Dont let Tina Fontaines murder fade away like all the others Mohawk

first_img(Editor’s note: This week APTN is presenting guest columns on missing and murdered Indigenous women. Wednesday is Mohawk activist Shawn Brant.)By Shawn BrantSpecial to APTN National NewsThe recent abduction and murder of Tina Fontaine should have been a game changer, but our response to the tragedy was as predictable as the certainty of her death. In the desperation that followed, we organized and attended vigils. This forum and traditional response, admittedly provides some comfort for the family and allows for renewed calls for a much deserved and necessary national inquiry, but nothing more.We knew in our hearts that the death of this 15-year-old was somehow different than the 1,200 women and girls who died before her, and for a brief moment, we almost dared to believe that an inquiry would be somehow forthcoming even though it had been denied dozens of times before. That hope was quickly muted when the Prime Minister’s Office repeated its weary talking points suggesting that they had ample information collected from the past 20 years and regurgitated the announcement of a promised a DNA database that could be used to identify a woman’s remains, once they had been found.No one stepped forward to challenge the Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statements or his claims of representing the “government of action” on this issue, and no one challenged Harper’s claims that he has had in his possession, for this entire time, “all the information” he needs to fix the problem. Logically, if we are to accept the Harper’s claims of having all the answers then the government of Canada must also accept responsibility for the hundreds of deaths of Indigenous women and girls during its nine years in power and its failure to take any decisive action during that time. Weeks have now passed and the memory of Tina Fontaine, like all the others, has faded, but what is noteworthy and perhaps a contributing factor of the return to status quo is absence of determination, within our own leadership, to press this government for a political solution. Just three weeks prior to the recovery of Tina’s body from the ironically named Red River, the chiefs had reported that there could be “blockades” in response to the Transparency Act legislation implemented by government and compelling chiefs and councils to disclose their salaries. Blockades, it seems, were an appropriate response to prevent public scrutiny of chiefs’ expenses, but there was no mention or even suggestion of blockades for Tina Fontaine. White people believe, and it’s probably true, that we set up blockades for everything.A land issue? Set up a blockade.Forestry and resources – blockade.Rainy day – blockade.Water/housing/taxes – blockade/blockade/blockade.Nearly 1,200 dead Indigenous women and girls? … .It is a historical fact that, for the past 25 years, the Mohawk community of Tyendinaga has answered every call for action. We have targeted attacks against Canada’s critical infrastructure, road and rail blockades, border crossing closures, economic disruptions and numerous days of action. Blockades and campaigns of economic disruption are effective ways to express our anger when our “sovereign rights” are threatened.For two decades we have waited for the Stolen Sisters issue to emerge to the forefront of societies consciousness because we believe that it has the qualities to encompass all our differences including cultural and geographical diversity that exist within our First Nations communities. We believe that the killing of our women and girls is the issue that transcends all barriers and serves as the foundation for a unified people capable of fighting and defeating an obstinate Canadian state. We believe that standing for this issue demonstrates the core values and principles of our people, however, we equally believe that inaction or perceived indifference can subject us to ridicule and suggestions of hypocrisy.It is a joke to profess that we are protectors of Mother Earth when we cannot protect the very mothers who give us life, and now, it is absolutely inconceivable to think that we could stand for any other issue when our daughters cannot freely walk down a street, without the risk of abduction, rape, torture and murder.In February of this year, our Mohawk community of Tyendinaga, served notice on Harper that we were prepared to take action to secure a national inquiry.Our battle strategy was based on the real belief that others would step forward to join us in taking decisive action and to seek justice for the families of the fallen. After seven days on the lines, two CN Rail shutdowns, an injured cop, smashed police vehicles and numerous arrests, it was painfully apparent that we were on our own.Since that time, Loretta Saunders, an Indigenous woman and her unborn baby were killed and dumped along a New Brunswick highway, another woman had her legs amputated and half of her face cut off because she was an indigenous woman, and of course and most recently, Tina Fontaine, who was murdered simply because she was an Indigenous girl.These women made tremendous sacrifices to the cause of awareness and the plight of First Nations women in this country and they should not be so easily dismissed.They serve as missed opportunities in the advancement of our social standing and the development of a real relationship with the rest of Canada. As certain as I was about the imminent death of Tina Fontaine, I am equally certain that another will soon be added to the growing numbers and we will be afforded another opportunity to do the right thing. Regrettably and irrespective of our courage and commitment, as one community we are unable to resolve this issue on our own. We stood ready for justice in the spring of this year and we stand ready now, for the guidance, genuine leadership and the willingness to end this human tragedy.last_img read more

