New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will attend the two-day meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Japan beginning June 8, said a government official. This will be the first overseas visit of Sitharaman as finance minister. Last week she took charge as the first full-time woman finance minister of the country. Besides Sitharaman, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das is also likely to attend the meeting at Fukuoka in Japan. Also Read – SC declines Oil Min request to stay sharing of documentsAmong other things, the meeting over the weekend is likely to focus on risks and challenges being faced by the global economy, investment in infrastructure and international taxation. The deliberations at the meeting would be followed by the G-20 Leaders’ Summit scheduled on June 28-29 at Osaka. The meeting of the finance ministers would also deliberate on issues like increasing protectionism and its implication on global growth and trade. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its forecast for global growth from 3.6 per cent last year to 3.3 per cent in 2019. In this context, the meeting deliberations would focus on surveillance of global economic risks, global imbalances, aging population and its policy implications, addressing financial market fragmentation and opportunities and challenges in financial innovation. Also Read – World suffering ‘synchronized slowdown’, says new IMF chiefThe other issues which would figure are international taxation in the context of digitised economy, issues concerning shifting of tax liability to low tax jurisdiction and real time exchange of tax related information, are likely to come up during the discussion. G-20, which is a group of developing and developed nations, include India, the US, the UK, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, France and Australia among others. The G20 meetings, convened annually since 1999, provides a forum for key countries in the international financial system to discuss major international economic issues and to coordinate to achieve the stable and sustainable growth of the global economy.
Kolkata: Trinamool Congress will start building contacts with people throughout the state through its initiative named Janasanyog Yatra from June 21, party supremo Mamata Banerjee said on Friday.She presided over a meeting held to analyse poll results in Hooghly at Trinamool Bhavan on Friday afternoon. She will hold similar meetings in Bijpur on June 14 and Nadia on June 21. Senior party leaders including Subrata Bakshi, Trinamool Youth Congress president Abhishek Banerjee, Firhad Hakim, the observer of Hooghly district Indranil Sen and Ashima Patra were present. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaShe will be present at the installation of the statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar at Vidyasagar College on June 11. The statue was vandalised by BJP supporters taking part in the rally of the party’s national president Amit Shah in May. Following the event, she will take part in the inauguration of a luxury hotel by ITC on Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. Banerjee said the Yatra will start from June 21 and will be held in Birbhum, Burdwan, Howrah and Hooghly, along with other South Bengal districts. It will also be held in Jangalmahal, Sunderbans and North Bengal. It will be continued till July 18. On July 21 Martyr’s Day will be held and the Yatra will be resumed from July 25. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersRabindranath Ghosh, president of the Cooch Behar unit of the party, was replaced by Benoy Krishna Barman. Banerjee said as Barman was a minister without any portfolio, he would be able to devote more time to the party. She met the Panchayat members, MLAs and party functionaries of Hooghly district. Though Trinamool Congress has retained Srirampur and Arambagh out of the three Lok Sabha seats in Hooghly, the margins of both the candidates, Kalyan Banerjee and Aparupa Podder, have drastically fallen. Podder, who was elected from Arambagh by 1,818 votes, had won the seat by 3.46 lakh votes in 2014. Ratna Dey Nag, the party’s two-time MP was defeated by Locket Chatterjee of BJP by over 70,000 votes. Dey Nag had won the seat by 1.89 lakh votes in 2014. There was massive transfer of CPI(M) votes to BJP, which had helped the BJP candidates win in Arambagh and secure second position in Srirampur and Arambagh. There was transfer of votes by a section of Trinamool supporters as well. It was decided on Friday that Mayor Firhad Hakim will hold three block-level meetings. Banerjee had asked all party leaders to go to the people and listen to their grievances. By holding meetings in each district, Banerjee is trying to understand what went wrong with the party as they failed to get votes in areas like Jangalmahal and North Bengal, where massive development has taken place.
