Divorce documents describe accused London killer as ‘angry’ and ‘combative’ years before attack

The London man accused of murdering four members of a Muslim family in a hate-motivated vehicle attack is described as angry and combative in documents filed in his parents’ recent divorce, court records show. The documents, filed in the London courthouse between 2016 and 2018, shed new light on the background of the 20-year-old man — the eldest son of six kids from Strathroy, Ont. — accused of purposely running down a family Sunday in an attack that has sent waves of grief across Canada.They do not, however, offer any clear insights into why Nathaniel (Nate) Veltman allegedly targeted Muslim victims in what police have called a hate-motivated attack on a family out for a Sunday stroll. Investigators have not released information on why they believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.Veltman’s father, Mark Veltman, issued a statement to media Thursday calling his son’s alleged actions “a senseless act,” saying he had no words to adequately express his sorrow for victims of an “unspeakable crime.”The records filed in the divorce between Mark and Alysia Veltman include an order forbidding Nathaniel, who has a twin sister and four younger siblings, from spending unsupervised time with his brothers and sisters.Over the course of his parents’ separation, Nathaniel in particular developed a “great deal of animosity” towards his mother, the documents state. She described her son as “combative and argumentative.”“He will follow me around the house and I have to lock myself in the bedroom,” Alysia wrote in a December 2016 affidavit.“Nathan has been very aggressive and angry with me and each time that he spends with his father brings on more hostility,” the affidavit continues.Veltman made a brief appearance in a London court via video Thursday on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is accused of running down Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, their nine-year-old son Fayez and grandmother Talat Afzaal while the family was on an evening walk on Sunday. Only Fayez survived.London police have said Veltman targeted the family based on their faith, based on evidence obtained early on in the investigation.At the time of the attack, Veltman was a student at Fanshawe College and lived in a London apartment building nearby. He worked at an egg farm in his hometown of Strathroy, Ont., a short drive from the home where he grew up. He was home-schooled for much of his childhood.Mark Veltman stated in an affidavit that there were “anger” issues between then-15-year-old Nathaniel and his mother. He claimed this was because she was preventing Nathaniel from contacting him during the separation when she had full custody of all the children. “Unfortunately, Nathaniel’s frustrations with (his mother) have become so significant that Nathaniel has retained his own lawyer and has voluntarily removed himself from (her) parental control. As of this date, I understand that Nathaniel is living with friends,” he said in the affidavit.In her affidavit, filed in December 2016, Alysia said the separation and comments made to Nathan by his father have caused animosity between her and her eldest son.“Nathan recently stated to me that I should no longer homeschool his siblings so I can get a job and support myself and ‘stop using his dad’s money.’ These types of comments come from Nathan daily and are clearly not something he would come up with on his own,” reads the document.Then 15 years old, Nathaniel began saying he wanted to move out, she said. According to the court records, he “withdrew from parental control” on Jan. 26, 2017, a month after he turned 16, in a letter from his lawyer. He was attending public high school in Strathroy at the time.Alysia was a stay-at-home parent, his father Mark worked at the Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology, according to the court records. According to documents filed by his parents and dated August 2018, Nathaniel was diagnosed with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and was prescribed an antidepressant and attending counselling.According to the documents, which included the terms of the couple’s separation, Nathaniel “will not be unsupervised with any of the children,” and was “not to use his phone in inappropriate ways” or to “speak negatively to the other children about their mother.”Both parents were directed to “use their best efforts to encourage Nate to pursue therapy.” A further report was ordered on the issue of whether he could be left unsupervised with his siblings in the future, but that report was not part of the court records.The records say the children were raised Christian. Mark Veltman’s 2015 tax records, filed as part of the court records, show charity donations to various Christian groups, including Compassion, Focus on the Family, Gospel for Asia, London Area Right to Life Association and People’s Church. Veltman is scheduled to appear in court on June 14. The Integrated Natio

Divorce documents describe accused London killer as ‘angry’ and ‘combative’ years before attack

The London man accused of murdering four members of a Muslim family in a hate-motivated vehicle attack is described as angry and combative in documents filed in his parents’ recent divorce, court records show.

The documents, filed in the London courthouse between 2016 and 2018, shed new light on the background of the 20-year-old man — the eldest son of six kids from Strathroy, Ont. — accused of purposely running down a family Sunday in an attack that has sent waves of grief across Canada.

