London: Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on his election victory, discussing a range of issues including the G20 Summit in Japan next month and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England.In her conversation with Prime Minister Modi on Saturday, she praised India’s democratic exercise and processes, a Downing Street spokesperson said. May announced her resignation as the Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister on Friday as a leadership contest triggered in Brexit-hit Britain. She will formally step down on June 7, after a three-day state visit to the UK by US President Donald Trump. “The Prime Minister (May) spoke to India’s PM Narendra Modi to congratulate him on his success in the election. “The leaders agreed that the election was a significant exercise in democracy and that the authorities should be commended for delivering it so efficiently,” the spokesperson said. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoCPrime Minister Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party to a landmark victory for a second five-year term in office, winning 303 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. “They also discussed the upcoming Cricket World Cup which the UK will host in June and July, and the passion for the sport that is shared between our two countries. “Both leaders looked forward to continuing the close cooperation between our countries, including at the G20 Summit in Osaka next month,” the spokesperson said. PTI
Jaipur: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday rejected the resignation of state Minister Lal Chand Kataria who had resigned a few days back taking moral responsibility for the Congress party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections in his constituency by over one lakh votes. Rejecting his resignation, Gehlot said that at the time when the election results have not been in favour of the Congress, the moral responsibility of party members increases to unitedly face the challenges ahead and contribute in providing good governance in Rajasthan. Also Read – Pak activated 20 terror camps & 20 launch pads along LoC “In the past, you have rendered your duty as a Union Minister, also you have been MLA many times and hence your experience shall benefit the state,” he said. Kataria had reportedly resigned as state Agriculture Minister, citing the rout of the party in the Lok Sabha elections. In a press release, Kataria said he had sent his resignation to the Governor through Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who has come under attack from Congress President Rahul Gandhi after the Congress failed to win even a single seat in Rajasthan. Also Read – Two squadrons which participated in Balakot airstrike awarded citations However, the offices of neither the Chief Minister nor the Governor could confirm that Kataria had quit. Kataria himself could not be reached on telephone to confirm if he had resigned. However, on Friday, Kataria confirmed that he had gone to Uttarakhand after submitting his resignation. His press release, which had gone viral on social media, said he considered it morally inappropriate to continue as minister after the party’s defeat. “This resignation should not be connected to any other factor,” he said, adding he would remain a member of the Assembly and continue to articulate people’s grievances.
Kathmandu: Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli has extended an invitation to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for a visit to his country and strengthen bilateral relations through regular exchange of visits. Oli was on a two-day visit to New Delhi along with leaders of other BIMSTEC countries to take part in Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on Thursday as the country’s prime minister for the second term. Besides India, BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. Also Read – ‘Hong Kong won’t rule out Chinese help over protests’ According to the statement by the Nepal foreign ministry, Modi has accepted the invitation. Oli, who returned to Nepal on Friday, also met Modi during the visit where the two leaders expressed commitment to take bilateral relations to a new height. “He (Oli) extended best wishes for the successful tenure of Modi,” the statement said. “Both prime ministers expressed happiness over the progress made in Nepal-India relations under their respective leadership,” it added. The two leaders underlined the importance of regular exchange of high-level visits between the two countries in order to further strengthen bilateral ties and advance cooperation in all possible areas for the mutual benefits of the two countries, the statement said. During his first term in office, Modi visited Nepal twice in 2014- in August for a bilateral visit and in November for the SAARC Summit.
New Delhi: Taking serious note of alleged governance lapses at InterGlobe Aviation, the government will examine related party transactions as well as shareholder and other agreements, a senior official said. The promoters of the company — Rakesh Gangwal and Rahul Bhatia — are locked in a bitter battle over corporate governance issues, with Gangwal complaining to markets regulator Sebi and seeking its intervention to address the issues. Against this backdrop, the corporate affairs ministry has decided to examine whether memorandum, articles, agreements and resolutions are in consonance with the Companies Act, the official said. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepIn case violations are found, the ministry might invoke its powers under Section 6 of the Companies Act, 2013, he added. Section 6 provides powers to override any memorandum, articles, agreements or resolutions passed at general meeting or by the board of directors in case they violate norms. According to the official, the ministry would also ask the company to give “para-wise comments” on Gangwal’s complaint filed with Sebi and marked to the ministry. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsThe related party transactions would also be looked into by the ministry, the official added. InterGlobe Aviation is the parent of IndiGo, the country’s largest airline. The carrier has more than 200 planes and operates around 1,400 flights daily. On Friday, Bhatia’s group said that InterGlobe Aviation is well run, financially sound and managed by a competent set of managers as it termed Gangwal’s allegations as much ado about nothing. Flagging concerns about certain questionable related party transactions (RPTs), Gangwal had alleged that shareholders’ agreement provides his long-time friend Bhatia unusual controlling rights over IndiGo. “Beyond just questionable related party transactions, various fundamental governance norms and laws are not being adhered to and this is inevitably going to lead to unfortunate outcomes, unless effective measures are taken today,” he had said in the letter to Sebi. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas, among others. Gangwal and his affiliates have around 37 per cent stake in InterGlobe Aviation while Bhatia and his affiliates (IGE Group) have about 38 per cent. On Thursday, officials said there are indications about violations of corporate governance, fair market trade and insider trading rules and Sebi needs to probe role of each and every entity associated with all board members and promoter-linked entities.
