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City seizes donation bins belonging to unregistered charity

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Two donation bins in Orléans have been seized by the City of Ottawa, more than three years after the organization they belong to had its charitable status revoked.

The boxes at 2002 St. Joseph Blvd. belong to the Humago Foundation and contained a notice indicating that any donations left there would be picked up weekly by the group.

The problem is the boxes weren’t registered with city, despite being on city property — and the charity itself isn’t registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

“Any solicitation or asking for funds, without being registered, when it comes to charities, is considered fraud in Canada,” said Jeff Horncastle, acting client and communications outreach officer with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC).

“The charity must be registered with the CRA.”

The Humago Foundation did not respond to multiple interview requests from Radio-Canada. But before the bins were seized, the foundation’s president, Marie-Claude Guérin, wrote in an email that any donations are given to various schools.

The city’s bylaw department said it seized the bins on Jan. 23 after its officers couldn’t reach the foundation. It’s unclear how long they’d been there.

“If the owners want their donation boxes back, they will be fined $615 for obstructing a public road,” wrote Roger Chapman, director of bylaw and regulatory services, in a French-language statement.

No charitable status since 2019

The city doesn’t know if there are other Humago Foundation donation bins in Ottawa because the foundation hasn’t been given any permits, Chapman said. Those are only issued to not-for-profit organizations that provide proof of their charitable status.

According to the CRA, the Humago Foundation hasn’t been a registered charity since Nov. 29, 2019, after it failed to file the right form within six months of the end of its 2017 fiscal year.

“If a charity loses its status for any reason, such as revocation or cancellation of its registration, it may continue to operate and conduct its programs, but it will no longer be able to identify itself as a registered charity,” said CRA spokesperson Nina Ioussoupova in a French-language interview.

A charitable registration number was clearly visible on the bins before they were seized by the city. Guérin has said the organization only had a few bins in operation.

A business registry listed the Humago Foundation’s home base in Montérégie, Que., along with various aliases, including the Super Recyclers and Binefit Canada Foundation. The latter is the one which had its charitable status revoked, but neither name is registered with the CRA.

Both a school in Ottawa and another in Montreal confirmed to Radio-Canada that they work with Super Recyclers.

A white bin with slots sits in the snow.
A charitable registration number is visible on a donation bin belonging to the Humago Foundation, despite the foundation having its charitable status revoked in 2019. (Rebecca Kwan/Radio-Canada)

‘We don’t know where the money is going’

Horncastle said charity fraud is fairly common yet underreported, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of the scope of the problem.

Only five per cent of victims ever report to the CAFC, he said.

Horncastle encouraged people to do due diligence to ensure a charity is registered before making a donation and to report any suspicions of fraud to the CAFC or CRA.

He also confirmed the anti-fraud centre hasn’t received any reports regarding the Humago Foundation.

However, another charity which relies on donations condemned the foundation’s actions.

“If they don’t have their status up to date, usually it’s because something bad has been happening,” said Pierre Deschamps, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Outaouais.

“So, it should be a wake-up call for us to pay attention and not necessarily give to that organization because we don’t know where the money is going.”

The removal of the bins comes as Ottawa’s clothing donation box policy is under review. According to the city, the current bylaw does not govern where donations should be sent.

Ottawa could look across the river for some tips: a few years ago, the City of Gatineau adopted a regulation stipulating only organizations based there could operate bins within city limits.

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Harris, endorsed by Biden, could become first woman, second Black person to be president

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WASHINGTON (AP) — She’s already broken barriers, and now Kamala Harris could become the first Black woman to head a major party presidential ticket after President Joe Biden abruptly ended his reelection bid and endorsed her.

Biden announced Sunday that was stepping aside amid widespread concerns about the viability of his candidacy.

