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Canada Soccer cancels controversial exhibition game against Iran – CBC News



Canada Soccer says it is cancelling a controversial exhibition game against Iran initially set for next month in Vancouver, saying it has become “significantly divisive.”

“Over the past week, the untenable geopolitical situation of hosting Iran became significantly divisive, and in response, the match was cancelled,” said Canada Soccer in a statement issued Thursday evening.

“While we considered the external factors in selecting the optimal opponent in our original decision-making process, we will strive to do better moving forward.”

The soccer organization said it “has the best of intentions” in arranging the international match for June 5 as part of Team Canada’s preparations for the FIFA World CUP in Qatar later this year.

But the decision to host Iran drew the scorn of the families of those who died aboard Flight PS752 when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down the plane in 2020.

All 176 passengers and crew members on board the aircraft were killed, including 85 Canadians and permanent residents.

The families said the exhibition match was an insult to those still seeking justice for their loved ones — especially given persistent concerns about the IRGC’s possible ties to Iran’s team.

“We are happy,” said Hamed Esmaeilion, spokesperson for the association representing victims’ families in Canada. “This is the right thing to do … We were worried about IRGC officers coming to Canada, normalizing Canada’s relationship with Iran.”

Canada Soccer said it would conduct a “throughout review” of its “processes for hosting international matches” and consult with stakeholders moving forward. Victims’ families said Canada Soccer never responded to their letters asking about the match.

The soccer organization said it’s looking for a new opponent for the game and is working to get refunds to those who bought tickets for the match, which was almost sold out when it was cancelled.

Sina Kalhor, Iran’s deputy minister of sport, tweeted late Thursday that he’s seeking $10 million in damages from Canada Soccer, saying the organization broke its contract by cancelling the game. 

CBC News reported Tuesday that the head of Iran’s team said Canada Soccer would be paying Iran’s soccer federation $400,000 for the game.

The team’s director, Hamid Estili, told Iranian state-affiliated media that the payment would mark the first time in more than two decades that Iran’s soccer federation made a profit off a friendly match. 

Canada Soccer did not confirm or deny that quoted amount but said it’s standard practice to pay visiting teams appearance fees to cover expenses.

Canada Soccer received more than $3 million in federal funding this fiscal year. The government says none of that money went toward the match.

Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge said in a statement to CBC News that the government “commends Canada Soccer for making this decision” and is looking forward to cheering on Team Canada during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

Ukraine’s ambassador-designate to Canada Yulia Kovaliv is now calling on Canada Soccer to have a friendly match with Ukraine’s soccer team instead.

“And 400K could go for humanitarian needs of Ukrainians affected by Russia’s war,” wrote Kovaliv. “I guess it’s win-win.”

The soccer organization was under mounting political pressure to call off the nearly sold-out match at BC Place.

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K. and Canada’s former special adviser on Flight PS752, tweeted Wednesday that Canada Soccer’s behaviour is “repugnant” and “calls into question both the competence and values of the organization.”

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart also condemned the game. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said again earlier this week that he thought the game was “a bad idea” and distanced his government from the match and its funding.

WATCH | Canada Soccer paying Iran’s team for match:

Canada Soccer to pay Iran’s team $400K for controversial soccer match

2 days ago

Duration 2:05

There’s growing controversy around a planned exhibition match between the Canadian and Iranian soccer teams set for Vancouver for June. CBC News has reported that Canada Soccer will pay $400,000 to Iran’s soccer federation for the game — and that the head of Iran’s team attended a party with a man wanted by the FBI in relation to an alleged plot to kidnap international targets.

Conservative MPs Matt Jeneroux and Richard Martel called Canada Soccer’s decision to invite and pay Iran’s team “unacceptable.”

“Hosting the Iranian national soccer team as victims of Flight PS752 are still suffering and seeking compensation is reprehensible and will only further serve to legitimize the Iranian regime,” the MPs wrote in a media statement.

Victims’ families also wrote letters to Public Safety Canada officials Tuesday raising concerns about their own security. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says victims’ families have reported being harassed, threatened and intimidated by proxies of the IRGC.

Hamed Esmaeilion at a soccer match with his daughter Reera, who was also a soccer player. Reera, 9, died on Flight PS752 along with her mother Parisa Eghbalian. (Submitted by Hamed Esmaeilion)

Experts say politics and sports in Iran are intertwined, with the IRGC either directly or indirectly controlling many sports organizations, including soccer clubs. 

As CBC News first reported, photos taken last month show the head of Iran’s soccer team, Hamid Estili, attending a party with an alleged Iranian intelligence informant with ties to the IRGC who is wanted by the FBI.

