Kolkata: ITC Royal Bengal, a luxurious hotel of ITC group, will be opened in June.The date of its opening will be announced later. The hotel will have 456 rooms. The Towers exclusive has come up on 527 sq ft while ITC one covers an area of 730 sq ft. ITC Royal Bengal Residences cover an area which vary anything between 1,000 sq ft and 1400 sq ft. The suites have come up on 1,056 sqft to 6,620 sq ft. All the rooms have been decorated keeping in mind Bengal’s rich heritage and tradition. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaThere is a grand market pavilion along with Ottimo Cucina Italiana, Royal Vega and Darjeeling lounge. All the lounges have been beautifully decorated. Elaborate space has been allotted to hold meetings and events. ITC Roya Bengal offers one of the largest and most distinctive banqueting facilities covering an area of 60,000 plus sq ft. The pillarless Bengal Stateroom covering an area of 16,500 sq ft, majestic Eastern Court an area on 2,800 sq ft . Multiple meeting spaces and sprawling laws make this hotel an ideal venue for both business and social events. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersITC Royal Bengal is an ode to the region’s rich cultural heritage. The monumental edifice celebrates Bengal’s regal lineage and ever evolving sensibilities. The introductory offer includes INR 1,000 hotel credit per room per night. Twenty five per cent savings on spa services, breakfast. 2X green points for club ITC members on the first day. Thoughtfully curated and artistically styled culinary experiences that bring alive a fine selection of local, national and global fare.
New Delhi: Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain on Tuesday said his government will not implement central government’s Ayushman Bharat Yojana in the capital. Jain criticised the scheme and said that the ruling BJP needs to better its implementation.”First Central government needs to provide the benefits of Ayushman Bharat Yojana in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Around 70 per cent of patients are coming here from Uttar Pradesh. Modi ji did nothing there. We will not differentiate between rich and poor. We will not allow this yojana as government hospitals and medical check-ups are for all,” Jain said while speaking to ANI after his visit to GTB Hospital here. Also Read – Cylinder blast kills mother and daughter in Karawal NagarLashing out at the Modi-led government for not giving benefits of the Yojana to the needy, Jain said: “They just implement such policies on papers….ground reality is different. If the policy was implemented, people from Uttar Pradesh would have been treated in their state.” “Delhi’s population is 2 crore, it will be applicable on 10 lakh people. There is no need to pick and choose. We will treat every patient in Delhi,” he said. Speaking about free rides for women, Jain said: “People are unable to afford Metro. The population of passengers is getting reduced due to hike in Metro fare. Some are criticising it saying it is people’s money. Arvind Kejriwal did not buy helicopters like other ministers. Instead, he has decided to used the money to give free rides to women in Metro and buses.”
New Delhi: Wholesale price-based inflation hit a 22-month low of 2.45 per cent in May helped by falling prices of food articles, fuel and power items, and this in turn may prompt the Reserve Bank to go for another cut in key interest rates in the current fiscal. The Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation was at 3.07 per cent in April this year. It was 4.78 per cent in May 2018. Inflation in food articles basket was 6.99 per cent In May, 2019, down from 7.37 per cent in April, official data released Friday said. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepHowever, onion prices spiked during the month with inflation at 15.89 per cent, as against (-) 3.43 per cent in April. Inflation in pulses continued in double digit for four consecutive months at 18.36 per cent in May, up from 14.32 per cent in the previous month. WPI inflation in May is the lowest in 22 months, since July 2017, when it was at 1.88 per cent. India Ratings & Research Principal Economist Sunil Kumar Sinha said the core inflation at 1.2 per cent is 29 months low in May 2019. “This is clearly an indication of weakening of demand impulse in the economy. Dwindling auto and FMCG sales growth has been pointing towards this for past several months.” Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsThis delayed and less than normal monsoon could aggravate the food inflation further in the coming months lest the government monitors the situation proactively, checks speculative activities and intervenes in the market to stabilise prices, he added. “India Ratings believes there is still a scope of one more rate cut in FY’20. However, besides being dependent on data it will also take into consideration fiscal policy stance of the government,” Sinha said. Vegetables inflation eased to 33.15 per cent in May, down from 40.65 per cent in the previous month. Inflation in potato was (-) 23.36 per cent, against (-) 17.15 per cent in April. Inflation in ‘fuel and power’ category cooled to 0.98 per cent, from 3.84 per cent last month on account of softening of global crude oil prices. Manufactured items too saw decline in prices with inflation at 1.28 per cent in May, against 1.72 per cent in April. WPI inflation data for March has been revised downwards to 3.10 per cent from provisional 3.18 per cent.
