Hyderabad: Pitching for labour law reforms, Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian Friday advised states to follow the Rajasthan model for better results. “I think there are four-five labour reforms what Rajasthan did. And what we are saying is that by doing the labour reforms, Rajasthan was able to increase number of firms of above 100 employees. It has increased the output of the factories and also number of workers and factories as well,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an interactive session at the Indian School of Business (ISB) here. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep In 2014, Rajasthan was the first state that introduced labour reforms in the major Acts. Thereafter, many states followed. The major reforms undertaken by Rajasthan included the amendments to the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, the Factories Act, 1948, the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970 and the Apprentices Act, 1961. Replying to a query on the impact of the slump in the automobile industry on the economy, Subramanian said the industry is just one part of the overall manufacturing sector which is doing well. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs On doubling farmers’ income by 2022, the CEA said the committee on the issue has suggested some steps to enable the small and marginal farmers to sell their products in the market place. Subramanian said the target of a USD 5 trillion economy in the next five years is achievable. “For the first trillion dollars that India created, it took 55 years, and from USD 1.7 trillion to USD 2.7 trillion happened between 2014 and 2019. So you can basically create that USD 5 trillion in (the next) five years,” he said. Speaking elsewhere in the city, former RBI governor C Rangarajan said India needs to grow at eight per cent in order to become a USD 5 trillion economy in the next few years. Subramanian said there is an opinion that the small and medium enterprises sector (firms with less than 100 employees) presents a lot of employment opportunities which is not practically true.
New Delhi: The central government has reconstituted the Group of Ministers (GoM) on sexual harassment at workplace, with Union Ministers Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ as new members. The decision was taken on July 18 by the government, a statement issued on Wednesday read. “The government has reconstituted the Group of Ministers on Sexual Harassment at Workplace with members — Amit Shah, Home Affairs Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister, ‘Nishank’, Human Resource Development Minister, and Smriti Irani, Women and Child Development Minister,” it said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The GoM will continue to be given administrative support by the Home Ministry, it added. In 2018, the government constituted a GoM to examine the existing legal and institutional frameworks for dealing with matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace. The GoM was chaired by then Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, with members being Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman and Maneka Sanjay Gandhi. It was set up to recommend action required for effective implementation of the existing provisions as well as for strengthening the existing legal and institutional frameworks for addressing issues related to sexual harassment at the workplace.
Islamabad/Doha: The Afghan Taliban on Thursday expressed willingness to travel to Pakistan and meet Prime Minister Imran Khan if he invites them for negotiations to end the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, according to a media report. The statement by the Taliban came hours after Khan returned to Islamabad after his maiden official visit to the US where he discussed the Afghan peace process with President Donald Trump on Monday and agreed to work together to end to the conflict. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USDuring the meeting, Trump said that Pakistan would help the US “extricate” itself from Afghanistan, adding there was “tremendous potential” in the relationship between Washington and Islamabad. Interestingly, Khan was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed during the talks at the White House. Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar’s capital Doha, told the BBC Urdu that if Prime Minister Khan extended a formal invitation, they will accept it. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”We frequently visit countries in the region and would surely go to Pakistan, too, which is our Muslim neighbour, if there is a formal invitation from Islamabad,” he said. Media reports say the US is negotiating for a deal by September 1 that would see international forces pull out of Afghanistan in return for Taliban security guarantees, including a pledge that Afghanistan will not become a safe haven for terror groups. Before Khan’s visit to Washington, representatives of China, Russia, the US and Pakistan held consultation on the Afghan peace process in Beijing on July 10-11. US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently holding talks with the Taliban to work out an agreement for withdrawal of the US troops and participation of the rebel group in the Afghan government, attended the meeting. The four countries had jointly urged the Taliban to immediately agree to a ceasefire and begin direct negotiations with the Afghanistan government to end the violence in the war-torn country. In a joint statement, they said the negotiations should be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” and produce a peace framework as soon as possible. “This framework should guarantee the orderly and responsible transition of the security situation and detail an agreement on a future inclusive political arrangement acceptable to all Afghans,” the statement said. The Taliban leadership has divided the process of peace negotiations into internal and external phases, which include talks with the Afghan government and the US-led foreign forces present in the country, the spokesperson added. Earlier in June, Islamabad urged all sides to move towards a political solution for lingering conflict in Afghanistan in an attempt to reaffirm commitment to the Afghan peace deal. On his way back to Pakistan, Prime Minister Khan stopped over at Doha and held talks with his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. While in the US, Khan said he plans to meet with the Taliban to persuade them to hold negotiations with the government in Afghanistan. While delivering a public talk at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, Khan noted that for the first time in the 18-year Afghan conflict, Pakistan and the US were working together to advance peace efforts in the neighboring country. Khan spoke a day