CALGARY – The lawyer for a man who admits he strangled his wife and buried her body in their home says his client was acting in self-defence, but the Crown is arguing he made up stories of domestic abuse to avoid a murder conviction.The two sides made their closing arguments Thursday in the second-degree murder trial of Allan Shyback.Shyback, 40, is also charged with causing an indignity to the body of Lisa Mitchell, 31, who was last seen alive in Calgary in October 2012.An undercover “Mr. Big” sting operation was launched in 2013 and ended with Shyback’s confession and arrest in Winnipeg a year later.Defence lawyer Balfour Der said the onus of proof is on the prosecution and the accused must get the benefit of reasonable doubt.“Hearkening back to that quotation from that old English case about a thousand suspicious circumstances does not equal proof,” Der said in his address to Justice Rosemary Nation.“There has to be a solid anchorage from which this guilt would be found. In my respectful submission, it isn’t here.”On the stand this week, Shyback said he had been the victim of domestic abuse for nearly a decade. He said she had attacked him with a knife the day she was killed.He also admitted to placing her body in a Rubbermaid container and cementing it into the wall in the basement.“It’s gruesome,” Der said. “It’s a terrible thing to have done — to have taken this woman and folded her into a tub and cemented her the basement.”But Shyback also told court he didn’t try to kill his wife, loved her and was defending himself, Der pointed out.“That type of evidence should resonate with you and there should, at the very least, be reasonable doubt here, if not a finding that it is positively established that there was self-defence.”Prosecutor Jayme Williams said Shyback’s version of events appeared to be tailored to fit his story of abuse and noted he had told an undercover officer he was going to have to put a “good spin” on the facts to avoid a murder charge.Shyback’s account that he was trying to protect himself when Mitchell came at him with a knife was inconsistent and contradictory, Williams said.“It is lacking in details and … appeared in some ways that it may have been tailored to fit, at best, the description that he had given to the undercover officers and still make it look like it was an accident or was defending himself,” she said.Williams said Shyback’s testimony appeared geared at putting him in the best possible light.“He’s also extremely cautious to ensure that he looked like he was an abused spouse and an innocent victim rather than someone who was part of an aggressive, hostile relationship,” Williams said.“He is trying to make the description of what happened look best for him under the circumstances. There were only two people in the house that day and one of those people ended up buried in the basement so there’s only one that can tell us what happened.”In response, Der said the Crown did not prove its case.“The prosecution resorting to these type of arguments is desperation on their part and an inability to prove the case on the evidence. They need you to resort to baseless speculation, which you cannot.”Nation reserved her decision until May 18.— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
TORONTO – Jagmeet Singh is stepping down as deputy leader of the Ontario NDP while he runs for the federal party’s leadership, but he’s not resigning his seat in the provincial legislature.Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s office says in a statement today that she and Singh agreed that during his leadership run he’ll leave his post as second-in-command.While he’s running, his critic posts of government and consumer services, attorney general and anti-racism directorate will be split among caucus colleagues.After launching his leadership campaign Monday night, Singh said he would keep his Bramalea-Gore-Malton seat because he has had busy schedules before and has still been able to help his constituents.The Ontario legislature rises for the summer June 1 and returns in September, which is also when online voting starts for the federal leadership.Singh says he will later roll out a policy platform, but lists the major issues facing Canada as inequality, climate change, indigenous reconciliation and electoral reform.
