first_imgNew Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday bid farewell to five of its members from Tamil Nadu, who are retiring today after completion of their terms, with V Maitreyan turning emotional during his farewell speech.The five retiring members are V Maitreyan, D Raja, K R Arjunan, R Lakshmanan and T Rathinavel, all from the AIADMK, except for Raja who is a member of the CPI. The retiring members said they will miss the House and thanked their colleagues and the chairman, while other members said the House will remember them for their contributions in different ways and hoped they return to the House again. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the retiring members have contributed significantly to deliberations of this House and the Parliamentary Committees and in the process of nurturing and understanding our Parliamentary democracy. He said the retiring members have also helped in enhancing the dignity and prestige of this august House. “I place on record my heartfelt appreciation for the valuable contribution and services rendered by them them to democracy and to the society at large. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”The House will certainly miss their various, sometimes aggressive, progressive presence and their unwavering commitment to issues pertaining to the state of Tamil Nadu and also to national issues of importance. I wish retiring members good health, happiness and many more years of service to the nation,” Chairman Naidu said. Leader of the House Thaawarchand Gehlot said the five retiring members are completing their term in the House but will continue to serve the people. “I wish them well in their life. They dedicated their life for the service of the nation and have worked towards nation’s development,” he said. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad recalled the contributions of each of them from the southern part of the country. “I wish all my colleagues from the southern part of the country well,” he said, hoping they return to this House again. He lauded Maitreyan for choosing politics to serve the nation despite being a specialist in Oncology. He said he could have easily earned a lot of money, but chose to serve people through politics by quitting his practice. “He has chosen this medium to do service to people and I appreciate his decision to join politics,” he said. Azad also appreciated Raja for his contribution in the House, especially through his speeches on every legislation and issue. He said while as Leader of Opposition he hardly gets an opportunity to speak, Raja is the only leader who gives 4-5 speeches on everything in a single day.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: Over two months after its worst-ever poll performance in Bengal, the CPI(M) is set for a major overhaul of its organisation in the state by replacing the old guard with new blood at all levels to “send out a message”. The CPI(M)-led Left Front, which ruled Bengal for an uninterrupted three decades since 1977, drew a blank in the 2019 election and lost deposits on 40 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Facing strong challenges from the ruling Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the latest entrant in Bengal politics, the Left party has organised two state committee meetings since the election results in May showed its hold waning in the state. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja At the meetings, the party concluded that organisational change should happen not only at the grassroots and mid levels but also at the top to “send out a message” to the electorate. The Left party is also trying to reach out the the youth through social media tools. “The party is going through an extraordinary situation and it calls for extraordinary measures. Earlier, TMC was the only threat. Now we are facing dual challenges from the TMC and the BJP,” CPI(M) politburo member Hannan Mollah told PTI. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway “We need to bring in more youth at the leadership level who can lead mass movements against communalism and revive the organisation,” Mollah said. According to CPI(M) sources, there is a speculation that the 70-year-old Surya Kanta Mishra, who has often expressed desire to step down as the party’s state secretary, could be replaced with someone comparatively “more young and agile”. “Suryada had expressed desire to pave way for young leaders. Nothing has been decided as of now. But by the time we have the next state conference, we can have a new state secretary who is more young and agile,” said a senior CPI(M) leader, on the condition of anonymity. By August 15, all district committees have been asked to submit their proposal on revival of the party’s organisation. Those suggestions would be looked into and a final draft would be prepared, to be placed before the central committee for approval, he said. “We have lost our vote share to TMC and BJP but it does not mean it is a permanent phenomenon. To reverse the tide, you need a strong and youth-driven organisation. The average age group of 70 per cent population of the country is around 40 years but the age group of CPI(M) leaders and workers in Bengal is around 70 years. We need to change it,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said. The Left Front secured only 6.8 per cent votes in 2019 general election, a drop of about 17 per cent when compared to the previous parliamentary polls. “The age bracket of the leaders in the state committee needs to be brought down from 60. The same would happen for district committees, where the age bracket would be brought down from 50 and area committees, where it would be brought down from 40. “By the time the next state conference takes place in 2021, the shift in the age gap would be complete,” he said. Another CPI(M) leader said it was also decided at the meetings that the party would look into the number of members in each committee and if needed, would cut the size down. Though the party has assessed its performance since 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the reasons were not identified properly and steps to check erosion in vote share were not implemented. “The reasons behind this inability are manifold. But one of the major reasons is presence of inactive and aged leaders. So it has been decided that the average age group of all the committees will be brought down to infuse fresh blood,” said a senior state committee leader. The CPI(M) has launched a digital initiative “Bondhu Hoye Hath Barao” (extend your arm of friendship), which aims to attract the youth to volunteer in the party to counter the aggressive social media campaign of the BJP and the TMC in the state. “The secular fabric of our state is under threat due to competitive communalism practised by the TMC and the BJP, and social media is an important tool used by them. We want to use the same social media to counter those sinister designs and protect the communal harmony of the state,” the state committe leader said.last_img read more