after he met with President Donald Trump at the White House where the two leaders agreed to work together to end to the conflict. “Now, when I go back after meeting President Trump I will meet the Taliban and I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government so that the elections in Afghanistan must be inclusive where the Taliban also participate in it,” he said. The Taliban is strongly opposed to engaging in any formal intra-Afghan negotiations, involving the Kabul government, until securing a peace deal with the US. Khan said that a Taliban delegation had wanted to meet him a few months back but he had to cancel the meeting because of objections from the Afghan government. He said he has now spoken to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about his possible upcoming meeting with the insurgent group, the Voice of America quoted the Pakistani prime minister as saying. Afghan leaders have consistently accused Pakistan of covertly backing the Taliban-led violent insurgency in their country, charges Pakistani officials have rejected. American and Taliban officials in their months-long talks are said to have come close to concluding an agreement toward ending the Afghan war. The proposed truce would require the insurgents to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a base for international terrorists in exchange for US troops leaving the country. The Trump administration has intensified its efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of America’s longest war in Afghanistan where the US has lost over 2,400 soldiers since late 2001, when it invaded the country after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Val Thorens (France): Egan Bernal is poised to make history in more ways than one at this year’s Tour de France, with the 22-year-old set to become first-ever Colombian champion of Tour de France and the youngest winner of cycling’s most prestigious race in modern times.Although Sunday’s processional final stage to Paris still remains, once Bernal (22 years, 196 days on July 28) passes the throng of fans along Champs-Elysees and reaches the finish line, he will become the youngest Tour champion since Francois Faber (22 years, 187 days) in 1909 and the third-youngest winner of all time. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhThe sport’s professionalism has taken a major leap since those early days, with Italy’s Felice Gimondi in 1965 and France’s Laurent Fignon in 1983 being the only cyclists under the age of 23 to have clinched the Tour de France title since it resumed after the World War II hiatus, reports Efe news.Because of his tender age and a lack of expectations, Bernal was able to shield himself from the pressure that fell on the shoulders of his British teammate and 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas and make a decisive move in the Alps, gaining ground in Thursday’s Stage 18 and then taking the lead in Friday’s Stage 19. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced laterSince that latter stage was cut short due to an ice storm, the times for the general classification were taken at the summit of the Col de l’Iseran mountain pass; that proved to be a big turning point because Bernal had easily outpaced the previous overall leader, France’s Julian Alaphilippe, on that climb.After Bernal effectively wrapped up the Tour in Saturday’s Stage 20 from Albertville to Val Thorens, a stretch that also was shortened due to hailstorms, Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) General Manager Dave Brailsford praised his young cyclist. “We knew we had a group of older guys who were performing well, but we looked very hard to find the new generation and we decided that it was going to be Egan. We fought pretty hard to get him and he developed fantastically well,” Brailsford said.Bernal is set to become the fourth cyclist to win the Tour as a member of that team after Bradley Wiggins (2012), Chris Froome (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) and Thomas (2018).Unlike his predecessors, Bernal won the race by attacking at elevations of more than 2,000 meters (6,550 feet), an attitude atypical for a team known for riding defensively in the mountains.The 2019 Tour was considered one of the most open in years because of the absence of Froome, who was unable to compete due to injuries suffered in a horrific crash in June.Bernal, for his part, had been planning to compete in the Giro d’Italia this year but had to skip that race after breaking his collarbone in training in early May.That proved to be a blessing in disguise, however, as it enabled him to focus on the Tour as Team Ineos co-leader along with Thomas, who is set to finish second in this year’s race.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court is likely to consider on Friday the “outcome” of mediation proceedings conducted by a panel set up to amicably resolve the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya and may decide where to hear the matter or continue with the mediation. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, on July 18, had asked the three-member mediation panel, headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla, to inform the court about the outcome of the mediation proceedings as on July 31 by August 1 to enable it to proceed further in the matter. It is understood that the Kalifulla panel has submitted its report on Thursday in a sealed cover about the progress made in the in-camera mediation proceedings. “We request the mediation panel to inform the court the outcome of the mediation proceedings as on July 31 …,” said the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.
Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Sunday said he will continue for full five-year term and warned his detractors not to “day dream about toppling” his government. His statement came days before the completion of his two-and-half-year term at the office. In February 2018, Oli became prime minister for the second time, over two months after his Left alliance comprising his party CPN-UML and Nepal Communist Party (NCP) led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ swept the country’s historic parliamentary and local polls. According to media reports, there was a power sharing agreement between the CPN-UML and the NCP under which Oli, after completing his two-and-half-year term at the office, will hand over the premiership to Prachanda for the rest of the tenure of the five-year government. “Don’t worry, I will remain as the Prime Minister of the country till the next election,” Oli said addressing the Parliament. Warning those wishing for his departure, he said, “Don’t day dream about toppling my government. There are people who have been saying that the prime minister is shivering as his tenure is nearing end….I am not going to quit anytime soon,” he said.
