Monthly Archives: May 2019
OTTAWA – Canadian municipalities want the federal government to change the way it decides how much money cities should get for transit and water projects.
The changes outlined in June to the federal infrastructure minister would potentially, if implemented, give more money to smaller communities to help them build a transit system or improve private septic systems.
Municipal leaders are also looking to the Liberals to set aside a significant amount of money for social housing over the coming decade, and to continue funding up to half of eligible project costs to help cities more easily manage project expenses.
The details are contained in summary reports prepared for Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi after he met in early June with mayors, reeves and officials with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as part of consultations on the second phase of the government’s 10-year, $60-billion infrastructure program.
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obtained copies of the reports under the Access to Information Act.
Another round of consultations is scheduled for Wednesday in Edmonton, where Sohi will meet with his provincial and territorial counterparts. The final outline of how Phase 2 will work is to be released within the next year.
Community leaders told Sohi they wanted the federal government to allocate money to cities under the second phase instead of making them apply for federal help.
Smaller communities say they usually have to outsource work to prepare a business case needed to land federal funding, but are spending the money without any certainty that their application will be approved.
Cities and towns told Sohi in June that there could at least be a partial allocation of infrastructure money during phase two if the federal government moves to an application-based model in order to provide municipalities with some level of certainty as they plan and budget for future projects.
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The Liberals budgeted $6.6 billion this year and next for the first phase of their infrastructure program. Phase 2 of the program would begin in 2018.
The infrastructure program was a key Liberal promise in last year’s election. The government hopes the spending will boost the country’s economy and pad government coffers with new tax revenue that will help bring the budget back to balance.
The federal government has signed funding agreements with all but Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Nunavut to allow infrastructure money set aside for Phase 1 to flow to eligible transit, water and waste water projects.
British Columbia’s post-secondary system is in crisis and is failing students by forcing them into careers they may not be suited for, says a group of university and college teachers.
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of British Columbia released a report Tuesday, saying that the way the government funds post-secondary education is limiting students’ access to certain programs.
George Davidson, the group’s president, said schools have been forced in recent years to fund programs that train for jobs highlighted in the province’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, many of which are in the trades or high-tech sector.
“It’s a huge shift in the kind of programming emphasis of institutions, driven by government policy,” he said.
“We need trades jobs; I’m not denying that. But we don’t need trades jobs to the exclusion of everything else.”
Paired with long-term under funding, Davidson said the re-allocation of resources means some programs, such as transfer courses and English as a second language courses, are being cut.
The history instructor said the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, where he taught for years, went from having nine academic divisions to only three as funding was increasingly restricted. The college now offers courses in trades, health sciences and international.
“When you’re taking money from one area and moving it to another area, that means you’re not offering the stuff that was offered previously,” Davidson said.
The federation’s report said that when inflation is taken into account, the provincial government’s per-student funding has declined by more than 20 per cent since 2001.
Davidson said that as funding becomes increasingly restricted, schools have looked to students to cover costs, hiking tuition and fees, especially for international students.
“The shift in the cost of education has largely gone from the province to the backs of students and families,” he said.
But Davidson said the government doesn’t seem to care.
“We say, ‘look, let’s fix things up.’ But it’s kind of like putting Band-Aids on an elephant,” he said.
The federation, which represents teachers at dozens of schools, including Langara in Vancouver, Selkirk in Castlegar and Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, is now calling on they want the government to do a thorough review of how the post-secondary system is funded.
Hearing to begin for Alberta judge who asked sex assault complainant why she couldn’t keep knees together
A hearing is to begin Tuesday into the future of a federal judge who asked a sexual assault complainant why she couldn’t keep her knees together.
The Canadian Judicial Council is to determine whether Justice Robin Camp should lose his job for the comment he made in 2014 while a provincial court judge in Calgary.
Court transcripts show he also questioned the woman’s morals, suggested that her attempts to fight off her attacker were feeble and described her as “the accused” throughout the trial.
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Camp acquitted the man of sexual assault, but the verdict was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.
Hearings such as this are not common — there have only been 11 since the council was created in 1971
The judge has indicated he wants to remain on the bench and will issue an apology.
READ MORE: Lawyer to argue ignorance no basis for removal of Justice Robin Camp
“I think we will hear from the judge. I’m not quite sure when that might be,” said Johanna Laporte, the judicial council’s communications director.
“I believe the judge intends to call one or two witnesses. I believe he’s been working with an expert in gender sensitivity and someone else and they may be called as witnesses.”
Laporte said the judicial council takes all complaints and allegations of judicial misconduct seriously.
It’s alleged Camp made comments that “reflected an antipathy” toward laws meant to protect vulnerable witnesses, engaged in “stereotypical or biased thinking” and asked the complainant questions that relied on “discredited, stereotypical assumptions” of how one should behave following a sexual assault.
