London: Test cricket is all set to undergo a major change as Australia and England will lineup with names and jersey numbers on their Test whites in the upcoming Ashes series. As the inaugural ICC Test Championship begins at Edgbaston on August 1, so too will this type of jersey be unveiled for the 71st Ashes series. On Monday, the England & Wales Cricket Board released the first look of England’s Ashes Test jersey with skipper Joe Root wearing his name and the number 66 on the back of his jersey. ODI and T20I jerseys have had personalisation on their backs since a long time, but Test matches had to wait for this change. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhEngland Cricket official Twitter handle confirmed the jersey number of team’s Test match skipper Joe Root and wrote “Names and numbers on the back of Test shirts,” as the caption. Earlier this year, there were reports that Ashes series between England and Australia would bring in modernisation of cricketing kits. Cricketing fans on Twitter seemed divided on this development in Test cricket and made their voices heard on the social-networking platform. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later”Absolutely no problem with numbers 1 to 11 etc but can’t see the benefit of names or random high numbers on shirts. I guess it’s all to do with increasing merchandise sales hoping a name will sell more. @YorkshireCCC,” wrote one fan. On July 14, England scripted history as they managed to win their maiden 50-over World Cup and the side will look to continue their winning momentum going. England will take on Ireland in a one-off four-day Test from July 24 and then the team will face Australia in the Ashes, beginning August 1.
Karachi: Nearly one year after the election that brought Imran Khan to power in Pakistan, the cricket-hero-turned-prime-minister faces growing anger as he chases an elusive target: how to right the South Asian nation’s teetering economy. Pakistan has been staring down the barrel of a balance of payments crisis since before last year’s July 25 vote, and analysts have long warned that the new government must act quickly. In one of his earliest speeches, Khan — who led the cricket-mad country to World Cup victory in 1992, and campaigned on vows to build an Islamic welfare state — tried to reassure voters, telling them repeatedly: “Do not panic.” Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USBut since then the rupee has lost nearly 30 per cent of its value and inflation is running at nearly nine per cent, and likely to continue rising. “The price of tomatoes is touching the skies,” 30-year-old Shama Parveen, who walked several kilometres through Karachi’s sweltering heat to find cheaper produce, told AFP. “Life has become hard.” “I need to earn at least 1,000 rupees (USD 6.30) daily to meet my expenses,” said 60-year-old Mohammad Ashraf, who sells henna dye. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”Nowadays I can hardly save 500 or 600 rupees… I sometimes think if I fall ill, how could I afford the medicines and treatment? I would die, I think.” Analysts warn that with Pakistan’s galloping population increase far outstripping growth — set to slow to 2.4 percent this year — the country will find no short-term relief, even after the International Monetary Fund approved its latest USD 6 billion loan. Pakistan has a rocky relationship with the IMF, which has bailed it out many times before, and Khan secured billions in loans and investment from “friendly countries” including China and Saudi Arabia before going to the Fund. But it was not enough. Pakistanis are facing the grimmest part of a seemingly endless economic cycle: austerity imposed on millions of poor people, and futile demands for deep-rooted structural reform. Traders held a one-day strike earlier this month, and on Friday about 8,000 people marched through the city of Rawalpindi to protest against rising prices. “This government has completely failed … they are making the country poorer with each passing day,” Ayaz Ahmed, a 32-year-old university graduate, told AFP at the protest. Mass demonstrations organised by opposition parties are planned for Thursday to mark Khan’s one-year anniversary in office. But while discontent is rising on social media, where viral TikTok videos mock Khan’s promises, street protests remain a luxury for many. “I cannot afford to lose even one day of earnings,” said Karachi spice vendor Naseem Akhtar. Asghar Ali, an associate economics professor at the University of Karachi, estimates that up to eight million people could slip beneath the poverty line in the coming days. He singled out Khan’s anti-corruption drive — which has seen opposition leaders jailed and businesses “harassed” — as causing “havoc”.
Kolkata: State Ayush department has decided to appoint Ayurveda practitioners as community health officers at the health and wellness centres across the state.According to sources in the Ayush department, the process of recruiting Ayurveda practitioner as the CHO at various health and wellness centres, has been initiated by the state government. The government has already given its approval to induct the Ayurveda practitioners as the CHOs. It may be mentioned here that the process of recruiting the CHO at various community health centre began in 2017. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIn the following year, around 510 nursing staffers were recruited as CHOs at various community health centers in the state. But, Ayurveda practitioners were not brought under this ambit. Many Ayurveda practitioners and their organisations articulated their demands of being recruited as the CHOs and also urged the government in this regard. It was learnt that besides nursing professionals, the Ayurveda practitioners will also be recruited as the CHOs at health and wellness centres. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayIt may also be mentioned here that all the community health centres in the districts have already been upgraded to health and wellness centre for providing better health care facilities to the patients. More than 10,300 primary health centres are in the process of getting upgraded to health and wellness centers. State health department has already started training progremmes for the nursing professional before they are inducted as the CHO at these centers. Where there is an acute shortage of doctors at various health and wellness centres in the rural areas, these trained CHOs are supposed to provide primary health care. The Bengal government already started six months bridge course for nurses under the National Health Mission. Around 1920 posts of CHOs have been created in the state for the financial year 2019-20. It is up to the state government to decide in what ratio they would induct the nursing personnel and the ayurveda practitioners. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee laid enormous emphasis on the development of the Ayurveda infrastructure in the state. The Union Health Ministry earlier urged all the state governments to recruit both Ayurveda practitioners and nurses as CHOs at all the health and wellness centers after they complete the bridge course. The steps have been taken after the Centre found a shortage of doctors at various health centres in the rural areas. The Bengal chapter of National Ayurveda Students’ and Youth Association (NASYA) also urged the top government officials to appoint the Ayurveda practitioners as CHOs. “We are in the process of recruiting Ayurveda practitioners as community health officers at various health wellness centers,” a senior official at the state Ayush department said.