Rio De Janeiro: Ten-man Brazil held on to win the Copa America on home soil despite Gabriel Jesus’s dismissal with a 3-1 victory over Peru. Jesus scored the decisive goal after a penalty from Peru captain Paolo Guerrero canceled out Everton’s opener for hosts Brazil at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. A last minute penalty from substitute Richarlison sealed a win for Brazil which handed the South American giants their ninth Copa triumph and first since 2007. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football togetherJesus’s evening went sour 20 minutes from time as he was sent off for a second booking. The Manchester City striker was in tears as he left the field, making obscene hand gestures, angrily kicking a water bottle and almost knocking over the VAR booth. Brazil’s players rallied after the dismissal however to claim a battling victory. “It’s really special because we built something together,” enthused captain Dani Alves. Earlier, after a minute’s silence was held for bossa nova legend Joao Gilberto — who died on Saturday — underdogs Peru made a confident start and didn’t appear overawed by either their opponents or the occasion. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian OpenBut it quickly became apparent that they were up against more accomplished players. “It was a game in which they took advantage of our mistakes and turned them all into goals,” said Peru’s Edison Flores. Peru coach Ricardo Gareca had said on Saturday they needed to prevent Brazil from dominating possession, but that was easier said than done. Brazil started to stroke the ball around commandingly, and as they did that, they looked dangerous. Their opening goal came from a piece of individual brilliance by Jesus, whose drag back fooled two defenders, creating space for him to cross for the unmarked Everton to drill home at the back post on the quarter hour. Brazil were in control and playing like champions elect as Roberto Firmino found space on the left and crossed for Philippe Coutinho to stab wide. Left-winger Everton was clever with his movement in dragging the athletic right-back Luis Advincula out of position and Brazil’s left-back Alex Sandro found acres of space to put in a deep cross that Firmino headed over. Just as it looked as if Brazil would stroll to victory, Peru went on the attack and a Christian Cueva cross hit the arm of a sliding Thiago Silva, giving Peru a penalty that was confirmed after a VAR review. Guerrero sent goalkeeper Alisson the wrong way from 12 yards and Peru were back in it just before half-time. But they paid for their lack of guile and experience with almost the last kick of the half as Arthur was allowed to drive at the defence from midfield following a slip from Renato Tapia that left him space to attack. Center-back Carlos Zambano also slipped, allowing Arthur to feed Jesus in the middle of the area and the Manchester City striker made no mistake, finding the bottom corner. Brazil had a few speculative shots at the start of the second half but Silva, Dani Alves and Coutinho all failed to hit the target. After some wing trickery from Everton, Alex Sandro crossed but Firmino headed wide. Brazil were in complete control at this stage as Peru could hardly string two passes together. But the dynamic changed 20 minutes from time as Jesus was given his marching orders for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Cueva. The onus was now on Peru to attack and Miguel Trauco brought a near post save out of Alisson while Edison Flores fizzed a volley from outside the area just wide. But amidst a flurry of substitutions, fouls and injury stoppages, the steam went out of Peru’s efforts and they were unable to exert any sustained pressure on the hosts. Any hopes they had were extinguished when Zambrano was adjudged to have barged over Everton in the penalty area and substitute Richarlison drilled home the spot-kick into the bottom corner.
Ahmedabad: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said he is thankful to his opponents in the RSS and the BJP for providing him with opportunities to take his ideological battle against them to the public.Gandhi arrived here to appear before a metropolitan court in a defamation suit filed against him by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank and its chairman, Ajay Patel. “I’m in Ahmedabad today, to appear in another case filed against me by my political opponents in the RSS/BJP. Also Read – How a psychopath killer hid behind the mask of a devout laity!”I thank them for providing me these platforms & opportunities to take my ideological battle against them to the public. Satyameva Jayate,” he said in a tweet after reaching Ahmedabad. The defamation suit alleges that Congress leaders, including Gandhi, had falsely claimed that the bank was involved in a “scam” to swap Rs 750 crore in scrapped notes with valid currency within five days of demonetisation in 2016.
New Delhi: Joining the pan-India celebrations of Guru Purnima, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) on Tuesday unveiled a statue of sage and theatrologist Bharata Muni who composed the ‘Natya Shastra’, an ancient Sanskrit text on performing arts. The unveiling happened on the Foundation Day of IGNCA’s Kalakosh division, a department dedicated to the rich body of literature surrounding India’s classical arts. The statue was unveiled by Rajya Sabha MP and classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, IGNCA president and senior journalist Ram Bahadur Rai, and National Gallery of Modern Art director-general and sculptor Adwaita Gadanayak. The ‘Natya Shastra’ is the oldest extant literature in the field of dramatic arts. The black-coloured sculpture, conceptualised by classical dancer Padma Subrahmanyam and sculpted by Bengaluru-based artists T.N. Rathna and S. Venkataramana, represents divine forces and the classical arts tradition of India. It can now be seen at the IGNCA’s entrance.
