Archive | October, 2017

Quebec women who wear niqab worry about how Bill 62 will affect daily life

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

Women like Fatima Ahmad say the bill could technically stop them from attending university and will disrupt their use of public transit.

MONTREAL—Warda Naili says the first time she donned a niqab six years ago, it became a part of her.

The Quebec woman, a convert to Islam, said she decided to cover her face out of a desire to practice her faith more authentically and to protect her modesty.

And in an image driven society, she found it liberating that people would now have to connect with her based on who she was, not what she looked like.

“My interpretation — and it’s very personal — is that my niqab is my portable curtain,” Naili, 34, said in an interview near her home in Montreal.

“I can go everywhere and be reached, and reach people as I want.”

Since its adoption on Wednesday, the Quebec government’s religious neutrality bill has been the subject of heated debate.

In light of this, the government will publish the rules on how it will be applied, the province’s justice minister said Sunday.

Stéphanie Vallée said the decision to publish the document, which was originally intended only for administrators, was made in order to fully inform the public on the controversial legislation.

In a lengthy interview with The Canadian Press, Vallée said she was stunned by the intense reaction to Bill 62, which requires anyone giving or receiving state services to do so with an uncovered face.

On Sunday, Vallée called for calm and stressed the need to “reposition the law in its context.”

She noted that most members of Quebec’s legislature agree with the principle behind the bill.

“I must admit that the interpretation we’ve heard is quite particular, because we were concerned throughout the bill with preserving balance and especially preserving individual freedoms,” she said.

Fatima Ahmad, a 21-year-old Montreal university student, said she felt compelled to begin wearing the niqab just over a year ago, during the month of Ramadan.

“I realized it was something I wanted to do, and I loved it,” she said. “It’s part of my devotion towards God and it also deals with modesty.”

The legislation forbids anyone from receiving or giving a public service with their face covered.

That includes city services such as public transit.

While the law does not mention a particular religion, many say it unfairly targets Muslim women who wear religious face coverings.

Justin Trudeau is weighing in further on the Quebec law banning people from covering their faces while receiving public services. The prime minister says it is not the role of government to tell women what they can or can’t wear. (The Canadian Press)

Ahmad says the bill could technically stop her from attending university, although she’s hoping that won’t happen since most of the faculty members she’s spoken to have said they’ll support her.

She also takes buses and the subway to get around, both to school and social engagements.

In the future, she says she expects to have to stay home more often.

Naili, for her part, says she already stays home most of the time to avoid the discrimination she faces on the street.

The exception is hospitals, which she says she must visit on a regular basis for health problems.

She says she doesn’t see how the law can claim to be helping women when it will make her depend on her husband for rides and force her to change what she wears.

“I want to control who I give the permission to access my body,” she said. “I think every woman, and every person, should have this right.”

Both Naili and Ahmad say they made the choice to wear the niqab on their own, based on the way they interpret their religion.

But having made the choice, neither feel they can just remove the garment, other than when necessary for identification purposes.

“It’s something very personal to me, it’s part of who I am, my identity,” Ahmad said. “It’s not something I can just take off to receive a public service.”

The political opposition has said the law doesn’t go far enough, while members of the Islamic community said it violates the right of Muslim women right to express their religion as they see fit.

Some city leaders, including Montreal’s mayor, have said they’ll resist applying it to city services.

But not all women who’ve worn niqabs feel positively about them.

Ensaf Haidar, the wife of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi, says she had to wear the niqab in Saudi Arabia at times because it was mandatory.

She feels niqabs are a way of erasing women from public view and says she doesn’t believe they have a place in Canada or Quebec.

“When the niqab is there, the woman is absent,” she said in a phone interview. “She’s like a ghost.”

Haidar lives in Sherbrooke, Que. with her three children as she fights for the release of her husband, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for his criticism of Saudi clerics.

She says she doesn’t believe wearing the niqab can be a choice and hopes to see it gone from Canada one day.

“We came here to be free,” Haidar said. “We’re here because there are a lot of things we can’t do in our country.”

“I am here and I am free and I am me.”


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Trudeau names former Ontario premier Bob Rae as special envoy to Burma

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

He will be advising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Burma, where nearly 60,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled since late August.

OTTAWA—Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has been named a special envoy to Burma.

He will be advising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the southeast Asian country.

Nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma’s Rakhine state since late August to escape persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing.

Rae’s appointment was announced this morning by the prime minister.

The appointment comes as UN humanitarian officials, high-level government envoys and advocacy groups hold a one-day conference aimed at drumming up funds to help refugees in Bangladesh.

