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Court bid to quash services deal for Squamish Nation’s Senakw project in Vancouver

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VANCOUVER — A Vancouver residents association has launched a legal bid to quash a services agreement between the city and the Squamish Nation for the largest Indigenous-led housing and retail development in Canadian history.

The Senakw development, which is slated to include 6,000 rental units and is the subject of a $1.4-billion federal loan, is on Squamish land but will rely on the city for police and fire services, utilities and public works.

A petition for judicial review filed in BC Supreme Court by the Kits Point Residents Association on Wednesday wants a declaration that the in-camera council meeting approving the services deal on May 25 was unlawful.

It says the city breached procedural fairness and natural justice by approving the agreement without giving residents affected by the development a chance to be heard, and wants the deal quashed.

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The petition says while the association supports the Squamish Nation’s intent to develop the 4.2-hectare site at the head of False Creek, it is concerned by the size, density and height of its towers, and their neighbourhood impact.

The City of Vancouver says in a statement that it is “reviewing the legal petition and will respond in due course.”

The petitioners describe difficulty getting information about the project, and say that upon learning it would involve a road through Vanier Park, they became “increasingly concerned.”

“They tried to get details about the project, but the city refused to provide information,” the petition says.

“City staff repeatedly advised the association that they could not discuss the project because all discussions were being held in camera.”

The site was once an ancient village that was burned and expropriated a century ago, then was returned to the Squamish Nation by a 2003 court ruling.

The federal government has said the loan from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to finance the development is the largest it has ever made.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the site last month when the financing was announced.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2022.

 

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Conservatives are ‘fearmongering’ over assault-style gun ban: public safety minister

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OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino accuses the Conservatives of “whipping up fear” that the Liberal government is outlawing ordinary long guns and hunting rifles.

In an interview, Mendicino says the government only wants to reinforce a regulatory ban on assault-style firearms like the AR-15 by enshrining a definition in legislation, and it is prepared to work with MPs to get it right.

He insists the government has no intention whatsoever of going after everyday long guns and hunting rifles, calling the notion “Conservative fearmongering.”

In May 2020, the Liberal government announced a ban through order-in-council on over 1,500 models and variants of what it considers assault-style firearms, such as the AR-15 and the Ruger Mini-14.

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The Liberals recently proposed including an evergreen definition of a prohibited assault-style firearm in gun-control legislation being studied by a House of Commons committee.

The Conservatives claim the government’s amendment amounts to the most significant hunting rifle ban in the history of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Joly seeks reprimand of Russian ambassador as embassy tweets against LGBTQ community

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has asked her department to summon Russia’s ambassador over social media postings against LGBTQ people.

In recent days, Russia’s embassy in Ottawa has posted on Twitter and Telegram that the West is imposing on Russia’s family values, and arguing that families can only involve a man, a woman and children.

The embassy has posted images of a crossed-out rainbow flag and Orthodox icons of Adam and Eve.

The tweets came as Russia expanded a ban on exposing children to so-called homosexual propaganda, meaning authorities can now prosecute Russians for doing things they argue might entice adults to be gay or transgender.

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Joly’s office says the posts amount to “hateful propaganda” that must be called out and “an attack on the Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance.”

If Global Affairs Canada follows Joly’s request, it will be the third time the department has summoned ambassador Oleg Stepanov this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

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Work hard and never give up, Michelle O’Bonsawin says during Supreme Court welcome

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OTTAWA — The newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada says her journey has not been an easy one, but it has been meaningful and rewarding.

Members of the legal community and Michelle O’Bonsawin’s fellow judges welcomed her to the bench in a ceremony today.

O’Bonsawin, who replaced the retiring Michael Moldaver on Sept. 1, is a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

O’Bonsawin says she is a big believer that if a person has a goal, works hard and never gives up, they can achieve their dreams.

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She adds that while she has made mistakes and fallen down, those missteps have been her teacher.

Richard Wagner, the chief justice of Canada, praises O’Bonsawin’s generosity and volunteer activities, noting she shares his passion for open courts, access to justice and education.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

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