Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Monday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for their “bold step” to revoke Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution. “A historic decision by Modi Sarkar towards unity, integrity and national sovereignty. I congratulate PM Shri @narendramodi ji & HM Shri AmitShah ji for the bold step #Article370 #35A,” Sawant tweeted. Speaking to reporters, Sawant also called the decision “historic”. When asked if security needed to be beefed up in Goa in view of the development, he said there was no need to increase security arrangements. Sawant also said that the Kashmiri community settled in Goa, many of whom deal in handicraft items, “should be happy with the decisions” taken by the Central government.
Mumbai: Actor-politician Sunny Deol says it is a very emotional moment for him to watch his son Karan gear up for his Bollywood debut. Sunny, son of veteran actor Dharmendra, entered Bollywood with “Betaab” in 1983. Now, his son is all set to enter the Hindi industry with “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas”. The teaser of “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas”, which Sunny has directed, came out on Monday. “It is a very emotional moment for me to see my son Karan make his debut on the big screen,” Sunny said. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka “I hope the audience appreciates him and showers him with the same kind of love that they have given me for so many years,” added the proud father. Set in Himachal Pradesh, “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas” will tell a love story with essence of finding the emotion for the first time — with all its innocence, doubts and the complexities. Along with Karan, the film will introduce Sahher Bambba. The film is slated to release on September 20.
Port of Spain: Captain Virat Kohli said the blow to his right thumb during India’s successful run chase against the West Indies in the third ODI here has not resulted in a fracture and he “should be good” to play in the first Test starting on August 22.In the 27th over of India’s run chase, Kohli was hit on the right thumb by a Kemar Roach bouncer. The Indian captain was seen to be having some pain but after being attended to by the physio, he continued batting to lead India to a series-clinching six-wicket win. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh”I don’t think it’s a fracture otherwise I wouldn’t have continued (batting). It’s just a split of the nail,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony on Wednesday.Asked about the condition of his thumb at the post-match press conference, he said. “Luckily, it’s not broken. When I got hit I thought it was worse than what it turned out to be. But it’s not broken so I should be good for the first Test.” Kohli hit 114 from 99 balls, his 43rd ODI century and second of the series after the 120 in the second match here, which guided India to a 59-run win under D/L method.India won the three-match ODI series 2-0.The first Test between the two sides begins on August 22 at North Sound.
New Delhi: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s telecom venture Jio will be among the 100 most valuable brands globally within three years, says a report. The ‘Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2019 report’ by communication services provider WPP and market research firm Kantar Millward Brown ranked Amazon the world’s most valuable brand ahead of Apple and Google. While, Life Insurance Corp (LIC) and Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) have entered the list as new entrants. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalJio has been featured in global 100 disruptive power brands. “Jio disrupted the Indian telecom provider category with its deep discount prices for data consumption. It forced competitors to lower their prices and drove category consolidation,” the report said. All telecom consumers not only Jio customers have been benefited from Jio’s action, it added. Stating that meaningful disruption is the key to scalable relevance, the report said Jio “will enter the Top 100 within three years at current growth rate.”
VANCOUVER – The New Democrats started the last full week of British Columbia’s election campaign by pushing a climate-change agenda while the Liberals put jobs at the top of their campaign bid to win votes.NDP Leader John Horgan attended a town hall meeting Monday with members of a climate leadership team the Liberal government had tasked in 2015 to advise them on climate-change recommendations.Prominent environmentalist Tzeporah Berman, who was a member of the climate-action team, said Monday she is endorsing the NDP because as premier, Liberal Leader Christy Clark didn’t follow the panel’s recommendations after hailing its work at a climate-change conference in Paris.Horgan said he would re-establish the team within the first 100 days in office if he wins the election on May 9 and would work to implement 32 recommendations that include an increase in the carbon tax to fight climate change.He said the NDP would introduce a federally mandated carbon price of $50 a tonne by 2022, but do it over three years, starting in 2020.“It’s going to be a gradual implementation and we’re going to make sure that almost 80 per cent of British Columbians will get some form of a rebate so they can have less money out of their pocket than before,” he said.The plan calls for low- and middle-income families to get a rebate cheque intended to mitigate increases in the carbon tax.Berman said Green party Leader Andrew Weaver’s climate-action plan is also strong but that the NDP’s agenda is more robust, with initiatives to create jobs in the mining, agriculture and forestry sectors.“Under Christy Clark, the B.C. Liberals have focused on trying to increase fracked gas and LNG. Now our greenhouse gas emissions are going up.”Berman said she met with Clark after the task force was convened in June 2015 and the Liberal leader seemed serious about implementing climate-change initiatives that would take into account affordability and a strong economy.However, the plan the party introduced last August will allow climate pollution to increase for the next 10 to 14 years, Berman said.The carbon tax was launched in 2008 by then-premier Gordon Campbell but Clark froze it when she took office three years later.The tax sits at $30 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions though Berman’s team had called for a $10 increase starting in 2018.Clark told a crowd at a Vancouver biotech firm on Monday that the biggest threat facing the province is U.S. President Donald Trump and his anti-trade rhetoric.When asked by reporters about Berman’s claims, Clark said the Liberals accepted many of the panel’s recommendations.“We did not, though, accept the key recommendation in the minds of some of the folks from the environmental movement, which is that we double the carbon tax,” she said.“Is now the time to double the carbon tax, to hike business taxes, to hike personal income taxes, when we are facing a rising tide of protectionism and a tax-cutting government down south of the border? I think it would be disastrous for jobs in our province.”Clark said British Columbia remains a leader on climate change.“Nobody else in North America is paying a $30-a-tonne carbon tax, nobody,” she said. “And we should be very proud of our leadership position. As other people catch up we’ll be in a position to rethink that policy. But we are going to freeze it.”— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