Washington: US House has passed a budget deal that will boost overall spending levels and suspend the federal debt ceiling for the next two years. The agreement, struck between the White House and Congress in a bipartisan fashion Monday, covers fiscal years 2020 and 2021, and would raise overall spending levels by USD 320 billion above the strict limits set in 2011, Xinhua reported on Friday. It would also suspend the federal debt ceiling until July 31, 2021, preventing the US from defaulting on its payment obligations. The Treasury Department has estimated that a potential default could have happened as soon as early September. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US The passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 in the House by a vote of 284-149 came one day before lawmakers in the chamber leaves town for the summer recess. The Senate’s recess starts on August 2, giving the upper chamber additional time to vote on the measure. If passed by the Senate, the proposed bill will be sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature. US President Donald Trump tweeted earlier in the day urging House Republicans to support the deal, which is not yet a law until the president signs on it. Trump applauded the agreement, saying it “greatly helps our Military and our Vets.” Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Representing a significant bipartisan compromise, the bill will see the budget cap for discretionary spending rise to USD 1.37 trillion in 2020 and USD 1.375 trillion in 2021. It includes parity between increases in defense spending and domestic, non-defense outlays, a priority for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. While Democrats managed to clinch USD 77.4 billion in “offsets” for spending increases — down from the original White House proposal asking for USD 150 billion — Republicans can boast the victory of securing more defense spending in the agreement — USD 738 billion in 2020 and USD 741 billion in 2021. Meanwhile, the USD 320-billion rise in overall spending levels for the next two years is USD 30 billion less than what the Democrats have sought. Non-defense spending for fiscal 2020 would total USD 632 billion, up nearly 4.5 per cent above the comparable fiscal 2019 numbers. For 2021, spending in domestic programs would be further boosted to USD 635 billion. In addition, the legislation would avoid the automatic cuts looming in January that would have reduced USD 55 billion in domestic spending and shrank military spending by USD 71 billion compared with 2019 levels. The automatic across-the-board cuts, known as “sequester,” were established in the Budget Control Act of 2011. It intends to cut spending for federal agencies totalling USD 1.2 trillion during the decade ending 2021, when the law is set to expire. With the spending levels being raised, the agreement would permanently end the sequester, a move hailed by Pelosi and Schumer in a joint statement Monday as an important win for Democrats. “Importantly, Democrats have achieved an agreement that permanently ends the threat of the sequester,” they said. “We are pleased that the Administration has finally agreed to join Democrats in ending these devastating cuts.”
New Delhi: Hollywood actress Evangeline Lilly, who is popular as the “wasp” from the “Avengers” series, is in India and is currently enjoying her stay in the national capital. Lilly has already visited the Humayun’s Tomb, Agrasen ki Baoli and other locales, as is evident from a number of posts on her Instagram. The actress, who is popular for portraying the role of Wasp in films like “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Avengers: Endgame”, took to her Instagram on Sunday and shared a string of photographs of her touring the city. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka In the first image, Lilly is as at the Agrasen ki Baoli. She is seen sitting on the flight of stairs leading down into the step well and captioned it: “Who are you solitary woman? Delhi, New Delhi.” The 39-year-old actress also shared a boomerang video of herself on her Instagram stories and captioned it: “#Fluffitup. Night out in Delhi”. Lilly is also known for her roles as Connie James in “The Hurt Locker”, Bailey Tallet in “Real Steel”, Tauriel in “The Hobbit” film series.
Muzaffarnagar: Thirteen people were injured after a clash broke out between two groups over taking water from a public hand pump, police said on Sunday.The incident took place on Saturday in Sakoti village, which comes under the jurisdiction of Jhinjana police station, said Dinesh Kumar, in-charge of Chosana police outpost.Injured persons were rushed to a nearby hospital, he said.Meanwhile, security was tightened and extra police force was deployed in the village, Kumar added.
Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh is witnessing a spurt in triple talaq cases, with 216 FIRs filed by Muslim women since the enactment of a law which makes the practice of instant divorce a punishable offence. The maximum number of 26 such cases have been registered in Meerut followed by Saharanpur and Shamli where 17 and 10 FIRs have been lodged respectively, a senior police official told PTI on Tuesday. These three places in western Uttar Pradesh have a sizeable Muslim population. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ “In UP, women given triple talaq are coming out in large numbers to register FIRs against their husbands. Within three weeks (till August 21) of implementation of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, as many as 216 FIRs have been filed in the state so far,” he said. In eastern Uttar Pradesh, the highest number of 10 FIRs were registered in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency – Varanasi. The main causes of triple talaq are dowry, property dispute and domestic violence as per the FIRs lodged. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K However, except in two-three cases, no arrest has so far been made in the over 200 cases lodged. In a bid to ensure effective implementation of the Act, the Uttar Pradesh Police is contemplating to arrest the accused. “To ensure that the Act is followed in letter and spirit and justice is given to Muslim women, we are examining as to why we should not arrest those involved in giving triple talaq. We will be doing that in some districts,” Director General of Police OP Singh told PTI. He said very soon the police will also be going for “impact analysis” to ensure justice to Muslim women. “Very soon, we will be calling a few sample cases to assess the impact to ensure justice to the victim women,” he said. Some triple talaqs have been given over phone, through SMS or directly to women. In a case in Lucknow, a man allegedly gave triple talaq to his wife right inside civil court premises in the presence of her advocate after she refused to accept a chewing gum from him, police said. 30-year-old Simmi of Amrai village was divorced by her husband Syed Rashid where she had gone for the hearing of a case of dowry harassment she had lodged earlier against her in-laws. The woman was talking to her advocate when her husband offered her a chewing gum which she refused, throwing Rashid into a fit of rage so much so that he divorced his wife, uttering talaq three times then and there itself. In Banda, a woman was given triple talaq by her husband over phone, while in Barabanki a woman was given triple talaq through SMS. In another case, a man divorced his wife allegedly to escape from the responsibility of providing treatment to their physically challenged daughter. In a separate case, a woman alleged that her husband had ended their two-year-old marriage by pronouncing triple talaq over phone as she had a dark complexion. In yet another case, a man allegedly divorced his wife in full public view in her village market in Unnao district using the outlawed custom and mocking at the new law that declares the oral diktat a penal offence. The triple talaq law came into effect retrospectively from September 19, 2018, after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the legislation that makes giving instant oral triple talaq or talalq-e-biddat a criminal offence with provisions of jail term up to three years. The new law makes void and illegal talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq having the effect of instantaneous and irrevocable divorce pronounced by a Muslim husband. It also makes it illegal to pronounce talaq three times in spoken, written or through SMS or WhatsApp or any other electronic chat in one sitting. The law says any Muslim husband who pronounces the illegal form of talaq upon his wife shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine. The aggrieved woman is entitled to demand a maintenance from her husband for herself and her dependent children under the Act.
New Delhi: India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has thanked the government for honouring him with the Arjuna award and said the recognition will always inspire him to give his best for the country on the cricket field. Jadeja is among the 19 sportspersons, who were nominated for the Arjuna award this year. “First of all, I would like to thank the Government of India for honouring me with the Arjuna award. I would also like to congratulate the other winners as well. They’ve performed brilliantly in their fields,” Jadeja said in a video message posted on the BCCI’s Twitter handle. “My sincere effort always will be to lift the reputation of the Indian team and my country whenever I play for India. I will always try to win matches for the team and make the country proud.”
Kolkata: Over 50 eminent Bengali personalities from different walks of life have called upon the people of West Bengal to give “due respect to all languages” and “resist attempt to impose just one”. Taking to Facebook, they issued a statement on Monday, urging people to register a strong protest against any bid to edge out Bengali language from their lives. Among the signatories are poet Subodh Sarkar, poet- columnist Binayak Bandyopadhyay, elocutionists Urmimala Basu and Jagannath Basu and independent filmmaker Pradipta Bhattacharya. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja The social media statement was issued two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah pitched for a common language in the country and said it was Hindi which is spoken the most and can unite the country. Apprehending that “a day may come in foreseeable future when our own language, our mother tongue, our dearest Bengali language will become threatened”, it said that “intimidatory tactics” from certain quarters to impose one language should be resisted. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway Sarkar, in a separate statement, said, “I respect Hindi language. But I equally respect Malayali, Marathi, Konkoni and all other languages spoken in this country.” No language can be greater or smaller, no language can be superior or inferior to another, he insisted. “India is a country of multiple languages. But we should keep in mind mother tongue is the true ration card of a citizen,” he maintained. Pointing out that Hindi has always been the link language across all sections of society, while English is primarily used by a particular section, Sarkar said, “What happened overnight that someone (Shah) had to declare ‘one nation, one language’ slogan again!” Protests have erupted in several parts of the country after the Union home minister, in a series of tweets, called for ‘one nation, one language’. Veteran leaders such as Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin and former Karnataka chief ministers Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy have criticised Shah for his pitch on the occasion of Hindi Diwas. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had also said on Saturday that people should respect all languages and cultures but not at the cost of their mother tongue.
