Eaton Centre shooter seeks new trial over juryselection process

first_imgTORONTO – A man who gunned down two people in Toronto’s landmark Eaton Centre mall is asking for a new trial, arguing the jury that convicted him more than two years ago was improperly selected.Christopher Husbands was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Nixon Nirmalendran, 22, and Ahmed Hassan, 24.He was also found guilty of five counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in the June 2012 shooting that sent hordes of panicked shoppers running for the exits.Husbands, whose lawyers had put forward a defence of not criminally responsible due to post-traumatic stress disorder, was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 30 years.His lawyer has said the sentence is unprecedented for second-degree murder.The appeal, which is being heard Friday in Toronto, focuses largely on the manner in which jurors were chosen and refers heavily to an appeal court ruling in a case by the same trial judge.As part of the selection process, prospective jurors may be questioned as to whether they believe they can remain impartial. Two people from the jury pool take on the role of “triers,” meaning they weigh the answer and determine whether there is sign of bias.Lawyers for both the Crown and the defence then decide whether to allow the person on the jury.Each newly appointed juror replaces one of the two triers so that the responsibility is shared, a process called “rotating triers.”At the request of the accused, the court can appoint two people who will assess all the prospective juror responses. These are called “static triers” and do not get to serve on the jury.Husbands’ lawyers say they made it clear they wanted rotating triers but the judge, Superior Court Justice Eugene Ewaschuk, imposed static triers instead.As a result, they argue, Husbands was “tried and convicted by an improperly constituted court.”Crown lawyers, meanwhile, say the judge wasn’t mistaken in choosing static triers. In any case, they say, “any error here occasioned the appellant no prejudice or miscarriage of justice.”Two years ago, the court of appeal called for a new trial over the imposition of static triers in another case over which Ewaschuk presided.In that ruling, the court noted the use of rotating triers has been a feature of the Canadian jury-selection process since the 1900s and that a properly constituted jury is critical to the entire process.last_img read more

Burns and blindness Very nasty giant hogweed plant spreading in Canada

first_imgIt can cause third-degree burns and even permanent blindness – and it’s spreading.Giant hogweed is cutting a wider swath in B.C. and Ontario, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada is urging people across the country to document sightings of the­ towering, three-metre green plant with large umbels of white flowers.Dan Kraus, a biologist with the conservancy, said the invasive Asian species likely arrived in Canada in the 1940s and can now be found in areas of the Atlantic provinces and Quebec, and has been spreading in southern Ontario and southern B.C.“Nobody’s really sure when it arrived here. It was probably introduced as an ornamental plant and it is starting to slowly spread,” said Kraus from Guelph, Ont.“It’s possible people are moving it from garden to garden. They see it in their aunt’s garden and they think it’s this wonderful plant, and they’re collecting seeds and moving it to another location, which is something we definitely don’t want people to do.”In 2015, five children in England were reportedly burned in two separate incidents after coming into contact with giant hogweed in public parks.Often mistaken for the similar-looking cow parsnip, it can be seen growing in gardens, along roadsides, in ditches and on the shores of rivers and streams. Its clear sap can cause blistering third-degree burns and even permanent blindness if it touches the body and is then exposed to the sun, through a phototoxic reaction.“It’s very nasty. It can cause huge water blisters — almost like boils — that erupt on your skin,” said Todd Boland, a research horticulturist at Memorial University’s Botanical Garden in St. John’s, N.L.“It may be the next day before you start to see the effects. That’s the funny thing about this. It’s not like it’s an instant thing. It takes awhile and you have to have repeated exposure to the sun.”But simply touching the plant is not dangerous, Boland stressed. It’s the sap that is problematic and washing your body and clothes after exposure can prevent the phototoxic reaction.“If you get it in your eye, it can lead to permanent blindness, but that’s pretty rare. You’d be hard-pressed to get it in your eye unless you were rolling around in the plant,” said Boland, adding that giant hogweed can be found in the St. John’s area.The plant has prompted communities across Canada to issue warnings to residents in recent years.Guelph, Ont., has been dealing with giant hogweed for about two years and although it is now contained in two locations, eradicating the plant has proven difficult.“In 2015 we removed some plants from one location and the next year we returned to the site and there were no plants, but this year we returned to find plants,” said Timea Filer, an urban forester with the city. “So there appears to be a seed bank and we’ll have to monitor it continually.”Kraus said there is also a concern about a loss of native biodiversity, as giant hogweed is an aggressive plant that can outcompete native plants and spread — especially when it grows near waterways and its seeds are carried downstream. One plant can produce thousands of seeds and they can stay in the ground for years before germinating.The conservancy is asking people to document sightings of the invasive plant through apps such as iNaturalist, which helps scientists understand how the plants are spreading and identifies areas in which they need to be eradicated, he said.“We also want to make people aware that they may have a plant in their garden which at some point could spread into a natural area and impact on biodiversity… or have public health impacts,” said Kraus.“Ideally you want to keep invasive plants out, but the next best thing is to detect them early and to remove them before they take over large areas.”Kraus said Canadians who spot giant hogweed should contact local parks officials.Follow (at)AlyThomson on Twitter.last_img read more

Man and children 13 and 4 die when minivan and semi collide

first_imgPORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Man. – A man and two children are dead after the minivan they were in collided with a semi in Manitoba.RCMP say the van was heading east on the Trans-Canada Highway on Saturday afternoon and collided with the westbound semi while attempting to turn north onto Highway 16 west of Portage la Prairie.A 35-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy in the van were pronounced dead at the scene, while a four-year-old boy died later in hospital.The 36-year-old woman who was driving and a nine-year-old boy remained in critical but stable condition in hospital on Saturday.All of the occupants were from Carberry, Man.The 62-year-old Ontario man who was driving the semi suffered minor injuries.Police say everyone was wearing seatbelts and that alcohol is not considered to have played a role in the crash.last_img read more

