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B.C. couple convicted in legislature bomb plot freed by Appeal Court

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B.C.’s Appeal Court has upheld a ruling that gave a couple convicted of planting explosive devices on the grounds of the legislature their freedom in 2016.

In a unanimous decision released Wednesday morning, the Appeal Court sided with a B.C. Supreme Court judge who stayed proceedings in the terrorism trial of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody on the grounds that the police investigation was a « travesty of justice. »

Nuttall and Korody were found guilty of terrorism offences in June 2015. (RCMP)

While the 141-page judgment faults Justice Catherine Bruce’s findings in a number of areas, the Appeal Court found that the RCMP may have been right to launch an undercover operation against the Surrey, B.C., couple — but they went « far beyond investigating a crime. »

« They pushed and pushed and pushed the two defendants to come up with a workable plan, » read the ruling, written by Justice Elizabeth Bennett and handed down in Vancouver.

« The police did everything necessary to facilitate the plan. »

‘Police do not have a free hand’: ruling

A jury convicted Nuttall, 44, and Korody, 35, of terrorism-related offences in 2015, but Bruce stayed proceedings on the grounds that police had entrapped the pair in an investigation that amounted to an abuse of process.

The two had been accused of plotting to plant pressure cooker bombs on the grounds of the provincial legislature in Victoria with the aim of murdering tourists during Canada Day festivities in 2013.

Bruce found that police did not have reasonable suspicion to start an investigation against the two after their initial inquiries following a complaint from a member of the public who claimed Nuttall had been espousing violent views at local mosques. 

The justice also found that police essentially directed the couple on how to commit the crime because they weren’t capable of figuring it out for themselves.

Nuttall and Korody embrace at B.C. Supreme Court after the judge stayed proceedings against them in July 2016. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The Appeal Court faulted Bruce on finding the RCMP lacked reasonable suspicion with regards to Nuttall and Korody, but said that, even so, the conduct of police in guiding the pair to the bomb plot would still constitute entrapment.

« Terrorism offences are some of the most serious crimes in our law, » the appeal judgment said.

« On the other hand, the police do not have a free hand to do whatever they wish in order to investigate crime, even serious crime. The concepts of fairness and justice are still highly relevant and police conduct undertaken in the investigation of crime must be balanced against them. »

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody listening in court as the judge stayed the proceeding in their terror trial, as depicted by a sketch artist. (Felicity Don/CBC)

The Appeal Court judges also faulted Bruce for directing the jury to find the pair not guilty on charges of facilitating a terrorism offence on the grounds they could not have facilitated each other. But even with those charges reinstated, the Appeal Court said a stay of proceedings should still be entered because of the entrapment.

The Appeal Court judgment includes a call to Parliament to streamline the language around terrorism offences for the benefit of « those members of the public who sit as jury members on such cases. »

Although the ruling will have the effect of freeing Nuttall and Korody, they still face the possibility of provincial court proceedings relating to a Crown application for a peace bond win proceedings that began after Bruce’s ruling.

Both remain on bail in relation to the peace bond proceedings.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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