QUICK NEWS (updated all the time)

FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE OF BANGLADESH WANTS ASYLUM: The Toronto Star reports that Bangladesh’s former chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, 68, is seeking asylum in Canada. He says that he was threatened because he would not support political interference in the judiciary. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina allegedly wanted parliament to have greater power to sack dissenting judges. Sinha crossed into Canada at Fort Erie on July 4 and filed a refugee claim. According to the media in Bangladesh, the Anti-Corruption Commission had charged Sinha and others with graft, money laundering and abuse of power.

FACEBOOK AD SPENDING BY LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES: The Facebook pages for the federal Liberal Party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have spent a total of $92,307 on ads on that platform since the beginning of June, while the Conservative Party and the party’s Leader Andrew Scheer have spent a total of $87,441 on ads, according to a CBC report. On the other hand, the NDP has spent only $392 through their Leader Jagmeet Singh’s page. The Green Party has spent $1,036, and the Bloc Quebecois only $384.

CALGARIANS CHARGED WITH CRIMES WALK FREE: Hundreds of people charged with crimes in Calgary haven’t had to go to court in the past year because of a shortage of prosecutors, CBC reports. An average of one full day of low-complexity trials – charges of theft, assault, shoplifting, mischief, and breaches – are stayed every week, according to the Alberta Crown Attorneys’ Association (ACAA). The assistant deputy minister with Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, Justice and Solicitor General says: “These decisions are required in order to ensure that currently available resources remain focused on serious and violent crime.” CBC reports that about 350 prosecutors are employed in Alberta. With 309 people charged per prosecutor, Alberta’s ratio is the highest behind Saskatchewan. For comparison, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia prosecutors handle an average of 193, 175 and 121 persons charged, respectively.

COOL IT! IT’S ONLY ICE CREAM!!: Some people in Peel Region (consists of the municipalities of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga) started calling 9-1-1 last weekend to complain of the noise from ice cream trucks and police had to remind them in a tweet: “It’s hot outside which means the ice cream trucks will probably be out. If the ice cream truck stops in front of your house & is there for a bit due to all the children, it’s still not a reason to call 9-1-1 to complain. If you have a complaint about ice cream trucks, call 3-1-1.” That led to a raft of reactions such as: “If I died of a heart attack and my wife was calling for help and had to wait on the line while some idiot was bitching about cookies and cream ice cream on his lawn I’m coming back to haunt this person.” “Unless these people (who called 911 on ice cream trucks) can prove their judgement was impaired by an episode of heat stroke, charge them with mischief and slap them with a hefty fine! #CannotFixStupid.” “Fine the people calling 911 for public mischief.  Use the fine money to buy the ice cream for all the kids patronizing the truck. Win/win.”

MOST TORONTONIANS SAY HANDGUN BAN WILL REDUCE SHOOTINGS BY GANGS: In a random sampling of public opinion taken by The Forum Poll among 1143 Toronto voters, the majority (62%) say that a ban on handguns will reduce the number of shootings committed by gangs in Toronto and four-in-ten (38%) say a ban will not. Respondents who say a handgun ban will reduce shootings by gangs in Toronto include those aged 45 and over (66% of those aged 45 to 54, 66% of 55 to 64, and 67% of those 65 and over), females (69%), the least wealthy (69%) or $60k-$80k (69%), completed college or university (64%), living in the former City of Toronto (69%) East York (71%), and voting for the NDP (77%) or Liberals (75%).   Respondents who say a ban on handguns will not reduce shootings include those aged 18 to 34 (42%) or 35 to 44 (41%), male (44%), earning $80k-$100k (43%), with secondary school education or less (43%), living in York (51%), and voting Conservative (58%).    

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT LAWSUITS AGAINST ARMED FORCES SETTLED FOR NEARLY $1 BILLION: The federal government will pay nearly a $1 billion to settle class-action lawsuits from Armed Forces members and Department of National Defence employees who allege rampant sexual misconduct in the military. Of the $900 million set aside, $800 million will cover current and former members of the armed forces and $100 million will go to Department of National Defence employees who experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation on the job. Class members will be eligible for compensation between $5,000 and $55,000, reports CBC. Those who experienced “exceptional harm” and who were previously denied benefits in respect of that harm could be eligible for up to $155,000.

