New Delhi: Members of the opposition in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday raised concern over amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, saying the provisions were against the federal structure of the country.The proposed law allows the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go to any state without taking permission from state police concerned for checking anti-terror activities. This is against the federal structure of the country, Mahua Moitra (TMC) said during a debate on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’Opposing the Bill, she said when the NIA itself is under a cloud, there is also apprehension of the agency being misused for political vendetta. “Features of the Bill are anti-people and anti- Constitution…it is a very dangerous act,” she added. During the debate, Moitra said, “One runs a risk of being branded as anti-national if you oppose the government”. “Every time the opposition disagrees with national security, we are called anti-national by the propaganda machinery and troll army of the government,” she said amid uproar from treasury benches. Also Read – Farooq demands unconditional release of all detainees in J&KS S Ahulwalia (BJP) raised point of order that members cannot make allegation against the government without substantiating it. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said it is derogatory and the government has not called any one anti-national. However, after intervention from the chair she was allowed to speak. The provision to declare an individual as terrorist is without due process and against principle of natural justice, she said. Supriya Sule (NCP) said when amendments to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) were made, the then Chief Minister (Narendra Modi) of Gujarat had “opposed” the Bills. “It was the Centre’s duty to consult states…federal structure are being snatched,” she said quoting the then Chief Minister of Gujarat. She said there should not be misuse of the law. Innocent people should not be unnecessary harassed, she said, adding, the federal structure should be maintained. Danish Ali (BSP) raised apprehensions about the misuse of the proposed law and of innocent being harassed. Citing example of POTA and TADA, he said these laws were repealed by this House itself because of rampant misuse. V N Borlakunta (TRS) said the provision of the Bill is taking away rights of states and it is against the federal spirit of the Constitution. Pointing out that the proposed amendment gives absolute power to the central government, Md Jawed (Cong) said arresting an individual as a terrorist on the basis of suspicion alone is “dangerous”. Will government provide compensation to those who are victim of misuse of such a law, if applied, he asked. Participating in the debate, Vinayak Raut (Shiv Sena) said the bill would help in controlling terrorist activities in the country. He alleged that the previous government was not able to control this menace because they used laws for political purposes. “They were not successful in controlling terrorism,” he said. He demanded the government further strengthen the judicial system for timely implementation of rulings in terrorism-related cases to create fear in minds of terrorists “Within three years, it should be implemented,” Raut said. Pinaki Misra (BJD) said there should be a better coordination among different agencies and NIA. The coordination should be done through an institutionalised set up and not on case-to-case basis, he said. He also suggested that crimes including bio-terrorism and narco-terrorism should be covered under the purview of this law.
New Delhi: The Supreme court will conduct hearing on the Ayodhya mediation report on Friday. The Ayodhya mediation panel, which was allowed time till July 31 to continue talks to develop consensus between Hindu and Muslim parties on the temple dispute, has submitted a report in a sealed cover. Based on the report, the top court will decide its further proceedings on Friday. In the last hearing, the court said it had received a report of the three-member mediation panel, headed by former apex court judge F.M.I. Kalifulla, and took on record the contents. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’ The other two members of the panel are spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The court has barred publication of the report’s contents as the panel will continue the mediation process till the end of the month. The top court had on March 8 appointed the three-member panel to talk to all stakeholders and try to reach a consensus to resolve the Ayodhya row. Recommending mediation, the court had said it was looking for “a possibility of healing relationships”. It expected mediation to succeed in developing a consensus on the sensitive matter. It asked the panel to conduct in-camera proceedings.
Economic development always comes with a dash of urbanisation. That is almost an economic truism. Empirical studies have shown that nearly all countries that have attained middle-income status were urbanised by at least 50 per cent, and all high-income countries were at 70 to 80 per cent level of urbanisation. The causal factor is the people that are attracted towards cities as urban areas are hubs of activity and growth. The concentration of talent in urban areas drives productivity and spurs job creation and growth. This explains the strong linkage between urbanisation and growth of economies as a whole. Also Read – A special kind of bondThe view that cities are the epicentre of economic growth is supported by the fact that with only 50 per cent of the world population, cities generate more than 80 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As a result, the composition of cities is such that they are home to a greater number of young and working-age population relative to rural areas, which makes these regions critical for capturing the demographic dividend. Thus, cities in the developing world should be the focus of growth strategy due to their economic size, population composition, and innovative edge. Also Read – Insider threat managementSo, the path to higher growth for an economy like India should be through its urban areas. It must be noted, however, that India has had a curious trend in urbanisation. As per the 2011 Census, 31 per cent of India was urbanised. This is projected to be at 34 per cent by the World Bank currently. By contrast, about 55 per cent of the world has urbanised on an average. Indian urbanisation trends have been slow with an annual growth rate of 2.76 per cent between 2001 and 2011. In fact, the rate of urbanisation in the first decade of the new millennium has been slower than most of the second half of the previous century when urbanisation grew in excess of 3 per cent annually until the 1990s. These figures show that India is not urbanising at a growing pace as is often argued. Also, in what the World Bank has termed “messy”, the physical space occupied by Indian cities is growing much faster than the population growth in these areas. Satellite analysis of night lights in South Asian cities shows that urban areas are expanding at the rate that was slightly more than 5 per cent annually while the population growth in them has been a little less than 2.5 per cent per year. This curious trend can be a reflection of the growth of slums and sprawl in the periphery of cities. Thus, it can be argued that urbanisation in India and the manner in which it is taking place has immense scope for improvement. On the other hand, as more and more Indians migrate to urban areas with aspirations of a better quality of life and opportunities, it becomes increasingly challenging to meet those demands. Growing urbanisation brings with it severe stress on the city infrastructure, basic services, housing, land use and environment. The inability to meet these challenges constrains the potential of cities to gain from the agglomeration economies as productivity is severely hampered. A range of policy issues needs to be addressed to remedy these regional issues facing India as they can unlock immense growth potential for the country. First, at times there is little clarity on the responsible body of governance for urban areas. The Census differentiates between statutory towns and census towns. While the latter are governed by municipalities, census towns, which are areas that have a minimum population of 5,000, at least three-fourths of its male population engaged in non-agricultural activities, and have a population density of at least 400 per square kilometre, are classified as urban areas but are considered rural for all other matters, especially governance. This results in a chaotic development of urbanisation. India had almost 4,000 census towns as of 2011. Second, India still lacks devolution of power to local areas