Homicide investigation underway after 11-year-old girl found dead

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Peel Regional Police say a homicide investigation is underway after an 11-year-old girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert was found dead.

Police issued the alert Thursday night after Roopesh Rajkumar failed to return his daughter, Riya, to her mother.

When the father didn’t return Riya, her mother reached out to police.

In a news release issued after Riya was reported missing, police said the father had « made comments indicating he was going to harm himself and his daughter. »

Police said she was found dead at a Brampton, Ont., residence. Her father has been arrested.

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Liberal-dominated committee votes to limit investigation into allegations of improper political influence on Wilson-Raybould

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OTTAWA— Liberal MPs have voted to restrict an investigation into allegations of improper political influence on former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, blocking opposition efforts to have her and the prime minister’s top aides testify before a Commons committee.

The vote came after a Liberal MP said the Conservatives were embarking on a “fishing expedition” and a “witch hunt” in their bid to hold hearings and summon witnesses — including senior PMO, justice department and Privy Council officials — to tell their stories under oath.

Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt speaks with the media in the Foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on Feb. 13, 2019. Raitt said that Jody Wilson-Raybould’s surprise resignation from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet underscores the need for an investigation into the affair.
Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt speaks with the media in the Foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on Feb. 13, 2019. Raitt said that Jody Wilson-Raybould’s surprise resignation from Justin Trudeau’s cabinet underscores the need for an investigation into the affair.  (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Liberals used their majority on the justice committee Wednesday to shut down a bid by Conservatives and New Democrats to summon Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau aides Gerald Butts and Mathieu Bouchard to testify.

The Liberals also blocked a motion that called on the prime minister to lift solicitor-client privilege to allow Wilson-Raybould to speak freely about the allegations that have rocked the government.

“That is not an investigation. That is simply going through the motions,” NDP MP Nathan Cullen said after the meeting, charging that the Liberals sought to “batten down the hatches today and not allow any truth to come to light.”

She was shuffled out of the justice portfolio to veterans affairs in January. On Monday night, she told Trudeau she was quitting her cabinet post — a move Trudeau said “surprised and disappointed” him. Her resignation was tendered hours after the prime minister had publicly suggested that her continued presence in cabinet showed nothing egregious had occurred.

Conservative Michael Cooper charged Wednesday that Liberal MPs on the committee were “acting as agents of a broader cover-up on the part of the PMO.

“It’s very clear they are not serious about getting to the bottom of what happens,” Cooper said.

Instead, Liberal MPs voted to hear from just three officials: current Justice Minister David Lametti, his deputy minister Nathalie Drouin, and the Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick, who serves as Trudeau’s top public servant and deputy minister.

The committee will also take a broad look at the legal rules and standards that apply to how an attorney general interacts with political colleagues, and hear legal opinions on how their work could impact current court proceedings involving SNC-Lavalin.

Conservative public safety critic Pierre Paul-Hus scoffed at the Liberals’ move to change the focus of discussions, saying “We don’t need a law class here.”

The committee meets again next week and will consider the possibility of expanding the witness list, but Liberal MPs — who have a majority on the committee — voted 5-4 to support a motion by Liberal Randy Boissonault, to shift the debate away from Wilson-Raybould’s as-yet untold version of events.

Deputy Conservative Leader Lisa Raitt isn’t holding out any hope that the committee will hear from additional witnesses.

The Conservatives are piling pressure on five Liberal MPs who will determine today whether a House of Commons committee will investigate an allegation that former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was pressured to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. (The Canadian Press)

During a protracted afternoon meeting that was testy at times, Liberals pushed back on the Opposition’s desire to broaden the inquiry’s scope into allegations that are already the subject of an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner.

At the committee meeting, the Liberals sought to downplay the controversy. Mississauga MP Iqra Khalid accused the opposition of “political posturing” and making hay “out of nothing.”

B.C. MP Ron McKinnon justified his vote opposing a broader investigation, saying, “we don’t have any real evidence of wrongdoing.”

The Liberals used their majority on the justice committee Wednesday to shut down a bid by Conservatives and New Democrats to summon Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau aides Gerald Butts, left, and Mathieu Bouchard, right, to testify.
The Liberals used their majority on the justice committee Wednesday to shut down a bid by Conservatives and New Democrats to summon Wilson-Raybould and Trudeau aides Gerald Butts, left, and Mathieu Bouchard, right, to testify.  (The Canadian Press file photo/Office of the Prime Minister)

Boissonault, MP for Edmonton Centre, accused Conservative MPs of trying to conduct a “fishing expedition” and a “witch hunt” into the SNC-Lavalin affair as the prime minister insisted publicly his government had broken no rules in its dealings with Wilson-Raybould.