Guwahati: A woman in Assam’s Sonitpur district on Saturday committed suicide shortly before the state’s final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list was released. The incident took place at No 1 Dolabari village, 4 km from Tezpur town. Residents of the village said the victim, Shayera Begun, jumped in a well in the backyard of her house. “She was tensed about inclusion of her name in the NRC,” said some of the villagers, adding that she thought non-inclusion would land the victim and her family in detention centres. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ But Sonitpur Superintendent of Police Kumar Sanjit Krishna dismissed the claim, saying: “The woman was mentally ill. We were told that she jumped into the well and committed suicide. Names of all the members of the family were included in the NRC.” The final list was published on Saturday morning. Some 19,06,657 people have been excluded from the final list, which names 3,11,21,004 people as Indian citizens.
OTTAWA – In a May 17 story about the federal government’s proposed infrastructure bank, The Canadian Press erroneously characterized a recent auditor general’s report as saying taxpayers could be on the hook for loan commitments and loan guarantees from Export Development Canada.In fact, auditor general Michael Ferguson’s report highlighted the need for the government and Crown corporations to report on how much is set aside annually if those loans are ultimately not repaid.
HALIFAX – It was Halifax police who let the dogs out — and then fined their owner almost $1,750 for allegedly leaving them in a sweltering car.Passersby spotted the dogs at 12:40 p.m. Thursday on Clyde Street, near the corner of Queen Street near the city’s downtown library, and called police.“The caller indicated they had observed the dogs in the car for about five minutes,” police spokesperson Cindy Bayers said Friday.“The dogs appeared to be in distress, though the window was open slightly, and enough for officers to open the door to let the two dogs out …. They put them in shade and gave them some water.”The owner returned at 1:30 p.m., and police handed out two $697.50 fines for leaving the dogs in an unattended vehicle in potentially distressful conditions, and a third ticket for $352.50 for having an unlicensed dog.Bayers said people should leave pets at home, use a drive-thru, bring a friend to stay with them, or shop at pet-friendly stores.Do not, she said, smash the window, as popular social media posts suggest.“What we tell people to do when they see a pet in immediate distress, is to call 911 and take directions from the call taker at that point,” she said.“When people act to break a window, which is what people seem to think is the common response, they open themselves up to issues. There could be charges in terms of damage to property.”
TORONTO – Dominic Ardonato doesn’t see much reason to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.The retired high school teacher complains about a disappointing economy, racial divides, and political squabbles that dominate his life in Montreal. He’d much rather reminisce about the magic of Montreal’s Expo 67, the spectacular world fair that marked Canada’s centennial and served as the country’s global coming-out party.“It was the best of times. And now it’s the worst of times,” the 69-year-old declares over the phone while reminiscing about Montreal’s extravagant birthday bash.“(There was a) new metro, a new world exposition site, a new downtown, all kinds of high-rise buildings. It was just growing. Growing and growing. And lots of money. And now there’s no money.”It’s hard for any celebration to compete with the memory of Expo 67, which drew more than 50 million people to the city and established a national pride among those Canadians eager to distinguish themselves from their colonial roots. It even had its own theme song, Bobby Gimby’s “Canada,” which gained widespread popularity.Contrast that to the lineup of events marking Canada’s 150th, which “just sounds like some government program,” says political analyst Nelson Wiseman.“There’s nothing special about 150 for the rest of the world,” says the director of the University of Toronto’s Canadian studies program.“I don’t hear any of my students talking about Canada 150, it’s largely a bureaucratic creation. I mean it’s there on the calendar and I think more Canadians are going to be visiting Ottawa this year, I think more Canadians are going to travel across the country — but it’s not in the league of 1967.”It’s not for lack of trying.Parks Canada is offering free admission to national parks and historic sites this year, a program that crashed its website when launched in December.And the federal government is spending $500 million across the country to fund parties and promote “12 days of celebrations” that kicked off June 21. That was National Aboriginal Day, the first of four key events including Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27 and Canada Day on July 1.Canadian Heritage has set the bar high for their success: “In honour of Canada 150, this year’s edition will be the most spectacular in Canadian history,” promises one government press release.U2’s Bono and the Edge have been enlisted to help build buzz for Parliament Hill’s July 1 festivities, with the rock ‘n’ roll superstars booked to play one song at around noon. Other performers include Gordon Lightfoot, Dean Brody and Alessia Cara.But on the whole, Canada 150 events seem to have fallen “with a bit of a thud,” says Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history and international relations at U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs.If there’s any hubbub, it’s more frequently centred on criticisms — that the celebrations ignore atrocities against Indigenous Peoples that went hand-in-hand with the country’s formation; that there’s little resonance for many Quebecers, especially amid 375th birthday plans in Montreal; that public funds should have been spent elsewhere.It doesn’t help that the party comes just two years after Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a damning report detailing the horrific sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect that indigenous children suffered in residential schools over more than a century, says Rima Wilkes, sociology professor at the University of British Columbia.