Bengaluru: Nearly a week after facing rout in the Lok Sabha elections, the Karnataka Congress legislators (MLAs) are meeting here on Wednesday to ensure the continuation of their year-old coalition government with the Janata Dal (Secular) as its ally, a party official said on Tuesday. “The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) is meeting at a star hotel in the city on Wednesday in the presence of our senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and party’s state unit in-charge K.C. Venugopal to review the poll results and stay united to sustain the government with the JD-S as our partner,” party spokesman K.E. Radhakrishna told IANS here. Also Read – Dussehra with a ‘green’ twist CLP leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has directed all the 78 legislators to attend the meeting and participate in the deliberations through party’s state unit chief Dinesh Gundu Rao. “The party will take a serious view if any legislator abstains from the meeting without prior intimation or reason for skipping it,” said the official. Contesting with the JD-S under a pre-poll seat-sharing tie-up in all the 28 parliamentary seats in the ratio of 21:7, the beleaguered Congress won only one to retain Bangalore Rural and lost 20 seats, including 9 where the outgoing members re-contested. Also Read – India receives its first Rafale fighter jet from France Ally JD-S also won only one, retaining Hassan and losing 6 seats. Polling was held in two phases on April 18 and April 23 in 14 seats each and votes were counted on May 23. A resurgent BJP won a record 25 seats across the state for the first time in parliamentary election in the southern state. “Though there is no survival threat to the government, as all our MLAs are united, the party high command and the party’s state leaders are not taking chances, as a handful of them have been dissenting against the leadership and the functioning of the coalition government,” admitted the spokesman. A fractured verdict in the May 2018 state assembly elections threw up a hung house, with the BJP winning 104, Congress 79, excluding speaker, and JD-S 37 and one each by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a regional party and an independent. To keep the BJP out of power though it is 8 seats short of the halfway mark (113) for a simple majority in the 225-member assembly, including one nominated, the ruling allies forged a post-poll alliance to form the fledgling coalition government on May 23, 2018, sharing the cabinet posts in the ratio of 22 for the Congress and 12 for the JD-S in the 34-member ministry. “As the allies are committed to follow the coalition dharma, we hope there won’t be revolt by the so-called rebels who have been threatening to resign from the party and their assembly seats to join the BJP and bring down our government,” added Radhakrishna.
Kolkata: Yangon Aerodrome Company Ltd organised a one-day roadshow in Kolkata on Friday to attract more tourists from India and Bengal to Myanmar.In recent times, the inflow of tourists from India to neighbouring Myanmar is on the rise with the Myanmar government granting visas-on-arrival to Indian passport holders. “This roadshow is an important occasion for us to collaborate with our Indian counterparts and partners to develop more air routes so that more people can experience what Myanmar has to offer and vice-versa,” said Jose Angeja chief operating officer at Yangon Aerodrome Company Ltd. According to May Myat Mon Win, chairperson of Myanmar Tourism Federation in the year 2018, altogether 40,000 tourists from India went to Myanmar and in the first five months of 2019 there has been an increase of more than 6 percent in the footfall of India tourists. “We feel that the time is ripe to promote Myanmar. We are beginning with a roadshow in Kolkata and will be holding a rally to promote tourism in the month of November. We will be holding a roadshow in Mumbai in 2020,” said Mon Win. About 58,000 tourists from Myanmar visited India in 2018. Apart from classical destinations such as Yangoon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake, Myanmar Tourism Federation is also promoting nine new destinations that will enable tourists to delve deep into its hidden corners. The new destinations are Mrauk U, Lokkaw, Putao, Hsipaw, Mt. Victoria, Mergui Archipelago, Mogok, Hpaan and Kyaing Tong. The participants attending the event agreed to work jointly to promote air connectivity. The only Indian airline operating at Yangon International Airport is Air India, which operates three scheduled flight per week to and from New Delhi. Air India is planning to increase its frequency of flights from India to Myanmar. It will start twice a week operation from Mumbai to Myanmar. Yangon International Airport handled a total of 6.035 million passengers in 2018.
