Kolkata: The Rathyatra festival was observed in the city with great enthusiasm on Thursday. Trinamool Congress MP and actor Nusrat Jahan was the guest-in-chief of the Rathyatra organised by ISKCON. She, along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, pulled the rope of the Rath and marked the beginning of the seven-day festival.In North Kolkata, a Rath was taken out from the DKD Railway Colony, Belgachia and the procession moved through different roads and ended at Madhab Bati on Bidhan Sarani. Rathyatra was also organised at Balaram Mandir, a centre of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. It was attended by monks of the Ramakrishna Order and the devotees. Sri Ramakrishna himself had pulled the Rath during his stay at the house of Balaram Bose, one of his householder disciples. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersA Rath was taken out from Sridhar Roy Road to VIP Nagar Radha Krishna temple via Sridhar Roy Road, Tiljala Road, Bondel Road, Picnic Garden Road and Kusthia More. Hundreds of people waited on both sides of the road to pull the holy vehicle. Rathyatra was observed with great fanfare at Mahishadal in East Midnapore, where the height of the Rath is a colossal 75 feet. Though the zamindari system has been abolished, a member of the present generation arrives in a palanquin and pulls the rope to mark the beginning of the festival, as per tradition. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaIn Mayapur, nearly 4,000 devotees from 80 foreign places like Italy, France, Brazil, Spain, UK, US, China, Russia, South Africa and the Middle East joined the Rathyatra festival organised by ISKCON. Besides this, more than one and half lakh people thronged to get ‘darshan’ of Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra, sitting on their respective carts- Nandighosh, Taladwaja and Devdalana. The Rathyatra was inaugurated by Surajit Kar Purkayastha, former Director General of Police and currently the state Security Advisor. Subroto Das, media spokesperson of ISKCON Mayapur, said the beauty of Rathyatra festival at Mayapur is that it integrates people and spreads feelings of love and compassion among them. People irrespective of caste, creed, colour, nationality and religion participate in the festival with zeal and fervour.
Kolkata: Two youths have been arrested for allegedly eve-teasing two women late on Thursday night, after a distress call was received at the police control room. According to sources, on Thursday night two young women were returning home after watching a movie at South City mall at around 2 am. When they were waiting for a cab, a blue hatchback car blocked their way. It has been alleged that two youths sitting inside the car used derogatory words and abusive gestures towards them. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaInitially, the two women did not react to their words and tried to move aside. After a few minutes, the accused youths left the spot in their car. However, they came back after a while and started doing it again. Sensing danger, one of the women called the police control room and sought help. As soon as the call was received, a mobile patrolling van in the Lake police station area was instructed to reach the spot urgently. But before the arrival of police, the duo fled the scene. After police reached the spot, the women narrated the incident and also provided the registration number of the car. Immediately, the number was circulated through wireless transmission and the car was intercepted in front of M R Bangur Hospital after a while. Later, the women were taken to the police station, where they identified the accused persons. Both the accused youths were subsequently arrested.
New Taipei City: Taiwan’s upcoming elections will be a “heart-pounding, soul-stirring battle” for the island’s future, Beijing-friendly candidate Han Kuo-yu said Sunday in his first speech since becoming the opposition party’s presidential candidate.Han described January’s vote as a choice between “peace or crisis” with China in a speech to a packed stadium at the Kuomintang (KMT) party’s national congress.Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949 but China still views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it, by force if necessary. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USHan is looking to unseat President Tsai Ing-wen of the Beijing-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in a contest that will be dominated by relations with China.”This won’t be a polite gentleman’s race, it will be a heart-pounding, soul-stirring battle for the survival of the Republic of China (ROC) and Taiwan’s next generations,” he told the crowd, using Taiwan’s formal name.”The people will make a sacred choice for the fate of our country in the next four years. We will choose whether to defend the ROC or destroy the ROC… we will choose cross-strait peace or Taiwan Strait crisis.” Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsRelations with Beijing have soured since Tsai came to power in 2016 because her party refuses to recognise the idea that Taiwan is part of “one China”.Han also criticised the Tsai administration’s domestic policies and vowed to create “an economic miracle”.The 62-year-old has enjoyed a stunning rise in the last two years, journeying from relative obscurity to become his party’s presidential candidate in a phenomenon that has been dubbed the “Han tide”. Some have likened him to US President Donald Trump and other populist leaders who hail from outside establishment circles and command a fervent voter base buoyed by lofty promises of resurrecting their fortunes.Billing himself as a “president of the people,” Han has been able to muster huge, enthusiastic crowds during campaigning, where he has vowed to restore warm ties with Beijing and kickstart the economy.He was a relative unknown until he seized the Kaohsiung mayoralty in local elections last year, a shock win in the southern city that has long been a DPP heartland.To become the KMT’s candidate, he saw off a challenge from Taiwan’s richest man, billionaire Foxconn founder Terry Gou.But speculation is rife that Gou could run independently — a move that would likely split the KMT vote.
