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Magnotta pleads not guilty; will request psych evaluation
Luka Rocco Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges against him, including first-degree murder, in the death and dismemberment of 33 year old Chinese student Jun Lin.
According to the Canadian Press, he stood impassive, in a brown shirt, flanked by a guard at a police station in a different part of the city.
Magnotta’s attorney, Pierre Panaccio, is expected to request a psychiatric evaluation for Magnotta on Thursday. According to prosecutors, a psych evaluation process could take up to thirty days.
The 29 year old Scarborough, Ontario native is the prime suspect in the grisly killing of Lin some time in May. Police believe Magnotta dismembered Lin’s body, sending the hands and feet to political parties in Ottawa and to schools in Vancouver. Lin’s torso was found in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta’s apartment building.
Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthilier repeated earlier comments from police stating that finding Lin’s severed head is “very important” to the family and the case.
While it was initially thought that the head could have also been sent in the mail, a retired Ontario Provincial Police criminal profiler said it’s possible that police will never locate the final body part.
Jim Van Allen, who now heads the Behavioural Sciences Solutions Group in Vancouver, points to a European study on criminal mutilation which found that in five of 17 decapitations recorded between 1961 and 1990 in Sweden, the head was not found.
“When there’s any dismemberment, often all the parts aren’t recovered,” Van Allen, told the National Post.
“This thing isn’t totally resolved all the questions are answered, and in some major investigations, you can’t answer all the questions.”
Police hope to have some more answers in the coming days.
Coal, not oilsands, the true climate change bad guy says study
By Bob Weber, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press
One of the world’s top climate scientists has calculated that emissions from Alberta’s oilsands are unlikely to make a big difference to global warming and that the real threat to the planet comes from burning coal.
“I was surprised by the results of our analysis,” said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate modeller, who has been a lead author on two reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “I thought it was larger than it was.”
In a commentary published Sunday in the prestigious journal Nature, Weaver and colleague Neil Swart analyze how burning all global stocks of coal, oil and natural gas would affect temperatures. Their analysis breaks out unconventional gas, such as undersea methane hydrates and shale gas produced by fracking, as well as unconventional oil sources including the oilsands.
They found that if all the hydrocarbons in the oilsands were mined and consumed, the carbon dioxide released would raise global temperatures by about .36 degrees C. That’s about half the total amount of warming over the last century.
When only commercially viable oilsands deposits are considered, the temperature increase is only .03 degrees C.
In contrast, the paper concludes that burning all the globe’s vast coal deposits would create a 15-degree increase in temperature. Burning all the abundant natural gas would warm the planet by more than three degrees.
Governments around the world have agreed to try to keep warming to two degrees.
“The conventional and unconventional oil is not the problem with global warming,” Weaver said. “The problem is coal and unconventional natural gas.”
He said his analysis suggests it is an increased dependence on coal — not the oilsands — that governments have to worry about. As well, there’s so much gas in the world that it will also cause problems despite the fact it emits less carbon than oil.
“One might argue that the best strategy one might take is to use our oil reserves wisely, but at the same time use them in a way that weans us of our dependence on coal and natural gas,” Weaver said. “As we become more and more dependent on these massive reserves, we’re less and less likely to wean ourselves away from them.”
Burning all the oil in the world would only raise temperatures by less than one degree, the paper concludes.
Weaver’s analysis only accounts for emissions from burning the fuel. It doesn’t count greenhouse gases released by producing the resource because that would double-count those emissions.
He said his paper is an attempt to bring some perspective to the often-fraught debate over oilsands development, which continues to cause major concerns about the impact on land, air and water. And emissions from producing oilsands crude are making it very tough for Canada to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“We’ve heard a lot about how if we burn all the oil in the tarsands it’s going to lead to this, that and the other. We thought, ‘Well, let’s take a look at this. What is the warming potential of this area?’ and the numbers are what they are.”
He said the real message is that the world has to start limiting its use of fossil fuels.
“This idea that we’re going to somehow run out of coal and natural gas and fossil fuels is really misplaced. We’ll run out of human ability to live on the planet long before we run out of them.
“I have always said that the tarsands are a symptom of a very big problem. The problem is dependence on fossil fuels.”
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had Neil Stewart.
By Claire Sibonney | Reuters
TORONTO (Reuters) – Ontario Liberals scored a third straight victory in a provincial election in Canada’s economic center on Thursday, but fell one seat short of a majority and will need support from opposition legislators to stay in power.
