New Delhi: An unidentified man in his 50s committed suicide on Monday by jumping in front of a Metro train at the Welcome station in east Delhi, affecting Metro services for about half hour, authorities said. The police were informed shortly after 7 a.m that a person was found dead on the tracks near Platform 2. “He had been crushed by a train and his head had got severed. We found Rs 1,620 were on his body while no identity proof was found from his possession,” said a senior police officer. CCTV footage showed that the man jumped on the tracks at about 6.35 a.m., said a police officer. The body was shifted to the GTB Hospital mortuary. Efforts were on to identify the deceased.
Kolkata: The state Health department has taken several measures, including deployment of additional staff, to combat the spread of dengue and unknown fever in some pockets in North 24-Parganas.The affected areas included Habra, Gaighata, Barasat, Barrackpore and Ashoknagar. More than 2,000 people have been afflicted with dengue and unknown fever. The state health department has sanctioned Rs 40.50 lakh to pay the remuneration of additional staff for vector control and conduct house to house survey. Already 450 additional staffs have been engaged in Habra I and II, Gaighata and Barrackjpore II blocks. Virologists and doctors from School of Tropical Medicine have been sent to Habra-Ashoknagar hospital. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe patients with high fever are suffering from headache, nausea and body ache. It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed all the municipalities and civic bodies to gear up anti-larvae drives in their areas. In a recent meeting with the state health department officials at Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) headquarters, mayor Firhad Hakim said the KMC has become a model to combat Dengue for all the municipalities. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway The KMC launched the anti-larvae drive from February. The drives kic started with rallies held in all the 144 wards. The KMC has identified 20 areas as vulnerable and special drives have been conducted in these areas. The civic body has asked all the laboratories carrying out pathological tests to conduct blood examination by ELISA method to detect dengue. Senior doctors said people suffering from Dengue during monsoon was not uncommon but Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever often poses serious life threat if the patient is not monitored properly. They advised people suffering from high fever to increase their fluid intake. They said people suffering from high fever should not panic and consult doctor for advice.
Mumbai: The Congress on Wednesday sought a complete loan waiver for farmers affected by floods in Maharashtra and demanded that the state government provide them an assistance of Rs 60,000 per hectare of crop damage. A delegation of state Congress leaders met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis here to discuss the flood situation. They demanded that the government ensure fresh loans to farmers and provide them compensation for the death of their livestock and repairs of houses, the Congress said in a statement issued here. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ They also asked the government to provide farmers an assistance of Rs 60,000 per hectare of crop damage, it said. The delegation comprised state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Vijay Wadettiwar and other party leaders. When contacted, senior state Congress leader Naseem Khan, who was part of the delegation, said the chief minister informed them about the assistance that he will be seeking from the Centre and the steps being taken by his government. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K “He said he would look into our demands positively,” Khan added. On Tuesday, Fadnavis said his government will seek an assistance of Rs 6,813 crore from the Centre – Rs 4,708 crore Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara and Rs 2,105 crore for Konkan, Nashik and rest of Maharashtra – in view of the floods following heavy rains in several parts of the state. “A memorandum for this assistance will be sent to the Centre, but till then the Maharashtra Cabinet has approved to spend the amount from the state corpus,” he said. Fadnavis also said a cabinet sub-committee headed by him will discuss changing rules for rescue, relief and rehabilitation, while an expert committee will be appointed to suggest an action plan in case of excessive rainfall, like 700 per cent in four days (that parts of western Maharashtra witnessed recently).
