Trial begins for exMountie accused of sexually assaulting civilian employee

first_imgVANCOUVER – A retired RCMP inspector sexually assaulted a woman inside a locked washroom at police headquarters in British Columbia, a Crown attorney said at the opening of a provincial court trial on Wednesday.Michelle Booker told the judge hearing the case without a jury that former inspector Tim Shields also sexually harassed the woman at E Division headquarters in Vancouver.“She asked him to stop. The harassment continued,” Booker said of the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.Booker said the woman, who was a civilian employee, will testify that Shields sexually assaulted her in the fall of 2009 at E Division headquarters in Vancouver.“He did so by kissing her, touching her breasts, exposing himself, touching her hand and placing her hand onto his exposed penis,” she told the court.At the time of the alleged incidents, Shields was in charge of strategic communications and was the public face of the Mounties in the province.He was charged in May 2016 and pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault in July.Shields arrived in court flanked by two lawyers and did not respond to a request for comment.He appeared passive while listening to the proceedings, spending part of the time hunched over writing in a notebook.The Crown called RCMP Sgt. Jeff Wong as the first witness, who described photos he had taken in May 2015 of the Mounties’ former headquarters to assist with an internal investigation.Wong said he was told only that the photos were for a “sensitive situation” involving professional standards. He provided a detailed description of the facility’s washrooms.Retired deputy commissioner Craig Callens said previously the Mounties became aware of allegations of sexual misconduct against Shields in 2013, but an investigation could not proceed because of a lack of evidence. That changed in 2014 after new information came to light, Callens said.Shields was suspended with pay in May of last year and submitted his discharge documents in December, Callens said. The Mounties said at the time his suspension was due to a code-of-conduct investigation.The Crown told the court it expects to call a civilian witness and an RCMP superintendent to testify on Thursday.— Follow @gwomand on Twitterlast_img read more

Police search for suspect Piece of concrete thrown at Winnipeg transit driver

first_imgWINNIPEG – Police are searching for a suspect who threw a large piece of concrete at a Winnipeg transit driver and hit him in the head.The driver was not badly hurt.Police say a man got on the bus at the St. Vital Shopping Centre last month, refused to pay and argued with the driver before getting off downtown.A short time later, the driver stopped to pick up people waiting at a different bus stop and saw the same man.Officers say that’s when the suspect threw the concrete before he fled on foot.Winnipeg bus driver Irvine Jubal Fraser died in February after being stabbed multiple times by a passenger.The bus had reached the end of the line late at night and Fraser was trying to remove the man, who had been sleeping at the back of the bus.In June 2002, Robert Stanley was killed when two teens dropped a boulder the size of a basketball from a bridge over Edmonton’s Whitemud Freeway. The rock crashed through Stanley’s school bus windshield and struck him in the chest.(CTV Winnipeg, The Canadian Press)last_img read more

Ontario to call public inquiry into Elizabeth Wettlaufer nursing home murders

first_imgTORONTO – The case of a nurse who murdered eight seniors in long-term care homes in Ontario will be examined in a public inquiry.The Ontario government announced Monday it is moving to appoint a commissioner to lead a public inquiry into the circumstances of the deaths.Elizabeth Wettlaufer pleaded guilty last month to eight counts of first-degree murder, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault. She was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Attorney General Yasir Naqvi offered condolences on behalf of the provincial government to Wettlaufer’s victims.The ministers say they want to assure the public that, despite Wettlaufer’s crimes, the 78,000 residents of Ontario’s publicly funded long-term care homes are safe.At the same time, they said the inquiry process is meant to answer questions so the government can ensure a similar tragedy does not happen again.The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario applauded the government’s announcement Monday, saying it had been demanding an inquiry into the case since Wettlaufer pleaded guilty earlier this month.“During this immensely difficult time, I commend the government for having the courage to put these events under the microscope,” said association CEO Doris Grinspun. “The inquiry will help us learn how this tragedy happened, and see if there were any cracks in the system we can address to prevent this from happening ever again.”Advocacy groups CARP and the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly said the Wettlaufer case has “severely shaken” people’s confidence in long-term care homes in Ontario.“We eagerly await the terms of the inquiry to ensure that its scope is sufficient to address the actions, responsibilities and duties of the many institutions and individuals who failed to prevent or put a timely stop to Wettlaufer’s crimes …” the two groups said in a statement.“This is a critical first step to restoring trust in our long-term health-care system.”The government is finalizing the details of the inquiry and will make them available to the public once they have been approved by cabinet.last_img read more

