Trump announces ‘national emergency’ in bizarre White House appearance

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WASHINGTON—He boasted that he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, then complained that he wouldn’t win.

He said he doesn’t know far-right pundit Ann Coulter, then said he “hardly” knows her, then said he used to talk to her, then said she’d be very nice to talk to.

He contradicted his chief trade negotiator on negotiations with China. He promoted North Korea as an ideal location for economic development. He uttered a series of lies and misleading statements about immigration, saying it was everyone else who was lying.

And he said he didn’t actually need to declare the national emergency he was speaking in the Rose Garden to declare.

In a rambling, defensive and thoroughly bizarre appearance on the White House grounds on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump made an unfocused stream-of-consciousness case for his immigration emergency while also musing at length about a variety of related and unrelated topics.

In arguably the strangest moment of the morning, he appeared to undermine his case that an emergency is necessary.

“I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster,” he said. He repeated: “I just want to get it done faster.”

Democrats immediately seized on Trump’s remarks.

“Mr. President, how can this possibly be an national emergency if you’re saying you don’t need to do it? Unreal,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter.

Trump also signed into law on Friday a spending deal reached by Democrats and Republicans to fund security initiatives on the Mexican border. Trump was dissatisfied with the deal because it included less than $1.5 billion for about 55 miles of border barriers, much less than the $5.7 billion and 234 miles he had demanded for the giant wall he had repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for.

Trump is seeking to use the emergency declaration to seize money Congress had allocated to other areas of government and use it for the wall. The New York Times reported Friday that his team is looking at taking $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction, $2.5 billion from anti-drug projects and $600 million from an asset forfeiture fund.

Though presidents have broad authority to declare emergencies, there has never been an emergency declared so a president could pay for his controversial initiative with money not approved by Congress for that purpose.

Democrats and some Republicans have called Trump’s plan an unconstitutional abuse of power. Trump suggested there was a double standard for him, saying that “nobody cares” when other presidents declare emergencies.

And he dismissed concerns about his plan to grab money that had been allocated to the military.

“Some of the generals think that this is more important. I was speaking to a couple of ’em, they think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for,” he said, not naming them. “I said, ‘What were you going to use it for?’ I won’t go into details, but didn’t sound too important to me.”

Trump said it would be easy to win the court challenge that is almost certain to be filed, since he is declaring the emergency over a “virtual invasion” of drugs, gangs and human traffickers.

But he also said he thought he might well lose in the initial case, then again on appeal. Speaking in a singsong voice as he offered a series of unusual predictions about the next steps in the case, he said it was only at the Supreme Court where he hoped to get a “fair shake.”

The state of California and independent organizations have said they plan to sue.

“President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power. This ‘emergency’ is a national disgrace — and the blame lays solely at the feet of the president. Our message to the White House is simple: CA will see you in court,” Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Twitter.

As at previous immigration speeches, Trump invited the mothers of people killed by unauthorized immigrants, known as “angel moms,” to attend this one. When he was asked to respond to critics who say he is manufacturing this supposed crisis, he turned to the women and said, “What do you think? You think I’m creating something? Ask these incredible women.”

Trump was similarly dismissive of immigration-related data.

Rejecting his own government’s conclusion that most drugs that come in through Mexico are smuggled through legal ports of entry rather than unwalled desert, he declared that this was “all a lie.”

Rejecting official data that shows the number of apprehensions at the southwest border is less than a third what it was two decades ago, Trump said, “We have far more people trying to get into our country today than probably we have ever had before.”

Rejecting studies that show illegal immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than native citizens, Trump said, “You don’t really believe that stat, do you? Do you really believe that stat?”

And rejecting human trafficking experts who have said that a large percentage of victims come through legal ports of entry, Trump said that this is impossible, since border officers would notice “three women with tape on their mouth.” Experts say victims are usually tricked or coerced into crossing, not physically restrained.

Trump himself was critical of Democratic predecessor Barack Obama for bypassing Congress with unilateral action on immigration, tweeting in 2014: “Repubs must not allow Pres Obama to subvert the Constitution of the US for his own benefit & because he is unable to negotiate w/ Congress.”

