Pune: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday accused Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other BJP ministers of “committing themselves” to poaching leaders from other parties before the assembly election.Pawar also accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of misusing probe agencies and state-run financial bodies to compel leaders to join their fold. “The chief minister and other ministers in the state government have literally committed themselves to this work (luring leaders of other parties). They are making phone calls to leaders of other parties and asking them to join,” the NCP president said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Citing an example of the alleged misuse of financial bodies, he said: “The sugar mill of (former MLA) Kalyan Kale in Pandharpur was in a difficult situation. The state government, by flouting norms, gave Rs 30-35 crore to it and asked him to join the BJP. Since he wanted to save his factory, he switched over.” Pawar claimed that NCP state women’s president Chitra Wagh, who had announced last Friday that she was quitting the party, was also forced to join the BJP by way of threats. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”Wagh met me. She looked worried,” Pawar said. “She told me that there are some criminal cases against her husband. In addition to that, an ACB (anti corruption bureau) inquiry has been initiated against their cooperative institution. That is why she asked me to give her permission to join the BJP,” he said. Pawar alleged that Kagal NCP MLA Hasan Mushrif was also made an offer by the BJP, but when he refused, the income tax department carried out raids at his premises in Kolhapur. Pawar added that Satara MLA Shivendraraje Bhosle and Ahmednagar MLA Sangram Jagtap are with the NCP.
Bengaluru: Karnataka Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar on Sunday disqualified 14 more rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law till the end of the assembly term in 2023, a day ahead of Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa seeking the trust vote in the assembly to prove his majority.Eleven Congress MLAs and three JD(S) lawmakers faced the axe from the speaker, who pronounced his ruling at a hurriedly called news conference, two days after Yediyurappa took the oath as chief minister after the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsThe Speaker’s action would have no bearing on the fate of the Yediyurappa government, as with disqualification of the rebel MLAs with immediate effect, their absence would reduce the effective strength of the House, making it a walk in the park for the BJP. The absence of 20 MLAs-17 rebels, also one each legislator from Congress, BSP and Independent-during the vote of confidence motion moved by the Congress-JD(S) coalition government headed by H D Kumaraswamy had led to Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursdayits downfall after weeks of drama marked by murky political intrigues and court battle.With the disqualification of 17 rebel MLAs -14 from the Congress and three from JD(S) – on Sunday, the effective strength of the 224-member assembly excluding the Speaker, who has a casting vote in case of a tie, is 207. The magic figure required will be 104. BJP along with the support of one independent has 106 members, Congress 66 (including nominated), JD(S) 34 and one BSP member, who has been expelled by the party for not voting for the Kumaraswamy government during the trust vote. “I have used my judicial conscience… I am 100 per cent hurt,” said the Speaker, when asked about his controversial decision on disqualification being called into question and allegations about his conduct in the entire issue. The Speaker’s sudden move also comes with indications from the BJP that it was mulling moving a no-confidence against him if he doesn’t voluntarily give up the post when the assembly meets on Monday. Kumar said he was taking the action based on the petitions moved by the Congress and JD(S) to disqualify the rebel MLAs, who had also submitted resignations as assembly members and were absent during the trust vote. The BJP slammed the Speaker’s action, calling it “unfair and violative of the law” which, it said, had been taken “yielding to the pressure from a party”. Congress Legislature Party leader Siddarmaiah, in a tweet, termed the Speaker’s decision as “a victory for democracy”. JD(S) too, in a tweet, welcoming the Speaker’s decision, said, “the Speaker has sent a strong message to those who tried to uproot democracy by disqualifying legislators who fell for allurements of power and money, disregarded public mandate and violated the party whip.” A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in its order on Wednesday last gave the Assembly Speaker the freedom to decide on the resignation of the 15 MLAs within such time-frame as considered appropriate by him. It had also ruled that the rebel MLAs cannot be compelled to attend the assembly proceedings. A day ahead of seeking the trust vote in the Karnataka assembly, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Sunday expressed confidence about proving the majority. “On Monday hundred per cent I will prove the majority,” Yediyurappa told reporters here.
Beijing: Chinese stocks opened higher on Tuesday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 0.56 per cent to open at 2,879.52 points. The Shenzhen Component Index opened 0.68 per cent higher at 9,333.10 points, Xinhua news agency reported. Meanwhile, the central parity rate of the Chinese currency renminbi, or the yuan, weakened 240 pips to 7.0810 against the US dollar, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. In China’s spot foreign exchange market, the yuan is allowed to rise or fall by 2 per cent from the central parity rate each trading day. The central parity rate of the yuan against the US dollar is based on a weighted average of prices offered by market makers before the opening of the interbank market each business day.
