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New York: Serena Williams is trying hard to move past last year’s US Open final meltdown, preferring to forget the umpire she called a “liar” and “thief” and fans booing a controversial ending. Williams humbled Russia’s Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 on Monday to reach the second round of the US Open as she seeks a historic seventh New York title and 24th Grand Slam singles crown. Asked if she felt the tournament was hers to win, the eighth seed replied, “I feel like I’m here to do that. We’ll see what happens.” Her domination of Sharapova produced a 19th consecutive triumph over the five-time Slam winner, boosting her record in the rivalry to 20-2. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh It was the first match for Williams at Ashe since she unleashed her wrath at umpire Carlos Ramos in last year’s US Open final and he awarded a game penalty to eventual winner Naomi Osaka of Japan, this year’s top seed and the reigning Australian Open champion as well. The US Tennis Association decided before the start that Ramos will not officiate any Serena or Venus Williams match at this year’s US Open. When she was asked about Ramos, whose penalty calls had a major impact in her loss to Osaka, she replied, “I don’t know who that is.” It’s doubtful she will want to jog her memory by looking at video of last year’s final, which ended with Williams in tears and Osaka’s moment of glory left “bittersweet” as fans voiced displeasure at the controversial awarding of a game that put Osaka one game from the title. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later Williams, when asked about how much last year’s final entered her mind in her return to Ashe, spoke only about the crowd that was loud and vocal in supporting her over Sharapova. “It was great. The fans, they were so amazing,” Williams said. “I could hear them walking down the hallway. It was such a good feeling. It made me feel unbelievable, really helped me get amped up and pumped up.” She thanked the fans on the court after the match with a nod to past defeats, saying, “I’ve had a lot of tough matches and a lot of tough losses but coming out here tonight makes it all worthwhile.” A celebrity-filled crowd watched her dismantle Sharapova. “Her game really matches up well against mine,” Williams said. “Her ball somehow lands in my strike zone. It’s just perfect for me. “I was able to zone in, especially down breakpoints, not letting her in the match. She’s the kind of player that keeps going. Even towards the end, she just wants to keep fighting.” And as if US wildcard Caty McNally, her next foe, or any other rival needed any more concern, Williams warned she has some new, unrevealed aspects to her game to bring out should the need arise. “I’ve been working on a lot of new things,” she said. “I don’t really talk about what I’ve been working on so much. I definitely have been working on a lot of new stuff to incorporate in my game.”
There is no doubt that the Indian auto industry is on a decline, perhaps worst ever in the last four decades. This is the same industry which last year recorded a turn over of Rs 8.2 lakh crores (USD 119 billion) with a huge export component. Within a year’s time, the same industry is resorting to ‘no production days’, large scale laying off of workers, inventory clearing sales, etc. The pain is still deeper for the supply chain handlers and dealers. A modest estimate reveals more than 3,50,000 job losses in the last few months and if the present trend persists, there will be an unprecedented crisis in the sector like Detroit of 2008. Also Read – A special kind of bondHence, the pertinent question is how come we reached this stage in less than a year. Is it because of the general slowdown attributed to both indigenous and more exogenous factors as the official pundits would like us to believe or is there a credible story behind this? If general slowdown was the only reason, how come in the same period FMCG companies recorded a decent year on year growth with net sales of Dabur and Nestle achieving 11 per cent growth and Hindustan Lever 7 per cent. White goods like air conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators also witnessed 5 per cent, 3 per cent and 11 per cent respectively during April-May 2019. Hence, we need to demystify the myth of omnibus reason called slowdown. Also Read – Insider threat managementA number of factors mostly owing to systemic failure have arisen in the auto sector in a very short span of time. Most vehicle purchases are being financed through banks/NBFCs. No doubt liquidity crunch coupled with the risk-averse approach of banks and high-interest rates have played a big role. But these conditions have been prevailing for quite some time. Then why there is a sudden dip? The real reasons are somewhere else. Most immediate of them probably is bunching together of several regulatory changes announced by the government in a very short span of time without realising their full implications, a classic case of ‘reform for reform sake’. Let me list out a few here – regulatory changes in safety norms; leapfrogging to BS-6 putting enormous stress on the industry to achieve it in the shortest time; front-loading of third party insurance, etc. On top of it, the auto industry got no relief in the new GST regime. Last straw on camel’s back was huge increase in road tax which increased by as much as 13 per cent in case of some state governments. This obviously was too much for a product which is already highly taxed. It is estimated that these so-called big-ticket reforms happening at the same time pushed up the cost of vehicle by 7 to 15 per cent depending on the size and make. Let us not forget that when the BS-6 kicks in coming April, the cost will further go up by 5 to 6 per cent. Fuel prices, which are already high over the last two years, are likely to go up further with BS-6. Interestingly, this high-cost scenario has been further complicated by the extraordinary policy modulation by the government through its leading ‘ Think Tank’ – NITI Ayog. The ‘Tughlaqi Farman’ of NITI Aayog mandating that all two-wheelers will be EV by 2023 and all three-wheelers by 2024, has really taken the cake. Even the recent reassuring statement of PM that there is sufficient space for both EVs and ICEs to coexist has not been able to douse the fire fully. NITI Aayog continues to make outlandish statements which not only demotivate both the manufacturers and consumers but also distort the market. For instance, just the other day, one of the prime movers of NITI Aayog has publicly declared that EVs will attain price parity with petrol/diesel vehicles within 3 to 4 years. I wonder whether this statement is based on hard facts/data or part of NITI’s pipe dreams. Even the latest forecast of Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), which is closely followed by NITI Aayog, mentions that EV cars will constitute a mere 6 per cent of all car sales in India in 2030. I have been constantly highlighting for the last two years through my articles in various national dailies (which are available in public domain) that this kind of whimsical flip-flop of policy will destroy a sunrise sector like auto. It is high time that India formulates a well-calibrated, consistent and long-term policy with realistic targets. I may emphatically mention that after the ‘Automotive Mission Plan: 2006-2016’, there has not been any comprehensive holistic auto policy in the country. We have been strategising in bits and pieces. Over the last few years, surprisingly, NITI Aayog has hijacked the sector from line ministries like DHI and Road Transport who at least had some amount of institutional memories. Fly-by-night consultants and dream merchants have emerged from nowhere who have no stake in the system but are busy selling their pipe dreams to the new policy regime. The real stakeholders like manufacturers, investors have relegated to the background as profit-seekers and backwards-looking lobby. Let me illustrate my point with a few examples. Government formulated FAME (I) scheme and engaged a lot of resources to promote electric mobility in the country. It was announced that the government will incentivise a range of technologies which results in low emission and less fuel consumption. The government also levied lower excise duties on such clean technologies. All of a sudden, this strategy was put in the back burner and only EVs became the