Kolkata: A day after slamming the Centre for highest unemployment rate in the country in 45 years, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday urged the youngsters to raise questions on growing joblessness. Banerjee assured support to the youth on the occasion of the International Youth Day. “Today is International #YouthDay. In #Bangla, we celebrate Youth Day on January 12, Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary. I appeal to the youth, the students & the new generation: be strong and ask for answers. There is no answer to unemployment problems,” she tweeted. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja Referring to central government data that put West Bengal at the top of the states with highest GDP growth, Banerjee said unemployment in the state has dipped by 45 per cent under her rule. “Our State #Bangla has brought down unemployment by 45%. The GDP growth of #Bangla is highest in the country. My support is always with the youth, students and the new generation. May you be inspired to reach new heights,” she said. As per the data, West Bengal has registered a GDP growth rate of 12.58 per cent in 2018-19 while unemployment rate was 6.1 percent during the period. Banerjee had written on Facebook on Sunday,”Our achievement is in sharp contrast to the state of deep recession and complete policy paralysis perpetrated by Central Government leading to significant decline of overall growth rate of the country and highest unemployment in 45 years”.
Bengaluru: In a key event of India’s second moon mission Chandrayaan-2, lander ‘Vikram’ was separated from the orbiter on Monday, five days ahead of its planned lunar touchdown, space agency ISRO announced.The separation of Vikram, which is set for soft landing on September 7 on the lunar surface along with rover ‘Pragyan’, was carried out at 1.15 pm and all systems of Chandrayaan-2 orbiter and the lander were healthy, it said. The separation was carried out successfully, an official of the city-headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation told PTI. The event came 42 days after the mission was launched onboard India’s most powerful rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 from the spacesport of Sriharikota on July 22 and after a series of earth and lunar orbit manoeuvres, that took the spacecraft closer to the moon gradually. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The fifth and final lunar orbit manoeuvre was carried out on Sunday. In a statement, ISRO on Monday said the lander, after the separation, was located in an orbit of 119 km perigee (closest point from moon) and 127 km apogee of the moons orbit. The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter, which has a mission life of one year, continues to go around the Moon in its existing orbit. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter and Lander were healthy, ISRO said adding the health of the Orbiter and Lander was being monitored from the Mission Operations Complex at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) here with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at nearby Bylalu. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KAfter the separation, two deorbit manoeuvres of Vikram Lander, to bring it further down, will be carried out on September 3 and September 4 to prepare for its landing in the south polar region of the moon, where no country has gone so far. The first of the manoeuvres was scheduled on Tuesday, between 08.45 am and 09.45 am Indian Standard Time,ISRO said. Vikram, named after the father of Indias space research programme Vikram A Sarabhai, is scheduled to land on the lunar surface near its south pole on September 7 at about 1.55 am. The exact landing site free of hazards would be decided based on pictures of the area captured and sent back by Vikram’s onboard camera. Rover Pragyaan, a six-wheeled robotic vehicle, will then roll out from the lander to carry out various tests on the lunar soil, especially detecting the presence of water and other mineral there, during its mission life of one Lunar day, equal to 14 Earth days. ISRO Chairman K Sivan has said the soft-landing on the Moon would be a “terrifying” moment as it is something the has not done before, whereas the Lunar Orbit Insertion manoeuvre was successfully carried out during the Chandrayaan-1 mission. The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon while the lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments. The rover carries two payloads to enhance the understanding of the lunar surface. ISRO has said the objective of the Rs 978-crore Chandrayaan-2 mission is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. The mission aims at further expanding knowledge about the moon through a detailed study, leading to a better understanding of its origin and evolution. On successful completion, it will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to pull off a soft landing on the moon.