The Liberals won 53 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario after a late surge in a campaign in which polls showed they started in a weak second place. The election numbers were not yet official and many individual races were very close.
This will be the first minority government in the province since the mid-1980s.
The Liberals’ took most of the seats in urban centers including the financial capital of Toronto, while the Conservatives dominated the province’s rural areas.
McGuinty highlighted his track record of steering the province, Canada’s manufacturing powerhouse, through recession with no major spending cuts.
Ontario, with a population of more than 13 million, is Canada’s most populous province. Its export-oriented economy accounts for about 40 percent of the national gross domestic product.
The Liberals lost a total of 17 seats in the election, with the Conservatives picking up 12 and the New Democrats gaining seven. There were two vacancies going into the vote.
Fifty-four seats is the slimmest possible majority for the Liberals. Being one seat short of a majority means the Liberals will need to cooperate with opposition legislators to push through their agenda.
The two opposition parties can join forces to vote them out, either by rejecting major legislation or by passing a vote of no confidence.
The race began with a call for change over public frustration with the rising debt, taxes, electricity bills and spending scandals. In the end, voters decided that boring is sometimes best with a stable McGuinty dubbed “Premier Dad.”
“It’s important that we be sober minded about the message Ontarians have sent us tonight,” McGuinty said in a bittersweet speech before a cheering crowd in Ottawa.
“Ontarians said to us, ‘We are placing our trust in you but we expect you to work even harder, listen more than ever and give us nothing but your best every day. But most of all we demand that you lead.'”
During the campaign, the Liberals promised more money for their priorities of healthcare and education.
They say they can rein in a C$16 billion deficit and ween the province off its dependency on the auto sector by investing heavily in renewable energy.
Tim Hudak, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, saw his lead disappear in the final weeks of the campaign as he scrambled to connect with voters on a platform that looked very similar to that of the Liberals, albeit with some promises to lower taxes and curb spending.
“It is very clear that the people of Ontario have put Dalton McGuinty on a much shorter leash,” Hudak told supporters at his campaign headquarters in Niagara Falls.
Negative media play about right-wing crime and punishment ideas and moves deemed anti-immigrant and homophobic also did the Conservatives few favors.
Ignatieff says he’ll step down as federal Liberal leader after historic defeat
By Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press
TORONTO – Michael Ignatieff, the professorial leader of a decimated Liberal party, is ending his tenure in politics after steering the party to a devastating electoral defeat.
Voters slashed the ranks of Liberals in the House of Commons to an all-time low as Stephen Harper‘s Conservatives vaulted to majority status.
“I will not be remaining as leader of this party,” Ignatieff told red-eyed supporters during an emotional news conference in Toronto.
“I will work out with the party officials the best timing for a departure so we can arrange for a succession in due time.”
The party that governed the country for much of the past century was reduced to just 34 seats, a distant third behind Jack Layton’s bounding New Democrats.
So complete was the Liberal loss that Ignatieff lost his own seat in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, a rarity for a federal leader.
In Ignatieff’s case, it had a lot to do with a relentless Tory campaign of attack ads that began long before the election did, portraying the Liberal leader as a disloyal opportunist and part-time Canadian.
“Of course they attacked me, of course they vilified me, of course they engaged in an absolutely unscrupulous campaign of personal attack,” he said.
People who met him in person were often surprised, he said, “because I didn’t turn out to be quite as bad as the ads portrayed me.”
“The only thing Canadians like less than a loser is a sore loser, and I go out of politics with my head held high.”
Canadians deserve better from their politics and their politicians, he added, “and I leave politics with a strong desire that Canadians are better served in future.”
Ignatieff turned up his nose at the suggestion of a merger between the Liberals and the NDP, and said he remains confident the party will recover from Monday’s loss.
“I think the surest guarantee of the future of the Liberal party ofCanada is four years of Conservative government and four years of NDP official Opposition.”
He said he intends to return to teaching “young Canadians,” one of his first passions. “No offers yet; no reasonable offers refused.”
For the last two weeks, the Liberals had pinned their electoral hopes on reinvigorating their traditional base of voters.
It was believed that an estimated 800,000 Liberals didn’t vote in 2008 and Ignatieff was counting on getting them back.
Ignatieff had gone cross-country last summer to bond with them, and the final days of his campaign were focused on a get-out-the-vote run in a much slicker and co-ordinated fashion than 2008.
He said up until Saturday morning, he thought he had them.
