Best foot forward

first_imgTulsi, you are known for soulful numbers. How different was it to sing a dance number like O saki saki? Tulsi Kumar (TK): I have done many dance numbers earlier too. I did a song called Love mera hit hit in 2009, then there was Nachange saari raat and Gulabi 2.0 – but definitely, O saki saki has grabbed all eyeballs for the right reasons. It has brought immense love and appreciation for me and my team including Neha Kakkar, B Praak, Tanishk (Bagchi) and Nora. The combination played out very beautifully. As far as my vocals are concerned, everyone relates me to soulful and melodious numbers. But I think this was a challenge for me to get out of my comfort zone and do something very different. I am happy to be a part of O saki saki and really elated that people love this new side of Tulsi. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: PriyankaNora, your song Dilbar became a huge hit last year. Did that anywhere pressurise you to match expectations while preparing for O saki saki?Nora Fatehi (NF): Yes, of course it did. After Dilbar, Kamariya followed and after that, everybody saw the Arabic version of Dilbar. That pressure was most when Kamariya was releasing, which was just about a week after Dilbar had released. When I did the Arabic Dilbar too, there was fear about whether this will be accepted by people here. I made it for a different market but since I am working here, I need things to work out for me here even though I am creating something for another market. The day before Arabic Dilbar was releasing I was quite stressed and finally it was received well by people despite it being in a different language! Also Read – Salman Khan remembers actor Vinod KhannaAs we shot O saki saki, I was just more excited to offer something different visually and take the dancing to a new level. But the day before Saki was releasing, that pressure came back to me all over again. It was an overwhelming fear – will this be as good as Dilbar? Of course, you can’t compare it to Dilbar because it is totally different both visually and musically. Even the dance style is different. My fear was about whether the audience will appreciate this song as they had earlier. When you see people on social media making dance videos, doing their own workshops and trying to learn the dance steps, then you know that they have enjoyed it. Right now, my Instagram is flooded with videos of people dancing to Saki saki, attempting the hook step, doing their own choreography and so much more! Do you feel that this age of overwhelming digital and social media helps singers and performers connect better with their audience? TK: Definitely! There was a time when you didn’t know how your song was faring. You would know after maybe a couple of days when you chance upon the song playing somewhere. Those were the parameters, but now it is all in front of you because of social media. The comments, the numbers, the views and the ‘likes’ will tell you how the song is doing with the audience. Like Nora said, there are so many digital platforms like Tik Tok, YouTube and Instagram where people are uploading performances on the song. You then know that your song is actually being loved and talked about! NF: As a performer, I would say that the digital platform is adding a new dimension to our work. The way we can engage with our audience is mind-boggling. This is why whenever I do a project, like a dance number, I make sure it is engaging. People would want to try it at home or with friends. It should be engaging, it should make you want to get up and hit the dance floor. It needs to be aspirational and energetic. I remember, during Dilbar there was an argument where I thought, should we really do something like this? It might be tough for people and how do we know that majority of people can attempt belly dancing? But we thought we must as it was something very different. Once the song became a hit, all these girls and the belly dancers within them had come out and they were doing the hook step so beautifully! I was so impressed to see those girls attempting it with confidence, then I thought, don’t underestimate the audience! Would you consider Dilbar to be a turning point in your career? NF: You know, for the longest time I thought Dilbar was the song because everybody just said that Dilbar is the reason why I am here. But you know what, it’s not; it is Naah, the song with Harrdy Sandhu. Naah was the first song to reach five million views on YouTube in India and it broke a record. At that time, I was just a girl from Bigg Boss and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. People and even filmmakers actually noticed me in that song! Secretly I feel that is what propelled my career while Dilbar was the boom! Tulsi, recently your two songs Tera ban jaunga and Shaher ki ladki got more than 100 million views. What does this mean to you considering one is an original and the other is a recreated version? TK: I think every song has its own charm and destiny. The end product is what the listeners get to hear and the prime motive is to have them entertained with these songs. Both my songs in the last month, Kabir Singh’s Tera ban jaunga and Khandaani Shafakhana’s Shaher ki ladki did well. Shaher ki ladki was again the iconic recreation in which we had Raveena (Tandon) Ma’am and Suniel (Shetty) Sir as a part of the video, which was amazing. I was really thrilled to be the voice of Raveena Tandon. I have grown up listening to her and watching her on screen and here I was to be her voice! When you make a recreated version of an already popular song, what nuances do you add to make it look fresh while you also maintain the original flavour? TK: That is best done by Tanishk. When he recreates a track he ensures that it isn’t a simple copy – and that’s why they are called recreations and not remixes. With this recreation too, we began with a totally new part in Main teri aankhon ka sahil, main tere dil ke hi kaabil… In fact, in between too there are several new aspects that are combined with the hook of O saki saki. When I am a part of recreation, I don’t like to go back and watch or hear too much of the original song. That was an already iconic song and here we were trying to lend new perspective to it. So, with due respect to all iconic songs that are recreated, I try to add my own feel and flavour. There’s always a set of people who negatively react to recreations. How do you deal with that? TK: With love there has to be some criticism, especially with recreations. Some sections of the audience are so attached to what they have heard earlier that they can’t accept anything new. But on the other hand, our newer generation enjoys these iconic songs in a recreated version. Recreations should be done with a lot of care and when handled properly, there is no harm!NF: They are created for entertainment and not to stress you out, so people shouldn’t get really emotional about this. These songs are made for you to dance, have fun and enjoy. In Batla House, there is a reason why the song happens, why my character is dancing, etc. When you see the film you will understand why the song is there! Nora, you are known for your chartbuster songs. The trailer of Batla House shows you doing something different. What can we expect from your character? NF: I play a character called Huma and she is a small town girl. She is a performer. She is really important for the story. You have to see the film on August 15 to know what it is about. For my career, it is a step up. It is great that Nikkhil Advani gave me this opportunity. It was very exciting for me because these are the things that I am really looking forward to doing more and more in my career.last_img read more

