New Delhi: The government on Tuesday introduced the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill and the Code on Wages Bill in Lok Sabha, a move opposed by the opposition which demanded that the proposed legislations be sent to a standing committee for scrutiny.The proposed Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019, would enhance the coverage of workers manifold and also merge 13 central labour laws into a single code which would apply to all establishments employing 10 or more workers. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The proposed code enhances coverage of workers manifold as it would be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more workers, where any industry, trade, business, manufacture or occupation is carried on, including IT establishments or establishments of service sector. The Code on Wages Bill seeks to subsume existing laws related to workers’ remuneration and enables the Centre to fix minimum wages for the entire country. The Code on Wages is one of the four codes that would subsume 44 labour laws with certain amendments to improve the ease of doing business and attract investment for spurring growth. Opposing the introduction of the bill, Adhir Ranjan Chowdury, Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, said this is a big issue and the bill has to be sent to a standing committee for scrutiny. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KHe said it will be a “grave injustice” if the bill is not sent to a parliamentary panel for scrutiny. It also needs allocation of more time for discussion, Chowdhury added. RSP’s N K Premachandran and Saugata Roy also demanded that the bills be sent to parliamentary panels for scrutiny as their passage will have large scale ramifications. Responding to queries, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code was sent to the Standing Committee during the last Lok Sabha. Gangwar said the legislations have been drafted after consulting 13 workers’ organisations and he will try to assuage concerns raised by the members. On opposition to the introduction of the bill, especially The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code 2019 Bill, Gangwar said let the bill be introduced and the House can take a call later.
Montreal: Heavily armed police with tracker dogs were searching a remote and densely forested area of northern Canada where a pair of teens wanted in three murders are thought to be holed up. Canadians Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, are sought in the murders of Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend, Chynna Deese. The pair have also been charged with the second-degree murder of a third person, identified by police as Leonard Dyck. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USAll the victims were discovered in northern British Columbia earlier this month, but the suspects have now been tracked three provinces and hundreds of miles (kilometers) away to the northern Manitoba town of Gillam, police said. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have sent “a significant amount of resources” to the Gillam area, including tracker dogs, air surveillance, emergency response teams and crisis negotiators, spokeswoman Julie Courchaine said Thursday. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls”We believe they are still in the area,” Courchaine said, citing two separate sightings of the suspects in the Gillam area. Television footage showed heavily armed officers in camouflage with dogs combing the woods and searching vehicles at road checkpoints. In an interview with Canadian Press, Schmegelsky’s father said his son was deeply troubled and “(wanted) his pain to end.” “He’s on a suicide mission… he’s going to be dead today or tomorrow,” Alan Schmegelsky said of his son, explaining Bryer never recovered emotionally from his parents’ divorce in 2005. “Rest in peace, Bryer. I love you,” said the older Schmegelsky, in tears.
Mumbai: Anurag Kashyap has deleted his official Twitter account and the filmmaker said he decided to leave the microblogging site because his parents and daughter were receiving threats. The director, who has been one of the most vocal Bollywood celebrities on social media, said if he is not free to speak his mind on the platform he would rather leave it. “When your parents start to get calls and your daughter gets online threats you know that no one wants to talk.There isn’t going to be reason or rationale. Thugs will rule and thuggery will be the new way of life. Congratulations everyone on this new India and hope you all thrive. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka “Wish you all the happiness and success. This would be my last tweet as i leave twitter. When i won’t be allowed to speak my mind without fear then i would rather not speak at all. Goodbye” Kashyap wrote in his last Twitter post. On the work front, the director is looking forward to the premiere of “Sacred Games 2” and is busy with the production of his next featuring Saiyami Kher and Malayalam actor Roshan Mathew.
