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Canada, Ontario to cooperate on maximizing the benefits of immigration

Posted on 24 November 2017 by admin


 

Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement creates a framework to attract, select and support skilled newcomers

TORONTO, Nov. 24, 2017 /CNW/ – A comprehensive agreement on immigration was signed today in a ceremony at Queen's Park by the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and the Honourable Laura Albanese, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement (COIA) creates a new framework to strengthen the long-term partnership between Ontario and Canada to welcome and settle immigrants, boost the economy and address shared humanitarian responsibilities. The agreement outlines the respective roles and responsibilities, and shared immigration priorities in selection policy, program integrity, attraction of French-speaking immigrants, and newcomer and refugee settlement. 

In addition, Canada and Ontario also announced a joint effort to help internationally trained newcomers meet provincial requirements to work in their profession. A total investment of up to $91 million in bridge training programs over the next three years, including $70 million from Ontario and up to $21 million from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, will help newcomers get the training they need to meet provincial requirements to work in their occupation.

Through these initiatives, the Governments of Canada and Ontario are demonstrating a commitment to cooperation to ensure the economic, social and cultural benefits of immigration are maximized in the province. Collaboration between the federal government and provincial partners is a crucial element of the ongoing success of Canada's world-leading immigration system.  

Quotes

"Ontario is the top destination for new permanent residents settling in Canada each year, typically exceeding 100,000 newcomers. With the ambitious three-year levels plan we've established on immigration, the time is right to put a new agreement in place that defines how Canada and Ontario will work together to achieve our mutual goals."  

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

"Immigration is good for Ontario and good for Canada. The Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement strengthens Ontario's ability to partner with the federal government to attract skilled newcomers who will benefit our shared economies and contribute to Canada's future prosperity."

– The Honourable Laura Albanese, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Quick facts

  • In 2017-2018, Ontario is investing over $110 million in newcomer and refugee supports including language training, settlement and employment programs.
  • The Government of Canada is investing more than $334 million in settlement services for newcomers in Ontario in 2017-18.
  • COIA takes effect immediately, including annexes that detail specific arrangements on provincial nominees and foreign workers. In the months ahead, additional annexes are planned that will set out Canada-Ontario collaboration on French-speaking immigrants, international students, and the role of municipal governments as partners in immigration.
  • COIA will guide the relationship on immigration between Canada and Ontario for the next five years.
  • Canada's new multi-year levels plan will see almost one million new permanent residents welcomed by the end of 2020. Ontario is the top destination for newcomers to Canada.
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26 Neighbours Livin’ on Easy Street with $10 Million LOTTO MAX Win!

Posted on 17 November 2017 by admin

TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2017 /CNW/ – "It feels like we won the lottery twice – the first time, when we all became friends – and now THIS! It's a dream-come-true to be here with each other!"  That sentiment is echoed by every single member of this group of 26 best friends and neighbours from Garson, near Sudbury, who won the $10 million LOTTO MAX jackpot from the October 13, 2017 draw.

Group leader Eric usually buys the LOTTO MAX tickets but on this occasion, it was his wife Amber who did the shopping. "We still can't believe this is real," she said. Group member Mike discovered the big win first. He used the OLG Lottery App and then shared the good news with his wife Sherry. "I was jumping around our kitchen." The news spread fast and an impromptu street party followed.

Today is jackpot payday after all 26 friends flew to Toronto to pick up their big prize. "I still have butterflies in my stomach," confessed group member Nicole. Amy calls the win 'a gift.' "So many lives will be changed – more family time, less overtime," she smiled.

This group is a great mix, including dads, moms, firefighters, miners, a teacher, a nurse, hair dresser, construction worker, young families and long-time couples who've played together for about two years and promise to keep on playing together! 

All have big plans for their big win. There will be new trucks, new cars and new SUVs parked in driveways – and maybe a few new snowmobiles too! While some winners are considering breaking ground in spring for new swimming pools others already have their sights set on lakefront property. Mortgages will be paid off and education funds topped up. Travel is also high on the wish list – including family vacations and couples-only getaways too!

