04/17/2014 (2:52 pm)

Security expert says Ottawa hard drive seized in gas plants probe

Filed under: economics, management |

An Ontario government IT expert testifying before a legislative committee probing the gas plants scandal says a computer hard drive was seized last August in an office building in Ottawa.

Police have alleged that up to 24 hard drives in the premier’s office in the legislature may have been wiped with an all-access password obtained by former premier Dalton McGuinty’s chief of staff.

They’ve seized government hard drives in Toronto in their investigation of the possible deletion of documents related to the cancellation of two gas plants that could cost up to $1.1 billion.

Government cyber security expert Shawn Truax says another hard drive, which was accessed with the same password, was seized from an office on Elgin Street in Ottawa.

He says it was a government satellite office which, according to a government directory, is occupied by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

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04/15/2014 (4:04 pm)

Mourners pack Whitby

Filed under: Loans, USA |

Scores of VIPs and average citizens, young and old, lined up for hours Tuesday to pay their respects to former finance minister Jim Flaherty.

A line snaked all the way up a ramp and around a corner inside the spacious Abilities Centre in Whitby, a facility that was the dream of hometown boy Flaherty. The centre caters to the disabled and able-bodied alike.

Flaherty’s casket was draped with the Canadian flag, as an RCMP officer stood watch nearby.

Dignitaries included former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, and Ontario Lieutenant-Governor David Onley, the latter being the first to greet Christine Elliott, Flaherty’s widow, and the mother of their three sons, who stood nearby her during the visitation.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug were also on hand. Flaherty knew the Fords well, and was close to their late father, Doug Ford Sr. a former Conservative MPP.

Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt viewed the casket and later told reporters that Flaherty, a former fellow cabinet minister, “changed my life.”

She later added that Flaherty “changed so many lives. It’s sad that we talk about the greatness of a human being after (they die). I wish I had the chance to tell him how much he meant to me and my career,” she added.

Fellow Conservative MP and Minister of Labour Kellie Leitch was also in attendance overnight pay day loans.

Canadian Armed Forces Lt. Ron Kurelo was one of he mourners in attendance who stood in line for about an hour but said it was worth it so he could pay his respects to the man who “rescued” Canada during the recent recession.

A large screen in the lobby of the Abilities Centre showed pictures of Flaherty, including one with him holding a golf club across his shoulders while he’s standing on a golf course. Several showed him speaking in the House of Commons during question period, with a fiery expression on his face.

There will be a funeral service for Flaherty Wednesday at St. James Cathedral on Church St. in Toronto and the procession will feature an Ontario Provincial Police motorcycle escort.

Flaherty, 64, died suddenly last week after suffering a heart attack.

Flags have been flying at half mast on Parliament Hill since Flaherty’s death, and Canadians have been signing books of condolences, including some that were on tables at the Abilities Centre.

With files from Canadian Press

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04/14/2014 (8:52 am)

900 SIN numbers stolen from during Heartbleed breach: CRA

Filed under: Finance, Loans |

Hackers have taken the Social Insurance Numbers of approximately 900 Canadians from Canada Revenue Agency computers, the tax agency says.

The attack on the government computers came while they were vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug, the CRA reported on Monday.

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The RCMP is investigating, CRA commissioner Andrew Treusch said in a press release.

There also was no description of whose SIN numbers were erased.

“The Agency will not be calling or emailing individuals to inform them that they have been impacted — we want to ensure that our communications are secure and cannot be exploited by fraudsters through phishing schemes,” Treusch said in his statement.

The tax agency began on Monday to “support and protect” Canadians who are affected by the security breach, Treusch said.

The agency says everyone affected will receive free access to credit protection services.

“Each person will receive a registered letter to inform them of the breach,” Treusch said. “A dedicated 1-800 number has also been set up to provide them with further information, including what steps to take to protect the integrity of their SIN.”

The federal tax agency blocked public access to its online services for several days last week until it put in place measures to address the security risk, but says there was nonetheless a data breach over a six-hour period.

“We are currently going through the painstaking process of analyzing other fragments of data, some that may relate to businesses, that were also removed,” Treusch said.

The Heartbleed bug is caused by a flaw in OpenSSL software, which is commonly used on the Internet to provide security and privacy.

The bug is affecting many global IT systems in both private and public sector organizations and has the potential to expose private data.

“The CRA is one of many organizations that was vulnerable to Heartbleed, despite our robust controls,” the agency said on Monday.