BC researchers develop sprayon solution to costly quake conundrum

first_imgVANCOUVER – It was while flipping through British Columbia’s seismic upgrade guidelines at the beginning of his civil engineering master’s degree that Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki first realized something was amiss.He noticed that retrofitting schools to protect them from earthquakes almost always involved tearing down and replacing masonry walls — a costly and time-consuming process.Six years later, the PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia has come up with a form of spray-on concrete that keeps walls in place. Researchers say the concrete will keep schools safe from the most powerful earthquakes and cut the cost of seismic retrofits.“All my research career has been the same,” Soleimani-Dashtaki said Tuesday. “I try to see where there is a gap and I try to fill and bridge that gap.”The new material allows masonry walls to withstand up to three times the strongest earthquake expected on Canada’s West Coast. One test structure sprayed with a 10-millimetre layer kept it from crumbling in a simulation that mimicked the magnitude 9 quake that hit Japan in 2011, Soleimani-Dashtaki said.Prof. Nemy Banthia, who oversaw the project, said British Columbia gets 2,500 of the 4,000 tremors Canada experiences annually.“Earthquakes don’t kill people. It’s the buildings that kill people,” he said, adding that old masonry structures are the most at risk to fail.The new material will be used in the next few weeks to retrofit a Vancouver elementary school. Researchers say they hope to expand the application to other buildings around the province.The B.C. government has earmarked 346 schools for seismic upgrades, but a progress report in August indicated retrofits had yet to be completed in more than half of them.“If you look at our B.C. schools, you will see miles and miles of unreinforced masonry corridor walls,” Banthia said.“During an earthquake, these are the corridor walls that would collapse and these are the ones where our children would suffer casualties.”University president Santa Ono lauded the project as not only innovative but economical.“What’s remarkable is that this costs half of the cost of a standard retrofit,” he said.The substance is also described as being more environmentally friendly than traditional concrete because it replaces 70 per cent of the cement used in its production with fly ash, an industrial byproduct.B.C. Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark says the new technology will have a far-reaching impact and will save lives not only in the province but around the world.“This is a massive problem on the Pacific Rim, here in B.C., and we are all at risk,” Mark said.“My children attend public schools. We want to make sure that when we leave our kids in the morning that they’ll be there when we pick them up in the afternoon.”Soleimani-Dashtaki said his research could be expanded to other structures, such as bridges and columns, and he would like to refine its packaging to make it easier to use outside the developed world.“There are thousands and millions of houses in developing countries, like India, for example, which they can’t really afford to replace and they can’t really afford to do expensive retrofit solutions we have in today’s world,” he said.“So this type of a quick, in-and-out, very cost-effective system would really, really help them.”— Follow @gwomand on Twitterlast_img read more

Colten Boushies mother says racism is on full display in Saskatchewan

first_imgREGINA – The mother of a young Indigenous man who was shot and killed on a Saskatchewan farm says racism is on full display in the province every day.Debbie Baptiste said she sees racism everywhere — in private business, in the courts and in the government, where Indigenous children are being taken into foster care.“It’s like the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) is no longer wearing their mask. They’re out and about,” Baptiste said Tuesday.Baptiste’s son Colten Boushie was killed after being shot in the head on a farm near the community of Biggar in August 2016.The landowner, Gerald Stanley, was acquitted of second-degree murder after testifying that his gun went off accidentally.Stanley said he was trying to scare some Indigenous young people that he thought were stealing from him.Baptiste is in Regina to show her support for the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp that’s set up outside the Saskatchewan legislature.She said she is at the camp for her son, but also because she had two grandchildren taken by Child and Family Services.“It’s very peaceful and I’m pretty sure my son would want me here,” she said.The camp was set up on Feb. 28 — shortly after the Boushie and Tina Fontaine cases both resulted in acquittals.Fontaine was 15-years-old when she disappeared in Winnipeg in 2014.Her body was pulled from the Red River eight days later wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down by rocks. A jury found Raymond Cormier not guilty in February of second-degree murder.Baptiste said that the camp has frequently received racist taunts since she’s been there, including from a group of people playing frisbee nearby. Vehicles also drive by to tell the campers to “get off our land.”Boushie’s mother is also watching the trial of white homeowner Peter Khill, who is accused of shooting Indigenous man Jon Styres in front of Khill’s rural home outside Hamilton, Ont., in February 2016.The Khill case has some similarities to that of Boushie’s.“I hope, pray, they get the justice that they’re asking for,” Baptiste said.Camp supporter Prescott Demas said that more than 1,300 people have stopped by the camp since it started.“It’s nice to have her (Baptiste) here especially since everything started was from the Gerald Stanley verdict,” Demas said.Demas, 47, said that campers want a meeting with the government, although he doesn’t believe it will happen. The camp has received two eviction notices.“I don’t know what my expectations are because I know that this government isn’t interested in listening,” Demas said. “Any expectations of them actually coming out are kind of really high hopes.”Ministry of Justice spokeswoman Jennifer Graham said the government has tried to arrange two meetings with the campers but the locations were rejected.“The group has been advised that their ongoing encampment in the park is not permitted and they must vacate,” she said an email. “Therefore, government officials will not be meeting with the group at the encampment.”— Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitterlast_img read more

