New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said the CWC should appoint an interim president immediately and then hold polls for the party chief’s post as a leader elected by workers will be empowered and have more credibility.His remarks came hours after his party announced that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) will meet on August 10 at the AICC headquarters here. “When we spoke with Rahul Gandhi, he said ‘I believe in a culture of accountability’. If Rahul Gandhi has done this, then it is relevant for everyone. This principle is not just for one person,” Tharoor said addressing a press conference after the national executive state leaders’ meet of the All India Professionals’ Congress (AIPC) which he heads. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’He said the AIPC, in its meeting, also urged the senior leadership of the Congress, particularly the CWC, to urgently follow the “wishes of the Congress President” and the processes established in the Congress constitution to bring certainty to the millions of faithful party workers and others who want a robust opposition. The urgent appointment of an interim president followed by internal elections to the senior leadership positions in the party will strengthen the credibility and legitimacy of the Congress nationwide, he said. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KAsked about Milind Deora suggesting the names of Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia for the post of party president and calls for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to take over as chief, Tharoor said he has not talked about individuals, but about a process that needs to be followed in electing the president. “I had suggested and the AIPC also endorsed it that polls should held in the party. The constitution also says that the CWC should appoint an interim president and then hold polls. The only question is whether there should be a smaller AICC or expanded AICC,” Tharoor said. “There is one AICC with around 1,000 delegates and the other of about 10,000 in which PCC members are also there. In my opinion if 10,000 workers elect someone, that person will be more empowered,” he said, adding that he has full faith in the workers that they will choose a president who will work for the betterment of the country and the party. He said the AIPC resolved to request the CWC to settle without delay the selection of an interim and provisional president and then to open that position and other leadership positions of the party to internal elections. The professionals feel that this will add credibility and legitimacy to whoever wins, he said. On Pilot, Scindia and Priyanka Gandhi’s names, he said “these are all very fine candidates, there may be more, my point is not about any specific candidate, but how do you arrive at that candidate”. “If it is a small group of un-elected people choosing a person who is then not open to challenge, there may be some unnecessary resentment within the party. If they do choose a person quickly and give him or her the authority to work, but then subject them to an election by the party workers, I think it will be satisfying all the concerns,” Tharoor told reporters. Asserting that “lack of clarity” over leadership following Rahul Gandhi’s resignation was hurting the Congress, Tharoor had last week said the way forward for the party could be opening up all key posts, including the CWC membership.
New Delhi: The government on Monday abolished Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and moved a separate bill to bifurcate the state into two separate union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, amid massive opposition uproar in Rajya Sabha. Home Minister Amit Shah moved a resolution in the House to abolish Article 370 after the President issued a notification in this regard and also moved the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details He said the UT in Ladakh will have no legislature like Chandigarh while the other UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Delhi and Puducherry. The Home Minister’s announcement evoked strong protests from the opposition with leaders of Congress, TMC, DMK, AAP, NCP and Left raising slogans and storming the well of the House. They later squatted in the well and continued with their protest. However, some regional parties like BSP, BJD, TRS and AIADMK extended full support to the resolution and the bill while NDA constituent JD(U) walked out. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Shah, who received a standing ovation from his party colleagues when he entered the House minutes before proceedings in the Rajya Sabha commenced, termed the move as “historical”, saying Article 370 has not allowed integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the country. The Home Minister said Article 370 will no longer be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. Shah informed the House that President Ram Nath Kovind has signed the official notification abrogating Article 370 and since the Jammu and Kashmir constituent assembly no longer exists and the state assembly stands dissolved, the powers of the assembly wrest with both Houses of Parliament. “The President’s order can be discussed and passed by both houses of Parliament,” he told members. A copy of the President’s order was also distributed in the House. He also said that Article 370 can be abrogated through such an order, as there are provisions within the said Article to do so. Reading out provisions of Article 370 (3), the Home Minister said there are provisions within that state that Article 370 shall cease to be operative or can be amended and the President has the right to issue such a notification or constitutional order. “We are adopting the same path as adopted by the Congress in 1952 and 1962 by amending the provisions of Article 370 the same way through a notification,” Shah told the House, after Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) sought to know if the Constitution can be amended without a Constitutional amendment. “There are no merits in the opposition stand and they are opposing it only to do politics and are creating ruckus inside the House,” he said. Soon after Shah’s announcement, one of the PDP members tore his clothes and then along with another PDP member tore copies of the Constitution, prompting Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to order that they be physically removed. When the House met, Naidu said he had used his discretionary powers to waive the requirement of the government to give advance notice and circulate a bill as the issue was of urgent national importance. Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the entire Kashmir Valley is under curfew and three former chief ministers of the state and political leaders have been placed under house arrest. He wanted the situation to be discussed first but Naidu allowed Shah to move the resolution. Shah moved the resolution to abolish Article 370 as well as the state reorganisation bill along with listed bills to extend reservation for economically weaker sections in educational institutions and government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir. The reorganisation bill provides for formation of union territory of Ladakh without legislature and a separate one for Jammu and Kashmir with legislature. While Naidu said only the bill for providing reservation is being moved now and the other would be done after it is circulated to members, the House in a voice vote approved the introduction. Later Naidu allowed Shah to re-introduce the resolution and the reorganisation bill, saying copies have now been circulated to members. But it was not put to vote and it was not immediately clear if the voice vote taken earlier was for all bills and resolution or only for the bill for reservation. Shah had moved the resolution and the bills together. But the introduction was opposed by Congress, TMC and DMK members who along with leaders in the House rushed into the well, They first shouted slogans and then squatted in the well of the House. Those who squatted on the floor included Azad, Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma and TMC leader Derek O’Brien. Samajwadi Party (SP) members, however, did not join them in the well. Amid the ruckus, PDP members Nazir Ahmad Laway and Mir Mohammad Fayaz shouted slogans and tore posters. Laway even tore the ‘kurta’ he was wearing. Later as the protests heated up, the duo tore copies of the Constitution, prompting Naidu to order their eviction. “The Indian Constitution is supreme. Nobody can do it,” Naidu said as he named two members and ordered marshals to physically remove them from the House. Before the marshals could do that, BJP leader Vijay Goel tried to intervene but was pushed back. Naidu said the Indian Constitution is supreme and nobody has the right to tear copies of it. “Tearing the Constitution in the House, shouting against India, will not be allowed. I will not just name (members) but also take action,” he said. Azad said the opposition was not against the reservation bill but wanted the Kashmir situation to be discussed first. While the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said the government was “rectifying” the historical blunder of imposing Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was enough empirical evidence and precedence where the governments have in past circulated and got approved bills on the same day. Shah said the reservation bill will help provide economically weaker sections 10 per cent reservation in educational institutions and government jobs. This reservation will be besides existing reservation for SC, ST and OBC. Noting that in past 38 times bills have been circulated and passed on the same day, he said this will be “null and void” after the resolution for abolition of Article 370 is approved. Vaiko said the government was killing democracy. “Emergency days have come back,” he said. “There is no emergency, only urgency,” Naidu remarked. Azad said Article 370 was integral to Jammu and Kashmir joining India and added that lakhs of security personnel and civilians have lost their lives in the state during the last 70 years. “I strongly condemn the act of two or three members of Parliament (to tear copies of Constitution), none were from our party. We stand by the Constitution of India,” he said. He, however, said the BJP has murdered democracy. Shah retorted that people of Jammu and Kashmir were living in poverty and corruption because of Article 370. Three families have looted the state for years, he said noting that Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on October 27, 1947 but Article 370 came in 1949. “It is not true that Jammu and Kashmir joined India because of Article 370,” he said. Article 370 was always temporary and past governments did not remove it because of lack of political will and vote bank politics, he said. Shah in his resolution said, “…the President, on the recommendation of Parliament, is pleased to declare that, as from 5th of August, 2019, all clauses of the said article 370 shall cease to be operative except clause (1) thereof.” “All provisions of this Constitution, as amended from time to time, without any modifications or exceptions, shall apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir,” it read. Article 370 of the Constitution granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir whereby provisions of the Constitution which were applicable to other states were not applicable to J&K. As per this article, except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. It was introduced in the Constitution on October 17, 1949.
New Delhi: The BCCI is set to seek advice from an English law firm after the ICC threatened to deduct a part of the Indian cricket board’s annual revenue share in a continuing tussle on tax exemptions for events held in India. The Shashank Manohar-led International Cricket Council (ICC) wants complete tax exemption for all global events happening in India and is still awaiting waiver for the 2016 World T20 held in the country. According to the latest documentation of the July 6 Committee of Administrators (CoA) meeting here, the ICC wants to recover the tax burden for the 2016 event by slashing the BCCI annual share from the ICC revenue. The BCCI legal team has informed the CoA that the Board “ensured all efforts to make tax exemptions to ICC. Prior to this event (2016), these events have always received tax exemptions.” Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhIn the recorded minutes uploaded on the BCCI’s website, it is stated that the ICC wants to slash the BCCI’s annual revenue and recover the amount. “For the 2016 event, tax authorities directed that 10 per cent of the amount payable by ICC’s broadcaster (Star Sports) to ICC under media rights agreement (MRA) should be withheld. “The CoA was informed that ICC is now attempting to recover the same amount by deducting the same amounts payable by ICC to BCCI,” it stated. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterThe CoA has asked the BCCI legal team to contact an “English law firm” since the “agreement between BCCI and the ICC in relation to the hosting of the 2016 World T20 is governed by English law.” When contacted, a senior BCCI official said that if ICC has its way, the annual revenue of $405 million earmarked for the richest cricket board could be slashed by $40.5 million (10 per cent). “The BCCI can’t change the existing government tax laws. We have time and again intimated this to the ICC,” the official said on Thursday. He agreed that unless the current tax law structure is changed or the government of the day agrees on a waiver, there could be problems in hosting of the next two big events in India — the 2021 World T20 and the 2023 50-over World Cup. “Normally ICC seeks exemption on excise duties for importing TV production equipment. But in this case Star (Sports) which also has the BCCI’s home match rights has a set up in India,” the BCCI official pointed out. “So why does BCCI need to carry their burden? In any case, we can’t violate government laws and the ICC chairman should be the first one to know that as he has also been BCCI president,” the official said. In other decisions, the BCCI will not clear the payments pending towards former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin after he was banned on match-fixing charges in 2000. While Azharuddin’s name is not mentioned in the minutes of the July 6 meeting, it states about CoA, having discussed “payments being not made to a certain retired senior cricketer.”