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05/24/2013 (10:06 pm)

Stocks head lower, market on track for weekly loss

Filed under: Mortgage, economics |

NEW YORK • The stock market is heading lower in early trading, putting it on track for its first weekly loss in a month.

An hour after the opening bell Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 59 points at 15,235, a drop of 0.4 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 10 points at 1,640, a fall of 0.6 percent.

The market is headed for its first weekly loss in five weeks. Anxiety over the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program was the main culprit. Some investors are concerned that the Fed will scale back its effort to support the economy sooner than they expected.

The S&P 500, which is widely used by mutual funds as a proxy for the stock market, is down 1.7 percent for the week. It’s still up 15 percent so far this year.

Sears plunged 17 percent in early trading. The department-store chain reported a steep quarterly loss and slumping sales after the market closed Thursday. Sears lost $9.72 to $48.64.

Procter & Gamble surged 4 percent. The household products giant said late Thursday that it’s bringing back its former CEO, A fast payday loan.G. Lafley, to run the company. The world’s largest consumer-products maker, whose brands include Tide and Crest, is trying to increase sales in the face of tough competition. P&G rose $3 to $81.70.

Stocks fell Friday despite an encouraging report on U.S. manufacturing. The government said orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in April, helped by demand for aircraft and stronger business investment. The report suggests economic growth may hold steady this spring.

The Nasdaq composite sank 20 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,438.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.99 percent from 2.02 percent late Thursday.

The price of crude oil fell 82 cents to $93.43 a barrel. Gold slipped $5 to $1,396 an ounce.

U.S. financial markets will be closed Monday for Memorial Day.

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05/21/2013 (6:42 pm)

Stock indexes head higher in afternoon trading

Filed under: Finance, News |

The stock market turned higher Tuesday as investors banked on continued policy support from the Federal Reserve. Two big retailers also topped Wall Street expectations for the most recent quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 64 points to 15,399 shortly after 1 p.m. Eastern time, though trading volume was light.

“I think a lot of people are sitting on their hands waiting to see what the Fed says tomorrow,” said Michael Binger, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments in Minneapolis, Minn.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its most recent policy meeting and Chairman Ben Bernanke will go before Congress to discuss his outlook for the U.S. economy.

Investors are looking for any hints that the Fed will ease back on its multibillion dollar bond-buying program, which has helped lift the stock market to all-time highs.

Stock indexes had wobbled between gains and losses in early trading, then took a turn higher after James Bullard, head of the Fed’s St. Louis branch, said the Fed should keep buying bonds to energize the economic recovery.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained six points to 1,672. The Nasdaq composite rose 11 points to 3,507.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. gained 2 percent. Shareholders of the country’s biggest bank voted to allow Jamie Dimon to keep his two titles, CEO and chairman of the board. Some had sought to split the positions, a movement which gained momentum after massive losses tied to a single trader in London.

The bank’s stock rose $1 to $53.29.

Home Depot surged 3 percent, the best gain among the Dow’s 30 stocks. The retailer reported an 18 percent increase in quarterly income as the housing market continued to recover. Home Depot rose $2.18 to $78.93.

It’s been another solid earnings season for big companies, with corporate profits hitting all-time highs even as revenues barely rise.

Seven of every 10 companies in the S&P 500 have trumped Wall Street’s earnings expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ. First-quarter earnings are on track to climb 5 percent over the year before. Revenue is expected to rise just 1 percent.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.93 percent from 1.96 percent late Monday.

In commodities trading, the price of gold fell $7 to $1,377. Gold has slumped 19 percent this year. Tame inflation, a stronger dollar and a surging stock market have made gold less appealing as an alternative investment.

Among other companies in the news:

_ Carnival Corp slumped 5 percent, the biggest drop on the S&P 500. The cruise-ship operator cut its earnings forecasts for the year late Monday as it wrestles with the fallout from high-profile incidents in which passengers have been stranded at sea. Carnival’s stock lost $1.92 to $33.40.

_ Best Buy dropped 4 percent, after reporting a quarterly loss and sales that fell short of expectations. Its stock lost $1.16 to $25.65.

_ TiVo gained 3 percent, or 44 cents, to $13.10. The digital video recording company narrowed its quarterly loss with the help of higher sales from more subscribers.