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair featured in APTNs virtual town hall this evening

first_imgAPTN National NewsNDP leader Thomas Mulcair will appear in APTN’s virtual town hall Thursday.APTN’s town halls have already featured Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Green party leader Elizabeth May this week.Conservative leader Stephen Harper is the only one of the four main federal party leaders to refuse to participate in the virtual town halls which ran this week.The Conservative campaign did not respond to APTN’s invitation to take part in the event that have federal party leaders answer pre-taped questions from Indigenous people from across the country.APTN anchor Cheryl McKenzie is hosting the town halls.The Trudeau town hall aired Wednesday and the May town hall aired Tuesday. All the town halls are posted on APTN’s news website.The town hall with Mulcair will also be live-streamed via APTN’s news website beginning at 6 p.m. ET.Harper never agreed to an interview with APTN despite repeated requests throughout his nine years in power.last_img read more

Government emails contradict Liberal claims on fate of First Nation education dollars

first_imgEarlier that same day, an Aboriginal Affairs spokesperson emailed APTN a response from department bureaucrats on the First Nation education money confirming $1.2 billion still existed on the books.“The remaining funds are still available,” said spokesperson Amanda Gordon, who was in the office of former Aboriginal affairs minister Bernard Valcourt, in an Oct. 2, 2015, email.Months earlier in April during the lock-up for what would prove to be the last Harper federal budget, a federal Finance official repeatedly stated the $1.2 billion for First Nation education remained on the books in the “fiscal framework.”The $1.2 billion figure was what was left over from the $1.9 billion the Harper government tied to passage of the controversial First Nation Control of First Nation Education Act which was rejected in 2014 by First Nation chiefs.The Harper government said at the time the money would only flow if the Assembly of First Nations supported the bill.Knowing education to be a sore political spot in the relationship between First Nations and the Harper government, the Liberals jumped out early with the $2.6 billion education promise which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled on the campaign trail last August.The NDP pounced, accusing the Liberals of making a promise based on money that did not exist.A close inspection of the promise revealed the Liberals were really only committing $900 million in new money which would be added to $1.7 billion the party believed the Conservatives had set aside for education.The Liberals, it seems, made a big assumption in their promise. A large chunk of the promised money, about $500 million, came from a 4.5 per cent escalator in education funding the Conservatives also tied to passage of the ill-fated legislation on education.As the record shows, only $1.2 billion was ever set aside for First Nation education. It remains unclear why the Liberals chose to base their election education promise on money that was never there.Now it seems the Liberal government is trying to prepare the groundwork ahead of the next federal budget which may contain education funding that won’t match what was promised by the party to First Nation students on the campaign trail.APTN contacted Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bennett’s office seeking clarification on the contradictions between the record and the statement by the Indigenous Affairs minister.A spokesperson for Finance said in an emailed statement that there was now only $241 million left in the fiscal framework.“In budget 2015 much of this provisioned allocation was removed, but not announced,” said David Barnabe, a spokesperson for the department.jbarrera@aptn.ca@JorgeBarrera Jorge Barrera APTN National NewsIndigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett’s claim the previous Conservative government spent all the money set aside for First Nation education—leaving her government in a hole when it comes to fulfilling its $2.6 billion promise on the issue—is not supported by the record.Bennett said in the House of Commons during question period Friday the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper “removed” money set aside for First Nation education from the federal Finance department’s books.After repeatedly dodging APTN’s questions on the issue, Bennett finally admitted the money on which the Liberals based their $2.6 billion election education promise doesn’t exist.“Sadly, I can confirm that the previous government removed the promised additional funding for first nations education that it had promised,” said Bennett, responding to questions from the NDP on the issue. “I am saddened by that revelation, but we are committed to making the appropriate investments to close that gap.”However, the minister’s claim it’s the Conservative’s fault contradicts information supplied to APTN by Finance and Aboriginal Affairs (as the department was known at the time) officials in October, near the end of last year’s federal campaign.Those departments stated there was $1.2 billion set aside in the books for First Nation education, but it would be up to the next federal government to decide what to do with the money.“The funds remain in the fiscal framework. Following the federal election, the government will determine the best use of these funds,” said Stephanie Rubec, a spokesperson for the Department of Finance, in an Oct. 2, 2015, email.Click to enlarge screenshot of emailslast_img read more

Groups seeks to improve Winnipegs Indigenous hospitality

first_imgAPTN National NewsSome say it’s ironic that the downtown core of Canada’s largest urban Indigenous community has often been hostile to Indigenous people.But now, thanks to an initiative by a group of business people and some Indigenous advisors downtown Winnipeg may just become a bit more inviting.APTN’s Matt Thordarson has this story.last_img