At the time of the party, a warrant had been out in the U.S. for Mahmoud Khazein’s arrest for almost a year. He was being sought on charges related to a plot to kidnap international targets, including three people in Canada. The FBI is now looking into the matter, according to a person at the centre of the alleged kidnapping scheme.

Estili has not responded to CBC’s request for comment, submitted last week on Instagram.

Longtime sports journalist and CBC News contributor John Molinaro said it appears Canada Soccer only viewed the game as a way for Team Canada to prepare for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and didn’t consider the public relations fallout. 

Iran is ranked 21st in the FIFA men’s world rankings. Canada is ranked 38th. 

Esmaeilion said that he now wants the federal government to put the entire IRGC on its list of terrorist organizations, as the U.S. has done. Right now, only a clandestine branch of the IRGC is listed as a terrorist entity in Canada.

WATCH | Victims’ families want match called off:

Flight PS752 victims’ families outraged by Canada’s soccer match with Iran

9 days ago

Duration 2:04

The families of the victims in the downing of Flight PS752 are demanding Canada Soccer cancel a planned game with Iran’s soccer team, saying they feel betrayed by the move.

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More Charges Dropped Just Days Before Trial Against Activists Who Exposed Animal Cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm



ABBOTSFORD, BC – Several criminal charges were dropped by the Crown yesterday against three animal rights activists just days before their four-week trial is set to begin on Monday, June 27. Amy Soranno, Roy Sasano, and Nick Schafer are accused of exposing animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm in Abbotsford, BC in 2019, and still face a combined total of 14 indictable charges of Break and enter and Criminal Mischief. A press conference will be held in front of the BC Supreme Court in Abbotsford on the first day of trial.The Crown gave no explanation when it dropped some of the remaining charges yesterday against the three activists. The Crown similarly dropped all charges last month, without explanation, against a fourth activist, Geoff Regier, after his lawyers argued in a pretrial hearing that police and the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) had engaged in misconduct.Soranno, Sasano, and Schafer, who together with Regier are calling themselves the Excelsior 4. The three activists could each be sentenced to years in prison if convicted.

What: Press conference & start of four-week trial for the Excelsior 4When: Monday, June 27, press conference at 9am, trial at 10amWhere: BC Supreme Court, 32375 Veterans Way, Abbotsford, BC

“The Excelsior 4 case started three years ago with a total of 21 charges hanging over us,” said Amy Soranno, one of the Excelsior 4 defendants going to trial on Monday. “But before the jury has even been selected, the Crown has dropped all charges against one of us and reduced the number of charges against the rest of us.”Until last month, Regier had faced similar charges for his role in blowing the whistle on Excelsior. In July 2019, Regier made contact with the BCSPCA—the only animal abuse enforcement agency in BC—and provided the private charity with video evidence of criminal animal cruelty at the hog farm. However, instead of recommending charges against Excelsior, the BCSPCA violated its own confidentiality policy in order to turn Regier over to police. The trial comes more than three years after the exposure of animal cruelty at Excelsior, yet the hog farm has never had to answer for the video footage clearly depicting animal abuse. A short video was recently published about the Excelsior 4 case, with an incisive look at how industry has avoided accountability, how the police mishandled evidence, and how the Crown is criminalizing activists. View the 7-minute video here: “The fact that we still face prison time while Excelsior Hog Farm is free to continue its abusive practices is a mockery of justice,” said Soranno. “This case further illustrates the clear bias against animals and activists by the animal agriculture industry, BCSPCA, and police. Our trial will shine a light on the criminal animal abuse taking place at Excelsior, and the failure to hold them and other animal farms accountable.” The trial also comes more than a year after a Freedom of Information disclosure revealed that the BCSPCA has no capacity to enforce anti-cruelty laws at animal farms in BC. Activists point to the abuse carried out at Excelsior as just one example of the BCSPCA’s failure to take enforcement action despite ample evidence of criminal animal cruelty. “BC needs an enforcement agency that is accountable to the public, not a private charity that is unfit for the role and only answerable to its board of directors,” said Soranno. In addition to demanding that the hog farm be held accountable, the Excelsior 4 and animal rights activists across the province are calling on BC Agriculture Minster Lana Popham to replace the private charity BCSPCA with a more accountable government agency to enforce against animal cruelty in BC. In the interest of transparency and accountability, activists are also demanding the installation of Closed-Circuit TV cameras at all animal agriculture facilities in BC. “With no national regulations governing animal welfare on farms and virtually no government oversight on farms, one of the only ways abuse and mistreatment of farmed animals comes to light is through whistleblower and hidden camera exposés,” said Animal Justice in a recent statement. “Preventing journalists and animal advocates from exposing animal abuse restricts freedom of expression, one of the most important human rights in Canada.” For more information about the Excelsior 4, the story behind their charges, and how to take action against animal cruelty:
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Is The Canadian Online Gambling Industry Regulated?



