Month: January 2019

Canada Revenue Agency says ‘preventing poverty’ not allowed as goal for charity

OTTAWA – The Canada Revenue Agency has told a well-known charity that it can no longer try to prevent poverty around the world, it can only alleviate poverty – because preventing poverty might benefit people who are not already poor.

The bizarre bureaucratic brawl over a mission statement is yet more evidence of deteriorating relations between the Harper government and some parts of Canada’s charitable sector.

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The lexical scuffle began when Oxfam Canada filed papers with Industry Canada to renew its non-profit status, as required by Oct. 17 this year under a law passed in 2011.

READ MORE: Calls flooding into snitch line designed to catch Canadian tax evaders

Ottawa-based Oxfam initially submitted wording that its purpose as a charity is “to prevent and relieve poverty, vulnerability and suffering by improving the conditions of individuals whose lives, livelihood, security or well-being are at risk.”

The international development group, founded in 1963, spends about $32 million each year on humanitarian relief and aid in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, with a special emphasis on women’s rights.

But the submission to Industry Canada also needed the approval of the charities directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency, and that’s where the trouble began.

Agency officials informed Oxfam that “preventing poverty” was not an acceptable goal.

“Relieving poverty is charitable, but preventing it is not,” the group was warned. “Preventing poverty could mean providing for a class of beneficiaries that are not poor.”

Oxfam Canada’s executive director called the exchange an “absurd conversation.”

“Their interpretation was that preventing poverty may or may not involve poor people,” Robert Fox said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“A group of millionaires could get together to prevent their poverty, and that would not be deemed a charitable purpose.”

READ MORE: Teen charged in CRA Heartbleed hack to appear in Ottawa court

The Canada Revenue Agency prevailed, and the official declaration to Industry Canada about the purposes of the non-profit corporation dropped any reference to preventing poverty.

“Our mission statement still indicates we’re committed to ending poverty, but our charitable (purposes) do not use the word ‘end’ or ‘prevent’ – they use the word ‘alleviate.”‘

Philippe Brideau, spokesman for the Canada Revenue Agency, declined to provide information on the disagreement, saying “we do not comment on specific cases.”

Oxfam Canada was singled out for criticism earlier this year by Employment Minister Jason Kenney over the group’s opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

READ MORE: Charities ‘muffled,’ ‘harassed’ by Canada Revenue Agency audits

And in July last year, Oxfam Canada signed a joint letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, taking issue with reports that government officials had been asked to compile “friend and enemy stakeholder” lists to brief new ministers after the summer cabinet shuffle.

Fox said that despite the new “purpose” statement, the group’s programs and activities have not changed.

The contretemps is yet more evidence of frosty relations between the Harper government and some charities, several dozen of which have been targeted since 2012 for audits of their “political activities.”

The Canada Revenue Agency, armed with $13 million in special funding, is currently auditing some 52 groups, many of whom have criticized the Harper government’s programs and policies, especially on the environment.

The list includes Amnesty International Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, and the United Church of Canada’s Kairos charity.

Pen Canada, a Toronto charity that advocates for freedom of speech, joined the ranks of the audited just this week. The group has raised alarms about the government’s muzzling of scientists on the public payroll.

Charities have said the CRA campaign is draining them of cash and resources, creating a so-called “advocacy chill” as they self-censor to avoid aggravating auditors or attracting fresh audits. Auditors have the power to strip a charity of its registration, and therefore its ability to issue income-tax receipts, potentially drying up donations.

Oxfam Canada is not undergoing a political-activities audit, said Fox.

Chantal Havard, spokeswoman for the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, a coalition of international-aid charities that includes Oxfam, said she was not aware of any other members in mission-statement disputes with the CRA.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Toddler in Peguis homicide had contact with CFS: minister – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s embattled child welfare agency is under scrutiny again, after officials confirmed a dead toddler had at some point been in the care of Child and Family Services.

RCMP announced Wednesday the death of a 21-month-old girl on Peguis First Nation was being treated as a homicide.

Manitoba Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross confirmed Thursday the child had been in care but refused to provide more details.

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“There was involvement with Child and Family Services with this family, I’m not able to share what the specific involvement was,” Irvin-Ross told Global News in Winnipeg. She wouldn’t say if the child was in foster care or had been reunited with her biological parents.

