New Delhi: A day after he was shifted from the high profile Ministry of Finance to the Power Ministry, senior bureaucrat Subhash Chandra Garg on Thursday applied for voluntary retirement from service, sources said. Once the application of Garg seeking voluntary retirement is accepted he would become the first finance secretary to do so in 19 years. Garg was due for superannuation on October 31, 2020. In November 2000, senior IAS officer EAS Sharma also called it quits after being shunted out from the finance ministry to the relatively low key coal ministry during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsInstead of taking up coal secretary post, Sarma, who was the economic affairs secretary in the Vajpayee regime, had retired voluntarily, a year and two months before his superannuation date. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, which is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had on Wednesday approved the appointment of Atanu Chakroborty, an 85-batch Gujarat cadre IAS officer, as the new Finance Secretary. Chakroborty was serving as Disinvestment Secretary. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayThe government also appointed power secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla as Officer on Special Duty in the Home Ministry and he will take over as the new Union Home Secretary succeeding Rajiv Gauba when he retires on August 31. According to a DoPT order, Bhalla, a 1984 batch IAS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, will join the MHA with immediate effect and continue to function as OSD till Gauba retires for the smooth transition of the charges. Anil Kumar Khachi, a 1986-batch IAS from Himachal Pradesh cadre will be the new Disinvestment Secretary succeeding Chakraborty. As per the DoPT order, Anshu Prakash, 1986-batch UT cadre IAS officer, appointed as new Telecom Secretary while his batch-mate from West Bengal cadre RS Shukla will join as Secretary, Parliamentary Affairs. Ravi Capoor, a 1986-batch Assam Meghalaya cadre, was appointed Secretary, Textiles while his batch-mate Atul Chaturvedi was sent to Animal Husbandry and Dairying department in the same capacity. The ACC also cleared in-situ upgrade of 12 IAS officers of 1986 batch to the level of Special Secretary in the rank and pay of Secretary, as a measure personal to them, by temporarily upgrading the post held by them, the order said. Those 1986-batch IAS promoted as special secretaries include Anil Kumar Jain in the Environment Ministry, Subash Chandra in the Department of Defence, Sanjeev Nandan Sahai in the Power Ministry, Shambhu Singh in the Roads and Transport Ministry, Ravi Mittal in the Department of Financial Services, Pramod Kumar Das in the Department of Expenditure and Sanjeeva Kumar in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the order said.
Kolkata: The Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) and other government agencies will repair eight flyovers in the city before Durga Puja, officials said on Saturday.The busy Chingrighata, Kalighat and Sealdah flyovers are among the eight flyovers. Chingrighata and Kalighat flyovers have been shut for heavy vehicles. A second round of inspection will decide the extent of repairs of the eight bridges. The decision comes after the Bridge Inspection and Monitoring Cell recently submitted a report on these bridges. The panel, which includes experts from state Public Works Department, Irrigation Department and KMDA, was formed in the wake of the Majerhat Bridge collapse in Kolkata, killing three people and injuring several others in September in 2018. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja Chingrighata and Kalighat flyovers will soon be completely shut for repairs and KMDA will request police to draw up traffic diversions, said a KMDA source. The condition of a pillar of Chingrighata flyover, which connects south Kolkata’s EM Bypass to Salt Lake, needs immediate repairs, the source said. The Chingrighata flyover suffers from design defects, the source added. Last year, structural engineers of KMDA were asked to rectify the defects. The repair work for both the flyovers are likely to take place this month. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway Experts found that pillars of Kalighat flyover had corroded. Last month, it was shut for two days for health assessment. At the time, they had raised questioned over its internal structure. KMDA has also planned to install height bars on both sides to restrict heavy vehicles from using the flyover.”The process of health audit of these flyovers are already in place. In the first phase, eight flyovers will be examined and after conducting health audit necessary repair work will be done before Puja. A few flyovers will also go through load capacity test,” said a KMDA official, who didn’t want to be named. Sealdah flyover, which was earlier identified as vulnerable, will also go through a similar test. As per officials, it will be shut for three days from August 15. Experts will also examine the load capacity of Aurobindo Setu and Bijon Setu. In the second phase, Dhakuria bridge, Chetla Lock Gate bridge, Karunamoyee bridge over Tolly’s Nullah, Chitpur bridge over the railway yard, Canal bridge near RG Kar Hospital, etc will undergo similar health audits. Three weeks ago, part of Ultadanga flyover was shut for three days after the panel found that it had developed cracks for repairs. The other flank (EM Bypass bound) of the bridge is still shut for traffic. “There are several flyovers and bridges in and near Kolkata that have aged. All these need to undergo audits and repair work. The safety of commuters is of utmost importance. We don’t want to take any chance. After a thorough repair and load-bearing-capacity check of flyovers which are damaged will be marked safe,” said an official from the monitoring cell. Before the September tragedy, no study was undertaken to check the structural stability of bridges in Kolkata.(With inputs from Indian Express)
