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Updated: 46 min 52 sec ago

Shallow magnitude 5.9 earthquake hits remote India

7 hours 4 min ago
American seismologists say a magnitude 5.9 earthquake has shaken a remote part of India near the border with China in a region that has experienced huge quakes in the past. U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Gavin Hayes says the area is sparsely populated so not many casualties or much damage is expected. The USGS says there’s a 56% chance that damage will be between 1 and $100 million dollars. The shallow earthquake was 33 kilometres (20 miles) north of Along, India. Hayes says this area of the Himalayan frontal thrust has had some large quakes in the distant past, making experts more alert to the possibility that a bigger might be next. However, he says most earthquakes are not followed by larger ones. The Associated Press

Canadian mixed doubles team stays unbeaten at worlds after win over Sweden

7 hours 13 min ago
STAVANGER, Norway - Canada’s Jocelyn Peterman and Brett Gallant improved to 5-0 at the world mixed doubles curling championship with a 7-6 win over Sweden on Tuesday. Winnipeg’s Peterman and Gallant, of St. John’s, N.L., scored one in the eighth and final end to edge Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg and Oskar Eriksson in a battle of unbeaten teams. Hasselborg was light on a draw on its final stone, meaning Canada didn’t have to throw its last shot. “That’s a tough team. Really happy with the win,” Gallant said. “It’s fun to play those games because it's just a battle the whole time and you really have to pay attention to every shot and treat every shot with a lot of respect because if you leave the angles set up for Oskar or Anna, they make a lot of rocks go away in a hurry.” Canada scored four in the sixth end to jump in front 6-3 before Sweden rallied to tie it. Earlier Tuesday, Canada beat Christine and Martin Groenbech of Denmark 11-5. Denmark shook hands after the seventh end. Canada battles Hong Kong (1-4) on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Canada’s women’s team upped its record to 5-0 at the world senior championships at the same venue with a 12-2 win over Australia on Tuesday. Sherry Anderson’s Saskatchewan rink, the defending world champions, scored six in the opening end. “Overall things are feeling pretty good because we’re getting a good handle on the ice,” Canada third Patty Hersikorn said. “The ice does change a bit from day to day. A little bit frosty out there today, but I think we’re getting a good handle on that and it helps if we’re throwing it consistent too.” Canada faces Hong Kong on Wednesday. On the men’s side, Bryan Cochrane’s Ontario rink downed the Netherlands 14-1 to improve to 4-0. “We as a team all agreed to use this as practice, stay focused on the practice,” Canada third Ian MacAulay said. “We’re trying freezes, board weight, hack weight; trying all sorts of different shots out there.” The Canadian men’s side meets Norway on Wednesday. Playoffs in all three events start Friday, with finals on Saturday. The Canadian Press

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

7 hours 24 min ago
OTTAWA - Canada’s no-fly list faces constitutional challenges from two B.C. men who argue in a pair of court cases that the secret roster violates their Charter of Rights guarantee of fundamental justice. The 12-year-old no-fly regime allows the federal government to bar someone from boarding an airplane because there are grounds to believe he or she would threaten the flight or travel to commit a terrorist act. Under the system, air carriers must inform Transport Canada when a would-be passenger’s name matches that of a listed person. If the match is confirmed, the public-safety minister can direct the airline to do additional screening or prevent the person from flying. The names of listed people generally do not become public unless they take their cases to the courts. The government has repeatedly refused even to confirm the number of people on the list. In a submission to the Federal Court of Canada, Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17 at the Vancouver International Airport. He took steps to appeal the decision the next month and in August federal officials gave him an unclassified summary of information related to the case. Dulai was told the public-safety minister’s office would consider additional, classified information in the appeal.   Dulai received a letter in late January saying his name would remain on the no-fly list, prompting his application to the Federal Court. He is asking the court for an order striking him from the roster or, at the very least, further examination of his case. Dulai also seeks a declaration that the no-fly provisions violate his constitutional guarantee of freedom to enter, leave and travel within Canada, as well as his charter right “to know the case against him and the right to answer that case.” Federal lawyers have not yet filed a response, and a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale declined to comment while the matter is before the court. Rights advocates have long found the no-fly program problematic, denouncing the listing process as opaque and the redress process as inadequate. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has criticized the system for allowing use of hearsay and secret evidence without access to a special advocate who can test that information or represent the interests of the listed person. The court challenges from Dulai and another B.C. man, Bhagat Singh Brar, were first reported this week by the National Post newspaper. In his court filing, Brar says he was barred from getting on a plane at the Vancouver airport last April 24. He also went through the appeal process and a decision to keep his name on the list came in December. Like Dulai, Brar argues the no-fly regime violates his mobility rights and fundamental justice guarantee under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No dates have been set to hear the substance of either case. - Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Forcing reporter to give RCMP info on ‘dead’ terror suspect ‘unreasonable’: Vice