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05/18/2013 (12:58 pm)

CORTEX shows off its latest project

Filed under: legal, technology |

Less than five months after receiving a critical public incentive, the latest expansion of the CORTEX bioscience district is taking shape.

Conversion of a former telephone factory as laboratories and research space won’t be done until late this year, but the district already has snagged a big-name tenant able to attract the kind of high-tech startups that the region’s economic developers covet.

Cambridge Innovation Center, one of the nation’s leading business incubators, will occupy 30,000 square feet of space on the second floor of the 1940s phone factory, at 4240 Duncan Avenue, which is undergoing a $73 million conversion as labs and research space.

CIC’s CORTEX project, initially disclosed Wednesday, will be its first outside its home in Cambridge, Mass.

Dougan Sherwood, a CIC director, said St. Louis “has all the underpinnings of a really strong innovation ecosystem.” He said his company hopes to house at the Duncan Avenue building as many as 100 startups in a variety of fields.

The region’s universities and medical research facilities helped draw CIC, Sherwood added. Also playing a role was the CORTEX plan to develop its nearly 200-acre district as a lively, 24-hour Central West End neighborhood with thousands of workers and residents. A capper for CIC was attractive space at the former factory, he said.

“We’re building this thing in the heart of the science community in St. Louis,” Sherwood added.

Work on the building, just renamed @4240, began this spring after the St. Louis Tax Increment Financing Commission granted CORTEX nearly $168 million in public aid to help grow the technology district.

TIF commissioners voted in December to approve CORTEX’s request for assistance in its $2 billion plan to transform its 187-acre Central West End district over the next two decades.

CORTEX’s goal is to turn the area of old warehouses and factories into a hub for technology and medical research.

Dennis Lower, CORTEX’s president and chief executive, has said the district will use $8 million to $10 million in TIF money on four current projects no fax payday loans.

Those four, which have a combined value of $186 million, are an office building for BJC HealthCare, an orthopedic center by Shriners Hospital for Children and a park along Boyle Avenue, in addition to the Duncan Avenue project.

BJC has completed the shell of its five-story building at CORTEX and work will begin soon on the park, called CORTEX Commons. Sitework is underway on the Shriners project.

Wexford Science & Technology, a Baltimore-based developer of research centers, owns the 183,000-square-foot @4240 building. Tarlton Corp. is the general contractor on the building.

In addition to CIC, @4240’s other main tenant so far will be Washington University’s Offices of Technology Management and Research Administration.

CORTEX, a nonprofit joint venture by area universities, BJC and the Missouri Botanical Garden, already houses the BioGenerator and the Center for Emerging Technologies — home to dozens of tech startups. The partnership with Wexford is intended to attract more young companies looking for high-quality space.

Future CORTEX phases could stretch to Vandeventer Avenue, with more offices, a retail center, housing and two small hotels.

During a tour for the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday, Peter Boldt, Tarlton’s superintendent on the project, expressed admiration for workers who in 1948 completed the Art Moderne-style brick and reinforced concrete structure designed and built by the Austin Co. of Cleveland.

He pointed out aspects of the building’s rock-solid construction and the precision placement of electrical boxes that workers had embedded in concrete ceilings.

“They did this right,” Boldt said.

Decades later, workers have sawed through some of those ceilings to produce 40-foot cutouts that allow daylight to penetrate the structure from beneath new skylights. Architects from HOK of St. Louis designed the renovation.

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05/16/2013 (2:14 pm)

Wal-Mart’s 1Q profit, sales disappoint

Filed under: management, online |

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s first quarter profit rose 1.1 percent as the world’s largest retailer struggled with a sales slump in its namesake business.

The company, based in Bentonville, Ark., blamed a payroll tax increase, delayed tax refunds and bad weather for the profit and sales results that missed Wall Street expectations.

The company also offered a profit outlook that came below analysts’ projections. Wal-Mart’s stock fell $1.76, or 2.2 percent, to $78.10 in premarket trading.

Wal-Mart said Thursday that it earned $3.78 billion, or $1.14 per share in the quarter ended April 30. That compared with $3.74 billion, or $1.09 per share, a year earlier.

Sales rose 1 percent to $113.43 billion. That figure excludes Sam’s Club membership fees.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations for earnings of $1.15 per share on revenue of $115.78 billion.

Wal-Mart reported a 1.4 percent drop in revenue at stores open at least a year at its namesake business, its first drop in a year and a half. At Sam’s Club, the figure rose a slim 0.2 percent, held down by less traffic from business customers, bad weather and lower-than-expected inflation.

