New Delhi: India will be easing mandatory local sourcing norms for FDI in single brand retail trading in the next few weeks, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said. “India has opened up opportunities for single brand retail and is easing some detrimental clauses of the policy in next few weeks which will help single brand retail come in a bigger way to the country,” an official statement said quoting the minister.He was addressing CEOs of multi-national companies in the UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) meeting held on Monday in London. The government in Budget proposed that local sourcing norms will be eased for FDI (foreign direct investment) in single brand retail sector. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepCurrently 100 per cent FDI is permitted in the sector with certain conditions, including 30 per cent mandatory local sourcing preferably from MSMEs. The minister also requested companies around the world to respect Indian sensitivities on restrictions of foreign investment in multi-brand retail. “Particularly, e-commerce companies coming to India will have to ensure that they stay within the letter and spirit of the law when it comes to multi-brand retail and India’s policies around that,” he said. He also said that manufacturing in India, in a cost-competitive environment, could be the key for British companies to expand their footprints to other parts of the world. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs”Designed in the UK-Made in India can be the new focus area for this partnership. Similarly, in the services sector, India can provide huge technical expertise to British companies,” the minister said. Further he said if the spirit of research and innovation in British industry and academia is bound together with the strength of the skilled Indian work force, the two countries may become the preferred supplier for the rest of the world. Both countries have agreed to set up three new bilateral working groups to tackle barriers in specific sectors including food and drink, healthcare and data services. India-UK trade and economic relations are reviewed annually by JETCO at the level of Commerce and Industry Minister. Till date, 12 meetings have taken place and the last was held in January 2018 in London. Goyal assured that India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in the multi-brand retail sector are a very well thought out policy which are unlikely to change any time soon. Speaking on the sidelines of an India Day event organised by the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), the minister said the 49 per cent FDI threshold in multi-brand retail must be respected in letter and spirit by all foreign brands. Britain’s prime ministerial frontrunner Boris Johnson had recently expressed his disappointment at UK retailers like Sainsbury’s and Waitrose not being able to set up base in India and had said he would like to see India opening up to more of our great brands . “On multi-brand retail we are very clear as of now it’s a 49 per cent restriction for foreign investment,” Goyal said, when Johnson’s recent intervention was put to him. “It’s a very well thought out policy, recognising that the strength of Indian small retailers to serve the people of India across the length and breadth of the country is very deeply rooted in the culture of the villages of India. So, for the present, we would not like to change that,” he said. “I think companies which want to come into India will have to look at restricting the foreign ownership to 49 per cent if they are looking multi-brand retail. And we would like them to ensure that in letter and in spirit,” Goyal said. The minister, however, highlighted the significant concessions and liberalisation planned for the single-brand retail sector so that more international companies can set up stores in India and expand their business. “They can also meet their requirements of 30 per cent domestic sourcing through their export requirements and integrate their global chains so that it’s a win-win both for India and the single brand retailer coming into the country, he said. With reference to the key outcomes of JETCO, the minister said that he has observed an enthusiastic approach within the UK government to make the best out of the opportunity that will come out of Brexit. “While we recognise that till Brexit happens, the UK is constrained to be able to finalise things or to move forward with any bilateral arrangement with any country,” he said. If we can continue this comprehensive dialogue, where the larger gamut of issues are on the table now for the next 12-15 months, we will be well poised before Brexit to be able to make some significant announcements soon after Brexit and to be able to expand this relationship and take it to significantly larger levels. Goyal, who is also minister of railways, addressed the India Day event organised to showcase bilateral investment prospects to highlight the potential India and the UK have to offer an “unbeatable cost competitive” partnership. Asked about some of the missed opportunities in the bilateral ties recently flagged by a UK parliamentary panel, the minister said that he believes that Brexit would result in addressing some of those gaps.
The Hague: In a major victory for India, the International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that Pakistan must review the death sentence for Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court. Jadhav, 49, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing evoked a sharp reaction in India. Also Read – Squadrons which participated in Balakot air strike awarded citations on IAF Day Reading out the verdict, President of the Court Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf ordered an “effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav”. The verdict in the high-profile case comes nearly five months after a 15-member bench of ICJ led by Judge Yusuf had reserved its decision on February 21 after hearing oral submissions by India and Pakistan. The proceedings of the case took two years and two months to complete. India moved the ICJ in May 8, 2017 for the “egregious violation” of the provisions of the Vienna Convention by Pakistan by repeatedly denying New Delhi consular access to Jadhav.