ORGANIZATIONS CONSIDERING APPEAL OF BILL 21 STAY DECISION: The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) said on Thursday they had received Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel Yergeau’s decision that denied their application for a stay of Bill 21. The legislation prohibits some public sector workers from wearing religious symbols at work. “No one ever said that defending our civil liberties would be easy” said Mustafa Farooq, Executive Director of NCCM, “We are reviewing the decision now, and are considering our options to appeal.” “This is a disappointing decision that permits a discriminatory law to continue to operate, while causing real harms to individuals who simply wish to go to work in their jobs and chosen professions. We remain ready to fight this to the end,” said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Equality Program Director for CCLA.

ALBERTA PEDIATRICIAN DR. RAMNEEK KUMAR CAN SEE PATIENTS: Alberta’ s Court of Queen’s Bench has ruled that the governing agency for Alberta’s doctors overstepped in suspending the licence of pediatrician Ramneek Kumar charged with sexual offences against a minor, reports CBC. Kumar can see patients with a chaperone present in accordance with a previous requirement set down by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Kumar was working as a pediatrician at St. Albert’s Rivercrest Medical Clinic when he was arrested in March and charged with two counts of sexual interference and sexual assault of a minor in relation to an alleged incident in August 2015 involving an eight-year-old girl while on a family vacation. The girl was not his patient. The judge noted that Kumar, who has worked as a pediatrician for more than 20 years, would suffer irreparable damage to his income and his reputation. The judge also ruled that the more serious concern of public safety also did not merit the suspension of his licence to practise. She also noted Kumar’s “vehement denial” of the accusations, “evidence that there may be improper motives involved in the complaint.” His trial is set for October 17, CBC reported.

CONSERVATIVES FORCED TO CHANGE FUNDRAISING VIDEO: Conservatives have had to rewrite a fundraising video attacking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the way he’s handled the cases of two detained Canadians in China: former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor. The Globe and Mail reports that the party has removed their names and photos after complaints from one of the men’s families. The two Canadians were arrested by the Chinese shortly after Canada arrested a senior executive from one of China’s flagship companies, Huawei Technologies. They are charged with spying in what is considered retribution.

ONTARIO PREMIER’S UNPOPULARITY BRINGING DOWN FEDERAL CONSERVATIVES: A poll by Corbett Communications conducted, July 9 and 10, shows that more and more Ontario voters say the policies of the Ford government make them less likely to vote for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives in the federal election. In June, 54 per cent said they felt that way. Now, that number is 60 per cent. According to the Toronto Star, almost 20 per cent of Ontarians who have voted Conservative in past federal elections say the Ontario government makes them wary of doing so again. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

MAN ARRESTED IN ONTARIO MOSQUE VANDALISM: Owen Sound police in Ontario announced on Tuesday that a 22-year-old man was arrested after an investigation into recent mischief incidents at the Owen Sound Muslim Association Mosque and an east side restaurant. “Food items, including eggs, were thrown at the mosque on two consecutive days during the early morning hours. Members of the uniform branch positively identified the accused using numerous investigative techniques including physical evidence found at the scene and reviewing surveillance video footage,” police said in a statement. The Criminal Investigations Branch and the Intelligence Unit continued the investigation by conducting surveillance of the suspect and obtaining search warrants for a residence and two motor vehicles. The accused is charged with two counts of mischief to religious property as well as one count of mischief under $5,000 in relation to the restaurant. CBC reported that Muslim Association spokesperson Waleed Aslam said Tuesday in an interview on CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning: “We were scared. After the second day… we saw our congregation numbers dwindle.” After the second incident of vandalism on Saturday, about 70 people spontaneously gathered to form a ring of protection around the mosque during Saturday prayers. Also, there were stickers posted around the city that are believed to be associated with the neo-Nazi movement. Acting Detective-Sgt. Craig Matheson told CBC News that the investigation into the stickers continues. He said that in 18 years on Owen Sound’s police force, he’s never seen these kinds of crimes in the community.

