Month: October 2019

Ban calls on world parliamentarians to support MDGs and disarmament efforts

“Parliaments, at their best, embody the principles of dialogue, democracy and the rule of law, which are inextricably tied to reconciliation and good governance,” the Secretary-General said in a message delivered today by Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the IPU Assembly underway in Bangkok, Thailand. Quoting the opening words of the UN Charter, “We the People,” Mr. Ban said today that parliaments and the UN share a common responsibility to strive for the betterment of lives for people, particularly the most vulnerable. In pursuit of this goal, the Secretary-General called on IPU members to help achieve the eight universally accepted MDGs before the 2015 deadline. “Parliaments provide the enabling national legislative framework for achieving the MDGs. You are also at the forefront of fighting for improved livelihoods and access to basic services.” Ways to accelerate progress will be the main theme of the MDG Summit hosted by Mr. Ban at the General Assembly High-Level debate in September in New York. On nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, the Secretary-General asked the IPU for its support to ensure success in May at the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, whose members include five nuclear powers – also the five permanent members of the Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Secretary-General also called for the IPU”s efforts to support climate change, saying parliamentarians can provide the foundation for building a green economy. “While the private sector will be a big part of the picture, parliaments can produce legislation that establishes incentives for innovation, promotes investment in clean technologies and renewable energy, and develops national plans and goals.” Mr. Ban noted the challenges parliamentarians face, including lack of sufficient resources and expertise, and constitutional dominance or manipulation of the executive. Noting the IPU Assemy’s theme of political reconciliation and governance, Mr. Ban said it reflects the keen insight that elections are not, by themselves, enough to make a democracy. He noted that the UN was working with parliaments to strengthen “the quality of governance after the ballots has been counted” in Afghanistan, Burundi, Timor-Leste and Nepal, where the UN Mission there (UNMIN) helped Nepalis achieve their long-held vision of establishing “a Constituent Assembly that is representative of the country”s ethnic and religious mosaic.” 27 March 2010Given the common goal of the United Nations and parliaments worldwide to strive for a better future, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for strong cooperation with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), disarmament and clean energy. read more

Darfur UNAfrican Union peacekeeping force extended as tensions rise

The Security Council today voted to extend by another year the mandate of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, where violence once again rocked a large camp for people uprooted by the conflict in the war-ravaged Sudanese region. In its unanimously adopted resolution, the Council strongly condemned all attacks on the mission, known as UNAMID, calling any attack or threat “unacceptable.” In the past week alone, a group of blue helmets was ambushed in western Darfur, while in the region’s south, the pilot of a UNAMID helicopter was found safe yesterday after having been held for three days by local combatants. The Council today said that it “demands that there be no recurrence of such attacks,” underscoring the importance of bolstering the security of UNAMID personnel and to end impunity for those who attack peacekeepers. The 15-member body also called for all parties to the Darfur conflict to put an immediate end to violence, as well as all attacks on civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers. Some 300,000 people are estimated to have been killed and another 2.7 million others displaced from their homes since fighting erupted in Darfur, an arid region on Sudan’s western flank, in 2003. Government forces, allied Janjaweed militiamen and rebel groups have all been accused of grave human rights violations. Today’s resolution stressed that “there can be no military solution to the conflict in Darfur and that an inclusive political settlement and the successful deployment of UNAMID are essential to re-establishing peace.” The mission today reported that more than 7,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have gathered around UNAMID’s community policing centre (CPC) outside the Kalma camp in southern Darfur after deadly violence yesterday. Tensions have been rising at Kalma following the end of the latest round of peace talks in Doha, Qatar, with some groups contending they were unrepresented. Those tensions boiled over yesterday when hundreds of IDPs – some in support of the Doha process, some in opposition – took to Kalma’s streets. Many protesters were armed with sticks and machetes, and sporadic shooting was heard throughout the camp, UNAMID reported, adding that several deaths were recorded. The mission has enhanced its security measures to ensure the safety of those gathered around the CPC, and is also working with local aid groups to provide medical assistance to those in need, including several women who had given birth. Within the camp, UNAMID’s formed police units (FPUs) – comprising police officers trained in dealing with high-risk operations – are carrying out round-the-clock patrols, while the mission’s civilian staff are mediating talks among community leaders. “Violence will only add to the people’s suffering,” said Mohammed Yonis, Deputy Joint Special Representative for UNAMID. “It is only through working together and talking to each other that we will bring peace to this land.” In a statement issued by his spokesperson yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on “all concerned to address their differences through political dialogue and to refrain from any action that could incite violence.” Later today, the Council issued a press statement in which members voiced serious concern about the casualties in Kalma camp and the recent attacks against peacekeepers, and urged all sides to resolve the conflict peacefully. 30 July 2010The Security Council today voted to extend by another year the mandate of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, where violence once again rocked a large camp for people uprooted by the conflict in the war-ravaged Sudanese region. read more