Lucknow: BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was among the 10 people named in an FIR registered on Monday in connection with a road accident in which the Unnao rape survivor and her lawyer were critically injured and her two aunts killed, police said. The FIR, in which 15-20 unnamed people were also mentioned, was registered at the Gurubuxganj police station in Raebareli, they said. “FIR has been registered under the Indian Penal Code’s sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 506 (criminal intimidation), 120b (criminal conspiracy) against 10 named persons, including the BJP MLA, and 15-20 others,” a police officer said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Sengar, a four-time MLA who represents Bangermau in the Uttar Pradesh assembly, was arrested in 2018 in connection with the incident that took place in 2017. The case was registered on a complaint from the rape survivor’s uncle Mahesh Singh, who is lodged in the Raebareli jail, police said. A truck hit the car carrying the rape survivor, her family and lawyer when they were going to meet Mahesh Singh on Sunday. Two– Sheela (50) and Pushpa 45) were killed in the mishap Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Besides the BJP legislator, his brother Manoj Singh Sengar, Vinod Mishra, Haripal Singh, Naveen Singh, Komal Singh, Arun Singh, Gyandendra Singh, Rinku Singh and Awadhesh Singh have been named in the FIR. The rape survivor’s uncle alleged that the MLA got the car hit on Sunday. “I am sure that the car was hit for killing all of them by the BJP MLA and his men,” he said in his complaint. He alleged he was transferred from Unnao to Raebareli jail as part of a conspiracy. “I had requested officials to keep me in Unnao jail otherwise my family members will be killed on way when they come to Raebareli to meet me…” he alleged. Meanwhile the condition of the survivor and his lawyer Mahendra Singh is critical and both of them are on ventilator, KGMU sources said.
When the Prime Minister told the nation in a special broadcast on March 27 that India had been able to develop an anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile which had shot down a low earth-orbiting satellite (one of India’s own), the country was in election mode and many thought it was an election gimmick. Few realised that it was not a one-off exercise but the first step in a well-thought-out plan to defend India from space attacks which had become a distinct and dangerous possibility with China developing a wide range of anti-satellite weapons–both kinetic and electromagnetic. Also Read – A special kind of bondBut the recent official announcement that the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) of the army, navy and air force was going to conduct a two-day drill (named IndSpaceEx) for defending attacks from space on July 25 and 26, makes it clear that India is preparing for space war or rather for defence against attacks from space. This has become necessary in view of China’s growing strength in space defence and counter-space capability. It poses an imminent threat to India. Also Read – Insider threat managementChina has already developed a wide range of both kinetic and co-orbital killer satellites and laser and electromagnetic pulse weapons. These weapons can disable the entire electronic communication system of the country being targeted. They can also damage aircraft, besides jamming India’s communication satellites in the midst of a war. They can interfere in our early-warning system. Usually, gamma-ray emission following a nuclear explosion causes ionisation of air and disrupted electronic communication systems. Star war can achieve the same objective without a nuclear explosion. Space war is a combat that takes place not on the Earth but in outer space, e.g. ground to space war by attacking satellites or in outer space by satellites attacking and destroying enemy satellites. The Outer Space Treaty that was signed on January 27, 1967, prohibits the placing of nuclear weapons in space or on the Moon or on any celestial body. But it does not prohibit non-nuclear weapons being used from outer space. While China is preparing for an offensive space war, India is purely defensive. It wants to protect itself adequately against a surprise space attack from an enemy country. The July drill was meant to identify the nature of challenges and how to deal with them if a war extends into the outer space. At present, the US has unchallenged supremacy in the field of space war, but China is fast emerging as a rival to the US. Once it can do so, other countries can be easily targeted. This is what is of prime concern to India. China last week issued its first defence White Paper in four years, spelling out its policy on developing space weapons. The White Paper recognised that outer space is a “critical domain” in international strategic competition. The US press reported that China admitted it was developing necessary “technologies and capabilities” for safeguarding its satellites and maintaining the “ability to safely enter, exit and openly use space.” As far as India’s strategic security is concerned, there is little to take comfort from the fact that China is not placing nuclear weapons in outer space. China has shown scant regard for international law. Its intransigent stand on the South China Sea is an example. It refused to abide by the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration which did not recognise Chinese sovereignty over the whole of the Sea. China refused to take part in the proceedings of the PCA. India took the first step to enter the arena of space wars quite late in the day when it successfully shot down one of its own satellites earlier this year. China did this twelve years ago on January 11, 2007, when it shot down a weather satellite at an altitude of 865 kms. The killer missile was a kinetic vehicle travelling at the speed of eight kms per second. China is far ahead of us and we have to more than double-march to make up for the time lag. There is one difference though. China’s is an offensive space war programme, primarily aiming to be at par with the United States which it considers to be the biggest threat to its security. India is, however, concerned with developing a defensive capability to neutralise any attack from outer space. In a space war, any communication satellite can be hit, even satellites that make the Global Positioning System or GPS may be hit, satellites through which financial transactions are carried out or which keep a twenty-four-hour watch on a hostile country from space can be made dysfunctional. In times of war, communication links between army commands can be effectively snapped, throwing into disarray the coordinated movement of troops in different theatres. All these are within the range of possibility. India has just started to toddle in this terra incognita. It has to stand up and start running. That will take time but eventually, we should be able to develop the capacity to protect ourselves from space attacks. (The views expressed are strictly personal)
Unnao: The mortal remains of Pushpa Singh, aunt of the Unnao rape survivor, were consigned to flames at Misra Ghat on Wednesday by her husband Mahesh Singh. The last rites were conducted amidst tight security and in the presence of district officials. Mahesh Singh, who is lodged in Rae Bareli jail, performed the last rites. His one-day parole ends at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The rape survivor’s maternal aunt, who also died in the car crash on Sunday, was cremated at her home in Barabanki. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Both the women were killed in a car accident on Sunday in Rae Bareli, where they had gone to meet Mahesh Singh in jail. The rape survivor and her lawyer, Mahendra Singh, were critically injured in the same accident and are undergoing treatment at the Trauma Centre of Kind George’s Medical University (KGMU). The condition of the rape survivor continues to be ‘highly critical’ but the condition of the lawyer has shown improvement and he has been taken off the ventilator. Security has also been tightened outside the rape survivor’s house in Unnao.