MONTREAL – Former Aveos employees have been authorized to proceed with a class action lawsuit against Air Canada.The airline could have to pay more than $100 million if found guilty, lawyers for the plaintiffs said in a statement Tuesday after a Quebec Superior Court justice gave the green light to the legal action.Aveos used to be a subsidiary of Air Canada whose 1,800 employees conducted maintenance work on the airline’s fleet in three centres located in Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver.Air Canada sold most of its shares in Aveos in 2007 and then proceeded to gradually reduce its contracts with the maintenance company, forcing it to close permanently in 2012 due to lack of orders.The law that privatized Air Canada in 1988 obliged the airline, however, to keep its maintenance operations in the country.Previous decisions by Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Aveos employees and state Air Canada violated the law.The class action also claims the airline acted in bad faith by deliberately provoking the closure of Aveos.A spokesperson for Air Canada said the company would not comment as the matter is before the courts, and added the airline’s position will be made public during the legal proceedings.(Companies in this story: TSX:AC)Note to readers: This is a corrected version. A previous story said Air Canada was privatized in 1998
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – A fun collaboration with Snoop Dogg called “No Pressure” rewarded Nova Scotia rapper Classified with the Song of the Year award Thursday night at the annual East Coast Music Awards.The rapper, from Enfield, N.S., produced the tune, which also samples a song from emerging Cape Breton-born, Halifax based singer-songwriter Dave Sampson.Classified also produced Ria Mae’s self-titled album, which captured the award for Solo Recording of the year. Mae’s album featuring “Clothes Off” became a smash hit on the Canadian radio charts and grabbed a Juno nomination for single of the year — a category based on sales.The awards show, hosted by comedian James Mullinger, was held in Saint John, N.B.The show featured live performances by David Myles, Classified, Ria Mae, Tomato/Tomato, and others.Old Man Luedecke captured Album of the Year for his Domestic Eccentric. Produced by Tim O’Brien, the album was recorded in a small cabin in the snowy Nova Scotia woods.Les Hotesses d’Hilaire walked away with two awards on the night — Francophone Recording of the Year and Group Recording of the Year.Tristan Horncastle had the Country Recording of the Year with “Turnin’ Up a Sundown.”Ever-popular Lennie Gallant was named the Fans’ Choice Entertainer of the year.The East Coast Music Association is a regional collaboration of people in the music industry to foster, develop and celebrate East Coast music and its artists.“Once again, the awards show proved to be an excellent way to kick off the ECMAs,” said Andy McLean, the group’s executive director.Industry sessions and local performances continue though the weekend.Other winners Thursday night included War Horses for Indigenous Artist of the Year, and The Motorleague with Rock Recording of the Year for “Holding Patterns.”Like a Motorcycle took home the coveted Rising Star Recording of the Year award for their hard-driving rock tune “High Hopes.”The remaining 2017 East Coast Music Awards, including the Industry Awards, will be handed out over the course of the weekend as the festival continues in Saint John.— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton
Nicolas Macrozonaris’s first car was a fluorescent green 1993 Ford Tempo that he bought for $800 and four pairs of Oakley sunglasses.It was 2002, and the beginning of a rags-to-riches couple of years that saw the 22-year-old become one of the world’s top sprinters.Macrozonaris had spotted the car with a “For Sale” sign in the window at a Montreal corner store. The owner was asking $2,200. Macrozonaris didn’t have it. In need of wheels to get to and from training, he offered to sweeten the deal with a few pairs of sunglasses from Oakley, one of his first sponsors.“We met, and he starts trying on these glasses. Some are super extreme, you know the skater, crazy, fluorescent glasses. And he’s like 65, and he put them on and he looks crazy. And he looked at me and asked ‘How do I look?’ I said ‘You look great, man,’” Macrozonaris said, laughing.Macrozonaris is 37 now and still running — figuratively, if not literally. The two-time Olympian and five-time national champion is vying for a seat on city council in Laval, Que., as part of Jean-Claude Gobe’s Action Laval party. Representing the opposition party, he’s working with a shoestring budget. But he’s well-versed in getting by on little.This past weekend, Macrozonaris enlisted his athletes — he runs his own track club Final Push in Montreal — to help him hand out pamphlets to the 7,000 constituents in his Sainte-Dorothee riding. Among his concerns is the lack of decent sport facilities in the riding.He canvases door-to-door, dressed in his white and red Canada jacket from the 2004 Olympic closing ceremonies. He poses for photos with his constituents, and then sends them a copy.“It’s so interesting because it’s just like a competition, you find yourself being super motivated,” he said. “Literally I’m working hard going door-to-door, talking to people, in the middle of the night putting up my signs, the next day doing grocery stores, and I’m just trying to catch up for all the time I lost.”He officially entered the race in late September. The election is Nov. 5.“A reporter told me ‘Politics is tough,’ but I said ‘When you’re doing stuff for the right reasons, it is easy,’” he said. “People might say ‘Nic, aren’t you tired?’ but you find this energy because when you’re passionate, or you find something really intriguing, or you’re really excited about something, it’s almost an unlimited amount of energy. I’m in that stage in my life where I have an enormous amount of energy.”Macrozonaris was touted as the future of Canadian sprinting when he earned a spot on the Sydney Olympic team at 19. Behind the scenes, he was just scraping by. His parents had recently divorced and he was sharing a bed with his brother in a small Montreal apartment. He was exchanging gas station reward points for sandwiches.And then he beat American Tim Montgomery, the world record-holder at the time, in a 100-metre race in Mexico City, crossing in 10.03 seconds. Off the track, his life was changing at a breakneck pace. He threw out the first pitch at a Montreal Expos game. He upgraded to a Lexus, which he would later sell to buy his mom Doris a condo less than 100 metres from his own. He rubbed shoulders with people like Prince Albert II of Monaco.“Literally my life completely changed from eating sandwiches with Petro Points to hanging out at nice restaurants where the Prince eats. Any 22-year-old that goes through that process, I don’t care how well-structured you are, it’s going to mess you up,” Macrozonaris said. “I was living with my brother, so no structure, no guidance. And it’s easy to kind of lose track, and be a little bit of a wrecking ball, and thinking you know everything.”Macrozonaris butted heads with coach Glenroy Gilbert, and lost his spot on the 4×100 relay team at the 2003 world championships.His 10.03 — he missed dipping under sub-10 by barely the beat of a hummingbird’s wings — would go down as his career best when he retired in 2010. Regrets? He recalled a heart-to-heart he had with a friend at the height of his career.