New Delhi: A crucial meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday unanimously rejected Rahul Gandhi’s offer to resign as party president after the Lok Sabha poll debacle and authorised him to overhaul and restructure the party at all levels. The meeting deliberated on the reasons behind the Congress’s defeat in the elections for four long hours with various leaders urging Rahul Gandhi to continue to provide leadership to the party. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist “Congress President Rahul Gandhi in his address to the CWC offered his resignation as the party president. The CWC unanimously and with one voice rejected the same and requested the Congress President for his leadership and guidance in these challenging times,” said the resolution passed by CWC. The CWC “unanimously” called upon the Rahul Gandhi to lead the party in its ideological battle and to champion the cause of India’s youth, the farmers, the SC, ST, OBCs, the minorities, the poor and the deprived sections, it said. Top Congress leaders from across the country Saturday got together to review the Lok Sabha poll drubbing, as the party’s highest decision-making body met here. The CWC meeting, chaired by Rahul Gandhi, was attended by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, chief ministers of party-ruled states and other top leaders.
Beijing: China warned Canada on Friday that it needs to be aware of the consequences of aiding the US in an extradition case involving Chinese tech giant Huawei that is believed to have sparked the detentions of two Canadians in China. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang’s comments came after US Vice President Mike Pence and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. Both were arrested on December 10 after Canada detained a Huawei executive wanted by the United States on fraud charges. While China has denied they were taken in retaliation, it has repeatedly implied that there is a strong connection between the cases. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’Korvig, a former diplomat and Asia expert at the International Crisis Group, and Spavor, a businessman, have been accused of colluding to steal state secrets. Canada has repeatedly urged their immediate release, calling their detentions arbitrary. Neither has been permitted access to lawyers or family members. “We hope that the Canadian side can have a clear understanding of the consequences of endangering itself for the gains of the US and take immediate actions to correct its mistakes so as to spare itself the suffering from growing damage,” Geng said at a daily news briefing. Also Read – Pak Army chief accompanies Imran at key meetings in ChinaHuawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the company’s founder, is accused of lying to banks about the company’s dealings with Iran in violation of US trade sanctions. Her attorney has argued that comments by US President Donald Trump suggest the case against her is politically motivated. Washington has pressured other countries to limit the use of Huawei’s technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information. China and the US are currently embroiled in a trade dispute that is weighing heavily on global financial markets. Another Canadian held in China, Robert Schellenberg, was re-sentenced to death in a drug case following Meng’s detention. His case is currently under appeal.
Mumbai: A 23-year-old man who is an airline security officer has been arrested by the MIDC police after he raped and assaulted a 25-year-old air hostess. The accused has been identified as Swapnil Badonia and as per police records, the incident took place on Monday when the victim who had relocated to Mumbai had landed at the international airport from Hyderabad at 7 pm. After the victim who knew Badonia took a drop from airport to her residence in Kandivali, Badonia took the same car and the duo headed to Malad where Badonia got off at a mall and the victim joined him at a bar after keeping her luggage inside her residence. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist According to the victim, the two drank beer and rum until the bar was shut and then left the mall late at night. “As it was late and she was drunk, she wanted to go to a hotel and the boy went with her to get her the room. As they were drunk, they both claim that they did not get a room. The boy then allegedly told her to come to his flat in Sher-e-Punjab area in Andheri East,” said a police officer. Police said that according to the victim, there were two male flatmates of the accused and a female friend of him in the flat. “She initially thought that the three men raped her as when she woke up in the morning there were injury marks on her. The victim’s father had been trying to reach her on phone call but could not do so,” he added. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France When he took her to her house there were injury marks on her after which the father took her to KEM hospital from where the police were called. Police brought two of the flatmates from the address of the accused’s house while the third flatmate was brought from another address. “While interrogating the three men respectively it was ascertained that only the security officer raped her. We gathered the evidence and are interrogating the case further. On the initial report, a case of gangrape was registered which will be amended now,” added the officer. Police have also registered a case of assault against Badonia,” the officer added.(With inputs from DNA)
NEW DELHI: Delhi Labour Minister Gopal Rai on Thursday ordered an FIR against M/s Ahluwalia Fire Protection Engineers following his inspection visit to the GB Pant Hospital, wherein the minister found irregularities in working of the firm. The company works in the GB Pant Hospital’s Public Works Department unit. The minister also directed restoration of employees being fired by the firm adding that the file relating to removal any employee appointed on contract basis has to be referred to labor department. The minister listened to the grievances of people working as housekeeping, nursing, security staff, data entry operator and others. He further directed the concerned authorities to immediately resolve problems of the staff. The employees working at the hospital told the minister about delayed payment of salaries on which Rai asked the officials present there to clear the files relating to payment of salaries with immediate effect.