New Delhi: Delhiites woke up to a humid Monday morning with the minimum temperature settling at 28 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average. Humidity was recorded at 84 per cent at 8.30 am. The Safdarjung observatory recorded 0.2 mm rainfall till 8.30 am while Lodhi Road received 0.8 mm rainfall. The weatherman has forecast generally cloudy skies with the possibility of light rain/thundershower. The maximum temperature is likely to settle at 34 degrees Celsius. On Sunday, the national capital recorded a high of 36.2 degrees Celsius and a low of 27.6 degrees Celsius.
Kolkata: The state Legislative Assembly on Wednesday moved a resolution to commemorate the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy that took place in Amritsar in 1919 and to pay tributes to those who had laid down their lives in open firing by the British police, following the instruction of General Dyer.On the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the House recalled the horror, the wanton cruelty and inhumanity shown by Dyer and the British government in Punjab during the colonial era. Bengal is perhaps the first state to move a resolution to pay respect to the martyrs. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaChief Minister Mamata Banerjee said during her speech in the Assembly that Jallianwala Bagh and the other major incidents that took place during the British rule must find more prominence in the history text books. In the same breath, she accused the Narendra Modi government in the Centre of rewriting history and changing the syllabus. Without taking their names, Banerjee launched a scathing attack on the RSS and the BJP for their attempts to destroy the social fabric and playing divisive politics. There has been a deliberate attempt to destroy the democratic structure of the country, she stated. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”Humanity is the biggest religion in our country. Political generosity is on the verge of decay. Our country had a tradition where one state used to stand by another in the time of crisis. A party has destroyed political generosity through shameless display of divisive politics,” Banerjee said. “Why was Gandhiji killed? Who were responsible for killing the man who stood for communal harmony? Those who killed Gandhiji often boast of their achievement on how they had fought for the country’s freedom during the national movement. We cannot deny that Indian National Congress fought during the freedom struggle. Our history cannot be changed,” she added. The Chief Minister again raised voice against the NDA government for not holding an all-party meeting before revoking Article 370 in the Parliament. “There should have been an all-party meeting before the repealing of Article 370. The Opposition parties should have been allowed to express their opinion. People were threatened on gunpoint. We still don’t know how various political leaders like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were kept. We express our concern for them. Even a delegation of various political party leaders was denied entry in Kashmir,” Banerjee stated in the Assembly. “Will there be one political slogan, one political leader and one election in the country? Are we heading towards a Presidential form of election?” questioned Banerjee. She also felt the need of digitising various documents of the state government and publishing them for public reading, while delivering her speech in the Assembly.
Manchester: Australia captain Tim Paine has lavished praise on Steve Smith and termed him a genius following his brilliant run in the ongoing Ashes. Smith returned at the Old Trafford post a concussion-forced break and amassed 293 runs in the fourth Ashes Test, which Australia won by 185 runs to retain the urn. The former Australian skipper, who has three centuries to his name apart from two fifties, has scored a total of 671 runs in five outings so far, nearly the double of what the second-best has in eight innings (Ben Stokes, 354 runs) been. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over Chandigarh “Anyone who’s watched (Smith) bat in the last three or four years knows the talent and the skill and the hunger that he has got,” cricket.com.au quoted Paine as saying on Sunday evening. “People don’t see how driven he is and how much he trains, eats and sleeps batting. He is just a genius and I never had any doubt that he would come back and be the player that he was. “The scary thing is he’s getting better,” he added. The Australian skipper further said that the team was just ecstatic and enjoying Smith’s return to international cricket. “I don’t know where it’s going to stop but we are enjoying being along for the ride with him, that is for sure.” Having an unassailable 2-1 lead, Australia will now look to seal Ashes 2019 when they take on England in the final match of the series from Thursday at the Oval.