flavour of the day, surprisingly to the exclusion of all other technologies which have done so well in most other countries. The industry was at a loss on how to retrieve their investment plans. Rightly or wrongly, a decision was taken to leapfrog from BS-4 to BS-6 in around 4 years, primarily to address the environmental concerns. The auto industries and the refiners took up the challenge in right earnest and invested Rs 1,40,000 crores in 18 months to fulfil the government target. In April 2020, India will become the first country to use BS-6 fuel for its two and three-wheelers. Even before this program kicked in, NITI Aayog declared that all two and three-wheelers will be EVs in 4 to 5 years time. With this kind of policy flip-flop, can any industry survive? The industry has invested so much to upgrade the engines to make it BS-6 compatible. What will happen to that investment and who should be held responsible for this national waste. Sometimes I wonder what is the real reason for such an unusual rush for EVs which has not succeeded in any country including China. Moreover, EV is not the ultimate tech. Why are we, as a forward-looking country, not investing in fuel cell technology which probably is the future of energy for mobility? If our main concern is the environment, escalating demand for electricity owing to EVs will result in generating pollution since we produce coal-based electricity. As per the government’s own estimates, the carbon intensity of power generation will continue to increase till the early 2030s. If import of hydrocarbon is the concern, advanced hybrid engines offer a low-cost solution allowing industry the time to transit to EVs in a viable manner. Introduce structural reform in auto taxation by linking GST to fuel efficiency/carbon emission instead of present irrational factors like engine size, fuel type, ground clearance, etc. Also, introduce a scientific auto scrapping policy so that inefficient old engines get replaced by fuel-efficient ones. The present unprecedented crisis which threatens the very base of an industry that accounts for Rs 1,20,000 crore GST (15 per cent of total GST collection) has been mainly precipitated by policy vacillation than any generic factor. Auto is a very complex sector and requires deeper understanding and deft handling at the policy level. No investor, foreign or domestic will be comfortable with such policy flip-flop. I only wish that pipe dreams of few and unrealistic farmans of policymakers do not distort a vital national asset so carefully built over the last two decades. (Dr Surajit Mitra is former Secretary to Government of India & Vice-Chancellor of IIFT. The views expressed are strictly personal)
New Delhi: Taking action against single plastic use, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has sealed four godowns situated in non-conforming areas under its jurisdiction. According to SDMC, they have constituted teams at zonal level comprising of assistant commissioners, representatives of Revenue Department, BSES and Delhi Police to take on-the-spot action against godowns wherein plastic has been stored.”The action includes sealing of the godowns immediately after noticing the accumulation of plastic in godowns. The team constituted under the West Zone on Tuesday took a round in the number of localities situated in non-conforming areas coming under the zone,” said SDMC official. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe team visited 83 units and godowns and noticed the accumulation of plastic at four godowns. The godowns were also storing biomedical waste which is also dangerous and harmful to the environment. The team sealed four plastic godowns at Shiv Vihar in Vikas Nagar. Further electricity connection of two godowns has also been disconnected. In an event in South Zone the Mayor, Sunita Kangra exhorted citizens to collect plastic waste lying here and there and hand over the same to the SDMC employees for its proper disposal in a scientific manner. She added that this will inspire others to follow the suit. She further stated that SDMC is mulling over offering a certain incentive on the collection of substantial plastic waste. All 4 zones witnessed awareness programmes and various activities under Swachhta hi Sewa initiatives. A large number of RWA and market association representative roamed into a number of markets, vegetable and fruit markets.
HALIFAX – The Canadian Hurricane Centre is expecting a “near-normal to above-normal” number of storms in the Atlantic Ocean this year.The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its seasonal outlook Thursday, predicting 10 to 16 named storms, with five to nine of them being hurricanes and one to four being major hurricanes.At a briefing Thursday in Halifax, Bob Robichaud, a warning preparedness meteorologist at the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said normally only three to four tropical cyclones cause any concern for Canadian land or offshore waters.“We kind of fared pretty good last year. We only had three storms that came within our response zone compared to the 17 that formed within the Atlantic,” Robichaud said.None of the storms in 2017 made landfall in Canada.Last year, NOAA predicted an above-average season.A trio of devastating hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and many Caribbean islands.Those three names, as well as Nate, have been retired because of their size and destruction.The National Hurricane Center said Thursday a mass of low pressure in the western Caribbean is becoming better defined and will likely become a subtropical or tropical depression by late Saturday.They’re putting the chances of formation at 80 per cent over the next five days.The system is currently off the southeastern Yucatan Peninsula but it’s expected to move northward. Heavy rains are likely across western Cuba, much of Florida and the northern Gulf Coast into early next week.If that system becomes a tropical storm, it will get the name Alberto.The Canadian Hurricane Centre is encouraging Canadians to prepare for the 2018 hurricane season. The season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, when the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are warm enough to produce tropical cyclones.“Right now water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are a little bit lower than average but we expect as we move into the summertime that those waters will heat up and be right around where they should be in terms of average water temperatures by the time we hit well into hurricane season,” Robichaud said.Typically, hurricanes become of more concern in Canadian waters later in the season, however, Robichaud said it’s too early to say how Canada will be impacted this year.“It’s impossible to say two, three or four months ahead of time exactly where these storms are going to go once they do form, because they are so dependant on the weather of the day,” he said.Robichaud said Canadians can prepare for hurricane season by assembling emergency kits and readying their homes and properties.— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
OTTAWA – Canada’s top accountant is calling on the federal government to kick start much-needed improvements to airports in Canada’s remote north.In his spring report to Parliament, auditor general Michael Ferguson says the government is well aware of deficiencies at the airports, including flickering runway lighting and outdated navigation systems.But he says Transport Canada has failed to take the lead in fixing the problems and making necessary upgrades.Many northern communities rely on air transportation as their only means of getting fresh food, medicine and other supplies.While Transport Canada’s Airports Capital Assistance Program has an annual budget of $38 million available for airport safety-related projects, auditors say only about $15 million was spent on remote northern airports over the past three years.Their report identified $101 million in needed upgrades at 41 of the 117 remote airports they examined.“Transport Canada had the information it needed to assess the infrastructure challenges remote northern airports face,” the report concluded.“However, the department did not take the lead by working with others to address these infrastructure challenges.”Transport Canada announced late last year that it would step up transportation infrastructure spending in the north.But the auditor general says the department has yet to provide details of planned projects.
