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Archive for May, 2019

May 14th, 2019 by admin

UPDATE: Confusion swirls around Andrew Younger’s dismissal from Liberal cabinet, caucus

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s environment minister was shown the door on Thursday amid revelations that he didn’t show up to testify at a trial for a woman who was accused of assaulting him.

Premier Stephen McNeil announced in a late night news conference that Andrew Younger was relieved of his cabinet duties and was also kicked out of the governing Liberal caucus.

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Related

  • Tara Gault, former Liberal staffer charged with assaulting MLA Andrew Younger, has case dismissed

  • Woman pleads not guilty to assaulting N.S. minister Andrew Younger

  • Woman charged with assaulting Andrew Younger agrees not to contact him

McNeil says Younger did not provide accurate information surrounding his decision to not testify at the trial because of a law that states sitting members of the legislature cannot be called to testify in civil and criminal matters without being asked to waive the exemption.

“There’s a level of trust, if your employer was asking questions, they would expect you to give forthright (answers),” McNeil told the hastily called Thursday evening news conference.

“Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”

McNeil said he didn’t personally speak to Younger about his dismissal, saying the news came from staff.

“It was staff who spoke to him, it was a short conversation,” McNeil said.

READ MORE: Opposition parties call for Younger to step down after the minister failed to appear in court

Younger spent almost 50 minutes earlier in the day answering reporters’ questions about his failure to appear in provincial court Wednesday for the matter involving Tara Gault, who is a former Liberal staff member.

He insisted he was not trying to avoid testifying in the case, which the judge dismissed after denying the prosecution’s request for an adjournment to address the issue of the exemption.

“It’s just not factual to suggest that I was using some provision as a way to get out of this,” he said.

Younger said he was notified of the privilege by his lawyer on Monday. The following day, he said the prosecution indicated they would seek an adjournment and that his wife and lawyer should be in court.

Gault pleaded not guilty to the charge stemming from an alleged assault on or about Oct. 22, 2013, the day the Liberal government assumed power after the last provincial election.

Younger refused to discuss the nature of his relationship with Gault, saying only that he had a personal relationship with her that has ended and that he and his wife have moved on.

He would also not reveal anything about the alleged event that resulted in the assault charge.

Earlier in the day McNeil expressed disappointment that Younger didn’t show up this week for the trial and intended to ask the justice minister to review the law.

“I’m disappointed, I believe there should not be two sets of rules for Nova Scotians,” he said.

Younger sent a statement to media following news of his firing. He said the reason for his dismissal was “a result of what [the premier’s office] felt were inconsistencies in my statements to the press.”

During his press conference, Younger repeatedly said he learned of his parliamentary privilege on Monday.

“In fact, I learned about this subject on Friday, October 30th, and I was able to confirm this for the premier’s office,” he said. “That error was mine and unintentional. During the press briefing I answered questions to the best of my recollection. This misstatement of the date was unintentional and had no impact on court proceedings. I was fully prepared to correct this with media.”

Younger said his prepared statement to media was “written by and on the instruction of the premier’s office.”

“Given that I have followed the direction of the premier’s office throughout on this matter, I am disappointed and surprised by the Premier’s decision,” he said.

On Friday morning, McNeil responded to Younger’s statement and disputed his assertion the premier’s office wrote his speech to the media.

“He asked for help – it was all under Mr. Younger’s direction and the information that Mr. Younger gave us,” McNeil said. “It was very clearly those were his words, those were his actions.”

McNeil adds he considers the matter closed and wished Younger well.

“Each of us have a responsibility at the end of the day to be responsible for what we say and what we do. Mr Younger needs to take responsibility for what he said and what he’s done.”

Younger has said that he and his wife will have more comment on the matter at a later date.

with files from Julia Wong and Rebecca Lau

May 14th, 2019 by admin

Chemical weapons watchdog believes Syrian insurgents used mustard gas

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – A source at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday that inspectors from the international watchdog have found evidence that mustard gas was used during fighting between insurgent groups in the Syrian town of Marea in August.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a report on the findings had not yet been published, said OPCW inspectors discovered “evidence that mustard (gas) was indeed used there.”

The OPCW team was investigating allegations that the Islamic State used chemical weapons in Marea, but has not attributed blame for the use of mustard gas. The findings will now be sent to the United Nations.