In addition to Rae’s appointment, the federal Liberals announced Canada will provide an additional $12 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing the total of Canada’s financial commitment to $25 million so far.

“Canada is deeply concerned about the urgent humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar’s (Burma’s) Rakhine state, particularly the brutal persecution of the Rohingya Muslim people,” Trudeau said in a statement.

“I am confident that Bob Rae’s vast experience as a lawyer, adviser, negotiator, arbitrator and public servant will help Canada work more effectively with Myanmar and other international partners to chart a path towards lasting peace and reconciliation.”

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Liberals accused of tax grab by clawing back disability credit for diabetics

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

Diabetes Canada joined Conservative politicians to denounce what they say is a clawback of a disability tax credit to help diabetics manage a disease that can cost $15,000 annually.

OTTAWA—Health groups joined forces on Sunday with the Conservative opposition to accuse the Liberal government of trying to raise tax revenue on the backs of vulnerable diabetics.

The accusation opened a new front in the ongoing opposition-waged war on government taxation policy, amid the backdrop of the conflict-of-interest controversy dogging Finance Minister Bill Morneau over whether he’s properly distanced himself from millions of dollars in private sector assets.

Diabetes Canada was among the groups that joined Conservative politicians to publicly denounce what they say is a clawback of a long-standing disability tax credit to help diabetics manage a disease that can cost the average sufferer $15,000 annually.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre branded it as one more example of an out-of-touch Liberal government that he characterized as unfairly targeting the hardworking middle-class people it claims to support.

“His tax department tried to tax the employee discounts of waitresses and cashiers. Now his government is targeting vulnerable people suffering with diabetes with thousands of dollars in tax increases,” Poilievre said on Sunday at a Parliament Hill news conference flanked by fellow Conservative critics, a young diabetic constituent and a top official with a leading diabetes advocacy organization.

In May, the revenue department stopped approving a disability tax credit for people with Type 1 diabetes for those who had previously claimed it, he said.

People who need more than 14 hours per week for insulin therapy and had a doctor’s certification previously qualified. But other than citing a spike in applications for the benefit, the government offered no explanation for the change during initial interactions earlier this spring, said Kimberley Hanson of Diabetes Canada.

Thousands of claimants from across Canada who had previously been given the $1,500 annual benefit have been rejected in recent months, but Hanson said she can’t get an exact number from Canadian Revenue Agency and has had to file an Access to Information request to find out.

In recent months, the agency officials and Minister Diane Lebouthillier have for the most part rebuffed their overtures.

“Over the past two months, she’s stopped responding to my messages and answering some of my questions,” Hanson said, referring to one senior department official.

On Saturday, a senior department official reached out to her to reopen dialogue, she said. Poilievre said that only happened because the matter was raised briefly on Friday by the Conservatives during Question Period.

“Applicants are now being denied on the basis that ‘the type of therapy indicated does not meet the 14 hour per week criteria.’ These denials are in contradiction of the certifications provided by licensed medical practitioners and do not appear to be based on evidence,” says an Oct. 3 letter to Lebouthillier, signed by Diabetes Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism and two other organizations.

In an emailed response to The Canadian Press on Sunday evening, a spokesperson for Lebouthillier writes that the “concerns brought up by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and other groups, are worrisome.”

It says the minister has initiated a “five-point plan” that included numerous consultations with “stakeholders” to better understand how the benefit is administered.

It says she wants the agency to improve its data collection and is planning to hire more nurses to work in processing centres to evaluate the claims.

This would help “to ensure that a medical professional is involved in the reviewing of individual’s applications,” said the emailed statement.

This latest complaint about the government’s tax policy comes after the Liberals were forced to reset proposed tax measures after weeks of vocal opposition from small business owners, doctors, farmers and backbench Liberal MPs.

The Canada Revenue Agency was also recently forced to withdraw a notice that targeted employee discounts after it caused an uproar.

“It’s not like I can snap a finger and this disease turns off,” said Madison Ferguson, a constituent of Poilievre’s who first raised it with her MP this summer after her claim was rejected.

She said she has to constantly calculate the effect of what she eats, while monitoring her blood sugar levels as much as four to 10 times a day, using test strips that cost $1.50 to $2 each time.

“It’s quite expensive but it’s needed because without this I wouldn’t be here,” said Ferguson. “So every moment of every day has to be calculated.”


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Jagmeet Singh vows to help Horwath topple Wynne

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath can count on some major campaign help from her party’s brightest star, Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath can count on some major campaign help from her party’s brightest star.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he will do all he can to ensure Horwath replaces Liberal Kathleen Wynne as Ontario premier after the June 7, 2018 election.

