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Ontario narrows scope of SIU investigations into police conduct

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Allison Jones, The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019 12:02PM EST

TORONTO — Ontario is narrowing the scope of mandatory Special Investigations Unit probes into police conduct, with the Progressive Conservative government framing current rules as inherently anti-police.

The government is introducing legislation Tuesday to overhaul police oversight regulations, after it had paused implementation of a law from the previous Liberal government that enhanced the mandates of Ontario’s three police oversight agencies — the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

Currently, the SIU investigates circumstances involving police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury, death or allegations of sexual assault. That could include cases of suicide or situations in which a person dies after a medical incident.

Under the new legislation, the SIU would limit investigations to when police use of force results in serious injury or death, as well as when an officer has shot at a person or if there is a reported sexual assault, and would have to wrap up investigations within 120 days.

Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said the changes would focus the SIU’s mandate to what it was originally created to do: investigate suspected criminal activity.

“That’s actually not the case today,” she said at an announcement in Oakville, Ont. “If a police officer tries to stop a suicide attempt but is unsuccessful, he or she is treated like a suspect … If a police officer responds to a violent crime, tries to perform CPR but is unable to save the life, he or she is treated like a suspect. This is not what the SIU should be doing.”

Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Sylvia Jones said the Liberal changes to police oversight laws actively undermined policing efforts and public trust in officers.

“Police will no longer be treated like they’re guilty until proven innocent,” she said.

Under the Liberal legislation, officers who didn’t comply with SIU investigations could be fined up to $50,000 and/or be sent to jail for up to one year — those fines will be drastically lowered, to $5,000 for a first incident and $10,000 for a second.

As well, the previous legislation allowed police chiefs to suspend officers without pay, and while Jones said that power is being maintained, she said the legislation will clarify the circumstances.

The new bill also eliminates the Ontario Civilian Police Commission in order to create a single body to handle public complaints about police — the Office of the Independent Police Review Director would become the new Law Enforcement Complaints Agency. It would receive and screen public complaints about police officers and assign an investigation to a police service or an agency investigator.

The Police Association of Ontario said it hasn’t been able to review the legislation before its introduction, but it welcomes the announcement.

“We are optimistic that this Act will restore fairness and respect for professional policing in the province, make oversight more effective, and improve governance, training, and transparency for the profession,” the group said in a statement.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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