Madrid: FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde continues to avoid questions over the possible return of Brazilian forward Neymar Jr to the club. Speaking to the media ahead of Barca’s friendly against Napoli in the US, Valverde was asked about Neymar who is being linked with a move to Barca’s traditional rival – Real Madrid, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday. When asked if Neymar’s arrival would unbalance the Barca squad, he replied, “that is supposing he arrives”. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “We don’t know what is going to happen and I am not thinking about it. I am thinking about our next game and we will have to see what happens. I am working with the players that I have,” said Valverde. Barca have signed Antoine Griezmann, left back Junior Firpo, goalkeeper Neto and midfielder Frenkie de Jong for the new season and Valverde said he was “always happy with the squad” he has. “I have got some great players. They are players who, apart from half of a game (Champions League against Liverpool) and the Cup final, did everything almost perfectly. We have made some important signings and we will try to improve,” said the coach, who also spoke about the pressure ahead of his third season at the Camp Nou. “The Barca coach is always being looked at and people remember defeats more than wins. I accept that and we will try to win all of our games. That is what we did in my first season and last season,” he said.
Shimla: Train services between Shimla and Kalka were disrupted on Sunday after multiple landslides blocked the rail route in Himachal Pradesh, a rail official said.Landslides occurred at four-five places on the Shimla-Kalka track following heavy rains in the region, he added.A Shimla-bound train from Kalka had started at 3 am but had to be terminated midway at Dharampur Railway Station at 5 am due to landslides, he added.Subsequently it was decided not to run any train till the clearance of the track, he added. Train services on the Shimla-Kalka route are likely to resume on Monday after the track is cleared.
Kolkata: A woman West Bengal Civil Service officer’s mobile phone was snatched by a miscreant on a running train on Tuesday evening.According to sources, Nandakumar Block Land and Land Reforms Officer Sanjukta Pal boarded a downline Mecheda- Howrah train at 6. 10 pm. While the train was passing through Ghoraghat station at 7 pm, a man who was standing at the gate of ladies compartment snatched Sanjukta’s mobile phone. In defence, the woman also caught the miscreant’s hand and during the brawl the thief dragged the woman on the platform. The mobile snatcher ran away from the platform and Sanjukta suffred head injuries. Passengers at the railway station took her to the nearby hospital where she was given first aid and released. A passenger handed over her bag to RPF personnel at Dasnagar police station.
OTTAWA – The federal government is prepared to backstop investors to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built, even if Kinder Morgan, the project’s original sponsor, wants to back out, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Tuesday.His comments sparked reaction from across the political spectrum. A selection of quotes:“Nothing the finance minister said today will ensure that the Trans Mountain expansion actually gets built. The Liberals still don’t have a concrete plan of action to remove delays. Their own policies continue to drive energy investment out of Canada at historic levels.” Shannon Stubbs, Conservative MP and natural resources critic.___“For a Toronto-based finance minister to single out British Columbia as a problem here, he should look at the failure of Energy East, he should look at the failure of Keystone and a whole host of other projects.” British Columbia Premier John Horgan.___“We will do whatever is necessary to ensure construction on the pipeline resumes this summer, as scheduled.” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.___“The Liberals promised change but we keep getting more of the same: Harper-style politics. Now it’s a blank cheque to a Houston-based pipeline company. A spectacular violation of a key plank of the Liberals’ 2015 campaign platform. Whatever happened to ending subsidies to fossil fuels?” Green party Leader Elizabeth May.___“We remain steadfast in our previously stated principles: clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct through British Columbia, and ensuring adequate protection of our KML shareholders. While discussions are ongoing, we are not yet in alignment and will not negotiate in public.” Steve Kean, chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan Canada.___“The risks facing this project go far beyond the B.C. government and Kinder Morgan knows it. Those risks include legal challenges from First Nations, environmental groups and municipal governments, potential legislation in the U.S., along with growing on-the-ground opposition from land and water protectors willing to face arrest to stop this project — from Vancouver to Seattle to Quebec, and beyond. This project isn’t moving forward. The federal government should cut their losses, not double down on them.” Mike Hudema, Greenpeace Canada.___“Let’s be clear, today’s announcement was a pledge to write a blank cheque, backed by public money, to a Texas oil company in a desperate play to bailout a pipeline that violates Justin Trudeau’s own promises on climate change and Indigenous rights. It’s desperate, dangerous and delusional.” Aurore Fauret, tarsands campaign co-ordinator with 350.org.___“This is a desperate attempt by the Trudeau government to use taxpayer money to bail out a collapsing project. It’s fiscally irresponsible and ignores the growing protests to the project and the federal government’s own promises on Indigenous reconciliation.” Tzeporah Berman, Stand.earth.___“Government guarantees to Kinder Morgan shareholders are at odds with the commitment to reduce fossil fuel subsidies and promises to fix the energy project review process. It also adds weight to recent revelations that the decision to approve the project was made before a full analysis of possible impacts was completed.” Tim Gray, Environmental Defence.___“This morning’s desperate ‘announcement’ once again demonstrates the disconnect between the reality of Indigenous title and rights and the federal government’s approach to Kinder Morgan. The world is listening and while Morneau reiterated his government’s support for Kinder Morgan, the purpose of the press conference — to update Canadians on the progress of talks with Kinder Morgan — was lacking in specifics. Canada cannot indemnify against the risks of not respecting Indigenous title and rights.” Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.___“The strength of the language from the federal government is refreshing and necessary. This is clearly federal jurisdiction and the project has federal support.” Sandip Lalli, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber.___