OTTAWA – A government source says the former U.S. embassy across from Parliament Hill is set to become a space dedicated to First Nations, Metis and Inuit people.The federal government is expected to release more details on plans for the building at 100 Wellington St. in the coming weeks.The source says consultations will take place with indigenous communities to determine how the space will be used.The building was built in the 1930s, acquired from the U.S. government in 1997, and has remained vacant since 1998.Last summer, Canadians were asked to share their views on how to best use the building.The survey found the widest appeal for Canada House — a venue proposed to display diversity and achievements — while a gallery for artwork of national significance received significant support from respondents 55 or older.
OTTAWA – With the blessing of the federal government, British Columbia is putting three health clinics under the financial microscope amid long-standing concerns about overbilling and the integrity of the country’s public health-care system.Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said her department reached an agreement with B.C. to audit the three clinics in hopes of rooting out the practice of extra-billing for medically necessary care, a violation of the Canada Health Act.“The audit will determine the extent to which extra-billing and user fees have been a barrier to accessible care for people in British Columbia,” Philpott said in a statement Thursday.Philpott’s newly appointed B.C. counterpart, former NDP leader Adrian Dix, said he strongly supports the audit agreement, which was negotiated under the province’s previous Liberal government.“We have to act to ensure that access to medical care in B.C. is based on need and not on an individual’s ability to pay,” Dix said in an interview with The Canadian Press.“That is the reason the law exists and that is something that has been fundamental to Canada’s health-care system for a long time and is something we strongly support.”Health Canada and the province decided to proceed with the audits in March, he said, noting that a considerable amount of planning has flowed from that decision.“The results of the audit may have consequences … but the audits haven’t been completed yet so commenting on conclusions that haven’t been drawn would be incorrect and unfair,” he said. “We are not assuming the results of the audits.”The Canada Health Act, which imposes conditions on the provinces and territories in exchange for health care funding, prohibits so-called extra billing or user charges for services that are deemed medically necessary.Once extra-billing or user charges are confirmed, a dollar-for-dollar deduction from that region’s federal health transfer payment is required.Some $204,145 was deducted from B.C.’s March 2016 transfer payments as a result of extra-billing and user charges for insured health services that were levied at private clinics in the 2013-14 fiscal year.Extra-billing occurs when a medical practitioner charges an insured patient who receives a covered health service an additional sum over and above what is paid for by a provincial or territorial insurance plan.Questions about the public health-care system in B.C. have also been raised in a high-profile court case involving Dr. Brian Day of the Cambie Surgery Centre in Vancouver.In the lawsuit, launched in 2010, Day is challenging B.C.’s ban on the purchase of private insurance for medically necessary services covered by the public system, arguing it forces patients to endure long wait times that can exacerbate their health problems.The federal government is also engaged in the Cambie case, which it believes could have important implications for public health care across Canada.Dix said “some of the principles” being defended by the government in the case are similar to the questions at play in the audits.“It is what the Medical Services Commission in B.C. and the ministry of health are defending in that case,” he said.Philpott, meanwhile, has also warned other provincial counterparts about extra-billing and user fees, noting Ottawa will not tolerate the practice.She has applauded Quebec for its decision in January to ban user fees, and she has also been in discussions with Saskatchewan officials about upholding the Canada Health Act.And she has been pushing back against a Saskatchewan law that allows private MRI scans if they are ordered by a doctor and if the private clinic does a second scan to someone on the public wait list at no charge.Allowing people to pay for private scans contravenes the act, Philpott insists.—Follow @kkirkup on Twitter
OTTAWA – A report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recommends that payments to shareholders such as dividends and share buybacks by companies should be limited if their pension plans are underfunded.The report says pension regulations must expand to consider broader financial decisions within companies.It says that in many instances, firms are complying with the minimum required payments under the rules, but they are not making up the shortfalls in the pension plans as fast as they could.Companies with defined-benefit pension plans have been hurt by the financial crisis and low interest rates, which have increased the amount of money they are required to have in their pension plans to pay future benefits.When a pension plan is not fully funded, members face the possibility of seeing their pensions reduced if the plan is forced to wind up.The report noted that the pension plan at Sears Canada has a $267-million shortfall, but the retailer which is in the process of liquidating has paid $1.5 billion in shareholders in dividends and share buybacks since 2010.