Srinagar: Union Home Minister Amit Shah Thursday chaired the unified headquarters meeting of the security grid in Jammu and Kashmir and reviewed the overall security situation in the state, officials said. The Home minister, who is on a two-day visit to the state, reviewed the overall security situation in the state with special emphasis on restoration of peace in Kashmir and counter-insurgency operations, the officials said. State Governor Satya Pal Malik, his advisor incharge home affairs K Vijay Kumar, Chief secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, Northern army commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, DGP Dilbagh Singh, heads of various intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces were present in the meeting, the officials said. Also Read – Rajnath Singh arrives for Rafale handover ceremony in France The Home Minister earlier visited the family of Jammu and Kashmir Police inspector Arshad Ahmed Khan, who was killed in a terror attack in Anantnag on June 12. Amid tight security arrangements, Shah visited the family in Balgarden area of the city. The area was cordoned off for the home minister’s visit. Khan, 37, was injured in the terror attack and later flown to Delhi in an air ambulance for specialised treatment. However, he succumbed to injuries at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Also Read – Cosmology trio win Nobel Physics Prize Khan is survived by wife and two sons, aged four and one. Five CRPF personnel were killed in the terror attack, in which a lone Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist targeted a patrol team of the paramilitary force. Shah has also met panchayat representatives who were elected in the grass root level polls last year. He arrived here Wednesday on his maiden visit to the state after taking over the charge of the Home Ministry, signifying the importance given to Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. This was Shah’s first official visit outside the union capital after assuming charge. Breaking away from protocol, the state Governor, accompanied by his advisors and some top officials of the state administration, had received Shah at the airport, officials said. Governors in the past have normally only received the Prime Minister. The home minister on Wednesday reviewed the security arrangements for Amarnath yatra, which commences on 1 July. He had also reviewed the developmental works including the Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package announced by Narendra Modi for the state in 2015.
The much awaited oriental sea food festival at Chowman is back and it’s time to binge on the most exotic sea food in town. The festival, which started from July 15, at all dine in outlets of Chowman, was graced by eminent Music Director and Composer, Debojyoti Mishra.Chowman has always brought variety in the food they serve – from starting to serve authentic Chinese dishes for the very first time, to giving us an experience of neighborhood fine dining and introducing the city to the most delectable and unique food festivals. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainIn the menu this time is a variety of starters and sides to complement the flavorful rice, noodles and meifoon dishes. ‘The Prawn Satay with peanut sauce’ and the ‘Pan Fried Chili Promfret’ are sure to leave you asking for more. Besides this, one can also savour the taste of authentic dishes like ‘Hand Folded Crab Meat Wonton’, ‘Deep Fried Seafood Roll’, ‘Crispy Honey Shrimps/Shrimp with asparagus’, ‘Chinese Fried Fish/ Spicy Sliced Fish’. And for, main course, ‘Sweet & Spicy Jumbo Prawn’, ‘Lobster in Chili Corn Sauce/Lobster with mint, lemon & Chilies’, ‘Octopus in Chili Mustard Sauce’, ‘Thin Fried Squid in Toban Djan Sauce’ can be tried. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardSpeaking to the media on the occasion, Debaditya Chaudhury, Managing Director of Chowman Hospitality Pvt. Ltd said, “We at Chowman, have always tried to bring ingenuity and great flavour-profiles through our extensive menu and unique food festivals. It makes me really happy to bring back the sea food festival yet again. We have been receiving calls enquiring about the festival and I am so glad that Chowman has been so well-received by the people. This time, we have kept new dishes in our menu, which people have not tried before in Chowman. And, I am very confident that everybody will like them too.” Rs 1400/- plus taxes (Meal for two people) Timings: 12 pm – 10.30 pm
New Delhi: Light rains in various areas across the national capital contributed to high humidity levels even as the minimum temperature settled at normal levels on Saturday. “The minimum temperature was recorded at 8.30 am at 27.4 degrees Celsius, normal for this time of the year,” a MeT official said. The humidity level was recorded at 85 per cent. While no rainfall was recorded at Safdarjung and Ridge area observatories, the Palam observatory recorded 10.5 mm rainfall and Lodhi road observatory recorded traces of rainfall. The Aya Nagar observatory recorded 11.7 mm rainfall. The weatherman has predicted a cloudy day ahead with light rains and thundershowers. On Friday, large swathes of Delhi reeled under sultry weather though a few places recorded light rains. The city recorded a high of 34.6 degrees Celsius, a notch above the normal, and a low of 28.3 degrees Celsius on Friday. Humidity levels oscillated between 62 and 85 per cent.