“There’s a lot more awareness now that Canada is not a perfect country with a perfect history. So, given what we now know from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, how excited are we supposed to get?” says Wilkes.One could argue this is also just a sign of our skeptical times — we’ve entered an age filled with anxiety and distrust of authority and institutions.“People are a lot less keen to wave the flag for a nation state, especially in Canada, which has always been kind of an ambivalent nation anyway,” says Trent University Prof. Christopher Dummitt, citing the often fractious relationship between this country’s French, British and Indigenous Peoples.But many young people, too, have a hard time viewing their future with optimism, note Wiseman and Bothwell.So many of today’s millennials are struggling with a tough job market and soaring housing costs, and the path to building wealth is proving much steeper than the one travelled by their parents.“When I was looking for work in the 2000s it didn’t seem that great,” says Wilkes, born in 1971. “But even compared to that it seems worse now.”Contrast that to the promise of the late ’60s, an era ripe for reinvention and idealism.Bothwell points to steady economic growth, deeming it “absolutely the peak of Canadian prosperity.”Those were the years Canada passed Medicare, enhanced the Canada Pension Plan, and ditched the British Red Ensign in favour of a new Maple Leaf flag.“You could see that there was a future. It was exciting,” he says, noting evidence of centennial largesse — including marquee landmarks — remain strewn across the country.Centennial investments funded some 860 buildings, including the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s, N.L., and the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg.Wilkes wonders if the bigger problem with Canada 150 is an apparent lack of focus to various activities.“There’s no event. When we had the Olympics here everyone was super into it and excited but there’s no thing that this is being tied to,” says Wilkes.Nevertheless, Bothwell believes Canadian nationalism hasn’t wavered that much and will be made apparent on July 1.“I intend to raise a glass to Canada on July the first. And I think Canadians — in our quiet way — will do that.”
Highlights from the news file for Monday, Aug. 14———CANADA OUTLINES NAFTA GOALS: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has given Canadians a look at their government’s strategy as it prepares to go nose-to-nose with the country’s biggest trading partner in crucial NAFTA talks. Freeland laid out Ottawa’s core objectives Monday, two days before negotiations on a new North American Free Trade Agreement are to begin. The Canadian list, far shorter than the one released last month by the United States, sets out about a half-dozen goals that involve playing both offence and defence. They include a push for more access to government procurement, improved mobility for professionals and protecting Canadian rights to supply management.———CANADA BRINING FEMINISM TO NAFTA TALKS: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Liberal government would like to see a chapter on gender included in the new North American Free Trade Agreement. Freeland said Monday the fact U.S. President Donald Trump worked with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on an initiative to support women entrepreneurs is a sign the White House would be open to such a thing. But she also pointed to the gender chapter in the free trade deal with Chile as a precedent-setting example.———2 CANADIANS AMONG DEAD IN BURKINA FASO ATTACK: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says two Canadians were among 18 people killed in a suspected extremist attack on a popular restaurant in Burkina Faso. The incident happened late Sunday when suspected Islamic extremists opened fire at a Turkish restaurant in the country’s capital. Local authorities say other foreigners killed include two Kuwaitis and one person each from France, Senegal, Nigeria, Lebanon and Turkey. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the violence, which continued into the early hours Monday.———STUNT DRIVER DIES ON VANCOUVER FILM SET: A female stunt driver working on the movie “Deadpool 2” has died after a crash on a set for the film in downtown Vancouver. Police say the driver was on a motorcycle when the crash occurred on the movie set on Monday morning. Police say they have officers at the scene and investigators with WorkSafeBC, the provincial workplace safety agency, are also looking into the crash. Deadpool, a Marvel Comics superhero, is played by Vancouver-born actor Ryan Reynolds.