Toronto: Imam Aly Hindy’s mosque “a focal point for Toronto area Islamic radicals"

Mideast sources fund controversial mosque
Tyler Anderson / National Post
Several well-known Canadian terrorists, including Ahmed Khadr, have worshipped at the Salaheddin mosque in Toronto

Stewart Bell, National Post · Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

TORONTO — The mosque of outspoken Imam Aly Hindy, described in a RCMP report as “a focal point for Toronto area Islamic radicals,” has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors in the Middle East since 2009, the National Post has learned.

Foreign institutions have donated more than $650,000 to the Salaheddin Islamic Centre for renovations and an expansion of an Islamic school. It is the first time the mosque has received money from outside Canada.

Imam Hindy said that by securing funding from outside Canada the Toronto mosque was preserving Muslim culture, helping the local construction industry and employing Canadians and new immigrants in the education field while saving the public school system money.

“It is obvious that if we find money here, we will not ask other countries for help,” Imam Hindy said. “We always hear complaints about immigrants taking money from the system. So when we are able to bring money from outside, you should be thankful instead of implying this nonsense of allegations.”

Imam Hindy is known for his controversial views. He says he has officiated or blessed 30 polygamous marriages around Toronto, and that he would follow Islamic law if it conflicted with Canada’s laws. He has defended accused terrorists and says Canadian authorities have long monitored his mosque. A New York Police Department report calls Salaheddin “a known radical mosque.”

“The government of Canada should put an immediate end to all money coming into Canada from Arab countries to prop up Islamist organizations and mosques,” said moderate Muslim writer Tarek Fatah. “If we do not end this practice, Canada will pay a very heavy price in the future.”

The mosque’s overseas funding came to light in its latest tax return, which shows $250,000 in revenues from “sources outside Canada” in 2009 — the first year that registered charities such as the Salaheddin Islamic Centre were required to single out their foreign revenues.

The mosque’s 2010 tax return is not yet available but in a news release last February, the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., said the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank had approved $400,000 to the Salaheddin centre to help it buy a school in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb. The announcement was listed under the heading “grants and special assistance projects.”

Imam Hindy said 2009 was the first year the mosque had accepted foreign donations. Initially, he said the money came from the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, which each contributed about US$100,000 toward a $1-million mosque renovation. Later, he said he was not sure of the sources, saying the money might have come from Kuwait, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.

The imam said the renovations were needed because the roof was leaking and had to be replaced at a cost of $150,000. The prayer room is also being downsized to make room for more classrooms for an Islamic school.

He said he had applied twice to the Canadian government for funding to pay for security cameras and lights but was turned down. He said he later saw the list of those who got funding under the same federal program. “All the names are Jewish,” the imam said. While he said Jewish organizations need government funding for security, he said, “also we are at risk.”

Before he left for the Persian Gulf to solicit donations, Imam Hindy said he told the Canadian Security Intelligence Service what he was doing. He said he went “a couple of times” to the Middle East.

He initially said the money came from the Kuwaiti and Qatari ministries of “awqaf” and Islamic affairs. (…)

“No, no, no,” he said. “They don’t believe. You see, it’s only here in Canada and U.S. and the West that they think that there is a big problem of terrorism or homegrown terrorism or all these things. They know that the government, they had to do something to please George Bush and do their own work in fighting what you call terrorism. So I didn’t have to explain anything. I showed them the recommendations from the people here.”

While several well-known Canadian terrorists have worshipped at the mosque, an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed concerns about the centre. “I accept that, over the years, there may have been persons, involved in questionable activities, with questionable associations, who have passed through the centre from time to time,” Justice Gary Trotter wrote in a 2008 ruling. “In my view, this in itself is not sufficient to taint the centre in any way.”

Imam Hindy said his mosque is large and “many people come and go.” He said Khadr would visit the centre when he was in Canada and raised about $2,000 a year there. “But he used to do so with many other Islamic centres in Canada from Montreal to Vancouver.”

Egyptian Mahmoud Jaballah was hired to teach at the school only after a security certificate labelling him an Al Jihad member was quashed by the Federal Court, Imam Hindy said. Jaballah was subsequently removed from his position eight months before he was arrested again on a second certificate.

He said Toronto 18 ringleader Ahmad worshipped at Salaheddin but he went to three other mosques as well. He said Ahmad was not a threat. “He was like a big mouth, talking about jihad … he’s not able to do anything and he’s not going to do anything.” Ahmad has pleaded guilty to three terrorism-related charges.

