Washington: India will not hold talks with Pakistan until it gives up its state policy of supporting terrorism, the country’s Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reelected in a general election fought on strong nationalistic sentiments.Ties between India and Pakistan hit a new low after the Pulwama terror attack. Tensions flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoCAmid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India. Shringla said the onus of the peace talks to improve the relationship between the two south Asian neighbours lies on Pakistan. Also Read – Two squadrons which participated in Balakot airstrike awarded citationsAs long as a particular country uses terrorism as an instrument of state policy and India continues to be at the receiving end of that policy, no Indian government will get a mandate from the people to reach out to that country, he told a group of American reporters as results of the general elections were declared in New Delhi in which Modi was voted back to power with a strong mandate. Responding to a question on the future of the India-Pak relationship, Shringla said the day Pakistan adjourns terrorism as a means of achieving its end, “I think the government will be within its mandate” to start a better relationship with its western neighbour. “I think it is the desire of every Indian to have good relations with Pakistan. You see our relations with Bangladesh, you see our relations with Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan. We have excellent relationships,” he said. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday congratulated Modi on his electoral triumph and expressed desire to work with him for peace and prosperity in the region. Shringla said it is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inclusive effort Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas to be part of their development. His policy is development for all, including India’s neighbours, the top diplomat said.
Cardiff: Captain Eoin Morgan is hoping for a better fielding effort as England seek to get their World Cup campaign back on track following their shocking loss to Pakistan. Bidding to win their maiden title in the sport’s showpiece, the hosts started their campaign with a convincing 104-run victory against South Africa before they stumbled in their second game, losing by 14 runs to Pakistan. They now clash with Bangladesh who shocked South Africa in an earlier match. Also Read – We don’t ask for kind of tracks we get: Bowling coach Arun”We didn’t deserve to win the game. But we played some really good cricket, two guys scored a hundred and we nearly chased down 350,” Morgan said in his pre-match press conference in the Welsh capital Friday. “We lacked a bit in the field. And that still remains the case. Hopefully we put in a better showing in the field,” the skipper added. Morgan searched for positives in the defeat. “But defeat presents a huge opportunity to learn more about your game and improve. Games where we have been defeated heavily have been the ones where we learned the most. Also Read – Bastian Schweinsteiger announces retirement, could join Germany set-up”We still managed to stay in the game, we remained in a headspace where we still believed in winning the game. “That shows a lot more to ourselves, probably more than to our supporters, they don’t see that all the time. They see an exciting team the majority of the time. But when we lose we see our character, the other side of our game.” Morgan said England would not change their aggressive approach in Saturday’s match here. “All we talked about is sticking to what we do well, looking at our strengths,” he said. “Previous to the tournament starting we talked about losing games — how would we react? What would we counter that with? “Everything comes back to focusing on ourselves, how we win games of cricket and get the best out of ourselves.” Four years ago, defeat by Bangladesh sent England crashing out of the last edition, but much has changed since then, with the hosts entering the tournament as the number one ODI side. Having beaten South Africa and pushed New Zealand all the way, Bangladesh are a serious threat. “It is going to be a difficult game. They are a good side and I think people underestimate them. We certainly don’t,” Morgan said. “They are a side that has played a lot of cricket, their senior players especially have played a lot of games, more so than our senior players so they are a threat. Hopefully we can play well and overcome them. “We were beaten by a better team in 2015. They deserved to win that night.”
New Delhi: As many as 8,189 Indians are lodged in various prisons in foreign countries, with Saudi Arabia having the highest number, the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.Replying to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that of the total number of Indian prisoners in foreign countries, 4,206 are imprisoned in the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations. Saudi Arabia has the highest number of Indian prisoners at 1,811 followed the UAE at 1,392, he said. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!The GCC is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. Muraleedharan said India and the UAE signed an agreement in 2011 on Transfer of Sentenced Persons. It came into force in March 2013. The agreement, among other things, includes conditions for transfer of prisoners and obligations to furnish information on them. But no Indian prisoner from the UAE has been transferred under this agreement till date, he said. Also Read – Encounter under way in Pulwama, militant killedHe further said that in October 2018, the government had received a proposal from the Consulate General of India, Dubai, about the transfer of 77 Indian prisoners under the agreement, to serve the remainder of their sentences in India. “The proposal is being processed by the authorities concerned in the UAE and India in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons between India and UAE,” he said in his reply. In a response to another question, Muraleedharan said that since 2016, mortal remains of 14,312 Indian nationals from 125 countries have been brought back till May 31, 2019.
Sydney: Australia plans to block websites to stop the spread of extreme content during “crisis events”, the country’s prime minister has said. Speaking from the G7 in Biarritz Sunday, Scott Morrison said the measures were needed in response to the deadly attack on two New Zealand mosques in March. The live-streamed murder of 51 worshippers “demonstrated how digital platforms and websites can be exploited to host extreme violent and terrorist content,” he said in a statement. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”That type of abhorrent material has no place in Australia, and we are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes, including taking action locally and globally.” Under the measures, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner would work with companies to restrict access to domains propagating terrorist material. A new 24/7 Crisis Coordination Centre will be tasked with monitoring terror-related incidents and extremely violent events for censorship.
