Month: October 2019
New Delhi: Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, has been abolished by a presidential order that would come into force “at once”, Home Minister Amit Shah said in parliament Monday, announcing the most far-reaching move on the state in nearly seven decades.The announcement came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting of his cabinet at his house Monday morning. Amit Shah also introduced a bill to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha. Gearing up for any trouble in the state after the announcement, the centre moved 8,000 paramilitary troops from different parts of the country to Kashmir, in addition to nearly 35,000 personnel moved in the past week. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsIn a proposed law, which has cleared the Rajya Sabha and will need the Lok Sabha’s approval, Jammu and Kashmir will cease to be a state and become two union territories with two Lieutenant Governors. Ladakh will be a Union Territory without a legislature and Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature. The government’s huge step followed a massive build-up of troops in the sensitive Kashmir Valley and a night where senior leaders including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest. Internet and phone lines were forced out of service in parts of Jammu and Kashmir. All educational institutions and offices are closed and groups have been banned from gathering in Kashmir and Jammu. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayThousands of paramilitary troops were sent to Kashmir last week after the government said it was cancelling the Amarnath Yatra, an annual pilgrimage, and asked tourists and outsiders to leave the state. Rajya Sabha on Monday approved a resolution abrogating Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir and a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories with Home Minister Amit Shah saying the controversial provisions were responsible for poverty and lack of development in the state. Allaying opposition fears of all hell breaking loose after the move, Shah replied, “nothing will happen” and it won’t be allowed to turn into another battle-torn Kosovo. “It was heaven on earth and will remain so,” he said replying to the debate on the resolution and the bill which were taken up together. He said full statehood will be restored to Jammu and Kashmir at “appropriate time” and after “normalcy” returns. “Article 370 is the biggest hurdle to normalcy in the state,” he said adding his government was committed to making Jammu and Kashmir the most developed state in the country. Terrorism, he said, cannot be eliminated from the state until Article 370 and 35A are in existence. The two articles of the Constitution, which give Jammu and Kashmir a special status and does not allow all laws of India to be applicable to the state, have hindered development and bred corruption, he said. Shah said the rule of three families in the state during their 70 years since Independence did not allow democracy to percolate and it bred corruption. Rajya Sabha approved a bill to extend 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections in the state as well as the resolution on abrogating Article 370 by voice vote. TMC, which vehemently opposed the resolution, walked out before Shah began to reply to the debate on it. However, the bill to bifurcate the state was approved by 125 votes in favour and 61 against it. One member abstained. Opposition BSP, BJD, AIADMK and YSR-Congress voted in favour of the bill. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation on Wednesday to explain his government’s landmark move to redefine and reorganize the state of Jammu and Kashmir after Parliament.
Wayanad (Kerala): Sister Lucy Kalapurakkal, who was dismissed recently from the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) of the Catholic Church over grounds of indiscipline, has accused the Church of harassing her. The nun made the charge a day after the Kerala police registered an FIR against the convent accusing it of her illegal confinement. Speaking to the media at the convent on Tuesday, Sister Kalapurakkal said after the police action, the Church was now circulating a fake video that shows her in poor light. She said she would take legal steps against those who are circulating video. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Sister Kalapurakkal was dismissed from the FCC on August 7 for having supported an agitation by nuns demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, who accused in a rape case. She was given 10 days to vacate the convent. On Tuesday morning Sister Kalapurakkal’s brother came to see her. “So far we knew what came out in the media. But after coming here and meeting her, we realised that things are much worse than what is being shown in the media. We will support her against the injustice meted out to her,” said her brother.
Puducherry: The opposition AINRC on Tuesday submitted a notice to the Puducherry Assembly Secretary for moving a ‘no confidence’ motion against Speaker V P Sivakolundhu. AINRC Chief and former Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy who handed over the notice, told reporters that the Speaker was participating in Congress sponsored meetings and hence would not discharge his dutiesin an “impartial andnon partisan” manner. AIADMK legislature party leader A Anbalagan along with his party legislators accompanied Rangasamy when he submitted the notice to the Secretary of the Assembly A Vincent Rayar. Anbalagan told PTI that he had not signed the notice and only accompanied Rangasamy at the latter’s request to meet the Secretary to hand over the notice of no confidence against the Speaker. AINRC has a strength of seven members while the AIADMK has four. The total strength of the House is 30 (elected) and three (nominated members).
