Govt to set up JV Khanij Bidesh India to ensure strategic minerals

first_imgNew Delhi: In a bid to ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to the domestic market, the government on Thursday announced setting up a JV company with participation of three PSUs — Nalco, Hindustan Copper and MECL. “A joint venture company namely Khanij Bidesh India Ltd is to be set up with the participation of three central public sector enterprises namely, Nalco, Hindustan Copper and MECL,” the mines ministry said. Coal and mines minister Pralhad Joshi said the objective of constituting KABIL is to ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to Indian domestic market. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalWhile KABIL would ensure mineral security of the nation, it would also help in realising the overall objective of import substitution, he added. KABIL would carry out identification, acquisition, exploration, development, mining and processing of strategic minerals overseas for commercial use and meeting country’s requirement of these minerals. “The sourcing of these minerals or metals is to done by creating trading opportunities, G2G collaborations with the producing countries or strategic acquisitions or investments in the exploration and mining assets of these minerals in the source countries,” the ministry said.last_img read more

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OBC cuts MCLR up to 10 bps

first_imgNew Delhi: Oriental Bank of Commerce on Thursday announced a cut of up to 10 basis points in the marginal cost of funds based lending rates (MCLR) for various tenors. The benchmark one-year MCLR is now 8.55 per cent, down by 0.10 percentage point from earlier rate. Most of the consumer loans such as personal, auto and home are priced on the basis of the one-year MCLR. The MCLR for other tenors, overnight to up to six-month, will be lower by 0.05-0.10 percentage point. The new MCLR of OBC will come to effect from August 10.last_img read more

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State project to end child labour in districts

first_imgKolkata: Bengal government has taken up a unique project to convert one school in each district to a residential school where, children engaged in hazardous jobs, can be rehabilitated.It also aims to conduct a detailed survey to identify children engaged in hazardous jobs. One of the main purposes of the scheme is to ensure that no child is deployed in hazardous jobs and they can be given a better environment so that these children can avail food, shelter, clothes and medical care. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaThe state government also intends to provide educational and vocational training to the children coming to various residential schools in the state. State Labour department which is supposed to look after the residential schools in the district has proposed a budgetary allocation of Rs 53 lakh in 2019-2020 financial year for the smooth running of the schools. The department had initiated the process of converting a school from each district to a residential one in the previous financial year. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThe principal objective was to carry out a survey and identify the pockets where child labourers are introduced in different hazardous occupations. In order to prohibit children below 14 years from working in any hazardous jobs and maintain surveillance on the deployment of child labourer in hazardous industries, the Labour department has started the process of regulating working conditions of adolescents in respect of the nature of works. The Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2016 has already come into force. The Labour department published notification for converting one school from each district to residential school. The state government will bear the entire cost of the scheme. According to the Labour department sources, residential schools have already made operational in the districts like North Dinajpur, Nadia, North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas, Bankura, West Midnapore. Many other districts are in the process of opening residential schools to eliminate child labour. It may be mentioned here that the state government in the last year allotted Rs 35.49 lakh for introducing residential schools in the districts and the proposed budgetary allocation is much higher in the current financial year. It may be mentioned Bengal allegedly had a high incidence of employing child labour in hazardous industries during the previous Left Front government but the scenario has improved after the Mamata Banerjee government came to power. It is also learnt from the sources that Bengal’s position is relatively better than various other states in the country where the proportion of children engaged as principal workers or subsidiary workers is alarmingly high.last_img read more

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Women engineers employed at Tata Steel mine in Jharkhand

first_imgJamshedpur (Jharkhand): Private steel manufacturer Tata Steel has employed women engineers at its Noamundi iron ore mine in Jharkhand, a release said. The company has recruited ten women officers from mining, electrical, mechanical and mineral processing engineering disciplines, the firm’s statement on Monday said. “Tata Steel is the first company in India to employ women in all shifts in mines from September 1, 2019,” it said. The release said measures such as sanitary vending machines, canteens, rest rooms, female security guards, transportation and deployment of women in groups of not less than three in a shift are being put in place. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ Security measures such as GPS and CCTV monitoring have been implemented, it said. The statement said written consents have been taken from every woman prior to their posting in the mines. The initiative comes after the Centre earlier this year scrapped Section 46 of the Mines Act, 1952 which restricted employment of women in the mines. Arun Misra, vice president, raw materials division of Tata Steel, said, “We are enhancing facilities to recruit more women in all sections of our mines.” Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&K Misra said employing women in mines leads to generation of innovative ideas and perspectives. The release said the initiative is in line with the company’s target of achieving 20 per cent women officers in the workforce by 2025. It said all norms stipulated by Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) are being adhered to. Earlier, the company had started two shifts for women employees at its Jamshedpur plant shop floor on April 1 this year, it added. A total of 52 female employees were posted at its coke plant and electrical repair shop floor in A and B shifts between 6 am and 10 pm, the release said.last_img read more

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NRC is political vendetta of BJP wont allow it in Bengal

first_imgKolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made it clear in the state Assembly on Friday that she will not allow the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise in Bengal and termed it as a tool on the part of the BJP to divide Hindus and Muslims and people who speak diverse languages. Banerjee’s remark assumes significance as the BJP has been insisting on the implementation of the NRC in the state.”The BJP-led government at the Centre wants to initiate NRC in Bengal as part of political vendetta. They want to divide people. We will never let BJP implement the NRC in Bengal,” said the Chief Minister while participating in a discussion on the subject in the Assembly under Rule 185. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsShe also informed the House that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also made his stand clear on the issue and has asserted that he would not allow the exercise in his state. Banerjee further argued that the Supreme Court had directed the NRC exercise in Assam because it was part of the Assam Accord. “What is applicable for Assam can’t be extrapolated for the entire country,” she maintained. Coming down heavily on the saffron party over the recent developments in Assam, she said: “They went for the NRC in Assam with the intention to exclude Muslims from the NRC list. So, 41 lakh people were excluded from the primary NRC list. Later, when they found that they have not been able to fulfil their objective, the figure came down to 19 lakh and they insisted on incorporating the dropouts. Most of the dropouts in Assam are Bengalis. They have also excluded about one lakh Gorkhas,” she claimed. Banerjee then turned to the earmarked seat for Darjeeling MLA and said: “Where is our Darjeeling MLA? You voted for the BJP and see what BJP did for you,” she said. She told the House members that the NRC authorities in Assam did not even recognise the refugee cards that were handed over to those who came from East Pakistan during Partition and settled in Assam. Continued on P7last_img read more

