Tehran: President Hassan Rouhani Tuesday told the United States to “take the first step” by lifting all sanctions against Iran, a day after US President Donald Trump said he was open to meeting. Trump said on Monday he was ready to meet with his Iranian counterpart within weeks, in a potential breakthrough reached during a G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz. Iran’s economy has been battered by US sanctions imposed after Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States in May last year from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic republic and world powers. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”The step is to retreat from sanctions. You must retreat from all illegal, unjust and wrong sanctions against the nation of Iran,” Rouhani said in a speech aired live on state television. “The key for positive change is in the hands of Washington,” he said, because Iran had already ruled out ever doing what worries the US the most — building an atomic bomb. “If honestly this is your only concern, this concern has already been removed” through a fatwa issued by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Iranian president. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”We don’t (intend to) make an atomic bomb… our military doctrine is based on conventional arms.” Khamenei issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons in 2003 and has reiterated it several times since. “So take the first step. Without this step, this lock will not be unlocked,” Rouhani said at a Tehran event marking the start of work on a housing project. In Biarritz, French President Emmanuel Macron said the “conditions for a meeting” between Trump and Rouhani “in the next few weeks” had been created through intensive diplomacy and consultations. Trump, speaking at the final news conference of the G7 summit, said he “would certainly agree to that”. He added that the timeline proposed by Macron was realistic. Trump was equally confident that Rouhani would be in favour. “I think he’s going to want to meet. I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out,” he added. Rouhani has indicated he is open to holding talks with the Americans, but it is an approach that has faced criticism from ultra-conservatives in the Islamic republic. In his speech on Tuesday, Rouhani said his government’s policy of “constructive interaction” with the world was in line with the supreme leader’s approach of “extensive interaction”. But he stressed the United States had to “retreat from their mistakes” and return to commitments made under the nuclear deal. “Our path is clear if they come back to their commitments, we too will fully act on our commitments. If they do not come back to their commitments, we will continue our path,” said Rouhani. But the Iranian president said he was not just looking for photo opportunities. “We seek to resolve issues and problems in a rational way but we are not after photos. For anyone wanting to take a picture with Hassan Rouhani, this is not possible,” he said. The possible meeting between Rouhani and Trump was blasted as a photo opportunity Tuesday on the front page of the Javan newspaper close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Trump has put in place a policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran through crippling sanctions that critics see as raising the risk of conflict in the Middle East between the US and Iran.
New Delhi: Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday began a three-day visit to Moscow, seeking stake in more oil and fields in Russia and inviting Russian investment in refining and petrochemical business. Pradhan met Russian oil firm Rosneft officials to discuss collaboration between the two nations. “Met with Mr Didier Casemiro, Deputy CEO, Mr Krysz Zielicki, Head Business Development, Mr Anand, CEO – Nayara Energy representing @RosneftEN. Discussed scope of collaboration in the Oil & Gas sector & ways to leverage Russian expertise in Indian E&P and Refining sectors,” Pradhan tweeted after the meeting. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalA Rosneft-led consortium had in 2017 bought Essar Oil that operates 20 million tonne refinery at Vadinar and over 5,500 petrol pumps in the country, for $12.9 billion. Essar Oil has since been renamed Nayara Energy. Pradhan welcomed Rosneft to make new investments in refining and petrochemicals business in India. He also met Russian officials to discuss bilateral cooperation. “Met State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Viktor Evtukhov and explored avenues for strengthening economic cooperation, enhancing flow of investments between our two countries,” he said in another tweet. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostIndia and Russia have a long history of cooperation in the steel sector. “Deliberated on further strengthening our relations in this sector in areas of coking coal sourcing, technology transfer, skill development etc,” he said. He also held discussions with Russian Deputy Prime Minister & Presidential Envoy to Far Eastern Federal Districts of Russia, Yury P Trutnev. “We discussed to expand the scope of co-operation between India & Far Eastern Russia, in the energy and steel sectors,” he tweeted. “Also discussed to further co-operation in the sourcing of metallurgical coal and crude oil from Far East of Russia. Reiterated that Russia is a valued & important energy partner for India in its objective of transforming into a gas-based economy.” India is seeking oil and gas fields in Far East Russia to boost its energy security. “In our further discussions with Trutnev, we also talked about potential Indian investments in oil & gas and steel sectors in Far Eastern Russia,” he said. Pradhan is in Moscow ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia. Modi will be the chief guest at this year’s Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok between September 4 and 6. Modi would also meet the Russian President for the annual summit. “Also, reviewed the progress in these sectors in the run-up to the visit of Hon. PM Shri @narendramodi ji during the first week of September to Vladivostok for the Eastern Economic Forum and for the 20th Annual Bilateral Summit,” Pradhan tweeted. Energy-hungry India is keen on sourcing one million barrels per day of oil and oil-equivalent gas from Russia and had identified Sakhalin-3 in the Far East, Vankor in East Siberia, and Terbs and Titov oilfields in Timan Pechora region as fields for potential collaboration. But it has so far been unsuccessful in its attempts. OVL already has 20 per cent stake in Sakhalin-1 oil and gas field in Far East Russia and in 2009 acquired Imperial Energy which has fields in Siberia for $2.1 billion. Russia is wooing Indian investments in its Far East ahead of Modi’s Vladivostok visit to balance China’s expanding presence in the resource-rich region.