WATCH: Sexual assault advocates Deb Singh and Lenore Lukasik-Foss give their thoughts about Robin Camp’s conduct in the sexual assault trial
READ MORE: Alberta judge Robin Camp removed from all cases as sex assault trial reviewed
“That kind of comment goes back to the dinosaur age as far as I’m concerned,” said Danielle Aubry, executive director of Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse.
“Sure there’s an apology, perhaps, that might be coming, but that doesn’t take away from the additional hurt that this person experienced.”
The review committee will make recommendations to the full judicial council. If it decides Camp should be removed from the bench, the final decision lies with the federal justice minister.
WATCH: The fallout grew in Nov. 2015 over controversial comments made by a Calgary judge presiding over a sexual assault case.
WARNING: The content in this story may disturb some readers.
EDMONTON – The Alberta Court of Appeal is hearing arguments on whether to overturn a controversial acquittal of an Ontario trucker charged with killing an indigenous woman.
Last year, a jury found Bradley Barton not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Cindy Gladue, a 36-year-old sex-trade worker who was found dead in a bathtub in an Edmonton motel room in 2011.
Rally in memory of Cindy Gladue
Edmonton protest for acquittal in Cindy Gladue murder case
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Gladue bled to death after a night of what Barton called consensual, rough sex.
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But Crown prosecutor Joanne Dartana criticized the trial judge’s charge to the jury, saying he should have explained that Barton could have been found guilty of a lesser charge if he should have foreseen his actions would harm Gladue. That would have opened the possibility of a sexual assault conviction, she said.
“He ought to have known that what he did risked bodily harm,” she said.
Chief Justice Catherine Fraser agreed the trial judge’s instructions to the jury were confusing.
On the one hand, the law says people are not allowed to consent to being harmed. On the other, the judge said the Crown had to prove that Barton intended to harm Gladue.
“What’s the jury supposed to make of this?” she asked.
Fraser pointed out previous decisions have thrown out consent as a defence in cases of voluntary fist-fights.
“Is a prostitute not entitled to the same degree of protection as two guys fighting on street?” she asked.
Justice Sheilah Martin pointed out the judge told the jury the fact no evidence had been presented regarding a motive could be considered an argument in the defence’s favour.
“The jury was being invited to find an absence of motive should lead to an acquittal,” she said.
Barton’s lawyer Dino Bottos argued the judge qualified those statements adequately.
“He was not putting (his fingers) on the scales of justice.”
But Fraser kept returning to the question of whether Gladue really consented to sex so violent it killed her.
“Why would we think that she would be consenting to the degree of force here?”
Barton’s trial heard that he had hired Gladue for two nights of sex in June 2011.
He testified that he put his fist in her vagina on the first evening. On the next night, after some drinking, he did the same but she started bleeding. When she went to the bathroom, he fell asleep, he said.
The next morning he found her body in the tub, he told court. He later called 911.
Barton told the jury the sex was consensual.
READ MORE: Alberta prosecutors file appeal of acquittal in Cindy Gladue murder case
The Crown called a medical examiner at the trial, who testified that an 11-centimetre cut to the woman’s vaginal wall had been caused by a sharp object. Gladue’s vagina had been preserved and the medical expert used that exhibit as he described the fatal wound to the jury.
In a submission to the court, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund criticized the way the trial was conducted. The brief said Gladue was consistently dehumanized and stereotyped.
“The characterization of Ms. Gladue as ‘native,’ coupled with the characterization of her as a prostitute, created a heightened risk that the jury would bring to the fact-finding process discriminating beliefs, misconceptions or biases about the sexual availability of indigenous women.
“The dehumanization of her (by using her vagina as an exhibit in court) illustrates a failure to perceive Ms. Gladue as a rights-bearing person who was entitled to be treated with dignity.”
Edmonton protest for acquittal in Cindy Gladue murder case
Edmonton protest for acquittal in Cindy Gladue murder case
Rallies for murdered sex worker in Alberta held across the country
Cindy Gladue rally
The appeal is to finish Wednesday. A written decision is expected.
Jury selection will begin today in the trial of a man accused of killing two men and wounding two others during a shooting at a sawmill in Nanaimo, B.C.
Michael Lunn and Fred McEachern were both killed when a lone gunman entered the Western Forest Products mill on the morning of April 30, 2014, and started firing his weapon.
Earl Kelly and Tony Sudar were both injured in the shooting.
Kevin Addison is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Western Forest Products has said the suspect in the shooting was a former employee.
The company and the union representing mill workers were in the midst of a long-standing labour dispute over severance pay at the time of the incident.
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