Winners Trevor and Kyla have an extra special trip to plan. "We're getting married next summer and our honeymoon will be amazing!"

"These friends are like family and they mean the world to me," shared Adam. The whole group agreed, adding – "It's one thing to dream about winning the lottery but when it actually happens, and with your very best friends, that's the icing on the cake!" 

The group members are:

Eric Fournier
Amber Fournier
Michel Crepeault
Sherry Crepeault
Ryan Chretien
Christine Chretien
Patrick Hauser
Amy Hauser
Robert LeFave
Sarah LeFave
Guy Levasseur
Melanie Levasseur
Jason MacKinnon
Erin MacKinnon
Trevor Gibbons
Kyla Roach
Roger Delaire
Josee Caron
Brent Cadotte
Lynn Denis
Martin Kennedy
Nicole Sloan
Trevor Warkus
Melissa Warkus
Adam Webber
Ashley Webber

The winning ticket was purchased at Shell on Lasalle Boulevard in Sudbury.

OLG is the Ontario government agency that delivers gaming entertainment in a socially responsible manner. OLG conducts and manages gaming facilities, the sale of province-wide lottery games, PlayOLG Internet gaming, the delivery of bingo and other electronic gaming products at Charitable Gaming Centres and is helping to build a more sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario. Since 1975, OLG has provided nearly $47 billion to the Province and the people of Ontario. These payments to the province support the operation of hospitals, amateur sport through the Quest for Gold program, local and provincial charities and problem gambling prevention, treatment and research. 

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Canada’s Global Brand Ranks Fourth in Study of 50 Nations – Ties with Japan

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Nov. 16, 2017.

Canada’s Global Brand Ranks Fourth in Study of 50 Nations – Ties with Japan

  • Germany reclaims top overall “nation brand” ranking
  • Canada maintains #1 status in People, Governance and Immigration/Investment categories
  • US slides to sixth place – only country showing overall decline in 2017

NUREMBERG, Germany–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Canada’s global brand remains among the top 4 in the world, tying Japan for fourth place with a strong showing in the latest Anholt-GfK Nation Brands IndexSM (NBISM) study.

Germany retakes the top ranking from the US, which fell to sixth place from first. France climbs to second, with the UK holding onto third place.

Canada remains number one in the world for the second consecutive year in three of six categories measured in the study – People, Governance, and Immigration/Investment.

Go to www.gfk.com/en-us for more information

The data shows:

  • People worldwide say they would want Canadians as close friends; they also feel they would be welcome when visiting the country and would willingly hire a well-qualified person from Canada.
  • Canada is seen as having a competent and honest government – one that has a high respect for citizens’ rights and fair treatment. Canada is also highly rated in other aspects of the Governance category, such as behavior in the areas of international peace and security, as well as environmental protection and world poverty reduction.
  • Canada is thought to have a high quality of life and equal opportunity that strengthens its ability to attract talent and investment capital.

In the other 3 categories, Canada’s rankings slipped slightly from 2016 to 2017. In Exports, Canada fell from 5th to 7th. Its Culture ranking dropped from 10th to 12th; and in Tourism, it fell one spot, from 8th to 9th.

US loses ground in global perception of its Governance

Of the 50 countries measured in the study, only the USA saw its overall NBI score drop this year. However, it still ranks among the top five nations for three of NBI’s six categories: namely, Culture (where the USA is ranked second), Exports (also second), and Immigration-Investment (fifth). But it fell from 19th place to 23rd for Governance, a notably poor score for one of the world’s leading countries.

“The USA’s fall in the ‘Governance’ suggests that we are witnessing a ‘Trump effect’, following President Trump’s focused political message of ‘America First’,” said Professor Simon Anholt, who created the NBI study in 2005.