Hyderabad: Polavaram and new Andhra Pradesh capital were the two major projects which attracted all the attention in Andhra Pradesh post bifurcation and now with the change of guards, development of Amaravati has hit the pause button while fresh doubts have cropped up about Polavaram. The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government’s move to exit Navayuga Engineering Company out of Polavaram has triggered apprehensions over the mega irrigation project being built on Godavari river. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The new government three days ago served a notice to Navayuga asking it to exit from the project as it was awarded the contract on a nomination basis by previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government. As a sub-contractor, Navayuga was engaged in various works relating to the project including construction of spillway, spillway channel, coffer dam and power project component. The total value of the works being executed by the company were about Rs 3,000 crore. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K The government has now decided to call tenders by going for reverse tendering process. The development was not unexpected as soon after assuming the office, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had declared that all the contracts awarded by the previous government on nomination basis would be reviewed and wherever necessary he would go for reverse tendering as this would ensure transparency by allowing participation of largest number of bidders. He believes this would lead to huge saving to public exchequer. The government took the action on the findings of a committee of experts constituted by it to review the works awarded to Navayuga. The move, however, evoked criticism not only from TDP, other opposition parties but also from the Centre, which is funding the project. Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat termed as ‘sad’ the move by the YSRCP government to terminate the contract. He told the Parliament that this would become a new impediment for executing the project and lead to cost escalation. Polavaram, which is estimated to cost Rs 58,000 crore, was declared a national project in 2016 as committed by the Centre at the time of bifurcation of combined Andhra Pradesh in 2014. It is being executed by the state government under the supervision of the Polavaram Project Authority, a central agency. The project designed to bring an area of over seven lakh acres in coastal Andhra under irrigation besides producing 960 Megawatt power, utilising 273 thousand million cubic feet or TMC of water currently going waste into the sea. With floods in Godavari, the project works have come to a halt. Officials say the works could resume after the end of flood season in October. After his first visit to the project site last month, Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged that TDP government resorted to irregularities in the project by awarding contracts on nomination basis to those who were close to it. Alleged corruption in Polavaram was a key issue during the election campaign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also targeted then chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu for delaying execution of Polavaram and alleged that he is using it as ‘ATM’ leading to cost escalation. The exit notice to Navayuga may not be the last move of Jagan Reddy government as he claimed that several sub-contracts were awarded to those close to the then ruling party and the ministers. The TDP has rubbished the allegations and claimed that utmost transparency was maintained in the process of awarding the works. TDP leader and former irrigation minister D. Uma Maheswara Rao pointed out that the sub-contract to Navayuga was in fact awarded on the suggestion of the Centre so that the works could speed up. “This is one of the several steps taken by Jagan Mohan Reddy government due to political vendetta without bothering about the state’s interests,” he said. Chandrababu Naidu said despite the canard spread by YSRCP all these years, the TDP government completed 70 per cent of the project works. He cautioned that if YSRCP government failed to execute the balance works in a stipulated time, Polavaram will remain a dream. Jagan Reddy recently reiterated that his government will complete the project by June 2021. However, experts say the termination of contracts and calling of fresh tenders may further delay the project and also lead to cost escalation. Conceived in 1941 at just Rs 6.5 crore, Polavaram was marred by delays and controversies over last several decades. Being built at Polavaram in West Godavari district, it is said to be the last irrigation project of this scale in the country and promises to become lifeline of Andhra Pradesh. Despite being mooted before India’s independence, it remained on paper for several decades. Though the foundation stone was laid in 1980, no progress could made be made till 2005 when then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy launched the work. Most of the works of two canals were completed and majority of the clearances from the Centre were obtained during his time. However, Rajasekhara Reddy’s death in a helicopter crash in 2009 and subsequent political turmoil due to revival of demand for Telangana state once again threw the project in a limbo. The commitment made by the Centre in Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act came as a fresh hope for the project and since then significant progress was made but for people of state it is still a long way to go.
New Delhi: India’s economy will grow at a median rate of 6 per cent during the first quarter of the current financial year ended June 30, according to a Ficci report. The country’s economy grew at 8.2 per cent in April-June 2018-19. The growth numbers for the first quarter are expected to be released by the Central Statistics Office next week. “The recently released unemployment numbers by NSSO reaffirm the grim situation with regard to employment in the country,” said Ficci Economic Outlook Survey. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalIt pegged the annual median GDP growth forecast for 2019-20 at 6.9 per cent, with a minimum and maximum estimate of 6.7 per cent and 7.2 per cent, respectively. The median is the middle number in a sorted, ascending or descending list of numbers which can be more descriptive of a data set than the average. A majority of the participating economists in the survey suggested the RBI will continue its accomodative stance, with a further cut in the repo rate in the remaining part of 2019-20. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThey felt that the prevailing real interest rates were high. They also signalled that tardy deposit growth is haunting the banks as it is limiting their ability to lend and is preventing adequate transmission. The participants identified four key areas of improvement that would help create more jobs: cost of doing business; regulatory reforms; labour reforms and announcement of sector specific special packages. They observed that slower global growth will impact India’s growth prospects going forward. In fact, economists unanimously indicated that India’s potential growth rate would be between 7-7.5 per cent, which is lower than the 8 per cent plus potential growth rate estimated until a few years back, Ficci stated. However, a majority of participants felt that potential GDP growth would settle at 7.5 per cent. The participants were skeptical and divided about replicating the previous high growth performance of over 8 per cent and sustaining it at that level, Ficci stated. Those who were optimistic believed that a turnaround would be challenging given the current global environment and could take at least three to four years, it added. To achieve India’s potential growth rate, the economists suggested boosting agriculture, strengthening micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), undertaking factor market reforms and enhancing avenues for infrastructure financing. A factor market, also referred to as the input market, is a place where companies buy what they need to produce their goods and services. The survey was conducted during June-July 2019 amongst economists belonging to the industry, banking and financial services sectors. While the median growth forecast for agriculture and allied activities has been put at 2.2 per cent for 2019-20, the industry and services sector are expected to grow by 6.9 per cent and 8 per cent respectively during 2019-20, the survey revealed. The outlook of participating economists on inflation also remains benign. The median forecast for Wholesale Price Index based inflation rate for 2019-20 has been pegged at 2.9 per cent, with a minimum and maximum estimate of 2.1 per cent and 5.7 per cent, respectively. Besides, the median forecast for the Consumer Price Index is 3.7 per cent for 2019-20 with a minimum and maximum estimate of 3.4 per cent and 4.1 per cent, respectively. However, according to the survey, concerns remain on external front with median current account deficit forecast pegged at 2.3 per cent of GDP for 2019-20. Merchandise exports are expected to grow by 3.6 per cent, while imports are expected to grow by 4 per cent during the year. Overall decline in global growth forecasts, escalating trade tensions, uncertainty around Brexit and foggy outlook on international crude oil prices have emerged as key concerns on the external front. The economists opined that it was necessary to ensure availability of capital and access to diversified long-term capital sources for carrying out productive investments in the economy. They felt borrowing costs should be lower to drive investments and employment in the country. They said greater efforts are required to develop the bond market, non-bank financial sector, and the stock exchanges. Economists also felt the need for establishing a long-term development finance institution on a priority basis.
Kolkata: In a rare gesture, Mayor Firhad Hakim has assured to clear the medical bill of a newborn amounting to around Rs 3.5 lakh. The baby has been admitted to the ICU of a private hospital in South Kolkata.Mousumi Ghatak, a resident of Sainthia, Harisabha Gram Panchayat in Birbhum, called up Hakim through the Talk to Mayor programme on Wednesday and urged him for financial assistance. As it had become impossible for Ghatak’s family to carry on with the medical expenditure of her newborn nephew, Hakim listened to her and got in touch with the manager of the private hospital, asking him to send the bill in his name. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe bill has reached a staggering amount of Rs 3.5 lakh. The hospital authorities have since informed the family members that they would not have to pay a single paisa for the baby’s medical treatment, as it would be borne by the Mayor of Kolkata. Arpita Ghatak gave birth to a child on Thursday. The child developed complications and was taken to Birbhum Sadar Hospital from where she was shifted to a private nursing home. The nursing home referred the baby to another hospital in Durgapur. Finally on Saturday, the baby was admitted to a private hospital in Kolkata with problems in her lungs. Though only problems related to civic issues for areas under KMC are discussed and resolved at the Talk to Mayor programme, Hakim took up the matter on humanitarian ground. This is the rarest gesture by a Mayor of Kolkata under the new MMiC system, which was introduced in 1985.
Canada and 10 other countries agreed this weekend to re-evaluate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the controversial trade deal that has been assumed dead since the U.S. pulled out in January.However a Canadian group opposed to the TPP says the deal should not be revived.Trade officials said the deal would change significantly without American involvement, although leaders from the 11 remaining countries are still figuring out what a revised trade plan would look like.In its current form, the partnership requires U.S. participation before it can go into effect. But a revised TPP wouldn’t be as simple as taking the U.S. out of the existing deal: each of the 11 remaining countries will have to re-evaluate its own trade needs absent of American involvement.Ministers attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) in Hanoi, Vietnam this weekend discussed taking another look at the terms of the deal. Officials from the countries involved, which include Australia, Malaysia, Mexico, and Singapore, among others, have agreed to present assessments to their leaders when they meet for an annual APEC summit in Vietnam in November, which will also include U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.Since the U.S withdrawal, Japan and New Zealand have been spearheading efforts to revive the deal. Both countries have ratified the agreement and moved forward on legislation related to the deal. But Canadian officials stress that even the countries most enthusiastic about the previous agreement understand that it must be significantly altered before it can move forward.New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said the remaining countries are open to others joining provided they accept the trade agreement’s high standards on labour and environmental protection. He said the door remains open to the U.S., even after President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in January, saying he prefers bilateral free trade deals.Supporters of the agreement argue that opening the Canadian economy to foreign markets could benefit sectors including forestry, manufacturing and agriculture, especially production of canola, beef and pork. But there are also concerns about intellectual property provisions, including patent extensions, as well as the potential for job loss within Canada.Sujata Dey, trade campaigner for the social action organization The Council of Canadians, called the TPP “a huge corporate power grab” that should be abandoned completely rather than re-worked. The group takes particular issue with the policy’s investor-state dispute settlement, which allows companies to sue governments over any regulations that reduce their profits.“These trade agreements are old-school because our world problems have changed,” Dey said, citing environmental crises. “Until we stop copying and cutting the old trade agreement that we’ve been doing for the last 30 years, it’s not going to be a trade agreement that works for our new reality.”In response, a Liberal government official who did not want to be named indicated that the concerns of Canadians will be taken into account in formulating a new deal. Trying to sell a new version of the TPP to the public that doesn’t include free and progressive fair trade would be an uphill battle for the federal government, he said.The China-led 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will meet Monday in Hanoi to further discussions on a separate deal seen as an alternative to the TPP. It is expected to be finalized by the end of this year.With files from the Associated Press