NEW DELHI: Delhi government has decided to make a list of more than 30 Mohalla Clinics across the city which would be open for 12 hours. Nearly 36 Mohallah Clinics has been decided as per sources which would provide the extended period of OPD service. Earlier, all the Mohalla Clinics worked only for eight hours. “This is a decision which was taken keeping in mind the necessity of the Mohalla Clinics. Now more people are coming to the clinics and the extended time will help the doctors to provide better health facility,” said an official. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderAccording to sources all the Chief District Medical Officers were asked to send their recommendations for appointment of doctors in these clinics and to ensure adequate stock of medicines. There are 204 Mohalla Clinics which offer primary healthcare facilities, besides providing nine essential medicines and 212 tests free of cost to beneficiaries. Meanwhile, the Delhi government is all set to launch more than 100 Mohalla Clinics by next month, said the sources in the government. All these clinics are mostly ready for the use and now the government is working on the appointment of doctors on these clinics and also some last-minute infrastructural work is going on. “Most of these Mohalla Clinics are fully ready. The Public Works Department is working on the last minute setting of furniture in these clinics. The work of appointment of doctors are also going on,” said a senior official. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsAccording to the officials, most of these clinics are built in both government lands and rented lands. “The government has now decided to rent private lands because the projects got delayed due to the availability of the lands. Now after the decision of taking lands in rent, the work progress is going fast,” said the official. After lots of tussle with the DDA, the Delhi government has decided to take semi-commercial spaces on rent to make Mohalla Clinics. By November the Delhi government to make 500 more Mohalla Clinics said the sources in the Delhi government. In an urgent meeting with the Health Minister, the department took the decision. Sources in the Delhi government also said that next week the department is likely to inaugurate nine Mohalla Clinics at various places across Delhi.
Vladivostok/New Delhi: On the eve of his summit talks with Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he shared a “special chemistry” with the Russian President and is keen on technology transfers so that the two sides can make military equipment in India at cheaper rates for export to third countries. Modi, the first Prime Minister to visit Russia’s Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, is due to hold wide-ranging talks with President Putin on Wednesday ahead of his departure to the Russian port city. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”I am confident that this visit will give a new vector, new energy and a new impetus to the relations between our countries,” Modi said in an interview with Russia’s state-run TASS news agency. Russia and India are set to sign about 15 documents, including some in the military-technical sectors, within the framework of the 20th Russian-Indian summit that will take place on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), a Tass report said. The Russian-Indian partnership has gone beyond the framework of military and technical cooperation, Modi said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost”We don’t want to be limited just to relations between the customer and the seller of military technologies. We are sure about the model of transferring technologies. I have said several times about this and we have even started moving in this direction,” Modi said. “Today, provided that technologies are transferred, the production of military equipment can be cheap in India. And we will be able to supply these weapons to third countries at very low prices. India and Russia need to take advantage of this opportunity,” he noted. Prime Minister Modi will take part in the 2019 Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) as the chief guest. “This forum is not confined to a mere exchange of points of view. We have been gearing up for this forum for six months,” Modi said. He noted that a large delegation from Russia’s Far East visited India and chief ministers from India, ministers, businessmen visited the Far East and saw it with their own eyes. The prime minister also said he is ready to make efforts to ensure that the EEF will help boost and expand economic relations between India and Russia. “That is why I think that the Eastern Forum is a very important event,” he said.