“I’ve committed to supporting the provincial party. I have a personal reason: these are my colleagues, my friends. I also have a vested interest in the benefit of the province and of the country,” Singh said Monday at Queen’s Park where he bade farewell to his former NDP caucus colleagues.

“It’s absolutely clear that the province will be better off with Andrea Horwath as premier and the country will be better off with the New Democratic values of putting people first, of standing up for issues that matter to the lives of people,” he said.

Singh, who resigned as Bramalea-Gore-Malton MPP on Friday, three weeks after winning the federal NDP leadership, said it’s “very special” to be at Queen’s Park.

“This is where my political career began and I’m really honoured to be back here as leader of the federal party,” he said.

“Andrea’s been my mentor. She appointed me deputy leader.”

Horwath expressed delight that Singh will help her party next spring.

“Although he won’t be on the ballot for us, he certainly will be very, very active and prominent in our campaign,” she said.

“Yes, we’ve lost our deputy leader and our MPP from Bramalea-Gore-Malton, but we’ve gained an amazing national NDP leader, who has brought a great amount of excitement . . . .”

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Gas plant emails show McGuinty government in damage-control mode

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

Dozens of premier’s office emails seized by OPP in search warrant released at trial of two key McGuinty aides.

A late-night email from then-premier Dalton McGuinty asking if the builder of a cancelled Mississauga power plant was a Liberal donor is one of dozens released at the criminal trial of his two top aides Thursday.

The emails, recovered by Ontario Provincial Police forensics investigators after hard drives were seized in a search warrant, show the McGuinty government in full damage-control mode in 2012 and 2013.

There are references to the wiping of hard drives as “Pete’s Project,” but none of the documents sheds new light on why McGuinty scrapped the Mississauga plant and another in Oakville before the 2011 election.

Many, if not most, of the emails in the 179-page package filed as a Crown exhibit with Justice Timothy Lipson were previously released to a legislative committee probing the cancellations.

The committee had issued a legal order demanding documents on the decisions, as opposition MPPs accused the government of covering up the real reasons when political staff said they had no such records.

The email from McGuinty’s party account to his deputy chief of staff Laura Miller and two other staffers on July 16, 2012, asks about Eastern Power, the spurned builder of the Mississagua plant near Sherway Gardens.

“Did that company contribute to the PCs as well as the OLP?” McGuinty queried, referring to the Ontario Liberal Party.

“Eastern Power contributed to OLP and PCPO,” Miller replied, using the acronym for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario.

Miller and former McGuinty chief of staff David Livingston are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system in the alleged wiping of hard drives in the premier’s office before Premier Kathleen Wynne took power in February 2013.

Both defendants have pleaded not guilty.

They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

McGuinty was not a subject of the investigation and has co-operated with police.

The Pete in “Pete’s Project” is a reference to Peter Faist, Miller’s life partner and a computer consultant who was paid $10,000 to clear hard drives in the McGuinty premier’s office.

Peter Wallace, the former head of Ontario’s civil service under McGuinty, testified this week that Livingston requested a special password to clear hard drives of personal information in the premier’s office.

Wallace warned Livingston about the need to retain official documents and told court that hiring an “outsider” for the job was a major departure from standard procedure of using government technicians.

Miller emailed Livingston at least twice in late January 2013 asking if he was making progress in getting the special password.

“Not yet,” he answered on January 30, noting “somebody from IT may stand and watch what we do to make sure nothing was done to contaminate files or programs outside those on the desktops being dealt with. I guess that’s the concern: the fact that having the code gets us access to systems other than our own.”

In another email, dated Aug. 9, 2012, Livingston tells Miller and other staff “I don’t have a strong desire to be email monitor for the Premier’s Office” and instructs them, among other things, that “double-deleted” emails cannot be retrieved.

He added, “nothing is more confidential than talking rather than writing!”

The email package includes several memos to premier’s staff asking if they have any documents to satisfy freedom-of-information requests.

Livingston responded “nothing here” on January 15, 2013, about four weeks before Wynne became premier, to one FOI request for any records from January to October 1 of the previous year on the construction, relocation or other arrangements for the two cancelled gas plants.

He also jokes about double-deletions in an exchange with Miller about a press release from New Democrat MPP Michael Mantha accusing the government of a slow reaction to a killer shopping mall collapse in Elliot Lake.

“Mantha is an absolute asshole,” Miller wrote.

“LOL. This one will never get the double delete,” Livingston replied.