———RALLY IN TORONTO PROTESTS CHARLOTTESVILLE VIOLENCE: Dozens of demonstrators gathered in downtown Toronto Monday morning to stand in solidarity with victims of the weekend violence in Virginia that killed one woman and injured 19 people. Many of them held signs decrying racism as they stood opposite the American consulate to express their opposition to white supremacists. “White supremacy is terrorism,” one sign said. The gathering came two days after a car plowed through a group of people in Charlottesville, Va., as they were protesting a white supremacist rally. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, is charged with second-degree murder and other counts.———HALIFAX WEATHERMAN FINDS SCORPION IN BANANAS: A weatherman says he got more than he bargained for during a recent trip to a Costco in Halifax after finding what appeared to be a live scorpion in a bag of bananas. Nathan Coleman, a reporter for The Weather Network, said he was unloading groceries when his 11-year-old daughter spotted something squirming in a plastic bag. Coleman said he double-bagged the arachnid and drove to the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, where it has been jarred for observation. Costco did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.———SHAPAVALOV RISES IN RANKINGS AFTER ROGERS CUP: An unexpected run to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup has rocketed Canada’s newest tennis star up the world rankings. Denis Shapovalov improved from 143rd to 67th in Monday’s updated ATP singles rankings. The 18-year-old left-hander from Richmond Hill, Ont., introduced himself to Canada last week with an exhilarating performance at the Rogers Cup in Montreal that included a victory over top-seeded Spanish legend Rafael Nadal. He lost to fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in Saturday’s semifinals.———BUSINESSES RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT ONTARIO LABOUR REFORM: A business coalition says the Ontario government’s plan for major labour reforms would have significant side effects that would put 185,000 jobs at risk. The economic analysis commissioned by the Keep Ontario Working Coalition found that Ontario businesses stand to take a $23-billion hit within two years of the implementation of Bill 148, largely due to a minimum wage increase. The coalition said the changes proposed in the bill would force employers to find creative ways to cut costs, such as hiring less and increasing automation.———STUDY INDICATES PESTICIDE HARMING BUMBLEBEE COLONIES: A new study from an Ontario researcher suggests a widely used pesticide is placing bumblebee populations at an increased risk of extinction. Nigel Raine, an environmental science professor at the University of Guelph, discovered that thiamethoxam, a major neonicotinoid found in agricultural crops throughout the world, reduced the chances of bumblebee queens starting new colonies by more than a quarter. Raine said research indicates bumblebee queens that were exposed to the pesticide were 26 per cent less likely to lay eggs to start a colony.———GIRL KILLED IN RESTAURANT ATTACK IN FRANCE: French police say an 8-year-old girl was killed and at least five people were injured when a driver slammed his car into the sidewalk cafe of a pizza restaurant in a small town east of Paris. An official with the national gendarme service said the driver was arrested soon after the incident Monday night in the town of Sept-Sorts. The official said it is unclear whether the act was deliberate. The official was not authorized to be publicly named according to police policy.———
REGINA – Saskatchewan Justice Minister Don Morgan has introduced a bill that would allow people to sue for compensation if their intimate images have been shared without their permission.A victim would be able to sue in small-claims court where they are claiming damages less than $30,000 and would not have to wait for criminal charges to be laid.Morgan said he’s particularly concerned about how the sharing of intimate images is affecting young people.“Social media is one of those things that’s incredibly pervasive. It follows young people home. It follows them into their bedrooms late at night,” Morgan said Tuesday at the legislature in Regina.“This is a protection that we want to have so that they will have a disincentive for that type of conduct.”The government said it is difficult to rely on the Criminal Code to deter cyberbullying through unauthorized sharing of intimate images because the burden of proof is so high.The proposed legislation would shift the onus of proof to the person that circulated the image by requiring them to show that they had received consent.Saskatchewan is the first province to take such a step, said Morgan.“My advice to somebody would be don’t post something unless you’re absolutely certain that you’ve got the consent from the person’s that in it.”Interim NDP Leader Nicole Sarauer said the Opposition just got the legislation Tuesday and needs time to review it.However, Sarauer said it is time to modernize the law in Saskatchewan to deal with the serious problem.“It’s important because the civil burden of proof is much lower than the criminal burden of proof, that there is that avenue for individuals who are victims of this situation to have an avenue of repercussions outside of the criminal court,” she said.Shannon Lea of the No Touchy Campaign in Saskatchewan said the legislation could force someone to think twice about trying to exact revenge on the internet.“I think it’s huge for people, even in intimate relationships, who have had this happen to them to be able to do something about it instead of sit back and continue to be victimized,” Lea told radio station CKRM.The No Touchy Campaign aims to raise public awareness of the extent of sexual assault in Canada.