New Delhi: Former Olympic medallist and professional star Amir Khan feels India has a robust system in place to keep producing good boxers for the world stage and singled out 2017 World Championship bronze-winner Gaurav Bidhuri for Olympic glory at the 2020 Tokyo Games. The 32-year-old from Bolton, who clinched the WBC international welterweight title during a Super Boxing League (SBL) bout in Jeddah last week, believes India have the wherewithal to produce champions, who can follow the likes of Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom. “Indian boxing is doing very good. What I like is that they have a system which not many countries have,” Amir, who had knocked out Australian Billy Dib last Saturday, said during an interview. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together”In India, all fighters get an opportunity to fight international tournaments, they are funded and they also get paid, because these boxers can’t get jobs as they have to focus on boxing. All countries should follow this system. That’s why they have Olympic medallists like Vijender and Mary Kom and many more will come from this, it will only inspire the next generation.” Asked if India can win a medal at the 2020 Olympics, the British-born boxer said: “One kid I follow is Gaurav Bidhuri, he is a very good boxer. I like his style, I like how he fights, how he pushes himself. I have seen his videos. This kid will get far, if he can stay focussed. He is in the national team and he made a lot of noises, he had some good performances,” added Amir, a two-time world champion. Bidhuri is only the fourth Indian boxer to get a medal at World Championship, claiming the bronze at the 2017 edition in Hamburg, Germany. Speaking on other issues in boxing, Amir said it is a shame that the AIBA was suspended last month and the International Olympic Committee took over the qualification and competition for the Tokyo Olympics.
Washington: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived here on his maiden trip to the US during which he will hold talks with Donald Trump and reboot bilateral ties that were hit after the US president publicly criticised Islamabad, cancelled military aid and asked it to do more to fight terrorism.Khan, 66, is scheduled to meet President Trump at the White House on Monday during which the American leadership is likely to press him to take “decisive and irreversible” actions against terrorist and militant groups operating from Pakistani soil and facilitate peace talks with the Taliban. Also Read – US blacklists 28 Chinese entities over abuses in XinjiangThe cricketer-turned-politician arrived here on Saturday afternoon aboard a commercial Qatar Airways flight and is staying at the official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan.He was welcomed at the airport by his foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. A large number of Pakistani Americans also welcomed him.Nawaz Sharif was the last Pakistani prime minister to visit the US on an official trip in October 2015.During his three-day visit, Khan, in addition to his meeting with Trump, is also scheduled to meet IMF acting chief David Lipton and World Bank President David Malpass. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will call on him on Tuesday. Also Read – Want to bring back US forces engaged in endless wars: TrumpTrump, in addition to a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office, will host the visiting delegation over a working lunch at the White House on Monday. Khan is also scheduled to meet lawmakers at the US Capitol Hill.The relations between Pakistan and the US have remained tense during Trump’s tenure. The US president has publicly said that Pakistan has given us “nothing but lies and deceit” and also suspended security and other assistance for backing terror groups. Prime Minister Khan is accompanied by Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and spy agency ISI chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed.Diplomatic sources in Islamabad earlier said that issues like the Afghan peace process, Pakistan government’s action against terrorism and terror financing and restoration of military aid to Pakistan would be the highlights of the trip.Khan’s visit comes at a time when talks between the US and Afghan Taliban are thought to have entered a decisive phase.Pakistan’s efforts have been appreciated for facilitating peace talks with the Taliban. Actions like launching of cases of terror financing against Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaat ud Dawa are signals aimed at addressing concerns by India and the US.Khan is also scheduled to address a gathering of Pakistani Americans in downtown Washington DC on July 21 and speak at the US Institute of Peace think-tank on July 23.Before becoming the prime minister, Khan used to visit the US regularly and has a sizeable support base among the Pakistani diaspora.Meanwhile, hours before Khan’s arrival, Pakistan hired the services of lobbying firm Holland & Knight. The memorandum of understanding on this was signed between former Republican Congressman Tom Reynolds and Pakistani Ambassador Majeed Khan.Reynolds will lead a team comprising other former members of Congress, former senior Administration officials, Capitol Hill veterans and other professional experts to lobby in the US on behalf of the Government of Pakistan. The Embassy had no lobbyist during the past six years.Khan’s visit to the US is also marked by protests by several ethnic and religious minorities of Pakistan, including Baloch, Sindhis and Mohajirs.The Baloch groups Saturday started a mobile billboard campaign in America’s national capital urging President Trump to help end “enforced disappearances in Pakistan.A bipartisan group of 10 influential American lawmakers asked President Trump to raise the issue of human rights abuses in Pakistan’s Sindh province in his meeting with Khan.Protests have been planned in front of the White House and Capitol Hill Arena by these groups over the next few days.
