New Delhi: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav were among leaders who took oath as members of 17th Lok Sabha on Tuesday, with the House witnessing a virtual slogan-shouting contest between treasury and opposition benches.Gandhi, who retained the Rae Bareli constituency, took her oath in Hindi on the second day of the maiden session of the new Lok Sabha. Her son and Congress President Rahul Gandhi appeared to be capturing the moment on his mobile phone from the opposition benches. Also Read – Cong may promise farm loan waiver in HaryanaWhile there was loud thumping of desks by the Congress members, voices were heard from the BJP benches “greeting” Sonia Gandhi “for taking oath in Hindi”. Immediately after her, BJP MP and former minister Maneka Gandhi was administered the oath and she and her sister-in-law Sonia Gandhi greeted each other with folded hands. Accompanied by his son and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, an ailing Mulayam, 79, was brought to the House in a wheel chair and was allowed to take oath on priority from his seat due to health considerations. Also Read – Modi formed OBC commission which earlier govts didn’t do: ShahAkhilesh, who has been elected from Azamgarh, also took oath. There was loud applause when BJP MP Om Birla, who is the NDA’s nominee for Lok Sabha Speaker’s post, entered the House and later when he got up to take oath. The formal proceedings were peppered with some slip-ups and banter. Many newly-elected members on Tuesday animatedly raised slogans after concluding their oath in Lok Sabha, with some even engaging in raillery and heated exchanges, ignoring the Chair’s direction to desist from it. The presiding officer directed that no slogans will go on record. BJP MPs ended their oath with loud chants of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ and Jai Shri Ram. There were similar slogans from ruling party benches when opposition party MPs, especially from Trinamool Congress, got up to take oath. Those from TMC retaliated with chants of “Jai Durga and Jai Hind” Dressed in jeans, white shirt and blazer, actor Sunny Deol, who is a first-time MP, took oath in English amid cheers and slogans like ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ from the treasury benches. The BJP MP from Gurdaspur smiled and quickly rectified his mistake after he said “withhold the sovereignty and integrity of the country” instead of “uphold the sovereignty and integrity of the country”. Two members had to read the oath twice. Bhagirath Choudhary, BJP MP from Ajmer, first started reading the oath in Sanskrit. However, the Lok Sabha Secretary General said he had given Hindi as his preferred language, so he should take his oath again. In the second instance, Jagdambika Pal from Domariyaganj in Uttar Pradesh, skipped a few words in the initial read. Samajwadi Party MP from Sambhal Shafiqur Rahman Barq objected to Vande Mataram slogan, drawing protests from members of treasury benches who demanded an apology from him. Taking a dig, Congress President Rahul Gandhi asked BJP MP Arun Kumar Sagar, who chanted ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ twice, to raise the slogan “one more time”. Gandhi again repeated “one more time” after the next BJP MP Ajay Kumar also raised the slogan of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. Kumar than retorted that he will say the slogan again if Gandhi can complete it by chanting ‘Jai’ following which Gandhi said “Jai Hind” and was joined by other Congress members. Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM MP from Hyderabad, chanted “Jai Bheem, Jai Meem, Takbeer Allahu Akbar, Jai Hind”, after members from the ruling side shouted slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande mataram’. Aam Aadmi Party’s lone MP Bhagwant Mann exchanged words with members of treasury benches as he ended his oath with the slogan ‘Inqalab Zindabad’. Badal concluded his oath with Sikh religious chant of ‘Wahe Guruji ka Khalsa, Wahe Guruji ki Fateh”. Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, AIUDF leader Badruddin Ajmal and former Union ministers Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Preneet Kaur and Shashi Tharoor, and actor Kirron Kher were also administered oath. Tharoor was absent on Monday when other members from Kerala, including Rahul Gandhi, took oath. Kaur, who is the wife of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, had a bandage on her forehead. Former Union minister P Chidambaram was sitting in the Speaker’s Gallery as his son Karti Chidambaram took oath. Newly elected MPs from Tamil Nadu, including T R Balu, A Raja, Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran and Karti Chidamabaram, took oath in Tamil. When a DMK member hailed Periyar, Kaliangar, Gandhi and Ambedkar, the Chair said only the prescribed format should be taken on record.