NEW DELHI: Crime Branch of Delhi Police has busted a drug supply racket and arrested a 32-year-old man identified as Karan Khanna, a resident of Mehrauli. He indulged in supplying of imported Marijuana, Marijuana oil and Malana cream Charas in Delhi and NCR. Drugs worth nearly Rs 29 lakh has been recovered from his possession. The team laid a trap near Tivoli Garden Mehrauli and apprehended one person namely Karan Khanna. During the search, 1.2 kilograms charas, along with one THC Shatter (500 MG Cannabis oil) and imported California weed (1gm) was recovered. Also Read – Bangla Sahib Gurudwara bans use of all types of plastic itemsThe accused told police that he fell in bad company and started taking drugs. He started procuring charas (Malana cream) from Himachal Pradesh and then supplying the same to his friends as his friends were organising private parties in farm houses of South Delhi. Later on, his brother also joined his nefarious activities and both of them started supplying of narcotics substance in rave parties which were organised in farmhouses. Both of them were regular party mongers and used to organise their own parties also. For this purpose, they have taken two farmhouses on rent in the isolated area of Mehrauli and Fatehpur Beri. His brother came in contact of the suppliers of imported narcotic substance dealers as he was having foreign customers. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderThe recovered substance was to be delivered on the directions of his brother. Both brothers fell in bad company as they were regular in the rave parties organised in farmhouses of South Delhi. Later on, they have taken farmhouse on rent in an isolated area of Mehrauli and Fatehpur Beri area and started hosting private parties. “They have become famous in the party circle and he started procuring imported narcotic substance which is made available to the guest in the party. Invitation to the party is strictly on the basis of reference by the friends and no outsider is allowed to join the party. They used a Duster SUV so that no one suspects them of supplying drugs,” said DCP Crime Ram Gopal Naik.
New Delhi: The average cost of data breach in India grew 7.29 per cent year-over-year to reach Rs 12.8 crore from Rs 11.9 crore last year, said a new study by IBM on Tuesday. Per capita cost per lost or stolen record reached Rs 5,019, which represents an increase of 9.76 per cent from the prior year, said the “Cost of a Data Breach” report. The root cause for 51 per cent of data breaches was malicious or criminal attacks, system glitches contributed to 27 per cent of breaches and human error led to 22 per cent of breaches in India, the findings showed. Also Read – Swiggy now in 500 Indian cities, targets 100 more this year “India is witnessing a significant change in the nature of cyber-crimes, it is now extremely organised and collaborative,” Vaidyanathan Iyer, Security Software Leader, IBM India/South Asia, said in a statement. “Organisations need to significantly invest in three core areas when it comes to cyber security — risk assessment based on business objectives, cognitive threat management and ensuring digital trust,” Iyer added. The findings are based on in-depth interviews with more than 500 companies around the world that suffered a breach over the past year. Also Read – New HP Pavilion x360 notebook with in-built Alexa in India The study also examined the cost of data breaches in different industries and regions, finding that data breaches in the US are vastly more expensive – costing $8.19 million, or more than double the average for worldwide companies in the study. Costs for data breaches in the U.S. increased by 130 per cent over the past 14 years of the study; up from $3.54 million in the 2006 study. For the ninth year in a row, healthcare organisations had the highest cost of a breach – nearly $6.5 million on average – over 60 per cent more than other industries in the study.