“But unfortunately they had very bad lawyers. The lawyers just collect money from the legal aid and they didn’t do anything.” James has pleaded guilty to travelling to Pakistan to receive paramilitary training for the Toronto 18 terrorist group.

“Actually, I feel that I help many people to avoid to become extremists,” said Imam Hindy, adding he had prevented “so many people, maybe seven or eight” from going overseas.

“Because you know if I say there is no jihad in Islam — and some people say that, some mosques say jihad in Islam, only jihad is against your own bad desires. But it’s not true. There is jihad, also, and jihad including everything, even up to the end to fighting.”

Asked if fighting Canadian troops in Afghanistan was a jihad, he responded, “What do you think if you are attacked in your own country? I’m not talking about foreigners. I’m talking about Afghani.

“If a foreign army comes to Canada you think we should not? I will do jihad or fight against any army attacking Canada. But, anyway, what I am trying to say is people think that by not discussing, they think they are now pleasing the public and pleasing the government. No, you have to discuss these things.”

He later clarified that fighting Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan was a jihad only for Afghans.

Neither the Kuwaiti embassy in Ottawa, the Qatari embassy in Washington, D.C., nor the Islamic Development Bank responded to requests for comment.

National Post

Edmonton: Sayfildin Tahir Sharif wished to die a martyr and be greeted by the "70" well-worn "virgins" in brothel-like paradise

RCMP in Edmonton arrest Canadian suspected of supporting Iraqi terror group
By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – 45 minutes ago

EDMONTON – A man who the U.S. Justice Department alleges had aspirations to become a suicide bomber was arrested in Edmonton by RCMP on Wednesday and charged with conspiring to kill American soldiers in Iraq.

Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, 38, was held in custody pending a request by the United States to extradite him to stand trial. He was scheduled to appear in court Thursday to answer to the charges.

He was also charged with providing material support to a multinational terrorist network that took part in a suicide bombing on April 10, 2009, that killed five U.S. soldiers near a base in Mosul, Iraq.

A news release issued by the U.S. Justice Department said the soldiers — one of them a 32-year-old sergeant and the rest between the ages of 20 and 25 — died when a Tunisian jihadist drove a truck laden with explosives to the gate of the U.S. military base in the region.

A day later, Sharif had a conversation with one of the Iraq-based members of the terrorist network, said the Justice Department.

“Did you hear about the huge incident yesterday?” Sharif allegedly said, according to the release. “Is it known?”

When told yes, Sharif continued: “He was one of the Tunisian brothers.”

The Justice Department said the conversation was obtained through wiretaps and search warrants authorized by Canadian courts.

Sharif is alleged to have links to another bombing at an Iraqi police station on March 31, 2009, in which at least seven Iraqis were killed.

That attack was committed by two other Tunisians who travelled to Iraq with the Mosul bomber.

The Justice Department says Sharif has continued to support attacks in Iraq since then, including an attempt by the terrorist network to send a second group of Tunisian jihadists into the country.

In online conversations, Sharif advised one of those jihadists not to leave a will and to “try to delete everything … off your computer,” said the release.

“Don’t leave one character of information or anything behind,” the release said Sharif told the man. “Don’t leave any trace … do not forget to keep reading Qur’an and repeat the famous prayers on the way until you meet with God.”

That person was later arrested as he tried to leave the African country.

In November 2009, according to the Justice Department, Sharif told his mother that his greatest wish was to die a martyr and be greeted by 70 virgins in paradise.

RCMP spokeswoman Doris Stapleton said Mounties arrested Sharif, a Canadian citizen and Iraqi national, without incident at the request of the FBI.

Sgt. Patrick Webb told The Associated Press that Sharif never left Canada and that he never posed a danger to the public in Edmonton.

The Justice Department said Sharif has aliases including Tahir Sharif Sayfildin, Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa and Faruk Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa.

Canada’s public safety minister, Vic Toews, praised the Mounties for their involvement.

“The government of Canada remains unwavering in its commitment to protect Canadians and support the global fight against terrorism,” Toews said in a news release.

“That is why Canada works very closely with international partners, including the United States, to combat terrorism and its perpetrators.

“We face the same threats and share the same concerns.”

United States Attorney Loretta Lynch said there is no safe harbour for terrorists and expressed her gratititude to the Canadian government and RCMP.