“It’s what I believed, it’s what I thought, it’s what I saw in our numbers,” he said. “There is a base that remains, but it is a much smaller base than I anticipated.”
He said he will consult with party officials about the timing of his departure and has asked deputy leader Ralph Goodale to convene the caucus next week to chose an interim leader.
Ignatieff was far from the only high-profile political figure who woke up today with tire tracks on their backs.
The separatist Bloc Quebecois — winner of at least half Quebec’s 75 seats in every election since 1993 — was reduced to a tiny, four-member regional rump. Leader Gilles Duceppe lost his own seat and immediately resigned.
A number of prominent Liberals also lost their seats, including hockey hall of famer Ken Dryden, former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, one-time leadership contender Gerard Kennedy, former immigration minister Joe Volpe and ex-cabinet hopeful Ruby Dhalla.
The Conservatives took 40 per cent of the vote, compared to 31 per cent for the NDP and a dismal 19 per cent for the Liberals.
The Tories return to Parliament Hill with 166 seats, a 24-seat improvement and more than enough to drive the national agenda until October 2015, when the country next goes to the polls under Harper’s fixed election date law.
The NDP almost tripled its seat count, rising to 103 MPs — including three dozen mostly unknowns from Quebec, a province where the party won its very first MP just over two years ago.
Under Liberal party rules, a leadership convention must be held within six months of the leader’s departure. A leader could be chosen by fall, Ignatieff suggested.
He said he’s hopeful that some younger successor — “I hope it’s a young woman” — will be able to restore the party’s lustre.
“I hope there will be people coming after me who look at me today and say, ‘He didn’t make it, but I will.'”
Harper says he doesn’t have an political surprises up his sleeve after majority
By The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press
CALGARY – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is assuring people he doesn’t have any political surprises up his sleeve after winning a majority government.
At a day-after news conference, a smiling, relaxed Harper stepped away from his stiff campaign style and even lifted the limits he imposed on media questions during the campaign.
He said he’s humbled by the majority mandate the voters gave his Conservatives on Monday.
He said he’s disappointed by the result in Quebec, where the party was reduced to a handful of seats in the face of unprecedented support for the NDP.
But the resulting demise of the separatist Bloc Quebecois is good news for Canada, regardless of the beneficiary, he added.
“Despite the fact that we did not make any gains, of course as a Canadian and a federalist I am encouraged by the collapse of the Bloc,” Harper said.
While the NDP played the key role in slaying the Bloc dragon, “I do think we deserve some of the credit.”
He said while the Tories lost seats in Quebec, they still have a base in the province and see room to grow.
“I am disappointed but not discouraged.”
Harper returned to the microphone twice after taking several questions, even admitting to taking a modest swig of champagne in celebration of Monday’s win.
He also sought to allay any fears of a looming hard-right agenda. He insisted Canada’s commitment to public health care is unquestioned.
“I think we’ve made it very clear that we support Canada’s system of universal public health insurance.”
He wants to co-operate with the provinces in making the health-care system better, he added. “I think we need to figure out how we can work together.”
The prime minister also suggested that he’ll stick to the platform and the last Tory budget brought down in March, and work hard to keep the public trust.
“One thing I’ve learned, surprises are generally not well received by the public,” he said.
“We will have to govern well, govern in people’s interest,” he said. “Even as a majority you have to, on an ongoing basis, keep the trust of the population.”
The Conservatives won 167 seats, while the NDP will form the official Opposition with 102. The Liberals were reduced to 34 seats, while the Bloc Quebecois is left with only four.
Harper wasn’t the only leader basking in victory today: NDP Leader Jack Layton becomes leader of the official Opposition after his party’s best showing in its history, while Green party Leader Elizabeth May won her party its first seat ever.
Among the high-profile casualties were Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, who stepped down Monday, and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who promised today to quit at a time to be decided by the party.
The Jays filed a claim for $470,854 after the high-level, high-security meetings forced the team to shift a series of games to Philadelphia, records obtained by The Canadian Press show.
The move spoiled the keenly anticipated appearance of ace Philadelphia pitcher Roy Halladay, whom the Jays traded to the Phillies during the off-season.
Downtown Toronto became a high-security zone late last June when leaders of the G20 countries met for talks, disrupting many popular events at the height of tourist season.
“It was, to put it mildly, a huge inconvenience,” said Patrick Taylor, executive producer of Toronto’s jazz festival, which has claimed $235,155 in compensation.