CALGARY – The parents of a man shot dead by police have lost a bid for a judicial review of a decision not to lay charges.Anthony Heffernan was holding a syringe and a lighter when a Calgary officer shot him four times — twice in the head — in a hotel room in March 2015. Police had been called in after the 27-year-old failed to check out of his room.The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team initially found there were grounds to charge the officer with a criminal offence.The Crown later determined a conviction was unlikely and no charges would be laid.Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Henderson dismissed the application of Pat and Irene Heffernan for a review. The judge said there was no evidence suggesting an abuse of process by the Crown.“The applicants have understandably suffered a significant loss and nothing in this decision is intended to minimize the extent of their grief,” Henderson said in a written decision this week.“The Crown’s decision deserves deference. A reviewing court is specifically prohibited from micro-managing or second-guessing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”The parents’ lawyer Tom Engel said Wednesday that he won’t be appealing the decision.They will wait and see what happens with the police force’s internal disciplinary process, as well as a fatality inquiry. The family has also filed a civil suit.“If new evidence comes out of these processes in the future, we can always go back and try again to see if we can get a judge to review the Crown’s decision not to prosecute,” Engel said.“The Heffernans are determined to ensure that these officers are held accountable.”Heffernan appeared to be in a drug-induced state when officers arrived that day and he refused demands to drop the syringe.One officer fired a Taser at Heffernan but it didn’t work. A second officer was preparing to hit Heffernan again with the stun gun, when another officer fired his gun six times.Four bullets struck Heffernan, one hit a wall and one hit the floor.The serious incident response team reported that the syringe — without a needle tip — was recovered from underneath Heffernan’s body. An autopsy found marks consistent with a history of intravenous drug use and toxicology tests revealed cocaine in his system.His family had argued that the officer fired recklessly and wildly. They also pointed out that four other officers in the room did not find it necessary to use lethal force.The Crown told the court that it had considered all evidence in the shooting, including that Heffernan was agitated and had moved quickly at the officers. The Crown also said it was reasonable for officers to believe a needle was attached to the syringe and could have caused serious injury.The force last May, after six fatal police shootings over two years, announced an independent review of its use of lethal force.
