Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mom spins 'crazy' tale of ransom, limo ride


Wed, April 29, 2009

The mother of missing eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford raised more questions than provided answers yesterday trying to explain an admittedly "crazy" tale of a secret limousine ride and offer of ransom money.

Oxford police, who last night announced a $50,000 reward in the case, refused outright to address the credibility of Tara McDonald's tale that she said took place last Thursday.

But a former Toronto abduction investigator said it's unlikely any ransom deal would be set up the way McDonald and her mysterious benefactor described it -- with money provided after Tori is returned safe and sound.

"It's ridiculous," said Dave Perry, a former Toronto police officer with 27 years experience.

Perry questioned the idea of ransom being part of the abduction at all.




"I find it odd she (McDonald) would be walking down that road, talking about ransom. Are they going to take that child from that family for money? A ransom, you have to have the ability to pay."

The focus on the investigation is likely still a family dispute, not a random kidnapping, Perry said.

"That's what I would be focusing on."

Oxford police announced last night they are offering a $50,000 reward in the case of Victoria (Tori) Stafford, last seen April 8.

Tori was abducted April 8 while walking home from her Woodstock elementary school.

Investigators released video footage from a security camera at a nearby high school showing Tori walking with an unidentified woman.

McDonald said yesterday she knows her story about meeting a benefactor is a strange one.

"People are going to think we are nuts," she said.

Last Thursday, a limousine parked around the corner from her house on Dover Street while the driver sneaked past reporters into her backyard, she said.

The driver offered to take her to Toronto to meet a mysterious and wealthy person.

"They said the person just wanted to speak with me."

McDonald said she thought she was going to meet television psychic Sylvia Browne, whom she had tried to contact earlier.

The limousine came back at 5 p.m. and drove her, her brother, boyfriend James Goris and a friend named Sarah to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel near Pearson International Airport.

She went up to a room by herself and spoke for about two hours with the person, McDonald said.

The person explained their child had been abducted for a ransom, but killed after police advised against paying it.

"They didn't want me to have to go through that," McDonald said.

The person offered to pay whatever ransom was sought in return for Tori, and gave McDonald two phone numbers for any kidnappers to call.

"When they bring my daughter back safely, whatever they ask for is going to be deposited into a safe account for them," McDonald said.

Pressed by reporters yesterday, McDonald said she did not ask for or receive the name of the person.

Nor would she reveal the person's sex or colour, or allow reporters to listen to the answering machine for the phone numbers.

McDonald said she had no doubts about the mystery person's offer. The person held up a keepsake from their dead child.

"They had a little baggie of hair the same colour as my daughter's and that broke my heart. It was someone genuine."

To prove the ride took place, she held up photos taken on her iPhone of inside the limousine.

Tori's father, Rodney Stafford, was not invited on the ride.

"If somebody is willing to help, that's great," Stafford said yesterday.

Oxford police announced the reward hours after McDonald revealed her story about the mysterious benefactor.

Const. Laurie-Anne Maitland, an Oxford police spokesperson, said the two events aren't linked.

"I know it doesn't come across like that," Maitland said.

"We're hopeful that this incentive will be the catalyst for anyone with information to come forward."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reward for Tori?

Tori's mom assumed limo would take her to psychic

Updated: Tue Apr. 28 2009 3:17:15 PM




Victoria Stafford's mother thought renowned psychic Sylvia Browne had come to give her a clue about her missing daughter's whereabouts.

Instead, the mystery guest who requested to speak to Tara MacDonald Thursday afternoon is an anonymous person who is offering the eight-year-old child's captors a reward for her safe return.

Victoria has been missing from her Woodstock, Ont. town for 20 days.

MacDonald told reporters on Tuesday she didn't know what to believe when a limo driver knocked at her door and told her that his wealthy boss wanted to speak with her.

The driver had apparently walked through the woman's backyard, far away from the prying eyes of reporters who were camped out front.

"(It all sounds) crazy? I know," she said. "I thought that we were going to see Sylvia Browne."

MacDonald said she has left a message for Browne, wanting to speak to her about Victoria's disappearance.

But it wasn't Browne. Rather, it was an anonymous traveller who had a stopover in Toronto wanted to help after seeing the case on TV.

This person, who MacDonald has refused to describe because of her promise to keep them anonymous, has reportedly also lost a child to a kidnapping.

MacDonald said the person was told by police not to pay a ransom demand for their child and as a result their child was killed.

"They didn't want that to happen to me," MacDonald said. "They said it was fate and that they wanted to help."

MacDonald said she, her boyfriend and best friend travelled to see the stranger in Toronto, at the Sheraton Hotel located by Pearson International Airport. A limousine was provided for them for their travel.

MacDonald said she was the only one who went upstairs to talk to the stranger and when she did, she stayed for about two hours.

MacDonald said she told police about the encounter and forwarded a number to authorities that has been set up to facilitate the transaction should it be necessary.

So far, both police and MacDonald say there have been no ransom demands.

Victoria's father Rodney Stafford stood next to MacDonald while she spoke to reporters.

He said he only heard about the trip to Toronto from MacDonald after it happened and that he wished he went along to meet the stranger.

"If someone is willing to help then that's great, Other than that, I don't know anything about it other than what Tara has told me," he said.

MacDonald said she's well aware the story sounds "crazy" and that people are speculating about the encounter.

"A lot of weird things have taken place (since Victoria disappeared)," she said. "A lot of weird messages, a lot of weird letters. It's not any more weird than anything else that has happened."

Victoria, known as "Tori" by close family and friends, has been missing since April 8. She was last seen walking away from her school with a woman whom police have not been able to identify.

Victoria's Mother Took Polygraph Test

Monday, April 27, 200

The mother of a missing eight-year-old Woodstock girl says she will take another polygraph test.

Tara McDonald admitted on Monday she broke down after police administered the test three days after Victoria Stafford disappeared.
McDonald told reporters "I ended up breaking, and I ended up leaving, so it's not because they didn't give me the results of my polygraph test, and it's not because I had anything to hide."
Victoria has not been seen since she left school on April 8.

Monday, April 27, 2009

No Jail Time for This?

Charges laid in alleged generic drug resale scheme
 
Apr 27, 2009 06:28 PM
Several pharmacies, drug makers and wholesalers in Ontario are facing criminal charges and $34 million in fines in an alleged scheme that saw them profit from reselling generic prescription drugs – a practice that may be at work in other provinces, health officials said Monday.

The scheme not only endangered public safety by making it difficult to track the products, but also drove up the cost of many prescription drugs through illegal rebates, said assistant deputy health minister Helen Stevenson.

"This is a national issue, that generic prices are so high," she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"The reason that we can't get lower prices is because (drug manufacturers) are paying such huge allowances to pharmacies."

