San Francisco: Facebook-owned mobile Messaging service WhatsApp would no longer support devices using the Android 2.3.7 operating system and iPhones using iOS 7 after February 1, 2020. WhatsApp’s updated FAQs said on Tuesday that users whose devices have those operating systems “can no longer create new accounts, nor reverify existing accounts” after that date. The company said it expected a limited impact from the change since it would only affect users who had not purchased a new phone or updated their operating system in more than six years. Also Read – Spotify rolls out Siri support, new Apple TV app In fact, users whose devices have older operating systems are already unable to create new WhatsApp accounts or reverify existing accounts, but the company does allow those who already have the app on their phones to continue using it. Menlo Park, California-based WhatsApp said that “you’ll no longer be able to use all Windows Phone operating systems after December 31, 2019, and WhatsApp might not be available in the Microsoft Store after July 1, 2019.” Also Read – New Instagram tool to help users spot phishing emails This change is expected to have even less of an effect on users since only about 0.24 per cent of mobile phones around the world, according to Statcounter, use a Windows operating system. The 0.24 per cent figure includes all versions of the Windows operating system, including the more recent Windows 10 Mobile, so that the number of current Windows Phone users is insignificant. WhatsApp recommended using Android 4.0.3 or later; iOS 8 or later; and certain phone models with KaiOS 2.5.1 or later, including the JioPhone and JioPhone 2, Efe news reported.
New Delhi: No bank has the power to employ bouncers for forceful recovery of loans from customers, Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said in the Lok Sabha on Monday. Singh also said there is a clear directive of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to appoint recovery agents only after proper police verification and fulfilling other relevant formalities. “No one has any power to appoint any musclemen or bouncers for recovery of loans forcefully,” he said during the Question Hour. Also Read – Balakot strikes show major shift in govt’s handling of terror attacks: IAF chiefThakur said the RBI has issued ‘Guidelines on Fair Practices Code for Lenders’ which are required to be adopted by banks, duly approved by their Board. “The said circular prohibits lenders from resorting to undue harassment in recovering loans, viz., persistently bothering borrowers at odd hours, use of muscle power for recovery of loans etc,” he said. The minister said with regard to complaints, the RBI has informed that complaints received by it regarding violation of the said guidelines and abusive practices followed by banks’ recovery agents are viewed seriously. “In such cases, the RBI can consider banning the bank concerned from engaging recovery agents in a particular area for a specified period. “In case of persistent breach of above guidelines, the RBI can also consider extending the period or the area where the bank concerned is barred from engaging recovery agents,” he said.
Mumbai: Superstar Salman Khan has completed a journey of 31 years in Bollywood and has expressed his gratitude towards the Indian film industry and his fans. Salman, who made his acting debut in 1988 with the film Biwi Ho Toh Aisi, recently treated his fans with an unseen childhood photograph of him on Twitter. He captioned the image: “A big thank you to the Indian film industry and to everyone who has been a part of this 31 year journey, specially all my fans and well wishers who have made this amazing journey possible.” Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: PriyankaThe actor, who is the son of veteran screenwriter Salim Khan and Salma Khan, was later seen in films like Maine Pyar Kiya, Sanam Bewafa, Saajan, Andaz Apna Apna, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, Karan Arjun, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam, Tere Naam and Hum Saath-Saath Hain. During his 31 year journey, Salman featured in various genres of films such as comedy entertainers Biwi No. 1, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Ready and No Entry. Later in 2000, he was seen in high octane action films such as Dabangg, Wanted, Ek Tha Tiger, Kick and Tiger Zinda Hai. The 53-year-old star also dabbled in sports-centric films like Sultan and movies with high emotional content like Bajrangi Bhaijaan. In addition to his acting career, Salman is a film producer, a television presenter and promotes humanitarian causes through his charity, Being Human Foundation.
New Delhi: The former Finance Minister, P Chidambaram’s CBI custody was yet again extended till September 2 by a Delhi court here, till when the probe agency can question him in connection with the INX Media case.The Assistant Solicitor-General, KN Natraj on Friday appeared for the CBI and sought five days of CBI remand on grounds of voluminous material and Chidambaram’s slow response time. The ex-FM was represented by Sr. Advocate Dayan Krishnan, with whom Chidambaram had disagreed during the hearing, about what their position was. Earlier on Thursday, Chidambaram’s lawyers, had in an unprecedented plea to the Supreme Court of India, offered to stay in CBI custody till September 2, when his plea challenging the trial court’s decision to send him to CBI remand, will be heard by the Apex Court. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’While Krishnan reiterated this point before Special judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar on Friday, it was misunderstood as Chidambaram not wanting to oppose the CBI’s plea seeking an additional five-day-remand. Chidambaram asked the court to let him be heard and said, “We are opposing the CBI’s application for five-day extension but we did make a joint suggestion if the court thinks it fit, let the custody continue till the SLP is heard by the Supreme Cort on Monday.” Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KKrishnan had argued that Chidambaram had been put through nearly 55 hours of questioning and been asked more than 400 questions, while Chidambaram pled that he was consistently being shown three files over and over again. However, ASG Natraj argued for the custody extension by citing the sheer volume of material that the accused needed to be confronted with as being monumental. He added that Chidambaram needed to go through the voluminous documents and then answer specific questions, which required more time. The court ultimately ordered the senior Congress leader to be remanded to CBI custody till September 2, noting that “despite best efforts” of the investigators, more time is needed for further investigation, as it could not be completed. At an earlier custody remand proceedings, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta had argued for the CBI, saying that Chidambaram needed to be confronted with some fresh material unearthed by sister agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate. Sources in the know had earlier said that the CBI was questioning Chidambaram with regards to these materials, which purportedly included evidence of a transaction showing an alleged Rs 33.05 lakh being paid by INX Media to a charity where Chidambaram is listed as a trustee, by using an intermediary company. The CBI has so far confronted him with the ex-Niti Aayog CEO, Sindhushree Khullar, who was then Additional Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) and just recently with Prabodh Saxena, then Director of the DEA. The agency had earlier in court, expressed that more co-accused needed to be confronted with Chidambaram to complete the investigation.