Tehran: Iran will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the spokesman for the country’s atomic agency said Monday while also warning that Iran could enrich uranium up to 20 per cent just a step away from weapons-grade levels. The announcement by Behrouz Kamalvandi, timed for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, puts more pressure on Europe to come up with new terms for Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal. Also Read – Merkel warns UK Brexit deal ‘unlikely’ without compromise: LondonThe deal has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the accord last year and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, deeply cutting into its sale of crude oil abroad and sending its economy into freefall. Europe has so far been unable to offer Iran a way around the US sanctions. The development comes in the wake of apparent attacks on oil tankers last week in the Mideast, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it has used mines in the past against commercial traffic around the crucial Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes. Also Read – India, China should jointly uphold peace and stability, resolve disputes through dialogues: Chinese ambassadorKamalvandi accused Europeans of “killing time” as the clock runs down. “If this condition continues, there will be no deal” anymore, Kamalvandi said. President Hassan Rouhani, greeting France’s new ambassador to Tehran on Monday, similarly warned that time was running out for the deal. “The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the (deal) still have a very limited opportunity to play their historic role for saving the deal,” Rouhani said, according to his website. Under terms of the nuclear deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium. Kamalvandi said that given Iran’s recent decision to quadruple its production of low-enriched uranium, it would pass the 300-kilogram limit on Thursday, July 27. The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last month that Iran still remained within its stockpile limits. The Vienna-based agency declined to comment Monday on Iran’s announcement. Kamalvandi said Iran needs 5 per cent enrichment for its nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr and it also needs 20 per cent enrichment for a Tehran research reactor. The nuclear deal had limited Iran to enriching uranium only to 3.67 per cent, which is enough for power plants and peaceful purposes. But after America’s pullout and escalated sanctions, Tehran set a July 7 deadline for Europe to come up with better terms for the deal, or it would take additional steps away from the accord, likely meaning it would boost enrichment further. Kamalvandi enforced that stance, saying that Tehran will increase uranium enrichment levels “based on the country’s needs.” Enriching a supply of uranium means boosting its concentration of the type of uranium that can power a nuclear reaction.
Jaipur: Children studying in elite schools in the Rajasthan capital under the 25 per cent RTE (Right to Education) quota are going back to the streets as daily wagers as the existing norms fail to ensure continuous education for them till class 12. Section 3 of the Right to Education Act lays down that every child from the age of 6 to 14 years enjoys the right of free and compulsory education in his/her neighbourhood school till the completion of his/her elementary education. The elementary education here stands for class 8. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity! “After completing class 8, these students have nowhere to go. After studying in the most modern schools with state-of-the-art facilities, parents force them into bangle-making or working on the streets. This is terrible to see,” said administrative officer of an elite school in Jaipur. “We have been getting some very talented students under the RTE quota. However, what saddens us that poor parents unable to bear expenses of their higher studies, prefer to engage them in a job/work for additional income to support the family,” he added. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killed Schools say they can’t speak out against government policies as their affiliation stands risked but insist that there was a strong need for changes in the RTE Act to extend its benefits beyond elementary education. Principal of another renowned school said: “This 25 per cent RTE quota is meant to benefit children, who are the future of the country. But no one bothers about the future of these poor kids after they complete elementary education.” “As it is, they study with a feeling of inferiority. They can’t match their fellow students from well-to-do families, but try to cope up with the situation and study hard. Their parents can’t give them as much attention as they need, so we, the teachers, ensure they get extra hours to catch up with their counterparts. But what is the point of all these efforts, if the children ultimately have to go back to the drudgery they are seeking an escape from?” she asked. “Parents of most of these kids work as drivers and house helps. After completing class 8, they join their parents in their jobs,” she said. When contacted, State Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasra told IANS that the Ashok Gehlot government was working on a new education policy for the state. “A committee is working to streamline education. We are planning to write to the Centre to extend the ambit of classes under the RTE Act from 1-12, instead of 1-8,” he said. “The Central government must look into this while working on National Education Policy,” he added.
London: Right-handed batsman Mayank Agarwal, who has been named as replacement for Vijay Shankar for the ongoing World Cup, will join Team India in Leeds on Wednesday, BCCI confirmed this development in a statement on Tuesday. Shankar was on Monday ruled out of the World Cup as he sustained a toe injury in the nets while batting against Jasprit Bumrah. Mayank was named as his replacement and it was approved by ICC’s technical committee. Mayank made his Test debut last December against Australia, but is yet to make his bow in the 50-over format. In List-A cricket for Karnataka, the 28-year-old has played 75 games since making his debut in 2012, scoring 3,605 runs at an average of 48.71. India will play their final group stage match against Sri Lanka at Headingley, Leeds on Saturday.