first_imgKolkata: The world’s first museum dedicated to the life and times of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the 16th-century proponent of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition, was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday.Speaking at the inauguration of the Chaitanya Mahaprabhu museum at Bagbazar, without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the BJP, Banerjee said despite their futile attempts to tag her as anti-Hindu, there have been vast developmental works carried out in pilgrimage sites in Bengal. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”Some people lecture me on my religion and raise questions. I urge them to accept my challenge and conduct development works in Hindu pilgrimages. They try to attach an anti-Hindu tag against me. We are setting up a skywalk at Kalighat temple similar to Dakshineswar. The Dudhpukur at Tarapith has been renovated. Major development works have been undertaken in other pilgrimage spots like Bakreshwar, Kankalitala, Durgeshnandini temple and Ganga Sagar.” Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayBanerjee further added: “Roads have been constructed in Ganga Sagar and the temple has been given a major facelift. So many development works have taken place but some people are unable to see them. Those who cannot see them must stop trying to malign me and start looking at themselves.” She also maintained: “Some people in Delhi say that I do not allow Durga Puja to take place in the state. I would like to say that lakhs of Durga Pujas are organised here. It has been turned into a big carnival by our government. What have you done? If someone asks me about my religion, I would say that I believe in humanism what Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has preached us. He taught us to love mankind. Humanity knows no religion. There are many who try to malign me at the slightest opportunity. I challenge them to chant Sanskrit hymns as I do. Do I have to prove my religion at Jagannath temple in Puri? I do not need a certificate on my religion from anybody.” During the programme, the Chief Minister also said that the museum set up by the Gaudiya Mission will be included in the tourism map of the state. The Bengal government would also consider the proposal to make it a heritage site. “The state government has already provided Rs 1.37 crore for the setting up of the museum. North Kolkata MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay will provide Rs 50 lakh from his MPLAD fund for further development. Our government will provide another Rs 50 lakh. I would ask the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to help the Gaudiya Mission with Rs 70-80 lakh to buy another building where the museum has come up,” Banerjee said. The Chief Minister also mentioned that the KMC will set up a gate at the entrance and convert it into a tourist hub. She further added that her government has cleared 700 acre of land to ISKCON for setting up a world-class temple. “We have learnt to move forward with people belonging to different religions. Bengal is the land of Sri Chaitanya, Swami Vivekananda, Maa Sarada. They all have preached us humanity and love for mankind. They always stood for unity and preached the same,” she maintained.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: To improve occupancy, Railways is set to introduce up to 25 percent discounts in fares for trains like the Shatabdi Express, Gatiman Express and Tejas as well as double-decker and intercity trains, which have low occupancy rates. “A decision on giving discount of passenger fare was taken today and a circular has been issued to all the zonal managers,” a senior Railway Ministry official said. He said, under this rule, passengers will be given up to 25 percent discount on the base fare in selected trains with less than 50 percent occupancy. According to the circular, the percentage of discount on the fare and the right to decide the route of the train has been given to the Principal Chief Commercial Manager of the Zonal Railways.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: Four men were arrested in the Bindapur area of Dwarka, West Delhi, last week for random firing and injuring one person, the police said on Thursday. Three pistols and 13 live cartridges were recovered from the accused, identified as Pawan (22), Vishal (23), Parveen (22) and Kishan (23). “On August 29 at 3.30 a.m, four masked assailants fired at a person, identified as Sunny. They fired another shot in the air. The victim was rushed to Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital,” said Anto Alphonse, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Dwarka). The four accused were arrested after the police analysed footage of over 100 CCTVs in the area. During the interrogation, they revealed that they would go on a joyride late night and target victims on street. In this incident, they fired at Sunny just to practice their firing skill. They also revealed that the weapon was provided by Amir, presently lodged in Tihar Jail, he added.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: The real estate sector relief expected this week may include solutions for stalled housing projects for the stressed home buyers where projects could not be completed due to funding issues, official sources said, There have been demand for as stress fund to deal with stalled projects and bail out lakhs of stuck homebuyers from both home buyers and builders side. There will be solutions on those lines , sources said without divulging if it would be Rs 10,000 crore stress fund as sought. Another official said stressed fund do exist in many countries but owned by private sector adding there are several ways to provide liquidity in the lendings to the sector which is not necessarily through only a stress fund. Stress funds are a global phenomenon and are present in nearly every mature market. But many of them are private funds. In August government announced more credit support to housing finance companies where it extended additional liquidity support to HFCs by the National Housing Bank, which has been increased from Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 30,000 crore. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIn her meeting with the sector representatives, Finance Minister Nirmala SItharaman had met with the two apex realtors’ industry bodies CREDAI and NAREDCO, and the second with homebuyer associations, to discuss the issues concerning the real estate sector and steps to be taken to strengthen the industry. The government is also likely to make changes to the definition of affordable housing as sought by developers so that more projects can come under the category. Further, bank loans for developers, which have always been an issue as banks try to avoid lending to developers, may witness some favourable changes. Developers and distressed home buyers had suggested to the government that a fund be set up for completion of stalled projects. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostFurther, the real estate sector also received a shock after the National Housing Bank recently asked housing finance companies to stop funding under the subvention scheme. The government is likely to ease the recent direction in favour of developers. Last month industry body NAREDCO had raised the need for a ‘stress fund’ before Sitharaman. If the government agrees to float such a fund, it could become the last-mile capital for large unfinished projects. Home buyers’ body — Forum For People’s Collective Efforts (FPCE) — also wanted Rs 10,000-crore ‘stress fund’ in budget to complete stalled projects.last_img read more