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday approached the Supreme Court of India with a petition against the protection of arrest granted to former Income Tax official, SK Srivastava, who was earlier this year compulsorily retired by the Central government on charges of corruption.The Orissa High Court had granted the controversial former civil servant protection from arrest in a CBI case, where the agency had accused him of passing income tax appeals orders in favour of certain assessees and backdating them to an earlier date, in exchange for undue favours. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The CBI had on Wednesday mentioned the matter to a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana, who subsequently allowed the matter to be heard. Soon after Srivastava was compulsorily retired along with several other senior officers of the Income Tax department, the CBI had registered a corruption case against him and raided 13 of his premises, recovering jewellery worth Rs 2.47 crore, Rs 16.44 lakh in cash and watches worth Rs 10 lakh. The probe agency had also found Rs 1.3 crore in bank accounts belonging to him and his family members along with incriminating documents and electronic evidence, officials had said at the time. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KSources here had said that Srivastava had employed a private individual by the name of Amardas to write and type up the appeal orders for him when he was posted as CIT Appeals 1 in Noida and held additional charge of Appeals 2 in Noida in exchange for a monthly salary. In fact, officials here said that Srivastava had decided on 104 IT appeals out of which 13 cases were out of his jurisdiction and purportedly uploaded the orders sometime June 2019, backdating them to December 2018. The CBI has alleged that Srivastava accessed the internal ITBA system of his office between June 11 and June 13 with his RSA token to upload the backdated orders. An RSA token is a personalised pass key issued to officials which allows them to access the ITBA system. Srivastava, a 1989-batch IRS officer, was compulsorily retired on June 10. Moreover, he allegedly manipulated the dispatch records to show that he had dispatched these orders on June 7 when in fact, they were dispatched on June 14. Sources here added that the appeals orders were suspected to be passed in exchange for undue favours.
Lucknow: The Samajwadi Party (SP) is likely to boycott the 48-hour marathon Uttar Pradesh Assembly session proposed by the Yogi Adityanath government to discuss and deliberate the 17-point Charter of the United Nations’ Agenda on Development. The session is scheduled to be held on October 2, on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Senior SP leader and Leader of Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary on Thursday said party chief Akhilesh Yadav has called for state-wide protest on October 1 to raise the issue of hike in electricity tariff. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ On October 2, all MPs, MLAs and MLCs would stage a day-long dharna at Gandhi statue “to save democracy”. “A non-stop, 48-hour session seems illogical. Instead of the day and night deliberations, the session could have been extended to three or four days. SP is preoccupied with agitations and a final decision would be taken soon,” he said. A Congress leader, on the other hand, has raised a question: “What is the need for a non-stop session? Is it an Emergency? We have communicated our feelings to the party high command and a decision on our participation will be taken soon. The Congress Legislators are not in a mood to attend this session.” Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K The SP and the Congress’s new stand on the session has surprised the ruling party as earlier they had expressed willingness to join the special Assembly session. The decision to hold this unique session was unanimously taken at an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit in last week of August. After the meeting, Congress leader Ajay Kumar Lallu had said: “While all of us have unanimously agreed to the session as it is for a good cause, we asked the Chief Minister that the discussion should not be limited for the sake of record.” The session will discuss the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Every member is expected to get five minutes to speak on the subject. They will not be allowed to speak on any other subject during the special session.