7 hours 38 min ago
TORONTO - Forcing a reporter to give information on a terror suspect to the RCMP would be unreasonable given that the wanted Canadian man is almost certainly dead, an Ontario justice heard on Tuesday. The argument from Vice Media played out in Superior Court despite a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in November that journalist Ben Makuch must turn over logs of chats he had with Farah Shirdon, formerly of Calgary. At issue in the hearing was the reliability of statements from U.S. Central Command - known as Centcom - issued in 2017 and 2018. Those statements, first reported in the media, stated Shirdon had been killed in an air strike in Mosul, Iraq, in July 2015. Despite the statements, Crown lawyer Brian Puddington argued there was no proof Shirdon was killed. He noted the U.S. State Department still designates Shirdon as “actively engaged in terrorism.” The only witness to testify before Justice Breese Davies was an American military intelligence expert, Gen. Francis (Frank) Taylor, who retired after 31 years of service in 2017. Taylor said he didn’t know what happened to Shirdon but called Centcom statements trustworthy. “Centcom does not make a false statement or announcement - for credibility reasons,” Taylor said. “I have no reason to doubt its reliability.” A strike on a high value target such as Shirdon would be subject to a routine analysis to assess whether it was successful, Taylor testified. The two-year delay in Centcom’s public report on Shirdon might have been for security or intelligence reasons, he said. Taylor explained it’s not unusual for dead terrorists - such as al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden - to remain on the State Department’s terror list. That could happen because one hand of government isn’t talking to the other, or because assets or associates are still being sought. Vice lawyer Scott Fenton urged Davies to quash or stay the production order. The Centcom statements buttressed by Taylor’s statements, he said, is solid evidence Shirdon is dead. “They’re the people that killed him (and) there’s not a shred of evidence the Crown has put forward, the RCMP has put forward, that he’s still alive,” Fenton said. “There can’t be a trial for a dead person. It’s a wholly unreasonable purpose to enforce the order.” Shirdon, a prolific user of social media to recruit westerners to the Islamic State, has now been quiet for several years, court heard. However, he is still wanted in Canada on various terror-related charges. As part of its investigation, the RCMP has long demanded Makuch’s instant-messaging chat logs that led to his writing stories about Shirdon in 2014. Makuch has steadfastly refused to provide them, prompting a fight closely watched by media and free-speech activists that went to the Supreme Court, which upheld the production order. Fenton called it an “extraordinarily unusual set of circumstances” that word of Shirdon’s death came only long after the RCMP demanded Makuch’s materials. “Your position depends on my making a factual finding that he’s dead,” said Davies, who wanted to know why Shirdon’s fate wasn’t thrashed out thoroughly during the Supreme Court hearing. “The Crown specifically opposed any raising of that issue,” Fenton responded. Puddington suggested the issue was raised, and that Vice has chosen to now take an impermissible second kick at the litigation can. “A stay of enforcement should not be granted,” Puddington said. “It’s now been four years.” Makuch, who now lives and works in the United States, has previously said he would not turn over the RCMP-requested logs. He has, however, agreed to preserve them until the case is over, although Puddington wanted him to give the material under seal to the court. Davies, who wondered what steps the RCMP have taken to verify Shirdon’s status and what it would take to persuade them he is dead, reserved her decision. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Quebecers urged to stay alert as more than 2,800 homes flooded across province

8 hours 3 min ago
MONTREAL - Warm temperatures and melting snow continued to threaten homes and businesses across Quebec Tuesday, forcing flood-weary Quebecers to remain on alert. About 2,800 homes had been struck by flooding as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Public Security officials. Urgence Quebec said more than 1,400 people have been forced out of their homes across the province and some 2,100 properties remain isolated because of washed out roads or landslides. Authorities said they expected water levels to peak by Wednesday. But flooding risks remain high across southern Quebec, particularly the corridor between the Outaouais area west of Montreal and the Beauce region south of Quebec City. Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault visited Sainte-Marie, Que, in the Beauce area, and met with several mayors of towns affected by the overflowing Chaudiere River. Several hundred people left their homes in that town and nearly 1,000 residences and commercial buildings were flooded. Last week, Beauceville, just down river, saw its downtown core overrun with water, hitting 230 homes and businesses. “As you can see, the downtown of Sainte-Marie was badly hit by flooding in the last few days, as well as the Beauce region in general,” Guilbault said. “It’s a very sad situation and our thoughts are with citizens who’ve been affected or will be in the coming days.” About 350 kilometres west of Sainte-Marie, right by the border with Ontario, the mayor of Rigaud said he’s warning residents to be prepared to play the long game. “It’s going to be drawn out over several weeks before this is all over,” said Hans Gruenwald Jr. “We wish it will be shorter, but that’s what it is.” Rigaud fire chief Daniel Boyer told reporters the rain over the next few days could be telling. “With the rain that’s coming, so far, I think it’ll get a little worse,” Boyer said. He said experts, however, no longer believe the water will rise to historic 2017 levels. “Is it going to get worse? I hope not, but our job is to get ready for the worst.” Hundreds of Canadian troops have been deployed to Quebec and New Brunswick to help with flood relief. Soldiers are helping protect property, filling and moving sandbags, conducting wellness checks and assisting those trying to leave their homes alongside security officials. The Canadian Press

