By The Canadian Press - Friday, December 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
TRURO, N.S. – A member of the military whose husband was killed in Afghanistan urged her comrades to come forward if they’re suffering post-traumatic stress disorder during her eulogy Thursday for a soldier whose death has brought attention to the struggles some face after combat.
As Lt. Kendra Mellish concluded her remarks at Warrant Officer Michael McNeil’s funeral, she directly addressed members of the Royal Canadian Regiment and other military personnel at the packed service held at an armoury in Truro, N.S., where McNeil first became a reserve in the early 1990s.
“I’m confident without a doubt that there is someone here who is suffering the way Michael was suffering. You are suffering in silence. There is no need to suffer in silence. There is help,” Mellish said.
“Go get help.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11:34 PM - 0 Comments
Nelson Mandela is being remembered as a saint, a moral leader and an imperfect man.
He died Thursday at the age of 95. The South African leader passed away at his home in a Johannesburg suburb, where he had been receiving medical care after a lung infection.
From our coverage so far, here are 10 ways of thinking on the man.
1. As South Africa’s greatest son, South Africa’s greatest father:
That’s how Mandela was described by South African President Jacob Zuma who broke the news of the leader’s death on Thursday afternoon. “Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss,” Zuma told the world. Full text of his remarks are here.
2. As a great moral leader and statesmen:
3. As an imperfect man, the greatest of men:
“He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a president embodied the promise that human beings and countries can change for the better.
“His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or in our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, “I’m not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
Full transcript of Obama’s remarks are here.
3. Mandela was remembered as an icon of all icons: (More front-page coverage here.)
4. … as a great light:
A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time. I’ve asked for the flag at No10 to be flown at half mast.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) December 5, 2013
5. … as a hope:
6. He was celebrated as a champion of human dignity.
7. And he was remembered in his own words:
More Mandela’s quotes here.
7. Some remembered Mandela in photographs:
8. Oprah remembered him on Instagram:
9. And he was also remembered in song:
10. Last, but hardly least, Nelson Mandela was remembered as a friend:
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:08 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she remembers Nelson Mandela as a man of courage and patience amidst the violence of South Africa.
As a lawyer before running for office, Redford worked for Mandela in the early 1990s as they strove to rebuild South Africa’s legal system and lay the groundwork for the first all-race elections that led to Mandela becoming president.
She recalled how they would receive reports of factions on both sides violently attacking one another, trying to undo the process before it began.
“There were times when we were involved in constitutional negotiations where we were hearing about political fighting in townships where people were literally slaughtering each other because they were members of opposing political parties and he always believed that even though he knew that was going on, we couldn’t let that become the agenda,” Redford said Thursday.
“The agenda had to be about constructive, long-term change. He wasn’t doing this for today. He was doing this for the five year olds and the six year olds and the kids that hadn’t been born yet.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 8:58 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Liberal senators tried a new tactic Thursday to get to the bottom of allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office interfered in an independent audit of Mike Duffy’s expenses.
James Cowan, Liberal leader in the Senate, asked Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella to rule that the interference, on its face, constitutes a breach of senators’ privileges.
Kinsella reserved judgment.
If Kinsella determines there was a breach of privilege, the matter would be referred to a Senate committee for further study.
That could give Liberals another opportunity to try to call two key witnesses alleged to have been involved in the audit interference: Conservative Sen. Irving Gerstein and Deloitte managing partner Michael Runia.
Two previous Liberal attempts to get Runia to testify at the Senate’s internal economy committee were defeated by the Conservatives, who hold a majority in the upper house.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 8:05 PM - 0 Comments
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 7:16 PM - 0 Comments
HONG KONG – The yellow jumpsuit worn onscreen by martial arts legend Bruce Lee in the movie “Game of Death” has sold at a Hong Kong auction for $100,000.
The yellow suit with black stripes down the sides went to an unidentified telephone bidder at Spink auction house’s Thursday night sale.
It was part of a collection of 14 items of Bruce Lee memorabilia that raised more than 2 million Hong Kong dollars ($258,000).
The suit was one of two Lee commissioned from his Hong Kong tailor for “Game of Death.” The selling price of 780,000 Hong Kong dollars ($100,000) was about triple the auction house’s initial estimate.
Lee died in 1973 at the age of 32 before he could complete the film, which was released posthumously in 1978.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:14 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada is losing its second in command and according to analysts, one of its brightest minds.
Senior deputy governor Tiff Macklem has announced he will step down on May 1 — about four years before his term expires — to become the new dean at the respected Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
The move was not a surprise after Macklem, 52, was passed over for the top job last spring when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty chose Stephen Poloz, then head of Export Development Canada, to succeed the outgoing governor, Mark Carney.
Macklem had been widely expected to win the job and appeared to have been particularly groomed to succeed Carney, having spent some time at the Finance Department as associate deputy and pointman for the G20.
But as he did with the previous bank vacancy, Flaherty chose to go outside the institution’s ranks for the new governor and cited Poloz’s private sector experience as a key reason. By contrast, Macklem has spent all his career either at the central bank or Finance.
Still, Macklem was regarded by analysts as a top class economist and innovative thinker.
“Tiff was perhaps the most forceful voice from the bank on Canada’s productivity challenge, and was one of the first to open the debate on soft business spending, and thus cash hoarding,” noted Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter, who studied economics with Macklem at the University of Western Ontario.
Porter said the departure is not a surprise.
Macklem is the third senior deputy governor in a row to leave the central bank early after being passed over.
In a statement from the Bank of Canada, Macklem makes no mention of his thwarted ambition.