Web shows which will stir up the patriot in you

first_imgIndependence Day, that time of the year when we honour the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters, who fought till their last breath, to make the country free.With a bouquet of web-series available on various platforms, here is a list of some critically acclaimed web-shows handpicked for you, which can be watched with your family to stir up the patriot in you. Test Case Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor and Vinay Waikul, ALTBalaji’s ‘Test Case’ is a story of Captain Shikha Sharma played by Nimrat Kaur. Also Read – An income drop can harm brainThe series revolves around the first woman in a combat role in the army who’s only aim is to serve the nation by being part of this male-dominated field. Apart from Nimrat, the show starred the formidable cast of Juhi Chawla, Akshay Oberoi, Manit Joura, Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Dev, Anup Soni among others. Modi – Journey of a Common Man The web series, ‘Modi-Journey of a Common Man’ is a 10-episode series available on Eros Now. The intriguing show portrays the journey of the talismanic PM Modi right from his childhood days to his political career that include his years as Chief Minister of Gujarat and then go on to become the Prime Minister. Also Read – Shallu Jindal honoured with Mahatma Award City of Dreams HOTSTAR’s ‘City of Dreams’ is the story of the feud within the Gaikwad family, which erupts after an assassination attempt on a polarising political figure. Blurring the lines between moral and immoral, in a struggle for power forms the core of this transfixing narrative. Bose: Dead/Alive A historic period drama by ALTBalaji stars the talented actor Rajkummar Rao as Subhash Chandra Bose, which depicts the story of the biggest cover-up of the death of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. On 18 August 1945, Subhash Chandra Bose is presumed to be dead after a plane crash in Japanese-occupied Formosa (now Taiwan). The series explores the speculation about Bose’s death and revolves around characters and situations that hint at his possible return.last_img read more

Solicitor Generals wifes phone snatched by miscreants

first_imgNew Delhi: Two bike-borne miscreants snatched the mobile phone of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s wife near Mandi House in the heart of the national capital, police said on Monday. The incident occurred in front of FICCI auditorium on Sunday night. According to the police, Aparna Mehta had stepped out on the road when she was targeted. “We are checking the CCTV footage. The complainant told us that there was no number plate on the bike. And she was not able to see their faces,” said a senior police officer.last_img read more

Inafirst a Durga puja by elderly

first_imgKolkata: In a bid to rediscover youth, members of Swapno Bhor, the only centre for the senior citizens in New Town, will organise Durga Puja for the first time since its inception.The puja titled Prabinder Sarodatsav will be held at the activity centre of Snehodiya, the state of the art living facility for the senior citizens. It is the only Durga Puja in and around Kolkata where the senior citizens will manage the puja which include buying the idol, worshipping it for four days and them immersing it without taking any help from the youths. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaBhaskar Sardar, general secretary of the puja committee, said the experience in organising Durga puja which the members had gathered in their youths will be used in organizing the puja now. Many of the members had held high posts in government offices and private sector and the expertise acquired over the years in doing a work flawlessly will be used to make this puja a success. A book containing writings of the members on their experiences in celebrating Durga puja in their adolescent and youths will be published. The book does not contain any advertisement. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayThere are around 700 members in Swapno Bhor. The willing families would be requested to donate Rs 1,000 for holding the puja. Sardar said to make the puja an eco-friendly one earthen utensils and pitchers will be used. The money required to buy the image of Durga, the pujas that will be performed on four days along with the flowers, dhakis and priests will be donated by the members. On Asthami, prasad will be distributed on large-scale while the women,who will be engaged in the pujas will be treated on Sasthi and Dasami. Senior citizens will take part in the cultural shows, which will be held in the evening on all four days. It may be mentioned that Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation ( Hidco) is organizing round the year activities for the senior citizens at Swapno Bhoor, which include annual fair, cultural shows and trip to religious places.last_img read more

After RBI payout FM says will frontload public spending to boost growth

first_imgNoting that consumption needs a boost, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that more measures to accelerate economic growth are in the pipeline and would be announced in the coming weeks. She reiterated that spending on infrastructure would be the government’s priority. “We can front-load some public spending by the government,” the Minister said during a media briefing in Guwahati, where she is as part of her multi-city tour to interact with tax officials, trade and business. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Sitharaman discussed development schemes for the northeast region besides direct tax and GST. Holding that the Narendra Modi government has been responsive and will come back with answers asked by the various groups, she cited the announcements made last Friday to boost economy by extending partial credit to NBFCs and measures to revive automobile sector. Subsequently, the Centre has eased FDI rules in digital media and single brand retail, coal-mining and contract manufacturing. The government is expected to come with another set of measures to prop up the real estate sector.(Inputs from Hindustan Times)last_img read more

UN probe alleges war crimes endemic impunity in Yemen

first_imgGeneva: Horrific rights violations, including killings, torture and sexual violence, are being committed with impunity by all sides in Yemen’s brutal conflict, UN war crimes investigators warned Tuesday. The investigators, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2017, said they had “identified, where possible, individuals who may be responsible for international crimes” and had provided the confidential list to UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USIf confirmed by an independent and competent court, many of the violations identified “may result in individuals being held responsible for war crimes,” they said in a statement. “The international community must stop turning a blind eye to these violations and the intolerable humanitarian situation,” said Kamel Jendoubi, who heads the so-called Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts. Since 2015, fighting in Yemen has claimed tens of thousands of lives and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Both the Yemen government and the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in the conflict in 2015 to support the government against Iran-backed Huthi rebels have refused to cooperate with the experts. But they said they had based their findings on more than 600 interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as documentary and open-source material.last_img read more