Abducted Saskatchewan girl dropped off in woods walked to nearby farm police

first_imgPRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Police say a Saskatchewan girl abducted from a playground last week was dropped off in a wooded area outside the city of Prince Albert.Insp. Jason Stonechild says the eight-year-old girl walked from the woods to a nearby farm where the owner called police.“RCMP officers and members from our service immediately attended to this farmyard where officers were able to confirm that we had located our subject of the Amber Alert,” Stonechild said Wednesday. “The victim was immediately taken to Victoria Hospital by our members for proper assessment.”He says a canine unit followed the girl’s footsteps back to the woods to figure out where she had been abandoned. He wouldn’t say how far of a walk it was to the farm or how long the girl had been on her own.An Amber Alert was issued July 4 after the girl disappeared from a Prince Albert school playground.Police said the girl was playing by herself when a man entered the park. He was seen on video, obtained from the school, hanging around for about 15 minutes until the child left and he followed.Police said he was seen talking to the girl against a school wall, then grabbed her and put her into the back seat of his car. He then climbed into the front and drove away.She was found several hours later.While police were at the farmyard, they received a call from a business in Prince Albert saying they had someone matching the suspect’s description, Stonechild said.Officers immediately went to the business, which Stonechild wouldn’t identify, and arrested the suspect without incident.Jared John Charles, who is 19 and who has also been identified as Jarrod Charles, is facing numerous charges, including kidnapping, forcible confinement, sexual assault and abandoning a child.Public assistance following the police department’s first Amber Alert was incredible and vital to the safe return of the girl, Stonechild said. People drove around looking for the girl and the suspect’s vehicle, he said.“The response from the public was outstanding and it was immediate,” he said. “The investigation now continues.”The girl’s mother has said what happened to her daughter shows it could happen to anyone. She said the girl was in the care of her grandmother, who had stepped away for a few minutes to get a bottle of water.The girl was well-educated about kidnapping, her mother said.“We have to remember that this was a rare and unfortunate incident in a very safe community,” Prince Albert police Chief Troy Cooper said Wednesday.“The investigation to this point has been focusing on the actions of the suspected offender and not on the actions of the victim or the victim’s family.”The girl and her family are being supported by victims’ services, he said.“She’s an intelligent and happy young girl and we’re fortunate to see she’s with her family.”— By Chinta Puxley in Edmontonlast_img read more

Canadian pastor freed from North Korea to attend church in Mississauga on

first_imgMISSISSAUGA, Ont. – A Canadian pastor released from prison in North Korea this week is planning to attend a church service in Mississauga, Ont., on Sunday.Hyeon Soo Lim was released on what state media described as “sick bail” after being handed a life sentence with hard labour in 2015.Lim is a pastor with the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga.His colleague, Rev. Jang Bae, tells The Canadian Press in an email that Lim “will be attending service this Sunday.”Bae says there will be a section for media at the service, and more details will be provided then.There’s no word yet on when exactly Lim arrives in Canada.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the incorrect spelling of the pastor’s first name.last_img read more

Fraser Health in BC warns of spike in overdose deaths in past

first_imgSURREY, B.C. – A major health authority in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland issued a warning Friday about illicit drugs after an increase in suspected overdose deaths in the past week.Fraser Health says preliminary data from the provincial coroner shows the region has seen 17 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths during that time in communities from Surrey to Hope.Most of deaths happened in private homes, followed by hotels and motels.British Columbia is in the grip of a public health emergency because of the number of overdose deaths.Last year, 967 people died of an opioid-related overdose and the province is on track for more than 1,500 such deaths in 2017.Fraser Health says it had already taken steps to respond to “the hidden epidemic of overdoses in residences” in the communities it covers.Those include identifying people who might be at risk after they show up at emergency departments — eight out of 10 people who die at home have gone to an ER at least once in the 12 months before their deaths.Patients are offered support, such as suboxone to treat opioid addiction.The authority is also contacting patients who overdosed at home within 48 hours of being discharged from emergency departments to help them get the services they need.Fraser Health says it has found many of those using opioids have histories of injuries and pain management, so it has changed prescribing practices and is working with physiotherapists and chiropractors on available options for chronic pain.After informing family physicians when their patients overdose, it is also helping them get better access to the overdose-antidote naloxone.Fraser Health says men between the ages of 19 and 59 in trade industries are disproportionately affected by the drug crisis. It is contacting groups including employers, technical schools and sports associations that might be able to help identify and support individuals who are struggling with substance use.“Our targeted response is an important step in supporting people who are at a higher risk of dying,” Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health’s chief medical health officer, said in a statement Friday.Fraser Health says it has seen spikes in overdose deaths before, particularly among people who use drugs on their own.last_img read more

Five stories in the news for today Oct 12

first_imgFive stories in the news for Thursday, Oct. 12———PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU TURNS ATTENTION TO MEXICOPrime Minister Justin Trudeau is leaving one country whose political leaders are mixed about saving NAFTA and is on his way to another where officials are uneasy about the fate of the trade deal. Trudeau goes to Mexico today following a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., largely focused on saving the trilateral trade pact.———FEDS SCRAP MEMO ON EMPLOYEE-DISCOUNT TAXThe federal government has instructed the Canada Revenue Agency to remove a controversial tax policy interpretation that would have seen employees taxed for discounts they get at work. To quiet a growing controversy, National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier has directed the CRA to remove from its website the new wording at the heart of the debate — at least until the change has been reviewed.———CANADA, U.K. PUSHING FOR GLOBAL COAL CUTSCanada is joining forces with the United Kingdom to push for a global crackdown on unabated coal-fired electricity. Eliminating, or at least reducing, the world’s reliance on coal is a critical step in the Paris climate change accord’s efforts to prevent the planet from warming more than two degrees Celsius over with pre-industrial times. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is on a two-day trip to the U.K. and Ireland this week, pushing Canada as a global leader on climate change action.———ALBERTA TO BAN YOUTHS FROM TANNING BEDS ON JAN. 1After years of lobbying by health groups Alberta is finally moving to ban young people from using indoor tanning beds over growing fears about skin cancer. The government says youths under 18 will not be allowed to use ultraviolet tanning machines starting on Jan. 1. Businesses will also be prohibited from advertising such machines to minors and must post signs about the age restrictions and the dangers of UV tanning.———GOOGLE STREET VIEW REACHES REMOTE CORNER OF CANADAGoogle Street View has now gone to the ends of the earth. As part of a deal with Parks Canada, the internet giant is now showcasing Street View images of one of the remotest places on the planet — Quttinirpaaq National Park on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. Parks Canada staff were trained in the use of Google trekker cameras and spent July 2016 carrying them around the park as part of their regular work.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Finance Minister Bill Morneau will attend a G20 meeting at the International Monetary Fund Building in Washington, D.C.— Statistics Canada will release the new housing price index for August.— Drug store chain The Jean Coutu Group will release its second-quarter results.— Leadership candidates for the United Conservative Party hold a debate in Fort McMurray, Alta.— Closing arguments begin in Montreal in the murder case of Randy Tshilumba, accused of killing a young female store clerk in 2016.— In Winnipeg, children’s magician Daniel Kamenicky will be sentenced on child pornography charges.— The federal and Manitoba governments will announce infrastructure for flood mitigation.— Science Minister Kirsty Duncan will announce new funding for research equipment at universities, colleges and research hospitals.last_img read more

