Dhaka: Security at Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh will be tightened during the visit of a high-level Myanmar delegation this weekend for repatriation talks, officials said Thursday. Some 740,000 Rohingya fled a crackdown by Myanmar’s military in 2017 in Rakhine state and are living in nearly three dozen refugee camps in Bangladesh’s southeastern border district of Cox’s Bazar. Many still fear for their safety if they return to Myanmar, where the Muslim minority has faced decades of repression and erosion of rights. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from US”We have stepped up security in the camps during their tour,” Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner Mohammad Abul Kalam said. He added that the delegation would meet with Rohingya leaders this weekend to inform them of measures they have taken for their return to Rakhine. The camps — where the Rohingya population has grown to nearly a million — have sparked tensions between the neighbouring countries with Bangladesh blaming Myanmar for delays in repatriating the refugees. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe two governments signed a repatriation deal in November 2017, but so far virtually no Rohingya have volunteered to return. Bangladesh has said it will not force any Rohingya to leave. Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen told reporters in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday he hoped the “repatriation will begin by September”. Myanmar has faced international pressure to allow the Rohingya to return to Rakhine and grant them citizenship rights. The United Nations has complained that progress to address the refugee crisis has been far too slow. Last November a move to start the repatriation process fell through after none of the Rohingya agreed to return to their country. It followed a visit to the camps in October last year by a Myanmar delegation. The new visit comes in the wake of talks between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Xi Jinping in Beijing. China is a key ally of Myanmar, and Hasina said then that Beijing would “do whatever is required” to help resolve the Rohingya crisis.
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will take part in a rally on the theme of ‘Save Green Stay Clean’, on Thursday. The rally will start from Birla Planetarium and end at Nazul Mancha in Ballygunge Lake. Members of different NGOs working in the field of environment protection, school and college students and people from all walks of life will take part in the rally. At Nazrul Mancha, Banerjee will distribute saplings.The state government has already taken measures to conserve water and July 12 will be celebrated every year as Save Water Day. The Panchayats and civic bodies have been instructed not to lift ground water rampantly as the ground water level has dropped in many areas. The state government is also giving stress on rainwater harvesting. The Chief Minister had joined a rally on July 12 on the theme of ‘Save Water Save Life’, from Jorasanko thakurbari to Gandhi statue on Mayo Road. In the administrative review meetings, Banerjee has repeatedly asked the district administration to take measures to conserve the environment and to ensure that the waterbodies are not being filled up.
London: Cricket could be part of the 2028 Olympics as the ICC is working towards getting the sport included in the roster for the Los Angeles Games, MCC World Cricket Committee chairman Mike Gatting said. The BCCI recently coming under the ambit of National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), an affiliate of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), could be key to the final outcome as it is mandatory for all sporting federations’ doping policy to be overseen by the premier body. Former England batsman Gatting said ICC’s new chief executive Manu Sawhney told the MCC’s Cricket Committee that progress had been made to ensure the game’s inclusion in the world’s biggest sporting event. “We were talking with Manu Sawhney the ICC chief executive, and he was very hopeful we can get cricket into the 2028 Olympics,” Gatting was quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
Uttarakhand: At least 17 people have died after a cloudburst hit Uttarkashi region of Uttarakhand on Sunday, officials confirmed. The Secretary (Incharge) of Disaster Management, S A Murugesan, today said to reporters, “17 people have died in the cloud burst in Mori Tehsil of Uttarkashi.” Earlier, it was reported that at least five people went missing and several houses were completely uprooted in the region. Finance Secretary Amit Negi, Inspector General (IG) Sanjay Gunjyal, and Uttarkashi District Magistrate (DM) Ashish Chauhan today reached Uttarkashi to take stock of the situation in Arakot following cloud-burst in the region. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsMajor damage was reported in Arakot, Makudi and Tikochi villages of the state. All the three villages are connected to Himachal Pradesh and the road joining them has been washed away due to the cloudburst. A house was also washed away in Arakot and two people present in the house were swept away. According to Superintendent of Police (SP) Uttarkashi Pankaj Bhatt, the Disaster Management team has left to carry out rescue and evacuation process in the region. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayTo hasten the relief process, the Emergency Wing at Doon Hospital in Dehradun has prepared to take-up patients being brought from Uttarkashi. Uttarkashi District Magistrate Ashish Chauhan has also declared a holiday in all government schools and Anganwadi centers of Uttarkashi for August 19, Monday, in view of forecast of heavy rainfall. In Makudi, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) confirmed that a woman was buried under the debris of her house following a cloud burst. Meanwhile, the Tons River in Uttarkashi’s Mori Tehsil is overflowing due to incessant rain followed by a cloudburst. The state government has dispatched teams of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and SDRF to carry out rescue and evacuation process. A portion of a footbridge over Sutlej river in Chaba area of Shimla also collapsed yesterday after the water level in the river increased due to heavy rainfall in the region. The bridge provided connectivity to Shakra, Baaladi, Bindla, and Jedvi villages. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast “heavy to very heavy rainfall” in the state in next 24 hours. “The ongoing widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi is likely to continue for next 24 hours and reduce thereafter,” the MeT department said. (With inputs from DNA)
Imphal: In one of the largest drug seizures in Manipur, the police have seized banned party drugs worth Rs 400 crore in the international market from Thoubal district, a senior police officer said on Sunday. Acting on a tip-off, a police team with a help of local civil associations detained a mini truck at Phoudel Keirambi Makha area of Thoubal district on Saturday, Superintendent of Police, Thoubal, S Ibomcha Singh said. The seized truck was brought to the Thoubal police station. During search of the truck the police recovered 40 lakh contraband amphetamine-based World is Yours (WY) tablets, popularly known as party drug, valued at Rs 400 crore in the international market, the SP said. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM'”The red-coloured tablets were kept concealed underneath carpets in the mini truck,” Singh said, adding that the drugs were smuggled in from Myanmar. The truck driver Md Hussain was arrested. Based on the information provided by Hussain police arrested a Myanmarese national Kyaw Kyaw Naing from Imphal Airport and two other persons, he said. Naing is suspected to be an international drug dealer, police said. The police had earlier busted a heroin manufacturing factory and seized 183 kg of drugs worth over Rs 160 crore in international market from Moijing Awang Leikai area of Thoubal district on August 17.
Four Toronto-area police officers are facing charges following an investigation that began after charges were stayed against an accused drug dealer, who alleged police stole items during a search of his storage locker.Lowell Somerville alleges the Peel regional police officers stole items that included a statue of fictional character Tony Montana from the movie “Scarface,” cash and various items of jewelry.A judge stayed Somerville’s charges of heroin trafficking, and possession of heroin, MDMA and cocaine in May 2017 after concluding the officers knew one of them had taken the statue and “chose not to tell the truth.”Peel police said Thursday that four officers — a sergeant and three constables — have each been charged with single counts of theft under $5,000 and obstructing police, and two counts of perjuryAll of the officers are suspended and are to appear in Brampton, Ont., court on June 4.Chief Jennifer Evans says she immediately ordered an investigation into the conduct of the officers following the court ruling.“Our officers are held to a high standard in order to maintain the trust that we have worked so hard to build with our community,” Evans said Thursday in a statement.Court documents show Peel police were conducting ongoing surveillance of Somerville and, on June 23, 2014, followed him to Toronto, where they saw him make what they believed was a hand-to-hand drug transaction.The person to whom the drugs were believed to have been sold was arrested and found to have about a gram of cocaine in his possession.After discovering the cocaine, police stopped Somerville in his car a few kilometres away and arrested him for trafficking, seizing one gram of heroin and one gram of methamphetamine, the documents say.While searching Somerville’s apartment in Mississauga, Ont., police seized more drugs and also located documents indicating that Somerville leased a storage unit in Toronto, for which they got a search warrant.Someville testified that after being released from custody on June 25, 2014, he went to the storage locker and noticed that things had been re-arranged and that there were items missing.In addition to the Tony Montana statue, Somerville said other missing things included a gold chain with a king of spades pendant, a shoebox containing $25,000 in poker winnings, diamond earrings and gold rings.Video surveillance from the storage facility showed one of the officers taking out a large object, court heard.The officer testified he had taken a heater from a hallway in the facility that had a sign saying “please take” or “free” and all denied removing anything of value from Somerville’s locker.“In my view, there can be no question that the conduct of the police in this case prejudiced the integrity of the justice system,” the judge said in issuing the stay.