Seven drug companies and four wholesalers based in Ontario and Quebec were fined for allegedly paying for or receiving excessive rebates for drug purchases, which were discovered during a five-month probe by Ontario's Health Ministry.

Wholesalers Amerisource Bergen Corp. Canada, Kohl and Frisch Ltd., A.O.C. Company Ltd. and Pharmastop are facing fines totalling $26 million.

The province has also filed complaints with Health Canada against A.O.C., Kohl and Frisch, Amerisource, Pharmastop and RxSource over suspected violations of regulations related to public safety.

Drug makers Taro Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cobalt Pharmaceuticals Inc., Genpharm Inc., Novopharm Ltd., Ratiopharm Inc., Pharmascience Ltd. and Sandoz Canada Inc. were also fined by the province.

One pharmacy – Kohler's Drug Store Ltd. in Hamilton – is facing $4.4 million in fines and four charges for allegedly providing false or misleading information, or obstructing an inspection.

Sixteen other charges were laid against Ratiopharm, a wholesaler whose name was not immediately disclosed, and three people – charges that could lead to jail time if they're convicted in court, officials said.

The Ontario College of Pharmacists has also been asked to investigate the conduct of A.O.C, Best Drug Mart, Markland Wood Pharmacy Ltd. and Symington Drugs.

There may be more fines and charges to come, as the investigation is not yet complete, Stevenson said.

"We don't yet know exactly how extensive a problem it is that we've uncovered, but we do most certainly know that it's a problem," she said.

Ontario, like other provinces, allows generic drug makers to pay pharmacies a fee for buying their prescription drugs.

In 2006, the government tabled a bill that capped the so-called ``professional allowances" to 20 per cent of sales for public drug plans, and required that the money be spent on activities that benefit patients, such as blood pressure clinics. There are no caps on allowances paid on drugs dispensed under private plans.

The probe found that some pharmacies and wholesalers were allegedly abusing the system by ordering more drugs than they needed and collecting the rebates from manufacturers, only to sell the drugs they didn't need back to wholesalers.

The wholesalers then sold the drugs to another pharmacy, triggering another rebate.

Manufacturers reported they paid out $332 million in such fees over six months, while pharmacies said they'd received only $145 million, Stevenson said.

In one case, a drug maker reported it had paid $5 million to one pharmacy, but the pharmacy said it got nothing. Another pharmacy claimed it spent the money on 1,600 clinic days – five clinics for each day of the year.

The system was designed so that drug companies, wholesalers and pharmacies all made money, while patients had access to drugs at ``manageable prices," Stevenson said.

"I believe the system was working until corporations and some individuals decided to undermine it," she added.

Similar schemes could very well be at work in other provinces, Health Minister David Caplan said.

Ontario is working with other provinces to develop a co-ordinated strategy to deal with the problem, he said.

"We will be sharing the result of these audits with counterparts from around the country," he said. "As I say, this is a pan-Canadian problem."

Three pharmacies may have their licences to dispense drugs under the public plan revoked, and full-scale audits may be ordered for 51 pharmacies, as well as one wholesaler and a generic drug maker, Stevenson said.

Consumers should not be concerned that the drugs they've purchased aren't safe, she said. The main concern was that in the event of a product recall, the scheme would make it difficult to track individual batches of drugs.

Caplan said the province is considering several options to improve the system, including eliminating the professional allowances.

"The implications of these revelations are considerable," he said.

"The ill-gotten rebates come from the pockets of taxpayers, our public drug plan and employers already struggling in the midst of an incredible economic challenge."

Mystery Person Offers Cash For Safe Return Of Victoria Stafford



Monday April 27, 2009

It's been 19 days since Victoria Stafford was abducted while walking home from school, and her mother, Tara McDonald, now believes a perfect stranger may be the key to bringing her daughter home alive and well.

McDonald says that while the media was camped out on her front lawn waiting for her daily update, a limousine driver walked through her yard and knocked on her back door.  When she answered he said he had a wealthy boss who wanted to meet her.

So Tara, her boyfriend, brother, and best friend, got into the limo.

"I felt calm with him. I didn't feel nervous," she explained.



She then claims the limo took them to the Sheraton hotel near Pearson airport.  She then says she went alone to a suite on a top floor and met a person who insisted they must remain anonymous.

The person said their own child was abducted and killed, and that they wanted to help.

"They just landed in Toronto, turned on the news and saw the story and wanted to do something," she adds.

That something is apparently money --- any sum Victoria's kidnapper's want.

Even though there has been no ransom demand, McDonald now hopes this offer of money will bring her little girl back home. 

In the meantime, police are looking into the offer.

  

Saturday, April 25, 2009

'We have to assume' swine flu is in Ontario, health official warns


Passengers in Mexico City's subway wear masks to guard against infection April 24, 2009. Health experts advise regular hand washing as another precaution.


A new strain of never-before-seen influenza that has surfaced in Mexico and in parts of the U.S. has international health authorities on guard and sparked fears of a worldwide flu pandemic.

Health officials yesterday confirmed the severe respiratory illness that has killed more than 60 people in Mexico appears, in some cases, to be genetically similar to the eight cases of swine flu reported in parts of Texas and Southern California.

The new strain of swine influenza is likely already in Ontario, said Dr. Michael Gardam, one of Ontario's top infectious disease specialists, because about 60,000 people return to the province from Mexico every month.

"We have to assume that it is circulating in Ontario," he said. "You just have to look at air travel patterns to realize that what goes on in Mexico has to come to Canada."

With the spectre of SARS still looming over the Toronto area, local infectious disease experts are emphasizing the new strain of swine flu should not be compared to the severe acute respiratory syndrome that swept the city in 2003 and killed 44 people.

"It is a different virus from what we've seen before," said Gardam, who is director of infectious diseases prevention and control at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. "But that is not a comment on how easily it is spread and how sick it would make you."

Scientists around the world are moving quickly to uncover more details of the novel swine flu, a combination of human, swine and avian viruses not previously detected in pigs or humans and which can be spread from human to human. Health officials stress public health alerts and recommendations will change as new facts emerge.

"Our concern has grown since yesterday in light of what we have learned since then," Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said at a news teleconference yesterday.

No cases of swine flu have been reported in Canada, and officials said only a "handful" of cases are under investigation here.

The Mexican government has reported more than 900 cases of severe respiratory illness, or SRI, and 62 related deaths, according to a release from the World Health Organization. As of Thursday, there were 854 cases of SRI and 59 deaths in Mexico City, 24 cases and three deaths in San Luis Potosi, in central Mexico, and four cases in Mexicali, near the U.S. border.

