severed foot was discovered, Peel police said this afternoon.
The remains “are not small,” indicating that they likely came from the body of an adult, Peel Regional Police Det. Randy Cowan told reporters during a noon-hour briefing at the scene.
DNA tests are underway to match the body parts, although, Cowan said, “Common sense tells us this is most likely related.”
“Without a cause of death we can't call it homicide, but certainly foul play — there's definitely something amiss,” Cowan said.
The head was found near the Credit River, which runs through Hewick Meadows Park, near Eglinton Ave. and Mississauga Rd.
The latest finding was made at noon Thursday, about a kilometre upstream from the site of a severed foot found by hikers the day before.
The foot likely belongs to a female because the toes were brightly coloured with yellow nail polish, Cowan said earlier Thursday.
“It’s a grim discovery any time we get these calls. It’s certainly disturbing,” said Cowan.
The right foot, severed at the ankle, was floating near the riverbank, when the passersby spotted it.
Judging from its condition, Cowan said, the foot was likely detached “fairly recently.”
“There may be a reasonable explanation of some sort,” Cowan said.
Police can't yet say if the body parts were placed there or were transported there by the water from some other point in the river, which flows from headwaters above the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario.
The remains were sent to forensic anthropologists to determine the age and sex of the body.
A large-scale search of the park — a popular destination for hiking, fishing and dog walking — is underway and expected to last for some time.
“We’ll be looking for the entire victim,” Cowan said.
Ontario Provincial Police helicopters were dispatched in addition to the marine unit and cadaver dogs on hand to search the river and surrounding parkland.
“We're looking for anybody that has seen anything suspicious within the last couple of weeks,” Cowan said.
“We're also looking for people to be vigilant in the area if they're out walking and they happen to find something that causes them concern to give us a call.”
Officers are sifting through missing person's reports, in case any have a link to the body parts, Cowan said.
“Typically in the region there are always a number of outstanding missing people,” he said. “The majority of those return safely...We are going through those reports right now, reaching out to family members.”
Ontario government releases bill to freeze teacher wages
The Ontario government has taken its battle with teachers to a new level, laying out its threatened legislation to freeze their wages for two years and short-circuit any strikes or lockouts.
Education Minister Laurel Broten previewed the bill with just 15 days to go until her Sept. 1 deadline for teacher unions and school boards to negotiate deals with no pay increases as the province fights a $15 billion deficit.
“Time is running out,” Broten said Thursday. “As a government we cannot sit back.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty has threatened to recall the legislature early from its summer recess for a vote on the bill if contracts are not reached in time to avoid $473 million in teacher pay raises that would automatically take effect starting next month.
“I don’t believe the average Ontario worker would expect to get a 5.5 per cent pay increase after taking the summer off and refusing to negotiate,” Broten said in a shot at teacher unions that walked away from bargaining with the province.
New Democrat House Leader Gilles Bisson said Broten’s broadside was unnecessarily provocative when tensions are running high.
“I think it’s most unfortunate the minister is trying to pick a fight,” the MPP for Timmins-James Bay told reporters.
He said Broten’s legislation is a clear attempt to strong-arm teachers and school boards while trying to play to anti-teacher sentiment among some voters as campaigns continue for Sept. 6 byelections in Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo.
Teacher unions could not immediately be reached for comment on Broten’s bill. The NDP and Progressive Conservatives, who were both having out-of-town caucus meetings, had not seen it and would not comment on whether they will support it. Privately, Conservatives were furious the government picked a day when both opposition parties were away release the bill.
Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) said McGuinty’s government would be better off bringing in legislation to freeze pay for all civil servants and public sector workers.
“We don’t think the current approach is going to do the job.”
The bill — if passed later than Sept. 1, in what has been a fractious minority Parliament — would be retroactive to that date and claw back any pay increases and sick day credits.
The legislation would require the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and other education worker unions to agree to “substantially similar” terms in a wage freeze deal already signed by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and smaller unions, including one representing Franco-Ontarian teachers.
The sooner they agree, the more flexibility they will have in tailoring their deals to local situations, provided they stay in within the financial framework set in the deal with Catholic teachers, Broten said.
She refused to say when – or if – the government might actually recall the legislature for a vote.
“We don’t know if it’s just a public relations exercise,” said MacLeod.
Officials said the bill was released now to clarify what is on the table and to give time for teachers and parents to digest it.
For its part, the elementary teachers union, which along with high school teachers has balked at the freeze, has said it will not strike and will try to keep bargaining with school boards.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said earlier this week that she would not support any bill that takes away teachers’ right to bargain.
The opposition parties have repeatedly stalled government attempts to pass many other pieces of legislation since last October’s election, frustrating Liberal strategists.