“I will miss the bank a great deal,” he is quoted as saying. “I am extremely proud of the work we have done to promote the economic and financial well-being of Canadians, and I am confident that the bank’s first-rate research and policy formulation will continue to protect and strengthen Canada’s economy.”
In an interview with The Canadian Press last month, Poloz called Macklem a friend — he was responsible for recruiting Macklem for the bank in 1984 — and said they remained comfortable working with each other.
“We’ve stayed friends,” he said. “I’m not going to deny initially there was a sense of, ‘Oh, this has happened.’ We work well together and I know Tiff is someone I can rely on with 100 per cent confidence, and I still think of him as my friend.”
Poloz has also publicly complimented Macklem, most recently at a Commons finance committee, for excellent work in analyzing the challenge facing Canada’s exporting sector.
In the statement, Poloz thanked his number two for “his support and mentorship during my first six months as governor.”
Officials at the bank said Macklem was not available for an interview Thursday.
Of his upcoming duties, Macklem said the “new role will allow me to bring together my public policy and research experience to support students and to promote the world-leading thinking that takes place at Rotman.”
Macklem begins a five-year term at the school on July 1.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 5:54 PM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is defending the National Security Agency, saying it does a very good job of not engaging in domestic surveillance.
He was responding to a Washington Post report Thursday that the agency tracks locations of nearly 5 billion cellphones every day overseas, including those of Americans.
In a taped interview aired Thursday on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” Obama says the people who want to hurt the U.S. communicate using modern technologies available on cellphones. He says to do a good job protecting the country, the U.S. needs to “keep eyes on some bad actors.”
Still, he says he’ll propose “some self-restraint” on the agency after a panel of hand-picked advisers reports back this month.
Obama says the NSA isn’t interested in reading people’s emails and text messages.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 5:38 PM - 0 Comments
My Fellow South Africans,
Our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the founding President of our democratic nation has departed.
He passed on peacefully in the company of his family around 20h50 on the 5th of December 2013.
He is now resting. He is now at peace.
Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.
Although we knew that this day would come, nothing can diminish our sense of a profound and enduring loss.
His tireless struggle for freedom earned him the respect of the world.
His humility, his compassion, and his humanity earned him their love. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family. To them we owe a debt of gratitude.
They have sacrificed much and endured much so that our people could be free.
Our thoughts are with his wife Mrs Graca Machel, his former wife Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, with his children, his grand-children, his great grand-children and the entire family.
Our thoughts are with his friends, comrades and colleagues who fought alongside Madiba over the course of a lifetime of struggle.
Our thoughts are with the South African people who today mourn the loss of the one person who, more than any other, came to embody their sense of a common nationhood.
Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba as their own, and who saw his cause as their cause.
This is the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Our nation has lost its greatest son.
Yet, what made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.
And in him we saw so much of ourselves.
Fellow South Africans,
Nelson Mandela brought us together, and it is together that we will bid him farewell.
Our beloved Madiba will be accorded a State Funeral.
I have ordered that all flags of the Republic of South Africa be lowered to half-mast from tomorrow, 6 December, and to remain at half-mast until after the funeral.
As we gather to pay our last respects, let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and respect that Madiba personified.
Let us be mindful of his wishes and the wishes of his family.
As we gather, wherever we are in the country and wherever we are in the world, let us recall the values for which Madiba fought.
Let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.
Let us commit ourselves to strive together – sparing neither strength nor courage – to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Let us express, each in our own way, the deep gratitude we feel for a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity.
This is indeed the moment of our deepest sorrow.
Yet it must also be the moment of our greatest determination.
A determination to live as Madiba has lived, to strive as Madiba has strived and to not rest until we have realised his vision of a truly united South Africa, a peaceful and prosperous Africa, and a better world.
We will always love you Madiba!
May your soul rest in peace.
God Bless Africa.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
By Donna Bryson - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 5:14 PM - 0 Comments
Nelson Mandela, who became one of the world’s most beloved statesmen and a colossus of the 20th century when he emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to white minority rule in South Africa, has died. He was 95.
South African President Jacob Zuma made the announcement at a news conference late Thursday, saying “we’ve lost our greatest son.”
His death closed the final chapter in South Africa’s struggle to cast off apartheid, leaving the world with indelible memories of a man of astonishing grace and good humour. Rock concerts celebrated his birthday. Hollywood stars glorified him on screen. And his regal bearing, greying hair and raspy voice made him instantly recognizable across the globe.
As South Africa’s first black president, the ex-boxer, lawyer and prisoner No. 46664 paved the way to racial reconciliation with well-chosen gestures of forgiveness. He lunched with the prosecutor who sent him to jail, sang the apartheid-era Afrikaans anthem at his inauguration, and travelled hundreds of miles to have tea with the widow of Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime minister at the time he was imprisoned.
His most memorable gesture came when he strode onto the field before the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg. When he came on the field in South African colours to congratulate the victorious South African team, he brought the overwhelmingly white crowd of 63,000 to its feet, chanting “Nelson! Nelson! Nelson!”
For he had marched headlong into a bastion of white Afrikanerdom — the temple of South African rugby — and made its followers feel they belonged in the new South Africa.
At the same time, Mandela was himself uneasy with the idea of being an icon and he did not escape criticism as an individual and a politician, though much of it was muted by his status as a unassailable symbol of decency and principle. As president, he failed to craft a lasting formula for overcoming South Africa’s biggest post-apartheid problems, including one of the world’s widest gaps between rich and poor. In his writings, he pondered the heavy cost to his family of his decision to devote himself to the struggle against apartheid.
By Stephanie Findlay - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 4:49 PM - 0 Comments
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA — When Nelson Mandela died Thursday evening, South Africans immediately went to pay tribute to the man they know and love as their greatest hero.