first_imgNew Delhi: India will take part in a joint international anti-terror military drill with Pakistan from Monday, despite tensions between the two nations at the Line of Control (LoC) over the Kashmir issue. The 15-day-long military exercise begins in Orenburg in Russia from Monday under the aegis of the China-backed Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. Apart from India and Pakistan, the host country Russia, as well as China and four other nations, are also taking part in the annual military training exercise. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “The exercise aims at evolving drills of the participating armies and practicing them in the fight against the scourge of international terrorism thereby ensuring military security in the strategic central Asian region,” a statement from the defence ministry said. The exercise named TSENTR 2019 – comprises two modules including one on counter-terror operations, repelling air strikes, reconnaissance operations and defensive measures. The second module focuses on offensive operations. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The Russian military drill is the first instance this year when armed forces from the nuclear-powered neighbours – India and Pakistan, will participate at a common platform ever since the Balakot anti-terror airstrikes in February. Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan reached a new low following the Balakot incident. The relations reached a nadir after India withdrew special status to Jammu and Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5. India has been alleging Pakistan of upping the ante at the LoC through continuous ceasefire violations. Pakistan has been alleged of attempts to push through trained militants across the LoC into the Kashmir valley under cover of shelling during these violations. On the other hand, Pakistan has alleged India of committing large-scale human rights’ violations in Jammu and Kashmir after imposing unprecedented security cover across the valley and cutting of all communication lines. The exercise, which is being held in the backdrop of these allegations and counter-allegations, will focus on evaluating the level of troop preparedness, acquisition of required skills and raising levels of inter-operability, and demonstrating readiness of participating armies. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are also taking part in the annual event that is being held at the Donguz training center in Orenburg.last_img read more

first_imgThiruvananthapuram: Young Shubman Gill was back in form with an unbeaten 66 after bowlers set the platform, dismissing the visiting side for 164 on the first day of the ‘Unofficial’ Test here on Monday. Gill, who has been an opener for Punjab in the longer format, played out Lungi Ngidi’s (1/18 in 6 overs) first spell as he faced 108 balls, hitting nine fours and a six as India A were in command reaching 129 for 2 at stumps. With India looking out for an opener who can replace an out-of-form KL Rahul, a big innings from Gill, will put him in contention alongside Abhimanyu Easwaran and Priyank Panchal. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe youngster had two steady partnerships — 48 for the opening wicket with Ruturaj Gaikwad (30) and 56 for the second wicket with Ricky Bhui (26). This was after the bowling attack performed admirably demolishing the South Africans for a meagre score in 51.5 overs. Pacer Shardul Thakur (3 for 29) and off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham (3 for 64) were the pick of the bowlers. Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem was steady as ever (2/37). After being drubbed 1-4 in the Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterfive-match ODI series, the South Africa ‘A’ would have hoped for a change in fortunes, but it was a tough day for them. Sent in to bat by the host, the visiting side was jolted early when senior team opener Aiden Markram was caught behind by wicketkeeper Kona Bharat off Mohammed Siraj in the first over of the match. After Siraj got the prized scalp of Markram, Thakur took over, dismissing the other opener Pieter Malan (0), Khayelihle Zondo (6) and the dangerous Heinrich Klaasen (0). With South Africa ‘A’ tottering at 22 for 5 and the host bowlers being on target, Markram’s side looked in danger of being bundled out for a double-digit score. Some late resistance from young paceman Marco Jansen (45 not out, 69 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) and spinner Dane Piedt (33, 45 balls, 6 fours) helped them cross the 150-run mark. Brief scores (at end of day 1): South Africa ‘A’: 164 all out in 51.5 overs (Marco Jansen 45 not out, Dane Piedt 33, Shardul Thakur 3/29, K Gowtham 3/64) vs India ‘A’ 129 for 2 in 38 overs (Shubman Gill 66 batting, Rituraj Gaikwad 30, Ricky Bhui 26).last_img read more

