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11.12.2014
You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. More than a decade ago Salim Damji convinced thousands of Ismaili Muslims to invest in his fake teeth whitening product — a $100-million scam dubbed at the time to be the largest of its kind in Canadian history. York Regional Police now allege that the 45-year-old Stouffville resident is the mastermind behind a romance and investment Ponzi scheme in which at least 20 victims lost $1.2 million.
Damji was arrested in January on one count of fraud over $5,000, one count of fraud over $5,000 public, false pretenses and laundering proceeds of crime. On Friday, police announced they had arrested three alleged accomplices — Yiaoming Liang, Shafin Damji (Salim’s brother) and Ansari Farhan — on charges that include fraud over $5,000 and laundering proceeds of crime. The major fraud unit started to focus its investigation in April 2014, according to a news release issued Friday. One of Damji’s alleged victims told the Stouffville Sun-Tribune earlier this year that she had given him $67,000 after dating him for more than a year starting in 2013, believing he was an RBC investment banker.
She said even though she didn’t see him after their first encounter, they continued a relationship over the phone.
Damji was thrust into the spotlight in 2002 when he was sentenced to prison for bilking thousands of his fellow Ismaili Muslims out of millions of dollars. The judge dismissed that scenario, saying Damji’s “selfishness and callousness” had devastated many people in his community. Scarborough resident Sylvia Buchanan was owed thousands by her former employer, who fired her the day after she asked to be officially put on the books as an employee. Instead, what she got was a nine-month runaround from the Ministry of Labour, the department supposedly meant to protect her against workplace violations.
When it comes to enforcing Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, critics say it is workers — not the government — doing the heavy lifting.
Complicating matters is the fact that, by law, workers are supposed to confront their employer about possible mistreatment before filing a complaint with the Ministry of Labour. When a complaint is lodged, employers are immediately notified and are given the employee’s name, often leading to immediate dismissal.
Sylvia Buchanan, who has three degrees and more than a decade of teaching experience, began working with private college Oxford Education Group in April 2013, hired to create an English curriculum for the school.
But for more than a year, her boss refused to recognize her as an employee, she says, treating her instead as an independent contractor. Buchanan says she had no idea that she was hired as a contractor until she was first paid, receiving a mysterious cheque that bore little information instead of the official pay stub she was expecting.
She also says she was treated like any other employee: she worked predominantly from the college’s premises, used its equipment, had her hours set by her boss, and represented the college at conferences. She says she was fired the day after she told her employer she was considering filing a formal complaint. But because she was classified as a contractor, she did not receive termination or holiday pay. In June 2014, Buchanan lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Labour, asking for those wages and claiming that she was the victim of reprisal for standing up for her workplace rights.
By August 2014, Canada Revenue Agency had already ruled that Buchanan had rightfully been an employee of the college. It took until October 23 for the Ministry of Labour to agree that she was owed holiday and termination pay.
Mohammed Azharuddin, vice-president of Oxford College of Arts, Business and Technology, says his organization began Oxford Education Group as a “startup” and says he told Buchanan upfront that she would be hired as an independent contractor. He told the Star that Buchanan’s termination had nothing to do with her complaint to the ministry, and that she was let go because “there was no progress happening” with her work. He also says his organization paid the money owed to Buchanan on time, via the Ministry of Labour, and that the ministry was responsible for the delay.
That “clerical error,” as the ministry called it, added four months to Buchanan’s already agonizing wait time. At 54, she is still living with her aunt and uncle in Scarborough because she can’t afford rent.
The system designed to enforce the Employment Standards Act is increasingly under fire for being inaccessible, inefficient and — for workers such as Buchanan — infuriating.
Under the current model, employers have almost no incentive to obey the law in the first place. The Ministry of Labour has a team of just 180 enforcement officers to look into employment standards violations across the entire province — less than half the number devoted to Occupational Health and Safety inspections.
