In the early days, Calcutta was at the forefront of public transport in India. Not just the first (and now only) tram network in India, but the very first Metro. As decades have passed, Kolkata fell behind due to a series of political missteps, leaving the other major cities to race ahead with public transport projects and leaving this rapidly expanding city well behind. Calcutta would have got it’s first Metro as far back as 1921, had the recommendation of Sir Harley Dalrymple-Hay been acted upon but due to a paucity of funds, his ambitious plans were ditched. The city finally saw a Metro network materialise in 1984, racing passengers deep in the bowels of the city on a North-South shuttle run. Also Read – A special kind of bondSince 1984, Kolkata has grown. Not as quickly as Delhi or Mumbai, but towns which were once distant weekend-breaks are now encroaching on the city’s borders–Kalyani (where the Bengal AIIMS is being constructed and proposed site for the new Kolkata Airport), Barasat, Barrackpore, Salt Lake, New Town and Garia. This is in addition to the booming industrial area in Howrah, forwarding successfully thanks to its proximity to the station and the northbound GT Road and Westbound Mumbai Road. Also Read – Insider threat managementHow has the city kept pace with adequate public transport? Not very well. Except for a few patchy extensions, other lines remain in the snail’s pace construction phase or dormant on paper. In comparison, Delhi now has eight Metro lines, alongside eight other major cities. In fact, the Kolkata Metro remains entirely under the Indian Railways, juxtaposed with the Gurugram Metro which is entirely privately funded. In terms of road transport, the city has just one ‘Bus Rapid Transport System’ (BRTS) route planned, and it is not likely to go beyond the planning phase as the East-West Metro route has concrete pillars erected along the proposed route. The private buses remain the same, most over two-decade-old racing death traps which kill at least one person a day. A brand new long-distance bus terminus at Santragachi on the Kona Expressway remains mothballed due to the existing one at Babu Ghat still being used, in spite of court orders and an environmental threat to both the Maidan and Victoria Memorial. Whatever little Metro work has taken place has come at an environmental cost. The first line cut a strip off the eastern edge off the Maidan, while the line currently under construction will have ventilation shafts dotted across it. The damage has continued with the growth of the city, broadening of the EM Bypass to accommodate additional vehicular traffic, the overhead Metro line and the BRTS line attracting development on the eastern flank which is the famous ecological wonder and the East Kolkata Wetlands which treats the city’s sewage organically without any need for a Sewage Treatment Plant. This expansion into the wetlands has attracted commercial offices such as an embassy and a premium apartment complex with the latter taking up a 65-acre plot on its own. India’s solution for the ever-increasing vehicular traffic has been the hideous and dangerous flyover network, Delhi alone has almost 100. The past few decades have seen numerous concrete monstrosities worming their way through the Kolkata’s skyline with branches coming off them in the planning phases alongside a new proposed flyover to cut across wetlands, connecting the city to the airport directly. With traffic increasing at a general rate of 10 per cent per year, basic maths tells us that even flyovers would be beyond capacity in a decade. To add to their woefulness, two have collapsed–one of which has developed a new crack–and all are being closely inspected; this does not include the Majerhat Bridge collapse. The solution to this abysmal situation is heavy investment in public transport, with bi-partisan political support and reform of our transport unions. The status quo, especially considering India’s booming population, is not sustainable and we are a generation away from total chaos on our streets. The renowned economist Paul Krugman pointed out that weak urban transport systems constrain economic growth as they limit urban agglomeration and reduce labour and economies of scale. The coming decade will add AIIMS and a new airport, on par with the existing Dum Dum Airport, within the greater Kolkata area, besides the previously mentioned townships which are also growing. This needs radical, brave and visionary leadership. The ‘Three E’s’ of infrastructure rule, if followed, will relieve the pressure. To begin with, ‘Engineering’ is required; multiple Metro lines, whether under Indian Railways, PPP, state or wholly private. Old buses need to be removed and replaced with electric AC buses on BRTS routes with dedicated lanes, and we need thousands of these, not a token few. School ‘pool cars’ ought to be thought about too, they are unregulated, dangerous and uncomfortable. Once again, private sector options are available, with at least one major corporate rumoured to have offered to take over the entire bus network in the city, but unions strongly opposed them. The second phase is ‘Education’, the public need to be made aware of adequate, comfortable, fast and cheap public transport now available and to use it. Awareness about the environment, city congestion, pollution and traffic jams should be raised, people must be charmed. The final step is ‘Enforcement’–London style ‘Congestion Charging’, where vehicles are fined for coming into the heart of the city, steep parking fines and steep road toll charges. If such valiant leadership can be displayed, triggering dramatic reform, our city will be on par with any in the west and our magical, and award-winning, ecology will be protected. Allowing the stagnancy to continue will result in ever-increasing traffic jams, unions holding the public hostage fare increases, profiteering from app cabs and, in the long run, a breakdown in public order in the form of riots. Krugman’s economic model can swing both ways, which direction it does will be dictated by our Vidhan Sabha. (The views expressed are strictly personal)
London: Branded as a “terrorist” at a London playground, a 10-year-old British Sikh schoolgirl has hit back with a social media message saying greater “exposure and knowledge” should be promoted about the community to “handle racism”. Munsimar Kaur’s video message, posted by her father on Twitter, has attracted over 47,000 views already since it was went live on Thursday. The video shows the young turbaned girl bravely relate the incident, which took place at Plumstead playground in south-east London earlier in the week. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”On Monday and Tuesday at a park, I was greeted not very nicely by four kids and a mother of a young girl,” says Kaur, reading from a notebook in which she has written about her experience. “On Monday, two boys who looked like 14 to 17 years old and two girls who looked like they were in their late teens when I asked to play the game they were playing and the queue was a mile long they said, loud and clear, ‘no, you can’t play because you are a terrorist’,” she recounts. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsKaur speaks of how the words obviously broke her heart, but she kept her “head up and walked away”. She returned to the same adventure play area the next day when she made a friend with a nine-year-old girl. “After an hour, her mum called her and said she can’t play with me because I was, apparently, dangerous,” she says, defending the young girl who apologised for this as it was not her fault. In her message to the world, Kaur notes: “This experience has shown me the lack of exposure and knowledge some people have. And Sikhs are naturally caring and no matter what, we will love everyone.” “But I need to speak out about this because not everyone is strong enough to walk away or has suitable parents to talk to and handle this racism. I will hang out with the right people.” On an optimistic note, she calls on anyone else going through similar racism to speak to their parents and keep their chin up because it will all work out in the end. Her video has attracted scores of messages of support, with people applauding the schoolgirl’s “class act” and praising her for her courage. “You are a truly inspiring individual Munsimar! Such courage and eloquence in your words sadly racism persists but we can collectively value diversity and inclusion,” said Gurch Randhawa, Professor of Diversity in Public Health at the Institute for Health Research at the University of Bedfordshire.