Kolkata: A Trinamool Congress member succumbed to gunshot injuries in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, police said on Tuesday. “Jahangir Sheikh, 40, a panchayat samiti member of the Trinamool Congress, was shot at by some miscreants on Monday. He died at a nearby hospital,” said an officer of Kandi police station. The officer said that they had not received any written complaint of the killing. Whether the incident was a political clash or the result of any personal enmity will be investigated, he added.
San Francisco: As the US regulators investigate Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, the social networking giant has reportedly shelved plans to buy popular group video chat app called Houseparty. According to an Engadget report, quoting the New York Times, the talks ended after Facebook realized that acquiring another big social networking player will invite anti-trust probe risk from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Houseparty lets users perform video chat with multiple people at once and is popular among those under age 24. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year Online video game Fortnite maker Epic Games acquired Houseparty in June for an undisclosed sum. The US FTC last month approved a historic settlement involving about $5 billion with Facebook over its probe into the tech giant’s privacy violations including the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Apart from the record-breaking $5 billion penalty, Facebook will also submit to new sweeping restrictions and a modified corporate structure that will hold the company accountable for the decisions it makes about its users’ privacy. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India The US FTC is also probing what prompted Facebook to acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. According to reports, the FTC is looking to find out whether Facebook was trying to snuff out potential competitors before they could truly challenge the social media giant. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already announced plans for convergence between Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. In a first step towards merging all its platforms into one unified experience for users, Facebook is adding its brand name to Instagram and WhatsApp. Instagram will soon become “Instagram from Facebook” and WhatsApp will turn into “WhatsApp from Facebook”.
New Delhi: Asserting that restrictions in the Kashmir Valley were put in place to avoid loss of human lives, the foremost priority, a top government official on Tuesday said these impositions on people’s movement and communications are being eased out in a phased manner.The official also asserted that these restrictions will only be removed after an assessment by local authorities and added that political leaders like former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who were arrested as a “preventive measure”, will also be released by the J&K administration only after assessing the ground situation. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”If the trade-off is between inconvenience and loss of life, if the trade-off is between peddling fake news leading to loss of life and people’s inconvenience, what should we choose? However, the administration is mindful of the difficulties being faced by people and trying to minimise the inconvenience. Any such decision (removal of restrictions) will be taken only after an assessment by the local administration,” the official said. A Home Ministry spokesperson said as per the J&K administration, restrictions imposed on people’s movement and communication links in the Kashmir Valley are being eased out in a phased manner and the normal situation in the Jammu division has been restored after assessment by relevant local authorities. In Srinagar, Principal Secretary in the J&K, Rohit Kansal, told a press conference that the administration was hopeful of further relaxation in the security clampdown after the dress rehearsal for the August 15 Independence Day celebrations conclude in various districts. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KKansal said prohibitory conditions were relaxed in various parts of Kashmir and the Jammu region was “almost entirely” free of restrictions. “Restrictions, however, do continue in parts of Kashmir,” he said. Kansal said the curbs would be relaxed in parts of the Valley in a phased manner based on the assessment of local authorities. The security clampdown was imposed last week after the Union government revoked J&K’s special status given under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The top government official said in New Delhi this was not the first time restrictions were imposed in the Valley and a similar situation had existed in 2016, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani after which the separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference called ‘hartals’ for weeks.
New Delhi: Ahead of his visit to France, the UAE and Bahrain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the engagements will strengthen India’s relations with time-tested friends and help explore new areas of cooperation.Modi will visit the three countries from August 22 to 26. He will reach France on Thursday. In his departure statement, the prime minister said his visit to France reflects the strong strategic partnership which the two countries deeply value and share. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’From August 22-23, he will have bilateral meetings in France, including a summit interaction with President Emmanuel Macron and a meeting with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. Modi will also interact with the Indian community and dedicate a memorial to the Indian victims of the two Air India crashes in France in the 1950s and 1960s. Later, from August 25-26, he will participate in the G7 Summit meetings as Biarritz Partner at the invitation of President Macron in the sessions on Environment, Climate, Oceans and on Digital Transformation. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”India and France have excellent bilateral ties, which are reinforced by a shared vision to cooperate for further enhancing peace and prosperity for our two countries and the world at large,” the prime minister said. He said the strong strategic and economic partnership is complemented by a shared perspective on major global concerns such as terrorism and climate change. “I am confident that this visit will further promote our long-standing and valued friendship with France for mutual prosperity, peace and progress,” Modi said.