Canadian scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg confirmed 16 of the Mexican cases are Swine Influenza A/H1N1 viruses. The lab received 51 samples from Mexico on Wednesday.

Besser said the CDC found 12 cases are genetically identical to the A/H1N1 viruses from California, where six cases were confirmed in two counties next to the Mexican border. Two more cases have turned up in San Antonio, Tex., and nine cases are under investigation.

The majority of infected individuals in the U.S. had mild symptoms – only one person was kept in hospital – and all have since recovered.

The strain of swine flu is sensitive to antiviral drugs, including the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. Scientists are working to decode the entire DNA of the virus, and the CDC is developing a vaccine.

Canadian and U.S. health officials have not issued travel advisories to California, Texas or Mexico. Public health experts are asking potential travellers to protect themselves from influenza as they would anywhere else at home and abroad by using precautionary measures, such as regular hand washing.

Infectious disease specialists worldwide are worried the new strain of swine flu could lead to an influenza pandemic. Right now, officials say the most concerning factors are the human-to-human spread of an animal influenza virus, that clusters of cases are geographically separated, and that otherwise healthy young adults seem to be most affected by the virus.

Besser said the WHO is convening a group of experts to determine whether the pandemic threat level should be changed. Currently, the world is at level 3 out of a possible six levels, with the sixth level indicating a pandemic.

Mexico's government cancelled classes for millions of children and university students in Mexico City and the surrounding area yesterday. Large concert venues, libraries and museums were also closed.

Dr. Alison McGeer, director of infection control at Mount Sinai Hospital, said it is too early to judge whether the swine flu will turn into a pandemic.

"The critical question of whether it's going to be a pandemic is whether it's going to spread to other countries and how much it's already spread in Mexico," she said. "We simply don't know that today."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Family torn on fundraising


Fri, April 24, 2009
THE ABDUCTION OF TORI STAFFORD: News of door-to-door efforts has raised concerns some may be taking advantage of the abduction for personal gain

Cracks are beginning to open between the two families of missing eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford over fundraising efforts in the little girl's name.

The father's side of the family pleaded with the public yesterday to stop raising or donating money and focus on the search for the girl, last seen April 8 after school.

"The only thing we want people to be spending is their time and effort," said Rebecca Stafford, Tori's aunt.

The Stafford family has been horrified to learn people are going door to door with jars plastered with Tori's picture, she said.

"We are afraid people are taking advantage of this for their own personal gain."

The family had earlier supported a trust fund set up to help Tori and her brother Daryn get counselling.

But Tori's grandmother's employer, Cami Automotive Inc., has agreed to pay for counselling, Stafford said.

Stafford also expressed concerns about a second fund created this week to help the mother's side of the family pay for phone bills and lost wages.

"I don't know what to say to that other than . . . with public money here comes a great deal of responsibility."

Tori's parents are divorced but have until now presented a unified face over the search for their daughter.

Tori's mother, Tara McDonald, dealt with questions about fundraising at an earlier news conference yesterday.

"I don't have a clue how much has been raised. I don't take care of that. It goes into a trust fund for Daryn and Victoria."

McDonald also dealt yesterday with questions about a composite sketch released by police two days ago.

The sketch is of the woman seen in a surveillance video walking with Tori at 3:23 p.m. after school April 8, based on someone who saw her in person.

Tori's father, Rodney Stafford, thinks the woman looks like a former high school classmate but McDonald does not recognize the woman.

McDonald explained yesterday she and Rodney went to different high schools.

At least one other Stafford family member agrees with Rodney, but others have different beliefs, Rebecca Stafford said yesterday.

Tori knows all the people the family suspects, Stafford said.

Police yesterday would not comment on the tips received from the composite sketch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tori Stafford suspect


Sketch released by police of Tori Stafford suspect


Police have released what they say is a composite image of the woman seen in a video with Tori Stafford, the 8-year-old abducted two weeks ago.

The woman is said to be 19 to 25 years old, around 5-foot-1 and about 125 pounds with long black hair worn in a ponytail.

A news conference has been called for 10 a.m. today in Woodstock.

Oxford Community Police Chief Ron Fraser asked residents to review the image and call them with information.

In a surveillance video recorded near her school the day of the abduction, Tori was last seen walking with the unidentified woman who wore a white puffy winter jacket and tight black jeans.

The OPP was called in to help in the investigation of the girl who has been missing since April 8.

Now armed with more information and an image of the main suspect, police have organized information to be aired Saturday on the TV show America's Most Wanted.

Release of the sketch follows another appeal by the girl's mother to the kidnapper.

"I don't understand, but just let her go. She doesn't deserve this," Tara McDonald said.



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CFL

Consider this - instead of saving the environment, CFLs are actually destroying it. CFLs should be thought of as toxic technology, when mercury contamination, ultraviolet radiation, and radio frequency radiation are factored in. From cradle to grave, CFLs pose a danger to people’s health and well being, as well as adding even more toxicity to the environment. In fact, CFLs do not reduce a person’s carbon footprint and may even increase it in some situations. To make matters even worse, CFLs emit harmful levels of electromagnetic radiation.
Starting in the year 2012, regular incandescent bulbs, the ones invented by Thomas Edison over 100 years ago, will be banned in Canada in the pursuit of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Yet, contrary to popular belief, switching from regular bulbs to CFLs could increase global energy consumption, not reduce it. If that alone does not shake consumer confidence, perhaps the facts that CFLs contain mercury and also emit electromagnetic radiation might give people a wake-up call up to the truth about CFLs.
On the other hand, since CFL producers are being handed a monopoly in the light bulb market by some federal government and are being cheered on by corporatist environmental groups, sales are not about to drop anytime soon.
It seems like the protectors of the environment have jumped ship. Health Canada is simply not doing its job as they ignore the devastating impact of having millions of CFLs in our environment. Why are they sitting by, and allowing the Canadian government to force its citizens to use them?
To make matters even worse, groups such as the Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace, whom Canadians have come to rely on to protect them from environmental pollutants, have chosen to ignore the potential looming environmental and health risks, and blindly promote the use of CFLs.
Why have environmentalists and the government joined in an alliance with the electrical industry in promoting an undeniably dangerous product? Whose side are they on anyway?
Canadian Health and Safety officials seem to be asleep at the switch, oblivious of the hazards, and environmentalists appear to have sold out, as manufacturers and sellers of CFLs are laughing all the way to the bank.  With impunity “los tres amigos”, the manufacturers, the corporatist environmentalist backers and government, are leaving misled consumers to deal with the aftermath of a potential environmental catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand government, citing concerns about CFLs lack of efficiency and safety, has lifted its ban on incandescent bulbs.  Hopefully other governments will see the wisdom in this decision and follow suit.