Hundreds of people congregated outside Mandela’s former house in Soweto, a township beside Johannesburg, where the former president lived before being jailed for 27 years by South Africa’s apartheid regime.
In the early hours of the morning, people pushed past police tape cordoning off the street to sing and dance, a powerful South African celebration of life. Candles and bouquets of flowers were placed a the house, with single red roses scattered at the door.of Photos
Though there was deep sadness at the death of the man many consider the father of the nation, the mood was more celebration than it was mourning. As supporters kept coming through the night—some draped in the South African flag and the green, yellow and black of Mandela’s African National Congress—the gathering became a determined, joyful celebration of all that Mandela stood for, all that he accomplished.
On an unseasonably cold and windy summer evening, the crowd began gathering on Vilekazi Street around midnight, singing, whistling and ululating along to melodic liberation songs. Most people had been sleeping, but when they heard the news they rose to pay their respects. Dobsonville Moipone Mocha, a 50-year-old teacher, woke up her 15-year-old daughter to experience the love South Africans have for Mandela. “By now the whole world is celebrating the old man,” said Mocha, “he has taught me to forgive, to be patient.”
Very few people were crying. “I don’t feel tired,” said Sifiso Mnisi, a 45-year-old salesman, who was dripping with sweat from dancing at 3 a.m. Friday morning. “I feel in high spirits,” he said. “In the next two hours I should go to work, but this—Mandela’s death—warrants I be here.”
Many of his countrymen were already in bed when President Jacob Zuma, dressed in black, announced the news of Mandela’s death. “He is now resting. He is now at peace,” Zuma said on national television. “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.”
For most, Mandela’s death was expected. The 95-year-old had been in critical care for the past few months. The scene in Soweto early Thursday morning recalled six months ago, when hundreds of people took to the streets in Pretoria, when it appeared Mandela was going to die. The statesmen was discharged from hospital, but it was clear Mandela wasn’t in good health, described only by the presidency as being “critical but stable.” In a way, his obviously poor condition prepared South Africa for the worst; even Mandela can’t live forever.
Jacob Letebele, a 29-year-old student at Wits University says the celebration must continue in order to honour the leader widely known here as Madiba. “You don’t sleep, you sing the whole night,” he says, “you sing songs of praise.”
Some people in the crowd took to questioning the progress South Africa has made since becoming a democracy and, in particular, how well the nation will survive after Mandela. “South Africa will cope but not that well,” says Lesedi Motloung, a 19-year-old student. “He’s our leader, our big leader in South Africa.”
In Pretoria, the country’s administrative capital an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, the mood was quiet. Security guards on the late shift in front of an ABSA bank in Hatfield, a student neighbourhood, were discussing Mandela’s death.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” says David Chauke, a 40-year-old security guard wearing a black uniform and standing with his arms crossed. “Today, tomorrow, we don’t know,” says Chauke. “It’s made by God where he is going and where we are going.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 3:56 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Sun Media is selling its 74 community newspapers in Quebec and associated websites to rival Transcontinental for $75 million as it continues to adjust to a loss of local advertising revenue caused by the digital revolution.
The agreement announced Thursday has been approved by the boards of both companies but the subsidiary of Quebecor Media (TSX:QBR.B) will continue to operate the papers until the transaction receives regulatory approval, including from the Competition Bureau.
“Advertisers now have a multitude of platforms available to them that did not even exist little more than 10 years ago. We believe in the future of print media but we cannot ignore the new market realities,” said Quebecor Media CEO Robert Depatie.
He said the transaction will ensure that the newspapers will stay in the hands of a Quebec company. Not included in the deal are Quebec’s largest daily newspaper Le Journal de Montreal, Le Journal de Quebec, the 24 Heures free daily and the QMI news agency.
The deal comes a day after Sun Media announced it was laying off another 200 employees across its network, including 50 journalists outside Quebec.
Transcontinental CEO Francois Olivier said the transaction will add about $20 million in operating income before amortization and allow the media company to continue building its multiplatform offerings across the province.
“Acquiring Sun Media’s 74 community papers in Quebec is in line with our strategy to strengthen the core assets of TC Media and develop a local digital media offering for businesses and communities,” he said.
As part of a separate agreement, Quebecor Media said it will print some of its magazines and direct marketing materials with Transcontinental Printing starting in February.
Olivier called the printing deal “historic.”
“On the one hand, it shows the relevance of our state-of-the-art printing platform and our ability to help publishers and marketers, and on the other, it demonstrates our ability to change in keeping with the new realities of the local media market.”
Haran Posner of RBC Capital Markets said the addition of Sun Media’s weeklies to its own stable of 76 weekly publications “should ease what has been a highly competitive community media environment in Quebec in recent years.”
Analyst Aravinda Galappatthige of Canaccord Genuity said the transaction may include some “synergistic” cost savings because of the overlap in newspapers.
Transcontinental (TSX:TCL.A) also announced Thursday that its net losses in the fourth quarter nearly doubled to $92.2 million from $51.9 million a year earlier.
Adjusting for one-time items, it earned $58.2 million, down six per cent from $61.9 million a year earlier. Earnings for the period ended Oct. 31 decreased by two cents per share to 75 cents, beating analyst forecasts by one cent.
Revenues fell 3.2 per cent to $566.3 million from $585.1 million.
For the full year, it lost $14.5 million or 19 cents per share, compared to a loss of $183.3 million or $2.27 per share in the prior year. Adjusted profits increased 5.2 per cent to $157.2 million from $149.4 million. They were up 9.2 per cent on a per share basis to $2.02 from $1.85 in fiscal 2012.