Kolkata: Within just two days of Kolkata Zonal Unit of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) seizing Amphetamines commonly known as ‘yaba’ in tablet form worth Rs 2 lakh, Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police seized ‘yaba’ worth 80 lakh from Maidan area on Friday morning. Four persons have been arrested.According to STF officials, on Thursday night, police got a tip off that a few persons will reach Kolkata on Friday morning with huge quantity of narcotics elements. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe source also informed the route which will be taken by the racketeers along with the car registration number. Acting on the information, STF officials along with other police personnel were keeping a strict vigil in and around Hastings-Maidan area since early on Friday morning. Around 7:05 am, the police saw a white-coloured SUV with same registration number coming towards them. As soon as the car was seen, the police blocked the way of the SUV and compelled the driver to get down from the car. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayDuring the preliminary investigation, the police found nothing suspicious until one of the official knocked on the cars body. The sound on knocking on the car’s body was not usual. Smelling a rat, police detained all four of the passenger, including the driver and took them to Maidan police station. The SUV was also brought to the police station. After the car’s body panels were opened police found huge quantity of yaba tablets in a concealed manner. After scrutiny, it was found that the four accused identified as P.H. Esha Ali, Shalaodin of Thoubal in Manipur and Sagar Dey, Uttam Sen of Nagaland were carrying two lakh ‘yaba’ tablets weighing about 23.3 kg worth Rs 80 lakh. According to sources, accused persons have stated that the seized ‘yaba’ was procured from Indo-Myanmer border area. The tablets were to be delivered somewhere in Kolkata to be smuggle into Bangladesh.
New Delhi: The envoys of four countries including China presented credentials to President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday, an official statement said on Wednesday. Ambassador of China Sun Weidong, an expert in South Asian affairs who has worked closely with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during his tenure as Ambassador in Beijing, presented his credentials to Kovind at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The other envoys include Joel Sibusiso Ndebele, High Commissioner of South Africa, Faduma Abdullahi Mohamud and Dionyssios Kyvetos, Ambassadors of Somalia and Greece respectively, the statement said. Veteran Chinese diplomat Sun, who succeed Luo Zhaohui, had also served as China’s Ambassador to Pakistan. Sun, who specialises in China and South Asia relations, interacted closely with Jaishankar during his tenure in Beijing as the Indian ambassador from 2009 to 2013. He was the Deputy Director General during Jaishankar’s tenure.
Shahjahanpur (UP): A special investigation team on Wednesday took the student who has accused BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand of raping, and “physically exploiting” her for a year to a hospital for medical examination. She was taken under heavy security to the local medical college hospital where Chief Medical Officer Dr Anita Dhasmana said the woman was examined by a panel of doctors. Meanwhile, terming the whole episode a conspiracy against him, Chinmayanand on Wednesday expressed full faith in the SIT probe. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “I have full faith in the SIT team and everything will be clear once it is completed. This is a conspiracy against me,” Chinmayanand told PTI. The father of the woman had claimed that during the search at the hostel room of her daughter on Tuesday, some objectionable material was found, which was “planted” by vested interests before the room was sealed by the local police. He said his daughter had only one key of the room and some things belonging to her were missing. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Meanwhile, a video featuring a woman and an elderly has started doing rounds on social media. In the video, the woman is shown massaging an elderly. Another woman and some youths are shown talking about the “rangdari” (extortion) demand of Rs 5 crore. Members of the SIT, accompanied by forensic experts, had on Tuesday inspected the hostel room of the complainant for nearly eight hours and collected evidence. The woman had told media persons on Monday that the Shahjahanpur police was reluctant to register a case of rape against the 72-year-old BJP leader. The woman had appeared before the press, alleging that Chinmayanand had raped her, and also “physically exploited” her for a year. The woman had said she had all the proof and the hostel room where she stayed should be opened in front of the media. “On Sunday, the SIT quizzed me for about 11 hours. I have told them about the rape. Even after telling them everything, they have not arrested Chinmayanand yet,” she had alleged. She had said that when her father gave a complaint to police here about her physical exploitation, Shahjahanpur District Magistrate Indra Vikram Singh “issued threats”, asking her father to file “a missing complaint” instead. The SIT, headed by Inspector General Naveen Arora, was set up by the Uttar Pradesh government on a Supreme Court directive. It is looking into details of the probe conducted by the local police in the high-profile matter. The apex court had said that an Allahabad High Court bench would monitor the probe. The inspector general heading the SIT had said the probe report would be submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope. The SIT was formed last Tuesday, a day after the Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the case and directed the state government to investigate the charges levelled by the student. The victim had gone missing on August 24, a day after she posted a video on social media, alleging that a “senior leader of the sant community” was harassing and threatening to kill her. She was located in Dausa district of Rajasthan last Friday. Her father had filed a complaint with police, accusing 72-year-old Chinmayanand of sexually harassing her, a charge refuted by the former Union minister’s lawyer who claimed it was a “conspiracy” to blackmail him. Police had on August 27 booked Chinmayanand under Sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code based on the her father’s complaint.