Bilaspur: Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi’s son Amit Jogi, who heads the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J), was arrested on Tuesday in the state’s Bilaspur district on charges of cheating and forgery, police said. The arrest was made following a police complaint lodged against him by Sameera Paikra, the BJP candidate from Marwahi constituency in the 2013 state Assembly polls, Superintendent of Police Prashant Agrawal told PTI. Paikra in her complaint said Amit Jogi allegedly submitted wrong information about his birth place in the affidavit while filing his nomination papers for the 2013 state polls, he said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details According to Paikra, he mentioned his place of birth as Sarbahara village in Gaurela area of Bilaspur whereas, she claimed, he was born in the US, the official said. Amit Jogi subsequently won the Assembly poll from Bilaspur’s Marwahi seat, reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates. After the investigation for about six months, he was arrested on Tuesday, Agrawal said. “Amit Jogi was arrested from Marwahi Sadan in Bilaspur, based on the FIR lodged against him in February this year at Gaurela police station in the district,” he said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday He was booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), he said. After losing the 2013 polls, Paikra had filed an election petition in the Chhattisgarh High Court, challenging Amit Jogi’s caste and place of birth. The high court dismissed the petition in January this year on the ground that the term of the Chhattisgarh Assembly (2013-2018) had already ended. On Monday, Paikra along with some residents of Marwahi constituency staged a protest in front of the superintendent of police’s office in Bilaspur, demanding action on the FIR lodged by her against Amit Jogi. Last week, an FIR was also registered against his 73- year-old father Ajit Jogi, who served as the first chief minister of Chhattisgarh, after a government-appointed committee rejected the latter’s claim of being a tribal. A high-level caste scrutiny committee set up by the state government last month dismissed Ajit Jogi’s claim of belonging to a Scheduled Tribe (ST) and cancelled his caste certificates. Subsequently, Ajit Jogi, the founder of the Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J), was booked for allegedly fraudulently obtaining caste certificates, the police said. The claim of the senior politician, a sitting MLA from Marwahi and a former Congressman, of being a tribal was rejected multiple times in the past too.
OTTAWA – Canada consulted with the United States before it decided the takeover of a Vancouver tech firm by a Chinese communications company did not pose any national security concerns, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.But warning flags about the deal are still popping up in the United States, whose military is one of the biggest customers of Norsat International, maker of satellite receivers for security and military use.Hytera, a privately-owned Chinese communications company which manufactures radio transceivers and radio systems, made a bid to take over Norsat in 2016.The move triggered a requirement under the Investment Canada Act that the government must examine takeover bids of Canadian companies by foreign-owned firms to determine if it raises national security concerns.But earlier this month, Norsat said they were told a preliminary review determined there was no need to proceed to a full national security review, paving the way for the takeover to proceed.The Opposition Conservatives argue that was a mistake.Conservative MP Peter Kent accused the Liberals of jeopardizing Canada-U.S. relations.“While the Liberals may be willing to jeopardize our security interests, selling Norsat for a trade deal with China, they have clumsily put at risk relations with our best friend, trade partner, and protector,” Kent said.He cited comments made by Michael Wessel, commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, who said this week the U.S. military should review its dealings with Norsat, and the U.S. Congressional Committee on Foreign Investment should look at this particular deal.A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Defense told The Canadian Press Tuesday the Pentagon couldn’t comment on the matter specifically.“However the Department of Defense emphasizes that transfers of sensitive technologies and capabilities should be carefully vetted to mitigate potential risks to U.S. and allied security interests,” said Lt. Col. Roger Cabiness.In question period Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada’s national security experts assessed both the takeover and the technology involved and determined there were not national security concerns. The review process included consultations with allies, he said.“I can say that we consulted the United States on this particular case and as a government we respect and follow the recommendations of our allies and our national security agencies,” said Trudeau in French.Concerns about the Hytera takeover include fears that even privately-owned Chinese enterprises are subject to influence from the Chinese government. In March, Hytera was sued by Motorola Solutions over allegations three engineers who left Motorola to work for Hytera stole patents and trade secrets.When a foreign bid is raised, the first step is a preliminary consultation with security experts from a number of agencies and departments including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Department of National Defence and Communications Security Establishment Canada, Malcolm Brown, the deputy minister for Public Safety, had explained to MPs on Monday,.Brown said a “full blown review” is the final step in a specific process but that all steps have their own significance.“There is quite substantial review that is taken at every step,” he said.Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia said every transaction like this should proceed to a full review.He said the former Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper added the national security review process to the Investment Canada Act “precisely to avoid ad hoc approaches of the kind the minister took here.”— with files from Alexander Panetta in Washington.— follow @mrabson on Twitter.
More than half of Canadians think the Trudeau government was wrong to settle with former child soldier and Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr, according to a recent poll.An Angus Reid poll, which was released on Monday, found that 71 per cent of Canadians disagree with the settlement and believe the federal government should have continued to fight Khadr in court.Only 29 per cent feel Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did the right thing in offering a formal apology and making the $10.5-million payout.Liberal supporters are also showing their disapproval. Sixty-one per cent of people who say they voted Liberal in the last election say the wrong decision was made concerning Khadr.Last Friday, the Canadian government apologized to Khadr as part of a settlement of his civil lawsuit for breaches of his rights during his imprisonment by the Americans in Guantanamo.While 65 per cent of those polled said they reject the view that the government had “no choice” but to offer Khadr an apology and a payout, one-quarter of Canadians said they would support an apology but not a monetary settlement.The survey polled 1,521 Canadians online from July 7-10 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Read the poll results below, or click here to view it.Poll on Omar Khadr compensation by CityNewsToronto on ScribdMeantime, Tabitha Speer, the widow of an American killed in Afghanistan, will file a motion on Thursday, asking the Ontario Superior Court to freeze the payment to Khadr.Speer was the wife of Sgt. Chris Speer, who was killed by a grenade allegedly thrown by Khadr after a fierce battle in Afghanistan in July 2002. Khadr had confessed, but recanted that he threw a grenade that killed Speer and wounded another American solider, Layne Morris. With files from The Canadian Press
CALGARY – Police in Calgary say foul play was not involved in the death of a man whose body was discovered in a clothing donation bin.A passerby saw the body sticking out of the bin outside the North Hill shopping mall at about 3:45 a.m. Thursday and called 911.Police, the fire department and emergency medical services responded and the man was pronounced dead.Police said he appeared to be in his mid-20s.The medical examiner will do an autopsy to determine the cause of death, but police said it was accidental.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – He was an Elvis Presley-loving American sailor who spun records for the U.S. Navy radio station on the Caribbean base where he was stationed. She was a local woman whose brother worked at the base.More than a half century after the brother introduced Jennifer Meyerink and Stephen Walbert, the long-separated couple’s love was finally sealed in Rochester, where they were married Monday in the hospital where Walbert has been undergoing treatment for leukemia. The couple lives in Canada.“That eternal flame turned into a bonfire, and it’s still roaring today,” the 73-year-old Walbert said as relatives and staff at Rochester General Hospital crammed into his room to view the marriage ceremony officiated by the city clerk.In a nod to Elvis, Walbert wore a black sequined outfit, a purple scarf and aviator sunglasses. The bride wore a black dress and purple hat.Walbert, a Chicago native, was stationed in 1965 in Trinidad and Tobago, where he worked nights as a disc jockey for the base’s radio station. The two fell in love, but Walbert was transferred back to the U.S. He gave his dog tags to Meyerink, telling her “Darling, I’ll be back one day for this.”But he never returned to the island nation. The two lost touch, and each got married and started their own families — Meyerink in Ontario and Walbert in Wisconsin. After Meyerink’s spouse died, her sister used Facebook to find Walbert, by then a widower and living in Waupaca, in central Wisconsin.The two began corresponding via email, and reunited in 2015. Walbert moved to Canada in March 2016.“I never stopped loving him, I realized that,” the 72-year-old Meyerink said.In October, Walbert was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. He decided to seek treatment in Rochester, where his son lives. Later this week, Walbert and his family will decide whether to continue his treatment at the hospital or choose hospice care.“I haven’t given up hope on myself yet,” said Walbert, the dog tags Meyerink had saved for 50-plus years hanging from his neck. “I never will. But I have her back. And that gives me all the strength I need to get through the rest of my life.”