Highlights from the news file for Thursday, July 13———JUDGE REJECTS KHADR MONEY FREEZE: A Canadian judge wasted precious few minutes on Thursday in refusing to freeze a reported $10.5-million payout to Omar Khadr so the widow of a slain American soldier he was accused of killing in Afghanistan can have more time to go after the money. Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba said he had heard nothing to show Khadr planned to hide assets to thwart possible enforcement of a massive American court award against him. Tabitha Speer, widow of U.S. special forces soldier Sgt. Chris Speer, and a former American soldier Layne Morris blinded in one eye, wanted an injunction freezing Khadr’s assets pending their battle to have a Canadian court force him to pay the US$134.1-million judgment from Utah.———TRUDEAU AGREES KHADR SETTLEMENT IS TROUBLING: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he shares the concerns of Canadians who object to reports of the government’s multi-million-dollar settlement with Omar Khadr. But Trudeau says if the government hadn’t settled with the former Guantanamo Bay inmate, it would have cost as much as $40 million to put an end to the case. Khadr had filed a $20-million lawsuit against the government for violating his charter rights, and has received an out-of-court settlement reportedly worth $10.5 million. Khadr says his jailers threatened him with rape and kept him in isolation, and once used him as a human mop to wipe up urine.———JULIE PAYETTE TO BE NEXT GOVERNOR GENERAL: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says former astronaut Julie Payette has spent her life dedicated to discovery and dreaming big. Trudeau announced Thursday that Payette will be Canada’s 29th Governor General. He made the announcement on Parliament Hill after praising current Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon. Payette says it’s a very great honour for her and for her family as well as for her friends and colleagues around the country — on the planet — and even a few outside the planet.———FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT CARTER TREATED FOR DEHYDRATION: Health authorities in Winnipeg say former U.S. president Jimmy Carter is doing well after being treated for dehydration while volunteering with a home-building charity in Manitoba. A spokesman for Habitat for Humanity in Winnipeg said Carter, who is now 92, received medical attention as a precaution. Habitat for Humanity is building 150 homes across Canada this year to mark the country’s sesquicentennial. Carter was diagnosed with melanoma in 2015 and was treated with successfully with immunotherapy.———LARGE PART OF B.C. INTERIOR OFF LIMITS DUE TO FIRES: A large swath of central British Columbia’s backcountry has been closed for travel, camping and other recreational use in an effort to protect public safety and prevent any more forest fires. The Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced the entire Cariboo fire centre, 103,000 square kilometres in size, has been closed to backcountry users as a safety precaution, allowing crews to focus on firefighting. Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, says improved smoke conditions over the last 24 hours have permitted a more accurate size 1,110-square kilometres of timber, bush and grassland has been charred since April 1.———SUPREME COURT WON’T HEAR OLAND APPEAL: The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed the application for appeals in the second-degree murder case of Dennis Oland, accused of killing his multi-millionaire father, Richard Oland. Oland was convicted of second-degree murder in 2015 and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years. However, he was released on bail last October when the New Brunswick Court of Appeal ordered a new trial, citing an error in the trial judge’s instructions to the jury. The Crown wanted the Supreme Court of Canada to restore Dennis Oland’s conviction, while his lawyers asked the court for an acquittal.———EX-WORKERS FUME OUTSIDE SEARS COURT HEARING: Dozens of former Sears Canada employees packed a Toronto courtroom Thursday to hear the retailer ask for approval to kick-start the process of putting itself up for sale while it is under creditor protection. Zobedida Maharaj said outside court she had worked at Sears Canada for 28 years before she was laid off at the end of March when her store was closed. The senior manager of operations and merchandise said she was initially told she would get eight weeks of severance and benefits but was cut off June 22 when the company secured temporary court protection from creditors.———TRANSALTA APPOINTS RONA AMBROSE TO BOARD: Former interim federal Conservative leader Rona Ambrose did not have to wait long to get a job outside politics. TransAlta Corp. is appointing the former interim Conservative leader to the power company’s board of directors. Ambrose was first elected to the House of Commons in 2004 and officially resigned her seat earlier this month. She is currently a fellow at the Wilson Centre Canada Institute in Washington, D.C., focusing on key Canada-U.S. bilateral trade and competitiveness issues.———QUADRUPLE HOMICIDE IN CALGARY: Police say a man found dead west of Calgary was the owner of the burned-out car found earlier this week with three bodies inside. Police had been searching for 26-year-old Hanock Afowerk after Monday’s grisly discovery and said they were concerned for his safety. All three of the victims found inside Afowerk’s CAR have now been identified by authorities. Police say Cody Pfeiffer, who was 25, and sisters Glynnis Fox, 36, and Tiffany Ear, 39, may have been at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people and gotten caught up in a targeted attack against Afowerk.———TRUMP, MACRON SET ASIDE DIFFERENCES: U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron set aside lingering differences on climate change during their meeting in France on Thursday, asserting that it shouldn’t prevent them from working together toward a post-war roadmap for Syria and to enhance Mideast security. Standing alongside Macron at a news conference, Trump said the two nations have “occasional disagreements,” but that would not disrupt a friendship that dates back to the American Revolution. He remained non-committal about the United States eventually rejoining the global climate agreement.———