NEW DELHI: Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik inaugurated the Public Facilitation Kiosk having Interactive panel at Arrival Forecourt of T-2, IGI Airport on Wednesday. Praveer Ranjan, Special Commissioner of Police, Intelligence & Transport and Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO, DIAL was also present on the occasion.After the successful commissioning of interactive panels at AIIMS, Khan Market and Terminal-3 IGI Airport, Interactive Panel having all online citizen services provided by Delhi Police started functioning on Wednesday at Terminal-2 of IGI Airport. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderAfter positive response from the passengers at Terminal-3, Delhi Police Facilitation Kiosk and Interactive panel has been commissioned on Wednesday at Terminal-2 of IGI Airport. The refurbished Terminal-2 started its operation in 2017 and it has facilities similar to any world class Terminal. As Terminal-1 is currently under renovation, numbers of flight have been shifted to T-2 from T-1. At present, Terminal-2 handles as many as 220 flights daily resulting in a footfall of more than 50,000 persons per day. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsIn order to provide police services to the public at Terminal 2, Interactive panel has been installed. “The idea behind the commissioning of this kiosk is to provide better police-related services at one point without requiring the public to search and go to the police station and thereby saving vital time of the passengers. This interactive panel installed at Arrival Forecourt of T-2, IGI Airport is having the online citizen services provided by Delhi Police like Lost and Found Report, Missing Report, Registration of e-FIR, Police Clearance Certificate, Lodging of complaints. Character Verification Report, MV Theft e-FIR. Missing or Stolen Mobile Phone and Theft e-FIR,” said Sanjay Bhatia, DCP IGI.
OTTAWA – Frustrated farmers are calling for a swift end to a rare standoff between the Senate and House of Commons over a bill that would help ensure rail shipments of grain don’t get backlogged again.They’re putting pressure on both MPs and senators to find a quick resolution that will allow Bill C-49, which has been bouncing back and forth between the two parliamentary chambers, to finally become law.The bill was passed by the House of Commons in November but the Senate last month sent it back to the elected chamber with 18 amendments.The Trudeau government accepted two of those amendments and modified three others, but rejected the rest.Rather than defer to the will of the elected chamber as is usually the case, senators voted 43-39 on Wednesday to insist on two further amendments.They sent the bill back to the Commons on Thursday for a second time — a rare move that was last employed in 2006, according to the library of Parliament.The government is now set to move a motion Friday morning to send C-49 back to the Senate with a message rejecting the two additional amendments.Senators will have to decide at that point whether they will continue to insist on the changes or acquiesce to the will of the Commons.Conservative senators voted as a block on Wednesday in support of sending the bill back to the Commons for the second time, with support from 11 Independent, non-aligned and independent Liberal senators.Whether they’re prepared to stand firm on the two amendments and bounce the bill back a third time seems doubtful.Conservative Senate leader Larry Smith said in an interview that he recognizes it is “our responsibility to defer at a certain point in time” to the elected chamber. If the government rejects the amendments a second time, he said deferring to its will “has to be taken into serious consideration.”In the meantime, groups representing grain farmers are urging the two parliamentary chambers to sort out their differences and get the bill passed.“While not perfect, Bill C-49 as approved by the House of Commons on May 3 has the right combination of tools to improve Canada’s grain shipping systems so that farmers can access a more reliable, efficient and competitive railway network,” said Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Ron Bonnett in an email to parliamentarians.“It’s late in the game for ongoing changes. After many rounds of review, we need the bill passed so the new law is in place by Aug. 1, when crop shipping season begins. We ask once again: Please pass Bill C-49 ASAP.”Grain Growers of Canada president Jeff Nielsen said his organization is pleased with the amendments the government has already accepted, but disappointed with the additional delay.“It’s just really frustrating,” he said in an interview, noting that farmers are already getting orders for this year’s grain crop and need to know they’ll be able to ship it reliably.The Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions are urging the government to accept the Senate’s amendments.“We urge the House of Commons to prioritize passing the bill as amended in a timely manner,” Kevin Bender, Alberta Wheat Commission Chair, said in an email statement.“Bill C-49 offers long-term, competitive solutions that will ensure farmers are no longer at the mercy of an unaccountable freight rail system.”The Canadian Federation of Agriculture estimates that grain farmers have lost billions of dollars over the past few years due to backlogged rail shipments, which has cost them sales and put many in a cash-flow crunch.Among other things, C-49 would financially penalize railways that fail to deliver promised rail cars on time. It would also require railways to publicly report each summer on their ability to move that year’s grain crop, and to publish by Oct. 1 each year a winter contingency plan for keeping shipments moving regardless of bad weather.The same bill would also create a new air passenger bill of rights, relax international ownership restrictions on Canadian airlines and require railways to install voice and video recorders in locomotives.