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This is what Salman Khan learned during the last schedule of the

first_imgSalman Khan has been creating immense buzz amongst the audience ever since the makers shared some stunning posters of Dabangg 3. The shoot of the last schedule of climax sequence took place during the period of 4th to 8th September. Not only this, Salman Khan even did bare body shots and had an intense hand to hand combat which required strength and training. Salman Khan who is already a fitness enthusiast, the actor underwent rigorous training to built his personality and to ace his training techniques. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka The film directed by Prabhu Deva has been the talk of the town since its inception and its announcement has already left all Salman fans wanting for more of Chulbul Robinhood Pandey and his witty dialogues and antics, all along. Dabangg 3 will also be Salman Khan’s first movie ever to be dubbed and released in multiple languages and will also see the reunion of Salman Khan and Prabhu Deva who worked together on Salman Khan’s famous action flick, ‘Wanted’. According to sources, the decision to release the movie in multiple languages has been taken to cater to the mass appeal that the star possesses where Salman Khan is a Pan-Indian superstar with unparalleled popularity and fan-following and on top of that, Prabhu Deva is one of the biggest South Indian stars in the country. Directed by Prabhudeva, Dabangg 3 is produced by Salma Khan, Arbaaz Khan and Nikhil Dwivedi under the banner of Salman Khan Films and is slated to release on 20th December, 2019.last_img read more

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Some background on the new Speaker of the BC legislature

first_imgVICTORIA – Political observers were surprised Friday when Opposition Liberal member Darryl Plecas accepted the role of Speaker, despite earlier reassurances he’d given that he would not consider the position. The Speaker traditionally comes from within government ranks, but this move gives NDP Premier John Horgan breathing room for his minority government. Here are some facts about the new Speaker:— Plecas was first elected to the B.C. legislature in 2013 as a member of the Liberal party to represent the riding of Abbotsford South. He won handily against longtime Liberal politician John van Dongen, who left the party earlier in the year to join the provincial Conservatives before running as an Independent. Plecas won re-election in 2017.— While in office, Plecas served as parliamentary secretary for crime reduction and later for seniors health.— Plecas spent 34 years as a criminology professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, where he held the position of RCMP research chair and director for the Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.— He repeatedly turned down offers from the NDP to take on the role of Speaker in the wake of the spring election, saying in one media interview it would be “disrespectful” and “dishonourable” to accept the position. “I would be hurting the Liberal party, in other words hurting the wishes of my constituents, and there’s no way that’s going to happen,” he said in June.— Plecas’s website says he is the grandson of Abbotsford pioneers and has lived in the area with his wife and two sons for the past 37 years.— He is the recipient of various accolades, including the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Award for Public Safety, an award of excellence from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, a teaching excellence award from the University of the Fraser Valley, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the Order of Abbotsford.last_img read more

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WilsonRaybould raises criminalization of HIV nondisclosure with counterparts

first_imgOTTAWA – The issue of whether criminal charges are the right way to deal with people who fail to disclose their HIV-positive status to sexual partners is on the table as Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould meets her provincial and territorial colleagues in Vancouver.Last year, the federal justice minister promised to examine how the criminal justice system responds to the non-disclosure of HIV status, which could include reviewing current practices on laying charges and going ahead with prosecutions, as well as developing prosecutorial guidelines.“The over-criminalization of HIV non-disclosure discourages many individuals from being tested and seeking treatment and further stigmatizes those living with HIV or AIDS,” Wilson-Raybould said in a statement published Dec. 1, 2016, which was World AIDS Day.The results of that promised review are not expected to be shared publicly till this fall, but Wilson-Raybould will update her fellow justice ministers at their two-day meeting in Vancouver and encourage them to consider what they could do to address the issue.The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that consent to sexual activity can be considered null and void if the accused person failed to disclose, or lied about, his or her HIV status. The Crown must also prove the person would not have consented to sex if he or she had been aware of the HIV status.That can lead to a charge of aggravated sexual assault — the most commonly applied, although there have been others — so long as the sexual contact has either transmitted the virus to the complainant, or put them at significant risk of contracting it.The high court clarified in 2012 that this would not apply if someone uses a condom and also has a “low viral load,” but advocates argue the law has fallen far behind the science on the level of risk.The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has counted at least 184 people — involving 200 cases — who faced charges for offences related to HIV non-disclosure in Canada between 1989 and 2016, with the majority of them occurring since 2004.Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a source familiar with the file said the discussion in Vancouver will be about making sure everyone has a clear understanding of the impact of how things are being done now.Since provinces are responsible for the administration of justice when it comes to the Criminal Code, many of the potential solutions — such as issuing prosecutorial guidelines on how to handle allegations of HIV non-disclosure — would be within their jurisdiction.Ontario Justice Minister Yasir Naqvi said he is glad to see the issue on the agenda, but wants to see the results of the federal review before making any commitment to prosecutorial guidelines or other measures.“We have said since the federal government will be reviewing the Criminal Code and the over-criminalization of people with HIV, that it’s important for us to wait and see what the review is,” Naqvi said in Vancouver.“Because if there is information that comes out, I think it’s important that we have all that information,” he said.Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, said he is encouraged the issue has been put on the agenda as a problem that needs to be solved.“That’s the first step — we’ve got to recognize that there is a problem,” said Elliott.“I hope that we can get at least a critical mass of provincial attorneys general also recognizing that there is a problem,” he said.“I think that is still a work in progress.”— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter— With files from Geordon Omand in Vancouverlast_img read more