HALIFAX – Construction workers in Halifax created a stir on social media when they uncovered a piece of infrastructure dating back to the 1800s, stoking speculation they had finally found a fabled underground tunnel network.Archaeologist Laura de Boer and her crew were working on a downtown streetscape project when someone unearthed the structure, took a photo of it and said it was part of a tunnel.The discovery on Argyle Street fuelled excited conversation online that it was the entrance to a fabled underground tunnel network, an idea that has tantalized Nova Scotians for decades.In the end, the structure turned out to be a manhole estimated to be built in the late 19th century and used to access storm water and a sewer line.An excavator dredged up the line and tiny pieces of artifacts were discovered, including a Wedgewood saucer thought to be made sometime between 1854 and 1860.All of those items are being donated to the Nova Scotia Museum.“It’s a very cool story. We would love to find a tunnel, as a student I was very hopeful,” de Boer said.“It looks very much like a tunnel entrance from away but as soon as you walk closer to it and you look in, you can clearly see that it’s just providing access to a tunnel,” de Boer said.De Boer said smaller hatchways have been discovered in the city that were used by businesses for the delivery of goods.“We do have some short length tunnels that certain businesses would have used historically to get goods in. There would be like a hatch in the sidewalk to bring it in underground,” de Boer said.(Global News)
MONTREAL – When Philippe Couillard was aspiring to be Quebec Liberal leader, he and Kathleen Weil met with members of the province’s main English-speaking advocacy group to discuss its wish for a secretariat of anglophone affairs.Six years later, the Quebec Community Groups Network has what it wanted.“From our perspective we have been listened to and this is a reality,” James Shea, the organization’s president, said Wednesday after Couillard named Weil as the secretariat’s first minister as part of a major cabinet shuffle.Couillard, elected premier in 2014, first announced the creation of the bureau in June.For now, Weil is a minister without a full department, as many details of the new secretariat have yet to be worked out, let alone announced.“I haven’t had briefings on the work that’s been done,” she said in an interview. “We still have to select the senior civil servant who will be running the secretariat.”Weil said a secretariat is like a department, but smaller.“It’s very historic,” she said. “It’s the first time there will be a secretariat with actual civil servants working specifically on the file for the English-speaking community.”Weil, who has worked for years inside and outside government on issues important to the province’s anglophones, said she doesn’t know what her budget will be or how many employees will be hired.“It wouldn’t be a large (office),” she said.For years, successive governments have named ministers responsible for liaising between the government and Quebec’s English-speaking minority.When the Parti Quebecois was briefly in power after the 2012 election, Jean-Francois Lisee — now party leader — held the post.Anglophone community groups have often complained about being taken for granted or ignored by the Quebec government, regardless of the party in power.Shea said the new office will ensure a dedicated bureaucracy inside the civil service working on behalf of Anglo-Quebecers.The secretariat will collect and analyze data about the English community to be of service to other departments when policy is developed. The new bureau will also be a “clearing house” where English speakers can go directly with questions about government services, he said.Sylvia Martin-Laforge, general director of the Quebec Community Groups Network, said she hopes a “couple dozen” employees are hired to work in the office.“The model we proposed is inspired by the secretariat for native affairs in Quebec City, and the secretariats in other provinces for their French-language minority,” she said.Helena Burke, head of the Council for Anglophone Magdalen Islanders, represents the roughly 700-strong English-speaking community on the islands between Newfoundland and New Brunswick.She said the secretariat will be important for her community, up to 75 per cent of whom are unilingual.“Sometimes we feel like people only think there are anglophones in Montreal and that anglophones don’t exist in any part of the province, but in fact they do,” Burke said.“I would hope that the decision to implement such a structure would be there to increase support to our community, to listen to our needs and challenges and to work with us to offer more support and adaptive programs and services.”Couillard made other significant changes to his cabinet ahead of next year’s provincial election, although the main players in the finance (Carlos Leitao), health (Gaetan Barrette) and education (Sebastien Proulx) portfolios stayed in place.The most important departments to change hands were Transport, Immigration and Environment.A surprise in the shuffle was the appointment of 35-year-old backbencher Andre Fortin to head Transport, which is a challenging file due to the department’s large bureaucracy and past accusations of corruption.Couillard also boasted women now make up 47 per cent of his new cabinet.The general election is set for next October.
HALIFAX – They are young. They are women. And they are racialized.Young women of colour are at the vanguard of Halifax’s social justice movement, part of a new generation of social activists.Kati George-Jim is a 21-year-old Indigenous student and member of Dalhousie University’s board of governors.Masuma Khan is a 22-year-old Muslim student leader at the Halifax university.Rebecca Thomas is a 31-year-old Dalhousie graduate and Mi’kmaq poet laureate.Together, they are unapologetically standing up for social justice and refusing to back down in the face of controversy.They are harnessing an ethos of social unrest emanating across the country and beyond, impatiently working to dismantle white privilege, patriarchy and heterosexism.And they are not going away.“Racialized women have always been at the forefront of civil rights movements,” said Margaret Robinson, Dalhousie University assistant professor of sociology and social anthropology. “What’s changed is the broader society’s ability to recognize them for their leadership and work.”Social media and growing up with a black president in the United States has also shifted the social justice movement, she said.“The new wave of activists grew up seeing a black president for eight years,” Robinson said. “They’ve had access to instantaneous online information and communication that I couldn’t have dreamed of as a child. That changes everything.”Rebecca Thomas, Halifax’s aboriginal poet laureate, said young women are being empowered by higher education.“The more you start to understand and learn, the more you want to do something,” she said. “Education is very empowering. We’re being told that our voices matter, and we’re standing up to be heard.”Thomas, originally from New Brunswick, said women of colour have always had strong voices, and that civil rights movements in the past have helped pave the way for the new generation.Young women are now starting to “punch through power structures” once reserved for white men, Thomas said.“We’re recognizing the strength we have, and it’s really great when you get the community’s backing,” said Thomas, who has a master’s degree in social anthropology from Dalhousie.Last spring, she appeared before Halifax council with a poem chiding councillors for shutting down debate last year over how the city commemorates its controversial founder.Edward Cornwallis issued a bounty on the scalps of Thomas’s Mi’kmaq ancestors but is still honoured with a park, statue, and even a street within a stone’s throw of the city’s Mi’kmaq friendship centre.Moved by her poem, a rookie councillor decided council needed to revisit the issue, and the city has since created a panel to examine how Halifax should pay tribute to Cornwallis.Thomas said her official role with the city allows her to work for change from the inside, but at times she feels the need to self-censor.“I find myself in this torn and unfortunate position to make my arguments palatable, so I keep getting invited back, so I can still continue to poke and prod,” she said. “I have a duty and responsibility to keep access to these people in power.”While Thomas may take a more poetic and amicable approach to social activism, she applauds the more militant actions of others.Masuma Khan, a Dalhousie Student Union executive, stood firmly in solidarity with Indigenous protests against Canada 150 celebrations.She refused to back down, even under threat of sanctions as the university investigated her for a profane Facebook post that criticized “white fragility.”Dalhousie dropped the complaint against Khan last week, in part due to mounting concerns about violent and hateful messages she was receiving.“It’s a matter of life and death. Standing up against white supremacy is not an easy thing,” said Khan, who wears a hijab and was born and raised in Halifax.“There are times I get frustrated. But I don’t have a choice,” the fourth-year international development studies student said. “People shoving supremacist ideologies in my face make me want to dismantle those structures even more.”Khan added: “Our existence is our resistance. I’m going to exist, I’m going to keep going. It doesn’t stop here.”That sense of urgency is shared by Kati George-Jim of the T’Sou-ke First Nation in British Columbia.“Racialized women are taking control of the conversation,” the fourth-year political science student said. “With my identity comes responsibility. As an Indigenous woman, I have a responsibility to speak up and use my voice.”George-Jim took on Dalhousie’s board of governors for what she called institutionalized racism, prompting an apology from the board’s chairman who insisted Dalhousie is not led by racists.“To me, it just feels like everyday life. It doesn’t feel like social activism,” she said.It’s a sentiment all three share.“We don’t stop being women of colour at the end of the day when it’s comfortable and time to relax,” Thomas said. “We don’t get to take a break from our own oppressions.”
