Will ONOP tackle defections

first_imgThe spokespersons of both BJP and Congress were probably right in their comments on the political instability in Karnataka. While Congress alleged that BJP was “buying” the ruling alliance’s MLAs to grab power in the state, BJP asserted that it could not be blamed if the Janata Dal (S)-Congress government could not keep its own house in order. The phenomenon of the legislators on the lookout for greener pastures has been an unsavoury aspect of Indian politics, since the “aya Ram, gaya Ram” days of defection in Haryana in 1967 (and elsewhere afterwards) which now features in the Wikipedia. The reference is to a footloose Haryana MLA who changed parties thrice in a fortnight. Also Read – A special kind of bondThe rebellious Karnataka legislators belonging to Congress and Janata Dal (S) have been less adventurous. But they have kept their party bosses on tenterhooks about their intentions ever since the two parties, which fought against each other in the last assembly election, came together to form a government to keep out BJP. But it was a quest for power and not any ideological opposition to BJP which made them form a coalition. Since then, it has been a fragile arrangement and has become even more frail after BJP’s resounding successes at the national level this year and also in Karnataka where it won 25 of the 28 seats in the latest parliamentary polls. With the political winds clearly blowing in BJP’s favour, some of the ruling coalition’s MLAs are apparently wondering whether their earlier career choices were all right. Also Read – Insider threat managementBJP has also apparently not hesitated to woo them with various inducements–ministerial and otherwise–in an exercise which has been called Operation Lotus. The lotus, as is known, is BJP’s symbol. But what is worth considering in this unedifying context is to what extent operations of this kind are compatible with Narendra Modi’s pet project of ushering in an era of “one nation, one poll” (ON-OP) where there will be simultaneous elections every five years at the assembly, parliamentary, and municipal levels. The objective, as has been explained by BJP, is to dispense with the present practice of elections at the assembly and municipal levels in various states virtually almost every year which entail considerable expenditure and interfere with purposeful governance. There may be a case for ON-OP, but how will it fit in with Operation Lotus? The ON-OP concept assumes that, once elected, the Central the state governments as well as the municipal bodies will function uninterrupted for five years. But the state governments can hardly do so if an Operation Lotus is launched, for the latter’s objective is to wean away the power hungry MLAs from the ruling party or alliance and form another government. Since an operation of this nature can only take place in the midst of a five-year term in a state, it cannot but disturb the ON-OP system. Even if the government which assumes office halfway through a five-year term proves to be reasonably stable, its political legitimacy will still be open to question because of its dubious route to power. The ousted parties will have every right, therefore, to call for an election. At the root of the problem are obviously the fickle loyalties of today’s politicians. As long as ideology takes a backseat and the lure of the perks and privileges of office in a ruling dispensation remains the main reason for switching sides, the poachers of the most resourceful of the parties will have an advantage over their rivals in winning over the greedy. Avarice is at the core of the floor-crossings which the anti-defection law has done little to curb presumably because the defectors move in herds. However, it remains a mystery, as Milan Vaishnav says in his book, When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, “how democratic elections and large numbers of elected officials tied to illegal activity can comfortably coexist. “After all, democratic theory suggests that one of the crucial functions of elections is to provide a reliable channel through which voters can weed out badly behaving politicians … If, however, candidates tied to wrongdoing are rewarded, rather than rejected … it means something is amiss in the functioning of democracy”. Since defections take place on the promise of “rewards”, it is obvious that exercises like Operation Lotus harm the democratic structure. But will ON-OP lead to restrictions being placed on such operations so that the projected virtually fixed five-year terms of the legislatures are not disturbed? No unambiguous answers are available because curbs on such manoeuvres will mean that the covetous legislators will have to turn over a new leaf where morals are concerned. It is possible, therefore, that just as the parties have continued to field the so-called history-sheeters because of their influence in their respective constituencies, the “aya Ram, gaya Ram” phenomenon will remain a part of Indian politics in the foreseeable future. (The author is a political analyst. Views exprAmulya Ganguliessed are strictly personal)last_img read more

Pak court adjourns hearing in treason case against Musharraf as gov fails

first_imgIslamabad: The hearing in a high treason case against Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf has been adjourned for a month by a special court after the government failed to appoint a defence counsel to represent the Pakistan’s former military dictator, according to a media report on Wednesday. The three-judge bench headed by Justice Tahira Safdar on Tuesday adjourned the hearing for a month on the request of Acting Law and Justice Secretary Arshad Farooq Fahim who said his ministry has shortlisted the names of six lawyers “but they were either unwilling to represent Musharraf or need time to study the case”, the Dawn reported. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US On June 12, the court had rejected Musharraf’s plea for the adjournment of the hearing on medical grounds and decided to conclude the trial even in his absence. The court also cancelled the 75-year-old former president’s right of defence due to his repeated non-appearance before the court. The court had also barred Musharraf’s lawyer Salman Safdar from arguing on his behalf and directed the law ministry to appoint a defence lawyer for him. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls The ministry had on June 27 shortlisted six lawyers – Syed Ali Zafar, Raja Amir Abbas, Shah Khawar, Ishfaq Naqvi, Tahir Malik and Riaz Hanif Rahi – to represent the former president in the case, the report said. The previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had filed the treason case against the ex-Army chief in 2013 over the imposition of extra-constitutional emergency in November 2007, which led to the confinement of a number of superior court judges in their houses and sacking of over 100 judges. The trial has not seen much progress since Musharraf left for Dubai in March 2016 after his name was removed from the Exit Control List. He has not returned since, and is said to be suffering from Amyloidosis, a rare condition for which he has been admitted to a hospital. The special court has declared him a proclaimed offender and ordered the confiscation of his property owing to his no-show. The case has been virtually stalled as Musharraf’s presence is important to record his statement. The Supreme Court in a judgment on April 1 said that Musharraf can come back to record statement by May 2, otherwise the tribunal was free to conclude hearing even in his absence. On May 2, Musharraf requested the court to delay proceedings until end of holy month of fasting. So the court adjourned and set June 12 for hearing and his appearance. But he failed to turn up and his lawyer requested the tribunal to delay the proceedings until improvement in health of Musharraf so that he could come back. The bench, headed by Justice Tahira, rejected the plea with observation that proceedings could no longer be halted due to the accused’s illness. The tribunal said the former ruler was fugitive and has lost the right to engage a counsel unless he surrenders. Musharraf ruled the country from 1999 to 2008. A conviction for high treason carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.last_img read more