New Delhi: A 36-year-old man died and four persons injured after the canter in which they were travelling caught electric current after touching a high tension wire in South East Delhi’s Jaitpur area on Saturday. Police said that deceased and the victims were Kanwarias and they were going to Haridwar.Police said that a PCR call at 02.35 am regarding someone got electric shock was received at Jaitpur police station. One injured identified as Bijender Karana resident of Jaitpur had been brought dead to Holy Family hospital due to electric shock. Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East) Chinmoy Biswal said that on enquiry, it was found that the deceased was going to Haridwar to take Kanwar along with 20-25 other people in an Eicher Canter.
Beijing: Playing down reports of assembling its troops near the borders of Hong Kong, which is witnessing huge pro-democracy protests for the last two months, China on Wednesday said that the onus is on the US to prove that it has no hand in instigating the anti-Beijing demonstrations. Reports from Washington quoting officials of the White House said that the US is monitoring a congregation of Chinese forces near the border of Hong Kong which is witnessing the biggest pro-democracy protests since it was handed over by Britain to China in 1997. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USFor over two months, the former British colony is gripped with mass protests with participation of millions of people opposing a bill to extradite wanted locals to mainland China for prosecution. The protests continued even after the local government said the bill is dead. The protests at times turned violent as police tried to supress them with tear gas and rubber bullets. China earlier hinted at deploying its troops currently stationed at a garrison in Hong Kong at the request of the local government. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe reports on Tuesday quoted a White House official, who was not identified, as saying that nature of the Chinese troop build-up was not clear but the units of the Chinese military or the armed police had gathered at the border with Hong Kong. Asked for her reaction at a media briefing here on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, who on Tuesday alleged the US’ hand behind the protests in Hong Kong, said that “I am not aware of the specific situation but if the White House prefers to see prosperity and stability in Hong Kong they should give some advice to those violent protestors to protest in peaceful way rather than resorting to violence.” Hua, on Tuesday, criticised US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks that China should do the right thing in Hong Kong. “I wonder does he hoped that those violent protesters who are attacking the police with iron batons can go to the US and show how democratic the US is,” Hua said, referring to Pompeo’s comments. “I believe Pompeo is not putting himself in a right position. I am afraid he still believes he is the CIA chief. He thinks the violent behaviours in Hong Kong are reasonable because the US also contributed to that,” she said. Pompeo was the former director of the CIA before his appointment as the Secretary of State. Hua alleged the US’ hand behind the protests. “There have been many American faces in the protests in Hong Kong, and even some American flags,” Hua added. When pointed out that the US officials dismissed her remarks as ridiculous, she said “US need to give frank explanation to the whole world. Indeed, if the US can prove and promise that it will never have a hand in Hong Kong affairs we will surely welcome that.”
Colombo: Angelo Mathews scored 87 runs Wednesday to inspire Sri Lanka to its first one-day international series sweep in more than three years, defeating Bangladesh by 122 runs in the third and final match. Sri Lanka’s last sweep was a 2-0 series win at in Ireland in June 2016. Choosing to bat after winning the toss, Sri Lanka made 294 for eight in 50 overs, riding on the innings of Mathews. He was well backed by Kusal Mendis who made 54. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne (46) and Kusal Perera (42) also made useful contributions. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhFast-medium bowler Soumya Sarkar took three for 56 while Shafiul Islam had three for 68 for Bangladesh. Sarkar also shone with the bat, top scoring with 69 runs, but a dismal show from the other batsmen resulted in Bangladesh being dismissed for 172 runs with 14 overs to spare. Dimuth Karunaratne and Avishka Fernando opened batting for Sri Lanka but their stand did not last long when Fernando, who top scored with 82 runs in the second match, was out for six runs, trapped lbw by seamer Shafiul Islam. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterKarunaratne and No. 3 batsman Kusal Perera shared 83 runs for the second wicket in 95 balls before Karunaratne (46) was caught by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim trying to scoop left-arm spinet Tailjul Islam. Perera departed soon caught behind by Rahim off pace bowler Rubel Hossain, leaving Sri Lanka 98 for three. Mathews joined Mendis and the pair steadied the Sri Lankan innings sharing 101 runs for the fourth wicket off 121 balls. Mendis mistimed a slow ball from Sarkar and was caught near the boundary by Sabbir Rahman for 54 runs. That was his 16th one-day international half-century. Mathews made 87 runs in 90 balls including eight boundaries and a six. He made good dropped chances on 32 and 63 to reach his second successive half-century score in the series and the 40th of his career. Sri Lanka scored 106 runs in the last 10 overs with Dasun Shanaka scoring 30 off 14 deliveries including two sixes and two boundaries. Bangladesh started its chase poorly, losing captain Tamim Iqbal with just four runs on the board in the second over. Tamim, who had scored zero and 19 in the previous two matches of the series, departed for two runs caught behind by Perera off fast bowler Kasun Rajitha. Anamul Haq and Sarkar added 25 runs for the second wicket before Anamul, who hit two consecutive fours against Rajitha, skied a third for a catch to Fernando. In-form Mushfiqur Rahim, who made two half-centuries in the series including an unbeaten 98 in the second match, was out for 10 caught at slip by Mendis off seamer Shanaka. With wickets falling regularly, Bangladesh was never in the game thereafter. Shanaka took three for 27 while Lahiru Kumara and Rajitha took two wickets apiece. The match was dedicated to Sri Lankan fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara, who has announced his retirement from international cricket.