Corporatist Environmentalists

Corporatism is the dominant ideology in today’s western democracies. “While the corporatist society maintains a veneer of open criticism and democracy, it squelches opposition to dominant corporate interests by using propaganda and rhetoric to obscure facts and to deter communication among citizens. Corporatism creates conformists who behave like cogs in organizational hierarchies, not responsible citizens,” explains Publishers Weekly, reviewing the book Voltaire’s Bastards by John Ralston Saul. These are just some of the attributes of the ideology that has a strangle hold on our society and, it appears, on our major environmental groups as well.
The environment is too important to be left solely to the environmentalists.
Environmentalists with corporatist tendencies can cause a lot of harm when they are not properly scrutinized and held accountable by the public. They have played a huge role in keeping consumers in the dark regarding the hazards posed by CFLs. The Suzuki Foundation and Greenpeace claim that CFLs are good for the environment and no one dares to challenge them.
The disinformation process begins when public awareness of a harmful product, such as a CFL, is restricted by environmental groups. Over time, with no real criticism of the product, a consensus consciousness is created in the public mind that the product is safe.  Finally, in one of the oldest tricks in the book, corporations use these groups as third party endorsers to create a favourable image of a potentially dangerous product. Remember back in the sixties with doctors in TV adds smoking Camel cigarettes?
The evidence that shows that CFLs are hazardous to humans is undeniable. The question is, why are environmental groups willing to risk a safe environment and their reputations by promoting a toxic product?

CFLs Are A Hazardous Product & Do Not Save Energy

It may surprise many people to know that CFLs increase a consumer’s carbon footprint in a ‘cradle to grave’ analysis. Full costs to manufacture, operate and safely dispose of a CFL have never been disclosed to the public. The reality is that residential lighting takes up only 0.8% of energy consumption in Canada.
CFLs are energy hogs to produce, operate and dispose of. Reducing a consumer’s carbon footprint is the CFL’s raison d’ĂȘtre.  But before deciding to switch over to compact florescent lights it would be wise to first review a cradle to grave analysis of the carbon footprint of a CFL, compared to an incandescent bulb.
What is the real energy cost of a CFL?  What does it cost to mine, manufacture, package, ship, sell, operate, dispose of CFLs on the environment? These are questions ignored by CFL promoters.
An International Association for Energy-Efficient Lighting (IAEEL) study conducted in Denmark, explored some carbon footprint factors, but not all, showing it took 1.8 Kwh of electricity to assemble a CFL compared to 0.11 Kwh to assemble an incandescent bulb.  That means it took 16 times more energy to produce a CFL. The study did not include the fact that a CFL is much heavier and is more dangerous to handle, and will thus cost more to package, to ship, and to sell.
This research also did not calculate the energy required to safely dispose of a CFL and reclaim the mercury. The cost of removing mercury from the landfills was also not considered. More over, the potential cost in destroyed lives, illnesses, and lost human productivity due to exposure to mercury and electromagnetic radiation have not been considered.
If such a study could be done, and considered all the negative contributing factors, it would show a CFL has a massive carbon footprint, one that would dwarf a regular incandescent light bulb and it would also show that CFLs will leave behind a wake of environmental destruction.

CFLs Do Not Save On Energy Consumption

Power Factor
An incandescent bulb has a power factor of 1. Most CFLs sold in Canada have a power factor of about 0.55.  That means there are about 45% more energy losses in operating the CFL compared to an incandescent bulb.  This does not show up on a power bill but the power company has to supply about 45% more power than what the bulb is rated for. Astonishingly, CFLs can take almost twice as much energy to operate than what is on the label and still be listed as an energy star product, something few consumers know. CFL cheerleaders seldom tell consumers that the power factor is not included in their energy consumption calculations.
Heat Loss
Energy efficient bulbs increase greenhouse gases. Because they burn cooler, they cause home heating costs to rise. "Lighting regulations (banning incandescent lights) will increase GHG emissions in 
Hydro’s service territory by 45,000 tons due to cross effects of a switch to cool-burning bulbs,” explained a BC Hydro spokesperson in 2009 Vancouver Sun article.
The ‘cross effect’ referred to is the loss of heat from hotter incandescent bulbs when we switch over to cooler burning CFLs.  When a 60watt regular bulb is replaced with a 15 watt CFL, 45watts of heat from inside a house is lost. If that is repeated 20 times, 900watts of lost heat now has to be provided for from another source.
To make up for the lost heat consumers have to turn up electric heating, or worse still, turning up their oil or gas furnace which will leave them consuming even more energy and creating more greenhouse gases than before they made the switch.  In the summertime, because of longer natural daytime light, both lighting and heating are used much less. In the wintertime power consumption will rise as lights go on but additional substitution heat is required to compensate for less heat from the CFLs.
Considering the lower power factor as well as the heating losses, it can be concluded that using CFL will not reduce a consumer’s carbon footprint when compared to a regular light bulb. Moreover, instead of saving energy there is good evidence demonstrating that using CFLs will increase the user’s carbon footprint.

CFLs Are Dumb Power

Lighting is a fraction of overall energy consumption and has a limited potential for energy savings.  Nevertheless, North Americans should be conserving wherever possible.  At the same time, people should not forget that switching incandescent bulbs to CFLs poses a whole range of negative environmental and health impacts with very little, if any, energy savings
An electric hot water tank consumes five times as much electricity as residential lighting.
To put lighting energy consumption into perspective, the Sector Sustainability Table listed in the Government of Canada website reports that  “Homes consume 16% of all the energy used in Canada, with lighting using 5% of that figure. Residential lighting therefore represents 0.8% of the total energy consumption in Canada. This means that Canadians are spending millions of dollars on CFLs in a fruitless effort to reduce a fraction of their energy consumption.”
It would be much ‘power smarter’ to focus on residential water heating than light bulbs.  An electric hot water tank consumes five times as much electricity as residential lighting. If hot water heating was made 10% more efficient by using inexpensive technology already available, Canadians would save more energy than the most wildly optimistic predictions of savings by CFL promoters. It would be cheaper, simpler, and have no detrimental environmental effects.