Pakistans floodaffected people in need of more assistance – UN official

3 December 2010The United Nations humanitarian chief today visited the flood-ravaged area of Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh to review relief efforts among people still suffering from the effects of the deluge that cut a swathe across the country four months ago following torrential rainfall. “Everything I saw and heard today confirmed that this disaster is far from over,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, on the second day of her four-day visit to Pakistan.Millions of people in Pakistan are still living without basic necessities after their homes and sources of livelihood were washed away or damaged by the floods that swamped the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan along the Indus River basin following heavy monsoon rains that began in July.“A lot has been done, but there is much more to do,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Four months on, there are still long lines of tents along dykes and dams. Even the strongest are growing weary. It is critical that we continue to assist the people of Pakistan during this devastating emergency.”Out of an estimated 18 million people affected by the floods, close to 7.2 million are in Sindh.Ongoing relief efforts have made it possible for more than two million people in Sindh to have access to safe water, and more than 4.3 million others have received food assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).High levels of malnutrition and a risk of an outbreak of disease, however, remain a concern, with children and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. Large areas of Sindh remain under water, with nearly half a million homes destroyed and one million people displaced.In Sehwan district, Ms. Amos met families who are still living in camps. They spoke of their difficulties and their desire to return home to begin the process of rebuilding their lives.She also met representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies and local government officials in Sehwan to discuss the continuing challenges in the relief effort.“People are worried about the future – for many of them even when the waters recede, they will have nothing to go back to,” said Ms. Amos.Last month, the UN and its partners delivered food to six million people. In total, more than 4.3 million people have access to safe drinking water on a daily basis, emergency shelter materials have been distributed to 4.7 million people, and more than seven million people have benefited from health care. read more

Three decades on global AIDS response showing results – UN report

“AIDS at 30: Nations at the crossroads,” released today by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), comes ahead of a three-day high-level event at UN Headquarters next week focusing on efforts to combat the epidemic.“Thirty years ago when scientists first identified AIDS, it was mysterious, deadly and spreading,” Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro told a news conference in New York. “Now three decades on, more and more people have access to treatment, infections are declining and greater numbers of pregnant women living with HIV are keeping their babies free of infection.”She said next week’s high-level meeting is “our chance to chart a new, bold path,” adding that the target is clear – zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. “We have come a long way,” added Michel Sidibé, the Executive Director of UNAIDS. Highlighting the report’s findings, he noted that about 6.6 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2010, a nearly 22-fold increase since 2001. Also, a record 1.4 million people started life-saving treatment in 2010 – more than any year before – and at least 420,000 children were receiving antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2010, a 50 per cent increase since 2008.Mr. Sidibé said that with access to treatment, “AIDS has moved from what was effectively a death sentence to a chronic disease.” New HIV infections are now declining at a significant rate, by 25 per cent in the last 10 years, he added.According to the report, the rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50 per cent in India and by more than 35 per cent in South Africa. Both countries have the largest number of people living with HIV on their continents.“Access to treatment will transform the AIDS response in the next decade. We must invest in accelerating access and finding new treatment options,” said the Executive Director. “Antiretroviral therapy is a bigger game-changer than ever before – it not only stops people from dying, but also prevents the transmission of HIV to women, men and children.”At the same time, the report notes that significant challenges remain. The latest estimates from UNAIDS shows that 34 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2010 and nearly 30 million have died from AIDS-related causes over the past 30 years.Despite expanded access to antiretroviral therapy, a major treatment gap remains. At the end of 2010, nine million people who were eligible for treatment did not have access. Treatment access for children is lower than for adults – only 28 per cent of eligible children were receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2009, compared to 36 per cent coverage for people of all ages.While the rate of new HIV infections has declined globally, the total number of HIV infections remains high, at about 7,000 per day. In addition, gender inequalities remain a major barrier to effective HIV responses. HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age, and more than a quarter of all new global HIV infections are among young women between the ages of 15 and 24. According to the report, investments in the HIV response in low- and middle-income countries rose nearly 10-fold between 2001 and 2009, from $1.6 billion to $15.9 billion. However, in 2010, international resources for HIV declined.“I am worried that international investments are falling at a time when the AIDS response is delivering results for people,” said Mr. Sidibé. “If we do not invest now, we will have to pay several times more in the future.” 3 June 2011The global response to AIDS has achieved significant results since the first case was reported 30 years ago, with a record number of people having access to treatment and rates of new HIV infections falling by nearly 25 per cent, the United Nations says in a new report. read more