Washington: President Donald Trump heaped praise on Denmark’s prime minister Friday, two days after he cancelled his state visit to the country and slammed her for dismissing his idea of buying Greenland as absurd. The US leader said he got a call from Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who he had previously called “nasty” when she rejected his idea of buying Greenland in the latest spat involving Trump and a traditional US ally. But on Friday he appeared to reverse course, calling her “a wonderful woman.” Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US “We had a great conversation,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to leave for the G7 summit in France. “We have a very good relationship with Denmark, and we agreed to speak later. But she was very nice. She put a call in, and I appreciated it very much,” Trump said. The row had earlier prompted Trump to call off plans to visit Copenhagen next month after Frederiksen said Greenland, an autonomous region of Denmark, was not for sale. Frederiksen said she was both annoyed and surprised that Trump cancelled the visit. But, she added, “Denmark and the US are not in crisis, the US is one of our closest allies” and the invitation to visit was still open. In his remarks late Friday Trump said nothing about resurrecting the trip.
London: Prime Minister Boris Johnson heads to Scotland on Friday in campaign mode despite failing to call an early election after MPs this week thwarted his hardline Brexit strategy.Johnson, who will make a fresh attempt next week to force the mid-October snap election, is set to visit a fish market and announce a post-Brexit funding boost for Scottish farmers during a visit to Aberdeenshire, his office said.He will then stay at Queen Elizabeth II’s Balmoral estate and dine with her, an annual weekend-long tradition for prime ministers but one that Johnson has been forced to cut short to a single night due to the political turmoil in Westminster. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USOpposition lawmakers and rebels in his ruling Conservative party on Wednesday left Johnson’s plans for a no-deal Brexit next month in tatters and then blocked a request for a snap election on October 15.Under British law, the government requires two-thirds of MPs to support holding such a poll.The main opposition Labour Party abstained on the proposal, saying parliament must first approve its legislation to prevent Britain leaving the European Union without an agreement on October 31. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe government has said it will make a second attempt to force it through next week.”What I want to do now is to give the country a choice,” Johnson said Thursday during a campaign-style visit to northern England, where he greeted voters and delivered a speech.His trip to Scotland, where voters backed remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum and the Tories face a struggle to hold 13 parliamentary seats there in any upcoming election, appears part of a strategy to pressure Labour to cave into his demand. The House of Lords on Friday is set to approve the legislation, which compels Johnson to seek a three-month extension from Brussels if he cannot agree a divorce deal at an EU summit on October 17-18.It is then expected to become law on Monday.Johnson said Thursday he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than delay Brexit and is pushing for the election in the hope of winning a fresh mandate for his approach.Lawmakers rushed the bill through parliament ahead of a five-week shutdown the prime minister controversially ordered last month which was widely seen as a pre-emptive attempt to prevent such legislation.The decision to suspend parliament provoked uproar from Johnson’s critics, who called it a “constitutional outrage”, and several legal challenges.Three High Court judges are expected to rule Friday on its legality after Gina Miller, a businesswoman and leading anti-Brexit campaigner, applied for a judicial review.A judge in Scotland ruled in favour of Johnson on Wednesday in a separate challenge.Britain’s bitter three-year political crisis over leaving the EU appears headed for new depths of acrimony as the divided country’s delayed departure deadline approaches.Brexit was originally scheduled for March 29 but was postponed amid political gridlock over the terms of the country’s divorce from the bloc after almost half a century of deepening ties.Johnson, who took power in July, argues that his threat to leave with or without a deal will force EU leaders to agree better terms.Opponents say the prime minister is playing with fire amid predictions of the economic damage such a disorderly breakup could cause.However, Johnson has been left in limbo with his parliamentary majority destroyed by a Conservative rebellion which saw 21 people — nearly all former ministers — suspended from the party.He was dealt a further personal blow Thursday when his brother Jo said he was quitting his junior ministerial role and would not contest his seat in parliament again.”I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest — it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles,” Jo Johnson tweeted.Amid the unfolding political drama the British pound rose during the day, hitting a one-month peak against the dollar, with currency traders seeing reduced prospects of a “no deal” Brexit.
Amethi (UP): Two farmers sleeping on a railway track here were killed on Friday after they were run over by a train, police said.The incident took place on the Lucknow-Varanasi route in Ashrafpur village’s Shivratanganj area here, they said. Ajay Shankar Shukla (38) and Rajaram Passi (38), residents of Angoori village, had gone to water their fields near Ashrafpur in the morning. They fell asleep on the railway line adjacent to their fields and were run over by a train, Station House Officer, Shivratanganj, Bharat Upadhyay, said. The bodies have been sent for post-mortem, the police said.