Kashmir is Pakistans jugular vein PM Imran

first_imgIslamabad: Kashmir is Pakistan’s “jugular vein” and India’s decision to alter its special status poses challenges to the country’s security and integrity, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday. Prime Minister Khan in his message on Pakistan’s Defence and Martyrs Day said his government has launched a proactive diplomatic campaign in the world capitals and at the United Nations to apprise the world community about Kashmir after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USPakistan observes September 6 as the Defence and Martyrs Day to mark the anniversary of the 1965 war with India. “For Pakistan, Kashmir stands as its jugular vein. Altering its status poses challenges to Pakistan’s security and integrity,” Khan said. “I have also urged upon the international community to seriously consider the safety and security of India’s nuclear arsenal… this is an issue that impacts not just the South Asian region but the whole world,” he said. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsThe prime minister said the world community will be responsible for the “catastrophic aftermath” if it fails to pay attention to India’s nuclear arsenal. “I have informed the world that Pakistan does not want war, but at the same time, Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to the challenges posed to its security and integrity,” Khan said. Tensions between India and Pakistan have spiked after New Delhi withdrew Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories on August 5. Asserting that abrogation of Article 370 was its internal matter, India has strongly criticised Pakistan for making “irresponsible statements” and provocative anti-India rhetoric over issues internal to it. Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa who addressed the main ceremony at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi said Kashmir was the “unfulfilled agenda” of the completion of Pakistan. “I want to make it clear that Kashmir is the unfulfilled agenda of the completion of Pakistan. It will remain so until it is a resolved according to the UN resolutions,” he said. Bajwa said Pakistan had won its battle against terrorism and was now fighting to end poverty and backwardness. “Today there is a better environment of peace in Pakistan and the country gives the message of peace and security to the world,” he said. “Pakistan has fulfilled its responsibilities in the war on terrorism and now responsibility rests with the world community to full its responsibility and reject all forms of terrorism and extremism. Our fight now is against poverty, unemployment and economic backwardness after successfully confronting the menace of terrorism,” he said.last_img read more

Merged entity of UBI PNB OBC to become operational from April 1

first_imgKolkata: The amalgamated entity of United Bank of India (UBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) will come into effect from April 1 next year, a top official said on Saturday. The merged unit, likely to have a new name, will be the second largest bank in the country after State Bank of India (SBI) with a total business volume of Rs 18 lakh crore. “The amalgamation process will take some time and the new entity will start functioning from April 1, 2020,” MD and CEO of UBI, Ashok Kumar Pradhan, said. The three banks held a customer meet here, which was attended by Chander Khurana, GM of Punjab National Bank and Binay Kumar Gupta, GM of OBC. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalThe lenders said that there will no retrenchment of staff in the merged entity, and also ruled out the possibility of bringing in Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). Pradhan later told reporters that the combined staff strength post the amalgamation will be 1 lakh with 11,400 branches. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on August 30 announced the consolidation of 10 state-run banks into four large-scale lenders. Pradhan said the amalgamation process will require legal and regulatory compliances, besides approval of the three banks’ boards. “During the interim period, the three will continue to function independently,” he said. The government has already announced a capital infusion of Rs 16,000 crore into PNB and Rs 1,600 crore into UBI.last_img read more

Fires spark evacuation order for three northern Manitoba First Nations

first_imgWASAGAMACK, Man. – Some 2,000 residents of a remote Manitoba Indigenous community took turns piling into boats in the darkness as they fled a large forest fire that raced toward their homes.They were evacuated in small groups, late into Tuesday night, for a 20-minute boat ride to a nearby reserve that has an airstrip, where they were to wait for a flight 600 kilometres south to Brandon or Winnipeg.“Probably midnight, we were still transporting by boat,” Chief Alex McDougall of Wasagamack First Nation said Wednesday morning.“Those boats that were equipped with navigation lights were going back and forth, ferrying the evacuees.”The fire, 770 square kilometres in size, came within 800 metres of some homes on the edge of Wasagamack and remained there Wednesday, the Manitoba government said.“Manitoba’s water bombers worked on this fire until yesterday evening with only limited success because dense smoke prevented the aircraft from approaching the fires,” Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires said Wednesday.Smoke from the fire also prompted a partial evacuation of people with health concerns from two other First Nation communities — St. Theresa Point, where the Wasagamack evacuees were first taken, and Garden Hill.The Red Cross, which was managing the evacuations for the federal government, said late Wednesday it had partnered with the Department of National Defence and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to provide two Hercules airplanes to support the evacuation.The planes were expected to fly between the Island Lake area and Winnipeg throughout Thursday.A total of 3,700 people were to be evacuated from the three reserves. The small airstrips in St. Theresa Point and Garden Hill mean only small planes, carrying 40 to 45 people each, could be used.The Red Cross was also working with the City of Winnipeg to set up a large emergency shelter in Winnipeg at the RBC Convention Centre.Water bombers were bring brought in from the Northwest Territories, Minnesota and Ontario to fight the Wasagamack fire and other blazes that have cropped up following weeks of hot, dry weather.A 46-square-kilometre fire was within 3.5 kilometres of Poplar River, where residents had been evacuated earlier as a precaution. A smaller blaze was reported six kilometres from the Fox Lake First Nation.The Wasagamack fire remained the biggest concern Wednesday. McDougall said the winds that had driven the fire close to the community had switched, and the fire had not made any further advance as a handful of officials remained at the scene. Heavy equipment had been placed as a buffer between the fire and the closest homes.“We’re continuing to monitor that area, so hopefully the wind will continue to co-operate.”— By Steve Lambert in Winnipeglast_img read more