Vadim Volos, GfK’s Senior Vice President of Social & Strategic Research, said, “Nations are able to influence global perception of their national brand by promoting positive aspects that drive up areas such as inbound tourism and investment. Our Nations Brand Index allows our clients to understand where – and why – their nation stands in terms of their current image, momentum and potential. And this in turn, shows them where they need to focus, to build an increasingly stronger nation brand.”

For more information about the Anholt-GfK Nations Brand Index, please visit nation-brands.gfk.com.

About the study

GfK conducted 20,185 interviews online in 20 panel countries with adults aged 18 or over. Data are weighted to reflect key demographic characteristics including age, gender and education of the 2017 online population in that country. Additionally, race/ethnicity has been used for sample balancing in the USA, UK, South Africa, India, and Brazil. Fieldwork was conducted from 7 to 25 July 2017.

The 50 nations measured by the survey are as follows, listed by region:

North America: Canada, the U.S.

Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Norway*, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK

Central/Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine*

Asia-Pacific: Australia, China1, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand

Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru

Middle East/Africa: Botswana*, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates.

1Chinese respondents are asked to rank all nations except their own.

*This indicates nations newly added into the NBISM in 2017. Also, three nations (Cuba, Iran, and Kazakhstan) were measured in 2016 but not in 2017.

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2017 ONTARIO ECONOMIC OUTLOOK

Posted on 15 November 2017 by admin

Welcome to the 2017 Ontario Economic and Fiscal Review.

Ontario is moving forward with its plan to create fairness and opportunity for people across the province with the release of the 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.

While Ontario’s economy has grown faster than Canada’s and those of all other G7 nations for the past three years, the government recognizes that the numbers do not tell the whole story. The measures in the 2017 Review will help create greater fairness and opportunity for all by supporting the right conditions for families and businesses to succeed.

In 2017 Ontario is predicted to continue to see increases in population size, labour force size and net migration. The unemployment rate is expected to continue its downward trend, dropping -0.1 points over 2016 and -0.3 points over 2015. The labour market participation rate will hold steady at 65%.

 

 

Download pdf below to read the complete report.

2017 Ontario Economic Outlook

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NEWS RELEASE: Province Releases 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review

Posted on 15 November 2017 by admin

 

Ontario Implementing Plan to Create Fairness and Opportunity.

November 14, 2017

Province Releases 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.

Minister of Finance Charles Souza

Ontario is moving forward with its plan to create fairness and opportunity for people across the province with the release of the 2017 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.

Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, delivered the 2017 Review today in the legislature, outlining new measures to grow the economy and help people thrive in an uncertain global environment.

The government will balance the budget this year, as well as the next two years. A balanced budget means more funding for the programs and services people rely on most, such as health care and education.

While Ontario's economy has grown faster than Canada's and those of all other G7 nations for the past three years, the government recognizes that the numbers do not tell the whole story. Many people are facing uncertainty and challenges. The measures in the 2017 Review respond to this uncertainty and will help create greater fairness and opportunity for all by supporting the right conditions for families and businesses to succeed.

Strengthening Health Care

Ontario is set to launch the most significant expansion of medicare in a generation with OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare. Starting January 1, OHIP+ will provide free prescription medications for everyone under 25, ensuring parents never have to choose between paying for their children's prescription drugs and providing other essentials.

In addition, Ontario is boosting supports for seniors to ensure they are able to access the services they need at every stage of their lives. Aging with Confidence: Ontario's Action Plan for Seniors includes a $155-million investment over three years. Working with sector partners, the plan also commits to creating 5,000 new long-term care beds by 2022 — and more than 30,000 beds over the next decade. These new beds are in addition to the 30,000 existing beds in Ontario that are being redeveloped. The government will also increase the provincial average to four hours of direct care per long-term care resident per day when fully phased in.

The province is also investing to improve care for all patients, with an additional $618 million for hospitals this year to provide faster access to procedures, new programs and digital technology. And, to support a smooth transition for patients discharged from hospital, the government is investing an additional $40 million to help patients receive care at home.