HALIFAX – The partner of a Halifax man convicted of murdering a woman he met at a downtown bar has written a glowing letter to a judge about Christopher Garnier, calling him a kind, genuine and thoughtful person.Brittany Francis’s letter is one of 31 letters of support submitted to Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Joshua Arnold as part of Garnier’s parole ineligibility hearing and made public Tuesday.Garnier strangled 36-year-old Catherine Campbell, an off-duty Truro police constable, and used a compost bin to dump her body near a harbour bridge on Sept. 11, 2015.In her letter dated April 4, Francis — Garnier’s common-law spouse — said that the 30-year-old Garnier has changed her life, taught her how to love herself, and has helped her to grow as a person.She added: “I love him more today than I ever have.”“I consider myself incredibly lucky to call Christopher my significant other,” Francis wrote to Arnold, who presided over Garnier’s trial and his parole ineligibility hearing.“He truly is the best kind of person inside and out,” she wrote. “He saved me from me and (has) given me something to look forward to for the future — our future.”In December, a jury convicted Garnier of second-degree murder and interfering with human remains.The Crown argues Garnier should have to serve 16 years before he’s able to apply for parole, while the defence argues for a parole ineligibility period of 10 years.Garnier’s father, Vince Garnier, wrote a letter appealing for leniency in the case.“Chris and our family think about Catherine and her family daily. When Chris says (repeatedly) to us that he would gladly give his life to have her back with her family, I know that he is truly sincere,” Vince Garnier wrote in his March 26 letter.“The tremendously tragic event … caused Chris to developed post-traumatic stress disorder, consequences of which have caused him to have night terrors, flashbacks, difficult sleeping, hypervigilance and more.”Vince Garnier said while his son was on bail, he enrolled in an online program at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., with a goal of one day obtaining a psychology degree and working in the criminal justice system. He said his son “saw a gap in the system whereby inmates with mental health disorders are not being treated effectively,” and wants to help.“I was, and still am, so very proud of him. With the utmost sincerity, Chris was, and is, my life,” said Vince Garnier of his only child.He detailed a list of goals his son wrote on a brown cardboard toilet paper roll while he was in custody after his arrest: 1. Hug everyone 2. Help people 3. Show Brittany the Cabot trail 4. Restart my career 5. Start a family 6. Spend all my time with loved ones 7. See the world 8. Cherish every second 9. Make a difference in the world and people’s lives.He also requested that his son be sent to a medium- or minimum-security prison, arguing he wouldn’t get the help he needs for his post-traumatic stress disorder at a maximum-security facility.Christopher Garnier’s parole ineligibility hearing got underway Monday, but was adjourned after legal issues arose.The Crown said seven to 10 victim impact statements have been filed as part of the parole ineligibility hearing.Expert testimony from two defence witnesses who have examined Garnier’s mental health and sentencing arguments will also be heard when the case returns to court Aug. 27.Garnier had argued at his trial that Campbell died accidentally during rough sex.He is appealing his conviction in part because he says police interview tactics elicited a false confession.Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.
OTTAWA – Hassan Diab, an Ottawa professor behind bars in France despite numerous court rulings questioning the evidence against him, is being held solely for political purposes, his lawyer said Wednesday.Donald Bayne said France is keeping Diab behind bars so it won’t be seen as soft on terrorism after a spate of recent attacks. And he said the Trudeau government is acting like a “passive little brother” to France by actively not raising his case.“He has become, in effect, a political prisoner of the terror trauma in France,” Bayne told a news conference on Parliament Hill.The veteran lawyer outlined what he called new evidence uncovered this week by investigating judges in France that shows Diab was in Lebanon, studying for and writing university exams, at the time of a fatal 1980 synagogue attack in Paris.Bayne said the French investigation has found six independent witnesses who were part of a group studying with Diab in 1980. Documents from the Lebanese University confirm that Diab sat for and passed exams at the time of the attack.The investigation also confirmed Diab’s account that his passport was stolen and used by somebody else at that time, Bayne added.Diab denies any involvement in the attack that left four dead and dozens injured.Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and Diab’s family question his continued imprisonment, given that French investigating judges have ruled six times he should be released on bail. All of the release orders have been overturned on appeal.The most recent release order, in late April, noted evidence that Diab was in Beirut when the bombing occurred. A French appeal court reversed that order on May 2, which kept Diab behind bars.Bayne accused the federal Liberal government of ignoring the evidence that he says clears Diab because its judgment is being clouded by its otherwise warm international relations with France.“I think there’s been a deference to France. We’re getting the feeling on behalf of the family that it’s Canada playing the passive little brother to France,” said Bayne.“But this is the time for the Canadian government to stand up for one of its citizens.”Alex Neve, the secretary general for Amnesty International Canada, noted “the sense of camaraderie” between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron that was on full display last month at the G7 and NATO summits.He said that provides an opportunity for Trudeau to raise Diab’s case as well as ensuring his ministers are looking into it.Neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Global Affairs Department replied promptly to a request for comment.Amnesty has sent letters to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, as well as Freeland’s parliamentary secretary for consular affairs, Omar Alghabra.In a June meeting, Diab’s wife Rania Tfaily said Alghabra told her the government was monitoring the case, but she called on it to do more.Her husband lost the chance to witness his son’s birth, and to have memories of his children’s milestones in their early years of development.“Why is there this total indifference to the suffering of an innocent man and the plight of his family?”Bayne questioned the government’s inactivity on Diab’s case given it recently intervened in the case of two British Columbia winery owners “who are wealthy Canadians,” and have been jailed in China on an alleged customs violation.A Global Affairs spokeswoman told The Canadian Press earlier this month that “we have raised our concerns at a high level with Chinese authorities” about that case.The department issued that statement when the daughter of John Chang and Lan-Fed (Allison) Lu visited Ottawa to raise support for the plight of her parents.Diab was removed from Canada in November 2014 after the Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal of an Ottawa’s judge’s order that he be extradited.Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger said the evidence against Diab was “weak, convoluted and confusing,” but that is was sufficient to meet the lower legal test of whether he should be extradited.