CALGARY – Adam Turnbull has been catching fish in the South Saskatchewan River for 17 years and had never seen anything like it.Turnbull, 28, was reeling in a northern pike near his home in Medicine Hat, Alta., last weekend and immediately realized something wasn’t quite right.“When I first saw the fish in the water, I thought maybe it had been attacked by another pike or a walleye … until I actually picked the fish out of the water and noticed the plastic,” Turnbull said Wednesday in a phone interview.The plastic was a sports drink wrapper that had nearly cinched the pike in two in the middle of its body.“I was surprised he was able to survive like that with how big of a wound that was. It was at least three-quarters of an inch deep all the way around,” said Turnbull, who added he was angry at what the fish must have gone through.“People would think it’s a small, tiny little wrapper. What’s it going to do if I chuck it on the ground? Well, there’s your proof of what it does. I’ve never seen it first-hand myself so I was shocked,” he said.“I definitely did feel sorry for it. When I picked it up, I felt horrible for the fish. To see it obviously in pain was pretty sad.”Turnbull said the plastic belt around the fish didn’t seem that tight and he was able to cut it off with a pair of scissors. He said it didn’t dawn on him to keep the fish.“It never even crossed my mind to kill it, because if it survived this long with it, why wouldn’t it survive without it?“It definitely had some life. As soon as I put it in the water after getting the wrapper off, it darted out of my hand and it didn’t even have a weird kick to its tail. It swam normally.”A conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association said the pike’s plight isn’t uncommon.Joanna Skrajny said it shows what kind of an effect something as simple as a plastic wrapper can have on nature.“It seems to be getting more and more common. There are cases where nesting birds have so much plastic in their stomachs that they are unable to eat,” she said.Skrajny isn’t sure about the pike’s survival chances, but doesn’t blame Turnbull for letting it go.“The longer a fish is out of water the lower the chance of survival, but it makes you feel good that someone did the right thing.”Turnbull took to social media to express his outrage and share the photos of the fish.“Pick up your garbage. This is a … wrapper which takes up no room in your pocket until you get to a garbage can. Please share!”“I’m happy it’s raising as much awareness,” he said.“I’m glad a lot of people are able to see this is what your trash does. If it helps some people pick up some extra garbage, then, hey, I’m happy.”— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter
TRACADIE, N.B. – New Brunswick RCMP say a 19-year-old Tracadie man is facing first-degree murder charges after two bodies were found following a weekend house fire.Police say Benoit Bertin appeared in court Tuesday and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted murder and arson in connection with Sunday’s fire in Six Roads, about 10 kilometres north of Tracadie.Police say that when officers arrived at the scene just after 1:30 a.m., they found a man who had been able to flee the burning home — he was taken to hospital in Fredericton where he is in critical condition.A second man was found a short distance from the home and was arrested.The Mounties say a search of the burned out home on Monday led to the discovery of the bodies of an unidentified man and woman.Bertin has been sent for a 30-day psychiatric evaluation and is scheduled to appear in Tracadie provincial court Dec. 13.
OTTAWA – Liberal MP Salma Zahid says she’s taking a medical leave to be treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.Zahid, who represents a Toronto-area riding, says she received the diagnosis in the last week.It followed weeks of intermittent pain that began after an overseas visit during the holidays.Zahid says she begins chemotherapy treatment today and after the first round will have a clearer plan for her prognosis and treatment.She last spoke in the House of Commons on Feb. 5, World Cancer Day, when she called attention to the Liberal government’s support for cancer research.Zahid was first elected in 2015 and prior to federal politics was a long-time adviser to the Ontario government.“I am determined to fight this diagnosis and to continue my work in service of the people of Scarborough Centre as soon as I am medically able to do so,” she said in a statement Tuesday.The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 8,300 Canadians were diagnosed in 2017 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that develops in cells that ordinarily help fight infection.