The email package also reveals how Liberal political staff were prepared to manipulate the media after McGuinty, amid a political furore over the gas plants documents, announced his resignation in mid-October 2012.

The night of the announcement, in an apparent attempt to sidetrack reporters from the controversy, McGuinty said he might seek the federal Liberal leadership.

“I think we also leak tomorrow that the premier has been taking calls this weekend and is discussing the leadership with his family with an intention of making a decision early this week,” top advisor Don Guy wrote in an email to Miller and other staff several days late on October 20.

“We need a parallel news-controversy plan also for this week that is as salacious as the bullshit.”

McGuinty has said repeatedly the power plants were cancelled because they were too close to residential areas, while opposition parties insist the decision was to save Liberal seats in Oakville and Mississauga where many residents were opposed to them.

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Kathleen Wynne serves Patrick Brown with libel notice

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

Ontario’s Liberal premier has served the PC leader with a notice of libel after he said she was on was on “trial” in the Sudbury byelection bribery case.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has served Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown with a libel notice for claiming she’s on “trial” in the Sudbury byelection bribery case.

Having given Brown the requisite six weeks to apologize for his statement on Sept. 12, the premier’s lawyers served the Tory leader with the legal papers on Friday at his Orillia constituency office.

“You have refused to retract or apologize for those defamatory statements and have made further defamatory statements about Premier Wynne,” lawyers Jack Siegel and Sheldon Inkol of Blaney McMurtry LLP said in a four-page letter.

The notice is the next step toward a defamation suit being filed in court.

It stems from Brown telling a Queen’s Park media scrum that Ontario had “a sitting premier sitting in trial” and that Wynne “stands trial” in Sudbury.

His comment was made the day before the premier testified as a Crown witness in a Sudbury courtroom where Patricia Sorbara, her former deputy chief of staff, and Liberal activist Gerry Lougheed are on trial for alleged Election Act violations, which they deny.

“Your statements above are false and defamatory. The express meaning of these statements is that Premier Wynne was on trial for bribery, which was not the case,” wrote Siegel and Inkol, adding Brown had the “intention of further harming Premier Wynne’s reputation.”

“A further implied meaning of these statements is that Premier Wynne is unethical and was under investigation by the police for a criminal act.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she wanted to take the witness stand Sept. 13 to be as “open as possible” at a bribery trial involving a former top adviser and a Liberal fundraiser. (The Canadian Press)

The lawyers said Wynne, whose legal bills are being paid by the Ontario Liberal Party, could seek an “award of aggravated and punitive damages” if the case proceeds to court.

An unrepentant Brown accused the premier of using the libel notice “to deflect from news that 180 pages of emails and documents were released to the public yesterday during one (of) her two political corruption trials.

“Her Liberal government is also under fire from an explosive report on hydro from the auditor general,” said the Tory chief, a lawyer by training.

“Make no mistake, it is political corruption that’s on trial. And the premier is oblivious to the fact that her party is politically corrupt,” he said.

“It was a sad day for Ontario and truly a sorry spectacle that the premier of our province testified in a trial,” said Brown.

“No one wants to see the premier of our province debased or humiliated. Regrettably Kathleen Wynne compounded this with baseless legal threats against me.

“Her baseless threats will be ignored.”

Speaking to reporters in Windsor, where she was co-hosting the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Wynne urged Brown to recant.

“An acceptable outcome for me is to have a debate about the truth — whatever the subject we’re talking about — to talk about the facts and to talk about the substance of the issues,” she said.

Two Star reporters and a columnist were in Brown’s Sept. 12 press scrum along with journalists from CBC, Radio-Canada, The Canadian Press, The Globe and Mail, QP Briefing, Global, CP24, CTV, TFO, Queen’s Park Today, Fairchild, CHCH and Newstalk 1010.

Prior to the 2014 election, Wynne launched a $2-million libel action against former Tory leader Tim Hudak and MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton) over their comments about her alleged role in former premier Dalton McGuinty’s cancellation of gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga. That matter was settled out of court in 2015.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has called on Brown to “absolutely” say sorry to Wynne.

“People are human beings. You make a mistake, you apologize. There’s not enough of that in politics,” Horwath said last month.


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$500,000 in rare coins and bills stolen in Mississauga

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

Police are asking for help finding the alleged thief, who stole the coins and bills last month.

Police are investigating after a British Columbia man had around $500,000 worth of rare coins and bills stolen from his vehicle while it was parked in Mississauga last month.

The 68-year-old man had travelled to Ontario for a collectibles convention, police said. He parked in a hotel parking near Edwards Blvd. and Derry Rd. on Sept. 28, leaving two bags of coins and bills inside his vehicle.

