Tag Archives: canada
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.
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.”
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.
I’ve been meaning to share my two cents on this story for quite some time. I was hesitant at first because my views on the matter are slightly controversial. I would also like to add that my opinion of the Toronto police officers has been tainted ever since the G20 Summit and their abusive treatment of the citizens of this great city.
Sgt. Ryan Russell attempted to stop a man in a stolen snow-plow that was causing havoc throughout the city. He was unable to subdue both the vehicle and the individual driving, and died as a consequence. This event was headline news for a few days and Sgt. Russell was hailed as a hero by his peers and by the media.
When I understood the details of the story I reserved the right to call him a hero and considered a lot of other factors. I asked why he tried to do this on his lonesome, what the police procedures would be in such a scenario and why wasn’t something more concrete put in place in order to avoid tragedy. Nevertheless, the sad and horrific death of Sgt. Russell was the end result and now we all must deal with the aftermath.
My criticism towards the situation is simple. Sgt. Russell has left behind a wife and child. Who is to care for them? Days after the tragedy, the feeling was that the entire city would care for them, but when the dust settles I suspect they will be forgotten like many others who were hailed in such a light in the past. Secondly, Sgt. Russell funeral price tag was a cool quarter million, covered by yours truly, the tax payers. I’m not sure how I feel about that just yet, but I was not consulted on the matter and I think neither were you.
It’s easy to say that Sgt. Russell was overzealous in trying to apprehend the out of control plow. Perhaps he was following instructions, perhaps his own intuition. I don’t want to demean his actions because whether successful or not, his motive was noble. He was trying to do his job – protect and serve. In that sense, yes he is a hero, but maybe if the police department had been better organised and prepared, the headlines would have been different and slightly more positive.
One last thought….who determines our worth?
…Canada is still an active force in the ‘fight against terror’, and our soldiers are in the line of fire every day. Some make it, some do not. Where is their hero’s welcome? I would say that the role of a soldier is comparable to that of a police officer; in fact I would say that it’s probably more dangerous. So why do they not get the same treatment?
I have spoken to a lot of people on the matter and most have a reserved opinion. They do not want to sound harsh and cold hearted, but many have similar views as my own.
Is Sgt. Russell a hero? Do you think the funeral costs are justified? Should that money have gone to a trust fund for the family instead? Please let me know what you guys think. Any comment is appreciated and valued.
Who gave the G20 Commander his Commands?
An excellent piece from theRealNews.com that raises a lot of important questions surrounding the G20 Summit.
Immigrants wanted: foreign workers will help pay pensions, Conference Board say
By Sunny Freeman, The Canadian Press
TORONTO – Canada will have to increase the number of immigrants allowed into the country by about 100,000 per year and boost productivity to help pay for pensions, the Conference Board of Canada’s chief economist said Tuesday.
The government will have to implement an immigration policy to grow the workforce to increase the number of workers making pension contributions and help offset the retirement of the baby boomers, Glen Hodgson told an audience at the Board’s 2010 Summit on the Future of Pensions.
Hodgson predicted slow labour force growth in the coming decades, means there will be fewer workers contributing to pension plans, but more retirees drawing from them.
“As all the boomers get ready to retire, as we look to new entrants, we won’t have any where near the same numbers of entrants from the born in Canada population,” he said.
“We’ll have fewer workers coming in to feed the system… that’s going to suck the life out of our economy. Slower labour force growth means slower economic growth.”
Governments and the business world are struggling to head off a potential crisis borne of an aging workforce that is not putting aside enough for retirement.
Currently about 250,000 immigrants are allowed to enter Canada every year. As an older population and smaller families become the norm, immigrants will be the only source of population growth in Canada at some time around 2030, Hodgson said.
While immigration alone will not reverse Canada’s aging trend, it will help keep population growth stable at around one per cent per year. As a result, immigration will be the dominant source of labour force growth in the future, Hodgson said.
Governments will need to implement policies that boost productivity, including developing an integrated immigration policy, investing in a more skilled workforce, and increasing the labour force by encouraging older people to work longer, he added.
While the recession took a toll on many people’s pensions, a survey conducted by the Conference Board earlier this year found that the economic downturn did not significantly affect the age at which Canadians plan to retire, Hodgson said. Only one person in three said the recession made them think about delaying retirement.
The average retirement age in Canada is exceptionally low, he said, but Canada should aim to avoid measures taken across Europe and Japan to raise the age at which workers can access government-sponsored retirement plans.
Hodgson said he favours a voluntary supplement to the CPP, in which enrolment would be automatic for all people with no corporate pension plans, with a choice to opt out.
But moves toward that approach were shot down by Alberta’s finance minister at a pension summit in that province Tuesday.
Ted Morton said Alberta would rather see an “incremental” approach that would allow governments make a few regulatory changes to give financial institutions more leeway to encourage people to save.