New Delhi: After successfully performing its fourth lunar orbit manoeuvre on Friday, Chandrayaan-2, India’s first lunar lander mission, is a step closer to the moon. The Chandrayaan-2 will now go through one final orbit manoeuvre. This next lunar orbit manoeuvre is scheduled to be performed on Sunday, September 1 between 18:00-19:00 hours IST. The spacecraft has reached into an orbit that is 124 km from the lunar surface at its nearest point, and 164 km at the farthest. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsWhat is the next step for Chandrayaan-2 The mission has a few more milestones to cross before the Lander and Rover components of the spacecraft, called Vikram and Pragyaan respectively, make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface on September 7.September 1: The next and the last orbit manoeuvre is scheduled between 6-7 pm on Sunday. This will make the spacecraft enter its final orbit, passing over the lunar pole at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday September 2: The lander will separate from the Orbiter and enter into a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon. It will then perform a series of complex manoeuvres. September 7: The Lander and Rover components of the spacecraft will make a soft landing in the South polar region of the Moon, unexplored by science so far. According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the south pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the north pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. ISRO Chairman K Sivan has said the proposed soft-landing on the Moon is going to be a “terrifying” moment as it is something ISRO has not done before. On August 20, Chandrayaan-2 mission crossed a key milestone in its journey to the Moon, after it entered the lunar orbit, almost 30 days after being launched on July 22 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. According to ISRO, the mission objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. (With inputs from Indian Express)
Kolkata: A Class X student who consumed poison after being allegedly gangraped died at SSKM hospital in Kolkata on Friday, police said.The incident took place on Saturday in West Bengal’s Purba Medinipur district and the girl allegedly consumed a pesticide the next day. She was rushed to Kolkata and admitted to SSKM Hospital. Police officers said four people, including a minor, have been arrested in connection with the case. According to police sources, the girl had gone to meet her boyfriend on Saturday. Her boyfriend called his other friends and they allegedly raped her in a deserted field, the sources said. They added that the accused shot a video of the act and threatened to circulate it if she revealed anything. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja After returning home, the girl told her family members about the incident and later consumed a pesticide. Her family members have lodged a complaint with police. Police have arrested four accused, but the family said the prime accused is still absconding. According to police, three accused have been sent to police custody and the minor has been sent to a welfare home. “Raids are on to nab the others,” said an official.(With inputs from Indian Express)
OTTAWA – The Senate ethics committee has recommended that the upper house take the unprecedented step of expelling disgraced Sen. Don Meredith for engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.It’s now up to the full Senate, which has never before expelled a member, to decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation, which also calls on the chamber to declare Meredith’s seat vacant.“He has brought disrepute to himself and to the institution,” the committee said in a scathing report released Tuesday.“Your committee is of the opinion that Sen. Meredith’s misconduct has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a senator. His presence in the chamber would in itself discredit the institution.“No lesser sanction than expulsion would repair the harm he has done to the Senate.”Meredith must be given five sitting days in which to respond to the report, should he wish, so a vote on his fate can’t occur before next Tuesday at the earliest.Meredith’s lawyer, Bill Trudell, said the senator was with his family and had no immediate comment on the report. The senator has a right to speak to the Senate and a right of final reply and will decide in the next few days whether to exercise those options, he added in an interview.Trudell said he’s troubled by aspects of the report, although he would not specify exactly what those were.“What they call for is a unique, never-used-before power to expel,” Trudell said. “What they are saying is that there is no other alternative and that’s precedent-setting. I suggested there were alternatives.”According to the report, Meredith’s lawyer proposed that the senator be suspended without pay for one or two years. But the committee concluded that “a suspension would reinstate only temporarily the Senate’s dignity and integrity, which would again be compromised when Sen. Meredith would resume his seat.”The Senate has undisputed authority to suspend senators and did so recently with senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau while they were under investigation for allegedly filing fraudulent expense claims.Its power to expel is less clear.The committee ultimately accepted the legal opinion of the law clerk and parliamentary counsel to the Senate that the Constitution confers on the upper house the same privileges enjoyed by the United Kingdom’s House of Commons. Since the U.K. Commons can permanently eject a member, so too can Canada’s Senate.Trudell said he was not in a position to comment on the legality of expulsion.