Srinagar: Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar Saturday said India will soon become the largest country in the world where every household has a television set. “There is a new dream that every household will have a TV in the coming years. There are 25 crore households in India and 18 crore have a TV set. There are still seven crore households without a TV,” Javadekar said here. The Union minister was addressing a function to launch distribution of free Dish TV set top boxes in Kashmir, besides unveiling the signature tune of Doordarshan’s satellite channel for Jammu and Kashmir DD Kashir. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep Javadekar also launched the first news bulletin in Dogri that will be aired on DD Kashir on a daily basis from Saturday evening. “Today, we are making a small beginning in which we are giving settop boxes of free Dish TV for people living in far flung areas and to poor people. However, as soon as our economy develops people will buy a TV as soon as they are able to address the six basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education and livelihood,” the minister said. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs He said in near future, India will be the largest nation with TV in every household. “This is my belief.” Javdekar said television has seen massive expansion over the past three decades with mushrooming of channels in late 1990s while Doordarshan being the only channel in 1970s. “Today we have more than 700 TV channels on various fields. There was revolution in this field after private channels come up in 1992-93,” he said. The minister gave credit for the spread of TV across the country to the introduction of cable TV. “The cable connected one home to another, then one locality to the next, and it ended up connecting the people as well. Even today, there are nine crore households where cable TV is watched,” he said. He said the cable spread was fast and due to the fact that there was no interference of the government in it. “People used to say, and which to an extent is true, that cable spread an it became a cable revolution not despite government but because the government was not there,” he added. The minister expressed happiness that nearly nine crore people were accessing TV content through DTH services. “There are five to six major operators and they put together have 5.5 crore connections. The biggest DTH operator in the country is Doordarshan with 3.5 crore DTH connections where we are giving free Dish,” he said. Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office, told the gathering that free DTH connections will help in dissemination of information in border areas which are not well connected by roads or other communication means. “People in border areas will get some relief. They will get an avenue of entertainment and the information that should reach them,” Singh said. The Lok Sabha MP from Udhampur said the Dogri bulletin on DD Kashir satellite channel was a long pending demand of people in Jammu. “Steps have been taken for promotion of Kashmiri language from time to time but similar steps for Dogri were delayed. Both Kashmiri and Dogri are rich but underrated langauges,” he said. Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, who was also present on the occasion, said the distribution of free dish connections was a massive outreach programme which will save people falling prey to fake news and false propaganda.
Kolkata: Traffic movement across the city almost came to a halt after the heavy downpour since afternoon on Friday. Due to closure of Sealdah flyover, vehicles were diverted through Esplanade and Central Avenue, which created massive traffic congestion in and around Colootola Street, M G Road, Chandi Chowk and Esplanade.Also, due to waterlogging, traffic snarl took place on Maa flyover and some parts of Eastern Metropolitan (EM) Bypass. Governor Jagdip Dhankhar also got stuck in Bidhannagar area due to traffic congestion, while returning to Raj Bhavan from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAccording to sources, before the rain started, there was no problem despite Sealdah flyover being closed. However, waterlogging on S N Banerjee Road and Central Avenue after the rain led to severe inconvenience. Due to the diversion, pressure of traffic was increased on Central Avenue since morning. But the situation turned worse after rain started as due to waterlogging, vehicular movement slowed down to a crawl on the Central Avenue. Also due to waterlogging on E M Bypass near Mathpukur and Metropolitan area, traffic almost came to a halt for almost an hour. Traffic movement on several roads around Exide crossing, Diamond Harbour Road, Park Street and Port area were seriously obstructed due to waterlogging as well. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayOn the other hand, traffic movement in Salt Lake, Ultadanga and VIP Road got choked for a few hours due to a rally by para-teachers on Friday afternoon. According to sources, an organisation of para-teachers had informed the police that a rally will take place to Bikash Bhavan in order to submit a deputation. To maintain law and order situation, vehicles carrying para-teachers were stopped at the entry points of Salt Lake. Later, they gathered near HUDCO crossing and marched towards Bikash Bhavan. Due to the rally, severe traffic congestion occurred in Salt Lake, Ultadanga and VIP Road.
Kolkata: Anxious relatives of the victims of Kachua stampede waited and hoped for the recovery of their loved ones who are undergoing treatment at the Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital (CNMCH).Two persons were declared brought dead, two were released after getting first aid and three are undergoing treatment at the hospital, following the stampede at a temple in Kachua in North 24-Parganas, early on Friday. “Seven persons were brought to the hospital at 4 am. Two persons died while two were released after giving first aid and three are undergoing treatment,” said Dr Bimal Bandhu Saha, deputy superintendent of CNMCH. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaOn the occasion of Janmashtami, a large crowd had gathered at the Kachua Loknath temple late on Thursday night. Due to heavy rain, the crowd took shelter at makeshift bamboo stalls on the approach road to the temple at 2.30 am. However, the shelters collapsed due to rain and within a few minutes, a stampede-like situation was created. Immediately, rescue operations were carried out on the spot. The injured were shifted to Barasat Hospital, RG Kar Medical College and a hospital at Basirhat. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayAparna Sarkar and Tapan Mondal were declared brought dead at CNMCH. Tapan was brought to Basirhat Hospital directly from the place of the incident and then referred to CNMCH. “We didn’t have any idea what had happened to my sister. We received a call today at 7 am. When we reached CNMCH we found her dead,” said Chandana Mondal, sister of Aparna Sarkar. According to hospital authorities, the death toll could rise as some of the injured are in a critical condition. “My daughter Varsha Biswas went to the temple to celebrate janmashtami. At around 2.30 am, we got the information that a wall had collapsed. She was first admitted to a hospital at Basirhat and then referred to CNMCH. She is now undergoing treatment here,” said Barun Biswas, a resident of Basirhat. Every year, lakhs of people throng the Kachua Loknath temple to celebrate the birth anniversary of Lokenath Brahmachari.