New Delhi: India’s exports growth turned positive in July, spurting 2.25 per cent, while trade deficit narrowed to a four-month low of $13.43 billion, government data showed on Wednesday. Exports increased to $26.33 billion in July as against $25.75 billion in the same month last year. Imports, however, slipped by 10.43 per cent to $39.76 billion. Decline in overall imports, including oil and gold, led to narrowing of the trade deficit — the difference between imports and exports. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalTrade deficit in July 2018 stood at $18.63 billion. The previous low was in March 2019, when this gap was at $10.89 billion. “As a result of government’s proactive trade policies and support, India’s merchandise trade deficit is down by 28 per cent in July 2019 over July 2018. Merchandise exports during the same time have grown to reach $26.33 billion,” Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said in a tweet. Gold imports declined 42.2 per cent to $1.71 billion in July. Oil imports fell 22.15 per cent to $9.6 billion, while non-oil slipped by 5.92 per cent to $30.16 billion. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostExport sectors that showed positive growth in the last month included chemical, iron ore, electronics, marine products and pharmaceuticals. However, shipments of some key sectors recorded negative growth, including gems and jewellery (- 6.82 per cent), engineering goods (- 1.69 per cent) and petroleum products (- 5 per cent), according to the data. Cumulatively, during April-July 2019, exports dipped 0.37 per cent to $107.41 billion, while imports contracted by 3.63 per cent to $166.8 billion. Trade deficit during the four-month period narrowed to $59.39 billion as compared to $65.27 billion in the same period last fiscal. Oil imports in April-July 2019-20 were at $44.45 billion, which was 5.69 per cent lower as compared to $47.13 billion in the same period last year. Commenting on the data, Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) said the sluggish global demand and uncertainties emanating from tariff wars are clearly visible in the slowdown in exports across the globe. “Domestic issues including access to credit, cost of credit especially for merchant exporters, interest equalisation support to all agri exports, benefits on sales to foreign tourists and quick refund of GST should be seriously looked into,” FIEO President Sharad Kumar Saraf said. Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) Chairman Mohit Singla said to some extent this export growth is partially on account of rupee, which has depreciated by about 3.5 per cent in the past six weeks, which gives an impetus for short-term export gains. “Since the consumption rates in India have plummeted, demand has been squeezed, especially for precious stones and electronic goods,” Singla said. India’s exports growth entered the negative zone after a gap of eight months in June, recording a decline of 9.71 per cent, amid global headwinds. The World Bank in its Global Economic Prospects (June 2019) has projected weakening of global trade in 2019. Global trade is projected to grow at 2.6 per cent this year, a full percentage point below its previous forecast.
Jalalabad: Afghanistan’s independence day was marred by bloodshed Monday when a series of explosions shook the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, wounding dozens of people including children. As many as 10 blasts were reported in and around the city in Nangarhar province, authorities said, and casualty numbers appeared to be rising. “The explosions were caused by IEDs in different parts of the city and as groups of people were celebrating independence day,” Nangarhar governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said, referring to improvised explosive devices. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USJalalabad is the scene of frequent bomb attacks, and the surrounding terrain is home to both Taliban fighters and the Islamic State group’s local affiliate. At least 19 people were wounded, Khogyani said. Zaher Adel, a spokesman for a local hospital, said about 40 wounded people had been brought in with more expected. An AFP correspondent saw children among the victims. This year’s August 19 celebrations mark 100 years of Afghan independence from British influence. The day was supposed to be one of national pride and unity, but was overshadowed by an IS suicide attack on a crowded Kabul wedding hall that killed at least 63 people. In Kabul, locals took to the streets to wave the black-red-and-green Afghan flag, but several public events to commemorate the date were scrapped over fears of a fresh attack.