“The five American servicemen who lost their lives in Iraq as a result of the actions of this terrorist network made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation,” she said.

“Today’s arrest demonstrates that we have not forgotten that sacrifice and will continue to use every available means to bring to justice all those who are responsible.”

“The terrorist threat may be decentralized, but it is undeniably international,” said Janice Fedarcyk, the FBI’s assistant director.

“In a real sense, the safety and security of people anywhere depends on the ability and commitment of counterterrorism entities everywhere to work together. If national borders don’t deter terrorists, we can’t allow boundaries to impede the global effort to prevent a global threat.”

The charges faced by Sharif carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Webb said if Sharif waives extradition he could be quickly returned to the United States but “if it’s disputed through the courts, it could be years.”

Vic Toews says illegal migrants have hardened Canadians’ attitudes towards refugees

Hardening attitudes toward refugees: minister

Published: January 19, 2011 7:11 p.m.
Last modified: January 19, 2011 7:13 p.m.

VANCOUVER – Canada’s public safety minister says illegal migrants have hardened Canadians’ attitudes towards refugees entering the country.

Vic Toews said he’s concerned that illegal migrants are undermining the usual welcome Canadians give to legitimate refugees.

“Certainly the polling after the arrival of the Sun Sea indicated a serious drop in the support to our immigration and refugee system,” Toews told reporters Wednesday.

He became terse when challenged that his own statements may be fuelling intolerance with his claims that many of the migrants aboard the latest ship to come to Canada were connected to the terrorist group Tamil Tigers, or LTTE.

“There is significant influence of the LTTE in these human smuggling operations and we are very concerned about that,” Toews said in reply.

“If you can provide me with a list of those who are LTTE and those who are not, I’ll certainly consider that,” he told a reporter.

Last year, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney called the Tamil refugee claimants queue jumpers who were taking up space and resources in the system that should be focused on those who were lawfully waiting their turn to come to Canada.

Almost 500 Tamil migrants arrived in B.C. waters on the freighter MV Sun Sea last August.

That was less than a year after the MV Ocean Lady showed up on British Columbia’s northern coast with 76 illegal refugee claimants on board.

Toews said Canadian attitudes will change only if opposition parties support the government’s legislation to prevent human smuggling.

All 73 migrants from the Ocean Lady were released within a few months after claiming refugee status, but the federal government is disputing the release of many refugee claimants on the Sun Sea.

The Immigration and Refugee Board has ordered the release of 245 of the 380 adult men on board that ship.

Of the 62 women, 12 remain in detention.

Toews’ department has asked for a judicial review of 115 release orders for the men, slowing down their freedom.

A board spokeswoman said the Canada Border Services Agency has referred the cases of 15 men who were on the ship to the Immigration and Refugee Board’s admissibility hearings over allegations of either terrorism or criminality.

Toews said human smuggling is a growing problem, but he couldn’t give figures — and neither could the official he referred reporters to in order to get those figures.

In fact, board statistics show refugee claims for 2010 decreased from the year before, and the 23,956 finalized refugee claims last year were well below the nine-year high of 43,260 claimants in 2003.

The board spokeswoman, who didn’t want to be named, said the majority of the refugee claimants come into Canada illegally.

Olivia Chow, immigration critic for the federal New Democrats, said Toews should stop attacking the victims.

“If there are criminals and terrorists out there, arrest them, charge them, throw them in jail, deport them,” she said. “Stop running around doing press conferences.”


“It’s called the politics of fear, the politics of division,” she said.

Chow noted the maximum fine for human smugglers is already life in prison.

“What (do) you want, capital punishment?” she said. “It’s not the law that’s the problem, it’s officials.”

Chow said what’s most offensive about the proposed human smuggling legislation is that it would keep refugee claimants, including children, in custody for a year.

“We can’t do that to children.”

Toews said the government isn’t interested in interfering with the rights of legitimate citizens to come to Canada.

“Our legislation does not prohibit refugees simply because you’ve arrived in Canada through irregular means. If you can demonstrate that you’re a refugee, even though the mode of entering Canada was illegal, that is not a bar.”

Toews’ statements came on the eve of the unveiling of a memorial in Halifax for the more than 900 Jewish refugees turned away from Canadian waters in 1939.

The luxury liner MS St. Louis was forced to sail back to Europe, where about 250 of its passengers later died in the Holocaust.

