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April 22, 2014

Canadian former deputy PM Herb Gray dies at age 82

Canadian former deputy PM Herb Gray dies at age 82

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gray in 2008
Image: Christine St. John.

Herb Gray, a Canadian former deputy Prime Minister whose federal political career stretched 39 years, died yesterday. He was 82.

The lawyer from Windsor was undefeated through thirteen consecutive elections, from 1962 to his last in 2000. The Liberal was the third longest serving Parliamentarian of the nation. Nicknamed Gray Herb for his seriousness and The Gray Fog for his ability to deflect questions, Herb was the first Jewish minister in Canada.

Deputy PM Sheila Copps‘s 1997 resignation saw Gray promoted to fill the role. Prior to that he served as interim Liberal leader in 1990.

Despite his professional seriousness he had a love of political satire, collecting editorial cartoons and listening to radio shows such as Royal Canadian Air Farce and Double Exposure. Outside of politics he enjoyed rock music and played classical piano.

Gray survived throat cancer treated with radiation in the 1990s and operations for prostate and heart conditions in 1999 and 2001 respectively.

James Moore, Conservative current Minister for Industry, tweeted about the “marvel” of Gray “swatting away our questions […] when we were in opposition.” Current Liberal head Justin Trudeau said Gray was a “great statesman” who “left behind an immense legacy unmatched by most in Canadian history”.

Copps said he was “an incredible Canadian and a brilliant parliamentarian” and ex-leader of the Liberals Bob Rae said he “served Canada with such distinction and care”. Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Gray “an honourable parliamentarian who served his country well”.

Gray is survived by wife Sharon Sholzberg, who once said she not once witnessed her partner heading “out for a drink with the boys”, and their two children and eight grandchildren.



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March 3, 2014

Canada has no plans to boycott Winter Paralympics

Canada has no plans to boycott Winter Paralympics

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Monday, March 3, 2014

File photo of Mac Marcoux of Canada at 2013 IPC Alpine World Championships at La Molina in Spain. Marcoux is a member of the Canadian Paralympic team set to compete in Sochi
Image: María Sefidari.

Yesterday the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said there are no plans to boycott the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia even as Canada takes other actions in response to Russian military intervention in Crimea, Ukraine. On Saturday Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also stated there were no plans to boycott the Games, set to start March 7.

Baird is quoted in as saying, “We don’t want the athletes to pay the price for this.[…] But politically… I don’t think there’s any way we’d want to have senior-level government leadership going there to somehow glorify Russia’s leadership.” Toronto Star Sports Columnist Cathal Kelly published an editorial on Saturday saying Canada needs to boycott the Sochi Paralympics.

Canada has already recalled its ambassador to Russia. The Canadian government is considering expelling the Russian ambassador from the country. Yesterday, Harper said the country plans to boycott meetings leading up to the upcoming Russian-chaired G8 summit. He also said Canada was working with the United Nations to monitor the situation in the Ukraine, and is exploring the possibility of offering financial assistance to the country.

In an e-mail from Canadian Paralympic Committee CEO Karen O’Neill to Kelly, the organization refused to answer direct questions about any potential boycott of the Games.

Canada has previously boycotted an Olympics in Russia. In 1980, the country boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow because of the USSR invasion of Afghanistan. They were joined by a number of other countries including the United States and West Germany.



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May 12, 2010

New Albertan Lieutenant Governor takes office

New Albertan Lieutenant Governor takes office

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday saw Colonel Donald Ethell assume the post of provincial Lieutenant Governor in Edmonton, capital of Alberta, Canada. The swearing-in ceremony took place at Edmonton’s Legislative Building, with the retired colonel inspecting the guard afterwards. As is traditional, the taking of the oath of office was accompanied by a fifteen-gun salute.

The new Lieutenant Governor, Colonel Donald Ethell, at the swearing-in ceremony at the Legislative Building in Edmonton.
Image: Julia Adamson.

