New Delhi: The government will try to introduce the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill in the forthcoming session of Parliament, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said. The bill, pending approval from the Rajya Sabha, lapsed after the 16th Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die in February. “The cabinet note is ready for the Motor Bill and once it is approved we will try to introduce it in the upcoming session of Parliament,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documentsGadkari, who took charge of the Ministry Tuesday, told reporters that radical reforms are expected in the transport sector once the bill gets Parliament nod. The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, which had been passed by the Lok Sabha, was introduced in the Upper House in April 2017 but was referred to a select panel. After taking into account the panel’s recommendation, the bill was re-introduced in the Rajya Sabha but the debate on the bill remained inconclusive. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chiefThe bill proposes hefty penalties for various offences pertaining to the road transport sector. Talking about the projects with the Ministry, Gadkari said by March next year, route to Kailash Mansarovar via Pithoragarh is likely to be completed while projects under Char Dham Yatra would be expedited. He said to reduce accidents at 8,000 black spots – accident-prone areas – have been identified and will be rectified. He said a road grid and a water grid on the pattern of power grid were also on the anvil and completion of various projects to decongest Delhi will ensure that the national capital is free from vehicular pollution in the next two years. He said highway projects worth Rs 50,000 crore are in the pipeline for Delhi alone.
Washington: A top US Senator has slammed President Donald Trump for “damaging” trade ties with India, saying his actions are hurting California almond growers who export more than USD 650 million worth of nuts to the country every year. California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s criticism of the US President came days after India announced a hike in customs duties on as many as 28 US products, including almond, pulses and walnut, in response to higher tariffs imposed by Washington on Indian products like steel and aluminium. Also Read – Merkel warns UK Brexit deal ‘unlikely’ without compromise: London “India just placed a 75 per cent tariff on almonds in response to President Trump’s trade war. His actions are hurting Californians. “California almond exports to India are worth more than USD 650 million a year. The president must stop damaging trade relations with our allies,” Senator Feinstein said. Almond growers in the US are a worried lot as authorities last month predicted a record California almond crop for the upcoming production year. Also Read – India, China should jointly uphold peace and stability, resolve disputes through dialogues: Chinese ambassador According to the Almond alliance of California, its almond export is being badly hit by retaliatory tariffs from both China and India. California almond orchards are expected to produce 2.50 billion pounds of nuts this year, up 8.69 per cent from last year’s 2.30 billion-pound crop, it said. The Indian move is also seen in retaliation to Trump’s decision terminating India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the key GSP trade programme after determining that it has not assured the US that it will provide “equitable and reasonable access to its markets”. The suspension became effective June 5. India’s retaliatory tariffs came into effect Sunday. Apple and almond are some of the other American agricultural products to be impacted by India’s retaliatory tariffs. The move will hurt American exporters of these 28 items as they will have to pay higher duties, making those items costlier in the Indian market. Earlier, the list included 29 goods but India has removed artemia, a kind of shrimp, from the list. The country would get about USD 217 million additional revenue from such imports. America had in March last year imposed 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent import duty on aluminium products. Earlier, there was no duty on these goods. India’s exports to the US in 2017-18 stood at USD 47.9 billion, while imports were at USD 26.7 billion. The trade balance is in favour of India.
Unnao (Uttar Pradesh): A 11-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district. The incident took place on Friday in Safipur police circle. The girl, who was sleeping outside her house, was found missing when her father woke up in the middle of the night. “Initially, I thought that she might have gone to nearby fields to answer nature’s call. However, when she did not return for long, I along with my family and neighbours launched a search and found my daughter’s body lying in an orchard. Her head was badly crushed with bricks,” he said. The girl’s naked body was found later which bore injury marks around her neck and private parts. Unnao Superitendent of Police M.P. Verma said that a case of rape and murder under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has been registered. He said teams had been formed to arrest the accused and the body had been sent for post mortem.