GABRIOLA ISLAND, B.C. – Police on Gabriola Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island, are investigating the discovery of a human foot.RCMP say in a news release that a male walking the beach on Sunday found what appeared to be a disarticulated foot inside a hiking boot.The foot was wedged in a logjam and police say the forensic identification service and the BC Coroners Service are investigating.Gabriola Island RCMP say they will work with the coroner in an effort to determine the identity of the remains.More than a dozen feet have washed up on B.C. shores since 2007.The BC Coroners Service says in the previous cases no foul play was involved.
OTTAWA – The national unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent in April. Statistics Canada also released seasonally adjusted, three-month moving average unemployment rates for major cities. It cautions, however, that the figures may fluctuate widely because they are based on small statistical samples. Here are the jobless rates last month by city (numbers from the previous month in brackets):— St. John’s, N.L. 8.6 per cent (8.6)— Halifax 5.6 (6.0)— Moncton, N.B. 5.7 (5.7)— Saint John, N.B. 6.5 (6.9)— Saguenay, Que. 5.8 (5.6)— Quebec 3.7 (3.6)— Sherbrooke, Que. 5.5 (5.7)— Trois-Rivieres, Que. 5.5 (5.4)— Montreal 6.1 (6.1)— Gatineau, Que. 4.8 (4.7)— Ottawa 4.2 (4.9)— Kingston, Ont. 4.9 (5.4)— Peterborough, Ont. 3.8 (4.8)— Oshawa, Ont. 4.4 (4.5)— Toronto 5.9 (5.8)— Hamilton, Ont. 5.3 (5.3)— St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont. 5.8 (5.6)— Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, Ont. 5.4 (5.1)— Brantford, Ont. 7.2 (6.7)— Guelph, Ont. 4.8 (4.9)— London, Ont. 5.7 (6.3)— Windsor, Ont. 5.5 (5.2)— Barrie, Ont. 8.4 (8.8)— Sudbury, Ont. 7.2 (6.8)— Thunder Bay, Ont. 5.1 (5.1)— Winnipeg 6.5 (6.3)— Regina 5.7 (5.0)— Saskatoon 6.7 (6.5)— Calgary 8.0 (8.2)— Edmonton 6.6 (6.7)— Kelowna, B.C. 4.8 (5.2)— Abbotsford, B.C. 4.4 (4.0)— Vancouver 4.1 (4.0)— Victoria 4.2 (4.5)
HALIFAX – A British Columbia MP is pressing Ottawa to do more to deal with the hundreds of abandoned vessels that blight Canada’s coasts and harbours, despite a new federal program announced last month.New Democrat Sheila Malcolmson brought her campaign to Nova Scotia on Tuesday, where money and years of effort have been spent dealing with such high-profile cases as the MV Miner in Cape Breton and the MV Farley Mowat in Shelburne.Malcolmson said that as things stand, it appears abandoned vessels will still largely remain a problem that is often left to municipal and provincial governments.“We have a real legal hole in Canada,” she said. “Other countries and other states have fixed the abandoned vessel problem, but this is costing coastal communities on all three coasts big time.”Malcolmson has tabled a bill she said would address the legal hole by fixing vessel registration, piloting a vessel turn-in program and supporting local salvagers and vessel recycling.She said the bill would also make the coast guard responsible for directing the removal of all abandoned vessels.Setting areas of clear responsibility is key, said the member for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.“I think the real failing that we’ve got right now is that there’s no process and there’s no one single-point ministry, and my legislation is intended to fill that gap,” said Malcolmson.She said she modelled her initiative on legislation already long in place in American states, like Washington and Oregon.The Washington state program pools state and federal money together for emergency response and an advanced registration system helps officials track down owners in order to make them responsible for the bill, Malcolmson said. Harbour masters can also obtain purchase orders that can help prevent derelict vessels from sinking.“If you can get it before it goes down, your costs are minuscule compared to the calamity of the inevitable oil spills that result from abandoned vessels.”Last month, the federal government announced $6.85 million in funding over five years to help address the problem posed by abandoned vessels.The money under the Abandoned Boats Program is meant to help provincial and local governments, and indigenous groups cover 100 per cent of the eligible costs of assessments and 75 per cent of removal and disposal costs.The program includes money for education and awareness projects aimed at boat owners. Under the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan announced last fall, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will work with the Canadian Coast Guard to prevent and clean up wrecked and abandoned boats while holding owners accountable.About 600 boats have been ditched on Canada’s coasts and Transport Minister Marc Garneau has said the federal government will work with the provinces and that funding will be available to address the “backlog” of abandoned vessels.Meanwhile, Nova Scotia’s Transportation Department confirmed in an e-mail Tuesday that it was still in discussions with Ottawa about funding for the removal of the MV Miner, which cost the province a total of $19.9 million.It took four years for the 12,000-tonne, 223-metre bulk carrier to be removed from an environmentally protected stretch of coast near Main-a-Dieu, N.S.The ship was being towed from Montreal to Turkey in September 2011 to be scrapped when a tow line broke, causing it to run aground.In Shelburne, the rusted remains of the once notorious MV Farley Mowat wasted away for years, despite multiple court-imposed deadlines to remove the ship.Last month, the Canadian Coast Guard announced that it would issue a contract to remove and dispose of the vessel that was seized from environmental crusader Paul Watson in April 2008 after it was alleged it had violated Canadian law by getting too close to the annual seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