OTTAWA – The Royal Canadian Mint says an employee has been fired after about two kilograms of gold was discovered missing from its facility in Ottawa.Spokeswoman Alison Crawford says the gold, worth about $110,000 at current prices, was discovered missing last month during an internal inventory.Crawford says an employee was terminated following an internal investigation and administrative review and the RCMP was called in to investigate.She says the mint will make no further comment as the matter is under police investigation.Crawford says large amounts of precious materials are handled at the mint’s facilities, but says incidents of this nature are very uncommon.In a previous incident, an employee stole gold “pucks” from the mint by hiding them in his rectum to evade metal detectors.Leston Lawrence was sentenced in February 2017 to 30 months in prison, and was ordered to pay $190,000 in restitution.
OTTAWA – Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s proposed tax credit for parents would cost the federal government over $600 million dollars in lost revenues in the first year — and this could go even higher, says a new report by the federal budget watchdog.The parliamentary budget office report released Thursday said Bill C-394, which would offer a tax credit for those on parental leave, would result in foregone revenues of $607.6 million in 2018-19.As a non-refundable tax credit, not all families would be able to claim the total amount in the first year. This means a further $261 million would likely be added to the costs of the measure in future years, PBO calculations found.Scheer tabled his private member’s bill in February, promoting it as a way to help parents offset taxes owing on their maternity and parental leave.It is, so far, one of the few concrete policy proposals he has put forward publicly since becoming Conservative leader.“When parents go on EI parental or maternity leave, they sacrifice up to 45 per cent of their salary,” Scheer said during second reading of his bill two weeks ago. “After making that sacrifice, they have to pay tax on the benefits they receive. With tax being withheld from every cheque, it means that families with a parent on leave see their take-home benefits cut down and many get hit with an extra tax bill afterwards when they file their income taxes.”The parliamentary budget office delved into the projected costs of the credit, using employment insurance claim data.The tax credit, as proposed, would allow parents on maternity or parental leave to reduce their taxes by 15 per cent.Quebec residents receiving benefits under that province’s separate provincial parental insurance plan would also be eligible for a tax credit for an equivalent amount.The total cost for 2018-19 of $607.6 million would rise incrementally each year for the next five years, the PBO found.Additional costs for families who do not claim their full amounts would result in additional costs of $261 million the first year, which could also rise incrementally, or could get even larger in a single year, then drop in subsequent years, depending on how many people claim it.The report also measured how the tax credit could impact the Trudeau government’s new EI parental sharing benefit that will offer more weeks of parental leave for families where both parents take time off to care for a newborn.Scheer’s parental tax credit would increase the cost of this measure by another $24.1 million, the reported estimated.An official with Scheer’s office says internal cost estimates for the tax credit came in at about $900 million a year, which falls in line with the budget watchdog’s findings.It appears unlikely Scheer’s tax credit will be adopted. During debate on the bill last month, Liberal and NDP MPs poked holes in the policy, saying it doesn’t address the real needs of parents.“The tax proposal being presented here would not do half of what it promises it would do,” said Liberal MP Adam Vaughan.“It certainly would have very little impact on the most vulnerable families in this country and it would not provide a firm or comprehensive tradeoff that would allow our government to support it.”NDP MP Niki Ashton said she felt the spirit of the bill may be honourable, but since many Canadians are not eligible for parental leave in the first place, many would not benefit.“We want to be clear that the NDP supports the idea that we need to invest in Canadian families and in new parents, but we disagree with the proposal that has been put forward by the Conservative leader — a proposal that will increase inequality as it will do nothing to help lower-income families.”
NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. – The father of a young Saskatchewan hockey player who committed suicide calls a decision to remove a memorial patch from his son’s team’s jerseys a slap in the face.Neil Lascelle’s son Ash took his own life in January and his Battlefords Barons teammates had been wearing a patch on their sweaters in his honour.The circular crest reads: “In loving memory Ash, 2002-2018.”The Battlefords Minor Hockey Association recently ruled the patches cannot be worn next year.“It wasn’t very tactful. It was all about a power struggle versus what was in it for the kids, the team, whomever it really mattered to,” the father said. “It should never have been about a struggle.”Ash was 15 years old when he died.His father described him as a social butterfly who loved sports, especially hockey, but also excelled at football and track and field. His favourite teams included the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.Ash enjoyed the outdoors and was musically talented. He talked about having a career in policing and had recently considered joining the military.His father said that he excelled in school and achieved 97 per cent in his Grade 10 science class.There were nearly 1,500 people at his funeral.“I stereotyped him to not have any issues,” Lascelle said. “It seemed to me like he was the popular kid, he was athletic.“We thought some of the things he was going through were just teenage things.”Teammates wanted to keep the patch on their jerseys until 2021, when Ash would have moved on from midget hockey.But the minor hockey association ordered the crests be removed at the end of this season and reaffirmed that stance at an April meeting.The association’s board said that all jerseys need to be the same.“If 10 kids would want it and 10 kids didn’t, you can’t have 10 that want it,” said Kyle Kellgren, president of the Battlefords Minor Hockey Association.“There’s a possibility that kids don’t want it. There’s a parent that spoke against the patch at the meeting. It’s not all just one-sided.”Kellgren said players are still permitted to put the crests on hockey pants, helmets and bags.Lascelle attended the meeting and said that it felt orchestrated. People tried to ask questions about the crest, but they weren’t taken seriously, he said.“Never provided any proof or substantial evidence that this was a negative thing for the crest on the jersey and they never provided anybody that they talked to in regards to this,” said Lascelle, who stayed up until 3 a.m. after the meeting to take crests off the jerseys.Dr. Katy Kamkar, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, suggested anything that “people can come up with that can help them build that resiliency” is a helpful way to cope.Every day since Ash’s death has become a little more manageable for Lascelle, his wife, Michele, and their two other sons Mitchell, 18, and Dion, 23, he said.But “you can’t explain the loss of a child.”He said he attended every game after Ash died and was proud of the team for wanting to remember him.Lascelle said more than a dozen children have reached out to him when they’ve felt down.“I had one parent call me up and say you saved my daughter, and from this point on, we’re family,” he said.“If I save one person, then my son will be proud of me.“Maybe I’m kind of having my son live through me in a sense that I’ve adopted or I’m trying to be that person that Ash was.”— By Ryan McKenna in Regina. Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitter
OTTAWA – The Senate is asking the Federal Court to block the release of documents in a labour dispute where one of its top officials faces racism allegations.The allegations come from Darshan Singh, who was fired as the Senate’s director of human resources in early December, days after he levelled the accusations of racial discrimination against his boss that form the basis of his employment grievance.Singh was the first executive of colour in the Senate’s history and served in his job for two-and-a-half years before his firing, which senators were told was for insubordination.A grievance panel reviewing Singh’s case ordered the Senate earlier this month to hand over minutes and attendance records from closed-door meetings and a review of Singh’s department, all of which Singh and his lawyer argue will prove his discrimination allegations.The due date to hand over the documents is Friday.The Senate’s request to the court, filed Wednesday, argues the upper chamber will suffer irreparable harm if it surrenders documents subject to parliamentary privilege.The Senate’s interim law clerk, Jacqueline Kuehl, said the Senate’s position is that the labour board is overstepping its jurisdiction.“Parliament’s privilege as it pertains to in-camera meetings is well established. The Senate is merely exercising that privilege,” she said.“To do otherwise would have catastrophic repercussions to our parliamentary system not only here, but in legislatures across the country. “Singh started working at the Senate in October 2013. Among other tasks, he reported publicly to senators about the Senate’s bid to attract a more diverse workforce.But changes in the upper echelon of the Senate’s non-partisan administration shortly thereafter led to Singh being excluded from staffing decisions in which he was supposed to be involved.Singh asked the Senate to release the attendance records because he argues they will show he was, as the only visible minority director, regularly excluded from meetings attended by his white colleagues.His lawyer, Paul Champ, said the departmental review, ordered after Singh’s firing, would also support arguments before the labour board that he was fired for his discrimination complaint and not because he had been doing a bad job.Champ said heading to court in the middle of a labour board hearing is “rare and exceptional” in his experience. He said it is part of the Senate’s “scorched earth approach in this case.”“This kind of strategy sends a terrible message to other visible minority employees in the Senate: don’t speak up or we will crush you,” Champ said.