According to police, a suspect — described as a balding man with a heavy build and between the ages of 35 and 45 — broke into the collector’s vehicle at around 1 p.m. that day and walked away with the bags.

The stolen bank notes and coins include an American $20 coin and Canadian $5 bills issued by the Bank of Hamilton and the Molsons Bank.

Surveillance video of the alleged suspect has been released by police.


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Missing Journalist Zeenat Shahzadi’sfamily and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan believe Pakistan’s Special Forces are responsible

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

On Saturday August 19, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression held a rally at City Hall in downtown Toronto to mark the second anniversary of the brazen, daylight abduction of 24-year old Pakistani journalist Zeenat Shahzadi from a busy street in Lahore, Pakistan. Shahzadi’s family and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan believe Pakistan’s Special Forces are responsible, The rally was held ‘to pressure Canada to intervene with the Pakistani government and urge them to immediately order a full investigation of Zeenat’s kidnapping’. Organizers also expressed solidarity with all the victims of enforced disappearances in Pakistan. Members of the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians attended the rally and distributed the following statement: ‘August 30 is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances State persecution of progressives, leftists, socialists and communists has a long history in Pakistan. Over the years uncounted numbers have been arrested, hundreds tortured and many have died due to the severe pain and torment inflicted on them. Since the reign of General Musharraf (1999 – 2008), however, disappearances have increased greatly in number. Current estimates of the disappeared range from 5,000 to 15,000 according to some political and human rights groups in Pakistan. It is the Baloch nationalists and activists who have suffered the most grievously in this regard but in more recent years disappearances have spread to Sindh, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Punjab and include political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers. The disappearances are widely believed to be the work of secret state agencies. No information is provided about the health of the disappeared or the locations they are being held in. Many disappeared people are often found dead, their bodies bearing bullet wounds and marks of torture. The government has not brought forward one perpetrator to face justice. We appeal to the Government of Pakistan that, in accordance with the constitution of the country and international law, it must: – Immediately end all disappearances by the state – Release all those presently so detained and try them in open court for alleged misdeeds if any – Punish those responsible for disappearances, and for the torture and deaths of the disappeared. – Provide reparations to victims and their families.

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Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli exchange wedding vows

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

Finally, the curiosity is over and this Diwali the ad for which real lovebirds Anushka Sharmaand Virat Kohli teamed up and dressed in an ethnic wear was released. The ad is for a leading clothing brand and it is quite adorable. In the ad, Virat and Anushka exchanged wedding vows.

The ad shows Anushka dressed in a red lehanga attended a friend’s wedding with beau Virat Kohli dressed in a red sherwani. The wedded couple in the mandap were talking to each other and Virat says they might be discussing about the wedding vows right now.

The ace cricketer, pretending to be the groom remarks that he will cook for fifteen days in a month to which Anushka playing the bride says she will eat it without complaining about its taste.

The second vow was made by the ‘Sultan’ star. Anushka Sharma says she will keep all his secrets password protected and in turn the ace cricketer says he will never dare to change her and will accept her as she is.

Another vows being very funny, Anushka says she will allow Virat to win in a carrom game but only sometimes. Virat promises he will never watch the season finale of any television series without her. The sportsperson vows to stay fit forever only for her but with loads of love in her eyes and smile on face, Anushka replies, “Nahi bhi karoge toh chalega (even if you won’t, it will not bother me).”

Then, very innocently Anushka requests Virat not to call her with all those lovey-dovey names like baby, Shona, cutie etc which couples usually calls.

The last vow being the most precious the much-in-love couple looked straight into each other’s eyes and promised to take care of each other always.


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Kangana Ranaut celebrates Diwali with family, shares picture

Posted on 25 October 2017 by admin

Kangana Ranaut celebrates Diwali with her family and her sister Rangoli Chandel shares picture of her star sister making Rangoli at home. This Diwali Kangana flew to her home and celebrated the festival of lights with her parents and sister.

Sister Rangoli gave us a glimpse of Kangana’s Diwali celebration; she captioned the picture as “#childhoodmemories #parentshouse #Himachal enjoying every bit of the day!!! Happy Diwali”.

Rangoli Chandel captioned the picture of Kangana with their mother Asha Ranaut beside the rangoli as, “And some people r jst bsy posing for the picture #nocontribution #HappyDiwali.”

In the past and recent times, we have seen sister Rangoli Chandel backed her sister in her fight against Hrithik Roshan and Aditya Pancholi.

On the work front, Kangana will be next seen in ‘Manikarnika’.

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