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – A trapeze artist from a renowned family of daredevils hung by her teeth Thursday as a helicopter carried her above the thunder of Niagara Falls in a stunt that grabbed international attention.As people on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border craned their necks to catch a glimpse, aerialist Erendira Vasquez Wallenda performed a series of movements on a hoop suspended from the chopper, including hanging from her knees and toes — and twice from her teeth.“There are no words; it was beautiful,” Wallenda said moments after returning to the ground. “It felt amazing.”Wallenda, 36, performed her feat five years after her stuntman husband, Nik Wallenda, walked 550 metres on a tightrope from the American side of the falls to the Canadian side.Tethered to a safety harness as legally required, Erendira Vasquez Wallenda said the wind above the falls was far more fierce than she had expected, prompting the pilot to nose the chopper a little higher.As someone who has performed since she was five years old, she said she wasn’t nervous.“I know my limits. I would never do anything — I know this sounds silly — that I know would possibly hurt me.”Wallenda said she hoped her performance would inspire others — and she offered a special message for other females.“If a guy can do it, a girl can do it, too,” she said. “We just do it with a little more grace.”Wallenda spent about eight minutes of her 10-minute stunt hovering over the falls. While the plan was to hang from her teeth only once for about 15 seconds, she said she felt so good that she opted to repeat the move for about 10 seconds.The falls, a site that has attracted and inspired daredevils for generations, has a certain mystical pull, Wallenda said after her performance. Watching her husband five years ago made her want to do something as well.“As an artist and a daredevil I guess, there is something about it, something almost magical that draws you to it,” she said.Some observers who watched Wallenda’s stunt from the ground called it an exciting event.“It was pretty impressive,” said Marty Newcomen, who was visiting the area from Calgary and watched the stunt from the Canadian side of the falls. “You could see she was making a few moves up there, definitely, changing positions, going horizontal, putting her legs out.”Janet Dooley, a tourist from California, added that a stunt like Wallenda’s would make for “a nice yearly event.”Nik Wallenda said his dream was to open a permanent family-friendly facility on the U.S. side of the falls where people could learn to perform stunts in safety.In the interim, he said, he hoped more people would come visit the area as a result of the publicity afforded his wife’s stunt.“The global attention is huge. It’s like a worldwide TV commercial.”
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – Help from other provinces and the federal government has begun to pour in for firefighters and thousands of evacuees grappling with more than 200 intense wildfires raging across British Columbia.About 300 firefighters and support staff from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick started to arrive Monday to help relieve the pressure on roughly 1,000 B.C. crew members battling the blazes.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke with Premier Christy Clark as well as premier-designate John Horgan on Sunday night and the Canadian Armed Forces have sent aircraft and personnel to support the emergency response.Residents of Fort McMurray, Alta., who had to flee a massive wildfire last year, have also sprung into action by collecting donations of supplies, driving them to B.C. and offering support and advice on social media.Christopher Seguin, vice-president of advancement at Thompson Rivers University, said terrified evacuees arrived at a Kamloops reception centre with nothing, having “lost everything and having lost it quickly.”He said four tonnes of supplies arrived from Fort McMurray including wrapped and sealed water, Gatorade and baby supplies. Volunteers were making sure the Kamloops food bank receives and distributes them.Seguin expressed his gratitude to the residents of Fort McMurray.“Thank you. Thank you for giving back and thank you for going to an extraordinary effort to making sure we get exactly what we need at exactly the right time,” he said.Provincial authorities said Monday that more than 215 fires were burning, with 29 breaking out on Sunday. The fire has scorched about 400 square kilometres of land and more than 14,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.The entire District of 100 Mile House, a community of roughly 1,800 people, was ordered evacuated Sunday night.Al Richmond, chairman of the Cariboo Regional District, said the last evacuees from 100 Mile House left around 2 a.m. Monday on a bus to Prince George to receive emergency assistance. Others headed to the Lower Mainland, he said.Some nearby communities were under evacuation alert and residents were told to prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.Bob Turner of Emergency Management BC said there were no accidents or injuries as people rushed to flee 100 Mile House. He praised the “nimble and flexible” response and ongoing co-operation between the province, Ottawa and First Nations.“Generally, we’re still looking at a deteriorating situation,” he added. “We are looking at many weeks to come of a very challenging environment and public safety will remain the overriding priority of government.”Turner said the agency has been in regular contact with its counterpart in Alberta and has also closely studied reports that were written after the Fort McMurray fire to make sure B.C. is applying lessons that were learned.Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said B.C. requested 3,000 cots and 3,000 blankets from federal stockpiles and they have been delivered to Prince George.The province also asked for air support from the Canadian Armed Forces, which will be used for emergency evacuations and to move firefighters, emergency officials and equipment around the fire zone.