Shahjahanpur (UP): Sixteen people were killed and five others seriously injured in an accident involving three vehicles on National Highway 24 on Tuesday morning, police said. The accident took place on Jamka crossing when a speeding truck hit a tempo and another van and then overturned, SP (City) Dinesh Tripathi said. All those killed were riding in the van which fell into a roadside ditch after being hit by the truck, the SP said, adding the truck later overturned over the van. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Sixteen people, including a woman and three children, died on the spot. The injured have been admitted to a local hospital, the SP said. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials concerned to ensure proper care and treatment of the injured persons. A senior government official said the CM has expressed condolences over the death of passengers and has directed that appropriate compensation be provided.
New Delhi: Apple plans to set up up to three brick-and-mortar outlets in India besides an online store as the iPhone maker looks to further cement its position in one of the world’s largest smartphone markets.According to sources privy to the development, Apple has conveyed to the government its plans to set up physical as well as an online store, in line with its ‘global experience’ centres for Apple-branded products.The move comes at a time when global smartphone manufacturers have reiterated their commitment to the Indian market and are looking to significantly ramp up their manufacturing capabilities in the country. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalApple, which works with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron in India, currently makes iPhone 6S and 7 here. One of the sources said Apple is looking at assembling more models in the country. Apple did not respond to a query on this issue.In a major push to single-brand retail, the government last week had relaxed FDI norms, offering players more flexibility on local sourcing norms. It also did away a provision that required companies to mandatorily set up a brick-and-mortar store before getting into online retail trading. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostFollowing the announcement, Apple had said it is keen on offering online and in-store experiences to Indian users that are at par with its global standards and aims to open its maiden retail store in India.While the company has remained mum on the locations of its stores, reports suggest that Mumbai could become home to India’s maiden Apple retail store.India is looking to galvanise smartphone manufacturing and position itself as a global hub, dishing out incentives to sweeten the deal for international brands. Amid growing concerns around US-China trade war, India now has an opportunity to woo companies that had so far concentrated their manufacturing operations in China.The government has been engaged in a dialogue with key players to understand their concerns and requirements.A recent report by industry body IAMAI had pointed out that India’s mobile manufacturing lacks scale and depth despite its ambition to become global production hub, and the country needs to “think big” by manufacturing at scale, producing high-end phones, and incentivising exports.The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report had also noted that the global handsets market is worth about USD 467 billion (about Rs 32 lakh crore), and this demand is being met almost entirely by China, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan.The same report stated that in 2018-19, India exported mobile handsets worth USD 1.4 billion compared to USD 2.7 billion in 2012-13.The production of mobile handsets had reached 225 million units in 2017-18 and India has the potential to manufacture one billion handsets annually, it had said.
OTTAWA – Some of what was said Tuesday about the federal government’s plan to spend $4.5 billion to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline and all of Kinder Morgan Canada’s core assets, part of a strategy to rescue a proposed expansion of the oilsands pipeline.—“It must be built and it will be built.” — Finance Minister Bill Morneau.—“Make no mistake: this is an investment in Canada’s future.” — Morneau.—“We believe this is the best way to protect thousands of well-paying jobs and the safest and most effective way to get our resources to world markets.” —Morneau.—“The majority of Canadians support this project. The majority of Canadians understand that we are in a transition to a clean-growth century and we will not get there overnight. But we will get there.”— Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.—“The prime minister is forcing Canadian taxpayers to pay for his failure. He has still failed to create certainty in the Canadian energy sector. And what’s worse, the prime minister is nationalizing a pipeline and he can’t tell Canadians the total cost. He would have Canadians believe that the only way to build the Trans Mountain pipeline is to use billions of taxpayer dollars, but it’s not. Four pipelines were built under the previous Conservative government without a dime of taxpayer money.” — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.—“Climate change leaders don’t spend $4.5 billion dollars on pipelines. We need a government with a vision that takes our future seriously.” — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Twitter.—“The project was never in Canada’s national interest, but the government of Canada and the Trudeau administration got itself painted into a very tight corner by insisting it was in the national interest, insisting it must be built, insisting it would be built.” — Green party Leader Elizabeth May.—“As of today, this is the most certainty that this project has ever had. That certainty is absolutely critical.” — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.—“The federal government has made a choice, a decision that was motivated by the decisions of a private company that gave a deadline, not to me, not to the people of British Columbia, but to someone they characterized as stakeholders. The federal government has responded and that’s their business.” — British Columbia Premier John Horgan.