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Royal Succession law challenged in Que court

Royal Succession law challenged in Que court

MONTREAL – The birth of Prince George before his sister Charlotte averted the need for a major change in British tradition. But the recent law that changed the rules of royal succession will be challenged in Quebec court beginning Monday, and could have political consequences in Canada. The challenge could even force Ottawa to undertake a round of constitutional negotiations, say the lawyers behind the suit. In 2011 — while the world wondered if the firstborn of royal couple William and Kate would be a boy or a girl — the leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries agreed to change the succession rules to allow a girl, if she was the eldest, to take the throne. Before the change, she would have been passed over in favour of her brother. The Harper government implemented the change by a simple federal law in 2013. According to Patrick Taillon and Genevieve Motard, law professors at the University of Laval, this was a change to Canada’s constitution that should have required the consent of the provinces, which the prime minister never sought. Now, Taillon and Motard are aiming to have the law on royal succession declared unconstitutional. The professors have the support of Quebec’s Attorney General and — improbably — a monarchist league, the Canadian Royal Heritage Trust. The government argues that the modification made by the British Parliament concerning the monarchy applies automatically under Canadian law — Ottawa had only to pass a law giving “assent,” with no need for a constitutional change. Those who are contesting the law say the British Parliament lost its right to legislate for Canada with the repatriation of the Constitution in 1982. In an interview, Taillon said the intention of the suit is primarily “so that the Canadian Constitution is respected by the federal government.” If the law is invalidated by the court, the federal government will be faced with a choice: refuse to touch the Constitution and default on Canada’s obligations to the Commonwealth, or open the Pandora’s box of constitutional negotiations, where the provinces could bring their demands to the table. According to Taillon, if the law is invalidated...

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Escaped Toronto peacock vanishes

Escaped Toronto peacock vanishes

TORONTO – There were no sightings on Sunday of the elusive peacock that escaped from a Toronto zoo last week, with officials saying they hope the bird has returned to the zoo area on his own. A spokeswoman for the city says animal control officers tried to capture the bird using nets and blankets, but stopped actively pursuing the peacock on Saturday because they were afraid of driving it further away. Nicola Ware says it would make sense that the bird returned to the High Park area in Toronto’s west end where the zoo is located. Ware says the fact that the peacock had been so conspicuous last week, means that for it to completely disappear they’re hoping he’s somewhere “deep inside the park” amid dense foliage. She says residents are being asked to contact the city if the peacock is sighted. But Ware says she has told colleagues to keep an eye on Twitter for information on the bird. “I’m sure Twitter is going to know before anybody here does.” By The Canadian Press Source...

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'San Andreas' shakes way to top spot at domestic box office

'San Andreas' shakes way to top spot at domestic box office

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson out-muscled the competition at domestic movie theatres as the earthquake epic “San Andreas” hauled in an estimated $53.2 million over the weekend. It was Johnson’s biggest debut for a non-sequel as the top-billed actor, according to box office tracker Rentrak. The action star helped the movie over-perform on the West Coast despite fears that audiences in earthquake-prone regions would shy away, said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., which distributed the film made by its New Line unit. “Some people felt they’d be a little nervous watching such a disaster hit both Los Angeles and San Francisco, but there was a curiosity factor,” Fellman said. “They went, they packed the theatres and they liked it.” “Aloha,” the critically maligned romantic comedy from director Cameron Crowe, opened in sixth place with $10 million. The movie was dogged by controversy. Leaked emails from former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal last year labeled the “Aloha” script “ridiculous.” Then, some Native Hawaiian groups opposed the title as misappropriating the concept of the word. An Asian American group spoke criticized the use of a nearly all-white cast in a film shot in Hawaii, a heavily-Asian island chain. A slew of critics slammed the movie — many calling it “confusing,” wondering if parts of it were missing, and saying it was Cameron’s “worst” film ever despite the all-star cast of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams. They combined to give it a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 17 per cent. Sony Pictures Entertainment’s president of worldwide distribution, Rory Bruer, said “Aloha” did well enough with women aged 25-34 to overcome the negative buzz. The film cost about $37 million to make. “Ultimately, we are going to come out just fine on the movie, but more than anything we’re proud of the film,” he said. After showings, audiences gave “San Andreas” 3.5 out of 5 stars on average, while giving “Aloha” just 2 out of 5. Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak’s senior media analyst, said the expectations-busting performance of “San Andreas” in theatres helped jolt Hollywood out of a funk that began on the Memorial...