As three-hour drama at committee was unfolding, the prime minister was on the defensive in Sudbury, where he again insisted his office had done no wrong.

Trudeau said his officials followed all the “norms and the principles of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law” in discussions with Wilson-Raybould about SNC-Lavalin’s fate.

Trudeau indicated the topic — which he cast as discussions about ways “to create jobs and economic growth” — was a pressing concern, saying “this is a constant conversation in cabinet.”

“And all those conversations…have always been carried out based on well-established rules,” said the prime minister.

Trudeau again blamed Wilson-Raybould for failing to come forward with any concerns about improper influence before her sudden resignation Tuesday. He pointed to her acceptance of another cabinet post just last month as evidence she had no real concerns.

“If anyone, any minister, including the former attorney general, felt that there was — that we were not living up to that standard — it was her responsibility to come and speak to me directly about that. She did not do that in the fall, and she accepted another position in this government when I made the cabinet shuffle.”

But at committee, Conservative Pierre Poilievre lashed into Trudeau’s reasoning, saying Wilson-Raybould is unable to respond to the prime minister’s “attack” because she is bound by solicitor-client privilege.

“He directly attacked her, saying it was her job to stop wrongdoing from happening in his office,” Poilievre said.

“But what is most despicable and cowardly about this attack is that he was attacking someone who is legally incapable of defending herself. She can’t fight back. She can’t speak,” he said.

“It’s time that we let her speak,” he said.

After the meeting, Boissonault said there’s nothing preventing Wilson-Raybould from speaking out now, even as he acknowledged she is bound by solicitor-client privilege.

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“I think it’s important for Ms. Wilson-Raybould to speak to Canadians on her own terms. It’s not something we need to do here at the justice committee,” he said.

But the Conservatives and the NDP say others needed to be called including the director of public prosecutions Kathleen Roussel; chief of staff to the prime minister Katie Telford; senior PMO advisers Mathieu Bouchard and Elder Marques who were lobbied by SNC-Lavalin, and Wilson-Raybould’s former chief of staff Jessica Prince.

The Liberal MP denounced Opposition suggestions that SNC-Lavalin had gotten the Liberal government to change the law to allow deferred prosecutions for companies like the Quebec engineering giant facing fraud charges.

In the closest thing to an explanation anyone on the government benches has offered for the change since the scandal broke last week, Boissonault said Canada adopted the legal change to allow deferred prosecutions for companies facing fraud charges to align with its trading allies and called Opposition allegations of political favouritism “specious.”

Cameron Ahmad, Trudeau’s director of communications, said in an interview the prime minister spoke with Wilson-Raybould about SNC-Lavalin once last fall, on Sept. 17, some three weeks before the public prosecutor’s office declined, on Oct. 9, SNC-Lavalin’s pleas to negotiate a deal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau again blamed Jody Wilson-Raybould for failing to come forward with any concerns about improper influence before her sudden resignation Tuesday. He pointed to her acceptance of another cabinet post just last month as evidence she had no real concerns.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau again blamed Jody Wilson-Raybould for failing to come forward with any concerns about improper influence before her sudden resignation Tuesday. He pointed to her acceptance of another cabinet post just last month as evidence she had no real concerns.  (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian PRess file photo)

Ahmad said Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould discussed “a variety of things including this issue” but declined to provide further details, saying only what Trudeau told reporters: that the government had conducted itself appropriately. Ahmad said that goes for all the prime minister’s team.

Ahmad said Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford had no conversations with Wilson-Raybould about the matter.

The government had previously confirmed that Butts also met with the former justice minister on Dec. 5, that she had raised SNC-Lavalin, and he told her to speak to Wernick about it.

The lobby registry shows SNC-Lavalin lobbied Trudeau’s office 18 times on the subject of “justice and law enforcement” since February 2016, with 15 of the 18 contacts involving Bouchard. Two of SNC-Lavalin’s lobbying contacts were with senior adviser Elder Marques. Trudeau’s Principal Secretary Gerald Butts and former senior adviser Cyrus Reporter were each lobbied once by the company, the registry shows.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer did not rule out referring it to the RCMP saying “all options are on the table” and again called on Trudeau to waive “whatever privilege he thinks he may have.”

With files from Alex Ballingall

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics. Follow her on Twitter: @tondamacc

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

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SNC-Lavalin still under investigation from RCMP in Quebec

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SNC-Lavalin’s legal troubles aren’t limited to charges from federal authorities, as the RCMP is working with prosecutors in Quebec in an investigation into a bridge renovation project.