They do not, however, offer any clear insights into why Nathaniel (Nate) Veltman allegedly targeted Muslim victims in what police have called a hate-motivated attack on a family out for a Sunday stroll. Investigators have not released information on why they believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.

Veltman’s father, Mark Veltman, issued a statement to media Thursday calling his son’s alleged actions “a senseless act,” saying he had no words to adequately express his sorrow for victims of an “unspeakable crime.”

The records filed in the divorce between Mark and Alysia Veltman include an order forbidding Nathaniel, who has a twin sister and four younger siblings, from spending unsupervised time with his brothers and sisters.

Over the course of his parents’ separation, Nathaniel in particular developed a “great deal of animosity” towards his mother, the documents state. She described her son as “combative and argumentative.”

“He will follow me around the house and I have to lock myself in the bedroom,” Alysia wrote in a December 2016 affidavit.

“Nathan has been very aggressive and angry with me and each time that he spends with his father brings on more hostility,” the affidavit continues.

Veltman made a brief appearance in a London court via video Thursday on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He is accused of running down Salman Afzaal, his wife Madiha, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, their nine-year-old son Fayez and grandmother Talat Afzaal while the family was on an evening walk on Sunday. Only Fayez survived.

London police have said Veltman targeted the family based on their faith, based on evidence obtained early on in the investigation.

At the time of the attack, Veltman was a student at Fanshawe College and lived in a London apartment building nearby. He worked at an egg farm in his hometown of Strathroy, Ont., a short drive from the home where he grew up. He was home-schooled for much of his childhood.

Mark Veltman stated in an affidavit that there were “anger” issues between then-15-year-old Nathaniel and his mother. He claimed this was because she was preventing Nathaniel from contacting him during the separation when she had full custody of all the children.

“Unfortunately, Nathaniel’s frustrations with (his mother) have become so significant that Nathaniel has retained his own lawyer and has voluntarily removed himself from (her) parental control. As of this date, I understand that Nathaniel is living with friends,” he said in the affidavit.

In her affidavit, filed in December 2016, Alysia said the separation and comments made to Nathan by his father have caused animosity between her and her eldest son.

“Nathan recently stated to me that I should no longer homeschool his siblings so I can get a job and support myself and ‘stop using his dad’s money.’ These types of comments come from Nathan daily and are clearly not something he would come up with on his own,” reads the document.

Then 15 years old, Nathaniel began saying he wanted to move out, she said.

According to the court records, he “withdrew from parental control” on Jan. 26, 2017, a month after he turned 16, in a letter from his lawyer. He was attending public high school in Strathroy at the time.

Alysia was a stay-at-home parent, his father Mark worked at the Lambton College of Applied Arts and Technology, according to the court records.

According to documents filed by his parents and dated August 2018, Nathaniel was diagnosed with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and was prescribed an antidepressant and attending counselling.

According to the documents, which included the terms of the couple’s separation, Nathaniel “will not be unsupervised with any of the children,” and was “not to use his phone in inappropriate ways” or to “speak negatively to the other children about their mother.”

Both parents were directed to “use their best efforts to encourage Nate to pursue therapy.”

A further report was ordered on the issue of whether he could be left unsupervised with his siblings in the future, but that report was not part of the court records.

The records say the children were raised Christian. Mark Veltman’s 2015 tax records, filed as part of the court records, show charity donations to various Christian groups, including Compassion, Focus on the Family, Gospel for Asia, London Area Right to Life Association and People’s Church.

Veltman is scheduled to appear in court on June 14.

The Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, which includes the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has been engaged by London police — a step that could suggest authorities are considering potential terrorism charges.

A public funeral service is scheduled for the four victims at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday outside the Islamic Centre of Southwest Ontario in London.

Before the service, there will be a procession through the streets of London, starting from the O’Neil Funeral Home, where family and relatives will hold a private visitation Saturday morning.

With files from The Canadian Press and Alex Boutilier

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

Alyshah Hasham is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and court for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @alysanmati

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Erin O’Toole is talking about Islamophobia. Has he changed his tune?