Transcontinental’s printing division was helped by the acquisition of Quad/Graphics, which helped to offset the loss of the Zellers business and weaker media division results caused by “the soft advertising market.” It realized $30 million on cost synergies during the year, and $40 million since the Quad acquisition in March 2012.
“In fiscal 2013, considering the profound transformation that is ongoing in our industry, we have delivered strong results that reflect the excellence of our manufacturing know-how and our new product and service development efforts,” added Olivier.
During the quarter, printing sector operating profits increased 6.7 per cent to $90.8 million on $390.4 million of revenues. The media segment’s earnings dropped 22 per cent to $27.7 million on $196.5 million of revenues, down 4.8 per cent from the prior year.
Transcontinental is Canada’s largest printer and a leading media company with magazines, newspapers, books, mass and personalized marketing, mobile applications and door-to-door distribution. It has more than 9,000 employees in Canada and the United States.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its shares lost 37 cents or 2.24 per cent, at $16.15 in Thursday afternoon trading.
By Murray Brewster and Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Master Cpl. Kristian Wolowidnyk is no longer facing an imminent discharge from the Canadian Forces because of his post-traumatic stress disorder.
The former combat engineer and Afghan war veteran, who survived a recent suicide attempt, was told this week that he now qualifies to remain in the military as part of a prolonged release process for injured soldiers.
The change of Wolowidnyk’s classification means that upon his eventual release, he will have reached the 10-year service mark and will qualify for a fully indexed military pension.
For Wolowidnyk and his wife, Michele, the news eliminated a major source of stress. But more than that, they say it validated his psychological injuries.
“They’ve recognized his injury, I think is a lot of it,” Michele Wolowidnyk said in an interview Thursday.
“Not just that his release is not pending anymore, but that they’ve recognized this is a very serious injury for him and now he’s going to get the proper treatment going forward.”
Until Wednesday morning, it appeared Wolowidnyk — father to a two-year-old child — would be discharged, even though he was desperate to stay in the Forces and re-qualify for another military trade.
He tried to kill himself on Nov. 21 — two days after being told he was being discharged.
He spent a week in the mental-health wing of the civilian Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton before being released to his family.
But shortly after The Canadian Press first reported his story, Wolowidnyk was told he qualified for the prolonged-release process.
For now, he says he’ll focus on healing. But he hopes to begin training to be a machinist in the new year.
Wolowidnyk says he and his wife have been getting calls, emails and text messages of support from friends and fellow soldiers. Even complete strangers touched by his story have reached out to him through Facebook.
“I think this experience has been good for him and cathartic because there are a lot of other people out there who are undoubtedly going through the same thing and hopefully him speaking out about it lets them know that they’re not alone and that they can look for some help, talk to their friends,” Michele Wolowidnyk said.
The escalating struggle of soldiers like Wolowidnyk has been resonating across Canada after a number of apparent suicides within the military in recent days.
Veterans advocates say the four apparent suicides since last week may only hint at the magnitude of the problem. For every death by suicide, they warn, as many as 12 others may have sought the same fate.
On Thursday, former soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder pleaded with the federal government to provide more support to veterans suffering from the illness.
A visibly distraught Kate MacEachern told an Ottawa news conference the heart-wrenching story of how she nearly took her own life a little over a year ago after learning that she might be forced out of uniform.
MacEachern said she doesn’t believe the prime minister or military brass when they tell soldiers in distress that help is available.
“Lots of words are now being spoken, but it’s too late for some,” she said. “Why did we have to wait until now?”
The government says soldiers and their families trying to cope with PTSD can call a confidential toll-free referral service at 1-800-268-7708.
But another veteran, Mike Cole from Trenton, Ont., said soldiers are telling him that when they call, they get put on hold, or are simply told to go to the hospital.
MacEachern is a former corporal who quit the military last summer after being ordered not to repeat a 2012 fundraising walk in aid of injured soldiers.
She called on the government — and Canadians at large — to do everything possible to prevent further deaths.
“The conversation needs to happen,” she pleaded tearfully. “Please, no more of my brothers and sisters. We can’t lose any more. One is too many. Four is a national tragedy.”
MacEachern says former defence minister Peter MacKay offered words of encouragement when she completed her first fundraising walk, but they now ring hollow.
“He told me that day that if I ever needed anything to contact his office,” she said. “2,080 miles later, and many more tears than that, I never saw nor heard from him again.”
The news conference took place as a funeral was held in Truro, N.S., for one of the four suicides.
A coffin with the body of Warrant Officer Michael McNeil, 39, was carried into the town’s armoury by comrades from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regimen, his brother Kevin and cousin Tim McNeil.
The younger McNeil brother said members of the military who are suffering need to know help is available.
By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 3:36 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Allegations that Rob Ford offered purported gang members money and a car in exchange for a video are an “outright lie,” the Toronto mayor said Thursday amid new questions about why police did not arrest him.
Speaking on an American radio station, the scandal-plagued mayor quickly tried to change the topic when asked about the latest claims against him.
“You can talk to my lawyers about it,” Ford told “The Sports Junkies,” a morning show on WJFK-FM based in Washington, D.C.
“I’m here to talk football, guys. So if you want to talk football, talk football; but if you want to talk about other things, then unfortunately I’m going to have to let you go.”
The latest allegations, which have not been proven in court, are contained in wiretap summaries put together as part of a guns and gangs investigation that were in a police document released Wednesday.
The intercepts reveal men talking with familiarity about the mayor, and suggest they had supplied him with drugs and plotted to blackmail him with photographs of him doing narcotics, police said.
Ford said nothing on arrival at city hall Thursday but Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who has taken on many of the mayor’s responsibilities, said the latest allegations would not affect city business.
Kelly did call allegations that Ford was consorting with drug traffickers and gang members troubling.