Kolkata: Putting an end to speculations, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora on Friday said there is no possibility of conducting the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Bengal till the Supreme Court verdict is out.”Let the Supreme Court come out with a verdict. At the moment it is for Assam. The Supreme court has not given the verdict. I cannot give a verdict and cannot forecast,” he said. Arora is in the city to attend events organised by the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences and IIM (Calcutta) on Friday and Saturday. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIt may be recalled that after getting landslide victory in the general election, BJP leaders in Bengal had said the NRC will be conducted immediately and the infiltrators will be pushed back. The purpose of the NRC, which is being updated in Assam under the Apex Court’s supervision, is to identify bonafide Indian citizens living in the state and weed out illegal migrants. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said over and again in her election speeches as well as while addressing party leaders that the NRC in Bengal will not be allowed. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe matter came to head after the names of 42 lakh people belonging to the Hindu and Muslim communities got deleted from the NRC. The names of the family members of former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed had been dropped from the list of citizens. As a mark of protest, Banerjee sent party MPs led by Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar in Assam to meet the aggrieved people. However, the Assam government did not allow them to come out of the airport and were sent back. Banerjee had said during her election speeches that the Centre had asked for certain documents that the people find difficult to furnish. “If they ask someone who is above 70 years old to give a copy of the birth certificate, then the person will find it impossible to submit the document as it was not issued during his childhood. On the basis of this, if his name is dropped from the NRC then it is entirely unjustified.” In almost all the election meetings, she had strongly condemned the Centre’s role to conduct the NRC as “it was an attempt to isolate a particular community.” On her instructions, all the Trinamool Congress leaders had spoken against NRC as it was an attempt to scare people. Banerjee had threatened to launch a movement if Centre decides to conduct NRC in Bengal.
New Delhi: Delhi Police on Sunday claimed to have arrested two persons for abduction and murder case of transport broker in Narela Industrial area in Outer North district. The accused were working the deceased. Deputy Commissioner of Police (outer north) Gaurav Sharma claimed that on September 13 deceased’ wife informed that her husband Manish was missing. A case was registered in this regard. “On September 14, deceased’s wife came again and shown suspicion about the circumstances in which her husband disappeared. She further alleged that her husband had gone with his friend Atul. She had suspicion on Atul that he alongwith someother person has abducted her husband, ” DCP Gaurav said. Later a case under section 365 IPC was registered. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder During investigation the main suspect Atul was traced. On his instance co accused Shivam was also apprehended. Police added that upon enquiry , Shivam disclosed that Atul had asked him to get money from Manish. For that purpose they hatched conspiracy to kill Manish. When deceased left his home for work at night around 11pm alongwith Atul. Meanwhile, Atul messeged Shivam that they had left the home on Manish’s bike and would reach at Swaroop nagar. Atul also asked Shivam to come at Swaroop Nagar. There they met and suddenly Atul hit Manish with an iron Pipe.Then Shivam also started hitting him with the same iron pipe. Thereafter, Manish got unconscious and the accused burnt his (deceased) bike with petrol to destroy evidence. “Then both accused took Manish with them at Alipur Nala. There accused tied both hands and feet of Manish with his cloths and thrown him in drain, ” police said.
Kolkata: Two school students are battling for their lives after being shot at by miscreants in Parbelia town of West Bengal’s Purulia district, police said on Tuesday. The two boys – both aged around 15 – were sitting and chatting on the banks of river Damodar on Monday evening when two bike-borne miscreants fired at them and fled, an officer of Neturia police station told IANS. “Both are critically injured. One of the boys was hit on the lower abdomen, while the other sustained injury on the waist,” said the officer. They are now being treated at a private hospital. The motive for the attack is not yet clear.