Harris is the first woman, Black person or person of South Asian descent to serve as vice president. She joined the Biden ticket after a rocky and abbreviated run of her own for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden said Sunday that deciding on Harris as vice president was “the best decision I’ve made.” He wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that she had his full support and endorsement to run against Donald Trump for the presidency. “Democrats — it’s time to come together and beat Trump,” he said. “Let’s do this.”

However, her nomination is hardly a sure thing. The party is split over whether Harris should ascend or there should be a quick “mini primary.”

A recent poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 6 in 10 Democrats believe Harris would do a good job in the top slot. About 2 in 10 Democrats don’t believe she would, and another 2 in 10 say they don’t know enough to say.

The poll showed that about 4 in 10 U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of Harris, whose name is pronounced “COMM-a-la,” while about half have an unfavorable opinion.

A former prosecutor and U.S. senator from California, Harris will face doubters as she seeks to reassure the party she can win the presidency in November. Her first test will be at the Democratic convention in Chicago in August.

Even before Biden’s endorsement, Harris was widely viewed as the favorite to replace him on the ticket. Actively campaigning in recent weeks, she’s had a head start over potential challengers, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.

Harris will seek to avoid the fate of Hubert Humphrey, who as vice president won the Democratic nomination in 1968 after President Lyndon Johnson declined to run for reelection amid national dissatisfaction over the Vietnam War. Humphrey lost that year to Republican Richard Nixon.

Nixon resigned in 1974 during the Watergate scandal and was replaced by Vice President Gerald Ford. Ford never won a term of his own.

Vice presidents are always in line to step into the top job if the president dies or is incapacitated. However, Harris has faced an unusual level of scrutiny because of Biden’s age. He was the oldest president in history, taking office at 78 and announcing his reelection bid at 81. Harris is 59.

She addressed the question of succession in an interview with The Associated Press during a trip to Jakarta in September 2023.

“Joe Biden is going to be fine, so that is not going to come to fruition,” she stated. “But let us also understand that every vice president — every vice president — understands that when they take the oath they must be very clear about the responsibility they may have to take over the job of being president.”

“I’m no different.”

Harris was born Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, to parents who met as civil rights activists. Her hometown and nearby Berkeley were at the heart of the racial and social justice movements of the time, and Harris was both a product and a beneficiary.

She spoke often about attending demonstrations in a stroller and growing up around adults “who spent full time marching and shouting about this thing called justice.” In first grade, she was bused to school as part of the second class to integrate Berkeley public education.

Harris’ parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised by her mother alongside her younger sister, Maya. She attended Howard University, a historically Black school in Washington, and joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which became a source of sisterhood and political support over the years.

After graduating, Harris returned to the San Francisco Bay Area for law school and chose a career as a prosecutor, a move that surprised her activist family.

She said she believed tht working for change inside the system was just as important as agitating from outside. By 2003, she was running for her first political office, taking on the longtime San Francisco district attorney.

Few city residents knew her name, and Harris set up an ironing board as a table outside grocery stores to meet people. She won and quickly showed a willingness to chart her own path. Months into her tenure, Harris declined to seek the death penalty for the killer of a young police officer slain in the line of duty, fraying her relationship with city cops.

The episode did not stop her political ascent. In late 2007, while still serving as district attorney, she was knocking on doors in Iowa for then-candidate Barack Obama. After he became president, Obama endorsed her in her 2010 race for California attorney general.

Once elected to statewide office, she pledged to uphold the death penalty despite her moral opposition to it. She refused to defend Proposition 8, a voter-backed initiative banning same-sex marriage. Harris also played a key role in a $25 billion settlement with the nation’s mortgage lenders following the foreclosure crisis.

As killings of young Black men by police received more attention, Harris implemented some changes, including tracking racial data in police stops, but didn’t pursue more aggressive measures such as requiring independent prosecutors to investigate police shootings.

Harris’ record as a prosecutor would dog her when she launched a presidential bid in 2019, as some progressives and younger voters demanded swifter change. But during her time on the job, she also forged a fortuitous relationship with Beau Biden, Joe Biden’s son who was then Delaware’s attorney general. Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015, and his friendship with Harris figured heavily years later as his father chose Harris to be his running mate.