—“The decision raises some real questions … the federal government has done something out of necessity. The message is that our system here is broken and that it’s going to repel private sector investment if we don’t do something to fix it. So we need to fix it.” — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.—“Not only will it enable our producers to get their product safely to global markets, where they can get a fair price, but it will also create thousands of jobs in communities across Canada. Additionally, it will generate billions in economic activity.” — Canadian Chamber of Commerce.—“The project has always been in the national interest. CEPA is concerned about the implications of the government’s financial intervention for future transmission pipeline projects. We do not believe that this outcome will instill investor confidence in Canada.” — Chris Bloomer, president and CEO, Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.—“The federal government’s decision to purchase Trans Mountain is a totally reckless use of public money. It leaves Canadians on the hook for a risky pipeline that lacks a viable business case, flouts Canada’s commitment to Indigenous rights and reconciliation, and faces intractable legal, political and regulatory obstacles.” — Patrick DeRochie of Environmental Defence.—“This is the moment in history where Justin Trudeau has revealed that he never cared about Indigenous rights or reconciliation. The cost that they did not calculate in their $4.5 billion purchase is that Indigenous front lines will stop this pipeline.” — Will George, Tsleil-Waututh member and spokesperson for the Coast Salish Watch House.—“This decision will haunt the Trudeau government. Those of us who knocked on doors for him will not forget that he took billions of dollars from Canadian families to buy out an oil pipeline that violates Indigenous rights and our commitments on climate change. Thousands of people have committed to stand with Indigenous leaders to stop this pipeline. All hell is about to break loose in British Columbia.” — Tzeporah Berman, deputy director, Stand.earth.—
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – The Crown in the triple-murder trial of a southern Alberta man told a jury they should find Derek Saretzky guilty because he confessed to police and that confession is supported by evidence.But Saretzky’s lawyer reminded them his client is innocent until proven guilty and the prosecution has to prove every aspect of the case.“It’s the Crown’s job not only to prove the accused did the crime they’re accused of but also all elements of the offences,” Patrick Edgerton told the jury.Saretzky, 24, is facing three counts of first-degree murder in the September 2015 deaths of Terry Blanchette, his two-year-old daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech five days earlier.Saretzky is also charged with committing an indignity to Hailey’s body. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.Edgerton told the jury the investigation into Meketech’s death wasn’t perfect and questions remain about the night the senior was killed. He also suggested Saretzky was pushed into confessing to her death after spending a tough six months in custody, charged with the killing of the father and daughter.“I would suggest these are the words of somebody who has sort of given up,” Edgerton said.It’s up to the jury to decide whether Saretzky’s confessions to killing Blanchette and his little girl are reliable, he said.Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou told the jury Saretzky’s confessions included details only the killer would know, such as what happened to Hailey and how Meketech died.“How can you be satisfied that this man, Derek Saretzky, killed each of these people?” Papadatou said. “One, he told you that he did it.”Papadatou urged the jury to believe what Saretzky had told police even though people sometimes confess to crimes they didn’t commit.“How do we know it’s true that he killed her after confessing to it?” Papadatou asked.“He says ‘I can take you to the body’… and that’s what he does. He takes them to the body.”During the trial, the jury watched a video where Saretzky took police to the campsite where Hailey’s body was found and re-enacted choking her to death, cannibalizing and dismembering her before throwing her remains in a firepit.“You’ve seen the video. It is chilling. You’ve heard the evidence. It is disturbing,” she said. “I am asking you to return a verdict on first-degree murder in relation to each of the victims.”Court heard Saretzky tell police he killed Meketech — a friend of his grandparents — on the spur of the moment and because he “didn’t think anybody cared about her.” The jury heard he kicked in the door of her mobile home and bludgeoned her to death before stabbing her in the throat.The Crown called it a trial run. After Meketech was killed, Papadatou said Saretzky had five days to think about what he had done before he killed Blanchette and kidnapped Hailey.“He had time to pause, to reflect,” she said. “Having thought this through, he decided to do it again.”The killings all occurred in the small close-knit region known as the Crowsnest Pass in southwestern Alberta.Saretzky knew all three victims, as well as Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, who he claimed to have dated. Dunbar testified that they were only friends.— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
TABER, Alta. – Police in a small southern Alberta town are treating the burning of a rainbow Pride flag as an arson case.Taber Police Chief Graham Abela says someone used fuel to light a flag pole on fire Saturday and the flames spread to the flag.Organizers of Taber’s first Pride event plan to raise a third rainbow flag.The first flag raised earlier this month was stolen.Abela says police have spoken with the Taber Equality Alliance about what happened and have offered victim services supports.He says police are looking for tips from the public to help the investigation.“This act of arson is a public safety concern and is not taken lightly by the Taber Police,” Abela said in a release Monday.“This type of activity is not in keeping with the values of the community and we denounce this crime.”Earlier this month, vandals in nearby Lethbridge defaced a rainbow crosswalk twice in four days that was put in place to make the city’s Pride festival.