“It’s a relatively small number at this moment but we are in very early days here,” Goodale said in Regina.BC Hydro said the fires have caused significant damage to electrical infrastructure in the Interior and have left thousands without power. The utility was actively working Monday to restore electricity.Nearly 70 public parks were closed and campfires were banned provincewide, apart from Haida Gwaii and the west coast of Vancouver Island.The largest blaze, covering more than 60 square kilometres, was burning near Ashcroft, an Interior community about 90 kilometres from Kamloops.Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta has said the fire between Ashcroft and Cache Creek destroyed dozens of buildings, including at least five houses, 30 trailer park homes and two hangars at a regional airport.Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, said structures had definitely been lost in multiple fires across the province, but the assessment of how many was still underway.Gusty winds and hot, dry conditions are expected to continue for days, said Skrepnek. Some lightning was anticipated, bringing rain but also the potential to ignite new fires.“Unfortunately, in terms of the weather forecast, we’re not really seeing any reprieve in the immediate future,” he said.— By Laura Kane and Elizabeth Leighton in Vancouver, with files from Jennifer Graham in Regina.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said firefighters and support staff were also coming from Nova Scotia.
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – Conditions have eased around a wildfire sparked nearly two weeks ago in southeastern British Columbia, prompting the Regional District of Central Kootenay to rescind evacuation orders and alerts.Officials say residents would be allowed to return early Tuesday evening to nearly 40 properties that were evacuated Aug. 12 as an aggressive wildfire flared 20 kilometres southwest of Salmo.The fire closed Highway 6 leading to the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Nelway, and the regional district says both the highway and the border crossing were also scheduled to reopen Tuesday evening.The B.C. Wildfire Service website shows the blaze had scorched about four square kilometres of bush and was 50-per-cent contained.Wildfire officials reported 135 fires around B.C. on Monday and Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek said calmer and cooler conditions helped firefighters.There was concern about an approaching storm forecast to bring gusty winds and lightning to the central Interior by Thursday, challenging crews trying to contain a nearly 4,700-square-kilometre wildfire that formed last week when 19 smaller fires grew together west of Quesnel.
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – British Columbia’s premier spent Monday touring some communities affected by this year’s unprecedented wildfire season, promising financial assistance but cautioning it will take more than cheques to help with the recovery.John Horgan said it will take years for ranchers, tourism operators and communities to recover from the wildfires as he reassured residents that financial assistance is part of the rebuilding process.“That always is the place you start. You want to make sure the resources are there, the dollars are there to make a difference,” Horgan said in Kamloops.Horgan travelled to several communities in the Interior with Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, looking for first-hand information from firefighters and residents.Horgan’s itinerary included meetings with Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta and members of First Nations in the Ashcroft area to discuss specific needs and plans, as well as a visit to Kelowna, where a wildfire that broke out Thursday kept about 380 residents away from 160 properties closest to the flames.The Central Okanagan Regional District downgraded evacuation orders in the Joe Rich area to alerts for another 120 residents early Monday after allowing 600 people to return home Sunday.The fire started about 25 kilometres east of Kelowna and had charred just under five square kilometres of bush and trees on Monday.Kevin Skrepnek with the BC Wildfire Service said 138 wildfires were burning across the province Monday, adding to the season’s total of 1,127 fires since April 1.Just over 10,600 square kilometres of timber, brush and grassland have been destroyed across the province this year, which Skrepnek said is the largest area to burn in a fire season in the province’s recorded history. The province has spent more than $404 million fighting wildfires.Based on a forecast of persistent hot and dry weather across southern B.C., the fire season could stretch into the fall, he said.“Even if we get a good amount of rain over the southern part of the province, there’s still going to be a tremendous amount of work to do getting these fires mopped up and extinguished,” Skrepnek said.Some departments are moving toward the recovery phase of the fire season.Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC said plans are in the works for a program to help communities rebuild including help for farmers, ranchers and small businesses.About 2,000 people remain displaced and another 11,000 were on evacuation alert to leave their homes quickly if necessary, Duffy said.Despite the length and intensity of the fire season, Skrepnek said there haven’t been any fatalities or serious injuries.“Given how volatile, given how dire it has been at times, I think the wildfire service, everyone else involved and particularly the public has shown quite a bit of resilience,” he said.(The Canadian Press, CHNL)
CALGARY – Business leaders are welcoming Alberta’s decision to not decide yet whether recreational cannabis will be sold through private or government owned retail shops when it becomes legal next year.Richard Truscott, B.C. and Alberta vice-president for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says he’s pleased that Alberta hasn’t followed Ontario in excluding the private sector from retail sales.He says selling cannabis only in government-run shops would be “going back in time” to the way alcohol was sold before Alberta privatized its liquor retailing system in 1993.Mike Rintoul of Calgary-based Good Earth Pharms, which wants to set up private franchises for recreational cannabis sales in Alberta, agrees but says time is short to set up retail shops before legalization next July, regardless of whether the stores are run by the government or entrepreneurs.Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says there are pluses and minuses to both options while introducing draft regulations and inviting Alberta residents to give feedback over the next three weeks.She says it would be more costly for government to build a retail chain of shops from scratch but it could miss out on tax revenues down the road if it isn’t in on retailing pot from the start.
