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This father says he was told his missing daughter was OK. She had been dead for days

VANCOUVER—The family of a missing Indigenous woman says a “clerical error” led police to say she had been found — when in fact she had died and her body was decomposing in a downtown Vancouver public housing unit.

The body of 34-year-old Lila Moody-Ogilvie was discovered March 10 in the Marble Arch Hotel, the single-room occupancy hotel she lived in. According to her family, she was last seen alive around Feb. 22.

For two weeks, Lila’s family and friends frantically searched for her, putting up posters around town and knocking on doors. Her father, Bruce Ogilvie, said he reported her missing to the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) on Feb. 28.

On March 3, Bruce said, a staff member at the VPD told him over the phone that his daughter’s case had been removed from the missing person’s list because “an officer would have contacted her.”

Three days later, he said, a police officer called and apologized for a mistake on her file, saying Lila was still missing and had been put back on the missing persons list.

“He said this was through a clerical error, she’d been taken off and now she’s back on and they were doing everything they could to find her,” recalled Bruce, 68, a retired federal civil servant.

Four days after that, she was found dead in the room next door to hers on the top floor of the Marble Arch Hotel, Bruce said.

When Bruce arrived at the hotel, there were two police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck stationed outside.

Bruce thought, “‘I have to be the one to tell her mother,’ so I called her right then,” he said. “‘I said ... ‘Who’s in the house with you? Grab that person and hold.’ I said, ‘Our baby girl is gone.’”

Lila leaves behind a five-year-old son who is being looked after by Lila’s mother.

VPD media relations officer Sgt. Jason Robillard said he could not confirm Bruce’s account or otherwise speak specifically to Lila’s case because the file is now with the provincial coroner’s office.

Asked for information on Lila’s death, the BC Coroners Service said it was notified March 10 of the death of a woman in her mid 30s in the 500 block of Richards St., where the Marble Arch Hotel is located. The coroner’s office confirmed she died some time in February.

The hotel is managed by Atira Women’s Resource Society, a non-profit that offers services to women struggling with violence, substance use or other problems. Janice Abbott, Atira’s executive director, said her organization followed its policies by filing a missing persons report 48 hours after staff last had contact with Lila.

She said staff at the Marble Arch Hotel canvased the building looking for her, but Vancouver police did not.

Abbott said Atira’s policy is to ensure tenants are seen at least every 24 hours. If someone is not seen in that time, staff will do what’s called a “health and wellness check.” This includes knocking on a tenant’s door and, if no one answers, staff will enter the room.

The only time health and wellness checks are not done on a unit is if the tenant has notified staff they will be away, Abbott said.

Bruce said he believes someone lived in the room where Lila’s body was found but doesn’t know whether the occupant was away at the time.

Asked why Lila’s body was undiscovered for at least 10 days, despite being next door to her own room, Abbott said she could not comment without breaching the privacy of her organization’s clients.

“I can tell you ... this is the first time anything like this has ever happened,” Abbott said.

Lila’s boyfriend, Shane Amendt, was an office co-ordinator at the Marble Arch Hotel. He left the job March 4, saying Atira “completely failed her.”

Lila’s cousin Christina Ogilvie has her own beliefs about what happened.

The police “clearly did not look,” Christina said.

“It should have been a case that was solved in a day. Just go to the places she regularly goes ... They didn’t take it seriously. A clerical error? Yeah, right.”

Sgt. Robillard said that, in general, the decision of whether to canvass a building following a missing persons report is left up to the assigned investigator.

He said the VPD receives more than 4,000 missing persons reports every year and only “a select few” urgent cases go to the specialized missing persons unit. The rest are initially dealt with by patrol sergeants, then an investigator.

Bruce says his frustrations with the VPD started the day he tried to report his daughter missing. He went to a police station in person but was told he would have to use a phone in the lobby to call in the report, rather than speak to an officer directly. Sgt. Robillard confirmed that is VPD policy.

When Bruce tried to use the phone, he said, his hearing impairment made it difficult. He called back numerous times, sometimes getting a busy signal and other times getting lost in a confusing series of extension numbers. When he went back to the desk clerk a third time, he said, he was told to try to flag down a patrol officer by himself.