Overdose Emergency Response Centre set up in BC to combat overdose deaths

first_imgVANCOUVER – British Columbia has established a command centre to provide a co-ordinated response to the overdose crisis, using expertise from some of the public health experts who worked to stem the spread of HIV in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy told a new conference Friday that staff at the Overdose Emergency Response Centre at Vancouver General Hospital will work with five new regional response teams and community action teams to deliver tailored services.She said that could mean linking people who end up at emergency departments with overdose prevention sites, setting them up with housing or providing culturally appropriate services for those who are Indigenous and are likely to fatally overdose at three times the rate of others.The minister said she is working with various mayors to determine what services their communities need, such as distribution of naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses.“We’re putting this emergency response centre in place to fuel urgent local action and rapidly implement locally driven solutions on the ground — actions to prevent overdose deaths and actions to support people towards treatment and recovery,” she said.The centre will include staff from the Health Ministry, the First Nations Health Authority, first responders, addiction specialists and “people with lived experience,” Darcy said.She said people who show up at emergency departments after an overdose will get help from regional and community action teams to fast track them into treatment.Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, will lead the centre and said data will be collected regularly so health experts are not waiting for statistics that are released every few months by the coroners service.“We will work with our colleagues in regions around the province who will in turn work with local first responders and community partners,” she said.Treatment of opioid use disorder with drugs such as suboxone is becoming more widespread but therapy with injectable drugs such as hydromorphone must also be expanded, she said.She said only about 200 people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are currently using injectables almost two years into a public health emergency declared by the province.“That is unacceptable and will be one of our first orders of business,” Daly said, adding the response will be “nimble” in a province where people with HIV were identified as early as possible to prevent a further spread of the disease.She pointed out some of the experts who implemented that program and said they will be part of the team at the Overdose Emergency Response Centre.“These people are implementation experts and these are the people who will lead this next phase of the response to the opioid crisis.”John and Jennifer Hedican said they were on their own in trying to get their 26-year-old son Ryan help before he died in April from fentanyl-laced heroin and they’re hoping the centre will provide others the resources he didn’t get.“Ryan asked for help many times before he was poisoned and our whole family experienced the horrendous lack of support this disease receives,” John Hedican told the news conference.Hedican said their son needed intervention numerous times as he went into recovery and relapsed, but it was critical in January 2016 when he needed housing after the family could no longer deal with his substance use in their home.Ryan Hedican was found unresponsive during a lunch break after returning to work as a third-year electrician, Hedican said of his son, adding the stigma against people who use illicit drugs was another issue the family had to battle.— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.last_img read more

It sounded very real Los Angeles man charged in Calgary police swatting

first_imgCALGARY – The Calgary Police Service has charged a Los Angeles man in a hoax last month that caused tactical teams to descend on an apartment building for a report of a shooting and hostage taking that turned out to be bogus.Acting Duty Insp. Peter Siegenthaler said there’s a good indication that the accused — Tyler Raj Barriss — is the same man charged in a similar incident six days later that led police in Wichita, Kan., to fatally shoot an unarmed man.Calgary police have charged Barriss, 25, with public mischief for falsely reporting an offence, fraud for providing false information by letter or telecommunication and mischief.A man with the same name, age and city of residence has been charged in Kansas with making a false alarm. He waived his right to an extradition hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court last week.In both the Calgary and Wichita cases, police say a man called 911 purporting that he’d shot his father and that he was holding his mother and a sibling at gunpoint. When someone makes a phoney emergency call aimed at sending tactical officers to a certain location, it’s known as swatting.Siegenthaler said swatting calls can put the public and officers at risk and tie up police resources.He said it’s frustrating.“We have to take these calls seriously and we have to take them at face value based on the information that we receive.”Siegenthaler said a man called 911 on Dec. 22 claiming he had shot his father and was holding his mom and younger brother hostage. He gave an address.“This call concerned us because it was very specific and it sounded very real,” said Siegenthaler.Patrol and tactical officers were on the scene quickly and they began evacuating nearby apartment units. While police were trying to confirm what happened, another 911 call came from a woman at the same address.The woman told police she believed she was the victim of a swatting call, based on something a person told her online. Siegenthaler said she had contact with Barriss earlier in the day, but did not elaborate on their relationship.Police said they believe the woman was targeted because of her “online persona.” But Siegenthaler said victims are often random and pranksters have even been known to target movie stars.He said it’s not difficult for someone to figure out how to make a 911 call to a different city.Siegenthaler said it’s unlikely that Barriss will be extradited to Canada, but that he would be arrested if he entered the country.He said Barriss wasn’t on the Calgary Police Service’s radar until after the death of 28-year-old Andrew Finch in Wichita on Dec. 28.Someone made a similar shooting-and-hostage-taking report at Finch’s address and officers surrounded the home.Finch was fatally shot by police after he answered the door.last_img read more

