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Landmark deal in RCMP sexualharassment class action wins court approval

first_imgTORONTO – An unprecedented settlement that will pay up to $220,000 to women who were sexually harassed while working for the RCMP over the past 40 years has been approved by a Federal Court judge, who called the agreement fair and reasonable.In a written decision, Judge Ann Marie McDonald called the settlement one that was in the women’s best interests, given that litigation might otherwise have dragged on for years with uncertain prospects as to an outcome.“The proposed settlement has a number of features and benefits that extend beyond a strictly monetary compensation scheme and, as a result, the settlement agreement goes well beyond what the plaintiffs may have been awarded after a trial,” McDonald said.“Considering the very personal and painful nature of the claims, the settlement process includes a non-adversarial claims process with numerous safeguards to protect the privacy of claimants.”The deal covers all women harassed while working for the RCMP, starting in September 1974 when the force first began taking female recruits. Many of the women would otherwise now have had no legal recourse because of the passage of time.Each victim is eligible for a minimum of $10,000, with $220,000 going to those most egregiously harmed. In some cases, close relatives can receive a total of 10 per cent of a claimant’s reward.While as many as 20,000 women are believed eligible for compensation, the lawyers involved estimate more than 1,000 claimants will receive about $89 million. The government has set aside $100 million for the payouts, even though there is no total cap.McDonald praised the agreement for including a public RCMP apology to the women — already delivered by Commissioner Bob Paulson in October — along with “institutional change initiatives” aimed at eradicating gender-based harassment. Neither the RCMP nor the federal government explicitly admitted any wrongdoing.The judge also agreed the two law firms involved should get 15 per cent of the claims paid to victims. The lawyers had initially signed on for 33.3 per cent. They agreed to cut that in half because the government is also paying them $12 million.Megan McPhee, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, expressed pride at the outcome of the lawsuit.“This is the first workplace gender-based harassment class action settlement in Canada,” McPhee said on Wednesday. “We’re hopeful that it will provide a model for people in other situations…where there has been harassment or deeply personal common injury.”McDonald approved $15,000 in honoraria for two representative plaintiffs — Janet Merlo and Linda Davidson.“This included publicizing their personal account of the gender and sexual-orientation harassment which they endured within the RCMP,” McDonald said. “This has required the public reliving of painful events.”In an interview Wednesday, Davidson, 58, now of Bracebridge, Ont., said she had to speak out when she realized her attempts at internal redress were going nowhere and that many other women were “very silent” about what they were enduring.At the same time, she said, it’s been a difficult path.“My whole life has been exposed to every Canadian and American and anybody who wanted to read my most frail and intimate moments,” said Davidson, who started with the RCMP in 1985 and became one of the few women to become a commissioned officer. “It’s taken its toll. The toll has been horrific.”Now retired after a medical leave, Davidson said what kept her going have been the messages from other RCMP women thanking her for helping ensure they have been believed.After a 60-day obligatory appeal period — the government consented to the settlement — women will have six months to make a claim for compensation.Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Michel Bastarache, who will travel the country to interview claimants, will oversee the process.last_img read more

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Defence plan calls for cyber and drone attacks to meet 21st century

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada will add hundreds of new elite special forces commandos, wage offensive cyberwarfare attacks and deploy armed drones to international battlefields as part of its military response to new global security threats.The hotly anticipated new defence policy review released Wednesday identified a wide range of harrowing and borderless threats, including the “grey zone” of hybrid warfare, ever-present terrorism and climate change.The review anticipates that some of Canada’s military operations will include government-sanctioned cyberattacks and drone strikes on foreign threats, and an increased role for special forces in overseas missions.“Technology and the changing nature of conflict itself have fundamentally altered the landscape on which we operate,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said as he introduced the review at a news conference in Ottawa.The review said Canada’s new, elite and futuristic approach to war fighting will respect domestic and international laws.However, the very nature of the cloak of secrecy that envelops almost all of Canada’s special forces, as well as the active expansion of fighting in cyberspace, will likely raise questions about transparency and civil liberties.The policy increases the ranks of special forces by 605 people. They will get new airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools.The special forces are made up of elite JTF-2 commandos and the Joint Incident Response Unit, which is responsible for responding to nuclear, chemical and biological attacks, a contingent of 2,000 in all.There are about 200 special forces commandos deployed in northern Iraq on a mission focused mainly on training Kurdish fighters. However, Canadian special forces have engaged in gun battles in Iraq as they’ve ventured onto the battlefield for training.In March, the government revealed that some of the special forces took part in the battle to reclaim the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIL when an undisclosed number of soldiers accompanied Iraqi forces in the city.The review says cyberspace is becoming an increasingly hostile place with an increase of state and non-state actors posing threats, and concludes that “a purely defensive cyberposture is not sufficient.”The review says the military will launch “active cyberoperations against potential adversaries in the context of government authorized military missions.”While non-state actors — terrorists — proliferate and exploit cyberspace, the review says, “the most sophisticated cyberthreats come from the intelligence and military services of foreign states.”The review doesn’t name specific countries, but highlights the threat posed by “hybrid war,” something associated with Russia and accusations it has tried to influence elections in foreign countries, notably the U.S. presidential contest that brought Donald Trump to power.“Hybrid methods are frequently used to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of a national government or international alliance,” the review said.“By staying in the fog of the grey zone, states can influence events in their favour without triggering outright armed conflict.”That presents challenges for how Canada and its allies should respond, notably the application of NATO’s Article 5 that says an attack on one member country constitutes an attack on all 28 countries in the alliance.The use of armed, unmanned drone aircraft will also become a feature of future Canadian Forces operations, the review predicts, as Canada faces new threats from “weaponized” drones.Paul Hannon, the executive director of Mines Action Canada, warned that there is great international concern about the growing use of autonomous weapons.“Talks in Geneva at the UN are demonstrating that autonomous weapon systems cannot comply with either International Humanitarian Law nor International Human Rights Law,” he said.“Canada should lead a global effort to ensure a machine or algorithm never is delegated the authority to select and engage a target without meaningful human control.Climate change is also singled out as a threat, one which knows no borders, because of its ability to force mass migrations of people, which can create humanitarian crises and spark fights for scarce resources.last_img read more

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Canada envoy to US embarrassed by delays in Parliament over preclearance bill

first_imgOTTAWA – Canada’s envoy to the United States says he is embarrassed it is taking so long for Parliament to pass a new law that would pave the way for greater preclearance at the border.U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton said Wednesday he leaned on American lawmakers to pass a law that would allow passengers to be precleared at a greater number of airports to allow the speedy flow of people across the 49th parallel.But Canada’s version of the bill has been before the House of Commons public safety committee for several months.MacNaughton told the Senate foreign affairs and trade committee that he regularly gets asked by Americans where the accompanying Canadian legislation is, and he’s embarrassed to say it is not ready.MacNaughton said he exerted renewed pressure on MPs this week in Ottawa.“Please hurry it up, because I’m a bit embarrassed. I leaned on the Americans so heavily and now they’re coming back and saying, ‘Where’s yours?’” MacNaughton said of his conversations.Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos, who raised the issue, said the Senate would do its job more quickly.“I know the legislation is coming slowly from the House,” said Housakos.MacNaughton contrasted that with how he persuaded American legislators to move speedily.“We had a full court press on the U.S. before their recess at Christmas time, and it actually passed unanimously,” the envoy said.“So they’re waiting for us.”Housakos replied: “Well, if you can get it sent to the (Senate committee), we’ll be happy to do the same thing.”At the moment, passengers flying to American cities through eight major Canadian airports can be precleared there by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.That program is to be expanded to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport and for rail service in Montreal and Vancouver. In March, the two countries agreed to expand it to other, unspecified locations.Some 400,000 travellers cross the Canada-U.S. border each day, and the preclearance plan is designed to speed that up and make it easier.The House of Commons public safety committee has for months been studying the proposed legislation that would expand preclearance operations.Under the bill, U.S. searches at preclearance facilities would be governed by Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.But the committee has heard concerns about the impact of the new program on privacy rights.In a recent letter to the committee, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien warned the recent pronouncements from the Trump administration could mean intrusive searches, including at preclearance facilities in Canada.The concerns arose after the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this spring that visitors to the U.S. could be forced to provide cellphone contacts and social-media passwords.“It would appear that Canadians who wish to enter the U.S. will, at preclearance locations in Canada as well as at border points in the U.S., have to face the difficult choice of either accepting a search without grounds or foregoing their wish to travel to the U.S.,” said Therrien’s letter.The government has said preclearance would strengthen security and prosperity while ensuring respect for the sovereignty of both countries.As for the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, MacNaughton said speedy talks to modernize the agreement remain a possibility, but it is too soon to say whether that will happen.He said the true picture of “how complex” the Americans want the negotiations to be will only emerge after their current 90-day consultation period ends in August.“We’ll see how much they want to put on the table, and how long those negotiations might take.”last_img read more

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Right to a timely trial cannot be lightly discarded Supreme Court rules

first_imgOTTAWA – All players in the justice system need to do their part to target the “root causes” of unnecessary trial delays, the Supreme Court of Canada said Friday in affirming its landmark ruling on timely proceedings.The high court ruled unanimously that a Newfoundland and Labrador man facing drug and weapon charges should not go to trial under new rules spelled out last July for determining unjustifiable court delays.The latest decision comes amid intense public and political debate over the time limits for trials, including a Senate committee report this week that expressed concern over accused criminals walking free.The Supreme Court stood its ground on the need for timeliness in ruling on the case of James Cody, who was arrested in Conception Bay, N.L., in January 2010 and charged with drug possession for the purposes of trafficking and possession of a prohibited weapon.For various reasons, Cody’s trial was not slated to begin until late January 2015, five years and 21 days after the arrest.The trial judge stayed the criminal proceedings against Cody in December 2014 due to the delay, a decision that was overturned by the Newfoundland and Labrador appeal court using transitional provisions of the new framework set out by the Supreme Court.In its groundbreaking decision last year, the high court cited a “culture of complacency” in the justice system and said the old means of determining whether a person’s constitutional right to a timely trial had been infringed was too complex and unpredictable.Under the new framework, an unreasonable delay would be presumed should proceedings — from the criminal charge to conclusion of a trial — exceed 18 months in provincial court, or 30 months in superior court.However, those benchmarks were not set in stone, the court cautioned.The Crown could challenge the notion that a delay is unreasonable by demonstrating “exceptional circumstances,” a majority of the court said in its reasons.These circumstances could include something unforeseen and beyond the Crown’s control, such as a sudden illness, or a case requiring extradition of an accused from another country. They might also arise in “particularly complex” cases that involve disclosure of many documents, a large number of witnesses or a significant need for expert evidence.The Supreme Court also said that as a transitional measure for cases already in the system, the new framework must be applied “flexibly and contextually.”In the Cody case, the high court said there was a net delay of 36.5 months after applicable deductions and concluded that the Crown could not show the delay was justified. The court therefore said the order of the trial judge to halt proceedings against Cody must be restored.“This appeal is yet another example of why change is necessary,” the Supreme Court said in its reasons for the decision.The court said trial judges can play an important role, for instance by denying an adjournment request on the basis it would result in an unacceptably long delay.Michael Crystal, a lawyer for Cody, welcomed the ruling.“This case is all about access to justice,” Crystal said.“It is about the dignity of a trial. It is about the court saying everyone who participates in the process — defence lawyers, Crown attorneys, prosecutors — you have an obligation to work hard, do your jobs, but do it expeditiously.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government would take time to consider the decision that will see Cody avoid a trial.“But there’s no question that it’s part of what has become a bit of a troubling pattern,” Trudeau said. “And we need to make sure that we are working hard to ensure that justice is swift and properly meted out to anyone who commits crimes.”The Conservatives have repeatedly accused the Liberals of moving too slowly to appoint judges to vacant spots.The government is moving to fill those positions, bolster the courts with more federally appointed judges and work with the provinces to deal with the “very real problem” of delays, Trudeau added.In their decision Friday, the judges noted that a number of provincial attorneys general who intervened in the Cody case asked the court to modify the new framework to provide for more flexibility in deducting and justifying delay.The court said that like any of its precedents, the 2016 decision “must be followed and it cannot be lightly discarded or overruled.”The new framework, when properly applied, already provides sufficient flexibility and takes into account the transitional period that is required for the criminal justice system to adapt, the court said.In its report this week, the Senate legal affairs committee said a stay of proceedings should not be the only remedy available for delays, particularly in cases involving serious crimes. It recommended that remedies include a reduced sentence and an award of financial costs.— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitterlast_img read more

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Man convicted of sex attack seeks legal records in bid to discredit

first_imgEDMONTON – A man convicted of sexually assaulting an indigenous woman whom the Crown had jailed and shackled to ensure her testimony has applied for legal records to try to discredit her as he seeks a mistrial.Lance David Blanchard was found guilty in December of aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, unlawful confinement, possession of a weapon and making a death threat in the 2014 attack.The victim, a 28-year-old homeless woman, died in 2015 in an unrelated shooting.Tom Engel, Blanchard’s lawyer, has applied for the release of legal records that he contends contain new evidence that she was heavily addicted to drugs and was involved in criminal activity.“The theory of the defence was and is that the complainant created a false story, accusing the applicant (Blanchard) of the allegations which form the subject matter of the charges in order to exact revenge against the applicant and to cover up her own conduct,” reads the application.“The sought-after records contain information that is likely relevant to issues in the trial, in particular, a mistrial application.”A judge is to hear arguments on the records request next Monday and on the mistrial application on July 26. In January, Blanchard is scheduled for a dangerous offender hearing that could lead to him being jailed indefinitely.Earlier this month, an Edmonton judge ruled against Blanchard’s attempt to have his convictions stayed over his treatment in custody.The plight of his victim made headlines when it became public that a judge granted a request by the Crown to keep the woman in the Edmonton Remand Centre during a 2015 preliminary hearing for Blanchard to ensure that she would be available to testify.The woman, who was originally from Maskwacis, Alta., and can’t be identified under a publication ban, was shackled during her testimony. On at least two occasions, she had to ride in the same prisoner van as her attacker.Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley has called the woman’s treatment disturbing and has ordered two investigations into how she was treated.The victim’s mother was upset at the latest legal development when she heard about it Monday.“I am very mad. I am just speechless,” she said. “That is not right.”last_img read more

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Canada wants renewed NAFTA to include easier crossborder movement of labour

first_imgOTTAWA – Enhanced labour mobility is high on the list of goals for the Canadian government as it gears up for next month’s start of negotiations on a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement.Ohio-based trade lawyer Dan Ujczo shares an anecdote that explains why:A U.S. company was looking to make a “major investment” in either the Toronto area or Nashville, Tenn. The CEO had just decided Toronto would be the beneficiary when he was stopped at a border crossing by a Canadian border agent who told him he needed a work permit to enter Canada.“The young woman said … ‘You know, sir, it’s my job to save Canadian jobs, I can’t let you across’,” Ujczo recounts.“And he said, ‘Young lady, you just lost yourself 300 jobs.’”That, says Ujczo, is an example of “the real world consequences” of antiquated labour mobility provisions in NAFTA.“Companies, when they’re making those investment decisions, they want as streamlined a process as possible. And when they’re saying, ‘Look, I’m not going to be able to get my talent across the border,’ boom! Why even deal with the headache?”NAFTA is supposed to ease the flow of labour between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It eliminates the need for companies to do a labour market impact assessment to prove that a job being temporarily filled by an eligible American or Mexican worker can’t be done by a Canadian.For business visitors, it eliminates the need for a work permit. For professionals and intra-company transferees, it expedites the work visa process.But NAFTA does not apply to all professionals. It applies only to some 60 occupations, including doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, hotel manager, economist, engineer and scientist.Many of the jobs most in demand today, particularly in the high-tech sector, didn’t exist when NAFTA was negotiated more than 20 years ago. Indeed, systems analyst is the only listed profession involving computers.It’s a problem for manufacturers too, says Ujczo, who can’t move welders or tool and dye workers across the border to fill labour shortages or specialized employees needed to install, maintain and repair products sold to another country.Moreover, NAFTA’s labour mobility provisions are inconsistently applied. The CEO in Ujczo’s anecdote, for instance, had crossed the border 19 times without a problem before being refused entry on his 20th trip.“In our view, you can’t modernize the NAFTA and put in a new digital chapter and not address the movement of talent,” Ujczo says.“It will be the biggest failure of the NAFTA modernization if we don’t achieve this.”Both U.S. and Canadian companies are pushing hard for a freer flow of labour across the border. Nevertheless, Andrea van Vugt, the Business Council of Canada’s vice-president for North America, believes there’s a good chance it won’t materialize.“I think you have both a legislative and political problem,” she says.She notes that Congress has in the past blocked the U.S. president’s ability to include immigration issues in trade deals. And the environment for broaching greater labour mobility isn’t exactly favourable, what with Donald Trump’s unabashedly anti-immigration, protectionist, “Buy American, Hire American” agenda.Indeed, Chris Smillie, a principal at Tactix, an Ottawa-based government relations firm, fears that Canada will wind up fighting to simply preserve the existing NAFTA labour mobility provisions rather than pushing to expand the list of eligible professions.Under former president Barack Obama, an ostensible free trader, he notes that the U.S. refused to include any labour mobility provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement with 11 other countries, including Canada. What are the chances that Trump, who has withdrawn the U.S. from the TPP, will be more open to the idea?“I’m concerned,” says Smillie, who specializes in the labour mobility aspect of trade deals.“I’m an advocate that Canada will need to just preserve what’s there.”When the U.S. released its objectives for the NAFTA negotiations last week, he notes there was no mention of labour mobility. Nor was it among the issues mentioned on which the U.S. wants to maintain the status quo.“So, if they’re interested in the status quo in labour mobility, you’d think it might have been in there,” Smillie says. “That sort of sends me a signal … this might be at risk.”last_img read more

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Parts of eastern Canada to be in direct path of next total

first_imgFREDERICTON – For Canadians who had to watch television to get the best view of Monday’s total solar eclipse, just wait until the next one in seven years when the path of totality crosses parts of central Canada, the Maritimes and Newfoundland.Chris Weadick of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada said he expects many of the people who flocked to the central United States to experience Monday’s event will head to eastern Canada for April 8, 2024.“That shock and awe opportunity of seeing that shadow creeping across the landscape and pass right by you is quite an event and feeling to go through. You can’t really explain it with words, you actually have to experience it,” he said.The path in 2024 will cross the southern tips of Ontario and Quebec, central New Brunswick, western P.E.I. and central Newfoundland.“I can see the opportunity for Canadian groups to get together and promote the event. It will be a great opportunity for tourism,” he said.Catherine Lovekin, an astronomy professor at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., said she expects New Brunswick will draw visitors hoping to avoid the crowds in big cities to the west.“Anyone serious about eclipse chasing will make the venture,” she said.Lovekin said both Monday’s eclipse and the one expected in 2024 are a great opportunity to get children interested in science.There was a long line-up of youngsters and their parents Monday afternoon to get into Science East, a science centre in Fredericton.Stacey Waugh said she thought it was important to bring her four children who had never seen an eclipse before. Her youngest daughter, seven-year-old Josie, was excited to learn that Fredericton will be directly in the path of the one.“That’s cool,” Josie said, as her mother pointed out that she will be 14-years-old.Jennifer Gale, a science educator at Science East, was kept busy sharing eclipse filters with children and adults as the crowd grew. She said she expects there will be larger crowds and greater excitement for the next eclipse.“In seven years when we’re going to be totally in the dark, it will be pretty wild. People will be very excited,” she said.While much of the country had clear, sunny skies to view the partial eclipse Monday, Weadick said the April date for the next one could be a factor.“We all know about April showers,” he said.Weadick said he’ll be watching the forecast, and will be prepared.“I’ll also have the car packed in case I have to head north or south an hour to catch the sun without clouds,” he said.last_img read more

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Skiers warned after tracks found in Rogers Pass bombed for avalanches

first_imgROGERS PASS, B.C. – Parks Canada is investigating a recent incursion into a prohibited area that’s regularly blasted to bring down avalanches along the highway through Rogers Pass, B.C.Staff discovered fresh ski and snowboard tracks in Macdonald West, part of a closed area in Glacier National Park on Wednesday.No one was found at the site and the breach is still under investigation by park wardens.On Thursday, park wardens were called to the Quartz Creek area inside the Glacier National Park boundary because a group of snowmobilers had become stuck.It was the second time last week that someone was illegally snowmobiling: an earlier incursion was reported in the Saint Cyr area of Mount Revelstoke National Park.Both are being investigated because snowmobiling is illegal in the mountain national parks and, along with skiing in a closed area, can result in a maximum fine of $25,000.last_img read more

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Woman tells trial Toronto cop raped her says she was afraid of

first_imgTORONTO – A woman who accused a Toronto police officer of raping her told his sexual assault trial Monday that she was afraid of being hurt if she didn’t comply with his demands.The woman, who cannot be identified, told Const. Vincenzo Bonazza’s trial the alleged incident took place nearly a decade ago during what was supposed to be a casual encounter at her apartment.“He didn’t take my words, didn’t take my body language,” she said. “I was afraid he was going to hurt me.”Bonazza has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault at the judge-alone trial.Court heard that the woman only reported the incident in 2015, after becoming a police officer herself.“Now I can write that a Toronto cop raped me, no problem, but I couldn’t write that then,” she testified, noting that working on a sexual assault case as an officer made her decide to go forward with her own allegations.The woman told her supervisor about the alleged incident and then contacted Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which examines allegations of sexual assault involving police. Bonazza was charged in 2016.Court heard the woman first met Bonazza in September 2008, while he was in his squad car near her home and she was looking for help dealing with an ex-boyfriend.The woman said she thought she had seen her ex-boyfriend, who had been charged with criminally harassing her, and asked Bonazza to track the licence plate of what she thought was his car. She said Bonazza told her he couldn’t do that.The woman then ran into Bonazza the next day, when he was out on a bicycle patrol, court heard. A day or two later, the officer called her, the woman testified.“I didn’t remember giving him my phone number,” she told the court. But, she testified, the officer said he had sushi for her and wanted to drop it off.The woman thought the situation was strange, but wondered if Bonazza was just making “a kind gesture as a kind police officer,” she said.The two met at her place where he gave her the food and asked to use the washroom, she testified. On the way out, the woman, a former actress, said she noticed a package containing a DVD of a movie she had appeared in.“He said ‘maybe we could watch it together sometime,’” she told court, adding that she thought the officer was making small talk.Bonazza called a day or two later, the woman testified, and asked if she wanted to watch that movie. He also said he wasn’t looking for a romantic relationship, the woman said.The officer came over on Sept. 11, the woman said, and while the pair watched the movie, Bonazza kissed her, then unbuttoned her jeans.“Woah, woah, woah, I don’t do this with anyone who isn’t my boyfriend,” she recalled telling Bonazza.The woman said Bonazza went on to have sex with her without her consent and later forced her to perform oral sex.“This is a police officer, nobody would believe me and he’s trained to fight people,” she said. “I think, ‘it’s going to be worse if I fight this.’”Bonazza’s lawyer, Gary Clewley, focused on inconsistencies in the woman’s previous statements to police and her testimony at a preliminary hearing about her state of undress and other details of the night.Clewley grilled the woman about her memory “flashes” that helped form her testimony.“There are snapshot moments of this event that are clear as day,” the woman said.last_img read more

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Its OK to cry in the courtroom even if youre a judge

first_imgVANCOUVER – Judges can’t be expected to be emotionless robots, two legal experts said after a defence lawyer questioned a British Columbia judge’s ability to deliver a fair sentence because she cried during a victim impact statement.Defence lawyer Jacqueline Halliburn has asked provincial court Judge Monica McParland to recuse herself from the Kelowna courtroom because of what she argued was an “overall tone of bias” against a person who pleaded guilty in a sexual interference case. The lawyer also said McParland scoffed at the defence’s suggestion for an intermittent jail sentence.It will be up to McParland to decide if she should quit the case and refer sentencing to another judge.Annalise Acorn, a professor of law at the University of Alberta with no involvement to the case, said judges are routinely confronted with facts involving tremendous amounts of human suffering and as human beings can be expected to have an emotional response, just like anyone else.The case highlights a false expectation that reason has to be independent from emotion, she said. But that is a distorted view of what takes place in the trial process, where there are all kinds of overlap and interplay between reason and emotion.“Emotions are these kind of physical responses we have to rational evaluations,” said Acorn, whose main area of research is the philosophy of emotions in the context of conflict and justice.“In my view, to suggest that an emotional response in itself is an indication of bias is a really wrong-headed approach.”Jeremy Melvin Carlson was charged in 2016 with sexual assault and the sexual interference of a person under the age of 16. Carlson, who is transgender and is in the midst of a male-to-female transition, pleaded guilty to sexual interference of a minor.Janine Benedet, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, said it’s significant that the judge cried during the sentencing stage of the trial, which means the accused had already been convicted.“As a society, we should have a revulsion to the sexual abuse of children, there’s nothing wrong with finding that distressing,” she said.While she wasn’t aware of similar cases, Benedet said the courts recognize that judges and juries may be affected by what they see and hear in court. That’s why there’s a process to determine, for example, whether still photographs of a graphic event might be shown as evidence instead of a full video.After the Crown and defence arguments were made on Monday, McParland indicated her decision will come before the end of August. Online court documents show the case is due to return to provincial court in Kelowna for a decision on Aug. 17.The Crown wants a jail sentence up to 20 months, followed by two years of probation. The defence recommended a 90-day intermittent jail term, to be served over 20 weekends.The judge’s response when Halliburn proposed that sentence is a matter of dispute. Halliburn described it in her submission to the court as a “short, sharp scoff,” but Crown prosecutor Angela Ross says no such response is audible on court recordings where it’s alleged to have occurred.Judges routinely display a wide range of mannerisms and speaking styles in their interactions with counsel during sentencing proceedings, Ross said, and even if they were true, none of the behaviours ascribed to McParland meet the high standard of proof required for a judicial recusal.— With files from Ron Seymour, the Kelowna Daily Courierlast_img read more

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Canadians stuck in Hawaii say they hope to enjoy the rest of

first_imgTORONTO – Canadians stuck in Hawaii amid torrential rains from a tropical storm say despite an eventful last couple of days seeking shelter, they hope to enjoy the rest of their trip.Lane was barrelling towards the islands of Hawaii as a powerful Category 5 hurricane in the middle of last week, but was downgraded to a tropical storm on Friday and slowed down as it approached land.As it lingered, the storm’s outer bands were already over the Big Island, allowing Lane to drop 131 centimetres of rain as of early Sunday morning, according to preliminary figures from the U.S. National Weather Service.No storm-related deaths have been reported, but authorities have said they plucked families from floodwaters and landslides closed roads. Forecasters warned that some areas “may be uninhabitable for weeks.”Twenty-one-year-olds Marie-Dominique Cote, Alexia Nieman and Beatrice Lacharite from Sherbrooke, Que., say they arrived on Hawaii’s Kauai island on Aug. 20. What was supposed to be a five-day stop turned into a hunt for shelter and eventually a waiting game, they said.“We’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but we never thought that this would happen,” Cote said in a phone interview.On Sunday, Cote said strong winds and precipitation were still falling on the small island at the northwest tip of the chain that makes up Hawaii.“It’s been grey and dark outside for days … there is no ray of light,” said Cote. “We have never seen anything like this before.”When they first arrived on the island, the three women booked a tent on Airbnb, but they quickly realized it wasn’t the safest option.“We sort of panicked when we realized we had to find somewhere else to stay in order to be safe,” said Cote.As they hunted down a hotel room, she said they came across local shop owners barricading their windows and residents emptying the shelves at grocery stores.“We are not used to it at all, but it almost seemed like a routine for locals here,” she said. “They knew what to do right away.”Cote said they hope the storm washes away soon, as they plan on enjoying the rest of their vacation before heading back home in a week.“Once it’s done we will try to go to an island that has not suffered too much from the tropical storm,” she said.Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at a news conference on Saturday that the city and the state had “dodged a bullet,” but added that “doesn’t mean it’s over.“We are going to have rain and wind and local flooding, and we need to be vigilant and make sure we don’t let our guards down,” he said.Despite the added stress and the change of vacation plans, Cote said the tropical storm brought Canadians in Hawaii closer together.The three women met two other Canadians who couldn’t find a place to stay, as hotel rooms on the island were almost all booked. She said they welcomed them into their room and the five of them are now waiting to see what happens next.— with files from The Associated Presslast_img read more

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Quebec moves to expand animal welfare laws to cover dozens of species

first_imgMONTREAL — The Quebec government is moving to vastly expand the scope of its animal welfare legislation to offer increased protection to species ranging from horses and mink to ostriches and wild turkeys.The draft regulation published this week would require fox and mink farms and stables with 15 or more horses to meet the same welfare standards as dog and cat breeding operations.Under the proposed rules, owners of these farms and stables would have to obtain a permit from the Agriculture Department and submit to regular inspections.The proposed legislation also outlines care standards that would apply to dozens of other species including bison, deer, boar, ostriches, wild turkeys and some species of fish.People raising these animals would not need a permit, but they would have to respect rules concerning cleanliness, living space, safety, access to food and water. They would also have to follow procedures to isolate animals that are sick or giving birth.The agriculture department estimates the proposed rules would affect about 1,200 businesses, with compliance costing a total of up to $3.3 million in the first year.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Woman charged for aiding illegal entries at popular QuebecUS crossing

first_imgMONTREAL — Canada’s border protection agency has charged a woman in connection with organizing illegal entries into Canada through a popular rural crossing in southern Quebec.A charge was laid against Olayinka Celestina Opaleye Wednesday at the courthouse in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal.She is charged under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for facilitating the entry of asylum seekers into Canada through Roxham Road in exchange for compensation. The charges were laid following an investigation carried out by Canada Border Services Agency.The agency alleges that in the summer of 2017, Opaleye arranged for the entry of “several individuals” into Canada, acting as part of a network of smugglers who organized their travel.According to Canadian government figures, there were 19,419 irregular crossings in Canada in 2018, more than 18,500 of them through the Quebec crossing at Roxham Road. That figure was slightly down from 2017, when there were 20,593 crossings, including a notable spike beginning in July of that year.Dominique McNeely, an agency spokesman, said the woman was charged under a section of the law that covers human trafficking of a group of 10 or more. A conviction under the section can result in a fine of up to $1 million or life imprisonment.McNeely said it is not the first time charges have been pursued against alleged human traffickers at the popular Quebec-New York border crossing. No further information was available on the case Wednesday. It returns to court Mar. 27.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Increase wolf cull pen pregnant cows to save endangered caribou study