Quebec judge withdraws from sex case after saying teen victim had a

first_imgMONTREAL – A Quebec judge has withdrawn from a case in which he said a 17-year-old victim of sexual assault was a little overweight, had a pretty face and was maybe a “bit flattered” at the interest shown in her.Court documents show Judge Jean-Paul Braun recused himself on Oct. 26, a day after his comments were published in a Montreal newspaper.He gave no reasons for his decision.Braun is being replaced by Lori Weitzman, another Quebec court judge.The case resumes Dec. 14 with sentencing arguments.The Crown says Braun’s decision will not delay proceedings.Braun made the comments earlier this year during the sexual assault trial of taxi driver Carlo Figaro, who was eventually found guilty of attacking the teenager in his cab back in 2015.“We can say she is a little overweight, but she has a pretty face, huh?” Braun said at one point.He went on to say she was possibly even “a bit flattered” because “maybe it’s the first time a man has been interested in her.”Braun noted that trying to kiss someone could be seen as an acceptable gesture.Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee called Braun’s remarks unacceptable and said she intended to file a complaint.last_img read more

Protests spark renewed debate over plan to restore ties with Iran

first_imgOTTAWA – Several days of deadly protests in Iran are not deterring the Trudeau government from its efforts to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran — at least for now.A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland indicated Tuesday that Canada is not contemplating ending talks with Iran, despite being “deeply troubled” by the deaths of at least 21 protesters and the arrests of hundreds more.“Canada will continue to engage with Iran on terms that we set, as it remains an effective tool to hold Iran to account, promote human rights and advance our consular interests,” Adam Austen said in a statement.Debate over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise to restore diplomatic relations has been rekindled during six days of protest across Iran that have been described as the most significant challenge to the country’s ruling regime in nearly a decade.The unrest began Thursday when demonstrators gathered to express anger at unpaid wages and rocketing inflation before spreading into expressions of dissatisfaction with the current government.Austen called on Iranian authorities to show restraint.“Canada is deeply troubled by the deaths of protesters in Iran,” he said. “We call on the Iranian authorities to uphold and respect democratic and human rights.”Austen lauded Iranians “who are bravely exercising their basic right to protest peacefully” and said Canada will continue to support their fundamental rights, “including freedom of expression.” He added that the government will continue to monitor the protests closely and speak out about the treatment of protesters.Austen also reiterated Canada’s opposition to Iran’s support for terrorist organizations, its threats toward Israel, its ballistic missile program and its support for the repressive regime of Bashar Assad in Syria.Nevertheless, he said the government believes “open and frank dialogue” is the way to hold Iran to account on human rights and to advance Canadian consular cases.Stephen Harper’s Conservatives cut ties with Iran in 2012. The Liberals pledged during the 2015 federal election to restore relations with Iran, and Global Affairs officials have since held several rounds of quiet discussions with Iranian counterparts.A senior official from Iran’s foreign ministry told the state-run Mehr News Agency on Dec. 18 that the two sides had recently wrapped up a fifth round of talks, and that another had been planned for early in 2018.“We are planning to deploy an Iranian delegation at the directorate-general level to Canada following the New Year holidays,” Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh, general director of American affairs, was quoted as saying.Even before the protests, federal opposition parties, academics and members of the Iranian-Canadian community were already sharply divided over the Liberal plan to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran and that continued Tuesday.“One of the prime minister’s early commitments was to re-engage with Iran and re-open that embassy,” said Iranian-Canadian lawyer and human rights activist Kaveh Shahrooz.“Now I think frankly it’s probably time to abandon that promise and focus on the moral act of supporting the protesters.”The Harper government cited several reasons for closing the Canadian embassy in Tehran and ejecting all Iranian diplomats from Canada in 2012, including Iran’s support for terror and its abysmal human rights record.Those concerns remain valid and reason enough not to re-engage even without the protests, said Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole, who criticized what he saw as a weak Liberal response to the demonstrations.“At this time, and with what Iran is doing in the wider region, we don’t think we should be focusing on improving relations,” O’Toole said. “We should be isolating the regime.”Yet others, such as NDP foreign affairs critic Helene Laverdiere, said the protests underscore the need for Canada to actually have a diplomatic presence on the ground in Iran to monitor and try to influence events.“Of course, if it reaches a point where we say, ‘Look, we cannot move further into renewing diplomatic relations,’ it may reach that point,” Laverdiere said.“But I think at this time, it’s more important to look towards the future and press the point that Iranian authorities need to respect the right to protest and all sides need to avoid violence.”Thomas Juneau, an expert on Middle East politics at the University of Ottawa, said the Liberals knew the Iranian regime was brutal and repressive when they promised to re-engage with Tehran.“The broader calculus that it would be in Canada’s interests to have an embassy in Iran doesn’t change,” he said. “(The protests) are something to keep in mind, but it doesn’t fundamentally change anything.”— Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitterlast_img read more

