The International News Weekly REGIONAL February 09, 2018 | Toronto 02 Sikh separatists in Canada drawing ire in Indian media before Trudeau visit The Canadian Press OTTAWA: Less than two weeks before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to land in India, a popular Indian magazine has dedicated an issue to stories accusing Canada of being complicit in a rise in Sikh terrorism. Trudeau is undertaking a week-long state visit to India later this month, his first trip to the country since becoming prime minister. The goal is to focus on trade and cultural ties, but a successful trip would surely be a re-election boon for Trudeau, who already enjoys a high degree of popularity among Canada's 1.2 million Indo-Canadians. Trudeau seems to have a friendly relationship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — the two have met on the sidelines of almost every international meeting they attended in the last two years, including just last month at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. But some political forces in India are less enthusiastic. The latest edition of Outlook India features a photo of Trudeau, which appears to be from the Vaisakhi Celebration on Parliament Hill in April 2016. The headline on the cover reads, "Khalistan-II: Made in Canada." It continues: "Sikh religious successionism threatening the Indian Constitution assumes proportions of official policy status in Ottawa as Punjab Police books four Canadian residents for gun-running and terror-funding." The magazine has at least three articles about Canada's alleged connections to the Sikh independence movement, including a Q and A segment with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who last April refused to meet with federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, calling him a "Khalistani sympathizer." The Sikh nationalist movement seeks to create a separate country called Khalistan within India's Punjab region. In the Outlook interview, Singh said he hadn't been contacted about a meeting, but that he would "be happy to meet Justin Trudeau or welcome him as per the protocol accorded to any state guest of his stature." Trudeau's office won't say if a meeting with Singh is on the agenda. The articles accuse Trudeau of having "Khalistani sympathizers" in his cabinet, and of allowing Sikh separatist movements to flourish. Singh claims that at least one case of Sikh extremism included an Uzi submachine gun bought with Canadian money; another article names four Sikh Canadians who are wanted by Indian authorities for allegedly supplying weapons and funding terrorism in India. 'Everyone's scared': Alleged sex offender's return to school sparks protest The Canadian Press STEPHENVILLE : A series of alleged sex assaults. A frightening two-hour police lockdown as Mounties patrolled outside classrooms. And now a student-led protest Wednesday to give voice to at least three girls who faced the prospect of being in school with the boy they say attacked them. Stress is running high at Stephenville High School, named for the pretty seaside town of 8,000 people in southwestern Newfoundland. "Everyone's scared," said Faith Young, a Grade 12 student who helped organize the day of action in support of the alleged victims. Participants wore symbolic safety pins as a show of strength for those struggling to cope. Those familiar with the allegations say at least three girls at the Grade 9 to 12 school say the same male student sexually assaulted them in separate incidents offsite. Young said she saw the accused student leaving through a side door last week after he was permitted to write mid-term exams in a room separated from other classmates. "It made me angry. I was disgusted knowing that he was allowed back in our school despite the fact there are other girls who can't even come to school for the fact that they might see him." On Friday afternoon, during a still-unexplained lockdown, students were kept in classrooms and other parts of the building for more than two hours as police circled. Local RCMP have released few details about an "external threat" that prompted the reaction and say they're still investigating. There were no injuries as students were safely evacuated. It's not clear to what extent, if any, that unsettling incident was linked to the alleged sexual assaults. Education officials say they'd need a court order to remove the male student who has chosen not to resume classes at Stephenville High — at least for now. The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District confirms he is accused of sexual assault and faces charges involving one female student and "possibly others." Details of the charges along with his identity are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the district said in a statement. There are limited circumstances under provincial law which allow a student to be removed from school, it explained. "A criminal charge, however serious, does not authorize removal," it says. "Safety is the paramount concern for the district and the safety plans may include alternate education plans and physical separation of students." Still, the district is working with several groups including the RCMP and the provincial advisory council on the status of women to improve what it calls "deficiencies in the process." "We have also discussed with these community