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Big data transforms  political campaigns

Big data transforms political campaigns

OTTAWA – Some 3,500 Liberal volunteers knocked on more than 200,000 doors in 190 ridings across the country last weekend. Good old-fashioned, boots-on-the-ground campaigning to identify potential supporters for this fall’s election, right? Not quite. Those volunteers are the vanguard of the modern style of campaigning that melds traditional person-to-person contact with sophisticated, big data analytics to allow political parties to identify, target and mobilize likely supporters in ways not imagined just a decade ago. The Conservatives were the first to recognize the value of harnessing technology in 2004, adopting techniques pioneered in the United States to create a massive data base of voters known as the Constituent Information Management System. CIMS has given the ruling party a significant advantage ever since, both in fundraising and micro-targeting niches of potential voters. In recent years, New Democrats and Liberals have been racing to catch up, hiring data analytics experts and overhauling what had been haphazard efforts to amass data bases. The Liberal party agreed to give The Canadian Press a rare glimpse of how it gathers information on voters and what analysis of all that data enables it to do. Start with last weekend’s canvassing. Gone are the days of volunteers standing on doorsteps with a clipboards and voters’ lists, ticking off likely supporters. The modern Liberal canvasser now carries a smart phone or tablet, loaded with the mini-VAN app. It was developed by U.S.-based NPG VAN and used to great effect by Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. Each volunteer is trained to give a brief homily on why they support the party — the personal touch never gets old — and to then follow a script designed to elicit pertinent information. This including party preference, willingness to take a lawn sign, issues of concern, email address and phone number. Responses, along with other information such as a voter’s preferred language, are punched into mini-VAN, which is linked to the party’s central data base, Liberalist, and where party headquarters can monitor the canvassers in real time. (Fake data was inputted for the demonstration given to The Canadian Press in order to respect privacy). The party has put as...

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'I pay the price for the network': Fahmy

'I pay the price for the network': Fahmy

Prosecutors are set to begin closing arguments Monday in the retrial of Mohamed Fahmy on widely-denounced terror charges. But as the case inches closer to a verdict, the Canadian journalist says he dreads having to pay the price for errors he claims were made by the company he worked for — Al Jazeera English. Fahmy was the Cairo bureau chief for the Qatar-based satellite news broadcaster when he and two colleagues were arrested in December 2013. After the successful appeal of his internationally decried conviction, Fahmy was granted bail in February following more than a year in prison. The 41-year-old journalist says it’s become clear Al Jazeera failed to protect its employees working in Egypt. Crucial to his case at this point, he says, is being able to separate himself from the broadcaster, who he is now suing for $100 million in damages. “I pay the price for the network, it’s not the network that pays,” he told The Canadian Press. “Our job in the courtroom is to differentiate between the responsibilities of the network and us, and prove to the judge…that we had no clue about a lot of this stuff.” Al Jazeera is owned by the Qatari government, a fact which plays an important role in Fahmy’s case. Egypt and Qatar have had tense relations since 2013, when the Egyptian military ousted former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Qatar is a strong backer of Morsi’s now-banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group. Fahmy alleges Al Jazeera used its Egypt-focused Arabic channel, which was banned in Egypt, to promote propaganda of the Muslim Brotherhood. He also alleges the broadcaster failed to secure proper licenses for its staff and aired reports from Al Jazeera English on its banned Arabic channel — factors he says have contributed significantly to the charges against him. “I am very worried about the outcome,” he said of his trial. “Unfortunately, I am in that frame of assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, so I’ve got to worry, I can’t let my guard down.” Fahmy said he complained many times about his staff’s English reports being broadcast on the banned Arabic channel but adds he was dismissed...

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B.C. Christian university goes to court in Ontario

B.C. Christian university goes to court in Ontario

TORONTO – A Christian university in British Columbia that forbids sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage heads to an Ontario court this week asking for the graduates of its proposed law school to be able to practice in the province. Specifically, Trinity Western University is asking for judicial review of a decision last year by Ontario’s law society to refuse accreditation to its yet-to-open law school. The case between the private university and the Law Society of Upper Canada pits religious freedoms against same-sex equality rights, with each side saying one is discriminating against the other. The case that will be heard in Toronto comes as Trinity Western is engaged in similar battles in other provinces. It recently secured a win in Nova Scotia, where a court stopped that province’s law society from denying the university accreditation, although the decision is now being appealed. In British Columbia, however, the B.C. Law Society voted not to recognize the university’s law school graduates and the provincial government revoked its support for the proposed law school. At the heart of all the disputes is the university’s “community covenant” or code of conduct, which it requires all students to abide by. The covenant includes requiring students to abstain from gossip, obscene language, prejudice, harassment, lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, drunkenness and sexual intimacy “that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” Students can face discipline for violating the covenant, either on or off campus, according to the school’s student handbook. The university notes, however, that it does not ban admission to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students or faculty, or encourage discrimination of any kind against LGBT individuals. The Law Society of Upper Canada, however, found Trinity Western’s covenant discriminatory and refused to accredit the university’s planned law school — a decision Trinity Western argues is discriminatory in itself. “It is an overrereaction in the extreme to deny evangelical Christians their livelihood in the province of Ontario based on an intolerant and discriminatory assumption of how those students will practice law,” the university’s lawyers argue in a factum submitted to court. “There is no evidence that TWU graduates...