Kolkata: Mayor Firhad Hakim visited a plot in South Kolkata and supervised its cleaning operation on Thursday morning. The plot is situated at 202/4, Harish Mukherjee Road, close to the house of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.The plot, surrounded by tall buildings, does not have any access. Residents of the buildings who used to throw garbage on the plot, have converted it into a dumping ground. The accumulated water and garbage are all potential sources for mosquito breeding ground. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaBecause of the inaccessibility of the plot, the garbage could not be removed. Hakim advised to take the matter up with the assessment department headed by Deputy Mayor Atin Ghosh to find out ways and means to reach the spot. “I was an MLA from the area. As the plot does not have any access it has been used like a dumping ground by the residents of the surrounding buildings. I will talk to the assessment department to resolve the issue,” he said. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayHakim added that civic authorities have taken up drives to clean the city very seriously. Because of sustained campaigns by the KMC over the past months, not a single case of dengue has been detected in the areas under its jurisdiction.It may be mentioned that KMC has started the anti-dengue drive from February, when rallies had been taken out in all the 144 wards. The civic authorities have identified 20 areas that are vulnerable to dengue and special drives have been held there. The private laboratories have been asked to conduct Eliza test to detect dengue. The civic authorities have blood collection units in all the wards and specialised dengue detection centres where treatment is given for free. KMC has also decided to award the best Puja committees that will take up drives to make people aware regarding the vector-borne disease.
Kolkata: 17 people have died while around 10,000 people across the state have been affected by dengue, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state Assembly on Friday.However, the mortality rate in the state which stands at 0.2 percent, is much lower than the accepted mortality rate standard of 1 percent set by the World Health Organisation in case of patients afflicted with the vector-borne disease. North 24-Parganas, Nadia and Alipurduar are the three districts that have had the maximum number of dengue cases while the other states have had less number of such cases. North 24-Parganas have had 5,479 dengue cases which is more than half of the total number of people suffering from the disease. 13 of the dengue mortality cases have occurred in state hospitals, with 4 in private hospitals. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”We have witnessed a change in the character of the mosquitoes that have been found to be responsible for causing the disease. Aedis Albopictus mosquito bites are resulting in dengue rather than the Aedis Aegypti type that had contributed to dengue last year. These mosquitoes are mainly biting in the open and not within residences. It is often found that patients affected with dengue from this type of mosquito bite are suffering from multi-organ failure,” Banerjee, who also holds the Health portfolio, said in response to a query from Leader of Opposition Abdul Mannan at the state Assembly. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayBanerjee also attributed dengue cases to people from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh coming to Bengal on a regular basis for work or for availing medical facilities. “Bangladesh has had over 50,000 dengue cases this year with Jessore and Khulna being the worst affected. Both these places share boundaries with North 24-Parganas and Nadia,” she added. Reiterating the series of measures taken up by her department to combat the disease, she maintained that three crore guppy fishes that feast on mosquito larvae have been released into waterbodies and bio larvicide is being spread to destroy such larvae. “The budget to combat dengue has gone up from Rs 240 crore last year to Rs 500 crore this year,” Banerjee said. Chandrima Bhattacharjee, minister of state for Health said that the number of dengue detection centres in the state has gone up from 43 last year to 60, while 1,84,218 patients have had blood tests for dengue detection in comparison to 1,26,404 last year. “The sub-divisional and state general hospitals have been equipped with infrastructure for dengue treatment. The department has ensured that the blood banks do not suffer from dearth of platelet which is the most important component of dengue treatment,” Bhattacharjee said. The Chief Minister has also constituted a high power committee led by Chief Secretary Malay De to monitor the dengue situation in the state. 791 Gram Panchayats and 803 municipal areas have been earmarked as dengue prone and special measures have been undertaken in these areas.
Four stories in the news for Monday, May 14———FLOOD FEARS RISING AGAIN IN SOUTHERN B.C.Flood weary residents in southern B.C. are bracing for round-two as rising temperatures accelerate the melting of high elevation snowpacks. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary says about 3,000 residents remain under an evacuation order due to the threat of a second flood, with rivers expected to rise by mid-week to levels close to those experienced on Thursday. Premier John Horgan has said this may be a “one-in-one-hundred-years” flooding season.———CRITICS OF ’60S SCOOP SETTLEMENT WILL FIGHT ONA woman who’s spent months informing ’60s Scoop survivors about Ottawa’s class-action settlement says she’ll continue advising people to object to the deal, even after a federal judge approved the $875 million agreement. Coleen Rajotte is one of the Indigenous survivors who spoke at federal court hearings on the settlement last week. She contends the entire process was set up to ensure survivors couldn’t object to the deal.———INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S ART DISPLAYED ON BILLBOARDSArtists are reclaiming space in inner cities and on highways where many Indigenous women have suffered violence or disappeared. From June until August, the Resilience Project is putting the work of 50 Indigenous women artists on 167 billboards across the country to show Indigenous women are visible, powerful and should be celebrated.———PRICEY B.C. HOME OWNERS SAY TAX INCREASE UNFAIRLynne Kent says owning a home in Vancouver that’s valued at $4 million isn’t the blessing it may appear to be. She and her husband are among a small group of homeowners in British Columbia facing a tax bump on homes assessed at over $3 million who say they simply can’t afford it — a claim that some are questioning.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Transport Minister Marc Garneau makes a funding announcement at the Port of Montreal that will help move goods to market.— Civil liberties and prison rights groups hold a press conference in Ottawa on solitary confinement litigation.— Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor delivers opening remarks at the National Dementia Conference in Ottawa.— Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner releases the party’s election platform in Toronto.— Young entrepreneurs, aged 10 to 18, celebrate innovations at the Western Canadian Youth Entrepreneur Showcase in Vancouver.— B.C. Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy will make an announcement about addiction treatment in Victoria.———