first_imgHUMBOLDT, Sask. – A trademark dispute over #HumboldtStrong and other slogans related to the fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April is being resolved.The team took on the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League after it applied to trademark phrases that also included “Healing is in the Game” and “Sticks on the Porch.”Team president Kevin Garinger said the league’s board of governors met this week and unanimously agreed that those trademarks should belong to the team and the community.“We are just working through the final stages of that process to ensure that it falls in the rightful hands of the Humboldt Broncos and our whole Humboldt community,” he said Thursday.The Humboldt Strong hashtag showed up on social media soon after the April 6 crash, which killed 16 people and injured 13 others when the team’s bus and a semi-truck collided at a rural Saskatchewan intersection.People rallied around the team by raising money, putting hockey sticks on porches and wearing jerseys.The board of governors for the league said it was an easy decision for the trademark and other slogans to be held by the team.“The only reason we had initially trademarked it was so no one else would,” said chairman Rick Shultz, who added they failed to properly communicate their intentions to the team because they were still dealing with the aftermath of the crash.Shultz said they are in the process of making sure the applications are transferred to the Humboldt Broncos.Garinger said the phrases have become extremely important to the team and its community.“Humboldt Strong is something that relates directly to what we want to do to ensure that we can honour the legacy of our Humboldt Broncos family — and those who have lost their lives and those who continue to have their lives changed because of this tragedy,” he said.The team has created the HumboldtStrong Community Foundation, which continues to raise money for the players, employees, families and volunteers, as well as first responders and any others who were affected by the crash.— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton.last_img read more

first_imgMONTREAL – Canada’s Immigration Department says a murder suspect who was set free after his trial exceeded the legal length limit is expected to be sent back to Sri Lanka in the next two weeks.Ewa Staszewicz, a lawyer for the department, is confirming steps are being taken to obtain the necessary travel documents for Sivaloganathan Thanabalasingam.Thanabalasingam, 31, told an Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada hearing today he doesn’t believe he will be in danger in his home country and no longer needs to be protected as a refugee.He was accused of murdering his wife in 2012 but the charges were stayed in April after the length of his legal proceedings were deemed to have violated a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that set time limits for trials to be completed.He was detained by Canada Border Services Agency upon his release and a deportation order was issued against him.Thanabalasingam, who came to Canada as a refugee, originally appealed the deportation order but later changed his mind and asked to be sent back to Sri Lanka.There is still an appeal pending against Thanabalasingam as the Crown has challenged the judgment that halted the legal proceedings against him.last_img read more

first_imgU.S. first lady Melania Trump will lead the American delegation to the Invictus Games in Toronto this fall.The games, founded by Prince Harry, will be held Sept. 23-30 and will mark the first time Canada hosts the event.The competition for wounded, injured and sick troops, including current and veteran members of the forces, aims to use sport to inspire recovery and draw awareness to the physical and psychological injuries suffered by service members.The White House announced that the first lady will lead the United States’ delegation of 90 athletes and she says in a statement that she’s honoured by the opportunity.There will be 550 competitors from 17 countries coming to Toronto to compete in 12 sports, including track and field, swimming and, in a first for the Invictus Games, golf.The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, in 2014.last_img read more