Where the wild cards are: wiping out favourites in this year’s NHL playoffs

8 hours 8 min ago
Wild-card winners are the story of this season’s NHL playoffs. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars upended the NHL’s No. 1, No. 2 and No. 8 teams respectively in the post-season’s first round. The Carolina Hurricanes pushed the No. 4 Washington Capitals to a seventh game Wednesday. “There is nothing to pick between the teams,” Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock observed. “It’s exciting to be a fan because your team has a chance.” Parity may be exciting for hockey fans, but it left the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames feeling bereft. The Lightning ran away with the President’s Trophy that goes to the team with the best regular-season record, only to be swept in four straight games by Columbus, the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. The Flames topped the Western Conference with their best season since winning the Stanley Cup in 1989, but went down in five games to the Avalanche, the eighth seed in the West. Upon his team’s elimination, Calgary head coach Bill Peters indicated he would reach out to Lightning counterpart Jon Cooper to compare notes. Peters did that, but emotions were still so raw, they postponed their “what the heck went wrong?” conversation to a later date.  “It’s a bitter pill,” Peters said. “He needs more time. I want more time. We’ll bump into each other twice this summer. We’ll do it then. “It’ll be a long summer, I’ll tell you that.” Dallas didn’t stay in its underdog lane. The Stars knocked off the Predators, who topped the Central Division, in six games. The Hurricanes are giving the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals all they can handle. So what’s with the wild cards in 2019? “People don’t realize how close the league is,” Flames captain Mark Giordano said. “First to eight seed, there’s maybe a difference of five to 10 wins. “It just shows you it is so important to get in (the playoffs) because literally every team that gets in has a chance at winning it.” The salary cap is an equalizer, but as in most things, timing is everything. The playoffs were simply an extension of a regular season in which wild-card teams sprinted down the stretch to make playoffs. The top seeds could gear down somewhat the last week of the season and rest players. The challenge, however, was gearing back up to match the level of an opposing team already at full gallop. “You look at Colorado, you know they were buzzing going into the playoffs and playing their best hockey with a month left in the season,” Flames goaltender Mike Smith said. “They get in and they kept that going in the playoffs. “We played our best hockey not with a week left in the season. We were resting guys and didn’t really play a meaningful game for quite some time before the playoffs. “They were better at this time of the year. It’s pretty simple.” Finishing with 99 points apiece in the Central Division, the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues were an equitable matchup with the Blues advancing in six games. Jets captain Blake Wheeler believes economics and playoff format contributed to upsets elsewhere, although he calls Tampa Bay’s ouster “a pretty considerable anomaly.” “It’s the salary cap that gives every team a fighting chance,” Wheeler explained. “Maybe the way it’s structured now, the playoff format, it gives those lower seeds a bit more of an opportunity as well. “Anyone can beat anyone. That’s a fact nowadays. I don’t think teams go into a series feeling like a heavy favourite or underdog anymore. It’s right there for anyone.” - With files from Joshua Clipperton in Toronto and Judy Owens in Winnipeg. Follow @DLSpencer10 on Twitter. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Canada hooker Ray Barkwill signs one-day deal to retire as a Toronto Arrow

8 hours 11 min ago
TORONTO - Canadian international Ray Barkwill will sign a one-day contract with the Toronto Arrows on Sunday, ensuring he retires from rugby as a member of the Major League Rugby team. Barkwill, 38, announced his retirement from rugby on April 4, citing medical advice in the wake of a brachial plexus injury sustained last November in a Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament in France. A native of Niagara Falls, Ont., who now makes his home in Victoria, Barkwill was a longtime member of the Ontario Blues, a team which forms the basis of the Arrows. The Arrows will honour Barkwill ahead of Sunday’s home match against the Seattle Seawolves, a team he helped to the MLR title last season. “Ontario is where I got my start in the sport, and after receiving so much support from the rugby community over the years, it feels natural to come back home to mark the end my playing journey,” Barkwill said in a statement. “I’ve had the opportunity to play alongside so many members of the Toronto Arrows throughout my playing days, both with the Ontario Blues and the Canadian national team, that I’ll always feel like their teammate. To punctuate my playing career by coming back home and retiring as an Arrow is truly special.” Barkwill did not win his first international cap until the age of 32. He exits having played 56 times for Canada, including four games at the 2015 World Cup.   Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Canada finishes first in group after win over Czech Republic at worlds

8 hours 12 min ago
UMEA, Sweden - Canada clinched top spot in Group A with a 6-2 win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday at the world under-18 hockey championship. The Canadians (4-0) will face Latvia (1-3) in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Canada scored six unanswered goals against the Czechs after falling behind 2-0. Alex Newhook, Dylan Holloway, Philip Tomasino, Nathan Legare, Jamieson Rees and Peyton Krebs scored for Canada. Goalie Nolan Maier made 23 saves. Radek Muzik and Marcel Barinka scored for the Czech Republic. Goalie Lukas Parik stopped 52 shots. The United States won Group B and will face Finland in the quarterfinals. Belarus will meet Russia and Sweden will face the Czech Republic in the other quarterfinals. The semifinals will be played on Saturday with the medal games to follow on Sunday. The Canadian Press

As waters rise, Champagne offers fast-track reviews for flood projects

8 hours 23 min ago
OTTAWA - Canada’s infrastructure minister is offering flood-ravaged communities in Quebec a fast-track for federal cash to mitigate the dangers of rising waters, hoping to entice requests from a province that has yet to apply for money from a unique fund set up specifically for the purpose. The “disaster mitigation and adaptation fund” was set up two years ago to dole out $2 billion over a decade, hoping to help communities like those now facing flooding in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick reduce the risks from high water, fires, and extreme weather. The thinking was that every dollar spent on building infrastructure to divert floodwater, for example, would save countless more in reconstruction costs. A 2016 report from the parliamentary budget office predicted federal disaster-assistance payments, to help deal with damage, could hit $900 million next year. Many of the communities facing flooding now also suffered floods in 2017. A provision in the program allows the minister to approve projects in emergency situations and Francois-Philippe Champagne said Tuesday he wants to do that to get work done before a construction season is lost. “With spring coming in many communities across Canada, there’s a sense of anxiety because we know that what we don’t do this year may have an impact on the community next year,” Champagne said. Champagne wouldn’t speculate about why some provinces or cities haven’t applied for funding in Quebec and New Brunswick, saying instead that he wants to make sure everyone who could use the funding is aware it exists. “There is a sense of urgency in seeing … these sums of money, which were made available to communities, being used so that in places where we can make a difference, let’s make the difference and protect the communities and the people,” he said. The Liberal party was elected in 2015 partly on a promise to spend massively on infrastructure; the government has been regularly criticized for failing to get money out the door and construction underway. Federal officials hoped to avoid that in the disaster-mitigation program, according to newly obtained documents. In the lead up to the program’s launch in late 2017, Infrastructure Canada officials feared they would be forced to delay planned spending, warning in one briefing note that a “low number of projects” could start within a year of being approved. They considered looking at how shovel-ready a project was in deciding which ones to recommend for approval and which would fall to the bottom of the pile. The details are in a briefing note among almost 100 pages of documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the federal access-to-information law. What the government envisioned was a program that would fund big projects, costing more than $20 million, and be national in scope. What the Liberals got, according to documents, were proposals from departments for numerous smaller projects across provinces or regions - as opposed to a large project focused on “one particularly vulnerable area” - and a lack of agreement on what would make a project “national” in scope. Eligibility criteria had to be revised and terms redefined so money didn’t sit idle. “Based on past experience managing infrastructure programs, project state of readiness at the time of approval should be an important consideration,” reads a briefing note prepared for a meeting of federal officials. “Projects that are not ready or expected to start construction within a certain window could be considered but would receive a lower mark. They would be reconsidered in future intake processes.” A spokesman for Champagne said a decision was made to focus on projects with construction start dates of 2019 or 2020 because of the high volume of responses received in the first intake for the program, which opened last May. The remainder were encouraged to apply in future rounds, said Pierre-Yves Bourque. He said the announcements to date have been from that first batch of applications. So far, the government has committed about $832.9 million for 20 projects. All but two are aimed at dealing with flooding but none is in Quebec or New Brunswick. All those approved to date will take years to complete, with the earliest ($22 million for dikes and monitoring equipment to head off flooding in Drumheller, Alta.) wrapping up in 2022 and the last in Toronto by the end of 2028, based on federal data. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Canada, international allies butt heads over focus on white supremacism