VICTORIA – Victoria’s suspended police chief quit Thursday amid an investigation into his sexually charged Twitter messages to the wife of a subordinate officer.The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board said in a statement Frank Elsner resigned from his position as chief constable and will no longer receive his salary or other benefits after his suspension a year ago.“Through his counsel, Mr. Elsner has advised that he considers his employment relationship with the police board to be at an end,” said the statement. “The police board has concluded from this advice that Mr. Elsner has resigned from his position as chief constable of the Victoria Police Department.”Elsner was not available for comment, but his Vancouver lawyer Janet Winteringham issued a brief statement.“We confirm that Frank Elsner has elected to end his employment with the Victoria Police Board,” said Winteringham’s statement. “He believes it is in the best interests of the community of Victoria for him to step aside. Due to the ongoing proceedings he is unable to make any further comment at this time including any comment with respect to the timing of this decision.”Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said Del Manak will continue to serve as the acting chief until the police board decides its future moves.“It’s basically business as usual as it’s been for the last year-and-a-half, but chief Elsner is no longer the suspended chief, he is the former chief as of today,” she said, in an interview.Helps said taxpayers will receive an accounting of the costs associated to the investigations and legal fees involving the former suspended police chief.Elsner apologized shortly after the public learned of an internal investigation that was looking into inappropriate messages he sent to a female member of another police force, who is also the wife of a Victoria police officer.He has been under investigation by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and had already been reprimanded following a police board probe into allegations of discreditable conduct and misuse of the department’s devices.B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson released a decision last month that narrowed the scope of the commissioner’s investigation by throwing out two of five allegations against Elsner.The ruling determined the Twitter issues that were investigated by the police board could not be revisited by the police complaints commissioner, but the office could examine whether Elsner contacted witnesses and if he gave misleading information to the subordinate officer and an independent investigator.British Columbia’s police watchdog said on April 19 that it would appeal the court ruling quashing parts of its investigation into the misconduct allegations.It’s unclear what happens to the commissioner’s investigation now that Elsner has resigned. No one from the commissioner’s office returned a request for comment on Thursday.Elsner had asked the court to set aside the commissioner’s probe completely, arguing that an internal investigation had already been done.He has been suspended with pay since April 2016.A separate investigation into allegations against Elsner of workplace sexual harassment has been set for a closed-door discipline hearing.
OTTAWA – Federal Liberals are nervous about the future of the Trans Mountain pipeline project as a political shake-up in British Columbia seems likely to produce a provincial government that opposes the plan.Liberals waited anxiously throughout the day for details of a deal between B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and were greeted at day’s end by news the deal had not only been signed, but specifically included a plan to oppose the pipeline.The project – to twin the existing pipeline that runs between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C. – was given the green light by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last fall. B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark came around to supporting it over the winter after certain conditions she placed on it were met.That approval likely cost her in the May 9 election, in which the Liberals fell one seat short of a majority and the Greens, with just three seats, were left holding the balance of power.Clark intends to test her government in the Legislature before the end of June, a test she expects to lose. She would likely then be replaced by Horgan and the NDP, whose minority government would be propped up by the Greens.Both Horgan and Weaver campaigned against Trans Mountain, a factor University of British Columbia professor George Hoberg said was certainly part of the election result and a sign that a majority of British Columbians don’t want the pipeline to be twinned.“A lot has changed,” said Hoberg, of the politics around Trans Mountain.While interprovincial pipelines remain the jurisdiction of Ottawa, he said a province could put up road blocks, such as refusing logging permits for construction or insisting on a provincial environmental assessment.“If it does either of those things the federal government would have to go to court to force B.C. to stand down and respect federal jurisdiction,” said Hoberg. “They would probably win. That would take a couple of years.”He said any delays could further erode the confidence of investors, who were already showing some skittishness about the project during Kinder Morgan’s initial public offering Tuesday.Trudeau, who was in Italy, insisted Tuesday the B.C. political shake-up doesn’t change the facts in favour of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr reiterated the message saying the project was approved based on science and extensive consultations and nothing has changed that.“The approval will be there for the former government, the current government and any government after that,” Carr said.However a source in the federal government acknowledged events in B.C. have made people in Ottawa nervous. The pipeline has already caused strife for the ruling party among supporters and even within the caucus with several B.C. Liberal MPs opposing it.Federal Conservatives smell blood. Newly-minted Leader Andrew Scheer said there are “forces uniting” to kill the Trans Mountain project and Trudeau doesn’t have the political stamina to stand up to them.“The Prime Minister personally approved this pipeline,” Scheer said in the House of Commons.“He said that it was a fundamental responsibility to get Canadian energy to market. Will the Prime Minister finally stand up to the forces that are seeking to kill these jobs, or will he fold like a cardboard cutout?”Greg MacEachern, a former Liberal strategist who is now a vice-president at Environics, said whatever happens in the B.C. legislature there will be areas of common ground and room for negotiation.“If there is a new NDP/Green government they are also going to have demands,” he said. “What this likely will come down to is the economy.”But federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said Tuesday she thinks Trans Mountain is “dead.”-follow @mrabson on Twitter.
