Premier Stephen McNeil offered congratulations today, April 4, to Colleen Jones and her Nova Scotia rink on winning the Canadian Senior Women’s Curling Championship this weekend. Jones and teammates Kim Kelly, Mary Sue Radford and Nancy Delahunt won the title in Digby on Saturday, April 2, beating Saskatchewan 5-2 in the final. “Nova Scotians are proud once again to be home to a national curling champion,” Premier McNeil said. “Congratulations to Colleen and her teammates, who have added another title to their impressive collection.” Jones, Kelly and Delahunt have won five Canadian women’s championships and two world titles, but this is their first senior victory. Premier McNeil also applauded Alan O’Leary’s bronze medal effort in the Canadian senior men’s event. The Nova Scotia rink, which also included Andy Dauphinee, Danny Christianson and Harold McCarthy beat British Columbia 7-5 for the third-place finish. The medal results added to the glitter of this curling playoff season for Nova Scotia curlers. Last month, Chester’s Mary Fay led her rink to the World Junior Women’s Curling Championship after winning the Canadian title in January.
Nova Scotia’s provincial parks had a record number of visitors again this year. The provincial park system welcomed 78,025 campsite bookings, an increase of 13 per cent over last year. The number of campsite bookings in provincial campgrounds has steadily increased in recent years. Since 2014 the number of campsites booked rose by about 36 per cent. There are 20 provincial camping parks in Nova Scotia. “Our provincial parks draw tourists and give people places to enjoy healthy outdoor recreation and get close to nature,” said Margaret Miller, Minister of Natural Resources. “Our great programs like Grade 4s Outdoors, Learn 2 Camp, and other unique park events brought in new visitors who we know will likely be returning to our parks for years to come.” Three provincial parks extended their seasons by five weeks this year, allowing more time for camping later into the fall. Mira River Provincial Park in Cape Breton stayed open until Oct. 15, while Blomidon Provincial Park in Kings County and Ellenwood Lake Provincial Park in Yarmouth County stayed open until Oct. 9. All provincial parks are now closed for camping for the season but people are encouraged to continue visiting parks to enjoy walking, cross-country skiing, and similar activities. While parks are closed, regular park services and facilities are not available and visitors must still follow park rules, including keeping dogs on leash. Visitors are reminded to use the pack-it-in, pack-it-out principle, and take their trash home with them. To learn more about Nova Scotia’s provincial parks, visit https://parks.novascotia.ca/.
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court Monday admitted appeals filed by brothers of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, who was allegedly killed in a fake encounter in 2005, challenging acquittal of the 22 persons, including police officers from Gujarat and Rajasthan, by a special court in 2018. In its verdict, the special CBI court had observed that the prosecution had failed to establish a cogent case to suggest that there had been any conspiracy to kill Shaikh and others — his wife Kausar Bi and his associate Tulsi Prajapati — and that the accused persons had any role in it. Also Read – Cong may promise farm loan waiver in HaryanaThe court had also stated that there was no denying that Shaikh and the others had been killed. As per the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Shaikh, a gangster, and Kausar Bi were killed separately in November 2005 by the Gujarat ATS, and Prajapati in 2006 by the Rajasthan and Gujarat police, for allegedly being a witness to the fake encounter. The appeals challenging the special court order were filed by Sohrabuddin’s brothers Rubabuddin Shaikh and Nayabuddin Shaikh in April this year. A division bench of Justices I A Mahanty and A M Badar Monday admitted these appeals and issued notices to the acquitted persons. The bench will take up the appeals for final hearing in due course of time.
London: Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya’s extradition case will return to the UK courts on Tuesday as he seeks permission to appeal against an order signed off by UK home secretary Sajid Javid for him to be extradited to India to face alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to Rs 9,000 crores. The 63-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss has already lost a UK High Court “leave to appeal” on paper, leading to an oral hearing of his renewal application this week. A two-judge bench of the Administrative Court division of the Royal Courts of Justice in London will hear the application, filed in April. During the day-long hearing, listed before Justices George Leggatt and Andrew Popplewell, Mallya’s legal team and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) arguing on behalf of the Indian government will go head to head to reiterate factors for and against the businessman’s extradition to Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai. The judges are likely to reserve their judgment in the case and hand down their ruling in the coming weeks. In the scenario that Mallya is unsuccessful in his appeal, he must be extradited within 28 days from the appeal decision becoming final. However, if he is granted permission to appeal, the case will then proceed to a full hearing stage at the UK High Court. The appeal will mark one of the final stages of the appeals process, as the chances of permission to appeal to the Supreme Court are unlikely if such a permission is already denied at the High Court stage. “It is not for me to prejudge the outcome of the appeal, but he (Mallya) does face serious challenges in overturning the order for extradition,” said Toby Cadman, co-founder of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers.
Kolkata: Kolkata Police prohibited the entry and exit of goods vehicles with a minimum of 20 wheels to ensure smooth commute for motorists in its jurisdiction, according to a notification issued on Monday.”The commissioner of Kolkata Police has ordered that all goods vehicles having 20 wheels or more are prohibited from entering into or existing from the entire Kolkata Police jurisdiction to evade traffic congestion and ensure smooth, nuisance-free plying,” read the notification. This order had already come into force from Sunday. The restriction will continue until further notice, said the notification. Violators will be “punished as per the existing law”. However, truck operators and transporters are not happy with the decision.(With inputs from Indian Express)
New Delhi: The number of telephone subscribers in rural areas fell 0.86 per cent while those in the urban areas rose 0.57 per cent in May 2019, according to official data. The overall teledensity in the country slipped to 89.92 per cent at the end of May 2019 from 90.05 per cent at the end of April, as the total number of telephone subscribers in the country declined marginally to 1,183.15 million as on May 2019 from 1,183.7 million in the previous month. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”The rural subscription declined from 512.91 million at the end of April 19 to 508.49 million at the end of May 2019. However, the urban subscription increased from 670.86 million to 674.66 million during the same period,” as per the subscription data for May 2019 released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The rural subscriber base fell 0.86 per cent, while the urban subscriber numbers rose 0.57 per cent during May. “The share of rural and urban subscribers in total number of telephone subscribers at the end of May 2019 was 42.98 per cent and 57.02 per cent respectively,” Trai said. Also Read – Coking coal shipments rise 15 pc to 29 MT at 12 state-run ports in Apr-SepIn the broadband segment, defined as more than or equal to 512 kbps download speed, the number of overall subscribers increased 1.67 per cent to 581.51 million at the end of May 2019 (571.95 million in April 2019), with Jio accounting for the largest chunk (322.9 million subscribers). The broadband subscriber base of Bharti Airtel stood at 118.34 million, and Vodafone Idea at 109 million during the period in reference. Top-five service providers constituted 98.69 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of May 2019. Large operators Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel whose financials have been battered by intense price competition posed by Reliance Jio have, over the last few months, resorted to minimum recharge plans, consciously weeding off plain vanilla low-value subscribers.
NEW DELHI: Services on the Delhi Metro’s Violet Line were affected for over an hour on Friday due to some technical snag, officials said. The Violet Line connects Kashmere Gate in Delhi to Raja Nahar Singh station in Faridabad.”Services have been affected on this corridor since 6 PM due to some technical snag. Rectification work is underway,” a senior official of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said. The DMRC also tweeted to alert commuters about the snag. “Delay in service from Kashmere Gate towards Sarita Vihar,” it said.
Peshawar: Five persons were killed and 17 others were injured in a remote-controlled blast in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Sunday, police said. Unidentified miscreants targeted the double cabin vehicle of a local elder, Moatabar Khan, in the Sheringle area of Dir Upper district, police said. While five persons died, the 17 injured, which included three policemen, were shifted to a district headquarter hospital. Officials are yet to ascertain whether Khan died in the incident. KPK Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yusafzai said an old land dispute between Khan and the people of Dogdarra valley could be behind the blast. Yusafzai said the three government security guards of Khan were injured in the blast. Earlier, two suicide blasts targeting Khan had been carried out, though he managed to survive on both occasions.
New York: In a significant find, researchers have discovered that right-wing users are more effective in using Facebook-owned WhatsApp to spread news, disinformation and opinions during elections. After performing the first large-scale analysis of partisan WhatsApp groups in the context of Brazil’s 2018 election, the researchers from Northwestern University found that right-wing groups in Brazil were much more numerous and shared substantially more multimedia content and YouTube videos than left-wing groups. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year With more than 120 million users, Brazil is the second-largest WhatsApp market in the world after India which has 400 million users of the Facebook-owned platform. “Our ultimate goal is to understand how information and misinformation spreads, so we can find technological interventions,” said Larry Birnbaum, the study’s senior author. “We want to find ways to help people better evaluate the information they receive. Media literacy has not caught up with rapid changes in technology,” Birnbaum added. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India From September 1 to November 1, 2018, Birnbaum and Victor Bursztyn followed 232 partisan groups. During that time, they collected 2.8 million messages from more than 45,000 users (This is 3.5 times as many messages and 2.4 times as many users than the largest competing dataset to date). The team discovered multiple differences between right- and left-wing groups. In the studied sample, right-wing groups shared 5.5 times as many messages as left-wing users. Of the messages shared by right-wing users, 46.5 per cent were multimedia messages, such as photos, audio and video files. Just 30 per cent of left-wing messages included multimedia. “It’s hard to say whether multimedia is more effective in influencing opinions, but right-wingers are more savvy in using them,” said Birnbaum. “Images are always more compelling than text.” They also found that the most-shared news by WhatsApp groups during the 2018 presidential election campaign came from websites that spread disinformation, as identified by several fact-checking agencies. “Data suggests that both sides consume this content, but it’s a more prevalent problem on the right,” Birnbaum said. The team will present their findings at the IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining in Vancouver, Canana, on Friday. During the general elections in India this year, WhatsApp was blamed for influencing voters. WhatsApp turned out to be the biggest social media platform for more than 87,000 groups to target millions with political messaging, according to social media experts. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, in a commentary piece, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of influencing voters via social media platforms in Lok Sabha elections and WhatsApp being their favourite medium simply because of its massive reach. Despite tall claims made by Facebook that it is removing 10 lakh fake accounts a day in India, a recent survey by online start-up Social Media Matters and New Delhi-based Institute for Governance, Policies and Politics revealed that one in two Indians receive fake news via Facebook and WhatsApp. The survey stated that 96 per cent of the sample population received fake news via WhatsApp.
New Delhi: Cash-strapped MTNL has not been able to pay staff wages for July and August and is making a sincere effort to release at least a portion of the dues at the earliest, a top company official said. “Salary payment for two months…July and August are pending, we have cleared it (wages) till June,” said Sunil Kumar, who recently assumed additional charge as chairman and managing director of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL). He declined to give a timeframe for clearing the outstanding salaries, but said, “We are trying sincerely to release at least one month’s salary at the earliest”. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalAsked how the ailing state-owned entity intends to meet its salary obligations, he said MTNL is looking to pay it from accumulated revenue. “The deadline for us was as of yesterday….We are sincerely considering whatever is possible, and to do it as early as possible. We cannot give any timeframe but we are trying very hard,” he said. Distressed telecom PSUs MTNL and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) have been incurring losses and have been facing problems in clearing staff salaries on time in the recent past. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe loss-making telecom firms have approached the Telecom Department for immediate help as they are facing financial stress, which has aggravated due to the tariff war triggered by the entry of Reliance Jio. A revival plan for the telecom firms is under consideration. The employee cost of BSNL is 75.06 per cent and that of MTNL is 87.15 per cent of their total income, while the same for private telecom companies varies between 2.9 to 5 per cent. According to data shared in the Lok Sabha in June this year, the market share of MTNL in the two circles where it operates (Mumbai and Delhi) has declined to 6.95 per cent at the end of 2018-19 from 7.37 per cent in 2016-17.
New Delhi: Work is underway to augment the capacity of Delhi government-run hospitals by over 120 per cent, the AAP dispensation on Tuesday said while asserting that the expansion project was the “largest programme” in the world for improving access to healthcare.On the directions of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Tuesday submitted a report to him on the status of Delhi government’s programme for expansion of public health infrastructure, officials said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder”The report states that in addition to the existing capacity of 11,353 beds in 38 Delhi government hospitals, a total capacity of 13,899 beds is being added. Three hospitals, with a capacity of approximately 2,800 beds, are set to open in the next six months,” the Delhi government said in a statement. The chief minister had asked for details of the scope and nature of the health department’s plan to build new hospitals, expand existing hospitals and add specialised treatment services in existing hospitals. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings”The expansion of public health infrastructure in Delhi is unprecedented. It is the largest programme for improving access to healthcare anywhere in the world. The total increase in capacity that is currently underway in terms of bed capacity is more than 122 per cent,” Kejriwal was quoted as saying in the statement. “But this is not just about the number of beds, but also about the quality of facilities provided,” the statement added. By 2023, the government expects all projects to be completed and all new hospitals and new blocks ready for operations, it said. “Our goal is to make every single government hospital in Delhi, not just better than private hospitals in the city, but to make them the best hospitals in the entire country. Delhi citizens deserve world-class facilities and we will make that a reality,” Kejriwal said. A senior Delhi Health Department official had recently said that as many as 15 city government-run hospitals are to be upgraded with improved civil and medicare infrastructure and increase in bed strength to boost healthcare facilities in the national capital. The project also includes LNJP Hospital, where a “state-of-the-art” block will be constructed, they said. The 15 facilities chosen under the upgrade project include LNJP Hospital, LBS Hospital and Bhagwan Mahaveer Hospital. The Delhi government on Tuesday said the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Dwarka, with 1,241 beds will be the largest hospital in West Delhi with state-of-the-art facilities. Similarly, two hospitals with approximately 772 and 600 beds respectively are nearing completion in Burari and Ambedkar Nagar, it said. A new mother and child block has been cleared by the Delhi cabinet for Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital, Khichripur with 460 beds, and the tendering has been completed, the statement said. Four new hospitals, one each in Sarita Vihar, Madipur, Hastsal and Jwalapuri will be brought before the Expenditure Finances Committee in the coming week, the government said.
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – They’ve been training for it, but students at elementary schools in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., won’t get a chance to show off their high jumping abilities at track and field meets this week and next.The Algoma District School Board and Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board say they’ve decided to no longer offer high jump at the elementary level of competition due to the risk factor.The school boards note that high jump has been classified as a “higher risk activity” through the Ontario Physical Education Safety Guidelines, due to the potential risk of injury to students.In a joint release on Wednesday, the school boards say they are committed to supporting athletic opportunities and physical activity while maintaining student safety as a priority.They say high jump will continue to be an event at the secondary level.“It was felt that the changed classification and the need to maintain student safety as a priority means this event is best suited for development at the secondary level where there is greater access to trained staff and proper equipment at sites,” the statement said.“We felt it best to maintain high jump at the secondary level and to have our younger students compete in events that are most appropriate for their stage of development and which can showcase their abilities with less risk involved,” Lucia Reece, Algoma District School Board director, said.John Stadnyk, education director for the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, said they decided that mitigating the risk to elementary students was the best action to take at this time.“We hope everyone understands the reasoning behind this decision, and wish all participants in the upcoming meets all the best,” he said.Wrestling, alpine skiing, and snowboarding are other sports classified as “higher risk” under the Ontario physical education guidelines.
OTTAWA – The Liberals’ contentious choice for official languages commissioner has withdrawn her candidacy, saying her nomination has become a “controversy.”In a letter addressed to the heritage minister, Madeleine Meilleur said she didn’t think she would be able to do the job properly given the uproar since her name was put forth by the government.“As you know, my nomination has become the subject of controversy,” she told Melanie Joly in the letter dated Tuesday. “Considering this situation, I have concluded that my capacity to fully assume my functions and to act on behalf of Canadians would be greatly compromised.”The letter came after steadfast Opposition criticism of Meilleur’s possible appointment because of her ties to the federal Liberals.It also came after her appearance on Monday night in front of a Senate committee where she admitted having discussed “in passing” her interest for the job with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s two closest advisers.Meilleur’s comments left many senators speechless and increased speculation the upper chamber would reject her nomination.During testimony in May in front of the Commons official languages committee, Meilleur had made similar comments about her discussions with Trudeau’s advisersJoly wouldn’t say Wednesday whether Meilleur’s Senate appearance influenced her decision to withdraw.“Mrs. Meilleur took her decision,” Joly said. “She has been, and is, an important advocate in favour of linguistic rights in this country and I really hope that she’ll continue to do this important work.”Meilleur was a Liberal member of the Ontario legislature between 2003 and 2016.The federal Liberals insisted her selection was based on merit, experience and a track record of defending francophone rights.But New Democrats and Conservatives accused Trudeau of picking her for the job without consulting them.The Conservatives called her withdrawal from contention “good news” as they accused the prime minister of “embarrassing himself” and lacking judgment.Tory MPs repeatedly asked Trudeau during question period if the nomination process would be reformed.Trudeau, who took questions from MPs, as is his custom on Wednesdays, did not provide direct answers.Graham Fraser was the previous official languages commissioner.
OTTAWA – Canada is urging the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro to end its campaign of repression and respect the country’s existing political institutions.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is also calling for the release of jailed opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, saying their detention is proof of the Maduro regime’s “dictatorial intentions.”Maduro has just pushed through a contested election of a constituent assembly that will rewrite the country’s constitution, a move widely condemned internationally.The United States has called the vote a sham and Freeland says the existing national assembly is the only legitimately elected representative body in Venezuela.She says Maduro must accept the assembly’s authority and restore its full powers.Freeland says Canada is gravely alarmed by the unlawful detention of Lopez and Ledezma.“Canada calls on the government to respect the democratic rights of Venezuelan citizens and enter into meaningful negotiations to restore constitutional order in Venezuela,” she said in a statement.In July, the Venezuelan supreme court placed Lopez under house arrest after he had spent three years in prison for his role in anti-government protests in 2014. Ledezma was placed under house arrest in 2015 after being imprisoned on charges of leading an alleged coup against Maduro.Economic troubles and months of political turmoil on the streets have rocked the South American country.Maduro remains determined to reshape the political system to solidify his socialist government’s hold.Freeland said she commends the courage of those struggling for their democratic and human rights.“Canada stands with the brave Venezuelan people as they struggle to preserve the future of their deeply threatened democracy,” she said.
OTTAWA – The Liberal government’s plan to allow judges to excuse impoverished offenders from paying a federal victim surcharge could end up shrinking provincial budgets, so Ottawa is prepared to shell out some extra cash — for a time.“Provinces that demonstrate losses or that anticipate losses in revenue as a result of the proposed amendments may apply for transitional funding to offset these costs,” David Taylor, a spokesman for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, wrote in an email statement.Taylor added the funding could be made available for three years, beginning this year.The Liberal government introduced legislation last October aimed at partly overturning a controversial change the previous Conservative government had made to the federal victim surcharges that judges impose on offenders at sentencing.The surcharge came into effect in 1989 as a way to make offenders cover at least some of the costs associated with the impact of crime, by having the provinces and territories collect the money and use it to help fund programs and services for victims.Judges had the discretion to waive the levy if they believed it would cause “undue hardship” to offenders or their dependents.That changed in 2013, when the Conservative government doubled the amount and made it mandatory, even if the offender could not afford to pay.Those changes prompted protests from some judges, as well as court challenges under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.The legislation the Liberal government tabled last fall, Bill C-28, would restore limited discretion to judges.That could mean reduced revenues for provincial and territorial governments, says a memo prepared for Wilson-Raybould last September.The Canadian Press obtained the memo through the Access to Information Act.The majority of the document was redacted, but the title suggests officials were exploring the possibility of dipping into the federal Victims Fund, which has a $27.8 million budget this year, to make up for the potential shortfall. The memo includes figures showing lapsed funding that would provide some room to do so.The memo also shows how much money the federal victim surcharge had provided to provinces and Yukon territory annually over five years ending in 2015, a period that includes before and after the Conservatives made it mandatory.In 2014-15, the provinces and the territory collected nearly $15.4 million.The Justice Department said more recent statistics are not yet available.It is difficult to predict the fiscal impact of Bill C-28, which has yet to be debated in the House of Commons.On the one hand, the numbers in the memo do show that, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, revenue from the federal surcharge increased after the Conservatives made it mandatory.On the other hand, the numbers in some cases reveal a growing discrepancy between the amount imposed and the amount actually collected, suggesting that allowing judges to waive the federal surcharge in some cases could increase the collection rate.In Ontario, for example, 2014-15 saw more than $9.8 million in federal surcharges imposed on offenders, but only $3.2 million was collected.In 2012-13, judges imposed only $1.9 million in federal surcharges, but nearly $1.2 million was actually paid, which means there was less revenue in total but a much higher rate of collection.The memo also suggests it is important to keep the numbers in perspective.“We understand that in most jurisdictions, the federal victim surcharge makes up a very small proportion of total revenues in comparison to the provincial surcharge,” an official wrote.Still, the potential loss in revenue is something that Sue O’Sullivan, the federal ombudsman for victims of crime, had previously raised as a concern.“Whatever changes are made cannot result in any significant loss to the funding to the provinces and territories, because this money goes to these programs that are essential to support victims in the aftermath of a crime,” she said last October.O’Sullivan was unavailable to be interviewed for this story.It should also be noted that Bill C-28 would not completely reverse the Conservative changes, instead presenting a middle ground that includes requiring offenders to apply for an exemption and not reducing the amount of the surcharge.— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter
OTTAWA – Ottawa must withdraw its plan to charge tax on medicinal marijuana or risk having an adverse effect on patients, a group of more than 50 doctors warned Monday as the federal government hashed out a pot-tax revenue-sharing agreement with the provinces and territories.The doctors, who describe themselves as a group of physicians who routinely prescribe marijuana to their patients, say applying a sales or excise tax to medicinal pot would impose a financial barrier for those who use the drug to manage their symptoms, compared to patients who take other medication.“The new taxes being proposed on medical cannabis (are) discriminatory towards patients,” Dr. Michael Verbora said in a statement.“All medications prescribed have zero tax. At a time when we are suffering from an opiate crisis the last thing we should do is introduce financial barriers to patients accessing a safer alternative.”Following a day-long meeting between Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his regional counterparts, the two sides agreed that the provinces and territories would get a 75 per cent share of marijuana tax revenues over the course of a two-year agreement. That money is to be shared with municipalities, which are also expected to bear a larger proportion of the cost of legalization.Ottawa will retain the remaining 25 per cent share to a maximum of $100 million a year, presuming an annual total take of about $400 million, at least initially. Any balance over and above that limit would flow to the regions, under the terms of the deal.Taxing medicinal pot could end up affecting its affordability and availability to those who need it, said the NDP’s finance critic Alexandre Boulerice.“The imposition of sales tax and excise tax on medical marijuana is unfair, it is stupid and potentially dangerous,” Boulerice warned, and could end up exacerbating Canada’s ongoing opioid crisis.“If the price of medical marijuana goes too high … it will potentially incite people to buy some cheaper drugs like opioids as painkillers.”A tax is simply not sound public policy, Boulerice said, pointing to the issues flagged by doctors.“They are really concerned about their patients and they are on the ground with people who are sick and use medical marijuana for months or years,” he said.Last month, Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the ministers of justice and health, said the federal government’s task force report recommended the tax regime on medical and recreational marijuana be the same.“Our government remains committed to maintaining a functional medical marijuana system,” Blair said at the time.“At the same time, we do not want the taxation levels to be an incentive for people to utilize that system inappropriately and so we propose that the taxation levels for both non-medical and medical will be aligned.”—Follow @kkirkup on TwitterNote to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misspelled Dr. Michael Verbora’s surname.