An affidavit filed in support of a search warrant application last May indicates the RCMP suspects « high-level company officials were aware » of kickback payments made to the former head of Canada’s Federal Bridge Corporation, Michel Fournier.

He pleaded guilty in 2017 to receiving $2.3 million from an SNC subsidiary between 2001 and 2003. Fournier admitted that, in exchange, he helped the corporation secure a $127-million contract to refurbish Montreal’s Jacques Cartier Bridge.

The RCMP’s investigation continued after Fournier’s guilty plea. Officers carried out a series of searches at SNC-Lavalin’s Montreal headquarters last spring and summer.

« As this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we are not in a position to comment at this time, » an RCMP spokesperson told CBC News on Tuesday.

At the same time as those search warrants were being carried out, company representatives were lobbying the federal government, and opposition politicians as well, for a new legal provision known as a remediation agreement.

The agreement — which was passed into law in June as part of the Liberal government’s budget implementation bill — allows companies to negotiate a fine in order to avoid prosecution.

In 2015, federal prosecutors charged SNC-Lavalin with bribing Libyan government officials and defrauding Libyan organizations. 

Jody Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of the justice portfolio in January. On Tuesday, she announced she was quitting the federal cabinet after serving briefly as minister for veterans affairs. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Those charges have been a source of uncertainty for the company. If found guilty, it would be slapped with a 10-year ban on receiving federal government contracts.

When prosecutors announced in October they would not be pursuing a remediation deal, the company’s shares tumbled to their lowest level in six years.    

RCMP working with Quebec Crown 

According to the Globe and Mail, former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould came under pressure from the Prime Minister Office’s to push her department to strike an agreement with SNC.

That allegation, denied by the PMO, set off a controversy on Parliament Hill that reached a new inflection point Tuesday with Wilson-Raybould’s decision to resign from cabinet. 

Also this week, the federal ethics commissioner announced he will investigate claims that the PMO pressured Wilson-Raybould to try to ensure SNC-Lavalin would avoid prosecution.

Details of the RCMP’s bridge investigation were first reported by Montreal’s La Presse.

CBC News consulted court documents on Tuesday that confirmed not only is an RCMP investigation ongoing, but that the Mounties are working with provincial prosecutors as well.

Former SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleaded guilty to a charge of helping a public servant commit breach of trust for his role in a bribery scandal linked to the construction of a $1.3-billion hospital in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Crown attorneys in Quebec applied in December for the right to hold on to material seized during the RCMP searches at SNC-Lavalin headquarters. It would be up to the province to prosecute any suspected Criminal Code infractions. 

A spokesperson for the Quebec Crown declined to comment on the case. 

Takeover concerns

The federal charges SNC-Lavalin is facing differ from other recent criminal prosecutions, which have targeted former company executives as opposed to the company itself.

Earlier this month, for example, ex-CEO Pierre Duhaime pleaded guilty to playing a minor role in a $22.5-million bribery scheme that saw company money buy privileged information, allowing it to win a huge contract to build and maintain Montreal’s first superhospital, the McGill University Health Centre.

SNC-Lavalin did not respond to a request for comment. In the past, it has said it brought in a new management team after Duhaime left the company in 2012 and implemented tougher corporate governance practices.

It is unclear whether the RCMP investigation into the Jacques Cartier Bridge project is targeted at former employees or the company itself.

The search warrants state that officers believe four counts of fraud on the government were committed. When the RCMP searched SNC-Lavalin’s headquarters last year, they were looking for documents dating from 2000 to 2004.

Premier François Legault expressed his concern Tuesday about the prospect of protracted court cases involving the company, worrying they could devalue SNC shares and make it vulnerable to a foreign takeover.

« If the federal process takes two years, then there could be uncertainty for two years, » Legault told reporters in Quebec City. 

« SNC-Lavalin doesn’t have a majority shareholder, so there is a risk of it being an easy target for a buyer. »

The company’s shares rose 28 cents on the TSX Tuesday, closing at $34.28.

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‘I have not interfered in any way,’ acting U.S. AG Whitaker says of Mueller investigation – National

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WASHINGTON — Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker insisted on Friday that he had “not interfered” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation as he faced a contentious and partisan congressional hearing in his waning days on the job.

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“We have followed the special counsel’s regulations to a T,” Whitaker told the House Judiciary Committee. “There has been no event, no decision, that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation.”


READ MORE:
State of the Union 2019: Trump says ‘ridiculous’ probes hurt the U.S. economy

He also said he had never discussed with the White House special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential co-ordination between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign.