Thiruvananthapuram/ Bengaluru/Mumbai: Torrential rains lashed many parts of the country and the situation remained grim in flood-hit parts of Kerala and Karnataka, with the death toll mounting to 158 in the two southern states on Wednesday.Three rain-related deaths were reported in Madhya Pradesh, where heavy downpour was witnessed. Heavy rainfall in the lower catchments of the Mahanadi in Odisha is likely to cause a “medium flood” in the river, Water Resources Secretary P K Jena said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’According to a forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), some areas in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are expected to have heavy to very heavy downpour on Thursday. In Kerala, many low lying areas have been waterlogged, even as the death toll in the rain-battered state has gone up to 95. A red alert has been sounded for three north Kerala districts of Malappuram, Kannur and Kozhikode, which bore the brunt of the flood fury and landslides last week. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KPathanamthitta, a central Kerala district which has been receiving very heavy rains since last night is put on high vigil, authorities said on Wednesday. Taking into account the heavy rain forecast, educational institutions in 11 districts have declared holiday on Wednesday. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here after a cabinet meeting that the government was trying to provide all possible help to those affected. Vijayan also cautioned people against malicious campaign asking people to refrain from contributing to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) and urged them to liberally donate cutting across all differences. Of the 95 deaths reported, 35 were from Malappuram and 12 from Wayanad, where massive landslides had battered high range villages of Kavalappara and Puthumala. Over 1.89 lakh people, who were displaced by the floods and landslides have taken refuge in 1,118 camps, officials said, adding that 1,057 houses had been completely damaged and 11,159 partially destroyed in the deluge across the state. The death toll in flood-ravaged Karnataka rose to 58 on Wednesday, with the recovery of four more bodies in Hassan district. Joint rescue teams comprising personnel from the State Disaster Response Force, National Disaster Response Force and Army have evacuated nearly 6.98 lakh people till now. Meanwhile, life is slowly limping back to normalcy in Kolhapur and Sangli as the flood water has receded in these districts of Maharashtra and the key rivers there are now also flowing below the danger mark. Till Tuesday, 6.45 lakh people were shifted to safer locations in Kolhapur and Sangli, which have been the worst affected by floods following heavy rains in western Maharashtra and Konkan region. On Wednesday morning, the water level of the Panchganga river at Rajaram weir in Kolhapur was at 42.11 feet, marginally below the danger line of 43 feet, an official at the collectorate said. Forty-nine deaths were reported till Tuesday in flood-related incidents in five western Maharashtra districts of Sangli, Kolhapur, Pune, Satara and Solapur, Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar had said. In Madhya Pradesh, around 3,000 people were shifted to relief camps following a heavy downpour. Almost the entire state is receiving rains, and some areas are expected to have “very heavy to extremely heavy” rain by Thursday morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned. The rivers Narmada, Kshipra, Betwa, Tapti, Tawa, Chambal and Parwati are in spate. According to the IMD, heavy rains are likely to lash parts of north Gujarat on Thursday and Friday. The state received heavy rainfall last week, leading to massive rescue operations in flooded areas by the state and Central agencies, including the Air Force and National Disaster Response Force. Nearly 50,000 people were evacuated from vulnerable and marooned areas to safe shelters in Odisha and 124 free kitchens were opened for providing them with food. Mentioning that around 11 lakh cusecs water was flowing in Mahanadi at Khairamal on Tuesday night, the water resources secretary said it was likely to pass through Mundali barrage in Cuttack early on Thursday. “A medium flood is expected in the system and there is no major threat. There is nothing much to worry, but people should be alert,” Jena said. District administrations in Bolangir, Subarnapur, Boudh, Angul, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Khordha, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Kendrapada and Jajpur have been asked to remain prepared to deal with the possible flood in the Mahanadi, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) B P Sethi said.
Bhopal: Technology is throwing a new challenge at curbing terror every minute. Five persons arrested in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna for suspected links with a terror funding racket managed by Pakistani operatives have been found to have communicated with their handlers using an app which does not keep any record of the messages it sends, police said. The Anti-Terror Squad of the Madhya Pradesh Police had on Wednesday arrested five people, three of whom — Balram Singh, Sunil Singh and Shubham Mishra — were later brought to Bhopal. Police withheld the names of the two suspects. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ According to the police, the five arrested were spying and sharing strategic information and funds for terror activities with operatives based in Pakistan. “Thirteen Pakistani SIM cards which were used to make calls to foreign countries and account details used for making transactions in different bank were recovered from their possession,” said Riyaz Iqbal, Superintendent of Police, Satna. “But what came as a surprise to the police was that these people used to communicate with their handlers through an app on which a message can be read by the person it is intended for while it is being typed on the mobile phone. One does not have to ‘send’ the message,” Chanchal Shekhar, IG, Rewa Zone, told IANS. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K “So while records of video calls and WhatsApp message can be recovered, there is no record of messages ‘sent’ from this app,” said Shekhar. “This app is similar to Team Viewer software through which activities on one computer can be viewed on another. These are third party apps through which any activity can be released, and are used by hardened criminals to escape scrutiny,” cyber expert Prashant Pandey, who is also the whistleblower in the Vyapam scam, told IANS.