Yemen UN refugee agency voices alarm at increasingly bloody violence

Two Somali refugees, a 14-year-old boy and a young woman, were killed last week during fighting between armed tribesmen and security forces near the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, according to Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).Media reports stated that the presidential residence had come under mortar attack today as fighting raged in Sana’a.“We’re also seeing Yemeni families fleeing in the south and renewed displacement to the north,” he said. Dozens of refugee families have fled the al-Hasaba area near Sana’a and UNHCR and partners are encouraging them to move in with relatives and friends until the situation calms down, Mr. Edwards said.The agency has so far provided 150 refugee families with emergency funds to relocate, as well as water and relief supplies. For those without any support, UNHCR is exploring other shelter options such as renting a building for temporary accommodation.The violence has also affected internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the earlier conflict in Sa’ada in the north, with more than 80 IDP families having fled fighting in al-Hasaba and returned to Sa’ada city and the surrounding areas. UNHCR has managed to locate 43 of the families and is providing relief in the form of shelter and basic supplies.In southern Yemen, ongoing clashes between Government forces and gunmen in Abyan governorate have displaced an estimated 20,000 people. Hundreds of families have fled the city of Zunjubar to the surrounding areas, according to Mr. Edwards.“UNHCR, our partners and local authorities are also helping 982 families hosted in seven schools in Aden city. The majority of IDPs are being hosted in small villages near Zunjubar. Aid agencies are working with the local authorities to assess the situation and provide urgent help to these newly displaced people,” he said.In addition to the new IDPs, the agency has been assisting nearly 200,000 refugees and over 300,000 displaced people in northern Yemen and the escalating conflict is affecting UNHCR’s ability to offer protection and assistance. 3 June 2011The United Nations refugee agency today voiced alarm over the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, where hundreds of people have died in clashes pitting Government forces against peaceful demonstrators and armed groups seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh. read more

UN chief concerned over Israels plans for new settlements in East Jerusalem

Planning for new settlements run contrary to the call by the Quartet – the diplomatic group comprising the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States – on all parties to refrain from provocative actions, Mr. Ban said in statement issued by his spokesperson late yesterday.The Secretary-General reiterated that settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank is contrary to international law and to Israel’s obligations under the Roadmap to a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and must cease.He also stressed that the international community will not recognize unilateral actions on the ground and that the status of Jerusalem can only be resolved through negotiations.Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since late September last year after Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity. The talks had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus. 15 October 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced deep concern over the continuing planning for new Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, stressing that the recent developments in that regard are unacceptable, particularly as efforts are ongoing to resume talks under the Middle East Peace Process. read more

Migiro praises Uruguay for joining UN campaign to end violence against women

9 November 2011Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro has commended Uruguay for joining the United Nations campaign that seeks to end violence against women by raising awareness and generating political will to implement measures to stem the scourge. The ‘UNiTE to End Violence against Women’ campaign was launched by the Secretary-General in 2008 and calls for all countries to put in place strong laws, action plans, preventive measures, data collection, and systematic efforts to address sexual violence by 2015.The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) developed the ‘Say NO-UNiTE’ social mobilization campaign which has registered more than two million actions by more than 600 partners worldwide, Ms. Migiro said yesterday in Montevideo, Uruguay.“I am delighted to see that Uruguay has joined the campaign and is using the ‘Say No-UNiTE initiative in such creative ways.“The social awareness campaign ‘Take Action Uruguay’ has found an innovative way to unify the concept of not accepting violence with that of concrete action,” she said.At a separate event, Ms. Migiro commended the country’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations over the past 50 years, noting that 25,000 Uruguayans have served in such missions and 28 of them lost their lives in the service of the UN.“Uruguay contributes more peacekeepers in proportion to its population that any other country on earth,” she said when she visited the National Peacekeeping Training System in Montevideo.“Put another way, if every country were as supportive of UN peacekeeping as Uruguay, we would not have to beg for equipment and troops. When you patrol a camp or disarm a fighter or help get relief aid to people who depend on it to survive, you are showing the United Nations at its best,” she added. read more