Shooting of BC hockey dad in driveway was case of mistaken identity

first_imgSURREY, B.C. – The wife of a man gunned down in what police say was a case of mistaken identity is pleading for any information that would solve the murder the family is struggling to understand.Paul Bennett, 47, was shot in his driveway in Surrey, B.C., on the afternoon of June 23. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said Thursday he was the unintended victim of a targeted shooting.Darlene Bennett described her husband as the kind of man who wore his heart on his sleeve, volunteered his time freely, both as a hockey coach for their boys or to fill a call shift at the hospital where he worked.“He loved being a nurse, especially working in the operating room,” she said Thursday. “He found his element in the midst of chaos. There’s always opportunity to save a life or improve it.”He didn’t have a criminal record and wasn’t involved in any criminal activity, she told a news conference through tears.“We are grieving and traumatized by his loss and praying to understand why this has happened to our family. “Bennett was shot in front of his home at about 4 p.m. in what Darlene Bennett said was complete disregard for public safety in a quiet residential area.Cpl. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said people involved in such shootings aren’t interested in public safety.He said the death of the beloved father, hockey coach, brother and husband is tragic.Police released surveillance video from a home in the area showing just a few seconds of a newer, four-door Honda Civic driving past.Jang said it is associated with the homicide and police need anyone who has information to come forward.“We are working very hard to determine who the intended target was. That is one of our priorities, for investigators and our partners.”Two teenagers, aged 16 and 17, were also murdered in June. They were found on a road in Surrey in what police believe was a targeted shooting.A task force aimed at preventing gang violence in Surrey released a report earlier this month recommending more police enforcement, an expanded gang exit program and an initiative that would allow businesses to ban alleged gangsters from their premises.last_img read more

Toronto university alleged to be in violation of human rights settlement

first_imgTORONTO – A student who reached a human rights settlement with a Toronto university after an alleged sexual assault by a fellow student says the school breached the terms of their deal.Mandi Gray says the settlement saw York University agree to engage the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic to provide sexual assault counselling services for four years.But Gray contends the school terminated the partnership after less than a year, calling the move a violation of the previously undisclosed settlement.York University says it is not at liberty to discuss the terms of the settlement, but concedes a one-year partnership contract with the clinic expired earlier this year.The school says it still lists the clinic among its external resources for sexual assault survivors and says it’s confident it is still in compliance with the 2016 settlement.Gray, who took York to Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal alleging that it did not have adequate protocols in place to address sexual assaults, says she feels the school took advantage of her complaints in an effort to refurbish its image as a supportive institution for survivors.“They used my idea (to engage the clinic) to publicly demonstrate their own benevolence and commitment to sexual violence response on campus then quietly cancelled the contract,” Gray said in a statement. “This is an absolute reflection of what reporting sexual assault at York continues to be like. Blatant lies and false promises.”Gray emerged as a vocal advocate after she accused a fellow student with whom she had a casual relationship of sexual assault.Mustafa Ururyar was convicted on the charge in 2016, but appealed by arguing the judge who oversaw his trial was biased against him.The conviction was quashed last July, with appeal judge Michael Dambrot saying the convicting judge relied too heavily on “rape literature.” Ururyar was not given a retrial, but instead asked to sign a peace bond barring him from contact with Gray for a year.The human rights tribunal complaint against York, which stemmed from the same alleged incident, was settled in 2016 with both parties agreeing not to discuss its terms.In documents filed with the tribunal outlining the alleged settlement breach, however, Gray cites what she said was one of the terms of the original deal.She said York agreed to “create a partnership with one or more sexual assault centres, one of which will be the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic … to provide counselling services from a registered practitioner with expertise in gender-based violence.”The settlement stipulated the partnership would go into effect within six months of the date it was signed and would not be subject to change for four years, Gray alleged.Gray’s application states that York quietly launched the partnership with the Schlifer Clinic eight months after the settlement was reached, two months later than the deadline laid out in the deal.She said the school’s partnership with the clinic was set out in two short-term contracts lasting six months and five months respectively, further alleging that York did little to publicize the clinic’s services.Clinic executive director Amanda Dale confirmed that the school signed two short-term contracts, adding there was a gap in counselling service delivery between the two contract terms due to “uncertainty” as to whether the arrangement would continue.Dale said she was informed that York would not be proceeding with the partnership and would be hiring sexual assault counsellors of its own, but was not explicitly given a reason for the end of the partnership.“York did not enter into the Minutes of Settlement in good faith and did not intend to, nor did it, fulfil the terms of the Minutes of Settlement by meaningfully committing to a partnership with the clinic,” Gray alleged in the tribunal application.York spokeswoman Barbara Joy said the university would respond to Gray’s allegations through the tribunal process rather than in public.“We are very confident the university is in full compliance with the terms of settlement reached in 2016,” Joy said in a statement.York said it’s arrangement with the Schlifer Clinic lasted one year, adding it continues to list the facility among its external partners.Joy said the school currently has a counsellor on staff with a background in supporting survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, adding there are plans to hire a second.last_img read more

Controversial OPP commissioner appointment delayed

first_imgThe Canadian Press TORONTO — The Ontario government says it is delaying the appointment of the man set to become the province’s top cop until an investigation into allegations of political interference in the hiring process is complete.  Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones says the government will respect Ron Taverner’s request for a delay in his appointment, which was supposed to take place on Monday.  Taverner, a longtime family friend of Premier Doug Ford, did not initially qualify for the role, but the government has admitted that it lowered the requirements for the job to attract a wider range of candidates.Sources in the premier’s office say that until a review is complete, Acting OPP Commissioner Brad Blair will be replaced at the helm of the OPP by Gary Couture, who is currently the force’s deputy commissioner.On Friday, Blair asked the courts to order Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube to investigate Taverner’s hiring, after the ombudsman declined his request to carry out the probe.The Ford government has repeatedly denied that the premier’s office had anything to do with Taverner’s hiring.Taverner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the delay, which he requested in an email to Jones.“Out of the greatest of respect for the brave men and women of the Ontario Provincial Police, I am requesting my appointment as commissioner be postponed until as such time the integrity commissioner has completed his review,” he wrote in the email.last_img read more