“Constitutional experts will want to weigh in and I’m sure that the Senate itself will want to be satisfied that the work of the committee can be adopted,” he said.The committee’s recommendation follows an explosive report from Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard earlier this year.She concluded that Meredith, a 52-year-old, married, Pentecostal minister, had failed to uphold the “highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator” and acted in a way that could damage the Senate itself.According to Ricard, Meredith began a relationship with the girl when she was just 16; it progressed from flirtatious online chats to fondling and sexually explicit live videos and, eventually, to sexual intercourse — once shortly before the teen turned 18 and twice after. She also found that Meredith had abused his position as a senator to take advantage of the teen.Meredith has called the affair a “moral failing” but insists he did not have intercourse with the girl until after she turned 18 and has rejected fellow senators’ near-universal demand that he resign.Sen. Raynell Andreychuk, chair of the ethics committee, received a standing ovation from most senators after summarizing the report — a telling sign that Meredith’s fellow senators seem keen to force him out since he won’t go voluntarily.Meredith has publicly apologized to his family, his fellow senators, the woman in question — known only as Ms. M — and to all Canadians, hoping the contrition would be enough for him to hold on to his seat.“As a human being, I made a grave error in judgment, in my interactions. For that I am deeply sorry,” he said in a March interview with The Canadian Press.But while the committee acknowledged that Canadians would “undoubtedly be willing to accept that senators are human,” it found Meredith’s misconduct too egregious to excuse. The report notes that this was not an isolated incident but a case of an inappropriate relationship that lasted for two years.Moreover, the committee said it was troubled by the fact that Meredith has never acknowledged that he “failed to uphold the dignity and public trust bestowed on him” or that his actions have damaged the institution.“The committee could have considered suspension as appropriate had he taken immediate action to repair the prejudice his breach of the (ethics) code has caused but, after due consideration, the committee rejected this option as Sen. Meredith had taken no steps towards restoration.”In addition to Ms. M case, Meredith is under separate investigation by the Senate ethics officer for allegedly sexually harassing and bullying members of his staff.— with files from Colin Perkel in Toronto
RED DEER, Alta. – A former Alberta politician has become the oldest Canadian to summit Mount Everest.John Oldring, who served as a member of the legislature from 1986 to 1993 after spending more than a decade on Red Deer city council, accomplished the feat on May 25.“We probably had one of the best days of the year to summit on,” Oldring, 64, told the Red Deer Advocate.He said they could see the curvature of the Earth through clear, blue skies from the world’s highest mountain top. His team had originally planned to reach the peak on May 26, which turned out to be a cloudy day for other climbers.“They didn’t have any visibility. It was flat. They couldn’t stand on the top of Everest and see the other mountains.”It was the second Everest attempt for the Calgary resident. In 2015, his team was climbing the treacherous Khumbu Icefall on the Nepali slopes of Mount Everest when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and left them in a total whiteout.The eight-member team survived, but down at base camp at least 22 people died and several were injured.Although the quake left many others with post-traumatic stress disorder, Oldring didn’t hesitate to try again.“I hadn’t reached the summit yet. The job wasn’t done.”He said seven people have died so far this year on Everest. His team saw four bodies brought down the mountain and passed another body still in the snow.“I’d stop and say a quick prayer for them and their families. Then I’d say a quick prayer for me and keep on going.”His team reached the summit at 8:15 a.m. after a nine-hour climb from Camp Four, then spent about 15 minutes on top of the world.“It was fabulous. Everest is so big. You just can’t appreciate the scale at all. It’s truly amazing.”But they also knew the peak was a death zone, he said.“We had no urgency time-wise. We climbed so quickly. But on the other hand you always have to remind yourself a successful climb is getting down the mountain, not just getting up it, so you don’t spend a lot of time up there.”It wasn’t until he came down that he found out he was the oldest Canadian to summit Everest.“Any climb that I’ve been on, I always known I’ll be oldest. My theory is I make sure I always train the hardest, train the smartest and climb as smart and efficiently as I can. I don’t want to be the person who holds the team back and I never have been.”The oldest person to climb Everest is Yuichiro Miura of Japan, who reached the summit in 2013 at the age of 80.Just this month, 85-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan from Nepal died while trying to regain the title. He had managed to summit the mountain in 2008 when he was 76.(Red Deer Advocate)
As thousands of British Columbians are forced from their homes by wildfires, hundreds of people are stepping up to offer whatever support they can.There are up to 37,000 evacuees in the province, including about 10,000 people forced out of Williams Lake on Saturday.Kristi McLean posted to an Facebook evacuee support group saying she has a tent trailer at her home near Kamloops, B.C., that would be perfect for a family.McLean, who has an autistic son, said it would be a good environment for a family with an autistic child.“Being in an evacuation centre, I know it wouldn’t be good for us, for sure,” she said in an interview. “Any family with special needs that need a place … we’re cool with it.”There are numerous offers of accommodation, ranging from a room to full homes.“Chilliwack accommodation for evacuees: three-bedroom house with full basement,” one posting said.Others are offering space for evacuees to park their trailers.Many people have said they can provide shelter for pets.“We have space available for evacuee horses, sheep, goats, chickens and a few dogs and/or cats,” one person said.Supplies for the evacuees are also being offered.“I have a 20-foot container almost full of non perishable food, Gatorade, baby supplies, toiletries, blankets and pillows,” a Chilliwack, B.C., resident said.There was even thought of evacuees who would be missing Sunday night’s premiere of the seventh season of “Game of Thrones.”Kayla Charest posted on Facebook that she’d be willing to host seven or eight fans of the series who’ve been evacuated to Prince George.“There’s not much I can do to help with accommodations but I can definitely house some people for a couple of hours for some entertainment — take their minds off things,” she said in an interview.
OTTAWA – The Liberal government has been fielding a lot of complaints about controversial proposed tax reforms — and now the premiers are poised for their turn as they gather in Ottawa to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.The provincial and territorial leaders will get a chance Tuesday to hear Finance Minister Bill Morneau discuss his proposals to eliminate small business tax provisions the Liberals believe allow some wealthier Canadians to avoid paying their fair share.The suggested changes have led to an outcry from doctors, farmers, small business owners and even some premiers who fear the effect they would have on their provincial economies.One of them is Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, who said Monday he wants the Liberal government to abandon the plan.“We need to be very, very careful with our engine of growth, not to take out the spark plugs,” Pallister said in an interview.Don Morgan, deputy premier and justice minister of Saskatchewan, said the proposed changes could have unintended, negative consequences in his province, which he said has used tax tools to encourage professionals to move to rural areas.“There are doctors that have moved to smaller centres than Saskatoon based on the fact that they were able to do some tax planning,” said Morgan, who will be attending the meeting instead of Premier Brad Wall.“Some of those people may very well not only leave Saskatchewan, but may leave Canada. So we’re hoping that they (the federal government) will look at those things and say ‘This was not what we contemplated. This was not what we wanted’,” he said.Morneau has said repeatedly he was listening throughout the consultation period that wrapped up Monday and is open to changes, but Pallister said he thinks it is too late.“I’ll use the phrase poisoned water,” he said. “The nature of the dialogue has offended so many people.”The premiers will also meet MP Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, to discuss the role they will play in regulating the coming legalization of marijuana for recreational use.Some of the provinces have been expressing their concerns about the tight timeline for legalizing pot.Once again, Manitoba is one of them, although it has introduced some legislation to prepare for the new reality.“I think it’s a rush job and a dangerous one at that,” said Pallister.“We have one chance to get this right. I understand the prime minister wants to keep his promise, but he could also keep his promise one year later.”Morgan said Saskatchewan could use another year too, or at least six months.He said it would “allow us to get up to speed training our police officers and to get better testing and just sort of consider all of the options that are necessary to get a plan in place.”Ontario has already announced its framework for legalizing recreational marijuana, with legislation to be introduced this fall, but the province is still looking for support from the federal government, such as adequate taxation levels for enforcement at the provincial and municipal levels.Asked about cannabis Monday, Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette could not avoid slamming the federal government over its handling of the issue.“We know that the federal government sent us the problem and we have to handle the risks that go with it,” he said in Montreal.Trudeau and the premiers begin their day-long meeting by gathering with Indigenous leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, the Metis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.Perry Bellegarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said he will press the premiers to invest in education and training, by measures such as increased funding for colleges and universities that have a strategy to help Indigenous youth develop the skills they need to join the workforce.“Tap into that untapped potential,” Bellegarde said.Bellegarde said he will also ask the premiers to support adding an Indigenous chapter to the new North American Free Trade Agreement, among other economy-related proposals, but he will also be pushing for a separate meeting devoted entirely to Indigenous issues.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador in Washington, will give the premiers an update on the relationship with the U.S. following the third round of negotiations for the new NAFTA.Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will be listening keenly for NAFTA negotiation updates, as her government has been on a strong push to promote Ontario trade on a subnational level.Wynne has met with more than two dozen U.S. governors in an attempt to fight against a tide of U.S. protectionism and she is expected to update fellow premiers on her recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.The premiers will also hear from Anil Arora, the head of Statistics Canada, and Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada.— With files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal, Allison Jones in Toronto and Jennifer Graham in Regina.— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter
MONTREAL – Calling it a North American first, the Quebec government passed legislation Wednesday forbidding anyone from receiving or giving a public service with their face covered — and even while riding the bus.The opposition said the law doesn’t go far enough, while members of the province’s Islamic community said it targets Muslim women and violates their fundamental right to express their religion as they see fit.“This has been a debate that’s been tearing Quebec apart for the past few years,” Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters. “We need to hail this exercise. We need to remind people we are the only jurisdiction in North America to have legislated on this issue.”Bill 62 is the Liberal government’s attempt to enshrine into law what is considered to be a fundamental Quebec value that the state should not promote religion of any kind.Due to the historical omnipresence of the Roman Catholic Church in the lives of Quebecers, some activists in the province see the movement for secularism — including laws banning religious expression in public institutions — as the natural evolution of modern Quebec.The Liberals’ bill is not as strict as the values charter tabled by the Parti Quebecois but which did not become law because the Liberals swept the sovereigntist party from power in 2014.Bill 62 has two basic components: it bans the wearing of face coverings for people giving or receiving a service from the state and it offers a framework outlining how authorities should grant accommodation requests based on religious beliefs.Couillard said he expects some people to challenge the law, but he defended the legislation as necessary for reasons related to communication, identification and security.“The principle to which I think a vast majority of Canadians by the way, not only Quebecers, would agree upon is that public services should be given and received with an open face,” he said.“I speak to you, you speak to me. I see your face. You see mine. As simple as that.”In Ottawa, the Bloc Quebecois asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Commons whether he could categorically state his government would not challenge the law.Trudeau responded by saying he would “continue to work to make sure Canadians are protected by the charter (federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms) while at the same time respecting the choices made by various parliamentarians at different levels.”“But here, at the federal level, we defend the rights of all Canadians.”Trudeau later tweeted a link to a speech he gave in 2015 condemning face-covering bans, adding that his position hasn’t changed.“It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear,” he said in the speech.How the new law will be enforced is still unclear, particularly for bus drivers who fear becoming the fashion police.Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee, who tabled the bill, said guidelines on how the law would be enforced would be phased in by next June 30, after consultations.She told reporters the law also affects women who choose to use public transit while wearing Islamic face coverings, such as the niqab or burka.“The obligation to uncover your face is for duration of the public service rendered,” she said. “Not just for the veiled woman, but think also of hoods or tinted glasses.”Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he remains uncomfortable with the legislation, especially as it applies to the city’s public transit.“What does it mean? We have niqab police as bus drivers?” Coderre asked. “Will we refuse to provide them (women wearing face coverings) services if they are freezing with their children?”A spokesman for the union representing Montreal bus drivers, ticket takers and subway employees says it isn’t interested in enforcing the law.“Bus drivers don’t want to have the responsibility of applying Bill 62 at this time,” Ronald Boisrond of the Canadian Union of Public Employees said in an interview.Andre Lamoureux, political scientist and spokesman for a Quebec-based movement for secularism, said the niqab or burka “has no place — not even on the bus.”His group was one of many who testified during the legislative hearings into Bill 62.“(The niqab) is not a religious sign,” Lamoureux said. “It’s a political symbol of the enslavement and de-empowerment of women that is supported by the most repressive regimes on the planet.”Eve Torres, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said the face veil itself is not the issue.“Whether it pleases Mr. Lamoureux or me — that’s not the question,” she said. “The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms allows women to express their way of interpreting their religion.“Whether I’m OK with it or not is not the point.”Lamoureux said the majority of Quebecers are against the niqab and the burka due to historical considerations.“Before the 1960s there was terrible social pressure on women, on couples,” he said. “The church was against abortion, controlled women’s bodies. When women went to the confessional, the priest would demand they get pregnant. The church was everywhere, in the schools. Even my hockey coach was a Jesuit.”He said Quebecers don’t care if people practise their religion in private, but they are sensitive to signs that religiosity is re-entering public institutions.Torres said the government has switched roles with the church.“The government has passed a law forcing women to uncover a part of their body against their will,” she said.“I am aware of the past, but the past also tells us that women have come a long way but there is still a lot of work to do. This law does not add anything to the advancement of women in society.”Another spokesman with the National Council of Canadian Muslims said the organization is “looking at its options” with regards to a possible court challenge.Fo Niemi of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations said the law could eventually be challenged in front of the United Nations.“It is foreseeable…the law will end up before the UN because it can be deemed to be a violation of certain rights protected by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,” Niemi said.Vallee said she believes her bill passes the legal test.“In every piece of legislation, there’s a risk of it being contested by those who don’t agree with it,” Vallee said. “We consider that this bill is solid, it’s strong, it’s a bill that’s respectful of civil rights.”
CALGARY – An official with the International Olympic Committee says it would welcome a bid by Calgary to hold another Winter Games using some facilities in Whistler, B.C., or elsewhere.Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games and a six-member IOC delegation is in the city this week to tour venues from the 1988 Olympics and to discuss ways to reduce the cost of holding them again.The possibility of reusing the ski jump in Whistler from the 2010 Games has been floated as an alternative to a costly refurbishment of the outdated one at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park or building a new one 100 kilometres west in Canmore, Alta., for upwards of $100 million.Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director, says it’s good news that the Whistler option is being considered.“This goes exactly in the direction that we want,” he told a teleconference Wednesday.“It doesn’t need to be a joint bid. It (would) remain Calgary, but using venues outside of Alberta. This is perfectly fine. This is encouraged.”He said distance wouldn’t be a problem and noted that equestrian events were held in Hong Kong during the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.With few cities interested in holding the Olympic Games, the IOC has made changes to make bidding and hosting cheaper and more sustainable.“We have a little team on the ground that is doing exactly what we said we would do in this revamped canditature process, which is dialogue,” Dubi said.Dubi, who was not on the Calgary trip, said he spoke to city councillors and Mayor Naheed Nenshi by phone earlier in the day.IOC representatives have already visited other potential contenders — Sion, Switzerland and Stockholm — and plan to go to Sapporo, Japan just before the Games next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.Calgary city council voted in November to spend up to $2 million to keep exploring a bid, but only $1 million would be released until it is known what the federal and provincial governments are willing to contribute to a bid. Council is expected to address the question again on Jan. 29.The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee completed a report this summer that concluded that while it would be feasible for Calgary to be a contender, there were too many unknowns at the time to decide whether it would be prudent. The $1.5 million leftover from committee’s $5 million budget has been put toward ongoing exploration.City staff estimated a bid price tag would be between $25 million and $30 million. The cost of holding the Games has been pegged at $4.6 billion, with revenues covering about half that.The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., cost $7.7 billion.Dubi listed off a variety of ways that costs could be reduced for host cities: using energy more efficiently at the International Broadcast Centre, encouraging public transit, shifting some responsibilities to sports federations and ensuring venues aren’t any bigger than they need to be.He said the IOC has said it would provide US$925 million to the successful 2026 bid city, but called that a preliminary number.The IOC will invite cities to bid for 2026 this October and the deadline will be January 2019.Dubi said Calgary has until the end of March to decide whether it’s interested in moving to the next phase of talks with the IOC.
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau is standing by a senior government official who suggested factions within the Indian government were involved in sabotaging the prime minister’s visit to India last week.But he’s nevertheless accepted the offer of Liberal backbencher Randeep Sarai, who’s taken responsibility for inviting an attempted murderer to events with the prime minister in India, to resign as the chair of the party’s Pacific caucus.During his first question period since arriving back in Canada, opposition MPs grilled the prime minister Tuesday about invitations issued to Jaspal Atwal — a B.C. Sikh convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986 — to attend two events with the prime minister in India.In a background briefing arranged by the Prime Minister’s Office, a government official last week suggested that Atwal’s presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who want to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from getting too cosy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India.Conservatives identified the official as Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, and they pressed Trudeau to say whether he agrees with Jean’s “conspiracy theory.”“A senior security official made these allegations. Does the prime minister agree or disavow those allegations?” asked Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer.Trudeau defended the official as a member of the professional, non-partisan public service that provides quality advice. He accused the previous Conservative government of using the public service for partisan ends, saying “they torqued the public service every possible way they could.”“And they do not understand that our professional, non-partisan public service does high quality work. And when one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it’s because they know it to be true.”Conservative MPs pressed Trudeau to provide evidence to back the assertion, but it was left to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to field those questions.“Before our prime minister destroys our relationship with our ally, the government and country of India, will he please tell this House what proof he has of that allegation?” asked Tory MP Candice Bergen.Goodale said Bergen was providing “her interpretation of events” and said “her insinuations and her accusations are false.”New Democrat MP Charlie Angus asserted that Atwal — who has been photographed over the years posing with various Liberal MPs, ministers and leaders, including Trudeau himself — turned up on the trip because his presence was “useful” to local Liberals back in Canada. And he accused Trudeau of using a senior civil servant to “spin a conspiracy theory that somehow the Indian government is trying to make the Liberals look bad.”“What was the prime minister thinking, putting the interests of the Liberal machine ahead of national security, international relations and Canada’s reputation?” Angus demanded.Atwal, a one-time member of a Sikh separatist group that is banned in Canada and India as a terrorist organization, was convicted of attempting to kill Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu on Vancouver Island in 1986.He was also charged, but not convicted, in connection with a 1985 attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, a staunch opponent of the Sikh separatist movement, who later became B.C. premier and a federal Liberal cabinet minister.Trudeau’s office says Atwal’s invitation to a party in New Delhi was revoked as soon as his name was discovered on the guest list. However, Atwal showed up at a reception earlier in the week in Mumbai and was photographed with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the prime minister’s wife.Shortly after endorsing the official’s theory that factions in the Indian government arranged Atwal’s presence to embarrass Trudeau, the prime minister met with Sarai late Tuesday and accepted the B.C. MP’s resignation as Pacific caucus chair.“I want to again apologize for my role in recent unfortunate events,” Sarai said in a statement, adding that he’ll “be exercising better judgment” in future.“As I don’t want to distract from the good work of the Pacific caucus, I will be stepping down as caucus chair.”News of Atwal’s presence was an embarrassing setback for Trudeau, who had spent much of his trip trying to reassure Indian political leaders that Canada does not support separatist Sikh extremists.Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, who was also photographed with Atwal in Mumbai, said he had no idea who Atwal was and simply posed for a picture when asked. He declined to say whether he shares the belief that factions in the Indian government were behind the embarrassment.“(It) doesn’t help to be speculating on these kind of things,” Sohi said.
HALIFAX – RCMP are issuing a gentle reminder about proper 911 use after a 12-year-old called to express their dislike of salad.The Mounties say Halifax dispatchers received a call just before 10 p.m. Tuesday from a youth who said their guardian made a salad they didn’t like.“The child was upset and did not care for what the parent put in the salad, said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dal Hutchinson.“As a member was responding, they called back again wondering where the police officer was and that they were very unhappy with what ingredients were in their salad.”Police say they took the opportunity to speak to the child about what happened and also about when it’s appropriate to call 911.“While many can relate to the dislike of a salad at times, this raises a more important issue that warrants discussion at all ages,” Hutchinson said in a release Thursday.Hutchinson said in an interview the incident isn’t isolated and those like it pose a serious risk when emergency responders go to a scene where they aren’t needed.“Sometimes it takes us to a location out of our coverage area that is at the opposite end of where an actual real emergency call may come in,” he said.He said he knows of various instances, including one where someone was upset that there wasn’t enough meat in their donair.In another, an upset caller couldn’t find their television remote, Hutchinson said, while one parent was upset that a barber didn’t do a good enough job on their child’s haircut.“On a regular basis we get (those) calls from people,” said Hutchinson, who added that improper use of 911 can result in a fine of $697.50.Within the last two weeks alone there have been more than two dozen bogus 911 calls in Nova Scotia, he said.Improper 911 use is a problem across Canada and in other parts of the world.In December, a 51-year-old Florida man was charged with misusing the emergency line after he called twice to complain about the size of the meal served to him at Crabby’s Seafood Shack in Stuart, Fla., telling dispatchers: “I ordered something, and it was extremely so small.”In 2016, the Las Vegas-area fire department held a news conference to ask people to not call over “stubbed toes and sore throats,” while police in Kentucky pointed out that people often called them to ask directions.In 2016, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said an upset St. John’s woman called 911 to report her pizza didn’t have enough cheese.That same year, police in Edmonton launched a public awareness campaign because the situation had become so ridiculous. They said about 40 per cent of the 911 calls they handled through the emergency service were bogus.In December 2015, British Columbia’s largest 911 call centre, E-Comm911, issued a list of the top 10 reasons not to call the emergency line, based on actual calls received that year.Among them: Requesting the number for a local tire dealership; reporting an issue with a vending machine; asking for the non-emergency line; complaining a car was parked too close to theirs; reporting that a child wouldn’t put his seatbelt on; telling police about a coffee shop that refused to give a refill; asking if it’s OK to park on the street; reporting someone had used a roommate’s toothbrush; seeking help getting a basketball out of a tree; and complaining that their building’s noisy air system was keeping them awake.
MONTREAL – As she drank an apple-carrot smoothie on a patio in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood, French tourist Josiane Vignolles said there is no doubt where she will be Friday morning for the World Cup quarter-final between France and Uruguay.“I didn’t think France would make it this far — honestly, said Vignolles, 60, whose son recently moved to Montreal, just like the tens of thousands of other young French people who have come to the city — and especially the Plateau — in the past several years.Vignolles will be among the throngs buzzing around L’Barouf bar, which has turned into a quasi-pilgrimage site for matches of “les Bleus.”The establishment on St-Denis Street is usually closed in the morning, but owner Mehdi Bekri said doors will be open as early as 9 a.m. for the 10 o’clock kickoff.“It’s going to be packed in here,” said Bekri, 40. His bar will be so full that fans will line up outside to watch the game, forcing part of the street to be blocked to cars, he added.“I am a fan of it all, said Bekri. “If France or Belgium don’t make it, I want Uruguay to win (the cup).”France beat Australia and Peru and tied with Denmark in the group stage before defeating Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16 to reach the last eight. The champion of Friday’s game will play the winner of the afternoon match between Brazil and Belgium.Although nobody was spotted Thursday wearing a French team jersey on the sweltering streets of the Plateau — temperatures reached 43 C with the humidex — French accents were everywhere.The 2016 census indicates the Montreal area is home to roughly 57,000 people born in France — slightly more than half of all the French-born people in Canada.During the last French election in 2017, lines outside polling stations in the city stretched far down city blocks.Not far from L’Barouf, 29-year-old Damien Kenson was holding a pastry box containing a strawberry crumble at a cafe on Rachel Street.Kenson, originally from an area just outside Paris, said he’ll watch the match near the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood, which is located a few kilometres north of the Plateau and also home to many French people.Little Italy has been noticeably quieter this tournament than in years past, considering the Italian national team didn’t make the World Cup after failing to beat Sweden in a two-game playoff.The district’s Italians hung a giant banner hanging off two lampposts on either side of St-Laurent Street, reading “Go Everyone Except Sweden. The World Cup in Little Italy, without Italy.”And while the Plateau is quickly turning into what locals satirically call “New France,” not everyone will be watching Friday’s match.Jean-Michel Cauvin, 47, ordered a coffee shortly after Kenson and said it was “highly probable” he wouldn’t be paying any attention.Cauvin, from the south of France, has been in Montreal for about 20 years.“You know what I don’t miss about France?,” he said. “The soccer craziness. The car horns down the streets. I don’t miss that at all.”Cauvin is a fan of more “individual sports” such as skiing or squash.“I don’t like hockey either,” he said.