Revenue at stores open at least a year is considered a key measurement for retailers because it excludes the effect of stores that open or close during the year.

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05/15/2013 (4:22 am)

Toronto Maple Leafs: Anger, sadness and optimism from fans after loss to Boston

Filed under: Mortgage, term |

In the belly of the crowd, which grew increasingly bellicose as the Boston Bruins came from behind to force overtime, you couldn’t see Patrice Bergeron’s game-winning goal. But you knew what happened.

The rush was quick and fluid, like a bathtub getting unplugged. Hockey fans who had moments earlier danced with glee amongst the jubilant crowd near Maple Leaf Square now scattered in all directions. Instead of their Toronto Maple Leafs advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a Game 7 win over Boston — as seemed enticingly possible when the Leafs were up 4-1 in the third period — they had to swallow another loss.

But anger plus disappointment didn’t equal rage and destruction. For many, it just meant heartbreak.

“It’s just … I feel empty. I don’t even know what to say,” said a downcast, jersey-clad Ethan Lowe, a 17-year-old Torontonian.

“Unfathomable,” chimed in Alex Hnatykiw, 19, who’d driven into downtown Toronto from Bolton to catch the game with her friend. “I want to cry.”

As the crowd gradually thinned, a dozen police on horseback trotted through the intersection of York St. and Bremner Blvd. Hooves crushed beer cans and glass and other street party detritus, while dejected fans sauntered away in all directions, their crestfallen wandering peppered with the odd raspy yell of anger toward the victorious Bruins.

Then there were the silver-lining types, like Pat Keenan and his friend Chris Anderson. Yes, the duo from Wasaga Beach was sad about the loss. But they were also grateful this year’s team beat largely-held expectations by making the playoffs and forcing a Game 7 against Boston. The performance of Toronto netminder James Reimer was particularly heartening for them.

“You gotta give it to my boy Reimer,” said Anderson with a grin.

“And they played a hell of a series,” added Keenan.

Simandeep Gill, 18, who was sitting on the curb nearby, echoed the sentiment. “It’s devastating, but some people didn’t think the playoffs would happen,” he said. “It just shows we have a bright future.”

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05/13/2013 (8:14 am)

Imelda Marcos, Manny Pacquiao running for office in Philippines elections

Filed under: Loans, legal |

MANILA, PHILIPPINES—Less violence than usual and expected glitches in voting machines marked Monday’s congressional and local elections in the Philippines, which will gauge popular support for the president’s anti-corruption drive and other reforms.

Elections Commission Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he expected turnout of 70 per cent. More than 52 million voters registered to elect 18,000 officials, including half of the 24-member Senate, nearly 300 members of the House of Representatives and leaders of a Muslim autonomous region in the south, where Islamic insurgents and militants are a concern.

Results are expected within a day or two.

The ballots were stacked with familiar names of at least 250 political families who have monopolized power across the country, from former first lady Imelda Marcos, 83, to newly minted politicians like boxing star Manny Pacquiao.

“Wherever you go, you see the names of these people since we were kids. It is still them,” businessman Martin Tunac, 54, said after voting in Manila. “One of the bad things about political dynasties is they control everything, including business.”

Critics worry that a single family’s stranglehold on different levels of government could stymie checks against abuses and corruption. A widely cited example is the 2009 massacre of 58 people, including 32 media workers, in an ambush blamed on rivalry between powerful clans in southern Maguindanao province.

Violence was less pronounced this year, with no Election Day deaths reported as of Monday night, but at least 46 people have been killed in the run-up to the elections since January, police said.

On Monday, assailants lobbed a grenade at a school where the voting was under way in southern Marawi city, but missed and hit a house, wounding three people. Armed followers of a mayoral candidate clashed with marines in nearby Sulu province, where troops replaced local police.

The official election watchdog, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, said it received reports of breakdowns in some of about 80,000 voting machines, which are being used for only the second time since the 2010 presidential election. The supplier said it had expected 200 to 300 units to malfunction but had 2,000 replacements on standby.

At the end, Brillantes said the problems were minor and the polling generally smooth.

The outcome will determine the level of support for President Benigno Aquino III’s reforms in his remaining three years in office. Aquino has been praised at home and abroad for cracking down on widespread corruption, backing key legislation and concluding an initial peace agreement with Muslim rebels.