Highlights from the news file for Tuesday, Nov. 28———TRUDEAU APOLOGIZES TO LGBTQ COMMUNITY: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is apologizing on behalf of the federal government for perpetrating decades of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. Dozens of people — including two of Trudeau’s own kids, Xavier and Ella-Grace — were crammed into the various House of Commons galleries, many of them sporting rainbow ribbons, to witness the historic occasion, which the prime minister says he hopes will finally allow the healing process to begin for those affected. Earlier Tuesday, the government introduced legislation which, if passed, will allow the expungement of criminal records belonging to people convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners. It has also earmarked more than $100 million to compensate members of the military and other federal agencies whose careers were sidelined or ended due to their sexual orientation, part of a class-action settlement with employees who were investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired as part of the so-called “gay purge.”———FINANCE MINISTER FIRES BACK AT TORIES: Finance Minister Bill Morneau is threatening to take the Conservatives to court after the official Opposition peppered him with questions about a stock sale that occurred before he introduced pension legislation in the House of Commons. Morneau calls the insinuations by Tory finance critic Pierre Poilievre “absurd” and says they have “no basis in any sort of fact.” Poilievre says a motion introduced by Morneau in December 2015 to raise income taxes on the highest earners caused the entire stock market to drop — including the price of Morneau Shepell shares, 680,000 of which the minister sold off a week before the announcement. If Poilievre and others want to make such claims outside the Commons, where MPs enjoy the legal protection afforded by parliamentary privilege, they will be hearing from the minister’s lawyers, Morneau suggested Tuesday in a hastily called news conference on Parliament Hill. Morneau has been at the centre of an ethics controversy for weeks. The ethics commissioner has launched a formal examination to determine if he was in a conflict of interest related to his work to introduce pension-reform legislation, which critics have insisted would benefit Morneau Shepell — a company in which, until recently, Morneau owned about $21 million worth of shares.———GUN RALLY PLANNED AT POLYTECHNIQUE MEMORIAL: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Montreal’s mayor and several Quebec cabinet ministers have denounced a plan by a pro-gun lobby group to hold a rally at a memorial site for the 14 women who were killed at Ecole polytechnique in 1989. The event at Place du 6 decembre this Saturday comes four days before the 28th anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history. Word of the weekend event sparked outrage from various people, including Trudeau, Mayor Valerie Plante and Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux. “A needless and cruel provocation,” Trudeau tweeted Tuesday. “No matter the debate, no matter the argument, the families of Polytechnique victims should come first. May we always honour their memory.” But Guy Morin, vice-president of Tous contre un registre quebecois des armes a feu (All Against a Quebec Gun Registry), defended the event as a way of reaching out to the gun control lobby and groups like PolySeSouvient, an organization comprised of survivors of the Polytechnique massacre and members of victims’ families. That group and its members have been targeted by gun lobby members online, but Morin said he wants dialogue.———COMMUNITIES DECRY NEWSPAPER CLOSURES: The closure of more than 30 newspapers across Canada deprive members of a key source of information while threatening to hobble local businesses, residents said Tuesday. Small towns across Ontario were still reeling from word of a blockbuster deal between Torstar Corp. and Postmedia Network Inc., which would see the two media conglomerates swap a total of 41 papers and then immediately close all but five of them. The closures, which include such publications as the Barrie Examiner, the Orilia Packet and Times and the Thorold Niagara News, cost 291 people their jobs according to the companies. The deal is currently under review by the federal Competition Bureau and has renewed calls for the government to take action on saving the media industry, which has been decimated by dwindling advertising revenue in recent years. Tony Vandermaas, who’s lived in the southwestern Ontario town of Thorold for 33 years and has written columns for previous iterations of the now-shuttered community’s paper, said the business sense of the decision doesn’t make the closure easier to stomach. “I’m afraid that we’re going to get less coverage up here in Thorold than we ever had before, and we didn’t have much to start with.”———EXPOSURE TO HIGH DEBT, HOUSING HAS EASED, CENTRAL BANK SAYS: The Bank of Canada is flagging the steady climb of household debt and still-hot housing markets as the financial system’s top vulnerabilities — but it’s also seeing some early signs of improvement. In a report Tuesday, the bank said there’s some evidence Canada’s exposure to these persistent trouble spots has begun to ease, thanks to healthy job creation, tightening housing policies and higher mortgages rates. The assessment is part of the bank’s semi-annual review, which explores key vulnerabilities and risks surrounding the stability of the financial system. It describes vulnerabilities as pre-existing conditions that could amplify or propagate economic shocks. The report said indebtedness, especially the number of highly indebted households, remains high. Household debt relative to income has reached historically lofty levels and continues to grow, the bank said. But it noted there’s already some green shoots that suggest stricter lending rules have started to reduce the country’s exposure to hefty debtloads.———GREENS’ WIN IN P.E.I. ‘ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING’: The Green party has pulled off an unprecedented electoral victory in P.E.I., doubling its standings in the legislature and potentially signalling a surprising shift in the political landscape of Canada’s smallest province. The upstart party increased the number of its MLAs on the Island to two from one in a byelection Monday following the resignation of a Liberal cabinet minister last month. Hannah Bell, the 48-year-old head of a businesswomen’s association in Charlottetown, easily defeated the Liberal, NDP and Conservative candidates, suggesting a breakthrough for the party that elected its first MLA just two years ago. “Against the odds, we totally knocked it out of the park,” Bell said in an interview the morning after a late night of celebrating her win. “It’s absolutely astounding and shows the real appetite for change.” Bell captured 35.3 per cent of the vote in the Charlottetown-Parkdale byelection, according to unofficial results from Elections PEI. Liberal Bob Doiron took second place with 28.5 per cent, Melissa Hilton of the PCs came in third with 26.9 per cent of the vote and New Democrat Mike Redmond captured 9.3 per cent.———COPS WHO MOCKED WOMAN WITH DOWN SYNDROME PLEAD GUILTY: Two Toronto police constables who were recorded mocking a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome last year have learned a “valuable yet shameful lesson,” a police prosecutor told a disciplinary hearing Tuesday as the officers pleaded guilty to misconduct. Const. Sasa Sljivo and Const. Matthew Saris have taken responsibility for their actions and apologized in writing to Francie Munoz and her relatives, Insp. Domenic Sinopoli told a room packed with the family’s supporters. And while the Munoz family had requested a public, in-person apology, “the act of contrition need not be a public spectacle of shame,” Sinopoli said. The prosecution and defence jointly proposed that Sljivo, who was the senior officer and the one who made the comments, face five days of unpaid work, and Saris two. Both officers would have to volunteer at least 20 hours with the Special Olympics and undergo an extra hour of sensitivity training. The hearing officer reserved his decision and no date has been set for its release. Sljivo pleaded guilty to misconduct related to the use of profane, abusive or insulting language, while Saris pleaded guilty to misconduct related to the failure to report Sljivo’s comments, which contravened the Ontario Human Rights Code.