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Negotiators have signed off on a new treaty agreement between the federal and provincial governments and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation near Prince George, B.C.Representatives put their initials on the Lheidli T’enneh Treaty in a ceremony Saturday — the final step before members of the community vote on the deal next month.The agreement provides the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation with more than 43 square kilometres of land, a capital transfer of $37.1 million and ongoing funding for services such as health care, education and social development.“The agreement would allow us to have our own governance, our own lands. We would own the lands and control the lands,” Chief Dominic Frederick said in an interview.The treaty updates an agreement reached in 2006, which the community voted against ratifying a year later. At the time, some members said they didn’t have enough information or knowledge about the deal and others said the timing wasn’t right.The previous treaty offered a capital transfer of about $16 million. In a joint news release, the provincial and federal governments and the First Nation say the increase “reflects updated policies that support reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.”The release said the new deal maintains the benefits of the 2006 agreement and adds wording that “allows the agreement to evolve along with certain provincial and federal policies related to reconciliation and treaty negotiations.”After the 2006 agreement was voted down, there was a kind of “stalemate” between the First Nation and other levels of government, Frederick said.The negotiation team was dismantled, and eventually, a new one was put in place. Frederick said the new team has spent several years speaking with community members and addressing their concerns about the previous deal.He hopes the community ratifies the new treaty, but said he understands that people need to think about it because it’s a big decision.Scott Fraser, B.C.’s minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, said in a statement that language in the new treaty shows the province is finding a new way forward in its relationships with First Nations.“We are working together with partners on an approach to treaties and agreements with First Nations that is grounded in recognition and implementation of rights and title, and which supports prosperous, healthy and self-determining Indigenous communities,” he said.Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, said in a statement that once the “historic” treaty is ratified, it will mark the start of a new relationship between Canada and the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, based on the recognition of rights, co-operation, respect and partnership.“When First Nations have more say over their lands, their people and all of Canada benefit,” said Bennett.The new treaty is a step towards reconciliation, Frederick said, but he noted that work needs to continue.“You can’t reconcile 100 and some odd years of atrocities that was put on our Aboriginal people over a short period of time,” he said. “Reconciliation goes on and on.”About 500 members of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation are eligible to vote on the treaty next month. If they ratify the agreement, it will be approved first by B.C.’s government, then the federal government.The B.C. Treaty Commission said in its 2017 annual report that 65 First Nations across the province are participating in or have completed treaty negotiations.The Tla’amin Nation near Powell River, B.C., was the last to ratify a treaty, and that agreement came into effect in April 2016.
MONTREAL – A 39-year-old man died Monday after falling into a manure pit on agricultural land in Sainte-Helene-de-Bagot, about 80 kilometres east of Montreal.Firefighters and first responders extracted the man from the pit, but their resuscitation efforts failed.Stephan Scalabrini, spokesman with the ambulance company that arrived on the scene, said the 39-year-old could have been overcome by a health issue or was intoxicated.“The odours (from the pit) are very strong,” he said. “Gas is released from there, asphyxiant gasses too, it’s a possibility the coroner will evaluate.”Quebec’s workplace safety board has also opened an investigation into the man’s death.
WINNIPEG – A Toronto-based pot producer is taking over the former Maple Leaf Foods meat plant in Winnipeg.GrowForce Holdings has announced it will open its flagship cannabis cultivation facility in the city’s St. Boniface Industrial Park.It says the 11,000-square-metre facility will employ 150 to 200 people once it’s fully operational next year.GrowForce CEO Rishi Gautam says the company looked at various cities, including Edmonton and Calgary, but settled on Winnipeg because of reasonable hydro rates and a large skilled workforce.Gautam says the company purchased the site for about $10 million and plans to invest another $30 million to retrofit the building.Executive vice-president James Lowe, says the company will produce more than 900 kilograms of cannabis at the Winnipeg facility every month.“We’ve selected this site and chosen indoor cultivation over (a) greenhouse here in Winnipeg because the energy prices allow us to do so,” Lowe said Tuesday.“Its previous design lends itself to good workflow.”“The main driving force with respect to cannabis is having a quality, consistent product in a climate-controlled facility,” Gautam said. “This is what this building represents.”The company has already purchased two other sites, including a licensed facility in Brampton, Ont. and a plant in Dunnville, Ont.Gautam said the cannabis licence GrowForce has for Brampton will make it easier to get one for its Winnipeg location.Recreational cannabis is expected to become legal in Canada later this year.(CTV Winnipeg)
VANCOUVER – A British Columbia man who killed three people while driving drunk along a winding mountain highway has been sentenced to eight years and four months in prison.Samuel Alec pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court last month to three counts of impaired driving causing death after he mowed down two cyclists who were out for a weekend ride north of Whistler in May 2015.Alec’s good friend Paul Pierre was a passenger in the vehicle and also died in the collision.Alec, who is 46 years old, was heading home to Lillooet from Mount Currie along Highway 99 following what the court heard was a “lengthy binge of drinking” after a friend’s funeral.He will remain in prison for an additional six years after credit is given for time he already served awaiting trial.The prosecution had asked for a 12-year sentence, while his defence lawyer argued that four years would be more appropriate.During last month’s sentence hearing, Alec turned around in the courtroom and offered a tearful apology to the families of the three men he had killed, saying he would never be able to make up for the pain and suffering he had caused.