Rona Inc posts loss higher revenue ahead of takeover by Lowes

BOUCHERVILLE, Que. — Rona Inc. says it lost money in this year’s first quarter but overall revenue increased despite weak sales in the Prairies.The Quebec-based home improvement retailer is slated to become a subsidiary of Lowe’s following a friendly $3.2-billion takeover deal announced in February.Rona (TSX:RON) posted a $16.5 million net loss or 15 cents per share for the quarter ended March 27.Rona shareholders overwhelmingly approve $3.2 billion Lowe’s takeoverRona Inc tops estimates in potentially last report as Canadian-controlled retailerThe quarter’s loss included $3.5 million or three cents per share of restructuring costs and $4.1 million or four cents per share of acquisition costs.Revenue was $819.2 million, up from $778.8 million a year earlier. Same-store sales grew 3.1 per cent with strong performance in Ontario, British Columbia and the Reno-Depot banner in Quebec. The company saw a decline in Prairie same-store sales.After excluding restructuring and other items, Rona’s adjusted loss was $9 million or eight cents per share.By comparison, Rona’s net loss in the first quarter of 2015 was $11.7 million or 11 cents per share including minimal restructuring costs. Its adjusted loss was $11.2 million or 10 cents per share. read more

Owner of PokerStars reports dramatic jump in Q2 profit raises adjusted earnings

TORONTO — The owner of PokerStars and other online gaming businesses is reporting a dramatic increase in profit for the second quarter and improved expectations for 2017 adjusted earnings as its evolution gains momentum.The former Amaya Inc., now called the Stars Group Inc. (TSX:TSGI), says it had US$70.5 million of net income during the quarter and US$114 million of adjusted earnings.The net income was equal to 35 U.S. cents per share — about three times higher than last year’s second quarter — and adjusted earnings were up 22 per cent at 56 U.S. cents per share.Revenue was up 6.8 per cent at US$305.3 million.The company also announced that it estimates 2017 revenue, reported in U.S. currency, will be at the upper end of its previous range of between $1.2 billion and $1.26 billion.It also has revised 2017 estimated adjusted earnings range upward to between $413 million and $437 million, from $400 million to $430 million.“Our evolution and transformation into The Stars Group continued as we completed our name change and head office move, while our second quarter saw the strengthening of our core senior management team and continued solid revenue growth led by our real money online casino offering,” CEO Rafi Ashkenazi said in a statement.“We plan to use this momentum to continue improving and strengthening our business and pursuing our strategic objectives.”Last year saw the departure of Amaya’s founder and largest shareholder, David Baazov, who mounted an unsuccessful attempt to take the company private. Baazov was replaced permanently last August by Ashkenazi, who had been interim CEO since March 2016. read more

Bank of Canada daily avg for the Cdn dollar 8009 cents US

The average value for the Canadian dollar on Wednesday was 80.09 cents US, up 0.40 of a cent from Tuesday.The U.S. dollar was at C$1.2486, down 0.62 of a cent.Pound sterling was at C$1.6459, down 0.79 of a cent, and US$1.3182, up 0.02 of a cent.The Euro was at C$1.4708, down 0.44 of a cent.Quotations provided by the Bank of Canada.

Abducted cops assaulted and freed

The four people including two policemen who were abducted by wildlife officers at the Udawalawa national park yesterday during a raid on ganja plantations, have been freed after being assaulted.According to the police media unit, the four people have been admitted to hospital for treatment and investigations are underway to identify the suspects. After locating one ganja plantation two policemen were stationed at that location with weapons while the others proceeded to another location in the park to look for more ganja plantations.The police media unit said that at this time a group of wildlife officers of the park had abducted the two policemen and two others who assisted in the raid. (Colombo Gazette) The police said that the policemen were part of a 22 member police team involved in the raid at the park. The police said yesterday that wildlife officers had abducted two policemen and two others who were involved in a raid on a ganja plantation in the Udawalawe national park. read more