Vigil for Christine Wood set for Wednesday night in Winnipeg

first_imgBrittany HobsonAPTN National NewsA family and community vigil will be held for Christine Wood, the 21-year-old Manitoba woman who police say was killed in a Winnipeg North End home.The vigil is taking place Wednesday evening.“After the most difficult eight months of our lives, we’re now mourning the loss of our beautiful daughter,” the family said in a statement ready by Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO). “We are heartbroken and overwhelmed. We never imagined life without our Christine.”The vigil will start with a short ceremony at St Mary’s Parish beginning at 4 p.m., followed by a walk to the Thunderbird House where it will continue until 7 p.m.The vigil is being hosted by the MKO, the Bear Clan and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.“Everyone is invited to attend any part of the vigil and show their support for the Wood family,” said the Canadian Centre for Child Protection in a media advisory released Tuesday.The memorial vigil follows the arrest of a 30-year-old in connection with Wood’s murder.Brett Ronald Overby was arrested and charged with second-degree murder on April 7, 2017.According to police, investigators searched Overby’s home in March and charged him with an unrelated offence. While at the home, the forensic team remained at the house for several days and found DNAthat was later confirmed to be Wood’s.Her body has still not been found.Wood went missing Aug. 19, 2016, after leaving a Winnipeg hotel.She was visiting the city with her parents when she disappeared. Wood was reported missing two days later. She is originally from Oxford House First Nation, a community of roughly 2,000 innorthern Manitoba.Since her disappearance, the Wood family has spent the better part of nine months searching Winnipeg streets, with the help of the Bear Clan.On Monday, Winnipeg Police Service held a press conference to address Wood’s case.“In January, with very little new information to go on missing persons collaborated with investigators from homicide, and it was determined at that time they would take the investigation in a different tact,” saidChief of Police Danny Smyth. “The homicide unit took over as lead investigator.”The MKO set up a GoFundMe page Monday to help with travel costs for the family to attend the Winnipeg vigil.Over the weekend, the community held its own memorial for Wood and another man who died last week.Wood’s parents have yet to address media. They are expected to make a statement during Wednesday’s vigil.bhobson@aptn.calast_img read more

Inuit relocation Winnipeg exhibit explores 150 years of Canadian history

first_imgBrittany HobsonAPTN National NewsWhile traveling across Canada David Serkoak uses a drum and his late father’s song to help share the story of his people.His father started the song before his death in the 1980s but never got the chance to finish it.That’s because a forced relocation almost 70 years ago nearly wiped out the small Inuit community of the Ahiarmiut of Ennadai Lake.“We were moved just like that,” Serkoak told APTN at a special event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).“You go out your tent and the plane was waiting. Away we went.”On Dec. 10, the International Day of Human Rights, hundreds filled the halls of the CMHR in Winnipeg for special programming including a citizenship ceremony and the launch of a brand new exhibit exploring 150 years of Canada’s human rights history.The exhibit is called Rights of Passage: Canada at 150 and it explores 33 different human rights stories over the course of the last 150 years.The relocation of the Ahiarmiut is one of the stories featured as part of the exhibit.About a year ago Serkoak sat with curators of the exhibit to share his people’s story. He was on hand for the official launch.In 1949 the Ahiarmiut were one of the Inuit communities forced to move by the Canadian government.They were relocated five times before finally settling in Eskimo Point, which is now known as Arviat.Serkoak was five-years-old when he had to move during the second relocation to Henik Lake in 1957.Memories of the move are vivid for him today.“The government had a tent for us with a bit of ration in each tent. When the food ran out then everyone started to wonder where they were going to get food for the next day for their families.”After the move, starvation began to set in.The Ahiarmiut relied on hunting, fishing and trapping for sustenance.They were relocated because the government at the time believed hunting opportunities in the area were scarce.The Ahiarmiut believed they were fine to stay at Ennadai Lake but many were too scared to challenge the government.“All Inuit listened to the white man, whether it’s a priest, welfare worker, RCMP or any white man,” Serkoak said. “If they told you to leave, you leave. If they signal you…you come.“If they want to hit you they can hit you.”After the relocation, many died from starvation, disease or natural causes, according to Serkoak.He said it’s hard to predict what would have happened to his people had they been allowed to stay at Ennadai Lake.In 1985 some of the remaining Ahiarmiut went back to Ennadai Lake. They drummed and danced.For many, it was the first time they were able to practice their culture since the move.“We were told you have to change right now. You have to forget your Inukness,” Serkoak said. “Leave your culture, leave your language outside the door.“Here you only use English.”But this wasn’t the only loss for the community.Serkoak estimates there are less than 30 living survivors.There is one remaining elder alive from the first relocation.A photo of her and her family from a Life Magazine feature released in 1956 on the Ahiarmiut hangs in the exhibit.The exhibit uses mediums like oral interviews, radio, television and social media to explore key moments in Canada’s human rights history.While it’s part of the Canada 150 celebrations, Indigenous Content curator Karine Duhamel says the exhibit is meant to be an opportunity for people to think about the journey over the past 150 years and how much more still needs to be done.“We really wanted to stress the idea of multiple perspectives, lots of different stories and fundamentally of Indigenous peoples’ original occupancy and rights in this place.”The Ahiarmiut exhibit includes an interview with Serkoak. He also lent old artefacts such as antler carvings and a toy canoe to help share his peoples’ history.“Now they are here for Canada and the world to see,” said Serkoak.bhobson@aptn.calast_img read more