HALIFAX – Close to a quarter of solitary confinements in Nova Scotia’s jails are due to medical issues or protection from other inmates, according to recent figures offering a glimpse of why offenders in the province spend weeks buried in virtual isolation.Experts say the statistics are worrying, especially when isolation is used for non-disciplinary reasons.“You’re denied access to human interaction, you have very limited access to the outside world. … It’s a very austere form of confinement,” says Howard Sapers, who recently prepared recommendations for reforms on the use of segregation in Ontario.“Segregation is not therapeutic,” said the former Correctional Investigator of Canada.The list of “closed confinement” cases from February to June this year show about 80 confinements out of 600, or about 13 per cent, are for medical reasons. In addition, more than one in 10 cases of the solitary confinements were for “protection of the offender,” which often means an offender risks violent attacks by other prisoners.The province defines closed confinement as “a restriction imposed on an offender to a cell or isolated area … that limits interaction with other offenders,” with guards only required to give offenders 30 minutes of fresh air exercise daily.Medical confinement includes prisoners “recovering from a surgical procedure,” and “illness,” which officials say includes mental health diagnoses.Sean Heywood, 29, has frightening memories of being in closed confinement in the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility’s health unit.He said 90 days in a windowless, segregated cell with a bed and toilet meant brief, bi-weekly interactions with a psychiatrist, deepening despair and a lack of preparation for a transfer to a federal jail’s general population.“I was put in an isolation cell and there’s not access to anything. I think I got outside twice in the 90 days I was in there,” he said of his experience in 2013.“I went from borderline personality disorder to ideas of suicide.”Sean Kelly, director of corrections in the province, said in an interview efforts are being made to reduce solitary for non-disciplinary reasons, with prisoners permitted to continue in programs and more flexibility in the amount of time spent with other inmates.Kelly said “the majority” of 43 medical confinements at the Halifax jail and 15 in Pictou County were in the prison’s health unit cells, rather than solitary confinement units used for punishment.However, he said there aren’t health-unit cells available for the 18 cases in the provincial jail in Sydney and three in Yarmouth’s facility.A committee is looking at alternatives, he said.“Rather than thinking of reasons why they (inmates in medical confinement) need to stay there, we need to think of reasons why they can move out into the general population,” said the administrator.Kelly said the 600 segregation cases recorded last year — up from 484 cases in 2014 — reflect a decision to include medical and other non-disciplinary isolation in the statistics.The figures provided to The Canadian Press through freedom-of-information legislation include multiple cases of the same offender being in solitary, he said.Rob Clark, a former federal deputy warden who recently authored the book “Down Inside,” said the data suggests Nova Scotia should be doing more to avoid solitary confinement.He said in an interview that over three decades he observed prisoners in solitary slipping into lethargy and sleeping 16 hours daily. Mental illnesses often deepened, he said.Clark says keeping prisoners in solitary because they’re unwell or because they face threats from other offenders is a “Band-Aid on a tumour.”Inmates isolated for protection are seen as weak and picked on by other inmates when they emerge, he said.“As soon as they go in, they’re labelled for life,” he said.The inmates should be moved into another area of the general population where they won’t be attacked, he said.In the province’s recently opened Northeast Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in New Glasgow, a prisoner was kept in solitary for 35 straight days for “protection” between late March and early May, and in a similar case, a prisoner was put in solitary for 41 straight days.The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has repeatedly criticized these kinds of lengthy stays.“It should be the responsibility of the prison to house inmates in a separate place in the general population, rather than creating these situations where someone is put in solitary allegedly for their own protection,” said Brenda McPhail, a spokeswoman at the CCLA.Justin MacLean, the president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, said lack of space and programs is an underlying issue.“A lot of time you get stuck with putting people in a holding cell or isolation because they’ve told you they’re not compatible with another person,” said the former corrections officer.Meanwhile, Heywood said warehousing mentally ill or threatened offenders isn’t making the public any safer.He said he only stopped cutting himself, exited solitary and started to prepare for life outside prison when he had access to specialized psychological counselling at federal prison in 2015.“That completely changed the route forward,” he said.Follow (at) mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
MONTREAL – It was inconceivable for Marie-Josee Poulin not to run her first full marathon this year.So when Montreal’s event was cancelled amid concerns about hot and humid weather, Poulin set her sights on a marathon to be held a week later in Rimouski, about a five-hour drive northeast.While she could have run the half-marathon in Montreal, which is still expected to take place, Poulin said she preferred to stick to her goal.“I’ve been training since January,” she told The Canadian Press in a phone interview. “I joined a racing club. My focus was the Montreal marathon.”Poulin is far from the only one to have found this Plan B.Since the Montreal marathon’s cancellation, the town of 49,000 people has seen its entries for the full marathon jump from 303 to 469 in three days, far eclipsing its previous record of 320.Rimouski’s organizers moved quickly to promote their event on social media, seeing a chance to snag a bit of spotlight from Quebec’s largest city.“The message was seen by almost 55,000 people,” event co-ordinator Sebastien Bolduc said. “Since then, we’ve had three to four times more emails and Facebook questions than usual.”While they welcome the added attention, the bigger numbers have led to some logistical headaches.The organizers of the race, which will have nearly 5,000 participants in total, have had to contact their suppliers in Asia to place a last-minute order for more medals and shirts.A far bigger problem is accommodation. The hotels in the city are 99 per cent full, Rimouski’s tourism department said, which puts many runners at risk of having to make a marathon effort just to get to the start line.Poulin and her family managed to rent a cottage in Metis-sur-Mer, some 40 kilometres from where the race will be held.But another Montreal runner, who learned about the Rimouski event on Facebook, is worried his preparation will go to waste if he can’t find somewhere to stay.“It will be hard to participate without carpooling and no accomodation,” Christophe Chession said.Pascal Gagnon, who lives half an hour east of Montreal, managed to find a hotel room 25 kilometres away from Rimouski.He had never heard of the city’s marathon until Montreal’s was cancelled, but now says he’s eager to participate.While he had his hopes set for running his first full marathon on Montreal’s towering Jacques-Cartier bridge, he said he’ll just have to put that off for another year.