8 hours 25 min ago
OTTAWA - Canada has been butting heads with some of its closest allies over the extent to which rising white supremacy at home and abroad poses a global threat, federal insiders say. The quiet but at-times-controversial diplomacy has come as Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, gearing up for a federal election campaign this fall, try to portray Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his party as soft on white supremacy and so-called alt-right views. During last month’s G7 meeting of foreign ministers in Dinard, France, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland met with stiff resistance from some fellow attendees over the language she wanted to use in a joint communique, The Canadian Press has learned. Freeland wanted the G7 to issue a joint statement after the mosque shootings that killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, but “it didn’t end up going out because we couldn’t get agreement from all other countries about white supremacy and Islamophobia,” said one Canadian official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. Prior to that meeting, Freeland spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, where she singled out white supremacy as the greatest security threat facing the world - remarks that later sparked a clash with a Conservative senator during testimony before the upper chamber’s foreign affairs committee. When the ministers met in France in early April, some of her counterparts pushed back against Freeland’s assertion that white supremacy now poses broader threats, the official said. On Islamophobia and the threat of white nationalism, Canada “tends to be the country that speaks the most about these issues and pushes the hardest to get the language included in communiques.” Said a second Canadian official, also speaking on condition of anonymity: “These are obviously important issues for us and something we’ve been trying to speak up about at home, but also abroad.” The communique said the G7 was “deeply concerned about resurgent forms of racism, and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim sentiment and the targeting of Christian minorities, leading to violence worldwide.” It pledged to combat “manifestations of hatred” and affirmed “the benefits of faith and inclusion should be recognized and leveraged as a strength for humanity.” The sources were reluctant to discuss who was pushing back against Freeland. When pressed, the first source said: “If you were to suggest the U.S. has demonstrated it was at odds, at times, with the G7 or other Western groups, then that wouldn’t be a false assumption.” After the Christchurch shootings, U.S. President Donald Trump was widely criticized for playing down the connection to white supremacy, saying it was not a rising danger despite the gunman’s lengthy online manifesto. A November 2018 report by the U.S. Justice Department found hate crimes across the U.S. had risen for the third consecutive year in 2017. In Canada, Statistics Canada reported a sharp increase in hate crimes in 2017 - 2,073 incidents, up 47 per cent over the previous year and largely due to an increase in hate-related property crimes. Incidents targeting Muslims, Jews and black populations accounted for most of the national increase, especially in Ontario and Quebec. Trump’s fissures with the G7, which were on full display when the president hurled Twitter insults at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after last year’s leaders’ summit in Quebec, were visible again this month when Canada and Japan joined the French-German Alliance for Multilateralism, the U.S. conspicuous by its absence. The alliance aims to defend the world’s post-Second World War political architecture, including the G7, the United Nations and the World Trade Organization - all institutions that Trump has publicly derided. Trudeau welcomes the leader of one of the alliance’s core members, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to Ottawa this weekend. Japan hosts the G20 leaders’ summit in June, and both leaders are expected to take part in the G7 summit in France in late August - likely Trudeau’s last foreign event before the expected federal election call. In an April 12 fundraising speech in Mississauga, Ont., Trudeau signalled clearly that he plans to attack Scheer hard on what he considers extremist views. “Andrew Scheer conveniently fails to call out alt-right conspiracy theories. Andrew Scheer fought against a non-binding motion to denounce Islamophobia. And Andrew Scheer has proudly spoken at the same rallies as white nationalists,” he said.  “Is that leadership? Is that someone who will govern for all Canadians?” Scheer’s spokesman Brock Harrison said Trudeau is simply “wrong” in his characterization, pointing to more than a dozen occasions dating back to last summer in which the Conservative leader denounced hate and intolerance. Two days before Trudeau’s speech, Scheer told a press conference that he “100 per cent” denounces anyone who “promotes white nationalism, promotes any type of extremism.” During question period that same day, he called the accusations “typical Liberal smear tactics” that were using “the very real threat of hatred and racism in this country” to distract from the scandals plaguing the government. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Henry Bloch, co-founder of tax company H&R Block, dies at 96