TORONTO – The deletion of thousands of documents related to the politically explosive decision to cancel two gas plants near Toronto was a deliberate act that breached the public trust, the trial of two former top aides in the Ontario premier’s office heard Friday.The long-awaited and delayed trial began with the prosecution outlining the case against David Livingston and Laura Miller, and the defence chipping away at whether a critical Crown witness could be qualified as an expert.Livingston, the chief of staff to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, and Miller, his deputy, have pleaded not guilty to charges of breach of trust, mischief, and unlawful use of a computer.In her unproven opening statement, prosecutor Sarah Egan said the accused were responsible for the “double deletion” of sensitive emails about the power plants as a way to keep them secret and thwart the public’s right to accountability and transparency.“Acting together, they destroyed records that they had a legal duty to preserve,” Egan told Ontario court Judge Timothy Lipson. “They acted contrary to the public interest.”The Ontario Liberal government’s decision to shut the power plants in Oakville and Mississauga just before the 2011 provincial election — and the $1.1-billion cost incurred — had become an issue of “intense public scrutiny” that prompted requests for relevant data under freedom of information laws, court heard.In fact, the Ministry of Energy had been found in contempt of the legislature in 2012 after it failed to turn gas-plant documents over to a legislative committee that had asked for them.Livingston, who had been “painstakingly” warned about his obligations to preserve the documents, nevertheless decided to wipe the information from computers in the office of then-premier McGuinty, court heard.“(Livingston) did this to ensure there was nothing to be turned over,” Egan said.Their decision to engage Miller’s information-technician spouse, Peter Faist, to wipe hard drives was a “serious and marked departure” from the standards of public trust for the positions they held, the prosecutor said.Faist, she said, was not a government employee and did not have the required security clearance to access the computer system.Egan stressed the trial was not about the controversy over the costs or wisdom of the gas-plants decision, which she said were merely a backdrop to the actions that led to the charges against the accused.Following Egan’s statement, the prosecution called its opening witness: Robert (Bob) Gagnon, a retired Ontario provincial police officer with experience in computer forensics.Gagnon would testify how emails were deleted from the accused’s government mail boxes in the summer and fall of 2012 and that thousands of documents were deleted in early 2013 from computers in the premier’s office, the prosecution said.But the defence immediately raised objections over his designation as an expert witness, suggesting he was too close to the investigation to be impartial.Miller’s lawyer, Scott Hutchinson, questioned Gagnon about his lengthy and active role in the investigation, dubbed Project Hampton, and his interactions with Crown lawyers.From the start of the probe, court heard, Gagnon sat in on numerous conference calls and meetings as investigators — former colleagues at the Technical Crimes Unit — discussed the case. He was given a provincial police email address and kept in frequent contact with team members.Among other things, court heard, he offered the officers advice on various search warrants, and provided questions to be put to witnesses, including Faist.His contribution during a police interview with Faist, which he watched from a separate room, was to help clarify any technical answers, Gagnon testified.The hearing continues Monday with arguments over Gagnon’s expert status, with the crucial decision up to Lipson. The judge said he would need a day or two to decide after Monday’s submissions.“Your ruling is important in terms of the case,” co-prosecutor Tom Lemon told him. “It does have consequences.”Other expected Crown witnesses include Livingston’s former executive assistant, the secretary of cabinet and other staff in the premier and cabinet offices.The trial, slated to last six weeks, was to have started hearing witnesses on Sept. 11. However, the hearing was put over until Friday when the defence complained about late and incomplete information the Crown was obliged to hand over.
A Victoria Cross and other medals awarded to one of Canada’s Second World War heroes have been sold at auction to a buyer in the United Kingdom for $660,000.Maj. David Currie was given the Commonwealth’s highest medal for valour in recognition of his service at a brutal battle during the 1944 Normandy campaign in France.“During a blitz of fighting, he decided he wouldn’t be defeated (and) went in under extreme gunfire. It was the only Canadian Victoria Cross won for Normandy,” Tanya Ursual, a spokesman for the auction firm Dix Noonan Webb, said Wednesday.“It is the kind of thing movies are made of, except this isn’t a movie. It was real, and he was Canadian.”According to the firm, Currie’s widow, Isabel, sold her late husband’s medals to a Canadian buyer in 1989 a few years after he died.The man who purchased them, who doesn’t wish to be named, decided to sell the medals at the U.K. auction.Ursual said there is a lot of international interest in military awards for bravery, especially in rare medals such as the Victoria Cross.Currie, who was later promoted to lieutenant-colonel, was one of only 16 Canadians given the Victoria Cross during the war.The citation for his medal recounts a key battle when Canadian forces were part of an Allied plan to prevent a German army from retreating from the area.Currie led a force of tanks and troops from the South Alberta Regiment that fought to take and hold a village along the German line of retreat.After days of gruelling combat, Currie finally collapsed from fatigue, but only after his unit was relieved by other Canadian forces.“During this operation the casualties to Maj. Currie’s force were very heavy; however, he never considered the possibility of failure,” reads the Victoria Cross citation.“There can be no doubt that success of this force’s task and stand against the enemy at St. Lambert Sur Dives can only be attributed to this officer’s coolness, inspired leadership and skilful use of the limited weapons at his disposal.”Currie, who grew up in Moose Jaw, Sask., later served as sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons for 17 years. He died in 1986.Isabel Currie, who is 105, lives in an Ottawa senior’s home.Ursual said the man who sold the medals allowed Currie’s grandson to see them last month before they were put up for auction.“The family was hopeful that a Canadian buyer would come forward,” she said. “Where was somebody from here?”The London-based auction company said it will now apply for a federal export permit to ship the medals from Canada to the U.K.