iPhone XR takes Apple to top spot in Indian premium segment

first_imgNew Delhi: Riding on heavy promotional offers especially on iPhone XR, Apple has regained top position in the premium smartphone segment in India in the second quarter (Q2) this year and should look forward to cement its position as festive quarters inch closer. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), in the premium ($500 or Rs 35,000 and above) segment, Apple bettered Samsung for the leadership position with an overall share of 41.2 per cent in 2Q19. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year The iPhone XR demand saw an uplift after the price drop and aided by heavy promotional activities. “Apple’s portfolio up till last quarter (1Q19) was driven mostly by old generation models (the non-X series) — making almost 70 per cent of total shipments,” Upasana Joshi, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India, told IANS on Wednesday. With the price drop, she said, the entire trend shifted, with iPhone XR alone contributing to more than 55 per cent of total Apple shipments in 2Q19. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India “This essentially means the sweet spot for Apple in India market lies within $750-$850 segment and the higher priced models like iPhone XS/Max (above $1,000) are still unable to create similar demand in a price-conscious India market,” Joshi added. While Tim Cook announced that iPhones generated $26 billion in revenue in the company’s third quarter that ended on June 29 — down 12 per cent from last year’s June quarter — India actually witnessed a 19 per cent growth (year-on-year) in iPhone shipments riding on promotional offers and discounts from the Cupertino-based giant, according to an earlier Counterpoint Research report. India returned in Apple’s basket with strong double-digit growth. “India bounced back. During the quarter, we returned to growth there. We are very happy with that,” the Apple CEO told analysts during the earnings call. The return of Apple in India comes at a time when the company is reportedly set to manufacture top-end iPhone XS and iPhone XR smartphones courtesy its supplier Foxconn in the country. Apple in April started the assembling of iPhone 7 at its supplier Wistron’s facility in Bengaluru. “To continue this momentum, Apple would require more play in terms of product placement in $700 and above segment, rather than $1000 and above segment, accompanied by heavy promotional activities and attractive offers during the upcoming festive quarters,” Joshi told IANS.last_img read more

Mamata scheme for PVTG women in Odisha extended for five years

first_imgBhubaneswar: The Odisha government has extended benefits of the Direct Cash Benefit “Mamata” scheme to the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) in the state for another five years, an official said. While pregnant women of other communities can avail the conditional cash transfer maternity benefit scheme only up to two live births, PVTG women are barred from the limit. “This provision for PVTG women was in place since 2014 and has been extended for another five years till 2024 by the state women and child development department,” he said. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja In 2018, the state government extended the scheme to all pregnant PVTG women irrespective of whether they were residing in micro-project areas or not. Mamata was launched by the state government in September, 2011 with an aim to reduce maternal and infant mortality by improving the health and nutrition of pregnant and lactating women. Adult pregnant women, barring government employees, receive Rs 5,000 in two installments, upon fulfilling certain conditions that are beneficial for the health of them and their babies. The state government says the amount is partial compensation for wage loss of the working women to ensure that they get rest during pregnancy and good post-natal care. Odisha government has claimed to have reached more than 38.89 lakh pregnant and lactating women through Mamata scheme by disbursing more than Rs 1810.76 crore.last_img read more

France Portugal back on track with impressive wins over Albania Serbia

first_imgBelgrade: France and Portugal got their Euro 2020 qualification campaigns back on track with impressive wins over Balkan pair Albania and Serbia that boosted the world and European champions chances of making next summer’s tournament. France moved back top of Group H with a 4-1 thumping of Albania thanks to a Kingsley Coman’s first international goals in more than three years and further strikes from Olivier Giroud and substitute Jonathan Ikone at the Stade de France. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhIceland briefly led the standings after beating Moldova 3-0 earlier in the day, but were joined on 12 points by Didier Deschamps side and Turkey, who needed a last minute Ozan Tufan strike to edge Andorra 1-0, with the French on top on goal difference. “The balance sheet is very positive. We could have won by more,” said Deschamps. “We did what we had to do, even if we relaxed a bit at the end.” The easy win was a good end to a night that started off in bizarre fashion, with the match kicking off late after the hosts mistakenly played the Andorran anthem, leading to the bemused Albanian players refusing to play until the right tune was played. Also Read – Vijender’s next fight on Nov 22, opponent to be announced later”It was a big thing. The players said they wouldn’t start without the right anthem,” said Albania’s Italian coach Edoardo Reja. Portugal meanwhile are second in Group B on five points from three games after they also struck four times in Belgrade, with William Carvalho, Goncalo Guedes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva giving Fernando Santos’ side a 4-2 victory that was also their first win of the qualifying campaign. They are eight points behind leaders Ukraine, who top the group unbeaten having played five times after their 3-0 drubbing of Lithuania. However Portugal had a much trickier time than the French, with Nikola Milenkovic and Aleksandar Mitrovic twice pulling goals at a loud Stadion Rajko Mitic back before Silva finally made sure of the three points four minutes from the end. On Tuesday, Portugal have a chance to consolidate their position in the group when they head to winless Lithuania, while Serbia travel to lowly Luxembourg with both a point behind Ronaldo and co. Earlier England maintained their 100 percent qualifying record as Harry Kane’s hat-trick inspired a 4-0 demolition of Bulgaria at Wembley. Kane has now scored 25 goals in 40 England appearances after a 25th-minute tap-in and two second half penalties which keep his side top of Group A with nine points from three matches, a point ahead of Kosovo who stunned the Czech Republic with a 2-1 win.last_img read more