The 72-year-old decorated war veteran assumes the post from Norman Kwong, who served from January 20 in 1995. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment last Thursday.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmech alongside Ethell.
Image: Julia Adamson.

Ethell has served Canada, with distinction, spending 38 years in the armed forces, and involved in over fourteen peacekeeping missions. “I can assure you that I will not be stuffy and aloof just because I’ve got a whole lot of medals on my shoulder”, said Ethell (OMM, MSC, CD).

Alongside his military medals, the new Lieutenant Governor is a member of the Order of Canada, the Alberta Order of Excellence, and the Order of St. John. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities that were presented to me by the military. It was shape up or get out. And that’s exactly what I did.” said Ethell. a believer in second chances. He was known as a leading United Nations’ Peacekeeping diplomat, and in later years with the Canadian Association of Veterans.

Cquote1.svg I can assure you that I will not be stuffy and aloof just because I’ve got a whole lot of medals on my shoulder Cquote2.svg

—Donald Ethell

Armed forces present at the swearing in ceremony.
Image: Julia Adamson.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmech said, “[h]is Honour’s compassion and dedication to the well-being of his fellow citizens has been a constant. Those traits are the hallmark of Albertans and will guide him well in his work on their behalf.”

The first Lieutenant Governor of Alberta was sworn in during 1905, as Alberta became a province of Canada. Ethell is the seventeenth holder of the office.

“Colonel Ethell has had a distinguished career in the Canadian Armed Forces and as a humanitarian. He is one of Canada’s most decorated soldiers as well as a champion for veterans and the welfare of those in the world’s most vulnerable nations.” said Harper.



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April 10, 2010

Junior Canadian cabinet minister leaves amid scandal

Junior Canadian cabinet minister leaves amid scandal

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Embattled Canadian junior cabinet minister Helena Guergis has resigned her cabinet post and has been ejected from caucus today in Ottawa amid recent scandals involving herself and her husband, disgraced former Member of Parliament (MP) Rahim Jaffer.

Guergis, Conservative MP for Simcoe-Grey, held the position as Minister of State for the Status of Women since her re-election in the 2008 federal election, but has come under fire due to an outburst at the Charlottetown airport in February and a call from the opposition Liberal Party for a probe by the federal ethics commissioner into her purchase of an Ottawa home. She has also come under scrutiny due to recent scandals involving her husband, who faced charges of impaired driving and cocaine possession as well as comments made to business contacts about connections to the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, those comments later being called “absurd” by the Prime Minister’s Office.

In an email, Guergis is quoted as saying, “The past nine months have been a very difficult time for me. I have made mistakes for which I have apologized.” The email made specific reference to her outburst in Charlottetown, insisting she would never insult her father’s birthplace and also voiced her intent to continue in her role as a Member of Parliament.

Given the circumstances, Prime Minister Harper stated today at a press conference that “a resignation is necessary,” also announcing that the RCMP have been called to investigate recent allegations against Guergis. Harper is also reported to have ejected Guergis from the Conservative caucus pending the investigation by the RCMP. Her role as Minister of State for the status of women has been given to current Public Works minister Rona Ambrose.

The governing Conservatives previously came under fire in 2008 after former Minister for Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier had left confidential documents at the home of his girlfriend, Julie Couillard, a relationship that in itself caused some unrest in Parliament due to Couillard’s past connections to Quebec biker gangs.



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January 28, 2010

Canadian politician calls for terrorism inquiry into pie-throwing

Filed under: Archived,Canada,Crime and law,North America,Stephen Harper — admin @ 5:00 am

Canadian politician calls for terrorism inquiry into pie-throwing

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

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PETA president Ingrid Newkirk dismissed the allegations of terrorism as “silly”, in an eMail to the Canadian Press.