OTTAWA – Call it the art of the non-deal.As the fourth round of talks in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation begins this week near Washington, a consensus is growing that a series of untenable U.S. bargaining positions is part of simple plan by U.S. President Donald Trump to lay the groundwork so he can walk away from the continental trade pact to please his domestic base.Some cite a Buy American proposal that would limit Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. procurement projects presented in the third round of talks in Ottawa two weeks ago.But more clangers could drop in this upcoming round when the U.S. might wade into another area contentious area: its desire for more access to Canada’s protected and supply managed dairy industry.“I’m becoming more and more of the view that the proposals we’re seeing are poison pills,” said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based international trade lawyer with the firm Dickinson Wright.“These are proposals that neither Canada nor Mexico can accept.”Ujczo and others say the Buy American proposal was prime example. Simply put, the U.S. wanted to limit the Mexican and Canadian ability to bid on U.S. procurement contracts, while seeking greater access for Americans firms to Mexican and Canadian government projects.That sticking point comes with other hard issues still on the horizon, including dairy, auto parts, the dispute resolution system and the U.S. push for a review of NAFTA every five years.“It’s going nowhere fast. It’s clear. The U.S. has some ridiculous proposals on the table,” said Jerry Dias, the head of the Canadian union Unifor.“You only put those types of proposals on the table if you’re not looking really to find a deal.”Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland addressed the Buy American issue in Ottawa on the last day of talks two weeks ago, saying the recently-completed Canada-EU free trade deal, which opened up local procurement to both sides, was Canada’s preferred option.“We would like to encourage our immediate neighbours to meet the levels of ambition we have been able to achieve with our partners across the Atlantic.”Peter Clark, an Ottawa-based international trade strategist who was involved in the original NAFTA and Canada-U.S. free trade negotiations, said the American behaviour is a vivid and unprecedented example of how not to negotiate. He called it a tactic designed to ensure failure.“Negotiators try to deal in the art of the possible,” said Clark.“Trump doesn’t believe he can get what he really wants without tearing it up, or terminating it, or giving us notice of termination. That’s that way he operates.”Clark predicted Canada can expect plenty more of the same when Round 4 gets underway.Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told a trade discussion in Washington last week that the U.S. would likely make a specific request to Canada for more access to its dairy and poultry markets.The dairy sector was excluded from NAFTA in 1994, but the supply management system, which limits the amount of dairy that can be imported into Canada without high tariffs, has been an ongoing irritant.Trump cried foul over a subsequent deal outside of NAFTA that allows Canadian dairy producers to sell milk proteins to domestic processors at a discount to protect the industry from imports of cheap U.S. milk ingredients.The Liberal government has repeatedly vowed to protect supply management and its agriculture sector.Canada’s dairy industry said it has no idea whether U.S. negotiators will actually come to the next round with firm proposals.There’s a “serious risk” of losing NAFTA because of Trump’s approach, said Robert Zoellick, the former World Bank president and ex-U.S. Trade Representative under George W. Bush.Speaking to a NAFTA event in Washington this past week, Zoellick said Canada can’t back down on another key demand by Trump to abolish the panels that settle disputes. Zoellick recalled how hard Canada fought for the inclusion of that chapter in the original Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA’s precursor.“The Canadians spilled blood on this to get this done,” he said. “It is a very big stretch in my mind to believe that any Canadian government can walk away without a Chapter 19 provision.”
OTTAWA – The American decision to levy tariffs against Canadian steel and aluminum exports prompted quick retaliation on Thursday, with Canada promising tit-for-tat levies of its own. Here is a selection of quotes on the issue:—“Canada intends to impose tariffs against imports of steel, aluminum and other products from the United States, representing the total value of 2017 Canadian exports affected by the U.S. measures, that is $16.6 billion. We are imposing dollar-for-dollar tariffs for every dollar levied against Canadians by the U.S.” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.—“These countermeasures will take effect on July 1, 2018. They will remain in place until the United States eliminates its trade-restrictive measures against Canada.” Freeland.—“The numbers are clear: The United States has a $2 billion US surplus in steel trade with Canada — and Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world, half of U.S. steel exports.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.—“That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.” Trudeau.—“These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States and, in particular, to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside American comrades-in-arms.” Trudeau.—“This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point, common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in this action today by the U.S. administration.” Trudeau.—“If Canada and Mexico choose to take retaliatory measures, it would not affect the ability to keep renegotiating NAFTA as a separate track. If any of these parties does retaliate, that does not mean that there cannot be continuing negotiations.” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.—“We need to have the appropriate responses. We need to be thoughtful about this, but at the same time we need to send a clear response and signal saying that ‘Look, we’re a trusted partner, we’re deeply disappointed, and we’re going to stand up for our workers and for our industry’.” Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.—“This short-sighted decision is an attack on Ontario’s steel industry and its workers. It is not the action of a friend, an ally or economic partner.” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.—“The decision of the U.S. administration is an unfortunate outcome for the North American economy. Steel and aluminum are a key component of countless manufactured goods. Because of the deep integration of manufacturing supply chains, the tariffs will drive prices up for all consumers.” Dennis Darby, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.—“This is a risk that we’ve highlighted in our monetary policy report in the past, the risk of protectionism and the fear of the tit-for-tat responses.” Sylvain Leduc, deputy governor of the Bank of Canada.—“Construction, autos and machinery manufacturing comprise 80 per cent of total domestic steel consumption and their input costs would rise. With costs going up, jobs and prices would take a hit.” Michael Burt, executive director of industrial economic trends at the Conference Board of Canada.—“Retail margins are narrow. So at some point it would have an impact on price.” Karl Littler, vice-president of public affairs for the Retail Council of Canada.—“On a long-term basis, if you’re raising the price of probably the biggest raw material input in a vehicle, you’re going to make any production of vehicles in Canada and the U.S. less competitive against foreign manufacturers and it might suddenly make Asian imports more attractive to consumers.” Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association.