Proposed Manitoba law would keep Indigenous kids in care in their communities

first_imgThe Canadian Press WINNIPEG – The Manitoba government has introduced legislation it says will help children in care keep their Indigenous customs and family connections.“It allows Indigenous communities to have greater say in terms of the care of the children,” said Families Minister Scott Fielding.The bill amends the Child and Family Services Act to include the customary care model, which allows children to stay within their community under the guidance of extended family and community leaders.The agency in charge of child and family services in the area will work with parents or guardians to create a customary care agreement, where parental rights aren’t lost. The child’s Indigenous community is also notified and, in certain cases, will play a role in placing the child and customizing their care plan.“Each individual community is very much different, so it will take into consideration Aboriginal culture, tradition and heritage into the decision-making process,” Fielding explained.The caregiver and care home will have to meet current safety standards, he added.The model was promised by the former NDP government and was announced by the Progressive Conservatives in October as part of a larger overhaul of the child-welfare system.There are about 11,000 children in care in Manitoba and about 90 per cent are Indigenous. Fielding said the new legislation is a historic step towards supporting children while maintaining a cultural connection.Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said supporting families, rather than apprehending children, is an important investment into the future.“Children who have a foundation of their culture do a lot better,” he said.Children involved in customary care will also be counted and tracked in a distinct way since the province is not apprehending or seeking a court order. However, they will be included in provincial data.Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he’s concerned about how the children will be counted because he said it’s important to know how many there are, in order to make sure they get the necessary resources and supports.Child welfare in Manitoba has been under scrutiny since the death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair in 2005. A public inquiry into the death showed social workers lost track of the young girl and missed signs she was in trouble before she was beaten by her mother and mother’s boyfriend.The province has also said it will release a review of how the child-welfare system handled Tina Fontaine’s case. Fontaine, 15, ran away from a Winnipeg hotel where she was being housed in August 2014 and her body was found wrapped in a duvet, weighed down by rocks, in the Red River nine days later.last_img read more