OTTAWA – Federal government managers were warned this week of a possible surge in emergency pay requests from civil servants over the holidays after new issues were discovered with the troubled Phoenix pay system.Managers were to receive lists of “low pay or no pay employees” by Friday, and were being encouraged to reach out to those who might need help.“We would encourage you to reach out to employees on this list to determine if an emergency salary advance (ESA) or priority payment may be required on December 27th, and if any special measures to provide the payment may be needed given the holiday season and related absences and travel,” said a memo from Les Linklater, an associate deputy minister at Public Works and Government Services Canada, made public Friday.The memo was issued Wednesday after problems were discovered in processing of pay requests for the final payday of the year, Dec. 27.Officials said some transactions entered into the pay system in early November weren’t processed, creating a new backlog of problem files.“The Phoenix pay system encountered technical and administrative issues with a module that affected performance of the system, in particular with a program in Phoenix that processes employee-submitted transactions,” Public Services and Procurement Canada said in a statement.“Some transactions entered in Phoenix as of November 1, such as overtime and timesheets, were not processed, which created an accumulation of transactions. This led to processing challenges for the December 27 pay run.”Public Services said the problem, which it blamed on both technical and human errors, had been resolved by Dec. 17, but some civil servants reported receiving pay stubs after that date that were short of what they were owed.The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents some 180,000 civil servants, said it sought and received assurances from the government that any employee facing year-end pay issues could request emergency funds.PSAC and other unions said they were also continuing to offer emergency pay services to their members.The auditor general last month reported more than 150,000 government workers — or about half the federal civil service — had been affected by the Phoenix fiasco that began nearly two years ago, either by being underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.The government has warned it could cost upwards of $1 billion to stabilize the pay system and fix it.Public Service Minister Carla Qualtrough predicted earlier this month that it could take until the end of 2018 or beyond to eliminate a backlog of problem pay files that had reached 335,000 as of Nov. 29.— Follow @tpedwell on Twitter
TORONTO – A British Columbia man is facing charges in two separate but related incidents in Toronto, including one where he’s accused of jumping naked into a shark tank at an aquarium.Toronto Police allege the first incident took place early Friday evening outside Medieval Times, where they say he assaulted a man.Two hours later, police allege the man went to Ripley’s Aquarium where they say he stripped off his clothes, vaulted a barrier and jumped into the tank.Videos posted online show a naked man swimming in the tank as sharks pass underneath, with a security guard yelling at him to get out of the water.David Weaver was arrested near Thunder Bay, Ont., earlier this week and was brought to Toronto to face three charges.Police say the 37-year-old is facing one count of assault causing bodily harm and two mischief-related charges.
BURNABY, B.C. — The National Energy Board has rejected the City of Burnaby’s request that it rescind orders allowing the company building the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to conduct work at its terminal in the city.The Metro Vancouver city had asked that the board cancel the orders after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed government approval for the expansion project.Burnaby had argued the terminal work was primarily related to the project, but the board said in a written decision Thursday that it’s upholding the orders, allowing Trans Mountain Corp. to do infrastructure work at the Burnaby Terminal.The NEB says piping modifications are not associated with the expansion project and the relocation and decommissioning orders appropriately allow Trans Mountain to optimize the site in preparation to offer new services to shippers.The board also allowed the company to continue tree clearing as part of the approved work.Burnaby has been a long-standing opponent of the pipeline expansion, which would substantially increase tanker traffic in the city’s waters, and it was among the plaintiffs in the Federal Court of Appeal case against the project.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The Quebec government faced strong opposition as public consultations began Tuesday on its bill seeking to increase the legal age of cannabis consumption and ban it from all public areas.Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant has said he tabled Bill 2 in order to protect young people and send a message that smoking marijuana is not a trivial matter. The proposed legislation restricts marijuana usage to people aged 21 and over and limits its smoking to private property.The province’s public health agencies are largely against the new restrictions. They say raising the legal age to 21 from 18 won’t prevent young people from obtaining marijuana. And they say banning it from public areas marginalizes tenants whose landlords have banned smoking, creating a system were only certain groups can consume a legal product without breaking the law.The Canadian Press has learned that two public health organizations are planning to suggest a compromise on the age limit during hearings on Bill 2 before a legislative committee in Quebec City. Two well-placed sources said the committee will be told the government should give gradual access to cannabis to youth aged 18 to 20.People between 18 and 20 years should only be allowed to purchase marijuana with a low percentage of THC — the drug’s main psychoactive component, the committee will be told. “This proposal shows the scientific community, in public health, is trying