HALIFAX – Political differences aside, Nova Scotia’s major party leaders can find common ground on a few fronts: They all enjoy political non-fiction, locally tailored suits and the province’s beaches.But sharp differences in taste emerged elsewhere in a survey of the leaders’ cultural, sports and other personal preferences.Tory leader Jamie Baillie said his favourite food was Thai cuisine — “pad thai, glass noodles, you name it.”Both Liberal Stephen McNeil and the NDP’s Gary Burrill kept it simple, however, when it came to their culinary favourites. The premier revealed that McDonald’s is his go-to meal, while Burrill said there’s nothing like a “good old-fashioned” hamburger and fries.Their responses to a survey by The Canadian Press appeared to line up with their political personas, particularly when it came to their TV-viewing habits.McNeil said he relaxes by watching home renovation shows hosted by no-nonsense, budget-conscious contractors like “Holmes on Homes” and “Leave it to Bryan.”Baillie, who has campaigned as a family man, said he watches family comedies like The Simpsons and Modern Family.McNeil and Baillie both said they have Netflix and basic cable. Meanwhile, Burrill has cut the cable cord altogether at home, but said he watches some TV news at the office.Burrill said he prefers the radio to screen entertainment, often turning his dial to hear the baseball play-by-play, especially if it’s a Boston Red Sox game.“Baseball is my sport!” the NDP leader said. “When my family lived in Boston, I used to take my kids to the game a few times a week.”The other two leaders said they are Toronto Blue Jays fans.None of the leaders’ hockey favourites are still playing this year: Baillie and Burrill are Toronto Maple Leafs fans, while McNeil is a Montreal Canadiens man.The candidate’s playlists varied widely — ranging from glam metal to Celtic reels.Baillie showed a penchant for the upbeat chart toppers of the 70s and 80s, including Elton John, Kiss’s first live album and “Love Shack” by the B-52’s.McNeil mixed up his music picks between the soft rock of the Eagles and Johnny Cash’s mournful country twang. He also highlighted the lyrics of “Green Eyes” by Coldplay, saying the verse “You are rock upon which I stand” evokes memories of his mother.“(She) was the rock for me and my 16 brothers and sisters after my father died,” McNeil wrote.Burrill’s musical preferences were also driven by a familial connection. He listed Halifax-based indie folk band Hillsburn as his favourite album and musical act, granting that there may be some nepotism involved, given that two of the group’s members are his children.Burrill also shared his predilection for the fiddle. He said the last album he purchased was by fiddling duo the Bb Sisters, and said there’s “no reel that a good fiddler can drive much better” than Dan R. MacDonald’s rendition of “The Trip to Windsor.”Burrill said his favourite beach spot was the cobble and sand shoreline of Port Maitland “because it’s home.” McNeil said he enjoyed the rocky Hampton Beach in Annapolis County, while Baillie favoured the sands of Dragline Beach on Caribou Island.Baillie finds inspiration in a three-part biography of the late British prime minister Winston Churchill, whereas McNeil prefers the writings of U.S. leaders like the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. Burrill says his favourite non-fiction read is a biography of Sir John Thompson, the former Nova Scotia premier and Canada’s fourth prime minister.McNeil said his favourite book was also the last book he read — “Tuesdays with Morrie,” a philosophical memoir by Mitch Albom.Baillie chose “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of excess in the Roaring 20s, as his classic of choice. Burrill went with picaresque novel “Phineas Finn” by Anthony Trollope about 19th-century British politics.Of his choice in suits, Baillie says only “I always try to buy local,” while his rivals offer specifics: McNeil shops at Mansour’s in Amherst, Oak Manor Mens Wear in Antigonish and Duggers in Halifax, while Burrill says “Sandy’s in Truro … does a great job.”Nova Scotians head to the polls on May 30.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. Earlier versions wrongly identified the party leader who shops at Sandy’s Fashions for Men in Truro, N.S., and wrongly said Premier Stephen McNeil prefers Netflix to cable.