Experts say a powerful video of Alek Minassian’s arrest reveals a textbook case of an officer defusing danger through a series of life-and-death choices based on training and a calm mind.The footage shows an officer who police sources identified as Const. Ken Lam standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect, even as the dead and injured lay along Yonge Street after being struck down by a white rental van.“This is exactly the type of de-escalation … and response to these types of confrontations that we hope to see,” said Ontario ombudsman Paul Dube.Lam calmly holstered his revolver, held up his baton and handcuffed Minassian as he lay on the sidewalk.“He gave himself the space and time. He assessed the threat and realized he had options other than firing his weapon.”Dube published a June 2016 report calling for increased police training on defusing dangerous situations after several high-profile deaths of people with mental illnesses who confronted officers.He said the constable’s actions are a sign that police are gaining from training that includes simulations of tense standoffs with people who are emotionally unstable.Sammy Yatim’s death in July 2013 in Toronto — where the mentally ill man was shot multiple times as officers surrounded an empty streetcar he was on — helped prompt reforms.In recent years at least one day has been added to Toronto police in-service training on de-escalation and “dealing with people in crisis,” said Mike McCormack, president of the police union in Toronto.Meanwhile, recruits at the Ontario Police College are now receiving more training, as are a number of police forces around the province, though it’s yet to be a provincewide standard, said Dube.Christian Leuprecht, a professor at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., who studies policing and security issues, also said Lam’s actions were “textbook” examples of the latest approaches.The result is a suspect who is now in custody and who may be able to shed light on why the devastating incident occurred, he said.Police say Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., is the lone suspect in the attack. He was charged Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.Leuprecht noted how Lam only stood up after carefully observing the suspect and determining he didn’t have a gun.Lam spoke loudly and calmly, even as the suspect encouraged the officer to shoot him. When he claimed to have a gun in his pocket, Lam replied, “I don’t care,” and repeatedly instructed him to “Get down.”Leuprecht said Lam seemed to go further than some others might have when he decided to approach and arrest the suspect, rather than wait for backup.“There’s an impressive moment when he takes his firearm, puts it in his holster, he goes over with his baton, and he handcuffs the individual,” he said.“I think that goes above and beyond the call of duty. He could have had a knife. He could have had a suicide belt.”However, the university professor, who is currently teaching in Australia, says if the constable had waited for backup, the situation might have escalated and had a different outcome.“The opportunity to ensure the individual could no longer pose a chance of harm to himself or to others is what that officer jumped at,” said Leuprecht.McCormack said while additional training is a factor, he knows Lam well enough to say his personality factored in.He described him as an intelligent, relatively young officer who is highly skilled and trained.McCormack says the constable — who is in his 30s — positioned himself well so that he could see precisely what was unfolding before him.“By his actions he did not perceive the threat to escalate and that is why he did not use his firearm,” he said.— With files from Alison Auld in Halifax.
Six stories in the news for Friday, Aug. 11———B.C. JOINS LEGAL FIGHT AGAINST TRANS MOUNTAINBritish Columbia says it will join the legal fight against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, while warning the company it can’t begin work on public land until it gets final approval from the province. The NDP government has hired former judge Thomas Berger to provide legal advice as it seeks intervener status in court challenges against Ottawa’s approval of the $7.4-billion project.———JUDGE TO IMPOSE SENTENCE IN B.C. CHILD BRIDE CASEA B.C. judge will sentence a man and woman today who were convicted of taking a 13-year-old girl over the U.S. border over a decade ago to marry the now-imprisoned leader of a polygamous sect. Former husband and wife Brandon Blackmore and Gail Blackmore were found guilty in February of the charge of taking a child under the age of 16 out of Canada for sexual purposes.———B.C CONSIDERING A BACKCOUNTRY ACCESS BAN DUE TO WILDFIRESOfficials will decide today whether a widespread ban to accessing the backcountry in the B.C. Interior is necessary to help mitigate wildfires. Warm, dry conditions persist throughout the province and thunderstorms in the forecast could bring more lightning that has already been causing new fires to ignite. The B.C. Wildfire Service says human-caused fires must be avoided in the coming weeks so crews can stay focused on the naturally occurring ones.———MONTREAL POLICE APPROVE NEW CONTRACTMontreal police officers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new contract that draws a long-running dispute over pension reforms to a close. The city’s police union says more than 95 per cent of the officers who voted approved the new six-year agreement. The dispute had seen police officers wearing camouflage pants and ball caps between July 2014 and this June to protest the lack of a contract and imposed changes to their pension plans.———CANADIAN TEEN STUNS TOP-SEED AT ROGERS CUPCanadian teenager Denis Shapovalov is the talk of the tennis world after a stirring upset victory last night at the Rogers Cup. Unseeded Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., defeated Spanish veteran and top-seed Rafael Nadal in the third round of the tournament in Montreal. After the match, Shapovalov said he always dreamed of facing a player like Nadal, and that beating him is a “dream come true.”———SHANIA TWAIN TO PERFORM AT GREY CUPCountry music superstar Shania Twain will be the halftime performer at this year’s Grey Cup. The five-time Grammy Award winner from Timmins, Ont., has more than 90 million albums sold worldwide and U.S. sales topping $34.5 million, making her the top-selling female country artist of all time. This year’s Grey Cup will be held in Ottawa on Nov. 26.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— The federal transport and fisheries ministers will announce temporary measures to address whale deaths in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.— Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will announce a plan to strengthen the Canadian aerospace and defence sectors.— Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard will attend the funeral of former cabinet minister Jacques Daoust.
