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Critics say red-flag provision in federal firearms bill could weaken public safety



OTTAWA — Critics of a planned new measure to remove guns from the wrong hands say it could actually undermine efforts to make people safer.

A government bill being studied by MPs would allow anyone to apply to a judge for an emergency order to prohibit someone who might cause harm, such as a stalker or abuser, from possessing firearms for up to 30 days.

The identity of the person making the application may be kept confidential, and the matter can proceed without the gun owner being present in court.

Several organizations have told the House of Commons public safety committee this “red-flag provision” is misguided and problematic.

Heidi Rathjen, co-ordinator of gun-control group PolySeSouvient, said during a committee hearing that not a single women’s organization asked the government for the measure.

Under the current law, a person who fears violence from a gun owner may call police, who can investigate and remove firearms if they conclude there is a risk.

In making a potential victim go to court, Rathjen said, the red-flag proposal could allow police to offload their responsibility.

“We feel that the existence of such a measure will undermine the reforms that need to take place, in those kinds of cases where police don’t take complaints seriously enough,” she said. “And that should be the focus of improving the system, because that is the most effective system in terms of protecting victims and potential victims, especially with domestic abuse.”

PolySeSouvient includes students and graduates of École polytechnique in Montreal, where a man gunned down 14 women in 1989.

In a written submission to the committee, the group says the introduction of new red-flag procedures for victims also shows a lack of understanding of the nuances of intimate abuse.

“Indeed, it is unrealistic to expect victims to have the means and the fortitude to go to court while they face the simultaneous challenges of escaping abuse, caring for children and keeping their jobs.”

In its brief to the committee, the National Association of Women and the Law says the court application process “is likely to be risky and impractical for women whose safety is at risk.”

The association wants MPs to strengthen the law throughout to ensure swift removal of guns from an owner when a risk of harm is evident.

“Acting extremely quickly can be essential to preventing a femicide. Too many steps or confusion regarding who removes the guns and when can have tragic consequences.”

Louise Riendeau of the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale told the Commons committee the red-flag measure should be removed from the bill because it might harm more women than it would help.

The existing law is both “sufficient and preferable to the proposed changes” of the red-flag provision, the Canadian Bar Association says in a brief to the MPs.

The association suggests that allowing the identity of the person who goes to court to remain sealed could lead to abuse by a vengeful individual.

“Police officers themselves are vulnerable to false complaints under these provisions,” the association says. “An aggrieved individual, who was arrested, can present a one-sided account of the interaction in court. There is no cross-examination or any ability to check records.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2022.


Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


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



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Why Ontario Premier Doug Ford is at war with the LCBO


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U.S. President Joe Biden steps aside as Democratic candidate, ending re-election bid




WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden is removing his name as the Democratic candidate in the November election following weeks of mounting pressure over the 81-year-old’s mental acuity and ability to win the faceoff with Republican rival Donald Trump.

Biden says it has been his greatest honour to serve but he believes it is in the best interest of his party to stand down and focus solely on fulfilling his duties as president for the rest of his term.

Growing numbers of Democrats were urging Biden to drop out following a disastrous debate performance against Trump and multiple missteps on the world stage during the recent NATO leaders’ summit in Washington.

Biden told supporters Friday he was ready to get back on the road this week after recovering from COVID-19, which he contracted during a critical time for his campaign.

Biden criticized Trump’s acceptance speech at last week’s Republican National Convention, saying it presented a dark vision for the future, and indicated he would forge ahead with his own campaign.

But he issued a social media post on Sunday afternoon saying he would not be running, adding he will speak to the nation and provide more detail later this week.

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

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Joy in Newfoundland after ‘Lucky 7’ fishers survive harrowing days lost at sea




NEW-WES-VALLEY, N.L. – There was a powerful word being repeated in the joyful Newfoundland community of New-Wes-Valley on Sunday: “Miracle.”

Over and over, residents out walking or chatting to one another in local stores said the fact that seven fishermen from the area had somehow survived roughly 48 hours in a life raft in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and were found by search and rescue crews was nothing short of miraculous.

“It’s once in a lifetime you’ll see something like this, when all the people survive,” said Frank Granter, who worked for the Canadian Coast Guard for 35 years. He was out walking through the sunny, seaside community on Sunday afternoon, stopping to talk to neighbours about the rescue ahead of an evening parade to celebrate the men’s survival.

Daphne Crocker leaned over her balcony and spread out her hands. “What a mighty God we serve,” she said about the fishermen coming home.

Granter agreed it was a miracle the Lucky 7 returned. “But October, November, it would have been a different story,” he said.

The Elite Navigator fishing boat and its crew seemed to vanish on Wednesday night. The craft was reported missing on Thursday after transmitting its final signal at around 8:30 p.m. the night before, the Canadian Coast Guard said. The vessel had caught fire and sank, forcing the crew to hastily disembark and wait for rescue on the life raft.

A massive search soon followed, involving four coast guard ships, a Cormorant helicopter, a Hercules aircraft and many local fishing vessels.

In New-Wes-Valley, which is an amalgamation of three small fishing communities along Newfoundland’s northeast coast, people braced for the worst. Fishing is among Canada’s deadliest professions, and tragedy is a common thread linking people in fishing communities across Atlantic Canada.

But on Friday night, out on the Atlantic ocean, searchers saw a light from a flare. It brought them to a life raft, where the seven fishermen — the Lucky 7 — were waiting.

Fisher Toby Peddle was among them. He said he was terrified as he jumped off the sinking fishing boat as it was pulled down into the depths. He can’t swim, he said, and he didn’t have a survival suit on.

“It was either jump and risk drowning or stay and be burned,” he said in an interview Sunday. “There was no time to think about it. I just knew I had to jump.”

He said the captain and another crew member, Jordan Lee King, had made a plan to reach him as soon as they hit the water.

“Jordan had said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll catch you before you even get in the water,’” recalled Peddle.

Sure enough, when Peddle jumped, King kept him afloat and quickly brought him to the raft, the fisherman said.

“I was relieved I made it to the raft. I couldn’t swim a stroke to save my life,” he said.

Peddle praised the actions of the captain.

“He did the best job he could have possibly done. He kept everyone calm in the life raft for over 48 hours. He’s a hero.”

“He just kept telling us, ‘We’re going to be fine. They know where we are, they’ll find us,’” he added.

He said it was very hard hearing the sound of helicopters flying overhead and realizing pilots were unable to see the life raft through fog. It was “the worst feeling of all,” he said.

They fired the final smoke flare in the boat at dusk on Friday, and it was spotted by the coast guard, he said. When he saw a helicopter flying overhead, “it was a moment of relief.”

At the wharf in New-Wes-Valley on Sunday afternoon, Peter Barfoot’s phone was pinging relentlessly in his pocket. He is good friends with David Tiller, one of the rescued fishermen, and he’d just launched a fundraising campaign to buy Tiller a new guitar.

The instrument went down with the Elite Navigator and Barfoot said it was “a no-brainer” to mount an effort to buy him a new one. He’d raised about $1,600 by Sunday afternoon.

“They’re heroes,” Barfoot said, shaking his head in disbelief. “How often do you hear this? It was a dire situation that turned into what it is now … They’re alive. They got a second chance at their life.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2024.

— With files from Michael Tutton in Halifax

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