EDMONTON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised an Edmonton police officer for his “exemplary” actions during an attack in which he was run down and then stabbed.Trudeau met with Const. Mike Chernyk on Saturday during a visit to the Alberta capital and thanked the officer for his efforts, which the Prime Minister said helped save lives.“It is a testament to his strength, but also to his training and just to the excellence of first-responders right across this country that he was able to keep a cool head in the most chaotic and violent of circumstances,” Trudeau said.Chernyk had been working crowd control outside a Canadian Football League game at Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 30 when he was hit by a car that rammed through a barrier and sent him flying through the air.The driver then got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing Chernyk, who fought back as he was lying on the ground.Hours after Chernyk was injured, a cube van with police cars in pursuit drove down Jasper Avenue and hit four pedestrians.“On the morning after the attack I was, like so many Canadians, watching online in disbelief the footage of him being flung across the road and then viciously attacked,” Trudeau told reporters shortly after meeting Chernyk and his daughter at Edmonton’s police headquarters on Saturday.“His actions at that moment were exemplary, and I told him so.”Chernyk, a 10-year-veteran, suffered stab wounds to the face and the head but was released from hospital relatively quickly.He is now back on the job.Over the last couple of weeks Chernyk has been honoured at both CFL and National Hockey League games in the city.“I know that the terrorist attack earlier this month hit Edmonton and Edmontonians hard. I also know that the people who live here are good people. We look out for our neighbours. They offer a hand to those in need and they stand united against those who promote fear and seek to divide us,” said Trudeau, who met earlier in the day with community representatives at a multicultural centre for newcomers.Police Chief Rod Knecht on Friday credited Chernyk’s recovery to his being “a real resilient individual.”Knecht said he has recently met with the last of the four to remain in hospital, Kim O’Hara, who suffered a skull fracture.He said her family is optimistic about her progress.A suspect, Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, a 30-year-old Somali refugee, faces 11 charges including attempted murder, dangerous driving, criminal flight causing bodily harm and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. He was scheduled to next appear in court on Nov. 14 to face the allegations.Police said an Islamic state flag was found in one of the vehicles involved. Initially police said terrorism charges were expected but none have been laid.
OSHAWA, Ont. – A handful of residents in a city east of Toronto were forced from their homes on Saturday as police worked to defuse a potentially explosive package inside a home where a person died under suspicious circumstances.Durham regional police said the investigation is in its early stages, since they could not enter the Oshawa, Ont., home until the suspicious package had been dealt with.Const. George Tudos said people in neighbouring homes were asked to leave for their own protection while members of the explosives disposal unit assessed the package.Police said the an explosives robot rendered the package safe and bomb technicians were entering the home around mid-afternoon.Tudos declined to say exactly what had been located, but had warned residents might hear a “loud bang” as police proceeded with their investigation.Tudos also declined to share details on the death that brought police to the home on Friday evening other than to describe it as suspicious.He said a citizen called police to the home after finding the body of an unidentified female inside.He declined to share the person’s name or age, adding that an autopsy will be conducted later on Saturday to determine the cause of death.Tudos said police have made an arrest in the death, which occurred in the basement apartment of the home.A 45-year-old man was arrested at the home and is charged with improper/indecent interference with a dead body.“At this time there is no homicide charge against this individual,” he said. “I’m not saying that there won’t be. This investigation is still ongoing.”Tudos did not disclose details about what, if any, relationship existed between the accused and the deceased.