“He said to me ‘Nic, the No. 1 thing you don’t want to do is know that you didn’t give your 100 per cent, because after you retire it’s going to haunt you for a long time,’” he said. “So I said to myself ‘There’s no way I’m going to start slacking off, and then at 35 say to myself ‘I could have, I should have, but I didn’t.’“I gave my 100 per cent, I did it cleanly, and that was the best I was able to do. I’m satisfied with everything I was able to accomplish in the circumstances, and have no regrets, there’s no chip on my shoulder. I’m very content with everything I’ve done.”Soon after retirement, Macrozonaris began volunteering at a community centre in his neighbourhood, and then joined its board of directors. It was through that work that he met Gobe.He started his track club in 2015, and boasts several top young sprinters, including Praise Omogbai, the Canadian 100-metre champion in the 14-15 age category.He’s a big fan of the sport, particularly Canada’s sprint star Andre De Grasse.“I think Andre is a phenomenal athlete. I struggled all my life to try to run personal bests where it counts. And it’s extremely difficult to be able to pull that off. And he’s able to be an executioner at the highest level, and that is something that is remarkable,” Macrozonaris said. “And I think the stigma that you have to be six foot five to be a superstar is all of a sudden doubted, because here we have a guy who’s relatively short, he’s relatively small, and he’s doing things that are incredible.“Beyond that, just track and field in Canada, the bronze that they got (in the 4×100 relay) in the last Olympics,” he said. “I wish I had that generation of sprinting, because they are so strong and so powerful.”
TORONTO – The law under which the owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries was charged last year was unconstitutional because a valid program making medicinal pot readily available did not exist at the time, an Ontario court heard on Thursday.As a result, charges of possession for the purposes of trafficking and having proceeds of crime laid against Marek (Mark) Stupak should be thrown out, his lawyer Alan Young said.Stupak, 44, operated two “medical marijuana compassion clubs” known as the Social Collective in Toronto. Police charged him in May 2016 under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act as part of a series of city-wide raids in an operation known as “Project Claudia.”Young cited a 2000 ruling from Ontario’s top court that Parliament could not criminalize marijuana use without a program to make medicinal marijuana available to ill patients who needed it.Other courts, he said, regularly struck down restrictions on reasonable access to the drug. However, Ottawa failed to ensure that access, and dispensaries such as Stupak’s sprang up to fill the gap, Young said.“Project Claudia” made a “concerted effort” to close down all the dispensaries in Toronto but police messed up because they had no law to back their enforcement action at the time of the raids, Young said.In October 2013, Ottawa began shutting down an existing but criticized program under which patients could grow their own pot or have someone grow it for them for free. The program was replaced in April 2014 with one in which growers were licensed to grow and supply medical marijuana to patients.However, the new scheme also ran afoul of the courts, Young said. As a result, no valid medical program was in effect between October 2013 and August of 2016, when the government brought in new rules for medical marijuana, court heard.“The government dropped the ball and there was a gap,” Young told Superior Court Justice Heather McArthur. “There was a two-year period where patients were left in the dark and in the cold.”The gap, he said, left patients and their suppliers exposed to criminal sanction. Additionally, if a patient has a right to use and to access the drug, the government must make clear that those who distribute to them are exempt as well, Young said.“When ‘Project Claudia’ was initiated, medical patients were in a limbo period in which it was unclear how they were going to access (medical marijuana),” Young said.For his part, Crown lawyer David Morlog argued Stupak was looking for an “extremely broad” remedy given that the rules in place at the time were in fact constitutional.“The applicant is seeking retroactive absolution for drug trafficking,” Morlog said.Stupak, Morlog said, is relying on a misinterpretation of a key Federal Court decision in February 2016. In that ruling, a judge found the medical marijuana system unconstitutional, but gave the government six months to fix the issue.In his submissions, Young argued that evidence as to what exactly Stupak was doing with his dispensaries is not necessary unless the law is upheld. However, McArthur wondered whether she should know more.“I strongly suggest it’s not necessary,” Young replied, but McArthur said she would think about whether such evidence would be helpful to her ruling on the validity of the law.Five other individuals alleged to be owners of medical marijuana dispensaries have joined the challenge but are awaiting its outcome. Young said thousands of other cases could be affected as well.McArthur put the matter over until Nov. 6, when the parties will discuss whether she needs to hear evidence about Stupak’s dealings.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the wrong spelling of Crown lawyer David Morlog
CALGARY – Health Canada has approved a safe injection site for opioid drugs in Calgary.Alberta Health says a temporary site will open soon in the parking area of the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre while a permanent site inside the centre is being constructed.Alberta Health says patients will also be able to get treatment, including suboxone, methadone, and counselling.Evidence shows that supervised consumption services save lives, reduce transmission of infections by providing sterile needles and equipment and build safer communities by reducing public substance use and discarded needles.Last week, Health Canada approved four safe injection sites for Edmonton and one for Lethbridge, and those are expected to open later this year or early next year.Jessica Holtsbaum of the group Changing the Face of Addiction, called it great news.“It will save lives and provide those with substance-use disorders an access point to further treatment. It is a long overdue step in the right direction. However, this is only one small step and momentum can’t end here.”The province is providing $2.2 million for startup costs and for construction of the temporary and permanent locations at the Chumir health centre. The province will also provide operational funding for all six supervised consumption sites approved for Alberta.As of mid-August 2017, 315 people have died of apparent fentanyl-related overdoses in Alberta. There were 586 suspected opioid-related deaths in the province last year.The Canadian Institute for Health Information has said data from Alberta suggests emergency room visits related to heroin and synthetic opioid overdoses spiked almost 10-fold in the last five years.The first safe consumption sites in Canada were set up in Vancouver. Health Canada has approved other sites in Montreal and Toronto.Last month, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at least 2,816 Canadians died from opioid-related causes in 2016 and that number is expected to grow this year.