Investing in Education, Skills and Training

Starting this school year, more than 210,000 college and university students are receiving free tuition thanks to the new Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). As a next step, the province will implement net tuition billing to ensure that college and university students receive a reduced upfront bill with OSAP already factored in. Ontario is also proposing to recognize Indigenous Institutes as a third pillar of the postsecondary system alongside colleges and universities.

To continue supporting young people as they begin their careers and transition to the workforce, Ontario is providing new incentives for businesses to employ youth. Beginning in 2018, the province will provide $124 million over three years in supports for youth aged 15 to 29 to support employer hiring and retention. A small business with fewer than 100 employees would receive a $1,000 incentive for hiring a young worker and a $1,000 incentive for retaining that worker for six months.

The government is launching a new grant that encourages employers to help apprentices complete their training programs, and is expanding support to five additional trades. The province is also modernizing its apprenticeship system to improve completion rates — creating clearer pathways to jobs — and increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Ontario's Fair Housing Plan has helped to stabilize the real estate market and make housing more affordable. As part of the plan, the expansion of rent control to all private market units in the province is ensuring tha

Creating Fairness and Opportunityt people are not subject to large, unfair spikes in rent. To continue helping families buy or rent a home they can afford, the province established a roundtable on housing development approvals. It has issued recommendations that will help address housing affordability challenges, increase supply and support mixed-use communities that make more efficient use of land and infrastructure.

One-third of all workers in Ontario are employed by small businesses. The province is helping to build a dynamic and competitive business environment by providing more than $500 million over three years in new initiatives to lower costs for small businesses and promote growth. This includes the proposed 22 per cent cut to the Corporate Income Tax rate for small businesses. Along with recent measures, such as lowering Workplace Safety and Insurance Board average premium rates and other business-focused initiatives, this would result in $1.9 billion in provincial support for small businesses over three years.

Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the most significant expansion of medicare in a generation.

 

 

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario is forecasting real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent in 2017, higher than earlier expectations.
  • Government revenues are projected to rise to $158.2 billion in 2019–20, up from $140.7 billion in 2016–17, an average annual growth rate of four per cent.
  • The net debt-to-GDP ratio is anticipated to decline to 37.3 per cent in 2017–18, reflecting the government’s solid fiscal performance and a stronger economy.
  • Ontario’s unemployment rate has been below the national average for 31 consecutive months and below six per cent for the past three months — a first since 2000. The economy is expected to create more than 300,000 new jobs by 2020. 

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau concludes his participation at the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines

Posted on 14 November 2017 by admin

 


November 14, 2017
Manila, Philippines

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today concluded his participation at the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila, Philippines.

The Prime Minister took part in the Canada-ASEAN 40th Anniversary Commemorative Summit. This commemorative summit represents the first time a Canadian prime minister has met with all ASEAN leaders as a group.

Prime Minister Trudeau took this opportunity to promote human rights, diversity, inclusion, and the need for gender equality. He also emphasized the importance of forging progressive trade agreements that build a stronger middle class and create real benefits for everyone.

The Prime Minister expressed Canada’s desire to join the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus. Canada’s participation would grow our engagement with ASEAN and expand access to markets of member states.

In Manila, Prime Minister Trudeau promoted gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. He participated in a panel discussion with partners from the Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women, an initiative for women entrepreneurs), and visited a local women’s health clinic. 

The Prime Minister announced that Canada will invest $17.8 million over five years through the Sexual Health and Empowerment Project, which will be implemented by Oxfam. This funding will provide more than 85,000 women and girls in remote and disadvantaged regions of the Philippines greater access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Quote

“It was an honour to take part in the Canada-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. As we move forward together, I will continue to advance Canadian values, including human rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality, and ensure a renewed economic partnership that benefits the middle class and helps more people get ahead.”
—Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Quick facts

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising 10 member states. It was established by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand on August 8, 1967, and was later joined by Brunei (1984), Vietnam (1995), Myanmar (Burma), Laos (1997), and Cambodia (1999).
  • The ASEAN Summit and Related Summits bring together Asia-Pacific leaders to discuss political, security, economic, and social issues. The East Asia Summit includes ASEAN members, plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.
  • ASEAN Dialogue Partners include East Asia Summit members, plus Canada and the European Union.
  • As a group, ASEAN is the seventh-largest economy in the world and Canada’s sixth-largest merchandise trading partner.
  • ASEAN represents more than 640 million people with a combined economy of $2.6 trillion.
  • In 2016, Canada-ASEAN merchandise trade reached $21.6 billion.