OTTAWA — When Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole addressed thousands of mourners grieving the loss of a Muslim family killed in what police say was a hate-motivated attack, he opened by saying “Assalamu Alaikum” — an traditional Arabic phrase meaning “peace be upon you.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh gave the same greeting during their remarks at Tuesday’s vigil in London, Ont., but O’Toole was the only federal leader whose opening words were met with a chorus of loud boos. It wasn’t the only appeal O’Toole made to Canada’s Muslim community that day. He called the devastating incident — which took the lives of four people and seriously injured a nine-year-old boy — an act of terrorism. He recited a passage from the Quran. And he attributed the attack to a rise in Islamophobia. That word alone used to be controversial for the federal Conservatives. In 2017, almost all of the party’s MPs — along with the Bloc Québécois — voted against a Liberal motion to condemn Islamophobia, systemic racism and religious discrimination. Trudeau was not present for the vote.O’Toole, then a contender in the party’s 2017 leadership race, opposed the wording of the motion sponsored by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid. The motion, known as M-103, referenced a House of Commons petition that called on the lower chamber to recognize “all forms” of Islamophobia.At the time, O’Toole felt the term was being used too broadly. He argued that criticism of the faith could be stifled, and sought to amend the motion to strike a better balance between upholding religious freedom and free speech. Other than Michael Chong, all Conservative MPs ultimately voted against the motion.But observers say the messaging of the past week doesn’t necessarily signal a changing tide within the party.“I just don’t feel like this is this big, monumental shift, where [O’Toole] is suddenly talking about these issues now,” said Alykhan Velshi, a senior aide to prime minister Stephen Harper and provincial conservative leaders who now works for Huawei Canada.“I personally think that he’s been committed to stamping out bigotry and Islamophobia for a long time.”Velshi, a Muslim who backed O’Toole in last year’s leadership race, told the Star he believes the party’s decision to vote against the Liberal motion was a mistake. “That having been said, I think it’s very disingenuous the way that some elected parliamentarians are using M-103 as a political cudgel while remaining silent on Bill 21.”While some federal leaders have criticized Bill 21, the Quebec secularism law that prohibits people from wearing religious symbols when providing public services, politicians across the board have hesitated to weigh in on the law because it falls under provincial jurisdiction. In the early weeks of his leadership, O’Toole was singled out by the National Council of Canadian Muslims for hiding behind that jurisdictional shield, leading him to clarify that he was personally opposed to the law without taking more of an active position.“I hope there are no statues put up of politicians today who are silent on Bill 21, because I think they’re going to be torn down in my lifetime,” Velshi said.But the former adviser also cited some inroads the party has made to make the Tory tent, which is not known for its diversity, more inclusive. “I remember during Ramadan, the amount of iftar invitations that came my way which either Erin was attending, or his MPs or his candidates ... was sort of overwhelming,” Velshi recalled. “They’ve certainly, in my opinion, gone out of their way to reach out to Muslim Canadians.”Conservative human rights critic Garnett Genuis told the Star that the party is also taking steps to “remove any barriers or perceptions” that could hold people back from joining or supporting the party. There are currently no Muslim MPs in the Conservative caucus, although the party says it has identified four Muslim candidates to run in the next election and its efforts are ongoing.Genuis also referenced the party’s caucus retreat following the 2019 federal election, during which members of the Muslim community met with Conservative MPs to discuss combating online hate.Genuis said efforts to bring other Muslim groups onside have only “ramped up” under O’Toole’s leadership.The party has, for example, worked with the Muslim community to gather signatures to table petitions in the House of Commons supporting Uyghurs facing human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province. “[O’Toole] comes from a Greater Toronto Area riding, and the leader has many longtime friends from the Muslim community, some of whom are taking on key roles as part of our team,” Genuis added. One of them is Walied Soliman, O’Toole’s national campaign chair, who told the Star earlier this week that he was “very happy” when he heard the leader mention Islamophobia for the first time. Despite the sentiment from some that the Conservative party has aligned itself with Muslim Canadians in recent years, at

Erin O’Toole is talking about Islamophobia. Has he changed his tune?

OTTAWA — When Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole addressed thousands of mourners grieving the loss of a Muslim family killed in what police say was a hate-motivated attack, he opened by saying “Assalamu Alaikum” — an traditional Arabic phrase meaning “peace be upon you.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh gave the same greeting during their remarks at Tuesday’s vigil in London, Ont., but O’Toole was the only federal leader whose opening words were met with a chorus of loud boos.