OTTAWA – Quebec may finally get access to data from the defunct federal long-gun registry.Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale tabled a bill in the Commons on Friday that will allow the province to look at information from the registry if the legislation passes in the Commons and the Senate.But the minister said he does not know whether the data is still useful given the registry was abolished in 2012 by the Conservative government, which considered it obsolete.Quebec fought the Tory government all the way to the Supreme Court to obtain the data related to long-gun owners in the province but lost in March 2015.The province took steps last year to creating its own registry.Goodale warned the data may no longer be very pertinent.“The bill allows us to provide Quebec with access to the data,” he told reporters.“Whether that data is actually useful to Quebec remains to be seen. It is now of course several years out of date and it may or may not be in a form that is useful from the point of view of the Quebec government.“We had legal impediments put in the way by the previous government that made it impossible to share that information unless we changed the law. So this now allows for that legal change.”The National Firearms Association criticized the introduction of Bill C-52 in the Commons.“This appears to be nothing more than a work-around for the federal Liberals,” said association president Sheldon Clare.“They said they wouldn’t bring in a long-gun registry, but they didn’t say they would get the provinces to set up their own. This is a huge betrayal to all of the people who believed they were being honest.“All firearms owners and users in this country need to come together to stop this nonsense before it is too late,”The Supreme Court ruled two years ago Ottawa had the right to order the destruction of gun-registry data that Quebec had coveted for years.The Harper government abolished the registry in 2011 as part of a long-standing campaign promise.It was created by the Liberals in 1998 in response to the murder of 14 women at Montreal’s Ecole polytechnique in 1989. They were targeted by a gunman because of their gender.
OTTAWA – The federal government is set to reveal Canada’s next governor general Thursday with an announcement outside the doors of the Senate.Multiple officials say that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make the announcement himself, and is expected to be flanked by the new viceregal just as Gov. Gen. David Johnston stood alongside Stephen Harper when he was tapped for the job in 2010.Sources say Trudeau informed the Queen during an audience with her last week of his recommendation to the post.Johnston’s term is set to expire in September, after Harper extended it by two years ahead of the 2015 federal election.The identity of who will replace him has been a closely guarded secret with few in Ottawa in the know about who will become the 29th person to hold the position.Traditionally, the viceregal job rotates between anglophones and francophones, with all indications pointing to a francophone filling the portfolio beginning this fall.
CRANBROOK, B.C. – A decades-long constitutional debate over Canada’s polygamy law is set to flare up again Tuesday, six years after a British Columbia Supreme Court ruled plural marriage is a crime.Winston Blackmore of Bountiful, B.C., is expected to argue the law infringes on his freedom of religion and expression. Blackmore married at least 24 women between 1990 and 2014 and was found guilty of one count of polygamy earlier this year.Blackmore is the leader of a small community in southeast B.C. that follows the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon breakaway sect that condones plural or “celestial” marriage.The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has renounced any connection to the polygamist group.This week’s proceedings are the latest attempt to test whether Canada’s polygamy law violates the Constitution.The RCMP first investigated Blackmore in the early 1990s and recommended he be charged with polygamy, but the province chose not to because of the constitutional uncertainty.B.C. appointed a special prosecutor in 2007 who advised against approving charges against Blackmore and his successor, James Oler.Oler was appointed to lead the community after Blackmore’s excommunication by church leader Warren Jeffs, who was based in the United States. Jeffs was later sentenced to life in prison in the U.S. after being convicted of multiple sexual assaults against minors.In 2008, the provincial government appointed a second special prosecutor who approved legal action against the church leaders, but the court threw out those charges, accusing the province of “special prosecutor shopping.”Three years later, the B.C. Supreme Court offered clarity by ruling in a lengthy reference case that Canada’s ban on polygamy is valid and does not unreasonably restrict religious freedoms. The decision found that plural marriage is inherently harmful and must be outlawed to protect women, children and the institution of marriage.The following year, the provincial government appointed a third special prosecutor who approved charges against Blackmore and Oler in 2014.Findings of guilt against both Blackmore and Oler won’t be entered as convictions until a decision is made in the constitutional debate. Arguments are expected to take until the end of the week.Both Blackmore and Oler are out on bail. The maximum sentence for a conviction of polygamy is five years in prison, said Crown spokesman Dan McLaughlin.Blackmore’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, said Monday his client has been attacked for 20 years over religious beliefs that have not been shown to harm anyone.“It’s not fair,” Suffredine said. “It’s not as if there’s any allegation of serious misconduct. The allegation is simply that he has more than one wife, basically, not that there’s any complaint from anybody that he’s done anything that’s hurt anybody.”Suffredine added that his reading of the reference decision is that the court needs to find that actual harm is being caused, not potential harm.Prosecutor Micah Rankin said Monday in an email that the Crown has not filed a written argument in advance of Tuesday’s hearing, but he and his counterpart, Peter Wilson, would submit materials in court during proceedings.Oler does not have legal representation, but lawyer Joe Doyle was appointed as a friend of the court to ensure Oler receives a fair trial.— By Geordon Omand in Vancouver. Follow @gwomand on Twitter.