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Thirtieth death anniversary of Fr. Michel Rodrigo OMI: The saint who braved out

Posted on 13 November 2017 by admin

 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017.

By: Dr Alex Perera – Courtesy: Daily News.

Fr. Michel Rodrigo OMI

Fr. Michel Rodrigo OMI

I am a Catholic in my religion, but a Buddhist in my culture.  – Rev. Fr. Michel Rodrigo O.M.I

Thirty years ago, on November 10, 1987, while Rev. Fr. Michel Rodrigo OMI was celebrating the Holy Eucharist, he was shot and killed at his small shelter in Alukalawita, Buttala.

Fr. Michael was born to a middle class family. He was educated at St. Peter’s College, Colombo. After being becoming a priest, Fr. Michael continued with his theological studies; obtaining a doctorate from the Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP). On returning to Sri Lanka he was appointed a lecturer at the National Seminary. Soon thereafter, he received an offer from ICP to be a Professor of Theology. He declined this offer in order to work with Bishop Leo Nanayakkara, in the Badulla Diocese.

In 1980 he set up a Christian-Buddhist dialogue centre, Suba Seth Gedera, in the village called Alukalawita, Buttala. Local Buddhist monks were initially suspicious of the tiny Christian community of which he was part, but came to recognise that he was not a rival. Fr. Mike, the nuns and lay workers who worked alongside him, became trusted figures, undertaking educational activities and caring for their neighbours.

It was the terrible time of insurgency in 1987-89. Reportedly, after a local businessman was shot at by suspected insurgents, armed men claiming to be from the police searched the small house of Buttala, Alukalawita community headed by Fr. Michel Rodrigo. They threatened him, though he pointed out that the activities of their centre were peaceful. Reluctant to abandon the villagers, but concerned about his companions’ safety, he asked them to decide whether the community should leave or stay, though his own preference was to remain. The community was to take a decision at this particular Holly Mass.

It was a few days before the assassination of Fr. Michael Rodrigo. I wanted to see him at Suba Seth Gedara. I used to see him together with my wife Ramya at least once a month. We both came all the way from Passara to experience the real life with community of Alukalawita Buttala. We did a lot of educational and cultural programmes in the village together with Fr. Mike and other members of the community. When I came there all the members of the community (except Fr. Mike) had left the village. When I asked why he did not leave the village he said that he was compelled by his conscience not to leave the helpless villagers in this hour of crisis.

Community members

Fr. Michael was more overwhelmed by the suffering, which the poor villagers were forced to tolerate than by the threats made by the tragic situation prevailing at that time in the country. Many friends had asked him to leave the area at least for a shorter period. He did not do so because he voluntarily accepted the miserable poverty of the villagers, a part of his own life.

After some time he prepared some tea. He gave one cup of tea to me. We had tea and discussed many things regarding the pathetic situation. He had been highly worried that the previous night some armed officers had come to the adjoining house and hammered an old mother asking for her son. He had been shocked on seeing the way they had tortured the innocent mother. It was about 12.30 in the afternoon. A small poor village boy came with a small basket of food. When the community members were away, villagers used to share food with him. He invited me to share his lunch. It was a mallum (herbs) and a curry of sprats with rice. He divided the food into three parts. One was given to me the other was for the pet animals that were hanging around him. He ate the smallest portion. He expected the community members would be back soon.