The festival experienced lost ticket, food and beverage sales, and spent additional money on security as demonstrators descended on the city, Taylor said. A lucrative sponsorship arrangement with a large hotel also evaporated because the rooms were needed for G20 summit participants.
Porter Airlines, which operates from a downtown airport, topped the list of claimants, seeking more than $1,110,411, according to the records released under the Access to Information Act.
The owners of the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower requested $629,375, and the National Ballet of Canada applied for $355,265 because the summit put a crimp in audience numbers.
Leaders of the G8 countries gathered last year in cottage country near Huntsville, Ont., before joining other politicians for the G20 summit in Canada’s largest city.
Security for the major events involved more than 20,000 personnel from across the country and a budget of $930 million. Steel fencing transformed Toronto’s downtown core into something resembling an armed camp.
More than 1,100 people were taken into custody and there was extensive damage to shops and vehicles during G20 protests.
The Foreign Affairs Department says a total of 411 claims were submitted by businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals due to lost revenue and unforeseen expenditures.
Several claimants, including the Blue Jays, declined to discuss their compensation applications. “We will not be making public comment on this issue,” said Jays spokesman Jay Stenhouse.
Taylor said federal officials recently went over the jazz society’s application, filed last August. “They did a very intensive review of our claim.”
The festival has yet to hear anything further.
All claims are assessed by Audit Services Canada to ensure they meet compensation criteria.
Foreign Affairs said it expected to complete work on 214 of the 411 files by late this week. “More files are being completed daily and payments are being processed to those eligible.”
The department declined to discuss the amount paid out to date. However, documents tabled in Parliament earlier this year said the total amount claimed to date was $10,656,869.
The University of Toronto‘s claim of $798,111 was recently turned down because “insufficient evidence was provided” to justify the application, says a federal letter provided to The Canadian Press by the university.
Judith Wolfson, the university’s vice-president for media relations, said the school basically had to shut down when the Ontario legislature — smack in the middle of the university’s campus — became the official G20 protest area.
“We deemed it to be unsafe for our students and faculty and staff,” Wolfson said.
It meant moving students out of residence and cancelling events, resulting in a “very significant cost.”
“We don’t have extra funds, and so we would have hoped that the federal government would have compensated us for something that was beyond our control.”
By The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the sanctions on Sunday, while calling on Gadhafi to step down.
“It is clear that the only acceptable course of action for him is to halt the bloodshed and to immediately vacate his position and his authority,” Harper said in a televised statement.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose an arms embargo on Libya and urged UN member countries to freeze the assets of Gadhafi, four of his sons and a daughter.
The council also backed a travel ban on the Gadhafi family and close associates, including leaders of the revolutionary committees accused of much of the violence against regime opponents.
Harper said Canada will go beyond the UN resolution.
“Our government will impose an asset freeze on, and a prohibition of financial transactions with the government of Libya, its institutions and agencies, including the Libyan Central Bank.
“These actions will help restrict the movement of, and access to money and weapons for those responsible for the violence against the Libyan people.”
The 192-member UN General Assembly is meeting Tuesday to vote on a UN Human Rights Council recommendation to suspend Libya from the world organization’s top human rights body.
Harper said Gadhafi has betrayed his own people.
“A government’s first and most fundamental responsibility is to protect the safety and security of its citizens. Mr. Gadhafi has bluntly violated this most basic trust. Far from protecting the Libyan people against peril, he is the root cause of the dangers they face.”
The prime minister also announced that a second C-17 aircraft has arrived in Malta, ready to help evacuate Canadians still stranded in Libya. Two C-130 Hercules aircraft will also being deployed to the region to provide additional and flexible capacity, Harper said.
“The Canadian Armed Forces in co-ordination with our allies will deploy these aircraft as circumstances permit.”
About 100 Canadians are believed to still be in Libya, most of them oil workers.
Efforts continued all weekend to contact those Canadians, Harper said.
”The emergency operation centre of the department of foreign affairs is continuing to contact registered Canadians by phone, where possible, regarding opportunities to leave the country by any possible means.”
A Canadian Forces C-17 aircraft evacuated 46 people including its diplomatic staff from Libya on Saturday.
The Conservative government has faced criticism that it has not responded quickly enough to the needs of stranded Canadians.
Other countries engaged their military to evacuate their citizens from multiple locations in Libya, including the eastern desert, where many of the oil rigs are located.
The British military, including members of its special forces, used a Hercules to fly under the Libyan radar and rescue 150 Britons and foreign nationals in a desert area on Sunday. The British government said one of the RAF Hercules aircraft appeared to have suffered minor damage from small arms fire.