It was a star stuffed affair at the premier of Taranjiet Singh Namdhari’s documentary ‘Sangeet – Saroop – Satgur’ which showcases the work done by Satguru Jagjit Singhji in mobilising every youngster from a village called Bhaini Saheb in Punjab to learn classical music for 100 years. Present at the premiere was current master of the Namdharis – Satguru Uday Singhji along with Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma among others.The documentary portrays impact of music and a 100-year-old legacy. Narrated through incidents by industry stalwarts who have promoted and catalyzed the process by imparting their knowledge to village children, filmmaker Taranjiet Singh Namdhari depicts one of the most astounding stories of a true patron of classical music. Also Read – An income drop can harm brain”Very few maestros have had such an impact on our generation in all spheres of life – on music, on spirituality or on life in general – educating everyone as to how they can lead an ideal life specially though the field of music. The blessings that Satguru ji gave us artists cannot be found in another parallel in this life or era of ours”, said Ustad Zakir Hussain. “Satguruji’s efforts will be written in the annals of history with gold. His rhythmic play of the tarab on the Dilruba was incomparable”, said Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma AwardSatguru Jagjit Singh was one of the biggest patrons of classical music in India and his love and dedication for it has inspired many a musician around the world. He believed that learning classical music everyday instills a certain discipline and focus in an individual, which is necessary right from childhood. As a young adult, he made it compulsory for all children in Bhaini Sahib to learn classical music. The current master of the Namdharis – Satguru Uday Singh, has taken forward the tradition with equal vigour after Satguru Jagjit Singh passed away in 2012. From Bismillah Khan, Kishan Maharaj and Vilayat Khan to Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Amjad Ali Khan, the tradition has attracted many a music maestro to Bhaini Sahib to impart their knowledge to the children. The documentary is a musical journey that discovers the hidden gems of Bhaini Sahib, and the mesmerising story of Satguru Jagjit Singh that has remained untold. Sangeet – Saroop – Satgur premiered in Mumbai on July 26, 2019.
NEW DELHI: Shortly after the Rajya Sabha passed the Triple Talaq Bill amid protests from the opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday took to Twitter to celebrate the elimination of an “archaic and medieval practice” plaguing women belonging to the country’s Muslim community. “An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!” PM Modi said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The Prime Minister also expressed his gratitude to those who had helped push the controversial bill through the upper house. “I thank all parties and MPs who have supported the passage of The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill-2019 in both Houses of Parliament. They have risen to the occasion and this step of theirs will forever be remembered in India’s history,” he tweeted. The bill, which sought to end the practice of Muslim men instantly divorcing their wives by uttering the word “talaq” thrice, saw stiff opposition when it was presented in the Rajya Sabha. But many of the parties that opposed it — including Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, AIADMK and K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi — ended up aiding the bill’s passage. While the AIADMK and Nitish Kumar’s party walked out, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi abstained from voting — bringing down the majority mark. Several opposition lawmakers also gave the vote a miss. The list of absentees included Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, four lawmakers from the Congress and two from the Samajwadi Party. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KThe bill was eventually passed with 99 votes in its favour and 84 against. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who tabled the bill, said: “Today is a historic day. Both the Houses have given justice to the Muslim women. This is the beginning of a transforming India.” The smooth passage of a second contentious bill within a week marked a change in the government’s fortunes in the upper house, where it is still in a minority. Last week, the controversial amendment to the landmark Right to Information Act also made it through the upper house with issue-based support from non-aligned parties such as the TRS, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress.
Bhopal: BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur on Monday said the Opposition is using a ‘marak shakti’ (killing power) to harm BJP leaders, adding the ‘evil power’ was behind the recent deaths of former Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj. BJP veteran Arun Jaitley died on August 24 and Swaraj on August 6. “While I was contesting (Lok Sabha) elections, a Maharaj ji told me that bad times are upon us and Opposition is up to something using some ‘marak shakti’ against BJP. I later forgot what he said but now when I see our top leaders leaving us one by one, I am forced to think, wasn’t Maharaj ji right?” the BJP MP said. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details She was addressing a condolence meeting at the state BJP office to pay tributes to Jaitley and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Babulal Gaur. The latter died on August 20. Pragya said she forgot what the Maharaj told her as she was in a crowd and moving. “But now, when I see our top leaders Sushma ji, Babulal ji, Jaitley ji leaving us one by one after undergoing pain, I am forced to think, wasn’t it (what Maharaj said) right? It is true that our leadership is leaving us untimely,” the BJP MP, not a stranger to controversial remarks, said. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday She refused to talk on this issue when reporters asked about her remarks. Pragya, who defeated Congress leader Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, has made many such controversial remarks and had to apologise for some of them. She was issued a show cause notice by the BJP ahead of the elections for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot. Pragya had also claimed that the then Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks due to her “curse”.
