Shortlink

Venezuela: National guardsman fatally shot as violence continues – National

ABOVE: Tear gas rained down on anti-government protesters in Caracas on Sunday, in a continuation of near daily confrontations with the National Guard (Mar 16) 

VALENCIA, Venezuela – The governor of a Venezuelan state says a National Guardsman has been shot and killed in the city of Maracay.

Aragua state Gov. Tareck El Aissami announced via his 桑拿会所 account Monday that National Guard Capt. Jose Guillen Araque was shot in the head Sunday night during violence in the city some 125 kilometres southwest of Caracas. El Aissami gave no details, but said the captain was “killed by fascist groups,” phrasing officials often apply to protesters.

Prior to Araque’s death, the government had identified 25 deaths related to more than a month of protests in Venezuela.

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • Venezuela’s unrest plays out at barricades in upscale Caracas district

  • 2 killed as gangs clash with residents over barricades in Venezuela

    Raw: Venezuela protesters march again

©2014The Canadian Press

Shortlink

Families of fallen Canadians in Afghanistan reflect on loss – National

OTTAWA, Ont. – Was it all worth it?

It is a brutally awkward question, especially when posed in the context of Afghanistan.

There is no shortage of people opining about the now-concluded military mission that morphed into a costly, bloody humanitarian exercise.

But few of those voices truly count as much as the ones who’ve stayed largely silent through the tempest of this war – the families of the fallen, some of whom are speaking up for the first time in a series of interviews with The Canadian Press.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • Canada in Afghanistan: was it worth it?

  • Military rejected Canada Day Afghan tribute

  • Afghanistan could slip back into Taliban control if global support drops: ambassador

  • Taliban congratulates its forces on ‘defeat’ of Canadians

  • Most Canadians feel Afghan mission had no impact or aren’t sure: poll

  • Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan formally ends

Flags that dotted the highway of heroes are folded and put away, and now as the nation moves on, these people will continue to quietly bear the burden – our burden.

They will be left to ponder that uncomfortable question, more deeply and personally than the rest of us, and long after we have stopped trying to answer it for them.

As the last 100 soldiers rush into the warmth of home this week, these people will still have empty places at the dining room table and cling to the mementoes of lives inexorably cut short.

And although the scale of casualties from Afghanistan pales in comparison to the unmitigated slaughter of the First and Second World Wars, they say the grief and sense of loss is no less sharp.

There were 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors who died over the dozen years Canada’s military spent in both Kandahar and Kabul. Here are their families’ words:

MICHAEL HORNBURG

Despite the investment of blood and treasure, the Afghanistan being left behind is far from peaceful and secure.

It teeters dangerously on a knife’s edge and that’s led Michael Hornburg of Calgary – who lost his son 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Hornburg – to question why the West stayed after it was clear al-Qaeda had been routed in 2001-02.

“I think the Taliban got the message right away about not to shelter the al-Qaeda training bases there,” said Hornburg, recalling the bright September 2007 fall day when three officers came knocking on his door to announce that his “best friend” was lost to him.

“While I support human rights all over the world, in many ways I don’t understand why our Canadian Armed Forces would be there to stabilize Afghanistan.”

Michael Hornburg, who used to read classic literature out loud to his son even into his teenage years, said he tried to convince the boy to become a firefighter, or a cop, rather than a soldier. Their last 25 minute overseas phone conversation, the day before Nathan died, remains seared into his memory.

“From what (Nathan) told us privately and said publicly, he wanted to go and provide a better way of life for women and girls,” he said.

“He was always a very, very strong supporter in his life here in Calgary for the rights of women and girls, but I just don’t know that was worth his life. You know? For a worthless ass piece of (the) Rigestan Desert.”

ANNE SNYDER

Other families, including Anne Snyder – whose son Capt. Jon Snyder, 26, died in 2008 – wonder if the Afghans wanted the West there at all.

“Were we fighting a losing battle?” said Snyder, of Head of Jeddore, N.S.

When she sees the persistent, grinding poverty of the Afghan people and unabated violence, including last week’s bloody attack on the Kandahar intelligence headquarters, Snyder says you can’t help but ask questions.

“I don’t want to think my son died for nothing,” she said.

Her way of honouring Jon, who was posthumously awarded the country’s second-highest military medal for bravery, is to counsel other families of the fallen, including most recently relatives of suicide victims. She’s also dedicated a portion of her garden to him where poppies and lilies return each year.

BEVERLEY SKAALRUD

Beverley Skaalrud, whose son Pte. Braun Woodfield, 24, lost his life in 2005, wrestles with questions of political accountability and wonders if the country was mentally and physically ready for war in Kandahar.

“I feel we sent an ill prepared, inadequately equipped, enthusiastic and honourable military team into an area that was beyond our scope and means,” said Skaalrud, who lives in Airdrie, Alta.

“Did we draw the short straw? Was there political gain to be had by someone?”

Her son was proud to serve, but she isn’t convinced the government – both Liberal and Conservative – did enough to support the troops when they were in the field.