first_imgSHEDIAC, N.B. – As Canadian officials scramble to determine whether an endangered whale caught in fishing rope off Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula may have freed itself, federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc is promising a new set of rules around commercial fishing gear to protect the large marine mammals.A North Atlantic right whale was spotted entangled in ropes during a fly-over of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Monday, but LeBlanc said aerial and water patrols were unable to locate it Tuesday.“We identified a pod of 13 other North Atlantic right whales that were in the exact vicinity of where the other whale had been spotted entangled the previous day,” he said. “We’re continuing to patrol the area but scientists believe it’s possible that perhaps the whale freed itself.”Officials are investigating whether the fishing gear rope that entangled the whale was in the area legally or had been lost or abandoned, which LeBlanc said has been the case with other entanglements this summer.He said the rope may have been fishing gear for the herring fisheries or abandoned crab traps, and that the department is investigating and may press charges.Ten right whales have died since June in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, an unprecedented number of deaths for the endangered marine mammal.With an estimated population of 500 around the world, conservation groups and marine scientists have warned the North Atlantic right whale is at imminent risk of extinction.The biggest threats to the whales appear to be ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements.LeBlanc said the federal government will usher in a new set of rules around fishing gear to improve the safety of whale migration in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.“Next year’s season of potential whale migration will have a different set of rules around fishing gear, fishing practices, fishing equipment and probably the question of marine transportation as well in Canadian waters,” he said.Ottawa already ordered large vessels to slow down in the Gulf earlier this month, in an effort to reduce the frequency and severity of ship strikes as it probes the deaths.Vessels of 20 metres or more are required to slow to 10 knots — or about 19 kilometres per hour — while travelling in the western Gulf, from the Quebec north shore to just north of Prince Edward Island.Coast Guard officials are also patrolling the area in an effort to keep tabs on the whales.“If the weather and the daylight hours allow, we have eyes on the Gulf from the air and we have eyes on the Gulf from the water,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine we could deploy more assets.”The whales, which summer off New England and Atlantic Canada, are among the most imperilled marine mammals on Earth. Populations have only slightly rebounded from the whaling era, when the blubber-rich baleen whale became nearly extinct.While 10 of the whales have died in Canadian waters, three have been found dead in U.S. waters. In all, 13 of the marine mammals have been found dead this year, more than triple the annual average of 3.8 in Canada and the U.S.The alarming number of deaths has prompted the United States government to launch an investigation.The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries branch declared the deaths “an unusual mortality event,” triggering a sweeping study into the cause of the deaths, including environmental and habitat conditions, threats from commercial fishing and shipping and other risk factors.NOAA Fisheries officials will work with counterparts at Fisheries and Oceans Canada on sampling and data collection, analysis and recommendations for future responses.Last month, lobster fisherman Joe Howlett was killed in waters off eastern New Brunswick after he freed a right whale caught in fishing gear.The death prompted LeBlanc to order a stop to disentangling right whales, and on Wednesday he said he’s not prepared to authorized whale disentanglements until a report into Howlett’s death is complete.“Until we have the benefit of a Transport Canada inquiry, I cannot in good conscience authorize our personnel or others to approach North Atlantic right whales on the same vessel and in similar circumstances,” he said. “We’re assessing what other options might be available but it won’t be a similar vessel and it won’t be a similar procedure.”— By Brett Bundale in Halifaxlast_img read more

first_imgMEADOW LAKE, Sask. – A lawyer acting for the prosecution in the case of a deadly northern Saskatchewan shooting has been named a provincial court judge.Lloyd Stang’s call to the bench further delayed a sentencing hearing that was to resume Friday for a teenager who shot and killed four people in La Loche and injured seven others.The hearing was to continue Aug. 25, but was put over because the Crown wanted to ask more questions of two doctors about their finding that the teen has fetal alcohol syndrome.In making the announcement, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan said Stang’s knowledge, experience and abilities will enhance the judiciary in the province.Stang is to serve in Melfort provincial court.A new date for the teen’s sentencing hearing is to be set Sept. 11.last_img read more

first_imgGlobal Affairs Canada says at least one Canadian family has been affected by a bus crash in eastern Mexico that has killed an estimated dozen people.The department says it is providing consular assistance to the family, but could not provide further details about how many Canadians were in the bus and whether they were killed or injured.Authorities in Mexico say of the 31 people on the bus, at least 12 people were killed and 18 were injured Tuesday.The bus was carrying cruise ship passengers to Mayan ruins when it flipped over on a highway.Quintana Roo state Civil Defence spokesman Vicente Martin says seven Americans and two Swedes were among the injured, but says authorities hadn’t yet established the nationalities of the dead.Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises says in a statement that passengers from two of its ships, the Celebrity Equinox and Serenade of the Seas, were involved.Video images from the scene show the bus on its side in vegetation off the two-lane highway, with some survivors lying on the pavement and others walking around.Public Security of Quintana Roo state said in a statement that emergency responders took the injured to hospitals in Bacalar, Chetumal and Tulum.The agency says Mexican officials have been in contact with consular offices to assist families of the victims and injured, including citizens of the U.S., Sweden and Brazil.— With files from The Associated Presslast_img read more