WASHINGTON – High-profile supporters of Donald Trump have begun attacking the independent investigator looking into the Russia affair, raising the question of whether the president could indeed attempt to fire him.The sound of sharpening knives echoed everwhere Monday.Several Trump-supporting media figures called for Robert Mueller to be fired; a Trump friend said the president was actually considering it; a Trump lawyer wouldn’t rule it out; a conservative newspaper suggested Mueller faces a conflict of interest; and a top Trump surrogate accused him of partisan bias.A Trump friend who was spotted visiting the White House on Monday later told a PBS interviewer that the president was indeed mulling over firing Mueller. Online news mogul Chris Ruddy said: “I think he’s weighing that option… I personally think it would be a very significant mistake.”Others sounded more enthusiastic about dropping the axe. Newt Gingrich, who is close to Trump, tweeted: “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring. Check (political donation) reports. Time to rethink.”Gingrich is correct that there is a certain partisan tilt to the team of top-notch investigators being assembled by the ex-FBI director: Jeannie Rhee, Michael Dreeben, Andrew Weissmann and James Quarles are renowned in their fields and have made repeated donations to Democrats.Firebrand pundit Ann Coulter urged the government to fire Mueller. She said the counsel was now pointless, as it’s become clear Trump wasn’t an initial target of the Russia investigation, which may now be expanding into new areas.Another talk-radio Trump booster, Laura Ingraham, who was rumoured to have been considered for a White House position, directed her followers to a story in a conservative newspaper that suggests Mueller might be tainted.The piece in the Washington Examiner points out his years-long friendship with a key witness, whose testimony will be especially important if the probe morphs into an obstruction-of-justice investigation into the president. That witness: James Comey, who replaced Mueller as FBI director.A senior political writer for the newspaper sounded the alarm in a piece titled, “Is Robert Mueller conflicted in Trump probe?” It put the question to five lawyers who shared their assessments, anonymously. Two called the friendship with Comey improper, but manageable; two called it serious; one called it a non-issue.This apparent effort to lay the groundwork for Mueller’s firing raises a key question: Could the president do it?The answer is yes.So says someone who helped craft the special-counsel law. Neal Katyal spelled out three ways to thwart this kind of criminal probe in a Washington Post piece titled, “Trump or Congress can still block Robert Mueller. I know. I wrote the rules.”He explained how reforms were prompted by the never-ending, ever-expanding probe into Bill Clinton, which began with an examination of land trades in Arkansas and ended in an impeachment and national drama over Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.The government let the old independent-counsel law expire in 1999 — at that point even Clinton’s tormentor, investigator Kenneth Starr, suggested the law needed to change. Policy-makers created new limits on the investigator’s power and placed it under the accountability of the government.Enter the current law.“First, most simply, Trump could order Mueller fired,” Katyal said. He said the president could ask his attorney general or, because Jeff Sessions has recused himself, ask his deputy attorney general, a civil servant, Rod Rosenstein, to do it. He said Trump could even order the special-counsel regulations repealed and fire Mueller himself.“Either of those actions was unthinkable to us back in 1999 … At the same time, after Trump’s firing of … Comey … many things once thought beyond the realm of possibility look less so now.”Second, he said Congress could muck up Mueller’s investigation. It could give immunity to witnesses at public hearings, increasing the chance that subsequent court cases collapse as prosecutors struggle to prove they didn’t get any help from the exempted testimony.Third, he said, Rosenstein could also re-define the scope and powers of the investigation.A writer on the legal blog Lawfare said the president could even argue that the counsel is impeding his constitutional power over foreign affairs. In fact, Trump has already argued that all these controversies are hampering his ability to repair relations with Russia.On the other hand, it would cause a political storm, said the writer.“Such an action would incur a severe political cost,” wrote Josh Blackman, associate professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston. “The termination of Mueller would amount to an admission of guilt and obstruction of justice. The fallout from the firing of Mueller would likely be as explosive as (Richard Nixon’s) firing of special counsel Archibald Cox in 1973.”One of Trump’s lawyers refused to rule out a firing.Asked about it on ABC this weekend, Jay Sekulow said that if there were a serious basis for it, the president would be allowed: “Whether he would do it is ultimately a decision the president makes.”A poll last month by Harvard-Harris suggested 75 per cent of Americans wanted a special prosecutor. That appeared to include Gingrich, who until recently expressed support for Mueller’s appointment on the grounds that it would alleviate pressure in the Russia affair.Given that kind of support, a Democratic lawmaker, Ted Lieu, taunted the White House over the Mueller-firing chatter: “Double dare exists. But is there such a thing as an ‘infinite dare’? If so, I infinite dare (Trump) to fire the special counsel,” he tweeted.
OTTAWA – Canada’s top court won’t hear an appeal from two B.C. First Nations worried that construction of an $8.8-billion hydro-electric dam would violate their constitutionally protected treaty rights.Prophet River First Nation and West Moberly First Nation have been fighting the B.C. government in court for more than two years, hoping to halt construction of the Site C project.After losses at both the provincial court and Federal Court level, the Supreme Court refused to grant the First Nations leave to appeal.Site C will flood more than 5,500 hectares of land along the Peace River in northeast B.C., creating an 83-kilometre-long reservoir and providing enough power to light up 450,000 homes a year.Project construction started in the summer of 2015 and is scheduled for completion in 2024.A review of the project concluded that there would be significant adverse environmental effects, impacting indigenous treaty rights in the area, but the previous Conservative government ruled it was justified.