New Delhi: An armed contingent of over 100 CISF commandos has taken over counter-terror security duties at the country’s second largest single-site oil refinery in Gujarat’s coastal district of Jamnagar. The refinery in the Vadinagar area is owned Nayara Energy Ltd (formerly Essar Oil). This is the tenth installation in the private sector of the country to get an armed cover of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a paramilitary under the Union home ministry. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”The location of the refinery is strategic considering the high value of investment in the region and proximity to the busiest sea route. “In the light of the threat perception, security of the installation is of utmost importance as this vital installation is contributing to national economy,” CISF spokesperson and Assistant Inspector General Hemendra Singh said. A squad of over 100 armed commandos, led by an Assistant Commandant-rank officer of the force, has taken over the charge of security on Tuesday, he said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostNayara Energy Limited, the CISF said, is a private oil company based in Mumbai that encompasses refining, marketing, production and a network of over 5,000 retail fuel outlets in India. The group, on its website said, its facility in Vadinagar in Jamnagar is the second largest single-site refinery of the country. The largest such refinery of Reliance in Jamnagar is also guarded by the CISF. The facility is strategically located on the west coast of India, providing proximity to Middle East and Africa and also facilitate access to high consumption domestic as well as export market, the business group stated in its profile. CISF commandos will provide round-the-clock security in a quick response team (QRT) pattern as part of which they keep vigil from vantage positions using sophisticated assault weapons and use vehicles for swift movement. Regular entry and exit in the facility will be executed by private guards under the overall supervision of CISF personnel and the force will ensure any terror threat is kept at bay and thwarted, a senior official said. The ‘client’ or the contracting company pays for such a CISF security cover, he added. Officials said this is the tenth private sector deployment of the CISF in the country. The force was tasked to extend its armed security cover, exclusively from the existing government sector deployment, to private installations after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which Pakistan-based terrorists targeted five-star hotels and other locations killing over 166 people. The other nine private sector units being guarded by the CISF are: Electronics City in Bengaluru and Infosys campuses in Bengaluru, Mysore and Pune, Reliance Refinery and Petrochemicals in Jamnagar, Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd project executed by the Tata group in Mundra, Tata Steel project based in Odisha’s Kalinganagar, Yoga exponent Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Food and Herbal Park Private Limited in Haridwar and the Navi Mumbai-based Reliance Corporate IT Park.
Kolkata: Bengal government is set to conduct camps in all the offices of Block Development Officers (BDO) across the state from September 9-26 to provide ration cards to 4 to 5 per cent of the total population in the state, who have still been left out of the Khadya Sathi scheme.Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the Assembly on Wednesday instructed the state Food and Supply Minister Jyotipriya Mallick to conduct an all-party meeting to take consensus and also to bridge the gaps which are still there in the system. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaDuring her speech in the Assembly, Banerjee pointed out that many people in the state possess the ration cards but they do not avail facilities of the Khadya Sathi scheme, a brain child of the Chief Minister. On the other hand, there is another section belonging to the BPL category who possess the ration card and enjoy various facilities extended by the state government. The Chief Minister asked the Food and Supply minister to conduct a survey in this regard. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”Following the announcement of the NRC by the Centre, some people in the state are scared and they want to hold the ration card for the sake of identity and not avail the benefits extended by the state. We have found that 4-5 per cent of the total population in the state is still deprived as they do not have a ration card. Hence, we have decided that camps will be conducted in all the BDO offices across the state so that the people left out can be brought under the Khadya Sathi scheme,” Banerjee told the House. Food and Supply Minister Jyotipriya Mallick during his speech in the Assembly said advertisements will be published to make people aware about the camps to reach out to the people who are yet to get a ration card. People have to come to the camps in the BDO offices with proper documents to receive their cards. The officials of the Food and Supply department will also be present at the camps. The whole process will be conducted within November 31. It was learnt that the Food and Supply department will hold the all party meeting in this regard on next Friday.
TORONTO – Mass-casualty disasters like Monday’s deadly van attack that sent 10 of the victims to one Toronto hospital are a relatively rare occurrence in Canada. So how do hospitals and their staff prepare for that moment when a Code Orange alerts them to expect a sudden influx of often critically injured patients?For Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the regional trauma centre where those patients were transferred, the answer is ongoing education and practice drills for staff who work in all areas of the sprawling complex in the north end of the city.Dr. Dan Cass, Sunnybrook’s chief medical executive, said the hospital has a Code Orange plan that helps administrators determine whether staff already on shift can handle the number of expected patients or if extra doctors, nurses and other practitioners will need to be called in.“We were fortunate with the time of when this happened (early afternoon) because we had a lot of people in-house, so we were able to manage at least the first phase without additional resources,” Cass said. “We called people in later.”Beyond the paper plan, the hospital also carries out monthly table-top sessions, in which different groups of staff meet to discuss potential mass-casualty scenarios.“People sit around the table and they’re thrown new events that happen and have to respond to it: ‘How would we empty out the ICU right now? How would we get this patient to the OR?’” he said.“So they practice the components of a Code Orange response without actually walking through the motions.”But about once a year, the hospital also organizes a multiple-victim simulation, often using students as would-be patients to give groups of staff hands-on practice.Debriefings are also part of the preparedness process, so lessons learned from the experience can help “fine-tune the response for next time.”Of the 10 patients brought to Sunnybrook on Monday, two were pronounced dead soon after arrival. On Tuesday, five remained in critical condition, two were serious and one was listed as fair. In all, 10 people died and 14 were injured.Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder, following a bloody rampage in which the driver of a rented van mowed down pedestrians on a stretch of Yonge Street in north Toronto. Police said a 14th attempted murder charge was expected to be laid.Cass described Monday’s inrush of patients following the van attack as “organized chaos” as emergency room staff began providing care to the injured, while patients already in the ER and the ICU had to be moved elsewhere in the hospital to free up space for the new arrivals.“I stood outside the trauma room as the first patients arrived and I was thinking how calm things were because people were focused on what they do every day,” he said. “They were just doing more of what they’re used to.”Dr. Alan Drummond, chair of public affairs for the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, said many people might be surprised to hear that the response to multiple injured patients coming through the ER doors was orderly and calm because the public tends to believe that staff would feel overwhelmed by such a sudden onslaught.