Bright light with a big heart First victim identified in Toronto van

first_imgOne of the victims killed in Monday afternoon’s van attack in Toronto has been identified as Anne Marie D’Amico.D’Amico, along with nine other people, was killed after a van jumped the curb and plowed through pedestrians on Yonge Street between Finch and Sheppard avenues.“Anne Marie had a generous heart and always did big things for people. She wouldn’t stop until she went the extra mile for others and that was manifested in her loving attention to detail,” the family said in a statement.“She genuinely wanted to care for all those around her even if it meant sacrificing a portion of herself in return for others happiness. She only had kindness in her.“Her name has been broadcasted around the world attached to this terrible tragedy. But we want everyone to know that she embodied the definition of altruism. It comforts us knowing that the world has a chance to know her and we hope that in this time, people fight with the same altruism rather then anger and hatred. We ask that at this time your respect our family’s privacy as we come to terms with this tragic news.”D’Amico was an employee at Invesco, a U.S.-based investment management firm with offices at Yonge and Park Home Avenue. The company told 680 NEWS business editor Richard Southern that they would have counsellors onsite to help employees deal with the tragedy.“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those impacted by this tragic event. To help our employees deal with this tragedy, we have arranged to have counsellors onsite,” the statement read.She had also worked with Tennis Canada and the Badminton & Racquet Club of Toronto.“Our thoughts and prayers are with Anne Marie’s family and with all those impacted by this tragic event,” Gavin Ziv, vice president of professional events at Tennis Canada, said in a statement.“Anne Marie lived for working at Rogers Cup and seeing her fellow volunteers each summer. The tournament was such a large part of her life and we were so lucky to have her on our team each summer. Her passion for Rogers Cup was contagious and we are honoured to let the world know what an amazing person she was and the great things she did for others.”According to Tennis Canada, D’Amico’s grandmother, mother, father and brother were all volunteers with Rogers Cup and “the D’Amico family have provided a combined 84 years of incredible service for the event.” Tennis Canada also plans to honour her memory and service to the Rogers Cup at this summer’s event.CityNews sports reporter Danielle Michaud said she knew D’Amico from Tennis Canada. She took to Twitter, saying “My @TennisCanada family lost one of its brightest lights & biggest hearts in Anne Marie D’Amico. I’m devastated for her family … a big, loving, tight-knit group. No words for this tragedy.”Awful news pours in when you work at a news station, but this is the first to hit home. My @TennisCanada family lost one of its brightest lights & biggest hearts in Anne Marie D’Amico. I’m devastated for her family…a big, loving, tight-knit group. No words for this tragedy. pic.twitter.com/0FptJ40Ihc— Danielle Michaud (@CityMichaud) April 24, 2018A GoFundMe page has been set up for the victims and their families, raising more than $20,000 by Tuesday morning.The city and Toronto police have set up hotlines to offer support to those affected by the incident, and for witnesses who may be able to help with the investigation.The driver, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, was apprehended by a single officer shortly after at Yonge and Sheppard. He has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.Related content10 killed, 15 injured after van plows through pedestrians at Yonge and FinchToronto comes together to remember victims of deadly van attackTributes pour in following Toronto van attacklast_img read more

Quebec mall shelves decision to ban minors without a parent

first_imgMONTREAL – A Quebec mall says it is dropping a controversial decision to ban people under the age of 18 unless accompanied by a parent.Le Carrefour du Cap shopping centre, about halfway between Quebec City and Montreal in Trois-Rivieres, said in a statement Thursday that it was ending the practice despite what it calls “escalating problems regarding vandalism, theft and misbehaviour.”It said the “temporary measure” was driven by theft, increased vandalism, bullying against employees and clients, the use of bikes and skateboards inside the centre and other factors.The mall also said in a statement issued through a public relations firm that it wanted to apologize “for employing a measure without realizing the impact it could have on teenagers and their parents.”“The intention was to swiftly ensure security for all clients and all retailers, in face of an increasingly important level of problematic situations,” the statement said.The shopping centre says it will meet with local police and school board officials on May 7 to discuss solutions to vandalism, theft and misbehaviour at the centre.Trois-Rivieres police spokesman Luc Mongrain said Wednesday he was surprised by the mall’s decision because he doesn’t consider the location to be particularly problematic.He said officers were called to respond to loitering complaints about 10 times in the last year but did not make any arrests.last_img read more