Quebec students join global marches to demand climate change action

first_imgMONTREAL — University and high school students across Quebec are holding strikes today as they join climate marches taking place around the world.In Montreal, a large crowd is marching from Mount Royal, waving signs and denouncing government inaction on climate change.Earlier today, students formed human chains around six Montreal high schools, forcing the cancellation of morning classes.The protesters are demanding stronger government action on climate change, including a law to require measures that would limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. One of the organizers says 150,000 students are on strike in the province, representing 120 student associations.Other climate marches are expected to take place in Quebec City, Moncton, Toronto, Regina and Vancouver, as well as in close to 100 countries around the world.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Hungry wolves may get new home at Isle Royale National Park

first_imgTRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A U.S.-Canadian team is preparing for another mission to relocate grey wolves to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan from a second Lake Superior island, where the predators are in danger of starvation after gobbling up a caribou herd.The targeted pack is on Michipicoten Island on the eastern side of the lake, which was home to hundreds of caribou until ice bridges formed in recent years, enabling wolves to cross over from the mainland and feast on their helpless prey.The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources airlifted some of the last surviving caribou to another island last year. Before long the wolves were the ones in trouble, with only small mammals such as snowshoe hare left to eat.Their hunting prowess makes them prime candidates for Isle Royale, where a multi-year effort is under way to rebuild a wolf population needed to keep moose numbers under control, Superintendent Phyllis Green said.“We can use the good skills of those wolves, and this will match them with a larger island that will give them a better opportunity,” Green said.Isle Royale now has eight wolves, including six that were brought there last fall and winter from Minnesota and Ontario. Two of the newcomers were from Michipicoten Island, including the pack’s alpha male.Around six are believed to remain on Michipicoten. A crew of pilots, biologists and others will try to capture at least some and fly them to Isle Royale in the next few days, weather permitting.Officials had said earlier this month that no additional transfers were planned until this fall or next winter, partly because of a lack of money.But two private organizations — the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation and the International Wolf Center — kicked off a fundraising effort, fearing the Michipicoten wolves would run out of food before then.“They’re not going to make it,” said Carol Brady, spokeswoman for the foundation.The groups have pledged $75,000 between them and have started a GoFundMe campaign to produce the remaining $25,000 needed for a four-day airlift operation. The Ontario ministry granted approval Monday, Brady said.As they’ve done before, crew members will trap the wolves with net guns fired from helicopters. They’ll be examined by veterinarians, and those healthy enough for movement will be taken to their new home, where there will be no shortage of prey. Isle Royale’s booming moose population is believed to exceed 1,500.“If left unchecked, moose would over-consume the island’s vegetation,” said Rob Schultz, executive director of the wolf centre. “Apex predators like wolves are important components of any healthy, natural ecosystems.”John Flesher, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Quebec rejects bid for 2021 Francophonie Games bid citing cost and time

first_imgQUEBEC — The Quebec government has abandoned the idea of bidding to hold the 2021 Francophonie Games in Sherbrooke, Que.Maeva Proteau, a spokeswoman for International Relations Minister Nadine Girault, says the conditions were not right to stage a successful games.New Brunswick abandoned the games in January, citing ballooning costs after the budget rose to $130 million from an original bid of $17 million.The event brings together 3,000 athletes and artists from la Francophonie’s more than 50 member states.After Sherbrooke came forward as a potential host, the Quebec government said it was prepared to pay $17 million, but Ottawa would have to pay the majority of the bill if the event were to be staged in the province.Proteau said today that for the games to go ahead, Quebec would have had to spend more than $30 million, and with the tight deadline there was a risk of cost overruns. The Canadian Presslast_img read more

New Brunswicks cannabis retailer reports 117 million loss in first year

first_imgFREDERICTON — New Brunswick’s Crown-owned cannabis retailer is recording a big financial loss in its first year in operation.Unaudited year-end results released Tuesday show Cannabis NB lost $11.7 million.The agency says sales of legal cannabis for the fourth quarter were $9.7 million, resulting in a year-end total of $18.6 million.General manager Lara Wood says the government knew there would be challenges but is confident objectives including reducing the illicit market and creating public awareness are being met.Last October, former Cannabis NB president Brian Harriman said with overhead and start-up costs, he hoped the 20 stores would at least break even in their first fiscal year.As the parent company, NB Liquor will consolidate Cannabis NB’s results into its year-end results.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Toronto shooting survivor says details helped her as RCMP mum on BC