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Athletes inspired after meeting Prince Harry on eve of Invictus Games

first_imgTORONTO – Wounded soldiers from several countries shook hands, conversed and shared a laugh with Prince Harry on Friday as the royal readied to launch the Invictus Games in Toronto this weekend.The Games, a multi-sport event for injured and sick soldiers, including current and veteran members of the forces, run until Sept. 30 and are being hosted in Canada for the first time.Harry founded the Games in 2014 as a way to inspire and motivate wounded soldiers on their paths to recovery. For participants training at a Toronto arena on the eve of the event, the royal’s approach appears to be working.“We’re using the Games to get out of dark holes and back into life — and without Harry, we wouldn’t be here having fun and enjoying the camaraderie, which is what you miss from the army days,” said Charlie Walker, a coach of the United Kingdom’s sitting volleyball team.Walker, who was with the British army’s bomb disposal unit, lost both his feet after contracting meningitis. He got a chance to have a solo chat with Harry for five minutes on Friday.They spoke about the team, the sport, the Games, and how Walker was doing, he said.Nearby, Canadian athlete Gaetan Lortie made eye contact with the prince as he walked through the sports centre. The two nodded at each other briefly, he said.Lortie, a veteran of the Canadian Forces and a retired civil servant with the Department of National Defence, came to the court early to catch a glimpse of the royal.“These games got me going again, got me active,” said Lortie, who is also competing in swimming.He has had major surgeries on both knees, has trouble with his hearing and struggles emotionally at times.“I think the Games give us the opportunity to push ourselves, to prove to ourselves we are still capable, still able people,” Lortie said.As Harry moved between groups of athletes training for various sports, he stopped at one point by a pool, beside Poppy Pawsey, a swimmer from the United Kingdom. The royal leaned over to watch her leap off the blocks into the pool and applauded after her dive.A beaming Pawsey said she’d never been coached by a prince before.“That was pretty good, wasn’t it,” she told reporters after climbing out of the pool. “I just said to him, would you do me the honour of starting my dive? And he went, ‘yeah, sure, how do I do it?’”Earlier Friday, Harry attended a symposium on veterans’ issues, where dozens of onlookers gathered outside to catch a glimpse of royalty.The prince, however, appeared determined to keep the focus on the Games and didn’t stop to interact with fans who cheered and called out to him.Adele Eccleston, who is originally from England, was among those who waited to see the royal.“I just popped over from across the street just to see Prince Harry and show support for his support of the Invictus Games,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful that he’s taking a stand and supporting the efforts.”Some in the crowd, however, said they had hoped to see a bit more of the prince.“I wished he would have waved,” said Amanda Shovlin, who took a break from work to join those gathered outside the building.“It was very quick, but I am sure he is very busy,” added her friend Melissa Barkley.On Saturday, Harry will visit Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health before meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Later in the evening he will attend the Games’ opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre, which will feature performances by Sarah McLachlan, Alessia Cara and the Tenors.Toronto Mayor John Tory said the Games allow people to come together and celebrate the bravery of veterans from a number of countries.“These athletes are heroes. And I hope they will inspire this city and this country,” he said at a flag-raising ceremony for the Games held outside Toronto City Hall on Friday. “They all collectively had the courage to serve, the courage to come back from injury and disability, and now they will show us the courage and skill of competitors in sports.”At least 550 athletes from 17 countries are slated to compete in 12 sports, including track and field, swimming and golf.The first Invictus Games were held in London, England, in 2014.— with files from Marie-Espérance Cerdalast_img read more

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Atlantic Canada to be hit by backtoback storms over the holidaysmeteorologist

first_imgHALIFAX – A meteorologist with Environment Canada says the East Coast is in for back-to-back winter storms over the holidays.Jean-Marc Couturier said vast swaths of Atlantic Canada are expected to see gusts and a wintry mix of precipitation as a low-pressure system tracks across the region on Saturday night.“For tonight, all of Atlantic Canada is dealing with this first storm, and then a number of different impacts depending where you are,” Couturier said in an interview on Saturday.“It looks like we’ll have another round of this coming up on Christmas Day and probably into Boxing Day as well. It’s going to be an interesting few days weather-wise, that’s for sure.”Couturier said Nova Scotians should expect heavy rainfall, while conditions in Newfoundland and New Brunswick look to be frostier with precipitation changing between ice pellets, freezing rain and snowfall.Atlantic Canadians will see little reprieve before another storm hits on Monday, he said, bringing potentially significant amounts of snowfall, wind and several types of rain.Parts of the region may could see either a white or wet Christmas depending on conditions, said Couturier.He said Nova Scotians can look forward to a bit of snow on Monday morning, but the joy of seeing fresh powder will likely be short-lived with forecasts predicting above-freezing temperatures later in the day.However, Couturier said, some areas New Brunswick may be getting more snow than they bargained for on Christmas Day.“If I risk throwing a number, I would say a range of 15 to 25 centimetres (of snowfall). That’s an early number, could be more,” he said. “We are expecting a lot of wind as well, so some blowing and drifting and reduced visibilities, so it’s going to be pretty difficult across New Brunswick.”The storm is expected to cross Newfoundland’s west coast, which could see blizzard-like conditions on Monday, he said.He said P.E.I. is expected to see a “shot” of snow before switching to rain.Couturier warns that travellers’ holiday plans could be interrupted by cancelled flights and ferries, but said they may be able to make it to their destination on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day.“I’m sure a lot of people don’t think this is ideal or are not necessarily happy to hear that,” he said. “If we’re here and we talk about it, at least people can adapt and make some changes to their plans.”last_img read more