TORONTO — Angry and frustrated leaders of a remote northern Ontario reserve warned on Friday they will be forced to evacuate their community unless they receive immediate help dealing with mould-infested housing and their ailing children.A month after Cat Lake First Nation declared an emergency over the squalid conditions that have left more than 100 children ill with severe skin conditions and lung infections, the community said both the federal and provincial governments have done little to help.“Nothing has been done. No action has been taken,” Abigail Wesley, the deputy chief, said at the Ontario legislature. The situation, she said, was desperate.Almost 100 homes in the fly-in Ojibway community north of Sioux Lookout are in such bad shape due to mould, bare wiring and cracked foundations that they need to be demolished. The problem is that there are no other housing options.The roughly 450 residents of the community said they have been asking for help since 2006 to no avail. Poor health has become endemic, they said, with an average of one person every three days having to be medevaced out for health care. Treatment in the community comprises essentially of ointment and inhalers that can’t fix the underlying problem, residents said.Joyce Cook, a band councillor, said the skin and lung ailments are taking a toll on the mental health of those afflicted. The community urgently needs both the federal and provincial governments to step up — and right away, she said.“We’re not even being recognized or heard,” Cook said. “It’s just an echo through the woods.”For his part, Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan said on Friday that government officials and community representatives discussed an independent health assessment during a “technical meeting” on Feb. 7. A pediatric respirologist and support staff arrived in the community on Thursday to conduct the assessment and provide treatment as needed, he said. Another team with another specialist was due next week.“We will address the results of the assessment as soon as they are available on an urgent basis,” O’Regan said in a statement. “We also reiterated and expanded upon our previous commitments to begin repairs immediately and to identify, with the community, units requiring replacement on an urgent basis.”Provincial Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford said he’s had discussions with the band leadership and was looking at the possibility of providing at least some immediate housing relief. He refused to discuss what specific measures the province was looking at.At the same time, Rickford accused the federal government of inactivity, and said he expected action.“They’ve done a lot of promising to these communities and delivered very little,” Rickford said of Ottawa. “We’ll continue to press them hard for it.”Provincial New Democrat Sol Mamakwa, who called the evacuation threat real, said the community could not keep living with a status quo that included federal-provincial bickering over responsibility for the situation while nothing changed.“Our people are always played in a game of jurisdictional ping pong,” said Mamakwa, who represents the northwestern riding of Kiiwetinoong. “They fall into this jurisdictional black hole.”Federal New Democrat Charlie Angus deplored the lack of action from both levels of government, saying people in Cat Lake have heard nothing but vague promises. Angus also called the threat of fire another unaddressed and critical issue, with children forced to sleep in basements beside unsafe wood stoves.“People can die and people will die if nothing is done,” Angus said.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The organization that represents most of Canada’s public opinion pollsters and market researchers says it will adopt a new code of conduct that mirrors global standards for such firms, but with a Canadian twist.The Canadian Research Insights Council (CRIC) announced Monday that it has formed a partnership with ESOMAR, the body that oversees the global data, research and insights industry.Under the partnership, CRIC said it would adopt a “Canadianized” version of ESOMAR’s most recent code of conduct and global standards.The announcement comes as polling firms prepare for the upcoming federal election.The council was formed in September after its predecessor, the Market Research and Intelligence Association, disbanded.That organization, formed in 2004, had previously been accused of not being transparent and failing to ensure its members live up to its own standards.ESOMAR director Finn Raben said the new partnership with CRIC will help ensure that Canadian market researchers maintain a high standard for the ethical collection, use and storage of data. The Canadian Press
CALGARY – Five premiers have gathered in Calgary to take in some Stampede festivities and share notes ahead of this week’s first ministers’ meeting in Saskatoon.Alberta Premier Jason Kenney hosted his counterparts from Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories during Calgary’s annual 10-day celebration of cowboy culture.The men of the hour have arrived pic.twitter.com/NuINNG9DzB— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) July 8, 2019All lead conservative parties, with the exception of Bob McLeod of the Northwest Territories where there is a consensus system.Kenney says he and the “like-minded” premiers discussed hurdles in getting Canadian resources to market and their opposition to federal bills overhauling resource reviews and banning oil tankers from the northern B.C. coast.RELATED: Politics and pancakes: Kenney welcomes fellow premiers at annual breakfastHe says other premiers with similar concerns were invited, but some had scheduling conflicts.Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who will be chairing the Council of the Federation meeting, said the informal Calgary get-together wasn’t meant to be ideological.