OTTAWA – Jagmeet Singh is no stranger to thinking on his feet — or to racism.Now considered a top contender in the race to replace federal New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair, Singh was a law student when he spotted two police officers cycling up the steep hill leading to Casa Loma, an imposing mansion-turned-museum in Toronto.Curious as to whether they would be able to make it all the way up, Singh decided to watch their journey.The police officers ended up approaching the young, brown-skinned man wearing a turban, told him he was staring, and demanded identification.This incident, recounted to the Huffington Post, was not the first or only time Singh had been stopped by police, but it was a time when, educated and empowered by his legal studies, he said he informed the officers of his right to say no.He walked away. It did not work.Singh returned to his car and the police stopped him again, telling him he would now have to provide ID under the Highway Traffic Act.“In that moment it hit me,” Singh posted to Twitter in July as he unveiled his leadership campaign plan for a federal ban on racial profiling.“I had achieved academic (and) professional success yet I was still made to feel like there was something wrong with me.”Now, Singh, 38, is getting noticed around the world for another quick-witted response to racism, as he remained calm in the face of a woman ranting and heckling about Muslims and sharia law during a recent campaign meet-and-greet event in Brampton, Ont.Once again, the way Singh, who is Sikh, reacted did not stop the unpleasantness, but it did reveal much about him — including, thanks to a video gone viral, to a global audience that had never before heard of the popular Ontario NDP MPP for the Greater Toronto Area riding of Bramalea—Gore—Malton.“It’s that raw, unscripted moment where you see a true leader’s qualities and characteristics,” said Robin MacLachlan, a former NDP staffer who is now vice-president at Summa Strategies.Known for his advocacy against the controversial police practice of carding, as well as the fashionable attire that landed him an interview in GQ magazine, the spotlight Singh is often seeking seems to be getting brighter.Singh was born in the Scarborough area of Toronto to Dr. Jagtaran Singh Dhaliwal, a psychiatrist, and Harmeet Kaur Dhaliwal, a teacher, who had immigrated from Punjab.The family eventually settled in Windsor, Ont.“I had many fond memories of my childhood in Windsor, spending time with my friends, cycling through the streets,” Singh, who was unavailable for an interview, wrote on his leadership campaign website.“But it was not always easy. Like many others who stand out, I was picked on because I had a funny sounding name, brown skin and long hair,” he wrote. “I faced a lot of bullying at school and often felt like I didn’t belong.”The need to defend himself sparked a life-long interest in martial arts, Singh wrote, but this familiarity with discrimination is also what prompted him to study the experience of the Quebecois and drove his desire to learn French, which he speaks alongside English and Punjabi.Singh became a university activist, then a criminal defence lawyer who often worked with community groups before friends and family encouraged him to make the leap into provincial politics, getting elected in the 2011 Ontario election.Joe Cressy, a Toronto City Councillor and long-time NDP organizer, said the path Singh has followed to politics informs both his policies and his persona.“It’s a harder road to walk,” said Cressy, who has cast his ballot for Singh. “But it also speaks to a different perspective on many of the issues that we’re facing. So, whether that’s the immigrant experience and access to the job market, whether that’s as a racialized person and how you’re treated, whether that is as a suburban representative — something that’s very rare in the NDP — and what it means to speak to everyday voters.”It also means different challenges, including what was captured in that now-famous video.“For a lot of politicians, and especially the privileged white politicians, of which I am one . . . people are yelling at us because they don’t like our policies,” said Cressy.“In that situation, somebody was yelling at him because he was a man of colour and thus must be a Muslim and a bad one at that,” said Cressy. “His willingness to respond not just with grace, but to use it as a teaching moment, I think speaks to him.”The NDP will reveal the results of the first ballot Oct. 1.— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter
WETASKIWIN, Alta. – Volunteers with an animal sanctuary south of Edmonton are celebrating the safe return of a blind goat named Daisy who they believed had been abducted from their property earlier this week.The Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement near Wetaskiwin had offered a $10,000 no-questions-asked reward for the return of the animal.On Wednesday night, they posted the news on their Facebook page saying she had been found and is “unharmed as best we can tell.”The group’s founder, Melissa Foley, said Daisy had been quickly reunited with her best buddy, a blind sheep named Merlin who had been distressed since the seven-month-old goat vanished.Daisy ended up at the sanctuary after her eyes and tongue were eaten by crows shortly after she was born.She disappeared Sunday night from the rescue group’s property about 10 minutes outside of town and since then members of the group had been searching the rural area, knocking on doors, and pleading online for help finding her.“We were in touch with an animal communicator — somebody who was saying she could talk with Daisy, or whatever — so we were following up on that,” Foley explained Wednesday night.“She said (Daisy) was a few kilometres down the road from us in a field. So while we were doing that our neighbour called us and said she found Daisy just 500 metres from where we actually were looking.”Foley has no idea what actually happened, but suspects “it was probably just a couple of punks thinking that it was just going to be a really funny thing to do, maybe not realizing at the time that they were taking an animal like Daisy with very special needs.”She believes her efforts at reaching out to students at the local schools, telling them about Daisy, had an impact.Foley said Daisy seems just fine: “Whoever had her was taking care of her.”Less than an hour after Daisy’s return, the group had received more than 500 messages of congratulations on their Facebook page. Foley said she’s not surprised at the huge outpouring of support her group has received online and in person.“Anytime we’ve ever needed our community for anything, they’ve been there.”