Thousands of Haitians find Mexican dream near US border

first_imgTIJUANA, Mexico – Jose Luis Millan found a new crop of star employees at an upscale Tijuana car wash where customers cross the border from the U.S. to pay up to $950 to have their prized possessions steamed and scrubbed for hours. They’re never late, always hustle and come in on days off to learn new skills, traits that he says make them a model for their Mexican counterparts.They are among several thousand Haitians who came to Mexico’s northwest corner hoping to cross the border before the U.S. abruptly closed its doors last year. The Mexican government has welcomed them, with a visa program that helps them fill the need for labour in Tijuana’s growing economy.In a country whose population is 1 per cent black, Tijuana’s Haitians stand out. They share tight living quarters, sending much of their meagre wages to support family in Haiti. Haitians earn far less than they would in the United States but enough to forsake the risk of getting deported by heading north.Two new Haitian restaurants downtown serve dishes with mangoes and mashed plantains. Dozens of Haitian children attend public schools. Factories that export to the U.S. recruit Haitians, who can also be found waiting tables and worshipping at congregations that added services in Creole.“It’s the Mexican dream for many of them, a sense that they belong,” Millan said. “Mexico has given them opportunity. Mexico has opened up and let them achieve their dreams.”Millan, who lived in the Los Angeles area for two decades until he was forced to leave last year for employing dozens of people illegally at his party planning company, sees parallels to Mexicans in the U.S. Their teamwork sets an example. Some customers ask for them.Haitians, he says, “fight hard, fight strong, and they don’t stop.”The Haitians took an accidental route from their impoverished Caribbean homeland to Tijuana, a city of about 2 million that borders San Diego and also has large pockets of Chinese and Korean immigrants.Brazil and its neighbours took in the Haitians after that country’s 2010 earthquake. As construction jobs for the 2016 Summer Olympics ended and Brazil descended into political turmoil, they crossed 10 countries by plane, boat, bus and on foot to San Diego, where U.S. authorities let them in on humanitarian grounds.Then President Barack Obama shifted course in September and started deporting Haitian arrivals. Many decided to call Mexico home.After struggling as a schoolteacher in Haiti, Abelson Etienne moved to Brazil in 2014 to work at a factory that made cable for lighting products. He arrived in Tijuana in December after a harrowing journey with his wife who, despite the U.S. policy shift, was allowed in on humanitarian grounds, presumably because she was seven months’ pregnant.Etienne, a 27-year-old who studied chemistry in college in Haiti, settled into a routine of six-day weeks and three double shifts, earning him 1,900 pesos (a little over $100), mostly for his wife in New York City and the infant son he hasn’t seen. On Sundays, he sleeps until the afternoon and goes to church.“There’s so much work in Tijuana,” he said while a pot of fish stew with mangoes and tomatoes simmered on an electric burner in the two-room apartment that he rents with three other Haitians. “I’ve been treated very well in Mexico.”The Mexican government is giving Haitians one-year, renewable visas that allow them to work but not bring family. Rodulfo Figueroa, the region’s top immigration official, says Mexico is practicing what it asks of the U.S. and other countries.“We believe that there’s a humanitarian case to be made for these people to find better lives in Mexico,” said Figueroa, the National Migration Institute’s delegate in Baja California state, which includes Tijuana. “Our policy is to have the Haitian population do what they need to do to have status in Mexico.”The new arrivals, currently numbering around 3,000, are manageable in a country of 122 million. Central Americans, who come illegally in much larger numbers, are typically deported, although Mexico is granting asylum more often.Rodin St. Surin, 36, is among hundreds of Haitians who found work at Tijuana’s export-oriented factories. CCL Industries Inc., a Toronto-based company that makes Avery office products for retailers including Staples, Wal-Mart, Target and others, needed help after moving manufacturing from Meridian, Mississippi, last year.The plant hired St. Surin and 15 other Haitians in May for its workforce of 1,700 during peak back-to-school season. They inspected and packaged binders at the back of a giant, spotless floor where machines also churn out labels, folders and markers around-the-clock.“I’m very comfortable with these people,” said Mario Aguirre, the plant’s operations director and a 43-year industry veteran. “They have given us very good results. They don’t miss work, they always arrive on time. We’d like to see the same attitude in everyone.”The factory offered 1,500 pesos (about $85) for a six-day week, with health coverage, paid vacation and a free shuttle to work. St. Surin, who left Brazil with hopes of joining a cousin in Miami, sends earnings to a caretaker for his three children in Haiti, whom he hopes to bring to Tijuana.“Mexico could become my home,” he said outside a crowded, graffiti-covered building where a nun allows about 50 Haitians to live rent-free on a street shared by cars and stray dogs. They tap a neighbour’s hose for water to bathe, and cook meals on a campfire under a large canopy.The Ambassadors of Jesus Church, which sits on a rugged dirt road lined by agave and used tires, housed up to 500 Haitians last year on floors strewn with mattresses, making it perhaps the largest religious or civic aid group. Its pastor, Jeccene Thimote, wants to build a “Little Haiti” of 100 houses nearby at the bottom of a canyon where the sound of peacocks and roosters and smell of pigs permeate the air. He built three houses before the city halted construction for lack of flood controls.Thimote, 32, survives on two hours’ sleep, rising to pray at 5 a.m., serving as foreman for a crew of 10 Haitians building a house in one of Tijuana’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, and working the night shift at RSI Home Products Inc., a California-based company that makes cabinetry for The Home Depot and Lowe’s.Thimote, who was among 160 Haitians still living rent-free at the church this summer, sends his earnings to Haiti to settle family debts and support a 3-year-old daughter. He hoped to join a cousin in New York when he left Ecuador last year, but considers Mexico better than Haiti, saying, “There’s more poverty there than here.”The church has adapted. Every Wednesday night, Haitians gather for a rousing sermon in Creole. Mexicans attend a Sunday service in Spanish. A Haitian and Mexican recently announced plans to marry at the church.last_img read more