WASHINGTON – Canadian politicians had an up-close vantage point as another political storm was rolling into Washington. Just as news broke that Donald Trump had revealed classified information to the Russian government, two federal cabinet ministers headed for dinner at the State Department.Chrystia Freeland and Harjit Sajjan dined with their U.S. counterparts for foreign affairs and defence — Rex Tillerson and James Mattis. The day’s drama was not a major topic of dinner conversation, based on the readout provided by the U.S. government.The Canadian government tiptoed Tuesday around the question of whether the news had done anything to rattle faith in exchanging intelligence with the U.S.“We have a long-standing relationship that has proven to be very valuable over the long term,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in Ottawa.But there were some frayed nerves in Washington.Several Republicans expressed concern Tuesday about the drama-a-day White House —which in a single week fired the FBI director; told different stories about why; became the target of a congressional investigation that’s expanding into money-laundering; shared intelligence with Russia; and offered shifting explanations.The administration initially discounted the details of reports in the Washington Post, New York Times, Buzzfeed and elsewhere that the president gave the Russians a detail about terrorist bomb-making that might help it identify U.S. sources in the Middle East.But the president admitted the basic details on Twitter — and he said it was no big deal.“As President I wanted to share with Russia, … which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety,” he tweeted Tuesday. What’s most important, the president said, is that authorities “find the leakers in the intelligence community.”The latest drama has rattled already shaky confidence in the president in Washington.Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell told Bloomberg: “I think we can do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda.”Republican lawmaker Mike Gallagher, a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq, asked to see the transcript of Trump’s conversation with the Russians. His colleague Barbara Comstock called the reports “highly troubling” and demanded classified briefings. Sen. Susan Collins said the release of the information had the potential to “jeopardize sources and to discourage our allies from sharing future information vital to our security.”Different news reports said the original information came from Israeli intelligence. It’s unclear whether the U.S. informed the Israelis it might share the information with the Russians, who have different allies in the region — notably Iran.The Israelis said they had full confidence in the intelligence-sharing relationship with the U.S., contradicting reports earlier this year that the Israelis had considered withholding secrets from Trump, at the urging of American colleagues worried about their own boss.Trump’s national security adviser also insisted Tuesday the story was no big deal. He was in the room last week when the president shared the information with Russia’s foreign minister and U.S. ambassador at the White House.He did not dispute the accuracy of the details — as the administration appeared to do the previous day.“What I’m saying is really the premise of that article is false, that in any way the president had a conversation that was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in — in national security,” H.R. McMaster told a White House briefing.“And so I think the real issue, and I think what I’d like to see really debated more, is that our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality, and those releasing information to the press that — that could be used, connected with other information available, to make American citizens and others more vulnerable…“That conversation was wholly appropriate to the conversation.”A rare Democratic senator who’s been friendly with Trump offered some advice: be more careful. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said he doesn’t even tell his own staff and colleagues things he hears on the Senate intelligence committee.That’s especially true for an adversary like Russia, he said.“I take that (need to preserve secrets) very seriously. If I breach that I know I’ll be thrown off the committee and maybe even more,” he told the MSNBC show, “Morning Joe.”“We have allies around the world, trusted allies. We have our best trading partner in the world in Canada — with 35 states being No. 1. You have basically our ally the UK who has been with us in all the wars that we’ve been involved in… And you have one of our greatest friends and allies in Israel. So we have good friends, good allies, good people.“Russia is not one of them. They do not have our best interest at heart.”
