Bengaluru: A day after it came to power in Karnataka, the BJP is contemplating bringing a no-confidence motion against assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, if he does not voluntarily vacate the post, party sources said Saturday. The message has been discreetly conveyed to Kumar to give up the post, which is conventionally held by a member from the ruling party, they said. “We will move the no-confidence motion against the Speaker if he himself does not resign,” a ruling BJP MLA told PTI requesting anonymity. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The legislator added, “Our first agenda is to win the confidence motion and get the finance bill passed on Monday. We will wait and see whether the speaker steps down on his own.” The MLA sought to know how there could be a Speaker from the opposition party. “Once we win the confidence of the House, we will go ahead with moving no-confidence motion,” he said. In a sudden turn of events, the BJP led by B S Yediyurappa came to power Friday, barely 24 hours after Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar disqualified the three MLAs, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli from Congress and independent MLA R Shankar. The Speaker had even indicated that in a couple of days, he would take decision regarding rest of the MLAs including three from JD(S). The raft of resignations by the rebel MLAs had brought down the coalition government in Karnataka and put the BJP on the straddle.
Chandauli: Khalid, the 15-year-old boy whose family had alleged that he was set ablaze by four men when he refused to chant “Jai Shri Ram” here, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday. Khalid was set on fire in Chandauli on Sunday and had been admitted to the Kabir Chaura hospital in Varanasi with 60 per cent burns. The Uttar Pradesh Police had denied the allegations by Khalid’s family and Chandauli Superintendent of Police (SP) Santosh Kumar Singh claimed that an eye witness had seen the teenager set himself ablaze. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Singh said that the victim, a minor, had given two different statements. Khalid had earlier said that he went for a run to Maharajpur village where he met four men who dragged him to a field and set him on fire. He claimed that the men had also forced him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and on his refusing to do so, they beat him up and set him on fire. However, Khalid later changed his statement and told the police inspector that four men on a motorcycle kidnapped him and took him to Hateeja village, the SP said. According to the police, the Maharajpur and Hateeja villages are located in two different directions.
New Delhi: In a historic move, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla initiated a process of archiving the speeches of all Lok Sabha members and ministers since 1952. When asked, the Speaker told the Millennium Post exclusively that the availability of the video footage and the audio discs were the main concern now.However, this work is also time-consuming. The presiding officer of the Lower House (Lok Sabha Speaker) confirmed that the entire process would take three months. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Earlier only Prime Ministers’ speeches were archived. This move will create a real political history of our country. Reportedly nearly 500 MPs have passed away in the last fifteen years, 25 of them belonged to India’s first Lok Sabha. In the earlier days, there used to be translators in the Parliament and they used to transcribe the speeches and publish in the Parliament proceedings. In those days there used to be only the audio recordings available and used to be preserved in the disc. Later on, Doordarshan was entrusted with the job of recording the both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KMuch later, the Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV were launched. In 2006, DD Lok Sabha was replaced by LSTV, a 24-hour TV channel broadcasting in Hindi and English, which is owned and operated entirely by the Lower House itself. Former Lok Sabha Speaker and Left stalwart Somnath Chatterjee who launched it. Later in 2011, the Rajya Sabha TV started the coverage of the proceedings of the Upper House. The archive will help in understanding the historic discussions on the floor of the Houses. Hence, once this archiving takes place, the entire political history since 1952 will be readily available to the common people. The audio and video recordings will further remove the confusion about what stand or the position different political leaders from different political parties have taken on different issues in our political history, whether the negotiations that took place between the treasury and opposition to build consensus on GST, right to education, land acquisition, or the recent insolvency and bankruptcy laws, triple talaq, rescinding of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and others. However, the government has not communicated any official version yet. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a museum dedicated to all former Prime Ministers. The deadline to complete the ‘Museum on Prime Ministers of India’ is March 2020. Sources said the iconic speeches, delivered by the former External Affairs Minister and an eloquent speaker of Bharatiya Janata Party, Sushma Swaraj, who passed away on Tuesday, is on the priority. The recent years saw the demise of several Indian political stalwarts. On August 13 in the last year, former Lok Sabha Speaker and Left veteran Somnath Chatterjee and three days later, on August 16, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed away, who had served Parliament, both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha twelve times. This year, George Fernandez, the defence minister during the Kargil War and nine times MP in Lok Sabha, passed away in January. After that, the demise of Ram Chandra Paswan in the last month and Sheila Dikshit, the former Delhi chief minister and former LS MP from Kannauj passed away in the last week.
Kolkata: In a significant stride to prevent air pollution, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is taking strong measures to prevent piling up of construction material on roads and footpaths across the city.Municipal Commissioner Khalil Ahmed has directed the Director General (Building) to take up regular drives against illegal stacking of building material on roads and footpaths. He has further instructed him to take legal action against the defaulters with the help of Licence department, Solid Waste Management department, borough executive engineers and local police stations. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”A number of complaints regarding illegal stacking of construction material on roads and footpaths causing harassment to general public and pedestrians have reached the office of the Commissioner and the Mayor. The National Green Tribunal has prodded the administration to take strong measures against defaulters. This has contributed to the civic body taking serious measures to address the issue,” a senior KMC official said. The Commissioner has also directed DG (Building) to submit action taken report against offenders to the Mayor and his office from time to time. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayIt may be mentioned that as per directions of West Bengal Pollution Control Board with regards to air pollution, KMC is keeping watch to ensure that all construction material meant for road, building or similar purposes are transported in covered condition. “We are trying to ensure that no construction material is left uncovered at roadside and the construction area is wrapped in geotextile fabric. Other actions as appropriate for the location are also being undertaken to prevent pollution due to building material. Sprinkling of water prior to levelling or any other earth movement activities is needed to keep the soil moist throughout the process,” the official added. The civic body is also taking steps to dispose debris from the construction site at the earliest, in consultation with the local authority following proper environmental management practices. “We also issue notices to owners of construction sites in different boroughs to maintain environmental norms. Follow-up action like stop work notice has been issued to different construction sites in the recent past,” the official added.
New Delhi: The Centre has issued guidelines on operationalising Rs 1-lakh crore partial guarantee scheme under which public-sector banks can purchase high-rated pooled assets of financially sound non-banking finance companies (NBFCs). NBFCs, including housing finance companies (HFCs), came under stress following series of defaults by the group companies of IL&FS in September last year. To help the sector come out of the stress, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget announced support for fundamentally sound NBFCs in getting continued funding from banks. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”For purchase of high-rated pooled assets of financially sound NBFCs, amounting to a total of Rs 1 lakh crore during the current financial year, the government will provide one-time six months’ partial credit guarantee to public sector banks for first loss of up to 10 per cent,” she had said. In pursuance of that the finance ministry last week released a detailed guidelines for this with the objective to address temporary asset liability mismatches of otherwise solvent NBFCs/HFCs without having to resort to distress sale of their assets for meeting their commitments. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe partial guarantee would help rework the Asset Liability structure within three months to have positive Asset Liability Management in each bucket for the first three months and on cumulative basis for the remaining period. “At no time during the period for exercise of the option to buy back the assets, should the CRAR (capital to risk weighted assets ratio) go below the regulatory minimum. The promoter shall ensure this by infusing equity, where required,” an official statement said. As per the guidelines issued, the window for one-time partial credit guarantee will be for a period of six months, or till such date by which Rs 1 lakh crore assets get purchased by banks.
Imphal: Ningel, a small hamlet in the foothills of Imphal valley, is the only village left in Manipur which is struggling to preserve the over three- century-old art of making circular salt slabs.Despite the lure of higher-income generating occupations, availability of packaged iodized salt and the disappearance of salt wells in neighbouring villages, people like Maibum Mutum works tirelessly throughout the day to make the circular salt slabs. Inhabited by less than 1,000 people, Ningel has three salt-wells of which two were constructed in the not-so- distant past. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”Salt is extracted from nearby salt wells after the presence of salt springs is confirmed when subtle vapours are found hovering from potential sites. A shaft is sunk down to the spring by the locals to extract the water from which salt is made,” Mutum said. These salt wells are 45 feet in depth and six feet in diameter, said 51-year-old Mutum. Only six households of Ningel are engaged in making circular salt slabs and multiple salt wells located at nearby villages of Chandrakhong, Nongbram have become obsolete. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KExplaining the reasons for the declining popularity of making the circular salt slabs, village chief Naomi said, the younger generation, particularly women, was now preferring to opt for weaving, as it yields higher income. Unlike packaged salt available in local supermarkets, the salt slabs procured from Ningel, located 28 km from the state capital, are not sold in fancy packets. Circular in shape with a diameter of 12 cm and thickness of less than one inch, Ningel salts are marketed not in powdered form but in unpackaged slabs placed on a palm- sized banana leaf, which is then moulded into the same shape with one’s hands. Salt making at Ningel is a relatively simple process. Salt water is taken out from the wells in bronze containers and heated in medium or small sized vessels, resembling wok or rectangular-shaped pans. After an hour or more of continuous heating by firewood, the salt water evaporates leaving behind brightly coloured salt in the form of paste. The paste is transferred to another large bowl and allowed to cool down. The salt-maker then collects the paste in a locally made simple tool known as “chilel” and puts it in a palm sized banana leaf, which is then moulded into its familiar circular shape. The circular salt slabs are later taken to the busy salt-section of the Ima Market in Imphal and sold at the rate of Rupees 10 per slab. She says she would like to make more of such salt slabs but the amount of firewood required for heating the salt-water is huge, which is hindering the process. At present, wood worth Rs 300 is needed, which is a burden for the poor villagers. However, Maimu claimed that the circular salt slabs are better than packaged iodized salt and are in demand during the Manipuri festival of Cheiraoba or Manipuri New Year, as well as in the months of “Lamta” and “Fairen” (February/ March). Former pradhan M Ingocha told PTI, “The locals have petitioned the government to preserve the salt wells but to no avail.” Still, the villagers have made voluntary efforts to preserve them by cleaning the areas around the salt wells, said Ingocha. Noting that 40 to 50 tourists visit this site every year, the former pradhan said, the possibility of total disappearance of the salt wells is “very high” because of the alleged negligence and low income generated from selling the salt slabs.