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VANCOUVER – A snow storm swept across parts of British Columbia on Friday, prompting travel advisories and cancelled flights.Environment Canada issued separate snowfall advisories for the north and central coasts, Cariboo, Prince George, Sea to Sky and Howe Sound regions, along with the Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver.Snow accumulations ranging from five to 20 centimetres were forecast for those areas.The Transportation Ministry warned that travel on highways 16 and 97 near Prince George was difficult because of limited visibility and blowing snow.Several post-secondary schools across Metro Vancouver cancelled classes or exams because of the snow, including Simon Fraser, Emily Carr, and Kwantlen universities, and Langara and Douglas colleges.The Vancouver airport said the snow caused a number of delayed or cancelled flights.
Daylight saving time begins this weekend, with most Canadians setting their clocks ahead early Sunday.As always, officials are using the moment to remind us it is a good time to replace the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.Aside from battery maintenance, here are five things every homeowner should know about these life-saving devices:1. Smoke and CO alarms don’t last forever.The average smoke alarm should be replaced every 10 years. CO alarms can last between seven and 10 years, according to Kidde Canada, a subsidiary of the world’s largest manufacturer of fire safety products.Over time, internal sensors lose sensitively due to air contaminants and dust buildup.“There’s very low awareness about this,” says Kidde spokeswoman Sharon Cooksey.Every alarm should have its date of manufacture displayed on the back. But if it doesn’t, take a close look at the colour of its plastic cover. If it’s tan, brown or grey, chances are the device is due for replacement, Cooksey says.For those seeking a low-maintenance replacement, some manufacturers offer alarms with sealed, 10-year batteries. They are more expensive than regular alarms, but the cost of replacement batteries is typically covered over the life of the product.These long-term alarms typically emit an end-of-life chirp sequence when they are ready for replacement.2. Carbon monoxide poisoning can fool you.In the initial stages, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic those of influenza. Headaches, nausea, dizziness and fatigue are all signs of CO poisoning — and the flu.Without a properly functioning CO alarm, making the right call could be difficult.Among the main sources of carbon monoxide are malfunctioning, non-electric heating and cooking devices — and portable generators brought indoors during power outages.“When people think they’re sick, they want to sleep it off,” says Cooksey. “But you can’t sleep off carbon monoxide poisoning.”3. Not all smoke detectors are created equal.There are two basic types of smoke detector: photoelectric and ionization. Both are good at detecting fires.However, photoelectric devices are particularly adept at detecting slow-burning, smouldering fires, while the ionization models are quicker at detecting fast-flaming fires, like cooking fires.That’s why it’s better to have a photoelectric alarm in or near the kitchen, because it is less likely to go off every time you make toast.4. Smoke and CO alarms are getting smarter.Like virtually every home appliance, newer smoke and CO alarms offer tech-savvy consumers some nifty options.Some manufacturers offer alarms that are interconnected, which means that once one alarm sounds, the others in the home automatically do too.This can be particularly useful if there are detectors in the basement, where they might not be heard when everyone is asleep upstairs.There are also combination smoke/CO alarms and advanced units that can send emergency texts or emails through a WiFi setup.5. Carbon monoxide alarms have their place.Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each level of your home in areas where there is good air circulation. A corner along the ceiling is a bad option.Homes with non-electric furnaces should have a CO detector in the basement. And if there’s only one detector for the bedroom area, it should be placed in a central location where everyone can hear it.