Forestry industry defends NS clear cutting calls for more nuanced debate

first_imgHALIFAX – Nova Scotia forestry workers are a “misunderstood bunch,” especially on the contentious practice of clear cutting, a legislature committee was told Thursday.“They are portrayed publicly as Joe Lumberjack with a chain saw looking to cut every tree from Cape Breton to Yarmouth,” Marcus Zwicker, general manager of Westfor Management Inc., told the resources committee.“The effort and the decision-making and the passion for what we do really doesn’t make it to the public eye.”Clear cutting and other forestry practices will be examined in a highly anticipated report by University of King’s College president William Lahey, that is expected to be released soon.In 2016 the province’s Liberal government backed away from a previously stated goal of reducing clear cutting on Crown land by 50 per cent.Jeff Bishop, the executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, told the committee that industry doesn’t like set targets for various harvesting methods.“Because the fear is we will not be doing proper forestry and what’s best for the land if we’re basing it on a number.”He said considerations have to be driven by what’s growing or not growing on a particular stand of trees.Bishop said forestry is more complex than boiling things down to discussions about whether clear cutting is a good or bad practice. Concerns have to be balanced between market demands and the best approaches to harvesting in various areas of forest whether they be on Crown or private lands, he said.Zwicker, whose company is owned by a group of 13 mills from across western Nova Scotia, said wherever companies use clear cutting, decisions are based on assessments of individual tree stands.He said those considerations include such things as soil, vegetation, and the quality and abundance of certain tree species.Zwicker said clear cuts are used for several reasons, including during salvages where a large number of trees have been blown down by wind, and in stands where there is a large number of over-mature trees.He later told reporters that cost is also a factor — clear cutting can be up to 30 per cent cheaper than certain selective cuts.However, Raymond Plourde of the Ecology Action Centre said cost is the primary reason for the practice.“It is the cheapest way to get the most amount of wood into the mill doors at the lowest possible price,” said Plourde. “It’s not because the land is telling us it needs a good shellacking every five years.”Plourde said Nova Scotia’s Acadian forest is ill-suited to clear cutting because of its multi-species composition, adding that the province needs to get back to a strong target like the one abandoned in 2016.“That’s why we have such a low percentage of old-growth forest and such a high percentage of increasingly young scrubby forest,” he said.NDP committee member Lisa Roberts said she believes the forest industry lacks the “social licence” to conduct wide-spread clear cutting.Roberts said companies such as Taylor Lumber in Middle Musquodoboit are an example of how forestry can be done. She said the company produces value-added products while conducting few clear cuts, and employing people year-round.“It shows us a path forward,” she said.last_img read more

Banning of junk food sales in Canadian schools having a positive effect

first_imgHALIFAX – In Canada’s ongoing battle against childhood obesity, one simple weapon appears to be working.Over the past 12 years, six provinces have banned junk food from schools, and a new study says the measure is having a positive impact on student health.“It’s a small step in the right direction,” said Philip Leonard, a health economist at the University of New Brunswick. “Combined with other policies of this type, you can hope to see real difference over time.”Leonard looked at the Body Mass Index (BMI) of 153,000 Canadians, aged 12 to 25, during an eight-year period. Within that sample, compiled from the annual Canadian Community Health Survey, more than 22,000 youths had been banned from buying junk food at school for at least one year.His research revealed that for each year a student was exposed to a junk food ban, there was a corresponding 0.05 decline in their BMI, a value derived from height and weight.As a result, the students banned from making junk food purchases at school for five or more years were, on average, about two pounds lighter than students who did not face a ban.That may not sound like a big difference, but the findings send a strong message, said Leonard, a researcher with the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training.“You wouldn’t expect that a ban like this would suddenly change a whole bunch of overweight kids into dramatically healthy kids … (But) the main message is that these types of policies are going down the right track.”The study also found there was a bigger impact on females, though Leonard said it’s not clear what is behind that finding.As well, younger students showed the most positive results. That probably stems from the fact that older students have more opportunities to leave their schools to forage for food.“When you’re in high school and you’ve got your driver’s licence at 16, you can drive to McDonald’s or just walk to the convenience store,” Leonard said.In October 2005, New Brunswick became the first province to impose a junk food ban inside its schools. Under its Policy 711, the Department of Education eliminated all foods from a so-called “minimum nutrition” list.Prince Edward Island followed suit later that year. Nova Scotia and Quebec did the same in 2007, followed by British Columbia in 2008 and Ontario in 2011.Despite the positive results, Leonard said junk food bans, on their own, won’t be enough to reverse the troubling trends associated with childhood obesity.“It’s a huge problem,” he said. “We’re not going to solve it with one little policy change. But, this policy change did make a difference, so it makes sense to look at others.”Using World Health Organization standards, Statistics Canada says close to one third —31.5 per cent — of Canadian children and youth were classified as overweight or obese between 2009 to 2011.The federal Health Department has said it plans to update dietary guidelines by the end of 2018 that will reflect the most up-to-date scientific evidence on diet and health. Other initiatives include updated nutrition labels on pre-packaged foods and restricting marketing to children.—On the Web: http://bit.ly/CPP432_LeonardFollow @NovaMac on Twitterlast_img read more

BBB tips to help BC wildfire victims

first_imgAs people across British Columbia deal with the harsh reality of lost homes, Albertans are looking to help out.The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some tips to make sure donations end up in the hands of people who need it most.The BBB’s Leah Brownridge said the number one thing people can do is do a quick check of the organization they’re donating to.“Any organization that is claiming to be a charitable organization must be registered with the Canada Revenue Agency,” she said, adding everyone needs to take extra care donating online.“Do a little research into the individual that has actually set up that page,” said Brownridge. “If you know and trust that person then you can be confident you’re making a safe donation, however if it’s someone you don’t know, you can’t be totally sure where that money is going.”Some pop-up organizations are completely fake and not a single cent goes to those who need it.Even though someone may have every good intention donating certain items, make sure they’re needed first.“They may not need, at this point, things like clothing or maybe food,” said Brownridge. “Maybe money is the primary donation but once again, making sure you make that differentiation and then make your donation accordingly.”It’s also a good idea to make sure the organization has an on-the ground presence.Brownridge added don’t send cash or give out personal or financial information. For security and tax reasons, people should always use cheques or credit cards.last_img read more