CFLs Are Mercury Polluters

More than 98% of used CFLs end up in landfills each year. That is 675 million for the year 2007 according to theNational Geographic Society. Each CFL contains about 5 milligrams of elemental mercury as well as other poisonous gases.  When mercury enters water sources, biological processes change the chemical form to methylmercury which is the organic, more toxic form found in fish.  Methylmercury bio-accumulates through the food chain and once in the body can affect developing fetuses, children and adult nervous systems.
Methylmercury will not stay in landfills as it easily gets transported through the water table. Throwing CFLs into landfills will contaminate the soil, the water table and eventually the air.
More than 60,000 children are born each year in the United States with neurodevelopment impairments caused by exposure in the womb to methylmercury compounds, according to new estimates by an expert panel convened by the National Academy of Science’s Year 2000.
Beware of a broken CFL, as each broken lamp should be considered similar to a toxic spill and care needs to be taken cleaning them up. The manufacturing of CFLs also exposes workers to toxic levels of mercury. CFLs are manufactured mostly in China with virtually no health, safety, or environmental protection regulations.  Ironically, most of the electricity used to manufacture CFLs comes from coal-fired generators. As CFLs increase in popularity, mercury exposure to workers, to electricians, to maintenance personal, to consumers, to water supplies, and to the living environment, will go ahead almost unchecked.
How many resources and pollutants does it take to make a light bulb?
 “The reality is, even energy-efficient products don’t always come from energy-efficient beginnings.  Consider for a second what goes into producing, powering and transporting products around the world like...energy efficient light bulbs. Until they are manufactured in a carbon-neutral way, transported on low-emission vehicles and powered in our homes by cleaner energy—green products will never be as green as they can be,” explained theWorld Wild Life Fund in MacLean’s Magazine.

Many environmentalists ignore these facts and instead claim that CFLs put less mercury into the environment than what would have been created via a smoke stack to generate the additional electricity needed for regular light bulbs.  This is not true.  Not all electricity is generated by dirty coal-fired plants. Even if it was, this would still be an irrelevant point given that coal fired power plants could operate with 80% less mercury emissions. In any event, it does not apply to BC where 90% of electrical power comes from hydroelectric dams according to 
BC Hydro. In Canada, 58% of electrical generation is from hydro and 19% from coal, according to Industry Canada.

CFLs Are Electro-Polluters

CFLs emit electromagnetic radiation, a type of energy that can make people very sick. Many people have reported skin rashes and irritation due to ultra-violet (UV) radiation. Radio frequency radiation is even more of a concern.  The effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation, as well as to high voltage spikes and transients, are known to cause illness, are virtually ignored by environmental groups and green building consultants alike.
There has been a ‘rash’ of health problems associated with exposure to electromagnetic radiation such as that emitted by CFLs.
In Sweden, according to polls, up to 290,000 people, or more than 3% of the population, have reported suffering symptoms of EHS when exposed to electromagnetic radiation.  Symptoms range from joint stiffness, chronic fatigue, headaches, tinnitus, respiratory, gastric, skin, sleep and memory problems, depressive tendencies, to Alzheimer’s disease and all classes of cancer.

Hope For The Future

Other than the World Wildlife Fund, almost all the major environmental groups have not informed the public about the dark side of CFLs. Why they behave as they do is unknown but promoting CFLs could potentially diminish these groups credibility when the facts become apparent.
Hopefully, other governments will wake up to the shortcomings of CFLs, and follow the New Zealand government’s example and change their policies on banning incandescent lights due to concerns about safety and energy efficiency of the CFLs. Germany has already restricted the use of fluorescent lighting in public places and has banned fluorescent lights in hospitals perhaps showing that this issue is too great to be shrugged off and ignored. North America appears to be headed in the opposite direction and the Canadian Federal government still plans to ban all incandescent lights before year 2012.
There are incandescent light bulbs on the market right now that last longer than CFLs and are 80% more efficient than a regular bulb.  In 2010, surprisingly, just as the market gets saturated with CFLs, General Electric is coming out with a new high efficiency incandescent bulb. They claim it will be twice as efficient as a regular bulb.
If they live up to their claims these new incandescent lights will rival CFLs for energy consumption, but will not have all the other environmental problems. Then another buying craze will begin and CFLs may begin to be phased out, leaving behind a long-term problem of mercury disposal, remediation, and an untold toll on human health.
In the meantime, the best way for you to reduce your carbon footprint is to follow your mother’s advice and turn the lights off when you leave the room.
Walt McGinnis is a Licensed Electrician and an Electromagnetic Radiation Tester and a member of the EM Radiation Task Force, living on Vancouver Island, Canada. Visit: http://www.mcginniselectric.ca/

Monday, April 20, 2009

OPP search landfill

SALFORD — An OPP search team combed through piles of garbage at the Oxford County Landfill Monday as the investigation into the abduction of Victoria “Tori” Stafford entered its 13th day.

The team of roughly 20 Emergency Response Team officers sifted through garbage that had been collected from Woodstock since the night of Tori’s disappearance, looking for any evidence that could be connected to the abduction of the missing eight-year-old. Because of the rainy weather, OPP officers suspended their search in the early afternoon but should return to the landfill early this morning.

“There has been no information to suggest there is evidence in regard to this case at this location but, as part of due diligence, sections are being searched,” Oxford Community Police Service spokesperson Laurie-Anne Maitland indicated in a media release.

Police investigators contacted county officials Sunday about their plans to search the Salford-area dump. Clad in Tyvek protective suits, the officers began looking through the mounds of garbage at approximately 7:30 a.m., landfill supervisor Dave Vanmeeren said.

“It’s not the first time (a search) has happened here, but this is the most intensive that we’ve seen,” he said.

Despite the renewed intensity of the search, investigators had no new public information about Tori’s abduction. Even with the OPP assuming management of this joint investigation, the search for Tori does remain largely focused on the Woodstock area. On Monday, OCPS officers continued to canvass city neighbourhoods as part of the ongoing search. The OPP’s underwater search and recovery unit also continued to search the city’s waterways, focusing much of Monday’s efforts to Pittock Reservoir.

Tara McDonald, Tori’s mother, said investigators were “doing the best they can” to find her missing daughter.

“They’re looking everywhere they possibly can,” she said.

Tori was last seen on April 8 walking with an unidentified woman north along Fyfe Avenue shortly after leaving Oliver Stephens Public School at approximately 3:30 p.m. Video footage obtained from a high school security camera indicates the unidentified woman, who was wearing a white coat and tight black pants, is between 19 and 25 years old. The mystery woman, who investigators consider a crucial “person of interest,” is estimated to be roughly five foot two inches tall (157 centimetres) and 125 pounds (56 kilograms).

At the time of her abduction, Tori was wearing a green shirt, a denim skirt, black and white shoes, and a black Hannah Montana jacket with a white fur-lined hood. She may have been carrying a purple and pink Bratz shoulder bag. Tori is four foot five inches (134 centimetres) tall and weighs 62 pounds (28 kilograms). She has blue eyes and blonde hair cut just below her ears.

Anyone with information about Tori’s abduction is asked to contact the OCPS at (519) 537-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pond divers in Tori search find nothing

WOODSTOCK —  Police divers have finished searching a pond near the home of Tori Stafford and found nothing related to her abduction.