Toronto votes to challenge Ford governments councilcutting plans in court

first_imgTORONTO – Toronto city council voted Monday to mount a legal challenge against Ontario’s decision to slash the size of the city’s council.The legislation — known as Bill 5 — was passed last week and aligns Toronto’s ward map with federal ridings, cutting the number of city councillors from 47 to 25 ahead of a fall municipal election.Premier Doug Ford has said the move will help council make decisions and deliver services “more efficiently and effectively” and save taxpayers $25 million over four years.Toronto council voted 27-15 to challenge the Progressive Conservative government’s legislation, which also cancels planned elections for the head of council position in the regional municipalities of Muskoka, Peel, York and Niagara. The head of council in each region will instead be appointed.“We have instructed city legal staff to challenge this monumental change to our city’s governance in the courts,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement.“Challenging this legislation and the process used to introduce it is the right and responsible thing to do,” Tory said.Tory spokesman Don Peat said the city will now take part in a Superior Court hearing on Aug. 31 and any other legal proceedings related to the legislation.As Toronto council debated the issue, Ford told politicians from other municipalities across the province that he has no plans to cut their governments.Speaking at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s annual conference on Monday, Ford said he has been getting questions about whether the province will chop the size of other civic councils.“No, we do not — I repeat — we do not have plans for similar legislation in our near future,” Ford told the gathering in Ottawa.Ford, a former Toronto councillor and failed mayoral candidate, said his time in city politics gave him insight into the problems of the municipality’s government, noting that its challenges are unlike those of others in Ontario.“I would say that many of Toronto’s issues are specific to Toronto,” he said.Tory said the timing of the provincial legislation — coming before the Oct. 22 municipal election — put the city in an unprecedented situation.“The process by which this monumental change was made was wrong and unacceptable,” he said. “It is our duty to represent the people of Toronto and the best interests of this city at all times — and to make our position clear when we do not believe the actions of other levels of government are in our city’s best interest.”He suggested in the meeting that a legal challenge, regardless of the outcome, could help define the lines between the province’s ability to legislate on matters affecting Toronto and “constitutional democratic principles.”Coun. Joe Cressy argued that allowing the provincial move to go unchallenged would set a dangerous precedent, and suggested Ford’s motives were more personal than political.“It’s vindictive, it’s bad policy — it’s because he is nothing more than a sore loser,” the councillor said. “He couldn’t win the mayoralty here, he couldn’t win the most votes in the provincial election here, so he decided to turn around and attack our city.”The city’s legal team filed a confidential report with advice on a potential court challenge to councillors that was debated behind closed doors Monday.City staff were also asked to weigh in on the logistics of switching back to a 47-seat council in time for the election, should the city proceed with a legal challenge and win.The city’s clerk, Ulli Watkiss, said staff would need to map new voting locations and seek new permits for some, redistribute thousands of workers and rejig and re-test electronic information systems, among others tasks. She questioned whether the work could be accomplished in time for the election.“My concern with the ever increasingly compressed timelines is that an error will be made,” and those errors could allow someone to challenge the results of the election, she said.Council also voted to ask the clerk to push back the election date if necessary.Ford, who lost the 2014 Toronto mayoral race to Tory, stunned local politicians and residents last month when he announced the council-cutting plan, which was not part of his election platform.The premier has said Toronto’s council can debate a potential legal challenge if it wishes but noted that his government had already moved on the issue.“They can talk about Bill 5 all they want,” he said Friday. “At the end of the day, we made a decision to make government run more efficiently here in the city of Toronto.”last_img read more

The arrests of two men in Richmond Hill Ont not related to

first_imgRICHMOND HILL, Ont. — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the arrests of two men in Ontario charged with possession of an explosive device is not related to national security.The comment came moments after York Regional Police announced the arrests of the men at a home in Richmond Hill, Ont.They said the investigation was launched last Thursday after a tip from Canadian border guards and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.Police say officers searching the home found hazardous, explosive materials as well as a detonator device.The two men — identified as Reza Mohammadiasl, 47, and Mahyar Mohammadiasl, 18 — were charged with possession of an explosive device.Goodale said the arrests and the investigation is “a local matter” under the jurisdiction of the York Regional Police.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Return to sender postagepaid pets discovered in Alberta post office

first_imgVULCAN, Alta. — A woman in southern Alberta has been charged after she allegedly tried to mail a puppy and a kitten via Canada Post.Vulcan County Enforcement Services says last month a post office employee in the village of Milo, about 100 kilometres southeast of Calgary, discovered the animals crammed into a cardboard box.The box had appropriate postage, a destination address, and the animals themselves had stamps stuck to their heads.The next week, a similar box was dropped off at the mail outlet and staff found a puppy inside.The three critters were unharmed and were taken to the Calgary Humane Society.Jill Marshall, a 53-year-old Vulcan County resident, will be in Lethbridge provincial court July 30 charged with causing animals to be in distress under Alberta’s Animal Protection Act.Peace Officer Sgt. Rob Pintkowski said enforcement officers have had previous dealings with Marshall.The Canada Post website says live animals cannot be mailed unless the sender has entered a related agreement with Canada Post prior to mailing.Bees, day-old chicks and hatching eggs, parasites, leeches and some other small cold-blooded animals can be mailed under certain conditions. (CTV Lethbridge)The Canadian Presslast_img read more