Washington: President Donald Trump on Friday released a photograph of an apparently failed Iranian rocket launch and said that the United States had nothing to do with it. Tehran has made no official comment on the indications from aerial photos that a rocket exploded Thursday on the launch pad at the Semnan Space Center in northern Iran. But Trump tweeted a high-resolution picture of the location, with annotations pointing to damaged vehicles and the launch gantry, saying it involved Iran’s Safir satellite rocket. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US The incident comes after months of tensions between Iran and Washington. Trump last year unilaterally withdrew from the landmark 2015 international deal that placed limits on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, and he reimposed crippling financial penalties. “The United States of America was not involved in the catastrophic accident during final launch preparations for the Safir SLV Launch at Semnan Launch Site One in Iran,” Trump said in a tweet. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential polls Publicly available satellite photos also show what appears to have been the rocket’s explosion on its launch pad. Tehran was believed to have been planning a third attempt to loft a satellite into space, after two launches in January and February failed to place satellites in orbit. Iran’s Minister for Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi rejected reports that a satellite had been lost, but did not comment on the alleged launch-pad explosion. “Apparently there were reports that the third attempt to put the satellite in orbit were unsuccessful. In fact, Nahid 1 is alright, and is right now in the laboratory. Reporters can come visit the laboratory, too. #transparency,” he tweeted. Azari Jahromi later posted a selfie of him in what appeared to be a laboratory alongside some equipment, tweeting: “Me & Nahid I right now, Good Morning Donald Trump!” Washington keeps a close eye on Iranian space activities as an indicator of advances in its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs. Iran says its rocket program is for civilian use in space. However, because the rockets use similar technology to long-range ballistic missiles, Washington eyes the country’s activities skeptically. Earlier this week satellite photographs from Planet Labs had shown that a fresh coat of blue paint had been added to the launch pad at the Imam Khomeini Space Port, part of the Semnan Center, suggesting a launch was in preparation. Photographs taken on Thursday showed the paint scorched off of half of the pad. But the commercial photographs showed none of the detail that Trump’s did. Intelligence experts said Trump may have exposed a previously unknown level of resolution US spy satellites have achieved, or that, somehow, US intelligence was able to get a closer shot of the launch site from an overflying aircraft. Shadows and glare on Trump’s picture suggested it was a snapshot of the original taken with a cellphone, presumably in a secure environment like the White House Situation Room, which has multiple video screens for intelligence briefings. CNBC reported that a defense official confirmed the photo of the launch pad was included in Friday’s White House intelligence briefing. Speaking to reporters late Friday, Trump said he had the authority to release the picture. “They had a big problem,” he said of Iran’s launch. “We had a photo and I released it, which I had a right to do.” Allison Puccioni, an imagery specialist at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, said on Twitter that such resolution is not available to people in the open-source, or public intelligence community. “The dissemination of this image seems out-of-step with the US policy regarding its publication of such data. Not sure what the political objective of dissemination was,” she said. The New York Times reported this week that the US staged a secret cyberattack in June against a database used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to plot attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, the latest in an ongoing cyberconflict between the US and Iran.
New Delhi: In a move to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Fit India Movement, the New Delhi Municipal Council on Sunday evening held a “Yoga for Fit India” event at the Amphitheatre Central Park in Connaught Place here. Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, RK Sinha was at the event and emphasised the importance of keeping a healthy diet and continuous exercise, including yoga in leading a fit and healthy life.NDMC Secretary Rashmi Singh said that the council strives to promote the mental and physical health of its citizens by organising such outreach events, adding that the Council will organise a series of such outreach programmes on “Fit India Movement” at different locations like parks, gardens and schools of New Delhi area with support of experts from different fields. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderA facial yoga practitioner, Mansi Gulati, was also at the event and explained the importance of “Face Yoga” while Acharya Vikramaditya from the Vivekananda Naturopathy Centre presented “Instant Yog” and connected the different positions with the daily routine of life. Underlining the importance of Fit India Movement, Sharad Tripathi, an Ex-Lok Sabha MP applauded the NDMC’s efforts to be the first civic body of the capital city to organise such events after the PM launched the initiative. Bihar MLA Rameshwar Chaurasia was also at the event along with eminent Punjabi singer, Daler Mehndi, who just earlier this year joined the BJP.
VANCOUVER – Nearly 2,700 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes in British Columbia’s southern Interior as officials warn of flooding due to extremely heavy snowpacks, sudden downpours and unseasonably warm temperatures.Chris Marsh, emergency operations centre director and program manager for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, said there has been “significant flooding” in the eastern area of the region.“Over the last 24 to 36 hours we’ve experienced significant rainfall, up to 50 millimetres in some spots and in some of the drainages in this area, and that’s caused the rivers to rise significantly over the past 24 hours,” Marsh said Thursday.Frances Maika of the regional district said the flood is “in the range” of a once in a 200 year occurrence.Evacuation orders were issued Thursday for the about 1,500 properties covering a large area along the Granby, Kettle and West Kettle rivers, as well as in the Carmi region, 80 kilometres southeast of Kelowna.Officials in Osoyoos declared a state of emergency Thursday evening due to the “imminent threat of flooding and rising lake levels.” They also ordered the Coast Hotel to be evacuated due to an “immediate danger to life and safety.”Marsh said there have been washouts on smaller streams and tributaries in the region as well, isolating residents on some properties.Marsh said they expected water levels to peak Thursday evening, adding that different parts of the district could see bodies of water swell between 30 and 100 centimetres.“If you are thinking you’re safe because you haven’t flooded before, but you are seeing the water come up, please make sure you’re safe and that you make the decision timely enough to evacuate yourself if you need to.”Jessica Mace of the Kettle River Watershed Authority said volunteers arrived in downtown Grand Forks from across the area to help business owners and residents.