OTTAWA – Jagmeet Singh spent Sunday on a dance floor in Brampton, Ont., but he didn’t have much time to bask in the glory of his resounding victory as the new NDP leader.It was back to business on Parliament Hill on Monday, where he was busy tackling basics, including picking up a parliamentary pass to get in the front door.Singh also spent the day meeting individual MPs from the 44-member federal caucus ahead of a full caucus meeting planned for Wednesday.Out of the gate, one of his first orders of business is naming a leader in the House — an issue he has to get off his plate because doesn’t have a federal seat.He was mum Monday on who would claim the job, but he said someone has been picked.“That person is going to be someone that’s going to help us unify the party and continue to send a message that we are running a national campaign to form government in 2019,” Singh said, speaking outside the Commons.“We just need to work out some details and we’ll be announcing that as soon as we can.”He also has to take care of officially resigning from his old job in the Ontario legislature.“I’ve already had some conversations about how that goes,” Singh said. “It’s my first time doing this, so I’m going to follow the existing process and makes sure it’s done as quick as I can.”Singh also said Monday he isn’t concerned about his lack of a federal seat, though the party will have to pay him directly — an amount that hasn’t been disclosed — because he can’t be paid through parliamentary channels.“We have a phenomenal caucus,” Singh said. “I’ll work with them to ensure that the work in the House reflects the work I’ll do on the road.”And he will be hitting the road.Over the next 100 days, the NDP plans to ensure Singh visits every province and territory in the run-up to its policy convention in February.Singh, a 38-year-old former criminal defence lawyer, isn’t a household name and part of the introductory campaign will be designed to introduce him to Canadians.Expectations are also high he can immediately get cracking on raising money desperately needed to fill the party’s drained coffers.“We’ve got great members of Parliament, we will continue to do that work in the House of Commons, but the most important job that he can be doing right now is getting out right across this country and helping to expand the party,” said veteran B.C. MP Peter Julian, who dropped out of the leadership race early and later backed Singh.“We have to make sure that we are building the party across the country and getting ready for the election in 2019.”—with files from Jordan PressFollow @kkirkup and @jpress on Twitter
HALIFAX – A Dalhousie University student leader says she’s facing a backlash for criticizing “white fragility” and standing with Indigenous Peoples on Canada 150 celebrations.Masuma Khan, a member of the student council executive, is under investigation for an online post that another student alleges discriminated against white people.The issue stems from a Dalhousie Student Union decision not to endorse Canada Day celebrations or hold celebratory events on campus.The decision prompted outcry from some groups, like the Nova Scotia Young Progressive Conservatives, who said in a Facebook post the student union “should be helping instill pride in our country, not boycott it on our most significant national holiday.”Khan, a fourth-year international development studies student, called the celebrations an ongoing “act of colonialism” and used a hashtag that referred to “white fragility.”“Be proud of this country? For what, over 400 years of genocide?” she said. “I stand by the motion I put forward. I stand by Indigenous students.”Her post prompted Michael Smith, a graduate student in history at Dalhousie, to pen an opinion piece for the National Post newspaper.“Canada is a welcoming country. We are blessed to be one of the most tolerant and multicultural nations in the world, where all individuals are free to pursue their dreams, regardless of their backgrounds,” he said in the op-ed. “Canadians have much to be proud of, and plenty to celebrate on this 150th year.”Khan, a Muslim woman of colour who wears a hijab, said implicit in these comments is that she isn’t from Canada.“People assume I’m an immigrant and assume I should be more thankful for what Canada has given me,” said the 22-year-old born and raised in Halifax. “I firmly believe that me being a settler to this land and being born in so-called Halifax in the land of the Mi’kmaq, it’s my job to stand in solidarity with them and to bring these conversations to the table and work harder towards reconciliation.”Meanwhile, Smith, who could not be reached for comment Friday, also lodged an official complaint with the university.The university’s senate discipline committee has agreed to hear the complaint. Khan had been a member of the committee, but says she has now been removed pending the outcome of her case.The committee is expected to review the complaint against Khan in November or December.Arig al Shaibah, Dalhousie’s vice-provost of student affairs, said the university’s code of conduct allows students to raise concerns about behaviour they feel negatively impacts their learning environment and experience.“With complaints of this nature, we engage in efforts to resolve issues through informal, educational and conversational means,” she said in a statement. “If individuals involved are not agreeable to informal means to resolve matters, the code dictates that the matter must be referred to the senate discipline committee for a hearing.”The university considers both critical dialogue and freedom of expression fundamental principles that guide its work, al Shaibah said.“Respect and inclusion are core to Dalhousie’s mission,” she said. “That said, these are complex issues, and it is my hope that all campus community members will play an active role in promoting critical and constructive dialogue.”But Khan said the complaint against her targets her free speech and identity.“People might say it wasn’t an appropriate response. You have to understand I deal with Islamophobia on the daily,” she said. “I’m the one that gets called a terrorist when I walk down the street.”“I don’t think it’s appropriate for the university to tell racialized students how they can talk about their lived experiences,” Khan added. “Suggesting I should take some training about how to talk about racism, that’s incredibly invalidating.”Khan said ultimately she couldn’t support Canada 150 celebrations when 172 Indigenous communities currently don’t have clean drinking water.Earlier this week, an Indigenous member of Dalhousie’s board of governors said she was subjected to institutionalized racism at a recent meeting.Kati George-Jim of the T’Sou-ke First Nation in British Columbia, a student representative on the Halifax university’s oversight board, raised her concerns in a lengthy letter she read aloud at a meeting this week. Despite the controversy, the outcome was cited by one board member as a positive step towards reconciliation.Added al Shaibah: “This past week, there have been important conversations, which for me, are fundamentally about issues of respect, inclusion and community. These conversations are difficult, yet they are essential.”