British Columbia’s Attorney General Barry Penner said the migrants have been costly for the province.

He said the federal government has offered $10 million to help with those costs.

Toronto: Vasile Babuschin and Sergei Souetov charged for possesion of over 103 pounds of cocaine

Toronto men face drug trafficking charges in L.A.
Published On Tue, 18 Jan 2011
Alexandra MacAulay Abdelwahab
Staff Reporter

Two Toronto men are facing drug trafficking charges in Los Angeles after police there raided a warehouse and found more than 103 pounds of cocaine and about $2.4 million (U.S.) in cash locked in a safe.

Agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and several local police departments raided the warehouse in Valencia, Calif. (about 50 kilometres from Los Angeles) the night of Jan. 12 and found two men inside. Continue reading

Richmond: Rich Chinese want to impose Chinese superstitions in Canada

Chinese leaders urge calm on UBC hospice plan
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | 1:11 PM PT
CBC News
Some residents of the Promontory condominium in Vancouver oppose having a palliative care facility nearby at the University of British Columbia. (IBI/HB Architects website) (IBI/HB Architects website)

At a news conference Tuesday in Richmond, B.C. they urged people to remain calm while more discussion on the plan takes place.

The leaders agreed some opposition to the plan is based on unfounded Chinese superstition, and said the controversy is giving the Chinese culture a bad name.

David Choi, the head of the National Congress of Chinese Canadians, said the condo owners cannot rely on the misuse of Chinese culture and or the Chinese community to back their opposition.

The hospice proposal calls for a 15-bed palliative care facility, called St. John Hospice, to be built next to a high-rise condominium building called the Promontory.

One condo owner said most residents in the building are of Asian descent and believe living close to a hospice will bring bad luck.

“In Chinese culture, we are against having dying people in your backyard,” Janet Fan told CBC News last week. “We cannot accept this. It’s against our belief, against our culture. It’s not culturally sensitive.”

A two-bedroom condo in the Promontory sells for almost $1 million, and people fear their property value will plummet if the hospice is built.


Source here

“In Chinese culture, we are against having dying people in your backyard,” Janet Fan told CBC News last week. “We cannot accept this. It’s against our belief, against our culture. It’s not culturally sensitive.”

Note “Janet” Fan ‘s insolent speech that proves her zero affinity with the Canadian culture.
She says “we cannot accept this” asking us to kowtow.  

What keeps her from moving to China?

Quebec’s national assembly shows backbone as kirpans not allowed in Que. legislature

Sikhs with kirpan not allowed in Que. legislature
Group that came to address committee refuses to remove ceremonial daggers

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 | 4:33 PM ET
CBC News

Four representatives of the World Sikh Organization exit the national assembly in Quebec City Tuesday. (CBC)
A group of four Sikhs scheduled to make a presentation at Quebec’s national assembly Tuesday morning were denied entry to the legislature because they refused to remove their kirpans.

The representatives of the World Sikh Organization were scheduled to address the legislative committee looking at Bill 94, the proposed law on the reasonable accommodation of the religious and cultural practices of minorities in the Quebec civil service and society in general.

The four, who travelled to Quebec City from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, said they called national assembly security Monday to ask if their religious ceremonial daggers would present a problem.

After receiving conflicting responses, the men said they decided to come anyway.

When they arrived, security guards offered them the option to put the kirpan in a safe place, but they refused and were denied entry.

“This decision was taken by the security services, solely for security reasons,” said Parti Québécois assembly member Bernard Drainville, the chair of the committee on reasonable accommodation.

In the Sikh religion, it is forbidden to remove the kirpan, which is kept against the skin under clothing.
If Ottawa allows them, why not Quebec?

Both the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa and the Supreme Court of Canada allow kirpans.

One member of the group, Balpreet Singh, said he thinks it’s a shame that the federal Parliament makes accommodations for Sikhs wearing the kirpan, but Quebec’s national assembly does not.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to enter because we wear the kirpan, which is a bit ironic because we were here to speak upon the issue of accommodation and we weren’t accommodated,” said Singh.

Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities Kathleen Weil said the rule was established by security officials at the national assembly.

“[The national assembly] is an independent institution, there are different directives, courthouses can also establish those kinds of rules, airports, different parliaments,” said Weil.

Not the first time

This is not the first incident involving kirpans at Quebec’s national assembly.