Oxford police Const. Laurie-Anne Maitland said Sunday the OPP underwater search and recovery team that scoured the Southside Park pond on Saturday turned up no evidence — and are moving on to other waterways.

Contrary to one published report that seemed to suggest investigators were looking for a body, Maitland stressed investigators “have no information to suggest she’s in the water.”

“We want to be thorough and we (the local force) didn’t have divers last week” when the area was first checked, she said.

“We are just being thorough.”

The dive team, brought in as part of the OPP’s expanded role in the investigation, will today search Pittock Lake, Maitland said.

The number of tips from the public now exceeds 1,000.

Though the original ground search, which is starting anew, was stopped last Monday, Oxford police note their neighbourhood canvassing — knocking on doors, talking to residents — was never interrupted.

It is still ongoing.

While she couldn’t say exactly how many officers are investigating the April 8 abduction of eight-year-old Tori, Maitland says the OPP additions are a huge help.

“Certainly the addition of extra detectives and investigators is helping us keep the intensity up,” she said. “It’s certainly helping everyone be fresh.”

Tori Stafford walk

Rodney Stafford, father of missing Victoria Stafford, walks with mother-in-law Linda Winters, sister Rebecca Stafford and his mother Doreen Graichen, left to right, at a community walk in support of Victoria, in Woodstock, Ont., Saturday, April 18, 2009. (Dave Chidley / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Tori Stafford poster

Follow the link and print the Tori Stafford Poster
http://www.lrcf.net/public-flyers/VICTORIA___TORI_STAFFORD.html

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April 15, 2009

Questions, suspicion as search for Tori reveals dark side of small town


WOODSTOCK, ONT. -- It is one of those places where it seems no one could hide, where folks notice the unfamiliar car and the stranger in it and the streets are sufficiently untravelled that rush hour is a lineup of a dozen cars at the light on Wilson Street narrowed to one lane by some construction.

As Constable Laurie-Anne Maitland, who in the past week has become nationally known as the spokeswoman for the Oxford Community Police Service, said yesterday with a rueful grin, "You can't be anonymous in a small community, in Woodstock. The person you cut off at the light will be your kid's fourth-grade teacher next year."

Yet by day's end yesterday, the sixth since Victoria (Tori) Stafford vanished into or out of this town of about 35,000 about 125 kilometres southwest of Toronto, the woman at the centre of the little girl's disappearance has yet to be found.

The woman was caught on grainy surveillance videotape, taken from a distance, walking with the eight-year-old girl shortly after her class was dismissed at 3:40 p.m. on April 8.

Tori herself was positively identified the next day by more than one witness, Constable Maitland said, within about two hours of the tape being released to the media and the public about 5 p.m.

But the woman - described as white, between 19 and 25, with long straight black hair, wearing a white puffy jacket and black jeans - remains unrecognized.

So on the alert are the media and townspeople looking for the mystery woman that when the lady who lives right next door to Tori's house on Frances Street popped in for a visit the other day, she forgot she was wearing a white spring coat and found herself swarmed by reporters camped in the backyard.

She is a middle-aged woman with pretty grey hair, and as she said yesterday, "Who doesn't have a white jacket?"

She walked straight past the reporters - "I'm not a rude person," she said, "but they make you rude" - and into the house where Tori lives with her mom, Tara McDonald, and Tori's big brother Daryn, who is 10.

The family moved to the house only two weeks ago. The woman promptly offered Ms. McDonald her vacuum cleaner and some cleaning supplies, and the two have chatted a bit since. She was retrieving the vacuum cleaner when she was mobbed by the media.

The night before Tori disappeared, she and Daryn came over to play with the woman's little Chihuahua puppy, Conway (named for the country singer Conway Twitty, she said, "small but with an attitude.") The little girl, she said, searching for the right words, struck her as unusually "well adjusted and mature."

The picture of Tori with the mystery woman was retrieved from footage taken by a camera at College Avenue Secondary School, which shares a huge green space with Oliver Stephens Public School where Tori is in Grade 3 with 20 other youngsters. The photograph was taken about 200 yards from an intersection almost equidistant from Tori's former home on Fyfe Street and the new small blue-sided home on Frances. Neither house is more than a few minutes walk away, even at a child's pace.

Rumours are everywhere here - the poisonous side of any small town - the most benign that a family member allegedly has recognized something familiar in the woman's walk.

Constable Maitland heard the same report herself two days ago, and promptly passed the information to the police support staff who are numbering all the tips - as of midday yesterday, there were more than 400 of these - and passing them in turn to the team of investigators, the core composed of Oxford officers with others drawn from the Ontario Provincial Police, who have been working around the clock to solve the case.

As is the norm in the modern age, the force has been subjected to second-guessing on both the local and international stage, with Woodstonians labouring under the erroneous impression that if the media knows nothing so must the investigators, and various missing-child experts from as far away as Virginia pronouncing upon how the force allegedly mishandled the case in the early hours.

Such criticism seems ill-founded: Constable Maitland said that Ms. McDonald first called police to report Tori missing at 6:06 p.m., when both day and evening shifts were around, with the result that officers scoured first the house itself (because young children can drop off to sleep like a stone, they are often discovered snoozing in unexpected places), then the immediate neighbourhood, retracing the little girl's steps with their canine unit.

When that turned up no trace of Tori, she was reported as missing nationally to the Canadian Police Information Centre and locally to neighbouring forces.

By about 3 a.m. on April 9, as the search continued through the witching hours, the first media notices went out. Constable Maitland guessed the detectives have had no more than 10 hours' sleep in the past five days, ditto the dispatchers taking all the tips and the support staff keeping track of them.

"If you knew these people like I know them," Constable Maitland said fiercely in her pleasant way yesterday, "you'd know they wouldn't take 10 hours sleep if you offered it to them ... to say they're working hard is an understatement. They're slaving."

Like the police, at Tori's school, children and parents struggled yesterday to come to grips not only with the fact of a child's disappearance, but with the national spotlight such events inevitably bring. Teachers met on Easter Monday to prepare for yesterday, trying to keep things as normal as possible for the children, while also bringing in eight Thames Valley District School Board social workers and psychologists. They were busy too, board spokeswoman Kate Young said later. "I think they're glad they're here," she said.

The pressure upon them all is enormous, and rising. Even Constable Maitland, naturally a sunny, full-glass sort of woman, has been cautioned not to appear as optimistic as she has been.

She knew that anyway. Her own little daughter, who at first told her to solve Tori's disappearance so she'd be back in time for Easter so her brother wouldn't eat all her chocolate, now just says, "Mummy! Concentrate!"

Family, public keep faith in Tori search

Sat, April 18, 2009


London Free Press

WOODSTOCK — At the same local high school where a surveillance camera caught the last known image of a missing girl, her family gathered yesterday in a public show of faith.

