Tuesday, November 14

News In Brief

TRUDEAU CONFRONTS AND ANGERS PHILIPPINE LEADER DUTERTE: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directly raised human-rights concerns with Rodrigo Duterte — including extrajudicial killings carried out by security forces in his country — in a confrontation Tuesday that the Philippine president later derided as a “personal and official insult.” Speaking to reporters in Manila after a summit of Southeast Asian countries, Trudeau said he told Duterte about the need for the rule of law in the Philippines, and also made a friendly offer of support to help the Philippines move forward. Trudeau said Duterte — whose violent crackdown on drug dealers and drug users by his government’s forces has left thousands dead — was receptive to the comments during what the Canadian prime minister called a very cordial and positive exchange. Duterte, however, seemed to remember it differently. “I said, ‘I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult,'” he told a news conference later Tuesday of his discussion with Trudeau. “‘It angers me when you are a foreigner, you do not know what exactly is happening in this country. You don’t even investigate.'” Duterte is highly sensitive to such criticism, and in the past called then-U.S. president Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” after the State Department publicly expressed concern over the Philippine anti-drug campaign.

‘KNEES TOGETHER’ FORMER JUDGE ASKS FOR RETURN TO LAW PRACTICE: A former judge who resigned over his treatment of a sexual assault complainant is making his case Tuesday for why he should be allowed to practise law again. The Law Society of Alberta is holding a day-long reinstatement hearing for Robin Camp in Calgary. Federal Judge Brian Bell, a friend and former colleague, told the hearing Camp is a good person who isn’t homophobic, sexist or discriminatory. Camp stepped down from the Federal Court in March following a Canadian Judicial Council recommendation that he be removed from the bench. Court transcripts from the 2014 sexual assault trial show that Camp — a provincial court judge in Calgary at the time — called the complainant “the accused” numerous times and asked her why she didn’t resist by keeping her knees together. Camp found the accused, Alexander Wagar, not guilty, but the Appeal Court ordered a new trial that resulted in him being acquitted for a second time. Bell said the headlines calling Camp the “knees-together judge” don’t reflect the person he knows. After he stepped down from the bench, Camp spent some time consulting for The Rebel, but was ultimately not employed by the online conservative website.

PEACEKEEPING PLAN TO SATISFY UNITED NATIONS, TRUDEAU SAYS: While Canadian officials and the United Nations have been furiously trying to iron out the details of Canada’s long-awaited peacekeeping plans, one senior UN official says no final decisions have been made — even with Vancouver playing host to a two-day summit on the subject starting Tuesday. “It’s a work in progress,” Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations, said Monday in an interview with The Canadian Press. “It looks like there are a number of avenues that have been explored quite thoroughly. But we’re waiting for the Canadian government to come up with a final decision.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t offer any details, but told reporters in Manila on Tuesday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit that an announcement will be made in Vancouver that will satisfy both Canadians at home and the United Nations. He said the announcement will focus on how Canada can best use its abilities and expertise to ensure “maximal positive impact, not just for Canadian contributions but for all peacekeepers.”

FRANCE MULLS 13 AS LEGAL AGE FOR SEXUAL CONSENT: Is a 13-year-old old enough to agree to sex with an adult? That’s a question France is asking as the government prepares to set a legal age for sexual consent for the first time. Twice in recent weeks, French courts have refused to prosecute men for rape after they had sex with 11-year-old girls because authorities couldn’t prove coercion. Amid the public disbelief over the situation, the French government is drafting a bill to say that sex with children under a certain age is by definition coercive. Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet provoked consternation among feminist groups Monday by saying a legal minimum age of 13 for sexual consent “is worth considering.” Activists staged a small protest Tuesday in central Paris to argue that the age of consent should be set at 15. Protesters waved placards that read “for him impunity, for her a life sentence” in reference to the recent cases.

ACCUSED IN EDMONTON ATTACK TO HAVE PSYCHIATRIC REVIEWS: A man facing several counts of attempted murder after a police officer was hit with a car and stabbed by an assailant is to face two psychiatric assessments. The reviews are to determine Abdulahi Hasan Sharif’s mental state at the time of the attack and as he faces trial, his lawyer said Monday as his client appeared in an Edmonton court via video link. Sharif was charged after a speeding car rammed through a barrier at a Canadian Football League game in Edmonton on Sept. 30 and sent an officer flying five metres through the air. The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing Const. Mike Chernyk. Four pedestrians were hit and injured hours later by the driver of a cube van speeding away from police cars in downtown Edmonton. Chernyk suffered stab wounds to the face and the head. He has returned to work and was honoured at CFL and National Hockey League games in the city. The other attack victims are recovering from their injuries.