LINCOLN AND LAURIE DINNING

Cpl. Matthew Dinning would have celebrated his 31st birthday last weekend and is never far from the thoughts of his parents – Lincoln and Laurie Dinning – since his death in roadside bombing on April 22, 2006.

He believed the Canadian presence was making a difference and that’s all the validation his mother and father needed to hear.

“The soldiers who went over there really believed they could make a change,” said Laurie Dinning, of Wingham, Ont.

“Of course, from a parent’s point of view, the loss of a child is something we’ll never get over. We certainly have been able to move forward in our lives with lots of support from family and friends.”

Every Christmas the family puts two little Christmas trees alongside his grave with purple decorations marking each year since he’s been gone.

VALERIE BERRY

Being prepared to give up their lives is second nature to soldiers, and that possibility is something that haunts every military family. But the unlimited liability is not something you expect in the diplomatic service.

Their job is to prevent and war, not become one of its victims. But that’s what happened to Glynn Berry, 59, the political director of the Kandahar provincial reconstruction base, on January 15, 2006 when a suicide bomber smashed a vehicle into a military convoy.

His widow, Valerie Berry, has never spoken publicly. Like every other family interviewed by The Canadian Press, she said she was relieved to see final 100 troops are now safely out of harm’s way.

“From a purely personal perspective I am thankful our troops are returning home after having performed bravely and steadfastly in a very difficult situation, one that it would appear couldn’t possibly have been won in such a relatively short time,” she said.

Berry’s memory is kept alive in number of professional and personal ways, including a memorial scholarship at Halifax’s Dalhousie University, an annual lecture series on foreign and defence policy, and the awarding of a memorial cup at the annual Canada-Wales rugby match in Cardiff – something Valerie Berry says “would have made Glyn beam with pride because as well as world affairs and family he was passionate about the game of rugby and proud of his Welsh roots.”

She continues to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and does special things they normally enjoyed together, such as a walk in the woods amongst the deer or lunch out at a local pub.

“Sometimes, when I’m not sure how to go forward, I ask myself, ‘What would Glyn have said?’ and the answer comes to me.”

RAYNALD BOUTHILLIER

Raynald Bouthillier has immortalized his son and the images of other Canadian soldiers on the side of one of his tractor trailers, which rumbles over the highways and byways of northern Ontario.

Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20, was killed in a roadside bombing in March 2009 and his father harbours “no doubt whatsoever” and doesn’t debate the merits of the mission with himself.

Bouthillier equates the war with the plight of first responders.

“They are ready to take risk to help others, and I think that’s why we went there in Afghanistan,” he said.

“After the World Trade Centre attack, there was no way the world could stay there and do nothing. I think it’s a bummer I lost my son, but you know, I’m not the only one. Many people there did sacrifice.”

For him, it’s not about the cause, it’s about the kind of man his son was, and what he represents to others.

“We’re so proud of the choice of career (that) Jack chose, and what he did with his life. He said, ‘I’m going to do my job as a Canadian and I’m going to give all the support I can to the (Afghan) people.”‘

WAS IT WORTH IT?

If there is something that binds all of the families together beyond their shared grief and sense of loss, it’s the belief that despite the opaque, uncertain ending to this war, their loved ones stood for something more than themselves.

“To say that our involvement was not worth it would be to dishonour my husband and everything for which he stood and everything towards which he worked during his long career,” said Valerie Berry.

“It hasn’t been a perfect conclusion and there is still instability and conflict in the region and a lot more to accomplish by the Afghans themselves but I believe that the quality of life has changed for the better for many people in Afghanistan, partly due to our involvement. Was it worth sacrificing lives? I suppose my thought is that we all die one day and if it is in serving one’s country in the most honourable way possible, then one can ask for nothing more.”

The sense of conviction among each of the fallen is something Anne Snyder clings to as she talks her way through her pain.

“I don’t want to think he died for no reason, and that’s were I’m sort of thinking perhaps it was worth it to him,” she said. “He did say he was doing the job he was supposed to do and he was being successful. He used to say to me, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am where I should be.”‘

While she may not believe it was worth it for Canada, Skaalrud, also fiercely proud of her son, described his desire to help the people of Afghanistan as honourable.

“Was it worth it? No. I don’t believe it was worth Canada’s human cost,” she said. “I can only hope, that the women and children of Afghanistan have gained a taste of freedom that will compel them to fight for it themselves.”

If there is nobility in sacrifice, there is also a tempered generosity of spirit and an expectation that the people whom Canadians fought for will show themselves worthy of what these families have given up.

“Our family hopes the Afghan people will embrace what our soldiers have done for them and just make their country what it should be,” said Laurie Dinning.

©2014The Canadian Press

Shortlink

Canadian designers hope to boost business with online offerings

TORONTO – Sid Neigum’s creations are carried in shopping hotspots at home and abroad, and he’s now hoping that online sales will translate into a boost for both brand awareness and the bottom line.