“I said, ‘I’ve been here 20 minutes and I just want to talk to someone and report my daughter,’” Bruce said.

Bruce said he has filed two official complaints with the force: the first over how difficult it was to get Lila’s missing persons report filed and the second over the “clerical error” that caused his family so much pain.

When Bruce Ogilvie and his former wife married in 1991, they adopted Lila at age six.

Lila suffered from severe fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) due to alcohol consumed by her biological mother when she was pregnant, Bruce said, adding that the disorder caused her to have difficulties focusing, controlling her emotions and interacting with others.

Lila, who was always an “independent spirit,” was raised in East Vancouver with two other adopted daughters.

“When she (Lila) gets into her teens, late teens, she gets very rebellious, she ended up moving out on her own,” said Bruce.

Christina said that while she and Lila were technically cousins, Salish tradition means they were actually more like sisters.

“She was such a sweet, kind, beautiful person,” Christina said.

When they were kids, Christina said Lila was “overly trusting” and would often be teased about her FASD.

“She got made fun of a lot,” Christina said. “I stood up for her as much as I could, but that was really hard for her.”

Lila’s condition presented challenges through to adulthood, Christina said.

“She had a learning disability. She would say ‘I wish I could go to school, I wish I could get a job,’ but she couldn’t. She felt stuck,” Christina said. Lila lived on disabilities assistance.

That frustration led her into drug use and ultimately addiction, Christina said. According to Amendt, Lila’s boyfriend, there were needles and other drug paraphernalia present in the room when her body was found.

Through it all, Christina said, Lila maintained her childhood spark.

“People are often really judgmental of addicts, but they they’d see Lila and she would pull at your heart strings,” she said.

A vigil is being organized in Lila’s memory for March 30. Christina said the family expects at least 100 people to carry candles and blow bubbles to represent her “bubbly personality” as they march through the Downtown Eastside, the community where so many knew and loved her.





City councillors’ expenses — from asparagus to umbrellas

Firewood, asparagus, compost and umbrellas are among items Toronto city council members expensed on the public tab in 2018, newly released records show.

Office expenses released Friday cover Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, the end of the term for Mayor John Tory and 44 councillors. The new 26-member council elected last October started afresh Dec. 1.

Top council spenders were Jim Karygiannis ($55.554.98); Neethan Shan ($51,457.17); Ana Bailão ($49,652.06); Anthony Perruzza ($47,536.56); and Giorgio Mammoliti ($46,819.79).

Shan and Mammoliti both lost their re-election bids.

The expenses do not include salaries for council office staff, some travel expenses or spending related to extra duties such as TTC chair. The Star did not include councillors who served only part of the year.

Lowest spenders were Michael Ford ($1,476.00); Joe Cressy ($6,127.57); Justin Di Ciano ($16,444.47); Denzil Minnan-Wong ($16,642.05); and Sarah Doucette ($18,544.32).

Neither Di Ciano nor Doucette ran for re-election to the smaller council.

Many of the biggest spenders paid rent on constituency offices in their wards, while more thrifty colleagues met with constituents in shared space in civic centres and community centres.

Karygiannis, for example, paid $1,551.54 a month for his Scarborough office plus more than $4,000, over the 11 months, to a cleaning company. Karygiannis also expensed 23 business meetings at restaurants including Eggsmart and The Palace.

Maria Augimeri, who lost her re-election bid, rented an ice cream truck for a special event for $274.75, while Ford bought $235.63 worth of candy canes for the Etobicoke Santa Claus Parade.

Mike Layton took a healthier approach with $124.93 worth of asparagus for an event called Bike with Mike. Vince Crisanti, defeated by Ford, spent $1,326.14 on a “Pirate Obstacle” for the Mosaic Multicultural Event.

James Pasternak spent $126.98 on Passover cards for the office. Augimeri bought $106.80 worth of roses for seniors at a Mother’s Day lunch, while Stephen Holyday purchased an $85 Remembrance Day wreath for a Royal Canadian Legion in Etobicoke.