HALIFAX – A defence lawyer suggested Tuesday that a female military officer who says she was sexually assaulted initially reported just enough to superiors to cover the fact she slept with a subordinate.The woman has accused military police officer Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre of sexually assaulting her in her hotel room during 2015 Canadian Navy exercises in Glasgow, Scotland.She told a Halifax court martial she repeatedly told him no, but defence lawyer David Bright challenged that during cross-examination Tuesday.He suggested she invited him into her room, and mutually participated in sexual acts.“I suggest you started kissing one another … and you said to Sgt. MacIntyre, ‘I’m not a good kisser’,” said Bright.“No,” the complainant replied. “The only thing I remember is waking up and him touching me.”Bright said the officer had failed to keep text messages that might have been relevant to the case and also washed away blood stains she testified were on the white tank top she was wearing when the alleged assault occurred.“All we have is your recollection given quite a while afterwards,” said Bright, who added the officer also didn’t seek medical attention for bruises and vaginal irritation she said she sustained.She didn’t file a formal complaint until nearly six months after the Sept. 27, 2015, incident, he noted.The woman said she did discuss the alleged incident with her superiors in the days following, but only provided partial detail because she wasn’t comfortable providing more and didn’t want her husband to know before she could tell him.Said Bright: “I’m going to suggest to you … you just told your superior enough to cover you, but your whole purpose was to cover yourself, what do you say to that?”The complainant shot back with a question of her own, asking “Why would I be covering myself?”“Because you did wrong, because you slept with a subordinate,” Bright said.“But why would I come out with that six months after if nobody knew and they didn’t say anything?” she said calmly.During re-examination, military prosecutor Maj. Larry Langlois asked the complainant about testimony where she had expressed concern about her career.She said her experience in the military had taught her to be wary of an “old mentality.”“I was in a man’s world and every time there was a girl coming with sexual assault … they were all talking about her, it was a conversation and it was always her being wrong.”MacIntyre has entered a plea of not guilty.The woman testified Monday she had returned to her hotel room that night in an exhausted state. She said she hadn’t slept for about 36 hours after travelling from Canada and going straight to work in Glasgow on Sept. 26.She told the court martial that she didn’t scream or yell during the alleged assault, but told MacIntyre “No,” as she was forced to continually remove his hand from her lower extremities “10 to 15 times.”She said he eventually penetrated her. The complainant said she believes she “just froze.”The trial’s second witness Tuesday, the complainant’s immediate superior, told court she was with MacIntyre in the woman’s hotel room after a night of socializing and drinking.She said neither she nor the complainant were heavily intoxicated, registering about a five on a scale of one to 10, although MacIntyre seemed to have had more over the evening and was “about a seven.”She said at one point MacIntyre was on the bed next to the complainant and she remembers him stroking her hair although it wasn’t in a sexual way.She said they later left the complainant and returned to their rooms after she fell asleep.Earlier Tuesday, Bright asked about her statement to police in which she expressed confusion about exactly what happened that day.“Did you say to the police ‘I don’t know. Did I do something? Did I make him come behind me and have sex with me?’”The complainant confirmed she said that to police, and Bright asked her why.“Because I don’t know what happened between the time he left the room and the time I woke up with him touching me 20 times,” she said.Bright also took issue with testimony that she couldn’t eat in the weeks following the incident, producing an Oct. 11 Facebook photo showing her sitting before a large plate of food during “high tea” at a Glasgow restaurant.The complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, said she took the photo to reassure her family back home that she was well during her trip and that she actually ate very little that day.
Negotiations between Canada and the U.S. about reworking the North American Free Trade Agreement have ended without an agreement.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said negotiators would meet again next week in an effort to reach an agreement.“We’re not there yet,” Freeland said.For now, the U.S. plans to move forward with a deal with Mexico on terms reached earlier in the week.It’s not clear what this means for the NAFTA.The White House had placed a Friday deadline to provide Congress with the necessary 90 days’ notice that it intended to enter into a new trade agreement and still have the new deal signed by December 1, the day Mexico’s new president takes office.Canada’s dairy market quotas appear to be a stumbling block, with U.S. officials saying Canada had made no concessions on agriculture and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying he was standing firm on the issue.
TORONTO – A man accused of killing eight men with ties to Toronto’s gay village is expected to appear in court today.Bruce McArthur, a 67-year-old self-employed landscaper, faces eight counts of first-degree murder.Police arrested McArthur last January and eventually found the remains of seven men in large planters at a property where McArthur had worked.Investigators found the eighth set of remains in a ravine behind the same property in midtown Toronto.Lead detective Insp. Hank Idsinga has said the probe is the largest forensic investigation in the force’s history.Idsinga has said he doesn’t believe there are any more alleged victims.