Kolkata: Firhad Hakim, state minister for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs department, will inaugurate the new office building of Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA) in Sector V on Tuesday. Sujit Bose, Minister of State for Fire and Emergency Services department (Independent charge) will also be present at the function. Since the inception of NDITA 13 years ago, the agency used to function from Unnayan Bhavan, the headquarters of Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) in Salt Lake which does not come under the jurisdiction of the NDITA. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe new four-storeyed building will have a ground level coffee corner and a permanent exhibition centre where IT products made in Sector V will be showcased. The space will also be used to exhibit the steps of good practices taken by the NDITA including rainwater harvesting, zero waste segregation and the like to create public awareness. The ministers will also inaugurate a pocket park. Pocket parks have become very popular in Western countries and are especially for IT professionals who take a break from their busy work schedules and come for a visit to relax for a bit and enjoy the greenery. They often take light refreshments and interact with their colleagues to lessen the strain and stress they undergo every day. This will be the second pocket park. The first one is extremely popular. The state government has been planning a well-defined traffic management system for Sector V where thousands of people come for work everyday.
Los Angeles: Veteran actor Shabana Azmi is the latest addition to the cast of Faraz Ansari’s upcoming directorial venture “Sheer Qorma”. The movie features Swara Bhasker and Divya Dutta in the lead. According to a press release issued by the makers, the film is a “heart-rending narrative of the longing for love and acceptance, felt by queer children in their parental homes that plays out through delicate story-telling, told through characters of courageous queer women of colour.” Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka “Divya Dutta recommended the ‘Sheer Qorma’ script to me. I was moved by it and met Faraz who came across as sincere, honest and deeply committed to the story. “The bonus is working with Divya and Swara so we reworked the dates a bit and I said yes. We had the first workshop yesterday and everything came together organically. I am looking forward to the shoot,” Azmi said in a statement. Ansari said having the critically-acclaimed actor on board is a wish come true. “The character that Shabana ji essays in ‘Sheer Qorma’ is going to not only resonate with mothers all across the world but will also open a much needed dialogue about parenthood, and with not just parents of queer children but a more universal dialogue that I hope will bring a lot of love back in our universe. “Shabana ji’s character in ‘Sheer Qorma’ is the mother we all deserve,” the director said.
New Delhi: The Indian Railways announced on Sunday that it has cancelled the Samjhauta Express train run at its end of the international border, days after Pakistan suspended services on its side. The railways run the train on Sundays from Delhi to Attari and back, while Pakistan used to run the train between Lahore and Attari. Passengers used to change trains at the Attari station. “In consequent to Pakistan’s decision to cancel samjhaouta exp 14607/14608 running between Lahore and Atari …….the link exp train number 14001/14002 running between Delhi and Atari also stands cancelled (sic),” said Deepak Kumar, Chief Public Relations Officer of Northern Railway. Two passengers had booked tickets for the Sunday’s service, officials said. Pakistan suspended the Samjhauta Express and the Thar Express trains amid tensions between the two neighbouring countries after the government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two Union territories.
Singapore: Singapore said Monday it will impose a blanket ban on the domestic sale of elephant ivory and products from 2021 as the government tightens its campaign against illegal wildlife trade. The announcement on World Elephant Day followed two years of consultations with non-government groups, ivory retailers and the public. Authorities in the city-state made their largest ever seizure of smuggled ivory last month, impounding a haul of nearly nine tonnes of contraband tusks from an estimated 300 African elephants valued at 12.9 million. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USThe illegal cargo was discovered in a container from the Democratic Republic of the Congo being shipped to Vietnam via Singapore and also included a huge stash of pangolin scales. Singapore has banned international trade in all forms of elephant ivory products since 1990. Such items could be sold domestically if traders could prove they were imported before that year or acquired prior to the inclusion of the relevant elephant species in an international convention protecting endangered species. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsIn a statement Monday, Singapore’s National Parks Board banned the sale of elephant ivory and products with effect from September 1, 2021. Violators face a jail term of up to one year and fines on conviction. Traders can donate their ivory stocks to institutions or keep them after the ban takes effect, the board said. Public consultation by the government last year showed that 99 percent of those who responded were in favour of a total ban.