Asked about this on Friday, Trump said the current situation is different — because he is taking unilateral action after making an inadequate deal with Congress, not after making no deal.

“I went through Congress, I made a deal. I got almost $1.4 billion when I wasn’t supposed to get $1 — not $1. ‘He’s not going to get $1,’ he said, not saying who he was quoting. “Well, I got $1.4 billion. But I’m not happy with it.”

Daniel Dale is the Star’s Washington bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @ddale8

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John Tory announces electrical inspection blitz for highrises

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Toronto is launching an inspection blitz targeting the electrical systems of highrise buildings in the wake of incidents that displaced tenants from St. James Town apartments, Mayor John Tory announced Wednesday.

A team including officials from the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards division, Toronto Fire Services and the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) will identify properties where inspections need to be done, Tory told reporters at city hall.

Mayor John Tory said electrical systems in highrise buildings will be inspected following a number of incidents in which tenants were displaced.
Mayor John Tory said electrical systems in highrise buildings will be inspected following a number of incidents in which tenants were displaced.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star file photo)

The move comes after last August’s fire at 650 Parliament St., forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 residents — who have still not been able to return to the building — and a recent inspection by the ESA of 280 Wellesley St. E., which is owned by the same landlord.

Tory said the 650 Parliament fire was related to a “catastrophic failure” of that building’s electrical system, and the recent inspection of the electrical system at 280 Wellesley found it was in poor working order and hadn’t been maintained in “many, many years.”

In January, a building owned by the same landlord at 260 Wellesley St. E. had its power cut off as a safety measure after a water pipe burst there. An ESA inspection revealed that major work needed to be done to bring the building up to an acceptable standard before power could be restored, Tory said.

“This lack of preventative maintenance is unacceptable and needs to stop,” he said. “There is too much safety risk involved and can’t be the standard when it comes to the lives of hard working tenants in these buildings.”

Tory said the blitz will involve a comprehensive set of inspections that will be carried out in St. James Town, as well as in other parts of the city. The team will identify buildings for “comprehensive inspection and testing” of their electrical systems.

“My hope is (the team) will focus on building owners with a history of non-compliance,” he said.

Reporters were told that Toronto Fire Services does yearly inspections of all high rises in Toronto, but those inspection don’t necessarily capture the electrical systems.

Steve Smith, a general manager with the ESA, said aging buildings are a problem throughout North America. “Buildings are getting older, electrical systems are getting older,” he said.

Smith said maintaining electrical systems is largely a voluntary process for landlords, but that industry standards recommend inspections be done every two or three years.

“In hindsight, perhaps (provincial) legislation should be changed to make it mandatory to go in and do these inspections,” he said.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson said the James Town property owner has pledged to fully co-operate and do the work necessary to get the buildings up to the required standards.

Donovan Vincent is a housing reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @donovanvincent

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Kamala Harris, schooled in Montreal, announces bid to unseat Trump in 2020 – Montreal

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A suburban Montreal high school is leading the cheers north of the border for graduate Kamala Harris, the California senator and former prosecutor who confirmed Monday she’s seeking to become the first black woman elected president of the United States.

“Run Kamala Run!!” Westmount High School’s social-media feeds gushed after Harris confirmed what much of the rest of the U.S. had assumed: she plans on being the Democrat who pries President Donald Trump out of the White House in 2020.

READ MORE: Democrat Kamala Harris officially enters 2020 presidential race

In a memoir Harris describes the heartache of moving from Oakland to chilly Montreal so her mother Shyamala Gopalan, a breast-cancer researcher, could take a job at McGill University.

“The thought of moving away from sunny California in February, in the middle of the school year, to a French-speaking foreign city covered in 12 feet of snow was distressing, to say the least,” she writes in The Truth We Hold: an American Journey released earlier this month.

Her initial foray into Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, a school for native French-speakers, was a challenge: “I used to joke that I felt like a duck, because all day long at our new school I’d be saying, ‘Quoi? Quoi? Quoi?’”