FREDERICTON – A review of a devastating ice storm in northeast New Brunswick says many residents were ill-prepared for an emergency — and some responded to the crisis with fear and suspicion that put them in even greater danger.The storm in late January loaded trees and power lines with ice, snapping hundreds of power poles and leaving more than 130,000 people without power for days.Two people died of carbon monoxide poisoning, while another 49 were hospitalized after using generators or barbecues inside homes and garages.The report said rumours spread during the crisis that generators were being stolen, and people began using them in protected places — resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning.“Although the precise statistics for the number of thefts that occurred during the two weeks of the ice storm event are not available, the actual number is of little relevance to the primary point: fear of becoming a victim of crime altered the residents’ behaviour during the storm’s aftermath,” it said.“It is difficult to reconcile the widespread generosity and support that characterized the spirit of the area’s residents during the outage period with the random criminal behaviour and resulting fear.”The report also said people were less likely to leave for official shelter, and less inclined to welcome those doing door-to-door visits to check on residents’ welfare.“Given that carbon monoxide monitoring was also being administered during some of the door-to-door checks, the failure to open the door could have had serious consequences,” the report said.Judy Wagner, the clerk of New Brunswick’s executive council, was appointed in February to conduct the review and held a series of five public meetings.The report makes 51 recommendations that range from better co-ordination with municipal governments to improving NB Power’s messaging about the anticipated length of power outages.It notes there are annual campaigns urging people to be prepared for an emergency lasting 72 hours, with reminders ahead of the January storm, but many people took no measures.“Citizens must take greater responsibility for the preparedness of themselves and their families, and not assume that institutional services (i.e.,government or other relief organizations) will be in place as quickly as desired to maintain their safety and comfort,” the report recommends.NB Power CEO Gaetan Thomas said the utility promotes the 72-hour preparedness message every fall, but more will have to be done to convince people to be ready.“If a large portion of our customers were able to survive 72 hours, there would be very few people who would need a shelter,” Thomas said.He said it would also allow first responders to more quickly assist people in need of help.NB Power said the ice storm was the largest, most expensive restoration effort in the utility’s history.The Crown-owned utility said costs were estimated at $30 million for the storm, which it called “unprecedented.”The report says the Canadian Standards Association requires NB Power to build infrastructure to withstand ice build-up of 12.5 millimetres of ice.“The most severe design standards require power infrastructure to withstand 19 mm of ice. The ice build-up from this storm exceeded those maximums by four times!” the report says.The repairs included replacing nearly 600 broken hydro poles and 150 transformers in the Acadian Peninsula, and installing 51 kilometres of new lines.Thomas said the utility is changing its transmission pole design and will add more anchoring to prevent the cascading effect that toppled poles in large numbers.He said with the number and severity of major storms along the coast, the changes are becoming a necessity.“These storms, we’re not talking one-off any more, we’re talking four in five years,” he said.The report says provincial officials must meet more often and take a more active role both during an event and in planning and follow-up. And municipalities must make emergency planning a higher priority, it says.The report calls on the province to increase emergency services funding, to increase resources and training.“Consideration should be given to increasing the NB 911 fee on telephone bills to supplement the NB 911 Service Fund,” the report recommends.Lois Corbett, executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, calls the report “a blueprint for action.”She says the report rightly concludes that climate change has and will continue to bring extreme weather.
MONTREAL – A Quebec fur farmer will face strict controls if he plans to continue in the business after pleading guilty to animal cruelty charges last week.The case stems from a 2014 investigation into a farm about 65 kilometres east of Montreal that housed red foxes and minks found to be in terrible condition.The SPCA, which conducted the probe, says there were three guilty pleas in the case — one to causing unnecessary suffering to foxes; one to neglecting them; and another to neglecting two dogs found on the property.Jean-Luc Rodier received a $5,000 fine and 75 hours of community service in a sentence jointly recommended by the Crown and defence.Attempts to reach Rodier on Tuesday were unsuccessful.He’d initially faced six charges in November 2014.The SPCA acted on a complaint and Sophie Gaillard of the Montreal branch said the conditions on the farm were deplorable when she visited more than three years ago.She said the animals were dehydrated, living in cramped quarters and malnourished and two foxes had to be euthanized on the spot.“Most importantly to us, for the next 15 years, he won’t be able to own or have the control or live with any animals with the only exception of mink,” said Gaillard.“If he does continue to raise mink for fur, that’ll have to be done under veterinary supervision with reports being provided to the SPCA on a regular basis.”She said what’s most horrific is that standard conditions for wild animals bred for commercial purposes are perfectly legal.“Keeping wild animals in tiny, tiny cages, depriving them of the ability to express any type of natural behaviour and seeing them kept like this for years on end, it’s perfectly legal in Canada today,” Gaillard said.