Chennai: Members of the All India Bank Employees’ Association on Saturday staged a protest here against the Centre’s decision to merge 10 public sector banks into four entities. Employees of all public and private sector banks wore black badges to work as a mark of protest to the government’s decision. The Association’s General Secretary, C H Venkatachalam said the government’s move was “ill timed” and needs a review. A rally opposing it was also planned by the Association, Venkatachalam told PTI. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ He alleged the merger of public sector banks would mean closure of six banks. The BJP government at the Centre had on Friday unveiled a mega plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four, to create fewer and stronger global-sized bankers as it looks to revive economic growth. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday said 10 public sector banks — Punjab National Bank, Canara bank, Union Bank of India, Indian Bank, United Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Andhra Bank would be merged. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K “Government may call it a merger.. six banks which have been built up over the years will disappear from banking scenario”, Venkatachalam said. He recalled that when the financial recession was experienced world over in 2008, the domestic banking system was safe because of public sector banks. On further course of action, he said the Union would meet in New Delhi on September 11 to decide on going on strike.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday said it would hear on September 17 a matter related to alleged child trafficking from an orphanage in West Bengal so that “tussle” between the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the WB SCPCR is resolved.The NCPCR and West Bengal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WB SCPCR) are at loggerheads over the issue related to powers of NCPCR in initiating inquiry in a matter which is pending before a state commission. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said the apex court would hear and decide the issue so that such tussle does not arise again between the NCPCR and any other state commission. “We must decide this matter otherwise this tussle will go on. Two years ago, stay was given by this court but no orders have been passed by the NCPCR,” the bench said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for NCPCR, said inquiry by the national commission is going on in the matter. The counsel appearing for West Bengal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights said the top court must decide the issue so that such problem does not arise in other state commissions. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K”We are not on the merits of the case. We are on the law,” the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on September 17. The top court had on Tuesday expressed anguish over the “fight” between the two statutory bodies and said it was concerned about the children who are there at the orphanage or shelter home. The apex court is hearing an appeal filed by the NCPCR against a Calcutta High Court order staying its proceedings in a case related to alleged gross violation of rights of orphaned children in West Bengal. The NCPCR had alleged that the West Bengal government had illegally formed ad-hoc committees for adoption and given away orphans for adoption in gross violation of law and rules. The apex court had stayed the proceedings and the August 29, 2017 order of the Calcutta High Court. In the high court, the NCPCR and the state commission were at loggerheads over alleged trafficking of 17 children from an orphanage in Jalpaiguri district. The NCPCR had blamed the local administration for the thriving of the trafficking racket but the state government had questioned its jurisdiction in the high court. The high court, in its order, had stayed the proceedings initiated by the NCPCR after taking note of the plea filed by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), CID, State of West Bengal. It was alleged by the ADGP before the high court that NCPCR had no jurisdiction as WB SCPCR was seized of the matter.
Darjeeling: The transporters’ associations of Darjeeling have given a clarion call to all drivers to discard the coupon system of the police and not to collect passes to Tiger Hill from Wednesday. They have also threatened to launch an agitation if the system is not rolled back by Saturday.Incidentally, the Darjeeling police have implemented a number of changes to the traffic system from September 1 to ease the traffic problem that the town faces, especially during tourist season. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”We request all drivers not to collect coupons to Tiger Hill from Wednesday as we do not support this system. The system has to be rolled back in the next two days. The administration and police have assured us that this was a trial and that a review meeting would be called soon. If the review meeting is not called then on Saturday we will hold a meeting with the stakeholders and announce our agitation programmes. We could even drive up to Tiger Hill without coupons and if they turn us back we might leave our vehicles there and return,” threatened S N Pradhan, president, Himalayan Transport Coordination Committee. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe Darjeeling police have capped the number of vehicles to the world famous sunrise point Tiger Hill at 300 from September 1. Coupons are issued the previous day from the traffic police office in Darjeeling town to visit Tiger Hill. A drop gate has been put up at Jorebungalow on the access road to Tiger Hill, where police conduct checks. Vehicles without valid coupons are not allowed to Tiger Hill. Recently, a team representing the travel and tourism industries of this region met state Tourism minister Gautam Deb in Siliguri and handed him a memorandum appealing for a rollback. The minister had subsequently assured them of a review meeting. “We had even given a memorandum to the Superintendent of Police. The whole of Darjeeling depends on tourism directly or indirectly. This system is just causing glitches and is not practical. It has to be rolled back immediately,” said Pradeep Lama, spokesperson of the West Bengal Tourism Forum. The travel trade industry representatives claim that with the Forest department allotting space for car parking at Tiger Hill, around 1,000 vehicles can fit without causing a traffic snarl. The police have called for a meeting with the stakeholders on Saturday at 11:30 am in the conference hall of the Police Lines, Dali. “Our system will stay in place. We will not allow any vehicles without valid passes,” stated Dorjee Sherpa, Traffic OC.