“They’re not actually,” said Drummond, an ER doctor at the Perth and Smith Falls District Hospital. “And I think part of the deal is that emergency physicians and emergency nurses are innately wired to transform chaos into calm.“It’s something they do on a regular basis,” he said, noting that ER staff in Canadian hospitals come into work daily to be met by crowded waiting rooms and every stretcher occupied by patients with a broad range of symptoms and conditions that have to be triaged, diagnosed and treated.“And because we’re so innately wired, I think that that comes to the fore, when we do rarely face those mass-casualty problems. The physicians and nurses are highly professional, they’re well-trained, so they know what they must do.”Like other acute-care institutions, the Perth and Smiths Falls hospital southwest of Ottawa also has a Code Orange preparedness plan and annually has at least paper-based practice sessions, which are a requirement for continued hospital accreditation.“So every hospital I know of yearly at least has a paper exercise in terms of mass-casualty incidents, and that usually involves making sure there’s an effective call list so everybody can be contacted, from extra ancillary help, be it radiology, laboratory investigation, extra nurses and extra physicians,” Drummond said from Perth, Ont.“(It’s) making sure the consultants are available, operating rooms are ready and that the whole organism of the hospital is prioritized to helping the transition from the emergency department to the operating room in a fairly seamless manner.”In his 35 years at the hospital, Drummond said he’s been involved in only one incident in which multiple victims were rushed to the ER, following a horrific crash on Highway 7 south of Ottawa in the late 1990s.“That was the only time our hospital has had to face a mass-casualty incident,” he said. “It was around midnight or one o’clock in the morning and I got called in.“I remember walking in to what I thought would be total chaos, and yet it was calm and quiet and everybody worked professionally to make sure that the most injured patients got dealt with.“And it struck me that this is what we actually do — this is our job.”— Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
TORONTO – Starbucks will close all its Canadian company-operated stores and offices for an afternoon next month to provide training about creating a “culture of warmth and belonging.”The announcement comes nearly a month after the Seattle-based company publicly apologized for the arrest of two black men who had been refused permission to use the washroom of a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia.A Philadelphia police spokesman said Starbucks employees called 911 after the men refused to leave.The company ordered more than 8,000 U.S. Starbucks stores closed on the afternoon of May 29 so that nearly 175,000 employees can receive training on unconscious bias, but said at the time it had not decided whether to follow suit in Canada.Starbucks Canada president Michael Conway sent a memo on Friday that schedules store closures for part of the afternoon on June 11 for a training session to address implicit bias.The memo says Starbucks believes “everyone deserves to be treated with respect” and that its employees have the support and clarity they need to create a culture of warmth.
WINNIPEG – Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says it appears the federal government has the right to force a carbon tax on the provinces, but there may be some wiggle room when it comes to the exact amount.Pallister released a legal opinion on the issue Wednesday from constitutional law expert Bryan Schwartz. He was hired to examine whether the province could win a court challenge against a plan to have the provinces impose a $50 per tonne carbon tax or have the federal government enact the tax itself.“There is a strong likelihood that the Supreme Court of Canada would uphold the proposed carbon tax/levy. It would probably do so on the basis of the federal government’s taxation power,” says Schwartz’s report, which cost the province roughly $40,000.“The Supreme Court of Canada is wary of allowing the division of powers between the federal and provincial levels of government to stand in the way of activist government, including in the subject matter of the environment.”But Schwartz added that Manitoba might be able to get away with a lower tax level if it achieved the same reductions in emissions as the federal plan.“Suppose Manitoba adopted its own ‘made-in-Manitoba’ overall (greenhouse gas) reduction plan, which would reduce … emissions just as effectively as the approved federal measures,” Schwartz wrote.“Manitoba could then argue the federal government was arbitrarily denying its authority to craft its own legislative measures in response to the issue of (greenhouse gas) emissions.”Pallister, who has already hinted at a lower tax rate in Manitoba, said he accepts the report’s findings. He has repeatedly said the province deserves credit for the billions of dollars it has invested in clean hydroelectric power.A document obtained last month by The Canadian Press said the province was eyeing a $25 per tonne carbon levy. Pallister refused to confirm the amount Wednesday.“I can’t comment on leaked documents. We’ll put out our plan when it’s put out and it’ll be one that will work better for Manitoba than the federal plan.”Most provinces have gone along with the federal plan or had already adopted similar carbon taxes.Saskatchewan is the only complete holdout. Premier Brad Wall has said he will fight the tax proposal, possibly through a lawsuit.Ottawa wants the provinces to start with a $10-per-tonne tax next year that would ramp up to $50 a tonne by 2022.Once it was fully phased in, the tax would add about $5.82 to the cost of a 50-litre tank of gasoline. The natural gas heating bill for the average single, detached home would rise by about $264 a year.The document obtained by The Canadian Press said Manitoba has been considering an immediate $25-per-tonne amount next year, making more of an immediate sticker shock that could change’s people’s energy consumption.It also outlines four areas where the money would be spent: tax relief for households, tax relief for businesses, investments in green projects and clean technology, and projects that deal with climate change effects such as flooding.
QUEBEC – Quebec’s legislature passed a motion Wednesday against Transport Canada’s directive allowing airline passengers to carry small blades, including kirpans.The motion tabled by the Coalition for Quebec’s Future will be sent to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.Garneau told reporters that members of Quebec’s national assembly might be misinformed.He said experts agree small knives, including kirpans — a religious and ceremonial dagger carried by some Sikh men — don’t represent any danger on airplanes.“Unfortunately, maybe the members of the (Quebec legislature) don’t have access to all the information,” Garneau said. “We are very satisfied that it’s very safe.”Transport Canada recently announced that knife blades up to six centimetres long will be allowed on domestic and most international flights, beginning Nov. 27.Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said his government, in voting for the motion, was not motivated by religious discrimination but rather by concerns about security.“It’s got absolutely nothing to do with any religious belief,” he said. “It’s a legitimate question about security on our planes.“I think there are legitimate questions to be asked, so this is an opportunity for the federal government to explain better why it made this decision.”The World Sikh Organization had been lobbying for the change and welcomed Transport Canada’s announcement.Kirpans are controversial in Quebec, particularly since a 2001 incident when a school board demanded a young Sikh boy not bring his ceremonial dagger to school.The case made its way to the Supreme Court, with the court ruling unanimously in 2006 the board was wrong to deny the student his right to carry the knife.Amir Khadir, one of three members of Quebec solidaire who abstained on the motion, said the legislature was using members of the Sikh community as scapegoats because some of them carry the kirpan.Blades of any length will continue to be banned on flights to the United States, while razor blades and box cutters of any size will remain prohibited on all flights.