Inquiry to examine funeral home mishap where family says woman wrongly cremated

first_imgHALIFAX – An inquiry will look into a bizarre mix-up at a Nova Scotia funeral home that saw the wrong body presented to a grieving family, who say their loved one was cremated against their wishes.Adam Tipert of the Nova Scotia Board of Registration of Embalmers and Funeral Directors said Wednesday that the agency will convene a hearing in Halifax on Feb. 7 to determine what happened at the Serenity Funeral Home in Berwick last month.“I can confirm that our board has served notice to the respective individuals who we feel are required to participate in the hearing,” he said. “We need to determine the chain of custody and just exactly what were the events that unfolded at the funeral home that day.”Relatives of Sandra Bennett say they arrived at the home on Dec. 27 for a visitation following her death a week earlier, but found the body of another woman dressed in Bennett’s clothing in the casket.They say they were presented with another body in the casket. Again, it wasn’t their 65-year-old relative.Bennett’s niece, JoAnne Dominey, said the family was then told Bennett was mistakenly cremated, contravening their request for an open casket service.Serenity Funeral Home did not respond to a request for comment.Tipert would not reveal who would be participating in the hearing, but he said the findings could lead to changes affecting other funeral homes in the province.Lawyer Paul Walter is representing Bennett’s husband. He did not respond to a request for comment.He has said his firm is in the process of gathering information and arranging meetings with affected family members.Tipert said the board was notified about the matter by the funeral home. He said the board was gathering information about what discussions were held with family members and what documentation was in place.He said the documents required for a legal cremation explicitly spell out what the wishes are for the deceased.Tipert also said employees at the home raised concerns about the facility with the board in 2015, but the board found there wasn’t enough information to proceed any further. He would not reveal what those concerns were.Tipert said he has spoken about the case with Service Nova Scotia Minister Geoff MacLellan, whose department oversees the licensing of funeral homes, and that the findings of the inquiry will be provided to the government.The board has the authority to suspend or revoke professional licences.“Once we have the matter we’re dealing with taken care of, it will be time to move forward and look at what safeguards and checks can be put into place to make sure that this situation will never happen again,” he said.“There was nothing about this mistake that was good, but we certainly hope that when it’s over we can come out of it with some sort of positive message.”last_img read more

Montrealers fight for insurance benefits highlights dangers of social media lawyers

first_imgMONTREAL – The case of a Montreal writer who said his insurance company refused to pay him disability benefits due in part to online postings is a reminder to people to watch what they put on the Internet, according to legal experts.Literature professor Samuel Archibald published a letter in La Presse earlier this month detailing his struggles to get disability benefits after being diagnosed with severe depression last fall.He wrote that while he was on leave from his job at Universite du Quebec a Montreal, the school’s group insurer opened an investigation because he had been able to take part in certain activities such as speaking with students, reading poems on the radio and making a 10-minute TV appearance.They also looked at photos he had posted on social media that showed him jogging or playing with his children.“They also used this new trick of peeling through the insured’s Facebook and Instagram pages in order to prove, in the event of a lawsuit, that he is not depressed,” he wrote on Feb. 12.The article prompted a wave of denunciations from doctors, union leaders and citizens, with some sharing their own stories of being denied claims with the hashtag #avecsam.It also elicited a response from Archibald’s insurance company, which defended its commitment to mental health and promised to review his file.“Close to half of our group insurance claims are disability cases, and less than five per cent of mental health claims are declined,” Desjardins wrote in a statement.“It’s important to note that each claim is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, while consulting with the insured, experts — including the attending physicians — and the employer.”But the story is no surprise to legal experts, who say insurance companies are increasingly turning to social media to investigate claims.David Share, a lawyer who specializes in insurance claims, says insurance companies have always conducted surveillance and been suspicious of certain kinds of disability claims.He says that while firms have a responsibility to ensure claims are valid, social media can also offer “a cheaper, quicker way of trying to find grounds to deny a claim.”As an example, he says insurance companies can argue that someone who spends a certain number of hours online is capable of working a desk job or taking calls.“It’s easy to say ‘this person doesn’t look disabled,’ but that’s an overly simplistic way of looking at it,” he said.Robert Currie, a lawyer and member of Dalhousie University’s law and technology institute, says insurance companies are too often allowed to be invasive and to jump to conclusions that aren’t supported by their evidence.“You can’t judge anything meaningful about someone’s mental health based on their social media feeds,” said Currie.“One thing we know is that social media feeds are extremely unreliable indicators of anything about a person, 95 per cent of the time.”Both Share and Currie say that while the issue of social media monitoring raises privacy concerns, thus far there are few government regulations in place to stop it.“The legal system is still trying to catch up with the Internet and the impact that it has, and it’s very difficult to prevent companies or investigators from being able to learn how to look things up online,” Share said.Currie said that while people can have some legal recourse if they can show that companies breached strong privacy barriers, it’s far easier and less costly to assume that anything posted online can be found.“A colleague has a sign on her office that reads: ‘Dance like nobody is watching; email as if it’s going to be read to a deposition some day,’” he said.“I think people are far too casual about this.”last_img read more