first_imgVANCOUVER — As the RCMP remains tight-lipped about why two young men may have killed three people in northern British Columbia, one of the survivors in Toronto’s Danforth shooting says she’s been following the story closely.Danielle Kane said the Toronto police department’s decision to release a detailed report on its investigation provided her with clarity about what happened the night she was paralyzed from the waist down and insight into the man who shot her.“It helped me process the whole thing and it also allowed the public to kind of figure out, well, what are the things that kind of lead up to this sort of thing happening? What are the factors?” she said in an interview.“I think that’s important for the public to know, instead of just wild speculation, because that’s what’s happening now.”Kane was one of 13 people injured when Faisal Hussain opened fire in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood then killed himself. Julianna Kozis, 10, and Reese Fallon, 18, were killed in the shooting on July 22, 2018.Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said in June that police took the “unprecedented step” of releasing their findings in the year-long probe out of compassion for the families and in recognition of the widespread impact the attack had on the community.The 23-page report did not identify a specific motive, but it said Hussain had a fascination with death and violence. He also had a long history of mental health issues and repeatedly harmed himself, the report said.On Wednesday, the RCMP announced they are confident that two bodies found in the dense brush outside of Gillam, Man., are those of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, suspected of killing a young tourist couple and a botanist in northern British Columbia last month.The finding marks the end of a manhunt for the Vancouver Island men, but questions remain unanswered about what exactly happened, including their motivation.RCMP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett told a news conference Wednesday that determining a motive will be “extremely difficult” if the identities are confirmed through autopsies because investigators can’t interview Schmegelsky or McLeod.He did not commit to provide details of the ongoing investigation, saying: “There may be an opportunity for that in the future but I’m not in a position to speak about that today.”Legal experts argue that the Mounties should share more about what they know, while balancing the privacy rights of those who died and their families.“They may need to be cautious and careful about how they put things, but I would hope to hear more from police about motivation because ultimately we want to prevent future incidents of this kind,” said Neil Boyd, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.Boyd also defended the Mounties handling of the case, arguing that releasing too many details while the fugitives were still at large could have compromised the investigation.Some details may also be shared with the affected families alone, if they are needlessly gruesome or involve personal information, he said.Toby Mendel, executive director at the Centre for Law and Democracy based in Halifax, said questions about why the RCMP didn’t name McLeod and Schmegelsky as suspects earlier adds weight to the argument that they should release information about how the investigation was conducted.The Mounties announced McLeod and Schmegelsky as missing persons on July 19 and as suspects on July 23. In the meantime, the pair interacted with a man in Cold Lake, Alta., on July 21, and band constables with the Tataskweyak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba on July 22. They were unaware of who the men were.“Whenever there’s an allegation about wrongdoing or inappropriate behaviour on the part of any official, the public interest in accessing information increases significantly,” Mendel said. “That means they correspondingly need a weightier argument not to release the information.”Investigators need to have the freedom to make decisions in the heat of the moment, including what information to release. But that doesn’t give them automatic protection from a review of the decision later, he said.The story’s notoriety means it affected many people across the country, some of whom have become fearful or felt their safety was threatened.“A British judge once famously said the public interest is not what the public is interested in. So the mere curiosity or sensational curiosity wouldn’t drive that. But I think in a case like this you have to look at what’s behind the curiosity,” he said.Hackett defended how the RCMP released information on McLeod and Schmegelsky as their status changed from missing persons to suspects.“This was a dynamic and constantly evolving investigation,” he said. “And with the help of the media we were able to get information very quickly into the hands of the public to enhance public safety. I don’t know if we could have gone much quicker than we did.”In deciding which details to release publicly, lawyer Lorne Randa said the RCMP will consider the fact that an individual’s privacy rights don’t disappear at death, and their family members also have a right to privacy.The Privacy Act does include a provision for police to disclose personal information where it would be in the public interest to do so. However, the definition of what’s in the public interest is discretionary, said Randa, who is based in Edmonton and chairs the Canadian Bar Association’s committee on privacy and access.“There’s nothing that would obligate the RCMP to disclose information of that nature,” Randa said.Peter German, a former assistant commissioner who retired from the RCMP in 2012, said he believes the Mounties will provide as much information as possible without violating privacy rights.“The option is to hold an inquest and I don’t think that’s necessarily in the cards in this case,” he said. “There will be a thorough investigation and the RCMP should be able to inform the families of all the details and hopefully the public to a certain degree, so it does bring closure.”— With files from Liam Casey in Toronto.Amy Smart, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Exhostage Boyle demanded wife lose weight as means of control prosecutor

first_imgOTTAWA — A Crown attorney has accused Joshua Boyle of dictating strict weight-loss targets for wife Caitlan Coleman after the couple were freed as hostages of Taliban-linked captors.Prosecutor Jason Neubauer said today in Ontario court that the demands were a tangible way for Boyle, on trial for allegedly assaulting Coleman, to assert his control over her.Neubauer pointed to a list Boyle apparently prepared that set out weight-loss goals of about 2.5 pounds a week — targets the prosecutor said she had to meet or be chastised.Under cross-examination, Boyle said the pair pestered each other for years to lose weight and the targets were merely proposals for negotiation, with no punishment for failing to meet them.Boyle, 36, has pleaded not guilty to offences against Coleman, including assault, sexual assault and unlawful confinement in the period of October to December 2017.The incidents are alleged to have taken place after he and Coleman returned to Canada following five years as prisoners of extremists, who seized them in Afghanistan during a 2012 backpacking trip through central Asia.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Signed Justin Bieber CD Goes Under The Hammer For New Zealand Childrens

first_imgStarship Spring Clean is a fantastic charity auction initiative that is asking New Zealanders to clean up and sell their old items (big or small) in support of the Starship Children’s Foundation.There’s a luxury European holiday package to be auctioned on Trade Me which includes two return Air New Zealand business premiere flights to London, plus 28 nights’ accommodation staying at Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties.And if bidding on the holiday isn’t quite within the budget, there are other exciting and quirky auction items from a walk-on role on daily soap Shortland Street, a SKYCITY Breakers game day experience, CDs signed by Justin Bieber, Duffy, Florence and the Machine and Ronan Keating, a hospital bed from the set of Shortland Street, an equestrian teddy bear signed by Olympic medallist Mark Todd, Scott Dixon signed racing gear, a handsome (and huge) Steiff toy camel, a blow up remote controlled shark, an entire teddy bear collection and an original dress from the World of Wearable Arts.Starship corporate partners are involved too, including a ‘Be a Zookeeper for the Day’ experience, donated by ASB; premium economy return trip for two to either London, Hong Kong, Japan or Shanghai donated by Air New Zealand, two $1000 fuel vouchers from Chevron, loads of bean bags from Mercury Energy, and Barfoot & Thompson and SKY Television are holding garage sales throughout September.Plus, once the public starts listing their items on the Trade Me Starship Spring Clean store, there will be all sorts of weird and wonderful items to purchase in support of Starship.To buy or sell Starship Spring Clean items on Trade Me, visit www.trademe.co.nz/starship from 1-30 September and follow the prompts. Sellers who donate at least 50% of the sale price to Starship, will be refunded their success fee by Trade Me.Starship Spring Clean will help New Zealanders support their national children’s hospital. It’s a win-win: while cleaning out your cupboards, you’ll also raise money for vital equipment needed in the Starship Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.Source:Starship.org.nzlast_img read more