OTTAWA – Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government is working to resolve ongoing airport hassles children face due to security snags — and passing a federal bill now before Parliament is the first step.Families from the group known as the No Fly List Kids came to Ottawa to make their case to MPs and ministers Monday with the aim of ensuring that funding for a new computer system to fix the problem is included in the 2018 federal budget.Parents of children who have repeatedly endured nerve-racking airport delays because a youngster’s name matches one on a no-fly list say the federal legislation will do nothing in the short term to ease their woes.The government is proposing an amendment to the Secure Air Travel Act that would allow the public safety minister to tell parents that their child is not on the Canadian no-fly list, meaning the name simply matches that of someone who is actually listed. The government says this would provide assurance to parents about their child’s status.The legislation, part of a broad package of security-related measures, would also allow federal officials to electronically screen air passenger information against the list, a process currently in the hands of airlines. The government says this would prevent false name matches by enabling it to issue unique redress numbers for pre-flight verification of identity.But it also means creating a new computer system to do the job.Goodale said Monday the overall solution entails passing the legislation, enacting regulations and building the computer system from the ground up.“It is a complicated process, sadly. The mistake was made several years ago when this thing was set up in a backwards fashion,” he said before the daily question period.“We’ve got to change the system and that’s what we’re working on.”Families were disappointed funds for the new system did not turn up in the last federal budget and they’re beginning to lose patience.“This is a technical problem that requires a technical solution,” said Sulemaan Ahmed, whose son Adam, 8, has been held up many times before boarding a flight.“The families are not willing to wait longer for more excuses.”In June 2016 the government created an inquiries office to help resolve travellers’ problems. But the No Fly List Kids group, which now includes more than 100 youngsters, says the difficulties persist.“Every time we fly it happens,” said Heather Harder of London, Ont., whose son Sebastian, 3, has been repeatedly flagged.“My family is from Saskatchewan. And so we go back to visit them fairly often. Every leg of the trip we’re stopped,” she said Monday after a news conference.“We’ve only flown domestically. We’re actually too nervous to fly internationally.”Ahmed and his wife Khadija Cajee stressed the need for a more effective redress system last month in a presentation on behalf of the group to a House of Commons committee conducting consultations on the next budget.“Some of our children have been denied initial boarding and delayed to the point that they have missed flights internationally. Older No Fly List Kids avoid travel due to the potential for stigmatization,” the submission said.“All families find the security screenings become increasingly invasive as their children have gotten older.”Ahmed worries about children who have been caught in the no-fly web for years and now find themselves travelling abroad as young adults, with no guardians nearby to sort out problems.“This goes beyond the no-fly list, actually,” he said in an interview. “This could impact their employment, this could impact security clearance, this could impact admission into universities and schools.”In addition, the group says, the mismatches often involve Muslim-sounding or Arabic-sounding names, raising the question of charter of rights guarantees of equality under the law.“The darker side here is that we know that things go terribly wrong when it comes to information-sharing and lists of this sort that get shared with governments around the world,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, who attended the news conference.“It can even lead to unjust imprisonment, disappearances and torture. That’s why we need to take this seriously.”The No Fly List Kids group has enlisted support from MPs of all stripes who have written letters to encourage Finance Minister Bill Morneau to include the redress measure in the next budget.Among them is Toronto Liberal MP Rob Oliphant, who chaired the House of Commons public safety committee when it issued a report on national security calling on the government to provide the financial resources for the new system.“Through expert witnesses, it became apparent to our committee that the no-fly list’s social cost, without an appropriate redress system, greatly outweighs its security benefit,” Oliphant says in the August letter.“Affected Canadians find their ability to visit family members, travel for leisure or travel for the economic benefit of Canada severely limited and sometimes revoked.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
MONTREAL – Montreal says it will improve its snow-clearing policies after it received numerous complaints about the state of the city’s streets and sidewalks following the most recent storm.Jean-Francois Parenteau, the councillor responsible for citizen services, took a lot of heat after sidewalks across town turned into quasi skating rinks, forcing those with limited mobility to stay indoors.He said Wednesday the administration didn’t delay snow clearing for budgetary reasons and added the city will never compromise the security of citizens.Parenteau took a bet that last weekend’s warmer temperatures would have melted much of the accumulation, but he lost the gamble and was forced to apologize on Twitter.He said the main reason the city decided to wait was due to the fact that several depots used to store snow were either full or nearing capacity.Montreal received the equivalent of a full winter’s worth of snow already this season, he said, and he expects more storms before the winter is out.He said the city began snow removal on Sunday night and about 90 per cent has been collected.As for sidewalks, however, Parenteau added that de-icing and putting down abrasives is up the local boroughs and some didn’t do enough.