“It’s been truly amazing,” she said. “I was just downtown and there are tons of people down there helping all the businesses sand bag their places as best they can.”Mace and Maika said volunteers had filled almost 30,000 of the 120,000 sandbags that went out.“Many businesses are starting to donate food,” said Mace. “People are very happy to see food show up.”Residents under evacuation order are being directed to reception centres in Grand Forks and Midway, but Maika said the surge of water should pass quickly.“In the next 24 hours, we are going to see the peak in some areas but then people have to respond to what has happened. The recovery is going to be an active process,” she said.The EmergencyInfoBC website, which provides information during provincial emergencies, lists evacuation orders or alerts in seven regional districts and for seven First Nations around the province.The province also encouraged local governments and First Nations communities along the lower Fraser River to prepare for potential flooding as it experiences high flow rates. Average temperatures in the region have been five degrees above normal for the last two weeks, and higher temperatures are forecast for next week, it said in a news release.The Central Okanagan’s emergency response centre said there had been localized flood and record creek flows in the area including Kelowna. Mission Creek reached a record flow rate overnight on Wednesday, the centre said, and dikes, sand bags and tiger dams were able to contain the flow.— By Spencer Harwood and Beth Leighton in Vancouver
MIRAMICHI, N.B. – The case of two Halifax men charged with assaulting Dennis Oland in a New Brunswick prison has been delayed yet again.Convicted killer Cody Alexander Muise and Aaron Marriott, who was convicted in a 2008 drug shooting, allegedly attacked Oland at Atlantic Institution in Renous, N.B., on July 31 of last year.The two appeared briefly in Miramichi provincial court by video link from Renous Thursday, but the case was adjourned until May 25 to enter a plea and elect type of trial.Oland had been jailed for 10 months after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in the 2011 bludgeoning of his multi-millionaire father, businessman Richard Oland.The 48-year-old Saint John financial planner was released on bail in October after a court overturned his murder conviction and ordered a new trial.Muise was convicted of first-degree murder for killing Brandon Hatcher in December 2010 in a gun battle in suburban Halifax, and is serving a life sentence.Marriott was sentenced to 15 years for a 2008 drug shooting outside the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
TORONTO – No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot in Saturday night’s Lotto 649 draw.However, the guaranteed $1 million prize was claimed by a ticket holder in Ontario.The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on May 10 will grow to approximately $30 million.
WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. – The BC Wildfire Service says a $1,150 ticket for violating a campfire ban was issued after an investigation involving workers from the department.Media reports say a photo circulating on Facebook earlier this summer showed a group of five people, four of whom appear to be wearing wildfire service jackets, standing around a campfire in the B.C. Interior.The photo has since been taken down.Wildfire Service spokesman Kevin Skrepnek says two investigations were launched after the photo came to light.He says one investigation is an internal human resources matter that won’t be made public.The second investigation into potential infractions of the Wildfire Act led to the ticket and three warnings being issued.
TORONTO – Kids and teens should not drink sports or energy drinks, the Canadian Paediatric Society says in a new position released Tuesday that takes a stand against the sugary beverages.Dr. Catherine Pound, co-author of the statement and a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, says caffeinated energy drinks in particular can pose serious health risks and are unnecessary for most young people.“I wouldn’t recommend them for anybody that fits our target population, which is anyone between the ages of zero and 18,” said Pound, noting that one can of energy drink contains more caffeine than the regular type of brewed coffee.Too much can be deadly, as apparently was the case of a South Carolina teen who collapsed April 26 after downing an energy drink, a large pop and a cafe latte within a two-hour span.Davis Cripe had no pre-existing heart condition but likely died from a caffeine-induced heart arrhythmia, said the local coroner.The Canadian Paediatric Society had no official position on the use of energy and sports drinks at the time, however had suggested young non-athletes avoid them.It now explicitly makes the case against both caffeinated energy drinks and non-caffeinated sports drinks among youth, suggesting there are very few who would need such stimulants.“A lot of people believe they’re essential as part of rehydration for sports. But what we’re finding is actually they’re not — water is ideal for rehydration in sport,” said Pound, adding that doctors should routinely screen for their use.“Only in the very specific subset of the population will they be useful and that’s the population of children that will perform very vigorous activity for over an hour or in very hot and humid weather.”The other danger is mixing energy drinks with alcohol, said Pound, adding that those who do so tend to participate in high-risk behaviour such as illicit drug use.Caffeinated energy drinks claim to boost energy, reduce fatigue and improve concentration. The amount of caffeine typically exceeds Health Canada’s maximum daily intake for kids.Pound cautioned against side effects, which include difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety, heart rhythm abnormalities, vomiting and diarrhea.Sports drinks, which contain a mixture of sugars and electrolytes, are often marketed as fluid replacements during sports or vigorous physical activity.But statement co-author Becky Blair, a member of Dietitians of Canada, said these drinks contribute to obesity and dental cavities.“It’s just really an extra source of calories for children that they don’t need,” said Blair, who’d like to see legislation ban marketing of caffeinated energy drinks to adolescents, in addition to existing restrictions that protect children under the age of 12.“All they really need for hydration is just drinking water and eating a balanced diet.”The trade association representing companies that make and distribute most of Canada’s non-alcoholic beverages countered that its members are committed to guidelines that prevent marketing anything other than juice, milk and water to children.The Canadian Beverage Association also said sports drinks are not intended to replace water as a source of hydration and that its energy drink companies “are committed to responsibly manufacturing, marketing, and labelling energy drinks in full accordance with Health Canada’s requirements.”Nevertheless, Pound said it’s worth considering an even tougher stand against energy drinks, musing on the value of restricting use to adults, like alcohol: “I don’t think it would be a bad idea at all.”The American Academy of Pediatrics came out against kids and youth using energy drinks in 2011.