REGINA – Catherine McKay’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when she drove into a car carrying the Van de Vorst family in January 2016, killing a couple and their two young children.Now, Saskatchewan’s Crown-owned insurance company is suing two Saskatoon bars that served McKay alcohol.“She was three times over the limit and no one prevented her from driving. Someone has to be responsible, and as a result of no one doing that, there was a family of four that was killed,” Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said Thursday.“There’s a legal obligation to make sure your patrons are safe and they don’t harm themselves or someone else.”McKay was driving an SUV that struck the Van de Vorst family’s car as it crossed a highway just north of Saskatoon on Jan. 3, 2016.Jordan Van de Vorst, who was 34, and his 33-year-old wife, Chanda Van de Vorst, died at the scene. Their five-year-old daughter, Kamryn, and her two-year-old brother, Miguire, died in hospital.McKay was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death.Saskatchewan Government Insurance, known as SGI, has filed a statement of claim against the bars, Industrial Kitchen & Bar and Crackers Licensed Cocktail & Dining Room.The claim alleges that each tavern overserved McKay and knew or ought to have known she was impaired. The lawsuit alleges the taverns allowed McKay to drive away without taking action.It also states that the Industrial Kitchen and Lounge Corporation was aware that McKay frequently consumed alcohol at the business to the point of becoming impaired.“I’m not going to say what the bars should have done. I’m going to say the bars, in this case, could have prevented this had someone intervened,” said Cameron.“Three times over the legal limit, I think you can tell. Let’s not sugar-coat this. Three times.”Cameron said bars have training and rules to follow when it comes to serving alcohol and “this is a case where this person left the bar clearly intoxicated.”The phone number for Industrial Kitchen & Bar was no longer in service and a link to the restaurant’s website redirected to a different restaurant.Sean Cunningham, the owner of Crackers restaurant, said Thursday that he and partners bought the business in August 2016 — months after McKay was served and the fatal crash occurred.Cunningham said he’s contacted SGI about the lawsuit.“I believe it should be under the previous owner. At this time right now, I’m not sure if it is,” he said.Cameron said SGI also plans to file a suit against McKay.This is the first time SGI has filed such a claim, but similar suits have been filed in other parts of the country.Earlier this year, a British Columbia court found that a man convicted of drunk driving and the pub that served him were jointly responsible for a crash that left pedestrian with brain damage.The SGI suit seeks $95,000.When asked what he hoped the suit would accomplish, Cameron choked back tears and said: “Ultimately, no more accidents like this one.”Lou Van de Vorst, Jordan’s father, said he hopes this lawsuit sends a message that bars need to be more accountable for their actions.“It’s just a very good thing,” Van de Vorst told radio station CKRM.“I think it will make liquor or establishments that serve alcohol take a second look at what they’re doing, if they’re overserving or if they’re serving people who are obviously impaired.”Saskatchewan has some of the highest rates of impaired driving in Canada. Statistics Canada says there were 683 police-reported impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population in Saskatchewan in 2011. The Canadian average was 262.SGI says alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all fatal traffic collisions in the province.
CALGARY – Alberta’s newly annointed conservative leader is wasting little time in pursuing his desire to go head-to-head with NDP Premier Rachel Notley.Less than 24 hours after winning 61 per cent of the vote in the fledgling United Conservative Party leadership – former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney already has a Calgary riding in which he can try to get a seat in the legislature.Dave Rodney, the longtime member for Calgary Lougheed, announced he would be stepping down this week to make room for the Kenney. Rodney was the last member who served in former Premier Ralph Klein’s government.Kenney told a news conference on Sunday that it’s his responsibility to try to contest a byelection.“There is a constitutional responsibility for the opposition to be prepared to be an alternative government and the leader needs to be there,” Kenney said at a Sunday afternoon news conference.“I look forward to my first conversation with Premier Notley. I’m confident she will respect the long standing Westminster Parliamentary Convention of calling a byelection without delay when there is a party leader seeking entry to the legislature.”Kenney said he doesn’t intend to micromanage the UCP agenda during the legislative session that begins this week.But he also doesn’t intend to waste an opportunity to get fully involved in the political process. Kenney said if a seat hadn’t become available he would have been content doing the “heavy lifting” required to grow the party and recruit what he calls an “A team” of strong, diverse candidates.Kenney said the UCP’s founding convention is scheduled for May 4, 5 and 6 of next year in Red Deer, Alta.He isn’t worried that the party will get caught off guard by an early election call by the NDP government.“This NDP government knows that they are living on borrowed time. They’re ideological true believers and they value every single day they have to try to change the province and try to recreate it in their political image,” he said.“I cannot see them voluntarily giving up a single day of power because of their ideological drive to remake Alberta in their own image.”Kenney isn’t worried that a lack of a party platform will hurt the UCP in his byelection or with Albertans. He said he has already indicated he will kill the provincial carbon tax, reduce spending and restart the Alberta economy.There will be no nomination meetings, other than his in Calgary Lougheed, before the founding convention next year.Kenney said he has made it clear that the UCP will not fall into the trap of taking anything for granted despite polls showing the party with a massive advantage over the NDP. He said it will also remain humble after the former PC government that was defeated by the NDP in 2015 was accused of being arrogant.“If we work hard, stay humble and earn every vote we will ensure this NDP government is one and done. There is no guaranteed election outcome,” Kenney said.“I’m confident but we’re not going to take anything for granted.”Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