A year ago, a group of 20 Sikhs were invited to the legislature by a Liberal MNA. Only the leader of the group was allowed to keep the smaller of his two kirpans, and he was escorted by heavy security.

Parti Québécois MNA Louise Beaudoin said she agrees with the decision made Tuesday to bar Sikhs from entering with kirpans.

“It may be a religious choice, but maybe it’s not a choice that everybody should accept everywhere,” said Beaudoin.

The security department at the assembly said it considers the kirpan a weapon, and will continue to ban them unless given specific orders from Quebec politicians to the contrary.
With files from Salimah Shivji

Montreal: Sweet home for Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s family?

A Tunisian palace in the heart of Montreal
MONTREAL— From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jan. 17, 2011 11:31PM EST
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 1:31AM EST

At a price of $2.55-million, the son-in-law of the deposed Tunisian dictator got a classic Westmount mansion, with its grey stone exterior, copper roof and stunning, unobstructed view of downtown Montreal.

But Mohamed Sakher El Materi has yet to move in to 70 Belvedere Place. And with just two storeys and 6,000 square feet, it’s hard to say where he would find room for a dozen servants – let alone his pet tiger.

The house Mr. El Materi bought in 2008 has become the Canadian focal point for a revolution playing out 6,500 kilometres away in Tunisia. Protesters have sprayed the mansion’s front door with ketchup, representing Tunisian blood spilled during the 23-year rule of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali – Mr. El Materi’s father-in-law. As recently as Monday, a man taped posters to the front of the Westmount home that said “Property of the people of Tunisia.”

Captures: Google maps

For a week, Montreal’s Tunisian community has been engulfed in rumour that Mr. El Materi and his family might be headed this way. (…) One of the couple’s children is Canadian by birth and Mr. El Materi’s wife, Nesrine, is reportedly nearly full term with the couple’s fourth child.

The family was never spotted at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport. The last confirmed reports had Mr. El Materi in Dubai.

Once described as “over the top” by the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, Mr. El Materi lived in a beachside mansion, complete with pet tiger in the yard and other ostentatious touches such as Roman columns, frescoes and a lion’s head through which fresh water flowed into the pool. Mr. El Materi insisted these were genuine ancient artifacts, U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec reported in a cable released by WikiLeaks.

“The tiger consumes four chickens a day,” said the cable dated July, 2009. “The situation reminded the ambassador of Uday Hussein’s lion cage in Baghdad.”

All the while, Mr. El Materi was completing an even more garish mansion which dominated the skyline of Sidi Bou Said, a seaside town near Tunis. He was also fixing the roof and replacing the windows on the house in Westmount.

On Monday afternoon, a few minutes after the poster protester was chased away by the Westmount constabulary, a man emerged from the home wearing a suit and tie.

The man refused to identify himself, saying only that he is a lawyer representing new owners of the home. He said Mr. El Materi sold the house eight months earlier to a family with no links to Tunisia. The family is completing renovations before they move in later this year, he said.

“It’s all bullshit,” the man said of reports that Mr. El Materi owns the home.

However, property records show that Mr. El Materi still owns the house. A lien against Mr. El Materi for an unpaid $79,402 roof repair bill was lifted in October.

Asking not to be identified, the owner of the company which did the repairs said he’s not sure whether the bill was completely paid. “But once I found out who I was dealing with, I just wanted to get paid what I could get and be gone,” he said.

GTA: Fear keeps residents from helping dying woman in dangerous neighbourhood

Woman’s cries ignored as she freezes to death: Police
Published On Mon, 17 Jan 2011

Kuguthasan Kanagaratnam at his home with his wife Kalaivany, background. Kalaivany was the first person on scene while delivering newspapers outside a house on Kennaley Cres., where a woman with dementia froze to death near her Scarborough home early Monday.
Curtis Rush
Staff Reporter

It was 5 a.m. Monday and, with a wind chill plunging to -28C overnight, a woman delivering newspapers noticed a couple of police cruisers circling a quiet Scarborough street.

She soon found out why.

As Kalaivany Kugathasan, 35, crossed Kennaley Cres. and dropped off a Toronto Star at one residence, she turned up the sidewalk and was stopped in her tracks by a body blocking her path on the darkened sidewalk.

“I was scared,” she told the Star from her home later in the day. She frantically phoned her husband and then flagged down the police cruisers.

Police found a woman’s body, with her coat and eyeglasses a few steps away, lying face up on the sidewalk between the two cars — more than three hours after her husband noticed her absence a block away on Cleadon Rd.