to give an honourable exit door to the government on its policy,” said one source, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.The current law is already one of the strictest legal regimes for marijuana in the country. Personal cultivation of cannabis plants is banned and the only way to legally purchase the product is through a government agency.The previous Liberal government had allowed public consumption of marijuana in places where tobacco was permitted, with certain restrictions, but the new Coalition Avenir Quebec government is not alone in seeking tighter rules. Even before Bill 2, many Quebec municipalities adopted their own bylaws banning all public consumption of cannabis.Marianne Dessureault, spokeswoman for Quebec’s association of public health, will appear before the committee Wednesday. She said she understands the desire to protect young, developing brains from the risks of marijuana, but she feels the bill lacks a scientific basis.“I am worried that we are going ahead and maybe transforming a law that sought to protect public health, towards a law that has more of a political flavour,” she said in an interview. “It’s concerning. It’s clear that (the bill) has a populist appeal and that it doesn’t have its place in public health policy.”Bastien Quirion, professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, is also scheduled appear before the committee Wednesday. He questioned why the government would prohibit people under 21 years old from consuming cannabis but allow them to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco.“One hundred years of cannabis prohibition show that it’s not through banning it that we are going to eradicate the practice or prevent risky behaviour,” he said in an interview. “It will just put certain groups in a precarious position.”Maude Faniel-Methot, a spokeswoman for Carmant, declined to comment on the idea of giving younger people gradual access to THC. She said the minister is open to listening to all suggestions to amend the bill.Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
At times wiping away tears, she told court that her son, “with an almost jungle-like mentality, safely walked through the fire of Detroit,” yet didn’t last one year living in Calgary. CALGARY — The killer of a Calgary Stampeders football player is to find out today how long he must wait before he can seek parole.A judge found Nelson Lugela guilty earlier this year of second-degree murder in the death of Mylan Hicks.Hicks, a 23-year-old player on the practice roster of the Canadian Football League Stampeders, was shot outside Calgary’s Marquee Beer Market in 2016.READ MORE: Nelson Lugela guilty in shooting death of Calgary StampederLugela faces an automatic life sentence and the court must determine how long he should serve before he can apply for parole.The Crown has asked for an ineligibility period of between 17 and 19 years, while the defence said 14 years is appropriate.The trial heard that several Stampeders, including Hicks, had been celebrating a victory when a disagreement over a spilled drink in the bar intensified in a parking lot after closing time.Witnesses testified that after some pushing and shoving, a person who appeared to be holding a handgun opened fire at Hicks as he was running for cover.Hicks was hit twice, in the abdomen and chest, and died in hospital.Court heard Lugela and two other young men jumped into an SUV and sped away. Three people were arrested about 45 minutes later when they returned to the scene.Several witnesses identified Lugela as the man holding the gun.Hicks’s mother, Renee Hill, who travelled to Calgary from Detroit, told Lugela’s sentencing hearing last week that she’s angry her son survived the crime-filled streets of his hometown only to be gunned down in Canada. Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A Canadian is among a group of LGBTQ content creators who have launched a class action lawsuit against YouTube in the United States, alleging the popular video-sharing website is censoring their content.The group of eight, which includes several prominent U.S. creators and Montreal-based transgender YouTuber Chase Ross, announced it is taking a stand against the video publisher and its parent company, Google, in a suit filed in California on Wednesday.In a statement, YouTube said it doesn’t target LGBTQ content. But Ross, the lone Canadian plaintiff for now, said the mere mention in videos of such words as “transgender,” “gay” and “lesbian” — or the use of those words in titles and tags — can get a video flagged as sensitive, restricting their views and curtailing advertising.“We are a group of LGBTQ creators that have had enough,” Ross said. “It has been affecting us for years and I’m so glad we’re going to be doing something about it, because after doing videos and talking with YouTube, nothing happened.”Ross recounted in an interview being particularly affected last year when an anniversary video about his surgery was flagged.“I’d had surgery five years ago. It’s a big moment in my transition. I was really excited, and the moment I added the word ‘transgender’ in the title, it was demonetized,” Ross explained. Demonetization renders a video unsuitable for advertisers.“I did two tests and it still happened the same way so I made a big deal about it online, I made a big fuss because people needed to know.”Ross said an algorithm makes the determination, and LGBTQ videos often find themselves flagged, even if there’s nothing inherently offensive or inappropriate in them.“There are a lot of videos that talk about LGBT content — there’s nothing sexual in the video — and it’s demonetized,” Ross said.In a statement, YouTube spokesperson Alex Joseph said the company is proud that “so many LGBTQ creators have chosen YouTube as a place to share their stories and build community.”Joseph said all content on the site is subject to the same policies.“Our policies have no notion of sexual orientation or gender identity and our systems do not restrict or demonetize videos based on these factors or the inclusion of terms like ‘gay’ or ‘transgender,’ ” Joseph said. “In addition, we have strong policies prohibiting hate speech, and we quickly remove content that violates our policies and terminate accounts that do so repeatedly.”Ross, who began using the platform when he was 15, said YouTube was a revolutionary in his own experience.