Aemilius Cupero News:
By Star Staff
Sat., Dec. 18, 2021timer7 min. read
From a terrifying fire in the sky to a “billion dollar scam” in the trucking industry, we’ve selected some of the best long reads of the week on thestar.com.
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1. ‘Mayday, mayday … I’m out of air’: How a terrifying blaze at 200 Wellesley brought a fire crew to its knees — and changed the way Toronto fights highrise fires forever
Firefighter Brent Brooks was in the stairwell of a burning highrise when a member of his crew staggered down from the 24th floor. The man was retreating from a blaze so fierce that the water being used to fight it was boiling in the hallway. His face was black with soot. He had wrenched off his breathing apparatus. He dropped to his hands and knees, gasping for clean air close to ground.
He was trying to tell Brooks that two firefighters on the fire floor two storeys above them were running out of air and needed to be rescued. But he had inhaled so much smoke he couldn’t speak.
“We knew something horrible was going on,” said Brooks, whose job that day was to keep track of the incoming crews and their assignments, a job rendered so complex by the crews of firefighters pouring in to respond to the six-alarm fire that Brooks tossed aside his clipboard and began keeping track on a wall.
On the day of that fire at 200 Wellesley St. E., in September 2010, Brooks had been a Toronto firefighter for 15 years, four of them on the department’s specialized highrise truck. He believed then that he knew everything there was to know about highrise fires. The fire at 200 Wellesley would prove him wrong.
2. ‘If we are not Canadian, what are we?’ How a 2009 law is leaving some children stateless
After numerous failed attempts to conceive a child, including a lost pregnancy through in vitro fertilization, Emma Kenyon and her husband were grateful and thrilled for the arrival of their first baby.
On Dec. 5, healthy six-pound, two-ounce Darcy was born at a public hospital in Hong Kong. However, a bureaucratic nightmare for his Canadian expatriate parents has just begun.
As new parents, the nursing mother and her husband, Daniel Warelis — both foreign-born Canadian citizens who grew up in Greater Toronto — must fight to find a way to bring their stateless child home.
“I don’t think any country, especially a country like Canada, should allow little babies to be born stateless to Canadian citizens. It’s a travesty,” said Kenyon, 35, who was born in Tokyo while her father was working there for the Bank of Nova Scotia.
3. They call it Driver Inc. and it’s a ‘billion dollar scam.’ Inside Brampton truckers’ fight against wage theft
It has racked up almost a million views on TikTok, a brief exchange filmed on a sunny Brampton day.
The video shows a group of young truck drivers clustered at the foot of a driveway. A man in a white button-down shirt emerges from his suburban home and is presented with a letter: some 16 workers are owed money, a driver says, and are fed up with delays and unreturned phone calls. They are ready to protest if necessary, they tell the man. That’s when the mood shifts.
“Whoever comes here to protest won’t end up leaving,” the man, who is not identified in the video, responds in Punjabi.
The clip is one of several encounters between truck drivers and companies caught on camera by members of the Naujawan Support Network, a group of Brampton-area workers who say they are mobilizing against a mounting crisis: wage theft.
4. Their baby died. But their nightmare was only beginning. How a flawed child death investigation tore a grieving family apart
Under the harsh lights of a Hamilton emergency room, Brooke and Ryan sat together on a gurney, cradling their lifeless infant. They couldn’t make sense of the sudden death of their seven-week-old, brown-eyed boy.
Doctors had been closely monitoring Alexander and his twin brother, who were born prematurely, throughout their short lives.
Alexander had always been the bigger, stronger one. After 11 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, he was discharged first. He was eating well and gaining weight. Brooke’s family doctor, who saw the twins for weekly checkups, hadn’t flagged any concerns.
On that December evening in 2017, Ryan made a panicked 911 call. He was home alone with the kids, giving Alexander a bottle, when the baby’s warm, wriggling body suddenly went limp.