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said the state government will set up Tajpur Port on its own. Banerjee said for the last five years, she had negotiated with the Centre to set up the port but in vain.Inaugurating the Dighashree Bangla International Convention Centre, she maintained: “Nitin Gadkari had told me that the Centre would set up the port if the state government was ready to give them 74 percent share. We had agreed and requested the Centre to construct an iron bridge at Gangasagar. We have waited for five years and now we have decided to set up the port on our own. It will generate new employment.” Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaState ministers Firhad Hakim, Indranil Sen, Suvendu Adhikari were present at the inaugural function along with Sishir Adhikari, Dibyendu Adhikari and Dipak Adhikari (MPs) and industrialists Rudra Chatterjee and Mayank Jalan. Senior bureaucrats including Chief Secretary Malay De, Subrata Gupta, Principal Secretary, Urban Development and Municipal Affairs department and Antara Acharya, CEO, Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) were also present. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayReferring to the huge number of tourist footfall in Puri owing to the importance of the place as a religious destination, Banerjee said that a new Jagannath temple would soon be built in Digha. “I have gone to Puri, I am a devotee of Jagannath. Puri is a small place but they (Odisha government) could not build it the manner we have developed Digha. I have a plan to build a similar Jagannath temple here in Digha. There is a small Jagannath ghat here and I had asked the District Magistrate to renovate and upgrade it. We will also build Masjid and Church here… This will bring in more tourists here,” she said. She further added: “We are also planning to introduce electric buses here. We are building two parking plazas of international standard here. The government also has plans to bring in seaplanes to augment tourist footfall in Digha. The 7 km long stretch along the beach will also be beautified and opened to the public shortly.”
Los Angeles: Actor Viola Davis is set to play former First Lady Michelle Obama in a series titled ‘First Ladies’ Showtime has given the prospective one-hour drama a three-script commitment, reported Variety. Novelist Aaron Cooley is writing the series and will also serve as the executive produce. The series will focus on the personal and political lives of First Ladies from throughout the history of the US. Season one will feature the life stories of Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Obama. Prior to Davis, actor Tika Sumpter has played Obama in 2016 film Southside With You.
Bengaluru: A day after lander ‘Vikram’ was separated from Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter, the ISRO said on Tuesday it has successfully performed the first de-orbiting manoeuvre for the spacecraft. The city-headquartered space agency will perform one more de-orbit manoeuvre on Wednesday, before the powered descent on September 7 for its landing in the south polar region of the moon. “The first de-orbiting manoeuvre for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was performed successfully today (September 03, 2019) beginning at 0850 hrs IST as planned, using the onboard propulsion system. The duration of the manoeuvre was 4 seconds,” the ISRO said in an update. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “The orbit of Vikram Lander is 104 km x 128 km. Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in the existing orbit and both the Orbiter and Lander are healthy,” it said, adding that the next de-orbiting manoeuvre is scheduled on September 4, between 03:30 and 04:30 hrs IST. In a key event of India’s second moon mission Chandrayaan-2, lander ‘Vikram’ was separated from the orbiter on Monday. Vikram (with rover ‘Pragyan’ housed inside) is expected to touch down on the surface of the moon on September 7, between 1:30 and 2:30 am. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Two de-orbit manoeuvres of Vikram Lander, to bring it further down, have been planned to prepare for its landing in the south polar region of the moon. ISRO Chairman K Sivan has said the proposed soft-landing on the Moon is going to be a “terrifying” moment as it is something ISRO has not done before, where as LOI manoeuvre was successfully carried out during the Chandrayaan-1 mission. Following the landing, the rover ‘Pragyan’ will roll out from lander ‘Vikram’ between 5:30 and 6:30 am on September 7, and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of one lunar day, which is equal to 14 earth days. The mission life of the lander is also one lunar day, while the orbiter will continue its mission for a year. India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MkIII-M1 had successfully launched the 3,840-kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the earth’s orbit on July 22. Chandrayaan-2 satellite had began its journey towards the moon leaving the earth’s orbit in the dark hours on August 14, after a crucial manoeuvre called Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) that was carried out by ISRO to place the spacecraft on “Lunar Transfer Trajectory.” In a major milestone for India’s second Moon mission, the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft had successfully entered the lunar orbit on August 20 by performing Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre. The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru, the space agency has said. The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and studying the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon while the lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments. The rover carries two payloads to enhance the understanding of the lunar surface. India’s second lunar expedition — would shed light on a completely unexplored section of the Moon, its South Polar region. According to ISRO, the objective of the Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. On the science front, this mission aims to further expand knowledge about the moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere, leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the moon, the space agency had said. On successful completion, it will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to pull off a soft landing on the moon.