———GRASSY NARROWS SEEKS MERCURY TREATMENT CENTRE: Leaders from a Northern Ontario First Nation urged the federal and Ontario governments to commit to building and funding a mercury treatment centre in their community ahead of a meeting with them Wednesday. Mercury contamination has plagued the English-Wabigoon River system in northwestern Ontario for half a century, since a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped 9,000 kilograms of the substance into the river systems in the 1960s. Researchers have reported that more than 90 per cent of the people in the nearby Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nation show signs of mercury poisoning. Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister, who suffers from mercury poisoning himself, is frustrated that there hasn’t been a firm commitment to the treatment centre itself, saying his years-long efforts to push for one feel like a dog chasing its tail. Grassy Narrows leaders are set to meet Wednesday with Ontario Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer and federal Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, who has so far committed to a feasibility study for a mercury treatment centre. Zimmer said Tuesday that Ottawa would make a commitment to fund the centre at Wednesday’s meeting, but his office later said he misspoke and had been referring to the feasibility study.———ELEPHANT TROPHIES LEGAL TO IMPORT IN CANADA: In the last decade, Canadians have legally imported more than 2,600 trophy animals that are on an international list of endangered species. The imports also include thousands of animal skins, skulls, feet, ears, tusks, horns and tails of everything from antelope to zebras from all corners of the earth. Earlier this month, the United States made waves when the Fish and Wildlife Service suddenly reversed a 2014 ban on elephant imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia. U.S. President Donald Trump stepped in to halt that reversal, tweeting earlier this month that he considers elephant hunting a “horror show” and that it was unlikely anyone could convince him hunting the animals was good for conservation. Canada, on the other hand, never banned the imports in the first place. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, tracks animals on three lists based on the level of protection needed and requires permits to be issued before these animals or any parts of them can be traded across international borders. That database shows that between 2007 and 2016, Canada allowed the legal importation of 2,647 mammals as hunting trophies, including 83 elephants, 256 lions, 134 zebras, 76 hippos and 19 rhinoceroses.———ARGOS CELEBRATE GREY CUP WIN AT RALLY: Cheering fans and jubilant members of the Argonauts packed Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square on Tuesday as the team celebrated its CFL-record 17th Grey Cup win. Veteran quarterback Ricky Ray carried the Cup through an excited crowd, with many fans clamouring to get photos of the iconic trophy. The 38-year-old Ray, who set his own CFL record by winning his fourth Grey Cup as a starting quarterback, is still determining his football future, but he was treated to chants of “one more year” by fans and teammates while addressing the rally. The Argos — who missed the playoffs in 2016 and finished the 2017 season 9-9 — pulled off a surprising 27-24 comeback victory over the Calgary Stampeders in Sunday’s snowy championship game in Ottawa. Also taking the stage at the rally was Toronto Mayor John Tory — himself a former CFL commissioner — who couldn’t resist taking a playful dig at Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. The two mayors placed a Grey Cup wager on the game, and after losing the bet Nenshi had to wear an Argonauts jersey at a Calgary city council meeting Monday while reciting a poem extolling the virtues of the CFL champions.———
TORONTO – WestJet says it is reviewing its baggage policy after a customer complained that it discriminated against travellers from certain countries.The airline currently has a policy that prevents travellers to Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago from checking in more than two bags, unless the extra luggage is “a golf bag containing golf clubs.”Jared Walker tweeted about the policy after his 62-year-old mother was prevented from bringing an oversized bag on a trip to Jamaica to attend a funeral.Walker, 30, said the policy is “absurd” and shows preferential treatment to tourists, as opposed to travellers returning to their country of origin.WestJet told The Canadian Press in a statement that the baggage policy was in place for Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago “due to the amount of excess checked baggage brought by guests travelling to these particular destinations.”The company said it’s reviewing the aspect of the baggage policy related to golf bags, recognizing “the optics are poor.”It further said that travellers who want to bring more than two bags to Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago can do so through WestJet Cargo, its air shipping service.The airline said it apologized to Walker and reached out to him in an attempt to resolve the issue. “It was never our intention to be discriminatory in this specific baggage policy,” said Lauren Stewart, a spokeswoman for WestJet.Walker said he received an apology and other messages from the company Wednesday afternoon but it was too late to help his mother, who was already in Jamaica.He said he booked tickets for his mother, Nellrene Walker, so she could attend her sister’s funeral in Jamaica. After paying for the tickets, he saw WestJet’s baggage policy, and called customer service, he said.“They let me know that no exceptions were allowed,” said Jared Walker, who wanted to pay for his mother to bring a third oversized bag.“It seems really ridiculous that this policy…only applies to two countries which happens to be tourist destinations, and that there’s a golf club exemption.”In immigrant communities, it’s common to take goods back to their country of origin, especially when a family member has died, he said.His mother is originally from Jamaica, and Walker was born in the United States after she moved to Florida. They both came to Canada in 1995.He said when he originally asked why golf clubs are allowed, WestJet told him it was due to “weight distribution” and “baggage trends”.Walker tweeted about the policy Tuesday night and said he received a message from the company around 1 a.m. saying it would allow his mother to pay to take the oversized bag.But he said he saw the messages too late, and his mother flew out Wednesday morning.
QUEBEC – The 10 members elected Oct. 1 for the sovereigntist left-wing party Quebec solidaire refused to swear allegiance to the Queen publicly Wednesday as they made their entry into the provincial legislature.Instead, they chose to swear the obligatory oath behind closed doors, away from the view of family and friends attending the ceremony.In public, they declared their loyalty to the Quebec people, the second part of the oath required of all members of the national assembly.Manon Masse, Quebec solidaire’s co-spokesperson, called the oath to the Queen “an archaic and, frankly, unpleasant ritual.”She said making the declaration out of public view was a matter of respect for members’ sovereigntist convictions. Sol Zanetti, who represents a Quebec City riding for the party, said it was “humiliating” to swear an oath that clashed with his personal convictions.The opposition party plans to table legislation to get rid of the oath to the Queen.