UK encourages Government to deliver on its commitments

Britain has encouraged the Sri Lankan Government to deliver on its commitments to the people of this country and to the international community.The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris said that there remains a lot to do and, as a partner with a firm commitment to working with Sri Lanka, the UK is supporting the rebuilding process as well as encouraging the Government to deliver on its commitments to the people of this country and to the international community. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka recently entered into a partnership agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom to extend support for Sustainable Resettlement of recently released lands in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. The GBP 1,000,000 (US$ 1.3 Million) project will directly support more than 2,500 people returning to their homes in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa Districts. The project will help those returning to their homes in the Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa districts by supporting livelihood opportunities in fisheries, agriculture and livestock, and facilitating access to local government services. It will also help families to rebuild their lives by promoting entrepreneurship through training in small business management, and by assisting in re-establishing community support structures and local civil society organisations.The Sustainable Resettlement project will prioritise empowering women and youth, promoting diversity and inclusion, and reaching vulnerable and marginalised communities. Under this agreement, UNDP Sri Lanka will work in close collaboration with the Government of Sri Lanka to facilitate sustainable return, resettlement and integration of conflict-displaced persons, whilst strengthening institutions for equal and transparent access to services. The overall intended impact is to improve the wellbeing of conflict-affected communities in line with the Sri Lanka Peacebuilding Priority Plan, agreed by the Government of Sri Lanka and the UN to support long term peacebuilding and reconciliation, and the National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict Affected Displacement. Speaking about this project, UNDP Sri Lanka Country Director Jorn Sorensen stated, “UNDP is pleased to join hands with the UK Government to support families to resettle and reintegrate back into their communities. Through this project and beyond, we remain fully committed to helping build a more inclusive, peaceful, and resilient Sri Lanka, to advance sustainable human development.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

Norway to provide NOK 60 million for mine action in Sri Lanka

With the help of national and international organisations, Sri Lanka has carried out extensive mine clearance activities. In December 2018, 94 % of the mined areas had been cleared. Norway’s contribution will support the vital efforts the authorities are making in this area. The funding provided by Norway will be channelled through two mine clearance organisations that have working in the country for a long time: the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and the HALO Trust. Norway’s main focus is on humanitarian mine clearance to protect civilians. Norway is to provide NOK 60 million over a period of three years for mine action in Sri Lanka. ‘Sri Lanka has been heavily contaminated by landmines, but the country is now approaching its goal of becoming mine-free. This year, Norway holds the presidency of the Mine Ban Treaty, and intends to help Sri Lanka achieve this important goal,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide. ‘Mine clearance efforts are an important part of the reconciliation process, and mean that families who were forced to leave their homes during the war can return home safely,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said. Supporting mine action is part of Norway’s obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty, which was adopted in Oslo in 1997. In 2018, the Government provided NOK 325 million for mine clearance efforts in 18 countries. This level of funding will be maintained in 2019. This is also in line with Norway’s new humanitarian strategy. State Secretary Marianne Hagen announced Norway’s contribution at a meeting with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghein Colombo today. read more

Accused inmate moves from London to Hamilton jail

The man accused of killing two people in Hamilton and attempting to kill others has been transferred back to jail in Hamilton after he allegedly attacked and injured a guard at a London jail…25-year old Loujack Caf

GTA crime spree ends in Hamilton

Updated:Halton police have three men in custody after a night of armed robberies and car jackings spanning four cities.It was a wild night for three police forces, Peel, Halton and Hamilton. They were on the look out for three men suspected of robbing four stores and stealing at least three cars at gun point.A chase that started in Missisauga ended in Hamilton at Pier 25 near Eastport Road. Halton police recovered two guns and arrested three men. A stolen white Toyota Yaris was driven down into a ditch and the thieves attempted to run away. One was caught immediately. Two others were found nearby thanks to Halton’s K9 team. One of the men fell backwards and hit his head when the dog came at him. He was taken to Joseph Brant hospital.It all started around midnight at the Mac’s milk near Britannia Road and Glen Erin Drive in Missisauga. Three masked men were seen stealing a red Honda Civic. Then they robbed a gas station near Erin Mills Parkway North of the 403. Peel police sent their K9 unit but the thieves were long gone making their way towards Oakville.They robbed the Petro Canada at 8th Line and Upper Middle Road in Oakville, ditched their red Honda Civic and stole a white Toyota Yaris. Police were called but the men were already at their next location, a Tim Hortons on Wyecroft Road. They robbed the store at gun point and took off.Halton police spotted the white Toyota Yaris and a pursuit began. The chase was called off on the QEW at Dorval. It was then seen on Dundas Street near Brant heading towards Waterdown and then on the QEW Niagara bound on the Skyway Bridge. Police caught up as the car exited at Burlington Street. There were reports from OPP that the same men stole a grey 2003 Mazda 3 in Waterdown.The men went off the road on Eastport Drive, went through a gate at Pier 25 and the car went down into a deep ditch. That’s when the men tried to flee on foot but were caught fairly quickly. Hamilton police assisted and set up perimeter.Halton police made the arrests and recovered the two guns, one found under the seat of a car and the other on one of the thieves. The white Toyota was removed from the ditch by a tow truck. Police sealed the doors and it was brought to the station in Oakville. read more