Figures requested by the Star show that the 15,485 complaints made last year prompted just 2,768 workplace inspections. A further 321 tickets of less than $360 were issued for violations from failure to give regular pay, to denying overtime pay and not paying minimum wage. York University’s Doorey says those penalties do little to deter lawbreakers, who are unlikely to be caught unless workers risk their job to speak out. In 2009, the government did commit $10 million to employment standards enforcement, allowing the Ministry of Labour to significantly reduce its backlog of more than 17,000 claims. The ministry also operates an employment standards call centre in 24 languages, which last year received more than 265,000 calls about possible violations. The action centre’s Ladd says the process can be challenging for vulnerable workers who may struggle to understand the Act’s confusing exemptions, and may not have ready access to a computer or speak English as a first language. Marta Jaramillo, 60, said her former boss at a Mississauga-based graphic design company used to taunt her for not being able to afford a lawyer to defend her after she complained about not receiving overtime pay, lunch breaks and holiday pay. The province’s Open for Business Act, passed in 2010, includes a provision that can force complainants to first approach their employer about possible employment standards violations. While the legislation says exceptions can be made in the case of vulnerable workers, experts say the measure still discourages employees from speaking out. Figures requested by the Star show that in the year before that Act was passed, workers submitted 20,365 formal complaints. As for Jaramillo, she’s still waiting for the $3,394 she’s owed — more than a year after filing her claim. Recognizing that relying on vulnerable workers to enforce their own rights makes little sense, many jurisdictions have moved to a more proactive model of enforcement.
In California, the state can slap embargoes on goods made by companies who violate labour laws. In a move welcomed by campaigners, the Ministry of Labour has started conducting so-called proactive inspection blitzes aimed at high-risk sectors, where inspections are done even if no complaint has been made. But of Ontario’s 442,000 workplaces, just 2,694 were inspected in such investigations last year. A recent report by the Workers’ Action Centre makes a number of recommendations to improve enforcement of the Employment Standards Act.
Each year, thousands of permanent residents discover they can’t return to Canada after time away and face losing their permanent status because of an invalid “Maple Leaf Card,” the Ottawa-issued newcomer ID. Government figures show that in 2013 alone, 19,503 permanent residents had to apply for a one-time travel document to return to Canada after being away. The federal government introduced the Maple Leaf Card in 2002 to replace the old landing document as a means of enforcing residency requirements for immigrants.
The wallet-sized plastic card expires every five years, and cardholders must live in Canada for at least two years within a five-year period to qualify for renewal.
The largest single group requesting one-time documents were immigrants who wanted to return from China (about 4,300), followed by India (1,800), the Philippines (1,545), France (880), the United Kingdom (850) and Abu Dhabi (740).
While refused applicants can appeal the decision to an Immigration and Refugee Board tribunal, so as to re-enter Canada and renew their residency here, less than one fifth are successful.
Ranjan Desai, a Brampton resident who was sponsored to Canada by her son in 2009, applied to renew her PR card last April, a month before its expiry date.
Although officials had her PR card ready in October, they would not allow her family to pick it up on her behalf. Fortunately, after studying the pertinent law, Desai learned that immigration officials must issue an applicant the one-time travel document if the person had lived in Canada within the past 12 months.


The law does exempt certain immigrants from the residency obligations: those who accompany a Canadian citizen outside Canada, or are employed abroad by a Canadian business or the federal or provincial governments. Immigrants from countries where visas are not needed can also sneak back into Canada without a PR card if they don’t travel by commercial transportation. Wong, however, warns applicants renewing their PR card to be aware of the long processing time after submitting a renewal application. He has seen cases where an immigrant has barely met their two-year residency within five years and left Canada as soon as the renewal was filed. That’s exactly what’s happened to Ranjan Desai, who now must appear before a tribunal to regain her permanent resident status. OTTAWA—The Tories walk away from the election debate negotiations, the Liberals make a set of demands to suit their leader, and the smaller parties balk at being shut out. Nearly a half-century after the first televised match-up between Canada’s federal party leaders, some of the same positioning and posturing is still part of the story before the debates get underway. Back then, Canadian political parties were well aware of the widely watched 1960 debate in the United States between John F.