The Alberta-born, Toronto-based designer is one of several homegrown talents being showcased this month on Gilt, a U.S.-based online shopping website that ships to more than 180 countries.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • Stylist Box: Helping Canadian fashion

  • Spring fashion trends: pinks, prints, crop tops and backpacks

  • Toronto’s Fashion Week to preview cool-weather styles for fall-winter

  • Award-winning fashion designer Sarah Stevenson hits her Target

“It just opens you up to the entire world versus just one town or one city,” said Neigum, a native of Drayton Valley, Alta., whose designs are sold in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Seoul and Hong Kong.

“It opens you up to an entire new market of consumers that I hadn’t had before, and it’s just a great promotional platform, too.”

Like Neigum, Chloe and Parris Gordon aren’t relying solely on their runway presentation at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week to reach potential customers.

The sibling design duo behind womenswear and accessory brand Beaufille have an online shop on their label’s site, but see the partnership with Gilt as an opportunity for more widespread exposure.

“We’re sitting next to designers that we’d love to sit next to in a boutique setting,” said Parris of the site, which features such notable names as Diane von Furstenburg, Narciso Rodriguez and Kate Spade. “So for us as designers being new and Canadian, it’s a huge platform, and I think we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

A Statistics Canada report released last October found the value of online orders placed by Canadians reached $18.9 billion in 2012 – a 24 per cent increase from 2010. Among online shoppers, 42 per cent purchased clothing, jewelery or accessories. U.S.-based Forrester Research expects online retail sales in Canada to reach $34 billion in 2018 – representing 10 per cent of all total retail transactions in the country.

As bricks-and-mortar stores carve out a digital presence with e-commerce sites, a growing slate of Canadian online retailers are also vying for consumer dollars with curated collections of designer goods and added incentives aimed at appealing to homegrown shoppers.

Designer footwear site The September touts its duty-free offerings as well as free shipping and returns to Canadian customers, while eLUXE offers complimentary styling services and features homegrown labels like Smythe in addition to international brands. Luxury retailer SSENSE used an inventive approach to bring awareness and sales to the site a few years ago by styling the looks in a music video that consumers could click on and buy as they watched the clip.

“E-commerce in general continues to grow, but what we bring – and what some sites similar to us bring – is excitement every day, it’s inspiration,” said Marshall Porter, senior vice-president and general manager of international and business development for Gilt.

“It’s not just about finding a pair of black pants; it’s going to Gilt and seeing what inspired our curators and merchandising teams and hoping that it inspires our members as well.”

For designers looking to further bolster their brands through online sales, establishing an e-commerce platform is just the beginning with several other key elements needed to drive the momentum.

“You need to find the right programmer, you need to work on the design… and also you need to do the constant work of promoting and inviting the people to go to your page – so it’s a big challenge,” said French-born designer Cecile Raizonville of Matiere Noire, whose Montreal-based label launched its online boutique last September.

While e-commerce is a “different way of selling,” it’s one that has its advantages, like distinguishing which items are featured online versus those carried in real boutiques, she noted.

“It’s the opportunity to show all of our pieces so you can get feedback from the people, but mainly, you can divide the types of products that you sell and control the price point.”

Having an online sales presence will be of little benefit to designers without driving traffic to their respective sites, noted Steve Tissenbaum, adjunct professor with the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. While some may be able to create email distribution lists and spread the message through word of mouth and social media, “the challenge is getting the critical mass of people who will attend.”

“If you’re a small designer in Canada and you are noticed, then what’s the story you’re telling? And are other people going to listen so that the site becomes popular for those designers?” said Tissenbaum.

“I don’t doubt that it will happen. I just think it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to happen in a big way,” he added. “It’s a difficult market. There are so many people who are starting companies. So many designers, so many singers.. small retailers – and then you have the large retailers to contend with.”

Another factor is attempting to shift consumer behaviour to entice them to try something new or unknown. Tissenbaum described the 80-20 rule, noting that on average, 20 per cent of the brands a consumer buys generates 80 per cent of their wardrobe.

“If you buy into that, then how likely are you to start to adopt a brand of which you’re not familiar with because it was carried by a particular distribution channel?”

Still, Tissenbaum believes the appetite for change and impulse purchases like those typically seen in traditional retail settings can translate to online.

“If I’m in Winners, and I find one of these brands… yeah, maybe I would buy it… because it’s something I really like and it’s an unknown brand, but it looks really good,” he said.

“First of all, I have to be going to Winners. The same with these websites. You have to be somebody who goes there. And second of all, you have to be someone who’s willing to buy something that you normally wouldn’t buy.

“I’m not saying that it’s not going to work – but it’s a long process.”

©2014The Canadian Press

Shortlink

After-school acting program tries to help kids get motivated – Toronto

TORONTO – Lights, camera, action! Three words young actors with the Streetwise Actors program hope to hear as part of their futures.