The hearing was the first, and likely only, chance for newly empowered Democrats in the majority to grill an attorney general they perceive as a Trump loyalist and whose appointment they suspect was aimed at suppressing investigations of the Republican president. Republicans made clear they viewed the hearing as pointless political grandstanding especially since Whitaker may have less than a week left as the country’s chief law enforcement officer.

WATCH: Whitaker was aware of Roger Stone arrest, unsure how CNN ‘tipped-off’






“I’m thinking maybe we just set up a popcorn machine in the back,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the committee’s top Republican.

Collins, of Georgia, called it a “dog and pony” show and criticized Democrats for disclosing derogatory information about Whitaker’s business dealings hours before the hearing.


READ MORE:
Self-proclaimed hackers in Russia stole evidence in Mueller probe: court filing

Whitaker vented frustration early on as he repeatedly insisted that he would not discuss his conversations with Trump and tried to shift attention to the conventional work of the Justice Department.

“Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes are up,” Whitaker said to the committee’s Democratic leader, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York.

WATCH: Whitaker says he has not spoken about Mueller probe to Trump, WH officials






But Nadler, who a day earlier had threatened to subpoena Whitaker to ensure his appearance, left no doubt about his party’s focus.

“You decided that your private interest in overseeing this particular investigation — and perhaps others from which you should have been recused — was more important than the integrity of the department. The question that this Committee must now ask is: Why?”

READ MORE: Acting attorney general says Mueller’s Russia investigation ‘close to being completed’

Whitaker laid the groundwork for a likely tussle with Democrats by saying in his opening statement that while he would address their questions, he would not reveal details of his communications with Trump.

“I trust that the members of this committee will respect the confidentiality that is necessary to the proper functioning of the presidency — just as we respect the confidentiality necessary to the legislative branch,” Whitaker said.

WATCH: Whitaker will not reveal details of conversations with Trump during judiciary hearing






He told lawmakers that there has been no change since his arrival in the job in the “overall management” of Mueller’s investigation. He said that he has run the Justice Department to the best of his ability, with “fidelity to the law and to the Constitution” and had never given any promises.

Whitaker is likely in his final days as the country’s chief law enforcement officer because the Senate plans to vote soon on confirming William Barr, Trump’s pick for attorney general.

Whitaker’s highly anticipated testimony Friday had been in limbo after the Democratic-led committee approved a tentative subpoena to ensure that he appeared and answered questions. Whitaker responded by saying that he would not come unless the committee dropped its subpoena threat, which he called an act of “political theatre.”

WATCH: ‘I’ve not been influenced by the White House’, Whitaker says






The stalemate ended Thursday evening after the committee chairman, Nadler, said the committee would not issue a subpoena if Whitaker appeared voluntarily.

Democrats who perceive Whitaker as a Trump loyalist were expected to ask him whether he has made any commitments to the president about Mueller’s Russia investigation and whether he has shared with Trump any inside information. Also expected to come up was Whitaker’s comment last week that he believed the investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign was nearly done.

Democrats said they would inquire about Whitaker’s past business dealings, too. Nadler and three other House committee chairmen released documents that they said show Whitaker failed to return thousands of dollars that were supposed to be distributed to victims of a company’s alleged fraud.

READ MORE: Roger Stone doesn’t rule out co-operating with Russia investigation

Whitaker has come under scrutiny for his involvement with the invention promotion company, which was accused of misleading consumers and has been under investigation by the FBI.

Whitaker had been chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was forced from the Cabinet last November as Trump seethed over Sessions’ decision to step aside from overseeing the Russia investigation. Whitaker was an outspoken critic of the investigation before arriving at the Justice Department in 2017.

Trump insists there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.

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NDP asking for investigation into RCMP officer’s spying allegations

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The NDP is trying to prod the federal government into launching an investigation into whether the RCMP used invasive — and possibly illegal — techniques to eavesdrop on one of their own during a harassment lawsuit.

The request comes in the wake of a serious allegation made by RCMP Sgt. Peter Merrifield — that he, his lawyer John Phillips and a witness in the harassment case were all put under RCMP surveillance after sensitive information about former prime minister Stephen Harper and his family surfaced during the trial.

In March of 2017, Merrifield was feeling pretty good. After alleging for years that he had been harassed and bullied by his RCMP superiors after running for the Conservative party nomination in Barrie, Ont., in 2005, a judge had ruled in his favour.

Justice Mary Vallee chastised the Mounties over their « outrageous » treatment of Merrifield and awarded him a combined $141,000 in damages, plus fees. The RCMP appealed the decision.

A few months after the decision, Merrifield said, a high-ranking RCMP colleague reached out to him and asked to meet in a discreet location — phones off.