Morneau to give speech in Calgary ahead of Kinder Morgan deadline

first_imgCALGARY – Finance Minister Bill Morneau is headed west next week with plans to give a speech to a Calgary business audience a day ahead of a deadline set by Kinder Morgan for its controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.The Calgary Chamber of Commerce, which announced the event set for May 30, says the speech will focus on securing Canada’s economic future.Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential construction on the Trans Mountain project in April, citing obstruction by B.C. that put the viability of the pipeline in question.The company has set a May 31 deadline for getting assurances it can proceed without delays on the controversial project.Morneau said last week the federal government is willing to cover cost overruns caused by political uncertainty on the pipeline project.However, the minister also said if Kinder Morgan were to walk away from the pipeline, there are other investors willing to step in.last_img read more

Foreign buyers perceived to influence real estate prices despite StatCan data

first_imgTORONTO – Foreign buyers might make up a small sliver of Canada’s biggest real estate markets, but homebuyers in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal still believe they are heavily influencing housing activity.A study from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released Wednesday found that 68 per cent of Vancouver respondents, 48 per cent of Toronto respondents and 42 per cent of Montreal respondents believe foreign buyers are having “a lot of influence” on their markets and are driving up home prices.The insights shared by 2,159 respondents in the three cities between September and mid-October is in stark contrast with recent data from Statistics Canada showing foreign buyers only own 4.8 per cent of Vancouver properties and 3.4 per cent of homes in Toronto.“What is striking is the significant gap between perceptions of the public and available data, so much so that the perception of non-resident ownership takes centre stage when discussing the drivers of price growth,” said CMHC’s report.The Crown corporation said it couldn’t quantify how big an impact perceptions around foreign buyers were having on the markets, but it found that in Vancouver the influence of foreign investors is perceived to be stronger than supply constraints and demand.However, in Toronto, it said that influence is in line with market forces.Beyond foreign buyers, CMHC also looked at other factors affecting homebuyers’ motivations, including bidding wars.It found that 55 per cent of Toronto and Vancouver respondents said they had experienced a bidding war, compared with 17 per cent in Montreal.CMHC said the bidding wars most frequently cropped up around apartment condominiums, where prices are lower than the median purchase price for all properties.The study also revealed that 48 per cent of buyers in Vancouver and Toronto spent more than they budgeted on their home, but only 24 per cent of Montreal buyers exceeded their planned total.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version misstated the number of survey respondents.last_img read more

The worst toys for the holidays according to safety group

first_imgBOSTON — A Black Panther “slash claw” and a plastic Power Rangers sword are among the items topping a consumer safety group’s annual list of worst toys for the holiday season.Massachusetts-based World Against Toys Causing Harm, or W.A.T.C.H., unveiled its 46th annual list of the 10 “worst toys” Tuesday at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Boston.Joan Siff, the non-profit organization’s president, said many of the toys on the list represent choking, eye and other safety hazards that surface year after year, despite the group’s efforts.Siff advised parents to shop “defensively” and not be lulled into a false sense of security because a toy is made by a familiar brand or sold at an established retailer. One child is treated in a U.S. emergency room every three minutes for a toy-related injury, according to the Center for Injury and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.A Cabbage Patch Kids ballerina doll that made this year’s list, for example, is marketed to children ages two and above, but includes a removable tutu and headband that can be choking hazards, said James Swartz, a trial lawyer who serves as W.A.T.C.H.’s director.A slender mallet that comes with VTech’s caterpillar-shaped electronic xylophone — a toy made for children as young as 18 months old — is another similar choking threat, he said.Other toys on the list included a Nerf gun that fires soft discs, a “stomp rocket” that launches foam-tipped projectiles up to 200 feet in the air and a plastic “cutting fruit” set. The cutting set, which includes a toy knife made out of rigid plastic, is made for children who are older than 2.But the Toy Association, an industry trade group that represents most of the toy companies named this year, complained the list is biased, inaccurate and “needlessly frightening” to parents.The association said many of the hazards highlighted by W.A.T.C.H. are clearly spelled out in the products’ packaging and instructions. It also said only two products listed on the non-profit‘s “worst toy” lists from the five years prior were recalled, and those two had already been pulled before W.A.T.C.H. released its list.Swartz responded by pointing to a list of dozens of toys that have been recalled or pulled from retailers’ shelves from the early 2000s all the way back to the 1970s, in part by the group’s efforts.And he said providing detailed warning labels “doesn’t absolve” toy makers from needing to simply design safer items. “They’re trying to shift the responsibility to parents and consumers,” Swartz said. “They’re really shirking their responsibility.”Swartz highlighted Hasbro’s retractable plastic claws for Marvel’s Black Panther, an item featured on this year’s list. The toy gloves come with a warning they should not be used to hit or swing at people.“When you call it a slash claw,” he said, “there’s likely one thing a child is going to do with that claw.”Philip Marcelo, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Fuel theft poses first big battle for Mexican president

first_imgMEXICO CITY — Mexico’s new president has shut down some pipelines to stop fuel thieves who he says had established an illegal distribution network.The fight against thefts of $3 billion per year from government pipelines and fuel depots represents the first big domestic battle for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1.Lopez Obrador said Monday that some gangs had actually built warehouses over pipeline rights of way to drill illegal taps into the ducts.The pipeline shutdowns and a temporary switch to more distribution by tanker trucks has caused gasoline shortages in a handful of states.Despite the political costs of the shortages, Lopez Obrador said he will not fold, noting “let’s see who gets tired first, the fuel thieves or us.”The Associated Presslast_img read more