MONTREAL – Wildlife officials in Quebec appealed to the public this week as they probed the suspected poaching death of an endangered caribou on the province’s Gaspe peninsula.An estimated 74 animals now remain in Gaspe’s depleted woodland caribou herd after the animal’s carcass was found in late October, Paul Montpetit of Quebec’s Wildlife Department said.A citizen discovered the remains near the Cascapedia River on Oct 26. and alerted wildlife officials, who arrived two days later, Montpetit said.Upon arrival, they found an animal that was gutted but otherwise mostly intact, with neither its antlers nor its hide removed.“Were the suspects disturbed in their actions?” Montpetit said in a phone interview. “That’s the question we’re asking.”It is forbidden to hunt Gaspe’s woodland caribou, which have been listed on the province’s threatened species list since 2009.An aerial survey of the animals conducted last year pegged its population at 75.Their low numbers are explained mainly by high mortality due to predation, habitat loss and a shortage of breeding adults, according to a government report published last year.Montpetit said anyone who is charged with deliberately killing the protected species could face a fine of up to $20,000.But for the moment, investigators are in the dark about the culprit’s motives.“Was it a mistake? An accidental slaughter?” Montpetit asked. “As we speak, there could be many possibilities, and it’s all speculation.”The department posted photos and a description online this week, encouraging witnesses to contact their local Wildlife Department office or to leave an anonymous tip on the government’s anti-poaching line.Montpetit declined to say whether the investigation has yielded any useful clues.“That’s a good question,” he said, “but I’m keeping that to myself for the moment.”Alain Poitras, the president of the regional chapter of the provincial hunting and fishing association, said it is the first time he has heard of one of the endangered animals being poached in his 15 years with the organization.He said hunters “are really not happy” about the news, noting the organization has worked with the Quebec government on preservation efforts.“We’re not looking at a herd of 20,000,” he said. “We’re looking at a herd of 74 that has already been under protection for many years.”Poitras said it is possible a hunter mistook the caribou for a deer, but that would be unusual given where the carcass was found.“What we find odd is that the area where the poaching occurred, there normally aren’t any deer around there,” he said. “It’s a moose area, not a deer area.” And he said no hunter would mistake a caribou for a moose.Poitras said responsible hunters are opposed to poaching, and he’s encouraging anyone, hunter or not, to report any suspicious activity in the area.
OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government will soon bring in legislation to provide pardons for anyone convicted of pot possession before the drug’s legalization last year.Goodale said on Twitter he is going to put the House of Commons on notice that a bill will soon be introduced to provide “no-cost, expedited pardons for simple possession of cannabis.”The notice is a procedural requirement for the government to introduce new legislation.The details of the bill won’t be revealed until the legislation is officially presented to the House of Commons, which could occur as early as the end of this week.But the Liberals have already telegraphed what they plan do.In October, Goodale said the legislation would waive the application fee and five-year waiting period for Canadians seeking pardons for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana — an offence that was punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail.But he dismissed at the time the idea of expunging criminal records, even though the Liberals legalized recreational cannabis use, because expungement was reserved for cases of past injustice involving charter rights violations.A pardon, or record suspension, means a person’s criminal record is separated from other records and is only disclosed in limited circumstances.So while a pardon doesn’t erase a record completely, it can make it easier to get a job or travel.In December, the Commons began debating a private member’s bill from NDP MP Murray Rankin that would expunge criminal records for what he said were 500,000 Canadians with convictions for simple possession.He warned that without help from the Liberals, his bill likely wouldn’t pass all the legislative hurdles to become law before this fall’s election.“I would urge the Liberals to work with my bill and make it better so we can get on with the task that should have been commenced when we brought in legalization in the first place,” Rankin said during debate.The House of Commons will rise at the end of June, giving the Liberals until then to get their legislation through the House of Commons and the Senate.