EDMONTON – Conservationists are mourning the death of a female grizzly bear that had been moved from a popular area west of Calgary this summer to a remote park in northwest Alberta.Stephen Legault of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative said Bear 148 was shot by a hunter on Sunday after wandering into British Columbia from its new home.Legault said the bear was just becoming old enough to have cubs.“What is really sad is that we have lost the potential that this grizzly bear represented for the further recovery of the threatened species in Alberta,” he said Wednesday.He noted that grizzly bears are often killed after being struck on highways and by trains.“The fact that this bear was killed by a hunter illustrates the fact that there are many threats to these animals.”The B.C. government plans to ban the killing of grizzly bears for trophy, but not until after this hunting season.Parks Canada and the Alberta government later confirmed the death of Bear 148.“This outcome underlines the need for more collaboration across jurisdictions to co-ordinate wildlife and people management at a landscape level,” Parks Canada said in an email.Bear 148 was moved in July from its range near Banff and Canmore, Alta., to Kakwa Wildland Park.The bear never hurt anyone but had gotten too close to people dozens of times since it was born in the Banff National Park area six years ago.Over the summer the grizzly strayed onto a rugby field during a practice, charged a person walking with a stroller and chased dogs out for a walk with their owners.Murray Langdon, spokesman for Alberta’s Environment and Parks, said staff did what they could to help the bear survive but had to move it to protect public safety.“Our top priority is to keep Albertans safe and out of harm’s way,” he said in an email. “Environment and Parks staff members worked hard to provide the best chance of this bear’s survival given its history.”Legault said the relocation of Bear 148 and its death near McBride, B.C., shows how difficult it is to protect grizzlies even in wilderness areas.“The situation reflects the need to conserve grizzly bears on a larger landscape scale, beyond park boundaries,” he said.Legault said more needs to be done to limit development and growth in popular areas such as Canmore.
FRONT OF YONGE TOWNSHIP, Ont. – Police say an Ottawa-area woman is facing charges for allegedly driving 60 km/h under the speed limit on Highway 401 in eastern Ontario.Ontario Provincial Police say they received numerous calls Wednesday night about an eastbound car travelling at 40 km/h in Front of Yonge Township, about 25 kilometres west of Brockville.They say the callers said the car was in the fast lane with its high beams on.OPP made several attempts to get the driver to pull onto the right shoulder, but eventually had to make a tandem stop with cruisers at the front and rear of the vehicle to move it off the highway.They say the driver told officers she believed the speed limit was 50 km/h.A 47-year-old woman is charged with unnecessary slow driving, failing to obey signs and not having an insurance card.
MONTREAL – Once thought of as a distant fantasy, autonomous trucks are moving towards commercial reality on Canadian highways as companies look to boost productivity amid a driver shortage and governments seek to reduce deadly crashes.They are not yet driving themselves out of warehouses and down the highways, but companies of all sizes —including General Motors, Google and Uber — are testing out the technology.Already a banner year in self-driving advancements — including the first on-street test of an autonomous vehicle in Canada — interest in the sector picked up in the closing months of 2017 after Tesla Inc. showcased a fully electric semi-trailer truck equipped with semi-autonomous technology including enhanced autopilot, automated braking and lane departure warnings.Toronto trucking firm Fortigo Freight joined Loblaws and Walmart Canada in each pre-ordering Tesla semis, the $232,000 electric truck set to be delivered in 2019 that holds the promise of eventually becoming autonomous.Despite his company’s investment, Fortigo president Elias Demangos isn’t holding his breath for widespread adoption in the next decade.While the vehicles are ideally suited for corridors, such as Canada’s busiest route between Montreal and Windsor, Demangos believes drivers will still be needed for short-haul services or to pick up and deliver goods.Estimates on how far away we are from a driverless future vary widely, but completely driverless trucks are already being used far from traffic, on remote resource properties.Suncor Energy is testing them at its oilsands operations in Alberta, while Rio Tinto is expanding their deployment at its iron ore mines in Australia.Rapid advances in technology are “revolutionizing” the way large-scale mining is undertaken around the globe, said Chris Salisbury, head of the mining giant’s iron ore division.Transport Minister Marc Garneau travelled in October to Tesla’s headquarters in Silicon Valley as part of his push to study safety and privacy issues associated with automated technologies to inform regulations his government plans to craft.He has asked a standing senate committee on transport and communications to study regulatory and technical issues related to the deployment of automated commercial vehicles, which have to potential to improve the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of Canada’s transportation system. The committee is expected to deliver a full report in January.