News stories from the Star you should know about on Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Good morning. This is the Tuesday, May 16 edition of First Up, the Star’s daily morning digest. Sign up to get it earlier each day, in your inbox.

Here’s the latest on the recovery of the downtown core, a teen’s lawsuit against TDSB and Toronto police and a multibillion-dollar EV deal.


Should we get back to this? The four fixes that could rescue downtown

Afflicted by a housing crisis, the rising cost of living and transit and traffic troubles, Toronto has struggled to recover from the pandemic at the rate of other North American cities. According to one study, the city ranks among the worst on the continent for downtown activity. How do we reimagine a thriving core for a post-pandemic world? Tess Kalinowski outlines four big ideas from urbanists, academics and real estate insiders that would shift downtown from less work to more live-play.

  • More: As housing escapes the means of even middle-income earners and calls grow for more affordable options downtown, experts also highlight a need for better-quality offices to attract workers. They say that diversifying the core to have spaces with different uses — such as daycares, research and art — could revive underused office buildings if vacancies increase.

A teen is suing the TDSB and Toronto police after he was arrested in a school lockdown

Ahmaud Benjamin Cockburn, 18, says he was the “victim and not the perpetrator” of an assault at a Toronto high school that ultimately led to a lockdown and his arrest. In January, the teen tried to break up a fight between students at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute, he told the Star, but they turned on him, pummelled him in a violent attack, and someone mistakenly yelled that he had a gun. The account is at the centre of his lawsuit against the Toronto District School Board and city police for negligence. Isabel Teotonio reports on the assault Cockburn says began with being called the N-word and the arrest he believes took place, in part, due to anti-Black racism.

  • Go deeper: “I don’t want this to happen to anybody who is wrongfully accused, wrongfully arrested and thrown in jail for something that they didn’t do.”
  • Context: The statement of claim alleges the TDSB was negligent, partly because it failed to properly supervise students and attend to Cockburn after he was allegedly assaulted. It also says police were negligent because they did not give the teen needed medical attention for his injuries, which included a broken nose.
  • More: None of the allegations have been tested in court, and no statements of defence have been filed.

Privately, Stellantis warned Trudeau it could pull out of the EV deal if Ottawa doesn’t pay more

For months, a high-stakes negotiation has been playing out behind closed doors between auto giant Stellantis and the prime minister. The Star has learned Stellantis warned Justin Trudeau in April that if Ottawa refuses to match U.S.-style subsidies given to Volkswagen, it might scrap the planned $5-billion electric-vehicle battery factory in Windsor. The talks intensified Monday with the suspension of construction on the factory meant to open next year. Tonda MacCharles, Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson report on the letter the auto giant sent Trudeau — and what we know about the deal at stake.

  • Word from Queen’s Park: “It really worries me. We need the federal government to step up as they did for Volkswagen,” Premier Doug Ford said, noting Ontario gave Stellantis and VW $500 million each in aid.
  • Word from Ottawa: Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters Monday she is “absolutely confident” the federal government will reach a deal with Stellantis, but she wants the Ontario government to do more.


Dr. Michael Pollanen (left), Ontario's chief forensic pathologist, and Dr. Jane Turner, a former provincial pathologist based in Hamilton.

  • How much will Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives borrow from Donald Trump? Here’s a taste.


Once confident Alberta conservatives are denouncing United Conservative Party (UPC) Leader Danielle Smith's version of right-wing politics and some are even urging Albertans to vote for Rachel Notley's NDP, writes Gillian Steward.

Why prominent Alberta conservatives are supporting Rachel Notley’s NDP.


Toronto Mayoral candidates Ana Bail�o, Brad Bradford, Josh Matlow, Mitzi Hunter, and Olivia Chow take to the stage in the first major debate of the special election at Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto on Monday.

DAILY BREAD FOOD BANK: Ana Bailão, Brad Bradford, Josh Matlow, Mitzie Hunter and Olivia Chow participate in the first major debate of Toronto byelection on Monday. Here’s what the front-running candidates had to say about the city’s affordability crisis.

Thank you for reading First Up. You can reach me and the First Up team at [email protected]

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