partners how we can collaboratively develop a district sexual violence policy."Janice Kennedy, executive director of the local Bay St. George Status of Women Council, said there's no place for policies that risk re-traumatizing alleged victims. Other arrangements could have been made to continue the male student's education without putting him back in school with girls who say he assaulted them, she added. "It's not good enough," Kennedy said in an interview. "We know there are times the courts have failed victims of sexual assaults. We can't be depending on other systems to be doing that work to make sure the school is a safe space." Susan Fowlow's daughter is in Grade 12 at Stephenville High. "She's not a victim but she's certainly a friend of the girls who have come forward," she said in an interview. Fowlow said she knows of at least three girls who say they were assaulted. She declined to discuss details of the allegations except to say they happened away from the school. Fowlow, a former parent representative on the school council, resigned last month when she learned that parents of those girls were informed the accused boy would be allowed to return to class. One mother temporarily withdrew her two daughters from school because they didn't feel comfortable, Fowlow said. She said she understands the accused has the right to an education, but said those girls do too: "Where was their access?" Those girls were back in class as of Tuesday, Fowlow said. "He's not there. However, he could change his mind tomorrow and we're right back into this." Young said the day of action was not to demonize the accused. It's about support for those girls who came forward. "A lot of them are having nightmares, having a lot of issues," she said. "We want every student to feel safe where they are." BC and Airbnb reach tax collection deal to help fund province's housing plans The Canadian Press VICTORIA : The British Columbia government says it will soon profit from the short-term rental market after reaching an agreement with Airbnb on the collection of taxes. The money will be used to fund housing and tourism initiatives. Finance Minister Carole James touted the deal with Airbnb as the first of its kind in Canada, saying it acknowledges short-term rentals are part of B.C.'s economy. "It recognizes the reality today, not only in B.C. but across the country, in fact across our world," she said. "The sharing economy is here. We need to make sure as governments, that we look at our tax systems, that we look at our arrangements we have in place and we make sure we create that level playing field." James said the government will introduce legislation that allows Airbnb to collect 11 per cent in taxes from short-term rentals and send the proceeds to the government. The taxes include the eight per cent provincial sales tax and municipal or regional district taxes of up to three per cent on accommodation. The estimated $16 million the province will get annually from the sales tax will be used to improve housing affordability, said James. She said her upcoming budget will include government plans to address the financial squeeze some are feeling on housing. Although the money from Airbnb isn't enough alone considering the province's housing issues, "every penny counts," said James. Premier John Horgan has promised to make housing the primary focus of the budget, saying B.C. must dampen speculation in the real estate market and increase the number of affordable family homes. The New Democrats promised during last year's election campaign to deliver 114,000 housing units over the next decade. James said the portion of the revenue from municipal and regional taxes, estimated at about $5 million a year, will fund tourism programs. Airbnb spokeswoman Alex Dagg said the agreement allows the province to participate in the economic benefits of home sharing. "We've said for a long time that we want to work with governments," she said. Green party Leader Andrew Weaver said in a statement the deal is a good step toward tax fairness, but it will not improve the need for long-term rentals. The province should "proactively encourage and support local governments to take action to restrict and regulate short-term rentals," as Vancouver and Victoria have done, he said. "In our extremely tight rental markets, with near zero per cent vacancy rates, short-term rentals like Airbnb are taking many units out of long-term rental supply. We are in a crisis — we need to ensure that houses are used for homes for British Columbians first and foremost." Here are some facts of Airbnb's operations in B.C. and elsewhere: • There are 18,500 Airbnb providers operating in the province. • Airbnb also collects a 3.5 per cent tax on lodging on behalf of its hosts in Quebec. • Airbnb collects and remits taxes on behalf of the states of Michigan, Nevada and California, as well as in France and India.