first_imgEDMONTON — An extensive study of caribou herds across British Columbia and Alberta suggests a way to reverse a long and steady decline of the endangered species — kill more wolves and moose and pen pregnant cows.“It’s go hard or go home,” said Rob Serrouya, a University of Alberta biologist and lead author of the study released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.“Unfortunately, it’s that black or white.”Another study released within days of Serrouya’s suggests another way. And wildlife advocates worry Serrouya’s findings could be misused, illustrating the complexity of what he calls the “toughest conservation challenge in North America.”Serrouya and his colleagues looked at 18 caribou herds ranging over more than 90,000 square kilometres. At the study’s start in 2004, 16 herds were declining.Restoring habitat damaged by oil, gas and forestry activity is too slow, said Serrouya. Herds don’t have the decades that takes.The scientists compared four government-run management programs — killing wolves, protecting pregnant cows, moving caribou between ranges and culling moose that attract predators. Six of the herds were not managed.By 2018, the unmanaged herds remained unchanged. But eight of the 12 managed herds improved. Half of them had either stabilized or begun increasing. One almost doubled over three years to 67 from 36 animals.“That’s almost unprecedented,” Serrouya said.“It doesn’t mean recovery, but it means some of these herds have turned around. It’s the first study to show management has turned around sharp declines of caribou on such a broad scale.”Herds with the best growth rates were linked to both maternity pens to protect pregnant cows during calving and extensive wolf kills. Ranges with the best herd growth had the most intense cull.Those five ranges saw a total of 144 wolves killed every year, mostly by aerial gunning and strychnine. A cull that large over the entire study area would result annually in nearly 650 carcasses, although Serrouya said that’s not being recommended.  Removing moose at the same time would allow managers to kill up to 80 per cent fewer wolves, he said. Still, moose numbers in any one range would have to be reduced by up to 83 per cent.Jonah Keim, an independent biologist and consultant, offers a different solution. In research published in the British Ecological Society’s journal, he suggests caribou can be adequately protected by making it tough for wolves to get to them.  “What we need to do is reduce the encounters between wolves and caribou,” he said. “You can do that without reducing the number of wolves.”Between 2011 and 2014, Keim studied what would happen if it weren’t so easy for wolves, deer and moose to follow cutlines and forestry roads into caribou habitat. Over an 800-square-kilometre area, researchers dropped 200 cubic metres of tree debris every 200 metres.The rate at which wolves stopped using the paths dropped 70 per cent, the study found.“It was unbelievably effective at reducing wolf use,” said Keim.Serrouya applauded Keim’s paper, but questioned its practicality on a landscape with 350,000 kilometres of linear disturbance.  “To block 350,000 kilometres would take years and years,” he said. “What would happen in the meantime?”Four herds vanished between 2004 and 2018.Keim said efforts could be focused on where they’d do the most good. He suggested that snowmobile trails could be designed to draw wolf packs away from caribou. It wouldn’t be that hard, he said.“That type of work can be done in the summer or winter by somebody on foot.”Carolyn Campbell of the Alberta Wilderness Association fears Serrouya’s findings could be used to declare “a war on wildlife.”“These findings could be used by industry and government to prolong unsustainable forest exploitation while endlessly harming wildlife species,” she said.She urged governments to keep restoring habitat.Serrouya said drastic measures will be needed into the foreseeable future.“Society would have to change the way it values natural resources. Society would have to decide to reduce the rate of resource extraction.”— Follow Bob Weber at @row1960 on TwitterBob Weber, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Quebec health minister promises change after woman gives birth in car

first_imgMONTREAL — Quebec’s health minister is promising change after a pregnant woman who was told to go to another hospital to deliver gave birth in her car.The woman and her partner first went to their local hospital in La Malbaie, Que., last week when she began experiencing irregular contractions. They were told they had to drive almost two hours to Quebec City because the obstetrics unit had been temporarily closed due to a staff shortage.Health Minister Danielle McCann says from now on an ambulance will be used to transfer pregnant women who are close to giving birth.The woman’s partner, Jean-Francois Dandurand, told radio station 98.5 FM that his spouse’s water broke midway through the journey, and she gave birth about 15 minutes from their destination.He said the mother and baby are doing well, but he feels the family should have been offered more support.McCann said the closure of La Malbaie’s obstetrics ward was due to unforeseen circumstances, and the hospital is working to resume its services as soon as possible.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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School superintendent says unbelievable mistake to give kids graphic sex guide

first_imgCRANBROOK, B.C. — The manager of a public health nurse says she is sorry for mistakenly giving a class of British Columbia students a sex-education guide that contained graphic images, including a picture of bondage between cartoon animals.Roger Parsonage, executive director of clinical operations for the East Kootenay region served by the Interior Health Authority, says he’s not sure why the adult booklet was distributed to students in Grades 6 and 7 after a session on sexual health.Parsonage says the nurse was teaching at Erickson Elementary School in Creston, B.C., with a student nurse when the children were given the explicit booklet containing information about sexually transmitted diseases and drug use during sex.He says material used for future classes will be reviewed by Interior Health and the school district before it’s provided to students.Parsonage says he is not sure why the booklet was brought to the school in the first place but any material that is used in future classes will be reviewed in advance by Interior Health and the school district.He says third-party material is used to teach sexual health but it must be appropriate for school-aged children.“All of us are sorry that this happened,” Parsonage says. “And we’ve apologized to the parents as well as to the school, the principal and the school district. This was a mistake that shouldn’t have occurred and we’ll take steps to ensure it won’t happen again.”Christine Perkins, superintendent of the Kootenay Lake School District, says the “unfortunate, unbelievable mistake” last week had parents complaining at a public board meeting.She says parents were shocked when children brought home the booklet, produced by a Toronto group called CATIE — the Canadian Aids Treatment Information Exchange.“I was shocked when I looked at it,” she says, adding the booklet clearly states it’s for mature audiences. “I think of myself as fairly open minded and liberal and I was appalled,” she says.Perkins says a school psychologist phoned all the parents and offered counselling at the school this week or group counselling next week but no one has taken up the offer so far.“We have increased and improved our vetting of anything that comes through the schools so we’re hyper vigilant now after this happened. It was just way too graphic and way too adult for Grade 6 and 7 students and that’s just the bottom line.” The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Nutrien says 34 workers trapped underground after service shaft malfunction

first_imgThe Canadian Press Companies in this story: (TSX:NTR) SASKATOON — Nutrien Ltd. says 34 maintenance workers have been trapped in its Cory potash mine in Saskatchewan since Tuesday afternoon.Company spokesman Will Tigley says the service shaft to lift the workers out of the mine has stopped working and the company is working on a solution.He says the maintenance workers are safe underground and have halted work.Tigley says the company’s teams are making arrangements to rescue the worker “as soon as practicable” in the safest way possible.He says there is no estimate as to when the workers will be brought to the surface. In May, dozens of Nutrien workers were trapped for hours at its Allan potash mine after a fire broke out.last_img