VICTORIA – British Columbians are invited to help shape a referendum planned for next fall that could reform the province’s voting system in time for the next election in 2021.Attorney General David Eby said Thursday that the government has launched its How We Vote website, asking for public input on the question or questions that will be on the referendum ballot.The New Democrats promised electoral reform during last spring’s election campaign and last month introduced legislation calling for a mail-in vote that requires a 50 per cent, plus one margin to be successful.The government also wants suggestions about possible voting systems, Eby said at a news conference.“We want to hear from all British Columbians so the people of our province can help shape the key elements of the referendum, including: ‘What will the ballot question look like? What type of voting systems should be considered? Should government fund advocacy groups and if so, by how much?’ “But the proposed electoral reform law is getting a rough ride in the legislature from the Opposition Liberals who say the NDP hatched a plan to bring in undemocratic reforms and reward Green party members, who are backing the minority New Democrats with three seats.“The small Green tail continues to wag the bloated orange dog,” said backbench Liberal Doug Clovechok in the legislature, referring to the orange colour of the New Democrats. “Can you say, tyranny of the majority? That’s exactly what proportional representation under Bill 6 represents.”Clovechok said the current first-past-the-post electoral system has provided the foundation for stable governments since Confederation.He said moving to a system of proportional representation will put more power in urban ridings at the expense of the rural voters he represents in B.C.’s Kootenay region.“Our democratic system of government is a proven system of governance that provides citizens with the most possible personal freedoms and the most personal opportunity — opportunity to create prosperity and a good life for their families. It is the most stable form of government on this planet,” he said.Eby said he finds Liberal opposition to electoral reform baffling.“I have yet to hear how it is that going to British Columbians to ask them to vote on something is anti-democratic,” he said.Andrew Wilkinson, the Opposition’s attorney general critic, said B.C. residents rejected electoral reform in two previous referendums and a third is not needed.“We’ve had peace, order and good government in this country for 150 years with the current electoral system,” he said. “It’s time for the NDP government to realize they are going down the wrong track.”Eby said the public process ends Feb. 28, and his ministry will prepare a report with recommendations that will go to the B.C. cabinet for approval.Premier John Horgan has said B.C.’s current electoral system is not fair. He said in the past five B.C. elections, only one political party formed government after receiving more than 50 per cent of the votes.