VANCOUVER – Parents tasked with preparing school lunches might reach for convenient packaged foods, but the author of a new study says kids across Canada aren’t eating enough nutritious food during school hours.Claire Tugault-Lafleur, a PhD candidate in the University of British Columbia’s human nutrition program, says the study is the first to analyze differences in dietary intake patterns between school hours and non-school hours.The study published today in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism examined the latest data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey involving over 4,800 children between the ages of six and 17.Tugault-Lafleur says researchers used an index of 11 key components of a healthy diet examining all the food and drinks kids consumed between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and the average score was 53.4 out of 100 points.She says children in Quebec had the highest score and kids in Newfoundland and Labrador were at the bottom of the list.The lowest scores were for dark green and orange vegetables, fruit, whole grains and milk and alternatives.Tugault-Lafleur says that since 2004, all provinces have issued guidelines affecting foods sold at schools, whether in vending machines or cafeterias.
WINNIPEG – First Nations leaders in Manitoba want a greater say in the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents First Nations communities across northern Manitoba, says improvements in the way the inquiry communicates with families are badly needed.The MKO and other Indigenous groups are calling for a regional sub-commission for Manitoba that would involve families and survivors.Earlier this week, chief commissioner Marion Buller said government bureaucracy is smothering the inquiry’s ability to do its work on time.She said it was frustrating the inquiry had to follow the same policies and procedures for hiring practices, contracting and technology and budgeting as all government departments.Some Indigenous leader have demanded the commissioners resign and the whole thing be restarted, which Buller has said is not going to happen.But North Wilson said the process just isn’t working.“That would be the tragedy of it — that our families feel so disengaged that they don’t participate,” she said. “This is what we’re trying to avoid. Our leaders and our families and survivors — we frequently talk about whether we want to participate or not. It’s hard to try and stay engaged when you’re not part of the process.”(CTV Winnipeg)
VANCOUVER – For more than 50 years, Simon Fraser University’s sports teams have played under the name The Clan, to honour the Scottish heritage of the school’s namesake.But now, amid violent neo-Nazi marches in the United States, some professors and students are sounding the alarm that the name evokes a very different clan — the Ku Klux Klan.Philosophy professor Holly Andersen has launched a petition to persuade the university to change the name, saying the word “clan” sounds the same spelled with a “C” or a “K” and is associated with a horrible history in the U.S.She said SFU is the only Canadian school to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, a league dominated by American teams, and it’s disrespectful to competitors, especially African-Americans, to force them to play against a team named The Clan.“It is not that the term clan is itself racist. The issue is the context: in Canada that term is neutral, but in the U.S. it is as bad as a pretty bad swear word. Quite literally, it is a term that silences normal conversation,” she said in an email.“U.S. teams know we don’t mean that Klan. But they also know that we know what it means in the U.S., and choose to play under that name anyways, which makes us look quite naive and disrespectful.”The university was founded in 1965 and named after Simon Fraser, who explored the Pacific Northwest in the early 19th century. The school embraced Fraser’s Scottish roots with a pipe band and by adopting the nickname “Clan” for its athletic teams.SFU spokesman Kurt Heinrich said the concern about the team name is not new, but it has been given new impetus by recent events in the U.S. The university is sensitive to the issue, especially given its commitments to equity and diversity, he said.