despite having decades of constitutional ability to do so. The 74th Constitutional Amendment of 1992 gave the state governments power to transfer a set of 18 municipal functions to urban local governments as they have a greater knowledge of service delivery at the local level. However, most of the states have refrained from devolving all of these powers to local governments. Town planning, for instance, still rests with a lot of states. It is problematic for urban local bodies to be accountable to the people but not having the power to deliver services to them. Finally, to add to the constraints of local governments, the introduction of GST has limited their source of fiscal revenue as taxes like octroi and local body tax were subsumed within it. This imposed a heavy strain on the functioning of local bodies as they had relied heavily on revenue from these sources. The GST revenue, thus, should have been shared with local bodies as well. This has not been done; severely limiting the ability of urban local bodies to implement development plans and provide services. India needs to address these issues facing its urban economies to access the full potential that they present for being drivers of economic growth.IANS(Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness. Chirag Yadav, senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article. The views expressed are strictly personal)
New Delhi: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday indirectly hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diaspora outreach event ‘Howdy, Modi!’ in Houston, Texas on Sunday, saying that the ongoing slowdown was a speed breaker in his government’s claims of working towards making India a $5 trillion economy. “Creating a media blitz by repeating $5 trillion everyday and managing headlines will not trigger economic reforms. Sponsored events in foreign countries do not bring investors. Investors have lost faith. Economic investment has lost ground,” tweeted Priyanka without taking the name of the ‘Howdy Modi!’ event. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details “The BJP government is not accepting the truth. This economic slowdown is a speed breaker in the path of becoming an economic superpower. Without corrective measures, all the show-off is worthless,” she further tweeted. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal too questioned the logic of organising publicity extravaganzas outside the country. “If ‘Howdy Modi!’ is being held out of India, then it should take place here as well. Modi should have an event like ‘Howdy Modi!’ in the rural areas of the country and the people will tell him what they are facing.” “He organises such extravaganzas for both internal and external consumption, these don’t result in prosperity for ordinary people here, they are only for publicity,” said Sibal. The White House had confirmed that US President Trump will be making a joint appearance with Modi at the Houston event.
OTTAWA – New Democrat MP Christine Moore says she’s taking legal action to fight a former soldier’s allegations of sexual misconduct, which she describes as a “total lie” aimed at attacking her credibility.In an exclusive interview, Moore told The Canadian Press she intends to bring a defamation lawsuit against Glen Kirkland, as well as columnists Neil Macdonald, Christie Blatchford and Rosie DiManno, who reported on the matter.“To want to do that because I dared to denounce people who behaved inappropriately, I think it’s horrible,” she said, referring to her role in the recent investigation into her colleague Erin Weir, as well as Liberal MPs Massimo Pacetti and Scott Andrews in 2014.All three men were expelled from their respective caucuses following the investigations.“My private life was exposed” she said. “My sex life was exposed. It was hard for me. It was hard for my family…for everyone around me.”In the presence of her lawyer, the 34-year-old Quebec MP said she had a romantic relationship with Kirkland that lasted about four months, between June and October 2013.“We were lovers,” she said, adding they had discussed long-term plans.“Maybe he lied to me and never loved me, but at the time I was sure we were lovers.”In the interview, she showed photos and a plane ticket indicating he’d planned to visit her in Quebec as proof of the relationship. One of Moore’s close friends confirmed that Moore and Kirkland dated.But Kirkland, when reached by phone in Manitoba, maintained he had never been in a relationship with Moore.“God no! Relationships mean both parties have to be involved,” he said.The 34-year-old realtor has alleged that Moore behaved inappropriately toward him when he was vulnerable and she was in a position of authority due to her role as an MP.But he says he did not file a complaint against Moore and not claim to have been assaulted. He said he only discussed the matter when a journalist questioned him.Kirkland ran for the federal Liberal nomination in Brandon-Souris riding in 2014 before pulling out, according to The Brandon Sun.While he confirmed certain details of Moore’s account, Kirkland refused to fully discuss the events. He said he was ready to take a lie detector test.The two met on June 5, 2013, when Kirkland, who was injured in a Taliban ambush in 2008, testified in a parliamentary committee about the treatment of injured soldiers in Afghanistan.Kirkland said Moore then invited him to her office and encouraged him to drink gin, even after he told her he was taking medication and shouldn’t drink. He claims she later followed him to his hotel room and spent the night.Moore, on the other hand, dismisses Kirkland’s account as “absolutely ridiculous,” pointing out she had to vote in the House of Commons that evening.“I spent three hours voting that night, it’s on video,” she said. “I can not have followed him to his hotel room.”House of Commons records show Moore was present at 10:40 p.m. for a series of votes that ended about an hour later.Moore says she went to Kirkland’s hotel afterwards in response to an invitation sent via text message and had a consensual sexual encounter.The Canadian Press was not able to verify the text.Moore said that while she invited the group of soldiers for drinks and gave Kirkland her business card, she disputes other aspects of his account.She says she does not drink gin, and said he told the commission that the only medication he was taking was for insulin.According to the transcript available on the House of Commons site, Kirkland also testified he was taking another medication against arthritis.Moore says the group left her office in the beginning of the evening because she had to attend an event, but she later met Kirkland and several others on the patio of a downtown Ottawa bar – at his invitation, she said.Photos from that night, including one on Kirkland’s Facebook page, show another parliamentary employee was present. Empty beer glasses can be seen on the table.When questioned on this last detail, Kirkland said he must have been drinking non-alcoholic beer that night.Moore said Kirkland then accompanied her back to her office as she prepared for the vote, and embraced her there.“It’s him who kissed me,” she said. “I responded to his kisses, but it’s him who took the first step.”Moore says that after their night together, they stayed in touch and they saw each other twice.On June 21, 2013, Kirkland sent her an email containing an itinerary and plane ticket for a trip for him to visit her in her riding in Abitibi-Temiscamingue. He later cancelled the trip.The Canadian Press was able to view this email.Moore and Kirkland then met in July at Kenosee Lake, a tourist village in Saskatchewan.Moore showed The Canadian Press photos from what she describes as a “lovers’ trip,” stating, “there were none of his friends there.”Kirkland, on the other hand, claims Moore travelled to Saskatchewan where he played golf with friends without being invited.He claims she also went to his home in Brandon, Man., few weeks later to visit him against his will.She, on the other hand, said he accepted her offer to visit.“I sent him my flight itinerary by email two days before I arrived,” she said. “He picked me up in Winnipeg.”The Quebec MP says she ended the relationship in October 2013 due to the geographic distance between them and Kirkland’s difficult divorce.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh suspended Moore from her parliamentary functions on Tuesday pending an investigation, which Moore hopes will be made public.Moore said she felt she had no other choice but to take legal action against Kirkland and the columnists who reported his words.“Before making public statements, before publishing reports, there have to be basic checks made to see whether there are inconsistencies,” she said.“If there are no inconsistencies, I think it’s relevant to believe the victims.”
Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, May 3———NOTLEY SAYS PROVINCE WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT FORT MCMURRAY: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley returned to Fort McMurray a year after a fierce wildfire destroyed 10 per cent of the city and told its leaders and residents that the province still has their backs. Notley said it’s sad to remember all that was taken from people — everything from their homes to their cherished belongings. But she also said Fort McMurray residents have shown their resiliency and will continue to do so as the recovery moves ahead. The fire started deep in the bush on May 1, 2016, and exploded into a ferocious blaze that forced the evacuation of the entire city two days later. It was dubbed “The Beast” because it was so fierce and unpredictable. More than 80,000 people fled as towering flames licked at their homes and crackled along the highway used by thousands to leave the city. Activities such as yoga, pancakes and visits with friends were taking place in a riverfront park to mark the one-year anniversary. The low-key event — that also included dance, art, acupuncture and meditation — started at dawn on Wednesday and was to run until dusk.———CENSUS SHOWS COUNTRY AGING FASTER THAN EVER BEFORE: After nearly four decades in the workforce, 64-year-old Louise Plouffe is looking ahead to retirement. But Tristan Plummer, 23, is looking for work. Plouffe and Plummer represent opposite ends of the age demographic that defines the Canadian labour force, which is in the throes of unprecedented change, according to Statistics Canada’s latest census figures released Wednesday. The proportion of Canadians aged 15 to 64 grew just 0.4 per cent between 2011 and 2016, its lowest rate since 1851, comprising 66.5 per cent of the population. The agency expects that proportion to decline to about 60 per cent by 2031, when the youngest baby boomers turn 65. By then, the proportion of seniors domestically would rival the level currently seen in Japan, currently home to the oldest population in the G7. That gives Canada a few more years to benefit from what Statistics Canada calls a “demographic dividend”: a growing labour force while other countries watch theirs shrink. Eventually the numbers will decline in Canada as well, once populations age and retirements take hold, said Statistics Canada demographer Andre Lebel.———SAJJAN SAYS MILITARY GRAPPLING WITH UNDERFUNDING: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan offered a grim assessment Wednesday of the state of the military, saying years of underfunding has hollowed out the armed forces and left it struggling to do even basic tasks. The comments to defence industry representations and experts came as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its new defence policy, which Sajjan promised would begin to fix some of the problems. “It will be a plan to get out of the hole we are starting in and it will be a plan to build an even stronger military,” Sajjan said in a speech to the Conference of Defence Associations Institute. “It will be a plan to allocate realistic funding to those ‘bread and butter’ projects that will keep our military running efficiently and effectively for years to come.” It was the underfunding of those “bread and butter projects,” known in defence circles as the “Key 18,” that were the main focus of Sajjan’s address and which senior defence officials say pose the biggest problem. Those include upgrades and life extensions to two military helicopter fleets, air defences for infantry units, and engineering and logistical vehicles for the army, among others.———MOUNTAINEER PINNED BY WEATHER, QUAKES IN YUKON: Parks Canada says a team from Kluane National Park in Yukon is in close contact with a climber who is stuck on Canada’s highest peak. Natalia Martinez of Argentina is making a solo ascent of Mount Logan but her plans were disrupted by two powerful earthquakes that jolted the Alaska Panhandle and southwestern Yukon early Monday. Parks Canada’s Christine Aikens said the visitor safety team from Kluane National Park in Haines Junction was working with Martinez to develop a plan to get her off the mountain. An official with the company that flew the 37-year-old to the east ridge of Mount Logan several weeks ago said the experienced climber is pinned down at about the 3,700-metre mark of the nearly 6,000-metre peak. Williams said Martinez moved her camp to a safer area and is in good shape but was dealing with stormy weather and heavy snow that could prevent any rescue until Thursday or Friday.———TORONTO REAL ESTATE PRICES RISE NEARLY 25 PER CENT: The Toronto Real Estate Board says there is fresh evidence indicating that speculation and foreign ownership make up a small component of the city’s housing market, raising questions about the need for Ontario’s plan to tax foreign speculators. The board released new data on foreign buyers at the same time as it reported that prices continued to soar last month, though there were signs the market may be cooling as the number of transactions slipped. TREB says that between 2008 and April 2017, the average share of foreign buyers of properties in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, which stretches from the Niagara Region to Peterborough, Ont., was 2.3 per cent. It says during the same time period, the share of homes that were bought and sold within one year of the original transaction — an indication of speculative activity — was also low. The new data came as the average price for all properties in the Greater Toronto Area last month rose to $920,791, an increase of 24.5 per cent compared to a year ago. That was slightly below the 33.2 per cent year-over-year increase in prices in March.———FBI CHIEF JAMES COMEY DEFENDS CLINTON EMAIL DECISION: Under fire from Democrats, FBI Director James Comey insisted during repeated questions Wednesday he was consistent in disclosing information about an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails before Election Day while keeping quiet about a probe into possible contacts between Russia and the Donald Trump’s campaign. Comey, in his most impassioned public defence of how he handled the case, also said it made him feel “mildly nauseous” to think his actions in October might have influenced the race won by Republican Trump over Democrat Clinton. But he told the Senate Judiciary Committee the FBI cannot take into account how its actions might benefit or harm politicians. Persistent questions from senators, and Comey’s testimony, made clear that the FBI director’s decisions of last summer and fall involving both the Trump and Clinton campaigns continue to roil national politics and produce lingering second-guessing about whether the investigations were handled evenly.———POLICE NOW WELCOME AT ST. JOHN’S PRIDE PARADE: The Pride committee in St. John’s, N.L., has reversed course and invited uniformed police officers to march in the city’s Pride parade this July. As police forces across Canada face restrictions or bans at Pride events, St. John’s Pride is now welcoming uniformed members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and RCMP. Last July, the RNC said it would play a “less visible role” at the Pride parade in Newfoundland’s capital than it had in prior years, saying the force would offer traffic support but uniformed officers would not march in the procession. The decision came at the request of Pride event organizers, who had encouraged officers to take part in the proceedings while off-duty and not in uniform in an effort to make the event “more accessible to all.” The organization stressed that uniformed police would not be turned away from the parade, but encouraged officers to represent their unit in other ways like wearing T-shirts or carrying banners. Pride Toronto members voted to ostensibly ban official police floats from marches and parades in January, adopting a list of demands put forward by that city’s chapter of Black Lives Matter.