But he cannot run for re-election and his choice of a candidate to succeed him, who will be expected to continue on the same reform path, will depend on the new political landscape.

The Aquino administration is confident they will maintain the majority in the House and the focus was on the Senate, said Ramon Casiple, head of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform Internet Payday loans.

“The implication of a Senate that is his ally is that he will have the needed support for his policies and programs,” Casiple said. “Definitely he will not be a lame duck for the next three years because of that, much more if he maintains his popularity. This means they will be more in a position to contest the 2016 presidential elections on a more stable foundation.”

Candidates backed by Aquino ran against a coalition headed by Vice-President Jejomar Binay and deposed President Joseph Estrada. Although officially No. 2 in the country, Binay has emerged as the administration’s rival and may be positioning himself for the 2016 race.

Among 33 senatorial candidates were two of Aquino’s relatives, Binay’s neophyte daughter, Estrada’s son, a son of the sitting chamber president, a son of a late president, a spouse and children of former senators and there’s a possibility that two pairs of siblings will be sitting in the same house. Currently, 15 senators have relatives serving in elective positions.

The race for the House was even more of a family affair. Toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ widow was expected to keep her seat as a representative for Ilocos Norte province, her husband’s birthplace, where the locals kept electing the Marcoses despite allegations of corruption and abuse during their long rule. Imelda Marcos’ daughter Imee was seeking re-election as governor and her son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is already a senator.

Incumbent Rep. Pacquiao ran unopposed and is trying to build a dynasty of his own: His brother Rogelio was seeking to represent his southern district and his wife, Jinkee, was vying to become vice-governor for Sarangani province.

Estrada, who was ousted in a 2001 “people power” revolt on corruption allegations, ran for mayor of Manila, hoping to capitalize on his movie star popularity, particularly among the poor.

School counsellor Evelyn Dioquino said that the proliferation of political dynasties was a cultural issue and other candidates stood little chance because clans “have money, so they are the only ones who can afford (to run). Of course, if you have no logistics, you can’t run for office.”

Ana Maria Tabunda of independent pollster Pulse Asia said that dynasties restrict democracy, but added that past surveys by her organization have shown that most Filipinos are less concerned about the issue than with the benefits and patronage they can receive from particular candidates. Voters also often pick candidates with the most familiar surnames instead of those with the best records, she said.

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05/11/2013 (2:46 pm)

Saskatoon police mourn homeless man they arrested as many as 1,000 times

Filed under: Finance, legal |

SASKATOON—He was one of the most recognizable residents in Saskatoon and some people consider the Prairie city a little different now that he’s gone.

Alvin Cote wasn’t a well-known politician, businessman or hockey player, but a ragged, homeless alcoholic whose tough talk would easily melt into a hearty chuckle and a big smile short on teeth.

He spent that past couple of decades living in Saskatoon. He could be seen curled up on floor of a bank foyer, sleeping on park benches or reading worn copies of National Geographic in the drunk tank.

He died April 19, a few days shy of his 60th birthday.

Saskatoon police officers are still talking about his death, even though they considered it an inevitable fate. It’s believed Cote had been arrested more times for public drunkenness than anyone else in the city’s history. Some officers put the tally at close to 1,000.

Although his obituary does not list an official cause of death, police say Cote was in hospital with pneumonia when he died.

Downtown beat officer Const. Derek Chesney was surprised and saddened when he heard the news. He saw the man almost every day over the past five years.

“It’s not often that you can arrest somebody on multiple occasions and end up being friends with them. But such was the case with Alvin,” Chesney recently wrote on his official police blog, Cops and Bloggers.

The officer confesses that he had a good cry after writing the online tribute. He fights back tears again as he talks on the phone about the important life lesson Cote taught him.

“You realize that people can fall through the cracks,” says Chesney. “And just as much as a good person can have a bad day, things can happen to people in their lives where they end up going on a path that perhaps they didn’t choose.”

Cote was from the Cote First Nation in the Kamsack area, east of Saskatoon near the Manitoba boundary. He was carted off as a child to a residential school on a neighbouring reserve and suffered years of abuse, says Chesney.

He says Cote never talked about it, but the abuse likely set him on his destructive path. Cote has a sister in Saskatoon and she tried to look after Cote for a while, says Chesney. But he wouldn’t stop drinking.