first_imgWINNIPEG – The company that owns a broken rail line into Churchill, Man., says it is appealing a federal regulatory ruling that requires it to repair the track.Hudson Bay Railway Co. was ordered last week by the Canadian Transportation Agency to immediately begin repairs to the track, which is the only land link to the subarctic community of 900 people.The agency said the company — owned by Denver-based Omnitrax — had not met its obligation to maintain service on the line, which was severely damaged by flooding in May of last year.Hudson Bay Railway has said it cannot afford to repair the line and recently reached a tentative deal to sell it to a consortium of northern communities, along with help from the federal government.That deal is expected to be finalized next month and would leave the new owners the responsibility for repairs.In the meantime, and despite the pending appeal, the company says it has started getting repairs underway.“We have initiated a request for proposals to contractors and other relevant trades,” the company said in a written statement Monday.“To the extent the (regulatory) decision is not overturned or the sale of the line is not completed in time, the company is prepared to start the repairs.”Since last year’s flood, goods and people have had to be flown into Churchill at a much higher cost.last_img read more

first_imgMONTREAL – During a recent meeting of Montreal’s police oversight body, Insp. Pascal Richard made a shocking claim: city police officers dressed in civilian clothing and wearing masks would infiltrate protests pretending to be protesters.Richard was responding to a question from a young woman regarding a Dec. 8, 2015, protest where masked officers in civilian dress were reportedly aggressive with demonstrators and pushed some to the ground.“I know what incident the woman is talking about, and since Dec. 8, 2015, we no longer use this strategy during protests,” Richard told the public security committee meeting.Richard didn’t say how many years this practice was used, but the fact he said anything about it at all reflects a change in attitude following a series of high-profile scandals that have shaken the public’s confidence in its police force.Alex Norris, chairman of the oversight committee, said he too was surprised by the revelation.“I heard allegations … but I had never seen an acknowledgment before that these practices were actually in effect,” he said in an interview Thursday.Norris is part of a new municipal government that has promised to make City Hall — particularly its police force — more transparent.Meetings of the oversight body are now open to members of the public, who can ask police questions directly. Nine such meetings have been held since Mayor Valerie Plante won the November 2017 election, Norris said, adding that before Plante, public meetings on policing were the exception, rather than the rule.Problems in the city’s police force surfaced in 2016 when it was revealed police electronically surveilled the telephones of several journalists in order to catch sources of embarrassing leaks to the media. The Quebec government ordered a public inquiry, which resulted in a new law protecting journalists’ sources.In February 2017, two retired officers alleged members of the police’s internal investigations department embellish or fabricate evidence against lower-ranking officers who fall out of favour. Spurious investigations were allegedly launched to obtain phone records and other surveillance warrants in order to intimidate colleagues, they claimed.In response to the allegations, the Quebec government mandated a former deputy justice minister to investigate. Michel Bouchard’s report, released in November 2017, was damming.He wrote about a “climate of tension and suspicion” in the force and noted officers testified how colleagues were investigated based on unjustified, biased evidence, or as a result of a personal grievance or act of revenge.“We believe there has been a weak culture of public oversight of the police for a long time and that’s why we’ve experience (these) kinds of problems,” Norris said. Bouchard’s “general findings were devastating to the credibility of the internal affairs division.”As a result of the scandals, the city’s police chief, Philippe Pichet, was suspended, and ultimately lost his job.The province installed Martin Prud’homme, chief of the provincial police, to temporarily take over from Pichet and initiate reforms.Denis Barrette, lawyer and spokesman for Quebec’s civil liberties advocacy group, attended the most recent public security meeting at City Hall and said the Plante administration’s transparency policy is a good first step.“We’ll see where it goes, it’s a very good policy,” he said. “Police corps are generally very opaque. They don’t have an open culture and need to work harder to have more transparency.”Despite its problems, Norris insists Montreal’s police force has integrity.“We have always been talking about a minority of officers,” he said. “The (Montreal police) has a proud 175-year-long history and has accomplished many great things. Montrealers and visitors to the city can of course have confidence in the protection that is offered by the police.”last_img read more