TORONTO – Toronto’s police service is set to expand an existing neighbourhood officer program in an effort to “build trust and reduce crime,” but critics say it’s unlikely to do either.Deputy Chief Peter Yuen, who is in charge of the police force’s communities and neighbourhoods command, said the expansion will roll out in phases over the course of a year and will more than double the number of community officers on city streets.“We want to deliver community-centred policing. We want to get back to connecting with the neighbourhoods,” said Yuen.Yuen said in total, about 120 officers will be deployed to 27 neighbourhoods. The first phase of deployments begins on Monday, when 40 officers will be placed in eight neighbourhoods across the city.He said more officers will continue to be stationed in other Toronto neighbourhoods through October 2019. Yuen said the expansion would bring the total number of neighbourhood officers to about 220 situated in a total of 60 neighbourhoods. He said it’s a four-year assignment for the officers, which he said will give them time to build relationships with the public.The expansion boosts an existing program that has been running since 2013 and currently has 96 officers in 33 neighbourhoods.A report that was presented at a Toronto police board meeting on Friday said the early focus of the program was “to increase police presence and address community problems … within particular neighbourhoods and improve relationships between community members and the police.The report said that through the program, officers conduct regular patrols of the community and engage in “intelligence-gathering.” The report also said the program’s expansion will cost about $16 million each year.Yuen said it will continue to have the same goals, but that officers will be more “accessible” to the community.“Neighbourhood officers will have the training and the tools to go and assist neighbourhoods,” he said. “Neighbourhood officers will be available to the public 24-7.”So far this year, Toronto has seen 40 fatal shootings, compared to 29 fatal shootings in all of 2017, according to Toronto police crime statistics. There were also 29 fatal shootings in 2016 and 17 in 2015, the data shows.Louis March, founder of the Toronto-based Zero Gun Violence Movement, said the increased police presence could be “intimidating.”He said some officers can come off as “aggressive” when they try to speak to community members about gun violence in order to get information on suspects.“A lot of officers are doing good work,” said March. “But some officers can be aggressive. There’s a lack of empathy, concern, a lack of understanding.”March said policing isn’t a solution to reducing violence, and that there should be more emphasis on developing neighbourhoods economically, by creating job opportunities and improving public programming.“It’s about investing and developing these communities,” he said.Yuen said the program expansion isn’t a response to the jump in gun violence in the city, but that it will address guns and gangs.“We’re not singularly looking through a crime lens,” said Yuen. “We are more than just crime fighters…. If we just look through that single lens then we lose the focus of the neighbourhood officers.”Yuen said the officers will also be “engaging” with the communities to identify members of the public who suffer from mental illnesses.“They will be able to identify these people and they will be able to get those people the required assistance they need,” he said.Yuen said members of the community in the 27 newly selected neighbourhoods were consulted over the summer about the program, and he believes they responded positively to the expansion. He said this included consultations with local politicians, business improvement agencies, churches and other organizations, although he declined to name which ones specifically.Neighbourhoods where officers will be stationed were chosen based on statistics that looked at a range of factors including crime index, level of unemployment, level of income, family status, level of education, and “fear of violence,” according to the police report.“This is not a police-driven program. This program is a collaborative approach,” said Yuen.Zya Brown, director of Think 2wice, which provides activities and programming for youth and those involved in the legal system, said she doesn’t believe the officer program will build trust. She said police can bring a level of fear as they are in a position of power and authority, and can make members of the public feel like they are criminals.“This is also going to enforce stereotypes,” she said. “Because people in these neighbourhoods are black and brown.”She said she is worried the program will be another version of the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, which was criticized for disproportionately targeting people of colour. That program saw more police deployed to neighbourhoods that saw crime increases the year before, during the city’s so-called “Summer of the Gun.”