WHITEHORSE – Yukon’s government says it wants regulations for recreational marijuana to focus on minimizing health impacts for young people in the territory.The government released a summary of draft legislation ahead of Ottawa’s plans for legalization this summer and the proposed rules include setting the age for consumption at 19, the same limit set by several other provinces.Any new legislation will need to focus on protecting youth from the negative effects of consuming marijuana, said Yukon’s Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost.“As recreational cannabis becomes legal here in the Yukon, one of our goals is to have people understand the very real health impacts cannabis can have on our young people, including a potential effect on brain development,” she said at a news conference Thursday.The proposed regulations would require anyone with recreational pot to ensure it stays out of the hands of kids, and would prohibit marijuana from being consumed on the streets, in public parks, or in daycares, pre-schools or other licensed child-care sites, even when kids aren’t present.The proposed rules would also ban alcohol and marijuana from being sold in the same stores, and would allow four cannabis plants to be grown per household.“Our government’s cautious approach to the legalization of recreational cannabis is based on current best evidence and public health advice,” Frost said, adding that changes will be considered as new research becomes available.The territory’s liquor corporation would be tasked with the distributing, and marijuana would be sold through both private and public stores, if the regulations are passed.Plans are in the works to set up a public store in Whitehorse, but regulations for private shops are still being developed.The liquor corporation will also run online sales of marijuana, which Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee said will provide access to people outside of the territory’s capital until private stores can be established.People receiving the pot will have to verify their identity and age to keep young people from accessing the product, she added.McPhee said a similar system has been used for mail-order alcohol in Ontario.“It’s been quite effective there in terms of servicing communities while making sure that the person ordering it is legally entitled to have it,” she said.McPhee said the government is looking for feedback on the proposals over the next 30 days and it anticipates having legislation ready to be voted on at the beginning of the next legislative session in March.— By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouver
MONTREAL – A Senegalese man is suing a Quebec-based Catholic congregation for $1.4 million, alleging one of its brothers sexually abused him when he was a boy in the 1980s at a school the religious order ran in Africa.Legal experts consulted by The Canadian Press said they weren’t aware of another case where a Canadian religious organization was taken to court for the alleged actions of its members in another country.Max Silverman, the Senegalese plaintiff’s Montreal-based lawyer, said the congregation indicated it will contest the Quebec court’s jurisdiction, setting up a legal battle over whether the province is the best place to hear the evidence.“The other side has made it clear they intend to contest the jurisdiction of the court and that debate will happen in the fall,” said Silverman, who filed the suit on behalf of the man who has chosen to remain anonymous.Known in court documents as NBS, the plaintiff alleges a now-deceased Quebec member of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart congregation sexually abused him between 1984 and ’87, at a school the order ran in Kaolack, Senegal.The legal team for the congregation did not return a request for comment.Silverman’s case is not the only legal proceedings against the Brothers.The congregation is also the target of a $15-million class action lawsuit authorized last November in Quebec Superior Court. At least 18 brothers are accused of abusing male students at the College Mont-Sacre-Coeur in Granby over a span of decades.According to the suit filed by Silverman, NBS alleges the abuse began when he was about 12 years old at the hands of Marcel Courteau. Courteau died in Quebec in 2017 at the age of 92.The alleged abuse began with Courteau caressing the plaintiff and telling him he was cute.“Over the course of the next two years or so, Brother Courteau … repeatedly engaged the plaintiff in inappropriate actions, all of which constitute abuse and sexual assault,” according to court documents.NBS, who lives in Senegal, is remaining anonymous because he feels his life will be in danger if people in his country find out about the alleged abuse, said Silverman.“In Senegal there is a real culture of homophobia,” he said. “That extends to the point where a young person, through no fault of his own, if he is a man and associated with an assault by another man he is considered a homosexual and his life is in danger.”The lawsuit accuses the Brothers of the Sacred Heart of being liable toward NBS because the congregation was acting as Courteau’s school principal when the alleged abuse occurred.“Further, the defendant … was grossly negligent and failed to remedy a situation that it knew or should have known about, thereby aggravating the damages suffered by the plaintiff,” reads the statement of claim.Lawyer James Yap, who represents people and communities suing Canadian companies for complicity in human rights violations overseas, said “there is reason for optimism” from the plaintiff perspective regarding the upcoming jurisdiction debate.Article 3135 of Quebec’s Civil Code allows a court to “decline jurisdiction if it considers that the authorities of another State are in a better position to decide the dispute.”Traditionally, Yap said, that article has been an obstacle to similar claims against companies and “Quebec courts have been particularly reticent to hear those types of cases.”But new technologies, he said, have diminished the comparative convenience of holding these cases in the foreign state where the alleged violations occurred.Witnesses can testify via teleconference and evidence can be digitized, said Yap, who is not involved in the legal proceedings.And the key point of contention, he said, “factually speaking, is going to be what the congregation knew or did not know and all that evidence is going to be in Quebec. So in this particularly case, there is actually reason for optimism for the plaintiff.”Yap said he doesn’t know of a similar case filed in Canadian court against a religious order for the alleged crimes of its members in another country.McGill University Prof. Catherine Walsh, who focuses on private international law and international business law, told The Canadian Press she too is not aware of any similar lawsuit filed in Canadian courts before.Silverman said the congregation has until the fall to file any contestations of jurisdiction.Meanwhile, Robert Kugler, one of the lawyers who filed the separate class action against the congregation on Feb. 5, said 70 people initially came forward alleging abuse by at least 18 religious brothers at the school in Granby.“There is no doubt in my mind that every single year there were a number of kids who were abused,” Kugler said in an interview. “The question is how many (more) will come forward. More people are calling. I have messages to return now. The phone rings, if not every day, every few days.”Kugler said a judge will soon set a timetable for the class action proceedings.