ST. THOMAS, Ont. – A 36-year-old man is facing charges in what police in St. Thomas, Ont., say may have been a racially motivated attack.Police say they were called Thursday afternoon to a mall parking lot on reports of a man attacking another man with a baseball bat.They say the man was later arrested in London, Ont., and charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.A video posted online shows a man getting out of a white car with a baseball bat in hand and repeatedly yelling “terrorists” and “ISIS.”Mariuxis Zambrano says she and her family had just arrived at the Elgin Mall when they were approached by a man hurling insults.She says her husband suffered severe bruising and a cracked rib as a result of the attack.(CFPL)
MONTREAL – Seven people who went missing while on a fishing expedition in a remote region of Quebec have been found safe, provincial police said Friday.They were located in a chalet where they had taken refuge because of storms.The seven, aboard two boats, left on a fishing trip on Lake Kachistasakaw on Thursday and were supposed to return in the evening.Police say an eighth person waiting for them on the shore contacted authorities on Friday to say they were missing.Police met with the man at their Radisson detachment and an operation was triggered.Authorities searched in an area more than 1,000 kilometres northwest of Montreal.A police helicopter, a rescue team and patrollers with boats based in Matagami were dispatched to the scene to help in the search.
CALGARY – The mayor of Calgary says Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to cut the number of Toronto city councillors and cancel votes for other municipal elections is “tinpot dictator stuff.”Ford said Friday his Progressive Conservative government will introduce legislation to cut the number of seats to 25 from 47 and cancel planned elections for regional chair positions in several Greater Toronto Area communities. Ford’s announcement came the day nominations for those seats were to close.“For you to say to those folks who put their lives on hold only because they want to do public service, ‘By the way, the job you’re running for doesn’t exist any more’ — that’s unconscionable,” Nenshi said.“That is a direct affront on democracy. That is tinpot dictator stuff.”Nenshi said Toronto city council may have its problems. But changing the rules on nomination day — especially when Ford made no mention of it during his own recent election campaign — is the wrong way to address them.“You don’t do that on nomination day. You don’t do that after you’ve just run an election in which you’ve never mentioned this.”Nenshi also pointed out that one of the cancelled elections was being contested by Patrick Brown, whose resignation as Ontario Progressive Conservative leader opened the door for Ford’s successful bid.“You don’t cancel elections where your political rival was running for an office.”Nenshi urged Toronto Mayor John Tory to fight the proposed legislation, because it could ultimately affect all Canadian mayors.“I would strongly suggest and support Mayor Tory in saying we’ve got to find a legal answer to what the limits of provincial authority are here.“It’s not just for Toronto. It’s for all of us.”(CHQR, The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press QUEBEC — The Quebec government tabled legislation this morning that would raise the legal age for consuming cannabis in the province to 21.Bill 2 would also prohibit cannabis consumption in all public places, including parks and streets.Increasing the legal age to 21 from 18 was one of the Coalition Avenir Quebec’s main campaign promises leading up to its Oct. 1 victory.Lionel Carmant, the junior health minister, has said he is worried about the effects of cannabis on the still-developing brains of young adults.Carmant, a neurologist, has said he hopes to have the law adopted by March.The federal law legalizing cannabis consumption sets the minimum age at 18 but gives provinces the power to increase it. In all other provinces and territories, the legal age is 18 or 19.
HAVANA — Seven people died and five are in critical condition after a bus crashed carrying tourists and local travellers in far eastern Cuba.State media report that the bus was carrying 18 Cubans and 22 tourists from Holland, Great Britain, France, Mexico and Canada when it crashed Thursday afternoon on a road between the cities of Baracoa and Guantanamo.The names and nationalities of those killed haven’t been released.The driver told Radio Guantanamo that he lost control on the wet and winding road.Cuban highways are poorly lit, narrow and rutted with huge potholes. There were 750 deaths and 7,999 injuries in 11,187 accidents last year in the country of 11 million. Thursday’s wreck was the fourth major bus accident in a month.Associated Press