Homicide detectives have taken over the investigation into the deaths of billionaire Barry Sherman and his wife Honey after autopsies revealed the couple died from “ligature neck compression,” Toronto police said Sunday night.Police issued a brief statement, but refused to comment further about the deaths of the couple, who were found in their Toronto home on Friday.“That is what the post-mortem indicates and that is the terminology that they give us,” Const. Michelle Flannery said when asked to elaborate on findings from autopsies performed over the weekend.The statement said homicide detectives have taken the lead on investigating the deaths, which have been classified as “suspicious.” Homicide detectives have been involved in the investigation since Friday.A funeral for Barry and Honey will take place at the International Centre in Mississauga at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Benjamin’s Park Memorial Chapel will run the proceedings. Health minister @DrEricHoskins on the deaths of Berry and Honey Sherman: “these two individuals were very special people.” @CityNews pic.twitter.com/AmSjdzZTXb— Amanda Ferguson (@CityNewsAmanda) December 18, 2017The statement contained no other details, except to formally identify the Shermans as the two people found dead in a Toronto home on Friday.Previously, police refused to confirm the identities, although they had been identified by a number of political and business leaders.Hoskins: “It was not only shocking to learn of their passing, but naturally the circumstances have been really shocking for their friends and family” @CityNews— Amanda Ferguson (@CityNewsAmanda) December 18, 2017Sherman, 75, was the founder of pharmaceutical giant Apotex. He started the company in 1974 and grew it into the largest Canadian-owned drug company.Canadian Business magazine recently assessed his fortune at $4.77 billion, making him the 15th richest person in the country.Sherman faced legal action from family members alleging they had been cut out of the company over the years.As a producer of more than 300 generic pharmaceutical products, Apotex has itself seen a number court cases, as companies have pushed back on its efforts to sell cheaper no-name options.Honey Sherman, 70, was on number of boards, including the York University Foundation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.The Shermans were among Canada’s most generous philanthropists and also organized funding of charitable causes through the Apotex Foundation. The couple made numerous multimillion-dollar donations to hospitals, schools and charities and had buildings named in their honour.
HALIFAX – A Halifax man who pushed a young woman back into prostitution, and admitted threatening to chop her up and serve her at a dinner party, has been sentenced to 16 months in jail.Leslie Gray advertised the woman’s sexual services on a classifieds website, setting up to 20 appointments a day, and then took all the money she earned.“(She) was not given food to eat, so she resorted to stealing to feed herself,” according to an agreed statement of facts presented at Gray’s recent sentencing.“On a few occasions, she tried to keep some change, but Leslie Gray caught her, became angry and accused her of stealing his money.”The young woman, who was 20 when she met Gray on Canada Day 2015, contracted HIV while working for him, according to the agreed facts.She was a drug addict, and had already been a sex trade worker — she had previously been sold from one former pimp to another — when she met Gray through her then-boyfriend.The woman earned more than $10,000 between May and October 2016, and gave it all to Gray.She listened as Gray and his brother Andre discussed throwing her body into a river, “and that no one would care that she was gone,” according to the agreed facts.The brothers referenced the 2013 film “The Purge,” about an annual event in which all illegal acts are decriminalized for 12 hours, and said she would be the first person they would kill.“Leslie Gray said that he would cut her up with a butcher knife, chop her into pieces, put her in his fridge and feed her to his dinner party,” according to the agreed facts.“(She) was very afraid.”In the fall of 2016, Gray found brochures that Halifax police vice officers had given her about getting out of the sex trade. He laughed at her and told her she was useless — and that if she came forward she would be dead.Then, in late October 2016, she went to a hospital after missing a methadone dose. When she got out, she went to police.Gray pleaded guilty to advertising sexual services, receiving benefit from prostitution and human trafficking, and uttering threats.Chris Hansen, spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, said Gray was sentenced on Jan. 11 to a total of 16 months in jail, as well as 24 months of probation. He will also be on the sex offender registry for 20 years, and have a firearms prohibition of 10 years.