Rampur: After being accused of stealing land, books, statues and buffaloes, now Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan has been booked for stealing goats. An FIR against him has been lodged on a complaint filed in October 2016 by one Naseema Khatoon, 50, a resident of Yateem Khan Sarai Gate, Rampur Public Gate. The complainant has alleged that Azam Khan, along with seven cohorts and some 25 other unidentified people barged into her house on October 15, 2016, vandalised her residence and stole her jewellery and three buffaloes, a cow and four goats. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ She said that she had been living as a bona fide tenant on the Waqf Board property for the past two decades and that Khan and his team members asked her to vacate the premises as the land was required for a school. Prominent among those named in the FIR include Waseem Rizvi, chairman of the Shia Waqf Board, Zufar Ahmed Farooqui, chairman of the Sunni Central Waqf Board and former circle officer, Aaley Hasan. The Rampur Police has also registered an FIR against Azam Khan’ wife Tanzeen Fatima, also a SP MP, for electricity theft. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K With this FIR, Khan, who has been declared a “land mafia” by the state government, now has 82 cases registered against him, 50 of which relate to land grabbing. Another 28 cases have been registered against him on the complaint of farmers of Aliyaganj. His anticipatory bail application has already been rejected by a local court. The Rampur MP has a warrant against him issued by ACJM (I) after he failed to appear before the court in a case registered against him in 2010 under section 171 G, related to giving a false statement during election. Another case in which arrest warrant has been issued includes one in which Khan made derogatory remarks against BJP candidate Jaya Prada during the Lok Sabha elections 2019. The SP MP has been denied anticipatory bail in five other cases earlier.
OTTAWA – Canada’s foreign embassies and diplomatic outposts are getting new funds to bolster their security and some analysts say it is badly needed.The money is earmarked in Tuesday’s economic update.The need for increased embassy security was highlighted in briefing material for the Trudeau government when it first assumed power in 2015.But high-profile terror attacks around the world since then have underlined the need for added security.They include a 2016 blast in Kabul that killed more than a dozen private security guards from Nepal while they were on their way to work at the Canadian embassy.The new spending amounts to $760 million over six years, with a peak in spending of $156 million in 2019-20.Global Affairs said the money will be used to upgrade physical infrastructure and enhance protection measures, including security guards, metal detectors, surveillance equipment, intelligence systems, and IT and cyber capabilities.“This new funding will enable Global Affairs Canada to proactively respond to evolving threats in a volatile global security environment,” spokesperson Brittany Venhola-Fletcher said in an email.The fiscal update does not say where the money will be spent, but a 2016 government report identified the Middle East and Africa as areas where security was a leading priority.A briefing note prepared in late 2015 for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s newly elected government said the cost of keeping Canadian diplomats safe was rising faster than the government had predicted. The memo said Canadian diplomats face “evolving risks at a time when security resources are diminishing.”Then-foreign affairs minister Stephane Dion said protecting Canada’s diplomats was his top priority.In March 2016, the government said in a plans and priorities report that a threat assessment on more than 170 missions was nearing completion.Stephen Saideman, an international affairs expert at Carleton’s University, raised questions about the time it took to find the money for new embassy security.“The thing about this government is: they take their time on pretty much everything,” said Saideman, of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.“So I’m not surprised that it took two years to do this, but it’s clear they’ve discovered they have more money than expected.”The new funds for Global Affairs Canada were part of almost $15 billion in new spending announced by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.The update was buoyed by a financial bump that gave the federal government $46.6 billion more than expected over five years to spend or put towards the deficit.Gar Pardy, a retired Canadian diplomat who served in Central America, said the spending increase is significant and will likely include extra measures at diplomatic residences.“A hundred million dollars, in foreign affairs terms, is a lot of money for any program, on an annual basis,” said Pardy.“For the last number of years, the foreign affairs budget has been under great strain. Maybe it’s a bit of catch-up involved in this kind of money.”In recent years, the government cited security concerns when it closed embassies in Syria, Libya and Iran.The last Canadian diplomat to die in the line of duty was Annemarie Desloges, who was killed in Kenya during a 2013 terrorist attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that claimed the lives of dozens of people.
HALIFAX – Nova Scotia sexual assault victims will now have access to free legal advice to help them consider their options after an assault.Victims will receive up to four hours of independent legal advice through a federal-provincial pilot project.Justice Minister Mark Furey says the government has been told clearly that victims and survivors needed better support.“We know most sexual assault cases do not get reported,” he said in a statement. “This pilot program will provide victims with the advice they need to make informed decisions about how they want to move forward.”Victims of sexual assault, or people who think they may have been sexually assaulted, can call the province’s 211 phone service and obtain certificates for services from a pre-approved list of lawyers.A justice official wasn’t available for an interview Friday afternoon, but the department provided a “frequently asked questions” pamphlet that says people can use the service at any stage after an assault, regardless of whether it has been reported to police.“The lawyer can help you to determine your legal options, such as whether you should report the matter to the police or take civil action,” says the pamphlet. “You may decide after meeting with the lawyer, and receiving information about those processes, that you are choosing no further action at this time. This program is to help you make informed decisions. You have some choices on what happens next.”The selected lawyers in the three-year pilot program — funded by $810,000 in federal cash — will be provided with extensive training and will share their experiences and best practices.Nova Scotia Liberal MP Bernadette Jordan said a better understanding of victims’ needs leads to a more just and fair criminal justice system.“If victims do not report sexual assaults because they fear they will not be believed, or they lack confidence in the criminal justice system, then the integrity of the system is called into question,” she said in a statement.Jackie Stevens, executive director of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax, says the project is an important first step towards legal advocacy for victims.“We are excited that this service is in place as there is a major need for legal advice and support for survivors of sexualized violence going through the court process,” said Stevens. “We encourage the Nova Scotia government to continue to prioritize justice reform.”The Public Prosecution Service will also create a guide for victims of sexual assault on the court process and provide sexual-violence training for Crown attorneys.The Ontario government last year announced a $41-million plan aimed at combating sexual violence and harassment that includes a pilot program to provide free, independent legal advice to survivors of sexual assault.Newfoundland and Labrador has announced a similar program.