CTV decided to put forward an offer for a 90-minute debate in 1968 — but it only wanted Liberal Leader Pierre Trudeau and Progressive Conservative Leader Robert Stanfield to participate.
The NDP’s Tommy Douglas declared the offer “discrimination,” and the party vowed to mount a national protest. Those were also the beginnings of the so-called television consortium and the unusual arrangement of the networks pooling their resources. The Liberals are insisting on including all the parties, and want an equal number of French and English debates.
An estimated 14 million Canadians watched the debates in 1968, the same number as in 2011 even though the population has risen 12 million and there is one more national TV network. That’s part of the reason given by the Conservatives for walking away from the consortium negotiations and insisting on alternative debates from different hosts.
A group of midtown Toronto residents has banded together to fight what it’s dubbed “density creep,” amid a push for midrise development citywide that shows no signs of abating.
The Density Creep Neighborhood Alliance formed in response to a proposed townhouse development on Keewatin Ave. The group of about 50 neighbours claims the project — a four-storey, 80-unit building that will replace eight properties from 200-214 Keewatin Ave. That rationale could be the driving force behind other midrise construction taking place around the city. Ideally, De Sousa says resident groups and developers would work together to find a middle ground, but in reality the former often wants the status quo to remain intact while the latter asks for too much. To defend their turf, the Density Creep Neighborhood Alliance has started a Save Our Streets campaign, with more than 70 signs posted in the area’s lush, tree-lined yards. Though there are highrise apartment buildings south of the street, “the buck stops here,” Goodwin says.
The South Eglinton Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association share similar concerns about a proposed nine-storey condominium on Bayview Ave. Hydro One deceived regulators, the ombudsman’s office and others on the extent of its billing and customer service disaster, Ombudsman Andre Marin says. In his latest report into Ontario’s largest utility, titled In the Dark, Marin said Hydro One’s introduction of a new computer billing service was an unmitigated failure that left many of its 1.3 million customers entangled in a bureaucratic nightmare that continued even after the ombudsman’s office highlighted the problems earlier this year.
Worse yet, he said, as the billing “crisis” continued, Hydro One “deliberately kept the situation under wraps . Marin used the damning report to bolster the argument that the Wynne government should preserve independent oversight of Hydro One once it is partially privatized.
The investigation into the utility’s billing failures was the largest in the ombudsman’s office history featuring more than 10,700 complaints, which revealed a litany of “egregious problems” with billing and customers service arising from Hydro One’s “disastrous” installation of a new customer information system in May 2013, which Marin estimated affected well over 100,000 customers.
Marin announced his initial investigation in February 2014 and issued his interim report in March 2015 in which he accused the utility of “extortion” for sending out letters in winter threatening to cut off electricity to customers in arrears — even though it was against company policy. Hydro One CEO Carmine Marcello insisted his officials never lied to the energy ministry or mislead others about the billing problems, which he said affected 50,000 customers, not the 100,000 Marin said were affected. Don’t expect to sneak carry-on baggage onto Air Canada flights out of Pearson International Airport any longer. That’s because Air Canada began on Monday to make sure all carry-on bags meet size and weight requirements by posting staff at check-in and security checkpoints. Under the new policy, if your bags meet the airline’s carry-on dimensions, they’ll be given a red tag. Passengers who get to security before learning a bag exceeds size limits will receive a special card to get quickly back to a check-in agent, and then on to the departure gate, airline officials say. Air Canada specifies that a personal item can include a backpack, briefcase or laptop computer measuring up to 16 x 33 x 43 cm. A standard item can include a suitcase measuring up to 23 cm by 40 cm by 55 cm, with wheels and handles.
Those travelling with an infant on their lap can carry an additional piece of luggage with the same restrictions. Air Canada began charging a $25 checked-bag fee last fall on its lowest-class domestic flights and on flights to and from the Caribbean and Mexico. The tagging program will expand to include all other domestic airports served by Air Canada by June 8. Westjet spokesperson Robert Palmer said his airline also monitors the size of carry-on luggage.
Palmer said customer behaviour has changed since Westjet rolled out its similar policy last fall. Michael Mulvey, a professor who teaches marketing and consumer behaviour at the University of Ottawa, said he has divided opinions about Air Canada’s move. Mulvey said the policy does create one more thing to consider for families who don’t travel frequently.
WINNIPEG — A new report says a pipeline that would carry millions of barrels of oil from Alberta to the East Coast would threaten the drinking water of over 60 per cent of Manitoba residents. The report by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition said a rupture on the proposed Energy East pipeline would seep into any number of waterways which feed into Winnipeg’s water supply. The pipeline would transport one million barrels of oil a day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries and port terminals on the East Coast. Part of the line would run underneath an aqueduct carrying Winnipeg’s drinking water from Shoal Lake near the Ontario boundary. Dennis LeNeveu, a retired biophysicist and author of the report, said the oil would be carried across Manitoba in a 40-year-old repurposed natural gas line.
The entire length of Winnipeg’s aqueduct would be in danger of contamination from the nearby pipeline, LeNeveu said.
There would also be “a significant risk of rupture and explosion” from a nearby natural gas line in Manitoba as well, LeNeveu said.
Any spill could have a serious impact on the commercial fishery, farms and hunting, LeNeveu said. These were some of the most commonly cited allegations in hundreds of complaints lodged by consumers with the CRTC about telecom companies between January and August of 2013.
Bell said it works to resolve all complaints but it can’t comment on what happened in this case because it would need to know the identity of the complainant, which was redacted by the CRTC. Another wrote to the CRTC in desperation, accusing Bell of shutting off service for an “unknown reason” and that five calls to the company had failed to resolve the problem. In its response letter to the CRTC, Bell said it had accidentally disconnected the customer’s phone line a week earlier than requested but restored service a few days later.
One complainant alleges Bell cut off his phone service on Halloween night, leaving him unable to pick up his girlfriend, who was left waiting for him alone outside.
Again, Bell said it works to resolve all complaints but can’t comment on this specific case without knowing the identity of the complainant.
Another person alleges he was trying to get Telus service trucks to stop speeding through his neighbourhood when company employees flashed him the middle finger.


Speaking generally and not about the specific complaint, Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said the company expects its technicians to provide a high level of customer service and they try to resolve such instances immediately.
Many of the gripes were about billing issues and were referred to the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services.
Ottawa has introduced a number of regulations in recent years to address some of the issues contained in the complaints. In June 2013, the CRTC introduced a new wireless code that allows customers to cancel their cellphone contracts after two years without incurring penalties.
The federal government has banned telecommunications companies from charging customers for paper bills, and as of late January, customers have been able to cancel their telephone, Internet and cable services without providing 30 days’ notice. An annual report from the complaints commissioner suggests the measures are having an effect. The commissioner accepted 11,340 complaints by the end of 2014 — down 17 per cent from the previous year. Roughly 32 per cent — or 3,651 complaints — were about Bell, down nearly 7 per cent from the previous year. Telus received 653 complaints, roughly 6 per cent of the total and a decline of about 26 per cent. Hall said the decline indicates that the company’s focus on improving its customer service is working.
Rogers spokeswoman Heather Robinson said the company has been investing in improving its customer service. Bell spokeswoman Jacqueline Michelis said the company works to investigate and resolve all complaints it receives. Consumers lodged hundreds of complaints against telecom companies between January and August of 2013.
One person alleges Bell accidentally cancelled their phone service instead of renewing their contract. This is the price (excluding shipping and handling fees) a seller has provided at which the same item, or one that is nearly identical to it, is being offered for sale or has been offered for sale in the recent past. This amount includes seller specified US shipping charges as well as applicable international shipping, handling, and other fees. Estimated delivery dates - opens in a new window or tab include seller's handling time, origin ZIP Code, destination ZIP Code and time of acceptance and will depend on shipping service selected and receipt of cleared payment - opens in a new window or tab.