5. Secret money. Elite Canadian families. And a corporate landlord accused of pandemic evictions
In 2012, a secret Cayman Island trust fund containing tens of millions of dollars from two of Canada’s wealthiest and most powerful families got a promising investment tip.
Devised by a former Goldman Sachs executive who made a fortune predicting the U.S. housing collapse in 2008, the idea was simple: buy tens of thousands of foreclosed homes across the U.S. sunbelt and rent them to heavily indebted Americans who can’t get a mortgage.
The Bronfmans and the Kolbers — elite Canadian families who financed Liberal prime ministers from Pierre Trudeau to his son Justin — were in for $1.5 million (U.S.).
Nearly a decade later, the fund, which has evolved into a U.S. real estate behemoth called Pretium Partners, has been wildly successful — and controversial.
6. The inside story of how Toronto police zeroed in the Sherman murder ‘suspect’ with the odd gait
Four years after billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman were murdered, Toronto homicide detectives are, for the first time, have released images and other information from their case in the hopes the public can help them solve the crime.
This information released Tuesday shows video of a “possible suspect” in the investigation. Police believe the individual to be between five-foot-six-and-three-quarters and five-foot-nine-and-a-half with a distinctive walk, who “kicks” up the right foot with each step.
Investigators have for the past four years maintained they are working hard on the probe, albeit with only one full-time officer on the case for most of that time. The Star has taken a hard look at the probe and found numerous delays in the investigation as it developed.
7. Wild pigs have infiltrated Canada. Time is ticking to stop these ‘ecological train wrecks,’ experts say
Bob Brickley was on his combine, harvesting grain at his farm in southeastern Saskatchewan, when his wife, Lois, saw the horde on the horizon.
“She radioed me and said, ‘There’s these ugly black things. They’re in the pasture,’ ” Brickley recalls.
“She said, ‘They’re pigs. They have ear tags. I think you better stop combining and go shoot them.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m not shooting someone else’s livestock. Whoever’s pigs they are will come and get them.’
“I still haven’t lived that one down.”
That was 20 years ago.
Brickley lives near the northern border of Moose Mountain Provincial Park, a hilly, forested plateau elevated above the surrounding prairie.
While he’s primarily a rancher and a grain farmer, today the 70-year-old Brickley likes to joke that he has a master’s degree when it comes to killing wild pigs.
8. Toronto’s pink delivery robots have been pulled off the streets and may be banned — but is that the right move?
David Lepofsky uses a white cane as he walks to sweep the path in front of him for tripping hazards.
The retired lawyer, who teaches at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto, has been blind much of his life.
Lepofsky, who is also chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, learned to navigate Toronto’s streets when they were relatively clear of today’s modern distractions.
An explosion in construction sites and, more recently, sidewalk patios — a pandemic city initiative that permitted restaurants to expand outdoor dining areas onto sidewalks — have meant an increase in obstacles for Lepofsky as of late.
It’s a frustrating step back for the accessibility advocate.
9. Why I’m saying bye-bye to ‘BIPOC’ this year
Who on earth is a BIPOC person?
BIPOC is an acronym that has flared into public consciousness since the 2020 summer of protests against police brutality against Black people. It stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and was quickly pronounced ‘bye-pock.’
I thought it held some promise then, writes Star columnist Shree Paradkar. It appeared to be a thoughtful political coalition term, acknowledging disparate impacts of white supremacy by singling out Black and Indigenous experiences, even though both “Black” and “Indigenous” are homogenizing identities in themselves, and not always disparate.
When it comes to police brutality, we’re not all in it together. Black and Indigenous people are treated more unjustly than just about anyone else in our criminal justice system. Other people are treated with disdain, but that contempt often stems from anti-Black, colonial ideas of refinement and race.
However, as with POC or person of colour, BIPOC got swallowed up, quickly lost nuance and got spat out at a racial identifier to say “not white.”