TORONTO – A Toronto police officer convicted of attempted murder in the fatal shooting of a teen on an empty streetcar four years ago was charged Wednesday with breaching his bail conditions.Ontario’s police watchdog said Const. James Forcillo — who has been on bail as he appeals his conviction — was accused of breaching the conditions related to his house arrest, but gave no other details about the case.Toronto police said Forcillo was charged with failing to comply with recognizance. Forcillo’s lawyer, Peter Brauti, said a bail hearing on the new charge was put over to Friday.Forcillo had his bail conditions extended in late September, a day before he was set to appeal his conviction in the 2013 death of Sammy Yatim.Yatim’s killing set off a wave of public outrage and protests after a video of the shooting went viral. The judge overseeing Forcillo’s trial called the video “powerful evidence” that what the officer said happened that night did not actually occur.Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Then found Forcillo had abused his authority in a manner that undermined public trust in law enforcement and the justice system.Forcillo was found guilty last year of attempted murder but was acquitted of the more serious charge of second-degree murder for shooting 18-year-old Yatim multiple times. He was sentenced to six years behind bars, a year more than the mandatory minimum.He has since asked the appeal court to substitute a not-guilty verdict or order a new trial in his case, arguing Then was wrong to exclude evidence meant to suggest Yatim was trying to commit “suicide by cop,” where a person behaves threateningly in order to trigger a lethal response from law enforcement.Forcillo’s lawyers have also alleged Then erred in instructing jurors to view two volleys of bullets fired by Forcillo as separate incidents, and to consider the charge of attempted murder.They argue that opened the door for a compromise verdict, where jurors find someone guilty of a lesser charge rather than convicting of a more serious one or acquitting them entirely.Forcillo is also seeking a declaration that the mandatory minimum sentence for attempted murder is unconstitutional, and wants to be granted a suspended sentence. Barring that, he wants his sentence reduced to the minimum five years.
MONTREAL – A Montreal man known affectionately as “Pops” and who founded an organization that helps the homeless has died at the age of 89.The group, called “Dans La Rue,” says Emmett Johns died overnight Saturday night.Johns, who was born in Montreal in April 1928, wanted to be a missionary in his youth.He was a priest for several years and served as chaplain at the Douglas Hospital, a psychiatric institution.In 1988, he founded “Le Bon Dieu dans la rue,” which eventually became ”Dans La Rue.”He was named to the Order of Canada in 1999.Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante took to Twitter to praise Johns.“I am sad to hear about Pops’ death,” Plante said. “A Montreal giant… has just left us.“My thoughts are with his family and friends and all those he helped over the years. Thanks for everything.”
