warming are not taken, the effects in Canada’s Prairie region will be devastating to the country’s agriculture sector.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country is warming, on average, about double the global rate.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. recently found 2020 was earth’s second-hottest year on record, with the average land and ocean surface temperature across the globe at 0.98 of a degree C above the 20th-century average.

However, the agency found the northern hemisphere saw its hottest year on record, at 1.28 degrees C above the average.

“(In Canada) we are looking at about 6.4C degrees of warming this century, which isn’t much less than one degree per decade, which is just a terrifying rate of warming,” Darrin Qualman, the director of climate crisis policy and action at the National Farmer’s Union said.

Qualman said there is “massive change coming” to Canada’s Prairies, which will be “incredibly destructive.”

“It’s not going too far to say that if we made that happen, parts of the Prairies wouldn’t be farmable anymore,” he said.

According to the federal government, in 2018 Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated $143 billion, accounting for 7.4 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The sector employed 2.3 million people in 2018. The majority of the 64.2 million hectares of farmland in Canada is concentrated in the Prairies and in southern Ontario.

The effects of climate change are already being felt on the ground in the Prairies, Qualman said, adding that the NFU has already heard from farmers complaining of “challenging weather.”

“People are sharing pictures of flattened crops and buildings, et cetera, that have been damaged,” he said. “And we’re still at the beginning of this.”

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Ecology

Insect-based dog food aims to cut your pet’s carbon pawprint

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Meat has an enormous carbon footprint, with livestock liable for about 15 per cent of worldwide emissions, as we have beforehand mentioned on this e-newsletter. That is prompted specialists to suggest consuming much less meat for sustainability (and well being) causes.

However what about your pet? One research discovered that the methane and nitrous oxide emissions generated by canine and cat meals within the U.S. alone had been equal to about 64 million tonnes of CO2, or roughly the quantity produced by 13.6 million automobiles. And it might be getting worse, with a development towards feeding pets “human-grade” meat.

That is prompted some pet meals makers to look to lower-carbon protein sources — together with bugs.

Research present that producing insect-based meals requires far much less feed, land and water and generates far fewer greenhouse fuel emissions per kilogram than meats comparable to beef, pork or rooster.

That is one of many causes increasingly more pet meals containing insect protein are hitting the market. Purina, a model owned by multinational Nestlé, launched a line of canine and cat meals containing black soldier fly larvae in Switzerland in November.

In Canada, Montreal-based Wilder Harrier began promoting canine treats made with cricket protein in 2015 and pet food made with black soldier fly larvae in 2019. It plans to broaden to launch a line of insect-based cat treats later this yr and cat meals in 2022 due to “a ton of demand,” mentioned firm co-founder Philippe Poirier.

Wilder Harrier initially labored with animal nutritionists on insect-based merchandise to unravel a unique downside — specifically, the founders’ canines had allergy symptoms to frequent meats utilized in canine meals. Poirier mentioned now about half its prospects hunt down the product due to their pets’ allergy symptoms and about half for environmental causes.

Dr. Cailin Heinze, a U.S.-based veterinary nutritionist licensed by the American School of Veterinary Vitamin, has written concerning the environmental influence of pet meals. She mentioned we’re typically “not as involved as we probably ought to [be]” concerning the environmental footprint of pets.

Alternatively, she famous that the longer-term influence of newer diets, comparable to vegan meals and people containing bugs, hasn’t been nicely examined in comparison with conventional pet meals.

Maria Cattai de Godoy, an assistant professor of animal sciences on the College of Illinois who research novel proteins for pet meals (together with bugs, yeast and plant-based substances), mentioned such substances are rigorously examined to find out their security and diet earlier than being added to pet meals. 

“This can be a very extremely regulated trade,” she mentioned, however admitted it is also evolving.

Relating to bugs, she mentioned constructive information “reveals promise in direction of utilizing them increasingly more in pet meals.” Insect-based proteins have additionally earned the endorsement of the British Veterinary Affiliation, which says some insect-based meals could also be higher for pets than prime steak.

However Godoy famous that there isn’t any one-size-fits-all resolution, and pet homeowners ought to take into consideration the wants of their very own particular person pet and analysis whether or not a specific weight loss plan can be appropriate.

She mentioned that other than the kind of protein, issues like packaging and manufacturing strategies may also make a distinction. For instance, utilizing meat byproducts that may in any other case turn into waste would not drive elevated meat manufacturing the identical approach as utilizing human-grade meat.

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