Amethi (UP): Union minister Smriti Irani on Thursday unveiled a statue of Swami Vivekananda at the premises of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district.The union minister of women and child development later met Army chief General Vipin Rawat and Lt Gen P Krishnana at the premises of CRPF group centre in Trishundi on Ayodhya-Allahabad highway. Sources said Irani discussed with the Army chief local and other issues, including preparations for recruitment in Army at the Trishundi centre where youths from nine districts will be taking part. Irani, who is on a tour of her constituency, also felicitated ‘Asha’ or community health workers during a programme organised at the Jawahar Navoday Vidyalaya in Gauriganj.
OTTAWA – The Liberal government plans to introduce wide-ranging national security legislation next week that will include more robust oversight of Canada’s border agency.In addition to new eyes looking over the shoulder of the Canada Border Services Agency, the package will propose changes to ensure existing security watchdogs can exchange information and collaborate more easily on reviews, The Canadian Press has learned.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consistently said his government has a responsibility to give security agencies the tools they need to keep Canadians safe, while preserving the rights and freedoms people cherish.In that vein, the extensive set of measures will also follow through on Liberal promises during the last election to deal with “problematic elements” of omnibus security legislation ushered in by the previous Conservative government after a gunman stormed Parliament Hill.The Conservatives created a new offence of promoting the commission of terrorist offences and broadened the government’s no-fly list powers.They also gave the Canadian Security Intelligence Service explicit authority to derail terrorist threats, not just gather information about them. However, many Canadians have expressed concerns that such disruption activities could violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.The Trudeau government has committed to ensuring all CSIS warrants respect the charter, to preserving legitimate protest and advocacy, and to defining terrorist propaganda more clearly.It has also pledged that appeals by Canadians on the no-fly list will be subject to mandatory review.Tens of thousands of people took part in the government’s national security consultation and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale recently said there was “a tremendous amount of consensus” on the platform promises.The Liberals have already taken legislative steps to fulfil one of those commitments — creation of a special committee of parliamentarians to scrutinize security and intelligence activities, including those of the border services agency.However, civil libertarians, refugee lawyers and committees of both the House of Commons and Senate have called in recent years to do more by instituting some form of independent monitoring of the border agency.The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association issued a report this week outlining its proposals for civilian oversight and review of the agency.Border officers can stop travellers for questioning, take blood and breath samples, and search, detain and arrest citizens and non-citizens without a warrant. The border agency’s role in immigration detention has come under scrutiny following in-custody deaths.But unlike the RCMP and CSIS, the border agency is not overseen by a dedicated review or complaints body.Another nagging issue has long been the inability of existing watchdogs to share information about security-related complaints and cases due to legal restrictions.It means watchdogs are often prevented from following the thread of investigations that involve several intelligence and police services, leaving complainants frustrated.Legislative measures to permit sharing and co-operation would address decade-old recommendations from the commission of inquiry that examined the overseas torture of Maher Arar, a Canadian telecommunications engineer who was imprisoned in Syria.The Liberal national security consultations revealed a strong desire to reduce the number of false positive matches with Canada’s no-fly list and to improve the appeal process for anyone placed on the list, says a government summary.A majority who took part in the consultations said the public safety minister should be required to decide within 90 days on any application from someone to have his or her name removed from the list.It is clear from the results the federal consultations that Canadians have significant concerns regarding privacy and government accountability with sensitive data, said David Christopher, a spokesman for OpenMedia, which works to keep the Internet surveillance-free.“We’ll be watching next week’s announcement very closely, and judging the government’s proposals against what Canadians said loud and clear during the consultation.”— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