TORONTO POLICE CRACK DOWN ON NOISY VEHICLES: Toronto Police is cracking down on excessive noise by vehicles. This week, the Service’s Motor Squad combined with the City of Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards to launch an awareness and enforcement campaign. Superintendent Scott Baptist said: “There have been many complaints going to city councillors and they want us to do something about the loud car stereos and cars, trucks, and  motorcycles exhausts emitting sound to the extent that it disturbs patrons at a restaurant, nearby residents, and other motorists on the roadway.” He noted that provincial laws are already in place to protect quality of life and permit enforcement against unnecessary vehicle horns and alarms, loud mufflers / exhausts which carry a $110 fine. Starting on October, a new noise by-law will come into effect, giving licensing officers more power to deal with noisy drivers, said a Toronto Police report. What are our B.C. police forces doing about this?

ALBERTA SHOULD WORRY ABOUT SYPHILIS – NOT OIL!: CBC reports that syphilis rates are at their highest since 1948 and the province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw has declared an outbreak. A total of 1,536 cases of infectious syphilis were reported in 2018, compared to 161 in 2014 – almost a tenfold increase – with the Edmonton and North zones seeing the biggest year-to-year increases last year, with the number of cases up more 300 per cent compared to 2017. She said: “We need to emphasize for all Albertans: sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a risk to anyone who is sexually active, particularly people who have new sex partners and are not using protection. I encourage anyone who is sexually active to get tested regularly. Anyone in Alberta can access STI testing and treatment for free.”

SHORT-TERM RENTALS MAKE BIG BUCKS FOR OWNERS: The Globe and Mail reports that a study by McGill University researchers shows that more than 31,000 homes across Canada were rented out so often on Airbnb last year that they were likely removed from the long-term rental supply. Those homes are equal to about 1.5 per cent of residences across the country that have been built for the rental market. The report says that last year Airbnb had a daily average of 128,000 active listings in Canada – an increase of 25 per cent from 2017. The hosts made$1.8-billion in revenue last year, up 40 per cent from 2017. One of them told the newspaper that when they offer their place as a short-term rental, they have more control over it – “you can use it for yourself whenever you want, [and] it makes more money” than renting to long-term tenants. 

DEADLY CALGARY STAMPEDE: The Bible says: “The righteous one takes care of his domestic animals, but even the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).  But all those guys who organize or watch the Calgary Stampede have probably never read their Bibles! CBC reports that in the 10-day event this year, six chuckwagon horses died. This year’s event is tied for second place as the deadliest year for chuckwagon horses in more than three decades. CBC says: “The latest deaths bring the total number of animals that have died during the rodeo and chuckwagon races at the Stampede since 1986 — when the most detailed records are available — to 102.” In 1986, 12 horses perished.  According to the Vancouver Humane Society, the deaths include 72 chuckwagon horses, nine calves, five steers, four bucking horses, one wild ride horse, one show horse and one bull. Hmm, wonder how God feels about this?!

TRUDEAU REJECTS TRUMP’S RACISM: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, replying to questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s attack on four first-year Democratic non-white congresswomen, telling them to “go back” and fix the “crime infested places from which they came,” said: “I think Canadians, and indeed people around the world, know exactly what I think of those comments. That is not how we do things in Canada. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” He added that Canada’s ethnically diverse population is a strength for this country and a source of pride. “We will continue to defend that,” he said, according to a Canadian Press report. Trump’s attack was aimed at Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

CACTUS CLUB VS EARLS: CBC reports that the Cactus Club and Earls chains are in a bitter fight as lawsuits filed over the last year in B.C. Supreme Court show. Cactus Club was actually founded by two former Earls servers. Today, the Fuller family, which owns Earls, also owns the majority of the shares of Cactus Club. Now, the Fullers want the company that runs Cactus Club to be completely dissolved. CBC reports there are allegations that Cactus Club president Richard Jaffray has been misusing the restaurant’s funds to pay for private jets and art for his home, and that the Fullers have used Cactus Club’s confidential financial information to give an unfair edge to upstart competitor Joey, according to court documents.