It wasn’t the only appeal O’Toole made to Canada’s Muslim community that day. He called the devastating incident — which took the lives of four people and seriously injured a nine-year-old boy — an act of terrorism. He recited a passage from the Quran. And he attributed the attack to a rise in Islamophobia.

That word alone used to be controversial for the federal Conservatives. In 2017, almost all of the party’s MPs — along with the Bloc Québécois — voted against a Liberal motion to condemn Islamophobia, systemic racism and religious discrimination. Trudeau was not present for the vote.

O’Toole, then a contender in the party’s 2017 leadership race, opposed the wording of the motion sponsored by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid. The motion, known as M-103, referenced a House of Commons petition that called on the lower chamber to recognize “all forms” of Islamophobia.

At the time, O’Toole felt the term was being used too broadly. He argued that criticism of the faith could be stifled, and sought to amend the motion to strike a better balance between upholding religious freedom and free speech. Other than Michael Chong, all Conservative MPs ultimately voted against the motion.

But observers say the messaging of the past week doesn’t necessarily signal a changing tide within the party.

“I just don’t feel like this is this big, monumental shift, where [O’Toole] is suddenly talking about these issues now,” said Alykhan Velshi, a senior aide to prime minister Stephen Harper and provincial conservative leaders who now works for Huawei Canada.

“I personally think that he’s been committed to stamping out bigotry and Islamophobia for a long time.”

Velshi, a Muslim who backed O’Toole in last year’s leadership race, told the Star he believes the party’s decision to vote against the Liberal motion was a mistake.

“That having been said, I think it’s very disingenuous the way that some elected parliamentarians are using M-103 as a political cudgel while remaining silent on Bill 21.”

While some federal leaders have criticized Bill 21, the Quebec secularism law that prohibits people from wearing religious symbols when providing public services, politicians across the board have hesitated to weigh in on the law because it falls under provincial jurisdiction.

In the early weeks of his leadership, O’Toole was singled out by the National Council of Canadian Muslims for hiding behind that jurisdictional shield, leading him to clarify that he was personally opposed to the law without taking more of an active position.

“I hope there are no statues put up of politicians today who are silent on Bill 21, because I think they’re going to be torn down in my lifetime,” Velshi said.

But the former adviser also cited some inroads the party has made to make the Tory tent, which is not known for its diversity, more inclusive.

“I remember during Ramadan, the amount of iftar invitations that came my way which either Erin was attending, or his MPs or his candidates ... was sort of overwhelming,” Velshi recalled. “They’ve certainly, in my opinion, gone out of their way to reach out to Muslim Canadians.”

Conservative human rights critic Garnett Genuis told the Star that the party is also taking steps to “remove any barriers or perceptions” that could hold people back from joining or supporting the party. There are currently no Muslim MPs in the Conservative caucus, although the party says it has identified four Muslim candidates to run in the next election and its efforts are ongoing.

Genuis also referenced the party’s caucus retreat following the 2019 federal election, during which members of the Muslim community met with Conservative MPs to discuss combating online hate.

Genuis said efforts to bring other Muslim groups onside have only “ramped up” under O’Toole’s leadership.

The party has, for example, worked with the Muslim community to gather signatures to table petitions in the House of Commons supporting Uyghurs facing human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province.

“[O’Toole] comes from a Greater Toronto Area riding, and the leader has many longtime friends from the Muslim community, some of whom are taking on key roles as part of our team,” Genuis added.

One of them is Walied Soliman, O’Toole’s national campaign chair, who told the Star earlier this week that he was “very happy” when he heard the leader mention Islamophobia for the first time.

Despite the sentiment from some that the Conservative party has aligned itself with Muslim Canadians in recent years, at least one of the party’s top MPs expressed regret this week over her response to anti-Muslim hate in the past.

“While I’ve since spoken out on it, one of my biggest regrets in my public service was being silent during the 2015 general election campaign on the wrongness of the barbaric cultural practices tip line, and the proposed niqab ban,” Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner wrote on her website Tuesday.

“Those policies were wrong. To the Muslim community, I’m deeply sorry for not fighting it then. I can assure you I won’t make the same mistake again.”

The Conservative health critic also referenced the speech she made in the Commons during that oft-cited debate on M-103.

“If I could give that speech again, I would,” she wrote. “This time I would simply say this; the discrimination the Muslim community faces in Canada is real and must be stopped.”

Raisa Patel is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @R_SPatel

Source : Toronto Star More   

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