OTTAWA – Canada’s politicians will soon have a crisis line they can contact should their email accounts come under cyberattack leading up to the next federal election in two years.The cyberthreats crisis line is part of a previously announced election integrity initiative orchestrated by Facebook Canada in response to a report from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), which predicted Canada is “very likely” to be the target of hackers before the 2019 vote.New details about the initiative were unveiled today during a livestreamed panel discussion that included federal Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould.The initiative will see Facebook work with digital media literacy body MediaSmarts in a two-year digital news literacy partnership.The social media giant has also introduced what it calls a “cyber-hygiene guide,” along with a training program, designed to help MPs and political parties keep their Facebook pages and accounts secure.The guide identifies common ways that hackers can commandeer those accounts to spread fake news or disrupt political messaging.Facebook has come under fire for its role in the November 2016 U.S. presidential election, and revealed this week that Russian agents used the social network’s Messenger platform to interfere with the campaign, although it wasn’t clear how Russia-linked accounts were used to communicate with others.Facebook Canada’s head of public policy, Kevin Chan, said the company has taken the CSE report, issued earlier this year, to heart in trying to arm politicians with the information they need to stay on top of cyber threats.“We know that Facebook plays an important role in facilitating public dialogue,” Chan said in a statement.“That’s why we take the threats identified by the CSE very seriously and why we’re starting now to proactively address them.”The spy agency warned in June that bad actors are targeting political parties and politicians through traditional and social media to coerce, manipulate, or publicly discredit individuals, manipulate and influence public opinion and reduce trust in the democratic process.Facebook has more than 23 million subscribers in Canada, just a fraction of the roughly two billion people who use the service worldwide.
RICHMOND, B.C. – Insufficient route planning and the absence of a dedicated lookout contributed to a tourist vessel running aground during a bear-watching excursion off Vancouver Island in October 2016, the Transportation Safety Board says.Twenty-six passengers and two crew members had to be rescued after the Stellar Sea hit a rock during a trip organized by Jamie’s Whaling Station out of Tofino, B.C. Two passengers fell and suffered minor injuries when the vessel halted abruptly.Nine of the passengers were picked up soon after the 12-metre vessel grounded in Warn Bay, but a falling tide caused the ship to tilt and forced the remaining 17 passengers to wait on a nearby rock until they were rescued.“Although the reduced manning level of two was allowed by Transport Canada, the investigation found that two crew members were insufficient to maintain an adequate lookout for navigational hazards and ensure that the master was able to focus on navigating and avoiding hazards during the voyage,” the report says. “No one saw the rock in time to prevent the vessel from running aground.”A spokesman for Jamie’s Whaling Station said they will be reviewing the board’s report to see where procedures can be enhanced.“We know the well-being of our passengers and crew depends on us and we take that responsibility seriously,” Ryan Teremy said in an email statement.The safety board report released Thursday says the ship’s captain did not use the chart plotter and echo sounder system to their full potential while navigating what it describes as a challenging marine environment filled with numerous hazards, including rocks, reefs and a large tidal range.The report also says Jamie’s Whaling Station did not notify the coast guard for more than four hours after the grounding and not until all the passengers were safe. Neither the master nor the company issued any kind of distress signal, as required by both federal regulation and company policy.“It is critical that masters and companies of small passenger vessels alert search-and-rescue services as soon as possible after an accident takes place. Doing so provides search-and-rescue resources with more time to plan the rescue and increases the chances of a successful rescue,” the report says.“For example, in situations where people have entered the water, timeliness is paramount, given the high risk of hypothermia and drowning.”The report says Jamie’s Whaling Station updated its emergency procedures last March to emphasize the requirement to contact the coast guard in an emergency, and increased the frequency of its safety drills.Teremy said Jamie’s Whaling Station agrees with the board’s criticism about not immediately contacting the coast guard, a move he said failed to meet company standards.“We fully agree this should have been done,” Teremy said. “We know we must do better.”The Stellar Sea was refloated two days after it ran aground and was towed to nearby Ucluelet for inspection and repairs.Jamie’s Whaling Station also owns the Leviathan II, a whale-watching vessel that capsized after it was hit by a rogue wave in October 2015, throwing 27 people into the water and killing six.— By Geordon Omand in Vancouver. Follow @gwomand on Twitter.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the TSB report found the chart plotter and echo sounder system were not used.