“We will be reviewing the situation in light of recent events, and will consider what further steps, if any, might be taken to avoid possible misunderstandings relating to the use of this name by our athletic teams,” he said in a statement.Andersen said a name change could be a positive thing that recognizes the Scottish heritage of the school. She suggested the Tartans, the original name of the student newspaper, or the Pipers, since the pipe band consistently rates among the top few in the world.The word “clan” in the Scottish tradition means a kinship group, such as the Clan Fraser.Student wrestler Aliocha Perriard-Abdoh said the name used to represent family and sisterhood to her, but after reading the petition she sees that it’s insensitive and potentially hurtful to African-American competitors.“It’s a luxury for us to say, ‘That’s not how we mean it,’ but without taking into account someone else’s feelings,” she said.Perriard-Abdoh said she’d like the university to poll student athletes, or students in general, about whether the team name poses a problem. Then there should be a discussion about a strong name that would unify and inspire players, she said.More than 300 people have signed the online petition. One commenter wrote that when she hears The Clan, she immediately thinks of the KKK, and as a black SFU student, she didn’t think that was fair.Another said they were a former student athlete and their team resorted to calling themselves “The Clams” to avoid embarrassment.But at least one signatory had a different view: “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” he wrote.Heribert Adam, a SFU sociology professor specializing in comparative racism and multiculturalism, suggested the school do a better job of communicating the meaning of the name rather than change it.He also said a more relevant debate would be a discussion of the role of Scottish settlers in Canadian colonialism.“A petition is useful to create a debate and more knowledge about history,” he said. “If the word ‘clan’ leads to a discussion about racism in both countries, then it’s useful.”— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.
TORONTO – A witness at a murder trial says he sold one of the accused a gun days before a young Toronto woman vanished.Matthew Ward-Jackson says he pleaded guilty to the gun transaction with Dellen Millard that took place in early July 2012.The Crown alleges Millard and Mark Smich killed Laura Babcock because she became the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.The prosecution contends the pair burned her body in a commercial animal incinerator that was later found on Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont.Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the presumed death of Babcock, 23.Ward-Jackson could not recall many details about the gun sale and was often evasive about the numerous phone calls and text messages with Millard in July 2012.Babcock disappeared on July 3, 2012. No one has heard from her since that summer and her body has not been found.Ward-Jackson, who also goes by his rapper name Ish, told court Wednesday that Millard showed interest in a gun that had come into his possession.He later changed his testimony and said he figured Millard would want a gun because he was a “manly man, interested in cars, girls, maybe firearms.”The Crown walked Ward-Jackson through a series of text messages police recovered from Millard’s phone.One discussed a .32-calibre gun, that Ward-Jackson described in a text to Millard sent at 8:14 p.m. on July 1, 2012, as “a really nice nice compact piece.”“Did you write that text?” asked Crown attorney Jill Cameron.“Me or my butler,” Ward-Jackson said.“You had a butler?” Cameron asked.“Yup. Somebody that I paid to help me manage my life … but I did arrange this deal,” he said.Ward-Jackson said the gun was empty when he arranged the deal with Millard. He said he didn’t provide Millard any ammunition.The Crown asked Ward-Jackson repeatedly if he could recall the numerous calls and text messages that phone records showed — the contents of most were not recovered.“I truthfully don’t recall many of them, this is several years ago and I’ve been incarcerated for four years,” Ward-Jackson said.He told court he was testifying against his will. The Crown continued to press him on the gun deal.“Did you ever ask why he needed a gun?” Cameron asked.“No, it’s none of my business, I have no right to ask him that,” Ward-Jackson said.Court also heard about an agreed statement of fact that a .32-calibre gun was recovered at Millard’s home with his DNA on the handle.The trial continues Thursday.