TORONTO – Ontario’s Liberals must do some soul-searching in the wake of the devastating defeat they suffered in the provincial election in order to understand where things went wrong, the party’s new interim leader said Monday.John Fraser, an Ottawa-are legislator first elected in 2013, said the party respects the electorate’s decision and must now look internally for answers.“The people of Ontario sent the Liberal party a very clear message,” he said in an interview. “They want us to take a break and they want us to do some soul-searching.”Fraser was appointed interim leader last week following outgoing Premier Kathleen Wynne’s resignation. The Liberals, who have been in power in Ontario for 15 years, won only seven seats in the June 7 election, one short of the eight seats required to maintain official party status in the legislature.His mission as interim leader will be to begin the rebuild of the party brand, Fraser said, describing himself as a “caretaker.” Chief amongst his concerns will be getting the party’s financial house in order and addressing millions in debt accumulated through the election.“We spent approximately $10 million to get seven seats,” Fraser said. “I think Liberals want an answer in that regard. They want us to take a look at the campaign and pre-campaign and look at where we made mistakes.”Fraser said the party also needs to address its lack of party status at the legislature, which means they’ve also lost funding for research, staffing and designated speaking time.Fraser said he hopes to have discussions with incoming premier Doug Ford, whose Progressive Conservatives won a majority of seats, about the Tory government granting the Liberals party status.“We’re going to try to establish with the government our status in the legislature,” he said. “I think one million Ontarians voted for us. It’s important their voice be effective in the legislature.”Fraser said it’s too early to talk about a leadership race, adding that in the meantime, the party has to begin the process of becoming competitive in time for the next provincial vote in 2022.“It’s going to take a lot of work,” he said. “Ontarians sent us a very clear message. What comes along with that message is the fact that we’ve got work to do.”University of Ottawa political science professor Geneviève Tellier said while the road ahead for the Ontario Liberals will be difficult, the party brand has not been irreparably damaged. It will take years but it can come back from this defeat, she said.“I think the results of the election show that people weren’t ready to head further to the left with the NDP,” she said. “There is room for an alternative that is in the middle. That would be the branding of the Liberals. … In the last year the Liberals were not the traditional party of the centre that they used to be.”Tellier said the party must now conduct a deep “post-mortem” of the election and learn from their errors. The focus must gradually shift to selecting a new leader but the party should take its time and avoid infighting, she added.“Even if we don’t see them too much now during this session, I wouldn’t be too concerned about that, that’s very short-term,” she said. “The more long-term rebuilding based on the ideas of the new leader will be important.”
The country’s first municipal vote to be held under a ranked-ballot system was finally decided on Tuesday, with a mayor declared after 14 rounds of counting.Under the system, in which voters picked their top three candidates in order of preference, Ed Holder was declared winner over his closest challenger about 18 hours after polls closed Monday evening.This was the first provincewide election in Ontario in which municipalities were allowed to choose using ranked ballots rather than the traditional first-past-the-post system that rewards a person with the most votes, regardless of whether that translates into a majority.Only London opted to go that ranked-ballot route after public consultation and passage of a bylaw. Two other communities — Cambridge and Kingston — asked voters during Monday’s election whether they should move to ranked ballots in 2022. Voters in both centres said yes but Cambridge didn’t have a large enough turnout to make the result stick.Under the ranked system, votes are counted and the last-place person is dropped from the ballot. However, their votes are distributed according to the second and third-place choices voters indicated, provided those candidates have not been eliminated.To win, Holder had to win a simple majority.He started off strong, taking about 33,000 votes — or roughly one third of all ballots cast — to lead the balloting on the first round. However, despite coming out as the front-runner through subsequent rounds, he was unable to make much headway through round 11, where he still led against three other challengers.It was only in the following few rounds that he finally powered his way to more than 57,000 votes and a solid victory over his second-place rival, Paul Paolatto.Holder, 64, a former Conservative MP, takes over from Matt Brown, a former one-term city councillor and teacher.Brown had been elected mayor in 2014 on a platform of integrity and teamwork but scandal marred his tenure. Among other things, he admitted to an affair with the deputy mayor, leading to a split with his wife. He announced in April he wouldn’t run again.The mayor-elect campaigned on a platform that included his opposition to a $500-million bus rapid transit project. He said it would cost too much for not enough benefit, and would create traffic chaos during a decade of construction.In Kingston, almost 63 per cent of those who cast ballots voted to move to a ranked-ballot system. In Cambridge, the split was closer. About 57 per cent were in favour and 43 per cent opposed. However, overall turnout in Cambridge was a low 33 per cent, election officials said, invalidating the result, which required a majority of voters to have weighed in.
OTTAWA — Canada’s industry minister will meet with General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Monday to urge her to find a solution for the auto giant’s soon-to-be-shuttered plant in Oshawa. Ont.A spokeswoman for Navdeep Bains says he will sit down with Barra at the International Auto Show in Detroit.Dani Keenan says he intends to discuss any possible options for keeping the factory open.Their meeting comes after GM’s announcement last fall that it plans to close the factory at the end of this year — a move that will put more than 2,500 employees out of work.At the time of the announcement, provincial and federal leaders alike conceded the futility of trying to persuade the automaker to keep its Oshawa plant running beyond the end of 2019.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he told Barra that he was deeply disappointed about the closure and insisted his government would do everything possible to help laid-off auto employees and their families.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – A Quebec judge has ruled that SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. will go to trial on charges of fraud and corruption.The decision is the latest step in criminal proceedings that began last fall after the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant failed to secure a deferred prosecution agreement, a kind of plea deal that would have seen the firm agree to pay a fine rather than face prosecution.Over the past four months, SNC-Lavalin has found itself in the centre of a political controversy following accusations from former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould that top government officials pressured her to overrule federal prosecutors, who had opted not to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with the company.Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau asked about the court decision coming today on SNC Lavalin #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/KGInHkTphU— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) May 29, 2019SNC-Lavalin and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have argued that a criminal trial could trigger the company’s exit to the United States and the loss of thousands of jobs.The RCMP has accused SNC-Lavalin of paying $47.7 million in bribes to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011.The company, its construction division and a subsidiary also face one charge each of fraud and corruption for allegedly defrauding various Libyan organizations of $129.8 million.The company can choose a trial by jury or by judge alone. Prior to that, it can opt to apply within 30 days to the Superior Court of Quebec to have Wednesday’s lower court decision quashed.