But for now, the bunch continues to participate in the free after-school program, a weekly initiative created to keep kids get motivated and on the right track.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

“Really what it’s about is increasing self-esteem, self respect and respect for other people,” founder of Streetwise Actors David Nash said.  “To give them something to do which is good for them, other than the sort of behaviours, as a society, we really don’t want them to indulge in.”

Through Streetwise Actors, people between the ages of 11 and 18 learn transferable skills that go beyond basic acting tips, something young actor and aspiring director Edward Mines can attest to.

“Well, I’ve certainly become a lot more confident and I’d to say I’ve become better working with a team, collaborating with people and also, become more of a leader,” Mines said.

In an effort to raise these confidence and creativity levels, participants produce a number of skits and plays for the enjoyment of friends, family, and older adult audiences in local long-term care facilities and retirement homes.

“Some of them haven’t interacted with children for years, and to see them brighten up when the kids come into the room is fantastic,” Nash said.

For other participants like Samantha Rideout, Streetwise Actors has helped her feel comfortable in her own skin, something that wasn’t possible before joining the program.

“I feel more open and confident on stage.  I can actually feel like myself,” Rideout said.  “I’ve just made so many friends here, more than at school, and I really, truly feel accepted because I don’t feel accepted in many places.”

Interested participants are welcome to join Streetwise Actors on an ongoing basis.  For more information on the program, all inquiries can be sent to [email protected]杭州夜网

Shortlink

What’s a bank CEO make? If you run CIBC, $10M last year – National

TORONTO – CIBC president and chief executive Gerry McCaughey earned $10.01 million in total compensation last year, according to documents filed ahead of the bank’s annual meeting next month.

The pay packet was up from the $9.93 million he received from the bank in 2012.

McCaughey’s compensation for 2013 included a base salary of $1.5 million, $3.74 million in share-based awards, $935,880 in option-based awards and a $3.12-million cash bonus. The value of his pension earned for the year amounted to $717,000.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • Luxury retailers, Walmart winners of widening income gap this year

READ MORE: Luxury retailers, Walmart winners of widening income gap this year

That compared with a base salary of $1.5 million, $1.92 million in share-based awards, $960,000 in options-based awards, a cash bonus of $2.94 million and $1.92 million in long-term incentives in 2012.

The value of McCaughey’s pension earned in 2012 amounted to $687,000.

Richard Nesbitt, CIBC’s chief operating officer, was the second-highest paid executive at the bank with a total of nearly $7.41 million for last year, up from $7.36 million in 2012.

Chief financial officer Kevin Glass earned $2.57 million, up from nearly $2.36 million, while David Williamson, group head of retail and business banking, earned $4.43 million, up from $4.13 million.

Victor Dodig, group head of wealth management, earned $3.97 million, up from $3.26 million.

CIBC’s annual meeting will be held April 24 in Montreal.

Shortlink

Civic deficit, snow operations on Saskatoon city council agenda – Saskatoon

SASKATOON – Saskatoon city council meets Monday evening to discuss year-end financial results, snow program operations and a bylaw for loud vehicles.

Up for discussion is a preliminary civic financial report for 2013 indicating a net unadjusted deficit of $3.3 million.

Councillors will be asked to approve a $1-million transfer from the fiscal stabilization reserve to stabilize the deficit.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

    Saskatoon city council supports anti-bullying bylaw

The snow removal and ice management program posted a $4.6 million deficit. This could be partially reduced using the program’s stabilization reserve and the weather reserve, if council approves.

Information will also be received telling council how the city’s snow and ice operations dealt with the winter of 2013-14.

According to the city, improved strategies and procedures yielded significant successes.

There was slightly above average snowfall from December to February. A total of 22,000 loads of snow were removed from streets during the season.

Work on the snow grading program was postponed in January due to extremely cold temperatures. Administration subsequently shifted the work to focus on snow removal.

Also on the agenda is a recommendation from administration to change a noise bylaw to make it an offence to operate a vehicle in a manner that disturbs the public’s ears.

The city solicitor will be asked to prepare a bylaw amendment which would include a specific provision for motorcycle decibel levels.

Saskatoon is also considering revamping speed zones for motorists, specifically on streets surrounding kids’ playgrounds.

Council will see if it wants pursue “Child at Play Speed Zones” with a comprehensive study for $50,000.

Council will also be asked to renew the building lease for the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. If approved, the new lease will expire on Nov. 30, 2018.

Both parties agree on an annual rent of $10; however, the farmers’ market is responsible for all operating costs, utilities and property taxes.

Shortlink

Sask. government calls for more grain transportation accountability

SASKATOON – Saskatchewan’s provincial government is calling for greater accountability and specific measures as the federal government prepares emergency legislation to clear the current grain backlog.

At the same time, Saskatchewan’s lone liberal MP is calling the federal government’s efforts to get grain to port “too little, too late.”

Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister Lyle Stewart said a number of specific measures need to be included in the legislation.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • Manitoba creates grain transportation backlog task force

  • Provincial government and local producers welcome grain announcement

  • Banks urged to be flexible with farmers

  • Saskatchewan passes grain backlog motion

  • Farm groups meet with transport minister about grain backlog

READ MORE: Saskatchewan farmers frustrated with ‘unprecedented’ grain backlog

“In order to protect Canada’s reputation as a world-class exporter of agriculture products, we need a world-class transportation system that ensures our farmers can move their crop,” Stewart said in a release.

“We need to get our farmers’ grain to market, ensure they get paid and find long-term solutions to long-standing grain transportation issues.”

Those measures include accountability, mandatory service level agreements with reciprocal penalties for non-compliance, increasing target shipments to a minimum of 13,000 grain cars per week and increasing minimum fines to $250,000 per day for not reaching those targets.

On March 7, an order in council set a minimum target of 11,000 cars a week and fines up to $100,000 a day for failing to meet the target.

READ MORE: Feds orders railways to move minimum amount of grain each week

Both the Saskatchewan and Alberta governments want any money collected to benefit farmers instead of landing in the federal coffers.

The Alberta government also said rail track access should be increased so grain shippers can receive competitive service from more than one rail company.

READ MORE: Grain farmers urged to call members of parliament over grain backlog

Last week, federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt told delegates at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities that railways will be hard-pressed to meet the targets.

“It actually pushes them to their limit,” said Raitt. “It’s the highest amount that they’ve ever moved in terms of grain.”

“[It’s] a classic exercise in too little, too late,” said Ralph Goodale, Saskatchewan’s lone liberal MP.

“The costs and losses for farmers from demurrage charges, extra debt, lost sales, deferred sales, spoilage and depressed prices are probably now approaching $5-billion.”

There are four important steps the federal government can take to show it is serious about clearing the backlog, said Goodale in a Monday speech at the college of agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan.

First among those, said Goodale, is to establish a credible, competent and completely independent system to monitor, measure, analyze and report publicly on results in grain transportation, marketing and handling.

“There must be accountability throughout the supply chain, from farmers, to shippers, to railways and to port. We believe our recommendations for the legislation will help accomplish this,” said Goodale.

“This crisis has been getting relentlessly worse since last October.”

Goodale also wants to see a cost review to track costs and revenue for getting grain to ports, an amendment to the Canada Transporation Act to define service levels for railways, and basic coordination in grain handling and transportation logistics.

“With spring finally around the corner, the Conservatives are only now asking the system to handle about what it would handle in any event at this time of year without any order,” said Goodale.

The federal government is expected to table the legislation when Parliament resumes on March 24.

Shortlink

Alaskan malamutes have history of deadly attacks – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Alaskan malamutes are generally known as a friendly breed of dog but have fatally attacked children before.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

At least three people have been mauled to death by malamutes in the USA since 2005. Two of those killed were kids. In Canada, four people have died after being attacked by “sled dogs” between 1990 and 2007 according to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. It’s not known how many, if any, of those deaths involved malamutes. Last month, a six-day-old baby girl was mauled to death by an Alaskan malamute in the United Kingdom.

A seven-year-old St. Andrews, Manitoba girl was killed by a pair of Alaskan malamutes Sunday afternoon.

The challenge for police will be to figure out what set the dogs off in this case, suggested Bill McDonald, CEO of the Winnipeg Humane Society

“Any large dog, be it a collie or a golden retriever, and young people, they have to be monitored,” said McDonald. “When you’ve got a seven-year-old and a dog that’s mad, these are the tragic results.”

Alaskan malamutes are described by the Working Alaskan Malamute Club of Manitoba as a large, powerful dog suited by nature for its original purpose as a heavy work dog in the north. The average male weighs 85lbs. Females are somewhat smaller, usually weighing 75lbs. The breed is roughly comparable to the German Shepherd in size but is thicker-set, heavier boned, more powerful and compact in build with shorter ears, broader head and shorter, heavier muzzle. Alaskan malamutes are said to be a wonderful pet and companion dog who are dependable and extremely affectionate.

– with files from The Canadian Press

Shortlink

Supreme Court set to rule later this week on appointment of Justice Nadon

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada is poised to deliver an unprecedented ruling later this week on whether Justice Marc Nadon is eligible to join its ranks.

The top court will release a ruling Friday on a reference regarding the constitutionality of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s sixth appointment to the Supreme Court bench.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Related

  • New Supreme Court Justice Marc Nadon’s white Red Wings lie raises eyebrows

  • Harper nominates Marc Nadon as Supreme Court justice

Justice Nadon has been in legal limbo since he was appointed by Harper last September.

READ MORE: Supreme Court of Canada to hear case for Nadon eligibility

A semi-retired judge from the Federal Court of Appeal, Nadon’s qualifications were questioned because he was appointed to one of three openings on the Supreme Court reserved for Quebec jurists.

A constitutional lawyer from Toronto, Rocco Galati, and the government of Quebec argued those Quebec appointments must come from specific courts listed in the Supreme Court Act.

The Harper government attempted to alter the Supreme Court Act’s language in an omnibus bill before referring the whole mess to the Supreme Court itself to sort out.