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – Police in northern Ontario say a meteor may be responsible for a loud explosion that shook houses in a Thunder Bay neighbourhood earlier this week.Thunder Bay police say officers were dispatched to the area at about 11 p.m. Wednesday to investigate reports of the loud explosion.They say officers found a hole in the snow about 75 centimetres wide on the side of the road, with a pile of what appeared to be rock-like material.Officials say the area was checked and no footprints or vehicle tracks were found.Thunder Bay police say they have been in contact with Lakehead University and a professor from the geology department to examine the area.The force says it is believed it was a meteor from the Geminid Meteor shower, which peaked late Wednesday night until early Thursday morning.
TORONTO – The race to lead Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party kicked off in earnest Thursday, with the entrance of a high-profile candidate who was once considered the odds-on favourite to lead the party.Former Ontario legislator Christine Elliott announced via social media she is running to lead the provincial Tories, who have been working to get back on track after their top ranks were rocked by sexual misconduct allegations last week.The 62-year-old former Whitby-Oshawa politician announced her leadership plans with a simple tweet — “I’m in.”Elliott will be among those vying to replace former party leader Patrick Brown, who resigned last week in the face of sexual misconduct allegations he categorically denies. His resignation came just months before a spring election.Elliott’s campaign spokeswoman, Melanie Paradis, said the media will hear more from the new candidate in the days to come.Elliott “is immediately focused on connecting directly with grassroots members to talk about the issues that matter most to our party and the future of Ontario,” Paradis said.The widow of late federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, Elliott has run twice unsuccessfully for the Tory leadership — once in 2009, when she lost to Tim Hudak, and again in 2015, when she came second to Brown.She was considered the front-runner in the 2015 race and lost to the up-start Brown, who began the race as a relatively unknown back-bench MP in the Harper federal government.She went on to serve as Ontario’s non-partisan patient ombudsman but resigned from the role Thursday after announcing her bid to lead the PCs.Elliott’s entry means she joins former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, brother of the city’s late former mayor Rob Ford, as the race’s only declared candidates.“I’d like to welcome my friend (Christine Elliott) to the race,” Ford said in a statement on Twitter. “I look forward to talking about positive ideas for a stronger Ontario PC Party and how we’re going to beat Kathleen Wynne.”Other potential candidates include Caroline Mulroney, the daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, and former Postmedia executive Rod Phillips. Sources tell The Canadian Press Phillips is set to enter the race within days.PC energy critic Todd Smith said in a statement Thursday afternoon that after contemplating a bid for the leadership he will not run, citing the cost to enter the race and the debt required to finance a campaign.The provincial Tories are set to pick a new leader March 10.Party executives laid out the rules that will govern the race to replace Brown late Wednesday night.Those seeking to take the reins — or help decide who will — must register with the party by Feb. 16, with the vote set to begin a few weeks later.Under the rules, leadership candidates must submit their paperwork and $100,000 in fees and deposits by the February date, with another $25,000 due later to access the party’s membership list. Each candidate’s campaign spending cannot exceed $750,000, according to the document.Ontario residents who wish to help select the new Tory leader must become party members by that same date.Votes will be cast electronically between March 2 and March 8, and the results will be announced March 10, the rules say.“We have almost 30-35 days, so that is one of the best options in front of us, so it will be mostly electronic voting,” party president Jag Badwal told Wednesday night after a meeting of the party’s executive.The party’s leadership election organizing committee has said the Tories would stick to a one-member, one-vote rule.Caucus had recommended that the party’s interim leader, Vic Fedeli, stay on through the June election, drawing objections from those who argued the party membership should have a say. The party executive chose to overrule caucus and hold a leadership race before the spring campaign.Fedeli announced soon afterwards that he would not be seeking to make his role permanent. Two other legislators considered potential candidates, Monte McNaughton and Lisa MacLeod, have also ruled out a run for the top spot.The party has been in turmoil since Brown stepped down after vehemently denying sexual misconduct allegations reported by CTV News. The Tories also had to deal with party president Rick Dykstra leaving his post on Sunday amid a separate allegation reported by Maclean’s magazine. None of the allegations have been verified by The Canadian Press, and Dykstra’s lawyers said he “categorically denies” the Maclean’s report.Asked how the upheaval in the Opposition would affect the upcoming election, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said what happens with the Tories is outside of her control.“The Tories will either be energized or depleted by their process, that’s up to them,” she said.Regardless of who is chosen as leader, there will be a “strong contrast” between the two parties’ policies, she said.