8 hours 27 min ago
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Henry Bloch, who helped found tax preparation giant H&R Block, died Tuesday at age 96, the company announced. Bloch died of natural causes at St. Luke’s Hospice in Kansas City. He founded H&R Block in 1955 in the city with his brother, Richard, to take advantage of the vacuum left as the Internal Revenue Service stopped providing free income tax returns service. Richard Bloch died in 2004. Henry Bloch retired as H&R Block’s chief executive officer in 1992 and as chairman of the board of directors in 2000. “Through his honesty and integrity, Henry embodied the best of American business, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. In so many ways, he was ahead of his time and a model for today’s entrepreneur,” said Jeff Jones, president and chief executive officer of H&R Block Inc. in a written statement. “His vision lives on through our H&R Block associates and the many philanthropic organizations that he supported.” Bloch, who flew 32 combat missions over Germany as a navigator in World War II, also was a philanthropist and a foundation he started along with his wife, Marion, that supported numerous charitable causes in Kansas City, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute at Saint Luke’s Hospital and the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Marion Bloch died in 2013. “This is an enormous loss to the community and to the Nelson-Atkins,” said Richard Green, chair of the museum’s Board of Trustees in a written statement. “Henry Bloch had an unfailing vision and enthusiasm that was borne of genuine gratitude.” Bloch is survived by four children, 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. The Associated Press

Toronto FC looks forward to return of veteran defender Drew Moor from injury

8 hours 32 min ago
TORONTO - Veteran defender Drew Moor was back in training Tuesday, welcome news for a Toronto FC team that has yet to find its defensive footing this season. Toronto (4-1-1) leads the MLS in offence, averaging 3.0 goals a game. But on defence it has dropped to 20th in the 24-team league, giving up 1.83 goals a game. An adductor injury kept Moor out of last Friday’s 4-3 win over visiting Minnesota and a 3-2 loss in Seattle the previous week. “He’ll be available for this weekend,” coach Greg Vanney said of his 35-year-old defensive quarterback. Next up for Toronto is Portland (1-5-1) on Saturday with Vanney hoping for more security in front of his goal. “We’ve got to be smart defensively. We’ve got to be better than we have in the last couple of weeks,” Vanney said. “It’s not so much that we’ve given away a ton of chances, it’s that we’ve given away soft goals. And that’s got to stop. “We can’t keep digging ourselves out of these situations. That’s not a formula for success longterm either. We’ve got to be more solid defensively and more reliable defensively and continue to create problems for teams on their defending.” On the plus side, Toronto sports a league-best 2-0-0 record when conceding the first goal. Ask Vanney what’s going wrong on defence and the former U.S. international defenders reels off a list, including losing too many balls in bad positions and the backline making some poor decisions. “It’s about doing the right things at the right moments,” he said. “And then I think there’s some individual mistakes in there that guys have to clean up and have to be reliable. First and foremost for me about being a pro is you don’t have to be spectacular, just be reliable. “And that’s going to be my message to everybody.” The Timbers are coming off a 3-1 win in Columbus, the latest stop on a lengthy road trip while Providence Park is being renovated. Portland will have played 12 straight road games by the time it returns home for a June 1 date with Los Angeles FC. Portland’s defence is even porous than Toronto’s, ranking 23rd at 2.57 goals a game. The Timbers stand ninth on offence, averaging 1.29 goals a game. The Columbus win marked the first time this season that Portland has limited an opponent to under two goals. The Timbers offence, meanwhile, has been held to one goal or less five times. Toronto will be without star striker Jozy Altidore, who injured his hamstring in the Minnesota game. “The target is probably three weeks,” Vanney said of Altidore’s return. “If the gods shine upon us, maybe two weeks, but we’re probably looking at three.” Canadian Jordan Hamilton is likely the leading candidate to replace Altidore after scoring twice in two minutes 12 seconds off the bench to secure the win over Minnesota. Ayo Akinola, meanwhile, scored a pair of goals for a TFC under-19 team against an Arsenal youth side at the recent Dallas Cup. And U.S. international Terrence Boyd is awaiting his first MLS start after seeing 21 minutes of action off the bench. “We do have options,” said Vanney. “We’ll play out this week and see who looks sharp and who’s ready but obviously Jordan’s made a good name for himself and put himself up there with his entrance last week.” Altidore’s absence is not expected to change the role of Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, who has four goals and is tied for the league lead in assists with five. He will continue to rove the field, find space and torment defenders. While it may have problems at the back, Vanney’s team has proved to be adept at closing out opponents. With seven goals after the 75th minute of play, it leads the league in late goals.    Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Christine Sinclair named NWSL player of the week after three-goal performance

8 hours 34 min ago
Canada captain Christine Sinclair has been named player of the week in the National Women's Soccer League after her three-goal performance for Portland in a 4-4 road tie with the Chicago Red Stars. The April 20 hat-trick was the second of Sinclair’s NWSL career and her seventh multi-goal game for the Thorns. The 35-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., opened the scoring in the 16th minute, looping a shot over Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. She scored again in the 51st minute, directing a Meghan Klingenberg cross into goal, before completing her hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 87th minute. The NWSL player of the week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers covering the league on a consistent basis.   The Canadian Press

Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette breaks hand after getting hit by pitch

8 hours 35 min ago
TORONTO - Highly-regarded Toronto Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette will be sidelined after fracturing a bone in his hand during a minor-league game on Monday in Syracuse, N.Y. The 21-year-old shortstop, playing for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons, was struck by a pitch in the third inning from Hector Santiago of the Syracuse Mets. Bichette is considered the No. 2 prospect in the Blue Jays organization behind third baseman and Buffalo teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He is batting .250 with one home run and eight RBIs in 14 games for Buffalo this season. The Blue Jays selected Bichette in the second round of the 2016 draft. The Canadian Press