Merrifield, who still works for the force and acts as a bodyguard for visiting dignitaries, said that officer told him a team within the RCMP had been tasked with monitoring him, his associates and an informant in the case who had information about the Harper family. The court sealed those documents and they’ve never been made public.

« I felt sick to my stomach because I know the tools that are used at their disposal, » Merrifield told Radio-Canada.

Lawyer John Phillips and Sgt. Peter Merrifield have been asking for an independent investigation into whether the RCMP spied on them during a harassment lawsuit against the force. (Pierre-Olivier Bernatchez/CBC)

« Having done nothing wrong, I can tell you that the sense of violation that I had being the subject of an investigation, and the absolute sense of betrayal by an organization and a government that I had sworn an oath to, was insurmountable. »

Phillips and Merrifield, whose spying allegations were first detailed by Maclean’s magazine last spring, have been asking for an independent investigation into whether there was a misuse of police resources in his case and if the former prime minister’s office was involved in any capacity. 

‘Canadians deserve to know’: Rankin

« The right thing to do here is undertake an independent review, » said Merrifield, who also co-chairs a group vying to represent regular RCMP members in a union.

So far, their requests have largely gone nowhere. Now, NDP MP Murray Rankin is taking up their cause.

« The conduct that Mr. Merrifield has brought to our attention could give rise to civil or criminal activity and therefore we need to know, Canadians deserve to know, exactly what happened in these circumstances, » the NDP justice critic told Radio-Canada.

Victoria NDP MP Murray Rankin wrote to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale this summer asking for an independent probe into RCMP Sgt. Peter Merrifield’s spying allegations. (Mathieu Thériault/CBC)

Rankin, a lawyer by trade, said he wrote to Goodale in the summer of 2018 and is now going public with his request. 

« I believe that the only way to do that is with an independent investigation by, for example, a retired judge, » he said. « We’ve done that many times in our past. But to leave it to the Department of Justice, to leave it to the RCMP and say, ‘We’ll take care of it,’ is simply not acceptable and will not be taken seriously by the Canadian public. »

Both Goodale’s office and the RCMP say they cannot comment on the case because it’s still in front of the courts — an excuse Rankin said he doesn’t buy.

He said the harassment appeal is before the courts; what he wants is a probe of the surveillance allegation.

« The fact that the RCMP may have been listening to the conversation between an individual and his lawyer — deeply problematic, » Rankin said. « The possibility of interference with witnesses — deeply problematic.

« Those are the things I am not alleging happened. I am simply saying that I need to investigate. «

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B.C. people smuggling investigation alleges Rwanda, Kentucky, Alberta connections

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Court documents obtained by CBC News provide an intriguing glimpse into an alleged people smuggling case that started in the African nation of Rwanda and ended in Aldergrove, B.C., with stops in Kentucky and Washington state.

On May 13, a Rwandan woman dragged a suitcase across a ditch separating the U.S. and Canada just east of the Aldergrove border crossing. She immediately applied for refugee status.

How the 38-year-old woman got to B.C. is at the heart of the mystery.

The Canada Border Services Agency alleges two men — a Kentucky pastor and an Alberta man — « organized, aided and abetted » the illegal entry.

Athanase Moucat, pastor of the Revival Pentecostal Church in Louisville, Ky., allegedly aided the entry of a Rwandan woman into Canada, according to a CBSA search warrant application. (Revival Pentecostal Church website)

Reached by CBC News, the U.S. pastor said he had no idea the woman would seek refugee status in Canada.

« It shocked me, and I’m surprised, » said Athanase Moucat, who is also originally from Rwanda.

« We paid (for the plane ticket) from here in Kentucky to Washington state. That’s it. »

But he wouldn’t say why his congregation would raise money to fly the refugee applicant to Spokane, Washington.

« I don’t have to explain (that) to you, » he told CBC News.

The second man — from Edmonton — allegedly drove the woman from Spokane to the illegal crossing point. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Charges have not been laid, and the allegations have not been tried or proven in court.

Border jumper ‘appeared to be in distress’: CBSA

The alleged people smuggling case is laid out in a search warrant application, filed by the CBSA in Surrey, B.C., provincial court.

Such applications seek to convince a judge that more information needs to be gathered.

The report said the Rwandan woman was spotted on the Canadian side of the border because she was zigzagging « back and forth across 0 Avenue » pulling a wheeled suitcase, and « she appeared to be in distress. »

Long stretches of the U.S-Canada border are open, marked by simple signposts. (CBC)

When approached by two border agents, the report states she presented a Rwandan passport and indicated she was applying for refugee protection.