SALMO, B.C. – A weekend music festival in southern British Columbia that was cancelled due to an encroaching wildfire was put back on Sunday, although an evacuation alert remained in effect for the area.Organizers of the Shambhala Music Festival said in an email Sunday that damp, cool weather downgraded the threat of the fire moving close to the Salmo River ranch property where the event is held.“We invite all our guests to stay and celebrate with us for the final night of our 20th Annual Shambhala Music Festival,” organizers stated in the email.“Music acts might not continue as scheduled, but we will have a new schedule for this evening.”They said the decision followed hours of meetings on Sunday morning with the Regional District of Central Kootenay and other local government.An evacuation alert means people must be ready to leave an area on a moment’s notice.Police said there’s still a steady stream of people leaving the festival in an orderly fashion.“Evacuation plans remain in place and we’ll be closely monitoring activity and dealing directly with the organizers throughout the day,” RCMP spokeswoman Dawn Roberts said.The regional district had issued the evacuation alert Saturday morning after the BC Wildfire Service reported that flames had crossed the Salmo River and were heading toward the tiny community of Salmo.Festival organizers said they made the decision to cancel Saturday based on the advice of local officials.Ryan Turcot with the fire service said Sunday the McCormick Creek fire, which is 337 hectares in size, continues to burn about nine kilometres south of the festival site.“Overnight last night, there wasn’t any significant growth of the fire. The fire did receive 1.2 mm of precipitation as of 9 o’clock this morning,” Turcot told a news briefing Sunday, noting it isn’t a lot of rain.“Contingency guard lines have been established around this fire and it is currently 15 per cent contained.”The response from festival-goers to the news the festival would continue ranged from anger, to sympathy for the organizers.The festival posted on its Facebook page that anyone with their admission wristbands could return. However, some people responded that they had already travelled hundreds of kilometres away and discarded their bracelets.Elsewhere in B.C., numerous communities received new evacuation orders over the weekend.Turcot said 28 new fires were sparked in the province between Saturday and Sunday, most of which were from lightning. Gusty winds, he said, caused aggressive growth in the Caribou region.Roberts said RCMP noticed some of the fires in that region and made a “tactical decision” to order an evacuation involving residents in the Canim Lake, Hawkins Lake and the Canim Lake First Nation before officials issued formal evacuation orders.She noted that in Alexis Creek, where police helped people leave, officers removed items from the RCMP detachment in the community.On the south shores of Green Lake where an order was issued, Roberts said some people didn’t leave. But she said they changed their minds when buildings started to burn.“This did hamper efforts of emergency services, but we were able to get back in and assist those evacuations,” Roberts said.
SYDNEY, N.S. – A Nova Scotia man convicted of murdering a 19-year-old woman solely for thrills has admitted to being an accessory to the murder of another young woman.Thomas Ted Barrett pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact in the murder of Laura Jessome, 21, in 2012. Her remains were discovered in a hockey bag floating on the Mira River.Barrett had been charged with Jessome’s second-degree murder, but the Crown dropped that charge Wednesday after his guilty plea on the lesser charge.Prosecutors say they stood no chance of getting a murder conviction, because witnesses were unco-operative.“We can’t try this in the court of public opinion, but the Crown believed that we had the evidence to proceed on a murder charge. Unfortunately, the witnesses proved to be unco-operative and we could no longer proceed,” said Chris Hansen, director of communications for the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service.One of the unco-operative witnesses was a co-accused in the case, Morgan James MacNeil, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter last November and was sentenced to seven years, she said.“The Crown is disappointed that we couldn’t proceed. Justice can only be served if we have co-operative witnesses that provide honest testimony,” Hansen said Wednesday.Barrett, who is in his early 40s, was convicted in March 2016 of second-degree murder in the death of Brett McKinnon, 19. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.Both McKinnon and Jessome had been strangled, and their bodies disposed in the wild.According to an agreed statement of facts tabled in Nova Scotia Supreme Court Wednesday, Jessome contacted Barrett on May 2, 2012, and agreed to go to his Glace Bay apartment “to do drugs and party,” with him and others.“On May 3, 2012, an argument developed which became physical and Laura Jessome was killed by strangulation in or near the apartment,” according to the statement.Her body was placed in the hockey bag, and Barrett asked a friend to drive him to Marion Bridge, and he threw it into the Mira River, it said.In the McKinnon case, her remains were found in 2008 near a Glace Bay hiking trail, two years after she went missing. Barrett wasn’t charged until 2013.The judge in the McKinnon case said she accepted evidence from Crown witnesses who testified that Barrett had told them he’d killed McKinnon with his bare hands.“Mr. Barrett became upset … He grabbed her and choked her by the throat. He thought he broke her neck,” said Judge Robin Gogan. “He continued to strangle her because the act of watching her die excited him.”That case turned partly on evidence from a dead witness. The Crown relied partly on Sheryl Ann Flynn’s videotaped account of Barrett telling her in 2009 that he felt “a rush” of adrenaline as his hands tightened on McKinnon’s throat. Flynn later died of an overdose.Barrett is appealing the McKinnon conviction, Hansen said.She said the Crown attorneys met with Jessome’s family ahead of Wednesday’s developments.“They understand what our reasons are,” said Hansen.Barrett will be sentenced Oct. 31.