VANCOUVER – A New Democrat member of Parliament is jumping into the Vancouver mayoral race.Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart said Thursday he’s going to resign his seat in Parliament and run as an independent candidate to replace Gregor Robertson, who is not seeking re-election.He launched his campaign promising action on housing, protecting the environment, supporting an equitable economy and preventing illicit drug overdose deaths.Stewart was arrested in March along with Green party Leader Elizabeth May and others who allegedly defied a court injunction banning protesters from disrupting construction at both Trans Mountain pipeline terminals in Burnaby.He said he had to stand with constituents opposed to Kinder Morgan’s planned pipeline expansion.Stewart was first elected to the House of Commons in 2011 as part of Jack Layton’s so-called orange wave vaulted the NDP into official Opposition.He has a PhD from the London School of Economics and is on leave as a professor from Simon Fraser University’s school of public policy.“I have deep roots in Vancouver, rent downtown with my wife Jeanette Ashe, and have worked for the City of Vancouver and several Vancouver community organizations over my lifetime,” Stewart said in a statement.While his campaign will be independent of any one political party, Stewart said he wants to engage all progressive candidates to find common ground and solutions to tough problems facing city residents.“We need to work together to reverse this affordability crisis and I hope the people of Vancouver will support my bid to become mayor,” he said in the statement.An online profile on his website says Kennedy was also a musician who won a West Coast Music Award.
WASHINGTON – He can huff, and he can puff, but can Donald Trump really single-handedly blow NAFTA down? It’s more than fairy-tale conjecture now. It’s a question of practical importance as the president has now demonstrated he intends to wield it as a threat during negotiations.The Canadian Press has gathered analysis from 10 trade-law experts in an attempt to settle that question, some via interviews and others via research papers that explored the limits of presidential power to end the trade deal.Here’s the one thing everyone agrees on: It would get messy.That much is clear. There’s widespread consensus that it would trigger a period of uncertainty, marked by court fights between the White House, industry groups, state governments and possibly federal lawmakers.The reason it’s such a legal question mark is that it has never happened before. A paper for U.S. lawmakers by the Congressional Research Service last year said the United States has never cancelled a free-trade agreement and has only suspended one, the original deal with Canada which was replaced by NAFTA.A presidential scuttling of NAFTA would create a historic conflict.On one side would be the powers of the presidency, which include foreign affairs, control over tariffs delegated through various laws, and the provision in NAFTA that allows him to cancel the deal on six months’ notice.On the other side is Congress, which has constitutional power over international commerce and duties; which passed a law to implement NAFTA; and which could argue that the president’s withdrawal violates that 1993 law.Tim Meyer thinks Congress would win.“If the president were to rip up NAFTA and then sort of jack tariffs way up, I think somebody would be able to come in and say … ‘You’re actually violating U.S. domestic law’,” said Meyer, a Vanderbilt professor, former government lawyer, and one-time clerk for Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump appointed to the Supreme Court.“I think courts are going to be sympathetic to the idea that the president can’t ignore the legislation that implements these trade agreements. Congress has not repealed that legislation and they’ve given no indication they intend to.”He points to the landmark Youngstown steel case of 1952, which established the limits of presidential power — it determined that the president cannot contradict an existing law passed by Congress.Joel Trachtman agrees and adds several other cases to the body of jurisprudence limiting Trump’s power: a 1994 Barclays Bank case, a 2003 American Insurance case and the 2005 Zivotofsky case.The professor of international law at the Fletcher School also examined 112 cancelled treaties through history and concluded a maximum of four occurred without congressional co-operation. He wrote in a just-released paper: “It would be strange to allow a president, operating alone, to … (terminate) trade agreements.”On the other side, Gary Hufbauer sides with the president.He’s one of Washington’s foremost authorities on trade. And he counts eight laws that explictly transfer tariff powers to the president. He also points to NAFTA: the three-country agreement has a clear termination clause and, in addition, the domestic U.S. NAFTA-implementation law’s section 415 says that if a country pulls out, key provisions cease being in effect.He predicts five things would happen if Trump cancelled NAFTA:—The dispute-resolution systems would disappear quickly.—Trump would re-institute tariffs on Mexico, averaging 3.5 per cent as per the U.S’s WTO standard.—He would decide whether to keep the old one-on-one agreement with Canada.—Congress would wage war on Trump, launching investigations, impeding his agenda on other fronts.—There would be lawsuits.Hufbauer said some cases could move through the court system quickly. When a state government sues the federal government, he said, it could zoom its way to the Supreme Court within a few months.It’s unclear Trump would have public support on his side.A recent poll by Harris for Livingston trade consultants concluded a plurality of Americans were happy to renegotiate NAFTA, but a mere six per cent wanted it ripped up entirely.“I agree there would be great political difficulty,” Hufbauer said, acknowledging a messy outcome.