An agreement that Netflix will invest at least $500 million in original productions in Canada is set to be part of a long-awaited reboot of Canada’s cultural policy.Heritage Minister Melanie Joly will unveil the comprehensive overhaul Thursday that will look at everything from the CRTC to how best to sell and promote Canada’s creative work.The plan is being dubbed a “creative economic strategy” designed to both update the approach the government takes to encouraging Canadian content production and the laws and organizations which govern it.Getting companies like Netflix to play a bigger role financially is one of the government’s goals as traditional broadcasters have long complained about an uneven playing field.Some had hoped to see the policy force the U.S. giants to charge sales tax for their subscriptions or contribute to the same content funds as Canadian broadcasters.But a government source, not authorized to speak on the record, says Netflix has agreed to invest at least $500 million over the next five years in original productions here.The government is eager to see Facebook and Google do the same; the search engine giant did recently launch a dedicated Canadian content channel on YouTube.The goal is to make sure the government’s approach to Canadian content is not tied to arcane technology of the past, and is flexible enough to bolster content creators, be they musicians, artists, writers, architects or video game designers, while also helping them sell their wares abroad.The policy is the product of months of consultations and will plot a course for a review of the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act, which was promised in the 2017 federal budget.Joly’s speech — scheduled to begin at noon ET Thursday at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in downtown Ottawa, in the shadow of Parliament Hill — will cover three themes: investing in creators, helping their content get discovered and distributed and — a staple of any conversation on Canadian culture — a discussion on the future of public broadcasting.There are some other announcements likely, including more robust funding to help Canadian film, television and music producers find an audience. Some money was allocated to two programs in the 2016 budget, but the expectation is that they’ll be supported with additional funds.“As our economy changes in an information age, we need to support creative talent who will be critical in future economic growth,” said David Sparrow, president of ACTRA, the performers’ union.CBC president Hubert Lacroix said ensuring that all of the players chip in to develop Canada’s cultural content will be essential to the survival of Canada’s relatively small marketplace.“The levelling of the playing field, so that everyone … contributes to the ecosystem, is key,” Lacroix said. “We’re too small in this world to be doing this by ourselves.”
OSHAWA, Ont. – General Motors of Canada is proposing to build a renewable energy project at its St. Catharines Propulsion Plant in Ontario, a first of its kind endeavour for the automaker which it estimates will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 77 per cent from the facility.The project proposes to build a 6.4 megawatt co-generation plant that will use renewable landfill gas as fuel to generate electricity and recover thermal energy to power and heat the St. Catharines plant, which manufactures V6 and V8 engines and GF6 transmissions.GM Canada says that in addition to significantly reducing net greenhouse gas emissions the proposed project will also lower energy electrical costs, improving the facility’s long-term competitiveness.The automaker says once the project is online in mid-2019, clean energy will power approximately 32 per cent of the St. Catharines plant — the most of any of GM’s global population operations worldwide.It says the project is a partnership with Alectra Utilities, Integrated Gas Recovery Services and the TargetGHG program funded by the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science.
OTTAWA – Peter Harder, the Liberal government’s representative in the Senate, has rebuffed a call to testify next month in a Montreal man’s lawsuit over his lengthy detention in Sudan.Harder, a former deputy minister of foreign affairs, is invoking his legal privilege as a senator to avoid appearing in court during a parliamentary session after being subpoenaed to answer questions about Abousfian Abdelrazik’s overseas ordeal.However, several other parliamentarians who had dealings with the Abdelrazik file, including Sen. Mobina Jaffer, Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, Liberal MP Wayne Easter and Quebec MP Maxime Bernier — who quit the Conservative party Thursday — have signalled a willingness to testify, said Paul Champ, Abdelrazik’s lawyer.Lawrence Cannon, a former Conservative foreign affairs minister, is also expected to be a witness, Champ says.The Sudanese-born Abdelrazik, 56, arrived in Canada from Africa as a refugee in 1990. He became a Canadian citizen five years later.He was arrested during a 2003 visit to Sudan to see family. While in custody, Abdelrazik was interrogated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about suspected extremist links. He claims he was tortured by Sudanese intelligence officials during two periods of detention, but Canada says it knew nothing of the alleged abuse.Abdelrazik denies any involvement in terrorism and is suing the Canadian government in Federal Court for an apology and compensation.The federal government has chosen to settle lawsuits brought by other Canadians over the federal role in their imprisonment abroad, notably Maher Arar, Omar Khadr, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin.It appeared earlier this year that the long-running Abdelrazik matter might also be settled out of court. But the government abruptly cancelled mediation sessions and a trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 17.As many as 35 witnesses could appear during the eight-week proceedings in Ottawa.Champ contends the testimony from parliamentarians will show how elected officials were kept in the dark.