SAGKEENG FIRST NATION, Man. – Thelma Favel woke up every morning before going to the Winnipeg courthouse, looked around her room and wondered what her grand-niece might have thought when she stayed in the same hotel in her final weeks alive.During the second-degree murder trial for Raymond Cormier — the man acquitted last month of killing Tina Fontaine — Favel wanted to put herself in the teenage girl’s shoes.Favel stayed in the same downtown hotel where the young girl was placed by Child and Family Services and walked the same streets where Tina was last seen alive.“I just found strength every day to get up and go. I walked the hallways, wondering which room she was in,” Favel told The Canadian Press. “I just felt so close to her there.”Security camera footage was shown in court of Tina falling asleep between two cars behind a building named after Helen Betty Osborne — a Cree woman kidnapped and killed in Manitoba in 1971. Favel went there, too.“I just don’t know what happened to her that month-and-a-half (in Winnipeg). I just don’t know what happened at all.”Tina spent much of her young life living with Favel on the Sagkeeng First Nation, north of Winnipeg. She was a kind girl who liked to study math and science, Favel said. She had a lot of friends and never got into trouble.But after her father was murdered in 2011, Tina had difficulty coping. She left the First Nation in June 2014 to reconnect with her mother in Winnipeg. When Favel didn’t hear from the girl, she called Child and Family Services for help.In the following weeks, 15-year-old Tina disappeared multiple times, returned to government care and was placed in a hotel.Her 72-pound body, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down by rocks, was pulled from the Red River that August.Her death renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and inspired volunteer groups such as the Bear Clan Patrol to protect the vulnerable on the streets.Favel said she had faith in the justice system as she sat in court nearly every day throughout the more than three-week trial. She listened to testimony from experts and from people who knew Tina in Winnipeg. She heard audio of Cormier himself, recorded by police during a six-month undercover operation.When Tina’s voice from a 911 call was played in court, Favel said she “just wanted to hear her over and over and over again.”“Tina was with me. She was there with me every single day and I had my rosaries around my hand every day. That’s where I got my strength. I had to do it for Tina,” said Favel, breaking into tears.“Her voice was stolen. She was silenced forever so I had to be there to be her pillar of hope, to get justice for her. Even that I failed at.”After a jury acquitted Cormier, rallies were held across the country for Tina. But Favel and her family are left wondering how Tina died and whether she will ever get justice.Favel is exhausted and her husband has suffered two strokes — one right after Tina’s body was found and another when the trial started.“I thought he was the strong one, but big men do crumble because she captured his heart,” Favel said. “Tina was his heart.”Tina was tiny but powerful, Favel said. The teen’s family has found strength in the way her life and death have become a rallying cry for change.Favel is not optimistic the acquittal will be appealed and said she would like to see other charges laid against Cormier. If there is an inquest or inquiry into Tina’s death, Favel said she will still be there every step of the way.Talking about Tina still hurts — it’s a reminder of a young, promising life taken too soon. But Favel said she knows it’s important because “God had other plans for Tina.”“She was silenced but still her cries are being heard everywhere. This is not over yet. She is going to do something about all of this wrong that is going on.”— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg
EDMONTON – A lawsuit claims female prison guards in Edmonton endured prolonged abuse from male co-workers that included sexual taunts, physical assaults, waterboarding and pepper spray being put on a toilet seat.One female prison guard alleges a male co-worker pushed her over a desk, stuck his hand down her pants and locked a set of handcuffs through her underwear. She says she was put in choke holds and slammed into hard surfaces by her hair.Another woman alleges she was constantly harassed for being gay and once suffered chemical burns on her buttocks and upper legs after she used a washroom where pepper spray was left on a toilet seat.The claims are detailed in a lawsuit recently filed by four female guards at Edmonton Institution against the Correctional Service of Canada and the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers.None of the allegations have been proven in court and statements of defence have yet to be filed.The suit alleges that sexual assaults, abuse, bullying and harassment were rampant for decades at the maximum-security prison on the northeast edge of the city.The lawsuit comes after an investigation at the prison last year that concluded the work atmosphere was toxic and made dozens of recommendations for change.In January, the Correctional Service announced that it had fired six employees, hired a new warden, improved training and created a confidential tip line for employees to report misconduct.Both the department and the union said in statements Monday that while they can’t comment on the suit, they do not tolerate harassment. As well, Edmonton police continue to investigate possible criminal charges in the case.The Correctional Service “has given itself a veil of secrecy, which managers, senior employees and the union have used to harass and intimidate employees, thus far with immunity,” the lawsuit alleges.“Under this veil, the plaintiffs have been harmed with disastrous, life-altering consequences and the defendants utterly failed them.”The suit says three of the women have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and are not working at the prison. The fourth continues to work part-time, but finds putting on her uniform each day difficult.The suit does not detail how the waterboarding happened. In general, waterboarding is the name given to a practice where someone is tied down and water is poured over their face to simulate drowning.Jeffrey O’Brien, the lawyer representing the women, declined to comment and said the women would not be speaking either. The women are not named in the claim “due to the confidential and secretive nature of law enforcement work,” the suit says.The alleged perpetrators are not referred to by name in the suit.The suit says one of the men harassed one of the female guards each day for nearly 10 years. It alleges he often pulled his penis out of his pants and chased her around the office. And when she was having a drink, he told her that he had stirred it with his penis.He also once allegedly left open a bathroom door near her desk as he defecated. Another officer then forced her into the bathroom and shoved her face under the man’s buttocks, the suit alleges.“Both men laughed while she screamed and struggled,” says the suit.The suit further alleges that another guard stalked the same woman, touched her inappropriately at work and left sex toys in her car.She “lived in constant fear of reprisal so she never spoke out,” the suit says. “Taking this matter to the union was not an option, because her abusers had positions within the union.”