Shortlink

California man arrested at Canadian border planned to join al-Qaida

SEATTLE – A 20-year-old California man has been arrested near the Canadian border in Washington state and charged with attempting to travel to Syria to fight alongside Islamic extremists, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

Nicholas Teausant, of Acampo, California, an unincorporated area near Lodi, was taken off a northbound Amtrak bus just short of the border overnight. A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Sacramento described him as a student at San Joaquin Delta Community College in Stockton and a member of the National Guard who is being discharged for failing to meet basic academic requirements.

Beginning last spring, Teausant began expressing on his online photography account a desire to see America’s downfall, saying “I would love to join Allah’s army but I don’t even know how to start,” the complaint said. Later in the year, he took to another online forum to say he hoped to fight in Syria, it said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Teausant had a lawyer. He was charged with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and was due to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday afternoon.

The complaint said he had been planning since last October to support the efforts of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been fighting in Syria’s three-year-old civil war and is designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. Investigators said he discussed his scheme at length with a person who turned out to be a paid FBI informant, repeatedly affirming that he was serious about it.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a breakaway organization from al-Qaida that is considered one of the most brutal groups fighting in Syria’s civil war, made up largely of non-Syrian Islamic militants. It has seized several areas in Syria as it fights the government of President Bashar Assad.

Among Teausant’s plans was to appear in videos for the group, without covering his face – to be “the one white devil that leaves their face wide open to the camera,” he was quoted as saying in the complaint.

The informant put Teausant in contact with a “mentor” – in reality, an undercover federal agent – who could purportedly approve his efforts to join the extremists. Early this month, the “mentor” blessed Teausant’s travels, and he boarded a train for Seattle Sunday night, the complaint said.

When the bus arrived in Blaine, just south of Vancouver, British Columbia, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped it and questioned Teausant about where he was headed. He responded that he was travelling to Vancouver and was arrested, the complaint said.

The complaint said Teausant enlisted in the National Guard in April 2012, but never underwent basic training because he didn’t meet academic requirements.

The maximum penalty for attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Shortlink

2 Vancouver heritage homes slated for demolition moved to a new location – BC

They are known as ‘The Dorothies’, and are two Tudor-style homes dating back to 1931.

The duo, originally located on West 43rd Avenue, were slated for demolition but thanks to an online petition and a group of businessmen willing to pay for the move, they were saved. Nickel Bros. House Moving provided their services to move the homes.

Their name ‘The Dorothies’ comes from the fact that two women named Dorothy lived in them – Dorothy MacMillan and Dorothy Smith.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

The homes were bought by two families with the intention of demolishing them and rebuilding new homes on those plots, but it was discovered they were classified as ‘Heritage B’, meaning they had “individual heritage importance.”

Public outcry about their demolition helped save the homes, which will now ‘live’ on West 41st Avenue and will be the focus point of a new townhouse development by Trasolini Chetner.

“At this point we’re not 100 per cent sure what the city is going to allow us to do,” said Paul Trasolini from Trasolini Chetner. “It’s still, we’re still in the works, but we’re at least going to have two houses on that site, and hopefully a few more units on the site as well.”

He said if possible, they would like to have more heritage homes on that site, but are still working out the details with the City of Vancouver.

WATCH: The move drew quite a crowd on Monday morning:

©2014Shaw Media

Shortlink

Quebec election posters: Who gets an ‘A’? – Montreal

MONTREAL – For the third time in the past eighteen months, Montrealers will be going to the polls on April 7.

In perhaps the most depressing election in recent memory, Quebecers will be asked to decide between the scandal-plagued Liberals, whom it seems we just finished kicking out of office, and a Parti Quebecois government, which has turned breaking campaign promises into an art form during their short stint in government.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

But while the top line battle plays out between the heavyweights of Quebec politics, the smaller parties struggle to be noticed.

The Coalition Avenir Quebec, staring oblivion in the face, want to give us Legault. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to want him and their returns policy remains murky.

WATCH: Quebec political parties unveil TV ads

Quebec Solidaire must be wondering anew about the existence of a higher power, and if such a power is indeed on their side, after the entry of Pierre Karl Peladeau into the fray.

While the full effect of his candidacy remains to be seen, it’s no less than a godsend for a progressive party which is only really competitive in Montreal. In the Eastern reaches of the island, they can expect an influx of angry Pequistes, no longer willing to hold their nose and vote for Peladeau’s brave new PQ.

But as much fun as it is to sit here and gripe about the dismal choices we face, it’s far more fun to set aside politics for a moment and take a look at the offerings of the various parties through a different lens.

The first sign of an election is always the signs which crop up on hydro poles and light posts from one end of the city to the other.

So we thought it would be fun to take a look at what the various parties are polluting our fair streets with, and grade them on the effectiveness of their visual design and appeal.

These rankings are entirely subjective, and represent my opinions alone. For this exercise I’ll be ranking all street signs put up by a party as parts of a greater whole. The parties are listed here in order of finish in the 2012 election.