TORONTO – The federal minister responsible for crafting Canada’s first national accessibility legislation says the law should be ready by next spring and should benefit not only people with disabilities, but their caregivers.Kent Hehr says the timeline for the new law has shifted slightly since he took over the portfolio for sport and persons with disabilities in a recent cabinet shuffle.The legislation, which is highly anticipated by Canada’s disabled community, was originally set to be unveiled either late this year or early 2018.Hehr says he is up-to-speed on past consultation efforts and is moving ahead with future ones. He hopes to table the legislation before the House of Commons by next spring.Hehr says he intends to focus on the issues disabled Canadians identified as priorities during an eight-month consultation process, including high unemployment levels and accessibility of federally run buildings and services.But Hehr says his own experience as a quadriplegic has made him particularly aware of how the new bill could also benefit caregivers.Hehr, who has used a wheelchair since being struck by a bullet while witnessing a drive-by shooting 27 years ago, said he has personally witnessed the essential role caregivers play and wants to be certain their contributions are never overlooked.“I rely a tremendous amount on my mom, my girlfriend, my sister, as well as my caregiver … without their help, their assistance, their contributions to my life, I simply could not do the job I’ve been entrusted to do,” Hehr said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “I understand, first-hand, that they have to be part of this mix.”Hehr did not disclose details of what caregiver benefits might entail, but said the legislation was part of a government-wide approach to removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society. He said he hoped the legislation would improve the lives of people with disabilities, thereby easing the load on those who provide support to them.Hehr’s reflections on caregivers came as good news to at least one advocacy group representing their interests.Disabled groups from coast to coast have made it clear that Canadians have lofty expectations of the federal legislation, which they maintain is long overdue to bring Canada in line with countries such as the United States.In a report released to Carla Qualtrough, Hehr’s predecessor on the file, Canadians laid out six areas of focus for the new bill.Those who took part in consultations wanted to see laws that would help lower unemployment rates that hover around 50 per cent for those with disabilities, reduce the number of buildings inaccessible to those with physical and intellectual disabilities, and remove accessibility barriers for the country’s air, rail, ferry and bus transportation systems.Those consulted also named government program and service delivery as another key area of focus.There was also a desire for an independent body to make sure the new law has teeth.Hehr, who served as Veterans Affairs minister before taking over from Qualtrough in August, said the new law will address these priorities but declined to offer concrete details at this point.Joanne Bertrand of the Ontario Caregiver Coalition said the group’s voice had not been included in consultation efforts to date, adding there are myriad ways in which federal legislation could make life easier for those providing support to disabled people.New laws, she suggested, could make it easier and less expensive to travel with a disabled person.The legislation could also put measures in place at banks, which would fall under the purview of the new laws.Bertrand suggested caregivers often act as substitute decision-makers for disabled loved ones, saying existing systems make it very difficult to carry out those duties effectively.“I think it’s very important that there be an awareness by employees in various businesses and organizations that substitute decision-makers are not only representing, but expressing the wishes of the people that they are the decision-maker for,” she said.Bertrand said the health care sector as a whole is moving towards treating patients and caregivers as a unit and addressing the needs of each, adding she hopes the federal government will follow suit.Disability rights advocates, too, welcomed news that caregivers’ needs were on Hehr’s radar.“It’s something that’s been missing for awhile,” said Marcia Yale,a visually impaired activist who has been involved in soliciting input on the legislation. “No one gets compensated for human work or for doing the right thing.”The proposed legislation would govern areas that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as banks, telecommunications, and interprovincial transportation.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says a “national conversation” on autism is needed, but the province must examine existing programs to provide additional support for families who need help.McNeil reacted Thursday to questions about Carly and John Sutherland, a Halifax-area couple who say there is a lack of supports and programs to help with their nine-year-old son Callum, who struggles with a type of autism that results in violent outbursts.While not directly addressing the Sutherlands’ concerns, McNeil said the government needs to respond in “acute” situations. As an example, he said it may not be appropriate in some cases to have a means test for programs such as respite care.“Potentially the issue is about how do we provide the supports to make sure there is respite care available for them with a support network. If it is about money then we have to look at how we do that, so that will be an ongoing conversation that will take place.”On Monday, Carly Sutherland said the province had increased her family’s respite funding through its income-based program. An average family could receive up to $3,800 per month for exceptional needs, according to the province.Sutherland said while she was appreciative of the extra support, what’s really required is a “needs based” service, noting that her family is left to hire, train, and schedule staff to be in her home to support Callum.The family’s plight saw Autism Canada and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance renew calls for a national strategy, saying Callum’s case illustrates what happens when families can’t get crisis assistance.McNeil didn’t call outright for a strategy, but said there are issues that have to be addressed with federal officials. Still, he said the immediate responsibility lies with the province.“If it is about not having the support or finding the appropriate people with the skill to be able to provide the service, then I think we need to deal with that at the same time we are talking with Ottawa about how we fund many of these (programs) that would be national programs,” he said.Nova Scotia’s Health Department said it is spending about $15.7 million on autism services in the province this year.The figure includes $300,000 for Autism Nova Scotia to expand resource centres, particularly in rural areas. There is also $500,000 for an early intervention pilot program to help parents before their children go into the pre-school Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention program.In an interview this week, Health Minister Randy Delorey said the range of conditions and individual needs on the autism spectrum make for challenges when it comes to funding specific needs.“I think it does sometime take time to get the right balance (of supports) for individuals, particularly for those individuals on the upper end of the spectrum,” he said. “Individuals do come together across (government) departments to try to find the right solution, working with the families to do that.”