“Legal (rights) is another story.”There was no perfect clarity in the study U.S. lawmakers received from their Congressional Research service last fall. The report spent 22 pages trying to answer what would happen and it’s filled with nuances and arguments both sides might make.Its conclusions: Congress would need to be consulted on new tariffs, but it’s unclear what that consultation requires and, finally, if Congress refuses to pass a law withdrawing the 1993 NAFTA Implementation Act, the president could still try increasing tariffs.One trade lawyer envisions a worst-case scenario for the economy.It involves a legal fight that drags on. NAFTA gets ripped apart in stages. What’s left is a patchwork quasi-agreement and lingering economic uncertainty. Based on the personality of the president, he’s not betting against it.”I think it’s a very grey area,” Dan Ujczo says of the law here.“And as we’ve seen with this president, there is nothing that will stop him. If it’s a grey area he’s going to use the full extent of his executive power.”—With files from Joan Bryden in Ottawa
CALGARY – An 18-year-old Kent Hehr was playing on a rotten hockey team in Saskatchewan when his hometown of Calgary was the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics.Canada’s new minister of sport remembers a feeling of missing out as his sister figure skated in the opening and closing ceremonies.“I was playing junior hockey in Lloydminster, for the Lloydminster Lancers,” Hehr told The Canadian Press.“It was the worst team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League that year. It may have been the worst team in the history of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.“I remember watching from afar and thinking ‘I love playing hockey, but I kind of wish I was home for a couple days.’”The Calgarian has been appointed the next Minister of Sport at the same time his hometown is mulling another Winter Games bid. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi has repeatedly said a bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games can’t go ahead without federal government support.While it’s tempting to connect the dots, Hehr wasn’t ready to weigh in on an Olympic bid on his second day in his new job.“Calgary city council is looking at that,” he said Tuesday. “Calgarians have to look at this and the province does.“At this time, it would be prejudging the situation. In my view, I need to concentrate on my file and interact with this issue in an objective fashion as the city completes its process.”Hehr takes over the dual role of sports minister and Minister of Persons with Disabilities from former Paralympic swimmer Carla Qualtrough, who was handed the department of public works in Monday’s federal cabinet shuffle.The 47-year-old Hehr is a former junior and college hockey player rendered a quadriplegic in 1991 when he was stuck by a bullet in a drive-by shooting in Calgary. Paralyzed from the chest down, Hehr uses a wheelchair.The Liberal MP for Calgary Centre was Minister of Veterans Affairs and associate Minister of Defence prior to Monday’s cabinet re-jig.The Canadian taxpayer is the single biggest funder of the country’s Olympians and Paralympians, to the tune of about $200 million annually.Own The Podium makes funding recommendations directing $70 million annually in “targeted excellence” money — about $6 million of it comes from the Canadian Olympic Committee — to sports federations whose athletes demonstrate medal potential.OPT’s recommendations require ministerial approval, so the buck ultimately stops with Hehr now.“With Minister Hehr, he obviously is very passionate about sport,” OTP chief executive officer Anne Merklinger said.“I’ve met him on a couple of different occasions and he’s always demonstrated a tremendous passion for high-performance sport.”Hehr takes on what’s been an eventful sports file in 21 months under Qualtrough.A departmental review of how Canada divvies up taxpayer dollars among its athletes concluded earlier this year.Half of the Olympic athletes surveyed in the review said the administration of targeted excellence funding “needs a major re-think and revisions.”Canada’s athletes got a raise in their monthly “carding” cheques for the first time since 2004 when the federal budget increased contributions to the Athletes Assistance Fund by 18 per cent.NextGen funding promised by the previous Conservative government came online during Qualtrough’s tenure with an extra $5 million per year going to athletes deemed five to eight years away from their peak performances.“There’s no doubt Minister Qualtrough accomplished a great deal,” Hehr said.“I’m hoping to continue her work and continue to move forward on making sure people have an opportunity to take part in sport. I know first-hand the importance of it to kids, to families across this nation.“And looking at ways we can get more people involved in sport is one of those things I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into.”Qualtrough was considered a real ally of the Canadian Paralympic Committee given her background as an athlete and former president of the organization.The current president believes there’s common ground with Hehr.“He is certainly someone who is very sensitive to issues for persons with disabilities,” Marc-Andre Fabien said.“I’m sure he is very sensitive to athletes with disabilities, so we will certainly be able to work very closely with him and have a lot good exchanges and support from him.”
EDMONTON – A second teenager has died after he and his girlfriend were found unconscious in an idling vehicle in central Alberta.Mounties found the teens early last Thursday in Drayton Valley while patrolling an area on an unrelated call.Gage Bogart, 17, and Shaina Lynn Ridenour, 16, were found unconscious in the car.Ridenour was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital, while Bogart died on Christmas Day.There was a strong odour of exhaust fumes inside the vehicle.RCMP say a mechanical inspection on the car is scheduled for today.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the boy was 16 and the girl was 17.