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Canadian retail sales up 04 per cent in July first increase in

first_imgOTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.4 per cent in July to $51.5 billion, the first increase in three months.Economists had expected an increase of 0.6 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.Statistics Canada says sales were up in six of the 11 subsectors it tracks representing 71 per cent of retail trade.Motor vehicle and parts dealers reported sales climbed 1.5 per cent in July, boosted by higher sales at new car dealers.The miscellaneous store retailer category rose 1.7 per cent. boosted by a 14.3 per cent increase at cannabis stores as sales at cannabis stores topped $100 million for the first time.Building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers saw sales fall 3.2 per cent. The Canadian Presslast_img

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Canada Post racking up close to 1 million a year in parking

first_imgTORONTO — Canada Post is racking up close to $1 million annually in parking tickets as drivers struggle to navigate increasingly congested city streets, data show.The information, obtained by The Canadian Press through freedom of information requests, indicates the bulk of the citations are in and around Toronto.“To meet the needs of Canadians, our employees have to routinely park their vehicles,” said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton. “With the concentration of addresses in urban downtown cores and a rising demand for pickups and deliveries, this can cause challenges, not just for Canada Post but for all delivery companies.”Data show the Crown corporation has paid out almost $7.5 million in parking fines over the past decade. The worst year was in 2016 with $943,293 paid, slightly more than last year’s $914,831, and almost quadruple the $289,908 recorded in 2009.Under the federal Canada Post Act, the corporation has, with some exceptions, the “sole and exclusive privilege of collecting, transmitting and delivering letters to the addressee thereof within Canada.” The corporation has a fleet of almost 13,000 vehicles that delivered close to eight billion pieces of mail last year.Eric Holmes, a spokesman for the City of Toronto, said mailbox placements are approved with the “general preference” they not be placed along high-volume streets.“Illegally parking, stopping, or standing a vehicle is dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists and creates congestion,” Holmes said. “Enforcement of parking violations is one way the City of Toronto helps deter this behaviour.”Hamilton said the corporation was an “active participant” in partnerships with Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver that aim to ease congestion, especially in downtown cores and along major access routes.“We also review our operations to make changes, such as adjusting pickup and delivery times, where possible,” Hamilton said. “It’s a bigger discussion than simply designating more delivery zones.”Overall, the fines are barely a rounding error for Canada Post, which lost $270 million last year on revenue of $6.6 billion dollars — three-quarters of the corporation’s total revenues. The company initially refused a June 2016 request for the ticket data, citing “commercial sensitivity.”It relented in June after belated intervention from the information commissioner and released the total value of tickets by region paid from 2009 until mid-2016. Asked for updated figures, the country’s largest retail network insisted on receiving a new formal access-to-information request before providing them.All regions of Canada show ticketing of branded Canada Post vehicles, but most citations are in major urban centres, where thousands of mail addresses can be concentrated in a few blocks. Despite the daunting logistics of pickup and delivery, a Toronto traffic police spokesman was blunt:“This is an easy one,” Sgt. Brett Moore said. “There is no preferential treatment for Canada Post.”In general, Canada Post’s drivers are on the hook for traffic violations. However, company policy makes allowance for parking tickets — with an excuse — except in designated accessibility spots.Emilie Tobin, with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, said the idea of parking exemptions for Canada Post vehicles is a complex topic given that the company is federally regulated but drivers have to follow varying provincial and municipal bylaws.“In some areas, it is difficult to find a legal parking space, so our members do have to park illegally and some do incur parking tickets,” Tobin said. “It’s not an ideal system and postal workers would prefer that routes could be structured in a way that allowed for legal parking 100 per cent of the time.”The Canadian Press first published this story on Sept. 29, 2019.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Celebrities Back Poppy Appeal

first_imgCelebrity support for The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal has been stronger than ever this year, with poppies pinned to the lapels of everyone from news broadcasters to show stoppers on the dance floor.Since the Poppy Appeal launched, a host of celebrities have donned poppies in support of British Armed Forces including: Simon Rimmer on Sunday Brunch, Helen Skelton on Blue Peter, Kate Garraway on Daybreak and Lorraine, Ruth Langsford on This Morning, and Fearne Cotton at the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards.Other stars adorned with poppy bling included Emma Bunting and Only Way is Essex stars Joey Essex and Lucy Mecklenburgh, who were seen supporting the Legion by wearing special Kleshna poppy brooches at the Pride of Britain Awards.The Legion is also grateful for the on-going support from poppy-wearing celebrities such as Dame Helen Mirren, The Saturdays, Kelly Brook, Girls Aloud, Jerry Hall and Olympians including Victoria Pendleton and Heather Stanning.To get your poppy or poppy products to support the armed forces, click here.Source:Royal British Legionlast_img read more