Parti Quebecois: B+

Parti Quebecois election poster.

Ethan Cox/Global News

The visual rhetoric of the PQ has been miles ahead of their Liberal competitors in this campaign, and their signs are no exception.

Similar in conception to those of the CAQ, they make more effective use of the negative space around their candidates, and by introducing grey on a gradient, avoid leaving large white areas to be covered by graffiti and road grime.

Unlike the CAQ and Quebec Solidaire, the PQ opted not to go with a slogan sign, and theirs are restricted to conventional 4×4 signs featuring Premier Pauline Marois and 2×4 signs featuring the local candidate.

The slogan, “Déterminée,” is a solid, if unspectacular, choice. The PQ want to project competence and show Marois as a leader.

Their grey, gritty signs succeed on both counts.

It isn’t rocket science, nor is it particularly innovative, but it’s a solid example of conventional campaign signs done well. That said, distribution leaves something to be desired. In much of Montreal, they have been slow to place their signs.

Liberals: F

Quebec Liberal Party election poster.

Ethan Cox/Global News

If someone had hired me to come up with the worst, least effective campaign signs imaginable, I think they’d have looked a lot like the hot mess that is the Liberal signs.

Their size is a weird hybrid between the large 2×4 and 4×4 signs designed to be visible to drivers, and the smaller “chandelles” designed to catch the eye of pedestrian traffic.

In practical terms, this means they’re too small to be seen from cars, but often placed too high to be visible to pedestrians.

Speaking of visibility, the colour scheme is deathly dark, and the posters all but invisible once the sun sets.

This problem is particularly pronounced with dark-skinned candidates, who simply disappear into the dark blue background of their signs. Someone was asleep at the switch for them to fail so miserably at the single, most important function of campaign signs.

Meanwhile, the slogan, “On s’occupe des vraies affaires” (We’ll take care of the real issues), may sound good to English-speaking voters, but as Journal de Montreal columnist Lise Ravary has pointed out, it’s most often used by French-speaking Quebecers when referring to anything but serious business.

How do you not realize your slogan is a well-known joke among your target audience?

I have yet to see any leader signs, and I travel large swaths of Montreal on a daily basis. Either they don’t have any, which would compound the disastrous failure of their candidate signs, or they have been unable to allocate the resources to get them up on the streets.

I suspect the answer might be the latter, given the story which came out this week of the Liberals paying two men thousands of dollars to put up a hundred signs. Apparently the men were able to negotiate such a favourable rate due to the desperation of the Liberal campaign. Other parties typically rely on their volunteer base, rather than paid labour, to put up signs.

So to recap: the design is a disastrous failure, the size is incomprehensible, the distribution is weak and the impact is negligible. If the PLQ win this election it will be despite their signs, not because of them.

Coalition Avenir Quebec: C

Coalition Avenir Quebec election poster.

Ethan Cox/Global News

When it comes to the CAQ, it’s really a tale of two signs.

The candidate signs, brilliant white against the snow, come in both 2×4 and 4×4 varieties. They’re clean and simple, and have candidate photos in grayscale to leave all the colour to the gorgeous rainbow logo.

While the ample white space is pretty now, it will make an appealing target for teens with Sharpies, and will inevitably become grey and dingy with the accumulation of road grime.

If these were their only signs, their grade would be significantly higher. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Sprouting up all over town are another variety, 2×4 signs emblazoned with the absurd slogan “Contribuables: on se donne Legault” (Taxpayers: We give you Legault).

These signs somehow manage not to include a picture of the man they are offering to Quebecers, and are text-heavy eyesores.

Then there’s the slogan itself, which lends itself to ridicule, and really doesn’t make strategic sense given that Legault’s personal popularity is not particularly high.

These epic failures are deserving of an F, but the overall grade is boosted by the solid candidate signs.

Also worth noting is the fact that the CAQ have been moderately efficient at placing their signs and I’ve seen them in all parts of town.

Quebec Solidaire: A

Quebec Solidaire election poster.

Ethan Cox/Global News

Before moving into journalism, I spent many years working on political campaigns, often overseeing the sign effort for parties like the NDP and Projet Montreal.

To my jaded eye, I think Quebec Solidaire have set a new bar for campaign signs, one which other parties will be aiming for in future campaigns.

Before we get to content, there’s the unprecedented size, which I estimate at 2.5×4.5 feet, and the comprehensive coverage.

From Park-Ex to Berri, St. Henri to Hochelaga, no party has more signs on the street than QS.

The three flavours of issue signs (inequality, environment and sovereignty) are easily scanned by passing drivers and transmit complex ideas in a single visual.

These are complemented by local candidate signs and full-sized leader signs featuring Amir Khadir and Françoise David. But confusingly, not Andres Fontecilla, who replaced Khadir as co-spokesperson last year. One assumes internal numbers show Khadir is more popular than his replacement.

The signs contain not one but two slogans, and if there is a criticism to be made of them it is that they are too busy.