“YouTube is where I found myself — it’s where I found out what trans people were. It’s where I found out that you can be trans and can live, and it’s okay to be trans,” said Ross, now 28.“It really saved my life so when I started making content. I started making content for the younger me, the content that didn’t exist, the information that I never had when I was younger.”He now has 164,000 subscribers and his videos can get 10,000 views or more.Ultimately, Ross doesn’t want to be censored, nor does he want to have to censor himself to get published.“YouTube really changes lives and it helps people that live in places where a queer or trans community doesn’t exist, so they’re not so alone,” Ross said. “When content gets demonetized or is deemed as inappropriate, people see that and they associate the LGBT community with things that aren’t appropriate.”What Ross is looking for is accountability from Google/YouTube.“More than anything, I want systemic change, I want there to be change in the platform, I want people to be treated equally on the platform,” Ross said.The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks an injunction requiring YouTube to “cease and desist from capriciously restricting, demonetizing, or otherwise censoring any content of videos uploaded to the YouTube site.” It is also seeking unspecified damages to be determined at trial.While the LGBTQ community is pushing the lawsuit, Ross said others like family bloggers and disabled people also face similar problems.“We are hoping that this is a stepping-stone to changing the system for everyone,” he said.Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
AJAX, Ont. — Police say a man from southern Ontario has been arrested after he allegedly plotted to murder a couple living in Jamaica.Durham Regional Police say they were notified by the RCMP in May about the allegations involving a 56-year-old man from Ajax, Ont.They say the investigation revealed that the man, who is a Canadian citizen, travelled to Jamaica in May to allegedly help plan the murder.Police spokesman Const. George Tudos says it is believed the man was plotting the murder with other suspects in Jamaica, but he is not aware of any arrests in that country.Tudos says the two Jamaican residents were not harmed and the man was arrested Tuesday morning while he was driving in Pickering, Ont.Police say the Ajax, Ont., man has been charged with conspiracy to murder and counselling offence that is not committed.Tudos says the accused and the couple know each other, but he declined to provide further information on their relationship. The Canadian Press
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press TORONTO — The threat of an attack on police headquarters in Toronto justifies the security screening of everyone entering the building, including people attending police service board meetings, Ontario’s top court ruled on Thursday.The decision overturns an earlier ruling that the searches infringed on the constitutional rights of would-be board attendees.“In today’s world, places like police headquarters in Toronto are attractive targets for terrorists and other criminal extremists,” Justice David Doherty wrote for the court. “The harm caused by those individuals can be catastrophic.”Chief Mark Saunders brought in a protocol in June 2017 that made almost everyone subject to a search before entering the 12-storey downtown headquarters. Kristian Langenfeld, a regular attendee of service board meetings on the second floor, was denied entry after refusing to submit to the screening. In response, Langenfeld turned to the courts, arguing Saunders had no right to impose the protocol. He argued the measures interfered with his charter rights of free expression.Saunders in turn argued the reasonable screening measures — wanding and checking the contents of bags — were for everyone’s safety for which he is responsible. He also said Langenfeld could watch board proceedings via livestream or make submissions in writing if he didn’t like the searches.In June last year, Superior Court Justice Jill Copeland agreed with Langenfeld. To exercise his rights, she said, Langenfeld had to sacrifice his personal privacy and security by submitting to a screening process for which there were no probable grounds.“The effect of the searches is to limit expression by making public access to (board) meetings contingent on submitting to a warrantless search,” Copeland said.Saunders and the board appealed.In quashing Copeland’s decision, the Court of Appeal did agree with her that the screenings limit free-speech rights.“The precondition imposed on Mr. Langenfeld’s exercise of his right to freedom of expression was not trivial or insubstantial,” the Appeal Court ruled. “It required him to submit to a search of his person and personal belongings as a precondition to exercising his right to express himself by attending the meeting.”However, the court parted ways with the judge by concluding the measures were nevertheless justified.Protecting the public and those working at headquarters helps promote the values of a free and democratic society, the appellate court found. Exempting board attendees from screening would not be practical, it said.“There is nothing in the manner in which the protocol is implemented that could be described as discriminatory, belittling, or aimed at discouraging persons from entering police headquarters for whatever purpose they may have,” the court said. “The security protocol is no more than persons could reasonably expect to encounter when entering a building like police headquarters in a city like Toronto in 2019.”As a result, the Appeal Court said Saunders had shown the security protocol is a reasonable limit on Langenfeld’s right to freedom of expression that is justified in a free and democratic society. It awarded no legal costs.Langenfeld’s lawyer said he was studying the decision with a view to a possible attempt to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.