50 Animal Shelters To Compete In ASPCA Rachael Ray 100K Challenge

first_imgThe ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has released the names of the 50 animal shelters that will compete in the 2013 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, with a total of $600,000 in prize grants up for grabs to help shelters save more homeless cats and dogs.The contestants will gear up for the competition to save more animals – during the months of June, July and August 2013 – than they did over the same three-month period in 2012. Last year’s competing shelters saved more than 56,000 cats and dogs during the contest, an increase of 14,376 over the same period in 2011.“In a matter of days we filled up all 50 spots, and we have a great mix of shelters of all shapes and sizes representing 31 states and territories,” says Bert Troughton , vice president of Community Outreach at the ASPCA. “The contest isn’t even underway yet, and already we’re seeing incredible energy and passion from the field. If that’s any indication of how the competition will go, we’re in for another record-breaking year of saving lives.”The 50 contestants in the 2013 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge are: • Greater Birmingham Humane Society in Birmingham, Ala. • Mobile County Animal Control in Mobile, Ala. • Western Arizona Humane Society in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. • HALO Animal Rescue in Phoenix, Ariz. • Butte Humane Society in Chico, Calif. • Hesperia Animal Control and Services in Hesperia, Calif. • Moreno Valley Animal Shelter in Moreno Valley, Calif. • San Bernadino County Animal Care and Control in San Bernadino, Calif. • Yolo County Sheriff’s Office – Animal Services in Woodland, Calif. • Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, D.C. • Humane Society of Pinellas in Clearwater, Fla. • Suncoast Humane Society in Englewood, Fla. • Jacksonville Humane Society in Jacksonville, Fla. • Pasco County Animal Services – FOAS, Inc. in Land O’ Lakes, Fla. • Osceola County Animal Services in St. Cloud, Fla. • Cherokee County Animal Shelter in Canton, Ga. • Humane Society for Greater Savannah in Savannah, Ga. • Canyon County Animal Shelter in Caldwell, Idaho • South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights, Ill. • Macon County Animal Control and Care Center in Decatur, Ill. • Almost Home Humane Society in Lafayette, Ind. • Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa • Lawrence Humane Society in Lawrence, Kan. • Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) in Baltimore, Md. • Animal Rescue League of Boston in Boston, Mass. • Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter in Dearborn, Mich. • Capital Area Humane Society in Lansing, Mich. • Humane Society of Midland County in Midland, Mich. • Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport, Miss. • Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Mo. • The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas, Nev. • Eleventh Hour Rescue in Randolph, N.J. • Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley in Las Cruces, N.M. • Brother Wolf Animal Rescue in Asheville, N.C. • Toledo Area Humane Society in Maumee, Ohio • Western Pennsylvania Humane Society in Pittsburgh, Pa. • Providence Animal Rescue League in Providence, R.I. • Anderson County P.A.W.S. in Anderson, S.C. • Riverside County Department of Animal Services in Jurupa, S.C. • Unicoi County Animal Shelter in Erwin, Tenn. • Beaumont Animal Services in Beaumont, Texas • City of Corpus Christi Animal Care Services in Corpus Christi, Texas • Citizens for Animal Protection in Houston, Texas • Houston Humane Society in Houston, Texas • Texas Humane Heroes in Leander, Texas • Salt Lake County Animal Services in Salt Lake City, Utah • Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation in Sumerduck, Va. • Virginia Beach SPCA in Virginia Beach, Va. • Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee, Wis. • Cheyenne Animal Shelter in Cheyenne. Wyo.The ASPCA and Rachael Ray will award a $100,000 grand prize to the shelter contestant that achieves the greatest increase in lives saved during this three-month period. The contestant that does the best job of engaging its community members in helping to save more animals will win $25,000. Those organizations that do the best in their divisions will be eligible for between $10,000 and $25,000 in additional grants. In total, $600,000 in grant funding will be awarded for increases in animal lives saved and general participation.All her life, Rachael Ray has been an advocate for animals and a supporter of animal welfare groups. Her love for animals and for her pit bull, Isaboo, inspired her to create a pet food called Nutrish to raise money for animals in need. Ray donates 100 percent of her proceeds from the sale of Nutrish to organizations like the ASPCA so they can implement programs like the $100K Challenge and support shelters and animal organizations around the country.The ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge is a groundbreaking contest that challenges animal shelters across the country to come up with innovative ways to engage their communities and get more homeless cats and dogs into loving homes. For more information about the 2013 ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, please click here.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