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

8 hours 37 min ago
OTTAWA - Political life means signing up for a high degree of public scrutiny, but NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the pain he endured in his childhood - including an experience with sexual abuse - reminds him he has gone through far worse. Since taking over the reins of the NDP in October 2017, Singh has faced multiple challenges, including winning a seat in the House of Commons in the riding of Burnaby-South, poor party fundraising and slumping morale that combined raised questions about his own leadership abilities. Through all of it, the 40-year-old has seemed surprisingly calm even when those around him are rattled. At least on the outside, he has put on a brave face. His book released Tuesday, “Love & Courage”, begins to explain why. “It is tough to be in the public eye, particularly as a politician so my heart goes out to anyone who takes the plunge because it is difficult,” he said in an interview. “I sometimes think that a part of being able to do this is because of my life experiences. I’ve gone through a lot of difficult moments.” The “difficult moments” he referred to include privately enduring sexual abuse at the hands of a martial arts instructor at age 10 in Windsor, Ont.- a story he decided to share for the first time in hopes of helping other victims. “Mr. N abused me,” Singh wrote. “He tied his perversion to my performance, which was my primary motivation. And as the weekend sessions continued on top of my weekly training, I convinced myself that I was improving at tae kwon do.” Singh said Tuesday he felt a “responsibility” to use his national platform in a positive way. “I thought, what can I do? What story can I tell that would actually have a positive impact or maybe help people out that need it?” he said. “Maybe it could help folks feel less alone. Maybe it could help folks have the courage to love themselves and to love others because I know that for me, suffering from abuse makes you feel like you don’t deserve happiness, and you stop loving yourself.” Statistically, Singh’s story of being able to overcome the long-standing impacts of sexual abuse is rare. Many victims are plagued by debilitating mental health challenges, substance abuse issues, and suicidal thoughts. The NDP leader said he personally has drawn strength from his spirituality, meditation and a support network. “That’s also what this story is about,” he said. “I could not have made it alone. I don’t think anyone makes it alone … A whole bunch of people, some who knew I was in a tough spot and many who probably didn’t know that I was a kid that was almost down and out, stepped in and helped me out.” Singh’s book also details his father’s struggle with alcoholism, including time in rehab and having to support his family. He said that his father ultimately turned to a modest, publicly-funded rehabilitation centre in Windsor after losing insurance after he could no longer work. Singh said the program ultimately saved his father’s life and his family in many ways. “I am really grateful to all the folks, all the services that people can count on that were there for me,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.” -Follow @kkirkup on Twitter Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Filipino President Duterte gives Canada one week to take trash back

8 hours 40 min ago
OTTAWA - The president of the Philippines says if Canada doesn’t take back tonnes of trash within the next week he will “declare war” and ship the containers back himself. Filipino media outlets report that Rodrigo Duterte made threats Tuesday about dozens of shipping containers filled with Canadian household and electronic garbage that has been rotting in a port near Manila for nearly six years. “I want a boat prepared,” Duterte said. “I'll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail.” Duterte, who is known for his combativeness, threatened to declare war on Canada if the issue isn’t resolved. “I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way,” he said. “Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.” In 2013 and 2014, a total of 103 shipping containers from Canada labelled as plastics arrived in the Philippines for recycling, but Filipino customs inspectors determined the containers were actually filled with debris from Canadian trash bins. Canada has been trying for nearly six years to convince the Philippines to dispose of the garbage there even though a Filipino court ordered the trash returned to Canada in 2016. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about the matter on trips to the Philippines in both 2015 and 2017. On the first visit he said Canada had no legal means to force the company that shipped the waste to take the trash back. In 2017 Trudeau said Canada was working very hard on a solution and that it was "theoretically" possible for Canada to take back the trash. A year after that Canada and the Philippines formed a working group of officials to solve the issue, but nearly six months after that nothing has been resolved. The Canadian government didn’t appear to be changing its tune following Duterte’s comments. A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna sent a written statement that is identical to the statement issued by a different spokeswoman last week, mentioning the working group and promising to work with the Philippines “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.” “Canada is strongly committed to collaborating with the Philippines government to resolve this issue and is aware of the court decision ordering the importer to ship the material back to Canada,” wrote Sabrina Kim.  She also mentioned a change to regulations in 2016 meant to prevent such a thing from happening again. The change means Canadian firms will need to get approval to ship waste if the destination country says it is hazardous, even if Canadian officials don’t deem it to be so. Last week, a legal opinion prepared by the Victoria-based Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation said Canada’s actions with the shipments violate multiple parts of the Basel Convention, a 30-year-old treaty that prevents countries from shipping hazardous waste to the developing world without the receiving country’s consent. The violations include inaccurately describing the contents of the containers, failing to take them back within 30 days of being notified of the hazard, and attempting to get the Philippines to take on the obligation for disposing of the waste. Kathleen Ruff, founder of rightoncanada.ca, has been trying to get Canada to take back its trash and is incensed. “It’s incredible to me that the Canadian government just dismisses the fact that it is breaking the law,” she said. “I guess some people believe they are above the law and count on getting away with it.” Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