MONTREAL – As opposition parties hammer the Quebec government over perennial problems in the health-care system, a new study indicates the province doesn’t have enough doctors and should loosen its control over medical school admissions.With Quebec’s hot economy and record-low unemployment, the issue on which the opposition has chosen to attack the Liberals in the lead-up to this fall’s general election has been health care.Quebecers face a daily barrage of health-related news, from nurses who claim to be overworked, to doctors who say they are paid too much.Then there are the stories about interminable wait times in emergency rooms and the months and months it takes to get a family physician.Patrick Dery of the right-leaning Montreal Economic Institute says in his study it is time for Quebec to end its medical school quotas and hire more doctors.Health Minister Gaetan Barrette says too many medical students are graduating, which prompted him to cut admissions last summer.But Dery, whose study was released Thursday, says Barrette was wrong to do that because Quebec has significantly fewer medical practitioners than most developed countries.With a ratio of 2.8 doctors and medical residents per 1,000 people — slightly above the Canadian average — Quebec ranks well below Australia (3.5), Germany (4.1) and Austria (5.1)By increasing the number of doctors, Dery said, “the public system would have a larger workforce from which to fill vacant positions — which currently number in the hundreds.”“Access and patient choice would increase correspondingly,” he said.Additionally, more doctors would allow the private system to develop “without any risk of them cannibalizing the public system,” he added.The Quebec Liberals have posted a series of balanced budgets and the province has consistently been among the leaders in the country in job creation in recent years.But as the Oct. 1 vote nears, the Parti Quebecois and Coalition Avenir Quebec want to talk about health care, which is seen as one of the Liberals’ main weak spots.Coalition Leader Francois Legault regularly lambastes the Liberals by claiming they overpaid medical specialists during the last round of contract negotiations.Hundreds of doctors in Quebec have signed a petition rejecting the recently negotiated salary increases, saying the money should be redistributed back into the system.PQ Leader Jean-Francois Lisee consistently talks about Quebec nurses, who for the past few weeks have been demanding the government improve their working conditions by lowering nurse-patient ratios.Moreover, Le Journal de Montreal published a report on Tuesday indicating Quebecers — despite major reforms in the health network by Barrette over the past several years — are waiting longer to obtain a family doctor.For those with chronic illnesses, the wait time increased from 219 days in January 2017 to 285 by December. For other Quebecers, wait times increased from 224 days to 321 during the same period.But Roxane Borges Da Silva, a professor at Universite de Montreal who researches public health, believes Quebec has enough doctors and sufficient money to provide better care.Doctors, she said, need to delegate more responsibilities to lesser-paid professionals such as nurses, psychologists, nutritionists and medical attendants.“We need to encourage collaboration,” Borges Da Silva said. “I am against increasing the number of doctors and in favour of delegating more work to other medical professionals in the health-care system.”Eric Maldoff, former chair of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and a lawyer and adviser in health-care matters, said both sides are partially right with regard to whether the province has enough doctors.The government decides how many are allowed to work in specific regions across the province in order to ensure a rationing of resources, he said.Across Quebec, “the distribution of doctors is uneven,” Maldoff explained.He said Quebec could potentially benefit from developing the private health system more. For example, he said, in some other countries, doctors are required to work a minimum number of hours in the public sector, per week, and can spend the rest of their time as they wish.“Do I think by having a measure of private medicine we might be able to improve access? I would say only if it’s not a free-for-all,” Maldoff said.Catherine Audet, a spokeswoman for Barrette, said in an email that one million more Quebecers have obtained a family doctor since the minister took over in 2014 and that emergency wait times across the province have diminished by an average of three hours.
