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Final Crown witnesses to take stand in Oland trial as prosecutors near end

Final Crown witnesses to take stand in Oland trial as prosecutors near endSAINT JOHN, N.B. — Crown prosecutors are expected to conclude their case against Dennis Oland this week in Saint John, N.B.They will have one of their final witnesses on the stand today — John Ainsworth, who was working in the office below the murder scene on July 6, 2011, the day Richard Oland was bludgeoned to death.Ainsworth was one of two men who heard loud thumps coming from Oland's office that evening, likely the sounds of the murder.But unlike his friend Anthony Shaw, who thinks the noises were between 7:30 and 8 p.m., Ainsworth can't pinpoint the time, beyond saying between 6 and 8 p.m.Police believe Dennis Oland killed his father between 6 and 6:30 p.m. during his visit to the office.The Canadian Press


Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fire

Tears, flowers at impromptu memorial for Syrian children killed in Halifax fireHALIFAX — Dozens of people gathered outside the charred remnants of a suburban Halifax home Tuesday night to mourn the loss of seven children killed in a fast-moving fire and to show support for the injured, grieving parents left behind.They carried flowers and wept openly in the frigid darkness, looking for solace in the company of neighbours and listening to a Christian pastor attempt to gather community strength for the Muslim refugees from Syria beginning to make a new life in Canada.Josh Crawford sang "Amazing Grace" and said they all needed to draw upon their faith to recover from the tragedy."The next couple of days are going to be hard, but it's going to be the weeks and the months to come that this family is going to need you the most," said Crawford, whose mother teaches at the school attended by the two oldest children.The fire struck not long after midnight on Tuesday morning. Neighbours said they were awoken by a woman's screams and looked out to see flames that quickly engulfed the entire upper floor.The family had only lived in the Quartz Drive home for a few months, having moved into Halifax from Elmsdale, N.S., to take advantage of language training and other immigrant services.They had fled war-torn Syria and, with the help of a private sponsorship group, came to Canada in September 2017. A spokesperson for the group said the family had planned to return to Elmsdale next month.Natalie Horne, vice-president of the Hants East Assisting Refugees Team, identified the father as Ebraheim Barho and the mother as Kawthar Barho. She said the children who died are: Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada in November.Ebraheim Barho, who was badly burned while trying to rescue his kids, was fighting for his life Tuesday. Kawthar Barho was also injured, but is expected to survive.Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign launched to help the parents was quickly gathering support.The GoFundMe page entitled "Halifax House Fire Tragedy" had collected more than $217,000 of its stated $300,000 goal with donations from more than 4,400 people as of 8:00 a.m. local time Wednesday.The effort is organized by family friends and the Imam Council of Halifax.The call to gather for the vigil went out on a community Facebook page and more than 100 people responded.They added more flowers, candles and teddy bears to a memorial propped up against a light standard in front of the house."What brought me here was those children that lost their lives," said Fran Kirby, who brought flowers. "It's a shame for those children, and those parents. I don't even understand how anybody could tell a parent (their children had died)."Her friend Heather Bennett was in tears as she talked about her own three-year-old boy."It hit home," she said.Iain McLaren and Kristen MacDiarmid said they moved into the neighbourhood two years ago and wanted to show their support to the community that had welcomed them."When you hear about these things in the media, you think these happen so far away, but today it happened so close and to have it happen to a family that's from Syria, it's just a devastating blow to the neighbourhood," McLaren said.Crawford said the emotional gathering was an important gesture for the people who came and for the grieving parents who couldn't."It speaks volumes to the family — a father who can't be here right now and the mother who is by her husband's side," he said. "It just shows that we as a community are standing together and here for this family."A funeral for the children is expected Wednesday or Thursday. The Canadian Press


In the news today, Feb. 20

In the news today, Feb. 20Dozens of people gathered outside the charred remnants of a suburban Halifax home Tuesday night to mourn the loss of seven children killed in a fast-moving fire. The parents have been identified as Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho, who came to Canada from Syria to start a new life. Ebraheim Barho, who was badly burned while trying to rescue his kids, was fighting for his life in hospital. Kawthar Barho is expected to survive.


Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-Raybould

Hearings into SNC-Lavalin affair start today, but not with Wilson-RaybouldOTTAWA — The House of Commons justice committee will begin hearings today into the allegation that the Prime Minister's Office improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution.Wilson-Raybould herself has been invited to testify, but likely won't appear until Monday and, even then, it's unclear if she'll have much to say.She has repeatedly cited solicitor-client privilege to refuse all comment on the affair since the allegation from anonymous sources first surfaced in a Globe and Mail report almost two weeks ago.The Liberal-dominated committee wants to hear first from academics about the legal principles underpinning the affair, which prompted Wilson-Raybould's resignation from cabinet last week and the departure this week of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's most trusted aide, principal secretary Gerald Butts.Those principles include the recently adopted legal provision allowing for remediation agreements in corporate corruption cases, a form of plea bargain in which a company pays restitution but avoids a criminal conviction that could bankrupt it.They also include the so-called Shawcross doctrine that spells out the degree to which an attorney general may consult with cabinet colleagues about a prosecution.Opposition members of the justice committee maintain the hearings will be meaningless unless Trudeau waives solicitor-client privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak freely and unless senior officials in his office, including Butts, are called to testify.MPs are also scheduled to vote today on a non-binding NDP motion calling for a public inquiry into the affair and the waiving of solicitor-client privilege.Conservative senators, meanwhile, have also introduced their own motion calling for an inquiry by the Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee.The Canadian Press


NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG Canada

NDP candidates push for stronger climate action as Singh supports LNG CanadaBURNABY, B.C. — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is facing calls from within the party for a stronger stance on climate change as he defends his support of the $40-billion LNG Canada project in northern British Columbia.Svend Robinson, the New Democrat candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour in the general election, opposes any new oil and gas infrastructure. Julia Sanchez, running for the party in a byelection in Outremont in Montreal, disapproves of the use of public funds for such projects.Singh is seeking his first seat in Parliament in a byelection in Burnaby South. The leader opposes the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would increase tanker traffic departing from the Metro Vancouver city, but he approves of liquefied natural gas pipeline and export facility."The LNG project has demonstrated some clear, positive steps around consultation," Singh said. "There was an exhaustive and pretty thorough consultation around Indigenous communities, First Nations communities and elected bands and chiefs.""There are people standing up and defending their land who have the right to express those concerns, and there's still ongoing work that needs be addressed before this project moves ahead."Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs oppose a Coastal GasLink pipeline that would lead to LNG Canada's export terminal in Kitimat. RCMP arrested 14 people at a blockade last month, sparking national protests.Police later reached a deal with the chiefs to allow pipeline work to continue. Coastal GasLink has signed agreements with all 20 elected First Nations bands along the pipeline.Singh has tried to project unity in the party while facing internal criticism for poor fundraising and low support in the polls. If he wins the byelection Monday and remains leader, he is likely to encounter calls from his caucus for a tougher stance on climate change.Robinson said he returned to politics after 15 years because of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations panel that assesses scientific evidence on global warming. The report concluded temperatures were likely to rise 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052 unless drastic action is taken."The most important issue facing our planet and our country today is climate change. We have to effectively put the country on the same kind of wartime footing that we did at the time of the last world war to fight climate change," Robinson said."If we are to do that, there can be no new oil and gas infrastructure."He said his specific concerns about LNG Canada include the increase in emissions associated with the project, the environmental impact of fracking and the importance of respect for hereditary Indigenous leadership.Robinson would not say if he tried to change Singh's mind on the project. But he said he hopes to influence the NDP's fall election platform, and if he wins a seat, he will continue to bring his position forward around the caucus table.Julia Sanchez said climate is the key issue she hears about on the doorstep while campaigning in Outremont, the riding previously held by former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.She has proposed a vision she calls the "Great Transition," which urges an end to subsidies for the oil and gas industry and for public investment in new infrastructure. It also recommends more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets.Sanchez said the NDP has made progress on its position on climate change over the past two years, but the party could go further. She noted LNG Canada benefits from $275 million in federal funding."I have a hard time seeing how we can justify making massive investments in projects in the oil and gas industry," she said. "That means we're not doing investments in renewable energy or ... in supporting the transition of workers from the oil and gas industry to other industries."LNG Canada spokeswoman Susannah Pierce said the project has been designed to achieve the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any large-scale liquefied natural gas facility in the world — about 50 per cent lower than the average facility.The UN report models pathways to keep global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees C, including one scenario that says natural gas use must grow while coal declines, Pierce said in a statement."Natural gas is clearly a part of the solution, as is natural gas shipped as LNG to Asia from B.C.," Pierce said.Simon Donner, a geography professor and climate-change expert at the University of B.C., said LNG Canada's emissions represent a fraction of Canada's 2030 target. But the project would operate for decades, making it harder for the country to meet longer-term targets, he said.Singh has also faced pushback from the public for his support of LNG Canada. A protester recently interrupted a debate in Burnaby South to accuse Singh of "turning his back on Aboriginal people," and the leader calmly listened and offered to speak with the man after the event.Singh likely supports the project to align himself with the province's minority NDP government, said Richard Johnston, a University of B.C. political science professor."He needs his friends," Johnston said. "It means that the government of B.C. can be unembarrassed in supporting him in his attempt to get elected to Parliament."— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Wednesday 20th of February 2019 02:40:52

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