“The one that’s bothered me the most is the possibility of criminality being involved in one way or the other with the mayor’s office,” he said.
Some city councillors called on investigators to explain why they did not arrest the mayor, but police have consistently said they didn’t have sufficient evidence to do so and Ford’s status as mayor had nothing to do with it.
Investigators have asked to interview Ford, but he has refused on the advice of his lawyer, Dennis Morris, who called the latest allegations baseless.
“It has no benefit,” Morris told The Canadian Press. “What you could do is create charges that presently have no foundation.”
If Ford made a statement favourable to himself, it would be called self-serving and inadmissible in court, while an ambiguous statement could be twisted and used against him, Morris said. Any statement against his interests could be used in court to convict him.
“So why would you even want to do that?” Morris said.
According to the latest documents, Ford’s name emerged on the wiretaps about two months before the U.S. website Gawker and the Toronto Star first reported in May that drug dealers were shopping around a video that showed the mayor smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.
In a conversation investigators said they recorded on March 27, police said one man quoted Ford as saying, “I’ll give you 5,000 and a car” for a video.
Mohamed Siad, who police believe was trying to sell the “crack video,” said he wanted to meet with him and ask for “150,” which police said meant $150,000, the document says.
At the legislature, Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey called the allegations “troubling” but said the province would take its cues from city council.
Both the attorney general and community safety minister echoed similar sentiments, but expressed confidence in police and the legal system.
After months of denials Ford finally admitted in late October to smoking crack cocaine in one of his “drunken stupors.” The admission came after police said they had recovered two videos in line with what Gawker and the Star had reported.
City council stripped Ford of most of his powers last month after further embarrassing episodes — including one in which he used a sexual profanity on live television — and he became regular fodder for late-night talk-show hosts.
Asked by the sports program how he was managing amid the glare of publicity, Ford was sanguine.
“I just stay focused on my job,” he said. “All the other stuff is nonsense.”
With a file from Diana Mehta.
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
“Mr. Speaker, it is, of course, the responsibility of all employees to follow the applicable rules.” That was yesterday’s word from the Prime Minister on allegations swirling around former PMO legal adviser Ben Perrin, an ex-employee whose emails were thought to have disappeared. Some of those emails, which may be relevant to RCMP investigations of the Wright-Duffy affair, were actually retained in connection with unrelated litigation. The Privy Council Office admitted its mistake in not uncovering the emails, and the PMO was happy to pin the blame on the PCO. Now, the blame is migrating to Perrin himself, as the CBC’s Kady O’Malley reports.
The rules the PMO is referencing are outlined in a Treasury Board document entitled, Guideline for Employees of the Government of Canada: Information Management (IM) Basics. The relevant section of those guidelines talks about procedure for federal employees leaving their jobs, and includes the following key directive: “Ensure that information resources of business value, in all media, are organized and filed according to the policies, standards, and procedures established or adopted by your institution so that the information continues to be accessible to other employees.”
Emails related to the Wright-Duffy affair are “of business value.” When Perrin left his job, the guidelines dictate that he should have ensured the survival of those relevant emails. The PCO has confirmed those rules, and the PMO now says it expects staff to follow them. The PM turned his back on Nigel Wright, his ex-chief of staff. Now, it seems, he’s bestowing the same fate on his former legal adviser.
Maclean’s is your home for the daily political theatre that is Question Period, when MPs trade barbs and take names for 45 minutes every day. If you’ve never watched, check out our primer, which we produced with J-Source. Today, QP runs from 2:15 p.m. until just past 3. We tell you who to watch, we stream it live, and we liveblog all the action. The whole thing only matters if you participate. Chime in on Twitter with #QP.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:44 PM - 0 Comments
VANCOUVER – Trust and reconciliation must be built between governments and First Nations as Canada aims to boost energy exports through major pipeline projects in the western provinces, says a new report.
Most First Nations communities in B.C. and Alberta see the value and economic opportunity in energy developments but they want the work to be done in an environmentally sustainable way that acknowledges their rights, said the report released Thursday by Vancouver lawyer Doug Eyford.
Industries understand the necessity of working with aboriginal communities but the federal government needs to address matters beyond specific projects, he said in the report.
Eyford, who was appointed as the federal government’s envoy to tackle First Nations pipeline concerns in Western Canada, made several recommendations, including that Ottawa undertake a “principled” dialogue with aborginals about resource development.
“My view, and the recommendation I’ve made, is that there’s an opportunity for governments to engage either through formal consultations or otherwise through the process of relationship building with First Nations communities outside of consultation processes,” Eyford said after releasing his report.
“It’s clear, however, that progress will only occur if the constitutionally protected rights of aboriginal Canadians are taken into account in project development,” said Eyford, who is also the federal government’s chief negotiator on comprehensive land claims.
The report also recommends that aboriginal leaders undertake strategic planning to help them take advantage of the employment and business opportunities the projects represent.
Several major energy projects are proposed in B.C., including the Northern Gateway pipeline and a proposal by Kinder Morgan to almost triple the capacity of it existing Trans Mountain pipeline delivering Alberta oil to B.C. ports for export.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Eyford listened to aboriginal communities and conveyed what he heard in his report and recommendations.
“We will listen to what they said through this report as well. The whole point of the prime minister’s appointment of Mr. Eyford was to advance our thinking and to build a constructive relationship.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:34 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Harper government may need to depend on artificially high EI premiums, asset sales and spending restraint to balance the budget in time for the 2015 election, the federal budget watchdog says in a new report.
But the new assessment from the parliamentary budget office also projects that the government will be able to achieve its target of a balanced budget in 2015 and even amass a bigger surplus in the critical election year than the government projects.