Tori Spelling And Valspar Paint Support Habitat For Humanity

first_imgValspar Paint announces the second installment of the Valspar Color Project, an online video series following two of today’s favorite celebrity couples, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott as well as Ashley Hebert and JP Rosenbaum, as they take viewers behind the scenes to share how they connect to the power in color and find the perfect Valspar paint color match to transform a room in their homes.Valspar Color Expert and Designer Genevieve Gorder assist Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott find their perfect Valspar color match through the Valspar Color Project benefitting Habitat for HumanityWith the help of interior designer and Valspar color expert Genevieve Gorder and the Valspar Perfect Match App on Facebook, each couple reveals how they merge their color styles. Beginning Tuesday, March 19 through Monday, June 10, 2013, watch each video on the Valspar Paint Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ValsparPaint. Each time a viewer shares their own color match through the app, Valspar Paint will donate $1.00 to the nonprofit affordable-housing organization Habitat For Humanity, up to $150,000. Habitat for Humanity is proudly supported by each celebrity couple and by Valspar as its national paint partner in the United States.Ashley Hebert and JP Rosenbaum find their perfect match in Valspar Roasted Pumpkin 2005-3A“When designing a room, color is one of the most powerful elements in a designer’s toolbox and painting is one of the simplest ways to incorporate color in a room and refresh your palette,” said Gorder. “I love to see people push the boundaries when it comes to color in the home, as these couples have done through the Valspar Color Project. One of the tools that can give you the confidence to do that is the Valspar Love Your Color Guarantee. If you choose a Valspar Paint color and don’t love it, you can get a replacement color for free.”Actress and author Tori Spelling and her husband, actor Dean McDermott, turn to Valspar Paint and Genevieve Gorder to advise them on the perfect color match after deciding to refresh their kids’ playroom in their Los Angeles home. Gorder pairs Spelling and McDermott with Valspar Rushing Stream 5005-10B, a bright and modern shade of turquoise that reflects a combination of both their color tastes and personalities.“Color is a big part of our lives, so it was important for us to bring positive color energy into the playroom, especially because we spend so much time in that room together,” said Spelling. “Valspar Rushing Stream has created an inviting and lively environment for our family and we are thrilled to find a color that is a blend of everything we were looking for – something bright yet airy and light, with a springtime feel.”After using the Valspar Perfect Match App, TV personality Ashley Hebert and her husband, JP Rosenbaum, were matched with Valspar Roasted Pumpkin 2005-3A. This rich shade of orange fulfilled their desire to add a dynamic vibrancy to their living room, a common area where they often entertain and host guests.“As newlyweds, decorating our home together means merging our tastes in color and décor,” said Hebert. “Valspar Roasted Pumpkin is the perfect combination of our styles for a space we both use every day. We hope everyone will have as much fun as we did using the Valspar Perfect Match App.”Now in its second year, the Valspar Color Project is part of an ongoing partnership between Valspar and Habitat for Humanity. Since launching the national partnership in 2002, Valspar, through its Foundation, has committed more than $60 million in cash and paint to Habitat through 2014 and guarantees paint for every Habitat house built, repaired or rehabilitated in the United States.To watch the Valspar Color Project celebrity color transformation stories, use the Valspar Perfect Match App and share a color match to help raise money for Habitat for Humanity, please visit www.facebook.com/ValsparPaint. Through the Valspar Color Project, for each share of a color match between Tuesday, March 19 and Monday, June 10, 2013, Valspar will donate $1 to Habitat for Humanity, up to $150,000 and with a minimum donation of $25,000.last_img read more

Stars To Appear At National Memorial Day Concert

first_imgOn the eve of Memorial Day, the 24th annual NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT will bring to life the moving stories of America’s servicemen and women who have given so much to preserve America’s freedoms.The inspiring television event will pay tribute to the profound heroism of all who served during World War II, salute the valor of our Korean War veterans, and honor the sacrifices of our National Guard heroes and their families.The multi award-winning program will be co-hosted for the eighth year by Tony Award-winner Joe Mantegna (CRIMINAL MINDS) and Emmy Award-winner Gary Sinise (CSI:NEW YORK), two acclaimed actors who have dedicated themselves to veterans causes and supporting our troops in active service. Opening the show, with a special performance of the National Anthem will be the season 12 winner of AMERICAN IDOL. The all-star line-up also includes: distinguished American leader Colin L. Powell USA (Ret.); two-time Golden Globe award-winning actor Ed Harris; DANCING WITH THE STARS finalist and classical cross-over artist Katherine Jenkins; singer-songwriter and THE VOICE finalist Chris Mann; and acclaimed Tony award-winning tenor Alfie Boe; in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly.This American tradition will air live on PBS Sunday, May 26, 2013, from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m., from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network.The 2013 NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT will feature: • The moving story of twin brothers who served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan with the National Guard, that focuses on how multiple deployments tragically can impact both those who serve as well as their family members; • A tribute to the Greatest Generation featuring the stirring remembrances of decorated World War II veteran Charles Durning, the renowned actor and longtime contributor to the NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT, who passed away last December; and • On the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the broadcast will honor the profound sacrifices of the proud veterans who fought and perished in this “forgotten war.”Also participating in the event are the U.S Joint Chiefs of Staff with The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus, The Soldiers Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Color Teams provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.The broadcast will be supported by a comprehensive social media campaign and resource-rich website at www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert. Highlights will include: a “Virtual Wall of Remembrance” where viewers can share tributes to our veterans and fallen heroes; plus suggestions on what you can do to support veterans and their loved ones; as well as resources for service members and their families.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more

Celebrity Guests Announced For Long Island Music Hall Of Fame Fundraising Gala

first_imgThe Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHoF) will celebrate its 2014, and fifth Class of Honorees, at its star-studded red carpet Award Ceremony and Fundraising Gala this Thursday, October 23, 2014, at The Paramount in Huntington, NY.Special guests Roger Waters, Dionne Warwick, Felix Cavaliere and more will join in celebrating an extraordinary night in music. Performances in R&B, Oldies, rock and a musical tribute to Gerry Goffin featuring members of the Tokens, Toys and Cookies will all take place in one amazing evening.The fifth induction class includes: Record Producer and Music Industry Executive Clive Davis Concert Promoter Ron Delsener Billy Joel Band: Liberty DeVitto — drums, percussion Doug Stegmeyer (posthumous) — bass guitar, backing vocals Russell Javors — rhythm and lead guitars, harmonica, backing vocals Richie Cannata — keyboards, saxophones, flute, clarinet, percussion Lyricist Gerry Goffin (posthumous) Record Producer and Remixer Steve Thompson Singer Debbie Gibson Rapper and Record producer Kurtis Blow 2014 Harry Chapin Award recipient and previous LIMHoF inductee DMC of Run DMC Jim Faith, Founding Member, Vice Chair, and LIMHoF Gala Producer states, “It’s been an honor to be a part of this organization from its inception. As producer of the past five galas, it’s humbling to not only celebrate our history, but play a part in making it! This year’s gala may be the most historic event to date.”“I couldn’t be more happy and proud to be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame,” says Richie Cannata of the Billy Joel Band.LIMHoF will also honor Music Educator of the Year, Student Music and Non-Profit Scholarship recipients and present a special award paying tribute to an accomplishment to mark the anniversary of Billy Joel’s trip to Russia.Tickets on sale now. General seating tickets are $75 and $150, and are available through The Paramount box office at 631-673-7300 or online at here. Premium VIP seating is available, toinclude full dinner and show. For information about Premium seating, please contact LIMHoF at 631-331-0808 or info@limusichalloffame.org.Inductees are selected by the LIMHoF Board of Directors from an evolving and growing list of people, artists, and entities that were born, raised, founded, or have resided on geographic Long Island (Brooklyn/Queens/Nassau/Suffolk) for a significant portion of their career. Induction is based on historical importance and the significance of their contribution to Long Island’s rich musical heritage. Complete induction criteria and more about previous inductees at here.Past inductees include: Billy Joel, Lou Reed, Carole King, George M. Cohan, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Money, Joan Jett, Twisted Sister, Mariah Carey, The Ramones, Barbra Streisand, John Coltrane, Peter Criss (KISS), LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Taylor Dayne, Salt N Pepa, Randy Weston, Zebra, Lovin’ Spoonful’s Joe Butler and Steve Boone, Ervin Drake, Gary U.S. Bonds, Stanley Drucker (New York Philharmonic clarinetist), Simon & Garfunkel, Tony Bennett and more.Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHoF) is a 501c3 organization dedicated to the idea that Long Island’s musical heritage is an important resource to be celebrated and preserved for future generations. The LIMHoF was created as a place to inspire in each person the desire to explore and celebrate music in all its forms and to be a place where the music community will find the support, resources and leadership necessary to aim them in that exploration. For more information about the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, visit limusichalloffame.org.last_img read more