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Toronto man convicted of first- degree murder

Toronto man convicted of first- degree murder

TORONTO – A Toronto man faces a life prison sentence after being convicted on Saturday of four counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of four men. Mark Moore’s lawyer Peter Bawden confirms a jury found his client guilty of all four counts. Various media reports say the four men were killed in three separate incidents between June and November of 2010 _ reportedly the same two guns were used in the shootings. Moore was charged with the slayings of Jahmeel Spence, 27, Courthney Facey, 18, Mike James, 23, and Carl Cole, 45. The lead Toronto police investigator told reporters on Saturday that the crimes were “completely senseless.” Hank Idsinga said investigators believe Moore, who was trying to be a rapper, killed the men to build street credibility as a gangster. The defence argued during the trial there was no direct evidence that Moore possessed the guns throughout the 75 day period the four men were killed and there was room for a reasonable doubt. First-degree murder convictions carry an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years _ media reports say a formal sentencing hearing is set for June 16. By The Canadian Press Source...

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Police recover body of man in Brampton lake

Police recover body of man in Brampton lake

BRAMPTON, Ont. – Police have recovered the body of a man who jumped into a lake in Brampton in an attempt to help his daughter. Peel Region Police say the 40-year-old man and his daughter were playing along Professor’s Lake when she got in over her head on Saturday. Police posted on Twitter that the daughter was able to get out of the lake but her father had disappeared. Police called in the force’s dive team to help in the search, but said late Saturday in a tweet that he had been located in a “tragic ending to this day.” (680 News, The Canadian Press) By The Canadian Press Source...

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Pan Am Games torch relay begins in Toronto

Pan Am Games torch relay begins in Toronto

Mike Gourlay is a warrior. He stands in the pouring rain wearing armor consisting of a drenched raincoat, umbrella and a smile. Gourlay has been waiting for the arrival of the Pan Am flame since 10:30 a.m. The stormy, weather had not deterred Gourlay. “If you live in Canada and you want to participate in sporting events you have to be prepared for bad weather. I’m not an athlete so this is my only way of participating, as a supporter,” Gourlay said. The journey has been long for the Pan Am flame; it has travelled over land and sea from Avenue of the Dead in Teotihuacan, Mexico where it was first lit in a traditional ceremony to Canadian soil. Armed with their umbrellas, throngs of Canadians cheered as representatives of the First Nations of Canada canoed toward the shore of Lake Ontario carrying the Pan Am flame. It is here in Toronto’s downtown core the flame will begin its journey across Canada, sparking the excitement of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games within Canadians. “Being here at the torch arrival ceremony is like seeing a glimpse of history for my kids,” said North York’s Sam Remtulla. Her two young daughters are especially excited to see the soccer and gymnastic events during the Games. “The Pan Am Games are important for this city because we have the unique opportunity to show off to 41 other countries in the world,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “We have tried to do things differently here.” In the face of less than ideal weather there were no dampened spirits. “I’m very excited to be here, despite the rain. I’m thrilled to see Chris Hadfield at the Distillery Historic District. It’s an honour that the Games are here,” said downtown resident, Connie DeSouza. The welcoming ceremony for the torch was moved inside the Harbourfront Centre where spectators huddled around to hear both Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor Tory usher in the 2015 Pan Am Games. ...

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Escaped Toronto peacock evades capture

Escaped Toronto peacock evades capture

TORONTO – A peacock that escaped from a Toronto zoo remained on the lam as of late Saturday afternoon. A spokeswoman says Toronto Animal Services stopped actively pursuing the bird out of fears of driving it further away. Nicola Ware says attempts to capture the bird using nets, blankets and bird sounds proved futile. Now officials hope the bird will make its own way back to the west end Toronto zoo where it escaped from twice in the past week. Ware says it’s not known where the bird currently is, but has proved itself to be smart and resourceful enough to survive outside the zoo. Animal services will intervene if the bird becomes cornered. Residents are being asked to contact the city if the peacock is sighted. By The Canadian Press Source...

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