A lawyer who aggressively defended a client embroiled in a billion-dollar mining scandal did not violate the rules of courtroom civility when he accused the prosecutor in the case of misconduct, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.The split decision in favour of Joe Groia marked the culmination of a lengthy legal battle that pitted the Toronto securities lawyer against the Law Society of Ontario, the organization that regulates attorneys in the province.Years after Groia successfully defended Bre-X vice-president John Felderhof, the law society scrutinized his courtroom conduct in the case and found he had breached civility rules.Groia appealed in part on the grounds that his frequent tussles with prosecutors were rooted in a mistaken understanding of a legal matter as well as the need to advocate for his client. Ontario’s top court rejected his arguments, prompting the appeal to the Supreme Court.The majority of judges on Canada’s highest court sided with Groia, whose lawyer lauded the decision.“Joe lost at every level, but if you’re only going to win once, the Supreme Court of Canada is the place to win,” Groia’s lawyer Earl Cherniak said of the ruling.The law society focused attention on Groia long after the acrimonious trial that ultimately concluded in an acquittal for Felderhof, the only Bre-X executive to face charges in the case. Investors lost billions when Canadian-based Bre-X collapsed in 1997 after claims of an Indonesian gold find turned out to be bogus.By all accounts, including the Supreme Court decision, the trial featured several tense exchanges between Groia and opposing lawyers and numerous allegations that prosecutors were abusing process.The top court ruling described the trial as having “a toxicity that manifested itself in the form of personal attacks, sarcastic outbursts and allegations of professional impropriety” that ground the proceedings to “a near standstill.”The law society, finding Groia had breached civility rules, at one point suspended him for two months and ordered him to pay $247,000 in costs — later reduced to one month suspension and $200,000.Cherniak said that many of Groia’s attacks were based on a sincere misunderstanding of legal rules regarding when prosecutors were obliged to introduce evidence in a trial.Six of the nine justices on the Supreme Court supported that view and said Groia could not be found guilty of incivility because he was making his arguments in good faith.“Finding a lawyer guilty of professional misconduct on the basis of incivility for making an abuse of process argument that is based on a sincerely held but mistaken legal position discourages lawyers from raising these allegations, frustrating the duty of resolute advocacy and the client’s right to make full answer and defence,” wrote one of the judges who ruled in Groia’s favour.The majority of judges found that while the law society has reasonable and context-specific standards for evaluating whether or not a lawyer breached civility rules, it did not apply them properly in this case.The law society did not comment on the ruling as it related to Groia specifically, but did express some satisfaction with the court’s characterization of the role it plays in upholding standards of courtroom conduct.“The law society welcomes the Supreme Court’s recognition of the importance of civility in the courts and its decision to endorse the Law Society Tribunal Appeal Panel’s test for incivility in court,” it said in a statement. “This decision upholds the law society’s jurisdiction to regulate the legal professions’ conduct in court.”Nonetheless, three Supreme Court justices expressed concern that the ruling may undermine the oversight body.The dissenting justices expressed concern that the majority ruling could “immunize erroneous allegations from sanction by the law society, validate improper conduct and threaten to undermine the administration of justice.”The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which intervened in the case, took a more positive view of the decision, calling it “a good result for freedom of speech.”“The majority of the Supreme Court … recognized the central importance of allowing lawyers the freedom to express themselves, particularly in defence of their clients’ rights,” the association said in a statement. “It also noted that incivility prosecutions should target behaviour that has a negative impact on the administration of justice or the fairness of a particular proceeding.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Earl Cherniak’s last name.
VICTORIA – British Columbia’s agriculture minister says critical lessons learned from last year’s wildfires that had ranchers and producers suffering devastating losses will help save animals during another season that could force more people from their properties.Lana Popham said Wednesday the province’s premises identification program, which was meant to trace cattle back to an operation during a disease outbreak, allowed animals to be rescued last year after evacuation orders were issued.“As the fires increased last summer and this program seemed to have so much value we saw those numbers increase significantly,” she said of more farmers and ranchers registering for the program. “That’s allowing us to get into areas that have been identified as heavy agricultural, livestock areas and be able to assess a situation and move those animals out as needed.”In some cases, grazing cattle remained safe in certain areas after ranchers have left due to encroaching fires, Popham said, adding 35,000 livestock were on the loose last year at the height of the worst wildfire conditions.“This program allows them to re-enter into evacuation zones and tend to their livestock so it’s extremely important for people to be registered for this program and I think over the last two years, especially, that message has hit home.”So far this season, 13,000 livestock, mostly cattle but also sheep, horses and pigs, have been in areas affected by evacuation orders and alerts, Popham said, adding ministry staff are working with the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association to co-ordinate alternate grazing sites, organizing emergency feeds and helping with the relocation of animals.“We won’t often know if they’ve been lost until they don’t come home later in the fall,” Popham said. “I have heard reports of cattle that have been burned, but no numbers on that yet.”Williams Lake is one of the hardest-hit areas, Popham said.“The emotional toll that these farmers and ranchers are feeling is tremendous. And we saw this last year. You see some of the strongest farmers you know break down when they realize some of their animals aren’t coming home.”After the 2017 wildfires, the federal government provided $20 million in funding to help farmers and ranchers, but Popham said her ministry has not made any requests for financial help so far this year as it awaits assessments on areas that weren’t affected last year.The wildfires prompted the province to declare a state of emergency last week, and it is expected to be in place until next week but may be extended if necessary.Ryan Turcott, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, said 563 fires were burning in the province, with 16 new ones starting on Tuesday.The Shovel Lake fire, west of Prince George, is one of the largest, at more than 868-square-kilometres, and has a crew of 236 battling it, though thick smoke was the biggest challenge because visibility problems prevented the use of aircraft, Turcott said.He said some precipitation is forecast for next week in parts of the province but only prolonged rainfall will make a difference in combating the fires.Residents of the tiny British Columbia community of Lower Post, near the Yukon boundary, were the latest to be forced from their homes on Wednesday.About 80 people received evacuation notices as the BC Wildfire Service warned a 40-square-kilometre blaze to the south had moved within five kilometres of the village and also threatened the enclave of Skooks Landing.DriveBC, the B.C. government’s online service for travellers, says nearby wildfires had closed Highway 97, the Alaska Highway, from the Yukon boundary to Coal River, southeast of Lower Post.Evacuees were being directed to the recreation centre in Watson Lake, Yukon, about 20 kilometres away.Officials have said roughly 3,000 B.C. residents were under evacuation orders due to wildfires and thousands more on alert as hundreds of blazes char timber and bush in all areas of the province.