WASHINGTON – Kat Schamel did not vote in the last American election, because her 18th birthday happened to fall on Nov. 9, 2016, one day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.She promises she won’t let it happen again.“I’m going to be voting, next election, all the way through for the rest of my life,” said the Utah native, who now lives in Toronto and is a dual American-Canadian citizen. Fittingly, she was standing outside the Canadian embassy to witness an American political phenomenon Saturday in Washington, D.C.A generational wave lapped onto Washington, as hundreds of thousands of mostly young protesters washed across nearly two kilometres of Pennsylvania Avenue to demand changes to American gun laws.Its size resembled the women’s march more than a year earlier, with both serving as examples of a surge in liberal political energy since Trump’s election. Demonstrators Saturday chanted, “Vote them out!” and held signs with slogans like I Can’t Wait to Vote.Grim historical markers dotted the march’s path.U.S. president James Garfield was shot to death just across the street from where Schamel stood. The sea of people rippled past Ford’s Theater, where president Abraham Lincoln was shot. Even the Canadian embassy is where it is because Pennsylvania Avenue was refurbished in tribute to president John F. Kennedy after he was shot. Visiting protesters filled the hotel where president Ronald Reagan was shot.Speaking from a podium, young people shared one tragic story after another, about losing siblings and friends in various mass shootings and the daily violence in inner cities. The scene was repeated in marches across the continent, including more than a dozen Canadian cities.In New York, rock legend Paul McCartney talked about how he lost a friend by Central Park. Alluding to fellow Beatle John Lennon, McCartney told CNN: “One of my best friends was killed in gun violence. Right around here. So it’s important to me.”Back in Washington, just outside the Canadian embassy, Nicole Rafanello recalled working with the man who shot Reagan. She’s a forensic psychologist who treated John Hinckley, Jr.Rafanello said she was personally affected by that work. On Saturday, she was carrying a more peaceful weapon: a clipboard.She was among the volunteers registering young protesters to vote.“I’m not here to take anybody’s gun away. I have friends who have guns. My husband was in the military for 24 years,” Rafanello said.“My issue is getting it out of the wrong hands. It’s too easy. People are not required to take any kind of gun-safety measures. They should have to get training. We have to get trained to drive a car.”There have actually been three modest gun reforms in recent days.A massive new omnibus bill includes two changes. It provides funding to update background-check systems with missing data on criminal and mental-health history, and restores permission for federal health researchers to study gun violence. Also, President Trump signed an executive order to ban bump stocks.Schamel called that a good start.Now she wants to see limits on magazine sizes; a 21-year-old minimum age to purchase firearms; expanded background checks; and restrictions on semi-automatic weapons.Some people wandering in the crowd held up signs demanding an even more dramatic goal: repeal of the Second Amendment’s constitutional right to bear arms. It seems a remote possibility in a country where smaller changes, with popular support, have stalled in a polity paralyzed by partisanship, pitting mostly rural voters against mostly urban ones.Schamel has first-hand knowledge of those clashing cultures.She grew up in Utah, with a father and grandfather as members of the National Rifle Association. Her grandpa sold guns on his front lawn. But she said her generation wants change.“I grew up after Columbine,” she said, referring to the 1999 school massacre that shocked the nation. “I used to go to school afraid for my life — as a Grade One student (in Utah). And that is completely unacceptable.“Going to school in Canada now, seeing the difference, I’ve experienced what good gun control can do,” she said. “We’re still free in Canada. But we can go to school without being afraid for our lives.”While Schamel rode to D.C. on a bus from Toronto with the group Democrats Abroad, she said it doesn’t matter how people vote, but for politicians to work for the general public.Polls agree with her: There’s strong support for modest gun reforms, but, among youth, weak attachment to any party. Young Americans aren’t crazy about the Democrats, but their view of Republicans is worse and plummeting.At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Ly Nguyen was celebrating her 18th birthday.She described advice offered by her ninth-grade health teacher: AR-15 rifles tend to miss high, so students should lay low during an attack. She said lockdown drills are getting scarier.“My … teacher kept a hammer in her desk, and said if a shooter came in she, a 60-year-old woman, would take the hammer and rush the guy … (to) buy us a few seconds so that we could get books, whatever, throw them at the shooter, rush the shooter. ‘No cowards’ — that’s what she told us.”Nguyen had another plan.It was pasted on the sign she hoisted above the avenue: “I turn 18 today. I will vote you out.”