CALGARY – The wife of a missing Calgary man whose boat was recovered off the coast of Florida says he may have been swept away while trying to rescue the family dog.Michele Horne told CTV Calgary it’s believed her husband, Fraser, dove in when the golden retriever named Toula fell into the water.Fraser Horne, an avid boater, set sail on a trip on Friday and was reported missing after failing to return on Sunday.His boat — running in neutral and with his wallet, keys and shoes onboard — was found near the Gulf Coast fishing village of Cortez a few hours later.The dog was discovered by a Good Samaritan on a nearby island later that evening.The U.S. coast guard launched an extensive search for the 64-year-old snowbird, but it failed to turn up anything and the coast guard has called off its efforts.“We searched over 2,000 square miles for more than 46 hours to look for Mr. Horne and unfortunately we were unable to locate him,” said petty officer Ashley Johnson.The Hornes bought a place in Florida in 2015 to spend the winters.“What is clear from the search patterns … is that Toula, the retriever, fell into the water and that Fraser went to get her, to rescue her,” Michele Horne told CTV from Florida.“In rescuing her, there was a strong current that was shifting against him and the boat. From what the data shows, he probably was not able to go back to the boat.”Michele Horne said Toula is a strong swimmer and was in the water for about two hours.“The waters are fairly warm here, around 70 to 75 degrees, (but) she was shivering. She had been there for a while. They put blankets on her. The biggest issue she had was taking in a lot of salt water and exhaustion,” she said.“I can’t believe that this dog did what she did, swim as hard as she did … We don’t have kids. We love our dogs. They’re our kids and he (Fraser) would’ve done anything for her, so I am so happy she’s back with us.”Toula is in good health and is back at home, Horne said.“She’s on antibiotics. She’s good. We had her on two, 30-minute walks today. She’s eating. She’s drinking.“There’s something she knows and we wish dogs could talk.”Michele’s sister, Lisa, flew down to Florida from Edmonton when she heard the news.“We are hoping we will find Fraser,” she said. “We haven’t really made plans of what we’re going to do. The plan initially was that we’d like to stay here until he’s found and we can bring him home.”Conservation officers and the county sheriff’s office will continue to search daily.(CTV Calgary)
TORONTO – A lawyer for an Inuk activist suffering from acute liver failure says several supporters have volunteered to be her organ donor, but the search for a viable match is being stalled by an Ontario transplant program’s six-month sobriety requirement.According to friends and family, Delilah Saunders was sent to a Toronto hospital in critical condition after having been denied a spot on a transplant waiting list because she hadn’t remained sober for the previous six months.Lawyer Caryma S’ad, who is representing Saunders, said the 26-year-old woman’s condition has slightly improved and she seemed more like her usual self on Sunday as she and her family awaited further test results to find out if she is on track to make a recovery or still needs a liver transplant.“We’re still in that wait-and-see game, but by all accounts, she looks stronger and in better spirits,” S’ad said. “She’s an incredible and resilient person, so if anyone’s going to fight through this, it’s hopefully going to be Delilah.”After being diagnosed with acute liver failure about a week ago, Saunders was transferred from the Ottawa Hospital to Toronto General Hospital on Thursday to be assessed in a transplant clinic.S’ad said friends, family and even strangers have offered to donate parts of their liver to Saunders, but none of the candidates have been screened because of an Ontario organ donation agency’s policy requiring patients with alcohol-related liver damage to abstain from substance use for a minimum of six months.“If a transplant is needed, the first step will be determining her eligibility,” she said. “(There are) things that could be happening in the background, but she’s not on the list yet.”The Trillium Gift of Life Network, which provides organs for transplants in Ontario, says its abstinence policy is used across Canada and the United States.A spokesperson for Trillium has confirmed the agency plans to launch a pilot project to suspend the six-month requirement and provide transplants to almost 100 patients with alcohol-related liver disease.Transplant physicians have said there is a critical organ shortage and research has shown that some alcoholics resume drinking after a transplant, leading to liver failure.S’ad said several potential donors have offered to help Saunders with full awareness of her history of alcohol use, making the “arbitrary” criteria even less applicable.She said she is prepared to challenge the policy in court if necessary, and while her chief concern is Saunders’ well-being, she thinks the case has the potential to help hundreds of patients in similar situations.“Delilah is an advocate in every other respect, so I think that would please her very much … if this can have a broader impact,” she said.Saunders’ case is the latest in a series of clashes over the transplant policy, and has drawn national attention with demonstrations being held in several Canadian cities.Amnesty International has thrown its support behind a campaign for Saunders’ inclusion on the waiting list, and praised her for her work advocating for the human rights of Innu and other Indigenous women.Ossie Michelin, a friend of Saunders who helped organize the campaign, said her personal struggles and Indigenous rights advocacy are intimately connected.