WATCH: Kamala Harris speaks about presidential bid, how she’ll win


By the time she was enrolled at Westmount, Harris had mostly adjusted to her life in Quebec, recalling fondly how her by-then divorced parents both attended her graduation, her mother resplendent in a bright red dress and heels.

“We’re super happy, we’re super proud — we’re always happy when a Westmount grad does well,” said teacher Sabrina Jafralie, whose school counts songwriter Leonard Cohen, former Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day and prime ministerial spouse Mila Mulroney among its famous alumni.

“I think she’s a role model for all of us. Coming from a great school like Westmount, possibly to the White House, is a great story to tell.”

It’s no accident that Harris, whose mother is from India and father from Jamaica, chose Martin Luther King Jr. Day to confirm her plans, which she did during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.

“My parents were very active in the civil-rights movement, and that’s the language that I grew up hearing,” she said.

“(King) was aspirational like our country is aspirational. We know that we’ve not yet reached those ideals. But our strength is that we fight to reach those ideals … We are a country that, yes, we are flawed, we are not perfect, but we are a great country when we think about the principles upon which we are founded.”

Harris was far from the only Democratic hopeful, declared or otherwise, who was out and about on what would have been the civil-rights leader’s 90th birthday — evidence that thorny issues of race, gender and ethnic tensions will be prominent in the coming primary battles among an already dense and growing field of candidates.

READ MORE: Elizabeth Warren makes first step towards 2020 presidential run

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the 2016 challenger to eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, attended a church service and a rally Monday in South Carolina, where he fell short two years ago and will need support from black voters to contend again.

“It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we now have a president of the United States who is a racist,” Sanders told rallygoers.

WATCH: Kamala Harris says the government needs to reopen, slams Trump for shutdown over border wall






Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, both in the race, also attended public MLK events, as did a number of other “maybe” names, including former vice-president and presumptive front-runner Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Gillibrand said “white women like me” must share the burden of fighting for equality. Warren offered a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to vote. And Biden, who lingered on his close relationship with former boss Barack Obama, lamented his support for a crime bill in 1994 that imposed harsher sentences for crack-cocaine possession.

WATCH: Presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand tells crowd ‘I will fight for your children’






Harris, too, faces tough questions on issues of justice.

As a California district attorney and later as the state’s attorney general, Harris frequently opposed or ignored criminal justice reform measures aimed at levelling a playing field critics say is unfairly tilted against black defendants, the former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent wrote last week in the New York Times.

During a question-and-answer session at Howard University in Washington, Harris acknowledged having regrets about some decisions during her tenure. But her office also introduced a number of initiatives to address racial profiling and bias in law enforcement, as well as sentencing reforms, she said.

“Instead of deciding either you’re soft on crime or tough on crime, let’s understand that if we’re going to be smart with the taxpayer’s dollars, let’s get people out of the system instead of cycling through the revolving door of jail,” she said. “One of my biggest regrets is that I’ve not had more time to do more, but it’s my intention to keep fighting for it.”

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Doug Ford government announces review of regional governments

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In a news release Tuesday, the province said it was appointing Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling as special advisers to ensure the regional governments “are working efficiently and effectively.”

The regional governments under review are Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka District, and Oxford County), the County of Simcoe, and their lower-tier municipalities.

“Our government committed to improving the way regional government works and we will be looking at ways to make better use of taxpayers’ dollars and make it easier for residents and businesses to access important municipal services,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, in the news release.

More to come

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NHL announces outdoor game at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium in 2019

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Flying pucks will replace footballs at Mosaic Stadium in Regina when the National Hockey League takes over for one day later this year.

The NHL announced Tuesday that Regina will host the Heritage Classic outdoor game at the 33,000-seat stadium, which opened in 2017 as the new home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Winnipeg Jets will face off against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 26, 2019. 

More to come.

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Humboldt Broncos coach announces he has ‘stepped away’ after less than 6 months

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Nathan Oystrick, who was hired as the Humboldt Broncos’ coach and general manager in July, has announced he is leaving the position.

Oystrick announced on Friday via a tweet that he had stepped away from the organization and would issue a statement at a later time.