HALIFAX – Christopher Garnier, who strangled Nova Scotia police officer Catherine Campbell and then used a green bin to dispose of her body, is appealing his conviction.In December, a 12-member jury found the 30-year-old man guilty of second-degree murder, rejecting his claim that she died accidentally during rough sex. He was also found guilty of interfering with a dead body.A notice filed with the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal identified several grounds for the appeal, including that Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Joshua Arnold’s final instructions to the jury were too complex.“The (judge’s) charge to the jury was so complicated and convoluted that no ordinary juror would be able to understand it,” the four-page document said, filed on Tuesday.The jury deliberated for less than five hours before coming back with a verdict.Arnold then sentenced Garnier to life in prison — the automatic sentence for a second-degree murder conviction. A hearing to determine his parole eligibility is set for May 7.The appeal claims Garnier’s rights were violated under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — which protects the life, liberty and security of a person — and that the verdict was not “reasonably supported by the evidence.”It also said Arnold was wrong to determine that a second statement Garnier gave police was free and voluntary, and that he erred in not allowing opinion evidence from a doctor on whether the statement was free and voluntary.Court heard Garnier met the 36-year-old Truro police constable at a Halifax bar in the early hours of Sept. 11, 2015.The jury watched surveillance video showing Garnier and Campbell kissing and dancing before leaving the Halifax Alehouse around 3:30 a.m. The prosecution said the two went to a McCully Street apartment, where Garnier was staying with a friend.Crown attorney Christine Driscoll told the jury Garnier lost control during a sexual encounter with Campbell, stuffed her lifeless body into a compost bin, and dumped her remains in thick brush near the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and the city’s naval dockyards.During a nine-hour recorded interview with police, Garnier said he hit Campbell with his fist and had his hands around her throat as she was choking, but he repeatedly said he could not remember other details from that night.Testifying in his own defence, Garnier told the jury through tears that during sex play, Campbell encouraged him to choke and slap her.After Campbell died, Garnier said his vision became blurry, he heard loud noises and he couldn’t remember much else.Under cross-examination, Driscoll asked Garnier why he did not call 911 or attempt CPR, despite his training as a firefighter. He did not offer an explanation.The jury saw surveillance video from a business adjacent to the McCully Street apartment that showed a man rolling a compost bin towards and then away from the flat.He was arrested on Sept. 16, 2015, just hours after police found Campbell’s body face down on a steep embankment.During the trial, the jury heard that blood spatter evidence was found inside the apartment and that Campbell’s DNA was found on Garnier’s T-shirt, necklace and the clasp of his watch. A garbage bag with Garnier’s T-shirt and Campbell’s keys was located in a dumpster across the street.Garnier filed the appeal from the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Centre in Halifax, where he is being held. Defence lawyer Joel Pink, who represented Garnier during his trial, said in an email that he is not currently representing Garnier, but that could change.Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.
OTTAWA – Failed Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch says she won’t seek re-election in 2019.Leitch gained notoriety during the leadership race for her controversial proposal to screen newcomers for Canadian values.That followed her role during the 2015 election as a pitch woman for a Conservative plan to launch a hotline for people to report so-called barbaric cultural practices.Leitch was first elected in 2011 and went on to serve as a cabinet minister under Stephen Harper.She finished sixth in last May’s leadership contest and was subsequently left out of winner Andrew Scheer’s shadow cabinet.Her announcement comes as the Tories gather in Victoria to plot strategy for the resumption of Parliament next week.“As much as I have enjoyed public life, the time has now come for me to return to the public service that is core to my being and forms the very roots of who I am: being a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and getting children back on playgrounds,” Leitch said in a statement.There was no guarantee Leitch could even have run again for the Tories in 2019.Two people filed applications to the party late last year to challenge her for the Conservative nomination in the riding.