OTTAWA – Canada should invoke the new Magnitsky Act to sanction those responsible for the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the official Opposition said Monday.Conservative justice critic Tony Clement says that Saudi Arabia has already identified some individuals who were partially responsible for Khashoggi’s death, adding that the Magnitsky law is a next step the government should consider.“This may be a prime case for applying the Magnitsky law,” said Clement.Last year, Canada passed the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, known as the Magnitsky Act, which gives the government the authority to freeze Canadian assets of foreign individuals who are found to have violated human rights.Clement’s comments follow the same urging by NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere, as well as a similar bipartisan demand in the U.S. Congress.Laverdiere said the NDP hopes there will be a United Nations investigation into Khashoggi’s death.“When those responsible are identified, will the government be prepared to enforce the Magnitsky law?” Laverdiere said in question period last week.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the murder of Khashoggi on Monday, saying the various Saudi explanations for his death lacked credibility and consistency.The government has not yet offered a concrete response on whether it will consider using the Magnitsky law in this case, saying it’s consulting Canada’s allies on this issue.Canada’s version of the Magnitsky law is based on the Global Magnitsky Act, a bill passed in 2016 that allows the U.S. to sanction foreign human rights violators.Two weeks ago, long before Saudi Arabia acknowledged its role in Khashoggi’s death, a bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican senators from the Committee on Foreign Relations wrote to President Donald Trump calling for sanctions under the act, automatically triggering a requirement that the president launch an investigation and decide within 120 days whether to take action.“The recent disappearance of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that he could be a victim of a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights,” reads the letter, signed by a number of prominent Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers, including Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker and South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, a close congressional ally of the president.“We request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi.”Named for whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who was beaten and denied medical care before his death in Russian custody in 2009, the 2016 law expanded on an earlier version designed exclusively to target Russian officials.Freeland said she has spoken with her counterparts from Germany and Turkey in recent days, and is actively engaged with Canada’s allies in a crafting a joint response.“We are working together to press for a transparent and credible investigation and we are very clear that there must be an accounting for this murder; those responsible must be brought to justice and must face the consequences,” Freeland told reporters Monday in Ottawa.Clement acknowledged Freeland’s position, which also came in a written statement on Saturday, and said the government needs to do its “diligence on this.”“If you want a next step that has been sanctioned by Parliament, our Parliament, the Magnitsky law…could be something that should be looked at,” said Clement.During a press conference with a visiting Mexican delegation, Freeland declined to answer questions about whether the government is considering scrapping the lucrative $15-billion contract to provide Ontario-made light armoured vehicles Saudi Arabia.“We have frozen export permits before when we had concerns about their potential misuse, and we will not hesitate to do so again,” Trudeau said later in the House of Commons.Trudeau also convened a meeting of the government’s new the Incident Response Group, which includes cabinet ministers and senior government officials, to discuss the Khashoggi affair.Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee.Turkish officials say he was tortured, killed and dismembered at the diplomatic outpost.“Canada is very mindful of the fact that this murder occurred in Turkey and it’s very important for Turkey to be a part of the conversation,” said Freeland.— with files from James McCarten in Washington
An engineering professor is calling for the Transportation Safety Board to investigate an Ottawa bus crash that killed three and injured 23 others to prevent similar incidents from occurring again.Ahmed Shalaby with the department of civil engineering at the University of Manitoba says the federal board should be involved in probing the deadly crash to ensure the findings are made public and recommendations are made to improve safety across the country.A double-decker city bus hopped a curb Friday afternoon and struck a transit shelter, carving deep into the vehicle’s upper level and crushing a number of seats.A local hospital says one person remains in critical condition, six are listed as serious and four are in stable condition.The safety board confirmed that they are not investigating the bus crash as the federal independent agency only probes marine, pipeline, rail and air incidents.Shalaby wants the City of Ottawa to ask the board to be involved in the investigation, which is currently being led by Ottawa police.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Jurors hearing the case of a Montreal man accused in the killing of his ailing wife will have to weigh two possible verdicts.Quebec Superior Court Justice Helene Di Salvo told the eight-man, four-woman jury that they must find Michel Cadotte guilty — the only question is whether his crime was second-degree murder or manslaughter.The judge is giving final instructions to jurors today after which they will be sequestered until they reach a unanimous verdict.Cadotte is charged with second-degree murder in the February 2017 death of Jocelyne Lizotte, his wife of 19 years.Lizotte, 60, was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and was unable to care for herself. Cadotte had been told about a year before the slaying that his wife did not qualify for a medically assisted death because she couldn’t consent and was not considered to be at the end of her life.Di Salvo’s instructions come two years to the day after Lizotte was suffocated with a pillow in her long-term care bed.Cadotte’s lawyers argued that their client was in a depressed state of mind and unable to cope after watching Lizotte suffer for nine years.The Crown has countered that Cadotte understood the impact of his actions and intended to kill Lizotte when he held the pillow over her face.The Canadian Press
Five stories in the news for Tuesday, May 14———B.C. MONEY-LAUNDERING PROBE MUST BE FOCUSED: EXPERTA former attorney general who led a provincial public inquiry into missing and murdered women says the British Columbia government needs to set clear goals and a firm timeline if it launches an inquiry into money laundering. Wally Oppal says inquiries can be very valuable, adding that police now investigate missing women far differently than they did in the years when serial killer Robert Pickton was preying on vulnerable women. But before the government establishes an inquiry, it should ask itself what questions need to be answered and set a definite end date, otherwise they “can go on forever.” Calls for an inquiry have been mounting since a report last week estimated $7.4 billion was laundered in the province last year.———‘JEOPARDY!’ HOST ALEX TREBEK VISITS OTTAWACanadian “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek recently completed what he hopes will be his last chemotherapy treatment, he told the Royal Canadian Geographical Society Monday afternoon as he helped open the group’s new headquarters in Ottawa. Trebek, who is the society’s honorary president, announced in March that he has advanced pancreatic cancer. Trebek says he was disappointed all the Canadian NHL teams had been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, before noting the country’s pro-sports championship hopes are still very much alive thanks to the Toronto Raptors. Later in the evening, Trebek fought back tears as he thanked the society for the outpouring of support he’s received since announcing his cancer diagnosis.———TORIES ACCUSE LIBERALS OF POLITICIZING TERRORThe federal Tories are accusing the Trudeau government of playing politics by stripping specific references to specific religious groups from its annual report on terrorism. Conservative public-safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus suggested to the House of Commons national-security committee Monday that the Liberals bowed to “pressure tactics” simply to avoid offending anyone. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government removed the terms “Sikh,” “Sunni” and “Shia” from the report when referring to extremism to avoid conveying the impression that an entire religion or community is a threat to national security. He told the committee it was not a partisan issue but rather an effort to be accurate, precise and fair in conveying information about terrorist threats.———ONTARIO PLANS TO AXE ENHANCED LICENCESOntario is proposing to eliminate an enhanced driver’s licence that allows people to enter the United States at land and water border crossings without a passport. The driver’s licence option was introduced in 2009, when the U.S. required passports or other secure identification for anyone crossing into the country by land or sea, but it hasn’t had the anticipated uptake. British Columbia and Manitoba have enhanced driver’s licences, and Quebec used to, but phased out the program — other provinces rejected the idea because it was too costly or there wasn’t enough public interest. Ministry of Transportation spokesman Bob Nichols says about 60,000 people currently have the secure ID out of 10.2 million drivers in Ontario.