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Liberals to end community mail box conversions but wont restore doortodoor

first_imgThe federal Liberals are terminating a program launched by the former Conservative government to convert existing home mail delivery in Canada to community boxes.But some 840,000 families who have already started walking down the street for their mail since the conversions began in 2014 won’t see door-to-door delivery restored.The move is expected to upset postal workers who have demanded the post office turn back the clock on mailbox conversions.It also means Canada Post won’t realize savings it estimated at $350 million annually from converting the remaining 4.2 million addresses across the country that still get mail dropped at their doorstep.At least one analyst says that will hamper the Crown corporation’s ability to remain self sustaining as letter mail revenues continue to decline.Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough rolled out the new plan for Canada Post today at a sorting plant in Mississauga, Ont.Under the plan, a task force will be struck to examine how to enhance Canada Post’s accessibility program for seniors and people with mobility issues who lost home delivery.The Liberals vaguely promised during the 2015 election campaign to “save home mail delivery” after an outcry over the community mailbox conversion plan launched by the Conservatives.Qualtrough also announced changes to the financial rules that drive Canada Post, allowing the agency to make a profit and then re-invest the extra money back into operations to improve services and remain self-sustaining over the long run.Senior leadership at the post office, which is in the midst of a large-scale turnover that includes a search for a new CEO, will also be mandated to establish more cordial labour relations.Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are currently in contract negotiations.As well, the government is encouraging Canada Post to promote its postal money order business to Canadians who send money to friends and family abroad.CUPW had called instead for a re-introduction of banking services at postal outlets as a way to make money, an idea that has been rejected by the agency.The government will also ask Canada Post to capitalize on a boom in its parcel services, since that’s where the money and growth are.While mail deliveries by postal workers have been declining drastically in recent years, Canada Post has seen parcel delivery volumes soar.The agency saw parcel delivery revenues increase by 41 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 alone, compared with the same period the previous year, officials said.And Canada Post will be expected to look at how other countries have used weekend delivery or parcel lockers to bolster their postal service revenues.The government will also be looking at ways to leverage the fact that Canada Post has a presence in even the smallest of Canadian communities, and could be used to deliver other government services.Canada Post said it made a profit of roughly $81 million from all of its operations in 2016, down from $99 million in 2015.It estimated that restoring door-to-door delivery to the households converted to community boxes since 2014 would have cost $195 million, plus ongoing costs of about $90 million annually.Under the Liberal plan, community mailboxes will continue to be installed in new housing developments, a practice that’s been ongoing since the 1980s.last_img read more

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Accused in death of Indigenous teen not guilty of murder

first_imgWINNIPEG, MN. – A man accused of killing a 15-year-old Indigenous girl and dumping her body in Winnipeg’s Red River has been found not guilty of second-degree murder.Tina Fontaine’s remains were discovered eight days after she was reported missing in August 2014; Raymond Cormier was charged more than a year later.The jury deliberated for 11 hours before coming to its decision.There were gasps in the courtroom when the verdict was read, and Tina’s great-aunt, who raised the girl, was crying.The Crown had argued in its final submission that Cormier, 56, convicted himself with his own admissions on secret police recordings. But the defence said numerous forensic holes in the prosecution’s case had left reasonable doubt.Tina was being sexually exploited after coming to Winnipeg from her home on the Sagkeeng First Nation. Her death prompted renewed calls for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.There was no DNA evidence linking Cormier to the teen, and doctors who were called to testify said they could not definitively say how Tina died.Here is what the jury heard:THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TINA AND CORMIERCourt heard Tina had a happy childhood raised by a great-aunt on the Sagkeeng First Nation, but the girl began to spiral downward when her father was murdered in October 2011. Tina’s mother, who had not been part of her life, re-emerged and Tina started going to Winnipeg to visit her. The girl ended up on the street and was being sexually exploited. Tina’s boyfriend Cody Mason, who was 18 at the time, testified the pair first met Cormier earlier in the summer of 2014 and told him they didn’t have a place to stay. Cormier, who court heard was a methamphetamine and crack user, took them to a house with a basement. Known to some as Sebastian and to others as Frenchy, Cormier supplied Tina with the prescription drug gabapentin, said Mason, who added he and Tina would also drink and take marijuana and cocaine. Tina told a social worker that Cormier was a much older man who was going to get her a bike. Cormier told friends he had had sex with the 15-year-old. One witness, Sarah Holland, testified she once saw Cormier grope Tina while asking her to “just do me.”THE PHYSICAL EVIDENCEThe cause of Tina’s death was undetermined. Dr. Dennis Rhee testified that he found no definitive injuries on her body or to her internal organs. He said there was no evidence of a sexual assault, no signs of a stabbing or major blunt force trauma. It was estimated her body was in the river for three to seven days. There was no evidence that she drowned, but it couldn’t be ruled out. Christopher Keddy, who works at the RCMP forensics lab, testified that tests showed Tina’s body had a level of alcohol slightly above the legal limit for driving. Keddy also said there was a relatively high level of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana. There was no indication of gabapentin, but Keddy said the test the RCMP lab ran might not detect low levels of the drug. Under cross-examination, the defence suggested it couldn’t be ruled out that gabapentin was in Tina’s system at a potentially lethal level in combination with other drugs. There was no DNA evidence linking Cormier to Fontaine.THE DUVET COVERThree people connected to Cormier told police he owned the same type of duvet cover that was wrapped around Tina’s body. DNA testing found no traces linking Cormier to the cover. Court heard police tried to find the source of the duvet cover. It was sold by Costco Canada and 864 had been shipped to the three Costco stores in Winnipeg. Police tracked down 100 people who had purchased covers with the same design to ask them whether they still had them. Under cross-examination, investigators acknowledged Costco had given away some of the unsold duvet covers, and police could not rule out whether similar ones had been purchased elsewhere and brought to Winnipeg.THE ARGUMENT ON THE STREETOn Aug. 6, about two weeks before Tina’s body was found and three days before she was reported missing, witnesses saw her arguing with Cormier in the street and heard Cormier mention something about a river. Holland testified that she heard Tina tell Cormier she was going to call the cops. The Crown argued that Cormier was worried that Tina was going to report that he had stolen a truck. Court heard an audio recording of Tina calling 911 to report a stolen truck. Witnesses also testified that Tina was angry that Cormier had sold her bike for drugs. Cormier acknowledged the argument in an interview with police and said he followed her down the street before turning in the other direction. He said that is the last time he saw her. He also suggested the suspect police should really be looking for was a man who looked like singer Robert Plant who was walking in the same direction as Tina that night. “Don’t focus on me,” he told police.ERNIE DeWOLFEDeWolfe met Cormier in prison and they stayed at the same halfway house for a time. DeWolfe testified he talked to Cormier on Aug. 15 and Cormier said he had met with Tina the previous day to ensure she was not going to call the police. “He just said that he had talked to her and he straightened it all out and took care of it,” DeWolfe testified. “I just presumed that he talked to her and … sorted it out.” Tina’s body was found in the river on Aug. 17. In cross-examination, the defence suggested DeWolfe made the whole story up because he and Cormier had had an argument over money.THE UNDERCOVER TAPESPolice launched a six-month undercover operation against Cormier called Project Styx. Cormier was placed in a bugged apartment for free and an undercover officer moved into a suite on the same floor. Cormier was recorded saying he’d bet the girl was killed because he found out she was only 15 years old. “I drew the line and that’s why she got killed,” he said. Cormier also told a woman that when he last talked to Tina, he told her to go jump off a bridge. At another point, he asked a woman if she had ever been “haunted by something” before he started to talk about Tina and boast that he beat two murders. During another recording, Cormier said during an argument with a woman that there was a little girl in a “grave someplace screaming at the top of her lungs for me to finish the job. And guess what? I finished the job.” Court also heard Cormier in a recording warning people in his apartment not to overdose or they would end up wrapped in a carpet and thrown in the river. In conversations with the undercover officer, Cormier said there were “three rules to crime: deny, deny deny.”THE ARGUMENTSCrown prosecutors contended that Cormier killed Tina, either by suffocation or drowning, because he found out she was only 15 and that would make him a pedophile. They said Cormier’s own words on the undercover tapes should be enough to convict him. The defence said that with no DNA evidence and no cause of death, there were too many holes in the case. It argued that Cormier felt guilt after learning that Tina was only 15 and he wanted to find the real killer.last_img read more