———BOMBAY SAPPHIRE GIN RECALLED IN FIVE PROVINCES: At least five provincial liquor control agencies are recalling 1.14-litre bottles of Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin because they contain more alcohol than the amount stated on the label. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario was the first to remove the affected product from all of its stores shelves. The Crown corporation says the recall was initiated after an investigation by its quality assurance team found the gin’s alcohol content was 77 per cent, instead of the 40 per cent declared on the label. Since then, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, Saskatchewan’s Liquor and Gaming Authority, the Societe Des Alcools du Quebec, and Nova Scotia Liquor Control have all followed suit. Customers and licensees are advised to return the recalled product for a full refund. This is the second such incident in Ontario in as many months. An Ontario-made brand of vodka was pulled from shelves in early March because one batch contained double the stated amount of alcohol.———FLOOD WATERS CONTINUE TO RISE NEAR MONTREAL: Flood waters are continuing to threaten hundreds of homes in the Montreal-area town of Rigaud. Mayor Hans Gruenwald Jr. says about 400 residences could be affected by the surging water levels. Gruenwald says river levels have risen by eight centimetres in the past two weeks and are expected to climb another five to seven centimetres today. He says that means water could start entering homes through basement windows. Thirty-one families have had to evacuate their homes and are being helped by family, friends and the Red Cross. Flooding is also affecting homes in the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro on the western part of the island of Montreal. Gruenwald said he is very concerned with the situation in his community. The Red Cross has helped people in 31 Rigaud residences evacuate and the mayor urged others to follow suit.———B.C. LIBERALS ‘STAND CORRECTED’ ON #IAMLINDA: British Columbia’s Liberals say they “stand corrected” on claims the NDP planted a woman at an election campaign event to confront Christy Clark. The brief encounter last week between the woman and Clark has generated a buzz on social media as the hashtag #IamLinda became a rallying point on Twitter for people who oppose the B.C. Liberal government. When asked Wednesday if they believe the woman was an NDP plant, the Liberals issued a short statement that says: “We’re happy to stand corrected.” A video posted online last week shows Clark in a North Vancouver market shaking hands with a woman who introduces herself as Linda and says she would never vote for the premier and begins to explain why. Clark then cuts her off. Two people connected to Clark’s campaign later accused the woman of being a New Democrat plant and tweeted a picture of her with Nicholas Simons, a New Democrat member of the legislative assembly for Powell River-Sunshine Coast. The Clark encounter went viral and has been shared or retweeted thousands of times on social media. The hashtag had been used more than 34,500 times on Twitter by Wednesday at midday.
OTTAWA – The federal Liberals introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at putting an end to the secrecy surrounding exclusive fundraisers featuring the prime minister, cabinet ministers, party leaders and leadership contenders.But while such fundraisers would be more transparent, opposition critics said the bill doesn’t fix the problem of wealthy donors paying for preferential access to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers.Indeed, the bill does not go as far as rules adopted earlier this year by the Liberal party after being roasted for months last fall for holding exclusive fundraisers in private homes, where wealthy individuals paid up to the maximum donation of $1,550 to rub shoulders with the prime minister or one of his ministers.Whereas the party now requires events featuring Trudeau or a cabinet minister to be held in publicly accessible spaces and open to the media, the bill would still allow fundraisers to be held in private homes and does not require that reporters be allowed to cover the event.The bill would require that such events, where the price of admission is a $200 donation or more, be advertised at least five days in advance, including the time and location of the fundraiser and contact information for anyone interested in attending.However, it’s not clear how that would be of value to a member of the public who wanted to attend an event in a private home, where space would be strictly limited.The bill also falls short of Trudeau’s instructions to Karina Gould when she was sworn in as democratic institutions minister in January. In her mandate letter, Trudeau instructed Gould to devise a law that would make fundraisers involving ministers, party leaders and leadership candidates more transparent, including requiring them to be conducted “in publicly available spaces.”The bill would require political parties to report to Elections Canada within 30 days the names and addresses of those who attend such events, along with the amount of money they contributed.It would not ban lobbyists from attending such fundraisers, although any lobbyist who used an event to lobby the prime minister or a minister would be required, under existing provisions of the Lobbying Act, to report that activity.The proposed rules would apply not just to cabinet members but to fundraisers featuring leaders of opposition parties with at least one seat in the House of Commons, as well as to leadership contenders of all parties represented in the Commons.“We believe it is important to make our already strong and robust system of political financing even more open and transparent so that Canadians can continue to have confidence in our democratic institutions,” Gould said after introducing the bill in the Commons.She said the bill would remove the “secrecy” surrounding some fundraising events while preserving the ability of political parties to raise money.“This is an important thing because political parties do require funds to operate and when Canadians go to a fundraiser for a political party, they’re doing it because they’re expressing themselves democratically.”Gould asserted that cabinet decisions are not influenced by donations.NDP democratic reform critic Nathan Cullen said the bill does nothing to fix the fundamental problem of wealthy donors getting preferential access to Trudeau and his ministers.“Cash for access will continue,” Cullen said. “You can still buy access to the prime minister and his cabinet ministers if you have the money to pay.”Extending the rules to opposition parties, who don’t influence government policy, is “idiotic,” he added.Moreover, Cullen said the timing of the bill — introduced just moments after all but two Liberal backbenchers voted against his motion in support of a proportional voting system — is a smokescreen to distract from the fact that the ruling party has reneged on Trudeau’s promise of electoral reform.The motion called on MPs to support last December’s majority report of an all-party committee on electoral reform, which called for the government to devise a system of proportional representation and seek Canadians’ approval for it through a national referendum.All but two Liberals — Toronto’s Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Prince Edward Island’s Sean Casey — voted against the motion, even though they campaigned in 2015 on Trudeau’s promise that it would be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.Late last year, in the midst of controversy over so-called cash-for-access fundraisers, Trudeau said he was willing to consider options for resolving the problem, including reducing the donation limit and reinstating the per-vote subsidy for political parties, thereby reducing their need to raise large sums of money.However, insiders said the government rejected those options in favour of simply requiring more transparency.