VANCOUVER – A former RCMP inspector was found not guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting a civilian employee in a washroom at the force’s British Columbia headquarters.Tim Shields, who was a high-profile spokesman for the RCMP, was accused of sexually assaulting the woman in 2009.The trial heard Shields and the complainant, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban, had a sexual encounter in a unisex washroom.Crown attorney Michelle Booker maintained Shields had a “mistaken belief” that the woman provided consent while the ex-Mountie said she was a willing participant in what happened.Provincial court Judge Patrick Doherty said the Crown failed to establish its case beyond a reasonable doubt and despite some evasiveness in Shields’s testimony, he had to find him not guilty.“His evidence raised a reasonable doubt in my mind against (the woman’s) subjective assertion that she did not consent to sexual touching in the bathroom,” Doherty said.There were gaps in the evidence of both Shields and the complainant, he said, adding that a “criminal trial is not a credibility contest” but the onus is on the Crown to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.The complainant testified that before the incident in the washroom, she and Shields met in his office and he said he would walk her to her car.Instead, she said he led her down a flight of stairs and into a washroom she’d never seen, locked the door and started kissing her before undoing her bra, touching her breasts and putting her hand on his genitals.Shields testified the woman consented but then accused him of sexual assault.The complainant testified she followed Shields into the washroom because he said he had something important to tell her but then was “frozen and confused” about what was happening.However, Doherty said it seems unlikely that the complainant, as a confident woman, would walk into a washroom without asking why.He said he couldn’t resolve from the testimony how the two ended up in the washroom together.“I don’t know whom to believe,” Doherty said in delivering his decision.The judge said the complainant was combative and angry during her testimony.“She did not answer many questions posed in a responsive and comprehensive manner,” he said, noting he sometimes had to tell the woman not to argue with defence lawyer David Butcher.Butcher questioned the woman’s credibility, saying she had exchanged at least one flirtatious email with his client, and the pair’s working relationship had evolved to intimate hugs in Shields’s office when the woman would walk in unannounced and sometimes closed the door.“Mr. Shields says she’s a fraud, a liar and a perjurer,” he said in closing submissions.In the Crown’s closing argument, Booker said Shields provided an extraordinarily detailed, mechanical and unreasonable account of the incident in the washroom, portraying the woman as an instigator and himself as a victim of her advances.Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the B.C. Prosecution Service, said the Crown will review the decision and consider whether there are grounds for an appeal.The outcome of the case should not deter sexual assault complainants from considering criminal proceedings, McLaughlin said outside court.“It’s important for people to realize the B.C. Prosecution Service takes allegations of sexual assault very seriously,” he said.Shields declined comment outside court but Butcher said his client was “relieved and happy that it’s all over.”Shields joined the RCMP in 1996 and was promoted to inspector in 2009. He was suspended with pay in May 2015 in the middle of a code of conduct investigation. He left the force in December 2015 and was charged in May 2016.— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
OTTAWA – Mother Nature drowned out Canada Day on Parliament Hill and now it’s frozen out part of the planned New Year’s Eve celebrations.Organizers were checking the forecast every hour Friday hoping to see some improvement but the polar vortex that has turned Ottawa into a living icicle shows no sign of lifting until at least January 2.So they’ve cancelled plans for musical entertainment and DJs for the Canada 150 closing events, but will go ahead with fireworks and a laser show scheduled for midnight.“We invite all Canadians and visitors to consider the extreme weather conditions and to dress warmly and prepare accordingly to prevent frostbite and other injuries,” said Canadian Heritage in a statement Friday.Earlier Friday, plans for the bash were in doubt altogether as the department’s website briefly listed everything as being cancelled, but a final decision wasn’t made until mid-morning.Andrew Campbell, the senior executive director in charge of the Canada 150 secretariat, had said earlier that with the current forecast offering up temperatures close to -28 Celsius with 15 km/hour winds, there had been concern that the equipment needed for the fireworks and multimedia light show might not work.Hip hop artist Kardinal Offishall was among the artists scheduled to perform Sunday night on Parliament Hill. News on social media that the party might be cancelled prompted him to post his displeasure.“Noooooooooo!!!,” read a message on his official Twitter account. “Damn you frigid temperatures!!!!”The weather has already forced the cancellation of youth hockey games on the Parliament Hill Canada 150 skating rink but Campbell said public skating continues.Members of the public will be able to skate on the rink right up until midnight on New Year’s Eve.