New Delhi: CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court for production of party leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, who has been under detention in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370, the party said on Saturday. Tarigami, a member of the Central Committee of the CPI(M) and four-time MLA of the dissolved Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has not been keeping well, party sources said. The writ petition has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution, the CPI(M) said. Yechury had travelled to Srinagar earlier this month to visit Tarigami but was denied entry. A delegation of opposition leaders is scheduled to visit Srinagar on Saturday.
New Delhi: The tenure of CBDT Chairman P C Mody has been extended by an year, a government order said Thursday. According to the order, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved “re-appointment” of Mody for a period of one year. Mody was to retire on August 31. A 1982-batch Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax cadre) officer, Mody, took over as the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) chief in February. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The ACC in an another order appointed 1983-batch IRS officer Prabhash Shankar as a new member in the CBDT. There are still two vacancies in the Board. The other members are P K Dash, Akhilesh Ranjan and Neena Kumar. While Dash and Kumar are holding additional charges apart from their regular duties, the CBDT chairman is holding the charge of investigations in an additional capacity. The CBDT is headed by a chairman and can have a maximum of six members. It frames policy for the Income-Tax Department.
LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is laying an election “elephant trap” for the opposition Labour Party that it should avoid, former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on Monday. “Boris Johnson knows that if no-deal Brexit stands on its own as a proposition it might well fail but if he mixes it up with the Corbyn question in a general election he could succeed despite a majority being against a no-deal Brexit because some may fear a Corbyn premiership more,” Blair said. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USLabour leader Jeremy Corbyn “should see an election before Brexit is decided for the elephant trap it is,” he said. Johnson has pledged to deliver Brexit on October 31 whether he agrees a new deal with the European Union or not. Opposition lawmakers – and a contingent from Johnson’s Conservatives from Tuesday – will try to legislate this week to stop the possibility of no-deal. Johnson has threatened to expel rebel Conservative lawmakers if they thwart his Brexit plans by voting with the opposition, a move that would eradicate his already slim majority and make his ability to govern very difficult. He could then seek an election to break the deadlock. House of Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has said rebel legislation would be considered a matter of confidence in the government.
Mothers who reported higher levels of parenting stress had less synchrony in brain activity with their child, than those who reported lower levels of parenting stress, researchers have found. Excessive parenting stress can block maternal sensitivity, lead to reactions that punish the child and negatively affect the parent-child relationship for the long term. “Our study shows that parenting stress may very well weaken mother-child communication early in the process of social interaction. Our observations likely stem from the stressed mother’s reduced ability to share her child’s perspective,” said study senior author. Also Read – An income drop can harm brain”This inability to appreciate the child’s viewpoint may reduce the quality of parental engagement and undermine the mother-child relationship in the long run.” According to the study, when the parent and child show highly similar brain activity in the same areas of the brain i.e. greater synchrony, it suggests that both are highly tuned in to each other’s emotional states. The recently published study analysed the brain activity of 31 pairs of mother and children from Singapore while they were watching children’s animation clips together. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardThe researchers used functional Near-infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) caps as a non-invasive way to measure brain activation based on blood concentration levels in the brain. Before starting the experiment, mothers answered a questionnaire that aims to measure parenting stress. The mother-child pairs then wore the fNIRS caps with the child sitting on the mother’s lap while both watched animation clips from ‘Brave’, ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘The Incredibles’ together. The research team compared the mother’s and child’s brain activity to calculate brain-to-brain synchrony and found that for those parents reporting higher levels of parenting stress, the degree of mother-child synchrony in part of the prefrontal cortex was diminished, compared to those parents reporting lower stress who had better synchrony.
Islamabad/ Jeddah: Saudi Arabia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir will visit Pakistan on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the region with the top Pakistani leadership, amidst fresh Indo-Pak tensions over Kashmir. The Saudi minister will stay in Islamabad for a day and hold meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Geo News reported on Tuesday. The Saudi minister’s visit comes in the midst of spiralling tensions between India and Pakistan after New Delhi withdrew Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories. A statement issued by the Saudi embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday said that matters relating to bilateral relations between the two countries will also be discussed in the meetings.