OTTAWA – The Liberal government introduced long-anticipated security legislation Tuesday following consultations that drew comments from tens of thousands of Canadians. The wide-ranging package of measures would:— Limit, but not scrap, a measure from the Harper Conservatives allowing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to disrupt terror plots, not just gather information about them.— Amend other contentious provisions of existing legislation that deal with information sharing, terrorist propaganda and promotion of terrorism.— Roll the functions of existing watchdogs into a super-agency known as the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.— Empower the new watchdog to ensure more than a dozen federal security organizations are complying with the law.— Create an intelligence commissioner, an independent agent who would authorize certain intelligence and cybersecurity activities — a measure intended to boost public confidence.— Allow the public safety minister to assure parents their child is not on the no-fly list when confusion arises at the airport.— Modernize the CSIS Act, establishing in law a regime authorizing activities — such as infiltration of a terrorist cell — that might otherwise break the law.— Require CSIS to seek a judge’s permission to keep datasets primarily containing personal information about Canadians.— Give the Communications Security Establishment’s cyberspies the power to take action against online threats to Canadian interests.— Repeal a provision first passed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks that required a person to appear before a judge and answer questions.
WINNIPEG – Manitoba plans to set 19 as the minimum age to buy and use recreational marijuana once it’s legalized in July, but people would not be allowed to grow it at home for their own use.Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said the homegrown prohibition is aimed at protecting the health and safety of children and youth.“Obviously we have young people that live in our homes and we want to protect them from being exposed to this,” she said Tuesday after introducing cannabis legislation in the Manitoba legislature.Stefanson said allowing cultivation at home would also be too much of a burden for already busy police to enforce.“I think it is difficult when they go into a home and start to look at whether or not there are four or six plant or 10 plants — I think that is a very difficult thing to be enforcing out there,” she said.The federal government has said people should be allowed to grow up to four plants per household and has set the minimum age at 18.However, the federal legislation allows each province to set specific rules. The federal bill was approved by the House of Commons last month and has moved to the Senate.Manitoba’s proposed legislation calls for marijuana to be sold by private licensed retailers in a system where supply and distribution would be controlled by the Crown through the Manitoba Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority.Municipalities would have power to ban cannabis sales if they hold a plebiscite.Manitoba’s bill calls for penalties including one year in jail for individuals and a fine of up to $500,000 for corporations convicted of selling pot from an unlicensed producer or selling as an unlicensed retailer.The province is accepting proposals from the private sector to operate retail cannabis stores until Dec. 22.Ken Cameron, president of the Manitoba School Boards Association, praised the province’s approach.“Along with the power to consider the location of schools, parks and playgrounds as part of the process to approve cannabis retailers, government can ensure that all children are not unduly exposed to the potential harms of cannabis,” he said in a statement.British Columbia also proposed Tuesday setting 19 as the minimum age to legally possess, purchase and consume marijuana, bringing it in line with Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Yukon.Both Alberta and Quebec have proposed setting the minimum age at 18.— By John Cotter in Edmonton
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – A woman says her public housing unit in New Brunswick no longer feels like home after her daughter, sister and their caretaker were released from hospital having suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.Jessica Sypher said the two girls and a family friend were sent to hospital in critical condition after a carbon monoxide leak at her home in Saint John, N.B. on Friday night.Sypher, 21, said she and her mother had left her four-year-old daughter and 11-year-old sister with friend Kenneth Naves, whom the children call “papa.”Sypher said they returned home, and having left her key inside, she knocked on the door for Naves to let her in.When there was no answer, she said she knocked again, louder, and peered through the window to see the 53-year-old man stumbling in the stairway.“He was kind of shaken, and he said, ‘I don’t know what to do,’” Sypher said in an interview on Monday. “I thought he was going to faint, so I told him to sit down … and it almost looked like he was choking to death.”Panicked, Sypher said she called 911 as she and her mother tried to kick down the doors.Having heard them screaming, her neighbour came down to deliver the decisive blows, she said, and they burst into their home to find both girls unconscious.She said she heard an alarm beeping in the background, but she couldn’t pinpoint what the threat was.