6000 Canadians evacuated 168 asked for aid after hurricane Maria minister

first_imgOTTAWA – International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says 6,000 Canadians who were in the path of hurricane Maria were evacuated before the storm hit.She said today 168 Canadians who chose not to leave have requested federal assistance in the wake of the devastating storm that is ravaging the Caribbean.That number includes 147 students on the hard-hit island of Dominica, who will need to be evacuated by boat to St. Lucia before they can be brought to Canada.Bibeau says the debris surrounding Dominica is complicating rescue efforts but adds everyone is safe and will be evacuated as soon as possible.She says 20 other people in the region who have medical needs will also be assisted by Canadian authorities.The storm’s death toll across the Caribbean climbed to at least 19, nearly all of them on Dominica.Maria slammed into Puerto Rico as a category four hurricane on Wednesday and was the strongest storm to hit the U.S. territory in over 80 years.Bibeau says the government didn’t receive any requests for aid from Canadians living on that island.Maria was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday.— With files form The Associated Presslast_img read more

Top GOPer Paul Ryan joins a historic preelection stampede for the exits

first_imgWASHINGTON – Republicans were already sprinting for the exits in historic numbers, with fears of an impending electoral horror show driving them into political retirement before congressional elections this fall.Now their leader has joined the stampede.The highest-ranking member of the U.S. Congress, Paul Ryan — who as speaker of the House of Representatives controls which bills get votes and is third in line for the presidency — announced Wednesday that he’s retiring from politics later this year, at age 48.He insisted his departure has nothing to do with the growing fear among Republicans that they might lose power and be forced to watch helplessly as a new Democratic majority spends two years blocking bills and tormenting President Donald Trump with congressional investigations.Ryan said he’s still confident about the election, and is leaving for family reasons: “My dad died when I was 16 — the age my daughter is. And I just (don’t) want to be one of those people looking back on my life (wishing) I’d spent more time with my kids.”He drew plaudits from former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper.“Best wishes to my friend … as he moves on to a new chapter,” Harper tweeted. “His long career of serving the people of Wisconsin and the United States will not be soon forgotten.”But Ryan’s dramatic departure — barely two years after his party, on the brink of an internal civil war, turned to him as a popular unifier between the feuding factions of conservatives, moderates, libertarians, and populist-nationalists — fits a larger pattern.Pew Research calculates that this is the biggest number of departures for the Republican party before an election since a 1930 exodus, which came in the doldrums of the Great Depression and was followed by an era of Democratic dominance.Thirty-eight Republicans are leaving the House by choice after this November’s election. In addition to Ryan, another lawmaker, from Florida, announced his resignation Wednesday.One of the nearly-departed said it’s becoming tough in the trenches. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told reporters that his colleagues are in an impossible position: Defy Trump and get scorched by supporters, or defend him and get singed by other voters.“I think there’s a lot of wariness. And a lot of exhaustion, frankly,” Dent said. “This is going to be a challenging year … You’re really in a no-win position.”He said modern American politics has evolved into one question, and it’s not about your ideas or principles but whether you are personally with or against Trump.Some Trump fans are pleased with this personnel turnover. To them, it’s like the creative destruction of the old Republican party: some careers are ending, and what’s left in place is a new party.“I do think Republicans are going to contract. So they’re going to lose seats,” Trump booster and conservative organizer Matt Schlapp told MSNBC.“But I can tell you this: the House Republican conference is going to get a lot more conservative. Most of the retirements and most of the seats up for grabs in November (belong to) moderate Republicans.”His assessment that Republicans face losses this fall is rooted in historical precedent, as parties that hold the White House almost always lose congressional seats.The question is how many.Democrats are believed to need to a seven percentage point lead across the country to take the congressional majority, partly because their votes are concentrated in urban districts.They held an average lead of about 7.8 points in the last 10 surveys posted on the website Real Clear Politics, while they held some kind of lead in every single one of the 61 surveys posted this year.Political analyst Kyle Kondik at the University of Virginia put the odds Wednesday of a shift in power at 50-50. He added that he’s being cautious compared to other analysts and wrote that Ryan’s departure was “another bad sign for the Republicans’ prospects.”Some Republicans put it more starkly.“I think Republicans are right to worry about a wave,” conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt told MSNBC.“I think we very well could lose the House.”Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie told ABC that Ryan’s departure “is a big indicator that the speaker doesn’t think he’d be speaker anymore … If you’re a betting person, you’re betting on the Democrats for the House in the fall.”One positive note for Republicans is the Senate. The states up for races this year leave little hope of a Democratic takeover there. And that’s the chamber that approves Trump’s nominations, including ambassadorships, cabinet, and judges.last_img read more