New Delhi: Rising domestic rice prices have affected exports this year with shipment of the non-Basmati variety falling about 37 per cent or 10 lakh tonnes, over the previous year. Though Basmati rice exports have also declined 1.5 per cent, but experts don’t suggest price as reason behind it. Arvind Kumar Gupta, Director of the Basmati Export Development Institution that comes under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), told IANS, “Prices of non-Basmati rice are high in the country, which has affected its demand overseas. Exports have declined in the first four months of this financial year (FY20) against the corresponding period of FY19”. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal According to APEDA data, 17,06,891 tonnes of non-Basmati rice were exported in April-July of FY20 against 26,94,827 tonnes in the same period of FY19. The non-Basmati rice exports have declined around 9.88 lakh tonnes or 36.66 per cent. In value terms, it has declined by 36.30 per cent to Rs 48.16 crore over the smape period of FY19. Similarly, Basmati rice exports have declined by 1.42 lakh tonnes to 14.35 lakh tonnes between April and July against the year-ago period. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Vijay Setia, Chairman, All India Rice Exporters Association, said due to the high prices of non-Basmati rice its demand had soften in the foreign market. “The paddy is sold on the minimum support price (MSP) decided by the government, which pushes rates compared with other competitive countries”. Rise in local production in the importing countries is also the reason behind the falling demand. For instance, demand in Bangladesh has come down because of domestic production, said Setia. India is world’s top rice exporter, followed by Thailand and Vietnam. Pakistan also exports rice. “Countries, like Bangladesh, have to pay less shipping charges when they import rice from India. Therefore, high-prices don’t cost them much. But in the far away African countries, the situation is different. They purchase it from where they find it cheaper,” Gupta told IANS. There is a price difference of around $30 per tonne of non-Basmati rice between India and other nations. It meant that the domestic price was $30 per tonne higher, said Gupta.
WINNIPEG – Artists are reclaiming space in inner cities and on highways where many Indigenous women have suffered violence or disappeared.From June until August, the Resilience Project is putting the work of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards across the country to show Indigenous women are visible, powerful and should be celebrated.Two of the billboards will be on the Highway of Tears, a 700-kilometre stretch of road in northern British Columbia where numerous Indigenous women have been murdered or disappeared.The project, which includes photographs, paintings, and multimedia pieces, was produced by the Winnipeg centre Mentoring Artist for Women’s Art as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools.“Resilience for this project is not just the narrow dictionary definition. It’s embodied as endurance, adaptability and sovereignty. It’s strength. It’s not about being a victim,” said curator Lee-Ann Martin.“It’s about these women standing as defenders of their cultural sovereignty and proudly expressing that.”Racism and exclusion have been part of the development of Canada and Indigenous women specifically have been disenfranchised and misunderstood, Martin said. Indigenous women couldn’t vote federally until 1960, lost their status and rights when they married outside of their communities and, in the art world, their work was classified as crafts, she said.Artist KC Adams’s Winnipeg home is adorned with different photo portraits, each with a unique story. Adams said Indigenous women are often only defined through stereotypes.“I know a lot of incredible Indigenous females who are going out every day and showing how to lead a good life and yet they are labelled with this victimhood,” said Adams. “This is really a conversation starter on how we need to change our point of view.”The Cree and Ojibwa artist uses two images in her Perception photography series, which was initially displayed in Winnipeg, to contrast societal labels with ones Indigenous women give themselves.A black-and-white image shows an Indigenous woman and asks whether she is a victim. Another shows the same woman, with a big smile, describing her as a wife, researcher, homeowner and “softball player with a wicked arm.”The photos will be on billboards throughout the country and Adams said there is significance in placing them in areas where Indigenous women have faced discrimination and felt fear.“It’s super important that we reclaim these spaces and show a different point of view, different perspective and show how powerful we actually are and how we are leaders in our community.”Anishinaabe, Dakota and Métis artist Lita Fontaine said when she was beginning her career, no one talked about the trauma of residential schools and the ’60s Scoop, let alone how women experienced either.She said it was hard to gain respect as an Indigenous artist, but being included in such a large and visible exhibition is going to “change the landscape.”“It brings us in the forefront, finally, because we need to have that voice.”Her photograph titled “Mni Wiconi — Water Is Sacred” shows a 2016 demonstration opposing pipelines. Behind a large banner, people hold images of Thunderbird Woman, which Fontaine said has become a powerful symbol for the Indigenous environmental movement and for women.To Fontaine, resilience is all about “bouncing back, reclaiming and fighting for what you believe in within yourself and that culture you are from.“It’s innate. It’s just in us. It’s natural,” she said. “Resilience is my mother. It’s the grandmothers. Its kookums. It’s the daughters.”