VANCOUVER – Whales, dolphins and porpoises will no longer be kept at Vancouver’s aquarium, a move that animal advocates say is a step toward the end of cetaceans in captivity.The Vancouver Aquarium announced Thursday that is ending the display of cetaceans following a long and controversial battle with animal activists and the city’s park board over the issue.“We made (the decision) because the controversy, the distraction, the dialogue in the community had begun to limit our ability to pursue our ocean conservation mission,” said John Nightingale, the aquarium’s CEO and president.“Cetaceans were with us here for 50 years, so there’s a variety of emotions, as you can imagine, among many of our staff and board members and supporters. But the universal urge to get on with things is the driving force.”Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society said the decision is a major victory for animal welfare.“I think it’s clear that keeping animals in captivity has lost public support and we’re hopeful that trend continues and that animal captivity will eventually become a thing of the past,” he said.Camille Labchuk with Animal Justice said in a statement the move shows the “writing is on the wall for the whale and dolphin captivity industry.”Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont., is believed to be the only other Canadian facility with cetaceans. The park has dolphins and what it says is the “largest collection of beluga whales in the world.”Fricker said he hopes the Vancouver Aquarium’s decision will encourage Marineland to phase out their whale and dolphin program, too.“I certainly think that it’s another nail in the coffin for cetacean captivity,” he said.Marineland said it continues to actively expand its park, adding that its beluga whales are well cared for.“Our whales are thriving, healthy and active. The Beluga whale program at Marineland is the finest in the world,” it said in a statement.“Access to exhibits of Arctic animals at Marineland or the Vancouver Aquarium are a critical resource for educators, scientists and families and a part of our national heritage for all Canadians to view and appreciate.”Debate over the future of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the Vancouver Aquarium has been simmering for several years, but heated up after the deaths of two belugas in November 2016.A young false killer whale and a harbour porpoise have also died at the aquarium in recent months.The aquarium previously announced plans to phase out its cetacean program by 2029, but first wanted to bring in five new belugas.Those plans were scuttled last May when the Vancouver Park Board approved a bylaw prohibiting the aquarium from bringing any new cetaceans to its facility in Stanley Park.Staff argued the regulations would hinder research and efforts to save and rehabilitate injured and orphaned cetaceans.The park board issued a statement applauding the aquarium’s decision.“The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our bylaws accordingly,” said chair Stuart Mackinnon. “We look forward to working with the Vancouver Aquarium as it intensifies its focus on … research and conservation.”Nightingale said the aquarium will continue pursuing a judicial review of the bylaw because the fundamental question is not about animals, but the powers of a government body.“You can imagine the implications of that reach far beyond whales and dolphins and reach far beyond our organization,” he said.The park board did not comment on the judicial review.The aquarium will also continue its work saving wild animals, including cetaceans, and wants to be able to use its facilities in Stanley Park for that purpose when necessary, Nightingale said.That could mean whales, dolphins or porpoises end up in the aquarium’s tanks for short periods while a permanent home is found, he added.“We do want to be able to, on a case-by-case basis, from time to time, use the extraordinary and large facilities at the aquarium in that process, if deemed necessary by (Fisheries Canada) and veterinarians.”Nightingale said an exception from the new policy will also be made for the facility’s single remaining cetacean, a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen.Staff want to do what’s best for Helen and that means she should live with others of her kind, but the animal is believed to be in her 30s and moving her could present health complications, he said.For now, Helen will remain at the aquarium, living in the same pool while staff consider her future.Cetaceans owned by the aquarium that are on loan to other facilities will stay where they are for now, he added.
OTTAWA – Canada’s national unemployment rate was 5.9 per cent in January. Here are the jobless rates last month by province (revised numbers from the previous month in brackets):— Newfoundland and Labrador 14.0 per cent (14.7)— Prince Edward Island 10.6 (9.7)— Nova Scotia 8.2 (8.0)— New Brunswick 9.1 (7.8)— Quebec 5.4 (5.0)— Ontario 5.5 (5.6)— Manitoba 5.6 (5.6)— Saskatchewan 5.4 (6.5)— Alberta 7.0 (7.0)— British Columbia 4.8 (4.6)
OTTAWA – It’s the news workers at the Rio Tinto aluminum smelter in Kitimat have been hoping for.The federal government may be considering financial support for steel and aluminum workers who are impacted by the controversial new US tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.As he walked into his weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t rule out financial aid. “We will work with industry and with partners in making sure that everyone’s OK.”He sat down with the Canadian Steel Producers Association amid the ongoing dispute, who asked that he and the federal government take quicker action to place duties on American steel and aluminum products to level the playing field.“We’re going to have a conversation going forward about how quickly this can be accomplished,” Association President Joseph Galimberti says, adding Trudeau was understanding. “We want the list to be right, but we want it to be in place quickly.”Galimberti says he did not ask for any bailout for companies or financial aid for workers, saying ‘we are not at that point yet.’“I don’t think we’re there in terms of specifics yet, I’m sure the government would be willing to have that discussion if we get there.”Earlier in the day and without getting into any specifics, Employment Minister Patty Hajdu had said many options are being considered.“You know, we’re always going to stand up for Canadian workers and we’ll be looking at a full range of supports for people that are affected.”Meantime, the NDP’s Tracey Ramsey was critical of the lack of details, suggesting the government is dragging its feet when it should be taking immediate action.“It’s about coming out and saying that they have a plan for working people, and that’s what’s lacking right now,” she says.In American media over the weekend, Trudeau called the tariffs “insulting”. Meantime, the six other nations at the G7 finance ministers meeting denounced the decision and called on the US to back down.The Trudeau government has already unveiled retaliatory tariffs and filed complaints through NAFTA and the World Trade Organization.President Donald Trump is set to make his first official visit to Canada on Friday for the G7 summit in Quebec. His tariff decision is expected to overshadow other policy discussions, and raise tensions at the table when the world leaders begin their meeting.