Dundas doctor sentenced in sexual assault case

A Dundas doctor has been sentenced to serve time in jail for sexually assaulting women in his care.Dr. Pierre Picard, was arrested back in January on several counts of sexual assault.On Friday, he was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison plus three years probation.Picard was also handed several conditions including he must not contact any of the victims, and has been ordered to a lifetime on the sex offender list.RELATED STORIESDundas doctor facing new sex charges as more victims come forwardFive more sexual assault charges laid against Hamilton doctorHamilton doctor facing two charges of sexual assault

WatchVancouver home sales fall to lowest yearly total in 18 years detached

VANCOUVER — Home sales in metro Vancouver plummeted to their lowest level in nearly two decades last year and the average home price moved lower in the once red-hot real estate market.The total number of homes sold in Metro Vancouver last year fell to 24,619, marking the lowest total since 2000, according to data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. That’s down 31.6 per cent from nearly 36,000 in 2017 and 25 per cent below the region’s 10-year average.The composite benchmark price for a home, which includes detached properties, townhomes and condominiums, dropped 2.7 per cent from December 2017 to finish the year at $1,032,400. Murder houses are a tough sell, but sometimes a home’s dark past stays hidden B.C. housing market shows signs of moderation as some property values drop by 10 per cent Toronto and Vancouver most ‘vulnerable’ to interest rate hikes as personal debt soars, CMHC warns Detached homes led the fall as their benchmark price fell 7.8 per cent from December 2017 to $1,479,000.Townhome and condominium prices saw small gains over the year. The benchmark price of a townhouse rose 1.3 per cent year-over-year to $809,700, while the benchmark price of a condominium advanced 0.6 per cent to $664,100.“As the total supply of homes for sale began to accumulate in the spring, we began to see downward pressure on prices across all home types throughout the latter half of the year,” said REBGV president Phil Moore.Condo prices were down 0.6 per cent from November 2018, while townhome prices fell 1.1 per cent month-over-month.Moore called 2018 “a transition period” for the region’s housing market, which moved away from sellers’ market conditions.“High home prices, rising interest rates and new mortgage requirements and taxes all contributed to the market conditions we saw in 2018,” he said.The board’s data comes a day after BC Assessment, an independent, provincial Crown corporation whose estimates are used to determine property taxes, released data showing a drop of up to 15 per cent on the estimated values of some detached homes in urban areas of Greater Vancouver as of July 1, 2018.The median single-family residential property value in Vancouver, Burnaby and North Vancouver fell four per cent, according to BC Assessment. In the district of West Vancouver the drop was 12 per cent, while on the University Endowment Lands it was 11 per cent.As the real estate market softens in some areas, Greater Vancouver is now seeing signs of moderation, BC Assessment said in a statement.Other areas, though, still experienced gains. The median single-family residential property value in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Squamish rose between four and six per cent.Residential strata units, like condominiums, rose between zero and 25 per cent in urban areas of Greater Vancouver, according to the data. read more