OTTAWA – Two of the seven MPs who quit the Bloc Quebecois three months ago over Martine Ouellet’s leadership are rejoining the party with her departure imminent.Michel Boudrias and Simon Marcil are returning to the fold, while the five others will stay in the new party they are setting up.Rheal Fortin, one of the five, said Wednesday the decision to not return was based on Bloc members voting last weekend to make Quebec independence front and centre of the party’s daily discussion.“The Bloc Quebecois we left is still there,” Fortin said.Boudrias, meanwhile, said there is no room for both parties.“That’s obvious,” Boudrias said. “At some point, we’re all going to have to talk to each other.”Ouellet announced Monday she will step down as head of the Bloc after she received only 32 per cent support in a leadership vote last weekend.The resignation takes effect this coming Monday.The Bloc has been in disarray since late February when the seven MPs quit over Ouellet’s leadership style, accusing her of talking about independence at all times instead of working to defend Quebec’s interests within the current parliamentary system.
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says President Donald Trump will face anti-Russian solidarity around the NATO table on Wednesday.Ahead of the 29-country military summit, Trump said Tuesday that Putin is less of a problem for him than under spending NATO allies, and the EU’s pending Brexit breakup with the U.K.Trudeau says the NATO “table” remains united in its view that Russia is creating significant problems in the world.He says the NATO alliance, built on a view of shared democratic values, is as relevant now as it was when it was created to counter the then Soviet Union, following the Second World War.Trump has been railing against NATO allies for what he sees as weak defence spending.The U.S. president is also threatening to disrupt the NATO summit by minimizing the negative influence of Russia.
CALGARY – A lawyer for a man on trial for first-degree murder in the death of a Calgary mother of four says Curtis Healy should be found guilty of second-degree murder instead.A jury heard evidence that Healy met Dawns Baptiste on a light-rail transit train while she was on her way to stay with a friend and that she told him to leave her alone after they walked away from the station.Court heard Healy became enraged at the rejection and then stomped Baptiste’s head, dragged her through a hedge, raped her while she was unconscious and struck her over the head with a large rock.“This case isn’t about who caused the death of Ms. Baptiste. Curtis Healy caused Ms. Baptiste’s death. Curtis Healy sexually assaulted Ms. Baptiste — we know that,” defence lawyer Shamsher Kothari said in closing arguments Wednesday.As several of Baptiste’s friends and relatives watched from the gallery, Kothari asked jurors to convict Healy of second-degree murder.“You’ll convict Mr. Healy of murder, but it’s not first degree murder.”Prosecutor Carla MacPhail said because Baptiste’s killing took place along with the rape, it’s first-degree murder. But Kothari suggested to jurors that there is much that is unclear with the sequence of events in the early morning of Feb. 11, 2015.Kothari said a statement Healy gave to police four days later should be treated with skepticism.Jurors were shown video of the interview with Det. Colum Cavilla, during which Healy confessed to the rape and killing of Baptiste, saying he’d used the rock to “finish her off.”“Mr. Healy is easily led and he basically gives parrot-like answers within that inherently unreliable statement,” Kothari said.“I’m going to suggest to you that during these inherently unreliable statements, Det. Cavilla fed Mr. Healy certain words and themes and I’m going to suggest that Mr. Healy is a low functioning person and because of that he latched on to certain words.”Prosecutor Carla MacPhail said it is possible that Baptiste punched Healy, as he describes in the police statement, but that jurors should put no stock in his contention that she tried to stab him.“It is quite clear that if that punch happened, it was to underline that sentiment: get away from me, an effort to repel him away from her,” she said.“I suggest it is proven that Mr. Healy became enraged with Dawns Baptiste after she said what she said … And this state of anger, in the Crown’s submission, is consistent with the vicious extent of the stomping, the dragging, the raping, the striking her with a rock.”MacPhail also told jurors that security footage shows Healy was not so drunk that night that he was stumbling and unco-ordinated.She said it is possible that Healy has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, as he mentions in the police statement, “but the fact remains that he was absolutely capable of understanding and providing answers to Det. Cavilla on Feb. 15.”She said many of the things he told the detective proved to be lies, and that at numerous points on the night of Baptiste’s death he made efforts to deflect suspicion.“You know that Mr. Healy is capable of resisting suggestion, you know he is capable of saying no, because he has done so numerous times during that interaction with Det. Cavilla,” MacPhail said.Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Charlene Anderson is to give instructions to the jury on Thursday afternoon.