OTTAWA – The federal government and the governments of Ontario and Quebec are readying relief supplies, including baby formula and cribs, for victims of hurricane Harvey.Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the governments are working with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to co-ordinate the help.The storm left vast swaths of Texas and parts of Louisiana flooded and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.“We reached out to offer whatever support is needed, from airlift capacity to helicopters to whatever is necessary,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference Friday in Saskatoon.FEMA, he said, responded by providing Goodale a list of badly needed provisions, and Canada was more than happy to oblige.Goodale said the relief supplies include hygiene kits, bed pillows, bath towels, baby formula, baby disposable bottles, baby cribs and baby linens.The Royal Canadian Air Force is preparing a cargo plane to fly the goods to Texas and it is expected to leave soon.Trudeau and President Donald Trump spoke Thursday about the floods and relief efforts.“We are there for our friends suffering this terrible calamity of hurricane Harvey, and we will stand by them and offer them whatever support they need,” Trudeau said.“This is who Canadians are; we’re there for each other in times of difficulty.”The American embassy in Ottawa expressed gratitude for Canada’s offer of support.“The people of the United States and Canada have a long history of supporting each other in times of need,” Elizabeth Aubin, the charge d’affaires at the embassy, said in a statement.“We once again thank our Canadian friends and neighbours for their heartfelt offers of solidarity and assistance.”Goodale said Canada stands by the United States, saying the country’s thoughts and prayers are with those affected.“I want to commend local volunteers, first responders and residents who continue to work selflessly to keep their neighbours and communities safe,” he said in a statement.On Thursday, Trump’s homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said Canada’s “neighbourly gesture” of help was much appreciated, telling a White House briefing, “It’s an international expression of what we’re seeing here at a very local level.”
ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – An Abbotsford, B.C., police constable killed in the line of duty was remembered as dedicated and caring, a man who had a gut-busting sense of humour and a dislike for guns.Thousands of officers and first responders jammed into Abbotsford Centre on Sunday while members of the public filed into spill-over centres for the celebration of life for 53-year-old Const. John Davidson.His police partner, Const. Renae Williams, described Davidson as a man with a sense of humour who took far longer to get coffees because staff at the coffee shop couldn’t understand his thick Scottish accent.“He could take it as well as he could dish it out and did more than his fair share of doling out playful barbs. Most of his comebacks included the line ‘Well back in the U.K. we did this.’”Davidson got his start in policing in Northumbria in the United Kingdom in 1993, where few police officers carry guns. He moved to Canada in 2006 and had worked in the Abbotsford department for 11 years.He had a gift of gab, was respectful and civil to the public, level-headed and believed there were lessons to be passed on with each traffic stop, Williams told the service.“He was tough, but more than fair. That was evident by the number of people I have seen shake his hand after getting a ticket.”Williams said Davidson pushed himself to be first, whether it was during a workout or in trying to help others.“Which is exactly what happened on Nov. 6, 2017,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion.“For a man who hated guns and never became comfortable carrying a gun after coming over from the U.K., he was one of the first to step in and intervene when a call of shots fired came in.”Before the ceremony on Sunday, hundreds of people lined the streets of Abbotsford in the pouring rain to watch thousands of first responders march behind the hearse carrying Davidson’s coffin.Police officers from as far as Ontario and the U.K. joined the procession, marching in a unified sea of blue and red uniforms. Abbotsford police has expected about 8,000 first responders to attend.The crowd inside the area was silent as eight of Davidson’s fellow officers carried in his coffin.His service belt and both his police hats from Abbotsford and Northumbria were placed atop his coffin, draped in a Canadian flag. During the service, the chief of the Northumbria police presented Davidson’s wife with a Scottish flag.Abbotsford’s police chief, Bob Rich, told the service that Davidson was the first officer to arrive when there was a report of a man firing rounds from a shotgun into a truck.“When that shot rang out, evil won. There was an oily blackness that fell upon our city. It was awful. I cannot imagine a darker thing to have happen to us,” Rich said.Rich said the suspect was later surrounded by five Abbotsford officers in police vehicles and they fired, hitting the suspect.“That man’s evil intentions, I totally believe, were to kill more of us. There was going to be a rampage in the city of Abbotsford. I don’t know who would have fallen,” he said. “But they stopped him at that moment and their lights shone bright at that moment.”Since the death, Rich said there has been an outpouring of support from fellow officers and the public.A suspect, Alberta resident Oscar Arfmann, 65, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Davidson’s death. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Nov. 28.Davidson’s friend, Abbotsford Sgt. Jason Scott, told the service that Davidson was good at what he did and was proud to be a husband, father and police officer.Davidson is survived by his wife, Denise, and three adult children, Dina, Fay and Drew.Dina Davidson told the service that their father was modest and never mentioned his accomplishments.She said they didn’t recognize the man others were describing after his death.“He never let us know any of that,” she said, laughing.She thanked those who helped her father after he had been shot.“Please forgive yourself for not being able to change his fate.”Fay Davidson said it is hard to capture in words how amazing their father was. Her siblings held her as she spoke, her voice choked with tears.“It is agonizing to picture a future without his guidance and support,” she said. “But we’ll always be able to hear his harsh Scottish accent cheering us on.”