TORONTO – Arzu Ozkose is caught in a dilemma she says no mother should have to face.Her 10-year-old daughter, Alara, suffered debilitating seizures caused by Dravet syndrome, but has improved dramatically while taking a cannabis oil being tested as part of a clinical trial at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Yet once the study ends in a couple of months, Ozkose has been told she will have to pay for the drug, which costs about $1,800 a month — an amount the single mother said she can’t afford.“I don’t even want to think to drop this medication, which saved my daughter’s life,” said Ozkose, calling the cannabis oil a “miracle” because Alara went from having about 100 seizures a day to none after starting the drug. “Who can want that as a parent?”The drug maker has said it will offer a discount based on financial need for children who responded well to the medication, but Ozkose’s predicament highlights a much broader issue: do pharmaceutical companies have an ethical obligation to keep supplying experimental medications to patients who take part in clinical trials to test their products as part of the process of bringing them to market?The cannabis oil provided for the clinical trial by Tilray contains a high amount of cannabidiol, or CBD, which studies have shown can reduce seizures in some children with treatment-resistant epilepsy, and a far lower concentration of “high-producing” THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).The Sick Kids study is testing the preparation in 20 kids with Dravet, looking at its safety and what dose works best.While the small trial was not designed to examine effectiveness of the cannabis oil, Ozkose said that since starting it early last year, Alara no longer has the grand mals or dozens of smaller seizures daily that put her in constant danger of falling and injuring herself.“Mostly she couldn’t walk on the street,” said Ozkose, who came to Canada from Turkey with her daughter about two years ago. “I can’t describe it. It’s like you’re losing your child in all the moments. All the moments you have that fear in your life.”Though Alara contends with side-effects such as sleepiness and weight gain, she is now able to go to school and able to run around and swim.But Ozkose, a mining engineer in Turkey who now works as a yoga teacher and life coach in Toronto, said she doesn’t earn enough to pay for the cannabis oil once the trial ends in June. “Her seizures will start again and maybe she won’t be able to go to school again because she falls down and she may hit her head or die.”She’s thankful her daughter was enrolled in the trial, but said it’s unfair that Alara and her fellow patients may be cast adrift once it’s completed.“I feel that they use us and then they finish and they just throw us away.”However, Tilray’s director of clinical research said the B.C.-based company has made a commitment to ensure that patients who have responded will have access to the drug after the trial.“We are putting in place a compassionate pricing program for children with Dravet syndrome and we’ll offer discounts of up to 60 per cent, based on financial need,” said Catherine Jacobson.“And we as a company will ensure first of all that no child that was in the trial will not be able to continue getting the medication when the follow-up period ends,” she said. “So we can assure parents that these kids won’t just stop receiving their medicine.”Some families may get a larger discount, should they be in dire financial need, said Jacobson, who has a son with another form of severe epilepsy and knows well what parents go through trying to find medications that work to control their child’s seizures. About 30 per cent of patients with severe epilepsy are unable to get their seizures under control.“And I think companies in general bear an ethical responsibility to make sure that those families (who participate in clinical trials) still have access to study drugs,” said Jacobson, adding that Tilray is advocating with insurance companies to cover medical cannabis products “at least for this vulnerable patient population.”Jonathan Kimmelman, director of biomedical ethics at McGill University, agreed companies have some obligation to continue to provide care for patients who take part in studies to test experimental products.“Any time a patient participates in a trial, they’re volunteering their body to advance science,” he said from Montreal. “And if it’s a trial being run by a pharmaceutical company, they’re volunteering their bodies to advance the goals of the pharmaceutical company, whether that’s a big pharmaceutical company or a small one.“And they are entitled to some kinds of protection and respect, and they’re also entitled to some degree of reciprocity.”A spokesperson for Innovative Medicines Canada, which represents brand-name pharmaceutical producers, could not comment on the issue, saying “it is up to the purview of each company whether or not to provide medicines to trial participants at a discounted price or for free, and under what conditions, after a clinical trial.”Kimmelman said that under a policy on ethical conduct by Canada’s three major public research investment bodies — including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research — scientists who receive funding are directed to make “reasonable efforts” to continue access to a drug post-trial for patients who appeared to have benefited from the treatment.An international policy initiated by the World Health Organization also sets out ethical guidelines for researchers, saying that if discontinuing an intervention would deprive a patient of basic capabilities or reduce quality of life attained during a study, “then the obligation will be greater than if an intervention provides relief for a minor or transient condition.”That obligation may also be greater where there are no existing interventions with similar effectiveness, the document adds.Kimmelman said when a person volunteers for a research study, they should benefit in some way from the knowledge that’s been gained.“It’s true pharmaceutical companies are there to develop a product and make revenue, but that doesn’t in any way excuse them from upholding ethical standards when patients volunteer their bodies to participate in clinical trials,” he said.“You can’t just dump patients at the side of the road and say: ‘Hey, thanks for helping us answer our questions. See you later.’”— Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
WINNIPEG – When recreational cannabis is legalized later this year, it will be subject to a government fee and a wholesale markup in Manitoba.The provincial government says a “social responsibility fee” of six per cent will be applied to a cannabis retailer’s total annual revenues.It will take effect next year and be payable six months after the end of each calendar year.The government is also applying a markup of 75 cents per gram, plus an additional nine per cent, at the wholesale distribution level.The Progressive Conservative government says the money will help pay for public education, safety enforcement and addictions programs.Enterprise Minister Blaine Pedersen says the province will monitor the cannabis market and may adjust the markup and fee in the future.He says the government wants to drive out the illegal market by keeping prices low, while also promoting public safety.