Unusual patterns of deaths in long-term care homes are not always tracked or analyzed because some death reports are not filed electronically, as rules require, the province’s chief coroner said Monday.Dr. Dirk Huyer’s assessment came at the public inquiry examining the circumstances that allowed 51-year-old Elizabeth Wettlaufer to kill eight elderly patients living at long-term care homes in southwestern Ontario.The former nurse confessed to killing the patients between 2007 and 2014 by injecting them with overdoses of insulin, as well as trying to kill several others at long-term care residences and private homes where she worked before seeking psychological help.Huyer, who began testifying at the inquiry on Monday, outlined systems that have been put in place to track deaths at long-term care facilities and identify unusual patterns at individual homes. But those measures do not paint a complete picture of activities at the province’s long-term care facilities, he said.Although homes are mandated to file reports of resident deaths to his office electronically, Huyer said several still submit their forms via fax and are therefore not included in any analysis that’s carried out.He also called for a change to the rules, which currently don’t track the deaths of long-term care residents who die in hospital rather than at the home.“Deaths that occur in hospitals may well have been from incidents that initiated within the long-term care home,” Huyer told the inquiry. “Clearly that would be important for us to understand if we’re going to look at trends or patterns that may occur.”Huyer also spent much of Monday’s testimony outlining the complex challenges facing coroners who must determine whether or not a death is worthy of an in-depth investigation.He said such calls can be difficult to make in a long-term care context, particularly when patients may have several long-standing conditions that complicate an assessment of whether their death is sudden or unexpected.The inquiry previously heard of at least one instance connected to Wettlaufer in which a coroner disregarded recommendations to investigate a death that sounded alarm bells for medical professionals.Maureen Pickering, 79, had Alzheimer’s at the time of her death in March 2014 but was physically active and could walk around. Then, just days before her death, her blood sugar plummeted.Karen Routledge, a nurse at the Caressant Care home where seven of Wettlaufer’s victims died, told the inquiry that Pickering was taken to hospital, where a doctor who could not determine the cause of her extremely low blood sugar suggested an autopsy be conducted if Pickering died.Routledge followed that advice, calling the coroner’s office when Pickering died. She was told, however, that the office “did not feel this was a coroner’s case,” she testified.Deaths must be sudden or unexpected to warrant an autopsy, and coroners have told Caressant staff that no death in a care home is unexpected, the inquiry previously heard.Huyer said, however, that sudden changes in a patient’s circumstances may well be a sign that a deeper probe is needed.“If the death seems unusual and there are concerns about it, we should be investigating,” he said.The inquiry heard that the coroner’s office previously had a practice of investigating one out of every 10 deaths at a long-term care home as a matter of course. Huyer told the inquiry this practice was suspended in 2013 in order to save $900,000.He said he’d heard anecdotal evidence that those screens were not revealing unusual patterns, though he said there were no statistics to support the claim. Other reporting mechanisms were more effective at shedding light on problematic activity in long-term care homes, he said.