“There are significant policy, technical, and operational issues that will need to be addressed in the coming years before fully automated trucks are common on Canadian roads,” said government spokeswoman Delphine Denis.The Canadian association representing the trucking industry — where autonomous technology could make the jobs of nearly 300,000 Canadians obsolete — recently urged the committee to avoid even referring to the technology as autonomous, much less driverless, preferring “advanced driver systems.”The group acknowledges there is a long-term threat to trucking jobs that the recent census said is the leading employer of Canadian men, but insists that is unlikely to happen during the careers of existing drivers and may even help to attract young people to the profession.“The majority of Canadians are skeptical and rightfully so, of having 80,000 pound commercial vehicles driving without human intervention alongside the highway beside them,” said Marco Beghetto, vice-president of communications for the Canadian Trucking Alliance.”The new modern high-tech truck will introduce many changes to our industry, but the constant will still be the driver, even if the role of the job evolves with the technology,” he told senators.The International Transport Forum, an intergovernmental think-tank, however, estimated that more than half of the 6.4 million driver jobs needed globally in 2030 could become redundant if driverless trucks are deployed quickly.Automating the trucking industry will be more efficient because it will cut labour costs by 40 per cent trucks can operate for longer hours, said Paul Godsmark, chief technology officer at the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence.Godsmark said a similar transport revolution occurred a century ago when cars replaced horse and carriage.“When something better comes along we adjust pretty quick and if it only took 13 years to adjust 100 years ago, how much quicker will be adapt this time around?”Automation advocates argue that removing human drivers from the road will increase safety.Currently, about 10 per cent of all crashes the Ontario Provincial Police get called to involve a commercial vehicle.While driver error is typically responsible for about one-third of incidents, a spike this year pushed that up to 65 per cent, Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the highway safety division said after a fiery crash killed three people on the Highway 400 north of Toronto in early November.However, confirming the efficacy of self-driving vehicles across many different driving conditions could be a challenge because autonomous systems don’t respond the same way as human drivers.They react to patterns they’ve seen in the past and can’t make the choice between avoiding a small child or wild animal crossing the road on their own.A group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is gathering human input into the type of ethical dilemma such machines will face.Participants are asked decide, for instance, whether a self-driving vehicle with brake failure should continue straight killing a woman, a baby, a criminal and a cat; or swerve, resulting in the death of a girl, a pregnant woman, a dog and a baby.While autonomous trucks will never be totally safe, such “live or die choices” are very rare, said Godsmark.Rapid advancements in self-driving technology will allow the system to react more quickly than the best human driver, he added.“The expectation is if we get all of that right there will be a lot fewer crashes.”
BANFF, Alta. – The Town of Banff is grappling with unique challenges before this year’s legalization of recreational pot.With a reputation as a place to get a “Rocky Mountain high” and with a large international tourist base, the small mountain town is already on the radar for retailers.“We are unique in terms of our fixed land base and very limited amount of commercial space, and the fact that we have very unique town purposes as a national park community — to serve as a visitor service centre … and provide a range of services for those people,” said Randall McKay, Banff’s director of planning and development.Officials expect to craft rules about where pot could legally be consumed within the townsite and where cannabis-based businesses could be located.McKay said it will be up to town council to decide whether to allow the new businesses, but added there’s already a lot interest from retailers who would like to set up shop.If council allows it, he said, it will be a delicate balance to ensure the town’s small retail district doesn’t become a “green mile” with cannabis stores.“My initial thought is there needs to be some type of separation and process for deciding where these types of stores should be located,” he said. “We certainly know there’s going to be market demand, or all the evidence points to that.”McKay said Banff could look at a different approach than the one it uses for regulating liquor stores. There are 12 storefronts in the four-square-kilometre retail district.In addition to deciding where cannabis retailers will be allowed to open and where it will be OK to use it, officials are also working to establish definitions for storefronts and related businesses.Those details are expected in the coming weeks. A bylaw is expected to be in place before the federal government legalizes cannabis this summer.Any changes to the town’s bylaws need to be approved by Parks Canada.— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton. With files from CHQR