QUEBEC – The Quebec member of the legislature who was arrested by the province’s anti-corruption unit accused the organization Tuesday of trying to use “unprecedented intimidation” against him.Guy Ouellette says he was the victim of a setup by UPAC, as the unit is commonly known.Ouellette, 65, was arrested last Wednesday in connection with a UPAC investigation into an important information leak to the media last April.He was later released and has not been charged.Ouellette, who specialized in fighting biker gangs when he was a member of the Quebec provincial police, stood up in the legislature Tuesday afternoon and told his fellow elected members he has done nothing wrong.“Preventing members of the national assembly from exercising the mandate they have been given by the population is an extremely serious attack on the democratic process,” he said.“Trying to trap them in order to prevent them from doing their work must be unequivocally denounced. What I am accused of has no basis at all. My move from the police to the political world has done nothing to alter the principles that have guided my commitment in public life over the last 48 years.“I have always been, still am and always will be an ardent defender of social justice, of democratic values, of freedom of expression and of the truth.”His comments were preceded by Speaker Jacques Chagnon coming to Ouellette’s defence in an address to the national assembly.Chagnon said it is “intolerable” that police arrested a parliamentarian without any charges having been laid a week later.“Today, a member of the legislature has lost an important role and his reputation has been tarnished,” Chagnon said, referring to Ouellette no longer being the head of the legislature committee that oversees UPAC’s activities.“I think we must demand clarity in this situation,” he added, noting that either charges should be laid or a public apology should be forthcoming.Earlier in the day, Premier Philippe Couillard urged UPAC brass as he spoke to reporters to publicly release as many details as possible about the arrest.A few hours after Couillard’s request, UPAC held a news conference in Montreal where its director, Robert Lafreniere, described Ouellette’s arrest as “a step” in the investigation.“There will be others (steps),” he said. “There is a phenomenal quantity of analysis that needs to be done,” he said, referring to evidence collected during a series of police raids.“We will send our case to the Crown prosecutor’s office and I am strongly convinced there will be charges in this case.”He specified he was not talking particularly about Ouellette.Ouellette was linked to a UPAC probe called Machurer, which looked into suspected illegal financing within the Liberal party under former leader Jean Charest.The April leak to a news organization revealed the unit had been looking at the comings and goings of Charest and Liberal fundraiser Marc Bibeau up until 2016.During an interview with a Montreal radio station that was broadcast Monday, Ouellette replied, “No, absolutely not,” when asked if he were the leak of the source.Ouellette said authorities told him he was detained on suspicion of breach of trust and obstructing justice as well as conspiring to commit those two infractions.Andre Boulanger, UPAC’s operations director, told the news conference Tuesday the politician’s reaction when investigators met with him justified his detention without a warrant in order to preserve evidence.— With files from Giuseppe Valiante in Montreal
HALIFAX – A national advocacy group appealed to the Nova Scotia government Tuesday to ban private, for-profit plasma companies from the province, saying the model discourages voluntary donations and compromises safety.Kat Lanteigne of BloodWatch.org met with staff from the office of provincial Health Minister Randy Delorey to press for legislation prohibiting such companies from operating in the province.She said that unless the Nova Scotia government adopts such a law, it would not be able to stop a company like Canadian Plasma Resources, which has an operating licence from Health Canada.Lanteigne, who was kicking off a cross-country tour in Halifax to promote her message, said Nova Scotia and British Columbia are thought to be the next possible locations for collection centres for the company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer that collects plasma from donors and uses it for therapies to treat a variety of health conditions.“We are trying to compel the governments in both provinces to join Ontario, Alberta and Quebec who all have a ban in place, to pass this law in order to protect the blood supply in Nova Scotia,” she said ahead of her meeting, arguing that the for-profit model reduces voluntary donors.“They literally take donors out of the public system, so you lose access to donors and you create a competitive model … and safety on all sides is an issue.”Delorey said the province is aware of concerns voiced by groups such as BloodWatch. He said he has also discussed concerns with the head of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, Janet Hazelton.However, Delorey said the province hasn’t taken a position to date on whether or not to ban private plasma companies.“We know there is a national report coming out this spring so what we are doing is waiting for that report to get that information to inform any next steps we might take as a province,” said Delorey.Delorey said there are currently no private companies operating in the province.“Right now blood donations are through Canadian Blood Services on a volunteer basis,” he said.Lanteigne said allowing a private blood supply system contravenes the recommendations of the Krever inquiry, a royal commission struck to look into Canada’s blood supplies after thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV and Hepatitis C from tainted blood and blood products from the mid-1980s to 1990. It had cautioned against compensating people for blood products.Private, paid-plasma clinics now operate in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, where Canadian Plasma Resources pays donors up to $50 for each donation.“We are trying to compel these health ministers to uphold what we view as their legal obligation to protect the blood system,” Lanteigne said.Barzin Bahardoust, CEO of Canadian Plasma Resources, said Tuesday his company has no immediate plans to open collection centres in Nova Scotia.He said he is awaiting a report from an expert panel assembled by Health Canada that is assessing the country’s long-term supply of immune globulins — which are derived from plasma — before announcing any future expansion.But, he disputed Lanteigne’s assertion that the for-profit collection model diminishes the supply or affects its safety. Instead, he said Canada needs to have a reliable, self-sustaining supply rather than importing plasma products.“About 85 per cent of the plasma-derived medicinal products used in Canada are manufactured from paid plasma collected in the United States,” he said in an interview.“The rate of self-sufficiency in Canada has consistently been going down and we think that it’s best to have a home-grown industry regulated and supervised by Health Canada.”