Crews were scanning waters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Monday in a bid to find an endangered North Atlantic right whale snarled in fishing line and buoys, just days after a humpback whale was successfully disentangled from a length of rope.Moira Brown of the Canadian Whale Institute said the right whale was first seen at about 11 a.m. Friday during a surveillance flight and did not have any gear on it. Several hours later, the same whale was spotted near Miscou Island, N.B., with a couple of small buoys and rope trailing along both sides. She said it also had fresh abrasions and appeared to have blood on its tail.The flight by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could only stay on scene for about 10 minutes, but had to leave as it needed to refuel. Subsequent flights the following day could not find the animal.“We know we have an entangled whale out there after the end of the crab season, but we don’t know what kind of gear is on it,” she said. “This was a very fresh entanglement.”Brown, who is based in Campobello, N.B., said the whale — a male who was born in 2003 and is known as #3312 — appeared to be agitated and thrashing when it was spotted. But she said the difficulty is that entangled whales often “take off,” making it hard to locate them again.A spokeswoman with the federal Fisheries Department said the whale was last seen Friday, but that the search will continue in the southern gulf.“Regular surveillance will continue and more information will be shared if the whale is sighted again,” Lauren Sankey said in an email Monday.The incident marks the first known entanglement of the season in the gulf, where the endangered species migrates in the summer months to feed after calving off the southern U.S.The discovery of the entangled animal came a day before a humpback calf was freed from a mess of fishing line in the Bay of Fundy just off of Brier Island, N.S.The Marine Animal Response Society said on its Facebook page that the Campobello Whale Rescue Team carried out the difficult rescue on Saturday, a year after it lost one of its members during the disentanglement of a right whale.Brown said a seabird cruise boat saw the whale and reported it to the rescue group, which assembled a boat and went out to the site. A coast guard cutter was also on scene to monitor the struggling humpback who was with its mother — named Pierce — and a third humpback.She said the calf had blue rope wrapped behind the blow holes and around the head, which was being held down slightly by a weight on the line.“It had trouble lifting its head and at one point they thought one of the whales was actually underneath the calf, trying to lift it up a bit,” Brown said. “The mom was very protective of the calf and was always trying to stay between the whale rescue boat and the calf.”She said the team was able to get close enough to use a knife on the end of a pole to cut one of the head wraps, which released the weight from the calf and allowed it to swim normally. They then used a grapple to cut the remaining line off the right side.Joe Howlett died during the rescue of a North Atlantic right whale on July 10, 2017. Howlett and Mackie Greene helped found the Campobello team in 2002, and the organization has rescued about two dozen whales over the past 15 years.
TORONTO – A day after announcing plans to sell recreational cannabis in private stores, the Ontario government said it was still working out how strict regulations governing the new system would be enforced.Talks with municipalities will help the province determine the details, said the Progressive Conservatives, who stressed that public safety was a key component of the distribution system that alters the previous administration’s plan to have pot only in publicly owned outlets.“We’re consulting with the municipalities today and there will be more information after our consultations,” said Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, adding that much depends on those discussions.The province has said that recreational cannabis will initially only be sold online in Ontario when it is legalized on Oct. 17. A “tightly regulated” private retail model will then be in place by April 1, 2019.The OCS will be the wholesaler to private retail stores, the government said, noting that retailers will have to follow strict rules, including prohibiting the sale of marijuana to anyone under 19.Fedeli said the OCS, which until Monday had been in charge of setting up government-run pot stores planned under the former Liberal regime, had spent $6.7 million and hired 50 employees. The work done so far by the OCS will be re-directed to the new Tory plan and some of those employees will be transferred to other jobs in the public sector, he said.The finance minister didn’t have an estimate for how much money the government would save by abandoning the publicly-owned model and letting private business shoulder the cost to set up pot shops.“We’ll have more details when we announce the retail rollout,” he said. “But there’s considerable savings in terms of not building bricks and mortar stores across Ontario. The private retail sector will be responsible for the construction.”Pat Vanini, executive director for the Association of Municipalities Ontario, said members of her organization have many questions about the government’s new plan and are eager to get answers with the legalization date looming.Vanini said it may be difficult for municipalities to engage in pot-related consultations over the next few months as local elections are set to be held in the fall and new councils won’t be sworn in until December.But, she said, local governments are eager to get plans in place.“They know Oct. 17 is coming. They’ve got to be ready for that in some form or fashion anyway,” she said. “So, how do we drive to April and make it work as best as we can?”Vanini said before the previous Liberal government had announced its public distribution plan, AMO’s members supported a private retail model, believing it would help give cities and towns more control over the burgeoning industry.“Municipal governments would have an ability to direct where some of the better locations would be or where they shouldn’t be,” she said. “You could manage it through the planning process.”AMO, which holds its annual conference in Ottawa next week, has long had a taskforce dedicated to investigating cannabis legalization and the latest Tory plan will be looked at closely, she said.Chief among the association’s questions is whether $40 million in funding promised by the province for municipalities to support them through cannabis legalization will be enough to cover bylaw enforcement, public health services and other emergency call-related costs.“We’re going to do the best we can with what we get,” she said. “Does it mean there won’t be some other impacts in terms of municipal expenditures? We don’t know that yet … There is skepticism that municipal costs will be totally met by the $40 million.”NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government has provided few details when it comes to its plan and she’s hopeful the consultations with municipalities will spell out in greater detail how enforcement will be managed and public safety will be achieved.“We’re looking forward to hearing what their public consultation is going to look like,” she said. “We’re hoping that it’s going to be a public, open, transparent consultation that not only involves people and communities but also involves the legislative process.”Liberal legislator Nathalie Des Rosiers said the Tories have launched what appears to be a complex plan that could result in a “mish-mash” of retail locations across the province. She added that municipalities may have to shoulder a large financial burden to enforce the new system.“It’s unclear where the money will come from on the enforcement side, but also the public education side,” she said.The legal age to buy recreational cannabis in Ontario will remain 19 and consumers will only be allowed to use legalized pot in a private residence, including the outdoor space of the home. The maximum amount of recreational marijuana an adult can possess will be 30 grams.