“Mr Abdelrazik’s trial will expose the enormous gaps in the oversight of CSIS and the extent to which the Service believes it can destroy the lives of citizens with impunity.”It is “particularly disappointing” that Harder is unwilling to tell the court what he knew about Abdelrazik’s detention, Champ said. “I hope he changes his mind and follows the moral leadership of his fellow parliamentarians and shows up in court.”In a June 28 letter to Champ, a parliamentary lawyer acting for Harder notes the right of exemption for MPs and senators from being subpoenaed to attend court as a witness during a session of Parliament, as well as for a period before and after the session.“The Parliament of Canada is currently in session and will remain so until the next prorogation or dissolution of Parliament. Senator Harder can therefore avail himself of the above-noted parliamentary privilege and intends to do so in this case.”Days after Abdelrazik’s second release from prison, in July 2006, his name turned up on a United Nations Security Council blacklist that prevented him from flying back to Canada.He was granted haven in the Canadian consulate in Khartoum, but Canada refused to issue him a travel document to fly home.Obhrai, a former parliamentary secretary, spoke with Abdelrazik for an hour in March 2008 when he accompanied Bernier, foreign affairs minister at the time, to Sudan.A June 27 letter to Champ from a House of Commons lawyer, writing on Obhrai’s behalf, also mentions the time-honoured privilege of parliamentarians concerning court appearances.But it says Obhrai is willing to attend court on a day when the Commons is not sitting, or possibly testify by video conference. “It may be able to arrange to testify in a manner so as not to impede his abilities to carry out his functions as a member of Parliament and so as not to unnecessarily delay the court process.”Abdelrazik returned to Montreal from Sudan in June 2009 amid a blaze of publicity about his case.That same month, a Federal Court judge concluded CSIS was “complicit” in his 2003 detention.The judge also found that, by mid-2004, Canadian authorities had determined they would not take any active steps to assist Abdelrazik’s return to Canada, and would consider refusing him a passport to prevent his homecoming.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
OTTAWA – The Liberal government says it’s willing to back down on a proposal — criticized by Indigenous groups — that would force users of the Access to Information Act to be precise about the records they’re seeking.A federal bill would amend the access law by requiring applicants to state the type of record being sought, the subject matter and the time-frame in which the documents were created.At a Senate committee Wednesday, Treasury Board President Scott Brison said he had heard the concerns of Indigenous groups, who argued the provision could hinder the ability to request archival records needed to settle historical claims.It is often difficult for archival researchers to know when a desired record was created or where exactly in the files it might be found, and Brison invited senators studying the bill to amend the planned wording.However, Brison is not budging on another, related provision of the bill that would give agencies the power, with permission from the information commissioner, to decline to act on requests considered overly broad, vexatious, made in bad faith or otherwise an abuse of the process.The Access to Information Act allows applicants who pay $5 to ask for federal documents, but it has been widely denounced as slow, antiquated and riddled with unnecessary exceptions that shield files from release.The Trudeau government says its bill represents the first real modernization of the law since it took effect in 1983.It would give the information commissioner new authority to order the release of records as well as entrench the practice of routinely releasing documents such as briefing notes and expense reports.But many who testified at a House of Commons committee dismissed the legislation as a step backward.
Five stories in the news for Friday, Nov. 30———CANADA TO SIGN ON TO USMCA IN ARGENTINA Canada will sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement today in Buenos Aires, on the sidelines of the high-profile G20 summit. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will join U.S. President Donald Trump and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to formally sign the trade agreement early this morning. The signing of the trade agreement is largely ceremonial, because it will still need to be ratified by all three countries before it can formally take effect.———TWO INVESTIGATIONS INTO NIAGARA POLICE ‘ALTERCATION’Two separate investigations are underway into an altercation between two Niagara regional police officers that sent one to hospital in critical condition. Provincial police and Ontario’s police watchdog are investigating the incident Thursday at a rural intersection in Pelham, Ont., about 20 kilometres west of Niagara Falls. The Special Investigations Unit says the two officers were investigating a prior collision when they became involved in an “altercation” around noon on Thursday. Spokeswoman Monica Hudon told reporters Thursday evening that a firearm was discharged and one officer was hit.———HARPER’S OK NEEDED TO RELEASE NORMAN DOCSFormer prime minister Stephen Harper could be dragged into the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, as the suspended military officer’s lawyers seek access to thousands of secret government documents. Last month, Norman’s lawyers gave the court a list of records they say are needed to ensure their client receives a fair trial. Many of the records that Norman’s lawyers requested — including many deemed cabinet secrets or “confidences” — were created while Harper was prime minister, and federal officials say he is the only one who can authorize their release.———SKI RESORT TO BE SENTENCED FOR CUTTING DOWN TREESA Calgary judge is to sentence a world-renowned Alberta ski resort today for cutting down endangered trees five years ago. The Lake Louise resort in Banff National Park pleaded guilty last December to removing a stand of trees, including some whitebark pine, along a ski run in 2013. The resort will be sentenced on two charges — one under the Species At Risk Act and the other under the Canada National Parks Act. A total of 132 trees were removed, but the actual number of whitebark pine is being disputed.