“We knew from the very beginning that this is what she’d want us to do. She’d want us to fight,” Michelin said. “We just keep thinking about all of the people who do not have a support network like Delilah.”Saunders began advocating for the rights of missing and murdered indigenous women following the murder of her sister Loretta in 2014 in Halifax, and according to Michelin, she started drinking around the same time.Saunders had been sober for several months before relapsing shortly after giving emotionally charged testimony before the National Inquiry into Murder and Missing Women and Girls at Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton in October, Michelin said.“Loretta was gone in an instant,” he said. “Her mom was saying this time she’s losing her child, but this time it’s happening in slow motion right in front of her.”—By Adina Bresge in Halifax
VANCOUVER – Health officials in British Columbia have closed two oyster farms amid an investigation into another outbreak of norovirus linked to the consumption of raw oysters.The BC Centre for Disease Control says there have been about 40 cases of the acute stomach upset since early March and all those who became ill reported eating raw oysters from B.C.The centre says laboratory testing confirms the presence of norovirus in some of the cases and the illness is suspected in the rest of those who have become ill.An exact source of the contamination has not been determined but the centre says human sewage in seawater is the most likely cause.Nearly 350 cases of norovirus linked to raw or undercooked B.C. oysters were reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario starting in late 2016 and continuing through early 2017, forcing the closure of 13 oyster farms on the B.C. coast.That outbreak was declared over in April 2017, and an article published the British Columbia Medical Journal last June determined sewage spread by ocean currents caused the widespread contamination.Researchers concluded the outbreak disproved claims that shellfish is safe to eat between September and April, and noted that bacteria, viruses and biotoxins persist in cold sea water year-round.The centre says it does not recommend eating raw oysters and advises the shellfish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 90 C for 90 seconds to kill pathogens.
OTTAWA – Canadians who currently use cannabis expect to buy nearly two-thirds of their pot from legal retailers once recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada, a new survey suggests.Moreover, respondents to the survey say they expect to buy cannabis more often and are prepared to pay more for the legal product, generating up to $4.34 billion in total sales next year.The findings were drawn from an online survey of 1,500 Canadians, conducted by Asking Canadians from March 6-20.It was commissioned by accounting giant Deloitte, which provides audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management and tax services for its clients.“What is certain is that legalization will open the doors to a dynamic and sophisticated industry that will create new jobs, new opportunities for businesses and new revenue for government,” Deloitte concludes in a report on the survey.“Executed well, legalization will also help shift a considerable proportion of cannabis consumption to legal channels in the years to come.”The Trudeau government intends to have retail sales of cannabis up and running by late summer, assuming the legalization bill is passed by the Senate in a vote scheduled for June 7.Overall, the survey suggests 63 per cent of respondents expect to move from illegal suppliers to legal retailers. That includes 47 per cent of frequent users and 69 per cent of periodic users.“Legalization alone won’t persuade most current cannabis consumers to completely abandon their existing suppliers,” the report says. “But our research suggests the right mix of quality, price and safety could just do the trick.”Among the things that would persuade current users to switch to legal retailers, 55 per cent of respondents cited better quality products, 54 per cent cited a range of prices, 47 per cent cited products with a range of potency and 41 per cent cited products certified to be safe.Based on the survey, Deloitte says the current average price for illegal cannabis is $8.24 per gram. Respondents said they’re willing to pay a bit more — an average of $8.98 per gram — for legal weed.Current consumers said the price would have to rise to almost $14 per gram before they’d stop buying while respondents who said they’re likely to become consumers once cannabis is legalized said they’d stop buying at about $11 per gram.“Being responsive to consumers’ price sensitivities is essential if producers, manufacturers and retailers are to be successful — and if governments are going to persuade a rising number of Canadians to purchase through legal retailers,” the report concludes.According to the survey, frequent users expect to make 22 per cent more purchases of cannabis under the legalized regime, although they expect to spend about the same each month as they do now — just less than $100.However, respondents who are currently infrequent users expect their purchases to rise by 121 per cent, with their total spending increasing by almost 70 per cent to roughly $28 every three months.While Canadians may purchase cannabis more often, the survey suggests they still won’t necessarily indulge all that often: 41 per cent of cannabis consumers said they’ll use it less than once a month. Just 20 per cent said they’ll use it every day — unchanged from current usage.