CAMROSE, Alta. — A peanut-and-chocolate candy popular decades ago has been flying off shelves since an Alberta couple revived it earlier this year.The Cuban Lunch bar disappeared in 1991 when the Paulins factory in Winnipeg stopped making it.And while its reboot has been a success, Crystal Regehr Westergard and her husband are facing some hiccups in resupplying stores clamouring for more.For one, it took three months for a shipment of paper for the the red wrappers synonymous with the candy to finally arrive from overseas.The pair churned out 60,000 bars in September from a factory in Delta, B.C.“They just went whoosh out the doors of the stores,” Regehr Westergard said recently. “We never imagined we’d catch on this fast.”The comeback venture started as a way to cheer up Regehr Westergard’s 85-year-old mother by bringing her favourite candy to her nursing home.Regehr Westergard and her husband, Bert Westergard, then decided to go ahead and buy the trademark for not much at all.While she doesn’t know the origins of the name, Regehr Westergard said it wouldn’t be Cuban Lunch without the original’s rectangular rippled cups. They were perfect for keeping melted chocolate contained on a hot day.“You could eat it and you could still drive your tractor or drive your rig,” Regehr Westergard said.“It was packed with peanuts and calories and got you through and didn’t drip down your arm.”The first batch long gone, another 33,000 bars were made in October. Those were swiftly snapped up, too.The first time, Regehr Westergard drove through an autumn blizzard to get boxes to stores in the Edmonton area. For the second batch, the couple had a distributor take care of it.Finally, last week, more than 100,000 of the signature cups arrived at the factory. The correct paper had to travel from Japan with stops in Mexico and California. “I think that’s why no one ever brought the Cuban Lunch bar back before, to tell you the honest truth.” said Regehr Westergard. “No one makes those hyper-specialized little rectangular cups.”Many of the new cups had to be thrown out because they got too wet. The factory started pouring chocolate last week, but it’s not clear how many new bars it can make this time.The couple has been selling bars through a program at grocery giant Sobeys Inc. aimed at highlighting regionally relevant products. In Western Canada, where Cuban Lunch is best known, the bars are available at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA and Thrifty Foods stores.Sobeys development manager Gary Hughes said Cuban Lunch was the top seller while it was in stock.“That’s a short window of time because it’s here today and almost gone tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve had customers coming in and buying them by the box in our stores.”Hughes said 180 of the 250 or so stores west of Winnipeg have signed for the next shipment. The company is working to make sure all outlets have some to sell, even though it may not be the full amount they requested.Prof. Janis Thiessen, who studies 20th-century food history at the University of Winnipeg, was recently given a Cuban Lunch bar by her brother, who knew she would get a kick out of it.She said it was tasty with big peanut chunks.Thiessen said she can’t recall the original enough to know how the revival compares, but she understands why there has been such voracious demand.“Food is never just about sustenance or about biological taste. Memory plays an important role there, so to have something like this come back, is meaningful for a number of people.”Regehr Westergard is hoping to find out in the new year if Cuban Lunch Co. will be accepted into a small business accelerator program in Calgary, which would help with sales, distribution and marketing.The couple has bought trademarks for two other defunct candies — she won’t say which — but have been having trouble finding a factory to make them.For now, she figures the chocolate business eats up a couple of hours each day.She’s not quitting her day job as a physiotherapist and guffaws when asked if Cuban Lunch is making money.“Oh goodness, no, not presently,” she said. “Maybe some day.”— By Lauren Krugel in CalgaryThe Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Caitlan Coleman, who was backpacking in Asia with husband Joshua Boyle when the pair were seized by extremists, told a judge today her future spouse would often belittle and demean her during the early days of their rollercoaster courtship.Boyle, 35, has pleaded not guilty to offences against Coleman, including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement, that allegedly took place after the couple were freed by Pakistani forces and had returned to Canada in late 2017.Coleman, 33, recounted at Boyle’s trial how the two met online and began a complicated on-and-off relationship before marrying in 2011 and travelling the following year to central Asia.The Pennsylvania-raised Coleman says early on Boyle insulted her, told her she wasn’t good enough and made her question her self-worth.She says he became agitated when she suggested in 2008 they go their separate ways, calling her repeatedly and even threatening to kill himself.Coleman’s testimony is expected to continue through early next week.The Canadian Press