Highlights from the news file for Friday, May 26———CANADA PUSHING FREE TRADE AND CLIMATE CHANGE AT G7: Canada will fight for the Paris agreement on climate change at the G7 summit in Sicily, even though President Donald Trump could back the U.S. out of the agreement. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says climate change is hugely important and Canada will fight for action to address the problem. She also says Canada is a trading nation and will always stand up for that.———CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES MAKE FINAL PITCH FOR VOTES: The 13 Conservative leadership hopefuls make their final appeal to party members before this weekend’s voting deadline. Most party members have already likely voted by mail-in ballots, though some people can still cast ballots in person Saturday at the Toronto convention site and at polling stations across the country.———NOVA SCOTIA ELECTION IN HOME STRETCH: It’s the final weekend of campaigning in the Nova Scotia election. The governing Liberals are sharpening up their attacks on the Conservatives, accusing them of not providing a fully costed campaign platform. The Conservatives meantime dismiss the accusation as a fabrication. Some polls suggest the possibility of a minority government, but all three major party leaders speculated little on the possibility.———ALBERTA WOMAN HELD AGAINST HER WILL CRASHES THROUGH WINDOW TO ESCAPE: Police in South Carolina say an Alberta woman who was being held against her will in a trailer crashed through a plate-glass window to escape. The woman had been enticed to the United States with the promise of modelling work. Police allege she was held captive and sexually assaulted after the man who persuaded her to come to the U.S. threatened her safety and the safety of her family in Canada. They said the ordeal lasted five days.———ONTARIO COMMUNITY LAUDED FOR PROTECTING TURTLES: An Ontario community is being held up as a good example of finding a way to prevent endangered reptiles from being killed. A causeway connecting Long Point on Lake Erie to mainland Ontario was ranked as the world’s fourth deadliest site for turtle road mortality in 2003. But the community has built roadway fencing and culverts to reduce the numbers of turtles and snakes dying on the causeway.———NEWFOUNDLAND TOWN TRIES TO GET RID OF WHALE REMAINS: Municipal officials in Outer Cove are trying to come up with a plan to get rid of the remains of a humpback whale that washed ashore this week. Officials in the town just north of St. John’s had hoped the remains would be washed out with the tide, but the carcass is beached. Mayor John Kennedy says disposing of the whale requires approval from different government agencies, but the smell is becoming a problem.———WOMAN WHO CARED FOR BABY MOOSE HEARTBROKEN ANIMAL WAS PUT DOWN: A Newfoundland woman who bottle-fed a baby moose after it got lost in the woods without its mother is heartbroken the local SPCA put the animal down. Brandi Calder said Friday she watched over the animal and contacted the SPCA, but once the agency picked up the moose, Calder said it was put down because a local nature park couldn’t take the calf.———GRANDE PLANS RETURN CONCERT IN MANCHESTER: American singer Ariana Grande says she will return to Manchester for a benefit concert to raise money for attack victims and their families. A suicide bomber killed 22 people and wounded scores of others minutes after Grande’s concert at the Manchester Arena ended on Monday night. Grande says details are still being finalized.———28 DEAD IN ATTACK IN EGYPT: The Vatican says Pope Francis is “saddened” by the “barbaric” attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt. In a condolence message sent on Friday to the Egyptian president, Francis said he’ll continue his “intercession for peace and reconciliation” throughout Egypt. Masked militants fired on a bus filled with Coptic Christians south of Cairo, killing at least 28 and wounding 22, the Egyptian Ministry said.———TREASURE HUNTERS SUSPECTED OF DIGGING HOLES IN B.C. CEMETERY: Some digging has been detected in the cemetery of a ghost town in southern British Columbia and a member of the local historical society believes it’s the work of misguided treasure hunters. Bob Sterne has tended the cemetery in the former gold rush town of Granite Creek for more than a decade and says it’s disturbing. He says he checked the area after the Victoria Day long weekend and was surprised to find 16 new but familiar shallow holes where the ground had been dug up and replaced.———
OTTAWA – Mike Duffy, the Senate and the RCMP are heading back to court with the senator seeking more than $7.8 million in damages stemming from the high-profile investigation, suspension, and court case about his expenses.Duffy filed a claim in Ontario Superior Court on Thursday that alleges his 2013 suspension by the Senate was unconstitutional and a violation of his charter rights and that the federal government is liable for the RCMP’s alleged negligence in its investigation.The claim alleges the combined actions almost brought Duffy to the brink of death and inflicted irreparable harm to his reputation, which will forever be linked to the Senate spending scandal and the political cover-up that accompanied questions about his spending.In a statement, Duffy said he, his family, and other senators who were “unfairly targeted” have suffered stress and serious financial damage and the Senate has shown no interest in correcting what he called its unjustified actions against him.“My civil action raises questions which go to the heart of our democracy,” the 71-year-old said in his statement.