TORONTO – A self-employed landscaper now facing five counts of first-degree murder dismembered some of his male victims and buried their remains at the bottom of large planter boxes, Toronto police alleged Monday, calling him a serial killer.Investigators warned that more victims may yet be identified in what they called an unprecedented case in Canada’s largest city.Speaking at a news conference, Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga said officers had found dismembered skeletal remains belonging to at least three people in planter boxes at a home linked to Bruce McArthur, who was already charged earlier this month with killing two men who had disappeared from the city’s gay village.“We do believe there are more (victims). I have no idea how many more there are going to be,” Idsinga said. “We’re investigating some 30 properties. We believe there are more remains at some of these properties that we’re working to recover.”Forensic experts have yet to identify the remains, Idsinga said.McArthur, 66, was arrested and charged Jan. 18 in the presumed deaths of Selim Esen, 44, and 49-year-old Andrew Kinsman. He was further charged on Monday in the deaths of two missing men — Majeed Kayhan, 58, and Soroush Mahmudi, 50 — as well as Dean Lisowick, either 43 or 44, who had never been reported missing.Mahmudi and Lisowick did not fit the profile of some of the other missing men — Middle Eastern men known to frequent Toronto’s gay village area.“We know that many in the community are struggling to understand and process these developments,” Idsinga said. “(But the investigation) certainly encompasses more than the gay community. It encompasses the city of Toronto.”Police had said McArthur had a long-term sexual relationship with Kinsman, but Idsinga refused to discuss what, if any, relationship McArthur might have had with the other victims.Police had initially shut down persistent rumours that a serial killer was prowling the gay village, stressing that as recently as December, they did not know whether Esen’s and Kinsman’s disappearances were linked or if the men were still alive.“Obviously, the city of Toronto has never seen anything like this. I’d call it an unprecedented type of investigation,” Idsinga said. “It’s an alleged serial killer. He’s taken some steps to cover his tracks and we have to uncover these victims and identify these victims.”Investigators were scouring properties in the city where McArthur worked as a landscaper. They said they were planning to excavate at two locations “where people might be buried,” but said they did not know what, if anything, they might find.“You’ve got everything scattered at your feet that you have to uncover and deal with,” Idsinga said.Police have interviewed McArthur, whom they said became a person of interest last September, but refused to comment on what he might have told them. McArthur’s lawyer had no comment Monday after the accused appeared briefly in court before being remanded in custody.A woman who lives in a lowrise apartment building beside the house where the remains were recovered said McArthur was house-sitting for the owner and was often seen gardening or laying out plants in the driveway.“It’s horrible to think of this happening in any neighbourhood,” she said.A large army-style tent was set up in the backyard of the house, with a power generator running.Parker Liddle, who lives nearby, said he had seen McArthur come and go for years — sometimes two or three visits per day.“He has been doing superficial landscaping, he cuts the grass, and rakes the leaves in the fall,” Liddle said. “He would frequently off-load flats of plants and pots of plants and flowers and take them out of his minivan and put them in the back of the house and bring the same things out from the back of the house and load them into his vehicle.”While Liddle said McArthur sometimes had a younger man helping him with the gardening work, police said they had no evidence anyone else was involved in any of the alleged crimes.They also said they had received numerous tips, including from around the world, and appealed for anyone who might have information to contact them.“We may find more people never reported missing,” Idsinga said.Esen was reported missing in April last year. He was known to frequent the city’s Church and Wellesley street area. Kinsman was reported missing in June.Police had investigated Kayhan’s disappearance in 2012 as part of project that turned up the names of three missing men but concluded without any evidence they had met foul play. Mahmudi was reported missing in 2015. A new investigation launched last August led to McArthur’s arrest.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Dean Lisowick was 47.
Local police say a Canadian ski cross racer and another Canadianhave been arrested for drunk driving and stealing a car at thePyeongchang Olympics.An investigator with the Gangwon Provincial Police Departmenttold The Canadian Press the two Canadians and an American woman werein custody Saturday night.He wouldn’t identify them, but C-B-C reported Canadian skier DaveDuncan along with his wife and manager allegedly stole a car whiledrunk and drove it to the athletes’ village.Canadian Olympic Committee C-E-O Chris Overholt later confirmedthere was an investigation underway, but he wouldn’t disclose anydetails.
MONTREAL – A Montreal man who is charged with the attempted murder of his pregnant partner has been ordered to stand trial in the slaying of the baby she was carrying.Sofiane Ghazi was charged last year with first-degree murder, attempted murder and several other counts.The newborn died in hospital shortly after being delivered by emergency C-section following the alleged attack on the woman, who was eight months pregnant.Prosecutors and defence lawyers told reporters Thursday they differ on whether the fetus was legally considered a living being, but a judge ruled it would be up to a jury to decide.The evidence heard during the preliminary hearing is subject to a publication ban.According to the Criminal Code, a child is considered a human being once it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not it has breathed, has independent circulation or whether the umbilical cord has been cut.A trial date has not yet been set and Ghazi remains detained pending his next court date in April.
FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. – Researchers say they believe another endangered orca has died off British Columbia’s coast.The Center for Whale Research, based Friday Harbor, Wash., says a southern resident killer whale known as L92 is presumed dead.The loss of L92 brings the total number of southern resident killer whales down to 75, which is the lowest count since the early 1980s.The population has dropped by eight members since 2016, despite a baby boom at that time that gave some researchers optimism about their recovery.L92, also known as “Crewser” and estimated at 23 years old, has not been seen with his pod for two months.The research centre says the whales have been spending fewer days in inland waters in recent years, a trend that parallels a decline in the abundance of Fraser River chinook salmon runs.