Who is Mario Dion the ethics watchdog who found Trudeau broke conflictofinterest

OTTAWA — Ethics commissioner Mario Dion pulled no punches in a damning report released Wednesday following an investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair, by far his highest-profile undertaking since his appointment in January 2018.Dion’s nomination by the Liberal government received a mixed response from opposition parties, and the longtime public servant made headlines when he wouldn’t immediately commit to pursuing ongoing investigations into the prime minister and the finance minister. He later surprised opposition parties when he cleared Finance Minister Bill Morneau last June of conflict-of-interest allegations regarding pension legislation he introduced while holding shares in Morneau Shepell, a pension management firm.But if critics of the government had any concerns that Dion would go too easy on the Liberals in his role as ethics watchdog, his report on the SNC-Lavalin scandal must surely have put them to bed. In the report, Dion concluded that Trudeau used his authority to “circumvent, undermine and ultimately discredit” the decision of the director of public prosecutions not to offer a remediation agreement to SNC-Lavalin, which would have allowed the Montreal engineering giant to avoid criminal prosecution. He confirmed former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould’s allegations that she was inappropriately pressured by the prime minister and other senior officials to overrule the public prosecutor’s decision, and that she was improperly asked to consider partisan political interests.“I find all of these tactics troubling,” he wrote. “The evidence abundantly shows that Mr. Trudeau knowingly sought to influence Ms. Wilson-Raybould both directly and through the actions of his agents.”I find all of these tactics troublingDion, a Montreal native and a retired lawyer, was named federal ethics commissioner on Jan. 9, 2018, following a nearly 40-year career with the federal government. He has worked for Corrections Canada, the justice department and the Privy Council Office, and in 2003 was appointed deputy minister of Indian Residential Schools Resolution of Canada, which worked to resolve abuse claims filed by former students.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Dion came out of retirement to serve as the commissioner of public sector integrity from 2011 to 2014, a position intended to investigate wrongdoing in the federal government and to protect whistleblowers. But he came under fire when the auditor general accused his office of “gross mismanagement” of two separate case files in 2014.He was appointed chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2015, before replacing Mary Dawson as ethics commissioner three years later.Dion’s nomination by the Liberal government in December 2017 riled the opposition parties, who claimed the process had been secretive and took place at the last minute. “It’s just ragingly incompetent and frustrating and cynical,” former NDP ethics critic Nathan Cullen said at the time. Cullen also raised concerns about Dion’s performance as public service integrity commissioner. “Are you tough, are you fair, are you a dog with a bone?” he asked. “Would you describe yourself as somebody who pursues it to the end to make sure that it happens? Because that’s the confidence that we need.”At the time, Dion would not commit to pursuing ongoing ethics investigations into the prime minister’s visit to the Aga Khan’s private island and into Morneau’s involvement in a pension reform bill, which also raised some concerns. Ultimately, Dawson completed the Aga Khan investigation before leaving the office — she found, for the first time, that Trudeau had broken conflict-of-interest rules — and Dion did pursue the Morneau investigation, but eventually cleared him. From surf clams to limousines, a not-so-comprehensive list of Liberal ethics complaints under Trudeau Six things we learned about the SNC-Lavalin affair from the ethics report Andrew Coyne: The real scandal in the Lavalin affair is Trudeau’s attempts to pretend it’s not a scandal Last fall, in a separate investigation, Dion found that former fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc was in a conflict of interest when he awarded a lucrative fishing licence to a company with links to a family member. The licence was eventually cancelled.Despite the Liberals’ confidence that the ethics commissioner would clear them of wrongdoing in the SNC-Lavalin affair, Dion has now firmly concluded that Trudeau has violated Canada’s conflict-of-interest law for a second time.Though there are no sanctions attached to his finding, Dion has previously expressed interest in considering penalties for ethics violations, which would require a change to the federal legislation. “It’s not a futile question in my view,” Dion told the Globe and Mail in January 2018, shortly after his appointment. “It needs to be considered.”He also told the newspaper that his new role would require him to be “fearless.”• Email: | Twitter: read more