“If this action succeeds in bringing charter protections to all who work on Parliament Hill, this will be my greatest contribution to public life.”The Prince Edward Island senator landed in trouble in late 2012 when questions were first raised about housing expenses claimed against a home he had lived in for years before he was appointed to the Senate.In October 2013, the Senate suspended him without pay for two years. Duffy’s claim calls the decision “an unprecedented abuse of power” taken in the absence of any criminal charges. Those charges wouldn’t arrive until July 2014, when the RCMP filed 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery against him.In April 2016, Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt dismissed all the charges in a lengthy and dramatic ruling that said Duffy’s claims weren’t illegal,and that Duffy was forced to take a $90,000 payment from Nigel Wright, Stephen Harper’s then chief of staff, to pay off his politically problematic housing expenses, even though Duffy contended he had done nothing wrong.References to Wright, Harper and the previous Conservative government pepper Duffy’s 50-page claim, but they are not targets of his lawsuit. Duffy’s lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said it was the decision of the Senate to suspend Duffy that caused the ultimate harm, even if the Prime Minister’s Office influenced the outcome.“If the people of Canada want to put some blame for why this is happening, I think they should direct it to the top,” Greenspon said.Greenspon said RCMP investigators failed to give Duffy a chance to respond to the allegations he faced and appeared to ignore evidence that would have proved his innocence. The claim also alleges that the force decided to go after Duffy because he was a higher-profile target than Wright and that charging Wright could have weakened the case against Duffy.Greenspon said Duffy should have never been charged and that the actions of the RCMP and the Senate “ruined his life.”Since then, the Senate has denied Duffy’s requests for help covering legal fees or refunding the approximately $300,000 in salary he lost during his suspension. The Senate also clawed back $16,995 from his salary for seven expense claims Senate officials decided after trial shouldn’t have approved in the first place.“We have someone who has been through the public grinder and been through the criminal courts and despite all of that, the Senate still refuses to try in any way to make this man whole,” said Greenspon.The Senate and government must now file a statement of defence to respond to Duffy’s claims as part of a legal process that could take from two to five years, depending on whether the case goes to trial or is settled out of court.The Senate’s interim law clerk Jacqueline Kuehl said the upper chamber will not be commenting on the case until it is appropriate to do so.“As this is a matter before the courts, we will respect the process,” she said.Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s office also declined to comment for the same reason.
EDMONTON – A hearing to determine whether bail conditions for former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr should be eased allowing him unsupervised visits with his controversial sister did not go ahead as planned Thursday.It was put over to Sept. 15 after lawyers for the Justice Department said they needed time to consult with the federal government.“The Crown requested an adjournment to receive instructions,” Khadr’s lawyer Nate Whitling said Thursday. “We agreed and the matter’s been rescheduled.”Khadr is seeking unrestricted internet access and more freedom to move around Canada while on bail pending the appeal of his conviction by a U.S. military commission for five purported war crimes.Khadr, now 30, has been free on bail for more than two years and notes no issues have arisen since his release.Right now, he can only have contact with his sister Zaynab Khadr if one of his lawyers or bail supervisor is present.Several years ago, Zaynab and her mother infuriated many Canadians by expressing support for the al-Qaida terrorist group.In 2005, Zaynab was investigated by RCMP for allegedly aiding al-Qaida, but no charges were filed. She is now reportedly living in Sudan with her fourth husband, but is planning a visit to Canada. Khadr is arguing he wants to reconnect with his family and is old enough that he can’t be negatively swayed.Thursday’s hearing is the next phase in a 15-year legal journey for Khadr that has ignited sharp and divisive debate among Canadians over terrorism, human rights and the rule of law.The Toronto-born Khadr spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15 and accused of tossing a grenade that killed special forces soldier Christopher Speer at a militant compound in Afghanistan in 2002.In 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to multiple charges before a U.S. military commission, including to killing Speer, but has since said he can’t remember if he tossed the fatal grenade. He has said he entered the plea to try to get out of Guantanamo, where he says he was mistreated, and into the Canadian justice system.He returned to Canada in 2012 to serve out the rest of the eight-year sentence he was given.Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that Khadr’s charter rights were violated at Guantanamo and Canadian officials contributed to that violation.Khadr filed a $20-million lawsuit against the government and last month it was revealed he had settled the case for a reported $10.5 million. That set off a fierce debate.Khadr has said he wants to get on with his life. He recently married and plans to move to the city of Red Deer, halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, to begin studies to become a nurse.— With files from Colin Perkel in TorontoNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Khadr is 31.