OTTAWA — Canada’s top military officer admits there has been slower progress than expected to get more women into the Canadian Forces.New figures show there has been only a small increase in the number of women in the military over the last two years, but General Jonathan Vance says he remains committed to his goal of having women represent one-quarter of all military personnel by 2026.“I’m pushing for 25 per cent women,” Vance told The Canadian Press. “I would rather be criticized for trying and failing and making significant incremental growth than for not trying at all.”The Canadian Forces has struggled for years to increase the number of women, visible minorities and Indigenous People in the ranks, prompting some in the past to question whether its targets should be revised downward.Vance instead publicly asserted in February 2016, shortly after taking command of the Forces, that he wanted one in four service members to be women by 2026. At that time, barely 15 per cent of service members were women.The latest figures provided by the Department of National Defence show at the beginning of January that had grown to 15.7 per cent.“It’s not going up as fast as I thought it might,” Vance said.But, he added, “we know for sure that there’s a healthier workplace with a better gender balance. We know that. So I refuse to abandon the percentage goal.”The 25 per cent target was part of a push to make the Forces more reflective of Canadian society. It was given added importance given concurrent efforts to eradicate sexual misconduct in the military, which had been flagged only the year before as a significant problem in the ranks.The Trudeau government has also made growing female representation in United Nations peacekeeping a foreign-policy priority.The military has had noticeably more success with regards to representation of visible minorities, which grew to 8.6 per cent from 7.4 per cent in January 2017. The percentage of Indigenous People remained largely unchanged at 2.8 per cent.Numerous measures and initiatives have been rolled out over the past three years to increase the number of women in uniform, including targeted recruiting campaigns, improvements to family support and the focus on eliminating sexual misconduct.And there have been positive signs, Vance said, including a growing number of women studying to become officers at the Royal Military College of Canada and more women taking over senior positions in the Forces.“Right now retention of women numbers are better than men on a per capita basis,” he added. “So retention of women is improving. That’s a good thing.”Vance said one thing he will not do is lower the standards that people must meet to join the Forces. Instead, he said military officials must think creatively and find new ways to meet the goal.“The numbers are going up slowly, and maybe that’s just how it’s going to be,” he said. “It may not be a per cent a year. It may be 0.7 per cent a year. We’re going to try. But I believe you can get to 25 per cent of women in the Armed Forces.”— Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — John McCallum has resigned as ambassador to China at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.Trudeau says he asked McCallum to step down on Friday night.The prime minister did not immediately issue an explanation, but the move comes after the former ambassador was quoted in StarMetro Vancouver on Friday as saying it would be “great for Canada” if the United States drops an extradition request against a Huawei executive detained in Canada.That comment follows a statement McCallum issued Thursday, saying he misspoke earlier in the week when he discussed Meng Wanzhou’s case with a group of Chinese-language journalists in Toronto, listing several arguments he thought could help her with her fight against extradition.Trudeau says Jim Nickel, deputy head of mission at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, will represent the country in China as charge d’affaires effective immediately.More coming.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A group of Haitian Montrealers is appealing to federal and municipal authorities to block an upcoming concert by former Haitian president Michel Martelly, citing what they say are his misogynistic comments and his alleged complicity in corruption scandals.As part of the campaign, women’s groups sent a letter Monday asking Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante to use “all your political power” to block a concert this Friday by the former leader, a popular singer who performs as Sweet Micky.“Michel Martelly, alias Sweet Micky, a notorious misogynist who is an apologist for rape, is scheduled to come perform on stage in Montreal on March 22,” reads the letter, which is signed by seven groups, including the community organization Maison d’Haiti.“This situation is even more worrying due to the fact that the regime currently in power in Port-au-Prince, accused of corruption and repression, is the heir of the party of Martelly, an ex-president of Haiti whose administration is also implicated in the corruption scandal and misappropriation of funds that is currently rocking the country,” it continues.Marie Dimanche, a member of Montreal’s Haitian community, says the singer has no place performing in Montreal.Dimanche recently founded the support group Solidarite Quebec-Haiti in response to anti-government protests in Haiti over the rising cost of living and the alleged disappearance of billions of dollars from PetroCaribe, an oil subsidy program intended to help the impoverished Haitian people.While nobody has been charged, a Haitian Senate investigation has alleged embezzlement by at least 14 former officials in Martelly’s administration.In a phone interview, Dimanche said Martelly is well-known for his sexist and degrading comments directed at women, some of which have promoted sexual assault. “The things he says are degrading, violent towards women,” she said in a phone interview.