WATCH: Canada poised to withdraw from mission in Syria

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A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be quoted, confirmed that there is evidence a blistering agent was used at Marea on Aug. 21.

Sulfur mustard, also known as mustard gas, is an outlawed chemical weapon that attacks the skin, eyes, lungs and other internal organs of victims.

READ MORE: Kapyong the perfect temporary home for refugees: Military expert

Syria’s declared 1,300-ton chemical weapons stockpile, which was destroyed after President Bashar Assad’s government joined the OPCW in 2013, included sulfur mustard. It is not clear how insurgents came to possess the chemical weapon.

Doctors Without Borders said in late August that four patients exhibiting symptoms of exposure to chemical agents were treated at a hospital run by the international medical organization in northern Syria on Aug. 21. It said the parents and their two daughters arrived at a hospital run by the group one hour after the attack, suffering from respiratory difficulties, inflamed skin, red eyes, and conjunctivitis and their conditions worsened later.

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May 14th, 2019 by admin

Social worker and officer team up to help those with mental illness

REGINA – Local police now have a new resource to help them appropriately handle mental health calls.

In the past, even Police Chief Troy Hagen admits the response was lacking.

“We do the best we can to secure their safety and their well-being, by typically that’s where it would have ended,” said Hagen. “I don’t think it yielded very good results for those in need.”

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The health ministry has contributed $235,000 to the new initiative, something Health Minister Dustin Duncan has already seen success with in Saskatoon.

“The only option when the police service does show up to provide some assistance, up until now, is the emergency room,” he said. “It’s been the only option available, or police custody.”

The new crisis team combines a senior officer with a mental health expert and aims to provide vulnerable people with the resources to address the urgent crisis, as well as lay groundwork for the future.

They go directly to the person in need and try and intervene on scene, wherever that may be.

“We determine what’s going on, spend as much time as we need with that person and we evaluate from both sides what happens next,” explained Sgt. Colleen Hall.

It’s something Kyle Moffat thinks could have helped his father, Wade. He took his own life in August.

“Any change is good change. It’s a victory. It’s great. One less person dealing with this situation,” Moffat said.

The Moffats called the police multiple times for their father and would have appreciated the expertise the crisis team provides.

“It means so much just to have somebody that’s professional there, able to say, I understand what’s going on here, this is how we’re going to handle this. Here’s who we’re going to call and also be able to judge how severe the incident is,” Kyle said.

Since starting in September, the duo has assisted 41 people in need. They have another 99 on their radar that they’re hoping to pro-actively check in on.

But with limited resources, their hands are tied.

“We can only be here for a nine hour workday. We know that’s not enough and we know that there’s not enough hours in a day. There’s people we’d like to get to and we can’t,” said social worker Jess Barre.

The police force is already looking into the feasibility of adding another team.

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May 14th, 2019 by admin

Calgary holiday Christmas parties scaled down; group menu prices reduced

CALGARY- Many local companies are either cancelling holiday events or downsizing drastically, as businesses from restaurants to event planning companies feel the pinch.

Staff at Distinctive Catering have seen a drop in regular customers, and according to manager Connie Quinton, the size of the events they will still cater has changed.

“The companies still want to appreciate their people, but they’re doing it on a smaller scale, and so we’re accommodating them, and also doing a lot of customizing.”

ChangSha Night Net

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At the Telus Convention Centre, holiday party bookings are down about 15 per cent.

Marketing director Heather Lundy says of those still coming, the budgets have been scaled back.

“For us it started in the second quarter of 2015,” said Lundy. “We started to see the decrease or the decline in business. We’re lucky we do have a lot of repeat business.”

One of the bigger cancellations was the Enmax holiday party.

Departments are now holding smaller, lower cost options, said Enmax spokesperson Doris Kaufmann Woodcock.

“We provide an essential service, and being mindful and respectful of the fact that this could be a tough time for people, was basically the decision why this wasn’t the right time to proceed,” said Kaufmann Woodcock.

Across the city, big banquet meals are being moved to restaurants and dinner parties are being replaced by cocktail receptions or office parties.

At the Jamesons Pub chain, they’ve adapted their group menu prices to fit the times.

“We actually have recession-friendly packages,” said chain spokesperson Cathy McDonald. “So a cheaper price point. For example, people can have a $16 meal versus a $48 prime rib buffet meal.”

At Distinctive Catering, they been through this kind of economic slump before, and adapting and adjusting are things they said they’ve learned from experience.

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