VANCOUVER – Too many men working in trades are overdosing on opioids, says a chief medical health officer in British Columbia who wants the industry to be involved in identifying interventions that could save lives.Dr. Victoria Lee of Fraser Health said men between the ages of 19 and 59 are disproportionately affected by a hidden epidemic that’s shrouded in secrecy among those too ashamed to get help.She said men who are injured on the job may be ensnared into dependence on illicit substances after being prescribed pain medication.“Some people start to self-medicate. It can be for physical and emotional reasons as well,” Lee said in an interview.“There’s a huge amount of stigma around using (illicit) substances so when you combine that with the fact that it’s not socially acceptable for men to be vulnerable it makes it very difficult for men in those situations to ask for help.”Men are also unlikely to use health services unless absolutely necessary so can’t access resources and often end up dying alone, said Lee, who works for a health authority that provides services to more than 1.8 million people in communities across a large area stretching from Burnaby to White Rock to Hope.Fraser Health is planning a workshop next month for employees, employers and trades representatives to explore interventions that would help men who don’t reach out when they’re struggling with substance-use issues, she said.The B.C. Coroners Service said nearly 82 per cent of the 780 people who fatally overdosed in the province between January and June were men. The opioid painkiller fentanyl was detected in nearly 80 per cent of overdose deaths between January and May.Tom Sigurdson, executive director of the BC Building Trades Council, said he was especially troubled by the death of an ironworker who was injured on the job and died after buying street drugs.“It was late, it was a weekend, it was easier to go to the street and, unfortunately, the drug that he purchased wasn’t clean and he was found a day or two later. He was found dead,” said Sigurdson, who speaks for the council that represents unionized construction workers.Sigurdson said the ironworker was in his 20s and had returned to work.“I don’t know if the young fellow ever was aware of the emotional crisis that he was going through. He was physically addicted and in constant discomfort from his injury.”Sigurdson said the council would participate in the Fraser Health workshop with other industry representatives in order to assist trades workers.Leslie McBain, founder of Moms Stop the Harm, a support group for families struggling with an addicted relative or an overdose death, said stigma is a huge issue among illicit drug users but families have also carried the burden of shame.McBain, whose 25-year-old son Jordan died of an opioid overdose in 2014, is an advocate for policy change and has spoken out about the decriminalization of drugs.She said the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions contacted her last week to participate in a public awareness campaign.“I’m hoping that it’s around stigma,” she said.McBain, who was recently hired by the B.C. Centre on Substance Use to support families as they navigate the medical and mental health system, said she expects to head the group’s first meeting next week.“Stigma is definitely one of the pillars of what our work will be,” she said, adding she spoke with former federal health minister Jane Philpott several months ago about the importance of addressing stigma because the opioid crisis is “tearing families apart.”“I was saying we need a federal strategy to combat stigma because until we educate the Canadian population on what addiction is, how it presents, why it’s happening, then we’re not going to get sympathetic or courageous legislators,” McBain said.“You have to normalize the conversation and also help people to understand that addiction is a health issue. It is not a moral failing.”— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
DETROIT – An underwater commuter traffic tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., is closing for more than a week as part of a nearly $22-million renovation project.The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is scheduled to close Friday night and reopen the morning of Oct. 30 as crews replace the concrete ceiling and make other infrastructure improvements.Border crossings in the Detroit area will be diverted to the Ambassador Bridge.Renovations are scheduled to be completed next June.Other periodic closings are planned during the construction project, and details are posted on the tunnel’s website .The tunnel opened in 1930 and runs beneath the surface of the Detroit River.About 12,000 vehicles use the tunnel daily.
KENORA, Ont. – Researchers were in northwestern Ontario over the weekend spilling diluted oilsands bitumen and crude oil into a lake to study how the ecosystem, from microbes to fish, responds.The pilot project, known as Freshwater Oil Spill Remediation Study, is being done at the International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lakes Area southeast of Kenora, Ont.Vince Palace, the scientist who is leading the experiment, said the area is typically known for experiments involving a whole lake, but this work is different.“We’re using small enclosures to contain that oil,” he said.The oil was spilled inside four yellow floating boomed rectangles, each along 2.5 metres of shrub and sphagnum moss shoreline.The enclosures stretch 10 metres into the lake and contain 20,000 litres of water. Curtain-like sides extend down and are carefully affixed to the lake bottom with lines of sandbags filled at the local gravel pit and placed by a small army of students in waders and wetsuits.The spills were 1.25 litres each and were to be left for 72 hours then cleaned up by professional oil-spill responders.With any oil spill, even after clean up, there is residual contamination.“We’re interested in looking at the impact of residuals,” Palace said in an interview before the experiments were conducted.Palace’s team will study impacts on microbes, algae, zooplankton, insects, wood frogs, and fathead minnows by sampling soil, water, and sediment before and after the spill and clean up.They’ll look for direct impacts from fouling and poisoning, but also indirect effects on fish survival and reproduction.Palace notes that when oil spills, social pressure and regulatory commitments create a huge drive to clean it up.“The problem is, in the shoreline environment, when you spill oil, often times the removal of it can be just as damaging as the impact of the oil on the shoreline environment itself,” he said.Soil removal, compaction, and moving heavy equipment into remote areas are ecologically destructive.“In marine environments, there are microbes present that will respond to the presence of oil to degrade it. So it may be that there is a benefit to leaving the oil in place to degrade,” Palace said.The researchers hope to find out if such oil-eating microbes exist in the freshwater environment of oil-naive Boreal shield lakes.Diluted bitumen’s behaviour in freshwater has been studied extensively in laboratories.Project collaborator Heather Dettman, senior scientist with Natural Resources Canada in Alberta, has simulated spills in laboratory wave tanks using North Saskatchewan River water.Her studies have manipulated variables such as wave action and temperature, but not things like wind, rain and sun.So, when it comes to understanding how oil behaves in a lake “maybe we’re missing something,” she said.This is “the next step up” from the lab.