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named pollster Donna Dasko and former judge Pierre Dalphond to the Senate.Dasko will represent Ontario and Dalphond will take a Quebec seat, both as independents.Dalphond, a noted lawyer and mediator, was appointed to the Superior Court of Quebec in 1995 and to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2002.He was educated at the University of Montreal and Oxford and worked in both government and private practice before he was named to the bench.Dasko was formerly senior vice-president of Environics Research Group Ltd., one of the country’s leading research firms.She now is a fellow at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance and teaches in the master’s program.Trudeau says he looks forward to working with the new senators.“Their remarkable knowledge and experience will be a great benefit to our country,” he said in a statement.
TORONTO – There’s a moment on Norm Macdonald’s new talk show where the Canadian comic muses on what is and is not appropriate to say: “I always felt that some epithets were less abrasive than others, you know,” he tells his guest, a lively Drew Barrymore.“It’s like navigating a one-inch tightrope on an ice skate,” the seasoned actress concurs. “That’s what talking feels like today in this world.”It’s an oddly prescient exchange that appears in the second episode of the new talk show, “Norm Macdonald Has A Show,” given the firestorm Macdonald has ignited in recent days.While promoting the Netflix series, which premieres Friday, he’s had to issue an apology for several offensive remarks, and then an apology for that apology after further digging himself into a quagmire.The standup veteran is known for speaking his mind, but the social conventions, celebrity culture and news industry have changed vastly since he skewered O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson as the Weekend Update anchor on “Saturday Night Live” in the late ’90s, note several media observers.Macdonald’s multiple blunders are a good reminder that celebrities are often better off just keeping their mouth shut when asked to comment on hot-button issues, says public relations guru Natasha Koifman, of the Toronto-based NKPR.“Listen, I wish they were a little more nervous,” Koifman says when asked how these blunders continually plague seemingly smart, veteran performers.“They have to be super-careful and I think that sometimes they forget that what they say actually matters.”Macdonald has since said he was “confused” when he told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Tuesday that he was “happy the #MeToo movement has slowed down a bit” and that his famous pals Roseanne and Louis C.K. lost “everything in a day” while “the victims didn’t have to go through” what they did.The next day, he told “The Howard Stern Show” that he was misinterpreted and that he saw value in the #MeToo movement — however while trying to clarify his comments on sexual misconduct victims, Macdonald made an insulting reference to people with Down syndrome.He appeared on “The View” on Thursday to apologize for that odd comment, saying “I realized at that moment I’d done something unforgivable.”Macdonald’s former talent agent Louise Parent says she finds it hard to believe he meant any offence, nevertheless admitting she hasn’t spoken to Macdonald in years or read all the coverage about what is increasingly becoming his mea culpa tour.“I know Norm, he’s an old friend and I know how he speaks,” says Parent, who represented Macdonald in the late ’80s for acting jobs. “He absolutely is not somebody that would disregard the victims at all.”She said it’s a challenge for celebrities to speak eloquently on delicate topics they’re often asked to address with little notice.“You get put on the spot very quickly and you say something that maybe isn’t reported correctly and then you get the backlash,” says Parent, noting the 24-hour news cycle makes it especially hard to stay on top of developments.“There’s coaches and managers and publicists that are (telling them) ‘Here’s what happened in the last hour,’ or, ‘Here’s what happened in the last 10 minutes.’ … You’re supposed to be up-to-date all the time.”Then there’s the fact that, as Parent puts it: “It’s Norm, that’s how he talks.”Still, it’s no less bizarre to hear Macdonald ramble down an array of tangents during a phone interview with The Canadian Press that took place before his #MeToo comments made headlines, and the backlash that erupted.He discussed his dream to secure a residency at a Las Vegas casino, his side gig as the co-creator of a dating app called Loko, and his admiration for Toronto criminal defence lawyer Marie Henein, best known for successfully defending disgraced CBC Radio star Jian Ghomeshi against sexual assault charges.“Oh my God, she’s so beautiful. She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life,” Macdonald exclaimed in an odd segue from noting that Hart Pomerantz, the former comedy partner of “SNL” boss Lorne Michaels, is now a lawyer.When asked why that’s his lasting memory of the 2016 trial, he adds: “because she’s so smart and so mysterious.”