SASKATOON – A junior hockey player who was injured in the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash is making progress but is not yet able to speak.Defenceman Layne Matechuk’s family released a statement on Friday updating his recovery from a brain injury.His family said he was in a coma for the first month and doesn’t appear to know what happened.“While we see his frustration, we also see his determination,” the statement said. “Layne has always had to work hard to achieve his success.”He has transferred Saskatoon hospitals to continue his rehabilitation and the family said the road ahead won’t be easy. They’re also not sure when Matechuk will get to leave hospital.“But what we can tell you is that we believe he gets a little closer every day.”The Broncos were on their way to a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game on April 6 when their bus and a semi-trailer collided at a rural Saskatchewan intersection.Sixteen people were killed and 13 players were injured.Matechuk, 18, was in his first full season with the Broncos and had five goals and three assists in 45 regular-season games.His family thanked people for their support since the crash and said there was a bike rally held for Matechuk earlier this month.They said coach Darcy Haugan, who was killed in the crash, talked about the word “believe” and they are holding onto that word on a daily basis.“We #believe the strength and determination that brought Layne success on the ice will bring him success in the months and years ahead.“We ask that you continue to send your prayers and support to him — and to think of him.”— By Ryan McKenna in Regina. Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitter
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The famous “whale man of Newfoundland” is being remembered in a new play opening in St. John’s this week.“Between Breaths” follows scientist Jon Lien’s life, moving backwards from the period shortly before his death in 2010 to his first whale rescue in 1978.Over the course of his career, Lien freed hundreds of whales from fishing nets along the coast of Newfoundland, and was respected by environmentalists and fishermen alike for his work.Award-winning playwright Robert Chafe said Lien’s mutually trusting relationship with the fishing community stood out to him during his interviews with those who knew him.“He was a scientist and a conservationist, those people are usually the antagonists to people who work in industries like the fishery,” Chafe said in an interview“But everyone I knew in the fishery who talked about Jon, when his name would come up, just spoke about him with such respect and reverence. And I thought, that’s just so beautiful that he did the work that he did, but also fostered this great respect from these people.”In the late 1970s, more whales were getting trapped in Newfoundland fishermen’s nets, as the animals swam closer to the shore looking for food.Lien quickly caught the attention of inshore fishermen for the care he took to preserve the nets as well as free the whales. He would spend hours on the water during his rescues, studying the nets to make sure they weren’t destroyed in the process.Lien was awarded the Order of Canada in 2008 for his commitment to preserving the marine environment, before he died from heart complications in 2010.Chafe began research on the script by interviewing Lien’s family, friends and colleagues, starting in 2012.He said he’s been appreciative of the support from Lien’s family during the difficult process of remembering stories about him so shortly after his death.“I saw a lot of grieving,” Chafe recalled of the early developmental stages.Lien was injured in a vehicle accident the early 2000s. His health deteriorated afterwards, and he eventually had to use a wheelchair.Chafe said he felt a desire from people to remember Lien in his younger days, doing the work he loved. That motivated the decision to tell the story backwards, as Lien uses his memories to move freely as his physical mobility declined.“The metaphor of the whale being trapped in the net, is really Jon,” said Chafe.The title comes from a lesson of Lien’s: when the whales became trapped, the animals would often try to dive deeper and swim away while between breaths.“Really, the idea for the title is that’s exactly what’s happening in the show — between breaths, Jon is going diving deeper into his past.”The feat of bringing the sea to the stage will be achieved with just a few props and creative lighting. The show is directed by Chafe’s long-time collaborator Jillian Keiley, and Steve O’Connell will play Lien.Sound also plays a big role in setting the scene, and the show features an original score by St. John’s trio The Once.“Between Breaths” premieres this weekend in St. John’s, but Chafe and his theatre company Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland hope to bring the show beyond Atlantic Canada after its initial run.The show has been in development for more than five years, and Chafe is hopeful that audiences will leave the theatre with an appreciation of the Lien who was — a friend to whales and fishermen alike.“If people walk out with a sense of who this man was, and a kind of admiration for not only the priorities of his life, but how he lived and how he executed that, that would make me very, very happy.”
OTTAWA – The total amount of employment insurance fraud has hit a five-year high — a sign for federal officials that efforts to root out wrongful payments are working.Public accounts documents released this month list more than 104,000 incidents of fraudulent EI claims totalling almost $177 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year.It marks the fourth year that figures have increased in the wake of efforts by Employment and Social Development Canada to fine tune its fraud-sleuthing tools to improve its ability to find and deal with fraud.Officials expect to eventually collect $132.8 million of the wrongful payments identified in the fiscal year that ended in March, and plan to write off about $74,000.The amount of fraud is minuscule compared to the overall amount spent on benefits to unemployed workers, to new parents on leave, workers who need time off due to serious illness, or those who must stay off the job to care for an ailing family member.EI spending between April 2017 and March 2018 topped $19.7 billion, meaning the value of fraudulent claims was less than one per cent of total spending.“The government is committed to deliver these important benefits to Canadians when they need it most while protecting the integrity of the system from fraud and erroneous over payment,” an ESDC spokesman said in an statement.“The department has made investments to improve its efforts to identify fraud, including adjustments to its risk-based analytical models. These efforts have contributed to this increase.”Generally, the government finds it more difficult to recoup funds the later it detects fraud or overpayments.The government must collect the money within six years of identifying the wrongful payment, or officials write it off. The clock starts when an incident is flagged, but the deadline to collect can be extended if, for instance, the debtor goes to court.A review of the annual spending documents show EI write offs have been on a three year slide, hitting $43.6 million in fiscal year 2017-2018.Two years ago, ESDC rejigged the automated system that detects fraud in hopes of identifying more and larger cases of incorrect payments.The program considers some 100 variables to calculate the chance someone has received too much money, either by accident or through fraud.Similar efforts have hit other programs, including old age security benefits that cost $38.4 billion last fiscal year.Old age security fraud dropped between the 2017-18 fiscal year and the preceding 12-month period, going from 16 cases worth $1.2 million down to 10 incidents worth $494,490 — a six-year low for both figures.Likewise, Canada Pension Plan fraud has been on a downward trend, now into its fifth year.Officials found five cases, worth $92,010, but half is not expected to be recovered.— Follow @jpress on Twitter.