“I’m not particularly in favour of censorship, but hateful speech that calls for violence towards a group of people — half the population — I feel it’s not acceptable.”Dimanche and her group are hoping Plante will declare that Martelly is not welcome in Montreal, as former mayor Denis Coderre did in 2016 with the French comedian who performs as Dieudonne. Dieudonne, who has been charged multiple times in Europe with hate-speech violations, flew to Canada but returned to France shortly after without performing, leading to speculation that he was turned back by immigration authorities.“We think there’s a good chance that (our plan) works, because Valerie Plante is sensitive to questions of women’s rights, and I think she will be sensitive to the question,” Dimanche said. An official in Plante’s office said Monday he needed time to look into the matter.If Martelly is allowed to enter, Dimanche says her group will protest outside the downtown venue in an attempt to stop the show.The possibility of protests doesn’t faze the show’s promoter, Carl-Edward Osias, who knows Martelly personally.In an interview last week, Osias, president of Bass-Mint Management Group, said Sweet Micky’s Montreal shows were well-attended in the past, both before and after his stint as Haiti’s president from 2011-16.He said the Montreal protest is begin fuelled by Martelly’s political opponents and those who don’t understand that Sweet Micky is a persona known for outrageous antics. “He’s a provocateur,” Osias said. “He’ll wear a skirt. He’ll say stupid things. He’ll make jokes. He’s an artist who provokes, who creates controversy.”He says he has no problem with people protesting but doesn’t think it’s right for them to try to block the show, which he has no intention of cancelling.Martelly was accused more than once of using coarse and sexist language during his tenure. A sexually charged comment he made to a female critic at a campaign rally in 2015 prompted a politically allied party to announce the resignation of three officials from Martelly’s administration, including the minister for women’s affairs.And just before leaving office, he released a pop song jeering at his critics and aiming sexually suggestive lyrics at award-winning female journalist and human rights advocate Liliane Pierre-Paul. The song, titled Bal Bannann Nan — Haitian Creole for “Give Them the Banana” — featured Martelly and backing vocalists repeatedly singing suggestive lyrics while referring to bananas and Pierre-Paul.Dimanche and Osias disagree about whether there are more Sweet Micky fans or critics in Montreal’s Haitian community of 132,000, including over 75,000 who were born in the Caribbean country. Osias believes the fans outweigh the critics; Dimanche hopes the opposite is true.“I think if people knew who he was, we would be very numerous in having this opinion,” she said.Quebec sociologist Frederic Boisrond wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several cabinet ministers in January, asking them to block the entry of the singer, whom he described as “misogynist, violent, and dangerous.” Martelly’s rhetoric “openly apologizes for rape, normalizes and glorifies violence against women,” he said in his letter.Boisrond said representatives from Trudeau’s office, as well as those of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, wrote back to say they were studying the issue, but the final decision lies with Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.Hussen’s office said it could not comment on specific cases without the consent of the individual.— With files from The Associated PressMorgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
BEIJING — China says Canada needs to be aware of the consequences of aiding the U.S. in a case involving the Chinese tech giant Huawei that is believed to have sparked the detentions of two Canadians in China.Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang’s comments Friday came after U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.Both were arrested on Dec. 10 after Canada detained a Huawei executive wanted by the United States on fraud charges.Lu said Canada needed to have a “clear understanding of the consequences of endangering itself for the gains of the U.S. and take immediate actions to correct its mistakes so as to spare itself the suffering from growing damage.”The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling out New Democrats after their leader encouraged French lawmakers to reject the comprehensive trade agreement between the European Union and Canada.Jagmeet Singh, along with Green Leader Elizabeth May, signed a letter this week urging politicians in France not to ratify the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, or CETA.As an EU-Canada summit wrapped up in Montreal Thursday, Trudeau asked who Canada should trade freely with if not its European allies and called the NDP stance “unfortunate.”So far, fewer than half of the EU’s 28 member states have ratified CETA, which nonetheless went into force provisionally in September 2017, eliminating tariffs on the vast majority of goods flowing between Canada and the EU.The benefits have been uneven, as European businesses ramped up exports right out of the gate while Canadian exporters were slower to boost trade.In 2018, Canada’s exports to the EU increased by seven per cent to more than $44 billion, with aluminum and motor vehicles and parts seeing the biggest gains. But the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance says agri-food exports to the EU have dropped 10 per cent since CETA’s 2017 entry into force.