After lunch I said good bye to him. It was the last time I saw him alive. A few days later I got the message that he had been assassinated. When I went there together with Fr. Joe Fernando, the body was still lying in blood on the small alter on which he used to say Holy Mass. We carried the body for the post-mortem.

This is the social as well as spiritual commitment of a man who sacrificed his life in the process of reducing his own dimension to enhance the dimension of the life of the poor devoid of religious and ethnic divisions. Those who held firm to human rights for all often found themselves isolated and targeted.

During this period the island was gradually being overwhelmed by violence, as an increasingly dictatorial and divisive government shut off opportunities for democratic opposition, driving many towards rebel groups which, in turn, terrorized hapless civilians.

Religious institution

While the military killed rebel fighters and civilians, state-sponsored paramilitary squads detained, tortured, assassinated or made disappear suspected dissidents. Some Sinhalese youth joined the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, which at the time sought to overthrow the government by violence.

Fr. Michael was a rare exception in that he opted to exercise his priestly duties outside the limits of a parish, a school or other religious institution. He realized that Christianity as conventionally practised in Sri Lanka as well as other parts of the world. He wanted to be realistic in his mission and to abide by the second greatest commandment “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10: 25- 28, Matthew 22: 34-40) of Jesus. So with the approval and assistance of Bishop Leo Nanayakkara O.S.B then bishop of Badulla Diocese, Fr. Michael established a Christian-Buddhist Dialogue Centre which he called Suba Seth Gedera, in Alukavita, Buttala in lower Uva. He maintained close contact with the people in the surrounding villages, engaging in ceaseless activities as their mentor, counsellor and companion in distress. Fr Mike wanted the villagers to be real Buddhists. He was totally against mere conversion. He believed and taught us that inner transformation of a person is the most important. For this, a person does not need to change his religion. He or she has to change his/her wrong attitudes and seek and abide by the deeper values of his / her own religion instead.

Fr. Mike used to say, if one is not taking sides with the poor then one is certainly on the side of the oppressors. Fr. Mike would never have come to death if he had been willing to compromise with injustice. 

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Sri Lanka’s Envoy In Canada Rejects Allegations On Army

Posted on 12 November 2017 by admin

 

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Canada Ahmed A Jawad has rejected allegations raised against the Sri Lankan Army.

The Ambassador said that the Government’s commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights; ending impunity; upholding the rule of law; strengthening good governance and democracy; fostering reconciliation and sustainable peace; and ensuring equitable and inclusive development, for the benefit of all citizens, is firm.

The Ambassador was responding to an article titled Sri Lanka’s military aren’t ready to be peacekeepers by Canadian Member of Parliament Gary Anandasangaree, published in the Toronto Star of 3 November 2017.

In a letter to the Toronto Star The Ambassador says the content of the article does not portray the factual position regarding Sri Lanka’s contribution to UN peacekeeping missions, or the progressive developments in the country under the National Unity Government.

“Sri Lanka values its membership in the UN which spans over 60 years, and is committed to contributing positively to its work. Sri Lanka’s contribution to the work of the UN, for long years, is well acknowledged. Since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015, and the formation of the National Unity Government, Sri Lanka’s engagement with the UN has been renewed, reflecting the vision of the Government and the people of the country to re-engage with the international community and contribute to the UN’s multifaceted agenda including peacebuilding, peacekeeping, and sustainable development,” he said.

The Ambassador says Sri Lanka has contributed to UN peacekeeping missions for more than 50 years, and is committed firmly, to ensuring the best possible training and assessment for peacekeepers from Sri Lanka, in order to uphold the highest standards of peacekeeping.

“In keeping with this commitment, Sri Lanka works closely with the UN, and has put in place stringent vetting procedures for military personnel who are deployed to UN peacekeeping missions. Most recently, in order to ensure that all possible steps are taken to ensure the effectiveness of the screening procedure, the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka was invited to also be part of this process. In September 2015, Sri Lanka endorsed the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians; in August 2017, Sri Lanka pledged a contribution of US $ 10,000 to the UN Trust Fund in support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse; in September 2017 Sri Lanka joined an initiative of the UN Secretary-General to sign a Compact to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse; and demonstrating firm commitment, Sri Lanka also joined the Secretary-Generals ‘Circle of Leadership on the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in UN operations’. This month, Sri Lanka endorsed the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and use of Child Soldiers,” he added.