REGINA – The RCMP is defending its relationship with Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan after it was named in a lawsuit filed by the family of Colten Boushie.Boushie was fatally shot in August 2016 by a Saskatchewan farmer who was later found not guilty of second-degree murder.The lawsuit includes farmer Gerald Stanley for the shooting and the RCMP for the way it treated family members after Boushie died.When the lawsuit was announced, Chris Murphy, one of the family’s lawyers, said the lawsuit will make the RCMP examine how it interacts with Indigenous people.RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki says Murphy’s statement does not accurately reflect the positive relationship Mounties have with Indigenous people in the province.He says the RCMP has long worked closely with Indigenous communities from local detachments to senior officers.“Every day Saskatchewan RCMP officers and employees work collaboratively with our communities both Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” Zablocki said in a release Friday.“The Saskatchewan RCMP is committed to continue supporting and further developing these positive relationships.”None of the allegations in the Boushie family lawsuit have been proven in court.
BANFF, Alta. – Parks Canada says it has killed one of two bison bulls that wandered away from Banff National Park.Officials said the animal was moving toward private grazing land and posed a safety risk to the public and to livestock.“The decision to euthanize the bull was taken only after every other possible solution was tried or examined by highly trained, professional, and dedicated Parks Canada staff who are committed to conservation and the protection of species like bison,” Christie Thomson, a Parks Canada spokeswoman said Friday in a statement.“Public safety is a priority for Parks Canada and this decision was made in order to protect the public and to uphold commitments made to the Province of Alberta and other stakeholders as part of the reintroduction project.”Parks Canada said it made every effort to coax the bull back to the national park, where the herd of bison was allowed to roam free on July 29.The two bulls wandered off on Aug. 5.Staff continue to monitor the second bison bull.“Fortunately his movements are not posing a risk to public safety or to the safety of livestock. Efforts to reintroduce him to the national park are ongoing.”Thomson said the remaining 32 bison in the herd have stayed within the reintroduction zone in Banff National Park’s backcountry.Sixteen plains bison from Elk Island National Park were reintroduced to the park in February 2017 into the remote Panther River Valley, about 40 kilometres north of Banff.Ten of the females had calves last year and seven of those animals have now given birth again this year.Parks Canada has said it was prepared for the possibility the bison would roam and was working closely with the province and landowners in the area.Plains bison are an iconic part of Canada’s history, having freely roamed in the Rockies, filling an important need for the livelihoods of First Nations people and early settlers.They disappeared from the area due to overhunting before the national park was created in 1885.Plains bison on provincial land aren’t considered wildlife in Alberta.
CALGARY – Alberta’s United Conservative Party has invited Ontario Premier Doug Ford to Calgary for a “Scrap The Carbon Tax Rally.”The UCP has posted an image on Twitter of its leader Jason Kenney and Ford both beaming at the camera with an arm around each other to promote the Oct. 5 event.Kenney, the leader of Alberta’s Opposition, has promised to repeal the province’s carbon tax if his party wins the 2019 spring election.He has also pledged to fight any attempt by Ottawa to impose a national price on carbon.Ford’s new Progressive Conservative government is challenging the federal government’s carbon pricing plan in court.A United Conservative party official says both leaders will give speeches at the rally.