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – We’ll soon know exactly how many small-town Newfoundlanders have become instant millionaires with a history-making Lotto Max jackpot.The massive $60 million windfall is expected to inject big money into multiple rural Conception Bay-area communities about an hour’s drive from St. John’s.“If one person won it, it would be like ‘Oh, that’s too much money for one person,’” said John Smith, executive director of the Conception Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.“It’ll definitely spread the wealth out among a bunch of different communities, depending how they want to use it. It’s a huge, positive thing.”The Atlantic Lottery Corporation said Monday it will confirm within 24 hours just how many winners there are.Corporation spokeswoman Tracy Shute said the last members of the winning group were interviewed Monday as a security process wraps up. If all goes smoothly, an official announcement will likely happen later this week.“We’ll introduce the group and tell you some of their stories about the wonderful things they’re going to do with this money,” she said in an interview.Shute did not confirm the total number who will share the biggest jackpot yet in Atlantic Canada and one of the top five ever in Canada.She said the ticket for Friday night’s draw was bought somewhere on the Avalon Peninsula but would not reveal any other details.Social media is abuzz with reports the jackpot will be shared by about 30 construction workers who live in small towns that have felt the brunt of recent economic swings. Newfoundland and Labrador was hit particularly hard when the oil price crash starting in 2014 drained crucial revenues from the provincial treasury.Several major construction projects started winding down around the same time, including components of the Hebron offshore oil platform built at the Bull Arm fabrication site.Shute said the historic win could be a “fantastic” infusion of cash in a province that can certainly use it.“It’s really something.”Smith said Monday he’s hearing the jackpot involves winners who live in small communities including Avondale, Conception Bay South, Holyrood, Bellevue and Come By Chance.“This is a nice good story, about $1.8 million per person. It’s such a nest egg and security,” he said from Conception Bay South.Lloyd Parrott, the general manager of PTL Services, which has a contract with North Atlantic Refining in Come By Chance, N.L., according to its website, said in a weekend text message “we are very happy for all of the workers.” Parrott said he had no further comment at this time.Lynn Hindy of local clothing store Universal Corporate Wear said it’s one of those dream-come-true stories everyone can appreciate.“A lot of people are delighted with the fact that it was a group of hard-working individuals who won the money,” she said in an interview.“Certainly when there’s a win in these types of communities it’s also going to help (them) financially.“Now the families will have some extra income to support local businesses.”Hindy laughed, saying she and her co-workers also buy group lottery tickets and will continue to do so.“There’s hope that one of these days maybe we’ll be winners of a grand prize.”They have every reason to dream.The three previous record Atlantic Canada jackpots of $30 million were all won in Newfoundland and Labrador, said Shute: “Placentia, Conception Bay South and Labrador City.”Follow @suebailey on Twitter.
VANCOUVER – A $1.6 billion contract has been awarded for construction of the Site C hydroelectric dam in northeastern British Columbia, just three months after the province’s NDP government reluctantly allowed the megaproject to continue.BC Hydro says the contract has been awarded to Aecon-Flatiron-Dragados-EBC Partnership to build the dam’s generating station and spillways, with work beginning this spring.The Crown corporation overseeing the development near Fort St. John says the contract for the powerhouse, penstocks, spillways and power intakes involves pouring the equivalent of 280 Olympic-sized swimming pools of concrete, as well as installation of enough rebar to build nearly five Eiffel towers.The utility says the two spillways alone are 17-storeys high and five highway-lanes wide, making the contract the project’s second-largest, just under the $1.75 billion contract inked in 2015 with Peace River Hydro Partners for the dam’s foundation and other civil works.Two separate contracts, worth a total of $56 million, have gone to a Nanaimo-based company for construction of the Site C substation and to a Quebec-based firm that will supply the bridge and gantry cranes for the generating station and spillways powerhouse.Hydro says in a news release that the partnership awarded the $1.6 billion contract expects to hire as many as 1,600 workers by the peak of construction in 2021 and has agreed to give priority to Indigenous applicants and those from northeastern B.C.Premier John Horgan’s government announced in December that it had no alternative but to complete Site C rather than absorb the $4 billion cost of scrapping it.At the time, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a Facebook post that the approval was the most difficult decision of her career and she was “grieving the loss of agricultural land in the flood zone of Site C.”The dam, the third across the Peace River, will flood an 83-kilometre stretch of valley west of Fort St. John.It was originally estimated to cost $8.3 billion, but Friday’s contract announcement from Hydro projects a revised budget of $10.7 billion.When complete, BC Hydro estimates Site C will provide enough power to heat and light as many as 450,000 homes a year.