Regrettably, the Ambassador notes that Sri Lanka, similar to several other member states contributing troops to UN peacekeeping, has had to face situations where some of its troops had committed acts of sexual misconduct.

“The Government of Sri Lanka maintains a strict zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and accordingly, any such allegations of transgression by its troops, have been properly investigated, and the UN kept informed of the progress and the results of such inquiries and action taken. When allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse having taken place in 2006 and 2007 implicating some members of the Sri Lanka military contingent deployed to MINUSTAH were brought to the notice of the Government of Sri Lanka by the UN at the time, prompt action was taken for their immediate removal from MINUSTAH. Two separate Courts of Inquiry were conducted by the Sri Lanka Army and the Sri Lanka Navy, and disciplinary action taken against any breach of discipline. The UN, as per due procedure, was informed of the processes followed, and the UN Secretariat has acknowledged in writing, action taken by the Government, and informed that the UN Secretariat, as of 29 September 2014, considers the matter closed,” he said.

In addition, he says the Government arranged for a one-off ex gratia child support payment to a lady in Haiti. The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support of the UN has, in a letter to the Government, conveyed the appreciation of the UN for this action taken and Sri Lanka’s communications and engagement with the UN on this matter, which not only serves as a best practice, but as exemplifying the spirit of the commitment and partnership between the UN and Member States.

“Therefore, the accusation in the article, that victims in Haiti are still awaiting answers is incorrect,” he said.

The Ambassador also notes that following the allegation of the rape of a Haitian lady in 2013, the Government extended the fullest cooperation to the UN investigation team in Haiti to inquire into the complaint. The Army also appointed a Court of Inquiry comprising senior officials who travelled to Haiti and met with a number of witnesses, including the alleged victim. They also examined medical and legal reports provided by the UN investigating team in Haiti and concluded at the end of the Inquiry that the allegation of rape was false.

“It is regrettable that the errant actions of a few, which the Government condemns in the strongest terms and does not condone in any way, are being used to tarnish the good work carried out by a large number of dedicated and devoted Sri Lankan troops in UN peacekeeping missions. The National Unity Government is determined to work with all the citizens of Sri Lanka and the international community including the United Nations in realizing its vision of a reconciled, peaceful, stable, and prosperous nation. It is with this sincerity of purpose that the Government proceeded to co-sponsor resolution 30/1 titled “Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka”, in September 2015, and resolution 34/1 in March 2017 at the UN Human Rights Council, and work towards their adoption by consensus,” he said.

Ahmed A Jawad also said that nearly 82% of all the civilian land held by the security forces have been released. With regard to the Mullativu district of Sri Lanka, which is specifically referred to, the military has released a total of 20,784.16 acres of land as at 31 October 2017. A total of 6,704.87 acres of land is currently held by the military in Mullativu district, out of which 5,679 acres is state land and 1,025.87 acres is civilian land. A comprehensive plan is being worked on for the release of remaining land and for the payment of compensation.

He says the accusation in the article that “the army occupies as much as 60,000 acres of civilian land just in the Mullativu district”, is untrue. (Colombo Gazette)

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Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Remembrance Day

Posted on 11 November 2017 by admin

 


November 11, 2017
Ottawa, Ontario

 

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Remembrance Day:

“Today, we pause to remember and honour the Canadian women and men who have served our country and stood on guard for us and the values we hold dear.

“Every generation of Canadians has answered the call to serve. From Ypres to Dieppe to Korea to Afghanistan, our servicemen and women have shown courage as a matter of course, and stood resilient in the face of great adversity.

“This year, in marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we have paused and reflected on some of our most important military milestones. In keeping alive the memory of battles like Passchendaele, Hill 70, Vimy, and Dieppe, we remind this generation, and future generations, where their freedom comes from.