‘She was tortured in Rwanda’: Kentucky pastor

It’s not clear why she was seeking asylum — but Rwanda remains affected by ethnic tension after a government-sponsored genocide in the 1990s, according to Human Rights Watch.

Moucat said the woman feared for her life back in Africa.

« She told me … she was tortured in Rwanda, » said the Kentucky pastor.

Staying in the U.S. doesn’t appear to have been an option.

President Donald Trump has slashed U.S. refugee admissions to historic lows, making it extremely difficult for asylum-seekers in the United States. Canada’s acceptance rate, by contrast, is the highest it’s been in almost 30 years.

Last year, 341 people from Rwanda appealed for refugee status in Canada, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board. Fifty were accepted — a 15 percent success rate.

The U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration has seen an increase of refugees heading to Canada. (CBC)

‘Hotspot for illegal activities’: search warrant application

CBSA investigators claim the woman’s long journey began with help from her church in her homeland.

« (Her) pastor in Rwanda arranged for her to meet with a pastor they knew in Kentucky, » states the application.

The documents identify the Kentucky pastor as Moucat, head « of the Revival Pentecostal Church For All Nations » in Louisville.

The CBSA doesn’t say how the woman got from Africa to the U.S. It states Moucat paid to fly the Rwandan from Louisville to Spokane, where she rendezvoused with the Albertan who had driven down to meet her — « a Canadian citizen … born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. »

The application alleges he drove her just south of Aldergrove, where she was dropped off and crossed the border on foot in an area where the U.S. and Canada « are separated only by a shallow ditch that one can easily walk across … a hotspot for illegal activities. »

The Rwandan woman walked across the Canada-U.S. border just east of the Aldergrove, B.C., port of entry. (CBC)

Alberta man detained then released

According to the CBSA, the Edmonton man was detained as he drove back into Canada through the Aldergrove port of entry, around the same time the woman was making her illegally crossing.

Border agents were suspicious of his claim he was coming back from an overnight trip to « attend a church event » in Spokane.

Upon learning the woman had been picked-up nearby, the CBSA seized the man’s two smartphones. The search warrant application seeks to unlock the devices and search for messages and GPS locations.

The application notes the man « denied he had driven anyone to the border » or had accepted payment from the woman, and he was eventually released.

Moucat said he doesn’t know the Edmonton man, and received no payment for flying the Rwandan national to Spokane.

According to Canadian immigration officials, individuals rarely face people smuggling charges if they haven’t been paid.

The status of the criminal investigation is unknown.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada refuses to comment on the woman’s asylum bid, citing privacy — but it says refugee applications are taking up to two years to process because of a backlog.

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Hate crimes unit consulted for investigation after Edmonton mosque visited by men known to police

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Edmonton police said their hate crimes unit was called in to help investigate after a prominent and well-attended mosque in the northwest part of the city was visited by a group whose activities are known to police.

A police spokesperson told Global News they could not identify the group being monitored because “groups change names and alliances frequently, so there’s no consistent name they go by.”

The communications director of Al Rashid Mosque said people she works with were very concerned when the men visited.

“There were two suspicious men that came into the mosque [and] we were not sure what they were doing,” Noor Al-Henedy told Global News. “One of them was wearing a toque with the word ‘infidel’ on it in Arabic. We didn’t pay attention at first until our executive director went upstairs.

“They toured the mosque, came upstairs to the women’s section… they were just looking like they were scouting the place and then he (one of the men she called suspicious) went downstairs and went to the bathroom.”

Al-Henedy said the men left when approached by the mosque’s executive director. She said the men joined other members of their group outside and a confrontation unfolded with members of the community. She said one of the people who was part of the group she didn’t know and who was involved in the confrontation streamed the encounter live online.

“The security and safety of everyone that was coming to pray in the mosque was our priority,” she said. “So we called the cops right away to get them to come and evaluate the situation and eliminate any threats that may have happened because we were not really sure what was happening.

“We are entrusted by our community as an organization to make sure that we have the freedom to practise our religion and we wanted to make sure that everybody was in a safe place and nobody was getting harassed.”

Ty Hunt told Global News he was one of a group of five men that went to the mosque so that he could use the bathroom and they could ask questions about Islam. He said it’s hard for him to ask questions of Muslims because “there’s no Muslims at the Yellow Vest rallies” and “it’s hard to run into a Muslim on the street.”

Hunt is the bearded man seen entering the building to use the bathroom, and who was wearing the toque that says “infidel” in Arabic.

“I’ve got a tattoo on my neck that says ‘infidel’ as well… it just means non-believer… in anything,” Hunt said.