MONTREAL — In car-loving Quebec City, residents can’t stop talking about what’s become known as the “third link” — a future bridge or tunnel crossing the St. Lawrence River.Newspapers and talk radio stations are consumed by the debate, and journalists regularly question politicians about the project.The third link is described either as an essential new route that will alleviate traffic congestion and increase economic growth or as pure folly — an outdated idea from a culture obsessed with cars and blind to the possibilities of public transit.Others have called the project a “chimera,” foisted upon hapless residents by right-wing radio hosts. Rarely has a proposed piece of public infrastructure taken on such a mythical quality in Quebec’s public discourse.The new provincial government, whose electoral base is in and around Quebec City, campaigned last September on a promise to build the third link and to have the “first shovel in the ground” before the end of Premier Francois Legault’s first mandate in 2022.But a younger generation of city dwellers and left-wing politicians have launched a battle to convince residents of the province’s capital that the two bridges already connecting the shores of the St. Lawrence are enough.“People who opposed the project were quiet before the (Oct. 1) election,” said Universite Laval political science professor Jean Mercier, an urban transport expert. “Now, there is a frontal attack on the third link.”That attack is led by Quebec solidaire, the left-wing party founded in 2006 that broke out of Montreal for the first time last election with two seats in the Quebec City core. One of those members is Catherine Dorion, who recently compared the third link to cocaine.“A new highway is like a line of coke,” Dorion says in a video she made last November. “People say: ‘I’ll take it. I’ll be less drunk. I’ll get some energy.’ But one hour later what happens? You need another line of coke. That’s our problem. It’s an addiction to cars.”Other third-link opponents are students and “millennials” working in the IT and video game industries in gentrified areas west of the historic old town, Mercier said.“These people live downtown. They say they want to live in a real city,” Mercier explained. “And a real city has a public transportation system. These people have a new voice in this (debate).”What sets the third link project apart is how popular it is among the majority of residents and how determined the government seems to be to build it, despite opposition from most transportation experts. Estimates of the project’s cost range from $4 billion to $10 billion.Economist Jean Dube, also of Universite Laval, said the argument that the third link would reduce congestion doesn’t hold up. Many studies have shown that people move further away from downtown when new highways are built, extending urban sprawl and eventually congesting the new roadways, he said.“On an economic level it’s also hard to justify,” Dube said in an interview, adding that serious traffic jams in the city only occur when there are car crashes on or at the entrances to the two existing bridges. Public transit is considered by many to be poor person’s transportation, he added. “The car is still seen here as a symbol of success.”Mercier agrees with Dube that the third link project has gotten the green light because politicians are eager to please motorists.But it will be a tall order to get construction started before 2022, he said. The project is currently under study, and a report commissioned by Mayor Regis Labeaume last February indicated it would take up to 16 years to build a new bridge and 17 years for a tunnel.“The Coalition Avenir Quebec won’t be the first government that doesn’t fulfil all its election promises,” Mercier said.For now, motorists in the city are left with two, side-by-side spans connecting the river’s shores: the Pierre Laporte Bridge and the Quebec Bridge. There is also a ferry from Levis on the south shore.And it’s not as though the city’s leaders are ignoring public transit. Labeaume last March announced a 23-kilometre electric tramway project he hopes will be operating by 2026. Unlike the third link, the federal government has signalled it will help finance the tramway.Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed today that President Donald Trump made good on his pledge to raise the plight of the two Canadians imprisoned in China with President Xi Jinping.Trudeau says Trump did raise the cases Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor with Xi during their meeting at the G20 leaders’ summit in Japan this past weekend, just as he pledged to do in their White House meeting last month.Trudeau also shot back at a Chinese government spokesman who accused Canada on Wednesday of being “naive” in assuming that Trump did it any favours by raising the matter with Xi.Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, twice derided Canada for relying on a “so-called” ally and said China would allow no interference in its affairs.On the contrary, Trudeau says, Canada, the United States and other allies are telling China they’re all concerned about its behaviour and that it needs to follow the rule of law and other international standards.Trudeau says Canada, along with its allies, will continue to push that message on Beijing as China’s international economic influence grows, and while still trying to ensure the safety of Kovrig and Spavor.The Canadian Press