Two German military planes evacuated 132 people also from the desert during a secret military mission on Saturday, landing on a private runway belonging to the Wintershall AG company.
The Liberal government decision announced Friday leaves the province’s minimum wage at $10.25 an hour, marking an end to a series of annual hikes that followed the party’s election in 2003.
“We’ve increased it, I think, seven times in seven years,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said after a speech in Oakville, Ont.
“It’s now the highest in the country.”
In fact, while Ontario’s minimum wage is highest among provinces, Nunavut leads the country at $11.00. By contrast, the $8 level in British Columbia is the lowest in the country.
McGuinty said many employers were only now recovering from the global economic downturn of the last few years, and the wage freeze would help them get back on their feet.
“We’ve just come through a terrible recession,” the premier said.
“Businesses are just beginning to grow at a very modest pace. We think that we’ve struck the appropriate balance, given the times.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour said minimum-wage earners were already struggling to cope with rising food, housing and other costs of living.
“The government is willing to give corporate tax breaks worth billions of dollars to very profitable corporations,” said federation president Sid Ryan.
“To then turn around and say to the most vulnerable in society ‘We can’t give you a modest little increase’ is a horrible decision.”
Labour Minister Charles Sousa said the provincial government would appoint a business and labour committee this fall to advise on any changes to the minimum wage for 2012.
Ontario’s minimum wage was among the lowest in Canada when the Liberals came to office in 2003. It had been frozen for nine years under the previous Conservative government at $6.85 an hour.
Anti-poverty activists warned the freeze could be a sign of austerity to come.
“It’s a severe warning to not expect much more in the province for working people and people living on social assistance,” said Cathy Crowe with the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.
“My work is seeing more and more people … working many jobs, often at minimum wage, so it’s not any help to freeze it.”
While the Opposition Tories supported the status quo, the New Democrats were critical.
“Freezing the minimum wage leaves struggling moms and dads behind,” said NDP member Cheri DiNovo.
“Hard work should be rewarded with fair pay — not with wages that keep families well below the poverty line.”
DiNovo cited Statistics Canada figures that show a full-time minimum wage earner in a large city falls $6,000 below the low-income cut-off line.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business warned earlier this week that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs.
Ryan said no credible studies support the view that a higher minimum wage costs jobs.
The head of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce said he supported the freeze.
“Minimum wage is an issue for us,” John Sawyer said.
“Given the economic times and from what I’m hearing from our members, yes, [a freeze is good].”
The challenge was brought by two Toronto men — Peter Styrsky and Shahrooz Kharaghani — who are reverends in a group called the Church of the Universe.
The men allegedly sold pot to undercover police officers in 2006. They are facing charges of marijuana trafficking and their case is due back in court Feb. 21. The amount of pot sold was small and the officers buying it were posing as members of the church.
The church uses the drug as a sacrament and argues the law infringes on their freedom of religion rights under the charter.
Prosecutors, however, had argued that allowing the church’s application would effectively legalize marijuana, as others facing drug charges would claim a religious right as well.
In a decision released Monday, Justice Thea Herman of Ontario‘s Superior Court found that the church deserves protection under the charter as a religious group, even though some “may view the beliefs of the applicants and other members of the Church of the Universe as absurd.”
However, she ruled that Section 1 of the charter poses a reasonable limit on that religious freedom, particularly when it comes to trafficking the drug. She ruled that distributing marijuana is not an activity that deserves protection as a religious freedom.
“I do not accept that providing cannabis to people in the basement … was a religious act,” she wrote. “They may well believe that providing [marijuana] to others is a good thing to do. That does not, however, transform its distribution into a religious belief or practice.”
She also ruled that providing a legal exemption for those who use marijuana for religious purposes is “not feasible” due to “the difficulties in identifying both the religious user and the religious use of cannabis.
“The proposed institution of a system of state inquiries into people’s religious beliefs has the potential to undermine the value we place on freedom of religion rather than promote it.”
Styrsky said he is considering an appeal of Monday’s decision.
“I think the judge said that we do have the right to use it. She just didn’t know how to implement it for us,” said Styrsky.
On its website, the church refers to marijuana as God’s “Tree of Life” and that God’s children have a right to use it as a sacrament in “their lives and worship.”
“Church members are encouraged to surround themselves with the holy Tree of Life, not just inhaling it, but wearing it, growing it, writing on it, eating it, etc.,” the site reads.