“The Christians don’t get offended by it…I’ve gotten more feedback by the Muslims than I have anybody else…. I put it on my neck because it’s time for them to get over it. You’re in Canada, now it’s [time to] integrate into Canada.”

In a phone interview, Hunt told Global News he is a former member of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right group that has members that “adhere to extreme right-wing ideology and are not afraid to use violence,” according to a declassified Canada Border Services Agency intelligence report obtained by Global News

READ MORE: Edmonton protesters confront far-right group that CBSA report suggests is ‘not afraid to use violence’

Watch below: (From September 2018) A few blocks away from where thousands of people gathered for an annual Labour Day barbecue in Edmonton, a protest was held against a group known for its far-right views. Kim Smith reports.






Hunt said he left the group and joined another one known as The Clann. He said he is involved in a movement that is opposed to the United Nations because of a threat he said it poses to Canadian sovereignty. He said he supports the Yellow Vest movement and has “questions about Islam.”

READ MORE: UCP nomination candidate turfed in pub night controversy: ‘Polite racist is still racist’

Police said officers showed up at the mosque at around noon but there were no arrests.

Noor Al-Henedy said police also went to the Edmonton Islamic Academy to make sure everyone was safe there.

“We are working with them (police) to make sure such incidents do not happen again,” she said.

READ MORE: Fire at mosque in Edson Saturday night leaves community shaken: RCMP investigating

Premier Rachel Notley took to Twitter to denounce hate on Friday night without directly referencing the mosque incident.

“Hearing that a hate group is openly harassing and terrorizing people in #yeg with racist and homophobic attacks and posters is beyond upsetting,” her tweet read. “This is not who we are.

“There is no room for this kind of hate in the strong, open and optimistic Alberta that inspires me and is our home.”

READ MORE: Edmontonians gather to honour victims of Pittsburgh massacre, support Jewish community

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Calgary council votes to freeze pay for 2019; investigation into councillor’s comments to continue – Calgary

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Calgary city council voted on Tuesday to freeze its pay for 2019, but also voted to continue an integrity investigation from 2018 into a councillor’s comments on the freeze.

Back in December, council voted against a pay freeze based on administration’s advice, but Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas said that the council had rejected the pay freeze without an explanation.


READ MORE:
Calgary councillor calls for salary freeze as report forecasts ‘bleak fiscal future for Alberta’

At that time, Farkas was asked to retract his comments and apologize, and when he didn’t, he was ejected from council chambers.

The integrity commissioner was asked to investigate whether Farkas broke the council’s code of conduct, and last night councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of continuing that investigation.

Farkas said he is disappointed with the council’s decision.

“I think the better way to go is just to acknowledge what happened in December as a misunderstanding,” Farkas said. “I think many, if not all of us, regret what happened and right now the focus is on moving forward as positively as we can, so obviously I am disappointed this is going to continue to drag out.”


READ MORE:
Calgary CFO admits ‘confusion’ over council pay increase; Farkas feels he’s ‘done nothing wrong’

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it’s important the commissioner be allowed to investigate the incident.

“I think it’s important for the integrity commissioner to rule on that,” he said.

With files from Global News’ Nathan Taylor

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Senator calls for national bad doctor registry in wake of Star investigation

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For decades, Marilou McPhedran worked to strengthen patient-protection laws in Ontario. The human rights lawyer chaired three task forces to combat sexual abuse of patients by doctors, producing hundreds of pages of reports for government with bold recommendations.

But all McPhedran sees is unfinished business.

“There can be, there should be, there needs to be a national database,” of disciplined physicians, starting with those guilty of sexually abusing patients, says Senator Marilou McPhedran.
“There can be, there should be, there needs to be a national database,” of disciplined physicians, starting with those guilty of sexually abusing patients, says Senator Marilou McPhedran.  (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star file photo)

She’s now seizing her position as independent senator to make one more aggressive bid to spark a federal review of the issues and solutions that she says medical regulators and health ministries across the country have ignored at the public’s peril.

“There can be, there should be, there needs to be a national database,” she said, that identifies physicians found guilty of serious misconduct, starting with those who sexually exploit and abuse their patients.

McPhedran lauded the Toronto Star’s ongoing “Medical Disorder” investigation as an impetus for her new campaign. The Star tracked more than 150 doctors who have held medical licences on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border and faced regulatory discipline for misconduct or incompetence. The data showed that in 90 per cent of cases, Canada’s medical watchdogs failed to share these doctors’ disciplinary histories with the public, even when they involved charges of rape, murder and child pornography.