BEIRUT — A British Columbia man who was detained in Syria last year after seeking adventure in the war-ravaged country has been released.Kristian Lee Baxter appeared at a press conference in Beirut on Friday.He broke down in tears saying he thought he “would be there forever.”Lebanon’s General security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, says Lebanese mediation helped secure Baxter’s release.Ibrahim said Baxter had been held in Syria since last year for “violating Syrian laws.” He didn’t elaborate.A statement from Global Affairs Canada says the government is “relieved” at Baxter’s release.The statement says consular services will continue to be provided to Baxter and his family.Baxter’s mother, Andrea Leclair told The Canadian Press last January, that her son messaged her daily because she was worried after he arrived in Syria on Nov. 26, but he went silent after his last message on Dec. 1.Leclair described her son as “a world traveller and adventurer” and said he visited a village near the border of Lebanon at the invitation of his girlfriend’s brother-in-law.— With files from The Associated PressThe Canadian Press
TORONTO — The federal government will have to pay thousands of prison inmates placed in solitary confinement for long periods a preliminary $20 million for breaching their rights, a Superior Court judge ruled on Thursday.The decision, which comes without a full-blown trial, is the latest in a string of similar rulings across Canada that have gone against the government and are now at various stages of appeal.“The Correctional Service operated administrative segregation in a way that unnecessarily caused harm to the inmates,” Justice Paul Perell said in his ruling. “Class members suffered harm because of a systemic failure.”Administrative segregation involves isolating inmates for safety reasons where authorities believe there is no reasonable alternative. Prisoners spend up to 22 hours in small cells without any meaningful human contact or programming.Critics argue among other things that the practice can cause severe psychological harm and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, facts which Perell — and other courts — have accepted.“Many of the administrative or disciplinary cells are very poorly maintained. They are filthy and unsanitary,” said Perell, who noted the exercise yard for such inmates at the Edmonton Institution resembled a dog kennel.The representative plaintiff in the current case, Julian Reddock, launched the action in March 2017. Reddock, who said he sometimes spent days without leaving his cell, said he binged on an anti-anxiety drug.“All I wanted was to pass out cold for as long as possible, again and again,” Reddock testified. “It was all I could think to do to cope with the hopelessness of not knowing they would let me out.”One witness, Jeffery Candanay, testified to being segregated for more than 15 days on more than a dozen occasions. One placement lasted almost two years.The case, certified on consent as a class action last year, takes in almost 9,000 inmates placed in isolation for more than 15 days at a time between Nov. 1, 1992, and the present who were still alive in March 2015. The ruling only applies to those incarcerated after March 3, 2011, due to time limits for filing claims.In his ruling, which runs more than 100 pages and is based in part on 22,500 pages of evidence, Perell found the government had no reason to run the system the way it did, a point underscored by recent legislation doing away with solitary confinement.“Even if some form of segregation were necessary to ensure the safety or security of the penitentiary and its population, there never has been an explanation and hence no justification for depriving an inmate of meaningful human contact,” Perell said. “This form of segregation is not rationally connected to the safety of the penitentiaries.”Perell found an absence of independent oversight and the lengthy placements breached the inmates’ rights in that it can cause a wide array of serious effects, ranging from anxiety and hallucinations to delusions, panic attacks and psychosis.“An inmate who is placed in administrative segregation is cruelly and unusually treated once the placement is more than 15 days,” he said.The $20-million award for vindication and deterrence includes compensation — $500 for each placement longer than 15 days — of about $9 million. The money is to be shared equally among class members, who can still claim punitive and other damages after proving their individual harm, Perell said. He declined to award punitive damages.The justice said he decided to forge ahead with the case and issue his judgment given the array of other cases before the courts.“Since my decision in the immediate case will be appealed by one or the other or both of the parties, I felt it preferable to decide the Reddock case promptly, so the appeals of these interconnected cases, with their very similar and factual footprints, could, if possible, be heard together.”Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A recent mass die-off of salmon at a Newfoundland fish farm has highlighted transparency and environmental challenges that the region’s growing aquaculture industry faces.Northern Harvest Sea Farms says the fish died after an extended period of high water temperatures, but the incident raised public concern because of slow public disclosure and confusion over the cause of death.The news followed the escape of approximately 1,000 salmon from a Cooke Aquaculture site in New Brunswick.Neville Crabbe of the Atlantic Salmon Federation says these incidents illustrate some of the industry’s risks and transparency issues.Crabbe says federal and provincial legislation sometimes leads to confusion over who wields regulatory power over the developing industry.A federal Liberal campaign promise to move away from open net salmon farming in British Columbia was met with concern from the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance this week.This report by the Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2019.The Canadian Press