REGINA – The Saskatchewan government as well as protesters who have been camped outside the legislature for six months are to be in a Regina court today.The government filed an application in July asking the court to order members from the Justice For Our Stolen Children camp to leave.They are protesting what they say is racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers.Police moved in to break up the camp on June 18, but it was set up again a few days later.Protesters have filed a court application of their own seeking to have six arrests made during that eviction declared illegal.Eric Adams, a constitutional law expert at the University of Alberta, says safety concerns will probably be brought up by government lawyers.“If the government can demonstrate those genuine demonstrable safety concerns, or evidence that the protest is inhibiting the functioning of the legislative grounds in some more than trivial way, then they’ll have a stronger case,” he said Wednesday.He also suggested that in cases such as this one, a court is going to want to protect political expression to the greatest extent possible.“(But) even though you have a right to that expressive activity, a court is going to find that at some point, pretty early in the process, the government can limit that expressive right for a number of other valuable policy reasons,” Adams said.Adams said the camp reminds him of the Occupy movements of 2011 during which several parks around North America were taken over by people protesting social and economic inequality.— Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitter
WINNIPEG – A Manitoba First Nations children’s advocate says the child welfare system “eats up” Indigenous children and is designed to keep their families at a disadvantage.Cora Morgan, with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, told the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women that the system is set up to apprehend children, not to support families.“Any challenges that our families are faced with, it’s used against them instead of them being offered support. It victimizes our families,” she said Monday.“A lot of these things are just perpetual. You can find five or six generations of a family where their children have been taken.”The inquiry is holding hearings in Winnipeg this week and is expected to focus on child welfare.Morgan said violence against Indigenous women and girls can be linked to child welfare because it not only removes them from their families, but also takes away their identity and self-worth.“The system just eats up our children to the point where they lose value for life,” she said.Manitoba has the highest per-capita rate of children in care and almost 90 per cent are Indigenous. The province said last week that the number of kids in government care dropped for the first time in 15 years to 10,328.Morgan told the inquiry about a mother who had four children, all of whom were seized at birth primarily because of poverty.Too much money is being spent on taking kids away from their families and not enough is invested in finding ways to keep them together, Morgan said.“You keep hearing our government say apprehension is the last resort but it’s the first resort,” she said. “It’s always the first resort.”Inquiry commissioners said they have heard about the effects of child welfare at every hearing. Qajaq Robinson said many people testified they were survivors of the system and that is “indicative of a huge problem.”“Whether it’s children, who as a result of their mothers being murdered, ended up in care or women who, as a result of their children being apprehended, lost financial support or lost housing and then ended up in precarious situations having to resort to survival sex work,” she said, adding people are being failed in numerous ways.“Every jurisdiction we have been to, I have heard it personally from witnesses,” Robinson said.Morgan gave the inquiry a list of recommendations including supporting First Nations-led initiatives to bring children home and to stop penalizing victims of domestic violence by taking their children away.
OTTAWA – Japanese car parts manufacturer INOAC Corp. has been fined $1.3 million by Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice after it pleaded guilty to rigging bids.The Competition Bureau says its investigation determined that INOAC entered into illegal agreements with a competing Japanese parts manufacturer to determine who would win calls for bids issued by Toyota in 2004 for the supply of plastic interior car parts.The parts were used in Toyota Corollas manufactured and sold in Canada between 2008 and 2014.The guilty plea concludes the bureau’s investigation of international bid-rigging by car parts suppliers that has led to 13 guilty pleas and fines totalling more than $86 million.The sum includes three of the largest bid-rigging fines ever imposed by Canadian courts —$30 million to Yazaki Corp., $13.4 million to Mitsubishi Electric and $13 million to Showa Corp.
BURNABY, B.C. — The federal Liberals have named a new candidate to run against NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in the Burnaby South byelection.They say former provincial legislator Richard T. Lee will replace Karen Wang on the ballot on Feb. 25.Wang stepped aside Wednesday after she urged Chinese people to vote for her, the “only” Chinese candidate, instead of Singh, who she described as “of Indian descent.”The Liberals say Lee represented Burnaby in British Columbia’s legislature for 16 years, serving for a time as deputy speaker.They note that he has lived in the city for more than three decades.The decision for them to run a candidate in the riding was not a given: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May urged the Liberals to follow her party’s lead in offering a “leader’s courtesy” to Singh by not running against him.The Canadian Press
QUEBEC – Lawyers for the Quebec City mosque gunman say their client is troubled his name is being associated with the mass killings at two New Zealand mosques Friday that claimed at least 49 lives.Charles-Olivier Gosselin and Jean-Claude Gingras released a statement to the media today stating convicted killer Alexandre Bissonnette is not looking for his acts to be imitated or to serve as a model for others.The lawyers were responding to unconfirmed reports the shooter in New Zealand was influenced by Bissonnette, who shot dead six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.READ MORE: Quebec mosque killer sentenced to life in prisonA now-deleted Twitter account that is believed to be linked to the accused New Zealand shooter shows what appear to be three assault-rifle magazines, one of which has Bissonnette’s name on it.Bissonnette was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 40 years, but both the Crown and his lawyers have recently announced they are appealing the sentence.Gosselin and Gingras say Bissonnette profoundly regrets what he did and has been very affected by the shootings in New Zealand.
OTTAWA — Federal Justice Minister David Lametti says the Ontario government’s rejecting shared responsibility for legal aid as an “excuse for spending cuts” will leave many of the province’s most vulnerable at greater risk.In a letter sent today to the Ontario attorney general, Lametti says the federal government has consistently recognized the importance of working with its provincial counterparts on matters relating to legal aid.He says it should come as no surprise that he strongly disagrees with the path chosen by Ontario Premier Doug Ford.In the spring, the provincial Progressive Conservative government announced it would cut funding for refugee- and immigration-law services provided by Legal Aid Ontario.Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey recently wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directly and asked him to instruct his ministers to reply to the province’s requests to fill what he says is a funding gap of $25 million.He says the number of refugee claims in Ontario has soared by nearly 160 per cent since 2013 and connects the increase to the Trudeau government’s immigration policies.The Canadian Press