Chesney remembers meeting Cote for the first time in the winter of 2009 outside the old train station downtown. Chesney had just earned his badge and saw the man with a scraggly beard tapping and flexing his arms, yelling his catchphrase: “I’m a fighter.”

Chesney calmed him down by asking, “I heard you were a lover, not a fighter.”

“Well, I’m that too,” Cote laughed.

Chesney and his partner then put Cote in their cruiser and, as they were heading back to the police station, Cote knocked on the dividing window with $5 in his hand. He said he was hungry. Chesney ran into a McDonald’s and got him two double cheeseburgers. Cote happily devoured his meal during the rest of the ride.

Chesney says he and many other officers looked out for Cote. They checked on him at night and made sure he had enough to eat. Sometimes, when Cote was hanging out on his usual bench in the public lobby of the police station, officers changing shifts would hand him their lunches as they walked by.

One time, when Cote was in detention on his birthday, staff rummaged up a cupcake and stuck a candle on top. “They actually had everybody on key and everybody else in cells sang Happy Birthday. He blew the candle out through the bars.”

Chesney says he last saw Cote a few weeks before he died, sitting outside a Tim Hortons. Chesney patted him on the back and they ended their chat the way they always did.

“OK, Bud. See you later,” Chesney said.

“You will,” Cote replied.

Chesney says he and other officers have made their way in recent weeks to the home of Cote’s sister to drop off sympathy cards and kind words about the man they miss my credit score. Some even say they thought of him as family.

But the police aren’t the only ones mourning Cote. Chesney’s blog has received hundreds of clicks and comments from people who had seen Cote on the streets, even though they never knew his name.

A McDonald’s manager wrote about how she will miss waking Cote up outside the restaurant in the mornings and asking him to move along. Another woman said she’ll miss buying him lunch. One man talked about how he once saw Cote sleeping inside a bank foyer. He slipped some money under the pile of clothes the man was using as a pillow.

“Sounds like this guy may have been an angel in disguise?” wrote a woman named Amy. “He seems to have brought out the best in humanity.”

Const. Robbie Taylor often sat and had coffee with Cote. He laughs as he recalls his favourite stories about the man, like the one about how Cote used to wear a second-hand sweater from the Salvation Army. On the front it read, “What the world’s greatest mom looks like.”

Then there was the time when Cote pitched a fit in detention because officers gave him a magazine with singer Anne Murray on the cover. “I hate her!” he ranted.

Taylor says Cote loved to read but was always losing or breaking his glasses. So officers usually grabbed him glasses from boxes of used, donated pairs that were supposed to go to Africa.

Taylor once gave Cote an amateur eye exam. He had him read an oatmeal box while trying on different glasses. If he squinted, Taylor had him try on another pair. The ones Cote liked best were large and red and made him look like TV talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael. Cote suspected they were women’s glasses but he still tucked them away in his pocket.

“I still have a couple of pairs in my locker. They were ready to go if he broke them again.”

Cote was such a character that a worker at the police detention centre sketched his picture, put his mug on some T-shirts and gave them to other staff. Orders for more are now rolling so people will have something to remember him by.

The workers tried to give one of the T-shirts to Cote last year for Christmas but he didn’t want it. He grumbled that he looked too much like Santa Claus.

Even Saskatoon’s police chief knew Cote. Clive Weighill recalls seeing him at a Tim Hortons just a few weeks before he died. Weighill slipped him some cash.

“I think most people thought I was telling him to leave but I was just giving him a five dollar bill so he could go get himself something to eat.”

Weighill says a study completed last year tracked Cote and 22 other homeless people with substance abuse problems. It showed that they cost the city $2.8 million over one year in policing, ambulance and hospital costs.

That’s why police, health officials and other agencies hope to build a wellness centre in the city to house the group. Weighill says it’s a more dignified solution than sticking them in police cells.

The centre could also provide faster access to treatment services, but Weighill concedes some people just don’t want help.

Chesney says he did everything he could for Cote. “I couldn’t make him sober up. I couldn’t bring him home and put him in my basement and give him a bath. He lived the way he wanted to and you almost have to respect somebody for that.”

Some officers say they would have gone to Cote’s funeral but he was buried on his home reserve some 350 kilometres away. There’s talk of a local memorial, but nothing has been organized.

Chesney hopes the bench in the police lobby that Cote sat on for countless hours will be decorated with a plaque in his name and moved into the new police station that’s under construction. That way Cote will always be there.

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