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The improved economy is expected to give the Trudeau government more fiscal room than anticipated in next week’s pre-election budget — but a wobbly economic finish to 2018 means conditions could look much different as the October vote approaches.An abrupt deceleration in economic growth over the final three months of 2018 has dimmed the outlook for this year. Last week, the Bank of Canada predicted a weaker economic performance through the first half of 2019, compared to its previous forecast of just a short slump.Still, the economy posted solid numbers for much of last year and employment has remained particularly strong. Some experts predict it’s been enough of a boost to give the Liberal government billions more in fiscal wiggle room. With extra money, hints of tougher times ahead and an election just months away, the government is expected to use up all that space based on the argument the economy will need stimulative investments.Scotiabank chief economist Jean-Francois Perrault said larger-than-expected government revenues last year mean Ottawa could have as much as $5 billion more than it had predicted in its November update to dedicate to new pre-election spending, or even tax cuts.“It’s this really fascinating mix of political challenges with some uncertainty on the economic side,” said Perrault, a former assistant deputy minister under Finance Minister Bill Morneau.“The Trudeau government is clearly in more difficulty now (politically) than it was six months ago. They’re probably going to be looking for something on the budgetary side that will increase their chances of being elected.”CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld also sees the Liberals in a stronger fiscal starting position, but with economic headwinds in the forecast.“There’s good news and bad news, in a sense, for the fiscal path,” said Shenfeld, who also noted the effects of an approaching election on budget decisions.“I’m expecting cheques to go out somewhere. Remember that in the last election the party that won was the one party not promising to balance the budget… The recent sluggishness of the economy is just one more reason to expect a budget that sends out some goodies.”Morneau has said his fourth budget will focus on helping workers get the skills they need and on ensuring seniors feel optimistic about their futures. The government, he added, is looking for ways to make homes more affordable for millennials, while keeping the housing market stable.The Liberals also intend to use the budget to lay out how they will achieve their two main goals on pharmacare: keeping costs down and ensuring better coverage for everyone.The budget will also update the country on the state of the federal books, which could prove to be an important ballot-box concern for many voters.The Liberals’ fiscal record has faced regular criticism from the Opposition and some economists. In particular, the Conservatives have targeted the Liberals over their decisions to ditch their 2015 election vow to run only modest annual shortfalls and to eliminate the deficit by 2019.Instead, the Liberals have posted deficits of more than $18 billion in each of the last two years, with no timeline to achieving balance.In November’s update, the government projected annual deficits of $18.1 billion in 2018-19, $19.6 billion in 2019-20 and $18.1 billion in 2020-21.Morneau has shifted his focus to reducing the net-debt-to-GDP ratio — a way of describing how burdensome debt is, relative to the national economy— each year.TD senior economist Brian DePratto recalls how in past budgets the Liberals have enjoyed “growth dividends” because the economy had outperformed expectations. The extra fiscal room enabled them to use up the space without affecting the debt-to-GDP anchor.This time, however, things are different because the overall economic picture has “clearly degraded,” he said.“It’s a little bit of a funny one because there’s a lot of these different currents playing out at once that differ a bit from what we’ve seen in different years,” DePratto said.“There’s also the challenge of, well, if we’re going into a slower-growth period where the risks are mounting, perhaps there’s more impetus for spending regardless of anything else.”Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — Hundreds of taxis converged on downtown Montreal today, blocking major arteries to protest the government’s deregulation of their industry.They say proposed reforms to make room for ride-hailing services will drive many of them into bankruptcy.The drivers from Montreal and other parts of Quebec gathered in front of Transport Department offices, parking their cabs in the middle of the street for hours. Some set protest signs on fire.Abdallah Homsy, an industry spokesman who travelled to Montreal from Quebec City Friday, said attempts to discuss the proposed changes with the office of Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel have been fruitless.The drivers say the planned elimination of taxi permits, which at one point sold for as much as $200,000 each, will lead to financial ruin for many of them. The government has said it will pay $500 million in compensation, but the drivers say that would not cover their losses.Premier Francois Legault said the province’s taxi system needs to evolve. He said the compensation offered amounts to roughly $70,000 per permit, which is more than some drivers paid and less than others.“That is why we would like to sit down with representatives of the drivers and permit-holders to negotiate an agreement so no driver is left in a situation, for example, of bankruptcy,” Legault told reporters in Repentigny, Que.Homsy said drivers would rather keep working as before, not be reduced to taking government compensation. He said it is the ride-hailing service Uber that should be paying to enter the field.“The premier’s job is to go get money from Uber, not from taxpayers to pay us,” Homsy said.The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Federal Court of Appeal is to reveal today whether a new set of legal challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline project can proceed.The federal government has twice approved a plan to twin an existing pipeline from Alberta’s oilpatch to the B.C. coast.Margot Venton, a lawyer with the group Ecojustice, says there are about a dozen challenges from environmental groups, First Nations and the City of Vancouver.