Fire Fighters matching donations made to help family fighting cancer

first_imgFORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Professional Fire Fighters will match donations up to $5,000 for 4-year-old Natalie who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma.In a post on Facebook, the group said they would match up to $5,000 with a goal of raising $10,000 to help Natalie’s family with the cost of travelling to Vancouver during her treatment.  A GoFundMe campaign was also created for the family but is only halfway to the $20,000 goal.Donations made to the Professional Fire Fighters Charitable Society can receive a tax receipt.  To make a donation, contact Adam at 250-264-2857 or call the Fire Department at 250-785-4333. Several groups and residents created fundraisers for Natalie in December to also help the family.  The Professional Fire Fighters Charitable Society also made a sizeable donation at that time.The Fire Fighters also shared the following update from Natalie’s mother.“Natalie has recently started round 4 chemo, and is tolerating things quite well. Most days her energy level and appetite are back full force. She is well on her way to finishing the first part of the treatment plan which consists of 2 more rounds of chemo and a major surgery to remove her main tumour between her liver and kidney. After that point, we are moving into the second phase which is bone marrow transplants, and radiation. As a family we are doing ok with things, she misses her sisters and misses mom when I am back in FSJ with the other two girls. They haven’t seen her yet but hopefully, we can get them down there soon to visit unfortunately the cost of extra medications and living down there is proving to be a bit challenging without the weight of flights added as well. All in all, she is an incredibly strong-willed child and is starting to come back to her normal self which we are all grateful for no less! “last_img read more

Indigenous consultations on TMX pipeline on schedule Natural Resources minister

first_imgCALGARY, A.B. – Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi says consultations with Indigenous groups about the stalled Trans Mountain pipeline expansion are progressing well and he still expects to wrap up the court-ordered process by May.On a conference call from Houston, where he’s attending the CERAWeek energy conference, Sohi told reporters his department has now met with more than 100 of the 117 Indigenous communities expected to be impacted by the project.The Federal Appeal Court last summer overturned approval of the project to triple oil shipments from Edmonton to the West Coast, ruling that the NEB had not properly considered its impact on marine life nor had Ottawa meaningfully consulted with Indigenous groups. Last month, the National Energy Board found that the pipeline is still in the public interest despite the risk that an increase in tanker traffic could adversely affect southern resident killer whales, hurt related Indigenous culture and increase greenhouse gas emissions.It added 16 new recommendations for federal government action in addition to the 156 conditions in its initial approval in 2016.Sohi says the recommendations, which the NEB said are not within its power to order, are already being studied by his department and will be considered in the government’s decision on TMX when consultations are complete.“The NEB report informs our ongoing consultations and those recommendations will be discussed once the cabinet is ready to make the final decision,” he said.Cabinet is under immense pressure to decide the fate of the pipeline before the federal election in the fall.There is also pressure to get the expansion built because Ottawa bought the existing pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion last August, after political opposition to the expansion left the company’s shareholders reluctant to proceed.last_img read more