–With files from CityNews and 680 NEWS OTTAWA — Andrew Scheer is challenging Justin Trudeau to follow through on a threat to sue him over his assertion that the prime minister politically interfered with the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavlin.The Conservative leader revealed Sunday that he received a letter on March 31 from Trudeau’s lawyer, Julian Porter, threatening a libel suit.“If Mr. Trudeau believes he has a case against me, I urge him to follow through on his threat immediately,” Scheer said in a statement.“Canadians want this scandal to be investigated in a legal setting where Liberals do not control the proceedings.”Scheer said he looks forward to Trudeau testifying under oath in open court.He called the threatened lawsuit “an intimidation tactic” aimed at silencing the Conservatives, who have been demanding a thorough, independent investigation of the affair. It’s the same kind of tactic Trudeau has employed to silence former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, said Scheer.“This is what Justin Trudeau does when you stand up to him. He threatens you.”The back and forth is being described as a SLAPP fight — a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. The University of Toronto’s Jeff Dvorkin outlined the perceived strategy heading toward a fall election amid the controversy that has clouded the prime minister and his inner circle for the past few months.“Maybe for the prime minister to move the debate away from the SNC-Lavalin story into something a little more manageable, should we say,” he said.Dvorkin says he doesn’t believe this will end up in court, like it didn’t when there were legal threats between Stephen Harper and Stephane Dion, and Jean Chretien and Preston Manning.“This is just a little bit of schoolyard pushing and shoving,” he said.Conservatives ‘won’t back down’Like Wilson-Raybould, Scheer added: “We will not back down. We will continue to do our jobs, hold him to account and get to the bottom of this.”Wilson-Raybould maintains she was inappropriately pressured last fall by the Prime Minister’s Office to stop criminal proceedings against SNC-Lavalin on bribery charges related to contracts in Libya. She believes she was moved to Veterans Affairs in a mid-January cabinet shuffle as punishment for refusing to do so. She resigned from cabinet a month later.While she has called the pressure improper, Wilson-Raybould has said she doesn’t believe anything illegal occurred.Last week, Trudeau expelled both Wilson-Raybould and fellow former cabinet minister Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus. Philpott had resigned from cabinet in early March, citing a loss of confidence in the government’s handling of the SNC-Lavalin case.At issue in the threatened libel suit is a statement Scheer issued on March 29, in which he said documentation provided by Wilson-Raybould to the House of Commons justice committee — including a surreptitiously recorded phone conversation with the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick — is “concrete evidence that proves Justin Trudeau led a campaign to politically interfere with SNC-Lavalin’s criminal prosecution.”Porter called the statement “highly defamatory.”“The prime minister supports wide-ranging and vigorous political debate on matters of public policy,” he said in his letter to Scheer. “However, your statement, in its entirety, is beyond the pale of fair debate and is libellous of my client personally and in the way of his occupation as prime minister.”Porter said it’s “entirely false” to say Trudeau interfered in the SNC prosecution, which has not been halted, or that he personally directed Wilson-Raybould to “break the law” and “fired” her when she refused. It’s also entirely false to suggest Trudeau was aware of Wilson-Raybould’s concern that he was politically interfering in the SNC case but lied to Canadians about it, Porter said.Scheer’s statement that the affair amounts to “corruption on top of corruption on top of corruption” was meant to suggest that Trudeau “had engaged in dishonest and corrupt conduct that would contravene the Criminal Code,” a crime deserving of up to 14 years in prison, Porter said. That too was “entirely false.”In response, Scheer’s lawyer, Peter Downard, wrote back Sunday that Scheer “will not be intimidated” and is simply performing his “constitutional duty” to hold the government to account.If Trudeau is serious about suing, Downard said he must immediately take steps to preserve all relevant documents and to notify all members of his government, past and present, who’ve been involved in the SNC-Lavalin matter that they can expect to be called to testify.If Trudeau does not proceed with the threatened lawsuit, Downard said Scheer will conclude that Trudeau “has properly acknowledged that Mr. Scheer’s statements were appropriate and grounded in evidence before the Canadian people.”PMO respondsMeantime, the Prime Minister’s Office says both Scheer and the Conservatives have “repeatedly made false and defamatory statements.”In an email to CityNews, the PMO says it put the Opposition Leader on notice “that there are consequences for making completely false and libellous statements.”PMO responds in a statement to @CityNews that says, “We put [Scheer] on notice that there are consequences for making completely false and libellous statements.” pic.twitter.com/qdMhLQQ6xB— Caryn Ceolin (@carynceolin) April 7, 2019
OTTAWA — Highlights of the auditor general’s reports released Tuesday:— Millions of people had trouble getting through to agents at federal call centres. Instead of giving callers the option of waiting, some centres sent them back to the automated phone system, directed them to a website or told them to call back later.— The RCMP isn’t sure that all of its officers have access to the rifles and body armour needed to respond to an active shooter, almost five years after three Mounties were gunned down in New Brunswick. The national police force mismanaged the purchase, distribution and ongoing maintenance of semi-automatic rifles known as carbines.— Canada’s refugee-determination system is unable to process claims on time despite reforms introduced seven years ago. The lack of flexibility meant that the 2017 surge of asylum seekers led to a backlog and longer wait times for protection decisions.— The Canadian sales-tax system failed to keep up with the rapidly evolving digital marketplace, meaning $169 million of GST on foreign products and services sold in Canada in 2017 went uncollected. In addition, the federal government could not assess and collect all sales taxes on e-commerce transactions.