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Two separate piles Saskatchewan inquests allow for Indigenous jury pools

first_imgA lawyer helping the family of a young Cree man shot and killed by a Saskatchewan farmer left a different courthouse this week with an idea about how Canada’s jury system could be improved.Chris Murphy is part of a coroner’s inquest examining the death of an Indigenous man who died following a police chase in Saskatoon.Some provinces have fatality inquiries headed by provincial court judges. But others — including Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia — have coroner inquests with juries.And in Saskatchewan, if a deceased is Indigenous, a coroner’s jury is often part Aboriginal too.“I felt that we had been engaged in a very fair process,” Murphy said.“They had literally two separate piles from which names were randomly drawn and we alternated between Indigenous and non-Indigenous jurors.”In January, Murphy watched as a jury with no visibly Indigenous members was selected for the murder trial of white farmer Gerald Stanley in the death of 22-year-old Colten Boushie.Of 45 potential jurors selected at random, five appeared to be Indigenous, Murphy said. They were rejected by Stanley’s lawyer through peremptory challenges, which can be made without having to give a reason.“I walked away … firmly believing that the justice system has got to change,” Murphy said. “Allowing that process to happen is, in my view, state-sanctioned discrimination.”The jury found Stanley not guilty. Accusations of racism followed, as well as calls to end peremptory challenges and for more Indigenous representation on juries.Jordan Lafond, 21, was in a stolen truck being chased by Saskatoon police when it crashed. Media have reported that officers found Lafond under the truck, but he resisted arrest and an officer used a knee to subdue him. He later died in hospital.Murphy is representing Lafond’s family at the inquest. He said lawyers agreed that at least three of the jury’s six members should be Indigenous. They were able to ask potential jurors about whether they would be comfortable on a jury, could come up with recommendations and had any possible bias.The selected jurors were told to return to court when the inquest resumes in June.Potential jurors are similarly questioned for inquests in other provinces, but qualifying them by race may be unique to Saskatchewan.The province amended legislation in 1999 to allow its chief coroner to request a jury be “composed, wholly or in part, of people from a specific racial or cultural group.”The Justice Ministry said in an email that the provision is commonly used and puts juries in a better position to understand the deceased’s circumstances.Murphy said there’s no constitutional reason why the same approach couldn’t be used in criminal courts where an accused is supposed to be judged by peers. Indigenous people have high incarceration rates yet low representation on juries.Nicholas Stooshinoff, president of the Saskatchewan Trial Lawyers Association, said he believes Canada’s justice system is the finest in the world and doesn’t need an overhaul because of “knee-jerk” reactions to the Stanley verdict.He said he recently met with Indigenous clients who live in the same area as Stanley and they agree with the acquittal.“I have not seen any evidence or any indication that an all-First-Nations jury would not have come to the same conclusion,” Stooshinoff said. “There is an assumption among some individuals, politicians included, that this man was acquitted because of racism on the part of the jury.“I find that very disturbing. And it really does not do anything to enhance the quality of our judicial system.”last_img read more