Dozens of people joined Victoria (Tori) Stafford’s loved ones yesterday afternoon in a symbolic walk along the track at College Avenue Secondary School — a stone’s throw from where the girl, 8, was seen walking with a mystery woman April 8.

“Tori was last seen, on surveillance, walking past (this school),” organizer Shanon Scurr, who doesn’t know Tori or her family, said in explaining the idea behind the event. “(So) let’s do a walk to walk her home safe.”




Though the turnout was nowhere near a rally that last weekend drew about 600, it was the gesture — not the crowd’s size — that mattered to Rodney Stafford, Tori’s dad.

“It could be me and two other people walking around the track. At least I would know there’s two other people out there with me,” he told reporters yesterday.

“That’s all the comfort I need.”

The effort was clearly appreciated — and the support no doubt needed, 11 days after the hunt for Tori began.

As if a nearly two-week investigation into her daughter’s abduction wasn’t stressful enough, Tara McDonald was already facing personal pain.

Her stepfather died suddenly little more than a month ago and it’s been only about nine months since her brother, Scott McDonald, died. He would have turned 44 yesterday.

“She’s unbelievably strong,” McDonald’s boyfriend, James Goris, said.

The police ground search for evidence, called off by Oxford police last Monday, resumed in earnest yesterday under the guidance of OPP Det.-Insp. Bill Renton, the new case manager. He joined the investigation Wednesday.

No progress was announced in the case yesterday, though the families remain unwavering in their belief they will see their little girl again.

“Hope will never fade for me,” her father said. “I’ll always be searching.”

OPP will restart search for Tori on weekend

Globe and Mail update
April 17, 2009 at 10:14 PM EDT
Ontario Provincial Police will start a second search for missing Woodstock girl Victoria (Tori) Stafford on Saturday, scouring both land and area waterways for clues.

In an announcement late Friday evening, Ontario Provincial Police – who earlier in the day took the reins of the investigation from the smaller Oxford Community Police force – announced they'd start a new search. Tori's missing person case was officially declared an abduction earlier in the day.

The girl has been missing since April 8. The most notable piece of evidence released so far is security camera footage of Tori walking away from her school with an unidentified woman in a white jacket.

In the new “intensified search,” OPP will both retrace the steps taken earlier by searchers and bring in an Under Water Search and Recovery Unit, which will be “scouring all local waterways looking for clues.”
Police go in one direction, missing girl's mother feels otherwise  
The OPP will also go door-to-door in the tiny community, which has held numerous rallies of support for Tori's family. Police will be asking new questions about evidence they've already collected.

The announcement is another potential sign of progress in the case, and comes after OPP Detective Inspector Bill Renton stumbled at an earlier news conference when asked if they'd identified the woman in the white jacket. After a long pause, he said officers have a “pretty substantial direction” in figuring out who she is.

But Det.-Insp. Renton cautioned late Friday night the re-canvassing is a “normal procedure to ensure that we don't miss out on any pieces of evidence that will lead us closer to Victoria's whereabouts.” Local police chief Ron Fraser asked Woodstock residents to be patient as OPP investigators descend on their community.

“Police remind all citizens that though there may be a heightened sense of curiosity into some of the police activity, police need their space in order to protect the integrity of the investigation,” OPP said in a release.

The new search will last at least seven days, police say.

Police go in one direction, girl's mother feels otherwise


Investigators cite 'substantial direction' in identifying woman seen on tape leading Tori Stafford away from school
 Article   Comments  
CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD
E-mail Christie Blatchford 
April 17, 2009 at 9:56 PM EDT
WOODSTOCK, ONT. — Police have a “pretty substantial direction” in identifying the mysterious woman in the white jacket who was last seen walking with eight-year-old Victoria (Tori) Stafford.

The sunny little blonde, carrying her purple Bratz purse and wearing a Hannah Montana jacket, was captured in this woman's company shortly after her Grade 3 class let out on the afternoon of April 8. The two were caught on a surveillance camera – the videotape grainy and taken from about 200 metres away – at a nearby high school, just blocks away from Tori's home.

In the intervening 10 days, as speculation about who the woman is swirled in this town of about 35,000 southwest of Toronto, police hadn't indicated they were making any progress in identifying her.

But with the little girl's disappearance now formally labelled an abduction and the Ontario Provincial Police firmly in the lead, OPP Detective-Inspector Bill Renton was asked at a joint OPP-Oxford Community Police news conference yesterday what he made of the fact that no one apparently has been able to identify the woman.


OPP Det.-Insp. William Renton speaks at a press conference in Woodstock, Ont., Friday, as Chief Ron Fraser of the Oxford Community Police looks on. The mysterious disappearance of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford was upgraded to an abduction Friday from a missing persons' case after Ontario's provincial police took the lead role in the investigation. (The Canadian Press)
  
After a noticeable pause, Det.-Insp. Renton replied, “We're actively looking at many facets of that. To say anything more would be rather irresponsible. We have pretty substantial direction in that regard. … We have some leads and we're looking at some leads.”

The woman has only ever been described as white, young (estimated to be between 19 and 25), about five-foot-two and 125 pounds, with long dark hair.

Several hours later, when Tori's mother, Tara McDonald, came to meet the media and was informed that police had suggested they were closer to identifying the woman, she said, “I hope they do, I really hope that they do.”

Wearing a shiny black-and-white print sundress and what appeared to be freshly painted purple toenails showing in strappy sandals, her long brown hair slicked back in a ponytail, Ms. McDonald appeared mollified that Tori's disappearance is now being called an abduction – “It's about time,” she said, adding that “it's been an abduction since the day she went missing” – but appeared to part company with investigators who remain concentrated on Woodstock and environs.

“Go as far as you possibly can,” she urged them, “because if she was in Woodstock somebody would have seen her, somebody would have given more information, more tips – something.

“I don't feel somebody would be stupid enough to keep Victoria in Woodstock, you know. … I just want it to go further. I want them to start looking outside the Woodstock area because nobody in Woodstock, like I said, would be stupid enough to keep her in Woodstock because she would be spotted in a New York minute and it would be over for whoever's done this.”

She seemed pleased at the international attention the case is garnering, and said, “I'm more confident the further it goes. The further that I hear it's reaching – Europe, the States – the more confident I feel that someone's going to see her somewhere.”

Tori, she added, “is a very beautiful … she has very distinguished features – her bright blonde hair, her pale-coloured skin, her humungous blue eyes. I've never seen another child that looks like her.

“So if people in Europe or the United States are made aware of this, they're going to be keeping their eye out, they're going to be keeping this fresh in their mind so they can find Victoria.”