NCLAT annuls creditors voting on NBCCs bid for Jaypee Infra

first_imgNew Delhi: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) Friday annulled voting by homebuyers and lenders on NBCC’s bid to acquire debt-laden Jaypee Infratech, and allowed renegotiation on the offer by May 30. Hearing a plea by IDBI Bank, seeking a stay or annulment of the voting process, a three-member NCLAT bench headed by Chairman Justice S J Mukhopadhaya also allowed nine homebuyers’ associations representing around 5,000 buyers to file intervention application. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: IcraThe appellate tribunal also allowed the Committee of Creditors (CoC) to renegotiate on NBCC’s bid by May 30. Fresh voting process will start from May 31, the bench said. On Thursday, voting started to approve or reject NBCC’s bid to acquire Jaypee group’s realty firm. As many as 13 banks and over 23,000 homebuyers of Jaypee Infratech have voting rights in the CoC. The voting process was to end on Sunday and the result was to be announced on May 20. In its order on Friday, the bench said,”in the meantime, the voting already taken is annulled.” Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysIDBI Bank, the biggest lender to the debt-laden realty firm, had opposed NBCC’s bid saying it was conditional. It said NBCC’s offer for the company was conditional upon grant of approval to transfer Yamuna Expressway’s business. The bench further said,”the CoC, if required, may renegotiate with NBCC by May 30, 2019 and will start fresh voting since May 31, 2019 and onwards.” The appellate tribunal left it to the CoC to approve the resolution plan of NBCC “if it is in accordance with law.” However, the bench said,”in case the CoC is not inclined to accept the plan they will not pass any order of rejection without prior permission of this Appellate Tribunal as the matter relating to their voting share and other financial creditors is pending consideration.” While allowing intervention application of homebuyers, the bench said their representative can take legal assistance considering the fact that the allottees have no expertise in the legal field. “Such legal professional is allowed to attend meeting of CoC to assist the representative but will not cast any vote nor express any opinion in the meeting,” the order added. Jaypee Infratech went into insolvency process in 2017 after the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) admitted an application by IDBI Bank-led consortium seeking resolution of the realty firm. In the first round of insolvency proceedings, a Rs 7,350-crore bid of Lakshdeep, part of Suraksha Group, was rejected by lenders. Later on in October 2018, interim resolution professional (IRP) Anuj Jain started a second round of bidding process to revive Jaypee Infratech on the direction of NCLT. Earlier this month, creditors, including banks and homebuyers, rejected a bid of Mumbai-based Suraksha Realty through a voting process, following which the CoC decided to consider NBCC’s offer. In its revised offer, NBCC proposed infusion of Rs 200 crore equity capital, transfer of 950 acres of land worth Rs 5,000 crore as well as Yamuna Expressway to banks and completion of flats construction by July 2023 in order to settle an outstanding claim of Rs 23,723 crore of financial creditors. Earlier this week, the CoC decided to put on vote the revised offer of NBCC, with homebuyers favouring the voting process while bankers dissenting. Lenders had written to NBCC seeking clarifications on certain relief and concessions put forward by the public sector firm in its resolution plan. However, NBCC decided not to dilute the conditions of exemption from income tax liability as well as from taking consent of development authorities for transfer of businesses. Clarifications from the NBCC were sought in the wake of the IRP flagging to the lenders that NBCC’s bid was conditional and non-binding. Jain, the IRP, had written to the CoC that NBCC’s revised bid was conditional as the plan would not be binding unless key relief measures such as extinguishing of income tax liability and exemption from seeking consent of YEIDA (Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority) for any business transfer, were taken.last_img read more

German FM calls on Syrian opposition to join Geneva II

first_imgBERLIN– Steinmeier underlines talks have now entered into a decisive week ahead of Geneva II peace conference which will be a ‘unique opportunity’ for peace in Syria.German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called on the Syrian opposition groups to join Geneva II peace conference scheduled for January 22.“Entering political talks will be nothing but gain for the Syrian opposition,” Steinmeier said in an interview with the German public broadcaster ARD. “But in the war field the number of victims will continue to rise, without bringing any favorable outcome for the opposition,” he said, following the Friends of Syria group meeting in Paris. Steinmeier has underlined that talks have now entered into a decisive week ahead of Geneva II peace conference and this conference will be a “unique opportunity” for peace in Syria.German Foreign Minister dismissed any possible talks with radical groups fighting in Syria, stressing that Syrian opposition has also distanced itself from those radical groups.“Syrian opposition has been fighting in two fronts, in one front against the Assad regime, and in the second front against the radical Islamists,” Steinmeier said.“For a solution, we have to win the hearts and minds of the Syrian people. Once these are achieved, the radicals would not have any chance.”last_img read more

Photo of Abdelilah Benkiran and the Late Abdellah Baha Goes Viral

Marrakech – A photo of Head of Government Abdelilah Benkiran and his friend and colleague, the late Abdellah Baha, has gone viral on Moroccan social media.The photo shows the close relationship the two leaders had with each other. It depicts Abdellah Baha pouring water over the Head of Government’s hands before the start of a prayer group.The death of Abdellah Baha was an especially poignant loss for Mr. Benkiran, with the Prime Minister considering the late minister as one of his own brothers. While many ministers claim his death is a hard reality for all, it’s seen as a particularly devastating loss for Abdelilah Benkiran. The funeral ceremony of the late Abdellah Baha, who died in a train accident last Sunday, took place at the Prime Minister’s home. The service was attended by Prince Moulay Rachid and a majority of Moroccan political figures. read more