TORONTO – Jim Cuddy shared the stage with fellow Canadian music star Gord Downie several times over their long careers, but it was a performance last February that was perhaps the most poignant.Cuddy and his band Blue Rodeo were performing at Toronto’s Massey Hall with opening act the Sadies when they invited Downie onstage at the last minute to perform the hit “Lost Together” as an encore.It had been nearly a year since Downie announced his diagnosis with an incurable form of brain cancer, but the singer-songwriter had shown herculean strength with a series of musical projects, a cross-country tour, and passionate advocacy on behalf of Indigenous Peoples. He was suffering from memory loss and didn’t know the lyrics to “Lost Together” but he seemed undaunted and full of life onstage.Cuddy never thought it would end up being Downie’s last public performance. He died Tuesday night at age 53.“I knew that he had a terminal illness but I guess I just thought Gord would be the one to at least stretch the limit,” an emotional Cuddy said during a phone interview.“I just didn’t realize the end was so near.”The encore performance, which is posted on YouTube, came on a night when there were three “iconic Gords” in the audience, said Cuddy. The others were actor Gordon Pinsent and musician Gordon Lightfoot.Travis Good of the Sadies invited Downie onstage and he obliged, wearing the outfit that became one of his signature looks in the final chapter of his life — a Canadian tuxedo of sorts with a tuque, jean jacket, hoodie and jeans.Holding a piece of paper with the lyrics to “Lost Together,” Downie sang along with the musicians for a bit before crumpling up the cheat sheet and taking in the audience.“He was standing beside me for a while and he was talking to me and he was just saying the most complimentary and loving things,” said Cuddy.“It was so sweet and I just said, ‘No, I’ll guide you, don’t worry. I know you don’t know the song.’”As it turned out, Cuddy forgot to guide him. But Downie charged on, improvising and even doing a little air guitar.“Gord was present and he knew what was going on,” said Cuddy. “He didn’t really know the song and he participated in this way that only an incredibly innate and gifted performer could.“He just suddenly walked to the mic during the piano solo and started to do this beautiful incantation and we were all stunned by how powerful it was.“It was very valiant to be up there.”After the show they had a “general celebration,” said Cuddy, noting fans were thrilled to see Downie there.“I think we were quite aware that it was a historic night,” said Cuddy. “Not that it was the end of anything but that it was a gathering of very close friends that had made their way in music and it was very beautiful.”Cuddy considered Downie a friend and felt they shared a special connection in the music scene. Both Blue Rodeo and the Hip had parallel success, becoming stars in Canada but not south of the border.“I have always used Gord as an example of why Canadian music is unique,” said Toronto-based Cuddy.“People always ask bands like the Hip, ourselves, ‘Why are you popular in Canada and not popular in the States?’ And I realized, because we’re different.”Downie was “incredibly important” to the Canadian music scene, Cuddy said, noting “he was an extremely good singer” who gave a unique expression to songs including “Ahead by a Century” and “Courage.”He was also “super funny,” he said, pointing to a showcase the two bands did along with the Eagles in Newfoundland.The Eagles were slated to perform last, after the Hip, and their manager Irving Azoff “was at the side of the stage gesturing to Gord to shorten his set.”“I was at the side of the stage just totally offended, like, ‘What are you doing?’” said Cuddy. “And Gord was laughing and laughing, spinning around, doing his show. It was just an amazing show.“Afterwards I said to him, ‘Didn’t that piss you off?’ He said, ‘I never thought in my life I’d have Irving Azoff telling me to shorten my set. It was awesome.’“I thought, ‘That’s so Gord, to see the humour in a messed up situation.’”