MONTREAL – Eight months after their 27-year-old son Noam was fatally shot by Montreal police following a car chase, Jacob and Rachel Cohen still have more questions than answers about why he died.Since Quebec’s police watchdog has taken over the investigation, the family still doesn’t know how many policemen were at the scene, whether there were civil witnesses or video surveillance, what conversations took place over police radio, or whether proper investigative protocols were followed, they said through a family spokesperson.“You don’t know what’s happening, you’re scared to live a second injustice,” said Michele Cohen.“One, (that you) lose your son, and two, that light won’t be made on the events that took place.”The family is one of several who are criticizing Quebec’s bureau des enquetes independentes, known as the BEI, for a lack of transparency after a lawyer raised the issue earlier this week.The family members reached by The Canadian Press say they’ve had trouble getting updates on the deaths of their loved ones, and some say they have little faith in the independence of the process to investigate police-involved shootings and deaths.Earlier this week, lawyers representing the family of a Montreal man who died during a police intervention last June announced they are suing the city over his death and released a video that allegedly shows the incident.Lawyer Alain Arsenault said that Pierre Coriolan’s family decided to release the video in part because they haven’t been able to get answers about how he died.“The BEI is currently ensuring that the family cannot have Pierre Coriolan’s autopsy report, so we cannot tell you today whether it was two bullets, three bullets, two shots of Taser, three shots,” he said.In a news release following the June incident, the investigations unit said Coriolan was distressed and holding a screwdriver in each hand when police responded to a disturbance complaint at a housing complex in Montreal’s gay village.Police first used a Taser and rubber bullets on Coriolan, the watchdog reported, but eventually drew their service weapons when those methods failed to subdue him.The watchdog group was created in 2016 in response to criticism over the previous policy of calling in a second police force to investigate officer-involved shootings.But Arseneault said Wednesday that the bureau has a “credibility problem” stemming from the fact that most of its members have a police background, either as ex-officers or civilian police employees.In Noam Cohen’s case, the family wonders why the initial news release following the death appeared to be drawn entirely from the account of police officers involved at the scene.Michele Cohen said the release, which states that the 27-year-old had tried to hit a road worker with his car and then accelerated towards police officers, contains unverified information that could prejudice other witnesses.In a statement, a spokesperson for the bureau said that it understands the impatience felt by families and tries to keep them informed whenever possible.But Martin Bonin-Charron said parts of the investigation need to be kept confidential for legal reasons.“This is particularly true of the content of the various expert reports, including autopsy reports, which are not public documents and have never been, even before the BEI’s entry into operation,” he wrote.But when investigations take months or years, the wait for a final report can be frustrating, according to Dave Dupont Rivard, whose brother Francis died after an altercation with Quebec provincial police in Oct. 2016.He said the family got “no information whatsoever” from investigators until the final report was filed the following June.He was also critical of the report’s findings, which he believes downplays the statements of witnesses who alleged the police had acted wrongly when they tried to subdue the agitated 29-year-old and did not do enough to save him.“I will always be convinced that there was an error on the part of the police but there’s nothing we can do, because we’re talking about a simple citizen up against police, who represent the law,” Dave Dupont Rivard said in a written exchange.Sylvia Simioni Boire, whose son Patrice died in a car crash last March after being pursued by Quebec provincial police, said the investigator who met with her initially was kind and informative.But now, almost a year later, she hasn’t been able to find out how the probe has progressed or even if it’s still open.She feels the lack of sensitivity shown towards families reflects an attitude that the victims are to blame for their own deaths.“I don’t know, they’re not too compassionate,” she said. “They say it’s our guys who ran after them, but we’ll never know the bottom of the story.”
CRANBROOK, B.C. – A man who promised millions of dollars to a junior hockey team in southeastern British Columbia has been placed on six months of probation after pleading guilty to an unrelated fraud charge.Mike Gould also faced a second charge of using a forged document but it was stayed when he appeared Thursday in Cranbrook provincial court.In addition to probation, Gould was also fined $4,000 and must complete 60 hours of community service.Gould was charged last October after he hosted a celebration for the Kimberley Dynamiters and hockey officials following his promise to donate $7.5 million to the team and the Kimberley Minor Hockey Association.He wrote a check to cover the $8,000 bill for the dinner at a local restaurant but it was returned because of insufficient funds in the account.Gould has said he won a 2008 jackpot in a EuroMillions lottery but has never disclosed the value and in past interviews he has blamed problems with a bank for preventing the transfer to the hockey team.Lawyer Morne Coetzee told the court her client took the cheques to provide payment to the restaurant in a moment of panic because he couldn’t liquidate some financial assets that had been frozen.Gould settled the tab with a cash payment six weeks after the event.“I’m very sorry for my mistakes,” Gould told Judge Lynal Doerksen. “I should never have done it in the first place and I’m kicking myself in the ass for it.”Despite the eventual payment to the restaurant, the fraud charge still stood, said Crown counsel Kristian DeJong.“He’s still convicted of it because a fraud is a fraud. You don’t undo these things once they’re done and that’s why he was sentenced,” DeJong said outside court.The Crown had asked for the $4,000 fine, 12 months of probation and 60 hours of community service. The defence argued the appropriate sentence should be a higher fine of up to $15,000 that he was able to pay, but no probation and community service of 20 hours.Doerksen said co-operation with police, an early guilty plea, and repayment to the restaurant were mitigating factors in sentencing. (Cranbrook Daily Townsman)
OTTAWA – A scorching heat wave has kept crowds on Parliament Hill smaller than usual for Canada Day festivities in the nation’s capital.Paramedics in Ottawa have been busy responding to holiday revellers in distress, mainly due to the heat. Temperatures were above 34 C with a humidex that reached 47 C in the afternoon.By 2 p.m., paramedics had attended to 54 patients at Canada Day events. Seven people were taken to hospital with heat illnesses or heart problems.“Most of what we’re seeing is mostly due to heat,” said Marc-Antoine Deschamps, a spokesperson for the Ottawa Paramedic Services.“People have been pretty good to follow our advice … so it has kept our call volume fairly low, but it’s still busier than usual.”Both Ottawa police and the parliamentary police force report that there have been no security incidents on or around Parliament Hill.But officials do say they’ve noticed a drop in the number of participants this year, which they attribute mainly to the heat.“We’ve noticed there’s a smaller crowd out there and probably the biggest logic behind it is the heat itself,” said Const. Chuck Benoit of the Ottawa Police.Police officers themselves were also affected by the heat, and took shorter shifts to hydrate and seek air-conditioning relief throughout the day.Canadian Heritage said only 6,000 people attended the noon-hour show on Parliament Hill, which is thousands less than last year.Later in the day, a spokeswoman for the department said more than 19,000 people had attended the day’s festivities.However, Natalie Huneault said the numbers couldn’t be directly compared to previous years because of the use of a new security system that tracks entrance numbers.Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.