OTTAWA — Canada plays a starring role in a soon-to-be-released film aimed at exposing China’s bid for world domination through technology — produced by one-time Trump strategist Steve Bannon.The film, “Claws of the Red Dragon,” is fiction, but “inspired by” Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and China’s subsequent retaliatory measures, including the detention of two Canadians for alleged espionage and death sentences meted out to two other Canadians convicted of drug crimes.Bannon has said the movie is aimed at exposing ties between Huawei, which he describes as the “greatest national security threat” to the United States, and China’s communist government, which he maintains is “the greatest existential threat the West has ever faced.”He’s also been clear that his objective is to stiffen U.S. President Donald Trump’s resolve to shut Huawei out of development of next generation wireless networks over fears the telecommunications giant is controlled by the Chinese government and its equipment could be used to spy on or sabotage other countries.The film is to be released next month by New Tang Dynasty Television, part of the Epoch Media Group that is closely associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement and includes the pro-Trump and vehemently anti-Beijing newspaper, The Epoch Times. The 54-minute movie follows fictional Chinese-Canadian journalist Jane Li as she reports on Canada’s arrest of the chief financial officer of Huaxing Hi-Tech; along the way she “exposes the company’s ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese military, according to a New Tang Dynasty news release.The film features a Canadian cast, including Eric Peterson of “Street Legal” and “Corner Gas” fame.A trailer for the movie, replete with ominous soundtrack, shows Peterson — playing a character named James MacAvoy and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Canada’s former ambassador to China, John McCallum — meeting with a detained Canadian named Michael.In real life, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained in China since December, accused of espionage shortly after Canada detained Meng, who is wanted by the U.S. on charges of fraud related to evasion of American sanctions on Iran.The trailer also shows Peterson telling someone who looks remarkably like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the Chinese “just arbitrarily sentenced a Canadian to death. There’s no telling where this retaliation will end.”In the New Tang Dynasty news release, Bannon calls the movie “a seminal and timely work exposing the inner workings” of the Chinese Communist Party and Huawei.“Run by a radical cadre of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s Communism today is the greatest existential threat the West has ever faced,” Bannon says. “Huawei, the technology and telecommunications arm of the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army, is the greatest national security threat we have ever faced, as it is already in the process of a global tech domination via 5G and 6G (wireless networks).”Bannon told Bloomberg earlier this month that he hopes the film will be screened for Trump at the White House.“The central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign is going to be the economic war with China: manufacturing jobs, currency, capital markets and technology,” he told the news agency. “Huawei is a key part of that and this film will highlight why it must be shut down.”Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press HALIFAX — Heavy rain is being reported in parts of the Maritimes as Erin, now a post-tropical weather system, advances toward the region.Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings for southeastern New Brunswick, parts of western and northern Nova Scotia and western Prince Edward Island.Some big downpours have already been reported in communities west of a line that extends from Halifax to Fredericton.Meteorologist Jim Abraham says Erin’s current track is expected to cut through the middle of mainland Nova Scotia later tonight, with the heaviest rain expected to fall on the left side of the sprawling low-pressure system.Abraham says a weather station near St. Stephen, N.B., reported almost 60 millimetres of rain this morning.The Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax says some gusty winds will likely accompany Erin, especially in those areas to the right of its track as it crosses Nova Scotia tonight.Abraham says some coastal areas could get gusts exceeding 70 kilometres per hour, which could cause power outages because most trees in the region have yet to shed their leaves.
Fresh back from the small village of Sangklaburi, Thailand, actress Stephanie Drapeau sat down with Misty Schwartz to share her experience at Baan Unrak with 150 children and one woman who changed all of their lives.Stephanie Drapeau Visits Baan Unrak In ThailandCredit/Copyright: Extreme Public RelationsWhat is Baan Unrak and what inspired you to go there?Well, Baan Unrak literally means “house of joy” in Thai and that is precisely what it is. It is a home of 150 children (ages 0-18) residing in a small village on the border of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). Most of these children have either been displaced from the Burma conflict, abandoned by single mothers who could no longer care for them, or victims of human trafficking. Twenty years ago, a woman named Didi Devamala traveled to the Thai jungle and slowly but surely the locals brought her these children. With an open heart, she took them in and now she has an amazingly LARGE and loving family.I was inspired to visit Baan Unrak by my husband, Christian Drapeau, who had gone several times and been deeply impacted by the immense transformation of these children, especially considering their backgrounds. To learn of such a place, I had no choice but to follow my heart’s calling and go.Stephanie Drapeau And Her New Friends At Baan Unrak In ThailandCredit/Copyright: Extreme Public RelationsWhat was your experience of Baan Unrak? My experience mirrored that of every utterance my husband had shared, only I felt it within my own heart and saw it with my own eyes, which made it all the more palpable for me. Didi has created not only a home for the children, but a school (K-6), a garden to teach the children how to farm, a bakery for them to learn entrepreneurship, as well as a weaving center, designed to incentivize mothers to remain with their children by giving them jobs. She also teaches them meditation so that they can find peace within themselves, as they don’t always have a parental figure to lean upon.You know, there are so many incredible organizations in our world that aid in healing individuals and communities. But it seems a rarity that one person can create a place with so much love that the callous upbringing virtually disappears from the faces of the children. I’m so very grateful to have come across such a place in our world.Stephanie Drapeau At Baan UnrakCredit/Copyright: Extreme Public RelationsDo