first_imgMISSISSAUGA, Ont. – A Hamilton police officer is under investigation in relation to December’s fatal shooting of a man hailed as a Good Samaritan, Ontario’s police watchdog said on Friday.Given allegations at the time about how first responders, including police, had acted, the Special Investigations Unit said it had been assessing whether to invoke its mandate.“Based on the results of those preliminary inquiries, which included medical evidence, the SIU can confirm that it is investigating the role of one Hamilton Police Service officer in relation to this incident,” the agency said in a release.Yosif Al-Hasnawi, 19, was shot trying to help an older man, who had been accosted outside his mosque by two other men.Two Hamilton paramedics face criminal charges over how they responded to the dying man’s pleas for help. Their union subsequently said they had been fired.Witnesses alleged the paramedics accused Al-Hasnawi of exaggerating his injuries and took too long to treat him and take him to hospital.Hamilton police charged one man with second-degree murder and another with accessory after the fact in relation to the shooting shortly after the incident. Niagara regional police were then called in to investigate the way paramedics handled the case.Their union said paramedics Chris Marchant, 29, and Steve Snively, 53, were fired earlier this month, a week after being charged with failure to provide the necessaries of life.Both were released after their arrests and are to appear in court next month.Al-Hasnawi’s father and two brothers filed a still unproven civil lawsuit in January against Hamilton’s paramedics, alleging they failed to treat their relative properly and that his death had caused the family extreme distress. Among others, the suit also named Hamilton police and the two men charged with shooting him.Police described Al-Hasnawi as a brave young man who had been trying to do the right thing.Hamilton police referred questions to the SIU, the arm’s-length agency that investigates police involvement in death, serious injury or alleged sexual assaults.last_img read more

first_imgMONTREAL – At a downtown Montreal hotel last week, Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Masse looked out at members of the city’s business community and calmly declared she wanted a revolution.Across Canada, many political parties at the provincial and federal level have less-than-mainstream views. But in Quebec, Masse’s “revolutionary” party held three seats in the legislature at dissolution, has a good chance of winning more on Oct. 1 and has become a fixture in televised leaders’ debates.In a campaign where sovereignty is not a defining issue, the prominence of Quebec solidaire is just one example of how the election remains a distinctly Quebec affair. Issues of Quebec identity have dominated the campaign. There is broad consensus on the need to cut carbon emissions. And none of the main parties can be considered traditionally conservative.Masse’s Sept. 19 speech was the first time a Quebec solidaire leader had been invited to address the Montreal Board of Trade, the embodiment of the capitalism her party pledges “to leave behind.” Board president Michel Leblanc got right to the point, asking her if her party is “socialist revolutionary.”“Revolutionary — certainly,” Masse responded.She balked at the “socialist” label, but Quebec solidaire’s platform includes the total or partial nationalization of Quebec’s banking system as well as its mining and forestry industries. Its financial plan seeks to collect almost $13 billion more a year from the “super-rich” and large corporations.Even its leadership structure diverges from politics as usual: there are no “leaders” in Quebec solidaire. Rather, the party has one female and one male “spokesperson.”Identity has been a recurring theme in the campaign. Francois Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, is running on reducing immigration to the province and expelling newcomers who cannot pass French-language and Quebec values tests three years after arriving.All main parties except the Liberals want to prohibit state employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols.“We have the right to defend our values,” Legault said recently when challenged on his policy to prohibit police officers from wearing the hijab.“We even have the duty to do so as Quebec premier, to defend our identity.”For his part, Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee is proposing to force anglophone junior-college students to attend a francophone institution for one semester.While those divisive positions might disqualify political leaders elsewhere in the country,francophone Quebecers are highly attuned to their demographic weight inside the province and within Canada.The preservation of the French language and the Quebecois culture is almost primordial, says Jan Doering, a sociology professor at McGill University.“There is a stronger wish of the Quebecois to root themselves in a shared history, compared with the rest of Canada,” said Doering, who is orginally from Germany and whose research focuses on issues of race, ethnicity and migration.And while the Quebec election might be unique in the country in that regard, Doering said it is similar to European campaigns where “concerns with immigration, integration and how to maintain identities” are common.“That’s something I saw very little of in (Ontario),” he said. “I think Quebec is more normal — just not in the Canadian context.”The economic and social concepts of “right” versus “left” are also different in Quebec.Leaders rarely talk of personal responsibility and small government; instead, all four major parties champion a strong state with a responsibility to take care of its people with well-financed public institutions.Legault’s Coalition promises to lower taxes and reduce bureaucracy in the civil service, and the Liberals under Philippe Couillard promise to continue balancing budgets — but both are careful to avoid sounding too enthusiastic about a greater role for the private sector.Michel Magnan, the Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Corporate Governance at Concordia University, says Masse’s party might be considered far-left in 2018, but many of its ideas have roots in the European socialist parties of the 1960s and 70s, as well as the federal NDP.Since then, he said, traditional European socialist parties have abandoned earlier commitments to nationalize industry. And in 2013, the NDP voted to remove most references to “socialism” from the party’s constitution, including the support of “social ownership.”“It’s almost like we’re in a time warp here,” Magnan said about Quebec solidaire.Quebec’s distinctiveness is also reflected in the four parties’ approach to protecting the environment.The only party that dares suggest Quebec exit the carbon market is Quebec solidaire — but that’s because it thinks the cap-and-trade system is too capitalist. None of the major party leaders have shed a tear for the recently cancelled Energy East pipeline project that was to transport crude from Alberta, through Quebec, to New Brunswick.Back at the Board of Trade, Leblanc said his members wanted to invite Masse, in part, because her party was consistently polling above 10 per cent in opinion polls and they were curious.“The business community doesn’t think she’ll form the next government … but the ideas in her program would have, potentially, a very negative impact on investment decisions, decisions for job creation,” he said. Nonetheless, the audience was courteous.“There were people who clapped,” Leblanc said. “I would say, some out of politeness, and others because there were members of her party who came and were happy with her speech.”last_img read more