“It almost sounded like a battery dying, like for a smoke detector,” she said.She said she grabbed her daughter off the couch and ran out of the house, while emergency workers arrived on scene to rescue Naves and her sister.About 30 residents were evacuated from the complex, said a platoon chief with the Saint John fire department. Authorities were so concerned about the carbon monoxide levels that two of Sypher’s neighbours were sent to a local hospital for evaluation, but were later released.Sypher said her loved ones were rushed to a Saint John hospital in critical condition and later airlifted to a Halifax hospital, where they were treated in hyperbaric chambers to replenish their oxygen levels.“(I felt) scared, terrified,” she said. “It’s a lot to all take in at once.”They were released from hospital on Sunday and returned to Saint John, and while Sypher is grateful that everyone seems to be fine, she said she can’t seem to shake the lingering feeling of danger inside her home.“I’m glad I came home when I did,” she said. “It’s not the same as it was before all this happened.”The girls have been “traumatized” by the incident, she said, and they’ll never forget it.Sypher said she feels provincial officials who run the six-unit townhouse complex should be held responsible, saying she doesn’t even own a key to the boiler room below her unit.The leak is under investigation. New Brunswick government spokesperson Erin Illsley said in an email that displaced residents have returned to the building and the boiler has been replaced.“I’m relieved that it wasn’t tragic,” Sypher said of the leak. “It could have ended up a lot worse.”— by Adina Bresge in Halifax
Tree canopies are a hallmark of the suburban tranquility in Montreal’s western environs, but some residents say the ear-splitting roar of a gardening tool used to maintain their foliage is causing a rift in the community.A municipal push in Beaconsfield, Que., to silence leaf blowers for the summer has embroiled the city of roughly 20,000 in a dispute that pits neighbour against neighbour.Mayor Georges Bourelle said he expects council will vote Monday to adopt a seasonal ban on leaf blowers. If enacted, the ban would run June 1 through Sept. 30 starting next year.It’s a decision that Bourelle considers a “compromise” as the city joins a number of other Canadian municipalities who’ve debated leaf-blower regulations.Vancouver, Toronto and several Montreal suburbs faced their own battles over whether to muffle the leaf blowers.Bourelle said councillors in Beaconsfield began considering a ban after it became clear some felt the leaf blower’s high-pitched drone was a nuisance, but their focus has since shifted to public health concerns tied to the machinery.The same forceful air speeds that allow leaf blowers to blast away grass clippings also lead to the dispersion of dust and other fine particles, said Bourelle. He believes that contributes to cardiovascular and respiratory disease.He also cited concerns about noise-induced hearing loss and high levels of air pollutants from the gas-powered engines.“People are not well informed on the very serious health hazards … or they simply choose to ignore it because of convenience,” said Bourelle.“To me, this is a very, very selfish approach. Because my goodness, you have to care for the environment, you have to care for your neighbours, you have to care for the health of people in general.”University of Victoria professor Eleanor Setton said the health effects of prolonged exposure to noise, fuel emissions and airborne particles have been well documented, but more research is needed to assess the actual level of risk posed by leaf blowers.Setton, who also serves as managing director of the Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium, said some local governments may decide there is enough evidence to take a precautionary approach.Already two nearby suburbs of Montreal have implemented restrictions on leaf-blowers in recent years, said Mayor Bourelle.But not every community reached conclusions that led to a ban.In March, a report prepared by Toronto’s municipal licensing and standards department found there was insufficient evidence to support a complete leaf-blower ban on the grounds of health or safety concerns.The report also noted that landscapers, retailers and other commercial stakeholders “unanimously” opposed banning or setting noise limits on leaf blowers.Vancouver City Council faced similar pressures from a provincial landscaping association when members voted to ease regulations that would have banned gas-powered leaf blowers outright by 2004. Today, leaf blowers can be operated in most parts of the city, except the west end, and regulations limit the hours of use, proximity to residences and decibel levels.Adam Robertson, who runs an eavestrough cleaning company in Beaconsfield, said councillors have not been swayed by the protests of contractors who insist ditching leaf blowers during summer will hurt business owners and customers.Banning leaf blowers during part of his peak season could triple how long it takes to clear out the gutters of a single house, said Robertson, forcing him to pass the increased costs onto his clients.The manual labour would also take a physical toll on workers, he said, and even if he hired more staff, efficiency would suffer compared the blast of a leaf blower.He counts himself among a legion of residents he said are outraged by how local officials have handled the issue.