BATTLEFORD, Sask. – A Saskatchewan farmer on trial for the shooting of an Indigenous man says he was filled with terror in the moments before his gun “just went off.”Gerald Stanley told the jury in his second-degree murder trial Monday that he and his son heard an SUV with a flat tire drive into his farmyard near Biggar, Sask., in August 2016. He said they heard one of their all-terrain vehicles start and thought it was being stolen.Stanley testified they ran toward the SUV. He kicked the tail light and his son Sheldon hit the windshield with a hammer.Stanley said he grabbed a handgun, normally used to scare off wildlife, when the SUV didn’t leave the yard, and fired two or three shots into the air.“I thought I’m going to make some noise and hopefully they’re going to run out of the yard,” he told court. “I just raised the gun in the air and fired straight up.”Stanley said he popped out the cartridge “to make sure it was disarmed.”“As far as I was concerned, it was empty and I had fired my last shot.”He testified he went up to the SUV because he worried it had run over his wife and he tried to reach for the keys in the ignition.“I was reaching in and across the steering wheel to turn the key off and — boom — this thing just went off,” Stanley testified.“Was your finger on the trigger?” his lawyer, Scott Spencer, asked.“No,” Stanley answered.“Did you intend to hurt anyone?” Spencer asked.“No. I just wanted them to leave,” Stanley said. “I couldn’t believe what just happened and everything seemed to just go silent. I just backed away.”Colten Boushie, who was 22, was sitting in the driver’s seat of the grey Ford Escape when he was shot in the back of the head.Court has heard an SUV carrying Boushie, and five other people from the Red Pheasant First Nation, had a flat tire and drove onto the Stanley farm. The driver testified the group had been drinking during the day and tried to break into a truck on a neighbouring farm, but went to the Stanley property in search of help with the tire.Spencer told the jury in his opening statement earlier Monday that Boushie was the victim of “a freak accident that occurred in the course of an unimaginably scary situation.” He told jurors Boushie’s death wasn’t justified, but they must put themselves in Stanley’s shoes.“Is it unreasonable to fire warning shots when the intruders have tried to steal, taken a run at you with their vehicle, crashed into your vehicle — from Gerry’s perspective intentionally — almost run over your wife?” Spencer asked.“Is it reasonable to fire warning shots to get them to just leave? That’s what it comes down to in many ways.”Stanley was faced with intruders and didn’t have the luxury to wait for police, Spencer said.“This was not a justified death. This death is not justified legally or morally. It is never, never right to take somebody’s life with a gun. But that’s not what this case is about,” he argued.“This is really not a murder case at all. This is a case about what can go terribly wrong when you create a situation which is really of the nature of a home invasion. For farm people, your yard is your castle and that’s part of the story here.”Under cross-examination Crown prosecutor Bill Burge asked what was going on inside the car just before the shooting.“Was he looking at you? Were you trying to scare him?” he asked.“No. I was trying to scare them all out of the yard,” Stanley replied.“Did you intentionally shoot this person?” asked Burge.“No I didn’t. I didn’t pull the trigger,” said Stanley.Stanley was the last witness for the defence. Chief Justice Martel Popescul excused the jury until Thursday at which time they’ll hear closing arguments and receive his instructions.“At that point I turn it over to you, and at that point you would be sequestered until your deliberations are concluded,” Popescul said.Several people holding “Justice for Colten” signs waited outside of court.Boushie’s cousin was distraught.“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever seen and to have to sit there and endure,” said Jade Tootoosis.“All we want is justice for Colten.”Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version referred to the victim as an Indigenous teen.
REGINA – Rallies in Canadian cities that were sparked by the acquittal of a man accused of murdering an Indigenous teen in Winnipeg continued Saturday, including one that briefly blocked an intersection for a round dance.Marchers in Regina edged their way out into traffic at the intersection of Albert Street and Victoria Avenue as traffic zoomed past, and they eventually blocked all four sides while chanting “Justice for Tina” and “Tina’s Life Matters.”A half-dozen drummers and singers made their way to the centre. Then many of the people around the edge clasped hands for several minutes while the drumming and singing continued.“I choose not to feed hopelessness. I feed being hopeful,” Brenda Dubois told the crowd moments before they walked to the intersection.On Thursday, a jury in Winnipeg found Raymond Cormier not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, whose body was pulled from the Red River in the summer of 2014.Fontaine had been wrapped in a blanket and weighed down by rocks.Hundreds marched in Winnipeg the following day, where Indigenous leaders reiterated that social services and the justice system are failing Indigenous youth.Fontaine was in government care and was staying at a hotel when she disappeared.Dubois, whose grandmother, as well as friends, were murdered in Regina, said it’s time for social services to return Indigenous children. She told the event on Saturday there are more kids in the care of social services than were in residential schools.“You know what they’re doing now? They’re taking away the children of the children they raised,” she said.Cormier admitted on undercover police tapes that he had sex with the teen and was heard saying he bet Tina was killed because he found out she was only 15.The defence had argued that the tapes were hard to hear, that the transcriptions could be wrong and that Cormier’s denial to police of any involvement was the real truth.There was no DNA evidence linking him to Tina and experts could not determine how she died.Rallies were also held Saturday in Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria.Signs at many of the rallies also called for “Justice for Colten,” linking Cormier’s acquittal with a similar one earlier this month in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Indigenous man Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan.A sign that was held up at the Vancouver event on Saturday said: “Canada is a serial killer of Indigenous people.”
A Calgary senior is dead after falling out of his canoe north of Ottawa.Police say two men and their dog were in the watercraft Wednesday when it tipped on Little Lake in Northern Ontario.Merlin Bergeron, 83, failed to make it to shore and died at the scene.A 56-year-old from Ottawa made it safely to shore along with the dog.Both men were wearing life jackets.