Tale of missing fried rice sheds light on the office politics of

first_imgA story about a missing lunch of shrimp fried rice is captivating social media and shedding light on an often overlooked but highly contentious aspect of office politics: fridge etiquette.Interactions around the office refrigerator — replete with passive aggressive Post-It notes and decomposing leftovers — reveal human behaviour in the workplace, experts say.Eddy Ng, a professor at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business, said the shared fridge is a microcosm of office dynamics, serving to accentuate interpersonal skills, communication styles and personality types.“It may seem pretty trivial but it can manifest into something that is bigger than just stealing lunches,” he said in an interview from Halifax. “It accentuates peoples’ personalities and attitudes towards their colleagues.”It’s also the scene for a comical tale about stolen shrimp fried rice that has gripped social media for days and spurred an online exchange of woes from cubicle-land.Zak Toscani, a writer and stand-up comedian, took to Twitter last week after his co-worker’s lunch was stolen.He joked that the missing food was shrimp fried rice, escalating the crime from a misdemeanour to a felony, and mused that it was a “professional hit no doubt” due to the lack of a shrimp smell in the microwave or kitchen.Toscani said his hungry co-worker asked to view security footage of the communal fridge, and detailed to his online followers how the investigation unfolded.“Lunch was in fridge for less than an hour before it vanished,” he tweeted, noting that the “psychopath” didn’t even eat the food but instead “buried it in the trash.”“Her motives remain completely unknown,” Toscani said of the perpetrator.After seeing the surveillance footage, he said the victim decided not to press the matter.“I can’t say I blame him,” Toscani said. “We don’t know what this woman’s fully capable of.”His amusing account of the sensational office drama — he quipped that it was the most excited he’d been “at any job ever” — went viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of likes and re-tweets.The workplace spat appears to have hit a nerve among workers affected by the seemingly unscrupulous actions of self-appointed fridge police.Comments online included whether the shrimp fried rice story has been “optioned by Hollywood” — including suggestions for director and actors — as well as theories about the burglar being a scorned lover seeking vengeance.“It’s wild,” Toscani said in an interview from Los Angeles, about the surprising amount of attention his narration of events has received.“It’s become a conversation piece because so many people have had their lunch stolen or thrown out,” he said. “Office situations like this seem to be really common.”Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist and Georgetown University professor, said workplace kitchens are often fraught with problems.“People are in a cramped space, where the office kitchen has almost this level of unwanted intimacy to it,” she said in an interview from Washington, D.C. “You might want a little more privacy but you have to use the communal refrigerator.”Bonior, an author and host of an online chat column in The Washington Post, said the shared office kitchen is prone to passive aggressiveness in part because food can be a loaded issue for people due to scent sensitivities, diets and other issues.“You might need to interact with people to resolve an issue, but rather than deal with it face-to-face people will often leave notes,” she said, calling it a “stealth attack” against someone without taking the responsibility for being direct.“It really does bring out a childishness in the workplace.”Bonior recommended personal, direct and respectful communication in any workplace conflict.“As funny as this story may be, in general it’s better to avoid this sort of secret drama that risks making people feel humiliated and offended.”last_img read more

A loss of trust after changes to Newfoundlands Gros Morne park

first_imgGROS MORNE, N.L. – Nicknamed the “Jewel of Newfoundland,” Gros Morne National Park is known for its breathtaking views, particularly from Western Brook Pond, where a three-kilometre trail leads to an inland fiord with sheer cliffs that rise 600 metres from the water.The hike and boat tour, which attracted 40,000 people last year, are well known as the park’s top attractions.However, some local residents are objecting to a recent decision by Parks Canada to upgrade the trail by replacing an iconic boardwalk with a gravel path that is as wide as a two-lane road. As well, plants that used to flourish beside of the trail have also been pulled away.Kathy Lepold-Madigan, originally from West Chester, Pa., moved to the nearby town of Woody Point with her husband Mike Madigan to be close to the park year-round.She says she was devastated by what she saw this summer on the trail.“I think the park has let us down,” said Madigan. “And when I say that, I mean they let Canada down, let Newfoundlanders down. It seems like the park has lost its view.”Online comments have poured in from former parks employees, guests and residents — all of them decrying the changes.Others say the upgrades appear aimed at boosting the number of visitors at the expense of the park’s ecological integrity.Carla Wheaton, visitor experience manager for Gros Morne, said the popularity of the boat tour and comments from visitors made the renovations a priority. The upgrades were intended to create more space for guests, she says.Wheaton said a series of open houses were held in May and June 2017 to share renovation plans with the public.“I guess we didn’t reach the people who are now feeling they didn’t have sufficient information prior to the project commencing,” she said.There’s also been confusion over the trail, which is now almost four times its original size.Parks Canada has said the trail expansion was meant to increase accessibility, but disability advocates were initially dismayed with the gravel path, saying it was less accessible than the boardwalk.Emily Christy, spokeswoman for the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador, said Parks Canada has addressed her group’s concerns, saying the path will be flattened to improve accessibility.There are also plans for a shuttle to take guests to and from the boats. As well, there are plans to plant vegetation along the trail.“Ecological integrity does remain our priority, at the same time our mandate also provides for opportunities for Canadians to get out and experience national parks,” said Wheaton.A series of open houses are scheduled for the fall, inviting people to share their thoughts about the work done so far.Wheaton said sketches of the final plan for the trail will be made available at those meetings.But some critics, like Anne Marceau, a former Parks Canada employee, wonder why those sketches weren’t presented at the meetings in 2017, before work began.Marceau said the recent communication gaffes have damaged Parks Canada’s relationship with the public.“The loss of trust … it’s a bad consequence of all this,” said Marceau.Marceau said she was “heartbroken” by changes to the trail, but the outpouring of comments from people of all walks of life have showcased the passion locals have for their community’s treasures.“That’s the one thing that’s been interesting about this, to see just how many people out there who are saying ‘We care about this place, we love this place, we’re concerned.’”— By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John’s, N.L.last_img read more