CALGARY – A report into wildly inaccurate polls ahead of last year’s Calgary civic election recommends stronger standards and best practices for the polling industry.The report commissioned by Market Research and Intelligence Association, which has announced it’s shuttering its operations, was released Wednesday by the academics who were tapped to independently examine the fallout after the election.“It was a black eye to the industry,” said the University of Manitoba’s Christopher Adams, one of the academics.In the three weeks leading up to the October vote, Mainstreet Research conducted three polls that put incumbent Mayor Naheed Nenshi substantially behind relatively unknown challenger Bill Smith — one by as many as 17 percentage points. The polls were published in the city’s two Postmedia papers, the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun. The organization no longer has a relationship with Mainstreet.Nenshi won the election by eight points.Prior to announcing its shutdown on July 31, the Market Research and Intelligence Association had commissioned the report.The panel recommended the association update its standards, provide a checklist of those standards, audit its members, conduct an annual review and engage more with the public and media.“Simply put, the MRIA standards need faster updating and more energetic accountability and enforcement, including outreach to the media, if they are to play an effective role in regulating the industry,” the panel wrote.Adams said the association had the report in May, but did not release it publicly.Now that the group is defunct, he and his fellow panel members — Carleton University’s Paul Adams and David Zussman, with the University of Victoria and University of Ottawa — decided to release their report themselves.“Our report, I think, is still quite valuable, in that it provides an analysis of what went on in Calgary,” said Adams, a market research professional who had been certified by the industry group.“While it speaks to the MRIA, we think it also speaks to journalism in Canada and it speaks to those who are practitioners in the industry, as well as companies that buy research.”The heads of some of Canada’s biggest market research and survey firms have said they are interested in forming a new industry body.The 70-page report references an internal review Mainstreet undertook last year that found one of the major reasons its results were so off was its failure to reach young voters who tend not to have land lines.“The panel heard that these polls, which received the greatest media attention during the campaign because of their number, their startling results, and their association with the two Calgary dailies, significantly affected the course of the campaign,” the panel wrote.“They threw Nenshi’s campaign on the defensive, gave impetus to Smith’s campaign, and possibly doomed the prospects of another candidate, André Chabot, who Mainstreet’s poll suggested was not a close contender.”Lorne Motley, editor and chief of the Herald and Sun, declined to comment on the report.The report delved into two other high-profile polls that correctly predicted a Nenshi win, but were flawed in their own right.One, by a group advocating for a new light rail project, was found to have questions that slanted respondents toward Nenshi. The other, conducted by Forum Research, was meant for a longer-term academic project called the Canadian Municipal Election study and not to provide a short snapshot ahead of the election.Some of the report’s recommendations were also targeted toward the media.It urges better disclosure of the financial arrangements between media outlets and the polling outfits they work with, as well as better reporting standards and training for journalists who cover polls.
HALIFAX — Experts on flooding risks say worrying figures released this week on the rising seas in Atlantic Canada should prompt governments to move more swiftly to protect coastal areas and vital transport links.Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, calls the projections “a wake-up call and a call to arms.”He’s reacting to Chapter 7 of “Canada’s Changing Climate Report,” which projects 75 centimetres to one metre of relative sea level rise for the East Coast.Federal scientists presented the document earlier this week, noting Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the globe in a now irreversible process.Feltmate points to predictions for quadrupling of flooding along the Halifax waterfront by mid-century as a signal buildings will have to be constructed to cope with higher tidal surges.In addition, he says the study highlights the vulnerability of the Chignecto Isthmus — a low-lying, 20-kilometre band of land that joins Nova Scotia to New Brunswick.Ocean scientists said in the report that the Atlantic region is facing a dual effect of rising seas and falling coastlines.It notes that while in much of the country the coast is rebounding from glaciation — helping counter sea-level rise — the eastern coasts are continuing to sink. The Canadian Press
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press Legal experts say criminal charges like those laid against a former bar server in connection with a drunk-driving crash that killed two Ottawa-area teens are rare and difficult to prove.Ann Senack, 62, of Greater Madawaska Township, was charged in March with two counts each of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm in a 2017 crash in Calabogie, Ont.Two young men, Brandon Hanniman and Alexander Paquette, were killed and two others were injured when police say their car veered off the road and plowed into a rock cut.Police later said the group had been drinking at a local establishment and alcohol contributed to the crash. The case is expected to return before the court today.While bartenders and bars may face lawsuits related to serving drunk drivers, legal experts say they are not aware of a case in Ontario where someone has been found criminally responsible.They say the threshold for criminal negligence is much higher than for civil negligence.“To extend criminal liability in these circumstances is very, very uncommon,” said Michael Lacy, a Toronto lawyer and the president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.“If someone were held criminally culpable in these circumstances, I’d say that would be a precedent-setting decision,” said Lacy, who is not involved in the case.Toronto defence lawyer Daniel Brown said that to obtain a conviction for criminal negligence, the Crown would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a “marked and substantial” departure from the standard of care owed by a server.Prosecutors would have to show a bartender knew the person they were serving was clearly underage, and knew the person was driving home and was impaired to such degree that it would be a danger to them and to others, he said. The Crown would also have to show a direct link between the alcohol served to the person and the injuries caused, he said.“There’s a lot of things that must be proven in a case like this for a Crown attorney to be successful,” he said.In comparison, a civil negligence case must prove it’s more likely than not that there was a departure from the standard of care, which is a much lower bar, Brown said.“Those two things — one being the higher standard for criminal negligence, and the higher burden of proof in a criminal case — means that the viability of this type of prosecution is often minimal, which is why most of these cases are dealt with in the civil courts,” said Brown, who is also not involved in the case.Some in the community have voiced concerns about the charges and rallied behind Senack, suggesting she is being unfairly blamed for a tragic incident.An online fundraiser meant to help cover her legal fees has drawn more than $50,000 from more than 400 donors in about a month.“We support you Ann. You are not responsible for what happened to those boys,” some wrote on the fundraiser site.“We have never met… We feel you have been unjustly charged,” others wrote. The charge of criminal negligence causing death can carry a life sentence, while criminal negligence causing bodily harm can carry a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars. No trial date has yet been set.