The International News Weekly REGIONAL February 09, 2018 | Toronto 03 PM orders review of Justice arguments against military sex misconduct lawsuit OTTAWA : Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put Justice Department lawyers on notice Wednesday for their response to a proposed classaction lawsuit on military sexual misconduct, saying their arguments are out of line. The lawsuit was brought forward last year by three former service members who say they were harassed or assaulted while in uniform. They are seeking $800 million for themselves and others in similar situations. Justice Department lawyers filed documents in late December in which they asked the Federal Court to quash the suit, which comes as military leaders are pushing for a culture change to eliminate all forms of sexual misconduct in uniform. The documents include a number of arguments for why the lawsuit has no reasonable chance of success, and should therefore be dismissed before going to trial. Officials for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan refused last month to comment on the federal lawyer's response because the case was before the courts. But Trudeau on Wednesday said that the arguments were "of concern to me, and I've asked (Wilson-Raybould) to follow up with the lawyers to make sure that we argue things that are consistent with this government's philosophy. "Obviously the lawyers' argument does not align with my beliefs or what this government believes." Trudeau did not say exactly which arguments were of concern, and his office refused to provide further information. But lawyer Rajinder Sahota, who is representing the three former service members involved in the lawsuit along with lawyers from five other legal firms, cited one statement as being of primary concern. It says the government does not "owe a private law duty of care to individual members within the CAF to provide a safe and harassmentfree work environment, or to create policies to prevent sexual harassment or sexual assault." That doesn't mean the government is arguing it has absolutely no obligation to create a safe workplace or prevent sexual misconduct, said University of Ottawa law professor Bruce Feldthusen. "What they're saying is: 'We have an obligation to do it under the Human Rights Act, we have an obligation to do something under the Criminal Code, but we don't have an obligation under negligence law,'" he said. "'We don't have an obligation to compensate individual victims.'" Feldthusen said it makes sense for federal lawyers to make such an argument as part of their attempt to get the lawsuit tossed out of court, but he didn't believe it had much chance of success. Won't escalate trade dispute with Alberta over pipeline: BC Premier The Canadian Press VICTORIA : British Columbia Premier John Horgan doesn't intend to respond to any provocation from Alberta in the escalating trade dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline. Horgan says he hope to see the end of the back and forth debate, saying he doesn't think it is in anyone's interests to have duelling premiers. The B.C. government is looking at restricting the expansion of bitumen through the province until it's satisfied a spill can be cleaned up, which was countered by the threat of a lawsuit from Alberta along with a ban on B.C. wine imports. Horgan says officials from Ottawa will meet with deputy ministers from the B.C. government on Thursday to clarify the province's rights over the jurisdictional dispute. He says while he and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley may both be New Democrats, that is secondary to his obligation to the people of B.C. He says he won't be distracted from his agenda while the government of Alberta retaliates. Patrick Brown breaks silence, says 'truth will come out' Continued from page 01 Patrick Brown posted a brief message on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon — the first time he has spoken publicly since stepping down. Brown has vehemently denied the allegations, which were made to CTV News and have not been independently verified by The Canadian Press. He echoed that sentiment in his tweet, saying that while he applauds the #MeToo movement, false allegations "undermine that good work." Brown says "the truth will come out." His resignation plunged the Progressive Conservatives into turmoil in late January, forcing the party to select an interim leader and plan a leadership race that will be held before the spring election. Punjab CM welcomes Canadian Ministers’ stand on Khalistan Continued from page 01 "The (Trudeau) visit will give Canada and Punjab an opportunity to strengthen trade ties for mutual benefit," Amarinder Singh added. The Chief Minister was upset with Canadian authorities earlier as the Indian-origin Ministers and some MPs in Canada had openly supported the secessionists' agenda for Khalistan. The Canadian government, under Trudeau, had objected to Amarinder Singh's Canada visit in April 2016 to meet Non-Resident Indians ahead of Punjab's assembly elections in February 2017. Amarinder Singh was forced to cancel his visit abroad as Sikh radical elements and groups opposed it and represented to the Trudeau government."Divisive forces propagating terrorism should not be encouraged at any cost by any nation. Such activities pose a serious threat to global peace and hence not allowed to flourish in any part of the world. Nurturing or supporting separatist forces always proves detrimental in the long run, not only to countries against which they are unleashed but also to those which allow such elements to operate from their soil," the Chief Minister added. Amarinder Singh said Canada had always been a friend of India, especially Punjab, whose people had contributed significantly to the western nation's progress.