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Highlights from the Ontario budget unveiled on Wednesday

first_imgOntario Finance Minister Charles Sousa has unveiled the Liberal government’s last budget before the spring election. Here are the highlights:____MULTI-YEAR DEFICITSAfter a year of balanced books, the Liberals are projecting a deficit of $6.7 billion for the coming fiscal year.The shortfall is largely due to big-ticket spending promises from the Liberals aimed at “making everyday life more affordable” for Ontarians.The Liberals project shrinking deficits over the medium term, with a plan to balance the books again by 2024-25.That assumes they’d be able to form a government not only in this year’s election on June 7, but in the next vote as well.____NEW DRUG AND DENTAL PLANMany of the big promises included in the budget were announced ahead of time, but one major program unveiled Wednesday promises drug and dental support to those who don’t have other health coverage.The Ontario Drug and Dental Program will reimburse up to 80 per cent of eligible expenses for those without other coverage.The plan will cover $400 per person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four.The program takes effect in summer 2019, and will cost the province roughly $800 million over its first two years.____SUPPORT FOR SENIORSThe budget contains several perks for seniors, including a new benefit for those living at home and full prescription drug coverage.Under the Seniors’ Healthy Home Program, those age 75 and over will receive up to $750 a year to offset home maintenance and other costs.The new plan will cost over $1 billion over three years, starting in 2019-2020.The province is also expanding its OHIP+ program, which currently serves those under 25, to make prescription drugs free for people over age 65 and over at a cost of about $1 billion over three years.____BIG SPENDING ON CHILD CAREParents with young children stand to save in the future, with the province promising to make preschool free for kids aged two-and-a-half and up.The Liberals say the program, which takes effect in 2020, would save the average family with one child $17,000.It’s expected to cost roughly $2.2 billion over three years.The government also plans to add 100,000 new child-care spaces, and provide before- and after-school programs in most elementary schools.____BOOST FOR HOSPITALS, MENTAL HEALTHThe province is spending big on health care, with roughly $19 billion earmarked over the next decade for hospital construction and renovation.That includes $2.4 billion for redevelopment of Toronto’s SickKids hospital, and a $1.8 billion project at the Ottawa Hospital.The government is also pledging to provide “better and faster” mental health service through more than $2 billion in new funding over four years.The money will increase access to free psychotherapy, provide high schools with mental health supports and create a new fund to support LGBTQ and other under-served communities.____SUPPORT FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLEThe Liberals are promising to continue what they call a “commitment to reconciliation,” with several budget measures to support Indigenous people.The biggest pledge is aimed at improving on-reserve child care, with the government promising $40 million over three years in new operating funding.It’s also committing $290 million over six years in an effort to double child-care capacity on-reserve.Other measures include targeted funding for mental-health care and $1 million to help provide healthy food to remote communities.____RAMP UP TO CANNABIS PROFITSThe government predicts it will take some time for the province’s legal cannabis regime to start turning a profit.With the federal government planning to legalize recreational pot this year, Ontario will set up a Crown corporation to handle distribution.The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, a subsidiary of the LCBO, is projected to lose $40 million in its first full year of operation.But by the 2020-21 fiscal year, it’s expected to bring in a net income of $100 million.____TOBACCO TAX CONTINUES TO CLIMBSmokers will pay about two cents more per cigarette starting March 29, as the province tries to get more people to kick the habit.Continuing a plan announced in last year’s budget, the price of a carton of smokes will go up by $4 per carton.That follows a $2 per carton bump in 2017, with another $4 increase coming in 2019.The province hopes to achieve the lowest smoking rate in the country, and reduce the estimated 16,000 deaths attributed to smoking each year.____NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT GETS A BOOSTThe Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, which supports job creation across northern Ontario, is getting a boost from the provincial budget, to the tune of $85 million over three years.The new money will bring the corporation’s total budget to $150 million by the 2020-21 fiscal year.The government says the aim is to create jobs and foster “productivity and innovation in the north.”The Liberals are also pledging to support the forestry industry in the face of uncertainty over U.S. trade policy on softwood lumber.____OPPOSITION LEADERS REACTDoug Ford and Andrea Horwath don’t agree on much, but they found common ground in what they both call the “good news” in the latest Liberal budget.In separate speeches Wednesday afternoon, the Progressive Conservative and NDP leaders promised it would be Kathleen Wynne’s last budget as premier.Ford accused Wynne of making big promises with taxpayer money, while pledging that a Tory government would find enough efficiencies to balance the books.Horwath said the Liberal government leaves too many people behind, falling short of her goals of universal pharmacare and dental coverage.____last_img read more

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Im sorry RCMP pledges at MMIW inquiry to do better on Indigenous

first_imgREGINA – The head of Canada’s national police force apologized to the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women Monday while pledging improved relations with Aboriginal communities.“On behalf of myself and my organization, I’m truly sorry for the loss of your loved ones and the pain that this has caused you and your families and your communities,” RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki testified in Regina at the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.“I’m sorry that for too many of you, the RCMP was not the police service that it needed to be during this terrible time in your life. It is very clear to me that the RCMP could have done better and I promise to you we will do better.”The inquiry has been holding hearings for more than a year, and time and again stories have surfaced of police not taking the cases of missing Indigenous women seriously. Victims were frequently seen to be written off by investigators as sex trade workers or addicts.Lucki said the RCMP has made changes to its cadet training curriculum to include more Indigenous material.One of the added modules includes a scenario involving an 18-year-old Indigenous woman whose back story is constructed from testimony heard at the inquiry.Lucki said she wants the cadets to get exposure to those situations.“Given some of the things that have come out of the testimonies, it’s important that they have recognition of the cultural sensitiveness of these investigations and the importance of knowing what to expect with these investigations,” Lucki said.Another addition to RCMP training includes a blanket exercise in which cadets are taught to better understand the different issues facing Indigenous people. That program has been introduced over the last four to six months and Lucki participated in the first one.Heather Bear, vice-chief with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, said there must be oversight to see if this new training changes attitudes.She said that it’s going to take time to notice a difference, noting she still gets calls from Indigenous women who have experienced police violence.“By having this training, the awareness, for our people, the measuring is going to be when the harassment stops. Then we’ll know it has succeeded,” Bear said. “Today, these are words and these are attempts so I guess the test of time is what I’ll be watching.”In Lucki’s cross-examination, she said that two officers went through a restorative type process in consultation with the Indigenous community after allegations of a racist Facebook post, that reportedly said Colten Boushie deserved to die, were founded.Boushie was an Indigenous man who was killed at Gerald Stanley’s farm in Biggar, Sask., in 2016. Stanley was charged with second-degree murder but found not guilty.Lucki added the RCMP has to work to have better trust with the communities they serve. That includes being more inclusive and more tolerant.“Are we going to eliminate racism? I don’t know if we will,” Lucki said. “But we can hold those to account and make sure it doesn’t happen again and use those as examples.”Marion Buller, the inquiry’s chief commissioner, said she thought Lucki’s apology was heartfelt and sincere.“I think it’s certainly a good beginning,” Buller said. “The proof will be in what happens on the ground.”Lucki became the RCMP’s new commissioner in April and is the first commissioner from the Mounties to be a witness at the inquiry.She said that an Aboriginal and First Nations awareness course is mandatory for cadets to take within two years. It’s also mandatory training for officers in some northern parts of the country.— Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitterlast_img read more