OTTAWA — With a little over a week before Christmas, Canada Post says it is starting to catch up on parcel deliveries that have been delayed by rotating strikes over the past two months.The Crown corporation says that’s largely because it is taking in fewer holiday parcels than expected.At the same time, however, the agency says it cannot restore its delivery guarantees because backlogs remain sporadic across the country.Canada Post says volumes of international deliveries are also significantly less than expected, allowing postal workers to make some progress in reducing backlogs of packages from foreign locations.The corporation requested in mid-November that its international partners stop sending packages to Canada while work stoppages were held in cities across the country.Those international carriers resumed shipments Nov. 27 after the federal government passed back-to-work legislation, forcing an end to the rotating walkouts.“The international volumes now entering the country are significantly less than expected,” Canada Post said in a statement. “Processing lower incoming volumes, combined with the time lag for items to arrive in Canada, has helped us make some progress this week.”Letter mail deliveries, meanwhile, are “current,” the corporation said, meaning that Christmas cards and other mail are expected to be delivered under normal timeframes.Canada Post said its employees are being offered voluntary overtime.As well, the agency said it has hired nearly 4,000 additional seasonal employees and bolstered its delivery fleet with almost 2,000 additional vehicles.The federal government appointed mediator Elizabeth MacPherson earlier this week to try to negotiate contract settlements between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, which represents about 50,000 postal employees.The two sides sat down to their first meeting with MacPherson on Wednesday. She has until Monday to bring both sides to a deal, although that deadline can be extended by another week.If no agreements are reached, the former chair of the Canada Industrial Relations Board also has been given authority to begin a binding arbitration process in January.The Canadian Press
Adina Bresge , The Canadian Press The minister for women and gender equality says an advisory committee is developing a national framework to hold universities and colleges responsible for addressing sexual violence on campus, but student groups say those promises need to be backed by resources and oversight mechanisms to have an impact.Minister Maryam Monsef sat down with students, school representatives and survivor advocates in Montreal on Wednesday for the first meeting of a newly appointed advisory committee tasked with drafting a Canada-wide framework to combat sexual violence in post-secondary institutions.Monsef told The Canadian Press the goal is to set national standards to ensure that all Canadian students have access to sexual-assault resources that are “trauma-informed” and “culturally sensitive” to the diversity of survivors’ experiences.“We’ve been asked to come in and fill in gaps where they exist, and enhance and scale up best practices where they’re occurring,” Monsef said in a phone interview Wednesday.The Liberal government has committed $5.5 million over five years towards the initiative, which was announced in the 2018 federal budget, alongside a threat: Starting in 2019, the government said it would consider yanking federal funding from post-secondary schools that aren’t implementing “best practices” to address sexual violence.Asked what kinds of federal funding could be revoked from schools, Monsef said, “We’re not there yet.” However, she said the advisory committee will discuss measures to ensure the framework is implemented, and if all else fails, the government will enforce them.“This is not something we take lightly,” said Monsef. “We believe that it’s more important to develop something with everybody at the table and making sure we get it right at the front end, rather than develop something for those who will be responsible for implementing and then asking them to enforce it.”Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Manitoba already have legislation requiring all universities and colleges to have stand-alone sexual assault policies.Monsef said the aim isn’t for the committee to duplicate these efforts, but to reconcile the “hodgepodge” of policies that a number of schools have adopted to varying success.Connor Spencer, the national chair of Students for Consent Culture Canada, which has a representative on the advisory committee, hopes the federal government will learn from what she sees as the failures that have occurred on the provincial level.As an example, Spencer points to a number of post-secondary institutions in Quebec that failed to meet the province’s Jan. 1 deadline to adopt sexual violence policies. Quebec’s education ministry posted on its website last Thursday a list of schools that have complied.“None of the (provincial) legislation has actual robust oversight mechanisms outlined,” Spencer said, adding that many of these laws don’t meet the student group’s minimum standards, such as setting out clear timelines for sexual-violence complaints.“Federal oversight is an important step in changing the culture that exists on these campuses, and the provinces and the federal government will have to work together on this.”Trina James, treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Students, who sits on the advisory committee but couldn’t attend Wednesday’s meeting, said she could not discuss the group’s internal workings due to a confidentiality agreement.A spokesperson for Minister Monsef said participants were asked to confidentiality agreements, which were intended to help survivors share their stories and expertise to inform the framework.James said she’s heartened to see the conversation about campus sexual violence taking place at the national level, but it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be backed by the resources necessary for schools to tackle the problem on their campuses.Key drafters on the advisory committee are expected to deliver a final report on the framework this spring.