— Public funds might be supporting partisan advertising due to a lack of adequate controls. Only government advertising valued at $500,000 or more is reviewed by an independent body, even though less-expensive campaigns could represent a risk of partisanship.— The National Museum of Science and Technology houses a large portion of its collection in leased storage facilities, along with many objects that have yet to be assessed or catalogued. Poor conditions in these spaces pose risks of deterioration, damage and theft.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A court of Quebec judge has ruled that SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is headed to trial on charges of fraud and corruption.The decision is the latest step in criminal proceedings that began last fall after the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant failed to secure a deferred prosecution agreement, a kind of plea deal that would have seen the firm agree to pay a fine rather than face prosecution.Over the past four months, SNC-Lavalin has found itself in the centre of a political controversy following accusations from former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould that top government officials pressured her to overrule federal prosecutors, who had opted not to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with the company.SNC-Lavalin and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have argued that a criminal trial could trigger the company’s exit to the United States and the loss of thousands of jobs.The RCMP has accused SNC-Lavalin of paying $47.7 million in bribes to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011. The company, its construction division and a subsidiary also face one charge each of fraud and corruption for allegedly defrauding various Libyan organizations of $129.8 million.The company can choose a trial by jury or by judge alone. Prior to that, it can opt to apply within 30 days to the Superior Court of Quebec to have Wednesday’s lower court decision quashed.Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC) The Canadian Press
SHERWOOD PARK, Alta. — Trans Mountain Corp. has advised construction contractors to get ready for the restart of its pipeline expansion project to the west coast.Trans Mountain says its directive gives contractors 30 days to ready equipment, start hiring workers, secure goods and services and develop detailed plans.The company says work is to begin soon in communities along the right of way between Edmonton and Edson, Alta., and in the greater Edmonton area.Work is also to resume at the terminal in Burnaby, B.C., which is the end point for the pipeline that is to carry oil from Alberta to the coast for shipment to overseas markets.Trans Mountain says specific start dates in the remaining construction areas are subject to final regulatory approvals and permits. The federal government gave a second go-ahead to the expansion project in June after the courts overturned the original approval.The Liberal government spent $4.5 billion to buy the pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada in 2018 in a bid to get the existing pipeline expanded despite significant political opposition in British Columbia.That plan was put on hold last August when the Federal Court of Appeal said the government had not done a good enough job consulting with Indigenous communities or studying the impact on marine life.Six British Columbia First Nations and at least two environment groups have filed new court challenges.“We are confident that we have a path forward by which the expansion project construction can commence,” Ian Anderson, President and CEO of Trans Mountain Corp., said in a release Wednesday.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The RCMP was struggling to keep staff security clearances up to date during the time a senior employee allegedly tried to pass secrets to adversaries, an internal Mountie audit shows.The audit report stressed the importance of regularly reviewing the security status of RCMP employees to guard against the threat of an insider betraying the national police force by sharing sensitive information with the wrong people.The auditors found all of the RCMP sections across Canada responsible for screening had “a significant backlog” of security updates to do, as well as smaller backlogs of new clearances and upgrades to higher security levels.Overall, the audit concluded that “risks and gaps” were hampering effective delivery of the security-screening program to the force’s nearly 30,000 employees, 25,000 contractors and more than 17,000 volunteers in over 700 communities.The little-noticed Audit of Personnel Security, completed in 2016 and quietly made public in edited form last year, takes on new relevance following the arrest this month of RCMP intelligence official Cameron Jay Ortis.Ortis, 47, is accused of violating three sections of the Security of Information Act as well as two Criminal Code provisions, including breach of trust, for allegedly trying to disclose classified information to an unspecified foreign entity or terrorist group.RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has said the allegations against Ortis, if proven true, are extremely unsettling, given that he had access to intelligence from domestic and international allies.The charge sheet lists seven counts against Ortis under the various provisions, dating from as early as Jan. 1, 2015, through to Sept. 12 of this year, when he was taken into custody. He is slated to make his third court appearance today.“One of the many questions raised by the Ortis case is what internal security measures failed or might have failed,” said Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert who teaches at the University of Ottawa.