« Despite the extreme stress and constant pressure of working with the organization, I gave them everything I possibly could and am proud of their performance, and mine, this season, » Oystrick wrote.

On April 6, 2018, a bus carrying the Broncos to a playoff game in Nipawin collided with a semi truck, killing 16 people and injuring another 13. Head coach Darcy Haugan was among those killed.

The Broncos have the fourth most points in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, with a 21-13-2-1 record.

Oystrick’s last game as coach was a 6-2 loss against the Melfort Mustangs on Dec. 15. The Broncos have had two wins in their last 10 games, going 2-7-0-1.

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Nova Scotia RCMP announces new commanding officer – Halifax

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Nova Scotia RCMP will be under new leadership come 2019, with the appointment of Chief Superintendent Lee Bergerman to the position of assistant commissioner.

Bergerman brings 32 years of experience with the force to her new role and says she’s ready to take on the challenge.

“I’ve got the whole province that I’m responsible for, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to going out and seeing the other rural detachments,” she said in an interview with Global News on Monday.

READ MORE: RCMP investigating fatal collision on Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail

Born in Vancouver, B.C., Bergerman joined the RCMP in 1986. Throughout her time in the Mounties, she has worked undercover, in criminal intelligence, serious crimes and the unsolved homicide unit.

She notes she’s broken ground for women throughout her career and says she’s confident she can do the job.

“I think that if you talk to any female leader, they’ll tell you that it’s not about the gender, it’s that I’m capable and I have a diverse career and I’m ready for this position regardless of my gender. So, I think that’s what the focus should be,” Bergerman said.

She says the biggest challenge for the police force will be the legalization of marijuana and how officers use the substance.


“I think going forward, there’s going to be legal challenges about usage because you’ve got some police forces where there really isn’t a policy as long as you show up fit for duty, and with the RCMP, it’s 28 days before showing up for duty, so I see that as a challenge,” she said.

Nova Scotia’s current commanding officer, Assistant Commissioner Brian Brennan, has accepted the position of deputy commissioner of contract and Indigenous policing.

He will be transferred to Ottawa in the new year.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Kelowna’s Journey Home Society celebrates early success, announces new leader

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A strategy to prevent and end homelessness in Kelowna is only six months old, but those implementing the city’s plan have said it’s already successful.

“We’ve seen incredible momentum during the strategy development and also as we released it,” Kyleen Myrah, co-chair of the Journey Home transition team, said. “We are seeing a lot of collaboration happening in the centre. We are moving to a hub model, having the police and nurse team and the community action team working together.”

The team is putting on training and education for service providers in the social services sector, according to Myrah.


READ MORE:
Business operators say nearby homeless housing complex not causing any major issues

The Journey Home Society also announced that a new executive director, Gaelene Askeland, will be in charge of implementing the five-year strategy.

The work includes preventative measures to divert people at risk of losing their home into community-based prevention supports.

A celebration was held on Wednesday night for stakeholders and community members to celebrate the success so far.


READ MORE:
Kelowna homeless shelter running out of time

Myrah said 88 units of supportive housing have been built in Kelowna this year.

The Journey Home Society has so far raised $900,000 in Kelowna toward funding their work, a third of its goal.

The initiative projects that Kelowna will house more than 2,100 people who were once homeless by 2024.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Alberta premier announces 8.7% oil production cut to increase prices

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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has announced a temporary 8.7 per cent oil production cut, or decrease of 325,000 barrels a day, in the production of raw crude oil and bitumen starting Jan. 1, 2019.

In an announcement Sunday evening, Notley said the daily cuts will remain in place until the 35 million barrels of processed oil currently in storage is shipped to market, likely by the spring.

The reduction will drop to an average of 95,000 barrels a day until curtailment ends at the end of 2019, when Enbridge’s new Line 3 pipeline starts operating.

The Alberta government also expects to acquire locomotives and rail cars by the end of next year to transport 120,000 barrels a day.

Notley said the decision to impose mandatory curtailments was difficult, but necessary. 