The report says its baseline projection puts the 2015 budget surplus at $4.6 billion — almost $1 billion more than the official estimate contained in last month’s economic update paper.
As well, the budget office projection shows next year’s deficit at $3.5 billion — $2 billion lower than Ottawa’s estimate in last month’s economic update — and within an eyelash of a balanced budget, once a $3-billion cushion for surprises is factored out.
But the report shows that the improvement from the economic update is dependent not so much on a strong economy but on extraordinary measures and keeping payroll taxes higher than need be.
“If direct program expenses do not materialize as planned, if a governor-in-council decision is made to reduce EI premiums and if sales of public assets are delayed or do not occur, most, if not all, of the … surplus the government projects for 2015-16 would be eliminated,” the report said.
A big chunk of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 surpluses is based on Flaherty’s stated intention to keep EI premiums frozen until 2016, the report states.
Under normal rules, the budget office said, premiums should start coming down in 2015 when the EI fund flips from deficit to surplus.
The fiscal impact of keeping premiums artificially higher for two additional years is that it will contribute $1.8 billion to the 2015-16 surplus and $3 billion to the 2016-17 surplus, the report said.
The budget office also believes Ottawa will realize greater savings from a recently announced two-year departmental spending freeze and the departmental spending lapses that have averaged $10 billion annually over the last three years.
The freeze and lapses — approved money that is not spent — will net Ottawa about $2.7 billion in the critical 2015-16 fiscal year, the PBO says, and $7.2 billion over the five-year projection period.
In addition, the report points out that the surplus partially depends on Flaherty going ahead with announced asset sales, such as the sale of the Ridley Terminals and Dominion Coal Blocks in British Columbia announced in last month’s update, as well as the government’s remaining stock of General Motors shares.
The findings back Liberal finance critic Scott Brison’s contention made after the update’s release last month that Flaherty’s surplus was being constructed on “smoke and mirrors,” and not on a strong economy.
Still the PBO gives Ottawa 65 per cent probability of achieving its target of balancing the budget in 2015, even though the office believes economic growth will actually be weaker than Ottawa is counting on.
That is welcome news for the Harper Conservatives. Although economists say financial markets are unconcerned about the exact timing of attaining a balanced budget, achieving the 2015 target is of singular importance to the government’s re-election prospects.
In the 2011 campaign, the prime minister said he would offer Canadian couples with children under 18 the option of splitting their income to reduce taxes — but only once the budget was balanced. By some calculations, that would deprive Ottawa of about $2.7 billion in revenues.
Harper also promised several other boutique tax cuts, as well as a doubling of the $5,000 annual limit on contributions to tax-free savings accounts, all of them contingent on balanced books — pledges that would shave a total of about $600 million more from tax revenues.
Flaherty said last month he prefers a cautious approach to spending the surplus, but that may be dependent on just how large it turns out to be.
The PBO’s projections suggest that surpluses won’t be massive going forward, however, in part because after 2015-16 the government’s restraint programs are scheduled to end and in part because the economy — which is now in catch-up mode — will likely slow to cruising speed of about two per cent a year. As well, with interest rates anticipated to rise, Ottawa will need to pay more to service a national debt that will be well north of $600 billion.
The PBO estimates that after achieving a $4.6 billion surplus in 2015-16, the surpluses in the next three year will come in at $5 billion, $4.7 billion and $7.5 billion.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:09 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Alberta will start including boys in free school vaccinations that protect girls from a virus that causes cervical and other types of deadly cancers.
The province says about 47,500 boys in Grades 5 and 9 are to receive the HPV vaccine starting next fall.
The vaccination was first offered to Grade 5 girls in 2008 and, since then, the province estimates about 61 per cent of girls between the ages of nine and 13 have received the shots.
The vaccine protects against human papillomaviruses, which cause cervical cancer, head and neck cancers, anal and penile cancers and genital warts.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada has been urging provincial health ministers to include boys in HPV vaccine programs.
Prince Edward Island was the first province to extend the vaccine to boys.
By Emily Senger - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:08 PM - 0 Comments
Diversity hasn’t been Twitter’s strong suit. When the company went public, it was criticized for its board of seven white men, as well as its lack of women in any senior leadership roles.
Today, one woman joined the board of directors. Twitter announced it has appointed Marjorie Scardino.
Scardino’s appointment was announced Thursday on, well, Twitter of course:
We're pleased to welcome @marjscar to our board of directors.
— Twitter (@twitter) December 5, 2013
Scardino comes to the company with a background in publishing. The 66-year-old served as CEO of the education publishing company Pearson plc and, before that, she worked for The Economist Group in various roles, including CEO. She has also served on the board of directors for Nokia Corporation.
Where Scardino seems to lack skills, at least for now, is on Twitter. The new board member joined Twitter as @marjscar on Oct. 20, 2013 and she didn’t tweet until Twitter made its announcement Thursday. Her first tweet:
@twitter Thank you. There couldn't be a more exciting time in Twitter's history to join!
— Marjorie M Scardino (@marjscar) December 5, 2013
When Twitter first went public back in October, its board contained seven white men: former Netscape CFO Peter Currie, former Fox executive Peter Chernin, Benchmark Capital’s Peter Fenton, former Google executive David S. Rosenblatt, co-founder and former CEO Evan Williams, co-founders Jack Dorsey and CEO Dick Costolo. Scardino will become the eighth board member and the only woman who has served on the board of directors since 2007, as this graphic over at Quartz illustrates very well. She is also the first board member to come from print media, without a new media or tech background.
According to Twitter’s securities filing, Scardino joined the Twitter board as of Dec. 4 and will remain in her position until the company’s shareholders meeting in 2014.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Liberal senators are trying a new tactic to get to the bottom of allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office interfered in an independent audit of Mike Duffy’s expenses.