OTTAWA – Longtime MP Tony Clement has resigned from the Conservative shadow cabinet after he shared explicit sexual images and a video of himself electronically.Clement says the images were sent in the last three weeks and he believed they were going to a “consenting female.”However he now says the person was trying to extort him and he has asked the RCMP to investigate.“I recognize now that I have gone down a wrong path and have exercised very poor judgment,” Clement said in a statement Tuesday.Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer said he has appointed Lisa Raitt to take over for Clement as the justice critic for now.“While I’m greatly disappointed with Mr. Clement’s actions, I am encouraged that he has decided to seek help and I wish him all the best in doing so,” Scheer said.The RCMP confirmed it had received information from Clement and was currently investigating the matter, but did not comment further.Clement is resigning his committee roles as well, but will stay in the Conservative caucus.Clement, 57, has been one of the pillars of the Conservative caucus for more than a decade, and before that was a senior member of the provincial party in Ontario.He was a cabinet minister for the entirety of Stephen Harper’s near-decade long tenure as prime minister, and was a cabinet minister at the provincial level before that.He says he is sorry to his family, his party and his constituents for his behaviour.“I am committed to seeking the help and treatment I need in my personal life to make sure this will not happen again while also continuing to discharge my duties as a Member of Parliament,” he wrote.Clement was twice a candidate for the federal party leadership and also ran for the provincial Tory leadership in Ontario once. He dropped out of the most recent leadership contest early on and endorsed Maxime Bernier.Clement is one of the most recognizable MPs as well as one of the heaviest users of social media. He is a frequent poster on Twitter. It has occasionally landed him in trouble before, including when he had to apologize after cursing at a 15-year-old on the platform.He is married to lawyer and author Lynne Golding.
TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $12.5 million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.However, the guaranteed $1 million prize was claimed by a ticket holder in Ontario.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on May 15 will be approximately $15 million.The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The man convicted of killing a Winnipeg bus driver in what a judge described as a brutal and explosive stabbing will not be eligible for parole for 12 years.Irvine Jubal Fraser, who was 58, was stabbed 12 times during a fight with Brian Kyle Thomas in February 2017.Earlier this year, a jury found Thomas guilty of second-degree murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.The Crown and defence had asked that there be no parole eligibility for 12 years.Security camera video from the bus shows Fraser telling Thomas to leave the vehicle several times before the driver grabs the man by his sweater and shoves him off.The defence did not present evidence during the trial but argued that the bus driver provoked the attack.Fraser’s death prompted calls for increased safety measures on Winnipeg buses, including safety shields for drivers.The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — A man who attended an “Arabian Nights” gala held by a private school in Vancouver says no one besides Justin Trudeau attended in skin-darkening makeup, but no one else there was dressed as Aladdin.Wayne Hamill, who is white, says he doesn’t recall anyone expressing any offence over Trudeau’s costume or “brownface” makeup at the time.Hamill went to the 2001 party because his kids were West Point Grey Academy students and he says the future Liberal leader’s costume was in keeping with the theme and others were dressed as belly dancers or wearing saris or veils.He says he’s not a Trudeau supporter but he believes the uproar over a photograph showing Trudeau made up in brownface is unfair because it’s applying today’s standards to yesterday’s context.Trudeau has apologized for the image and others that have emerged of him wearing skin-darkening makeup, saying he had a blind spot because of his privilege and he deeply regrets behaviour he now recognizes as racist.He says in his 2014 book, “Common Ground,” that teaching at West Point Grey Academy gave him new insights into the “privileged lives” of private-school students that he didn’t glean from his own advantaged upbringing.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.The Canadian Press
The #Road2FarmAid, announced last week, is one of many ways that Farm Aid is connecting with fans as it gears up for its annual benefit concert on Sept. 21 at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.Join the #Road2FarmAidThe #Road2FarmAid, which officially launched Aug. 28 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, invites stories from people who are attending the Farm Aid 2013 concert and anyone wanting to share their own vision for strong farm and food communities.Participants who tag their photos and videos on social media sites will be eligible to win a grand prize of two front-row tickets to Farm Aid 2013, which sold out after just four days. Details about photo and video contest eligibility are available at farmaid.org/contest.“Everybody has a role to play in the Good Food Movement — each one of us can take action to support family farmers with our food choices and at the ballot box,” said Jennifer Fahy, a spokesperson for Farm Aid. “The #Road2FarmAid is an invitation to engage in a conversation about family farmers and the good food they produce. It’s a celebration of family farm agriculture with an added bonus: people can win some cool prizes!”Farm Aid also announced that Jamey Johnson, Sasha Dobson, Jesse Lenat, Insects vs. Robots and The Blackwood Quartet have joined the already star-studded Farm Aid 2013 lineup, which includes Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, Jack Johnson and Amos Lee, among others.Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp set up Farm Aid in 1985.A webcast from Farm Aid 2013 will air Saturday, Sept. 21, from 5 to 11 p.m. EDT at farmaid.org. The webcast will feature artist performances and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Farm Aid 2013, including interviews with artists, farmers and fans; demonstrations from the HOMEGROWN Village, where concertgoers engage in interactive exhibits about farming and food; a look at Farm Aid’s signature HOMEGROWN Concessions®, which brings family farm food to concertgoers; and a peek into the production side of things, showcasing what it takes to produce this major music, food and farming festival.The Farm Aid 2013 concert will also be broadcast live on Willie Nelson’s SiriusXM channel, Willie’s Roadhouse (56) and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio app on smartphones and other connected devices, as well as online at siriusxm.com, on Sept. 21, beginning at 2 p.m. EDT. The live broadcast will also include behind-the-scenes coverage and backstage interviews with host Dallas Wayne.In addition, for the first time, concertgoers will be able to access the entire Farm Aid experience in the palm of their hands with the official Farm Aid 2013 mobile app, which will be available soon for iPhone and Android devices. Fans will be able to view the entire Farm Aid 2013 schedule and add artists, workshops and artist briefings to make their own personalized schedule for the day.Farm Aid 2013 is sponsored by Chipotle Mexican Grill, Amy’s Kitchen, Farm Family Insurance, Horizon Organic, American Harvest, Rudi’s Bakery, Organic Valley, Applegate, Greener Fields Together, EcoScraps, PLOTSAVER and Taste NY.For more information about joining the #Road2FarmAid, visit farmaid.org/Road2FarmAid.For concert updates and other Farm Aid 2013 announcements, follow Farm Aid on Twitter (@farmaid) and on Facebook (facebook.com/farmaid) and visit farmaid.org/concert.Farm Aid’s mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food.Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $43 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.Source:PR Newswire
LookToTheStars.org recently talked to UNICEF ambassador Priyanka Chopra about Miss America, family time and self-confidence.As Miss World 2000, how did you feel when Americans jeered at South-Asian Nina Davuluri for being an “Arab terrorist,” when she was crowned Miss America?It’s awful. It’s beyond horrific for me—she was raised and brought up in America. She is an American.I understand where some people could be coming from — Nina is not that quintessential White American girl. But, that’s not what America is anymore. It’s so many different cultures. So many different people.I think it is victory for Nina, and so many other people, and so many other ethnicities, who are raised and brought up in America: to see a little part of themselves on stage.It’s great the achievement Nina has had, and I wish her so much success.How important is dinnertime with the family?I never get time — I try and make as much time with the family as I can.Dinnertime is very, very important. It roots you. It grounds you. It gives you a feeling that you know there is someone you can fall back on.Tell me about your self-initiated It’s cool to repeat [clothes] campaign on Twitter.Everybody’s flawed in some way or another. Nobody can be perfect. And everybody will have an opinion about you differently.First and foremost, you need to accept the fact that you are flawed. And that’s what makes your beautiful.It’s cool to be yourself. Be whatever you want to be. The important thing about how to do that is to not care about what people think — it’s the hardest thing to do.We live in a society where every one will judge you. And every one has an opinion about you. But, accept yourself — it took me years to be able to do that. I had peer pressure.Accept who you are. It takes experience. It takes acceptance.It shouldn’t make you hardened — “I don’t care what people say.” I mean, it’s important to care. (You live in a society where no man is an island.) But, it shouldn’t change what you are intrinsically.If you could tell all the youth of the world one thing, what would it be?Own it.There are so many people telling you what’s cool and what’s not. There are so many people telling you what’s right, and if you speak like this, if wear this, if you like this, if you listen to this type of music, you’re cooler.But, we need to reach a point where we sit back — by ourselves — and say, “You know what? So, what if people don’t like blah-blah-blah musician? I do!” And it’s fine.Our choices should not define what we are, or what we are capable of being. We need to start saying that: “It’s my choice for now. I can change it tomorrow. It’s cool to be me.”People just need to stop being embarrassed about whoever, whatever they are.LookToTheStars.org thanks Priyanka for taking the time to talk to us.Copyright ©2013Look to the Stars
On May 8th, the Child Mind Institute and Academy Award-winning producer Brian Grazer hosted a special Speak Up for Kids panel discussion at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, Taking a Leading Role: How Film and TV Can Change Kids’ Lives.Jason Katims, Harold S. Koplewicz, Willow Bay, Ted Sarandos, Brian Grazer and David O. RussellParticipants included Mr. Grazer, Child Mind Institute president Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, Emmy Award-winning writer, producer, and playwright Jason Katims, Academy Award-nominated writer and director David O. Russell, and Chief Content Officer of Netflix Ted Sarandos. The panel was moderated by journalist Willow Bay.The lively discussion provided a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and rewards of accurately depicting mental health in the arts. Throughout the discussion the panelists offered personal anecdotes — both as parents and as creators — about the impact of their stories on the public, and themselves. The audience of producers, directors, educators, parents and physicians was challenged to help combat the stigma of children’s mental illness.“Great stories are stories that are driven from understanding of characters and exactly what they’re feeling and thinking, and their inner psychology,” said Brian Grazer. “A lot of my movies or television shows are driven form that point of view and are often about self-worth. I am excited to partner with the Child Mind Institute to convene both the panel and ignite the discussion in our industry to use our collective platforms to find subjects and memorable characters that can really help destigmatize mental disability and change the face of mental illness in children.”“Putting yourself out of your comfort zone to help someone else is extremely powerful,” said David O. Russell. “There is a tremendous need for parents, educators and friends to Speak Up about living with mental illness. There is a lot of work to be done to help reduce the stigma and the media industry is just beginning to help with this fight.”One in five children have a psychiatric or learning disorder. Yet, our big and small screens rarely tell us these stories. And when they do they paint a picture of mental illness that is either terrifying or laughable. The panel addressed the key role movies and television play in defining mental illness for audiences, and what can be done to communicate authentic, nuanced child mental health storylines.