OTTAWA – Canada’s top general is taking no comfort from the fact the number of sexual assaults reported to military authorities more than doubled last year, after suggestions the increase represented a sign of progress in the fight against such behaviour.The Canadian Press reported last week that military authorities received 111 reports of sexual assault between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018 — over twice the 47 such reports received the previous year.The head of the military’s sexual misconduct response team suggested recently that the increase was good news as it indicated service members felt more comfortable reporting incidents, not that there had been an actual rise in such crimes.But even if military personnel feel more at ease reporting sexual misconduct than before, defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance says he is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct.The military has not provided a breakdown on when the alleged sexual assaults actually occurred, but three-quarters of the 427 reports of criminal and non-criminal behaviour received last year actually took place in 2017 — which averaged about 25 per month.“I am in no way at all happy that incidents continue and I find it hard to find any satisfaction whatsoever in the fact that there’s more reporting showing that there’s still more incidents,” Vance said in an interview.“It is good that there’s reporting. It is not good that there’s still something to report.”Vance’s first action after being named chief of defence staff in July 2015 was launching Operation Honour, intended to effectively ban sexual misconduct within the ranks.The move followed rampant concerns that the military was turning a blind eye to such behaviour and an explosive study by retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps that found an “underlying sexual culture” that was hostile to women and left victims to fend for themselves.While Vance said Operation Honour has had an impact, he acknowledged that more needs to be done in terms of understanding what the numbers actually mean, as well as more training to prevent incidents and provide better support to victims.One such effort will include providing victims with case workers through the military’s arm’s-length Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which was originally set up as a call centre but whose mandate is set to expand in the coming months.“We haven’t been doing all the right things yet,” Vance said.“We’re working on it, but we’ve got to increase our arsenal of things to do to try and support victims and to try to correct behaviour before it happens.”Vance’s comments come as the military prepares for the release of a federal auditor general’s report next month on the Forces’ efforts to tackle sexual misconduct in the ranks.— Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.
Four stories in the news for Wednesday, Nov. 14———CALGARIANS VOTE ‘NO’ ON 2026 OLYMPIC BIDThe results are in, and a majority of Calgarians are saying “no thanks” to a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. The city conducted a non-binding plebiscite Tuesday to gauge public opinion on whether there is sufficient interest to submit a bid. Out of 304,774 total votes, 56 per cent (171,750 votes) said they don’t want the city to throw in its hat for the Games. The plebiscite’s result is non-binding on city council, which has the final say on whether Calgary will proceed with a bid. The results won’t be declared official until Friday. Council is expected to address the results Monday.———SENATE BILLS NEED OUTSIDE LOOK: TOP SENATOR The government’s representative in the Senate is urging senators to stop dragging their feet and create an independent body to oversee their expenses. Sen. Peter Harder is applying pressure six years after the Senate was engulfed by scandal over alleged improper expense claims and more than three years after the federal auditor general recommended an independent oversight body to help head off future problems. Harder says senators should not be judging the legitimacy of their fellow senators’ expense claims, as has been the practice.———NO TOUGHER STANCE ON SAUDI ARMS DEAL: FREELAND The federal government is showing no apparent signs of toughening its stance on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, even after Canada’s spy chief heard a recording of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Windsor, Ont., Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland reiterated Canada’s position that no new arms-export permits will be signed for Saudi Arabia as the Khashoggi case is being reviewed. Khashoggi’s killing last month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul further strained Riyadh’s already difficult relationship with Canada and renewed public outrage over Ottawa’s controversial $15-billion deal to sell light-armoured vehicles to the kingdom.———NASA BOSS FUELS SPACE-STATION SPECULATIONThe head of the U.S. space agency lauded Canada’s expertise in artificial intelligence in Ottawa on Tuesday, fuelling speculation that Canada will join its next bold venture to unlock the secrets of the moon. Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said he wants Canada’s decades-long space partnership with the U.S. to continue as it embarks on the creation of its new “Lunar Gateway” — the next-generation outpost the United States is planning to send into orbit around the moon.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— The Bank of Canada will launch its new financial system hub. It will also publish highlights of its autumn financial system survey as well as new analysis examining Canada’s resilience to house-price corrections.— Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman make an announcement about habitat conservation in the Canadian Rockies.— United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney is scheduled to speak to the Edmonton chamber of commerce today.— Federal Tourism Minister Melanie Joly participates in roundtable discussions to help identify tourism potential in the North.