Creating a “permanent record” that captures sexual offenders across the country is just a start, McPhedran said. In light of the Star investigation, McPhedran said she’s reviewing the evidence to support broadening the database initiative to include doctors who are disciplined for all forms of misconduct and incompetence.

Read More:

Bad doctors who cross the border can hide their dirty secrets. We dug them up

Canada’s medical watchdogs know more about bad doctors than they are telling you

Regulators expect doctors to tell the truth about their past. Here’s what happens when they don’t

The federal health minister’s office confirmed Ginette Petitpas Taylor has met on several occasions with McPhedran to discuss this issue, most recently in December 2018. McPhedran is submitting a report to Taylor that explains why a national registry is critical to public safety in the hope the proposal will be added to the agenda of a forthcoming federal-provincial health ministers meeting.

“Canadians put their trust in their health professionals and we need to do everything we can to prevent misconduct and abuse,” Minister Petitpas Taylor said in a statement to the Star. “I have raised this matter with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and will never hesitate to raise it with my counterparts in Provinces and Territories.”

A Canadian study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety a month after the Star investigation found that one in eight physicians disciplined by regulators across the country went on to re-offend. These 101 repeat offenders each had up to six disciplinary events between 2000 and 2015. Four of these doctors faced discipline in more than one jurisdiction. The majority were men. The proportion of obstetrician-gynecologists was higher among repeat offenders compared to physicians disciplined only once.

The physician researchers concluded the “distribution of transgression argues for a national disciplinary database which could improve communication between jurisdictional medical boards.”

Many of Canada’s medical regulators have told the Star that what information they share with the public about physician discipline is less important than the fact that they are sharing these details with each other.

“That is a disturbingly self-interested definition of serving the public,” McPhedran said. “All I can deduce from that practice is that they are serving the privilege of their organization. Regulators can’t serve the public interest and demonstrate that they’re keeping the promise that these organizations have made under the law across this country if they are not accountable and transparent. It doesn’t add up.”

Diana Zlomislic is a Toronto-based investigative reporter. Email: dzlo@thestar.ca. Twitter: @dzlo

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Brock professor returns to classroom following sexual harassment investigation

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Brock University says a professor disciplined by the university following a sexual harassment investigation is returning to the classroom next week.

Professor David Schimmelpenninck is scheduled to teach a non-compulsory second-year course after an almost three-year absence from the classroom. The absence was a result of discipline following an investigation into sexual harassment, the university has confirmed to CBC News.

The university says the absence also relates to health issues and accrued academic leave.

The return comes after a Dec. 14 decision from an arbitrator who concluded that Schimmelpenninck should be permitted to return to the classroom, « pursuant to the university’s collective agreement with its faculty association, » the university’s administration said in a statement emailed to CBC Jan. 3.

However, it says a set of conditions have been put in place for Schimmelpenninck’s return to teaching.

« He agreed to these conditions and has undertaken steps to meet them, including completing coaching for respectful workplace practices, » the email said.

Brock hasn’t elaborated further on the conditions.

The statement says Schimmelpenninck returned to campus in the summer of 2018 but was not scheduled to teach in the fall term. However, the arbitrator has since confirmed his right to do so.

‘Unwelcome sexual advance’

The sexual harassment finding dates back to October 2014, when Schimmelpenninck met his students at the local campus bar after his class for drinks.

After the bar closed, he invited a female student and another male student back to his office for more alcohol.

According to the investigation, the male student eventually went home, leaving the female student alone with the professor.

« It was after my friend left that he shut the door and came and sat next to me and that’s when the incident occurred, » the woman told CBC News in 2016.

The university conducted an investigation into the matter and hired a lawyer. 

The sexual harassment allegations date back to October 2014, when Prof. David Schimmelpenninck met his students at the local campus bar after his class for drinks. (Brock University website)

The lawyer’s investigation found that the incident « involved an unwelcome sexual advance, inappropriate and unwelcome physical touching, comments of a sexual nature, [and] a provocative comment attempting to arrange ongoing intimacy. »

The university received backlash after a 2016 CBC News investigation revealed that Brock had warned a former student to keep quiet about the internal investigation that determined her professor gave her alcohol and tried to force himself on her sexually.

« Brock University appreciates that the 2016 incident was a difficult chapter for the university community. In the past three years, Brock has taken significant steps to develop its policies, procedures and resources to more effectively address human rights issues and to better address the well-being of everyone on campus, » the statement said.

It says Brock has taken a number of steps to protect members of its community.

« The university continuously exercises improvements and best practices to address concerns related to sexual assault and harassment, and to ensure a safe environment for the Brock community. »

CBC is trying to reach Schimmelpenninck for comment.

laura.clementson@cbc.ca

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