MONTREAL – Armenia isn’t top of mind when one thinks of thriving French culture.But this week the Armenian capital of Yerevan will be briefly transformed into a francophone mecca, a sign of the relaxed admission standards of the organization representing the French-speaking world.Armenia, host of the two-day la Francophonie summit opening Thursday, counts a little more than 10,000 fluent French speakers out of a population of three million. That represents about 0.33 per cent of the population; it is roughly as many French speakers as live in the Quebec town of Baie Comeau.Martin Normand, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, said the organization’s acceptance of marginally French-speaking states “certainly dilutes in a certain way the status of French, even within the Francophonie.” He says criteria for joining the 48-year-old organization have become “less and less stringent” when it comes to an expectation to promote French.The counter-argument, he noted, is such countries “may hold the key for the future of French” as long as they commit to promoting the language.An official at the Armenian embassy in Ottawa insisted the French language is alive and popular in the eastern European country.“The French language has become the third (most popular) foreign language in Armenia,” said Ara Mkrtchian, the embassy’s deputy head of mission. It trails Russian and English.French is still taught in public schools there, and Mkrtchian noted his immediate family members are all fluent in French. Armenia became a full member of the International Organization of la Francophonie six years ago.A further connection is the nearly half-a-million Armenians who live in France. Charles Aznavour, the crooner who died this month at 94, was the most famous French-Armenian.Mkrtchian said the summit could boost the popularity of French in his country. “Maybe in 50 years, we can compare with Canada,” he quipped.This is not the first time the organization, which counts 84 member states and governments, has raised eyebrows by welcoming countries where French is seldom heard. For example, Macedonia and Moldova are full members, while Qatar and Ghana are associate members.Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume had harsh criticism for the organization Monday on the sidelines of a France-Quebec convention in his city.Lamenting a decline of French in Quebec, Labeaume accused the international group of neglecting “this side of the Atlantic.”“I’ve been mayor for ten years. I’ve been involved in la Francophonie for ten years, and I have not yet understood what it gets us (in Quebec and Canada),” Labeaume told reporters, describing the institution as a “party of dignitaries” and a “landing strip for politicians at the end of their career.”Despite his concerns about membership, Normand said he thinks the organization remains relevant. It still plays an important role in promoting French in other international bodies, he said.Many African and eastern European countries with historic links to France use Francophonie membership as a counterweight to other large international groups.Others see a potential economic benefit from putting forward a French face. For example, Louisiana is trying to gain member status at this week’s summit.“If Louisiana knows how to do this, other countries in Eastern Europe or Africa surely are aware of the benefits of using that organization to promote French on their territory as well,” Normand said.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec premier-designate Francois Legault are scheduled to arrive in Yerevan on Wednesday.
OTTAWA — The federal government and Halifax-based Irving Shipbuilding are asking a trade tribunal to throw out a challenge to their handling of a high-stakes competition to design the navy’s new $60-billion fleet of warships.In separate submissions to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, the federal procurement department and Irving say the challenge filed by Alion Science and Technology of Virginia does not meet the requirements for a tribunal hearing.Alion was one of three companies, along with U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin and Spanish firm Navantia, vying to design the new warships, which are to be built by Irving and serve as the navy’s backbone for most of this century.While Lockheed was selected as the preferred bidder and is negotiating a final design contract with the government and Irving, Alion alleges the company’s design did not meet the navy’s requirements and should have been disqualified.Two of those requirements related to the ship’s speed, Alion alleged, while the third related to the number of crew berths. Alion has asked both the trade tribunal and the Federal Court to stop any deal with Lockheed.But the government and Irving say the contract is exempt from normal trade laws, which the tribunal is charged with enforcing, because of a special “national security exception,” meaning there is “no jurisdiction for the tribunal to conduct an inquiry.”Another reason the challenge should be quashed, they argue, is that Alion is not a Canadian company, which is a requirement for being able to ask the tribunal to consider a complaint.Alion’s challenge has been formally filed by its Canadian subsidiary, but the government and Irving say that subsidiary was never actually qualified to be a bidder in the competition — only its American parent.The responses from the government and Irving are the latest twist in the largest military purchase in Canadian history, which will see 15 new warships built to replace the navy’s 12 aging Halifax-class frigates and three already-retired Iroquois-class destroyers.The trade tribunal ordered the government last month not to award a final contract to Lockheed until it had investigated Alion’s complaint, but rescinded the order after a senior procurement official warned that the deal was “urgent.”The procurement department has not explained why the deal is urgent.Lockheed’s bid was contentious from the moment the design competition was launched in October 