STEPHENVILLE, N.L. – A teenager is in court this week for the first of three trials on sexual assault allegations that shook a Newfoundland high school and spurred the province to update safety policies.Students at Stephenville High School in southwestern Newfoundland protested last February after a male student who allegedly attacked at least three girls in separate incidents off site was allowed back in the building to potentially cross paths with them.The young man’s identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.In the matter set for a three-day trial in Stephenville starting Tuesday, he has pleaded not guilty to four counts.Records released by Judge Lynn Cole after The Canadian Press applied to provincial court say those charges include sexual assault, forcible confinement, and using “a stupefying or overpowering drug” to help commit sexual assault.The documents say the alleged attack happened last October at or near the town of Stephenville, a seaside community of about 8,000 people.A separate trial set for June 26 to 29 involves three counts including sexual assault, assault and an alleged attempt to choke his accuser “with his hands” last December in or near Stephenville.He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.In a third matter that is scheduled for trial Aug. 2 in Stephenville, he pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault, and two counts of sexual interference involving someone under the age of 16. The incidents allegedly happened between last Sept. 22 and Oct. 9.Neither the Crown prosecutor nor the youth’s defence lawyer would comment when contacted by The Canadian Press.The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District confirmed in February that the accused faced sexual assault allegations involving one female student “and possibly others.”But it cited limited circumstances under provincial law which allow a student to be removed from school.“A criminal charge, however serious, does not authorize removal,” it said at the time.The provincial government announced last month changes to its Schools Act “aimed at ensuring a safe learning environment.”Proposed updates to the legislation will empower education officials to refuse school attendance by a student that could be “detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of students or staff,” said a news release. In such cases, alternate instruction such as online courses can be offered.Janice Kennedy, executive director of the local Bay St. George Status of Women Council, said it’s a step in the right direction.“What really needs to come next is comprehensive change to the education curriculum so that we talk about consent and respect, and creating safe environments for women and girls in our province — and that needs to start at the age of five,” she said in an interview.“I think it’s important for people to realize that sexual assault happens to one in four women and girls in this province. It’s a huge issue that we need to address.”
MONCTON, N.B. – New Brunswick is becoming a laboratory for Canadian research on better aging.The federal health minister has announced a $75 million pilot project in the province that she says will help develop national solutions to improve seniors’ quality of life.Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who is also a New Brunswick MP, says the research done in the province will provide valuable information on how best to help Canadians live well as they age.The federal government announced in its 2018 budget that $75 million over three years will be directed towards the project for a wide range of research initiatives.The research will help improve the understanding of the effects of aging on New Brunswick’s population, including the different challenges faced by men and women.The minister says further information and details how non-governmental groups can submit proposals will be announced in July.Nearly one in five New Brunswickers is over the age of 65, and that’s expected to increase over the next 20 years.
HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has denied a proposed class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for the expropriation of land in Africville more than five decades ago — but he has not shut the door entirely on the legal action.Former residents of the former African Nova Scotian community were seeking compensation through a class action brought by former resident Nelson Carvery. First settled in the mid-1800s, Africville was demolished in the 1960s in the name of urban renewal.The demolition cast a long shadow over race relations in the city, and in 2010, city hall issued a public apology and $3 million to rebuild the Africville church on the southern shore of the Bedford Basin, among other things, but the settlement did not include personal compensation.The Carvery suit sought liability on the part of the City of Halifax, damages and costs.But Justice Patrick Duncan dismissed the application, saying in his decision last Friday that the plaintiff had failed to satisfy the requirements of the Class Proceedings Act.In particular, Duncan ruled that the plaintiff did not demonstrate that there is a second member of the class and that there is a common issue for possible class members.“I am not satisfied that the proposed definition of a class member … would identify persons who have a potential claim for relief against the defendant,” he wrote in his 34-page decision.“The motion for certification of the action and appointing the plaintiff, Nelson Carvery, as representative plaintiff is denied.”But Robert Pineo, Carvery’s lawyer, said Wednesday that the motion for certification will be amended based on the judge’s findings and will be heard again at a future date.He said the information in the decision will help refine the argument.“The certification process allows the representative plaintiff to amend its motion for certification and have it heard again,” he said in an email. “In a sense, this first motion decision has assisted my clients with the next motion.”Pineo said he is in the process of refining the issues, but it’s not yet clear when the matter will return to court.Carvery claimed former residents and their ancestors had communal land wrongfully expropriated by the city. He argued in his affidavit that community members used the land on the shores of Halifax harbour for fishing, farming, recreation and gathering berries.The decision says the case dates back to 1996, when a statement of claim was filed by 129 plaintiffs against the City of Halifax. The group argued that the city was liable to the former residents for breaches of contract and owed them damages “for the loss and injury claimed to have been suffered” as a result of the municipality’s actions.The settlement was reached in 2010.But, some plaintiffs disagreed and went on to pursue the claim with Pineo representing them and Carvery named as the plaintiff. The class would include all former residents who were removed from the community between 1962 and 1970 who hadn’t had their claims dismissed previously.The defence argued that Carvery failed to establish that all members were land owners or that they would claim a communal use of the land.Carvery contended in his affidavit that his father owned six parcels of land in the community and refused to sell them to the city in 1969. He claimed that no compensation was paid for any of that land in the 1960s, when residents were evicted and homes and the original church were torn down to make way for the MacKay Bridge.