OTTAWA — A Conservative senator is pushing back against criticism that a proposal for keeping tabs on senators’ expense claims amounts to asking them to mark their own homework.Sen. David Wells says he was surprised to hear the government’s representative in the Senate, Peter Harder, reject the proposal to create a permanent audit and oversight committee, made up of five senators.Harder is pushing instead for creation of an independent committee that includes members from outside the Senate.He argues a senators-only committee raises the perception of conflict of interest, with senators sitting in judgment on the expense claims of their colleagues.But Wells, who chaired the sub-committee that recommended a senators-only oversight committee, says Harder is oversimplifying the matter and ignoring crucial elements of the proposal.He points out the proposal includes recommendations that both internal and external auditors should be permanent advisers to the oversight committee; that the committee should review all Senate expenditures — not just individual senators’ expense claims — and should conduct blind, random audits of senators’ expenses.“Some of things that (Harder) said were inaccurate and I think very unfortunate because he’s presenting the view to the public … that essentially the expenses issues, it would be a case of marking our own homework,” Wells said in an interview Thursday.Wells said the proposed committee was unanimously recommended by his sub-committee, which included members of the Conservative, independent Liberal and independent senators’ caucuses.However, auditor general Michael Ferguson recommended an independent oversight body after examining the expenses of more than 100 current and former senators over a two-year span. In a 2015 report, he flagged more than 30 current and former senators who had made questionable expense claims totalling nearly $1 million — a figure that was subsequently reduced through a binding arbitration process.Since the expenses scandal shook the Senate to its foundations, Wells said senators have taken steps to repair the chamber’s shattered reputation. Among other things, he said 100 per cent of each senator’s expenses are now posted online for anyone to review.“So we have the eyes of 36 million Canadians giving whatever oversight they wish to give,” he said. “There’s nothing secretive about our process.”Wells said Harder’s narrative about the need for outside oversight has been overtaken by reforms already adopted.“We’ve gone above and beyond even what the auditor general recommended.” The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press OSHAWA, Ont. — The mayor of Oshawa, Ont., says he hopes reports of the pending closure of a General Motors plant in the city are “just a rumour.”CTV News reports that General Motors Canada plans to close its manufacturing plant in Oshawa, affecting thousands of jobs.Mayor John Henry says he has seen the published reports but hasn’t heard from the company — which is the city’s main employer.A spokeswoman for GM Canada said the company had no news to share Sunday night and would not comment on speculation.According to the company’s website, the Oshawa Assembly Plant employs 2,522 workers with Unifor Local 222.Henry says the economic impact of a closure would extend well beyond the plant itself.Jennifer French, who represents the city in the provincial legislature, says she finds the report of the plant closure “gravely concerning.”“If GM Canada is indeed turning its back on 100 years of industry and community — abandoning workers and families in Oshawa — then this is a callous decision that must be fought,” she said in a statement.
QUEBEC — Canadian boxer Adonis Stevenson has regained consciousness after being in a medically induced coma for three weeks following a knockout loss on Dec. 1.Stevenson’s girlfriend, Simone God, issued a statement Saturday saying the light heavyweight boxer is now awake.His condition deteriorated after he was helped into the dressing room following the fight against Oleksandr Gvozdyk of Ukraine at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City.He was transported to hospital by ambulance and was admitted with a traumatic brain injury that required rapid neurosurgery.Intensive care specialist Dr. Alexis Turgeon told reporters earlier this month that the majority of patients suffer lasting effects from such injuries.The Canadian Press
TORONTO – The chief executive of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. says he never cited the protection of 9,000 Canadian jobs as a reason the company should be granted a remediation agreement to avoid a criminal trial on allegations it paid millions of dollars in bribes to obtain government business in Libya.In an interview with The Canadian Press, Neil Bruce said Wednesday if the engineering firm is convicted and barred from bidding on federal contracts here at home its workers would end up working for the Montreal-based company’s foreign rivals.“There would be a reduction with us but these are talented folks. They’ll get a job,” Bruce said.“This thing that somehow they’re going to be unemployed is not true because they are highly qualified, highly experienced people.”Bruce’s comments come as a political storm in Ottawa continues over allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his senior staff and others improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.Trudeau and his staff have said their only concern was for SNC-Lavalin’s 9,000 jobs, which might be at risk if the company were convicted and then barred from bidding on federal contracts for up to 10 yearsThe affair has so far cost Trudeau two cabinet ministers, his principal secretary and the country’s top public servant, although he continues to insist no one did anything wrong.Bruce said its Canadian workforce has decreased from 20,000 in 2012 and will likely fall further. That, despite it being the only Canadian company that does nuclear technology work helping Ontario facilities like Chalk River, Darlington and Pickering. Also, no other domestic firm does the scope of infrastructure services on projects in cities like Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.He said the company has calculated that about 75 per cent of its rivals have concluded deferred prosecution agreements (DPA) in their host countries and are free to work in Canada.Meanwhile, Bruce said he still doesn’t know why the director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould were not open to granting a remediation agreement.He said the company appealed that decision in Federal Court, hoping to learn some of the rationale.