Mental Health Association of New York City Honors Patrick J Kennedy

first_imgOn Tuesday night the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC) brought together over 300 supporters, guests and business leaders to call for greater awareness and support for the many faces of Mental Health.Mental Health Association Of NYC Gala Honors Patrick J. KennedyWABC Eyewitness News Anchor Bill Ritter hosted the emotional evening honoring Patrick J. Kennedy and focused on the personal stories of those challenged and the need for early detection and greater awareness.Every speaker on stage spoke about why they too were one of the many faces of mental health or a part of the vast support system connected in some way to the cause. Host Bill Ritter talked about the huge disparity between the numbers- one in four adults in this country has had a mental health challenge – and the resources devoted to mental wellness.Longtime MHA-NYC CEO and President Giselle Stolper highlighted the organization as a force for mental wellness as exemplified by such programs as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Veterans Crisis Hotline, NFL Lifeline and 164 network crisis centers. “In 2015 alone,” she said “these programs provided life saving assistance to 1.5 million people people across the country. And locally, in partnership with New York City, we answered up to 12,000 calls a month from people in crisis.”Sarah Vander Schaaff, a writer and blogger, whose honesty and courage about her own obsessive compulsive disorder in the Washington Post received international acclaim, urged the audience to talk openly with their children and friends and embrace “the wisdom and help, medical and behavioral, that can lessen the pain and anxiety or depression and limit our mental well-being.”Antigone Davis, the head of Global Safety at Facebook, talked about their moving work with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to enable “compassionate connections on Facebook and our efforts to provide support for those dealing with depression and thoughts of self harm.” Working collaboratively with experts in the field, Facebook has developed enhanced tools and resources for when people encounter this kind of content. Davis added that this work was a labor of love for her, having lost someone she knew well to suicide while in college.It was 21-year-old D.J. Wilkerson, who brought the audience to its feet with his story of survival and ultimately triumph. Wilkerson, said he he had been called a “nothing” for much of his life. He began a self described “decline”, faced trouble with the law, dropped out of school and was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward of a hospital. He turned his life around, with the help of MHA-NYC’s Adolescent Skills Centers and beamed as he described his GED, two internships, successful job at GAMESTOP and educational and career dreams.The night came to a perfect close when Amy Kennedy, Education Director of the Kennedy Forum and wife of former Rhode Island representative Patrick J. Kennedy accepted the night’s award as a champion of mental health on her husband’s behalf. Kennedy said the lessons learned from Wilkerson’s story, and all those shared throughout the night, were a perfect example of the need for more education and early intervention to help all those struggling with mental health challenges.Event Chairs for the MHA-NYC 2016 Gala included: Jennifer Ashley, Ph. D., Global Director of Human Resources for CBRE, RIc Clark, Senior Managing Partner and Global Head of Real Estate at Brookfield, and CEO of Brookfield Property Partners, Charles P. Fitzgerald, founder and and Senior Managing Partner of of V3 Capital Management, L.P.Other notable guests included: Rebecca Jarvis, Chief National Correspondent ABC News, Tamsen Fadal, anchor at WPIX TV, former New York Rangers defensemen Tom Laidlaw, former New York Giants tight end Mark Bavaro and former New York Jets defensive back and broadcaster John Dockery.Sponsors for the MHA-NYC 2016 Gala included: Brookfield, CBRE Group, Inc., Cynthia Eckes, V3 Capital Management L.P., Cynthia Zirinsky, Jennifer Ashley, Ric Clark, Sheri & Kevin Danehy, Charles Fitzgerald, Diana Gaines, Alison Lewis & Newmark Grubb Knight, Frank, Alaina Melichar, Morgan Stanley, Alston & Bird, Balyasny Asset Management, EY, Facebook, Inc., Gracie Square Hospital, Bernie Groveman, Robert Gottesman, Haynes and Boone, LLP, Kelly Drye & Warren LLP, Meyer Mintz & Berdon LLP, Montefiore Medical Center, National Football league, Joseph F. Peyronnin, III and Susan Zirinsky, Ellen and Alan Rutsky, Anderson, McCoy & Orta, Beacon Health Solutions, Lawrence Calcano, Johnson &Johnson, Magellan Health, Paul Massey, Michael Nissan, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc., Corbett Price, Lynn Sherman, S. Donald Sussman for Paloma Partners, Kenneth and Anna Zankel.last_img read more