The top part of the leader signs reads “Pour l’amour d’un Quebec solidaire” (For the love of a Quebec ‘solidaire’), local candidate signs replace Quebec with the name of their riding, and issue signs speak of a more just, more green and more free Quebec.

An example of Quebec Solidaire’s issue poster.

Ethan Cox/Global News

Meanwhile the main slogan, carried on a banner draped across the bottom of all signs, is ‘Votons avec notre tête’ (Let’s vote with our head), followed by a heart.

This is, of course, a reference to the dismissal of their party as a gang of dreamers without a grasp of the political realities of the day.

This slogan takes on the main attack of the party’s rivals and turns it into a positive, arguing that their policies are both emotionally and intellectually appealing.

I can’t imagine anyone could dispute the fact that QS is the clear winner of the sign war.

Option Nationale: C-

Option Nationale election poster.

Ethan Cox/Global News

I feel for ON, I really do. Their founder and patron saint, Jean-Martin Aussant, has departed and left the fledgling party he built in his image struggling to define their identity.

With support hovering around one per cent and no sitting MNAs, it’s easy to imagine that this will be the last election for the ‘sovereignty-in-a-hurry’ party.

As for posters, if they have candidate signs, I haven’t seen them.

All that has popped up around Montreal are leader signs featuring new party chief Sol Zanetti, his shirt sleeves rolled up and every bone in his body straining to convey the idea that it’s time to get to work.

Depressingly enough, they feel the need to identify him as the leader of the party in a caption.

The slogan, “Réveiller le courage” (Awaken the courage) is quite good, and appropriate to their mission of immediately tackling the issue of sovereignty.

But really, a party in their position needs to be a bit bolder and do more to attract attention than they have with these posters.

Green Party: D-

Quebec’s Green Party election poster.

Ethan Cox/Global News

The Greens, under new leader Alex Tyrell, are to be commended for putting up more signs, and taking clearer positions, than I have seen them do before.

Unfortunately for them, that’s where the plaudits end.

While I’m happy to see a party, any party, provide an eco-socialist option to federalists who support free education, strict environmental protections and more equal taxation, but are unable to bring themselves to vote for a sovereigntist party like Quebec Solidaire – the execution of these posters leaves a lot to be desired.

The Green Party signs are, and there’s really no way to put this nicely, an eyesore.

They look like they were designed by a grade-schooler, feature far more text than can be read from a car, or indeed while walking past, and bring new meaning to the term busy.

Not only do they print out their web address (you folks know we can Google you, right?), but the web addresses for their 桑拿会所 and Facebook accounts as well.

For future reference, we assume the Greens have accounts on those platforms, and if we want to find them, we know how to use the search function.

The three together take up nearly a quarter of their signs’ surface.

Given that their campaign saw both Campaign Director Peter Deslauriers and Director of Communications Simon Delorme resign their positions in the first week, reportedly as a result of disputes with the party’s embattled leader, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that their communications strategy leaves something to be desired.

What do you think? Whose signs do you like? Which ones make your eyeballs bleed? Let us know in the comments below.

Ethan Cox is a Montreal-based political commentator and senior partner with CauseComms: Communications for the Common Good. He writes about Quebec and national political issues for Global News, The National Post, Toronto Star and other news outlets, and is also a regular analyst and host on radio with CJAD 800 and on television with CTV.

©2014Shaw Media

Shortlink

Jewish group says apology from Parti Quebecois candidate just ‘meaningless excuses’

MONTREAL – A Quebec Jewish group said the apology of a Parti Quebecois candidate who has been accused of anti-Semitic remarks is nothing more than “meaningless excuses.”

Louise Mailloux, a staunch supporter of the PQ’s proposed secular charter, came under fire last week for written comments equating the Jewish practice of circumcision to rape.

Story continues below

HangZhou Night Net

READ MORE: Quebec premier defends PQ candidate accused spreading anti-Semitic propaganda

Mailloux also suggested in an old blog post that the high price of kosher goods is used to help fund Jewish activities and political interests abroad.

The PQ candidate and philosophy professor issued an apology on Saturday, saying she didn’t mean to offend anyone and made the comments in the context of a debate over religious accommodation in Quebec.

But Luciano Del Negro, a spokesperson for the Quebec branch of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said that the apology isn’t enough.

He said the PQ must “categorically disavow” the anti-Semitic theories put forward by Mailloux.

PQ Leader Pauline Marois has stood by Mailloux and emphasized her party does not harbour anti-Jewish views.

“Madame Mailloux adheres to the Parti Quebecois program and adheres to our attitudes and those are very respectful of people’s right to choose their convictions and how they practise their religion,” Marois said Friday.

Raw video: Marois comments on PQ candidate’s remarks

The PQ secular charter, which would forbid public employees from wearing visible religious symbols including hijabs, turbans, kippas and larger-than-average crucifixes, has sparked intense debate in Quebec and in other parts of Canada.

Watch: Marois defends anti-Semitic remarks of candidate

©2014The Canadian Press