2016.The federal government had originally said it wanted a “mature design” for its new warship fleet, which was widely interpreted as meaning a vessel that has already been built and used by another navy.But the first Type 26 frigates, upon which Lockheed’s proposal was based, are only now being built by the British government and the design has not yet been tested in full operation.There were also complaints from industry that the deck was stacked in the Type 26’s favour because of Irving’s connections with British shipbuilder BAE, which originally designed the Type 26 and partnered with Lockheed to offer the ship to Canada.Irving, which worked with the federal government to pick the top design, also partnered with BAE in 2016 on an ultimately unsuccessful bid to maintain the navy’s new Arctic patrol vessels and supply ships.That 35-year contract ended up going to another company.Irving and the federal government have repeatedly rejected such complaints, saying they conducted numerous consultations with industry and used a variety of firewalls and safeguards to ensure the choice was completely fair.But industry insiders had long warned that Lockheed’s selection as the top bidder, combined with numerous changes to the requirements and competition terms after it was launched — including a number of deadline extensions — would spark lawsuits.Government officials acknowledged last month the threat of legal action, which has become a favourite tactic for companies that lose defence contracts, but expressed confidence that they would be able to defend against such an attack.—Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — An outside body to investigate allegations of abuse and harassment in amateur sports is hung up on legalities, says Sports Minister Kirsty Duncan.Last week, Duncan announced a new code of conduct for handling abuse allegations in sport, from community teams to national sports organizations, but critics say it’s toothless.Cheryl Hardcastle, a Windsor, Ont., MP and the NDP critic for sport, has been calling for an independent investigative body for some time.“We started out with mandates and codes of conduct and it’s not enough,” said Hardcastle. “It’s not that it’s not working, it’s that it’s not enough to follow through on the complexities of these issues. Some of these investigations that are having to be done by organizations, they’re not even really equipped to do them.”Hardcastle said she thinks Canada should follow the lead of the United States, which has established the U.S. Center for SafeSport. The non-profit organization allows athletes in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movement to report sexual abuse, provides information on abuse-prevention techniques and policies, and keeps a public database of coaches and other sports figures disciplined for sexual misconduct.In an emailed statement, Duncan wrote that a third-party mechanism for investigating complaints in Canada is in the works but “legal and jurisdictional issues” need to be considered and that her officials are working with provinces and territories.Duncan also wrote that the outside body will eventually “ensure all athletes can feel safe and confident in disclosing incidents of abuse and be assured their case will be given due process.”Canadian Heritage spokesperson Daniel Savoie said in an email that the federal government already requires that all government-funded sports organizations allow for “access to an independent third party to address harassment and abuse cases.”But establishing that independent body for abuse allegations requires “support and collaboration between federal–provincial/territorial governments and the sport community,” wrote Savoie.Like other provinces, Alberta has been in talks with the federal government about how to reduce abuse in sports and recently hosted Canada’s sports ministers at a conference in Red Deer. They discussed the possibility of “a mechanism to report and monitor incidents of harassment, abuse, and discrimination in sport,” wrote Marion Nadar, a spokesperson for Alberta’s culture ministry.Nadar wrote that the ministry isn’t aware of any legal or jurisdictional obstacles that would prevent the creation of a third-party body to hear complaints.The provincial ministry that handles sport in British Columbia referred questions on the issue to the federal government. Ontario’s ministry condemned abuse in sport and said that province is working on a sports action plan but didn’t answer questions about problems with a third-party investigative body.Duncan’s announcement came shortly after a CBC investigation found over 200 coaches in Canada have been convicted of sexual abuse in the last 20 years and another 34 cases involving coaches are before the courts.—Follow @Dani_Edwards1 on TwitterDanielle Edwards, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada’s parole officers say the country’s correctional system is at a breaking point due to workloads that are “insurmountable” — a situation they say poses real risks to public safety.A survey of parole officers conducted by the Union of Safety and Justice Employees suggested more than two-thirds of parole workers are worried they’re not able to properly protect the public because they do not have time to adequately assess, supervise and prepare offenders for release.The union, which represents the officers, says this means many offenders fall through the cracks — offenders who, in some cases, may re-offend and harm the public or themselves.David Neufeld, a national vice-president for the union, says the problems stem from funding cuts under the former Conservative government, which saw staffing reduced and workloads increased.Since then, moves by the Trudeau government to offer more programming for Indigenous offenders and those with mental illnesses have meant more work, Neufeld says.The union is calling for more staff and for increased resources within the correctional system to ensure offenders are getting properly assessed for risk as they move toward being released.The Canadian Press