In The Rings: Gushue says talks with Curling Canada have been going well

8 hours 42 min ago
TORONTO - Veteran skip Brad Gushue said recent talks with Curling Canada have been going well and he’s hopeful that progress on a few areas of concern can be made by the summer. “I think they’ve been really good so far,” Gushue said of the discussions. “We haven’t got anything formal yet so I don’t know if we’re going to succeed in what we’re attempting to do. But certainly they’re receptive of what we’ve brought to their attention. “They’ve got a lot of stuff to figure out on their end before they can get to what we want to. We’re going to be patient as well and work with them.” Elite curlers do not have a formal players’ association so athletes have to take concerns directly to the federation or competition organizers. “Pay equity and cresting I think are the biggest (issues),” Gushue said. “There’s no reason the women shouldn’t be getting the same for winning the national championship as we do.” Most top-tier domestic curling events offer equal payouts. However, the winning team at the Tim Hortons Brier receives over two times the prize money given to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts champions. Gushue also said that for teams to get to the point where they’re truly professional, they need to have the right to wear their own cresting regardless of who is sponsoring an event. “We’re being forced right now to potentially wear companies that are competitors to our main sponsors, which is unheard of in most other sports,” Gushue said in a recent interview. “So that needs to change.” In an email, a Curling Canada spokesman said that dialogue with the players would resume in the off-season and that dates have yet to be finalized.  Gushue said he helped get an informal group of top curlers together to raise concerns with federation brass. He’d eventually like to see the creation of a formal association to handle future relations, but a few hurdles remain. “There’s so much legwork into getting that done and also money to get it up and going,” he said. “We have to find someone that has the time, the energy and the skillset to get that going for us. It’s going to cost us money. “Really we have to get all the top teams, all the teams that are here playing in the Slams to be on board with that.” Ben Hebert, who plays lead for Team Kevin Koe, has also been involved in talks. He agreed that a formal players’ association would be a good addition. “I do think we need one,” he said. “We’re discussing possibly doing one up. We’ll see if we can get there.” The season concludes at the May 8-12 World Cup Grand Final in Beijing. The 2019-20 season will begin in late summer. “It would be nice if we had someone maybe that wasn’t full-time playing and training and practising to dig some teeth into some issues that maybe we want to fix,” Hebert said. “But we’re getting closer. Curling Canada did a good job this year. The Grand Slams are always open to player suggestions. We definitely need (a PA), I’m just not the guy to say exactly how that’s going to go. “We need to collectively get together as a group and form something. But when that’s going to be - or who that’s going to be - I’m not totally sure.” --- FARE THEE WELL: This week’s Champions Cup in Saskatoon will be Craig Savill’s last appearance with Team John Epping. Ryan Fry’s seven-year run with Team Brad Jacobs will also be ending this week. Fry is joining Epping’s team at third next season with Mat Camm moving to second and Brent Laing shifting to lead. Marc Kennedy will take over at third on the Jacobs rink. Epping’s team, currently ranked sixth in the world, won the Masters this season but struggled with inconsistency. “We were great sometimes and then we played like a junior team sometimes,” Savill said. “So it was tough and it wasn’t just one person. It was all the way down the line.” --- TICK TICK BOOM: A no-tick rule is being tested at the Champions Cup. Players will not be allowed to make tick shots on rocks sitting on the centre line in the eighth or extra ends this week. The goal is to make the final ends less predictable. There are several one-time lineups for the Grand Slam season finale. Colton Lott is filling in for Brett Gallant on Team Brad Gushue while Lori Olson-Johns is subbing for Jocelyn Peterman on Team Jennifer Jones. Gallant and Peterman are representing Canada at the world mixed doubles championship in Norway. Other notable substitutes include John Morris filling in for American skip John Shuster and Eve Muirhead replacing Swedish skip Anna Hasselborg. --- Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

As waters rise, Champagne offers fast-track reviews for flood projects

8 hours 47 min ago
OTTAWA - Canada’s infrastructure minister is offering flood-ravaged communities in Quebec a fast-track for federal cash to mitigate the dangers of rising waters, hoping to entice requests from a province that has yet to apply for money from a unique fund set up specifically for the purpose. The two-year-old “disaster mitigation and adaptation fund” was set up two years ago to dole out $2 billion over a decade, hoping to help communities like those now facing flooding in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick reduce the risks from high water, fires, and extreme weather. The thinking was that every dollar spent on building infrastructure to divert floodwater, for example, would save countless more in reconstruction costs. A 2016 report from the parliamentary budget office predicted federal disaster-assistance payments, to help deal with damage, could hit $900 million next year. Many of the communities facing flooding now also suffered floods in 2017. A provision in the program allows the minister to approve projects in emergency situations and Francois-Philippe Champagne said Tuesday he wants to do that to get work done before a construction season is lost. “With spring coming in many communities across Canada, there’s a sense of anxiety because we know that what we don’t do this year may have an impact on the community next year,” Champagne said. Champagne wouldn’t speculate about why some provinces or cities haven’t applied for funding in Quebec and New Brunswick, saying instead that he wants to make sure everyone who could use the funding is aware it exists. “There is a sense of urgency in seeing … these sums of money, which were made available to communities, being used so that in places where we can make a difference, let’s make the difference and protect the communities and the people,” he said. The Liberal party was elected in 2015 partly on a promise to spend massively on infrastructure; the government has been regularly criticized for failing to get money out the door and construction underway. Federal officials hoped to avoid that in the disaster-mitigation program, according to newly obtained documents. In the lead up to the program’s launch in late 2017, Infrastructure Canada officials feared they would be forced to delay planned spending, warning in one briefing note that a “low number of projects” could start within a year of being approved. They considered looking at how shovel-ready a project was in deciding which ones to recommend for approval and which would fall to the bottom of the pile. The details are in a briefing note among almost 100 pages of documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the federal access-to-information law. What the government envisioned was a program that would fund big projects, costing more than $20 million, and be national in scope. What the Liberals got, according to documents, were proposals for numerous smaller projects across provinces or regions - as opposed to a large project focused on “one particularly vulnerable area” - and a lack of agreement on what would make a project “national” in scope. Eligibility criteria had to be revised and terms redefined so money didn’t sit idle. “Based on past experience managing infrastructure programs, project state of readiness at the time of approval should be an important consideration,” reads a briefing note prepared for a meeting of federal officials. “Projects that are not ready or expected to start construction within a certain window could be considered but would receive a lower mark. They would be reconsidered in future intake processes.” So far, the government has committed about $832.9 million for 20 projects. All but two are aimed at dealing with flooding but none is in Quebec or New Brunswick. All those approved to date will take years to complete, with the earliest ($22 million for dikes and monitoring equipment to head off flooding in Drumheller, Alta.) wrapping up in 2022 and the last in Toronto by the end of 2028, based on federal data. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