“We did an appeal not because we thought we would win the appeal but because we thought we might get a reason and that got tossed out with no reason so we still don’t know.”Bruce said he’s not holding much hope that an agreement will be offered under the current political climate, especially if the Conservatives win the fall election, and is preparing for a lengthy legal process.“We have never asked for the charges to be dropped, we’ve never asked for anything to be circumvented,” he said. “We just want to move on for the sake principally of our employees first and foremost and our investors.”A main stumbling block to getting a DPA could be public perception that former employees accused of crimes aren’t being held accountable, he said.He said innocent SNC-Lavalin employees feel bruised and battered by the last six weeks since a report surfaced that government officials pressured the former attorney general to grant the company a deferred prosecution agreement.“And I think fundamentally that’s unfair on our employees who had nothing to do with what went on seven to 20 years ago.”While he’s not surprised that politicians would make hay out of this issue during an election year, Bruce said he’s concerned the company will continue to be a political punching bag as the campaign unfolds.“If it sort of doesn’t move on from that or gets worse of course it’s a concern.”Bruce also said few people have publicly defended the company’s important contribution to the country as a home-grown success story.“So if anybody’s happy for us not being able to do that work and give it to the Americans or give it to the Europeans I think that’s a sad, sad position.”He said there’s no plans to move the company’s headquarters from Montreal, adding competitors are envious of its shareholder base that is 82 per cent Canadian and led by the Caisse de depot which has helped fund its acquisition of British engineering firm Atkins.“We see ourselves as Team Canada. We are a global champion, one of few. There’s not many and we’re proud to be Canadian.”Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC)
REGINA — Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture says seven farm animals are dead due to anthrax.The province says the case was confirmed in the Rural Municipality of Chester located about an hour and a half drive southeast of Regina.It says lab results from Thursday confirmed anthrax caused the sudden death of seven animals.Dr. Betty Althouse, the ministry’s chief veterinary officer, says the animals were farmed livestock.She says the last cases of animal anthrax that resulted in death occurred in 2015.Althouse says there have been a few other suspected cases of anthrax throughout the summer, but all of them turned out negative.“We do suspect anthrax in the summer on pasture when there’s sudden deaths in animals. It is important to get a veterinary diagnosis to confirm whether it is or not, so this is the first case that was confirmed.”Anthrax is caused by a bacteria that can survive for decades as spores in soil.The province is warning farmers to be on the lookout for anthrax as changes in soil moisture from flooding or drying can cause spores to build up on pastures.The ministry say animals are more at risk of being exposed to anthrax in drier years.Althouse says the livestock that died were grazing in a slough on a pasture.She says the veterinarian dealing with the herd is considering whether to relocate the rest of the animals off the contaminated pasture, as well as if short term treatment is needed.The province says animal cases pose little risk to humans, but people can become infected through direct contact with sick animals or their carcasses.It says anthrax can be prevented through vaccination.Althouse says couldn’t confirm whether or not the livestock that died were vaccinated.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version using information provided by the Agriculture Ministry said the affected rural municipality was that of Golden West.
FREDERICTON — Jury selection begins Monday at a hockey rink in Fredericton to determine if Matthew Raymond — accused of killing four people in a shooting spree in August 2018 — is fit to stand trial.Earlier this month, Justice Fred Ferguson of the Court of Queen’s Bench ruled the threshold to question the fitness of the accused had been met.Fitness means that an accused understands the charges against him and can instruct a lawyer on how he wishes to be defended.Raymond is charged with the first-degree murders of Fredericton police constables Sara Burns and Robb Costello and civilians Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright.A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday at the Grant-Harvey Centre, at the same time potential jurors have been told to show up to begin the registration process, but the reason for the pretrial session has not been released.The arena was chosen for jury selection to accommodate the large number of people who were sent notices as prospective jurors.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2019.The Canadian Press
The People’s Choice Awards has announced that platinum-selling Grammy Award-winning artist and Academy Award-winner, Jennifer Hudson will receive the second annual People’s Choice Award for Favorite Humanitarian, presented by Walgreens, during the telecast of PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS 2014, live from the Nokia Theater L.A. Live on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network.Ms. Hudson was chosen as this year’s recipient in recognition of her work with the Julian D. King Gift Foundation, an organization she formed in 2009 with her sister, Julia Hudson in honor of their nephew, Julian King. The foundation works to provide stability and positive experiences for children of all backgrounds so that they may grow to become productive, confident and happy adults, able to be positive influences on their communities.“Thank you for honoring me with the Favorite Humanitarian Award. My sister Julia and I were raised with the belief that helping others was always very important. I am so grateful that the People’s Choice Awards and Walgreens have come together in the same spirit. This spotlight will provide us with the opportunity to share all the amazing work being done by the Julian D. King Gift Foundation for children in the city of Chicago and around the United States,” stated Hudson.Walgreens, the official retail sponsor of PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS 2014, is once again presenting the award for Favorite Humanitarian in conjunction with the company’s purpose to help people get, stay and live well. In recognition of Jennifer Hudson’s contributions that positively impact the community, Walgreens will donate $100,000 to the Julian D. King Foundation. Also, starting tonight, consumers can help increase the donation amount by up to an additional $100,000 by clicking the People’s Choice Awards icon within the Walgreens mobile app.