Josh Colle, who retired from politics, spent $624.16 on delivery of a flyer for the Eglinton-Lawrence Pothole Action Plan.

Mammoliti, who was defeated by Perruzza, spent $1,729.92 on “fridge magnets for the office.”

Doucette paid $400 in honorariums to two people who conducted a workshop on raising backyard hens.

One item councillors love to lay on thick is compost. Several used their office budgets to buy extra organic fertilizer, on top of what the city normally hands out at community environment days often branded with councillors’ names.

Cesar Palacio was the top compost buyer, handing out $3,750 worth before he was defeated by Bailão in October. Cressy bought $1,750 worth, almost a third of his total spending.

Mary-Margaret McMahon, who retired from politics, bought $1,900 worth of firewood for the 2018 Winter Stations art competition in The Beach.

While there will be fewer spenders this year, thanks to the smaller council, it won’t necessarily mean savings. Councillors in December boosted their annual office budgets to cope with larger new wards and also doubled their funding for office staff salaries.

Tory, elected to a second term last fall, spent $34,748.18. Equipment expenses reflect his habit of videotaping events and sharing on social media. His expenses also included signs custom-made for news conference podiums, touting such things as longer hours for libraries and more jobs for the city.

Tory’s total spending for signs and banners was $1,597.16. His office staff expensed Uber, Lyft and TTC rides. They also bought four “large umbrellas” from The Bay for $122.11.





Mueller ends Russia investigation by filing official report but details not yet known

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded the investigation that transfixed the United States, filing a widely anticipated report summarizing the findings of his two-year probe into the relationship between President Donald Trump’s election campaign and Russia.

The contents of the report will not be revealed immediately. Mueller submitted the report to newly appointed Attorney General William Barr, who gets to decide how to proceed.

Barr told members of Congress in a Friday letter that he may be able to inform them of Mueller’s “principal conclusions” by the weekend. In addition, he said he was “committed to as much transparency as possible” and that he would consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Mueller himself “to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public” according to the law and government policy.

Trump was at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida when the news was announced. He offered no immediate comment.

“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course. The White House has not received or been briefed on the special counsel’s report,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

The investigation has produced criminal convictions of the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, national security adviser Michael Flynn, and campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, as well as outstanding charges against his longtime adviser Roger Stone.

It has also produced charges against alleged Russian hackers and internet trolls who are unlikely to ever see a U.S. courtroom. By telling a story through his charging documents, Mueller revealed numerous new details about the criminal Russian effort to help Trump win in 2016.

He has not, however, argued that Trump or his campaign conspired with those efforts. None of the convictions is for anything resembling “collusion,” which is not a formal legal term, though Cohen, Flynn, Papadopoulos and Gates pleaded guilty to lying to investigators to conceal interactions with Russia or related to Russia.

The report could conceivably exonerate Trump of collusion-related allegations, lifting a three-year cloud of suspicion about his friendliness toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. It could alternately deepen his problems.

Mueller was known to be investigating whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by trying to impede the probe. And since Mueller’s team is famously secretive, it is not known what else he might have been investigating.

Any immediate Trump crisis stemming from Mueller’s report is expected to be political, not legal; Mueller is not recommending any additional indictments, U.S. news outlets reported. Democrats could use any finding of serious impropriety as an argument for impeachment proceedings, though party leaders have expressed reluctance.

“We look forward to getting the full Mueller report and related materials. Transparency and the public interest demand nothing less. The need for public faith in the rule of law must be the priority,” House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, said on Twitter.

The end of the official investigation does not necessarily mean the end of Trump’s legal issues. Federal prosecutors in New York continue to probe various Trump activities. Mueller is known to have distributed investigative leads to prosecutors outside his office. And Stone says he plans to proceed to a trial rather than plead guilty.

The investigation has hampered Trump’s presidency from nearly the very beginning of his term. Foreign diplomatic trips and other Trump initiatives were regularly overshadowed by Mueller bombshells. The White House and Congress learned to be on edge on Fridays, when Mueller developments tended to be announced.