MONTREAL — Developer Gregoire Gollin thought he had a steal when he purchased 220 hectares of land between the First Nations territory of Kanesatake and the neighbouring village of Oka, Que., in 2004.The home of the grand chief had been deliberately burned down that winter. Masked men with bats stood outside the police barracks, preventing roughly 60 officers from leaving.“It was kind of, like, anarchy,” Gollin recalled in a recent interview. The non-Indigenous family who sold him the land were eager to unload it. “I got a price that was very acceptable,” he said, declining to disclose the amount.But Gollin, who immigrated to Canada from Italy in the 1970s, soon learned that the unrest driving down real estate prices was rooted in historical grievances that would not be resolved overnight.Local politics have prevented him from developing more than five per cent of the land just north of Montreal since he bought it 15 years ago. And now Gollin wants to give his land up — for a price. That decision has sparked a new conflict but has also given real hope that the centuries-long land claims of the Mohawk people in Kanesatake can be at least partly settled.“I am convinced that if everyone acts in good faith there will be a solution,” Gollin said. “For the first time we can put on the table not just money — but land, because there is no amount of money that can compensate the loss of land.”When Gollin first bought the 220 hectares, which included part of an area known as The Pines, he entered into discussions with leaders in the First Nations community.“We reached a verbal agreement,” he said. ” ‘You can develop,’ they said, ‘but don’t touch the forest. It’s sacred for us.’ And that’s the deal I had.”The Pines were at the centre of a stand-off between Mohawk Warriors and the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 after a developer wanted to extend a golf course into the forest.Starting in 2006, Gollin began selling off parcels of land for single-family homes. He had sold about 100 lots by 2017, with the last of them adjoining the pine forest.In order to connect the new development to the electrical grid, a few trees were cleared — setting off protests.“The Mohawks started to doubt the agreement I had with them,” Gollin said. “That’s when it started.” One of the protesters, Indigenous activist Ellen Gabriel, said at the time: “We’re not allowing any more development to continue.”Her comments were prophetic.Gabriel’s protests sparked another series of talks between Mohawk leaders and Gollin. Most of the discussions were held in secret, and the result of those two years of negotiations was recently leaked to reporters, setting off a new flashpoint between Kanesatake and Oka.Gollin offered to donate 60 hectares of The Pines through the federal government’s Ecological Gifts Program. That move would ensure that land is protected in perpetuity from development. If approved by the federal government, Gollin would receive a tax credit he could carry forward for 10 years.Gollin is also willing to sell the remaining 150 hectares of undeveloped land he owns — at the market price. He said he put the land on the table and is hoping the Mohawks and Ottawa can reach an agreement.“It’s land I acquired, I kept, paid taxes on — in good faith,” he said. “And I’m letting the government of Canada and the people of Kanesatake discuss it and to come up with a deal.”When news broke about the agreement in principle signed by Gollin and the Kanesatake band council, the mayor of neighbouring Oka said his citizens didn’t want the First Nations territory to expand.Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon told Montreal La Presse in mid-July Gollin owned 95 per cent of the available land for development in Oka. If the territory goes to the Mohawks, Quevillon said, his town will be “surrounded” by the First Nations community.“In Kanesatake territory,” Quevillon told the news organization, “it’s cigarette shacks, pot houses, (illegal) landfills. There is not a stream that is not contaminated … Our homes will lose value, (the Mohawks) will buy them at a discount.”Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon called Quevillon’s words “racist” and cut off all dialogue with the mayor after the latter refused to apologize.But negotiations between the federal government and Gollin have nothing to do with Quevillon, according to Marc Miller, parliamentary secretary to the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous relations. Miller met with Simon and the Kanesatake band council last Friday in Montreal.When asked if Quevillon had a seat at the table, Miller responded: “He does not. Nor is he entitled to.”Kanesatake’s response to Gollin’s offer remains unclear. The offer will most likely be brought to a referendum in the community. A date for a second meeting between Simon, the band council and Ottawa has not been set.But Gollin said he is optimistic.“It’s like I filled a void — it’s as if there was a dialogue of the deaf,” he said. “The issue here is to unblock the future for the next generations. To be free from the prison of the past.”Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says provincial and municipal police forces will receive $15 million to combat the exploitation of children online.The Liberal government committed about $22 million over three years to the cause in this year’s federal budget, and are detailing how the majority of the spending will go to local police internet child exploitation units.The rest of the money will go towards raising awareness, strengthening the judicial system and engaging with online companies to make sure their platforms do not host child pornography and related content.The announcement follows a meeting last month that Goodale attended with his counterparts from Canada’s Five Eyes intelligence allies — the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.At the meeting, Facebook, Google and Microsoft adopted a set of rules the governments proposed to remove child pornography from the internet more quickly.Goodale says just over $2.1 million of the money in this year’s budget will go towards ensuring the companies maintain their focus.The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A Quebec man and his family who say their lives were ruined by the provincial police’s attempts to link him to the high-profile disappearance of a nine-year-old girl is suing the force and the province for $10.5 million.Jonathan Bettez, his parents, and Emballages Bettez Inc. are seeking damages for the destruction of the family business and living through what was described as a terrible ordeal in a lawsuit filed today.In a statement, the law firm representing the Bettez family says police opened a probe targeting Bettez for juvenile pornography without evidence and with an altogether different motive: to jump-start the investigation into the 2007 disappearance of Cedrika Provencher in Trois-Rivieres, Que.The suit claims that provincial police investigators adopted “tunnel vision” and carried out searches and seizures that were illegal, abusive or granted on the basis of a false or misleading information.Last October, a Quebec court judge acquitted Bettez on the child pornography charges and invalidated the warrants used to gather evidence in the case.Provincial police would not comment on the lawsuit, which alleges they exploited the media and the justice system with a singular goal of linking the Bettez name to the girl’s disappearance and murder.To date, there have been no arrests in the disappearance and slaying of Cedrika, whose remains were found in 2015.Bettez family members are not speaking to media but say their goal in seeking $9,454,500 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages is to ensure police are held accountable.The Canadian Press