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s community services minister says the province isn’t looking to open up adoption records, even as many other provinces ease access.Kelly Regan said the province took steps a few years ago to provide more information to adopted children, and also heard “loud and clear” from parents who had given up their children that they are opposed to opening up the records.“We make a lot of information available to adopted children if they want to learn about their families, but I think we need to respect the women who have decided to give up their children and who may not for very good reasons want to be contacted,” she said.“At this point it’s not something we are considering.”That doesn’t mean her department may not revisit the issue in the future, but the current priority is transforming its programs, she said.“I’m not saying not ever. I’m saying right now we have a lot of work underway and that’s what we are focusing on.”Prince Edward Island is holding public consultations on adoption records in the new year.Nova Scotia, Quebec, P.E.I., and New Brunswick are the only provinces to have closed adoption records, although birth records will be unsealed in New Brunswick beginning in April 2018.British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have all changed their laws to make it easier for adoptees and birth parents to access adoption records.Manitoba decided to unseal 75 years of adoption records in June, resulting in a flood of applications that prompted the province to add more staff to deal with the backlog.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has made no secret of the fact he likes his job — and now he’s making it clear that he wants to stick around for a third term.In a year-end interview with The Canadian Press, McNeil said he believes he has work to do beyond his second term, which only began May 30 when the Liberals won their second consecutive majority government.“I have every intention to be seeking a third mandate,” said McNeil. “I’m very proud of what we have been doing.”McNeil pointed to the government’s work in putting the province’s fiscal house in order over the past four years as a primary reason for wanting to continue on in office.Two months after the Liberals took office in 2013, they forecasted a $481-million deficit, largely after deciding to book $280 million in pension obligations. By last September’s budget, the government estimated a slim $21.3-million surplus, following a surplus of nearly $150 million for fiscal 2016-17.The modest surplus was delivered to a large extent on the back of contract strife with public sector unions, including teachers and health care workers.There have also been challenges to the health care system, including persistent family doctor shortages, as the government moved to amalgamate the province’s nine health authorities into a single administrative unit.“I’m not sure people fully understand the level of resolve it took from my colleagues. No one enjoys having to go through some of the stuff that we’ve gone through as a government, but it was fundamentally in our belief the right thing for the province.”Occasionally the job has led to frustrations that boil over, McNeil admitted, including when he dressed down Auditor General Michael Pickup following a cabinet meeting last month.Pickup’s Nov. 22 report was critical of how the province communicates its health care strategy, and pointed out shortcomings in mental health and homecare. The auditor general also said public agencies had done a poor job of communicating their plan to address problems in primary care, including doctor shortages.McNeil swung back the next day, telling reporters that if Pickup wanted to comment on public policy he should run for office. He also questioned whether Pickup had strayed from his mandate — a question Pickup deftly addressed during an appearance before the legislature’s public accounts committee.The premier said he now believes his response was a personal low point in 2017.“While there are many days that are frustrating you need to be able to manage that frustration. That was not one of those days that I did manage it as well as I think someone in my position should.”The odd irritation aside, McNeil said he believes the government is now in a better position to build the province.“Not only our population, but economic opportunities in this province and I want to be part of that,” he said.McNeil said that’s the reason he has told members of his cabinet to have their future decided shortly after the budget is delivered in the second year of the current mandate.He said those who are leaving will be removed from cabinet, and it will be retooled with an eye toward a third mandate.“I don’t want all the hard work of the last four years to be for naught,” he said. “I think the province is on the cusp of doing some great things.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version wrongly said the current surplus was $1.3 million.