YEREVAN, Armenia – Delegations from Canada and Quebec arrived in Armenia Wednesday ahead of the summit of la Francophonie, intent on putting the controversy over the election of a secretary general behind them.But Michaelle Jean, the former governor general and current holder of the top job at the international body, showed no signs of abandoning her candidacy despite losing the support of her home country and province.Jean, who has been secretary general of the organization of French-speaking nations since 2014, is seeking a second term and will be up against Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo when members make their choice this week.The Canadian and Quebec governments announced Tuesday they were withdrawing support for Jean’s bid to remain in the job, backing instead the “consensus” candidate, Mushikiwabo.Jean still does not seem to believe her fate is sealed, suggesting through a spokesman on the eve of the two-day summit in the Armenian capital of Yerevan that no such consensus exists.“A consensus implies a debate that is held according to the standards,” Jean spokesman Bertin Leblanc said. “With the summit beginning (Thursday), no doubt this discussion will take place among the heads of state and of governments behind closed doors.”Leblanc said on the weekend that Jean had no intention of dropping out.Jocelyn Coulon, a political scientist at the Universite de Montreal, said Jean finds herself completely isolated. Among la Francophonie’s 54 full members, only Haiti — her country of birth — continues to back her, he said.“I imagine that Madame Jean thinks that she has to prove herself, and she’s doing this on principle,” Coulon said. “She thinks she’s the best to continue in this job, and she’s convinced that she will be able on Friday morning, when she meets with the heads of state, to change their minds. But I doubt that.”Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who travelled to Yerevan with Quebec premier-designate Francois Legault, met with Jean soon after landing Wednesday.Trudeau’s office did not tell the media about the meeting beforehand and would not say what was discussed. But a government source said the message has not changed: Ottawa will endorse the consensus choice that emerges from the summit.Several federal government sources recently told The Canadian Press the re-election of Jean, who was chosen in 2014 in part due to the absence of a clear African front-runner, would be “difficult.” They said that if a consensus emerged, Canada would join it to avoid having the summit overshadowed by a fight for the top job.Traditionally, the selection of a secretary general is by agreement, not through a vote.Mushikiwabo has support from France and the African Union countries, leaving Jean’s chances of retaining the top job slim, particularly without Canada and Quebec in her corner. Sources said the Canadian government tried unsuccessfully to convince Jean that re-election was improbable.Legault tweeted Tuesday that his government would not support Jean and would join what he called the “African consensus.” He said it was time for “a new style of management” in the organization.A spokesman for the federal minister responsible for la Francophonie, Melanie Joly, said in an email Tuesday that Canada was ready to “rally around the consensus.”Jean has been dogged by accusations of excessive spending during her time as head of la Francophonie. Quebecor media outlets reported she spent $500,000 renovating her rented Paris residence, as well as $20,000 on a piano, but she’s defended the spending in interviews.The Rwandan candidate is not without critics. French President Emmanuel Macron has backed her, but four former French ministers responsible for the la Francophonie signed an open letter last month saying Mushikiwabo has no place at the head of the organization.The candidacy is controversial because of Rwanda’s poor human-rights record and the fact Rwanda replaced French with English in its education curriculum in 2010.Canada may have chosen to abandon Jean partly for geopolitical and strategic reasons as it tries to secure a seat on the UN Security Council in 2020.— with files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.
WINNIPEG — North America’s largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer says it’s moving about 90 jobs from Winnipeg to Kentucky due to increasing U.S. content requirements.New Flyer spokeswoman Lindy Norris says in an email that the jobs will be transferred to its facility in Shepherdsville, Ky., in the first half of 2019.Norris says in 2015, the U.S. government passed an act that boosted its American parts content requirement for bus purchases that use federal funds.That requirement jumped from 60 per cent to 65 per cent in October 2017, and will increase again to 70 per cent in October 2019.Lindy says in order to meet the 70 per cent requirement, New Flyer has to transfer some of the high-dollar electrical components currently made in Winnipeg to the U.S.She says the company advised the Winnipeg workforce of the decision last month.“The decision was made after exhausting external supply chain options, but given the high dollar content of the electrical components there were no other viable alternatives,” Lindy said in the email.“No further transfer of work out of Winnipeg is anticipated.”NFI Group Inc., the parent of New Flyer Canada, is headquartered in Winnipeg and it says nearly 90 per cent of its revenue comes from U.S. customers.It employs more than 2,800 people in the Winnipeg area.Companies in this story: (TSX:NFI)The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Canada needs a special criminal charge to cover extended campaigns of physical and emotional abuse that amount to torture, say two Nova Scotia nurses who are in Geneva to try to shame the country before a United Nations body.Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson, nurses and human rights advocates from Nova Scotia, are appearing before the United Nations Committee Against Torture this week to apply more pressure on the Canadian government to amend the Criminal Code to include “non-state torture” as a distinct crime.“Electric shocking … caging, shackling in basements, water torture in a toilet or a bucket … [it’s] done at home or in a private place with tools you wouldn’t think of like a hot electric light bulb or a gun, scissors or knitting needles,” said MacDonald.Many of the acts are already crimes in themselves, but MacDonald and Sarson argue that protracted abuse is a particular kind of crime that isn’t captured by a charge of, for instance, aggravated assault. Canadian criminal law only recognizes torture as a crime if it’s done by someone working for the state.The abuse they’re talking about is often perpetrated by victims’ relatives, friends of older family members, human traffickers, and johns who want very violent sex. MacDonald said that because non-state torture is not identified as a crime, there is no data to show how widespread the problem is.If the numbers at one women’s centre in Ontario are any indication, it could be stunning. Megan Walker, the executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, said 59 women between January and October fit the description of victims of torture.Walker said more than once a woman has come to the centre struggling to walk because an intimate partner has shoved a hot curling iron into her vagina.Women and girls’ stories are so horrendous, she said, they’re terrified of reporting perpetrators to the police because they fear no one will believe them. They also