“Presenting a true picture of the psychiatric issues facing our population, and particularly our children, would make entertainment an ally in facing down a public health crisis,” said Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, president of Child Mind Institute. “Our panelists have, among them, created groundbreaking works that encourage acceptance of mental illness by portraying it accurately and sympathetically. We are honored to have them, and so many representatives from the media and entertainment industries with us today.”The event is part of the Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids campaign, which this year convenes 100 partners to battle the stigma and misinformation that can prevent kids and families from seeking life-changing treatment. Panel discussions throughout May in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Chicago include thought-leaders in mental health, media and entertainment, as well as parents and children, all of whom will share their perspectives and seek to advance the dialogue concerning children’s mental health.Parents, friends, educators, kids, and advocates add their voices by sharing who or what they Speak Up for when it comes to children’s mental health by taking an ISpeakUp Selfie and sharing it on social media. The #ISpeakUp selfies appearing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram convey powerful messages of hope, health and healing.Speak Up for Kids Los Angeles is made possible by the generous support of national founding partner Hunter, and RED Interactive Agency. For more information on David O. Russell and his work in mental health issues awareness, visit www.davidorussell.com. To see the complete list of Speak Up for Kids events and partners, and to view the #ISpeakUp Gallery, please visit www.childmind.org/speakup.Source:PR Newswire
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall hosted a reception last week for survivors of domestic abuse, those working in the field, and charities aiming to raise awareness of the issue at Clarence House.The Duchess meets Sir Patrick Stewart at a reception she hosted at Clarence House for domestic abuse survivors and campaignersCredit/Copyright: www.princeofwales.gov.uk/The Duchess decided to hold this reception after a hearing stories of domestic abuse survivors during a visit to the charity, SafeLives back in February of this year. The Duchess also held a similar reception for survivors of rape and sexual abuse and has heard from them how helpful it was to share their experiences with policy makers.The Duchess was joined by Sir Patrick Stewart, a long-time campaigner for women and children affected by domestic abuse and by Louiza Patikas, whose role as Helen from BBC’s ‘The Archers’ is shining a light on the issue of domestic abuse.Source:www.princeofwales.gov.uk
eBay and NASCAR today launched their first joint charity sale giving fans the opportunity to bid on autographed memorabilia and once-in-a-lifetime racing experiences.Today, beginning at 3:30pm PT, through Nov. 1, fans can visit eBay.com/NASCAR and bid on 20 items including a chance to see who wins the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series live at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the chance to be a VIP at the 2019 Daytona 500.In addition, fans can win meet and greets with seven-time NASCAR Champion Richard Petty, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano; as well as autographed memorabilia from Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon and much more.“NASCAR is synonymous with a truly passionate fan base, and eBay fuels this passion while helping people come together to make an impact,” said Suzy Deering, Chief Marketing Officer of eBay Americas. “We understand the apparel, memorabilia and merchandise are ways for fans to show allegiance for their favorite drivers – and show support for causes they believe in. In collaboration with the NASCAR community, eBay is now offering a wide-range of exclusive inventory that helps children finish first through programs of the NASCAR Foundation and our eBay for Charity platform. True to our mission of opportunity for all, eBay brings new ways for the racing community to give back to the next generation of fans.”One hundred percent of the proceeds from each item will benefit The NASCAR Foundation’s programs for children.The NASCAR Foundation believes every child should have a chance at a healthy life and deserves to get across the finish line. Through the Speediatrics Children’s Fund and Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, the Foundation is making children’s health and medical needs its top priority.“We are thrilled to partner with eBay to provide these very unique items to their customers,” The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director, Nichole Krieger said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. Funds raised through this auction will help us provide much needed healthcare services to children in our racing communities across the country.”VIP experiences and signed racing memorabilia available include:Experiences:2019 Daytona 500 VIP Experience2018 Homestead-Miami Speedway VIP Experience with NASCAR Suite PassesRichard Petty Meet and Greet ExperienceiRacing Experience with NASCAR Driver William ByronMeet and Greet with NASCAR Driver Chase ElliottNASCAR on NBC Sports Behind-the-Scenes ExperienceMeet and Greet with NASCAR Driver Joey Logano2018 NASCAR Champion’s Week Package in Las Vegas, NVMemorabilia:American Ethanol Green Flag autographed by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series DriversMartin Truex Jr. Autographed Side Panel Sheet MetalJoey Logano Autographed HoodDale Earnhardt, Jr. Autographed Replica Full-Size HelmetTy Dillon Autographed Race-Used FiresuitHelmet Visor signed by Richard Petty and Bubba WallaceParalyzed Veterans of America Hat Autographed by Brad KeselowskiAlex Bowman Autographed DiecastJeff Gordon Autographed 24EVER Framed PhotoNASCAR Replica Hood autographed by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series DriversThe Glass Case of Emotion autographed PosterFull Size Replica Helmet autographed by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series DriversAdditionally, the autographed American Ethanol Green Flag and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Autographed Replica Helmet will be available to view at SEMA in Las Vegas from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 at booth no. 30219.