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Quebec’s most prominent women’s group continues to lose members after it passed a resolution last month recognizing that women can freely choose to become sex workers.The resolution approved by members of the Federation des femmes du Quebec has split the organization between prostitution abolitionists and those who believe women can consent to sexual activity in exchange for money.Diane Matte, founder of the group CLES, which works with current and former sex workers, said the federation’s position is “incompatible with the work we’ve done over the past 18 years to fight sexual exploitation.”Whether there are women who believe they can enter freely into the sex industry is the wrong question to ask, said Matte, whose organization was among three groups that announced Wednesday they are leaving the federation.“The question is rather, as a society that believes in equality of all women, do we support an industry that is sustained by poverty, social inequality and the violence that women face in it?”MCVI, a group that advocates on behalf of sexual assault victims, as well as the Maison d’Haiti, a prominent organization in Montreal’s Haitian community, also quit the federation yesterday.Matte said at least two branches of the Confederation of National Trade Unions previously announced they will no longer be part of the women’s federation.Messages seeking comment from federation president Gabrielle Bouchard were not returned Wednesday afternoon.Bouchard told The Canadian Press in late October the “large majority” of voters at the group’s general assembly supported the motion,”but some people were upset.”Matte said she is “pessimistic” about the future of the federation, which was formed in 1966.“We weren’t the first to leave and we won’t be the last,” she said in an interview. “I hope the members who stay apply pressure to the board of directors to return to its central purpose … to fight for the equality of all women.”Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A Vancouver businessman and philanthropist is among nearly 50 people charged in what United States authorities are alleging is the largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted.David Sidoo, CEO of Advantage Lithium and a former B.C. Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders player, is accused of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in Massachusetts.None of the allegations has been proven in court and Sidoo’s lawyer says his client is presumed innocent.An indictment alleges Sidoo paid $100,000 in 2011 to have an individual secretly take the SAT in place of his older son, and that the score was emailed to Chapman University in California where his son was admitted.The document alleges that Sidoo paid another $100,000 in 2013 for someone to take the SAT in place of his younger son, and that the score was sent to multiple universities including the University of California-Berkeley where he later enrolled.At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents including Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among those charged in the investigation, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.Sidoo’s lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, said the businessman “has been repeatedly recognized for his philanthropic endeavours, which is the true testament to his character.”“The charge that has been lodged against David is an allegation that carries with it the presumption that he is innocent. We look forward to representing our case in court, and ask that people don’t rush to judgment in the meantime.”Federal authorities says parents who have been accused in the alleged scam paid an estimated $25 million in bribes.The coaches charged as a result of the investigation worked at such schools as Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. A former Yale soccer coach pleaded guilty and helped build the case against others.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Canadian Chamber of Commerce says China’s decision to ban canola imports from Canada has no basis in scientific fact.Mark Agnew, senior director of international policy for the chamber, says he trusts the science-based assessments by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that Canada’s crop is safe.Agnew stopped short of accusing the People’s Republic of using the ban as retaliation for Canada’s decision to detain a top executive with telecom giant Huawei.China’s decision to ban $2 billion worth of Canadian exports is widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, at the behest of the United States.With the Canadian canola industry urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to press China for solutions, the House of Commons agriculture committee meets later this morning in Ottawa to consider a Conservative motion to take action.China says it has found hazardous organisms in the shipments of two major canola exporters, Richardson International Ltd. and Viterra, Inc., while its foreign ministry spokesman has told Canada to “take practical measures to correct the mistakes.”The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A murderer won’t get a chance to argue in the Supreme Court that his conviction should be overturned because a rap lyric he wrote was improperly allowed into evidence.The high court has refused to hear the appeal from Lamar Skeete, who was convicted in 2012 of killing Kenneth Mark as payback for testifying against Skeete in a previous case.The judge at Skeete’s trial allowed the Crown to put forward evidence that he had posted to a website a composition including the lyric: “Real niggaz don’t crack to the coppers.”The Ontario Court of Appeal took a fresh look at the question and concluded the evidence was indeed admissible, saying it helped confirm Skeete’s retaliatory motive for killing Mark.In its decision, the appeal court noted that the trial judge had told jurors to give the song as much or as little importance as they thought it deserved in deciding the case.The trial judge had also explained that the jury’s decision must be founded on evidence, not bias or prejudice.The Canadian Press