A Canadian politician has denounced the recent pie thrown in the face of Fisheries minister Gail Shea, calling for the government to investigate the incident as a potential act of terrorism. The pie was thrown by Emily McCoy, a New Yorker acting with tacit approval of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to protest Shea’s support of the Canadian seal hunt.

MP Gerry Byrne made the comments linking the incident to terrorism on a talk radio program on VOCM in his native Newfoundland on Tuesday. He said that an investigation into PETA was needed, as he believed the group’s encouragement of direct action rather than political debate “does seem…to meet the test of a terrorist organization”.

The conservative publication Canada Free Press endorsed Byrne’s labeling of the incident, noting that “there is no difference between the motives of PETA and the motives of al-Qaeda […] they both resort to violence and threats of violence in an attempt to get governments to change their policies.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scheduled to appear in Newfoundland on Friday, to address members of the Canadian Construction Association. The announcement prompted PETA to promise that an activist dressed as a baby seal will follow the leader around his speaking circuit with a sign reading “Harper: Stop the Seal Slaughter.”



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December 30, 2009

Canadian Parliament suspended until March

Canadian Parliament suspended until March

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has received approval from Governor General Michaelle Jean to prorogue the Canadian Parliament for about two months, up until the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the Prime Minister’s Office has announced today.

Under the prorogation, Parliament will resume on March 3, as opposed to January 25, when it was originally scheduled to return from the holiday break. The move to prorogue will strike any currently proposed legislation off the order paper, including the anti-crime bill that was proposed by the Conservatives as part of their election platform.

The move, which has drawn sharp criticism from the opposition, would allow the Conservatives to gain a majority in Senate committees, while also dodging criticism stemming from allegations of the abuse of Afghan detainees.

Parliament was prorogued once before in 2008, causing a coalition of the opposition Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois to collapse, and seeing then Liberal leader Stéphane Dion replaced with current leader Michael Ignatieff.



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October 24, 2009

Canadian news doesn\’t interest Prime Minister, prefers to watch American

Filed under: Archived,Canada,Media,North America,Stephen Harper — admin @ 5:00 am

Canadian news doesn’t interest Prime Minister, prefers to watch American

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Canada
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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper caused controversy this week after telling Toronto business leaders that he prefers to watch American news programmes instead of Canadian.

Stephen Harper in 2009
Image: White House photo by Pete Souza.

On Wednesday, he told the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Convention that he watched “mainly American news” and suggested it was his hobby “to watch politics elsewhere”. The Toronto Star says his “words ring true” in light of the interviews he’s given to American broadcasters like Fox News and CNN.

Three of Harper’s cabinet members, Jim Flaherty, Peter Kent and Tony Clement, questioned the veracity of his statement, stating they “assume” he must digest some Canadian news issues. But Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said “I think the prime minister is too busy to sit there being vainglorious and watching himself on TV.”

Cquote1.svg …if he actually likes Fox News better than Canadian news, then Canadians ought to be concerned. Cquote2.svg

—Jack Layton

Political opponents were quick to draw attention to the admission by the Prime Minister, whom they claim has always had American interests at heart during his career.

The Star quoted NDP leader Jack Layton, stating “Perhaps if he watched Canadian news more often, he would understand the negative impact of his policies on Canadian families. And if he actually likes Fox News better than Canadian news, then Canadians ought to be concerned”.

Liberal Bob Rae likewise pointed out that politicians “all have an obligation to know what’s going on”, and noted he found the admission “quite shocking”.

A statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office clarified that Harper watched hockey on national networks, but took his news from American networks.



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June 2, 2009

Canadian victims of terrorism will be able to sue perpetrators

Canadian victims of terrorism will be able to sue perpetrators

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Canada
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  • 29 June 2014: Canada wins 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship
  • 28 June 2014: Germany and Canada into 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championships final
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Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper
Image: Ted Buracas.

This week new legislation for Canadian courts would enable victims of terrorism to sue anyone who either commits an act of terrorism or funds terrorism acts.