The latest alleged victim of accused serial killer Bruce McArthur was a Sri Lankan asylum seeker who fled his war-ravaged country in hopes of building a better life for himself in Canada, those who knew him said Tuesday.Friends and lawyers confirmed that Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam was one of 492 Sri Lankan Tamils aboard the MV Sun Sea, a dilapidated cargo vessel that reached the coast of British Columbia in 2010 after a harrowing six-week voyage.Friends suggested Kanagaratnam led a lonely life after his arrival in Canada, travelling to Toronto to connect with some distant relatives and ultimately having his claim for refugee status denied.Dinsan Vanniyasingam, a fellow MV Sun Sea passenger, said news of his friend’s death felt particularly cruel when contrasted with the optimism that marked the start of their sojourn in Canada.“I am so shocked,” Vanniyasingam said in a telephone interview. “We came to Canada, we were so happy because we were in a safe place … Why this have to happen again and again?”Vanniyasingam knew little about Kanagaratnam’s background before he boarded the Sun Sea, but said he emerged as a well-liked and welcome presence on the crowded boat.Describing his friend as innocent, trusting and helpful, he said Kanagaratnam could often be found singing songs and playing cards with his fellow passengers.That more outgoing streak, however, may have been more evident to his fellow migrants.Gabriel Chand, a Vancouver-based lawyer who helped many of the Sun Sea passengers with their refugee claims, got to know Kanagaratnam somewhat before his departure for Toronto but did not shepherd his application through the system.“I just remember him being a quiet, to-himself guy,” Chand said. “He wasn’t one of the loud ones, he wasn’t one of the boisterous ones.”Details are murky about the five years Kanagaratnam spent in Canada.Vanniyasingam did not know what drew Kanagaratnam east to Toronto, but said he had some distant relatives in the area.While many of the Sun Sea travellers kept in touch, he said Kanagaratnam did not appear to be in regular contact after moving to the city.Vanniyasingam said his own last interaction with his friend took place in 2014 when the men ran into each other at an east Toronto shopping mall.The brief exchange yielded a piece of information that, for Vanniyasingam, shed some light on why his later disappearance may have gone unnoticed.“He said he was struggling with his immigration status,” Vanniyasingam said of his friend, adding that he was planning to reapply.Vanniyasingam said it’s not unusual for people to lie low while their status is under review, so he was not surprised not to see him around the community in the following years.Over the past eight months, however, Vanniyasingam said he heard rumours that Kanagaratnam’s family had begun actively searching for him via Facebook posts and other online outreach efforts.By then, however, Toronto police have confirmed it was too late.Det. Sgt. Hank Idsinga announced on Monday that Kanagaratnam was slain some time between early September and mid December 2015, alleging that McArthur, a 66-year-old self-employed landscaper, was responsible for his death.Kanagaratnam’s remains were among seven recovered from planters at a central Toronto property where McArthur, who is facing eight counts of first-degree murder, once worked.Police struggled to identify him, taking the unusual step of releasing a heavily edited image taken when he was dead in hopes the public could put a name to the face.Idsinga said police had been whittling down a list of 22 potential identities, but said Kanagaratnam’s name was not among them. He said he was ultimately identified with help from an undisclosed international agency.Vanniyasingam, for his part, said he did not recognize his friend from the police photo.Kanagaratnam was 37 at the time of his death, making him the youngest of McArthur’s alleged victims.Police allege McArthur primarily preyed upon men with ties to Toronto’s LGBTQ community and a downtown neighbourhood known as the gay village, but said Kanagaratnam’s death appears to deviate from that pattern.Idsinga said investigators have not uncovered any ties to the city’s LGBTQ scene, adding that he was never formally reported missing in Canada.For Chand, that disclosure was particularly poignant.Numbers from the Immigration and Refugee Board indicate that 64 per cent of Sun Sea passengers with finalized refugee claims have been accepted into Canada.Chand can’t help but wonder if a more favourable immigration outcome for Kanagaratnam would have granted him a different fate.“Had he won, he probably would have been around friends,” he said. “No one reported him missing. What a lonely way to go.”
HAMILTON – A homeowner’s assertion that his training as a military reservist prompted him to head outside into the frigid darkness and shoot dead a man trying to steal his truck makes little sense, his murder trial heard Tuesday.Testifying in his own defence, Peter Khill agreed he could have stayed in his bedroom and called police — but instead chose to go barefoot into the February night in a T-shirt and boxers, armed with a loaded Remington shotgun.“It was instinctive,” Khill, 28, told prosecutor Steve O’Brien.“Regardless of your allegedly instinctive reaction, you’re a civilian,” O’Brien said. “Everybody knows about 911. You pick up the phone and call the cops.”“That’s one option, yes.”Within seconds of stepping outside, Jon Styres, 29, a father of two, lay dying in the muck next to Khill’s 15-year-old truck.Khill, who lives in a semi-rural area a few kilometres from the edge of Hamilton, testified how his now-wife alerted him in the early hours of Feb. 4, 2016, to the possibility of intruders.He said he got up and went to the bedroom window, where he noticed the radio light of his truck in the driveway was on. He said he wondered who was out there, if they were armed.“It was a real-life threat assessment,” Khill said. “I felt that I was being threatened and I felt that I was not in control of the situation.”Khill admits to gunning down Styres, of Ohsweken, Ont., on the Six Nations reserve about 30 minutes away, but has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.He said he didn’t call 911 because he was worried someone could get into the house within seconds.Khill said his reservist training was still very much “relevant” to his life and certain triggers or situations could bring on aspects of what he had learned, an assertion O’Brien said he found hard to believe.Calling 911 was the “obviously reasonable thing” to do, O’Brien said in repeatedly challenging Khill on why he had acted the way he did. The victim could have been a wayward teenager, not an armed insurgent, the prosecutor said.“I thought my response was reasonable as well,” Khill insisted.At one point during his testimony, a distressed woman sitting with Styres’s relatives left the court and could be heard wailing from the hallway.Khill recounted coming around the back of the 2001 truck he had bought for $2,900, saying he could only make out a silhouette in the darkness leaning into the cab through the open passenger door.“I basically said in a loud voice, ‘Hey, hands up’,” he testified, yelling loudly in the courtroom at his lawyer’s request, and again later at O’Brien’s request.He said the person backed away from the vehicle, turned toward him, and appeared to point something at him which he took for a weapon.“It was a life and death situation,” Khill said. “I raised my shotgun, took it off safe. I fired at the centre of mass.”O’Brien said it was more likely Khill had startled Styres.“The moment he started to move, you shot him,” O’Brien said.“Soon as I thought he had a gun, I shot him,” Khill said.After the shooting, Khill said he went inside to put down the gun, then went back out and tried to save the gasping man lying in the muck by the driveway, while his partner called police.The case bears some similarities to the killing of an Indigenous man in Saskatchewan by a white farmer, who was recently acquitted.In his opening statement, lawyer Jeffrey Manishen told the jury the case was about self-defence.“It was not a matter of going outside to shoot; it was not a matter of going outside to protect a truck,” he told Superior Court.Manishen said jurors needed to focus on what Khill believed at the time, and would have to decide whether he acted reasonably.Walter Sroka, a former reservist with 56 Field Regiment, testified military training is based on repetition.“You do it so much that you don’t have to think about what you’re doing,” Sroka said.Sroka said soldiers are taught to aim at the “centre of mass” — the upper torso — and to fire at least twice to neutralize a target.Jurors have heard one shotgun blast from Khill hit Styres square in the middle of the chest; the other hit him in the back of the shoulder before entering his chest.The trial will hear legal arguments without the jury present on Wednesday.