NS minister now says advice on handling portal breach from staff not

first_imgHALIFAX – The Nova Scotia government was in damage-control mode Thursday as it modified its assertion that police had asked the Internal Services Department to hold off on releasing information about a security breach involving the province’s freedom-of-information internet portal.On Wednesday, Internal Services Minister Patricia Arab and Premier Stephen McNeil said they delayed telling the public about the breach on the advice of police. Later in the day, Halifax Regional Police Supt. Jim Perrin denied that assertion, saying “there was no conversation between us and the province about holding off and not telling anybody.”On Thursday, McNeil and Arab said department staff were in contact with police, but they confirmed it was staff members who recommended the delay.“I didn’t specifically speak to Halifax Regional Police,” said McNeil. “Our security people who did in that conversation said the longer that they (police) would have to identify that IP address the better it would be. We made the choice, as I said yesterday, they (police) did not tell us not to notify.”McNeil suggested reporters check back with police.A reply was provided by police spokeswoman Const. Carol McIsaac.“During the course of the investigation, it is normal for us to have discussions with complainants to ensure the best possible outcome, understanding it is not up to us to make the final decision on a public communication by the complainant,” she said. “We provided no instruction to hold back information.”Meanwhile, Halifax police have arrested a 19-year-old man, who is now facing a charge of unauthorized use of a computer.The government says about 7,000 documents were inappropriately accessed between March 3 and March 5, with about 250 containing highly sensitive personal information such as birthdates, social insurance numbers, addresses and government services’ client information.The confirmation of the breach came nearly a week after the problem was first noticed by accident, when a provincial employee made a typing error. The portal was shut down April 5.Arab said credit card information was not accessed in the breach.She said her department is contacting people who were affected by the breach, and will offer to pay for third-party credit checks.In an email, a department spokesman said the checks “will be offered to those clients where a level of personal information was disclosed that may cause risk of financial jeopardy. We don’t have an exact number at this time.”Karla MacFarlane, the Progressive Conservative’s Interim leader, said the government had “created a mess” and were offering explanations that lack credibility.“We have some mixed messages coming from the police, coming from her (Arab’s) department, coming from the premier. So I’m sure they are all scrambling to . . . make it look like they are all on the same page,” she said. “We clearly know that they are not.”NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the handling of the situation called into question “the trustworthiness of the government’s word.”The government has said the documents were accessed through a “vulnerability in its system” and not through a hack. They said someone wrote a script of computer code that allowed them to sequentially access “every document available on the portal.”Privacy lawyer David Fraser said it’s always prudent to determine the nature of the data involved in any breach before going public with it.“It can be sensible for them to do that,” Fraser said in an interview. “It’s just curious that we are getting differing accounts on what in fact happened and it sounds like the government is making some attempt to reconcile those accounts.”last_img read more

Ice pellets and freezing rain hammer southern Ontario for second day in

first_imgTORONTO – More than 40,000 people were without power and one busy Toronto airport had to shut down on Sunday, as southern and central Ontario were battered by another day of freezing rain and ice pellets.Environment Canada issued weather warnings for the entirety of the region for the second day in a row, advising that strong winds could exacerbate already dangerous conditions.Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop airport cancelled all departing flights and received only one arrival all day on Sunday, while more than 600 flights were cancelled at the larger Pearson International Airport. Dozens of flights were also cancelled or delayed at Ottawa International Airport.Meantime, provincial power utility Hydro One said Sunday afternoon that extra crews were working to address more than 42,000 power outages, with fallen trees and broken poles causing most of the issues. Toronto Hydro said approximately 10,800 of its customers were without power across the city Sunday evening.The mixture of freezing rain and ice pellets also made for nasty road conditions, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area.“These ice pellets have acted like very dense snow on the road,” said Chris Scott, chief meteorologist with The Weather Network. “That’s created treacherous driving conditions across much of southern Ontario, but especially in the GTA.”Provincial police said there were roughly 750 crashes on highways surrounding Toronto on Saturday, and there had been nearly 700 more by early Sunday afternoon. None of the crashes were fatal.Wind warnings were also issued, with gusts up to 90 kilometres per hour forecast for the Hamilton area — strong enough to cause property damage and further power outages.Multiple universities had to cancel their weekend exams because of the dangerous conditions, which caused problems for students such as Jamie Nicholson.The food science student at Guelph University added that the situation caused headaches because the exams would take place next weekend, when some students like himself already had plans.“Some people have it a lot worse though, because they booked flights out of the country or back home,” he said.Nicholson said the situation was also tough because he was told that special accommodations like extra time wouldn’t be provided for the re-scheduled exams.“That was an issue for me, because I get special accommodations,” he said, adding that in his case, his professor was able to accommodate him, but not all students he knows were able to find a solution.Other local events, such as outdoor viewing parties for the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs, also had to be cancelled on Saturday because of the freezing rain.Scott said areas near Lake Erie were hit with the most precipitation, while the region around St. Thomas, Ont., had the most power outages.“It’s rare to get such a winter storm this late in the season,” said Scott, noting that southern Ontario hasn’t seen such an intense ice storm in April in over a decade.Environment Canada said the freezing rain and ice pellets would change to rain later Sunday as temperatures rose, starting in the western part of the region and moving east.The changing weather prompted the city of Mississauga and the Toronto and Area Conservation Authority to issue flood warnings around lakes and rivers.Provincial police in southwestern Ontario also urged drivers to take caution and stay home if possible on Sunday, as heavy rain could make the roads unsafe.last_img read more