fear that if they are caught reporting the abuse, the terror will escalate.In Ottawa in 2009, federal public servant Donna Jones died after her husband doused her with boiling water — the culmination of many months of physical and emotional abuse. She went 11 days without medical attention after the scalding, apparently not calling for help even though a telephone was within reach where she lay on a makeshift bed in her basement. She had broken bones and air-gun pellets in her skin when she died of septic shock from her burns. A jury eventually convicted her husband of murder.In Winnipeg this fall, police said a woman who was being trafficked for sex was regularly locked in a freezer until she passed out from lack of air, and subjected to electric shocks. She was victimized for four months, police said.Children sometimes suffer long-term abuse by guardians who mistake what they’re doing for discipline. In another Ottawa case, a former police officer was sentenced to 15 years in prison last year for chaining his son up in a basement, starving him, and burning his genitals.Walker said she sees women who have been abused by their partners or relatives, and women and girls who are trafficked, but most abusers have one thing in common: an attraction to violent pornography and a desire to realize their fantasies.“These girls will have identified to us that they have been dragged across the floor by their hair, had their heads put into the toilet where they can’t breathe, and the toilet consistently flushes, they’ll come up for a breath and then will be pushed down again,” she said. Victims suffer permanent physical and psychological damage.Walker said the extreme forms of violence could be considered state torture if a government were responsible.She wants to see non-state torture identified as a crime so women’s experiences are validated, to establish a data bank where torture can be tracked, and so that law officials and medical providers can be trained to recognize signs and believe women when they come forward with their stories.The London Abused Women’s Centre shared questionnaires with The Canadian Press that victims completed, without identifying information.One individual wrote on a survey, “When you’re tortured, it destroys who you are and what you know. It annihilates what it is to be human. You are still in the human race if you are abused, but you don’t exist as a human being when you are tortured.”MacDonald and Sarson have been pushing this cause for 25 years. The closest they came to change was a private member’s bill from Ontario Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos, which died in 2016.Fragiskatos’ bill proposed to change the Criminal Code to define torture as an act of violence carried out not just by state actors but also ordinary citizens. He said it was unsuccessful because the House of Commons justice committee determined it would conflict with Canada’s obligations under international laws that specify that torture is a crime carried out by a government.“That was the vision, but the proposal was found to conflict with international law, that torture is a state crime,” said Fragiskatos.MacDonald and Sarson say a number of countries have included non-state torture or sexual torture in their criminal laws.MacDonald said after the pair appeared before the UN anti-torture committee in 2012, it recommended Canada change its Criminal Code to include non-state torture. Now they’re going back to tell the committee Canada failed.Celia Canon, a spokesperson for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, said creating the offence of private torture could “seriously weaken” Canada’s contribution to the international effort to prevent torture under the Convention against Torture, because there would be two definitions.Canon said the Criminal Code already contains numerous crimes of assault, including sexual assault.“In other words, the Criminal Code already contains crimes that capture the kind of conduct associated with private torture, most notably the crimes of aggravated assault and aggravated sexual assault, while existing sentencing provisions already provide a range of aggravating factors that could apply in a case of private torture,” she said.But the activists reiterated that what women and girls experience behind closed doors is consistent with state torture and is beyond the various classes of assault.“Activists say if you try all avenues the only thing left is social shaming, so that’s what we’re hoping [to do] because Canada is held up as a beacon of human rights around the world right now,” MacDonald said.Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press
An Environment Canada scientist whose work on contaminants in the Arctic environment helped lead to global controls on toxic chemicals is getting an award.Derek Muir has received the $100,000 Weston Family Prize for research that led to groundbreaking international restrictions on persistent organic pollutants. His findings showed those carcinogens were able to move into the Arctic and concentrate in the bodies of animals and people.“It makes me feel that the science we were doing was very worthwhile,” Muir said. “It’s motivation to keep going with more chemical measurements in the Arctic, because the Arctic is a sentinel area.”At one time, Canada’s Inuit carried some of the highest PCB levels in the world, up to 10 times the levels found in southern Canada. The chemical was even found in the breast milk of Inuit mothers.A 2003 study found subtle but statistically significant nervous system and behavioural changes, possibly linked to PCBs, in Inuit babies.The following year, at least partly due to the work of Muir and his colleagues, the Stockholm Convention came into effect. It limited or banned the use of a number of chemicals, including notorious poisons such as DDT.By 2008, PCB levels in beluga, narwhal, walrus and ringed seal had fallen by an average of 43 per cent. Although it varied in different parts of the Arctic, the amount of the chemical Inuvialuit or Inuit people were exposed to dropped an average of 20 per cent over the previous decade.There are now 182 countries that have signed the convention, which regulates 27 chemicals.So-called “legacy contaminants” remain top predators in the North. But now, Muir said, a new generation of chemicals is coming into play.“We’re seeing new contaminants which we know are being used in consumer products and buildings and all sorts of … urban areas, and we see them appearing in the North.”They include stain repellents, flame retardants and pharmaceuticals. A recent paper documented about 150 such compounds.Muir said information on how the chemicals move and what effects they have on their own and in combination is needed.Agreements such as the Stockholm Convention show the world can come together to address environmental problems, he said.“The scientists were able to put results in the hands of people who were really motivated to take a managerial leap.”Muir’s award was announced Wednesday, the day after an American science agency delivered another gloomy report card on the impact of climate change on the Arctic.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has concluded surface air temperatures in the Arctic continue to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Air temperatures for the last five years have exceeded all previous records since 1900.More Stockholm Conventions are needed, Muir said.