HALIFAX – The owner of a medical marijuana dispensary that was recently robbed at gunpoint says the police investigation into the crime has taken a wrong turn.Carl Morgan, owner of Scotia Green Dispensary, was reacting Wednesday to a decision by police to follow up their investigation by charging one of his employees with drug trafficking.“We are not the bad guys here,” Morgan said in an interview. “We are trying to help people. We just want to have a fair chance at business.”The charge against the 33-year-old employee came a day after police reported that the store had been held up Monday night by two masked men armed with a gun. The two suspects allegedly stole products and money from the store and customers.Halifax Regional Police later confirmed they executed a search warrant during the initial investigation, then returned Tuesday evening to execute a Controlled Drugs and Substance Act search warrant.“Instead of investigating the real crime … what they do is just the easiest,” Morgan said. “The patients are really the ones who are getting hurt.”Police Supt. Jim Perrin said police must respond if the law is being broken.“To sell cannabis in Canada is illegal, and it will continue to be illegal,” he said.“So if we have case to go into a dispensary and we come across a crime being committed, we’ll investigate it … That’s one of the challenges and frustrations that police have seen over the last two years now, with these dispensary clinics, they are definitely steadfast to keep opening.”It was the second time Scotia Green has been robbed, Morgan said. The first time was at another location in New Glasgow.Cannabis dispensaries are sometimes targeted by thieves because employees are less likely to call the police, Morgan said.Between the latest robbery and the police seizure of products, Scotia Green Dispensary has lost $30,000 in cash and cannabis, he said.“We have nothing left,” Morgan said.Despite the setback, the store reopened Wednesday. However, the variety of cannabis that customers use to treat medical conditions was limited.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. Based on information from the police, an earlier version incorrectly stated only one warrant was used.
WINNIPEG – Santa needs a new sleigh for his annual parade in Winnipeg, and organizers hope crowdsourcing can raise $100,000 to replace the rickety one that’s been in service for at least 60 years.The Winnipeg Parade Committee says the current Santa float has been deemed unsafe, the decor is crumbling and the snowmen on it are disintegrating.They’re asking Winnipeggers to contribute to a GoFundMe campaign to pay for a new float that’s already under construction so it can be ready in time for Christmas.Parade director Monica Derksen says the old float was built out of billboards from Eaton’s — the former department store that started the Santa Claus Parade in Winnipeg 1909 — but those billboards aren’t holding up.She also says the exhaust for the generator that powers the lights vents a bit too close to Santa’s feet.Derksen says the new float will include a hydraulic system to lower it so it can follow the other floats under a bridge, instead of having to make a detour at the end of the parade route like it does now.“There’s some people who wait on the other side of the bridge and they end up disappointed because they don’t get to see Santa,” Derksen said.Organizers say Winnipeg’s is the second largest and second oldest Santa Claus parade in Canada.The parade’s website says that Eaton’s launched the first parade in Toronto in 1905, and that the second and third parades were launched in and Winnipeg and Montreal in 1909.It says that more than 3,000 Manitobans participate in the parade itself and the event brings more than 60,000 people to Winnipeg’s downtown annuallyThe pitch for donations on the GoFundMe page comes from the jolly old man himself.“I’m scheduled to fly into Winnipeg for the 109th Winnipeg Santa Parade on November 17. There is only one problem – my sleigh,” Santa’s message begins.“At our most recent visit to the workshop, our head mechanic, Elf Alvin, was beside himself and broke the news that “it just can’t fly anymore.”Derksen explained that a crowdsourcing campaign was chosen because organizers didn’t feel it would be proper to have a sponsor’s logo on the side of Santa’s sleigh.“We have deep roots in the community,” she said.— By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton
EDMONTON – Alberta United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney has turfed a party member who once ran the call centre for his leadership bid amid reports the worker is behind an online store that sells white supremacist memorabilia.“I am shocked and disturbed by reports of hateful and extreme online activity by a UCP member named Adam Strashok,” Kenney said in a statement on Twitter Tuesday.“Neither I nor anyone on my staff was aware of the extreme views of the individual in question.”Kenney said he has ordered party officials to cancel Strashok’s membership.He added that he recently asked the board of the UCP to develop a process for screening applicants for membership “to block those who have expressed hateful or extreme views.”Strashok, who ran the call centre for a time in 2017 during Kenney’s United Conservative leadership bid, could not be immediately reached for comment.Kenney was responding to a story in Ricochet Media that investigated ties from members of the Canadian Armed Forces to an online store glorifying the era of white rule in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe.It’s the latest in a series of UCP supporters voicing or associating with those expressing hateful and intolerant views.Earlier this month three nomination candidates in a west Edmonton constituency were photographed with the anti-immigrant Soldiers of Odin group. Two of the candidates said they were unaware of the group’s notoriety when they posed for pictures.Critics, including Premier Rachel Notley, have criticized Kenney for engaging in “dog whistle” politics by officially denouncing such views but in such a sterile, reactive manner through statements on social media that extremists may feel like they still have a home in his party.Kenney was not made available for an interview. In his statement he said “I have been crystal clear throughout my public life, and from day one of the Alberta (conservative) unity movement that I reject unequivocally voices of hatred and bigotry.”Kenney cited his history in the former federal Conservative cabinet advocating for multiculturalism and Canada’s ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity.“I have continued to champion respect for human dignity and pluralism since beginning the unity movement in Alberta two and half years ago, reflected in the diverse range of Albertans seeking UCP nominations.“My leadership was based in part on a commitment to screen out applicants for UCP nominations that have expressed or been association with extreme or hateful views. We have adopted what I believe is the most rigorous screening process in Alberta history as a result.”Nevertheless, there have been controversies with some UCP candidates.Todd Beasley was disqualified as a candidate in Brooks-Medicine Hat in the summer after making anti-Islamic comments on social media.Also in the summer, Sandra Kim was allowed to run for the nomination of Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin despite homophobic social media comments from 2015. She later apologized and says the remark does not represent her current views.Cindy Ross, a one-time nominee for Calgary Fish Creek, apologized last month for online comments she made years ago opposing the opening of a mosque in Fort McMurray.Alberta’s NDP, in a statement, said the inconsistency on which candidates get to stay and which have to go for such statements is revealing.“Jason Kenney has proven, through his inactions, that he allows – and welcomes – extremists in the UCP,” said the party in a statement.Kenney’s rival for the UCP leadership bid, Brian Jean, also weighed in on Twitter.“The #UCP and @jkenney need to kick these weirdos out of the party for the sake of decency,” Jean wrote. “They should never have been there in the first place. There is no place for hate and bigotry in our society or political landscape. Stop playing footsy with freaks!”
OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – MPs are returning to Parliament Hill for their last sitting before the fall election, and the first one in the new House of Commons. But that will be overshadowed by the latest controversies in the dispute with China.It’s supposed to be a special day, with the temporary House of Commons opening in West Block.But the spotlight will be on China and the forced resignation of ambassador John McCallum over the weekend.The prime minister is expected to take a grilling from the opposition after McCallum twice broke ranks with the government by weighing in on the legal case of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest at YVR Airport in December. McCallum suggested it would be good if the U.S. dropped its extradition request.RELATED: John McCallum fired as ambassador to China after comments on extradition caseCritics say those words undermine our closest ally and could be political involvement in a court case Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted would be free of interference.Conservatives also question if this was really just words of a rogue ambassador or if it’s actually a failed political strategy to appease the Chinese government as it holds two Canadians in detention and has a third sitting on death row.In his statement, Trudeau offered no explanation for asking the ambassador to resign. But on Monday, the opposition will be looking for answers.RELATED: Partisan elbows sharper as Parliament resumes for last sitting before electionBut this won’t be the only contentious topic in the spring. Maclean’s Ottawa Bureau Chief John Geddes says the federal carbon tax will also be in the cross-hairs, as both the Liberals and Conservatives use it as wedge for their voters.“A test for the government: Can they sell that thing? A point of test, for the opposition: Can they successfully frame it as a bad thing for Canadians?”Your pocketbooks will also be on focus, as the Liberals unveil a pre-election budget that will likely have goodies and a lot of heated rhetoric, as MPs prepare for their campaigns.