MONTREAL – Thousands of cheering spectators lined the streets of Montreal on Sunday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued what has become a yearly tradition of walking in the city’s colourful Pride parade.Wearing white pants and a pink button down shirt, the prime minister yelled “Happy Pride” as he marched alongside his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, as well as Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and other dignitaries.Less than a week before the kickoff of Quebec’s election campaign, politicians from all three levels of government could be spotted among the amid the parade’s sequins, rainbow flags and whirling dancers.At a press conference ahead of the event, Trudeau called for an end to the use of the word “tolerance” as a benchmark for the treatment of diverse communities.“We need to talk about acceptance, we need to talk about openness, we need to talk about friendship, we need to talk about love — not just tolerance,” he said to cheers.Trudeau began his day at an upscale hotel in Old Montreal, where he attended a Pride-themed Liberal fundraising brunch in the company of Montreal-born “Queer Eye” TV personality Antoni Porowski.As guests snacked on foie gras appetizers and lobster rolls, the prime minister and Porowski discussed topics ranging from Montreal’s food scene to the continued importance of Pride events.Trudeau noted that LGBTQ youth are still more likely to be homeless or have suicidal thoughts, despite the progress that has been made towards equality.The prime minister planned to end the day in his home riding of Papineau, where he was set to announce his nomination as a candidate for the 2019 election.
MONCTON, N.B. – David Suzuki has doubled down on his criticism of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, saying she’s being a hypocrite when she says she’s committed to the Paris accord and the Trudeau government is “going full bore.”The prominent environmentalist repeated the call for McKenna to quit Friday in Moncton, N.B., while helping to campaign for the Green Party in next week’s provincial election.Suzuki says it’s ridiculous that the Trudeau government is using targets set by the former Harper government.He says McKenna should resign if she means what she says about climate change.Suzuki first made the call earlier this week in La Presse.Speaking at a G7 meeting in Halifax, McKenna said quitting is easy, but it’s hard to do what the government is doing and she wants to remain in the job.
OTTAWA – Manitoba is the latest province to be hit by rotating strikes by members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.CUPW says 1,500 members walked off the job in Winnipeg at 10 p.m. local time Sunday and that workers in Brandon, Man., set up picket lines at 12:01 a.m. Monday.The union also reported on its website Sunday night that strikes were continuing in Niagara Falls, Ont., and in IIes-de-la-Madeleine, Que. Those job actions began on Friday and Saturday respectively.CUPW members have been conducting rotating walkouts across the country as special mediator Morton Mitchnick tries to resolve the labour dispute.Nearly 9,000 CUPW members walked out for two days last week in the Greater Toronto Area, creating delivery delays for tens of thousands of Canadians awaiting letters and parcels across the country.The union has said that Canada Post needs to come to the bargaining table ready to talk about the issues that matter — health and safety, equality for (rural and suburban mail carriers) and an end to precarious work.”For its part, Canada Post says it has made “significant offers” to CUPW — which include increased wages, job security and improved benefits — and has not asked for any concessions in return.
OTTAWA — Police say a 62-year-old Ottawa man is facing charges after he allegedly brought child pornography back to Canada following a mission trip to an orphanage in Nepal.Police say the suspect was stopped by Canada Border Services Agency officers in mid-December when he returned to Canada after the mission.They say the officers found evidence of suspected child pornography, as well communications where the man allegedly sought to have sexual relations with five Nepalese boys under the age of 16.The Ottawa Police Internet Child Exploitation Unit says it carried out an investigation and the suspect was arrested Friday at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, where he was escorted off a plane bound for Panama City.A search warrant was simultaneously executed at the suspect’s Ottawa residence where police say additional electronic devices containing images of child pornography were seized.They say Paul McCarthy was charged with possession of child pornography, luring a child under 18 and importing child pornography, and was set to appear in court on Saturday.The Canadian Press