« In Alberta we believe that markets are the best way to set prices, but when markets aren’t working, when companies are forced to sell our resources for pennies on the dollar, then we have a responsibility to act, » Notley said, adding the government has « a responsibility to defend our province and to defend our resources. »

Smaller companies not affected

The cuts will affect about 25 larger bitumen and conventional producers. Larger producers will see their first 10,000 barrels exempted each day. Companies that produce less than 10,000 barrels a day will not be affected by the daily cuts.

Notley’s announcement is aimed at addressing the difference in the price of Western Canadian Select oil relative to the benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI). That gap hit around $50 in late October due to a lack of pipeline capacity to get Alberta oil to market.

Watch as Premier Rachel Notley explains why she believes production cuts are necessary:

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley answers questions from reporters following announcement of a temporary oil production cut in the province. 1:11

The government estimates Alberta is losing $80 million a day due to this discount. The measures are expected to narrow the gap by $4 US a barrel and contribute an additional $1.1 billion to the Alberta treasury by the fiscal year ending in 2020. 

Alberta’s energy minister has power under existing legislation to set the curtailment amounts through a monthly ministerial order. Notley says the effect of the cuts will be measured each month to ensure production is not reduced any more than necessary.  

The government said it believed industry would not voluntarily make the cuts after sending three envoys to talk to small and large producers.

Industry divided

The split in industry opinion was revealed in the reaction that immediately followed Notley’s announcement.

Cenovus Energy asked the Alberta government last month to make mandatory production cuts. Unsurprisingly, the company sent a news release Sunday night supporting Notley’s actions.

« At Cenovus, we advocated for this mandatory production cut because we continue to believe it is the only short-term solution to the extraordinary situation Alberta find itself in, » said Cenovus CEO and president Alex Pourbaix in a statement.

While support for temporary mandatory cuts is not unanimous among Alberta oil and gas companies, « acknowledgement of the severity of the crisis facing our industry was, » Pourbaix said.

Imperial Oil remained firmly against the curtailment measures. CEO Rich Kruger said in a statement the company « respectfully disagreed » with the government’s decision as it may carry unintended consequences. 

« This intervention appears not to recognize the investment decisions companies have made to access higher value markets, » Kruger said in the statement. « Imperial has increased its take-away ability by securing contractual capacity in existing pipelines and by investing in extensive rail infrastructure that allows the company to reach higher value markets, to the benefit of all Albertans. »

Opposition reaction

Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, Alberta’s official opposition, supported Notley’s announcement. but blamed the federal government for putting the province in the difficult position.

While Kenney initially supported cuts only if they were voluntary, he called last week for a mandatory cut of 10 per cent, or about 400,000 barrels a day, based on what he said he heard from stakeholders. Kenney said he is fine with the government’s numbers, as long as cuts reach the goal of reducing the differential. The price gap was $28.50 US a barrel when markets closed on Friday.

« If this does not adequately clear out the glut by the end of January, beginning of February 2019, then the government may have to go into deeper production cuts, » he said, adding he would support such action if it’s required. 

Any change in the price of oil has profound effects on Alberta’s resource-dependent economy.

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Freeland announces new Canadian consul general posts for Detroit, Los Angeles

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has filled two new senior diplomatic posts to lead the Canadian consulates in Detroit and Los Angeles.

Former New Democrat MP Joe Comartin is the new consul general for Detroit, while Zaib Shaikh, who has worked on both sides of the camera in the Canadian entertainment industry, is heading to Los Angeles to serve as Canada’s top diplomat in the heart of the American cultural industry.

For Comartin, who represented a Windsor, Ont. riding for 15 years, the new post won’t mean a long commute from home.

Comartin will be working in the hub of the American auto industry, which was at the heart of the recent free trade negotiations between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Shaikh was most recently the film commissioner and director of entertainment industries for the City of Toronto; he’s also worked as a producer and director as well as an actor, with roles in Deepa Mehta’s film, « Midnight’s Children, » and television show « Little Mosque on the Prairie. »

A government official says Comartin’s post has a salary range of $125,900 to $148,100 while Shaikh’s job comes with a range of $140,900 to $165,700.

Zaib Shaikh, Toronto’s former film commissioner, has been named as Canada’s new consul general to Los Angeles. (CBC)

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