you plan to work with them? Oh do I ever! Yes. Our foundation (One World Foundation) is already working on a project that will help support their weaving center and we have another farming project underway. We have helped to develop the SÚK pants (www.buconscious.com), a hand-woven yoga-esque pant. 100% of the profits go back to Baan Unrak. Our long-standing aim is to bring Baan Unrak toward self-sufficiency so they can continue their mission without the pressures of constant fundraising.Stephanie Drapeau In ThailandCredit/Copyright: Extreme Public RelationsWhat part of your visit impacted you the greatest? Oh my, there are so many… I filmed a couple of scenes for a project while there, so I took a few hours to teach the kids about acting. When I was done, I asked a few of the girls what they wanted to be when they grew up…and they all answered “an actress!” Then they encircled me with a hug. I contemplated not coming home at that point. Another memorable moment was during a playtime activity where a group of 5 year olds were singing. One would sing, and the rest of the group would repeat the song. I was looking for the leader and I quickly realized that the “teacher” was in fact another 5 year old. The song ended in a silent meditation. To witness these little children meditating melted my heart. The maturity and wisdom they carry is unbelievable! Lastly, we interviewed Didi about her history and how she created this family of children. I felt like I was listening to the story of a modern day Mother Theresa. I was moved and inspired to the core. There were so many more experiences; I could go on for days.Stephanie Drapeau And Her New Friends In ThailandCredit/Copyright: Extreme Public RelationsHow do you feel that charitable endeavors shape your life as an actress?The more rich and dynamic my inner life is, the more creative depth I have to offer the role. It’s a matter of the exchange of energy. If I am both giving and receiving, then I am free to share as much of me as is needed for that role. But if I’m not taking part in humanitarian action on some level, something inside of me gets stuck and it directly impacts the work I do. It’s an added bonus that motivates me to stay involved in our global community.What projects can we expect to see you in?You can find me on CASTLE on ABC soon. I also have two films that will be released in January, 2013, CLOSURE and WEDDING DAY and several other films in development.Copyright ©2012Look to the Stars
For one extraordinary night, and in an unprecedented manner, seven Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas resident productions became one for ONE DROP, the non-profit organization established by Cirque du Soleil Founder Guy Laliberté.Walk for Water act choreographed by Sonya Tayeh in One Night for One Drop at Bellagio Las Vegas.Credit/Copyright: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images via multivu.comTo share the experience around the world, an exclusive broadcast of the full-scale production is available for online viewing at ONEDROP.org through March 31, with a donation of $5 or more to ONE DROP.Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Phelps supports water conservation at One Night for One Drop.Credit/Copyright: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images via multivu.comONE DROP partnered with MGM Resorts International and Lamborghini to present One Night for ONE DROP, a global philanthropy event to raise funds and awareness to ensure water is accessible across the globe. The evening featured more than 230 artists from the seven Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil productions in a once-in-a-lifetime performance on World Water Day, Friday, March 22, 2013, at the “O” Theatre at Bellagio Resort & Casino.Celebrities joining the night’s blue carpet event and after-party at the Bellagio pool included Guy Laliberté; Olympic gold medalist swimmers Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin; Britney Spears; Shania Twain; Pamela Anderson; Criss Angel; recording artist/actress Jackie Evancho; Danny Elfman; musician Tom Higgenson (pop-punk band Plain White T’s); actress Hana Mae Lee (Pitch Perfect); performance painter David Garibaldi; vocal quartet The Canadian Tenors; supermodel Oluchi Orlandi; Olympic gold medalist rowers Mary Whipple and Erin Cafaro; Holly Madison; Coco Austin.Special guest performers, including platinum-selling recording artist Jackie Evancho and performance painter David Garibaldi performed alongside the incredibly talented Cirque du Soleil artists to celebrate the earth as an artistic creation and highlight water as the essence of life. Victoria’s Secret model Orluchi Orlandi dazzled the audience in an original gown designed by Roberto Cavalli specifically for the performance. A breathtaking dance piece choreographed by Sonya Tayeh from “So You Think You Can Dance” and an original composition by award-winning composer Danny Elfman were also featured in the extraordinary extravaganza created and directed by Krista Monson.Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil and Chair of ONE DROP, said, “I was deeply touched by the performance. I know the amount of work and dedication all the performers and employees put in to touch our hearts and they accomplished this in a phenomenal manner. I truly wish to thank them for volunteering their time and talent for ONE DROP and creating the most unbelievable ripple effect. I am also very humbled by the generosity of the Las Vegas community and partners. For 20 years they have made us part of their community and they have now embraced our dream of water for all today and forever.”Through April 4, there is an online auction – with proceeds benefitting ONE DROP – offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences, art, memorabilia, VIP event packages and more. Auction items will include a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster, a watch from the private collection of Prince Albert II of Monaco, jet-setting trips around the world, original sculptures by Richard MacDonald and Rabarama and the couture gown designed by Roberto Cavalli and worn by Oluchi Orlandi. Items can be viewed and bid on at charitybuzz.com/ONEDROP.One Night for ONE DROP culminated a week-long effort for the charity by Cirque du Soleil and MGM Resorts International. During that week, ONE DROP presented ‘Walk for Water,’ a 22-mile walk from Lake Las Vegas to the Bellagio Fountains to underscore the difficulty faced by millions of people who spend several hours each day collecting water. With more than 150 participants, their journey ended with a water-pouring ceremony at the Fountains and a proclamation read by Mayor Carolyn Goodman to ONE DROP founder Guy Laliberté.ONE DROP is a non-profit organization established in 2007 by Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil. The charity strives to ensure that water is accessible to all, today and forever. From its inception, ONE DROP has significantly and sustainably improved the living conditions of 300,000 people worldwide.Source:Multivu.com