Her body was so frozen that paramedics had trouble doing chest compressions.

However, nothing could be done.

She was pronounced dead in hospital at just past 7 a.m.

Police have not identified the victim, other than to say she was 66 and had been suffering from dementia.

Police say the husband noticed his wife wasn’t in bed at 2 a.m. and got worried an hour later when she was still missing. After conducting his own search of the neighbourhood, he called police at 4:45 a.m.

A haunting aspect of this case is that police say two residents ignored cries or screams for help.

Police found dirt marks around a car door, leading them to believe the woman tried to get inside the vehicle. There were also indications she tried to open a screen door of a home.

Why didn’t neighbours call police?

“They didn’t call police because they said it was a dangerous area and they didn’t want to get involved,” Toronto police Sgt. David Dube told the Star about reports from front line officers.

“It’s sad because this could have been a totally different outcome.”

Is this truly a heartless neighbourhood, with residents unwilling to help each other?

Those who spoke to the Star denied this.

George Cheang said he would have called had he known it was a tragedy unfolding across the street. At 3 a.m., he was awoken by “yelling or arguing” he said.

“I thought it was a family argument or perhaps some partying or drinking going on.” He went back to sleep.

Cheang said the Scarborough neighbourhood is friendly.

“They can think what they want to think. Neighbours always say, ‘Hi,’ to each other and we often borrow from each other, things like tools,” he said.

At the house where the woman’s body was found, Arthur St. Bernard, 61, said he can’t understand why people wouldn’t have phoned 911. Even though she was found right in front of his house, St. Bernard says he didn’t hear a thing.

Several years ago he saw a mugging on the street, and a couple of years ago he saw somebody trying to break into a car at around 3 a.m.

“I called police at that time,” he said. In this case, “I’m not saying she should have been let in, but people should have at least phoned 911.”

Others say the Rosewood community meets occasionally to discuss the importance of reporting suspicious behaviour.

Said one neighbour about the meetings: “We watch over each other.”

Community activist Valerie Plunkett said, “For people to say that Rosewood does not care is not true.”

Plunkett founded the Rosewood Taxpayers’ Association “to bring the community together” and retired in October as co-chair of the Community Police Liaison Committee.

“This is tragic,” she said. “This is not the normal thing that would have happened.”

Police said an autopsy will be conducted, but it’s believed the cause of death is hypothermia.

Anthony Bennett sentenced to jail for stealing flowers from Chinatown grocer David Chen

Shoplifter banned 3 years from Chinatown, Kensington Market
Published 41 minutes ago

Anthony Bennett, pictured in this Nov. 2010 file photo, has been banned from Chinatown and Kensington Market for three years.

Tony Aw/Sing Tao DailyValerie Hauch
Staff Reporter

Anthony Bennett, pictured in this Nov. 2010 file photo, has been banned from Chinatown and Kensington Market for three years.

“Happy now?” Anthony Bennett said in a soft but clear voice, turning towards spectators in a courtroom as he was handcuffed and led away to start a four-month sentence for theft.

Moments before, his wife, Linda St. Louis, had stormed out of the courtroom, shouting an expletive as she left, after hearing Justice Leslie Chapin’s sentencing of Bennett to jail for the theft of a plant in October 2009 from a store on Spadina Ave.

The judge noted that Bennett was on probation at the time of the offence, and that given his lengthy criminal record — “he has a criminal record that goes back to 1976 and 54 convictions” — a four-month jail term was appropriate.


Justice Chapin said that, although Bennett, who has a 20-year addiction to crack cocaine, has been “doing well in the last six months . . . and attending Narcotics Anonymous” meetings, he must be made aware that there are “consequences of this type of behaviour.”

Bennett, 52, first gained notoriety after he was captured and subdued in a citizen’s arrest case in May 2009 involving Chinatown grocer David Chen. Chen was later acquitted of assault and forcible confinement in connection with his citizen’s arrest of Bennett after he stole flowers from Chen for the second time in one day.

In a separate case also heard on Monday, Justice William Bassel gave Bennett a three-year suspended sentence for thefts of plants last May and June from the Jungle Fruit Mart on Kensington Ave.

Bassel also approved banning Bennett from Chinatown and Kensington Market (the area bounded by College, Beverley, Queen and Bathurst Sts.) for three years, which was a joint submission from both the prosecutor and Bennett’s lawyer, Donald Powell.