A new poll is shedding light on a dark problem in Canada: intolerance and bigotry.Data collected by Pollara Strategic Insights, and provided exclusively to CityNews, showed that 33 per cent of Canadians hold negative, intolerant, prejudiced or hostile views against at least one other segment of the population. This included those of different races, religions, sexual orientations, and gender identities.And 42 per cent of Canadians said they have been treated unfairly or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation gender identity, religion, or ethnic and cultural background.However, a little under half of Canadians, or about 44 per cent, refused to say anything negative about their neighbours.“That’s a very nice number,” said Craig Worden, president of Pollara Strategic Insights. “It’s the right response …almost half of Canadians don’t judge others.”About 23 per cent of those surveyed had nothing negative to say about other groups but viewed their own group as being superior to others.“I can call this the ‘Big Fat Greek Wedding’ group,” Worden said. “They don’t feel this [superiority] is a negative thing.”This form of “tribalism” cuts across society and their data found it was most prominent in non-white groups, which may surprise some, Worden said.“They don’t say anything negative about any particular group, but they do say their own group is superior towards other groups,” he said.“This group can sometimes seem harmless on the surface, but they are not benign. These attitudes are a form of prejudice and they can easily express themselves through acts of bigotry,” Worden explained. “We can’t give them a pass.”Acceptance of transgender persons ‘the new frontier’While the poll data shows a general acceptance of gay and lesbian Canadians in society, persons who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming still face discriminatory attitudes.“Canadians have come around to same-sex issues,” Worden said, adding that the gay marriage debate is a “dead issue” in Canada.“[However] intolerance was more likely to be directed at transgender identity,” he said. “It’s a new frontier of acceptance.”Face-to-face exposure, education, key to changing attitudesWorden said that while these numbers may be surprising to some, as Canadians tend to view themselves as an accepting society, he said that it’s not necessarily a bad thing.“I don’t think these results say we are not successful …but does speak to the fact that Canadians aren’t perfect, and there’s always improvement needed on this.”Worden said their findings show that exposure to other groups, whether that be through face-to-face interactions in the community or education, can help combat intolerance.“By far the most common predictor was exposure to other groups,” he said, adding that old assumptions about income level determining a person’s attitude towards others weren’t the main factor.Still, Worden said the poll results show Canadians as a generally tolerant bunch.“It’s quite a nice finding,” he said.The online poll of 1,013 adults was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights between March 27 and April 1, 2019. As a guideline, a probability sample of this size carries a margin of error of ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
With files from CityNews AIRDRIE – After the city hosted its first pride celebration last month, Airdrie city council has unanimously rejected a request to fly a straight pride flag above city hall.The request came from Larry Boland, who represents the group “It’s Great to Be Straight.”In an email to council, Boland was asking the city to officially recognize the group on Aug. 12.Councillor Tina Petrow gave an emotional response to the group’s request.“I have never had a friend of mine and I’m sure that nobody else has, that has been beaten up, murdered, refused entry to a building, event, bus, been refused a job or felt scared to leave their home simply because they were straight,” Petrow said, trying to hold back tears.Petrow said the straight pride flag is not inclusive and doesn’t represent everyone.“The flag that has been brought forward today and the concept is … solely to exclude one section of our population,” Petrow said. “Where the pride flag does the exact opposite.”Councillor Al Jones said the group seems to be based on another in Boston, which plans to hold a straight pride parade in late August.“I cannot find … anywhere in Canada where this organization is recognized,” Jones said.Council voted to receive the letter as correspondence but did not act on the request to fly the flag.