———TORONTO SCHOOL BOARD GRAPPLES WITH BUDGET SHORTFALLCanada’s largest school board says it may have to eliminate jobs, some programs and end some student busing to address a multimillion-dollar funding gap created by provincial cuts. The Toronto District School Board’s education director laid out the proposals that could help eliminate a $67-million budget shortfall — $42 million caused by a cut from the Ontario government. John Malloy says the board could stop busing French immersion, cut some learning centre staff jobs, and administrator roles to find savings. The director called the budget process “very challenging” but says staff are not recommending substantial changes to special education funding, school safety, and equity and diversity programs.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— The youth from Kingston, Ont., charged with terror-related offences is due to make an appearance in court via video conference.— Robert Andrew Leeming to appear in court on second-degree murder charges in the deaths of Calgary woman Jasmine Lovett and her toddler daughter.— Trial begins for Calgary police Const. Trevor Lindsay on a charge of aggravated assault. It’s alleged that he repeatedly punched a suspect and threw him into the pavement, causing a brain injury. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The United Nations is urging Canada to help ease Mexico’s refugee burden by helping resettle some of the most vulnerable of its new arrivals, including women, children and LGBTQ people.Mexico is feeling the squeeze from an unprecedented exodus of people fleeing Central American countries and some of the worst violence from nations not at actually war is forcing families northward.“Our pitch to Canada is to do more,” said Mark Manly, the Mexico representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.Manly was in Ottawa earlier this month for meetings with the federal government to look for ways for Canada to help resettle more of the migrants that have arrived in Mexico.The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border, with President Donald Trump branding the caravans of migrants as being laced with violent criminals bent on destabilizing his country.Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are pushing to have their new version of the North American Free Trade Agreement ratified soon as Vice-President Mike Pence visits Ottawa this week to give that a renewed push.Asylum seekers reaching Mexico from Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela caused a 103-per-cent spike in claims in 2018 over the previous years from almost to 15,000 to about 30,000, says the UNHCR.Manly said that many migrants have good settlement prospects in Mexico because of its growing economy and need for foreign labour, but women and girls fleeing gang violence as well as members of the transgender and gay communities need to be resettled elsewhere because they are not safe.The UNHCR wants to “take the pressure off Mexican authorities to take care of this kind of profile and resettle them to Canada,” Manly said.Criminal gangs are flourishing in Central America, he said. They extort money from the non-criminals, kill other gang members, and are constantly recruiting adolescent boys and girls.“Anyone who gets in the way is at severe risk, so entire families leave,” Manly explained. “That explains the demographic change.”Canada is already “doing a few things in terms of technical support for the Mexican asylum system, resettlement of people who face extreme protection risks in the region,” he added, including helping resettle LGBTQ applicants.“These are countries that are close by; they are countries with which Canada has close ties, Mexico being the most important of them.”A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen was unable to provide statistics of how many Mexican asylum seekers Canada has received recently.But Lise Jolicoeur said Canada is a partner in the Rainbow Refugee Society which helps sponsor LGBTQ2 refugees from around the world. “In fact, this year we managed to sponsor 64 refugees (record-breaking),” she said in an email.The Ontario-based World Refugee Council released a report earlier this year that said the large-scale migration of Central American women, as well as unaccompanied children and adolescents, had become a major policy issue in the Western Hemisphere.“It is estimated that six out of 10 migrant women and girls are victims of sexual violence carried out by illicit actors, government authorities and intimate partners. However, most of what is known is anecdotal and there is an urgent need for a stronger evidence base in order to inform policy,” the report says.Lloyd Axworthy, the chair of the refugee council, toured Mexican refugee camps near the border city of Tijuana last year at the height of the caravan activity, and described the situation as dire and entrenched.Axworthy made “human security” a key tenet of Canadian foreign policy when he was the country’s top diplomat in the Liberal government from 1996 to 2000.“What it demonstrates is that as long as the conflicts take place and the violence going on, you’re going to have people trying to escape. And it’s going to be in our region,” he said in an interview.“We’ve been focusing on the NAFTA issue; well maybe there’s got to be some parallel discussion (on migration).”The long and occasionally bitter NAFTA renegotiation highlighted the differences on dealing with gender issues between the U.S. and its two continental partners.In the new deal’s chapter on labour rights, it calls on all three countries to “protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sex (including with regard to sexual harassment), pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity …”That paragraph also has a footnote that essentially gives the U.S. an out on that point, saying it need not take “any further action” to comply with that requirement. The footnote came after 40 U.S. members of Congress wrote Trump a letter in November 2018 objecting to sexual orientation and gender identity language in the trade deal.“A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy,” their letter said. “It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress has so far explicitly refused to accept.”Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A Senate committee is launching an inquiry into the failed prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.The Senate’s national defence committee has voted 7-5 on a motion from Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais to examine the circumstances that led to the military’s second-in-command being suspended and charged with breach of trust.Norman’s two-year ordeal ended earlier this month when the charges were stayed.Conservatives, who allege Prime Minister Justin Trudeau politically interfered with the case, tried to get the House of Commons defence committee to initiate an investigation but the Liberals used their majority to block that effort.Conservatives had better luck Tuesday at the Senate committee, passing Dagenais’ motion with the support of independent Sen. Diane Griffin and unaffiliated Sen. David Richards.The motion calls on the committee to explore why the charges were laid and subsequently stayed, inviting Norman, Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of defence staff, and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to testify, along with any other witnesses it deems pertinent.The committee is to conduct its inquiry and report to the Senate by no later than June 20.Norman had been accused of leaking government secrets to Quebec’s Davie shipyard, supposedly to help it nail down a $700-million contract for a navy supply ship that had been approved by the previous Conservative government and which the new Liberal government decided to review in 2015 before eventually finalizing it.In staying the charges, Crown prosecutors told the judge that new evidence they’d received from Norman’s defence team had led them to conclude there was no reasonable chance of convicting him.Both the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and RCMP have insisted they acted independently and professionally, without any political interference.Dagenais said his motion wasn’t aimed at creating a political circus. Rather, he said it’s a chance for Norman to tell his side of the story after two years of having his reputation shredded in public.But independent Liberal Sen. Terry Mercer, who said Norman is a friend, predicted the committee inquiry will be a fishing expedition aimed at damaging the Liberals just months before this fall’s federal election.Mercer suggested the committee should also hear from officials in former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s office and his defence minister, Peter MacKay, who told Norman’s defence lawyers that they’d authorized the vice-admiral to stay in direct contact with Davie about the supply ship contract. He questioned why the Conservatives didn’t volunteer that information to the RCMP or prosecutors.“What bothers me about this, they knew this but they let Vice-Admiral Norman go through this for two years. You could have ended it by coming forward and saying, ‘Hold it guys, we asked him to do this, we directed him to do this, he did nothing wrong.’” A number of independent senators expressed concern that Norman may not want to face a grilling before a Senate committee after everything he’s been through. And even a Conservative senator who voted for the motion, Sen. Thomas McInnis, predicted Norman won’t accept the invitation or, if he does, will say very little because it might be injurious to a potential civil suit. .The Canadian Press