New Brunswick latest province to address drone use in game hunting

first_imgThe New Brunswick government is the latest to take a hard line against the use of drones by hunters as the province’s annual moose hunt kicks off.Mike Holland, the province’s minister of energy and resource development, told reporters this week that using a drone to hunt is an offence because the province classifies drones as aircraft, which cannot be used in hunting.A number of provinces including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia specifically prohibit the use of drones in hunting.Opponents to the practice cite the ethical principle of fair chase, arguing drones give hunters an unfair advantage over the animals.In the Northwest Territories, a decision on final regulations around drone use in caribou hunting was deferred after the issue sparked debate this summer.Indigenous groups in the territory are divided on banning drones in hunting, with some arguing the ban should apply to all hunters and others saying Indigenous people should be exempt.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2019.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

With billions of dollars at stake all parties promise to fix defence

first_imgOTTAWA  — The seemingly endless effort to replace Canada’s CF-18s fighter jets passed a tiny milestone Friday: fighter-jet makers participating in the $19-billion competition were required to explain how they planned to make their aircraft compliant with U.S. intelligence systems.For nearly a decade, Canadians have been inundated with talk of fighter jets without Canada ever buying them, an ever-worsening symbol of the failures of Canada’s military procurement system.Every election, would-be prime ministers promise to cancel bad purchases or processes, hurry along good ones, fix the mess once and for all.Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer this week promised to “de-politicize” military procurement with new oversight bodies in cabinet and the Privy Council Office while working toward multi-partisan consensus on procurement projects in Parliament.The Liberals promise to establish a new agency called Defence Procurement Canada, which suggests taking the entire function away from the four departments that now share responsibility for buying military kit.The New Democrats and Greens promise, without detail, that they will ensure Canada’s military gets the equipment it needs.The origins of what we face today can be traced back to the end of the Cold War when Canada and its allies began to cut defence spending after a decades-long arms race with the Soviet Union.“We deferred purchasing new fighter planes and did the same thing with our frigate fleet,” says David Perry, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and one of Canada’s foremost experts on defence spending and procurement.“We just kicked the can down the road on fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft. There was a bunch of other projects that fit the same vein.”The military had to use equipment for years longer than it was supposed to and the Department of National Defence lost most of its procurement experts.But in the mid-2000s, the Forces’ equipment problems were revealed in Kandahar: the military lacked transport aircraft to resupply its Afghanistan mission, artillery and tanks to support troops on the ground and helicopters to move them around.Ottawa rushed into gear, purchasing transport planes, howitzers, helicopters and tanks in short order _ in most cases without competitions. New equipment flooded in but there were some big failures, starting with accusations defence officials rigged the requirements for a new search-and-rescue plane to select a specific U.S. plane.There was also a failed effort to buy new supply ships for the navy and, most explosively, a plan to buy new fighter jets, Lockheed Martin’s F-35s, without a competition.In 2012, auditor general Michael Ferguson blasted the Defence Department for failing to communicate the stealth fighter’s risks, including escalating costs and schedule delays, to Parliament and decision-makers.Dan Ross, who was the department’s head of military procurement at the time, would later say defence officials had all the information and were willing to share it _ the Harper government just wouldn’t let them.Either way, the public’s confidence in the system and the government’s ability to manage it were shaken. The F-35 purchase was scrapped. The Tories imposed new constraints to keep costs under control and ensure Canadian industry and communities benefit from defence contracts.“There were concerns about whether or not you’re getting the right kind of economic benefits, some significant concerns about whether or not process was being adhered to until you had this system recalibration where you had an injection of additional rules and governance,” Perry says.That recalibration imposed a fundamental tension on the system: the need to get the best equipment possible, with the most benefit to the economy or local industry, at the lowest cost. Every big procurement is partly about the military’s needs and partly about national industrial policy _ and, that means, partly about politics.Most procurements are still completed with minimal fuss. The problems largely lie with big, once-in-a-lifetime contracts like fighters and warships that are worth billions of dollars and are not only essential for the military to operate, but have the potential to benefit Canadian businesses and communities for years. The ones that involve billions of public dollars.“You’re trying to get the best bang for the buck for as little buck as possible,” says Queen’s University professor Kim Nossal, who wrote a book entitled “Charlie Foxtrot: Fixing Defence Procurement in Canada” in 2016.“The one comforting thing is that very few countries have got the balance right. All industrial countries, all of our allies, faces these kinds of pressures. They worry about jobs and costs and capability.”Efforts to combine the three competing priorities can lead to bickering among federal departments, lawsuits from companies and politicians sticking their fingers in things.Seconds after saying he would de-politicize the military procurement system this week, Scheer promised to negotiate the purchase of an interim naval supply ship from Quebec’s Chantier Davie shipyard, which lobbied the Liberal government for years to ink such a contract without success.Davie is one of Canada’s big players in shipbuilding _ and it’s in much-contested political territory just outside Quebec City.Alan Williams, who was the Defence Department’s head of procurement from 1999 to 2005 and now advises companies on procurement matters, compares Scheer’s promise on Davie to Justin Trudeau’s promise in 2015 not to buy the F-35.That’s because while a government can decide to purchase a piece of military equipment, procurement laws _ and Canada’s international trade obligations _ forbid it from choosing or excluding a specific product or supplier except under extreme circumstances.Upon taking office, the Liberals twisted themselves in pretzels to get around the legal implications of their promise.That twisting led to a plan to buy Super Hornets from a competing vendor, When that fell through, four years passed before an actual competition was launched _ with the F-35 now one of three planes still in contention. In the meantime, the CF-18s will fly until 2032, reinforced with second-hand Australian F-18s to buy time.There will likely be more problems before new aircraft arrive, but the sense is that there is little the government can do now to speed it along.While the shipbuilding strategy is still going through growing pains, with the next government having to choose a third shipyard to add to the massive program to replace Canada’s naval and coast guard fleets, many hard choices have been made _ and lessons learned. More procurement staff have been hired and trained and some red tape has been eliminated.Williams is a strong advocate for the Liberals’ proposal of creating one department or agency so there is a single point of accountability. Perry is more in favour of the Tories’ plan to create a secretariat and cabinet committee to provide better decision making.Military suppliers worry that another earthquake in the system could set everything back.“We’ve seen some positive momentum recently when it comes to signing contracts on new defence acquisitions and getting money out the door,” says Christyn Cianfarani, CEO of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries.“We’d caution that any major change within the public service at this point has the potential to slow things down.”The best thing any government can do is ensure the military has a predictable, funded investment plan to purchase promised new equipment, Cianfarani adds. That, says Perry, and set more realistic expectations for how fast the system can deliver.And maybe some bipartisanship, adds Nossal.“What really is needed is for the two main parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, to truly do a bipartisan truce and approach defence the way they did in the 1970s, where something like the new (CF-18s), that process was not politicized at all.”last_img read more