“I’m sure people must hate her guts for defending that guy,” he continues. “They should understand the rule of law, (defence lawyers) are not betraying all of humanity.”Then there’s his desire to return to “SNL” so he can do an impression of controversial professor and free-speech advocate Jordan Peterson.Macdonald expressed admiration for the firebrand on Twitter back in Feb. 14, with the message from his verified account stating: “You changed my life years ago and I want to say thank you.”Whether he gets the chance to actually do his impression depends on getting the greenlight from Michaels.“I have to wait until he knows who Jordan Peterson is,” he says. “Jordan Peterson is just sort of on the radar here. I mean, he’s huge, but he’s sort of a secret person.”Koifman says it’s easy for some celebrities to forget their opinions might differ from most of the mainstream public, and that’s something she’s constantly trying to address in her work.“You can have an opinion but you do have to pay attention to what the public is saying and what the public is feeling about a specific topic,” she says.“The reality is celebrities are often surrounded by a lot of ‘yes people’ — that’s part of the problem. That doesn’t give them a very good perception of what the public perception is of things.”Ela Veresiu, an assistant professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, says the old mantra that any publicity is good publicity is dead.“I feel like there is an obsession among celebrities … with staying relevant,” says Veresiu.“And then the narrative usually unfolds in a very similar fashion — they say something very controversial, either through their own social media channels or in an interview, it gets picked up, there’s a huge backlash of appearances and shows or performances getting cancelled, and then the celebrity back-pedals and eventually apologizes.“But the damage is already done.”Koifman tends to tell her clients to avoid saying anything.“You don’t always have to have a public opinion.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled Natasha Koifman’s first name.
OTTAWA – The federal government is talking with Pakistan about the possibilty of bringing a Pakistani woman, who was recently released from death row, to Canada.Asia Bibi, a Christian, was sentenced to death in Pakistan eight years ago for blasphemy after being convicted of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad — a charge her family has long denied.Pakistan’s high court recently overturned Bibi’s conviction and ordered her release in a decision that triggered public outrage and protests across the predominantly Muslim country.Since her release, Bibi and her family have faced threats and her husband has pleaded with countries in the West to relocate them.A spokesman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an email Monday that Canada is in talks with Pakistan about Bibi.Cameron Ahmad said the government recognizes the delicate domestic context and won’t comment further on the case, but he noted Canada is a welcoming country.Bibi’s 2009 arrest came after she was accused of blasphemy following an altercation with two fellow farm workers who refused to drink from a water container a Christian had used. A mob accused her a few days later of insulting Muhammad, which led to her 2010 conviction.— with files from The Associated Press
TORONTO — Starting next season, Ontario Basketball will drop the term ‘midget’ from its age category classifications and instead use more standard terms currently in use at the national and international levels.Executive director Jason Jansson said the subject was brought to his attention this month by a member of the basketball community who has a child with dwarfism. Jansson said the organization’s board supported the change and plans will likely be formalized later this season.The midget category will likely be called U15 (under-15) and major midget would go to U16 (under-16).“Our commitment is to make it come together for next year because our season just started,” Jansson said. “So obviously there’s some promotional material that we want to change and there’s some rules and regulations manuals that we want to change.“We just obviously haven’t really gotten it to that level just yet because everything came across my desk a couple weeks ago.”Canada Basketball, the sport’s governing body in the country, already uses numerical designators for age categories. The practice is also used by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).Canada Basketball president and chief executive officer Glen Grunwald said the subject will be raised at its annual general meeting in the spring.“I think it’s better for all sorts of different reasons,” he said. “First of all, it’s more understandable of what age group we’re talking about. Second of all, if it’s offensive to someone then there’s no reason to use it.”There was no immediate word on whether any other provinces or territories might follow Ontario’s lead.Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — The defence is expected to conclude its case in the Dennis Oland murder trial today when the judge hearing the case visits the scene where his father’s body was found.Justice Terrence Morrison, who is presiding over the trial without a jury, is expected to go to Richard Oland’s office in uptown Saint John, N.B., where the multimillionaire’s battered body was discovered on July 7, 2011.His only son, Dennis Oland, is charged with second-degree murder in the case.Only lawyers from both sides of the case, Dennis Oland and a sheriff will participate in the visit to the office near the courthouse, with today expected to be the final day of evidence presentation.Defence lawyer Alan Gold asked for the tour, saying it was impossible to get a true picture of the office interior without seeing it in person.The defence has maintained the person who beat Richard Oland to death would have been covered in blood, but only a few specks were found on the jacket Dennis Oland was wearing when he visited his father on July 6, 2011, the day of the killing.The defence and prosecution will be given at least a month to prepare final briefs and concluding arguments, with the judge then expected to take at least another month to decide the verdict.The Canadian Press
American lawmakers are increasingly concerned about pollution from British Columbia mines contaminating waters in the United States.Eight U.S. senators have written a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan over the threat mines in his province pose to rivers flowing into American states.They say Canadian mines are badly assessed for their environmental impact and badly monitored once they are built.Americans have long been upset over pollution from coal mines in southern B.C., which leaves rivers flowing into the U.S. with contaminant levels up to 50 times higher than recommended.The letter, dated June 13, says four U.S. states receive water downstream from mines with poor oversight.Last year, Americans on the panel that regulates cross-border waters said Canadian members blocked the release of information on contaminants that are many times above guideline levels.The letter is signed by both Republicans and Democrats.It is copied to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and four federal cabinet ministers. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A federal infrastructure financing agency is going to put some money behind a few final, financially risky steps in Via Rail’s high-frequency rail project, sources say.Two sources speaking on condition of anonymity because the details are not yet public say the Canada Infrastructure Bank will cover the financial risk for the last few studies and other requirements.The sources didn’t say how much money will be provided or what would specifically be funded, but the agency’s backing could help Via more easily find a private partner to cover the cost of the proposal.Announcements are promised Tuesday in Trois-Rivieres, Que., with Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, and also in Peterborough, Ont., with Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef, the local MP.The rail company wants to build a multibillion-dollar new network of dedicated passenger-rail lines in Ontario and Quebec, so its trains will no longer have to yield to freight trains on borrowed tracks.Transport Canada has been looking over the Via proposal for more than a year.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The former head of a public health unit is looking to Canada’s top court to keep secret the embarrassing details of her personal relationship with a convicted fraudster the agency hired as its chief financial officer.In urging the Supreme Court of Canada to weigh in, Dr. Kim Barker warns public interest considerations will unfairly trample personal privacy concerns if court-ordered disclosure of the sensitive information is allowed to stand.“The ‘public interest override’ provision found in access to information or privacy legislation across the country is an exceptional measure,” Barker argues in her leave application. “(It is) to be applied only when it has been established that the public interest in disclosure is ‘clearly’ greater than preventing an unjustified invasion of personal privacy.”The case arose in 2013, when Algoma Public Health based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., hired Shaun Rothberg as its interim CFO for six months ending in May 2014. His hiring came after his predecessor left amid criminal charges of breach of trust and theft.Rothberg, however, turned out to be Shaun Rootenberg, of Thornhill, Ont., who had a criminal record for multiple counts of fraud. The revelation, by media outlet SooToday, prompted Barker to resign in early 2015, sparking questions about her role in his hiring and whether their personal relationship had put her in an undisclosed conflict of interest.The health unit has long wanted to release the resulting forensic report under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to “inform the citizenry about the activities of the institution during a time when its integrity was in question.” The province’s privacy commissioner agreed a “compelling public interest in the disclosure” outweighed Barker’s privacy concerns.Barker, who says she is legally blind as a result of contracting malaria in Tanzania in 2003, maintains releasing the KPMG report will make her a double victim.