Skilled immigrant doesnt want welfare but Quebec system makes it attractive

first_imgMONTREAL — Hugo Hernan Ruiz, a 42-year-old systems engineer from Colombia, has a master’s degree in his field and ran the IT department of an oil company in his home country.His French is excellent considering he arrived in Quebec in 2016 with little knowledge of the language. But like many highly educated newcomers to the province, Ruiz has struggled to find work despite being selected as a skilled immigrant by provincial authorities.After failing to find a job, he decided to open his own consulting business to take advantage of his South American contacts. He applied for a provincial program that assists budding entrepreneurs with grants, marketing and training.But he was rejected because the program was for people who were on welfare or who had received Employment Insurance — and he fit neither category.It would become a common refrain, he said, as he tried unsuccessfully to navigate the Quebec bureaucracy.“I think there needs to be a reflection,” Ruiz said over coffee at a strip mall in the Montreal suburb of Laval, where he settled with his wife and two children. “What happens to immigrants who are trying to succeed and who don’t come here to live off the government?”As Quebec Premier Francois Legault moves to reduce immigration in order, he says, to ensure newcomers learn French and find work, Ruiz’s case highlights the obstacles and contradictions facing educated immigrants who are neither poor nor wealthy.Yann Hairaud, head of a Montreal-based immigrant employment centre, said he knows of cases where skilled workers find options closed to them because they aren’t on welfare.“Unfortunately yes,” he said in an interview. “These situations can happen. There is a certain incoherence in some of the rules that exist for newcomers.”Shortly after Ruiz arrived in Quebec, he enrolled in a French-language program to study what’s known as the internet of things — the network of objects that contain electronics and can interact with one another.“I thought that instead of taking French courses, I would take a French-language course in my field, so I would learn both,” he said.He graduated with a vocational certificate last August — but because the government didn’t fully pay for his training, more doors were closed to him. A paid public-sector internship caught his eye, but to get it he had to qualify for a provincial salary subsidy.He was rejected for the subsidy, he explained, because the government hadn’t paid for his training.“I brought all my savings with me (from Colombia) and I prepared financially in order to avoid asking for welfare,” Ruiz said. “I’m not criticizing the Employment Department or the government. But I think the country needs to reflect on whether the immigration system encourages immigrants to go on welfare.”Dominique Anglade, immigration critic for the provincial Liberals, has not heard of immigrants going on welfare to land jobs, but she acknowledged those on social assistance have a certain advantage.Anglade, a former economy minister, said in an interview that “a high percentage” of immigrants fail to complete the necessary training to have their skills recognized in Quebec, in part because of the high costs involved.“When you go on welfare, you do have some support that can help you actually accomplish finding a job and everything else,” she said. She blamed the discrepancy on government departments not working hand in hand.Immigration Department spokesperson Chantal Bouchard, said integration “is obviously a priority” but referred questions about the obstacles facing skilled immigrants to the Employment Department.Employment Department spokesman Vincent Breton did not respond directly to questions about whether people who are not receiving welfare are at a disadvantage when seeking work.“As you know, the Employment Department offers many measures and programs for those who want to integrate into the workforce,” Breton said in an email, adding that each file is analyzed on its individual merits.Hairaud, whose organization CITIM works with about 1,800 immigrants a year, said the Employment Department gives priority to certain groups, including those who are on welfare or unemployment insurance.Quebec seeks out skilled workers, he noted, but they are ineligible for government support programs if they are deemed too successful.“It’s contradictory, the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” Hairaud said.Despite the difficulties, the employment landscape is improving for immigrants, partly due to Quebec’s strong economy. In August 2018, the unemployment rate for immigrants between the ages of 25 and 54 fell to 6.1 per cent after hovering above 10 per cent for much of the previous decade, the Institut du Quebec reported.Ruiz said he’s happy in Canada. His two young children are in school, and he wants to start a new life here. But he questions the value Canada places on the first generation of immigrants.“My experience looking for work has been bizarre,” he said. “What is the life for professionals who come here? Is the first generation of immigrants important to Canada?”Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

In the news today Feb 12

first_imgFour stories in the news for Tuesday, Feb. 12———BISSONNETTE SENTENCE TOO HARSH: PARENTSThe parents of a man behind the deadly Quebec City mosque attack have issued an open letter questioning the severity of the minimum 40-year sentence handed down to their son last week. Alexandre Bissonnette, 29, received his sentence Friday for killing six men and injuring six others at the Islamic Cultural Centre mosque on Jan. 29, 2017. His parents, Raymond Bissonnette and Manon Marchand, say in the letter released Monday that the sentence is the harshest imposed in Quebec since the death penalty was abolished in 1976.———TRUDEAU WELCOMES ETHICS INVESTIGATIONPrime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed Monday an investigation by the federal ethics commissioner into an allegation that his office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution. And while she has fuelled the controversy by refusing to comment on the allegation, Trudeau said he continues to have “full confidence” in Wilson-Raybould, whom he moved to the veterans affairs portfolio in January. He said Wilson-Raybould “confirmed for me a conversation we had this fall where I told her directly that any decisions on matters involving the director of public prosecutions were hers alone.”———FIRMS FEAR HIT FROM CARBON TAX: POLLA large proportion of small- and medium-sized businesses soon to be subjected to Ottawa’s carbon tax worry they’ll be unable to pass along the bulk of the extra costs to their customers, suggests a new survey being released today. The online survey was completed by 3,527 members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in the four provinces — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick — that will have to follow the Trudeau government’s carbon-pricing system as of April 1. The lobby group has strongly opposed the federal carbon-tax plan out of concern it will pile on too many costs for smaller companies. In fact, more than two-thirds of the business owners that it polled don’t support any kind of carbon pricing program at all.———B.C. LEGISLATURE RESUMES WITH THRONE SPEECHMembers of the British Columbia legislature return to the house today for a throne speech that sets the political agenda for the coming months as allegations from a spending scandal have all three parties searching for answers. The two top officials at the legislature remain suspended amid a police investigation and a report by Speaker Darryl Plecas that details allegations of spending abuses. NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said the government will work to develop tighter checks on all officials at the legislature to ensure strict spending and reporting rules.———ALSO IN THE NEWS:— Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will host a meeting with Atlantic party members to discuss policy.— Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna will hold a media availability Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog following a tour of the B.C. city’s climate action initiatives. — The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. will release its latest Housing Market Insight on the ownership structure of residential property and vacant land in B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