“The question of security clearances and security monitoring must be front and centre.”The RCMP’s personnel security program aims to ensure the reliability and security of people who have access to the force’s information systems, data and premises, the internal audit says.This is achieved through the force’s security-screening process, which supports the issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of basic RCMP reliability status or, if required by the position, a secret or top-secret security clearance.A top-secret “enhanced” clearance entails extra screening including a polygraph examination, commonly known as a lie-detector test.Reliability status and secret clearances are valid for 10 years, while top-secret clearances must be updated every five years. “Updates are a critical insider-threat mitigation measure,” the audit report says.Lucki told a Sept. 17 news conference that Ortis held a valid top-secret clearance but said he had not undergone a polygraph test.The RCMP declined to tell The Canadian Press this week when Ortis, who joined the force in 2007, underwent his most recent security update.The police force also provided no answers to questions about any steps the RCMP may have taken in response to the internal audit’s findings.The auditors said the force’s departmental security program had “experienced challenges in meeting service level expectations” due to funding pressures and increasing demand.Eliminating security-clearance backlogs would reduce risk to the RCMP and help the force direct program resources to new security-clearance files, the audit report said.Security clearances, including renewals, are time-consuming, and renewals can be treated as less urgent because of an assumption that a previously cleared person can be trusted, Wark said.Even so, backlogs of security-clearance renewals, especially those involving top-secret levels, are “a serious issue,” he said.The case of Jeffrey Paul Delisle, a naval officer who pleaded guilty in 2012 to giving classified material to Russia, shows the system is not always on top of the challenges. Wark noted Delisle’s top-secret clearance had expired in 2011 but he continued to have access to sensitive databases.Following the Delisle case, the government ushered in revised security-screening standards in 2014.One new element was the concept of “aftercare,” which requires departmental security staff and other personnel to monitor and report on any changes in an employee’s situation that might raise security concerns, Wark noted.Such changes could include misuse of drugs or alcohol, sudden changes in a the employee’s financial situation, expressions of support for extremist views or unexplained frequent absences.“This is meant to be a ongoing process to cover the periods between clearance renewals and to counter the insider threat,” Wark said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2019.— Follow @JimBronskill on TwitterJim Bronskill , The Canadian Press
Oceana, the largest international organization dedicated solely to protecting the world’s oceans, is pleased to announce the total amount realized at this weeks’s Inaugural Oceana Ball.The star-studded affair raised close to $1 million in proceeds via the live auction of fantasy lots curated by Oceana. Proceeds of this year’s gala directly benefit the protection and restoration of shark populations.“Oceana is delighted with the success of the Inaugural Oceana Ball and of its companion online auction at Charitybuzz.com, which runs through April 17. We are grateful to everyone who has raised a paddle, made an online bid, or helped bring attention to the cause,” said Oceana CEO, Andy Sharpless. “This support will help Oceana win policy victories to help protect sharks, many species of which are under threat around the world.”Co-chaired by Oceana Ambassador, Kate Walsh, David & Susan Rockefeller, and Steven & Anne Murphy, the auction was officiated by Christie’s charity auctioneer and Director of Strategic Partnerships, Lydia Fenet. After the bidding, the audience enjoyed a special musical performance by O.C.A.D. featuring Olivia Cipolla, who is set to release a new album this summer.Event attendees included: Susan & David Rockefeller, Kate Walsh, Steven & Anne Murphy, Chris Hemsworth, Elsa Pataky, Luke Hemsworth, Adrian Grenier, Sami Gayle, Les Stroud, Almudena Fernandez, Alexandra Cousteau, Jennifer Tilly, and Cameron Silver.The opportunity to have lunch with President Clinton and Susan & David Rockefeller at Blue Hill at Stone Barns swept the evening sale with a winning bid of $110,000. Other fantasy lots, generously provided by JW Marriott Hotels and Resorts, with trips to their properties in Cancun, Costa Rica, Thailand, Ihilani and Dubai generating nearly $40,000.The Oceana Ball will continue raising funds online at Charitybuzz.com/Oceana through April 17. Lots in the online auction include: Artwork from Peter Lik, Isack Kousnsky, Deborah Buck, Laura Bombier, and David Foox, three custom surfboards from artist Peter Tunney, jewelry and timepieces from Shirley Ephraim, Susan Rockefeller and CORUM, getaways from JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts and more.The Oceana Ball focused its attention for the inaugural year on shark conservation, an issue highlighted last year at the third and final Green Auction hosted by Christie’s. Fueled by the support from last year’s event, Oceana made significant progress by helping advance the west coast population of great white sharks to its current position as candidate for the Endangered Species Act. Recent studies show that there may be as few as 350 adult white sharks left in the west coast population. An Endangered Species Act listing will afford the sharks additional safeguards from key threats and garner more funding for research to better understand the status and threats to this distinct population. Proceeds generated from this year’s event will aid Oceana’s efforts to secure protection for this specific population of sharks and others.The initiative was made possible through the joint efforts of Oceana together with Charitybuzz and Christie’s, in addition to the support of all of the visionary leaders from the worlds of art, business, fashion, philanthropy, conservation and celebrity.