Trump, who has derided the investigation as a “witch hunt” and relentlessly promised there was “no collusion,” said this week that he would like the entire report released, declaring, “Let people see it.” The House of Representatives voted unanimously in favour of a full release.

For Trump, perhaps the most damning result of the investigation was related to Cohen. When Cohen pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign-period hush-money payments to women who saod they had affairs with Trump, he and prosecutors alleged that the crimes were directed by Trump himself. Cohen also revealed that Trump continued to pursue a major development project in Moscow during the campaign even as he denied doing business in Russia.

Mueller, a former longtime FBI director under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was widely respected by both parties when he was appointed by Rosenstein, a Republican, in May 2017. But Trump hammered away at his integrity, accusing him of conflicts of interest and his employees of pro-Democratic bias, and convinced a majority of Republicans that the probe was tainted.

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8





Ford warns teachers’ unions not to dare protest class-size increases

Premier Doug Ford is warning teachers’ unions against taking any action to protest his government’s move to increase class sizes to save money.

“If the head of the unions want to hurt the children of this province by doing walkouts and everything else, I’d think twice if I were them,” Ford said Friday in Ottawa where he was touting the province’s $1.2 billion investment in a local light rail transit project.

“You know I think the world of teachers but I might differentiate between labour and labour leadership, public and private sector unions,” the premier said.

“I love the front-line teachers and we may not see eye to eye with the head of the unions because all they want to do is collect their union dues and start pocketing (them) into their pockets,” he said.

Ford’s comments came after the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said a high school with 800 students would lose 11 teachers — from 46 to 35 — due to changes introduced by his government.

OSSTF president Harvey Bischof said that’s the toll from increasing the average secondary school class size from 22 student to 28 over the next four years and it could trigger “disruption” this fall with teacher contracts expiring at the end of August.

Read more:

High school teachers’ union warns of labour ‘disruption’ in fall over class-size changes

Opinion | Emma Teitel: Bigger class sizes don’t promote ‘resiliency.’ They just make it easier to skip class

Larger high school classes build teen ‘resiliency,’ Education Minister says

That’s because OSSTF members “will not concede” to bigger classes in their local collective agreements.

In total, the union expects to lose 5,700 teachers in English-language public high schools alone.

Bischof said manufacturing a division between union leaders and members “is an old, tired tactic by right-wing premiers.”

“We represent the membership. We are an extremely democratic organization,” he said, noting members voted to re-elect him just a couple of weeks ago.

“The premier’s expressed interest in front-line teachers is rather undermined by the fact that he’s trying to remove 25 per cent of teachers. It sounds like rank hypocrisy.”

As for Ford’s suggestion union dues may be misspent, Bischof said the OSSTF’s budget is “extremely transparently accounted for” and such unfounded accusations by a premier “are beneath the dignity of his office.”

Across all school boards, about 10,000 teaching positions are expected to be eliminated, as classes in Grades 4 to 8 grow by an average of one student, and an average of six in high school.

The Progressive Conservative government has said class caps in kindergarten and the primary grades will remain.

Education Minister Lisa Thompson has said the larger class sizes will prepare students for the real world.

“We’re hearing from professors and employers alike that they are lacking coping skills and they are lacking resiliency,” Thompson told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning host Matt Galloway on Wednesday.

Her comments provoked an outcry, but Ford urged teachers to see the big picture.

“I worry about the front-line teachers. I worry about the students. I worry about the 50 per cent of our Grade 6 students that are failing math. I’m worried about one-third of our teachers that can’t even pass the same math test the Grade 6 students are failing,” he said.

The premier, elected last June on a promise of making $6 billion in cuts to the $150 billion budget, noted that Finance Minister Vic Fedeli spending plan on April 11 will be more moderate than his critics fear.

“We’re going to be responsible. We aren’t going to go in there and hack and slash. We’re going to make sure we do it responsibly,” he said.

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy





Chantal Hébert: Former cabinet ministers have Justin Trudeau in their sights

Had former Treasury Board president Jane Philpott sought to sabotage her government by breathing new life in the SNC-Lavalin saga this week, she would not have acted otherwise.