VANCOUVER – A Vancouver restaurant manager has been fired for refusing to serve a customer who was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.The slogan popularized by U.S. President Donald Trump in his 2016 campaign has been embroidered on bright red baseball caps that have become an emblem of his supporters.Eva Gates, vice president of operations and human resources for the Sequoia Company of Restaurants, says the capped patron was sitting on the patio at Vancouver’s Teahouse in Stanley Park on Tuesday when the floor manager approached him.Gates says the manager told the man he had to take off his hat in order to dine at the Teahouse. The patron opted to leave the restaurant instead.The Teahouse’s website identifies the manager as Darin Hodge.In a statement, Hodge says he hasn’t changed his mind about his decision.“I stand by my decision to ask the patron to remove his hat. The MAGA hat has come to symbolize racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, misogyny, white supremacy, homophobia. As a person with a strong moral backbone, I had to take a stand against this guest’s choice of headwear while in my former place of work,” he wrote.Gates said that while that’s one interpretation of the “Make America Great Again” phrase, there are other ways to look at it.“That’s somebody’s interpretation, we don’t see it that way. Everyone’s got a different interpretation of what that means,” she said.Gates said Hodge was fired with cause on Thursday because the incident violated the company’s anti-discrimination policy and also because Hodge posted about it on social media before having a planned conversation with upper management about it.“Our company policy and values are that we don’t (allow) discrimination of any kind,” Gates said, noting that includes discrimination based on political ideology.Employment lawyer Lia Moody said it’s an interesting case.If Sequoia had a policy in place that spoke to inclusivity and the grounds on which service could be denied, then the company would be within its rights to fire the manager with cause, she said.If not, she said Hodge would not be in breach of any company policy — although it could still fire him without cause and pay him severance.“In situations like this, determining whether or not the employee has committed a ‘fireable offence,’ which could give the company the right to terminate without paying severance, comes down to whether the employee did something illegal or did something contrary to company policy,” Moody said.It’s not illegal to refuse service on the basis of political beliefs, she added.She warned that in the age of social media, employees should consider how what they post to social media could affect their employment, since employers can always terminate their employees so long as it’s not discriminatory.“An employer can always terminate you. And employers these days, with the age of social media and everything being out there in public, they’re so quick to run away from anything that even smells like controversy. So that’s where, as an employee you need to be careful what you do both on the job and off the job,” she said.
WATERTON, Alta. – Significant rainfall on Monday was enough to lift an evacuation alert sparked by a wildfire near Waterton Lakes National Park in southwestern Alberta.Parks Canada spokesman John Stoesser says the area received 32 millimetres of rain, which is sufficient to rescind the alert that was issued last week.“It absolutely is very nice to hear the sound of raindrops coming down. It helps immensely,” said Stoesser.“Enough has fallen for Parks Canada to be able to lift the evacuation alert which was issued for Waterton Lakes National Park.”The 860-hectare blaze remains entirely on the U.S. side of the border in Glacier National Park, about seven kilometres away. Stoesser said the area isn’t out of the woods yet.“The fire does remain active. This hasn’t extinguished the fire,” Stoesser said.“We will continue to work closely with Glacier National Park and the other partnering agencies to manage this wildfire, to protect the key infrastructure and resources in the area but we are happy to say some areas have opened back up.”Stoesser says despite the evacuation alert, the park’s townsite was still quite busy.Waterton was devastated by a wildfire last September which consumed more than 190 square kilometres within the park and led to a two-week mandatory evacuation.Stoesser said that is still fresh in the minds of both park residents and staff.“The community had a really great event last weekend commemorating the Kenow wildfire from last year,” he said.“It was interesting to have that happening at the same time as this incident.”Note to readers: This is a corrected story. Parks Canada originally said there had been 18 millimetres of rain.