The judge took into account that Bennett had served 42 days in jail prior to his trial in November and he gave him a three-year suspended sentence.

The judge was told by Bennett’s attorney that Bennett plans to move with his wife to British Columbia where he has a son, possible employment and will seek further help for his drug problem.

In sentencing Bennett, the judge said Bennett’s reputation for “helping himself” to goods was an “insulting and terribly shabby” way to treat hard-working merchants.

But he noted that Bennett did plead guilty and there have been no “new charges” in the last six months. He also noted that Bennett has done volunteer work at a community centre and is trying to deal with his drug addiction.


Bennett told the judge he “felt bad after putting these people through all that.”

When the judge asked Bennett if he was getting through to him, Bennett responded, “Yes, sir.”
David Chen found… not guilty.

Immigrant service agencies horrified

Settlement agencies shocked by gag order
Published On Mon, 17 Jan 2011

Ruby Banerji, who received help from the South Asian Women’s Centre on Lansdowne Ave. in Toronto, is uncertain where she will turn once the agency closes as a result of federal funding cuts.
Nicholas Keung
Immigration Reporter

Immigrant service agencies were horrified when they got a government email last week banning them from discussing recent federal funding cuts that may kill some of them — a memo Citizenship and Immigration Canada now says was all a big mistake.

Members of the York South-Weston Local Immigration Partnership (LIP), which coordinates newcomer programs to reduce duplication of services, had planned to discuss the $53 million funding cuts at its Jan. 13 meeting.

The 26 member organizations were shocked to receive a mass email from a CIC official ordering them to remove the topic from the agenda.

“I don’t believe that CIC settlement funding is a topic for the . . . meeting and therefore it should not be an agenda item,” said the note from federal settlement officer Nina Serrano.

“I was in total shock,” Community Action Resource Centre executive director Marion Newrick said of the ministry order. “They thought they had the right to silence us. We are all community volunteers. CIC doesn’t even cover our time to go to these meetings.”

Some agency representatives are calling the email an example of bullying tactics by Ottawa to prevent any community organizing against the cuts, and to hamper attempts to coordinate services to fill the gaps left by closed programs. The meeting was supposed to provide a fuller picture of the extent of the cuts and their implication for services.

But in response to questions from the Star, Citizenship and Immigration Canada said Monday the email was sent “by mistake,” with incorrect information, and there was no such government directive.

“We recognize that this is a timely and important issue,” department spokesperson Tracie LeBlanc told the Star.

Newrick’s agency is in a neighbourhood among the hardest hit by the federal cuts, in west Toronto along the Davenport-Dupont-St. Clair residential corridor — an area with a growing newcomer population.


Ruby Banerji said the South Asian Women’s Centre not only helped reunite her with her two sons, but has given her a new life in Canada.

“I was shocked and I am sad by the news,” said Banerji, whose husband died of a heart attack, leaving their two teenage sons here without a parent, as her application to immigrate to Canada from India was still in process.

“The staff here helped me get my boys back and apply to stay in Canada,” added Banerji, who arrived in 2005 and works two jobs to support her children. “They gave me my life and always stand up for me. They are my family.”

So far, 14 Toronto settlement agencies have been told they will lose funding from Ottawa this year, part of $43 million in cuts in Ontario alone. Surviving organizations will lose some 15 to 40 per cent of their funding.

“We don’t just deliver services to our community; we also do a lot of advocacy work organizing the community,” said Kibrom Debru, part-time executive director of the Eritrean Canadian Community Centre, which faces the loss of $288,000, or 70 per cent of its annual funding. “The voice of the community will disappear.”

As other agencies in the neighbourhood brace for similar cuts, community leaders fear they won’t be able to fill the vacuum.


An area in need

• Of 30,000 immigrants in the West Downtown Toronto area, one in six is a recent arrival

• 7% of the area’s residents and 11% of recent immigrants can’t speak English

80% of recent immigrants are identified as visible minority, with unemployment at 11% compared with 7% for average area residents

• 9% of visible minority immigrants in the area say they have experienced racial discrimination in housing

Source: West Downtown Toronto Local Immigration Partnership Research

Agencies axed in west-end Toronto

• Bloor Information and Life Skills Centre

• Community Action Resource Centre

• Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood Community Centre

• Eritrean Canadian Community Centre

• South Asian Women’s Centre

An immigration database