first_imgOTTAWA — Gerald Butts, principal secretary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his friend since university days, issued this statement Monday afternoon:I have resigned as Principal Secretary to The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, PC, MP, Prime Minister of Canada. He has accepted my resignation.Recently, anonymous sources have alleged that I pressured the former Attorney General, The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, to assist SNC-Lavalin with being considered for a deferred prosecution agreement. I categorically deny the accusation that I or anyone else in his office pressured Ms. Wilson-Raybould. We honoured the unique role of the Attorney General. At all times, I and those around me acted with integrity and a singular focus on the best interests of all Canadians.The Prime Minister of Canada’s Office is much larger and more important than any of its staff. I have served it to the best of my abilities, and I have at all times given the Prime Minister free and unfettered advice. I have served the public interest, not the interests of any individual or any narrow private interest of any kind, at any time. Life is full of uncertainties, but I am absolutely certain of that.Any accusation that I or the staff put pressure on the Attorney General is simply not true. Canadians are rightly proud of their public institutions. They should be, because they work. But the fact is that this accusation exists. It cannot and should not take one moment away from the vital work the Prime Minister and his office is doing for all Canadians. My reputation is my responsibility and that is for me to defend. It is in the best interests of the office and its important work for me to step away.I want to say a word about my relationship with Ms. Wilson-Raybould. I encouraged her to run for the Liberal Party of Canada, and worked hard to support her as a candidate and then Cabinet Minister. From my perspective, our relationship has always been defined by mutual respect, candour and an honest desire to work together.On a personal note, I wish to thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity to work with him, his Cabinet and the Liberal Caucus. They are great people who are dedicated to improving their country. I also want to thank my colleague, Katie Telford. The last seven years simply do not happen without her. Nobody knows that more than I do. And to my colleagues in the PMO, it has been the highest honour of my professional life to have worked together with all of you on behalf of all Canadians. I wish them all well, and they have my full support.I also need to say this (and I know it’s a non sequitur). Our kids and grandkids will judge us on one issue above all others. That issue is climate change. I hope the response to it becomes the collective, non-partisan, urgent effort that science clearly says is required. I hope that happens soon.Every hard problem requires a thoughtful, collaborative solution from the country it affects. Those solutions in turn depend on good, hard-working people who devote their time and energy to public service. Canada has those people in abundance. While it is fashionable sometimes in some quarters to denigrate politicians and public servants, my experience is that the women and men who serve Canadians in elected office and the professional public service are honest, decent, hard-working people who put service of country beyond self every day. Life is many days, and there are hard days in public life, but there are no bad ones. I hope I did the job in a way that would have made my parents proud and will make my children consider public service.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

first_imgOTTAWA — The Prime Minister’s Office says Justin Trudeau spoke today with his Kenyan counterpart about the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed everyone on board, including 18 Canadians.Among the passengers were 32 Kenyans.Trudeau’s office says the prime minister and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta traded condolences to friends and families of the victims.Trudeau also told Kenyatta that Canada is offering support for the ongoing investigation into what downed the airplane minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa.The brief readout of the call from Trudeau’s office says the two agreed to share information on the investigation going forward.Sunday’s crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane killed all 157 passenger and crew on board the Nairobi-bound flight, and prompted a number of countries, including China and the United Kingdom, to ground the jets pending an investigation. The Canadian Presslast_img read more