Marg Helgenberger Supports Fraser Riverkeepers Fifth Anniversary Gala

first_imgCSI star Marg Helgenberger co-hosted Fraser Riverkeeper’s fifth anniversary gala in Vancouver on October 20, celebrating the organization’s work for swimmable, drinkable and fishable waters.Marg Helgenberger and executive director of FRK Lauren HornorCredit/Copyright: Fraser Riverkeeper“I grew up fishing, swimming and boating the Platte River in Nebraska with my father,” says Emmy-winning Helgenberger. “Those are treasured memories for me, and I believe we have to all fight for the clean waters we love. I’m a huge fan of the work Fraser Riverkeeper and other Waterkeeper Alliance groups are doing for swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters across North America.”The Fraser River is the longest river in British Columbia and the tenth-longest river in Canada, draining a 220,000 km² (85,000 sq mi) area. FRK focuses their citizen-engagement work primarily on the Lower Fraser below Yale, the most industrially and residentially developed portion of the river. This is an area in great need of vigilant protection and caring restoration.Their goal is to empower those in the Fraser watershed to defend their natural right to swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters: to ensure that rivers, lakes, streams and beaches exist for generations as thriving ecosystems for both humans and wildlife.To find out more about Fraser Riverkeeper, click here.last_img read more

Nathan Lane Honored With Eugene ONeill Theater Center 15th Annual Monte Cristo

first_imgNathan Lane was honored last night at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 15th Annual Monte Cristo Awards at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.Nathan Lane With Matthew BroderickCredit/Copyright: Getty ImagesLane received the Monte Cristo Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contributions to the American theater.The evening featured tributes to Lane from Matthew Broderick, Brian Dennehy and Susan Stroman as well as performances by Jason Simon, Tim Shew, Bobby Creighton, Patrick Page, Carson Elrod, puppeteer Tyler Bunch and Jenni Barber.Additional attendees included Joe Grifasi, Marin Ireland and Hal Prince.Founded in 1964, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is the country’s preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for American theater. In the bold tradition of its namesake Eugene O’Neill – four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America’s only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature – the O’Neill has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and to more than 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O’Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.last_img read more

Prince Harry Discusses Veteran Issues With Barack Obama

first_imgPrince Harry has met Barack Obama at the White House, where they discussed issues facing veterans including challenging the stigma around mental injury.Prince Harry and President ObamaCredit/Copyright: www.princehenryofwales.org/Prince Harry is delighted to have the enthusiastic support of the President for the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando.Earlier in the day The Prince joined First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in Virginia at Fort Belvoir military base to meet wounded servicemen and women undertaking recovery and rehabilitation programmes.During the visit to Fort Belvoir, the party toured the USO Warrior and Family Center, a state-of-the art facility specifically designed to support wounded, injured or ill troops, their family members and caregivers.The Prince gave a speech highlighting the upcoming Invictus Games.“The Invictus Games seeks to change perceptions of physical and mental injury,” he said. “One thing we have to talk about more is breaking down these barriers around so-called invisible injuries, like post-traumatic stress, just as we have for physical injuries like the loss of a limb.“This is a topic I know the First Lady and Dr. Biden are working hard to highlight so that people are no longer afraid to ask for help. This fear of coming forward, as a result of the stigma which surrounds mental health, is one of the greatest challenges veterans face. People from all walks of life struggle with issues like post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression, not just veterans.“We have to help them all to get the support they need, without fear of being judged or discriminated against. Not only is it ok to talk about it, we have to talk about it. I am thrilled that the Invictus Games are happening again. Hundreds of additional veterans from around the world will benefit from taking part. And millions more people will be inspired by their stories. This is going to be four incredible days of sport.”Prince Harry also attended an Invictus Games board meeting and reception at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Washington DC. The Prince, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, met people involved in the delivery of 2016 Games and hear how event plans are progressing.Source:www.princehenryofwales.orglast_img read more