“We will introduce legislation that will give victims of terrorism the power to obtain just compensation from those responsible for their suffering,” said Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. “By amending the State Immunity Act, this bill will allow victims to sue perpetrators and sponsors of terrorist acts, including foreign states, in Canadian courts.”

The announcement was made at the Canadian Jewish Congress 90th Anniversary lunch hour. The CJC has been lobbying for such legislation for over a decade. “It’s sad to say, the Jewish community is the number one target on most terrorist lists,” said Bernie M. Farber chief executive of the CJC.

The Canadian Coalition Against Terror also supports the proposed legislation. “The idea is to cut off the flow of money to terrorist organizations because that’s what keeps them going. It’s also about exposing them for what they’re doing. A lawsuit can do that,” said lawyer Aaron Blumenfeld representing C-CAT, “The intention is not just to try to get compensation out of those people who sponsored these attacks, but also to expose them for what they’ve done.”

Critics are concerned about Canada’s relations with friendly nations if Canadian citizens sue a foreign state, which would allow the Minister of Foreign Affairs to seize assets under the anti-terrorism bill.



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May 20, 2009

Canadian still faces public beheading in Saudi Arabia

Canadian still faces public beheading in Saudi Arabia

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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A copy of a letter written to the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper by a Canadian man facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia has been obtained by The Canadian Press. In it, Mohamed Kohail pleads with the prime minister to utilise “every way possible to get me out of this situation.”

Kohail, 23, of Montreal, was sentenced on March 3, 2008 to be publicly executed following a confession for murder at a Saudi school. Kohail claims the confession was obtained under duress. The Saudi Supreme Court advised the lower court on April 9, 2009 to renounce the death penalty; however, the request was refused.

Munzer Al-Hiraki, 19, was killed in an after-school fight in January 2007, allegedly after Kohail’s brother, Sultan, insulted a girl. The brothers claim that the fight involved a large group of boys, and felt they were acting in self defense.

Sultan, 16 at the time, said that Mohamed came to his rescue with a friend, only to be greeted by a group armed with knives and clubs. Witnesses for the brothers say that Al-Hiraki had arrived at the school with carloads of friends to seek vengeance on Sultan.

“I was tortured to sign a confession. I was misinformed that I would be allowed out of custody the moment I signed it,” said Kohail.

In the letter, delivered by Canadian MP Deepak Obhrai last December, Kohail continues, “Mr. Harper, I have been in jail for two years now. I am imprisoned with hundreds [of] high-profile criminals in Saudi Arabia for a crime that I did not commit. I’ve lost my hair, two years of my life and see death coming to me closer every day.”

Kohail received 80 days to appeal the sentence. “There were nine hearings in total and only one time was the lawyer for Mohamed and his friend allowed in the courtroom; not even Mohamed’s father, Ali (was allowed in),” said a relative.

Harper is seeking clemency for the Kohail brothers. “It has to be worked within the confines of the Saudi law and it’s important to recognize that and work with the Saudi officials to come to a resolution,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. According to the letter, the Canadian government began seeking clemency March of 2008.

If the court continues to uphold the death penalty, the only other option is the payment of dia, or blood money, in exchange for forgiveness — but Al-Hiraki’s family seeking CA$5 million.

Sultan Kohail is a juvenile who is out on bail awaiting to be tried in adult court on murder charges. The Convention on the Rights of the Child forbids execution of youths under the age of 18, which Saudi Arabia officials declare they comply with. However, the Convention also prohibits execution for crimes committed as juveniles no matter when the court sentences them.

Born in Palestine, the Kohail brothers moved to Canada in 2000, and became Canadian citizens in 2005. They moved to Jiddah in 2006.

In October 2007, Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said, “We will not actively pursue bringing back to Canada murderers who have been tried in a democratic country that supports the rule of law.” Previously Canada consistently sought clemency from all foreign governments after the death penalty was abolished in Canada in 1976.