The little girl was brought from Peguis First Nation to nearby Percy E. Moore Hospital in Hodgson “in medical distress” at about 3 p.m. on July 17, RCMP said. She died later that evening.

READ MORE: Toddler’s death at Peguis First Nation a homicide, police say

The child has not been identified, and police released no information on the cause of her death. There have been no arrests in the case.

Irvin-Ross rejected comparisons to the murder of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair, who was beaten to death by her mother and stepfather in 2005 after being in and out of foster care. The $14-million Phoenix Sinclair inquiry wrapped up less than six months ago, after taking two years to complete. Commissioner Ted Hughes made 62 recommendations to better protect children in care in Manitoba.

“I’m not prepared right now to make that comparison. I think we need to get a lot more information and evaluation about what happened,” Irvin-Ross said.

In addition to the police homicide investigation, an internal review of the child’s case is being launched, provincial officials said. The chief medical examiner will also probe the death, and the province has asked the children’s advocate to make the case a priority.

Continue reading Toddler in Peguis homicide had contact with CFS: minister – Winnipeg

Hep C among street youth ‘alarming:’ study

VANCOUVER – Vancouver street youth face an alarmingly high risk of hepatitis C infection because of a high incidence of injection drug use, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS tracked youth aged 14 to 26 over the course of six years.

Of 940 people recruited between September 2005 and November 2011, 100 tested positive for the disease at the outset.

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Of the people 512 who tested negative at the beginning and showed up for at least one subsequent visit, 56 were positive in follow-up tests — 10.9 per cent.

And of those 512 youth, 166 — about 32 per cent — reported prior use of injection drugs.

“We found that the risk for (hepatitis C virus) acquisition among street youth in this setting was alarmingly high, and that intravenous drug injection remains a primary risk factor,” said the study, led by Dr. Scott Hadland.

The study was also the first to look at the risk of hepatitis infection from injecting opioids like oxycodone and morphine, which is on the rise throughout North America.

It found that while the risk of infection is elevated by the injection use of heroin, cocaine and crystal meth, it does not appear to increase with opioid injection.

The researchers acknowledged that there was a relatively small number of youth in the study who engaged in prescription opioid misuse, which could have limited the ability to measure risk in opioid users.

It is also possible, the study said, that opioid users may not be as entrenched in the local drug scene and, therefore, may not associate frequently with hepatitis-positive drug users.

Either way, the excessive risk of infection among street youth requires specific prevention and mitigation strategies, the study found.

The street youth are a marginalized and difficult-to-reach population, Hadland wrote.

There are challenges to providing maintenance programs such as methadone to the population, and harm reduction services such as needle exchanges and safe injection sites may not effectively target younger users, he said in the study.

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Jays pitcher Stroman allows no hits through six in rout of Red Sox – Toronto

TORONTO – Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons couldn’t help but worry just a little. Marcus Stroman had a no-hitter alive through six innings, but the prized 23-year-old prospect was up to 91 pitches in a game the Blue Jays were well on their way to winning.

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Stroman’s third pitch of the seventh inning and 94th of Thursday afternoon hit Shane Victorino’s bat and landed in centre field for a bloop single. The sellout crowd of 46,683 applauded, while Gibbons could take a deep breath knowing he wouldn’t have to make the impossible decision on whetehr or not to keep the young pitcher in the game.

Stroman ended up throwing seven innings of one-hit ball in an 8-0 victory over the Red Sox.

“I can’t say that I’m glad he gave up a hit,” Gibbons said, trailing off. “If this keeps going, you’ve got a young kid, you’re trying to win a division and you keep throwing him out there over and over. I don’t know if relieved is the word, but it didn’t hurt. Sorry, Stro.”

A night after 22-year-old prospect Aaron Sanchez threw two perfect innings of relief in his major league debut, Stroman allowed just one hit over seven innings to give the Blue Jays (54-49) not only an important victory in the American League East race but optimism about the future of the pitching staff.

“He had good stuff,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He was able to get the ball on the ground, get a ground ball double play when he needed to. A couple of different types of breaking balls, with a pretty good power slurve along with a cutter. Throws a lot of strikes.”

Stroman improved to 6-2 with a 3.21 earned-run average, admittedly surpassing his own expectations in his rookie year.