TORONTO — The head of SNC-Lavalin says its role as a Canadian global champion will be undermined if the embattled engineering firm is barred from bidding on federal contracts and its local employees are forced to work for foreign competitors.In an interview with The Canadian Press, Neil Bruce says the Montreal-based company, unlike the Trudeau government, has never cited the protection of 9,000 Canadian jobs as a reason it should be granted a remediation agreement to avoid a criminal trial.However, he says there’s a public interest for such an agreement because its well-qualified employees will be forced to work for U.S. or European competitors if it is barred from bidding on federal contracts for a decade.SNC-Lavalin faces accusations it paid bribes to get government business in Libya — a criminal case that has triggered a political storm and cost Prime Minister Justin Trudeau two cabinet ministers and his most trusted adviser.Bruce says about 75 per cent of the company’s rivals have concluded deferred prosecution agreements in their host countries and are free to work in Canada.Meanwhile, Bruce says he still doesn’t know why a federal official and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould were not open to granting a remediation agreement. Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC)The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada’s housing agency says new spending measures aimed at helping first-time buyers afford homes won’t push prices up more than a few tenths of a percentage point.A report Thursday from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. estimates prices could go up between 0.2 per cent and 0.4 per cent — a tiny bump relative to other ideas the Liberals were pressed to enact to make homes more affordable.The agency says loosening the mortgage-insurance stress test or allowing longer mortgages would have raised housing prices five to six times more than the measures in last month’s budget.The government says it will pick up five per cent of a mortgage on existing homes for households that earn under $120,000 a year, in exchange for a share of the home’s ownership.For new homes, to spur construction, the government would be willing to cover 10 per cent, but either way the house price couldn’t be more than $480,000.Despite the limits on the program, CMHC says it can work in all markets, including Vancouver and Toronto.The Canadian Press
An international team of researchers that includes an Ontario scientist is to unveil the first captured image of a black hole.The picture was compiled by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, a group of scientists around the world bent on proving the existence of black holes and documenting what they look like despite the fact that they cannot release light.The team includes Avery Broderick, an astrophysicist and associate professor at the University of Waterloo.The image was compiled with help from eight earth-based telescopes around the world.Researchers say their findings help offer further support of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, first announced in 1915.Broderick and other researchers are to show the image of a black hole at a news conference in Washington D.C. at around 9:00 a.m.NASA says a black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape and that some black holes are a result of dying stars. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $5 million dollar jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.However, the guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in Ontario.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on May 22 will be approximately $7 million.The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — When Michèle Audette was growing up, Canada Day was not a celebration.It left her feeling bitter.The daughter of a Quebecois father and an Innu mother, Audette didn’t see herself in the school curriculum.She didn’t see a recognition of Indigenous populations that existed for thousands of years in many of the places she lived.But she was also conflicted.When First Nations, Metis and Inuit dancers took the stage there would be a feeling of pride, she says, even if it was only fleeting.“They were there to remind Canada that people were here, are still here today, and showing the resilience of our nations. It is beautiful,” she says. “But it needs to be there everyday. It needs to be there in the laws, the policies and the programs.”Audette spent more than two years hearing testimony from women, families and experts as one of the commissioners from the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.The inquiry’s final report, released in early June, detailed a deliberate and persistent pattern of abuses against Indigenous women, girls, two-spirited people and LGBTQ individuals, which it said can only be described as a genocide.The report included 231 recommendations, including calls for all Canadians to learn Indigenous history and use that knowledge to break down barriers.A lot of Indigenous people don’t celebrate Canada Day because it’s a reminder of colonization, says inquiry Chief Commissioner Marion Buller. And they won’t celebrate until they see a real change in policies and practices from all levels of government, she says.“One thing that we all have to accept is colonization happened and is still happening,” says Buller, who is from Mistawasis First Nation in Saskatchewan.When the Europeans first arrived, First Nations helped the settlers survive. But over time, the fur market declined, as did military threats, and Indigenous people became an obstacle.Reserves were set up on less habitable land to make room for railroads and settlements, or so that water could be diverted. Ceremonies were outlawed and a pass system was set up to control movement. Inadequate government rations left communities starving and susceptible to sickness.Children were forced into residential schools where many faced physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Thousands of children died.The ’60s Scoop in which Indigenous children were adopted out to non-Indigenous families followed.Many Canadians were not taught this history growing up, the commissioners say, and were shocked to learn colonization continues.Family members who testified at the inquiry spoke about multigenerational trauma. They told commissioners about ongoing policies displacing women from traditional roles, forced sterilizations, children being apprehended, confrontations with police, poverty, violence and housing insecurity.“This country is at war, and Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are under siege,” the report says.The inquiry found human and Indigenous rights violations, homophobia, transphobia and marginalization “woven into the fabric of Canadian society,” says Commissioner Brian Eyolfson from the Couchiching First Nation in Ontario.Canada Day is an opportunity for education, he suggests.“It’s important to include Indigenous Peoples and their histories, contributions and their current realities in celebrations,” Eyolfson says.The holiday is problematic when it only reflects a palatable history of the country, adds commissioner Qajaq Robinson, but it doesn’t mean non-Indigenous people opt out because they feel ashamed.“I don’t think it accomplishes much if we bow our heads in shame and hide in our living rooms,” says Robinson, who was born and raised in Nunavut.She says the country’s positive aspects can be celebrated without glossing over the destructive parts of its past. But that means including Indigenous communities and making sure they feel welcome on their own terms.“What I believe Canada Day can be is a time of reflection and a time to put into action our calls to justice, particularly around the importance of developing relationships.“I don’t think that it’s a contradiction to celebrate the potential of Canada and to celebrate some of what we’ve done, or to be proud of it while also reflecting on what has happened and what we need to do moving forward.” Kelly Geraldine Malone , The Canadian Press