Embassy angered by Tory MP linking Mexican visitors to illegal drug trade

first_imgOTTAWA – The Mexican government is taking a Conservative MP to task for implying that many Mexican visitors to Canada are involved in the illegal drug trade.Sarnia, Ont., MP Marilyn Gladu made the suggestion Wednesday during debate on the Trudeau government’s bill to legalize recreational marijuana.Her reference to Mexicans came as she was arguing that legalization will actually be a boon for the illicit black market in cannabis — contrary to the government’s contention that it will displace organized crime.She said legal pot will be more expensive than the “going price” of $7 per gram on the black market. And she slammed the government for allowing individuals to grow up to four marijuana plants per dwelling, arguing that organized crime has increased in Colorado because it allows home-grown weed.“We can see how profitable organized crime has been there,” she told the House of Commons.Then Gladu added: “By the way, the government also eliminated the visa requirements for people coming in from Mexico, so lots of experienced people could just move in and take over the whole thing.”The Mexican embassy hit back in a written statement.“The embassy strongly disagrees and rejects any assertion that singles out or pretends to portray Mexicans as criminals,” it said.“Comments based on stereotypes are inaccurate and hurt the dignity of the Mexican people and should be avoided.”In an interview, Gladu initially doubled down on her comments.“I would point to some of the statistics that we had before the visa (requirement) was lifted,” she said.“There were about 9,000 (Mexicans) that were coming to Canada and it was costing us about $15,000 and taking about six months before they were deported and there was a large percentage that were of the criminal element.”She appeared to be referring to the fact that 9,462 Mexicans sought asylum in Canada in 2008 — more than half of whom were rejected for not having valid refugee claims.The following year, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government imposed a visa requirement on Mexicans wanting to enter Canada. It justified the move by pointing to an increase in bogus asylum claims from Mexicans whom the government argued were really economic migrants, not refugees fleeing persecution. Keeping criminals out of the country was not a big part of the rationale.The Liberal government lifted the visa requirement in 2016.“Now, they don’t know who’s coming in,” Gladu said in the interview. “Certainly, everyone has seen too many movies with drug cartels but it’s rife in Mexico.”According to intelligence reports obtained by Global News last year, dropping the visa requirement did indeed lead to an increase in Mexican criminals trying to enter Canada — although they remained a tiny fraction of overall Mexican travellers to the country.Just 0.25 per cent of the 156,000 Mexican nationals who entered Canada between 2012 and 2015, when visas were required, were implicated in crime, Global reported, including 29 linked to organized criminal groups, another eight with “possible links” and “likely more” who hadn’t been identified.Midway through 2017, after the visa requirement was lifted, Global reported that the Canada Border Services Agency had already identified 65 Mexican nationals it said were involved in “serious” crimes. Another 15 were cited for national security reasons.However, that same year, the overall number of Mexican visitors to Canada increased by 45 per cent, the embassy said in its statement, adding that the numbers grew by another 27 per cent in the first quarter of 2018. In addition, it said more than 25,000 Mexican agricultural workers come every year to work on Canadian farms.“There is no basis to sustain any link, whatsoever, between increased mobility and criminal activity. Both Mexican tourists and seasonal workers contribute to the Canadian economy.”Asked if she had any second thoughts about her reference to Mexicans during Wednesday’s debate, Gladu suggested her comments were made “in the passion of making your speech.”“I wouldn’t say the Mexicans are more prone to drug crimes than the organized crime we already have in Canada,” she said.“We have a $9-billion marijuana business operating today illegally in the country so we certainly have our own home-grown criminals, if you could call them that.”last_img read more

Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna charged with assault has case put over

first_imgTORONTO – Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna, who is charged with assault, had his case put over for three weeks at a brief court hearing today.Osuna was not present at the hearing and will have his lawyer return to court on his behalf on Aug. 1.The 23-year-old closer was arrested in May in connection with what his lawyer Domenic Basile has called an alleged domestic incident. Basile has said his client intends to plead not guilty.The Mexico native is currently serving a 75-game unpaid suspension, due to end Aug. 4.Major League Baseball initially put Osuna on paid administrative leave, which Basile has said was being renewed on a week-to-week basis.The league then imposed the suspension in late June, retroactive to the date of Osuna’s arrest, saying in a press release he had violated its policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.The Blue Jays have said they support the league’s decision.Osuna, who earns $5.3 million per year, appeared in 15 games for the Jays earlier this season.last_img read more

Kennedy Stewart named mayor of Vancouver one of several BC turnovers

first_imgVANCOUVER – Former New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart has won a neck-and-neck mayoral race to lead Vancouver, as local government saw shakeups across the region.Supporters chanted, “Kennedy, Kennedy,” and broke out in dance as results came in early Sunday morning, heralding Stewart in as the first Independent mayor of Vancouver in more than 30 years.He scraped ahead of Non-Partisan Association candidate Ken Sim with 984 votes.“They voted for a plan that is bold but achievable,” Stewart told the crowd, adding he will begin immediately to deliver on campaign promises like increasing the housing supply and creating a Downtown Eastside task force with a focus on stemming the opioid crisis.Sim said he would not concede early Sunday morning.“As you know this has been a very unprecedented election. We’ve consulted with our advisers and our team, they mention there are still ballots to be counted. Barring that, let’s speak to the results we have tonight,” he said, congratulating Stewart.Stewart’s election ends Vision Vancouver’s 10 year rule under outgoing mayor Gregor Robertson, who didn’t seek re-election and leaves the city with a housing crisis that became the focus of the campaign.It was one of several significant turnovers in Metro Vancouver that also saw a comeback for former mayor Doug McCallum in Surrey and former firefighter Mike Hurley defeat five-term mayoral institution Derek Corrigan in Burnaby.In Nanaimo, New Democrat legislator Leonard Krog’s win put the minority provincial government’s hold on power into question as his departure will trigger a byelection.It won’t be enough to tip the balance of power to the Liberals’ favour against an NDP minority government that’s propped up by the Greens, but it would bring it to the brink.The Liberals have 42 seats in the house, the New Democrats 41, including Krog, the Greens have three seats and there is one Independent.Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps won a second term despite facing nine challengers and some controversies during the campaign, including her government’s decision to remove a sculpture of John A. Macdonald from the entrance to city hall.The campaign in Vancouver was marked by a crowded race of new candidates and parties with converging platforms focused on increasing housing supply in the face of the city’s affordability crisis.Stewart will lead 10 other councillors divided across party lines, including five NPA councillors and five from progressive parties.“I’ve been talking with them all the way through, all the way through this race and I think there are ideas we share in common and we’re just going to have to go policy by policy and make sure we’re not alienating anyone. I’m confident we can do it,” Stewart told reporters following his victory speech.Seven women also make up the majority.The city is somewhat unusual in Canada because it operates under a party system.Since 2008, centre-left Vision Vancouver has dominated council under Robertson but the party didn’t run a mayoral candidate this election.The centre-right NPA had a long-running grip on power before that, with some notable exceptions, including 2002 when the Coalition of Progressive Electors won the mayor’s office and eight of 10 council seats.Vancouver’s last independent mayor was Mike Harcourt, who served from 1980 to 1986, before going on to become premier.Voters in some cities reported longer waits than they’d experienced in previous elections.In Vancouver, the ballot was almost 13 centimetres longer than usual because of the 158 candidates on the list, the city said in a tweet. That meant it took about 22 seconds to cast each ballot through an electronic reader, and longer if the ballot was rejected.“Seems like we’re stuck in the 1990s for how slow it reads it,” Paul Schellenberg said after voting at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver.He said collecting and filling out the ballot was “very fast,” but a long line formed as voters waited for their ballots to be electronically processed.Brian Thorn said the randomized order of the candidates made it harder to find the ones he’d chosen to vote for, which also added to the time delay.The City of Burnaby added an extra voting tabulator to its Gilmore station Saturday afternoon to ease the line, while the City of Victoria thanked voters for their patience in a tweet.last_img read more