“We owe an immeasurable debt to our veterans, to the fallen, and to the families who love them. Just as our servicemen and women have taken care of us, we must also take care of them. It is our sacred duty as a country to be there for our heroes when they need us most.

“At 11:00 am, I encourage all Canadians – no matter where you are – to observe the two minutes of silence. We remember those who stepped forward to serve, who endured horror and hell, and made extraordinary sacrifices for our freedom.

“We stand together, a grateful country, with poppies close to our hearts.

“Lest we forget.”


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Valerie Plante becomes Montreal’s first female mayor

Posted on 10 November 2017 by admin

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, November 5, 2017.

 MONTREAL – Valerie Plante scored a stunning upset in Montreal's mayoral election on Sunday, defeating incumbent Denis Coderre to become the first woman to win the post.

Coderre said just after 10:30 p.m. that he'd called Plante to congratulate her. He later announced he was leaving municipal politics.

In her victory speech, Plante reiterated her campaign promises, which include improving public transit and lessening road congestion, as well as adding green spaces and social housing.

"During the course of this campaign, I had one goal in mind: I wanted to put Montrealers first and I'm not going to change that," she told a roomful of cheering supporters at a downtown theatre.

"I'm going to put Montrealers first, I'm going to get Montreal moving again, I'm going to build safer roads for pedestrians, seniors and cyclists."

Plante, 43, was leading with over 51 per cent of the vote with almost all polls reporting, compared to just under 46 per cent for Coderre.

She entered municipal politics in 2013 when she won a council seat in a contest that pitted her against former provincial cabinet minister Louise Harel.

In 2016, she was elected leader of the left-leaning party Projet Montreal.

Plante began the mayoral race as a relative unknown but opinion polls showed her steadily gaining on Coderre as the campaign continued.

The mother of two, who cycles or takes public transit to work, sought throughout the campaign to present herself as less flamboyant and more in touch with Montrealers than her opponent.

Her signature campaign promise was a new 29-stop subway line that would link the city's densely populated northeast to downtown.

During her victory speech, she appealed to the provincial and federal governments to partner with her on her two biggest campaign promises: the subway line and increasing social housing in the city.

"In Quebec and Ottawa, I invite you to act on the strong message that Montrealers are sending you," she said.

"I know we can't do it tomorrow, but we can start working together, immediately, for those who need it most."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saluted Plante's historic victory in a tweet late Sunday night.

"Congratulations ↕Val-Plante, first-ever woman elected mayor of Montreal! I'm looking forward to working together on our shared priorities," he wrote.

The outgoing Coderre, a former Liberal MP and cabinet minister who was elected mayor in 2013, had campaigned largely on his record.

He had highlighted his ambitious infrastructure renewal plan, naming an inspector general to oversee the awarding of city contracts, and negotiating increased powers for the city from the province.

But while Montreal's economy has boomed during his mandate, Coderre was often branded by opponents as an arrogant leader who makes hasty decisions with little consultation.

He was criticized for spending millions on showy projects to celebrate the city's 375th birthday, and drew the ire of dog lovers when he introduced legislation last year to ban pit bulls from the city.

In his concession speech, Coderre announced he would be leaving municipal politics but said he remained proud of what he'd accomplished.

"I'm leaving with my head high," he said. "Montreal is an exceptional city, Montreal is a metropolis that is the envy of the world."

Incumbents fared better elsewhere in the province, including in Quebec City where Mayor Regis Labeaume easily won a fourth term.

Marc Demers was re-elected in Laval, as was Yves Levesque in Trois-Rivieres and Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin in Gatineau.

There was a surprise in Sherbrooke, however, where incumbent Bernard Sevigny lost the mayoral race to independent candidate Steve Lussier.

Some 858 municipal elections were held across the province, with over 8,000 mayor or councillor jobs up for grabs.

Of those, about half were already filled by election day by candidates who ran unopposed.

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