Like in many western countries, gambling is a popular pastime for many Canadians. Throughout Canada’s evolution, it has strived to give its citizens the freedom of gambling across the provinces. Thanks to this, casinos in the country have grown and thrived over the years, from land-based casinos to the more modern online gambling sites.

Interestingly, government-sponsored sites have also joined the online trend. While other nations globally move from one extreme to the other in terms of their stand on gambling, Canadian lawmakers have generally used an even-handed approach despite the attraction of quick and easy money.

Generally, the country’s laws are flexible while simultaneously protecting the public’s welfare.


History of Canada’s Gambling Laws

The ‘90s marked a new age for the gambling industry in Canada because of the computer and internet boom. The first online casinos also launched during this era, and you no longer had to risk gambling in unlicensed casinos in Sweden if you could not access legal casinos. Avid gamblers could simply go online, although they were much fewer in number.

The first reason for this was only a few people owned computers. There was also a concern about the absence of online casino regulations. As the industry expanded, governments began establishing rules to control the sector. Today, traditional and online gambling is prevalent in the country since accessing casinos is much simpler now than before.


Is the gambling sector legal in Canada?

Online gambling had been illegal for years in Canada until quite recently. Now, it is legal in Canada in different forms. All the ten provinces and the three territories have the premise to set their own rules. The minimum legal gambling age in Canada is 19, apart from Alberta and Quebec, where players are only allowed to gamble upon turning 18.

All casinos, lotteries, racetracks as well as other gaming establishments must abide by the rules stipulated by their territory or province of operation. As previously mentioned, some forms of gambling are legal in parts of Canada and illegal in others. The country has two gambling laws; the First Nations Law and the Provincial Law.

The latter accords each territory or province control over gambling activities within its jurisdiction. Subsequently, some provincial laws are stricter than the federal regulations.


Take away

Today, many Canadians enjoy gambling online, from sports betting and live tables to traditional games like slots. Now that it is legal, you can safely access any reputable and legal casino online and physically.


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Downtown Ottawa: Ottawa Bylaw issues 513 tickets, tows 121 vehicles over Canada Day weekend | CTV News – CTV News Ottawa



Ottawa Bylaw officers issued 30 parking tickets and had eight vehicles towed out of the downtown core on Sunday, the final day the motor vehicle control zone remains in effect.

The control zone, aimed at preventing another convoy-style occupation near Parliament Hill, came into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday in preparation for Canada Day celebrations and possible protests. While roads remain open for traffic, vehicles participating in protests are prohibited and there is no parking or stopping in the area.

In an update on Sunday afternoon, Ottawa Bylaw said since 8 a.m. Wednesday, officers have handed out 513 parking tickets – 186 tickets on Saturday and Sunday – and towed 121 vehicles.

Six tickets have been issued for encumbering the highway, one ticket for “pile material on highway” and three tickets for unlicensed mobile refreshment vehicles.

Bylaw Services says three tickets were issued for the unauthorized use of fireworks, while one ticket was issued for public urination.

“We thank all residents and visitors who celebrated Canada Day while respecting Ottawa residents and laws,” Bylaw Services said on Twitter Sunday afternoon.

Ottawa police have not commented on the police operation in downtown Ottawa over the Canada Day long weekend. Officers from the RCMP, OPP and municipal police forces across the country joined Ottawa police for the Canada Day policing plan.

Mayor Jim Watson told CTV News Ottawa he thought the Canada Day celebrations and the police presence went “really, really well.”

“We were better prepared, we had more police officers at the right time we needed them from different police services and at the end of the day I think what we did was make sure there was a police presence but we also were very firm with applying the rules,” Watson said.

The motor vehicle control zone stretches from Colonel By/Sussex Drive in the east to Booth Street in the west, and Wellington Street in the north to Laurier Avenue in the south. The control zone also includes the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway east of Parkdale Avenue.

It will remain in effect until 6 a.m. on Monday.


The city of Ottawa says a motor vehicle control zone will be in effect from Wednesday at 8 a.m. until July 4 at 6 a.m. (City of Ottawa/Twitter)

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