“It’s definitely been a ride so far,” Stroman said. “But I’m not surprised. It’s just all the hard work that goes into it and going out there having your game plan and attacking hitters. That’s the biggest thing is just attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count.”

Stroman attacked Red Sox hitters on Thursday with a still-relatively-new sinking fastball to go along with his curveball. He couldn’t locate his four-seamer well enough, so he adjusted, and the combination he stuck with helped him finish with seven strikeouts.

Catcher Dioner Navarro joked that the best thing the young right-hander did all day was not shake him off even once. Better than that, he tamed a fearsome Boston lineup, including the same David Ortiz who tormented the Blue Jays earlier in the week.

“He barreled down, he got ahead of hitters and he’s not afraid of throwing the ball over the plate,” Navarro said of Stroman. “You’ve got to utilize your defence, we got a great defence out there and he did a great job, I think, getting ahead of hitters and finishing was a big key to the success he had today.”

The Blue Jays’ bats staked Stroman to a significant lead by beating up on Boston’s Rubby De La Rosa (3-3), who gave up six earned runs on nine hits in four-plus innings. First-baseman Juan Francisco (3-for-4 with 4 RBI) finished a double short of the cycle, and left-fielder Melky Cabrera drove in two more runs.

It was an offensive explosion as the same Toronto team that got blown out 14-1 Monday to start the series put up 21 in the past three games to take three of four from the Red Sox (47-55). Despite being without Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, the Blue Jays moved to within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

“It’s hard to go through the whole season with nobody getting hurt,” Navarro said. “Hopefully when we get those guys back they boost us up and we do what everybody wants us to do, which is make it to the playoffs.”

The long term – maybe not the playoffs but certainly the next couple of months – was on Gibbons’s mind as Stroman was mowing down the Red Sox. But even as the pitch count was rising and Gibbons thought the situation was “getting a little hairy,” Stroman was confident he wasn’t going to get pulled from the game had the no-hitter remained.

“They’re definitely watching pitches so it becomes tough if I would’ve got up into the ninth and I would’ve had 120, 130 pitches,” he said. “It’s almost like ‘What do you do?’ But I’m pretty sure they would’ve let me go.”

Stroman only needed to make one mistake, hanging a curveball to Victorino, to make it a moot point.

“He was down in the count, so he battled and squeaked it in there,” Stroman said.

Consistently good since being called up to the majors, Stroman made a statement with Thursday’s one-hit performance. His only lifetime no-hitter, to his recollection, came in a seven-inning game at the age of 12 in Cincinnati.

In the decade-plus since, Stroman has grown into a pitcher the Blue Jays are counting on for years to come. With Toronto in the playoff hunt now, it’s helpful that he’s proving up to the challenge.

“He knows he belongs here. This was his goal,” Gibbons said. “He’s pitching like a veteran that’s been around a long time, and he’s been very successful.”

Notes – Ortiz tweaked his back on a swing in the ninth and left the game. Farrell called him day-to-day with back spasms. … The 46,683 on hand marked the eighth sellout of the season at Rogers Centre and the largest crowd since opening day. … The Blue Jays begin a three-game series Friday at the New York Yankees. … By starting at second base, Boston’s Brock Holt became the first player in franchise history to start a game at every position except pitcher and catcher in a season.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Police investigate if Douglas Garland has links to other violent crimes

CALGARY- Police are trying to determine if the man accused in the triple murder of a missing Calgary family has connections to any other unsolved, violent crimes.

Five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathryn Liknes haven’t been seen since the end of June, when they vanished from the Liknes’ Parkhill home.

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Douglas Garland, 54, has since been charged with three counts of murder in the case, despite no bodies being found.

Global News has learned that investigators are now seeing if he has links to any other violent crimes, which experts say is common in cases like this.

“If you have unsolved crimes and you have no idea who might have done them, then you have an individual who you suspect is capable of doing a range of very violent actions, then it makes sense,” says forensic psychologist Dr. Perry Sirota. “There might be a fit between what this person is suspected of doing, because of course it’s alleged now and it might fit with a pattern of crimes that remain unsolved.”

One of the cases being looked at is the death of Helena Mihaljevic. The 32-year-old was found dead in a rural area near Airdrie in 2007, nearly a year after she went missing.

Garland was previously charged with drug trafficking and stolen property, and was also caught using the identity of a 14-year-old Alberta boy who was killed in a car crash.

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