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — China’s move to stop buying several Canadian agricultural products has punished some farmers, and now industry leaders are worrying about the prospect of a broader threat — an eventual U.S.-China trade deal.Canadian exports of beef, pork, canola and soybeans have largely been locked out of the massive Chinese market following the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.At the same time, a handful of Canadian crops have had stronger sales to China over the past year, such as Canadian wheat, thanks to trade-related tariffs imposed by the U.S.Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance president Brian Innes says Canada may see indirect benefits from the trade war in the short term — but he worries a deal down the road could have a negative impact on farm exports to China.Innes says President Donald Trump has been clear that any trade deal must include China agreeing to make major agricultural purchases from the U.S.He says Canadian exporters would like to see the government push for the removal of non-tariff barriers in other foreign markets — such as those in Europe and the Pacific Rim — because they have prevented farmers from fully benefiting from multilateral trade deals.At the moment, there are few signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks, but negotiators are expected to meet next month.The Canadian Press
In today’s Big Story podcast, flying is one of the most stressful things humans subject themselves to. And flying with a screaming kid next to you is one of the worst things that can happen on a plane. There might be only one thing worse: A screaming kid…with no parents.Of the many horror stories of airline travel is this recent phenomenon: Parents being seated away from their children—and sometimes these kids are three or four—in another section of the aircraft. Or being told they have to pay for reserved seating to avoid the chance this will happen.It’s this exact kind of you-have-no-option scenario that the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are supposed to prevent when phase two begins in December. But will these regulations be enforced? Or is the language halfhearted enough that nothing will get done, and flying in Canada will continue to be awful with a chance of disastrous?GUEST: Tamar Satov, Today’s ParentYou can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and SpotifyYou can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.
MONTREAL — Rights advocates and victims’ families in Quebec are calling for greater transparency from the province’s independent police watchdog.A civil rights advocacy group, la Ligue des droits et libertes, told reporters today the watchdog’s rules of operation favour police at the expense of victims.The group also questions whether the office, known as the Bureau des enquetes independantes, is as independent as it claims to be.Quebec created the watchdog in 2016 following years of complaints and demands from citizens for an independent bureau to investigate instances when someone dies or is seriously injured during a police intervention.Rights advocates lament the lack of criminal charges that have resulted from its investigations and are calling for a legislature committee to study the office’s first three years of operation.The BEI has initiated 90 criminal investigations of Quebec police officers since it began operating in June 2016. Of those, 42 resulted in no charges and 43 remain open. Two officers have been charged with sexual assault and three files are being studied by prosecutors.The Canadian Press
The 2012 UNICEF Snowflake Ball, held on Tuesday, November 27 at Cipriani 42nd Street, honored UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte and U.S. Fund for UNICEF National Board Member Dolores Rice Gahan for their commitment to saving and improving children’s lives.Presented by Baccarat, the eighth annual black-tie gala, which raised more than $2.5 million for UNICEF’s global child survival and development programs, was emceed by Bryant Gumbel and featured performances by Tony Bennett and the Wynton Marsalis Quintet.The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund presented the 2012 Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award to legendary singer, actor, and human rights activist Harry Belafonte. A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for more than 25 years, Belafonte has been outspoken about issues that affect children’s lives and has met with world leaders to champion UNICEF’s mission. His legacy includes advocating for better primary health care, treatment for HIV/AIDS, and free access to education for all children.“I didn’t anticipate that serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador would have such remarkable rewards,” said Harry Belafonte. “I am deeply grateful to UNICEF for giving me the opportunity to serve for so long.”For her commitment to vulnerable children around the world, physician Dolores Rice Gahan was presented with the Helenka Pantaleoni Humanitarian Award by Pantaleoni’s granddaughter, UNICEF Ambassador, and U.S. Fund for UNICEF National Board Member Tea Leoni. Working alongside UNICEF, Gahan’s family pioneered an innovative community health program in Ghana, and she has provided leadership for UNICEF’s global HIV/AIDS campaign.