TORONTO – Bruce McArthur had a low risk for violence 15 years ago, says a recently released psychological report conducted after the now-accused serial killer assaulted a man with a pipe.The 66-year-old self-employed landscaper accused of killing eight men with ties to the city’s gay village pleaded guilty in 2003 to two assault charges, and his lawyer at the time asked for a personality assessment prior to sentencing.Dr. Marie-France Dionne interviewed McArthur several times at the North York General Hospital as part of her risk assessment of the man.“We are confident to conclude that the risk for violence is very minimal,” she wrote in the report written on March 19, 2003 and filed with court.She conducted two personality tests and concluded the two profiles were “within normal range.”“There is no trace of psychosis, no trace of hallucinations or delusions, no trace of mood disorder and no trace of any personality disorder or antisocial behaviour,” Dionne wrote.“As a matter of fact, Mr. McArthur is well oriented in space, time and toward people.”Police allege McArthur went on to commit eight murders, the first one in 2010. Police have found the remains of seven men inside large planters located at an address where McArthur stored his landscaping equipment.On Wednesday, Justice Leslie Chapin ruled to release the psychological and presentence report from the 2001 crime after a group of media organizations fought to have them made public.The documents relate to McArthur’s attack against a man on Oct. 31, 2001. At the man’s apartment, McArthur beat him from behind with a metal pipe, slicing open a 13-centimetre gash in his head that required stitches and bashing the man’s hands, which needed six weeks of physiotherapy, the documents note.The man called police after regaining consciousness. At the same time, McArthur turned himself in to police, saying he believed he committed a crime, but couldn’t remember what happened. He said he was on medication for controlling his epilepsy and was also high on amyl nitrate “poppers” that he liked to use before sex, the documents say.The Crown attorney wanted jail time for McArthur, according to the presentence report, but changed his mind after reading the personality assessments. He received a conditional sentence for assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.The psychologist noted a few issues about McArthur during the course of her interviews and analysis of him.“Mr. McArthur’s results suggest that he is characteristically passive and indecisive, but he may possess underlying resentments,” she wrote.She also said “he is quite uncomfortable in situations calling for open anger and conflict. It is likely that this man lacks much insight into himself and others.”Dionne also said that McArthur’s “over co-operativeness may hide strong rebellious feelings that may occasionally break through his front of propriety and restraint.”She noted McArthur sought help for depression when he began exploring his sexuality and the corresponding dissolution of his marriage. He had seen a psychiatrist briefly and took the anti-depressant Prozac for about six months to a year in the late 1990s.Dionne wrote that McArthur had a good relationship with his ex-wife and his two children, and was an active member of a church choir. McArthur’s parents died within three years during his late 20s. By 2003 McArthur had become open and accepting of his homosexuality, which he said he repressed since he was a child.He dated a man for four years after his marriage ended.“He wishes to have a stable and regular relationship one day, even if he was hurt in a relationship that ended,” said the report.Dionne said McArthur was hopeful for the future and was trying to get into the landscaping business. Recently, Toronto police and cadaver dogs spent weeks scouring more than 100 properties in Ontario where McArthur did landscaping work.McArthur is alleged to have killed Skandaraj Navaratnam, Selim Esen, Andrew Kinsman, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam.McArthur is scheduled to appear in court on July 23.
SASKATOON — A committee working on how to distribute $15.2 million raised in a GoFundMe campaign after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says a court should respect the families’ wishes on how the money should be divided.The committee is recommending a total payout of $525,000 for each of the 16 families who lost a loved one in the crash.It is also recommending a total of $475,000 for each of the 13 surviving players.Court documents say the suggestions are based on a formula that came out of discussions with the families.In August, a judge approved an interim payment of $50,000 each to the survivors and families of the people who died in April.The recommendations still need to be approved at a court appearance set for Wednesday.Committee members included retired Saskatchewan justice Dennis Ball; Mark Chipman, chairman of the company that owns the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets; Olympic gold medallist Hayley Wickenheiser; Dr. Peter Spafford, who’s in charge of head and neck surgery at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine; and Kevin Cameron, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response.The Canadian Press