James Cowan, Liberal leader in the Senate, has given notice that he will argue today that the interference constitutes a breach of senators’ privileges.
And he’ll ask Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella to rule on the matter.
If Kinsella determines there was, at face value, a breach of privilege, the matter would be referred to a Senate committee for further study.
That could give Liberals another opportunity to try to call two key witnesses alleged to have been involved in the audit interference: Conservative Sen. Irving Gerstein and Deloitte managing partner Michael Runia.
Two previous Liberal attempts to get Runia to testify at the Senate’s internal economy committee were defeated by the Conservatives, who hold a majority in the upper house.
And Gerstein ruled out of order Wednesday a Liberal attempt to have him step aside as chairman of the Senate banking committee until he’s cleared by the RCMP or agrees to testify at internal economy about his role in the matter.
In a notice today to the Senate clerk, Cowan says he’s been forced to raise a question of privilege on the matter because “all other reasonable avenues of redress have been blocked.”
According to witness statements and emails obtained by the RCMP and filed in court, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, enlisted Gerstein’s help in concocting a deal in which Duffy would repay $90,000 in questionable living expense claims.
Duffy agreed to the deal on condition that he would be reimbursed the full amount, that a Senate report on his conduct would not be critical of him and that there would be no question about his eligibility to sit as a senator from Prince Edward Island, although he lived primarily in Ottawa.
Gerstein, who heads the Conservative party’s fundraising arm, initially agreed that the party would reimburse Duffy — when the tab was thought to be $32,000 — but balked when it became clear it was more than $90,000. Wright eventually reimbursed Duffy out of his own pocket.
At Wright’s behest, Gerstein also talked to Runia, who audits the Conservative party’s books, to ensure the audit would make no finding as to whether Duffy’s primary residence was in Ottawa or P.E.I.
Gary Timm, lead auditor on the Duffy file, has confirmed Runia called him but maintains he imparted no information about the confidential audit and that its findings were not influenced by anyone.
However, Cowan notes that the RCMP documents show Wright and other top PMO aides knew — one month before the findings were disclosed to the Senate which ordered and paid for the audit — that it would make no finding about Duffy’s primary residence because the senator was refusing to speak to auditors.
Indeed, Cowan argues that PMO interference “began virtually from inception,” even before the internal economy committee announced its decision to order an external audit of expenses claimed by Duffy and two other senators — Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb.
The RCMP documents say Wright called committee chair David Tkachuk, asking that the wording of the audit announcement “differentiate” Duffy’s case from that of Brazeau and Harb, a request which was accommodated by adding an extra line that the committee was seeking legal advice about Duffy’s residency.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11:20 AM - 0 Comments
TRURO, N.S. – The younger brother of a soldier whose death has raised questions about the Canadian military’s treatment of those with post-traumatic stress disorder says members of the military need to know help is available if they are suffering.
Speaking before Warrant Officer Michael McNeil’s funeral Thursday, Kevin McNeil said PTSD is a problem that is not going to stop, but the risks can be minimized.
“The most we can do is maybe slow it down,” McNeil said outside the armoury in Truro, N.S.
“As much money as government is going to pour into this, it’s not going to stop. What we can do is make more people aware, more families going through the same thing we are going through to talk to these soldiers, know their jobs aren’t in jeopardy and we’re here for them.”
McNeil’s death at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, northwest of Ottawa, is among four recent suicides in the military.
The Armed Forces acknowledges it will be dealing with an increased number of PTSD cases in the next decade as the stress of combat takes hold in those who have returned from the fighting in Afghanistan.
McNeil, 39, was a member 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighed in on the issue on Wednesday, saying everyone should encourage veterans in need to reach out to the systems that are there to help.
McNeil said he wants his brother remembered as a family man first and secondly as a hero to his country.
“He gave everything to his country,” he said. “He was a strong man and will be missed forever.”
McNeil’s coffin was carried into the armoury by an honour guard made up of McNeil’s comrades in the Royal Canadian Regiment, assisted by his brother Kevin and cousin Tim McNeil.
During the funeral service, Lt. Kendra Mellish, the widow of Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, a soldier killed in Afghanistan in September 2006, gave a reflection on her friend.
She said after her husband died, McNeil helped care for her children and would meet her when she came back from tours.
“Only seven short years ago, he was in this same position, paying homage to his friend (Frank),” she said.
She offered comfort to McNeil’s two daughters, one son and one stepson.
“Be proud of the hero he was,” she said.
McNeil worked on reconnaissance units during two tours of Afghanistan. He also completed tours of Bosnia and Croatia after joining the Royal Canadian Regiment in 1994.
Mellish urged other military personnel to seek help if they are suffering after military tours.
“I’d like to leave you with a last thought: I’m confident without a doubt that there is someone here who is suffering the way Michael was suffering. You are suffering in silence. There is no need to suffer in silence. There is help … Go get help.”
By Nick Taylor-Vaisey - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:40 AM - 0 Comments
Pierre Daigle could be on the nation’s front pages, were it not for the lingering, stubborn Wright-Duffy affair that’s remained Issue #1 in the nation’s capital for much of 2013. Why might Daigle find himself in the spotlight? He’s Canada’s military ombudsman, and four soldiers have apparently died of suicide in the last week—the kind of news that leaves people feeling raw, and asking why. Daigle’s the guy who looks at the military with a critical eye. At times like these, people ask him for answers.
As it happens, Daigle is asking hard questions about the number of mental-health workers employed by Canada’s military—the kinds of professional help that troubled soldiers can access, quickly, should they feel the need. The ombudsman told the Toronto Star that, in fact, the feds did find the money for 78 such mental-health experts, and even screened them for duty. But, an anonymous source tells the Star, thanks to rules that limit the number of workers in the appropriate division, the workers can’t get to work.