Trudeau seeks to right his campaign in Toronto as Scheer heads to

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau pushed aside Friday global mockery of his decisions years ago to dress in blackface, saying he’s focused on apologizing to Canadians — including his rival, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.But images of the three times he chose to put on black- or brownface for costume events continued to flash around the world, reaching even the White House.U.S. President Donald Trump’s reaction summed up how the incidents have surprised people accustomed to seeing Trudeau as a champion of inclusivity and diversity, raising questions about whether that brand is forever tarnished.“I was hoping I wouldn’t be asked that question. … Justin. I’m surprised and I was more surprised when I saw the number of times and I’ve always had a good relationship with Justin. I just don’t know what to tell you. I was surprised by it, actually,” Trump said.Trudeau apologized profusely for the third day in a row for the incidents — one from his teens, one from his time as a whitewater rafting guide in his 20s and one when he was a teacher at a Vancouver private school. He said they were mistakes, and he did not understand at the time how racist wearing black- or brownface is.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.Former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, a Liberal, said she’s worried that the apology will fall on deaf ears around the world.“People in other countries don’t have the benefit or the access or the interest in, quite frankly, the day-to-day machinations of Canadian politics so they don’t know him as well as we do,” she said.“So they kind of had him on this pedestal, which was unrealistic and ridiculous, and now he’s fallen off that pedestal and so there’s almost even more of an oversimplification on the international stage: he was perfect and now he’s the devil.”Since the first photo emerged Wednesday night, Trudeau has been calling members of his cabinet, candidates and community leaders to try to make amends. In turn, all day Thursday, many of them were speaking out publicly, if a tad cautiously, in support of their leader.On Friday, the day after Trudeau was the butt of late-night TV jokes in the U.S. and shocked headlines around the world, Chrystia Freeland took a turn.As Trudeau’s foreign affairs minister, she has had the ears of many influential leaders and their aides around the globe.Freeland said she was troubled and disappointed by the images, calling racism and intolerance unacceptable. But she said she accepts his apology and commitment to do better.“The prime minister continues to have my full and unwavering support,” she said in the statement posted to Twitter.Trudeau said he’d also like to speak to the NDP’s Singh, who has condemned the images he saw as personally hurtful.“I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,” Trudeau said Friday at an event in Toronto.“As I have been apologizing to Canadians who have suffered discrimination and intolerance their entire lives in ways some of us like me have never had to experience on a daily basis.”Singh said he is open to having a private conversation with the Liberal leader, declining to disclose what he’d say.Where he wants to keep the focus, Singh said, is on all of the Canadians who’ve been hurt by what Trudeau did.“I’ve spoken with young people who tell me that if the prime minister can mock their reality, can mock their struggles, then what’s to stop other people from saying ‘if the prime minister can make fun of people for what they’re going through, why can’t I?’,” Singh said at an event in Windsor, Ont.The incidents made the front pages of news websites around the globe. Trudeau attracted scorn as well from prominent civil-rights advocates in the U.S., a country that has grappled with its own cases of prominent politicians having been found to have, or admitting to have, worn blackface.Trump has in the past called for Democrats outed for wearing blackface to resign, but at the same time as he supported Republicans caught in similar scandals.The U.S. has always viewed Canada as being a bit smug on issues of diversity and inclusion, said Chris Sands, director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University, based in Washington, D.C.In Trump’s eyes, this might knock Trudeau down a peg, he said.“I think this will make Trudeau look like he’s just another liberal-left opponent of Trump who preaches all the right things about minorities and diversity but is secretly not sensitive at all,” Sands said.Trudeau took a small jab at the U.S. Friday, though, in announcing his party’s marquee policy on gun control, picking up on a theme in the contentious debate in that country.Those in favour of stronger gun regulation in the U.S. have in recent years argued that it is no longer enough for politicians to respond to mass shootings by saying their “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims.And that was how Trudeau styled his campaign pledge Friday to ban assault rifles and institute stricter regulations on who can buy guns and import ammunition.“Thoughts and prayers aren’t going to cut it,” Trudeau said.He also promised to allow municipalities the right to ban handguns, a policy also advocated by the NDP.That party was shopping its policy on expanding public coverage for drugs and dental care on the campaign trail Friday, while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was also campaigning on the health-care theme, pledging $1.5 billion to buy new medical imaging equipment for facilities across the country.The Conservatives had been behind the release of a brief video documenting Trudeau wearing blackface. Their campaign received the clip and turned it over to Global News. The other two images were given directly to the media.Scheer said Friday he’s not aware of the existence of any more photos or videos. Trudeau has said he won’t say definitively there aren’t any, as he doesn’t necessarily remember everything.While Trudeau talked of a gun ban, Green Leader Elizabeth May promised a ban of her own — on the kinds of cars the vast majority of people drive. A ban on sales of new internal-combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030 is part of her party’s broader transportation strategy unveiled Friday, which seeks to get to zero-carbon transportation in Canada.People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is trying to hold onto his own seat in Quebec and spent most of Friday campaigning there, though he has a swing to Western Canada next week.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.–With files from Allison Jones in Toronto read more

Kosovo UN mission chief holds constructive talks with top Serb official

During the meeting, the two men saw representatives of the families of the missing from Gracanica and discussed ways to establish the truth about the whereabouts of all those who were still missing.On the question of detainees, Mr. Haekkerup raised the question of the Kosovo Albanians still detained in Serbia, while Mr. Covic expressed concern about the Serbs held in detention in Kosovo. Mr. Haekkerup agreed that if there were genuine grounds to review any of these cases, this would be done in accordance with normal judicial process.According to UNMIK, Mr. Haekkerup and Mr. Covic agreed on the need to encourage a higher participation in registering for the November 17 elections by Kosovo Serbs and internally displaced people in Serbia.Meanwhile, the KFOR international security force continued to patrol the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and interdict the movement of people and weapons, according to the force’s spokesman. KFOR spokesman Roy Brown told a press briefing that the force was maintaining a “strong presence” along the border – a policy that had resulted in the detention since last Friday of 149 suspected members of the ethnic-Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) who had illegally crossed into Kosovo.”We have no intention of allowing these people to utilize Kosovo as a safe haven or as a hiding place for their weapons,” he said. read more