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Travellers complain about rude disrespectful Canadian border officers

first_imgThe Canada Border Services Agency faced more than 100 founded complaints from travellers last year, including allegations of racism and rudeness — and one instance of a woman alleging a border officer yelled at her while she was in medical distress.Data provided to The Canadian Press through access to information legislation says that in 2017-18 these were among the 105 “founded” cases of complaints of officer misconduct — about 12 per cent of 875 misconduct complaints filed in that time.The total number of complaints through the CBSA’s online “Compliments, Comments and Complaints” website remains a tiny fraction of the 95 million travellers seen by officers in the past year.Nonetheless, civil liberties groups say the latest collection of incidents shows that Canada needs an independent complaints agency similar to those used to oversee police forces that can produce public reports and make binding recommendations to the agency.As it stands, the definition of “founded” provided by the agency says that “aspects in the allegations made in the complaint were valid.”Tim McSorley, the national co-ordinator of the Toronto-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, says the definition is far too vague to help lead to changes within the agency’s culture or for the public to be properly informed.Nonetheless, he says the limited information shows cause for concern, particularly the allegations of racism, questioning of travellers’ nationality, and name calling.“It shows that the majority of complaints are around respect or disrespect for travellers. …For us, in particular, the incidents of racism (from border officers) are something in our work we’ve heard more about whether from Canadian citizens, or travellers from abroad,” he said during an interview.The descriptions of the allegations in the access documents are brief.On Nov. 6 last year, one of the reports says, a “client states the border service officer was rude and yelled at her until she passed out.”A CBSA spokesperson said in an email the medical distress wasn’t directly caused by the officer.“During secondary examination, the traveller was found to be in medical distress. The border services officer followed proper first aid protocols in line with the training provided to all frontline staff. The investigation concluded that the (officer) did not play a role in the travellers medical distress,” wrote spokesperson Nicholas Dorion.Many of the misconduct incidents are similar to a case described on May 22 last year, when a traveller said a border officer “was yelling and berated travellers, swore at the clients, lacked respect.”In another report, an officer allegedly “was yelling and berating travellers, swore at the clients, lacked respect.”In one April 17 allegation, an officer “was racist, called the client ugly, abused his authority.”The CBSA didn’t provide further details in these cases.“In these three cases, the CBSA reviewed the details of the incidents and took appropriate measures to address the conduct of the employees involved to ensure that they uphold the integrity of CBSA programs and demonstrate professionalism in their day to day activities,” wrote Dorion.There were also founded incidents where translation was unavailable, with a case on Nov. 11 last year stating when “clients were targeted … mistreated, denied a translator.”The CBSA didn’t comment on the specifics of the case, but said that in some instances translation isn’t available on short notice. If the officer is detaining a traveller, then translation services are sought, said Jayden Robertson, a communications officer, in an email.A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the CBSA will be included in a wider review of oversight systems the Liberal government is working on.Scott Bardsley said the Public Safety Department “is advancing legislation to create a new expert review body, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency,” adding its creation would be “a historic change that will greatly enhance how Canada’s national security agencies, including CBSA, are held to account.”McSorley said his group remains uncertain about whether the proposed legislation will go far enough or is going to apply to the kind of situations described in the CBSA complaints process.“Given the seriousness of some of these complaints, all Canadians and travellers to Canada deserve to know that they can register their concerns, and that it will receive an appropriate review and resolution,” he said.However, Jean-Pierre Fortin, the president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said the results of the complaints system show that only a tiny minority of cases are showing problems of officer misconduct.Some of the cases are later taken to a grievance proceeding and thrown out, he said, though he could not provide precise figures.“Overall, the percentage of founded cases is very low that are coming to our attention,” he said.Nonetheless, he said that an independent oversight agency would be acceptable to the union, provided the union has some chance to defend its officers and have a voice in the review of conduct.The union leader, who spent 18 years as a border officer, said that since 2012 there has been a decrease of more than 1,000 officers due to attrition and that officers are being required to work longer hours on the front line, often in difficult conditions with passengers already tired due to long lineups.He said that officers who should be on the front line questioning travellers for an hour before relief are instead there for three hours, heightening fatigue.“We’re dealing with a different work environment that’s very difficult at times, and you can be doing 16 hours in a row. It’s the lack of staffing right now that we’re seeing,” he said in an interview.During the 2017-18 fiscal year, the CBSA received 302 compliments in its feedback system.The CBSA has approximately 14,000 employees, including over 6,500 uniformed CBSA officers who provide services at approximately 1,200 entry points across Canada and at 39 international locations.From April 2017 to March 2018, border service officers processed over 96 million travellers and over 5 million commercial vehicles.last_img read more