THOMPSON, Man. — A judge is expected to give a verdict today in the manslaughter trial of an RCMP officer in northern Manitoba who fired a dozen shots into a Jeep following a police chase.Crown prosecutors told the trial in Thompson that Const. Abram Letkeman made only wrong choices in the lead up to the shooting death of Steven Campbell in 2015.Court heard that 12 bullet casings were found at the scene and 39-year-old Campbell, who was drunk behind the wheel, was hit at least nine times.The defence argued that all police officers make mistakes and Letkeman thought his life was in danger because the Jeep was moving toward him.Campbell’s mother, Shirley Huber, says her family hopes the judge finds that the officer’s actions were dangerous and wrong.She says, no matter the verdict, her son’s death shows how important it is for police to have dashboard and body cameras, especially in northern communities.“There has to be a way to document what really happens on those stops and maybe it won’t happen again,” Huber said in a message online.“Maybe my son would still be alive.”Letkeman, 37, pleaded not guilty to six offences, including criminal negligence.The trial heard the officer saw the Jeep being driven erratically shortly after the bars in Thompson had closed.After a failed attempt at a traffic stop, the officer started to pursue the vehicle but did not communicate that to his supervisors.Letkeman testified that he hoped to end the chase by using his police car to bump the back of the Jeep, forcing it to rotate and stop. A use of force expert testified the move was against protocol and training, and was extremely risky.The Jeep ended up on a trail for all-terrain vehicles, where it lost control and stopped. The trial heard Letkeman’s vehicle then T-boned it.The officer testified he didn’t wait for backup and walked in front of the Jeep to do a high-risk takedown. He said the Jeep started moving toward him, so he was forced to fire.Campbell’s girlfriend, one of four passengers in the Jeep, was also shot and injured.A toxicology report showed Campbell had alcohol in his system and was almost 2 1/2 times the legal limit to drive. It also showed a small amount of cocaine.During closing arguments in June, the Crown argued that Letkeman stood in front of the vehicle and fired so that the Jeep couldn’t drive away, not because he was in danger.Prosecutor Christian Vanderhooft said nothing that Letkeman did on the night of the fatal shooting was reasonable.“Each opportunity where that should have been done, the wrong decision was made. Not just wrong — negligent.”The defence argued the officer shot his gun because he had to. Lawyer Lisa LaBossiere told the trial that every officer has made a mistake. She warned that convicting Letkeman would have “a chilling effect” on all police.Campbell’s mother said he shouldn’t have been driving if he was intoxicated, but the mistake wasn’t worth his life.Huber attended the trial and called it the hardest thing she has ever had to do. But she says she won’t be there for the verdict.She says her son was a caring father to his two kids and a kind and loving friend who would give anyone the shirt off his back.“I still miss the man he had grown up to be. A mother never gets over losing a child she carried,” she said. “I miss him every day and know I always will.”Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA (660 NEWS) — The Canadian government has launched an appeal after a court ruling in July regarding wines made on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.In July, the Federal Court ruled settlement wines labelled as ‘Product of Israel’ are “false, misleading and deceptive” as they are made on occupied Palestinian territories.After backlash from lobby groups, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has launched an appeal through Attorney General David Lametti, asking the Federal Court of Appeal to strike down the ruling.The case originally dates back to 2017, when Winnipeg-based Dr. David Kattenburg lodged a complaint against the CFIA about two wines produced in the West Bank, arguing the labels were false and in violation of consumer legislation.The Federal Court eventually agreed, adding that the labels “contravene the requirements” of consumer packaging laws and the Food and Drug Act.Now that an appeal is being launched, the lawyer who represented Dr. Kattenburg accuses the government of caving to lobbyist pressure.“It is facilitating the theft of Palestinian land,” Dimitri Lascaris said. “If somebody doesn’t want to buy a wine from an illegal Israeli settlement that constitutes a war crime, then they’re entitled to know where the wine came from so they can make a decision of conscience.”Lascaris said it was a robust decision and respectful of international laws.The international community considers the establishment of settlements on occupied land as illegal, violating a section of the Fourth Geneva Convention.Despite claims from Israel that they are not in violation of the Geneva Convention, organizations such as the United Nations Security Council and International Court of Justice say the rule does apply.Lascaris noted that even the Government of Canada recognizes the settlements are illegal.“It has openly acknowledged, and to this very day on the Global Affairs website, that the settlements are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a serious obstacle to peace,” he said.Part of the appeal focuses on freedom of expression on the part of the wine producers, but Lascaris also dismissed that point due to the government openly standing against the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement.“They seem to want to squash our right to advocate on behalf of BDS by vilifying anybody who takes a stand that Israel should be subjected to peaceful economic sanctions just like any other human rights violator,” Lascaris said.In believing that lobby groups are pressuring the government, Lascaris is concerned this sets a dangerous precedent.“It raises serious questions about the integrity of this government and its commitment to a rules-based international order, which is something its very fond of claiming to have,” Lascaris added. “This is an affront to a rules-based international order.”Lascaris will fight against the appeal in court and expect other human rights groups such as Independent Jewish Voices Canada to jump on board.B’Nai Brith Canada also issued a statement after the appeal was filed, writing that they “welcome the Attorney-General’s move to appeal, which was the only reasonable option available to him in this case,” and will apply for intervener status.In response, the CFIA provided this statement to 660NEWS regarding the current appeal.“As a federal regulator, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency takes seriously its mandate to verify that food products and labels are truthful and not misleading. This is an important part of consumer protection.The Government of Canada carefully reviewed the Federal Court’s decision issued on July 29, 2019, and has decided to appeal the decision. The grounds are laid out in the Notice of Appeal.This includes two main reasons:First, the Federal Court ruled that the standard of review that applies to the Complaints and Appeal Office’s determination is reasonableness. However, the Government is of the view that the Court did not apply this standard. Instead, the court applied a stricter standard.Second, the Court found that CFIA’S Complaints and Appeals Office should have considered the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (freedom of expression) in determining whether “Product of Israel” met the regulatory requirement of including a “country of origin” on the label, but had failed to do so. The Government is of the view that the Complaints and Appeals Office considered and weighed relevant Charter values and the statutory and regulatory objectives in arriving at its decision.”
A new film highlights the global sustainability work of The Prince’s Charities, founded by the Prince of Wales.Video: Prince Charles And Global Sustainability“I have long been deeply concerned about the effect our modern, highly industrialised approach is having on nature’s capacity to sustain life on Earth,” said Prince Charles. “There is a growing set of alarming problems which, if not addressed with real urgency, will severely affect nature’s capacity to keep her life support systems running and thus guarantee the well-being of billions of people around the world.“It is worth bearing in mind that bodies like the UN have produced countless reports showing the damage we have so far been responsible for. In the last half century alone, not only have we depleted over a third of the world’s farmable soil, we have so intensified the way we produce food we are now using far more water than we did, even though there is less fresh water available.“In that same 50 years we have also burned down over a third of the world’s tropical rainforests and are still doing so – despite the fact that they are actually the lungs of the world. An area the size of a football pitch goes up in smoke every four seconds – that’s over 26,000 football pitches a day! As a result, we have destroyed more than 80,000 species on which, did we but know it, we depend for our long term health and welfare. Everything is interconnected.“Thus, because these forests produce billions of tonnes of rainwater every day, we now risk big consequences for our ability to grow all the food we will need to feed what will soon be a global population of nine billion people. And all of these problems are being compounded by climate change, an effect the experts ominously call “a threat multiplier.” For many years I have sought to highlight that this all adds up to something far more than an “environmental crisis.” We are fast engineering a global economic crisis.“This film demonstrates the work of those initiatives I have set up through which I aim to bring together leaders of organizations and government and those from the corporate world to share their knowledge and forge practical solutions. They range from trying to establish more sustainable fisheries and better ways of managing farming within tropical forests, to the creation of more sustainable approaches to food production and more local forms of food distribution, not to mention clever financial mechanisms that enable global corporations to do things differently for the good of the Earth and for their profits. This is the work of my International Sustainability Unit and of the British Asian Trust.“The film also profiles the Cambridge Programme for Sustainable Leadership, of which I have been patron for 20 years, and the work of a project I established in 2004, called Accounting for Sustainability. This works with the corporate world and within government to ensure we are not battling to meet the challenges of the 21st Century with the decision-making techniques and corporate reporting systems of the 20th Century. If we are to guarantee the well-being of our grandchildren and their grandchildren, then genuine sustainability has to become embedded in the DNA of business and government. As this film shows, without a resilient approach to business and economics, I am afraid we run the risk of bequeathing those who follow us something far worse.”Source:PrinceOfWales.gov.uk