“We have better instrumental capacity and better knowledge than we had in the 1980s when I was starting. We’re in a much better position,” he said. “But I guess science needs to be translated more into action.”Muir credited the Weston Foundation with funding much of the research that goes on today in the Canadian Arctic.“They’ve really had an impact on northern science.”— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government will be getting advice on education reform from a consultant who recently prompted Nova Scotia to eliminate elected school boards and make other sweeping changes.Avis Glaze has been hired as the lead consultant for a commission that will review all aspects of the kindergarten to Grade 12 school system, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said Friday.One issue the commission will look at is whether there are too many school divisions across Manitoba. There are six Engligh-language divisions in Winnipeg alone.Many people think the number of elected school board members — about 290 — is too high, Goertzen said.“I’m not ruling out any sort of recommendations that (may) come forward, but we’d need to see some evidence that it’s the right number.” Goertzen said.“I certainly hear more people talk about less than more, particularly in Winnipeg where you have a number of different divisions.”The review is also to examine ways to improve literacy, graduation rates and test scores in math and science.It is being lead by Clayton Manness, who cut school funding as education minister in the 1990s, and Janice MacKinnon, a former Saskatchewan finance minister who balanced the provincial budget with a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes in the mid-1990s.Glaze once served as Ontario’s royal commissioner on education. Last year, she produced a report for the Nova Scotia government that led to the province replacing elected English-language school boards with a 15-member advisory council.Her report also suggested school principals and vice-principals no longer be part of the teachers union. She recommended that teachers should be part of a new licensing body that could discipline problem teachers.Manitoba Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he is worried the government may be focused more on cost-cutting than improving education. The Progressive Conservative government has promised to balance the budget by 2024 and is projecting a deficit of $360 million for the coming fiscal year.“The concern we have for this whole process is that it’s just laying the groundwork for cuts to education,” Kinew said.The Manitoba review is expected to be complete by early 2020. Goertzen said Glaze will take a fresh look at Manitoba’s education system.“I think she’ll do what any good consultant does and look at the lay of the land, how are we different from other jurisdictions, look at the uniqueness of Manitoba. And I wouldn’t expect a report that is a carbon copy of other reports that she’s done.”
SpaceX has launched a load of supplies to the International Space Station following a pair of unusual power delays.A Falcon rocket raced into the pre-dawn darkness today, carrying a Dragon capsule with about 2,500 kilograms of goods. This recycled Dragon — which is making its second space voyage — is due to arrive at the orbiting lab early Monday.That’s when Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will be pressed into duty, manning the Canadarm 2 to perform his first-ever “cosmic catch” manoeuvre, backed up by NASA astronaut Nick Hague.Part of the cargo aboard the Dragon vehicle is 1.2 million tomato seeds heading to space as part of the Tomatosphere educational project.The Canadian Space Agency says in a release the seeds will return to Earth a month later, along with blood and breath samples for a Canadian health probe into the impact of living in space on astronauts’ bone marrow.The delivery is a few days late because of electrical power shortages that cropped up first at the space station, then at SpaceX’s rocket-landing platform in the Atlantic. Both problems were quickly resolved with equipment replacements: a power-switching unit in orbit and a generator at sea. — with files from Associated Press.The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Concern over U.S. legislation that allows Americans to import cheaper medicines from Canada has prompted more than a dozen organizations to urge the federal government to safeguard the Canadian drug supply.In a letter this week, the 15 groups representing patients, health professionals, hospitals, and pharmacists warn Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor of the potential for increasing drug shortages.“The Canadian medicine supply is not sufficient to support both Canadian and U.S. consumers,” the letter states. “The supply simply does not, and will not, exist within Canada to meet such demands.”Faced with voter anger over the steep and rising costs of drugs in the U.S., several states — including Florida with the blessing of President Donald Trump — have passed laws allowing residents to import drugs from Canada.In the letter to Petitpas Taylor, the groups say the legislation could exacerbate drug shortages that become an increasingly serious concern in the Canadian health care system in recent years.“Hospital and community pharmacies in Canada are resourced to serve the Canadian public,” they say. “They are not equipped to support to the needs of a country 10 times its size without creating important access or quality issues.”Petitpas Taylor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The issue has recently garnered attention on both sides of the border. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democrat presidential candidate, has announced plans to accompany diabetics this weekend to Canada to buy life-saving insulin, which costs roughly one-10th the price here than in the States.Late last month, another group of Type 1 diabetics from Minnesota crossed the border to buy insulin in London, Ont. One of the organizers said soaring prices south of the border had forced some users to ration their doses with potentially serious health consequences.Drug supplies are already an issue in Canada. In recent years, Canadian drug makers have reported thousands of shortages for various reasons — often because of manufacturing issues but also due to increased demand. U.S. legislative initiatives could make matters much worse, the letter states.According to data from the National Academy for State Health Policy, more than 27 different bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures over the past year allowing Americans to buy drugs from Canadian sources.Signatories to the letter, including the Canadian Pharmacists Association, Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, urge Ottawa to take action to head off Americans’ “draining of Canada’s medicine supply.”“We request that Health Canada provide clarity and assurances to Canadians that U.S. legislation will not inadvertently disrupt Canada’s pharmaceutical supply and negatively impact patient care through greater drug shortages,” the letter states.The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies Canada said more permissive import legislation in the U.S. could push Canadian and American patients to access drugs through unlicensed websites, putting them at risk for counterfeit or substandard medicines.“Importing drugs from Canada could not only hurt the Canadian supply of medications and impact patient care, but U.S. consumers will be at greater risk to receive unapproved and potentially dangerous drugs,” said Libby Baney with the alliance.Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press