PENTICTON, B.C. — RCMP east of Vancouver were involved in a cross-border drug bust this summer that involved nearly 300 kilograms of meth, more than 100 guns and an aerial chase between a police plane and a helicopter.Details of the bust are in paperwork filed at the Penticton Law Courts to support multiple search warrants for a property near Chilliwack, B.C., where a helicopter at the centre of the chase is alleged to have landed with an RCMP plane on its tail.Documents filed on behalf of the RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime Section in Osoyoos say the office was alerted in early June by U.S. Homeland Security about a planned cross-border drug deal involving nearly 200 kilograms of methamphetamine.U.S. officials staked out a landing site in Washington state about 110 kilometres south of Princeton, B.C., where they believed the drugs would be transferred to Canadian buyers. Something spooked the pilot of the helicopter, and it fled north into Canadian airspace. Two men who tried to leave the landing site in Washington were arrested by U.S. agents who seized 188 kilograms of methamphetamine.In Canadian skies, an RCMP plane was patrolling near Princeton hoping to intercept the unmarked, black helicopter. Mounties spotted it in a shadowy landing site on a remote mountainside in E.C. Manning Provincial Park.The helicopter lifted off and headed west.The chase was on.“The helicopter took deliberate evasive action, attempting to lose surveillance,” the documents say. “The helicopter flew at very low altitudes, near the tops of trees and up narrow draws. It repeatedly changed direction, and made rapid ascents up towards the mountains.“The helicopter varied its speed in an attempt to outrun the RCMP aircraft, and slowed down to have the RCMP aircraft overtake it.”The dogfight continued for 45 minutes, the documents say. On two occasions, the chopper pilot tried to lure the RCMP aircraft to a lower altitude and then rapidly ascended, in a vain effort to shake the pursuers.The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack.The court documents say searches of that property turned up 72 long guns, 35 handguns, ammunition, cellphone jammers, U.S. government helicopter decals, drones and currency from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.RCMP have not said if anyone has been charged and referred a request for comment to Homeland Security.Homeland Security spokeswoman Tanya Roman said the investigation turned up an additional 84 kilograms of drugs, bringing the total amount of drugs seized to 272 kilograms.“This sizable amount is indicative of the possible involvement of a large and sophisticated smuggling organization,” she said in a statement.“Due to the ongoing investigation and law enforcement sensitivities, we are unable to provide further comment at this time.”Authorities believe the pilot was one of two men arrested at the Chilliwack-area property.The Canadian Civil Aircraft Registry shows the helicopter’s registration was cancelled last May. (Penticton Herald)Joe Fries, Penticton Herald, The Canadian Press
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) will host its 15th Annual From Slavery to Freedom Event on May 9 from 6pm to 9pm at the Sofitel LA at Beverly Hills.Honorary event host for the evening is Jada Pinkett Smith. Celebrity guests will include Sara Rue, Nicole Scherzinger, Russell Simmons, Mira Sorvino and Lisa Ling.The event will recognize and celebrate the social and systematic changes that occur when a coalition of diverse and dedicated people come together to put an end to modern-day slavery. The evening will include:• Special program and presentation of awards by Jada Pinkett Smith and Lisa Ling • Musical performance by classical pianist Chloe Flower • Hors d’oeuvres • Open barHuman trafficking is a real and serious problem in the United States. Nearly 150 years following the abolition of slavery in the United States, there are a at least 18,000 people who are trafficked into the U.S. every year, with Los Angeles serving as one of the top three points of entry.CAST has been internationally recognized for its dedication to the identification of trafficking survivors, the mobilization of all sectors of the community to identify and advocate against trafficking, and the provision of direct services for victims.All proceeds raised from the event will help fund CAST programs and services that provide human trafficking survivors with 24-hour access to safety and comprehensive, trauma-informed care that helps them rebuild their lives and become thriving members of the community.WHEN:Thursday, May 9, 20136pm to 9pmWHERE: Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills8555 Beverly Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90048
Jessie J has announced that she is now an Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust.Twenty of the biggest pop acts in the world – including Wretch 32, Naughty Boy, Connor Maynard and Amelia Lily – joined forces for the first ever Fusion Festival, in support of The Prince’s Trust and in association with Capital FM.Up to 40,000 music fans headed to Birmingham’s Cofton park for a huge weekend of pop at its very best. The weekend featured spectacular live performances, massive chart smash hits plus all the fun of the festival fair with a full fairground and many other interactive events.£5 from each ticket sale was donated to The Prince’s Trust to help disadvantaged young people into work and training.Jessie J announced at the festival that she is now an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust.She said: “The Prince’s Trust is an incredible charity with a cause that is very close to my heart. The money raised by Fusion Festival 2013 will support its vital work with disadvantaged young people, helping them to get their lives back on track.“More than a million young people here in the UK are not in work, education or training – that’s a very big crowd that deserves our support. I’m so proud to be a part of that here today.”Source:Prince’s Trust
Actors David Harewood (best known for his role in the award-winning US TV drama ‘Homeland’), and Linda Robson (from legendary BBC comedy ‘Birds of a Feather’), have lent their voices to two online videos in support of the British Lung Foundation’s campaign to ban smoking in cars when children are present.In a break from their previous acting roles, the two videos see both actors providing voices for toddlers, highlighting the need to give a voice to one in five children in the UK who are regularly exposed to the potentially dangerous concentrations of second-hand smoke in cars. Legislation to ban smoking in cars when children are present is due to be discussed in the House of Lords as part of the Children and Families Bill in November.David Harewood commented: ”Like most parents, I would hate to see my children exposed to dangers of concentrated second-hand smoke in the car. Yet we know that this is regularly happening to over two million kids across the UK, either in their parents’ car or in the car of another adult. I, for one, am therefore proud to have spoken up for our children in calling for this important child protection measure to be made law”. Linda Robson explains the importance of supporting the campaign: ”Having lost my father to lung cancer, I know only too well the devastating effect cigarette smoke can have. We know that children are even more vulnerable to the dangers of second-hand smoke than adults, especially within the confines of a car.“We’ve already introduced a ban on smoking in public places to protect workers from second-hand smoke. Surely we can take this small step to protect our children too?”Dr Penny Woods Chief executive of the BLF said: ”We are delighted that Linda and David have donated their time and effort in supporting this vital child protection campaign. ”Research has shown that smoking in a car, even with the windows open or air conditioning on, can create levels of pollution deemed unsafe by World Health Organisation guidelines. With their smaller lungs, faster breathing and less-developed immune systems, children are even more susceptible to these dangers than adults.“With one in five children still being exposed to passive smoke in a car, we hope that our videos will highlight just how important the need for a ban is in order to help protect their health”.You can watch the videos here.
AXS TV will broadcast MENDING KIDS.ORG – ALL-STAR CONCERT FOR CHILDREN WORLDWIDE live from the world-famous House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, CA, at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Friday, February 14.Acclaimed illusionist and “Celebrity Apprentice” fan-favorite Penn Jillette will host this intimate evening, with performances and appearances from a star-studded lineup of legendary musicians and entertainers, headlined by 2014 Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees, KISS.Featuring pop crooner Tom Jones (“It’s Not Unusual,” “Delilah”); pop singer/songwriter Natasha Bedingfield (“Unwritten,” “Pocketful of Sunshine”); blues rockers Vintage Trouble (“Nobody Told Me,” “Strike Your Light”); and jazz artist Brenna Whitaker and her Little Big Band will provide music throughout the evening, with guest appearances including country guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Late-night TV host Arsenio Hall will also be on hand, appearing before the invitation-only audience. More guests will be announced shortly.In the last eight years, MendingKids.org has provided over 1,500 children from 54 countries, including the United States, with life-changing surgical care to correct serious medical issues such as congenital heart defects, orthopedic abnormalities, severe scoliosis, and significant cranial facial deformities. Additionally, MendingKids.org offers training and research to assist surgeons in developing countries to create self-sustaining surgical programs providing access for more children to longer, healthier and happier lives.“MENDING KIDS.ORG – ALL-STAR CONCERT FOR CHILDREN WORLDWIDE is an incredible event that will bring some much-needed awareness to a truly worthwhile organization,” said Mark Cuban, AXS TV Founder. “MendingKids.org does unbelievable work for children all around the globe, and it’s inspiring to see these larger-than-life personalities gather together to lend their support to this cause. AXS TV is proud to be able to share this momentous event with our audience.”Source:PR Newswire