———SHOVELLING APP INSPIRED BY WINNIPEG’S WINTER WEATHERThe developers of a new app inspired by Winnipeg’s wintry weather are calling it the Uber of snow removal. OnTheStep connects homeowners with people who will shovel their driveways. It was founded by Buhle Mwanza, a computer science student, and a group of his classmates. Mwanza says he decided to embrace the “Winter-peg” identity and develop the app to make snow fun. The app was launched earlier this month but was really put to test during the giant snow dump in Winnipeg this week.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— Gov. Gen. Julie Payette starts a two-day visit today to Mexico to attend the inauguration of the country’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.— Sukhmander Singh, owner of the trucking company involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, will appear in court today to face non-compliance charges under federal and provincial safety regulations.— Statistics Canada will release its gross domestic product figures by industry for September.— The retrial of Dennis Oland, who is accused of killing his multimillionaire father, continues today.— Officials from the Department of National Defence will make an announcement regarding military spousal employment opportunities.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canadian security officials have turned to their U.S. counterparts for advice on revamping Ottawa’s troublesome no-fly list that has ensnared young children trying to check in at the airport.Newly released memos show Canadian representatives held a series of consultations with American officials to learn from their experiences implementing a new passenger screening and redress system a decade ago.The Public Safety Canada memos, released under the Access to Information Act, detail the steps being taken to redesign Canadian no-fly procedures — from legislative and regulatory changes to hefty information-technology investments.“It’s important to note that implementing the enhanced passenger protect program is a substantial undertaking that will take time,” says one memo. “It involves the passage of legislation, new regulations, the development and testing of IT systems, and domestic air carriers adopting the new system.”The changes have been spurred in large measure by parents of children who have repeatedly endured nerve-wracking airport delays because a youngster’s name matches one on the no-fly list.A bill currently before the Senate would allow federal officials to electronically screen air-passenger information against the list, a process now handled by the airlines.The system is expected to closely mirror the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s Secure Flight screening program in place since 2009 — changes that flowed from recommendations of the inquiry into the 9/11 airliner attacks on New York and Washington.As with the U.S. system, Canadian travellers who have experienced difficulties would be given a unique “redress number” to help avoid mismatches.The airline would give the number along with the passenger’s date of birth and gender to the government for screening against the Secure Air Travel Act watchlist. Federal officials would then let the carrier know of any additional screening requirements or an outright prohibition on allowing the person to fly.Canadian officials visited Washington in February 2017 for an overview of the Secure Flight program and associated technology and costs, the internal memos say. Public Safety officials made a second trip to the U.S. capital in November of that year to discuss the program further with the Department of Homeland Security.Officials from Public Safety, Transport Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency took part in a call with U.S. counterparts in February 2018, the notes indicate. That was followed by another visit to Washington two month later to discuss “a number of outstanding questions,” the documents say.In addition to learning about the U.S. experience with redress numbers, it has been useful to hear about Washington’s dealings with air carriers — the majority of which serve both the Canadian and U.S. market, said Zarah Malik, a Public Safety Canada spokeswoman.Canadian officials have also talked to the Americans about the identity documents being accepted for U.S. domestic air travel, as well as how officials there have dealt with computer-system outages working in a near round-the-clock environment, she added.In addition, consultations have taken place with civil society groups, international and domestic airlines and the broader travel industry.Civil liberties advocates have criticized the no-fly regime as overly secretive and lacking due process for those who contest their inclusion on the list.Once legislation governing the new program passes, regulations would be introduced to help flesh out procedures. “The regulatory process can be a lengthy one as it includes numerous steps,” says an internal memo.Project implementation will start with development of information-technology systems by both the air carriers and the government, a process expected to take several month, the memo adds. “These systems will be tested thoroughly to ensure the future success of the program.”— Follow @JimBronskill on TwitterJim Bronskill , The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A company in southwestern Ontario has lost its bid to keep its licence to transfer corpses after a contractor stuffed an infant’s remains into a cardboard box.In its decision, a Divisional Court panel found a tribunal had made no errors in ordering the licence revocation of Niagara Funeral Alternatives based in Ridgeway, Ont., which was operated by an unlicensed Patrick O’Charchin ostensibly under his geriatric father, Jerome O’Charchin, who was an authorized funeral director.