“What I object to is my revictimization by releasing information in the report about how Mr. Rootenberg exploited my disability to manipulate me,” Barker, of Toronto, told The Canadian Press in an email. “It is personally hurtful to have to admit that my visual disability allowed me to become the victim of a professional con man.”In April, the Ontario Court of Appeal acknowledged the significant personal distress releasing the audit would cause Barker but, unlike Divisional Court, ruled the public interest in how Algoma Public Health hired Rootenberg outweighed her privacy interests. The doctor was a senior public official accountable to the community, the health unit board as well as the Ministry of Health, the appellate court said.The Appeal Court, in line with the wishes of the health unit and the privacy commissioner ruling, ordered full release of the KPMG audit.In her Supreme Court filing, Barker says the Court of Appeal decision would upset the balancing exercise contained in information and privacy legislation across the country, potentially resulting in unjust intrusions on personal privacy in the name of transparency.Barker, who is in her late 40s, said she has never objected to making public part of the March 2015 report that focuses on the financial aspects of Rootenberg’s stint as the health unit’s chief financial officer. The audit found no misappropriation of money under her watch, she said.In 2017, Toronto police accused Rootenberg of using dating sites to lure victims into an intimate relationship before defrauding them.The privacy commissioner’s office said it would oppose Barker’s application for leave to the Supreme Court.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A Quebec land developer says he’s signed an agreement with the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake to return a parcel of forest that was central to the Oka crisis that began 29 years ago today.Gregoire Gollin says in the spirit of reconciliation, he plans to cede 60 hectares of forest known as The Pines to the local council as an ecological gift through a federal government program.He says discussions had been ongoing for two years with Kanesatake officials and he’s hopeful it can be concluded quickly and perhaps serve as an example to landowners elsewhere in Canada in similar situations.The crisis began July 11, 1990, when gunfire between provincial police and Aboriginals defending a small stand of pine trees resulted in the death of officer Marcel Lemay and sparked a 78-day showdown.At the end of it, a deal was struck to bring down the barricades in exchange for cancelling the expansion of a golf course.Nearly three decades later, the disputed territory remains a long-standing, unsettled issue and Ellen Gabriel, a well-known Mohawk activist, says while it’s a noble gesture on the part of Gollin, it doesn’t necessarily go far enough.She notes that as an ecological gift, there will be strings attached to the land transfer and adds the local Mohawk council hasn’t shared details of the agreement with the community.Meanwhile, the nearby town of Oka will hold a meeting next week to discuss the land transfer, according to a Facebook message by the mayor last week.The Canadian Press
Iconic British fashion model Twiggy has joined Animal Defenders International’s (ADI) Fur Stop campaign to highlight the cruelty of fur paraded on British catwalks during London Fashion Week.Twiggy said, “Fur looks beautiful on animals, but very ugly on humans. Fur is literally ripped off animals backs and it can take many animals to make just one coat. The UK prides itself as a nation of animal lovers, so I am asking London Fashion Week to make an ethical choice and reject real fur.”Around 50 million animals are killed around the world each year for their fur. Whilst fur farming is banned in the UK, the rising fur trend has fuelled UK demand. Over 40% of fur sold in the UK is from Finland, where ADI went undercover to reveal video and photographic evidence of the horrific conditions and cruelty on certified fur farms for ADI’s fur report ‘Bloody Harvest’.ADI Chief Executive, Jan Creamer, “I am so disappointed to see fur on catwalks at London Fashion Week. ADI investigations have revealed the horrific conditions endured by animals during fur farming, a practice which is banned in the UK. It is unacceptable for London Fashion Week to continue ignoring the suffering which is so callously paraded on its catwalks. It is high time for London Fashion Week to take responsibility and stop allowing designs made from animal fur.”ADI’s undercover fur farm investigators found: animals with open and infected wounds; obvious signs of untreated infection; eyes infected or missing; tails bitten off; deformed and damaged legs; overgrowing gum disease resulting in difficulty eating and drinking; babies with legs stuck through the mesh floor of the cage; dilapidated and dangerous caging and facilities; widespread animal suffering and neglect; empty, dirty and