The International News Weekly CANADA February 02, 2018 | Toronto 04 1,422 people died of illicit drug overdoses in 2017: BC Coroner The Canadian Parvasi VANCOUVER : Illicit drug overdoses claimed 1,422 lives in British Columbia last year, setting a new threshold for the crisis that has been fuelled by the powerful opioid fentanyl. The BC Coroners Service says last year's death toll is 43 per cent higher than 2016 when 993 overdose deaths were recorded. Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says the public health crisis is affecting people from all walks of life and government agencies need to continue working Former BC govt aide gets nine-month conditional sentence in vote scheme The Canadian Press VANCOUVER : A former government communications director has been given a nine-month conditional sentence for using his public job to woo ethnic votes for British Columbia's Liberal party. Provincial court Judge David St. Pierre told Brian Bonney he made "certain choices" that landed him to be in court. Bonney's lawyer told a sentencing hearing earlier this month that his client was an instrument of others in the scandal, including senior officials in former premier Christy Clark's office. The conditional sentence will be served in the community and Bonney will live under a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. together to help reduce the stigma of drug addiction and increase awareness. The province declared a state of emergency in April 2016 over the crisis, allowing more safe consumption sites to open and the distribution of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. The coroner says there appears to be more overdose deaths in the five days after income assistance payments are issued, with the average of six deaths per day. More than half of the 2017 deaths involved those between the ages of 30 and 49. The coroner says four out of five of those who died were male. The province began distributing free kits containing naloxone through pharmacies in December in an effort to curb overdose deaths. About 1,900 kits were made available through 220 pharmacies provincewide. He must also do 60 hours of community service work. Bonney pleaded guilty to breach of trust last October in the so-called quick wins scandal for the partisan use of taxpayer money in an attempt to attract support from minority groups. Special prosecutor David Butcher presented a series of emails during the sentencing hearing showing Bonney used a private account to communicate with liaison workers who were tasked with gaining support from various ethnic organizations before the 2013 election. Bonney's lawyer, Ian Donaldson, had asked for a suspended sentence, saying his client crossed a line but was directed to do so. Clark appointed her deputy minister, John Dyble, to conduct a review and it concluded public officials misused government resources. It said Bonney was among those who spent a considerable amount of time during his workday on party activities and used private emails. Clark apologized and the Liberals returned $70,000 of taxpayers' money. Appeal Court orders new trial for Halifax taxi driver acquitted of sex assault The Canadian Press HALIFAX : Nova Scotia's highest court has ordered a new trial for a taxi driver acquitted of sexually assaulting a highly intoxicated passenger, saying the trial judge erred in law by finding there was no evidence of lack of consent. In a unanimous decision, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal found the judge ignored or disregarded circumstantial evidence that would have allowed him to infer the complainant did not voluntarily agree to engage in sexual activity, or that she lacked the capacity to do so. Under the law, the Crown was obligated to prove the complainant was not capable of understanding the nature of the sexual act. The woman, who was found unconscious in the cab, told police she couldn't remember what happened. During Bassam Al-Rawi's trial, an expert testified that the young woman was extremely intoxicated after drinking five draught beers, two tequila shots and one vodka-cranberry drink while at a downtown bar. In an oral ruling delivered last March, provincial court Judge Gregory Lenehan said there was no evidence of a lack of consent or a lack of capacity to consent to the sexual act that took place in Al-Rawi's cab on May 22, 2015. Lenehan's decision — now the subject of a judicial council investigation — sparked public outrage when he concluded: "Clearly, a drunk can consent." The appeal court found Lenehan's statement was correct in law, but the three justices concluded the judge's application of the consent test revealed a legal error when he equated incapacity only with unconsciousness. Alberta's new Opposition leader Jason Kenney sworn in at legislature The Canadian Press EDMONTON : Alberta's new Opposition leader has officially been sworn in during a ceremony at the provincial legislature. Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, won a byelection last month to become the legislature member for the constituency of Calgary Lougheed. The seat became available when UCP member Dave Rodney stepped down to allow Kenney to run. Kenney, a former federal cabinet minister, won the leadership of Alberta's Progressive Conservatives in early 2017. He successfully arranged a merger with the Wildrose Opposition and then beat its leader, Brian Jean, to become head of the new party. Kenney will take his seat in the legislature when the spring sitting begins on March 8. 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The International News Weekly CANADA February 02, 2018 | Toronto 05 Halifax is not the garrison town of Edward Cornwallis: Mayor The Canadian Press Halifax : Halifax council has voted to immediately remove a statue of Edward Cornwallis from a downtown park, with several councillors calling the bronze figure of the city's controversial military founder a barrier to reconciliation. After just over an hour of debate, it took less than 10 seconds for council to vote 12-4 to temporarily place the statue in storage until a decision is made on its long-term fate. "The Cornwallis statue has become a powerful symbol," Mayor Mike Savage told council. "I believe its continued presence on a pedestal in the middle of a city park is an impediment to sustained progress and forging productive, respectful and lasting relationships with the Mi'kmaq in the spirit of truth and reconciliation." He added: "Halifax is not the garrison town of Edward Cornwallis. It's a thriving, diverse, modern city that I believe will be largely shaped by those who've been here the longest and those who are finding it for the first time." Morley Googoo, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the decision to take down the statue is a "huge opportunity for the city." "Other municipalities across the country are dealing with the same very question about how to have a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples," he told reporters following council's decision. "Being here today and witnesses how we talked about it and the progress we've made in Halifax, I'm very proud to be here." Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs had called Friday for the statue to be taken down immediately, because a panel appointed in October to study how the city commemorates Cornwallis had not even met yet. "If we want reconciliation, we pull down the statue immediately," said Coun. Richard Zurawski. "Let's end the 500 years of broken promises and take away this visual symbol of supremacy." Savage told council that the issue of truth and reconciliation has been a long time coming. Speaking from prepared notes, he said "we are all a product of our history," but we do not have to be a prisoner to it. The mayor told council that removing the statue is not about re-writing history, but acknowledging that history is also not "cast in bronze." Cornwallis is a disputed character seen by some as a brave leader who founded Halifax, but by others as the commander of a bloody and barbaric extermination campaign against Mi'kmaq inhabitants. "The status quo is completely untenable. The statue is a barrier to reconciliation," Coun. Sam Austin said during the debate. "Cornwallis will always be in the history books. This is about how we commemorate him." A staff report suggested the Cornwallis statue could be taken down and stored at a cost of about $25,000. It said it is concerned about rising tensions around the statue, citing a planned protest Sunday that could result in "damage to the statue, conflicts among protesters and counter-protesters and personal injury." "The statue has increasingly become a flashpoint for protests," states the document, dated Jan. 27. "Clashes arising from protests and counter-protests of controversial statues in other jurisdictions have in some cases resulted in injury and damage to public property and in a worst case, death. There is a reputational risk to Halifax from the attention associated with this unrest." One councillor, Steve Adams, called instead for leaving the statue but adding statues of Acadians, Mi'kmaqs and others in a "Founders Plaza" with interpretive panels. "This is not the way to run a city, based on threats of violence," he said. Halifax councillors voted last fall to launch a special advisory committee that would provide council with advice on what to do with Cornwallis commemorations, as well as make recommendations for honouring Indigenous history. But the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs has said it was frustrated with a process that has dragged on for "far too long." The assembly said it submitted names of potential Mi'kmaq panellists, but the committee has yet to be formed. The council report also called on the mayor to "re-engage" the assembly in the committee. "Removing the statue offers the opportunity to reduce the current volatility around discussions of commemoration, protect the statue, and undertake a public engagement in a less charged environment than is currently the case," it states. Three gunshots fired the night Indigenous man died on Saskatchewan farm The Canadian Press BATTLEFORD : The Crown says evidence will show that three shots were fired the night a 22-year-old Indigenous man was killed on a Saskatchewan farm. Crown prosecutor Bill Burge told the trial of Gerald Stanley on Tuesday that court will hear from the farmer's son, Sheldon, who came out running when he and his father thought someone was trying to steal a vehicle from their yard in August. 2016. Burge told the jurors they will hear that Sheldon Stanley went inside to get his keys because a grey Ford Escape SUV was starting to drive away when it hit another vehicle in the yard. "As he was running into the house, he heard two gunshots. When he got out of the house with his car keys, he heard another gunshot. He looked. He saw his father standing by the driver's door of this vehicle with a gun and a clip in his hand," Burge told court. "Sheldon Stanley approached the vehicle and saw Colten Boushie in the driver's seat slumped toward the steering wheel." Burge said there were two females in the back seat of the vehicle. Two other males had jumped out of the SUV and ran away. Burge told the jury an autopsy found Boushie died from a gunshot wound that entered behind his left ear and exited through the side of his head. Police recovered a Ruger-style handgun. Stanley, who is 56, has pleaded not guilty to seconddegree murder. RCMP Cpl. Terry Heroux was called to the Stanley farm the night of the shooting and took several photos. Some of them show the SUV, its front left wheel worn down to the rim, with the doors open and a body under blankets on the ground. Dark blood stains can be seen on the seat and dashboard. A broken .22-calibre rifle was found next to the vehicle. Heroux said the barrel was bent but there was a bullet in the chamber and five in a clip. Confidentiality an issue in whether to release Hehr report: Trudeau The Canadian Press OTTAWA : Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says confidentiality will be a factor in deciding whether to release the findings of an investigation into allegations of misconduct levelled against Liberal MP Kent Hehr. When asked today whether the results of the probe will be made public, Trudeau was noncommittal, saying each case must be handled differently. He says that while confidentiality is important in some circumstances, it may not be as important in others. Hehr resigned from federal cabinet last week after he was accused of making inappropriate sexual remarks during his time as a member of the Alberta legislature.The Prime Minister's Office has engaged lawyer Christine Thomlinson to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations. Trudeau says he wants to get to bottom of the allegations, but also wants to ensure the probe is carried out properly. "Every situation has multiple factors that we look into. Confidentiality is important in some cases, less so in others," Trudeau said as he entered the weekly Liberal caucus meeting in Ottawa.