Harris married entertainment lawyer Douglas Emhoff in 2014, and she became stepmother to Emhoff’s two children, Ella and Cole, who referred to her as “Momala.”

Harris had a rare opportunity to advance politically when Sen. Barbara Boxer, who had served more than two decades, announced she would not run again in 2016.

In office, Harris quickly became part of the Democratic resistance to Trump and gained recognition for her pointed questioning of his nominees. In one memorable moment, she pressed now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on whether he knew any laws that gave government the power to regulate a man’s body. He did not, and the line of questioning galvanized women and abortion rights activists.

A little more than two years after becoming a senator, Harris announced her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But her campaign was marred by infighting and she failed to gain traction, ultimately dropping out before the Iowa caucuses.

Eight months later, Biden selected Harris as his running mate. As he introduced her to the nation, Biden reflected on what her nomination meant for “little Black and brown girls who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities.”

“Today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way, as the stuff of presidents and vice presidents,” he said.

Once in the job, Harris worked to stem migration from Central America, but her efforts did not stop the movement of people leaving their corrupt and impoverished countries to seek safety and prosperity in the U.S.

Nor was there much progress to be made on voting rights, another issue that was part of Harris’ portfolio. When Republicans limited ballot access in various states, Democrats lacked the necessary muscle in Congress to push back at the national level.

Harris eventually carved out a role as the administration’s most outspoken advocate for reproductive rights after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that had guaranteed abortion access nationwide.

Much of Harris’ work has focused on bolstering her party’s coalition of women, young people and voters of color. And in halls of power dominated by men — both in Washington and around the world — she has remained keenly aware of her status as a political pioneer.

She often repeated a line she credited to her mother: “Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.”



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More evacuation orders in B.C. as heat wave aids lightning-triggered wildfires

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Several lightning-triggered wildfires have forced authorities in British Columbia to issue evacuation orders as the province’s southern and eastern regions swelter in a heat wave.

The BC Wildfire Service says the Island Pond fire about 17 kilometres south of Canal Flats, B.C., in the East Kootenay, was discovered Saturday and grew to 1.2 square kilometres overnight.

The Regional District of East Kootenay has declared a state of local emergency and issued an evacuation order for two addresses as a result, and has also warned another 65 properties to be prepared to leave on short notice.

Meanwhile, the Cariboo Regional District ordered residents on 29 parcels of land in the Kuyakuz Lake area covering 923 square kilometres to evacuate immediately, with five out-of-control wildfires burning nearby — four of which were confirmed to be lightning-caused.

The new evacuation orders come as the Shetland Creek fire about eight kilometres north of Spences Bridge, B.C., is holding at about 150 square kilometres in size.

The BC Wildfire Service dashboard says about 87 per cent of the more than 300 blazes burning in the province have been caused by lightning.

All evacuation orders and alerts linked to the Shetland Creek blaze in B.C.’s Thompson-Nicola region remain in place for communities such as Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Spences Bridge and the Ashcroft First Nation.

In the Central Kootenay, the community of Silverton, B.C., is on alert while 107 properties south of the village are under an evacuation order due to the nearby Aylwin Creek wildfire.

Aylwin Creek and nearby Komonko Creek remain at a combined size of 6.5 square kilometres, and Highway 6 south of Silverton remains closed due to wildfires burning nearby.

Environment Canada says the latest heat wave broke or matched the daily high-temperature records in 14 B.C. communities on Saturday, with Lytton reaching a high of 41.2 degrees — breaking a record of 40.6 degrees set in 1946.

Temperature records also fell in the B.C. communities of Cranbrook, Merritt, Princeton, Trail and Vernon, with all five communities reaching at least 36 degrees.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Why Ontario Premier Doug Ford is at war with the LCBO – BBC.com

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Why Ontario Premier Doug Ford is at war with the LCBO  BBC.com

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