TORONTO – Toronto Mayor John Tory is tying a shooting that claimed two lives in the heart of the city’s entertainment district to gang violence.Speaking to media about the incident at a Canada Day event Sunday morning, Tory said people with ties to gangs and alleged repeat offenders are “the only ones that pose a threat” to the city.He said he’s spoken with the police chief and knows that officers are working hard to curb the violence and catch the people responsible.Toronto police say shots rang out outside a club on the city’s bustling Queen Street West on Saturday evening, killing two men and injuring a woman.Investigators say two suspects were seen running from the area, and may have fled in a black SUV or white car.Police have not named the men who were killed.
TORONTO – Twenty-eight days. That’s how long members of the RCMP and Toronto police have been ordered to abstain from smoking or vaping recreational pot before reporting for duty. Calgary police officers won’t be allowed to use cannabis at all while off the job.Such prohibitions have sparked a growing firestorm, with the national association representing front-line officers calling the policies “offensive” and the union for Toronto cops describing the ban as “ill-contrived” and “arbitrary.”But is demanding that Mounties and municipal police officers forego a soon-to-be legal substance for such a lengthy period justified, when there’s no similar policy governing alcohol or potentially mind-altering prescription medications?That depends on how much a person consumes and how often, said Dr. James MacKillop, co-director of the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University.“So if you smoke today, within a few days it will be entirely out of your system because a single instance may be longer-lasting than alcohol but it still nonetheless will be metabolized and will be excreted,” MacKillop said from Hamilton.“If a person is a regular, frequent user, then that window gets much longer because cannabis is what’s called lipophilic, which means it’s absorbed into the body’s fat cells and then it leeches back out from the fat tissue into the bloodstream. And that’s why it’s also detectable in urine,” he said.“So if a person’s a heavy user, it may indeed be detectable for up to a month.”MacKillop said a number of studies provide evidence of lingering effects of cannabis, including one that found reductions in cognitive performance in active pot users compared to non-users, which returned to normal levels with protracted abstinence.“It’s not clear that any of those chronic effects on cognition persist after a person stops, but a 28-day washout period would be expected to eliminate virtually all of the cognitive consequences,” he said.“That’s a high bar, but optimal performance from the police or the military or airline pilots or other people in highly safety-sensitive jobs is very desirable. So it’s hard for me to disagree with policies that prioritize safety.”However, Rielle Capler, a researcher with the B.C. Centre On Substance Use, considers such lengthy periods of pre-work abstinence unreasonable based on how long the active psychoactive component of cannabis and breakdown products known as metabolites can affect the brain.“While the metabolites might still be present in the urine or blood that long, there is no connection to actual impairment,” she said Friday from Vancouver.“Impairment with cannabis depends on the mode of use, how much you use and your tolerance,” said Capler, who specializes in cannabis policy. “If you’re inhaling it, the peak impairment is about one to two hours and the impairment dissipates after three to four hours.“If you’re ingesting it, then you might start to feel impairment after an hour or two. It might peak at three or four hours, and be in your system for six to eight hours in terms of it having an effect,” she added.“If you wanted to be super cautious and conservative, you could say no consumption eight hours before work.”Capler maintains the police forces are creating a prohibition for a legal substance without the backing of scientific evidence, and that they should carefully examine the research literature on marijuana-induced impairment and revamp their policies based on the findings.Despite recreational cannabis being previously illegal, many Canadians have been toking or vaping the drug, she said. “And that’s why we’re changing the laws to coincide more with reality and not criminalize people for something that is happening.“We don’t want anybody impaired on the job — that’s very important, and I think that’s always been important.“It doesn’t become more important after Oct. 17.”— Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
FORT MCMURRAY – A detailed report into the effects of the Fort McMurray wildfire on Indigenous communities has found major shortcomings in how authorities worked with First Nations.The report from 11 Indigenous communities in the area was released today.The survey funded by the Red Cross found municipal, provincial and federal authorities weren’t sure who was supposed to deal with Aboriginal people, so nobody did.Report author Tim Clark says it was days before the Fort McMurray First Nation even knew there was an emergency operations centre.The survey found some evacuees were returned to communities still under threat from the fire.And Metis organizations weren’t able to get federal recovery funding at all, which almost wiped out their financial reserves.Clark says governments also didn’t consider that most Indigenous people’s homes were older and far fewer were insured.He says work must start now on building trust and relationships before there’s another natural disaster.