All not in favour of Trump’s Buckingham Palace dinner date

8 hours 48 min ago
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump finally has a date on the calendar for a state dinner at Buckingham Palace - a visit more than two years in the making. The mere announcement of his June visit as the guest of Queen Elizabeth II stirred up fresh anti-Trump sentiment Tuesday among Brits who want to deny him a seat at the table. Trump and his wife, Melania, have accepted the queen’s invitation to visit June 3-5, the White House and the palace announced. Many American presidents have visited the monarch, but just two - George W. Bush and Barack Obama - were honoured with a state visit and its accompanying pomp and pageantry, including a horse-drawn carriage ride and a royal banquet at Buckingham Palace. Rarer still is the announcement of a state visit just weeks before it takes place. But talk of the visit has been contentious ever since Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump just days after he took office in January 2017. The trip has been delayed amid concerns about Trump’s reception in the U.K. and Britain’s extended crisis over Brexit, which has consumed most of the government’s political energy. Trump made an official trip to the U.K. last July . He met with May and got acquainted with the queen over tea at Windsor Castle, but it was not a state visit. Demonstrators trailed the U.S. president everywhere, with tens of thousands of people flooding the streets of central London to protest his presence. A 20-foot (6-meter) balloon depicting Trump as a screaming, diaper-wearing baby was also flown near Parliament. More protests are all but certain in June. “This is a president who has systematically assaulted all the shared values that unite our two countries, and unless Theresa May is finally going to stand up to him and object to that behaviour, she has no business wasting taxpayers’ money on all the pomp, ceremony and policing costs that will come with this visit,” said Emily Thornberry, foreign affairs spokeswoman for Britain’s main opposition Labour Party. In addition to his second meeting with the queen, Trump will also hold talks with May, whose handling of Brexit the president has repeatedly criticized . The president has said May didn’t heed his advice on how to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union. She, in turn, has said Trump advised her to sue the EU. Trump has also said May’s proposed Brexit deal, which calls for Britain to retain close economic and regulatory ties with the EU, would likely scupper the chances of a U.K.-U.S. free-trade deal. One detail that’s still TBD is whether Trump will be granted the honour of addressing Parliament, as did presidents Ronald Reagan and Obama. “This state visit will reaffirm the steadfast and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” the White House said. May said Britain and the U.S. “have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests” and that Trump’s visit is an “opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship” in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence. On the final day of their visit, Trump and the first lady plan to attend a ceremony in Portsmouth, a naval city on England’s south coast, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when Allied forces invaded northern France. Nations that took part in the campaign to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany have also been invited to attend. They include Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Luxembourg, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Greece, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Germany also has been invited, in keeping with previous D-Day commemorative events. The leader of Portsmouth’s City Council said Trump’s attendance would shift attention away from the veterans. “With Donald Trump coming I think the chances are that it will move from being around commemoration and instead it will be a day of controversy,” said councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, a member of the opposition Liberal Democrats. After leaving Britain, Trump will travel to Normandy in northern France as a guest of President Emmanuel Macron to attend ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, which contains the graves of 9,380 U.S. service members. Most lost their lives in the D-Day landings. In France, Trump will also meet with Macron, who has also been the target of some of Trump’s criticism. ___ Kirka and Lawless reported from London. Darlene Superville, Danica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press

Protecting nature also fights climate change, says federal environment minister

8 hours 55 min ago
Carbon taxes aren’t the only way to fight climate change, says federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. Speaking ahead of an international conservation conference, McKenna said protecting natural areas can go a long way toward slowing the progress and mitigating the impact of global warming. “Nature isn’t linked to climate as much as it should be,” she said Tuesday, the day before the opening of the Nature Champions Summit in Montreal, which will bring together governments, businesses, Indigenous communities and non-governmental organizations. “We’re connecting it to climate.” Intact ecosystems can help protect communities against some of the worst impacts of climate change. Scientists often point to the role of wetlands in absorbing heavy rains or snowmelts, reducing flooding for homes and farms. “How do you use natural protections to protect areas?” she asked. “We need to link these agendas a lot better.” As well, landscapes such as natural forests store huge amounts of carbon - much more, studies have suggested, than replanted or farmed trees.    “We need to look at how we’re going to store carbon,” McKenna said. “Nature is a very effective way to store carbon, everywhere from grasslands to mangroves.” Three protected areas currently under consideration hold the carbon equivalent to 15 years of Canada's annual industrial GHG emissions at 2017 levels. It’s certainly easier politics. The federal carbon tax has been relentlessly controversial. A recent Abacus poll found only 59 per cent of Canadians believed it to be the right direction. Several premiers are lined up against it in court. On the other hand, an Abacus poll released Tuesday found almost nine out of 10 Canadians support federal conservation commitments. The same poll suggests more than two-thirds of Canadians back Indigenous protected areas and Indigenous Guardians programs to help manage protected lands. “Conservation unites Canadians,” said Abacus CEO David Coletto. “It's rare to see this kind of consensus on issues, but people overwhelmingly agree the country should do more to conserve nature.” Not that McKenna’s backing away from the tax. “You’ve got to be doing things across the board. We need to put a price on pollution because if it’s free to pollute, there’ll be more pollution. But you have to do a whole range of other things.”  Nature, however, is nicer. “Nature is an agenda that everyone can get around,” McKenna said. Also on Tuesday, McKenna announced a four-year, $100-million commitment to preserve environmentally valuable areas on private land. That money is to be tripled through matching private donations and is anticipated to protect about 200,000 hectares. The Natural Heritage Conservation Program is expected to save habitat for 25 species at risk not found in any other public or privately protected areas. Most of those new areas will be in the settled landscapes of southern Canada. McKenna said Canada continues to make good progress on its commitments to preserve 17 per cent of its land mass and 10 per cent of its oceans and coastlines by 2020. The Liberal government has increased marine protection to about eight per cent from one. The terrestrial gap is wider, with less than 12 per cent protected - although that doesn’t include three large protected areas in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and British Columbia that are close to being finished. “We’re pretty confident we’ll get to 17 per cent by 2020,” McKenna said. - Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960 Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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