Since the beginning of 2009, 36 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia. 102 were executed in 2008 and 158 were executed in 2007.


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April 3, 2009

GM and Chrysler receive Canadian loans amid US restructuring ultimata

GM and Chrysler receive Canadian loans amid US restructuring ultimata

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Friday, April 3, 2009

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General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will receive bridge loans from the government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario, however no more will be forthcoming from either Canadian or US governments unless the companies can reinvent themselves.

“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy. We are doing this on the assumption that we obviously cannot afford either in the United States or Canada a catastrophic short-term collapse.” said Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

“We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America’s success,” said Barack Obama, President of the United States. “These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.”

File:Sinsheim quer.jpg
Fuel efficient Fiat Nuova 500
Image: Cordhose.

Chrysler will receive CA$1 billion and may in fact be eligible for as much as CA$4 billion. If Chrysler succeeds in the next 30 days with a restructuring plan it would be eligible for a US$6 billion loan. A part of Chrysler’s restructuring plan must include a partnership with Fiat within 30 days to appease the US administration. Fiat is a supplier of smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, and the merger will help Chrysler to be viable in the North American market. A Chrysler court bankruptcy would inevitably lead to it being sold off.

As a part of Chrysler’s restructuring plans, Tom LaSorda, the president of Chrysler announced that Canadian operations would fold if it does not receive both the US commitment of $2.3 billion of aid and a new Canadian Auto Workers CAW contract to reduce all-in costs by CA$19 per hour. As a result of this announcement Chrysler’s auto sales volume in Canada dropped 23% compared to March of 2008.

GM has until the end of May to restructure its company to receive up to CA$7.5 billion. As part of the companies restructuring, General Motor’s chief executive Rick Wagoner was replaced Sunday with Fritz Henderson, the current chief operating officer. Henderson spoke out on Tuesday that GM has submitted a restructuring plan which would close five plants, and this may be increased to meet the requirements for financial aid. He is in full compliance with Obama’s auto task force to seek bankruptcy if GM cannot negotiate with their unions, bondholders and others.

GM recently brought forward the “GM Total Confidence” program providing consumer purchase protection for customers who lose their job for economic reasons within the first two years from purchase. As a result of Chrysler’s restructuring announcement in Canada, GM’s Canadian vehicle sales volume fell only 17.3% compared to 2008, an increase from the previous month.

GM must reduce some of its legacy costs which include its pensions and union health care costs. A part of GM’s ailments arose from investing in supplying truck and SUVs during an economy of high gas prices when consumers were demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse SUV

Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Industry, is hoping that the CAW will support the restructuring process and re-negotiate their agreement. Whereas a United Auto Workers negotiator has said, “I don’t see how the UAW will do anything until they see what the bondholders will give up.”

The Obama administration is looking toward bankruptcy proceedings for the automakers, “as a mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger. [It will] quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down. What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognise that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts.” said Obama.

The auto parts suppliers and IT software exporters in India have already been affected by the declining auto sales. GM and Chrysler software contracts provide US$300 to 350 million a year to vendors in India. As well these two major automakers usually award US$1 billion contracts to auto parts suppliers. “We are worried and closely watching the developments in the US to gauge the impact. The decline in auto sales in the US has already hit the order books of Indian suppliers,” said a Delhi auto parts supplier.

“Going forward, the industry will undoubtedly be smaller, but if our efforts are successful it will be viable and it will support good jobs for Canadians,” said Clements.

Betty Sutton, Ohio’s Congresswoman put forward the CARS act which provides a US$3,000 to 5,000 incentive for those who trade in their vehicle for a fuel-efficient car. “It clearly stimulates the economy, and it gets the consumer into the showroom and gets them buying again. But importantly — and this is what I particularly like about it — it really helps the environment quite a bit in two respects.” said William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has not come forward with requests for assistance.

Since December GM and Chrysler have received US$17.4 billion government loans.

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