“It is an honor to receive the Helenka Pantaleoni Humanitarian Award,” said Dolores Rice Gahan, U.S. Fund for UNICEF National Board Member. “I have had the opportunity to travel around the world and see UNICEF programs in action. UNICEF staff often put their own lives on hold or at risk to do whatever it takes to save a child. It is amazing to see the dedication displayed in order to better the lives of children.”“We are thrilled to honor Harry Belafonte and Dolores Rice Gahan for their commitment to UNICEF and to children around the world,” said Caryl Stern, U.S. Fund for UNICEF president and CEO. “UNICEF and our honorees tonight know that when you put your faith in children, you create hope, and a future. You create a world in which ZERO children are denied clean water, food to eat, or any of the things we may take for granted.”Debra Shriver and Daniella Vitale co-chaired the event, with Nell Diamond and Jaime Jiménez serving as Next Generation Co-Chairs and Pamela Fiori as the Project Chair.For the fourth year in a row, the Snowflake Ball featured décor by interior designer, HGTV star and UNICEF Ambassador Vern Yip. His décor, which included artisan crafted felt trivets from Mongolia, was inspired by his recent visit there where he witnessed UNICEF’s education, health, protection, and water and sanitation programs benefiting children.The evening’s menu was created by UNICEF Ambassador Marcus Samuelsson, along with acclaimed chefs Marc Murphy and Michael Anthony. The gala’s live auction, hosted by Courtney Booth of Sotheby’s, featured experiences with UNICEF Ambassador Selena Gomez, NY Knick Tyson Chandler, and Nickelodeon. Mikimoto, Zagliani, Le Cirque, Barneys, and Baccarat donated items for the silent auction. Mikimoto also hosted the evening’s special photo booth and dressed Snowflake committee chairs and celebrity guests in signature pearl jewelry.Gala attendees included UNICEF Ambassadors Selena Gomez, Dayle Haddon, Téa Leoni, Marcus Samuelsson, Vern Yip, and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte along with Michael Anthony, Tony Bennett, David Broza, Barbara Bush, Selita Ebanks, Boomer Esiason, Bryant Gumbel, Jenna Bush Hager, Lily Kwong, Matt Lauer, Kate Mara, Wynton Marsalis, Mia Moretti, Carolyn Murphy, Marc Murphy, Katy Perry, Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, Amanda Ross, Uma Thurman, and Allison Williams.The UNICEF Snowflake illuminates the intersection of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue each year and serves as a beacon of hope and compassion for vulnerable children around the world. Designed by Ingo Maurer with 16,000 Baccarat crystals, the beautiful ornament was dedicated to UNICEF in 2002 by the Stonbely Family Foundation.For more information on the 2012 UNICEF Snowflake Ball, visit www.snowflake.unicefusa.org/snowflake-ball.
Lenny Kravitz – GRAMMY award-winning singer-songwriter, record producer and actor – is urging people to join UNICEF to bring about an end to preventable child deaths.Video: Lenny Kravitz: Immunization – we can reach every last childAs many as 1.5 million children die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.“It’s every parent’s worst nightmare – an extremely ill child,” said Kravitz. “UNICEF’s goal is to make sure that 100 per cent of children are immunized against preventable diseases. Failing to reach every last child is unacceptable, especially when the cost of a vaccine is so little.”Kravitz took time from recording his new album to film Public Service Announcements (PSAs) around the importance of reaching every child with life-saving immunizations. It comes nearly one year after he lent his support to UNICEF’s efforts to save and improve the lives of millions of children by providing them with access to clean water and adequate sanitation. In addition to the PSAs, Kravitz will use his social media platforms to share UNICEF’s call for 100 per cent immunization.Despite immunization remaining one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions — a lifesaving immunization against measles costs less than one dollar — nearly 20 per cent of the world’s children are still not immunized.Children in remote areas and in impoverished communities are more likely to not be immunized against killer diseases. This effectively leaves these children unprotected against disability and death. Often times, immunization is a gateway to a healthier life for children of poor and isolated communities. Mass immunization campaigns allow for poor and isolated communities to receive other vital health services like insecticide-treated bed nets and nutritional supplements.“As the largest procurer of vaccines, UNICEF helps immunize more than one third of the world’s children,” said Jos Vandelaer, Chief of Immunization for UNICEF. “UNICEF is well positioned to deliver vaccinations to every last child, which is very important if we are ever to reach a day where 100 per cent of children are fully immunized.”Vaccines are responsible for eradicating smallpox and for preventing an estimated two to three million deaths each year from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough measles and polio. Fifty years ago, this disease was once one of the most feared diseases in the world. Anyone not immunized against the disease can contract polio, but children under five years of age are especially vulnerable. Timely immunization with today’s safe and effective oral vaccines is the most effective way to prevent infection. As a result, polio is now endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.Source:UNICEF