It’s been a tough week, so today we bring you happiness. No, really — an actual episode about the study of happiness: How we define it, how we measure it, and some surprising new data that reveals which groups of Canadians are actually the happiest.Can money buy happiness? What about Twitter followers, do they make you happy? Friends? Family? A pet or a chocolate bar? And why are most of the people you know with steady jobs and a handful of kids some of the least happy folks you’ll find? Listen to this episode and consider what matters to you, and the things in your life that bring you joy. And when you’re done, take our guest’s advice and go smile at someone.GUEST: John Helliwell, Happiness expert, Editor, World Happiness Report, UBC professor emeritusAudio Playerhttp://media.blubrry.com/thebigstory/s/radio.pmd.rogersdigitalmedia.com/podcasts/thebigstory/tbs_1102_2018.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on iTunes or Google Play.You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.
OTTAWA — Former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps says the Canadian military has been slow to change its highly sexualized culture.Testifying to the House of Commons defence committee, she said victims of sexual aggression in the ranks aren’t served well by the military’s complaints process.Deschamps led a report on sexual misconduct in the military in 2015.She told the committee the “duty to report,” which compels service members to report criminal behaviour and trigger a formal process, does not support the needs of victims.Her comments echo the findings of a fall report by the auditor general.Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance defended the practice last month but said officials were looking at ways to empower and support victims.The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — A look at Peter Bevan-Baker, leader of Prince Edward Island’s Green party.Age: 56.Early years: Bevan-Baker grew up in Scotland. He was a member of the Cub Scouts and later the Sea Scouts. He immigrated to Canada in 1985, living in Newfoundland and then Ontario before settling in Prince Edward Island in 2003. He became a Canadian citizen in 1992.Education: He earned a Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.Career: He ran a dental clinic, cafe and community hall in Hampton, P.E.I. He ran unsuccessfully nine times federally and provincially for the Green party before becoming the first Green member of the P.E.I. legislature in 2015.Family: Married to his wife Ann for 28 years. They have four children.Quote: “On P.E.I. we face lots of problems ranging from mental health to sustainable agriculture to securing predictable long-term economic prosperity. Governing well means recognizing them all and bringing forward a coherent, integrated suite of policies and actions to deal with them in a balanced and cohesive way. But it also means recognizing what things must take precedence; what issues must be placed prior to the others. All issues are critical to some people, but some issues are fundamental to everyone’s well-being.” – From a recent blog post. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — SNC-Lavalin’s court fight for a special agreement to avoid prosecution on corruption charges continues to lurch along, despite the prospect of a criminal trial and Wednesday’s explosive report from the federal ethics watchdog on the conduct of the prime minister.The Federal Court of Appeal has set a series of filing deadlines that run through the fall — as the campaign for the Oct. 21 federal election unfolds — for the latest submissions in the engineering and construction giant’s ongoing legal battle for a remediation agreement over alleged wrongdoing in Libya.SNC-Lavalin unsuccessfully pressed the federal director of prosecutions to negotiate an agreement — an alternative means of holding an organization accountable for wrongdoing without a formal finding of guilt.In a March ruling, a judge tossed out the firm’s plea for judicial review of the director’s 2018 decision.In its ruling, the Federal Court said prosecutorial discretion is not subject to judicial review, except for cases where there is an abuse of process.SNC-Lavalin contends in the Court of Appeal that the process of determining whether to pursue a remediation agreement was completely flawed.The Canadian Press