Yesterday, in the Commons, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked about the suicides during his opening round of questions. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau led with similar queries of his own. The government responded with some compassion, offered assurances that it was giving necessary support to those affected, and urged troubled soldiers to seek help.
But then, as has become standard operating procedure, the opposition returned to the Wright-Duffy affair. The suicides sparked further questions toward the end of Question Period—incrementally more hostile than Mulcair’s opening round—and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson stayed on message throughout.
As Daigle’s alarm bells ring, and 78 people who know how to help troubled soldiers sit on the sidelines, a casual observer might wonder what it takes to knock off the finer details of the increasingly complex Wright-Duffy affair as parliamentarians’ top priority each afternoon. Tempting as it is to keep the pressure on the Prime Minister’s role in a payoff of a senator’s expenses, there’s undoubtedly a certain unique urgency to Daigle’s concerns.
What’s above the fold
The Globe and Mail A police affidavit claims that Rob Ford attempted to buy the crack tape. National Post
Nicole Foran, who stopped a 2009 hijacking in Jamaica, opens up. Toronto Star Gang members may have caught Ford in compromising positions. Ottawa Citizen A pro-life group plans to run anti-abortion federal candidates in the Ottawa area. CBC News Ford may have used heroin, if police wiretaps are accurate. CTV News Ford may have offered $5,000 and a car in exchange for the tape. National Newswatch Ben Perrin failed to ensure his emails were properly archived.
What you might have missed
THE NATIONAL Energy. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair announced his party’s intention to remove the federal cabinet’s so-called arbitrary right to approve large energy projects. Mulcair said he’d still maintain the right to consider some projects, including the Northern Gateway pipeline, as “non-starters.” THE GLOBAL Cambodia. Brian McConaghy, a retired RCMP officer and founder of Vancouver’s Ratanak Foundation, is in southeast Asia to reveal the untoward streets of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, to a group of Canadian child rights advocates who are in the city for two weeks of training.
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:17 AM - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Fast-food workers and labour organizers are set to turn out in support of higher wages in cities across the country Thursday.
Organizers say walkouts are planned in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. But it’s not clear what the actual turnout will be, how many of the participants are workers and what impact they’ll have on restaurant operations.
The actions would mark the largest showing yet over the past year. At a time when there’s growing national and international attention on economic disparities, labour unions, worker advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25, or about $15,000 a year for full-time work.
In New York City, about 100 protesters carrying signs, blowing whistles and beating drums marched into a McDonald’s at around 6:30 a.m.; one startled customer grabbed his food and fled as they flooded the restaurant, while another didn’t look up from eating and reading amid their chants of “We can’t survive on $7.25!”
Community leaders took turns giving speeches for about 15 minutes until the police arrived and ordered protesters out of the store. The crowd continued to demonstrate outside for about 45 more minutes while a handful of customers remained inside. A McDonald’s manager declined to be interviewed and asked that customers not be bothered.
Tyeisha Batts, a 27-year-old employee at Burger King, was among those taking part in the demonstrations planned throughout the day in New York City. She said she has been working at the location for about seven months and earns $7.25 an hour.
“My boss took me off the schedule because she knows I’m participating,” Batts said.
She said she hasn’t been retaliated against but that the manager warned that employees who didn’t arrive on time Thursday would be turned away for their shifts. Batts said she can get only between 10 and 20 hours of work a week because her employers don’t want to give her enough hours to qualify as a full-time employee. Under the health care overhaul, employers will be required to provide health care coverage to full-time employees.
Despite the growing attention on economic disparities, the push for higher pay in the fast-food industry faces an uphill battle. The industry competes aggressively on low prices and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were hiked. Most fast-food locations are also owned and operated by franchisees, which lets companies such as McDonald’s Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Yum Brands Inc. say that they don’t control worker pay.
However, labour advocates have pointed out that companies control many other aspects of the operations through their franchise agreements, including menus, suppliers and equipment.
Fast-food workers have historically been seen as difficult to unionize, given the industry’s high turnover rates. But the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing considerable organizational and financial support to the push for higher pay over the past year.
Berlin Rosen, a political consulting and public relations firm based in New York City, also has been co-ordinating communications efforts and connecting organizers with media outlets.
The National Restaurant Association, an industry lobbying group, said most those protesting were union workers and that “relatively few” workers have participated in past actions. It called the demonstrations a “campaign engineered by national labour groups.”
In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised a vote on the wage hike by the end of the year. But the measure is not expected to gain traction in the House, where Republican leaders oppose it.
Supporters of wage hikes have been more successful at the state and local level. California, Connecticut and Rhode Island raised their minimum wages this year. Last month, voters in New Jersey approved a hike in the minimum to $8.25 an hour, up from $7.25 an hour.
AP Labor Writer Sam Hananel contributed from Washington.
Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi
By The Associated Press - Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:25 AM - 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Creative industries led by Hollywood account for about $504 billion, or at least 3.2 per cent of U.S. goods and services, the government said in its first official measure of how the arts and culture affect the economy.
On Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts will release the first-ever estimates of the creative sector’s contributions to U.S. gross domestic product based on 2011 data, the most recent figures available. GDP measures the nation’s production of goods and services.
Sunil Iyengar, the endowment’s research director, said the yardstick devised in partnership with the Bureau of Economic Analysis drew on figures from Hollywood, the advertising industry, cable TV production, broadcasting, publishing, performing arts and other areas. Now the nation’s creative sector will be measured annually, much as statisticians calculate the contribution of tourism, health care and other sectors to the nation’s economy.