“There was ample evidence before the tribunal to make the findings it made,” the court said in its ruling this week. “Regardless of how the hospital presented the human remains, Niagara Funeral chose the disgraceful manner of transporting them.”Court and tribunal documents show the case arose two years ago when Patrick O’Charchin retained a licensed funeral director, Paul Scrannage, to transport an infant’s remains from a Hamilton-area hospital morgue to a nearby crematorium. O’Charchin gave Scrannage a cardboard box with various funeral-related supplies and told him to use the box to pick up the remains.At a hearing that revoked Scrannage’s licence last year, witnesses testified the remains were in an adult-sized body bag along with autopsied brain tissue in a plastic pail on a hallway gurney. Video evidence showed Scrannage stuffed the body bag into the cardboard box, which was too small, using black tape to keep the lid closed. He placed the box in his vehicle, retrieved the pail, and delivered them to horrified crematorium staff.“They testified that they had never encountered human remains delivered for cremation in a repurposed cardboard box or in two separate containers,” according to records from the Licence Appeal Tribunal. “They were shocked at the manner in which the remains were delivered — which they characterized as undignified and disrespectful.”Scrannage’s tribunal hearing also heard from witnesses that he had handled other remains roughly, apparently brushing off one complaint by saying, “They don’t feel it.” He denied the accusation and the tribunal concluded it had not been proven.Witnesses also testified that he removed pacemakers or defibrillators without wearing protective equipment and in inappropriate settings. Instead of using a single-use scalpel for the incision, carefully removing the device and stitching up the gash, witnesses said he used a utility knife he carried in his pocket.Scrannage testified it was Patrick O’Charchin who supplied him with a kit that included a utility knife.Ultimately, the tribunal endorsed a proposal from the Registrar, Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act to revoke Scrannage’s licence.“Scrannage transferred the remains of an infant in a manner that was disrespectful, undignified and fell below the standards expected in the industry,” the tribunal concluded.Complaints about Scrannage’s handling of the infant remains led to the investigation of Niagara Funeral Alternatives that also turned up other problems related to contracts and pricing, as well as allegations that it was the unlicensed Patrick O’Charchin who actually ran the business, not his father.The tribunal concluded the allegations were valid. It found the younger O’Charchin had instructed Scrannage to use the cardboard box to pick up the infant remains as a cost-saving measure. Revoking Niagara Funeral Alternatives’ transport licence was appropriate, the tribunal found. On appeal to Divisional Court, the company tried to blame the hospital for the infant transfer problem, and denied it was the son who managed the business. It also argued the licence revocation penalty was too severe. The appellate court dismissed the appeal. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Political trailblazer Jody Wilson-Raybould committed to pursue truth and change through non-partisan co-operation at a campaign rally in Vancouver tonight — a message that was backed by a guest appearance by Green Leader Elizabeth May.Wilson-Raybould is running as an Independent in one of the most-watched ridings of Vancouver – Granville after leaving the Liberal party over the SNC Lavallin affair.She told the crowd that addressing issues that affect all Canadians, such as climate change, will require “colouring outside party lines.”May told reporters after the rally that Louise Boutin, a real estate agent who is running for the Greens in the riding, was aware of her plan to support Raybould-Wilson.Wilson-Raybould is hoping to hold the seat against Liberal party challenger, Taleeb Noormohamed, a 42–year-old tech entrepreneur.Also running in the riding is climate activist Yvonne Hanson for the NDP, former Ottawa political staffer Zach Segal for the Conservatives, and Naomi Chocyk, a one-time constituency staffer for Wilson-Raybould, for the People’s Party of Canada.Wilson-Raybould, who was once a B.C. regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, quickly became one of the stars Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his team promoted heavily in their 2015 bid for power.But Wilson-Raybould precipitated a crisis for Trudeau’s government last winter with allegations she had been inappropriately pressured by the prime minister, his office, other ministers and bureaucrats to end the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.Wilson-Raybould quit Trudeau’s cabinet over the affair, followed by cabinet ally Jane Philpott. Trudeau eventually kicked both women out of the Liberal caucus and they are now seeking re-election as Independent candidates.Philpott, who also spoke at the rally, told the crowd that independent voices can make a difference in the House of Commons.“Do not ever doubt what one person can do,” Philpott said. “We will not be silent and we will not stand down.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2019.The Canadian Press
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he believes it is more important to help out Canadians at home than to seek a seat on the United Nations Security Council.Canada is campaigning for one of two seats for a two-year term that would begin in 2021, but it faces a tough fight from Norway and Ireland.The Conservatives are pledging to decrease foreign-aid spending by 25 per cent. The plan includes cutting out funding for countries they consider to be hostile regimes, or as having too much money to need the help.Asked whether that would hurt Canada’s bid for the UN seat it is seeking, Scheer said he was confident allies would recognize the country’s contributions, including through its military efforts, around the world.At the same time, he suggested securing the spot at the UN table would not be a priority for a Conservative government.“It’s more important to me that I help Canadians get ahead than curry favour at the United Nations,” Scheer said Tuesday in Toronto.The UN vote is next June.Scheer noted his foreign policy announcement came the day when the party leaders would have been participating in an event the Munk Debates organized around the topic. The organizers said they cancelled the event because Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau decided not to take part.Trudeau, who was meeting with mayors from the Greater Toronto Area about his gun-control policy on Tuesday, linked the proposed Conservative cuts to foreign assistance to their climate-change policy.