WASHINGTON — Fears are mounting in the United States of a looming constitutional crisis — a fear Canadians know all too well.Critics say President Donald Trump has been flouting constitutional conventions, including by appointing an acting attorney general who has not been vetted by the Senate, floating conspiracy theories about the electoral process in Florida and revoking a CNN reporter’s media pass for partisan reasons.The broadcaster says it is taking the White House to court, alleging that pulling correspondent Jim Acosta’s credentials constitute a violation of their constitutional rights to due process and freedom of the press.And media reports today indicate the Department of Justice is preparing to issue a legal opinion defending the appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, a vocal critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Ryan Hurl, a constitutional scholar at the University of Toronto, says it’s important to remember that the U.S. constitution has already seen its share of conflict.Hurl says that while Canadians might have their own interpretation of the phrase “constitutional crisis,” the U.S. is a country where partisan conflict has long been the norm, not the exception.The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — The Halifax-based spiritual leader of the Shambhala International Buddhist organization is stepping back from teaching and administrative duties several weeks after a report found allegations of sexual misconduct to be credible.Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche said in an email to his students today that he is sorry for “all that has happened,” and that he understands he is the main source of suffering and confusion in the community.He also said that he’s been requested to step back from teaching by senior members of the Shambhala community for the “foreseeable future.”However, Sakyong says he will still be available “for contact” with students who want to maintain a relationship with him and he will stay connected to the community by writing occasional messages.He wrote that he hopes that this allows community members to use the Buddhist teachings as “a way of healing and inspiration.”In a report released on Feb. 3, an investigator with the Halifax law firm Wickwire Holm hired by the organization found Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche made inappropriate sexual advances towards two female students.Lawyer Selina Bath noted a “significant power imbalance” in the relationships given the Sakyong’s position of authority as both the spiritual leader and lineage holder of Shambhala — one of the western world’s largest Buddhist organizations.The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — A homeowner who has been on watch since discovering two cats trapped in a sinkhole on her property says at least one is free after 12 days.Rebecca Hung of Edmonton says a grey cat was enticed into a cage with treats Tuesday morning, pulled to the surface and taken to the city’s Animal Care and Control Centre.She says the male cat is microchipped and she hopes it can be returned to its owner.Hung, who has been lowering cameras into the hole to keep an eye on the animals, says there is no sign of the other cat.She says she believes the black-and-white feline was able to make it out on its own.Hung discovered the sinkhole beside the foundation of her house in mid-April when she returned from a vacation that lasted several weeks.When she looked in, she saw a pair of cat eyes looking back up at her. She later realized there were two cats trapped inside.Firefighters were unable to rescue the felines, but created a ladder of wooden beams and placed a long board wrapped with a blanket so the cats could eventually climb out.Hung said she stopped trying to trap the cats with food about three days ago, but decided to try it again Monday night after getting new treats from an animal welfare organization.“We got it, the grey one,” Hung said Tuesday. “It was really surprising because we thought that that cat may have been sick, or that it had babies, because it was hiding all the time.”Hung said she has not seen any sign of the other cat, “which is good for us, but sad for him because we would have been nice to get him some help.”The Canadian Press