OTTAWA — Defence officials say they expect to know next spring what sensor, weapons and defensive upgrades will be needed to ensure the country’s aging CF-18 fighter jets are still able to fly combat missions until they are replaced in 2032.The Trudeau government plans to invest $3 billion over the next decade to keep the CF-18s as well as a handful of second-hand Australian fighters in the air until a new fighter-jet is purchased.But auditor general Michael Ferguson found last month that price tag did not include any actual upgrades to the planes’ combat systems, which have not had any significant upgrades since 2008.Defence officials told a House of Commons committee this afternoon they expect to have an idea by May what kind of combat upgrades will be needed — upgrades analysts expect will cost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars.The officials also blamed a nationwide shortage of pilots for contributing to the air force’s difficulty in finding enough fighter jockeys to fly the CF-18s, which Ferguson also flagged as a major concern.A number of measures are being explored or implemented to retain experienced pilots, who Ferguson found are leaving faster than they can be replaced.The Canadian Press
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — A talkative Dennis Oland chatted with police at length about his relationship with his difficult dad, Richard, initially unaware that investigators were narrowing in on him as the prime suspect in his father’s murder.Video of the police interview with Dennis Oland on July 7, 2011, the day Richard Oland’s bludgeoned body was discovered, was shown Thursday at Oland’s retrial for the second-degree murder.Oland’s defence team had tried to get the video excluded prior to the trial, but Justice Terrence Morrison of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench allowed it to remain in evidence. This second trial of Oland, whose 2015 conviction was set aside on appeal, is proceeding before Justice Morrison alone.In the video, entered into evidence by Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot, Oland denies having anything to do with his father’s death.“I have no reason to want my father dead, to kill him,” Oland tells Const. Stephen Davidson of Saint John police in the video.“No, I mean, we’ve had our … things. But no, I wouldn’t rob someone of the fun that they’re having and, you know, I … he’s just … no.”The trial has heard already that 69-year-old Richard Oland was having fun. Worth an estimated $37 million, the former executive of Moosehead Breweries Ltd. and member of the prominent Maritime beer-making family was having a new racing yacht built in Spain.Oland tells Davidson in the video his dad was in great health and still enjoyed racing yachts, skiing and fishing. Oland also said he had become aware, along with other members of the family, of an extramarital relationship his father was having and added that one of his sisters had discovered a jar of Richard’s Viagra.Oland tells the police officer he discussed the affair with a family friend about a year before the murder. He said he told the friend he “should tell Dick that people know and it should stop.”Sitting across from each other in a cramped police interview room in Saint John, Davidson asked Oland if he ever sailed with his dad.“He’s just a real hard guy to be on a boat with, so we just stopped,” Oland said in the interview.“Put you to work, huh?” Davidson asked.“Well, it’s just, no. He just barks and barks and barks.”Oland said he believed his father was somewhere on the autism spectrum and possibly had Asperger’s syndrome which he said would explain his social awkwardness.“He pushed the wrong buttons sometimes,” he said of his father.Richard Oland’s body was discovered lying face down on the floor of his Saint John office on the morning of July 7, 2011. By around 8:30 that evening – two and a half hours after his interview with police began – Dennis Oland was a suspect.The prosecution contends Oland was facing serious financial problems and turned to his father for help on July 6, 2011, the day of the murder. Prosecutors say he killed his father “in a rage.”Oland told police he only visited his father that day, between 5:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., to discuss a subject they were both interested in – the family history of the Olands.The defence is making a case that the Saint John police mishandled the investigation and rushed to judgement in deciding very quickly that Dennis Oland was the killer.Earlier on Thursday, the court heard from forensic toxicologist Dr. Albert Fraser, who examined bodily fluids taken from Richard Oland’s corpse.Fraser said a small amount of alcohol found in Oland’s urine was “consistent with alcohol consumption several hours prior to death.”The court learned there was no evidence that Oland had a drink during the day on July 6, 2011. Defence lawyer Alan Gold suggested the alcohol could have been ingested 60 to 90 minutes before death, but Fraser said that would be too fast for alcohol to travel through the stomach, into the circulatory system and into the urine.Timeline is key in the trial since it is not known for sure when Oland was killed.Dennis Oland left the office at 6:30 p.m. and the prosecution argues the killing occurred around that time. The defence is relying on a witness who heard loud thumps from Oland’s office between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. that night – a time that would exclude Dennis as the perpetrator.But Fraser excluded the possibility that Richard Oland might have had a drink with an unknown assailant after his son left and shortly before his death.The trial has learned that Oland was bludgeoned to death with an unknown weapon or weapons. The 45 wounds on his hands and head were mostly from a sharp-edged implement, such as an axe of some sort, and there were a few round wounds that appeared to be from a hammer.Chris Morris, The Canadian Press
YELLOWKNIFE — Ottawa and the Northwest Territories have reached a deal on protecting threatened caribou.The deal gives the territory deadlines to come up with range plans for its boreal caribou herds.The first of those plans is due this summer. If that deadline is missed, the federal environment minister has the power to step in and impose protections.Ottawa has reached similar deals with other provinces and territories.Environmentalists have pointed out the deadlines in those agreements are often ignored and the federal government faces at least one lawsuit trying to force it to act.Boreal caribou in the N.W.T. face few immediate threats.The herds number about 6,000 animals and more than two-thirds of their range is considered undisturbed.The Canadian Press