TORONTO — Student organizations say the Ontario government’s decision to allow college and university students to opt out of the fees that fund campus groups, student newspapers and clubs will make the province’s post-secondary institutions less transparent.The change to fee payments was announced Thursday alongside other reforms to higher education that included scrapping free tuition for low-income students and imposing an across-the-board tuition fee cut.Merrilee Fullerton, the minister of training, colleges and universities, said some fees — including walksafe programs, health and counselling, athletics and recreation and academic support — will remain mandatory.She said each institution will be tasked with deciding which of these additional fees are deemed essential and which students can choose to bypass.“These fees often get allocated to services students do not use or to support organizations they do not support,” she said. “In most cases, students do not have a clear understanding of what these fees are paying for or any choice about paying them. This must change.”Fullerton said she believes there are many programs that haven’t been deemed essential that students will consider important and support.Several student groups expressed concerns that colleges and universities would be determining the fate of organizations meant to hold school administrators and the provincial government to account.Nour Alideeb, chairperson of Canadian Federations of Students Ontario, said the move seems targeted toward certain campus organizations.“What’s really scary is that I feel like this is a direct attack on the groups that actually try to hold the government accountable when it comes to student issues,” she said.Canadian University Press, a national co-operative owned and operated by student newspapers across the country, said campus newspapers rely heavily on student levees and may not be able to function if students opt out en masse.“Without that source of revenue, they may well have to shut down,” said Emma McPhee, CUP’s vice-president.Aside from job losses, there would also be a huge hit to transparency at the post-secondary level, she said.Without student associations, there is no one to hold institutions accountable for decisions surrounding fee increases, programming, or strategic plans,” said the group’s president, Brittany Greig.Students could also lose access to transparent academic appeals, services such as on-campus food banks and breakfast programs, and scholarships as well as student employment opportunities, she said.Emmett Macfarlane, an associate professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, said the changes to student fees are likely to appeal to the Tory government’s base.“The policy idea is very attractive to conservatives because the ancillary fees are an additional, compulsory tax on attending university,” he said. “If you are a student who doesn’t like the politics of the Canadian Federation of Students and you see that some of your fees are going to the body, now you’ll not be required to pay that.”Macfarlane said the fee opt-out could have “unintended consequences” depending on how universities are required to implement the policy.“What happens to the vibrancy of student life on campus without some of the institutions and institutional supports that they have?” he said. “It would be a shame if some campuses were to suddenly lose … the campus paper or radio station.”Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — A horse has died from an injury that occurred during a chuckwagon race at this year’s Calgary Stampede.Stampede authorities confirm something happened to the animal about halfway around the track during Wednesday evening’s second heat of the Rangeland Derby.Officials determined the horse suffered a fracture in its left front leg and a decision was made to euthanize the animal because there was no treatment option.The horse is the second one to die during this week’s Rangeland DerbyA 14-year-old gelding collapsed on Monday, but results of a necropsy have not been released.The Calgary and Vancouver humane societies have strongly criticized the chuckwagon races, but the Stampede says all competing horses are microchipped, tracked for exertion and rest periods and inspected by a veterinary team before racing. (CTV Calgary)The Canadian Press
The roof was well and truly raised at the Plage Royale private members’ club in Cannes this week, when over 300 guests joined three powerful and philanthropic women — Supermodel Natalia Vodianova, Caroline Baron and Daphna Ziman – at the inaugural Beach Ball Gala in support of Naked Heart Foundation and FilmAid International.Natalia Vodianova Hosts Fundraiser Gala in CannesIn partnership with Cinemoi Television Network, guests including Mel B, Radha Mitchell , renowned British fashion designer Julien Macdonald and swimsuit designer Melissa Odabash, enjoyed amazing food and specially crafted Beach Ball cocktails from Sodastream and Chivas. The evening’s emcee, Cinemoi North America President Daphna Ziman, and Natalia Vodianova and Caroline Baron, founders of Naked Heart Foundation and FilmAid International, shared inspiring words followed by a soulful live musical performance by R & B superstar Kenny Lattimore.The evening raised approximately $500,000 through a silent and live auction conducted by Christie’s, with rare offerings including a private photo session with Patrick Demarchelier which brought in over $100,000. The event was made possible by the generous support of Bocelli Family Wines, Guerlain Paris , Chivas, Sodastream, Plage Royale and Rodial.“Cinemoi chose the Beach Ball Gala for its inaugural presence during the Cannes Film Festival because of the two powerful women, Natalia Vodianova and Caroline Baron , whose passion for helping women’s and children’s causes mirror Cinemoi’s humanitarian philosophy,” said Cinemoi North America President Daphna Ziman. “We were also thrilled with the warm reception Cinemoi received from celebrities and festival attendees who lauded our network for its quality and elegant programming,” added Ziman.Cinemoi North America, on DirecTV channel 259, is quickly becoming one of the most desired destinations on cable network — introducing American viewers to curated, contemporary and vintage movies and providing coverage to glamorous world events and exotic destinations. U.S. viewers have accessible 24-hour exciting and entertaining movie and lifestyle programming, primarily in English, ranging from CineDramas to CineFilmNoir, CineFestivals, CineDoc, CineCouture, CineGreen, CineThriller and CineRomance.The Naked Heart Foundation was founded by Natalia Vodianova in 2004 to support efforts to eradicate child abandonment in Russia and build inspiring and accessible play facilities in impoverished areas across the country.FilmAid International uses the power of film and media to transcend language and literacy, bringing life-saving information, psychological relief and much-needed hope to refugees and other communities in need around the globe.