More oil rigs and jobs expected to leave Canada

first_imgCALGARY (660 NEWS) – The outlook appears to be going from bad to worse for Canada’s oil and gas industry.According to the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, more rigs and jobs are expected to leave the country in 2019.That is a dramatic shift compared to November’s forecast which predicted little change in drilling activity across western Canada.“We could see that number go from approximately 870 job losses to about 5700, essentially lost from western Canada,” said CAODC President Mark Scholz.Another oilpatch convoy is on the move – rigs are relocating to the US.— CAODC (@theCAODC) February 19, 2019Like others in the industry, Scholz believes the problem goes beyond a pipeline shortage – it has become too expensive for some energy companies to do business in Alberta.“We’ve seen billions of dollars leave this industry, going to other jurisdictions that have favourable regulations,” said Scholz. “(Canadian governments have) decided to increase operating costs at a time when our industry can least afford it.”In recent years, government regulations have heaped on higher labour costs, a carbon tax and increased regulations like Bill C-69.“Canada really needs to figure out whether it wants to be in the business of oil and gas,” said Scholz. “Our governments have really indicated that they aren’t interested in investments in oil and gas, particularly from the federal level.”As a result, more rigs and jobs have left Canada for the U.S.According to a recent State of Energy report from Texas Independent Producers, there were more than 45,000 jobs created in the U.S. energy industry last year.The most recent numbers from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers show there were more than 116,000 energy-related jobs lost in Canada between 2015-17.last_img read more

Defence minister asks military watchdog to investigate racism in the ranks

first_imgOTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is asking Canada’s military ombudsman to investigate racism in the Armed Forces.The unprecedented request follows several troubling incidents and reports linking some service members to right-wing extremism and hate groups, including white-supremacist organizations.Sajjan’s request comes on the eve of a fall federal election in which racism and identity politics are expected to figure prominently.Sajjan says his request is “absolutely not” motivated by politics.He also says it does not mean he lacks confidence in the military’s ability to deal with racism in the ranks.Sajjan says commanders have done a good job responding to incidents on a case-by-case basis but an independent investigation is needed to get a handle on the scope of the problem and identify ways to prevent it.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Manitoba Tory candidate was investigated for sharing photo of naked women

first_imgWINNIPEG — A Progressive Conservative candidate looking to keep his seat in Tuesday’s Manitoba election was investigated for showing his assistant a photo on his cellphone of naked women and making comments about her wearing a bikini.Rick Wowchuk, who is running again in the Swan River constituency, says he is sorry for sharing the inappropriate photo and for his remarks while he was a member of the legislature.“I deeply regret doing so and I have taken full responsibility for my actions,” Wowchuk said in an emailed statement Thursday.CBC News first reported that an independent third-party review of Wowchuk’s actions found he breached the Manitoba legislative assembly’s respectful workplace policy five times.Breaches calling his constituency assistant while he was in the bathtub and making comments about her wearing a bikini.The woman, who was not named, also told the CBC that Wowchuk made a joke leading her to believe there were animal photos on his phone before he showed her a picture of naked women holding chainsaws.Wowchuk said he has since participated in workplace sensitivity training and he would continue to represent his constituents.“I am sincerely sorry this occurred and any offence it caused.”The revelation steered conversations away from promises about taxes, jobs and health care as political parties ramped up efforts in the last days before the election.PC Leader Brian Pallister was at a campaign stop announcing he would quickly hold a jobs summit if returned to power. When asked about the investigation into Wowchuk’s conduct, Pallister said provincial rules prevented him from speaking to any specifics about complaints or investigations.“I am always disappointed when allegations arise on one hand,” Pallister said. “And on the other hand, I am pleased that people are willing to bring these allegations forward. That’s why we have strengthened the laws.”The Tories implemented a “no wrong door” policy in 2018 following allegations by several women that former NDP cabinet minister Stan Struthers tickled and groped female staff or made sexual remarks.Months later, Tory Cliff Graydon was ousted following reports that he had invited two women on separate occasions to sit on his lap, and invited one woman to lick food off his face. He is running as an Independent.Tory candidate Nic Curry decided not to run after he also faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour.Pallister said the latest investigation shows people can trust that their complaints will be taken seriously.When asked why the complainant was not informed about the investigation’s outcome, Pallister said he couldn’t speak to that either. He also declined to comment on the decision to allow Wowchuk to run again under the Tory banner.NDP Leader Wab Kinew said complainants should be made aware of investigation outcomes. He said his thoughts are with the employee because “what they experienced was not right and they never should have had to go through that.”“As a leader, I have been very dedicated towards setting up training around a culture of consent and respect in our politics,” Kinew said.“I’ve implemented that on the party side, on the legislated side and in any domain we interact with the public, including our campaign offices.”Kinew himself has been criticized for past homophobic and misogynistic rap lyrics and social media posts. His former partner also told The Canadian Press in 2017 that he flung her across their living room, leaving her with severe rug burns. He has denied the allegation.On the campaign trail Thursday, Kinew pledged to keep the provincial laboratory public if his party is elected. He said the Progressive Conservatives are moving towards a two-tiered health system by considering privatizing the lab and diagnostic imaging.Manitoba Liberal Party Leader Dougald Lamont used his campaign stop to promise access to primary-care health services within no more than 20 minutes of travel time for all Manitobans.Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Presslast_img read more