“Andrew Scheer’s climate plan relies almost entirely on action overseas and now he’s proposing to stop supporting countries who are taking action overseas on fighting emissions,” Trudeau said in Richmond Hill, Ont.Trudeau also defended Liberal investments in foreign aid, although would not commit to increasing spending to reach 0.7 per cent of GDP, which is a target the United Nations set in 1970.“We are continuing to invest in foreign aid, because we know that helping people around the world, particularly vulnerable women and girls, is a meaningful way of promoting prosperity and indeed security and stability that impacts Canadians as well,” Trudeau said.Trudeau also confirmed U.S. President Donald Trump has never asked Canada to do him a favour involving his political interests.“No. Never,” Trudeau said. “We have not and I would not.”Trump faces an impeachment probe in Congress related to his efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden, now a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries.New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh, meanwhile, said his party would commit to increasing foreign aid spending to reach the UN target.Singh also said that if Scheer is trying to find ways to pay for his promises, then cutting foreign aid is going about it the wrong way.“It is shameful that he is talking about cutting foreign aid when there are massive inequalities in our country,” Singh said Tuesday in Vancouver.“The fact that he is talking about cutting foreign aid is a distraction,” he said. “He is missing the point. He is missing the whole plot here. We’ve got massive inequality in our country and we have to ask those at the very top, the ultra rich, to pay their fair share.”Green Leader Elizabeth May is in Toronto to talk about her party’s policy on post-secondary education at Ryerson University before heading to Montreal for an evening rally. People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier is planning several small-scale appearances with candidates in southwestern Ontario.
Kate Nash, internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, and musician, is Plan International USA’s newest Because I am a Girl Global Ambassador.Singer and Songwriter Kate Nash Joins Plan’s Because I am a Girl Initiative as Global Ambassador.Girls in developing countries face overwhelming odds from the moment they are born — they are more likely to be malnourished, forced into early marriage, subjected to violence, trafficked, or sold. Often denied access to education and healthcare, girls languish behind their male counterparts.But Kate Nash, through this exciting new partnership with Plan, wants to change all that. Kate knows that improving girls’ lives has a ripple effect — when a girl is educated, nourished, and protected, she shares her knowledge and skills with her family and community, and can forever change her own future and the future of her country.“I’m so happy to be a part of this campaign; it feels like the perfect charity for me to join forces with. I love empowering women and girls and being able to do this in developing countries in parts of the world I have never been to is so exciting,” says Kate Nash. “I can’t wait to help give girls the opportunities they deserve and see them realize their full potential.”Because I am a Girl is Plan’s global initiative that creates sustainable projects in developing countries to give girls access to clean water, food, healthcare, education, and protection from violence and exploitation. By 2016, Because I am a Girl will reach: • 4 million girls directly through girl-focused programs; • 40 million girls and boys through gender equality education and transformative programs; and • 400 million girls through working with country governments to ensure equal access to education, healthcare, and opportunity.In March, Kate Nash will embark on an 11-date North American tour to coincide with the release of her new album ‘GIRL TALK.’ The tour will begin in Boston, making stops across the Midwest and Canada, then returning for a grand finale in New York City. Because I am a Girl will be along for the ride, partnering with Kate while she spreads the word about the transformative power of investing in girls. For information about Kate’s upcoming tour, please visit:www.myignorantyouth.com or www.pledgemusic.com/katenash.Source:PR Newswire
Grammy Award-winning artist John Mayer will launch his first major tour in three years with a performance at Milwaukee’s Summerfest on July 6.This marks John’s first tour in support of Born and Raised, his latest studio album, and will run through the fall, with one dollar from each ticket sold benefitting NCIRE’s work supporting returning Veterans. American Idol winner Phillip Phillips will open for John along the tour route (with the exception of Tuscaloosa, New Orleans, Kansas City and Atlantic City). Tickets will be on sale beginning March 29th on LiveNation.com.In advance of his tour, John will perform at an already-sold-out show at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on Thursday, April 25 and will make a highly-anticipated appearance at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. A true heritage festival, “Jazz Fest” stands alone in presenting the highest caliber artists in such varied genres as gospel, blues, traditional and contemporary jazz, rock, R&B, Cajun, country, zydeco and much more. This year’s Jazz Fest has performances scheduled for April 26 – 28 and May 2 – 5. Special ticket packages on John’s tour will be available through Tickets-for-Charity.com to benefit NCIRE’s work supporting returning Veterans. For more information, go to www.ticketsforcharity.com.John’s appearances in Tuscaloosa and Jazz Fest will be his first full-length concerts in three years and first public performances since his set, on January 16 of this year, at “The Livingston Town Proper: A Concert to Benefit the Fighters of the Pine Creek Fire.” A special musical event organized and hosted by Mayer, the benefit occasioned his first in-concert performance as a singer since April 1, 2011. (In March 2012, the return of a throat granuloma had forced him to cancel his first tour in two years and take an indefinite hiatus now coming to a close.)