“Our challenge focuses on the failure to meet the legal requirements of our federal species at risk act when they approved the pipeline.”Last year the Federal Court of Appeal tore up the original approval, citing both an insufficient environment review and inadequate consultations with Indigenous communities.The Liberals say they fixed both problems and approved the expansion a second time in June.Environment groups still say there are not adequate protections for endangered marine species, including the Southern Resident Killer Whale, that will be affected by tanker traffic picking up oil from a terminal in suburban Vancouver.Several First Nations say the federal government came into the most recent discussions having predetermined the outcome. Do you think the fight against the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion will ever end?YesNoVoteView Results Take Our PollThe court will decide on whether it will take up any of 12 requests to appeal the June approval. The ruling is to be issued in writing at 2 p.m. ET.The federal government bought the existing pipeline and the unfinished expansion work for $4.5 billion last year, promising to get it over the political opposition that had scared Kinder Morgan Canada off proceeding.The move disappointed environmentalists, who say the global climate can’t handle more emissions from Alberta’s oilsands and the eventual burning of the petroleum they produce. The Liberals say they’ll use any profits from the project to fund Canada’s transition to a cleaner-energy economy.The Canadian Press
Last night in Manhattan to kick off NY Fashion Week, FIJI Water was front and center as the Official Water Sponsor of the amfAR New York Gala.Heidi Klum Attends amfAR GalaCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI WaterThe black-tie affair was hosted by Sarah Jessica Parker, featured a special performance by Cee Lo Green, and honored Heidi Klum, Janet Jackson and amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole for their unsurpassed commitments to the fight against AIDS.Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, Michael Bloomberg, Kenneth ColeCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI WaterThe event officially kicked off Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, with a ribbon cutting ceremony taking place on the red carpet – Heidi Klum, Kenneth Cole and Michael Kors joined Mayor Bloomberg for the honors.Sarah Jessica Parker and Kenneth ColeCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI WaterOn stage, Kors presented Klum with her award and spoke adoringly of her energy, smarts, humor, sex appeal and their shared addictions of “kale and angry shoes” – Kors declared to the crowd of 900 at Cipriani Wall Street that “any man, gay or straight, would faint if Heidi were to straddle him.”Heidi Klum at amfAR Gala in New YorkCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI WaterAfter moving remarks from his brother-in-law Governor Cuomo, Kenneth Cole took the stage to a standing ovation and shared amfAR’s progress over the last 25 years, passionately declaring we “am-NOT-far” anymore in the fight against AIDS.Ashley Greene at amfAR GalaCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI WaterThe fashion forward guest list also included Ashley Greene, Katharine McPhee, Chloë Sevigny, Lindsay Lohan, Jenna Elfman, Patricia Clarkson, Alan Cumming, Cuba Gooding Jr., John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Doutzen Kroes, Michael Strahan and more.Janet Jackson at amfAR Gala in New YorkCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI WaterGuests enjoyed FIJI from the new custom FIJI Water Straw, which made its Fashion Week debut last night and will be featured at runway shows this coming week.Katharine McPhee at amfAR GalaCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI WaterLindsay Lohan at amfAR GalaCredit/Copyright: Bryan Bedder / Getty Images via FIJI Water
UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman was last week awarded by Variety magazine for her engagement to advance women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment.Nicole Kidman greets a young activist and fan following the awards ceremony Credit/Copyright: UN WomenThe Academy Award winner received the honour at Variety’s 5th Power of Women luncheon in Beverly Hills, which aims at “shining a spotlight on the high-profile women in Hollywood who have used their platforms to make a difference”.“The honourees we celebrate share an understanding of the power of giving back,” said Variety publisher Michelle Sobrino-Stearns in announcing the honourees, which also include actresses Amy Poehler, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Hudson, Elizabeth Banks and Kerry Washington as well as Sony Co-Chair Amy Pascal. “The goal of Variety’s Power of Women is to galvanize the influence of the entertainment industry to inspire their peers and fans alike to get involved and give back.”At the event, Nicole Kidman urged the audience of Hollywood executives to join efforts towards ensuring a world where ‘women can live free from discrimination and violence’ and spoke passionately about her work to amplify the voices of women she has met through her travels as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.“UN Women is a smart organization and I have seen with my own eyes what they can do: they go and work directly with women in countries around the world. They support women to get elected into office and help them to have viable options to earn a living for themselves and their children”, said Nicole Kidman, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and Academy Award winner. “Right now, in conflict zones like Syria, where women and children are particularly affected, UN Women is rendering much-needed assistance to respond to women’s humanitarian needs. UN Women supports women in Syria and elsewhere to make their voices heard,” she added.Nicole Kidman was appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador to promote women’s rights worldwide. A strong focus of her efforts has been on ending violence against women, a pandemic which is likely to affect one-in-three women in their lifetimes. Ms. Kidman has also served as the international spokesperson for UN Women’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women initiative, and has travelled to meet with survivors of sexual violence and raise attention to this pervasive human rights violation worldwide.Source:UNWomen.org