Charitybuzz Announces 2nd Annual Holiday Givt Guide

first_imgOnline luxury auction house Charitybuzz today announced its 2nd Annual Holiday Givt Guide, to highlight the importance of giving when gifting.The campaign will run from November 29, 2016 through December 15 with more than 100 experiences. The Holiday Givt Guide will once again reveal new experiences daily and feature items crossing the worlds of adventure, lifestyle, sports, and music. It is a curation of some of the top experiences and luxuries Charitybuzz has to offer, curated from around the world.“We are redefining what it means to give. Givt isn’t just a guide but a movement to shift the way we give and emphasize the importance of adding meaning to our holiday gifts,” said Jan Friedlander Svendsen, Charity Network chief marketing officer. “Givting is something that can happen anytime of the year and given voluntarily to show favor toward someone or honor an occasion that also benefits a charitable organization.”Last year CharityBuzz changed the holiday gifting landscape by introducing “givting”as an opportunity for family and friends to give and receive extraordinary experiences during the holiday season while raising funds for charity through Charitybuzz’s online auction platform. The first ever Givt Guide was a remarkable success and raised nearly $6MM for charities by auctioning experiences including:● A private concert in your living room from Jeff Tweedy sold for $135,000 
○ Benefitted: Onward Neighborhood House
● Five night for 12 cruising the Caribbean on the M/Y Lady Joy for $120,000 
○ Benefitted: Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research 
● Lunch for two with Larry David in Los Angeles sold for $56,000 
○ Benefitted: Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights 
● A walk-on role in season two of Outlander in Scotland sold for $47,500 
○ Benefitted: SeriousFun Children’s Network Founded by Paul Newman 
● A two-week holiday to India with roundtrip airfare, accommodations and more sold for $40,000 
○ Benefitted: Learning Matters 
● A meeting with Lionel Messi at a Barcelona FC home game sold for $37,500 
○ Benefitted: Forever Dream Foundation 
● A stay on Richard Branson’s Island during Celebration Week sold for $28,500 
○ Benefitted: Virgin UniteThis year, Charitybuzz and its impressive roster of partners will offer a slate of equally incredible auction items that simultaneously provide an opportunity to benefit charities and treat loved ones to one-of-a-kind memorable experiences including:Adventure 
● Enjoy an exclusive 2-Night Stay at Ol Jogi in Kenya for up to 8 guests 
○ Benefitting Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights● Have a nature preserve in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains named after you & enjoy a 1-week RV getaway in Alaska 
○ Benefitting Safe Port InitiativeLifestyle 
● Meet Petra Nemcova and enjoy 2017 New York Fashion Week 
○ Benefitting Tibet House US Entertainment 
● Host an At-Home Canapé Reception for up to 20 from Eric Ripert with a performance by Philip Glass 
○ Benefitting Tibet House US● Dine with Fran Drescher and Cyndi Lauper in NYC 
○ Benefitting Cancer Schmancer● Dinner with the Cast of Scandal at the LA Home of Star Katie Lowes on March 12 
○ Benefiting IAMA Theatre CompanySports 
● Attend the biggest sporting event of the year, Superbowl 51 in Houston 
○ Benefitting George Mark Children’s House● Score New York Mets premium games tickets & meet announcers Howie Rose and Josh Lewin 
○ Benefitting US Fund for UNICEFlast_img read more