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Midair plane crash in Ottawas West End

first_imgTwo planes crashed in mid-air in the West End of Ottawa just past 10:00 Sunday morning.Ottawa Police have confirmed one aircraft was able to be redirected to the Ottawa International Airport, while the smaller of the two planes crashed into a field.Staff Sgt. Jamie Harper says one plane then crashed into a field and the other managed to land at the Ottawa International Airport.The Transport Safety Board of Canada says the plane that landed at the airport sustained minor damage.Police say it is not yet known how many people were aboard each plane or whether any injuries have been reported.Transport Canada will be heading up the investigation.— with files from The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Police say suspect who wouldnt leave vehicle dies after officers shot him

first_imgEdmonton police say a suspect they shot is dead after he refused to get out of a vehicle.Police say in a news release that officers were following the truck Wednesday afternoon because there was a man inside who had outstanding warrants, and was believed to be armed and dangerous.The release says police stopped the vehicle and two passengers exited without incident.But police say the man with the warrants was “non-compliant and remained in the vehicle,” and that “an incident took place” between the 34-year-old suspect and officers.Police say the officers shot him, and he was declared dead in hospital.No one else was injured.Alberta’s police watchdog says it is investigating.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Are sandbags effective A look at the popular floodprevention tool

first_imgWHAT CAN MAKE SANDBAGS MORE EFFECTIVE?The federal government’s guide to reducing flood damage contains numerous tips for effective sandbag deployment. It suggests digging a trench to support the sandbag dike, as well as covering it with some form of plastic sheeting to further limit its permeability. Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency and other municipal sites urge users not to fill homemade sandbags up beyond the halfway point and to ensure they overlap one another as the dike is built. Blatz echoed that advice and stressed the importance of tamping bags down with one’s feet to further compact the sand inside. For centuries, residents of flood-prone areas have looked to sandbags to stave off rising waters. Flood management experts say that while it’s easy to understand why sandbags have become the first line of defence, they may not necessarily be the best one. Here’s a look at sandbags and their effectiveness: DO SANDBAGS WORK AS FLOOD-PREVENTION TOOLS?It depends entirely on the type of flood. Tamsin Lyle, principle engineer at British Columbia-based flood management company Ebbwater Consulting, said sandbags can be very effective in situations where they won’t have prolonged exposure to water. Examples she cited include flash floods or holding off ocean waves that only reach impacted areas at high tide. But Lyle said sandbags lose much of their value once they become saturated with water, making them relatively ineffective in prolonged floods such as those currently unfolding in much of eastern Canada. WHY ARE SANDBAGS SO POPULAR?  Lyle said the primary benefits of sandbags lie in their low cost and ease of use. Nearly anyone armed with a shovel and the right materials can construct a temporary flood barrier for next to nothing, she said, adding that pre-filled sandbags can also be stockpiled at home with relative ease. According to the Water Security Agency of Saskatchewan, optimal materials include burlap or plastic sacs filled with relatively heavy rather than gravelly soil. These factors, Lyle said, confer other “intangible benefits” that contribute to the sandbag’s popularity. “It makes people feel like they’re doing something,” Lyle said of filling and deploying the barriers. “It brings communities together. You feel like you’re fighting the flood.”center_img WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?In addition to their lack of durability in longer-term flood conditions, Lyle said sandbags can easily spring leaks if not assembled or deployed properly. James Blatz, a University of Manitoba civil engineering professor who studied the effectiveness of sandbags, said their drawbacks become even more evident once floodwaters have receded. The bags are generally made of materials that are not resistant to UV rays, ensuring they degrade quickly. Once sand contaminated by dirty floodwaters are added to the mix, Blatz said the result is a single-use product that quickly makes its way to the landfill. He recognizes, however, that these disadvantages won’t carry much weight for people in the midst of a flooding crisis. “When there’s a flood happening, you don’t have time to sit and chat with the academics,” he said. “You put whatever you can in front of the water and do your best.” ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO SANDBAGS THAT MIGHT WORK BETTER?Yes, there are several, though they can’t be deployed for the same low cost as sandbags. Lyle said an increasingly popular option is a sort of large rubber tube known as an aquadam that fills up with floodwater and creates a barrier in the process. Another option gaining popularity in Europe, she said, involves sets of interlocking blocks that can be stored in off-seasons and assembled between pillars installed outside a home. Lyle said both tools outperform sandbags, adding they also have the advantage of being reusable. But she said a crucial part of flood prevention involves governments and municipal planners being more proactive in ensuring communities are ready to react if floodwaters rise.Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Liberals set to unveil socialfinance strategy including 755M in new fund

first_imgOTTAWA — The federal government is to unveil its promised strategy today, planning to use hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to finance new, experimental ways to deliver social services.Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is scheduled to make a mid-day announcement in Montreal.The Liberals have been crafting a strategy for social finance, as it’s known, for years, hoping to bring private money into social services governments provide themselves or directly fund.Under the concept, private backers partner with a group or organization to fund new ways of helping people improve their job skills or health, for instance, with public dollars flowing in if the partnership produces measurable results.What makes the approach attractive to governments is that it shifts financial risk from taxpayers to investors and can turn up more efficient ways of providing social services.Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s fall update included $755 million over 10 years to be seed money for groups that provide services such as housing the homeless or training hard-to-employ people with new skills.The idea is that as loans seeded with federal money are repaid, local intermediaries could hand out more loans and entice traditional lenders to open their wallets. And some of the money will come back to federal coffers.The Liberals hope the spending blossoms into $2 billion in economic activity and creates or maintains up to 100,000 jobs over the next decade.But the development of the strategy appears to have been more rocky than efficient, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the behind-the-scenes talk who have spoken to The Canadian Press under condition of anonymity in order to detail private events.Problems appeared to arise late last year when officials from Employment and Social Development Canada, which Duclos oversees, and the Finance Department disagreed sharply about how the government should use the $755 million.The last version of the plan suggested a fund manager and secretariat be housed inside ESDC with an advisory council of external experts making funding recommendations. Sources say the first bit of money — $50 million to help groups learn how to gain access to larger government sums — was expected to roll out this summer.Less clear is whether the strategy will include changes to the tax system that an expert panel called for last summer.The government-struck panel called in its final report last August for a rewrite of tax rules to help non-profits set up socially motivated companies or take part in social-finance initiatives without fear of losing their tax-exempt status.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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