Quebecs Pelletier leads farthest exploration of any planetary body in history

first_imgPeter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press MONTREAL — Frederic Pelletier is boldly predicting he and his team will get the New Horizons spacecraft exactly where it should be on New Year’s Day — 1.6 billion kilometres beyond Pluto to rendezvous with a space rock known as Ultima Thule.The goal of the NASA mission is to pass by the region known as the “Kuiper Belt” and send data back to Earth that can help explain the origins of the solar system. The flyby of Ultima Thule is being described by the space agency as the “farthest exploration of any planetary body in history.”NASA says by exploring the region beyond Pluto, scientists can learn more about comets, small planets and other material dating back to the era when planets were formed — 4.5 billion years in the past.By the time the New Horizons spacecraft makes its closest approach to Ultima Thule — scheduled for 12:33 a.m. eastern standard time on Jan. 1, 2019 — the vehicle will be 6.6 billion kilometres from Earth.“It’s very difficult, we don’t have much information about (Ultima Thule),” Pelletier said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press. “I’m a bit nervous, but I feel confident … all the stars are aligned.”NASA contracted Pelletier to be the chief navigator of the spacecraft for the New Horizons mission, whose original plan was to fly past Pluto. The team reached its goal when the vehicle successfully flew by the dwarf planet on July 14, 2015, and sent back data “that resulted in profound new insights about Pluto and its moons,” according to the space agency’s website.The voyage beyond Pluto to the Kuiper Belt is part of the extended mission.Pelletier and his eight-member team are responsible for delivering the spacecraft, which is the size of a baby grand piano, to the target.It will fly by Ultima Thule at a distance of about 3,500 kilometres, going 14 kilometres a second — or 50,000 kilometres an hour. Pelletier compared it to a motorist inside a car who is trying to look at a lamppost.“It’s going by real fast,” he said.Pelletier said scientists estimate Ultima Thule to be about the same size as Washington D.C.“It’s estimated to have a diameter of 30 kilometres right now,” Pelletier said. “We suspect that it’s not going to be spherical, that it’s going to have some weird shape to it. There’s also the possibility that it will be a binary asteroid — two objects touching each other or in close formation.”What has made the task even more challenging for the Quebec City native is the fact that it takes six hours for the signal from Earth to reach the spacecraft and another six hours to return.“So when we plan manoeuvres to do uplinks and updates, we need to take that into account,” Pelletier noted.The New Horizons spacecraft blasted off Jan. 19, 2006, for its trip to Pluto, and since 2015, has been moving deeper into space. The mission is being hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physical Laboratory in Laurel, Md., where Pelletier and his team are working.Ultima Thule was first detected in 2014 using the Hubble Space Telescope, meaning the rock was only discovered after the New Horizons launch.NASA says scientists estimate there are several hundred objects with a diameter longer than 30 kilometres waiting to be discovered in what’s known as “the third zone” of our solar system.“I’m an explorer,” Pelletier said. “I love going to places (that are) unexplored — we’re on the edge of the solar system. The Kuiper Belt was only discovered in the 1990s.”Until the Jan. 1 flyby, Pelletier will keep busy monitoring Ultima Thule, barely giving him time to celebrate his 44th birthday on Friday, Dec. 28.But his wife and two boys, aged 9 and 12, will be flying up to Maryland to join him in the coming days.Pelletier has worked on a number of other space missions, including the voyage the Cassini spacecraft took to Saturn, and he also participated in the Mars Curiosity landing.last_img read more

Stolen wooden fisherman known as Shorty returned to NS business

first_imgPEGGY’S COVE, N.S. — A popular wooden fisherman that was stolen from a tourist spot in Peggy’s Cove, N.S., earlier this week is now safely back home.Peter Richardson, owner of Peggy’s Cove Lobsters, says he got a call from four Dalhousie University students who said they had rescued the life-sized carving known as Shorty.Richardson says he travelled to Halifax on Saturday night to collect the folksy statue from the four young women.He says they told him they had heard a rumour that a group of guys they know had taken the carving, so they went to the young men’s house while they were away and removed it.Richardson says he’s glad to have Shorty back after his adventure, which he suspects was the result of a university prank.Steps have been taken to secure Shorty and there are plans to have a Mrs. Shorty carved to keep him company in front of Richardson’s lobster-roll food truck. The Canadian Presslast_img read more