ASPCA To Host 2017 Humane Awards Luncheon

first_imgThe ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Animals) 2017 Humane Awards Luncheon, with Master of Ceremonies Chuck Scarborough, will recognize both people and animal heroes who, over the past year, have demonstrated extraordinary efforts and a commitment to animal welfare.Other guests include Lo Bosworth, Candice Bergen, Jill Rappaport, Wes Gordon & Paul Arnhold, Ellen Scarborough, Jean Shafiroff, Mark F. Gilbertson, Sharon Jacob, Barbara Cates, Jeff Pfeifle, ASPCA CEO Matthew Bershadker and more…Following a nationwide public call for nominations, an ASPCA-appointed committee reviewed hundreds of entries and selected winners in six categories, including the brand new ASPCA Citizen Hero Award. This year’s 2017 honorees in attendance include:· ASPCA Dog of the Year: “Rescue,” Cambridge, MARescue, a service dog trained by NEADS, provides essential support to Jessica Kensky, who became a double amputee as a result of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Rescue’s assistance for Jessica includes opening doors, fetching objects, calling for emergency help, and many other tasks. At the same time, Rescue also provides Jessica and her husband Patrick Downes with invaluable emotional support and comfort that has helped transform their lives after tragedy.· ASPCA Cat of the Year: “Flame,” Greenville, SCFlame was a malnourished orange and white kitten when he strayed into the Belmont Fire Department in South Carolina in 2015. He attached himself immediately to the firefighters, who returned the affection, opening their home and hearts for him. Flame brings them companionship and comfort, even during the most stressful and tragic moments, and also participates in educational events with local children.· ASPCA Citizen Hero Award: Judy Obregon, Fort Worth, TXWhen Judy Obregon discovered that an area near Fort Worth, Texas had become a dumping ground for abandoned, injured, and deceased animals, she vowed to help them. Since 2010, Judy has visited this financially challenged, high-crime area to rescue animals, arrange veterinary care, and assist with their adoption. With help from a network of local volunteers she formed, Judy has rescued more than 300 dogs to date, inspiring admirers across the country.· ASPCA Henry Bergh Award: Mission K9 Rescue, Houston, TXMission K9 Rescue assists American retired military and working dogs who risk their lives in heroic service at home and abroad. While these animals are cared for during their tours of duty, some end up homeless, injured, and very vulnerable afterward. Mission K9 Rescue provides necessary care and rehabilitation, and facilitates reunion and adoption opportunities. Since its founding, Mission K9 Rescue has reunited more than 70 canine handler teams and rescued more than 100 dogs in need.· ASPCA Equine Welfare Award: Fleet of Angels, Evans, COWhen lifelong horse-lover Elaine Nash saw how badly horses needed help across the U.S., she launched Fleet of Angels – a program to manage large equine crises and to move at-risk horses to safety through a network of thousands of trailer owners and service providers. Early this year, in the largest known horse rescue in history, Fleet of Angels took in a group of more than 900 starving and neglected horses that had been seized, and have now almost completed the mission of placing them all in good homes. Each year, thousands of horses are assisted by Fleet of Angel’s life-saving work, including horses recently displaced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.· ASPCA Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year Award: Jessica Brocksom, Milford, CTEleven-year-old animal lover Jessica Brocksom won the job of 2017 Connecticut Kid Governor on the strength of her inspiring animal welfare platform. Elected by fifth graders from across the state, Jessica works actively to help animals and owners in need, including advocating for legislation to allow children to have therapy animals with them while testifying in court, and helping increase awareness of the dangers of leaving dogs and other animals in cars during hot weather.WHEN: Thursday, November 16thWHERE: Cipriani 42nd Street 110 East 42nd Streetlast_img read more

Ben Stiller Named UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

first_imgUNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has announced the appointment of actor, director, producer and philanthropist Ben Stiller as its newest global Goodwill Ambassador.The announcement comes as Stiller concludes a trip with UNHCR to Guatemala, where he met some of the men, women and children from the North of Central America who have been forced to flee their homes because of violence. In recent years a growing number of people across El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have fled extraordinary, unchecked violence at the hands of organized criminal groups and gangs – including murder, rape, abduction and even the forcible recruitment of children into gangs. Stiller spent time in Guatemala meeting refugees including unaccompanied children and seeing how UNHCR, with the Government and its partners, is working to support and protect them.Commenting today on his new role as Goodwill Ambassador, Stiller said, “I am enormously honored and proud to take on this role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. UNHCR is an organization that is working tirelessly all over the world helping men, women and children fleeing war, terror and persecution. Here in Guatemala, the families, including children, that I met experienced fear and violence back home that is beyond imagination. They are vulnerable and have suffered immensely. They need help. UNHCR is on the ground here with its partners providing them with support, protection and shelter.”Stiller continued, “With over 68 million displaced people around the world today, there has never been a more compelling reason or greater urgency to show solidarity and support for refugees. I for one will do what I can as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, to advocate for refugees and encourage others to join me.”Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said, “Ben will be a great Goodwill Ambassador. I have witnessed personally his commitment to the world’s refugees and his extraordinary capacity to talk about the complicated issue of displacement in a manner that is clear, passionate and convincing. And this is precisely the role of Goodwill Ambassadors: to raise awareness, generate support and give a voice to those who have been forced to leave their homes. I am looking forward to working with him.”UNHCR works with governments and partners on the ground in locations all over the world to support and protect refugees and help them build better futures. In Guatemala UNHCR is working with the government and civil society partners as part of a comprehensive regional response. Through this regional response framework, known locally by its Spanish acronym, MIRPS, six governments in the region have agreed to work together to address the full scope of forced displacement, from its root causes, strengthening asylum and protection systems and working on durable solutions. This initiative is a concrete example of regional cooperation to address difficult situations of forced displacement, which has directly informed the development of the Global Compact for Refugees, to be adopted at the end of the year.UNHCR continues to call on governments to strengthen global responsibility sharing and solidarity aimed at ensuring safety for families fleeing life-threatening violence and persecution.Ben Stiller has been supporting UNHCR since early 2016, meeting with refugees in Germany and Jordan. Best known for his role in films like Dodgeball, Zoolander and Meet the Parents, Stiller has played a key role in UNHCR projects including the #withrefugees campaign.Most recently, on 20 June 2018 to mark World Refugee Day, he appeared in a special edition Buzzfeed Tasty film entitled “Homemade Chicken Shawarma, As Made By Ben Stiller and Ahmed Badr” . In the film Stiller joins writer and former Iraqi refugee Ahmed Badr to make an at home version of chicken shawarma, a traditional dish from Ahmed’s homeland Iraq, bringing back memories of his childhood in Baghdad before he was forced to flee.last_img read more