WEBSITE TO TRACK LIBERAL PROMISES: People looking to know how the Liberals have fared on fulfilling their promises — as well as how far they have to go — can now visit a website the federal government has set up to track the tasks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assigned to his cabinet ministers. Soon after his Liberals won their majority government in 2015, Trudeau decided, in an unprecedented move for a federal government, to publish the traditionally secret mandate letters written to cabinet ministers. Now, the Privy Council Office has launched a website tracking the 364 commitments found in those mandate letters, allowing people to check whether a specific pledge has been met, is on track, is going through challenges or, as in the case of electoral reform, has been abandoned. The mandate letter tracker, which will be updated about every two weeks, also revealed that a promise to give companies that hire younger workers for permanent jobs a one-year break on employment insurance premiums is no longer being pursued.

U.S. OWNER OF CHURCHILL PORT, RAILWAY THREATENS NAFTA COMPLAINT: The owners of a broken rail line in northern Manitoba that has cut off the subarctic town of Churchill served notice Tuesday that they plan to file a complaint against the federal government under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The formal notice from Denver-based Omnitrax is the latest volley in an ongoing battle over who is responsible for the rail line left inoperable by spring flooding, leaving Churchill’s 900 residents facing higher food and fuel prices and lower tourism numbers. Omnitrax said Ottawa’s decision to end the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on western wheat and barley in 2012 drastically cut grain shipments along the Hudson Bay Railway and through the Port of Churchill because the open market allowed producers to use southern rail lines and ports, which are Canadian-owned. Omnitrax said it hoped to resolve the standoff amicably, but also said it might file a lawsuit for $150 million if no agreement is reached. The federal government, which has threatened to sue Omnitrax for failing to maintain the rail line, responded Tuesday by saying the company received $18.8 million in federal subsidies a decade ago on the condition it keep the rail line operational.

PM MUST HELP GRASSY NARROWS, CHIEF SAYS: The chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support his community’s call for a treatment centre for residents affected by mercury poisoning, including those nearing death. Simon Fobister says he has personally reached out to Trudeau three times and wonders why the prime minister has failed to respond to his concerns, despite a promise for a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples. Fobister is also seeking answers and action from the Ontario government after a report commissioned by the Domtar company detailed provincial knowledge of contamination in the soil under an upstream paper mill dating back to 1990. Provincial Indigenous Relations Minister David Zimmer says his ministry is reviewing the 2016 report to see what the consequences are and “what should be done.” The situation in Grassy Narrows has also touched off concern from international observers, with groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch saying Canada must address the mercury crisis in its own backyard.

‘ARROW’ STAR SPEAKS OUT AMID ALLEGATIONS AGAINST PRODUCER: Canadian “Arrow” star Stephen Amell is offering to help “in any way, shape or form” as Warner Bros. Television Group investigates allegations of sexual harassment against an executive producer for a number of Vancouver-shot superhero shows. Andrew Kreisberg has been suspended from his work on “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow” amid accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching from 19 former and current employees. In a video posted on his Facebook page, Amell said he offered his support to the “Arrow” cast and crew on Monday morning. The accusations against Kreisberg were first reported by Variety, which did not identify the 15 women and four men, who said they feared retaliation. Kreisberg told Variety: “I have made comments on women’s appearances and clothes in my capacity as an executive producer, but they were not sexualized. Like many people, I have given someone a non-sexual hug or kiss on the cheek.”

YUKON MAN RECOUNTS LIFE-AND-DEATH FIGHT WITH BISON: A Yukon hunter has a harrowing tale of survival after tangling with a bison, the largest land mammal in North America. Todd Pilgrim, a natural resource officer with the Yukon government, was hunting last week north of Whitehorse when he shot and wounded a nearly 650-kilogram bison. He says he was tracking it through the bush when he heard a noise and suddenly all he could see were the bison’s horns as the enraged animal charged, slamming its head into his and knocking him out. Pilgrim says he regained consciousness to find he was smothering in fur as the bison tried to grind him into the ground but he was able to wriggle free, grab his gun and fire a final, fatal shot. He says he kept repeating “you’re not going to kill me.” Pilgrim has a concussion and gash on his forehead from the head butt, but no other significant injuries and is recovering at home.

The Canadian Press
Media files