The unit had become aware of a suspect who had befriended a woman at an Aurora bar, convincing her that “if she invested money with him, he could generate significant short-term returns on those investments,” according to the release, which said the victim gave the suspect $50,000, which was transferred into various accounts. She said she sent him $50,000 — she was caring for a sick relative and needed the money she believed a profitable investment would generate — followed by other payments later. He was living the high life, which included an $800,000 luxury condominium at Palace Pier at the mouth of the Humber River. So people will choose to pay the rent,” adds Deena Ladd of Toronto-based labour rights group the Workers’ Action Centre.
But the hotline doesn’t offer any assistance in filing complaints, which must be done online.
But since the Act’s implementation, the number of claims has fallen to an average of 15,500 a year.
In Wisconsin, the government can place a temporary hold on employers’ property until they pay workers what they’re owed.
There are only 35 enforcement officers dedicated to this proactive enforcement, and employers are given notice that their workplace will be inspected.
Permanent residents must carry the ID when they travel if they want to be readmitted to Canada. Not getting a renewed card well ahead of travelling abroad can leave immigrants out in the cold.
However, she had to leave for India in a rush to visit her ailing mother, before the card arrived.
But the time elapsed between a submission and when it is actually dealt with may leave the person short on residency days.
In that application, she was required to show that she met the requirements at the time of this application,” said immigration spokesperson Remi Lariviere. Trudeau demanded that all parties should be invited and that the debate be bilingual — something that would give him an advantage over the others.
The deal would sometimes rub other media outlets the wrong way — in 1968, journalists were barred from the Parliament Hill building where the debate was televised. The newly formed party Forces et Democratie hasn’t been invited to any of the major debates. It’s as if they’ve erected Keewatin’s Wall, says Goodwin, a nod to the icy Wall in the HBO series Game of Thrones that protects the Seven Kingdoms from the zombie-like creatures that live beyond it.
She said 96 per cent of the airlines’ flights from Pearson International departed on time, a higher number than usual. Such pipelines can get corroded and have ruptured four times in Manitoba in the last 20 years, he said. Many draw their water from rivers that would intersect with the proposed pipeline, he said.
Such an explosion could “easily be as large or larger” than the train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac Megantic, Que., almost two years ago, the report said. In the event of a large leak, the city of Winnipeg and Manitoba could be on the hook for cleanup costs, he added.
The Canadian Press requested the documents via Access to Information legislation in September 2013 but did not receive them until March of this year. One complainant alleges Bell wouldn’t stop harassing him about his deceased wife’s account, even though he had paid it off.
The CRTC noted that it was copied on the complaint that was sent to Bell CEO George Cope and the federal regulator closed the file. The CRTC said it does not intervene in billing, marketing practices and quality of service.
In one instance, Telus provided a customer with a $2,435.25 credit for erroneous charges, taxes and interest. The code also makes it easier for Canadians to unlock their phones so they can be used with another carrier. Rogers and its discount brand, Fido, came in second with 3,284 complaints, a decline of about 31.5 per cent.
It said it can't look into how a specific complaint was handled without identifying information, which was redacted by the CRTC.
Contact the seller- opens in a new window or tab and request a shipping method to your location. And under New York State’s wage theft law, guilty employers can be forced to pay up to triple the amount of wages owed.
Stanfield in a face-to-face debate,” Progressive Conservative national chairman Eddie Goodman fumed, as talks appeared to falter. Meanwhile, Leslieville residents are gearing up to challenge a proposed eight-storey building at 1327-1339 Queen St. The "off" amount and percentage simply signifies the calculated difference between the seller-provided price for the item elsewhere and the seller's price on eBay.
If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable. This is the new norm for millions of Ontario workers, the so-called “precariously employed” struggling in the absence of regulations to protect them.
As the province launches a review of its antiquated Employment Standards Act, the Star brings you their stories, and ways to fix it.



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