Her first post-resignation interview — given to Maclean’s on the day after the federal budget was presented — raised more questions than it provided factual answers.

She blew on the embers of the controversy without adding a solid piece of firewood to it.

The main predictable consequence of the interview was to shore up the opposition parties’ contention that the Liberals are engaged in a coverup. Its timing was guaranteed to turn heads away from what was otherwise a relatively well-received pre-election budget.

Philpott did not provide a single new fact pertaining to the crux of the affair. That’s not just because she is constrained by cabinet confidentiality — a contention, in passing, that is increasingly challenged by parliamentary experts.

The reality is that she was not involved in or present for any of the interactions that are central to the matter. Whatever information she has in her possession about the high-level pressure former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould says she endured over her handling of the engineering firm is either second-hand or would pertain to events that took place after the fact.

Read more:

Jody Wilson-Raybould to release text messages, emails to justice committee in SNC-Lavalin scandal

Opinion | Heather Mallick: Why does Jane Philpott keep knifing her fellow Liberals?

As SNC-Lavalin fallout continues, the Liberal government narrowly avoids defeat

At the core of the SNC-Lavalin affair is the allegation that the prime minister and his senior political and public service advisers crossed the line into interference with the justice system over the course of a series of discussions about SNC-Lavalin with the then-attorney general.

More specifically, Trudeau and others are alleged to have abused their power by seeking to have Wilson-Raybould revisit her decision to not direct her department’s prosecutors to offer the engineering firm a remediation agreement that would have spared it the risk of a criminal conviction and a 10-year ban on federal bids.

By definition, those crucial exchanges took place over the period when she was attorney general. That period was exhaustively covered in Wilson-Raybould’s testimony last month, as well as in those of former principal secretary Gerald Butts and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick.

Over that central period, Philpott was Indigenous services minister. At no time would SNC-Lavalin have been relevant to her cabinet brief.

In the Maclean’s interview, the former treasury board president confirmed that as soon as she was apprised of the imminent shuffle, she queried the prime minister as to whether Wilson-Raybould’s refusal to redirect the SNC-Lavalin prosecution was the reason for her colleague’s reassignment.

In the same breath, Philpott said she was affronted by the suggestion that she had resigned her portfolio out of friendship with the former attorney general.

It is possible to believe she acted on principle when she left the cabinet but to also note that Wilson-Raybould — who is not the kind of social extrovert who shares her concerns with anyone who will listen — would not have confided in her colleague had the two not had a solid bond of friendship.

It was only as of the January cabinet shuffle that Philpott moved from peripheral player and sympathetic ear to active and vocal protagonist in the saga. And active she was.

It is already on the public record that she had a conversation with Trudeau on the plan to move Wilson-Raybould out of the justice portfolio. According to sources close to the government, that was actually one of many post-shuffle conversations with PMO interlocutors on the same topic.

It is presumably over the course of those exchanges that she and Wilson-Raybould gleaned the supplementary information they deem essential to share with the public.

Given the timeline, one can only assume that information is meant to contradict or at least undermine Trudeau’s assertion that the ex-attorney general was moved to veterans’ affairs for reasons other than her refusal to budge on SNC-Lavalin. By default, the January shuffle has emerged as the smoking gun in this affair.

On Friday, Wilson Raybould advised the justice committee that she would be filing additional written evidence pertaining to her initial testimony but also those of others.

One way or another, no one seriously expects the two former ministers to not eventually find a way to have their say.

At this juncture, there is also little lingering doubt as to who really has been and remains in their sights.

With one glaring exception, the main protagonists in this affair are already out of the picture. Butts has resigned and Wernick has decided to retire.

That leaves the prime minister.

With every passing episode in this saga, it is becoming more obvious that the Liberal party Philpott and Wilson-Raybould insist they want to continue to serve is one that is not led by Trudeau.

Chantal Hébert is a columnist based in Ottawa covering politics. Follow her on Twitter: @ChantalHbert





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