“They’ve been bylawed to death in Beaconsfield and now they’re sick of it,” he said.Robertson is especially concerned by local council’s reluctance to release the findings of a city-commissioned poll gauging public sentiment on the leaf-blower debate.Bourelle said the poll will be made public after Monday’s vote in keeping with municipal protocol, noting that “a survey is not a referendum” and calling its findings “inconclusive.”Licensed pharmacist Janice Carr, who has been researching the health implications of leaf blowers for more than a decade, said she hopes business owners eventually recognize the potential opportunities around marketing low-noise landscaping.Carr said the community needs to work together to learn more about the health implications of leaf-blower use, rather than dismissing council’s efforts as overzealous regulation.“The adversarial route doesn’t work,” she said.
MONTREAL – The fate of the long-beleaguered Montreal World Film Festival is unclear as Quebec’s Revenue Department targets the event and its founder for unpaid taxes.Revenu Quebec filed a motion in court on Thursday seeking an injunction to prevent the 42nd edition of the festival from going ahead because Serge Losique owes back taxes.The festival is scheduled to open Aug. 23 and the court has given Losique until Aug. 1 to pay an initial $32,000.Losique told the court he would respond to the order by the deadline.Authorities say a total of nearly $500,000 is owed in back taxes.For years the festival has been under pressure after losing sponsors as well as significance in the international film community.In 2016, many employees resigned, citing Losique’s “incompetent leadership.”(Cogeco Nouvelles)
CALGARY – As an army brat, Lisa Pearce remembers the manuals her father would drag along with the family, posting after posting, over his 30 years in the Canadian Forces.Now the knowledge that Sgt. Lewis Pearce gathered during his military career has a new home.His time in the Forces, before he retired in 1991, included a lengthy spell at CFB Borden where he became an instructor.Pearce was with the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and worked on military vehicles, including the Leopard 1 tank, which eventually would see action in Afghanistan.Lisa Pearce said she and her brother Derek were at their parents home in Gander, Nfld., last year and found four of their father’s mechanics manuals in the garage. One was on artillery, another on recovery vehicles, a third covered tanks and the fourth was more of a general instructional guide.With his blessing, they decided to donate them to the Ghost Squadron, volunteers who keep decommissioned military vehicles running at The Military Museums in Calgary.“Like all military men, they’re pack rats. They take things from one base to the next, so we have a lot of military paraphernalia around the house, but these ones here we didn’t want to sit and gather dust,” said Pearce at a thank-you ceremony at the museum.“Dad started teaching the Leopard in 1985 and so he started … at that time. He said he looked at the instructor manuals that were there, made corrections of the errors that were there and then started putting together this instructor manual,” Pearce said.“It’s meant for anyone off the street who had never worked on a tank before.”Keeping old military equipment operational is a struggle for the Ghost Squadron, which currently has several vehicles to repair, including two Leopard 1 tanks. A third is on the way.“The level for this find — it’s in the platinum level. If you look at the periodic table of elements, this is ‘unobtainium’ and we’ve got it,” said group leader John Senior.“When you hang your uniform up, you hang up all your smarts you gained during the service.”For Scott Vanderveer, one of the few volunteers who worked as a military tech, it brings back good memories.“It is basically getting right down to the brass tacks of the very basics of mechanics,” he said. “When they would bring the recruits into the school, and they would start teaching them, this is the book that would be used.“When I went to Borden as a vehicle tech, I actually remember flipping through the different books that made this up.”The manuals will be preserved and digitized for future generations.Lewis Pearce, 74 and in ill health, took a moment away from a card game with his wife, Rita, to watched the ceremony on Facetime.“My son saved those books and they were going to go in the garbage,” the elder Pearce said. “I was thinking about some place to send them or give them away and he came up with the idea.“I’m happy that they’re saved and I’m happy that they’re going to a good cause.”— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter