New Delhi: Can private information of officials held by the government be provided after 20 years as per the Right to Information statutes?The Central Information Commission (CIC) has decided to constitute a full-bench to adjudicate the crucial matter on a petition of a convict in the 2006 Mumbai train blast case. Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui, who has been sentenced to death in the case, approached the Commission after his RTI application seeking a copy of UPSC forms and other records of 12 IPS officers listed by him, was rejected by the Union Home Ministry. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The ministry invoked privacy clause of the Right To Information (RTI) Act which exempts from disclosure personal information of an individual. Siddiqui, who has been claiming that he was wrongly framed in the blasts case, said the records sought by him are over 20 years old from the date of filing of his RTI application in 2018. He cited Section 6(3) of the RTI Act which says any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened 20 years before the date on which any request is made under Section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under that section. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHowever, this clause allowing disclosure is limited to three types of records under ‘exempted clause’ pertaining to–strategic importance and national interest, breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature, and cabinet papers including records of deliberations of Council of Ministers, secretaries and other officers. “Subject to the provisions of clauses (a), (c) and (i) of sub-section (1), any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened 20 years before the date on which any request is made under Section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under that section,” it says. It further says where any question arises as to the date from which the said period of 20 years has to be computed, the decision of the Central Government shall be final, subject to the usual appeals provided for in this Act. The Home Ministry said the Supreme Court of India in plethora of cases has held that the ‘right to privacy’ is a constitutional right, and hence, this right cannot be overruled by any Act. “The Commission, after hearing the submissions of both the parties and perusing the records, observes that the issue before the Commission is as to whether by virtue of the provisions contained under sub-section (3) of Section 8 of the RTI Act, the personal information which is in the custody of a public authority is to be disclosed under RTI application after lapse of 20 years,” Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava said. PTI
Dehradun: A suspension bridge will be built on the Ganga in Rishikesh before the ‘Kumbh Mela’ of 2021 as an alternative to the iconic Lakshman Jhula, which was closed last month because of its dilapidated condition, an official said Saturday. A suspension bridge with a span of 150 metres meant for pedestrians will be built close to the iconic Lakshman Jhula as its substitute, Additional Chief Secretary Om Prakash said. A site for the bridge on the upper stream side of Lakshman Jhula has been identified by the PWD and an amount of more than Rs 3 crore has been sanctioned for initial work related to the project, he said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “We have set ourself the target of completing the construction of the bridge before the 2021 Kumbh Mela,” the official said, adding that the iconic bridge will be preserved as a British-era legacy. The 90-year-old bridge was shut on July 12 for safety reasons after experts found that the loading capacity of its components had come down drastically over the years making it unfit for use. Locals and traders protested its closure before the start of the ‘Kanwar Mela’. However, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had assured representatives from the area that an alternative bridge will soon be built on the Ganga.
New Delhi: CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday reminded the country of its diversity and the need to hold on to it while wishing the nation on its 73rd Independence Day.He said safeguarding the “fundamentals” of the country was essential.”We must never forget that all Indians are equal and free, irrespective of the language they speak, the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the person they marry, the god they pray to (or don’t) or the colour of their skin.”Happy Independence Day! We must resolve to safeguard the fundamentals of our Republic secular democracy, federalism and social justice,” he said.
New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced a slew of measures, including the rollback of enhanced super-rich tax on foreign and domestic equity investors, exemption of start-ups from ‘angel tax’, a package to address distress in the auto sector and upfront infusion of Rs 70,000 crore to public sector banks, in efforts to boost economic growth from a five-year low.To bolster consumption, the government also said banks have decided to cut interest rates, a move that would lead to lower EMIs for home, auto and other loans. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsWhile the applicability of higher income tax surcharge on those earning more than Rs 2 crore a year has been withdrawn for foreign and domestic equity market investors, demand for auto sector was sought to be raised by a slew of measures. The steps include a plan to encourage scrapping of old vehicles and removal of the ban on government departments in buying new petrol/ diesel vehicles. In a bid to give fillip to job-creating Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Sitharaman said pending GST refunds would be done within 30 days, while startups — a major avenue for employment and new entrepreneurship — would be exempt from so-called ‘angel tax’. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayShe also announced an immediate infusion of Rs 70,000 crore into banks to boost their liquidity and lending capacity of banks by Rs 5 lakh crore while housing finance companies would get up to Rs 30,000 crore with a view to revive the real estate sector. India’s GDP growth plummeted to nearly five-year low of 5.8 per cent in January-March and it is widely believed that the growth might not have picked up in the first quarter of the current fiscal also. The auto sector is facing the worst crisis in about 20 years and reports suggest job losses in thousands. In the real estate space, the number of unsold homes has increased while fast-moving consumer goods companies have reported a decline in volume growth and lending to job-creating MSMEs by banks has actually slipped. Sitharaman said banks would be required to link lending rates to the Reserve Bank of India’s benchmark rate in order to accelerate the transmission of the central bank’s policy easing. Till now, banks generally lagged in transmitting RBI’s reduction in repo rates to borrowers. So far this year, RBI has cut interest rates by 110 basis points in four installments but banks have passed only a part of it to borrowers. Before the last reduction, earlier this month of 35 basis points, the bank on an average had passed only 29 basis points out of 75 basis points cut affected during 2019. SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar said bank recapitalisation at one go would provide a big impetus to credit growth. The lender has already started benchmarking its loans to repo and now other banks are likely to follow suit, he added. “The enhanced surcharge on FPI goes, in simple words,” she said. “In other words, the pre-budget position is restored.” Giving relief to start-ups, Sitharaman said angel tax provisions would not be applicable on them and their investors. For the auto sector, she doubled depreciation to 30 per cent and lifted the ban on government departments to buy new vehicles. BS-IV vehicles purchased till March 31, 2020, before the country switches to lower-emitting BS-VI vehicles, would continue to be operational valid for till their registration period. The Finance Minister also assured the industry that tax authorities will not “overreach” in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message of respecting wealth creators. Income tax notices and orders would be only issued through a centralised system to curb harassment. Also, violation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations would not be treated as a criminal offence and only as a civil liability, the minister said. Industry players had raised concerns about penal provisions in the Companies Act, 2013 for non-compliance with CSR requirements. Other measures announced to boost the economy include setting up of an entity for credit enhancement for infrastructure and housing projects, a task force to finalise the pipeline of infrastructure projects and simplification of Know Your Client (KYC) procedure to improve market access for foreign investors.
Dharamsala: The Himachal Cricket Association on Tuesday announced that the refund of the tickets of the abandoned first T20 International match between India and South Africa will begin from Thursday. The T20I between India and South Africa here on September 15 was abandoned due to heavy rain without a single ball being bowled. Since the toss was also not held, the viewing public is entitled to get a refund of their tickets. The HPCA said the refund to the customers who bought tickets off-line through the official stadium Box office at gate 1 will be done from September 19 to 22. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe customers will have to produce their physical tickets along with their government-issued photo ID proof to claim the refunds at the stadium Box Office from 10 am to 7pm. The HPCA said that if the tickets were purchased though card payment at the sale box, one must carry that physical card with which the payment was made to get the refund. A maximum number of four tickets per person shall be refunded as was the rule during purchase too. The refund of tickets of West Stand (West 1, 2 & 3), Pavilion Terrace and Corporate Boxes will also be done on Thursday. Tickets of East Stand (East 1, 2 & 3) and Club Lounge Pavilion will be refunded on Friday. The refund of tickets of North Stand, North Pavilion and North West will be done on Saturday and Sunday. Customers who have bought tickets online from paytm.com and/or insider will get back their money within 10 12 working days from Tuesday onwards and refunds will be credited to their original mode of payment. The refund of the tickets will be made for the face value of the ticket only.
SAINT-HYACINTHE, Que. – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer rallied his troops in Quebec on Sunday, promising them there would be more former Bloc Quebecois members joining their ranks.In a speech at a party meeting in Saint-Hyacinthe, he told some 400 supporters there would be more new members like Michel Gauthier, the former Bloc Quebecois leader who announced Saturday he was now a card-carrying Conservative party member.In a 15-minute closing speech, Scheer reached out to both Quebec nationalists “who are fed up with squabbles” as well as federalists “who can no longer stand (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau living in his Care Bear world.”“When we’re proud to be Conservative, we know how to welcome into our big family all those who previously voted for other parties in thinking that it would give Quebec a stronger voice,” he said.“Proud to be Conservative, that’s also to be nationalist, to be proud Quebecers and proud Canadians.”Over the weekend, a focus of the Conservative party members was on how to build on the gains in Quebec from the last election, when they went from seven to 12 seats in the province. They now have 11 following a 2017 byelection loss.Scheer made it clear that some of that support could come from defecting members of the Bloc Quebecois, which has been in disarray since seven of the party’s 10 members of Parliament quit in February over differences with their current leader.In his speech, he pointed to Gauthier’s recruitment and highlighted the presence of the mayor of Trois-Rivieres — who has said he is considering to run as a candidate for the party in the next federal election — as a sign of things to come.“Trust me, the Michel Gauthiers and the Yves Levesques, there will be several more,” he said.Scheer reserved much of his speech for attacks on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who he accused of prioritizing socialist ideas rather than the interests of the middle class.He pointed to disagreements between Quebec and Ottawa over some aspects of marijuana legalization as proof of the prime minister’s “federalism of confrontation” and a sign he is ignoring Quebec.Over the weekend, party members also passed several resolutions, including a proposal to change the tax system to allow Quebecers to fill out a single return instead of filing both federally and provincially.In the news conference following the speech, Scheer said he was open to the proposal, saying he’s in favour of any ideas that reduce paperwork.
Canadian teen tennis sensation Denis Shapovalov had the biggest win of his young career on Thursday night when he upset top-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the round of 16 at the Rogers Cup.While the 18-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native’s profile — not to mention his world ranking of 143 — is sure to climb thanks to his success in Montreal, he’s still a relatively new face on the ATP Tour.Here are five things to help Canadian tennis fans get to know the budding star:HE’S MADE HISTORY … A FEW TIMES: The win over Nadal put Shapovalov into the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup, making him the youngest player to advance to the tournament’s final eight since Bjorn Borg in 1974. He’s also the youngest quarter-finalist ever at an ATP Masters event, the highest level on the pro tour. In 2016, he became just the second Canadian to win the Wimbledon boys singles title. Filip Peliwo in 2012 was the first.—HE’S A LEFTY: Like tennis greats John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Jimmy Connors and Nadal, Shapovalov is left-handed. But being a southpaw may not give him the same advantage it gave some of his predecessors. Technical advances in rackets and court surfaces as well as a changes in game strategy and the rise of the two-handed backhand have levelled the playing field in recent years.—HE’S BEEN COMPARED TO ROGER FEDERER: Tennis analyst Craig O’Shannessy once described the young Canadian as “a left-handed version of Federer, with that one-handed backhand,” according to the Telegraph in Britain. O’Shannessy also said there is “no ceiling” for Shapovalov, and praised his “great energy and rapport with the crowd.” He’s certainly made an impression this week in Montreal, with Wayne Gretzky and star swimmer Penny Oleksiak among his boosters in the stands.—HE RECENTLY CHANGED COACHES: Before the start of the season, his first full campaign as a pro, Shapovalov split with his coach Adriano Fuorivia, who he had worked with for more than four years. Canadian Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau was hired as his replacement. Shapovalov said earlier this year that he and Fuorivia are on good terms despite parting ways. “Adriano thought that someone with more experience like Marty would be a good benefit to my team,” he said. “It was nothing that happened between us, it was just more of a decision that we made together.”—HE’S STILL A KID: Shapovalov showed a flash of immaturity when a ball he carelessly hit in frustration during a Davis Cup match in February struck a chair umpire in the eye. He dealt with the fallout like a man however, making no excuses for the incident, saying he lost control of his emotions and behaved unprofessionally. While he apologized to the umpire, his teammates and tennis fans, the International Tennis Federation didn’t let him off the hook. He was fined US$7,000.
OTTAWA – A government bill that is supposed to increase transparency for Canadians would actually do the opposite, the federal information watchdog said Thursday.In a report presented to Parliament, information commissioner Suzanne Legault said the bill to amend the Access to Information Act would take people’s right to know backwards rather than forward.Legault, an ombudsman for users of the access act, has long advocated strengthening the 34-year-old law that allows people who pay a $5 application fee to ask for federal files ranging from expense reports to briefing papers.The Trudeau government says its proposed access legislation, introduced in June, will raise the bar on openness and transparency following years of inaction by the previous Conservative government.But in her first substantive comments on the legislation, Legault said the measures fail to deliver on Liberal election promises. “If passed, it would result in a regression of existing rights.”The bill severely limits the right of access by creating new hurdles for requesters and giving agencies new authorities to refuse to answer requests, Legault says.“It will make things significantly worse, and this is what’s so disheartening,” she said in an interview. “There was such an opportunity.”Legault makes 28 recommendations to improve the legislation.A coalition of leading civil society organizations, including Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Halifax-based Centre for Law and Democracy, called Thursday for the government to withdraw the “inadequate” bill and start over.Conservative and New Democrat MPs have also criticized the legislation for falling short of Liberal promises.Jean-Luc Ferland, a spokesman for Treasury Board President Scott Brison, defended the bill Thursday as the first real advancement for the law since it took effect in 1983. But he added: “In our discussions with the commissioner, we have come to understand that clearer language may help allay her concerns.”During recent House of Commons debate on the bill, Brison also signalled some flexibility.“Now more than ever, open government is good government,” he said. “We want to work with parliamentarians, independent officers of Parliament and stakeholders to ensure that this first major Access to Information Act reform in three decades reflects that intention.”Under the access act, departments and agencies must answer requests within 30 days or provide a good reason why more time is necessary. Many applicants complain about lengthy delays in processing requests as well as blacked-out passages — or entire pages — in records that are eventually released.In addition, dozens of agencies with federal ties fall outside the act.The government has not fulfilled its promise to extend the law to the offices of the prime minister, cabinet members, senators, MPs and administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts, Legault said.Instead, these offices and institutions would be required to regularly release certain types of records, such as hospitality and travel expenses and contract information.Such a scheme allows government to decide what information Canadians can obtain, rather than letting requesters decide for themselves, Legault said. It also denies the commissioner any oversight of the process.In addition, the bill backpedals on a promise to give the information commissioner genuine power to make orders about the release of records, the report said. “It does not take advantage of any of the benefits of a true order-making model.”Although the commissioner would have new authority to issue orders about the release of records and additional time taken to answer requests, federal agencies could challenge those orders in wide-ranging Federal Court hearings, which often go on for years.Legault criticized provisions that would allow an agency to refuse to process a request unless the applicant stated the type of record being sought, the subject matter and the time-frame in which the documents were created — criteria she called unreasonable.For instance, a requester might not know the date a tax audit or immigration file they seek was created — but that missing information could disqualify the request.“This is a bill that was drafted by the government for the government,” Legault said in the interview. “This is all about reducing the workload of the government in answering — or not answering — requests.”The bill also reintroduces the possibility of various processing fees that were scrapped last year.Determining fee amounts and collecting payments adds complexity to the system and slows things down for requesters, Legault’s report said.“Fees cause undue delays, lead to abuse, increase costs in the administration of the act, and are inconsistent with an open by default government. Fees should be definitively eliminated.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
VANCOUVER – Every year, on the anniversary of Robert Dziekanski’s death, Zofia Cisowski lays red and white roses and prays at the spot where her son died in Vancouver’s airport in 2007.She was just there on Oct. 14, marking 10 years since he died tragically after being jolted by a police Taser.On Monday, after Canada’s top court dismissed the appeals of two men convicted of perjury in connection with the incident, Cisowski said her annual visits will feel different.“My son was so good to me. He loved me so much. He was my life, and it has been a very long, hard journey for me,” she said through tears.“I was waiting for this news (for) 10 years. I had no life,” she said in an interview from her home in Kamloops, B.C. “Until now, there wasn’t justice for Robert. But today, I think differently. I am so, so happy. … I feel like I’m alive again.”The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeals immediately after hearing them. Because the justices ruled from the bench, formal reasons for their decision were not immediately available.Kwesi Millington and Benjamin (Monty) Robinson were among four Mounties charged with perjury following a public inquiry into the death of Dziekanski, who was in the process of emigrating from Poland to live with his mother in Kamloops.A bystander’s video played at the public inquiry and viewed millions of times on social media showed four RCMP officers approaching a troubled Dziekanski at the airport. Within minutes, he was jolted several times with a Taser and lay dead on the floor.The officers told the inquiry they perceived Dziekanski as a threat when he picked up a stapler.The inquiry’s commissioner, Thomas Braidwood, said in his 470-page report that the officers approached the scene as if they were responding to a “barroom brawl.” He said they failed to reassess the situation when it became clear they were dealing with a distraught traveller who didn’t speak English, rather than the drunk, violent man they’d anticipated.Millington, who fired the Taser, and Robinson, who was the senior officer at the scene, were found guilty in B.C. Supreme Court of colluding to make up testimony presented at the inquiry.The Crown’s case, based on circumstantial evidence, alleged the officers first concocted a story to tell investigators and then lied at the public inquiry to cover it up.Millington and Robinson were convicted, while Bill Bentley and Gerry Rundell were both acquitted of the charge.Millington was sentenced to 30 months in prison and Robinson was handed a jail term of two years less a day, one year of probation and 240 hours of community service.Both men separately appealed their convictions, arguing that the trial judge made a mistake in assessing the evidence against them.B.C.’s Court of Appeal upheld their convictions.In Millington’s appeal, Justice David Harris said that the constable was simply asking the court to reinterpret the evidence and draw different inferences from it.Millington’s lawyer, Glen Orris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Cisowski, 70, recalled how excited she had been for her son to arrive in Canada 10 years ago. She had lined up a job and English classes for him, and the two were to have a “perfect life” together, she said.“I was friend, mother, father, everything for him,” she sobbed.Cisowski said she would have liked to see the officers face more serious charges, and for all four to be convicted, but she still felt happy to have some form of justice for her son.“Anything is good for me,” she said. “It is time to go to jail for them. I know now the justice system works for victims.”— With files from James McCarten in Ottawa
WASHINGTON – Donald Trump promised to govern for America’s forgotten men and women; yet he promoted a tax reform plan on Wednesday that independent analysts say does the exact opposite, transferring tens of billions of dollars in wealth up the income ladder.The president claimed at a rally in Missouri that the tax plan would be great for the little guy, while clobbering rich guys like him: “It’s gonna cost me a fortune, this thing. Believe me, believe me, this is not good for me.”Analysts are piling on to pummel that analysis.The plan would immediately hike taxes on nine per cent of lower-income Americans, and within a decade hurt the lower 50 per cent of income earners, according to new analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.The congressional budget watchdog joined in. It found the poorest Americans would immediately be worse off, and said things would worsen with time: By 2027, it found the treasury would collect about US$60 billion more annually from people earning under $75,000, while disbursing $20 billion more to the upper classes.In other words, it would be bad for the deficit; terrible for lower-income Americans; and great for Trump.A pair of bills before Congress would drastically reduce corporate taxes; either eliminate or weaken the tax on multimillionaire estates; reduce personal income taxes generally; and eliminate Obamacare health provisions.“When folks find out what’s in this bill there’s going to be a day of reckoning,” Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson told the chamber on Wednesday.Republicans are advancing different versions of the bill through the House and Senate, and a GOP lawmaker publicly revealed one reason for the urgency: Chris Collins said his wealthy donors have demanded it, and told him not to bother asking for donations again if he can’t get it done.Republicans say the problems can be addressed with time.One reason the bills become gradually more punitive for the working classes is the use of a procedural tactic. The U.S. Senate has a rule that allows bills to pass with a simple majority — but only if it doesn’t worsen the long-term deficit.So to design a bill that might pass with just the support of Republicans, instead of requiring the normal 60 per cent vote in the Senate, the majority party stuffed it with provisions that expire gradually.Republicans argue that the provisions benefiting the lower classes can be re-introduced later.One permanent aspect of these bills involves corporate tax cuts, and it’s of particular interest to Canada’s economy. According to analysis from Scotiabank, it would leave Canada and the U.S. with similar corporate tax rates.The U.S.’s currently high corporate taxes would be reduced to a marginal effective rate of about 21.7 per cent, combining federal and state taxes. That’s just a shade higher than Canada’s federal-provincial combined marginal-effective rate of 20 per cent.That would be a big change; Canadian companies currently enjoy a nearly 15 percentage point effective tax advantage over their U.S. competitors.“Any … advantage we might have had will be erased,” said Brett House, Scotiabank’s deputy chief economist.“We’d be pretty much on par.”House said that could spur a push in Canada for additional corporate tax cuts.The chief economist at BMO says there would be a dual effect on Canada.“Some of it is good news, some not so good news,” Douglas Porter said.On the one hand, he anticipates a boost in short-term spending and growth, and an increase in the U.S. dollar, all of which could boost Canadian exports. On the other hand, he said Canada could lose its long-term advantage on corporate taxes, compounded by uncertainty on the trade front.House agreed the bills would have a mixed effect on Canada.As a general rule of thumb, his bank’s models imply that for every one percentage point increase in U.S. GDP growth rates, Canadian GDP grows an additional 0.5 per cent. However, some critics of the bill have questioned whether much economic growth will be squeezed by cutting taxes, primarily on the wealthy.More bullish economists have suggested the tax plans could expand the U.S. economy up to 4 per cent over a decade, or 0.4 per cent per year — while other analysts say the growth would be closer to zero.
OTTAWA – Ottawa has set aside nearly 60 square kilometres of seabed off the coast of Nunavut to keep gawkers and scavengers away from one of Canada’s most famous shipwrecks.The HMS Terror is one of two ships from the Franklin expedition which became trapped in ice in the Arctic in 1845, ultimately leading to the deaths of all 129 men on board, including expedition leader Sir John Franklin.The location of the wrecked ships were one of Canada’s greatest unsolved mysteries until September 2014, when the first of the two ships, the HMS Erebus was found south of King William Island.The HMS Terror was found almost exactly two years later, in September 2016, north of the HMS Erebus.Both ships are in pristine condition despite resting beneath the sea for more than 170 years and the artifacts which remain have immense value.In October, the United Kingdom said it would transfer ownership of the ships and their contents to Canada.Earlier this month, the federal cabinet ordered the National Historic Sites of Canada be amended to add 57.8 square kilometres of seabed encompassing the HMS Terror.“An area of this size is required to prevent access and activities directed at the wreck, and to protect underwater historical resources related to the wreck,” reads the order in council published last week.“The size of the area would protect any underwater debris and artifacts dispersed around the wreck, make it difficult for unauthorized individuals to approach the wreck, and facilitate monitoring of the site.”A similar order was made for the sea bed around the HMS Erebus in 2015.Nobody is currently allowed to visit the sites without permission. Not that getting there would be easy.King William Island is more than 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, and boasts just one, small settlement — the Inuit hamlet of Gjoa Haven — on its southeast edge.The HMS Terror lies 24 metres beneath the surface of the water in Terror Bay. The HMS Erebus is 11 metres below the surface.On the Parks Canada website dedicated to the wrecks, the “getting here” tab paints an unappealing picture of making the trip.It says while the region offers “spectacular scenery, wildlife and opportunities to experience Inuit culture” it also comes with “a host of dangers” including remoteness, limited access to help for anyone who runs into trouble, unpredictable river crossings, high winds, and polar bears.“You must be self-reliant and responsible for your own safety,” the site says.Inuit guardians were posted at both wreck sites throughout the ice-free season to protect them. The sites are also monitored with help from the RCMP, Department of National Defence, Transport Canada, the Canadian Space Agency, and the Canadian Coast Guard.Longer term protection is in development for a permanent Inuit guardians program, and for the eventual ability of people to visit the sites.— follow @mrabson on Twitter.
The Canadian Press SYDNEY, N.S. — A Cape Breton community has leaped into action following the sudden closure of a Sydney call centre that left nearly 700 people without jobs just three weeks before Christmas.In the wake of the ServiCom facility closure announced Thursday — following weeks of pay delays — another local business has decided to forgo its Christmas party, opting instead to donate the funds set aside for the bash to help the employees left stunned and jobless by the move.Seaside Communications, a telecommunications company based out of nearby Reserve Mines, has donated $10,000 to The Salvation Army Sydney Community Church, which is working to assist those affected through its food bank and Christmas assistance program.Seaside Communications CEO Loran Tweedie says the team decided to donate the money because of the “profound impact” the closure had on the tightly knit community.In an email, Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education spokeswoman Shannon Kerr said the department has launched an investigation into the situation and is making it a priority.Nova Scotia Business Minister Geoff MacLellan offered a glimmer of hope for the affected staff on Friday, saying he was confident the call centre had a “bright future” after speaking with a prospective buyer Friday morning.
SUNDRE, Alta. — A former Alberta MP known for his cowboy hat and controversial positions on a number of issues has died.Myron Thompson — who supported the American-led war in Iraq, opposed gun laws and same-sex marriage, and argued for stronger animal protection and child pornography legislation — was 82.Thompson served as an MP for the Wild Rose riding from 1993, first for the Reform Party and later for the Conservatives, until he stepped down in 2008.Jason Nixon, a United Conservative provincial politician who knew Thompson, says the former MP’s family pastor informed him Sunday of the death on behalf of Thompson’s wife, Dot.“I don’t think anybody, no matter what side of the political argument that you may have been on with Myron,… would ever doubt that he loved the people that he represented,” Nixon said in a phone interview, noting that Thompson had been fighting cancer.“He got up each day and fought for them the best way that he knew how.”Thompson’s positions and controversial comments frequently garnered national attention.When the Reform Party passed a policy at its national convention in 1994 to deny family benefits to same-sex couples, Thompson said, “I do not hate homosexuals — I hate homosexuality.”In 2001, he told question period that he felt too many RCMP officers were patrolling national parks searching for poachers instead of hunting in cities for terrorists. At the start of the U.S. war in Iraq, Thompson, whose son Dennis was a U.S. combat soldier in Iraq, told a pro-American demonstration in Calgary that Canada should be supporting the war.And when controversy erupted in 2006 over a decision to bar media from the base where the bodies of Canadian soldiers were arriving from Afghanistan, Thompson declared he would shoot any media if they tried to come on site to cover a dead son of his.”I do speak my mind and that’s never changed,” Thompson said in a 2006 interview for a story about whether Conservative MPs felt muzzled by their party.He was born in Colorado and said he’d once tried out for the New York Yankees. He moved to Canada in 1968 and served as mayor of Sundre, Alta., before moving on to the federal scene, later returning to municipal politics in the town after his time as an MP.In 2004, when U.S. president George W. Bush visited Ottawa, Thompson met with him to tell him there were Canadians who supported the war in Iraq.According to Thompson, the president thanked him and also wanted to know if Thompson was from Bush’s home state.”Bush said, ‘I really like you. You are a straight-shooter. Are you sure you’re not from Texas?’” Thompson recalled after the meeting.In 2007, Thompson presented a petition to Parliament with 110,000 signatures calling for tougher laws against animal cruelty. The names had been collected by Tamara Chaney of Didsbury, Alta., who was outraged after a horrific case of animal abuse involving a family dog. “He was passionate about animals. He was one of the most gentle people that I’ve ever seen when you watched him interact with animals … so that’s something he fought for,” Nixon said.Numerous former colleagues issued statements of condolence on Sunday.“Myron Thompson was a colourful and straightforward Westerner who well served the West, his constituents, and the country as a member of parliament,” former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning said in an emailed statement. “Sincere condolences to Dot and the rest of his family, with deepest thanks for sharing Myron with us.”Jason Kenney, a former Conservative cabinet minister who now leads Alberta’s United Conservative Party, said there’s a long list of people who loved Thompson.“It was a privilege to serve with Myron in Parliament. A true character, Myron will be deeply missed,” Kenney said on Twitter.—By Rob Drinkwater in EdmontonThe Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The case of a Canadian man accused of trying to spy for China is once again tied up in mysterious closed-door proceedings over confidential information.It has been more than five years since Qing Quentin Huang was arrested in Burlington, Ont., following an RCMP-led investigation called Project Seascape.Huang, an employee of Lloyd’s Register, a subcontractor to Irving Shipbuilding Inc., was charged under the Security of Information Act with attempting to communicate secrets to a foreign power.Police said the information related to elements of the federal shipbuilding strategy, which includes patrol ships, frigates, naval auxiliary vessels, science research vessels and ice breakers.Huang, who claims innocence, is free on bail.But the engineer’s criminal trial in Ontario court has been delayed as legal tussles over disclosure of information in the case play out in the Federal Court of Canada, the venue for deciding how much sensitive material can be kept under wraps.Ottawa recently filed a new application in Federal Court to shield information related to Huang’s case, although, given the nature of the proceedings, it is unclear precisely what the application is about.It comes two years after Huang asked a federal judge to release additional portions of a heavily redacted affidavit and warrant that authorized the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to intercept telecommunications at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa.Huang was not a target of the warrant and had never been under CSIS investigation.However, the spy service advised the RCMP of phone calls Huang allegedly made to the embassy and claimed he “offered to provide Canadian military secrets” to the Chinese government. That prompted the police investigation resulting in Huang’s arrest.Huang contends the warrant opened the door to a breach of his charter guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure.His effort to find out more about the warrant continues after winding all the way to the Supreme Court, then back to the Federal Court for further consideration.Huang’s case grinds along amid fractured relations between Ottawa and Beijing. Canadian authorities arrested a Chinese executive of Huawei Technologies in Vancouver last year in response to a request from Washington, and China subsequently detained, then charged, two Canadians for alleged security infractions.Ottawa is also weighing the potential security risk of allowing Huawei, which employs hundreds of people in Canada, to help build the country’s next-generation 5G mobile networks.In a letter last year to the Supreme Court, Huang’s lawyer, Frank Addario, suggested the prolonged wrangling over document disclosure was endangering his client’s right to timely justice.The strict secrecy surrounding procedures for deciding disclosure mean Addario is excluded from closed-door hearings that deal with confidential material.A lawyer serving as amicus curiae — literally, a friend of the court — has been appointed to “represent the interests of justice” in these proceedings.A recent Federal Court order says the amicus will be allowed to present issues, arguments and evidence favouring Huang, as he sees fit, as well as challenge and respond to secret evidence from government lawyers.Addario wanted something more — an order obliging the amicus to act as if he were counsel for Huang.“This will reduce potential breaches of Mr. Huang’s fair trial rights and his liberty interest,” Addario argued in a submission to the court.Federal lawyers objected to the suggestion, saying the amicus is there to help the court, and “cannot also be obliged to represent and protect Mr. Huang’s interests.”— Follow @JimBronskill on TwitterJim Bronskill , The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Export Development Canada says an independent review has cleared its personnel of any wrongdoing after a claim that its staff turned a blind eye to bribery and corruption in a 2011 transaction involving SNC-Lavalin.The Crown corporation launched a three-month probe after CBC News reported allegations by an unnamed SNC-Lavalin insider stating it was well known within the engineering firm that “technical fees” in its proposals included cash earmarked for local consultants or agents.The source alleged these technical fees can amount to millions of dollars and should have been detected by EDC personnel as they evaluated SNC-Lavalin’s application for support on a project in Africa.EDC, which acts as a credit agency for Canadian firms looking to do business abroad, provided SNC-Lavalin with between $250 million and $500 million worth of “political risk insurance” for its deal to work on the Matala Dam in Angola.A spokeswoman for the Crown corporation says it’s only providing statements on the review’s findings and cannot release the report itself because it contains confidential commercial information.The probe conducted by the law firm Fasken involved interviews with EDC staff as well as a review of 1.7 million records related to SNC-Lavalin and the project.“Fasken did not find any evidence that EDC personnel had knowledge of, or were wilfully blind to, bribery and corruption in relation to the project as had been alleged,” the Crown corporation said in a statement.The law firm, EDC says, is conducting an additional review of its transaction screening process.A spokeswoman for SNC-Lavalin declined to comment on the CBC report when it came out last spring, except to say the allegation in the story dated back to prior to 2012. The company has argued that despite past bad behaviour by some executives, it has cleaned house.Earlier this year, the beleaguered Montreal-based firm was at the heart of a political controversy that engulfed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government for months.Trudeau lost two senior cabinet ministers, a top aide and the country’s top public servant as a result of allegations that his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was improperly pressured by the Prime Minister’s Office last fall to halt a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.The prime minister has denied his officials acted inappropriately.Since the winter, a number of public opinion polls have suggested support for the Liberals slid following the SNC-Lavalin affair.Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press
Chrissie Hynde has released a new music video inspired by the love of a dog.Video: Chrissie Hynde’s ‘You or No One’ Video“We’ve all heard plenty of songs about relationships, both good and bad. But in my personal experience — and that of seemingly everyone I know — the lifetime of devotion that dogs give is incomparable to that of humans,” Chrissie blogged for PETA. “My new music video, which was filmed in Spain, tells a love story between a man and his dog. After seeing the documentary LA Stories: City of Dogs, I told my director, Steve Glashier, that I wanted to make a video for everyone who has ever loved a dog and had their love returned tenfold.“If you were moved by this video, please hug your dog, tell your pooch that you love him or her, and take your canine buddy for a long walk. Every day. Our dogs deserve it.”
The American Cancer Society presented its annual birthday ball on June 6th during National Cancer Survivors weekend hosted by Academy Award-winner Kathy Bates and a special performance by Katharine McPhee.Kathy Bates and Katharine McPhee attend the American Cancer Society’s Birthday BallCredit/Copyright: Dan SteinbergKathy explained to the crowd about her battle with breast cancer, and enduring a double mastectomy. After fighting for her life and free from Cancer, she learned that she now suffers from Lymphedema. She battles this post cancer complication daily and is an advocate to others of how it is important to understand this disease.Katharine McPhee performs at the American Cancer Society’s Birthday BallCredit/Copyright: Dan SteinbergKatharine McPhee flew in from NYC and had to leave directly back to NYC, but came to support the American Cancer Society. She performed ” Over the Rainbow” and songs from her previous show Smash.Kathy Bates and co- star Gabby Sidibe of American Horror Story attend American Cancer Society’s Birthday BallCredit/Copyright: Dan SteinbergGabby Sidibe of American Horror Story came to support her co-star and good friend Kathy Bates host the Birthday Ball. Event Chair, Michael Miller presented Alana Stewart of the Farrah Fawcett Foundation a memorable portrait for all their charitable efforts at the American Cancer Society’s Birthday Ball. Alana attended with her son Sean Stewart.Guests enjoyed a live auction and dinner provided by the Beverly Hilton. It was a night to celebrate those who have survived, and those who do so much to fight Cancer.
BTIG announced today that it plans to donate more than $5 million to hundreds of charities as a result of its annual BTIG Charity Day.The firm hosted over 80 all-star athletes, models, actors, actresses, musicians, journalists, politicians, business leaders and other cultural icons who acted as guest traders on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Over 300 non-profit organizations will benefit from the 2018 event. Since inception of the event, BTIG has donated more than $45 million to charity.“It was another incredible day at BTIG yesterday. We are thrilled with the record number of celebrity guest traders who volunteered to join us, and humbled by the impressive number of nominated charities, which will benefit from the day,” said Steven Starker, Co-Founder of BTIG. “It is a tremendous honor to have the continued support of institutional trading clients, our celebrity guest traders and employees worldwide.”“For more than a decade, BTIG Charity Day has helped fund meaningful causes through our donations to nominated non-profit organizations,” said Scott Kovalik, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BTIG. “We are inspired by the dedication of our celebrity guests and clients worldwide. All of us at the firm look forward to Charity Day as the day we get to give back to so many important child-focused charities.”An impressive group of participating celebrities, each acting as an ambassador for a charity of their choice, joined the firm yesterday. Celebrities who appeared in BTIG’s offices included, Aaron Boone, Adam Klein, Adonal Foyle, Alex Rodriguez, Allie LaForce, Amy Gutierrez, Barry Bonds, Beth Stern, President Bill Clinton, Bill Romanowski, Bobby Valentine, Bode Miller, Bret Hedican, Brian Cashman, Bruce Beck, CC Sabathia, Charles Oakley, Chris Johnson, Chris Long, Chris Snee, Chris Wragge, Chuck Scarborough, Curtis Martin, Damon Bruce, Dave Dravecky, David Cone, David Costabile, David Muir, David Robertson, David Tyree, Dellin Betances, Denis Leary, Didi Gregorius, Dominic West, Dominique Wilkins, Eli Manning, Elisa Donovan, Emmanuel Mudiay, Eric LeGrand, Evan Engram, Gary Cohn, Grant Hill, Hannah Storm, Henrik Lundqvist, Jalen Rose, Janice Huff, Jay Wright, Jeff Capel, Jenny McCarthy, Jeremy Affeldt, Joe Girardi, Joe Namath, John Collins, John Starks, Johnny Velazquez, Justin Tuck, Kelenna Azubuike, Khris Davis, Kristin Davis, Lance Thomas, Lawrence Taylor, Leonard Marshall, Lucy Liu, Ludacris, Mariano Rivera, Mark Farrell, Mark Messier, Michael Bloomberg, Mookie Betts, Nick Mangold, Nicky Hilton, Petra Nemcova, Phil Simms, Ralph Sampson, Roger Goodell, Scott Van Pelt, Shaquille O’Neal, Stephanie Ruhle, Steve Buscemi, Ted Robinson, Terrell Owens, Tim Flannery, Tony Gonzalez, Ubah Hassan, Victor Cruz and Walt Frazier.For more information about BTIG Charity Day, visit www.btigcharityday.com.
APTN National NewsIn the season of giving a small group of volunteers in Winnipeg are collecting gifts to give to inner city kids.It’s the third year the program has been running.Here’s APTN’s Shaneen Robinson with the story.
APTN National NewsAdam Sandler, one of America’s highest paid comedians, is now the centre of social media outrage after his Native American cast walked off the set this week.It sparked thousands of tweets followed by a trending hashtag: #NotYourHollywoodIndian.The actors, mainly from the Navajo Nation, quit the big budget film claiming the Adam Sandler co-written script was deeply offensive to Indigenous women and Indigenous culture.APTN’s Jaydon Flett has more.