Yet Det.-Insp. Renton was blunt that “the focus of the evidence is still here in the city of Woodstock,” though he acknowledged “there's many possibilities and you can't rule that out.”

Ms. McDonald has always said that on the videotape, Tori doesn't seem her normal ebullient self; she was a “hop-skip-jumper,” she has said, and both she and Tori's big brother, 10-year-old Daryn, believe Tori appears subdued. Ms. McDonald said she continues to believe her daughter was taken by a stranger.

“I like to think it was a stranger,” she said, “because I would not like to think that any friend or acquaintance or anybody that I know would do something like this.”

But police remain convinced the little girl went with the mystery woman without a struggle. “If you look at the video,” Det.-Insp. Renton said, “it certainly appears that Victoria was walking willingly.”

The police are joined in that view by Tori's father, Rodney Stafford, and by the members of his family.

The little girl's youngest aunt, 29-year-old Rebecca Stafford, who flew in last week from Sherwood Park, Alta., to be with her brother, reiterated yesterday that “we all believe that she looked comfortable and content. So we do believe that it is someone that she knows.”

Her role in the family, Ms. Stafford said with a grin, is to be “the cool aunt,” the one who lives out west and whose job is to spoil Tori rotten, which she did last summer when the little girl flew out with her paternal grandmother for a visit. Until Tori's disappearance, Ms. Stafford was most recently home in Woodstock in February for her reading week – she's a student at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, about to graduate.

She joined Det.-Insp. Renton and Oxford Police Chief Ron Fraser in deeming the switch from “missing persons” to “abduction” not terribly significant.

For the police, the change appears to mean that the investigative team will be managed by an officer experienced in such cases, and faster access to the resources of the OPP. For Ms. Stafford and her family, while a welcome step at the right time, the move is a matter of “semantics” and all officers have “provided the same level of effort regardless” of the nomenclature.

Her niece is a “very tough little girl,” Ms. Stafford said, and would be aware that “this [her captivity] isn't right. I believe she would be keeping optimistic,” she said, adding again, “This is someone who knows her.”

Asked about the mystery woman on the videotape, Ms. Stafford answered, with evident care, “We are certain we can't identify her based on that footage.”

While any scenario but having Tori home safe again is alarming, Ms. Stafford said she hopes that whoever has the little girl is someone who knows her, as opposed to a stranger.

“My belief is if it's somebody that knows her, there's less of a chance that she would be hurt by that person,” she said, maintaining her composure even though what she clearly meant was that it is inconceivable to her that anyone who knows Tori Stafford doesn't love her.

Tori Stafford's family clinging to hope

Apr 18, 2009 04:30 AM
ROSIE DIMANNO
WOODSTOCK, Ont.

At two modest houses, a five-minute drive apart, desperate hopefulness is shared equally. But in the crucial how and why of 8-year-old Victoria Stafford's abduction, those who love the child most fiercely diverge significantly.

Mom Tara McDonald, who emerged from her home yesterday to face a phalanx of reporters, believes the youngster has been taken by a stranger, largely because she cannot fathom how someone known to the family could do such a terrible thing.

In a hamlet like Woodstock, however, even people you don't know might know you, or know of you and your child, and have malice in their heart.

"It's a small town. Not everybody's gonna like you, you know? Bottom line, I don't feel I have any vindictive enemies whatsoever. So I hope it's a stranger because I don't think that I would let anybody into my life, or my circle, who would do something like this."

Yet at the home of Tori's father, McDonald's ex-husband Rodney Stafford, family members – also at a loss over why this particular child was targeted – draw strength from the possibility that someone who knew the little girl has her. That's their gut feeling from the image of Tori walking away with an unidentified woman in a white coat, as captured by a security camera.

"Given the way that Victoria was in the video, we all believe that she looked comfortable and content," said Rodney's younger sister Rebecca Stafford, who bolted from university in Edmonton in the middle of exams on Tuesday to be with her family. "So we do believe that it is someone that she knows."

There is some comfort in cleaving to that scenario, on this side of Tori's family tree.

"For me, honestly, I would prefer that it wasn't a stranger," Tori's doting aunt continued. "My belief is that if it's somebody that knows her, there's less of a chance that she would be hurt by that person."

It's all groping in the darkness on Day 10 of Tori's disappearance, as provincial police now take over the investigation.



Last night, the OPP said an "intensified search" would begin today with a search of local waterways by the force's underwater search and recovery unit.

Oxford Police Chief Ron Fraser warned residents of "significant police activity" for the next week or longer as the two police forces follow up on more than 900 tips they have received.

McDonald, for one, suspects her daughter is no longer around these parts and is grateful the police are taking a broader view.

"If she was in Woodstock, somebody would have seen her, somebody would have given more information, more tips, something. I don't feel somebody would be stupid enough to keep her in Woodstock ... because she would be spotted in a New York minute."

The child's photo is posted all over town, her image burned into the brain: that lovely face, those wide-spaced eyes, her sassy smile.

She should be fairly recognizable, with media picking up the story and police relaying her picture across the province, the country, the world.

"The further that I hear it's reaching – Europe, the States – the more confident I feel that someone's going to see her, somewhere," McDonald insisted. "She's very beautiful, has very (distinctive) features – her bright blonde hair, her pale-coloured skin, her humongous blue eyes. I've never seen another child that looks like her."

Fraser, facing media yesterday for the first time since Tori vanished, said Tori is no longer a "missing person," as she had been classified for more than a week. This is now, officially, an "abduction."

"It's about time," her mother stated flatly. "It's been an abduction since the day she went missing."

Local police have come in for criticism for not issuing an Amber Alert immediately on April 8, when they were notified the child had not returned from school. Fraser said the department had followed "protocol" and Tori's disappearance did not meet the Amber criteria: there was no vehicle for the public to watch out for, no description or even knowledge of an abductor (until the video surfaced) and no indication that Tori was in danger of serious bodily harm.

OPP Det. Insp. Bill Renton is the new case manager. Labelling the disappearance an abduction, he maintained, "will have no bearing on how we deploy our resources."

Police do have leads, Renton stressed. "I don't think anything's been missed."

But he sounded a grim note. "Always, in a police investigation, you have to look at the dark side. That's always in the back of your mind when you start any investigation. The investigation's been alive to the potential of criminality or a poor outcome. Nothing's changed."

Rebecca Stanford agreed, seeing no notable distinction between missing person and abduction, though the announcement returned needed public attention to the matter.

"I think it's semantics. I think that's only a word. It doesn't change what's happened."

But Tara McDonald, while expressing general satisfaction with the local constabulary, sees things differently. "I wish that the OPP, and whoever they thought would have more insight, was there from Day One."


R

Rememberance Day 2018