broken water bowls.Fur Stop supporter Alesha Dixon says, “I think killing animals to steal their fur is not only unnecessary but cruel and goes against everything I believe in. There are so many beautiful fake fur products on the market, why do we need to make poor innocent creatures suffer in the name of vanity? I fully support ADI’s Bloody Harvest report in their quest to wipe out these acts of cruelty!”With the increase of fur on the catwalk this London Fashion Week, many celebrities are denouncing the use of fur. Additional supporters of Animal Defenders International’s Fur Stop campaign include: Stella McCartney, Mary McCartney, Brian Blessed, Meg Mathews, Ricky Gervais, Samantha Womack, Jenni Falconer and Belinda Carlisle.With offices in London, Los Angeles and Bogota, Animal Defenders International campaigns across the globe on animals in entertainment, providing technical advice to governments, securing progressive animal protection legislation, drafting regulations and rescuing animals in distress. ADI has a worldwide reputation for providing video and photographic evidence exposing the behind-the-scenes suffering in industry and supporting this evidence with scientific research on captive wildlife and transport. ADI rescues animals all over the world, educates the public on animals and environmental issues. For more information on how you can help, visit www.ad-international.org.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was on Sunday given the title of ‘Tupua’ or ‘chief’ in south-eastern Samoa by villagers whose homes had been struck by a tsunami nearly five years ago.Tsunami-hit community honours Ban with chief title Credit/Copyright: UN Photo/E. SchneiderWearing traditional ‘siapo lavalava’ around his waist and a beaded ‘palefuiono’ with feathers on his head, the Secretary-General sat across from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi in a roofed social centre in Siupapa, a sub-village of Saleapaga.“It has been agreed by consensus that you be confirmed with the title of Tupua,” the Prime Minister said following a traditional ’ava drinking ceremony.Surrounded by more than a dozen chiefs from local families, as well as the Speaker of the Parliament, Afioga Hon Laauli Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, and other senior officials, the Prime Minister said the Secretary-General will be addressed as “Your Excellency Prince Tupua Ban Ki-moon of Siupapa Saleapaga.” An elderly woman in the village confirmed that the holding of such an already rare ceremony has never before occurred in the village on a Sunday.Taking a polished coconut with the ‘ava drink, Mr. Ban toasted the village and pledged the UN’s support to working with the local communities: “I know your country is facing a lot of difficulties. First of all by climate change, rising sea tides. That’s why I am here to show my strong solidarity and unity with the people of Samoa and many other small island States.”Seated nearby were Mr. Ban’s own chiefs, of sort, including his Special Envoy for Climate Change, Mary Robinson, and Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Also joining him was Wu Hongbo, who serves as Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, which is due to begin tomorrow in the capital, Apia.Among the topics that will be discussed at the summit over the next four days are adapting to and mitigating climate change, building resilience, and sustainable management of oceans.These are important topics for the communities in Saleapaga, which on 29 September 2009 braced an 8.1 magnitude earthquake that caused sea levels to rise up to 46 feet, according to official measures.Lafi Lesa was working in Apia when she heard the news and drove back that morning. There were at least 189 people killed that day, including five from her family.“It was devastating,” she told the UN News Centre. “Sometimes we go back during the day, but not at night, because it might happen again.”After the tsunami, the community moved to its farmland, a 50-minute walk uphill. Instead of fishing, they grow bananas and taro, and raise cattle.The Government has since installed sirens to warn of a potential disaster, and people are educated in how to evacuate quickly. People still go to the beach to enjoy the sun, but the cement foundations of many houses remain desolate under coconut trees, some which are still broken years later.“People want to go back because there was easy access to roads and to operate their small businesses. Up here, because it’s more or less farmland, it is hard for them, and they can hardly adapt to changes,” said Ms. Lesa.Despite having a 25-year-old daughter who works in a bank in the capital, Ms. Lesa decided to remain on the coast after the tsunami. She has a small shop and also represents her family in the village council.With only one road to the village, however, and few opportunities for education and alternative livelihoods, she worries about the future of her community. Ms. Lesa said that she was overwhelmed by the number of delegates participating in the conference, and she hopes that their decisions this week will lead to real action.Source:United Nations