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Legal clinic challenges Ontario panhandling law as unconstitutional

TORONTO A Toronto legal clinic has launched a constitutional challenge against an Ontario law that targets panhandling. The Fair Change clinic argues that the Safe Streets Act violates the rights of people who beg for money, including freedom of expression, the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The clinic says the law enacted in 2000 to address aggressive panhandling and squeegeeing criminalizes poverty. It says people ticketed under the act are unable to pay the fines.

Gerry Williams, a former Fair Change client, says he faced nearly $10,000 in tickets for panhandling, which the clinic helped him appeal. Williams, who says he had a traumatic upbringing on a fly-in First Nation, says the fines he could never have paid added an extra burden to his homelessness, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder. A previous constitutional challenge failed after the courts agreed the law infringed on individual charter rights, but said the infringement was justified in the interests of public safety.

A spokesman for Ontario s attorney general did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sissala East MP donates to security services, others

Member of Parliament for Sissala East Constituency in the Upper West Region, Abass Ridwan Dauda, has donated motorbikes and barrels of fuel to some security services. The benefactors were the Ghana Police Service (GPS), Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) as well as the Sissala East District Directorate of the Food and Agriculture. The aim of the donation according to the MP is to help the police embark on their patrol activities to reduce crime in the area and for the GIS to monitor the country s border with Burkina Faso.

The items donated are valued GHC25,000. Mr Dauda also paid rent for 10 houses in the Tumu township for personnel of the Police Service. This is to increase the number of personnel sent to the area to man police posts at Banu, Nabulo, Sakai, Bawesibelle, Naabugbelle, and Nmanduonu. There have been reports of armed robbery attack on passengers in the two Sissala districts over the past few months.

The MP said the donation will go a long way to reduce cross-border crime in the district and at the border with neighbouring Burkina Faso. He has also renovated the office of the District Directorate of Education of the Ghana Education Service (GES). He said there is no country in the world that can develop without the people being educated and that explained why he penciled education as one of his priorities.

He urged circuit supervisors to perform the tasks they are mandated to perform to improve students performance. The Sissala MP further donated a barrel of petrol to extension officers in the area to enable them to go around the community to educate farmers on good farming methods and the government policy on agriculture. The MP last month donated 1,008 mathematical sets to candidates sitting for this year s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

Ottawa announces contract to remove, dispose of eyesore MV Farley Mowat

SHELBURNE, N.S. It was once the notorious flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, used by vigilante environmentalists to enforce marine conservation on the high seas. But the MV Farley Mowat is now an environmental hazard itself. The 60-year-old boat sits rusting at dock in Shelburne, N.S., where it is at risk of sinking and poses an imminent pollution threat to the environment, according to the federal government. The Canadian Coast Guard announced Friday it will issue a contract to remove and dispose of the Farley Mowat, after years of trying in vain to force the owner, scrap dealer Tracy Dodds, to do it.

Our shoreline and the water are a part of who we are It is a very welcome relief for the people of Shelburne, the local Liberal MP, Bernadette Jordan, said in a statement.

The black-painted ship has been in the picturesque town for three years, after being seized at gunpoint by the RCMP seven years ago. It was part of a small, militant fleet commanded by Canadian environmental crusader Paul Watson, who at the time was described as a terrorist by former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams. On April 12, 2008, an RCMP tactical squad stormed the ship and accused its captain and chief officer of violating Canadian law by getting too close to the annual seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Watson, then in New York, said the arrests amounted to an act of war. He argued that his vessel registered in the Netherlands never entered Canada s 12-nautical-mile territorial limit, but Ottawa said the Fisheries Act gave it the authority to take action beyond that line. The Fisheries Department later said its 98-metre icebreaker CCGS Des Groseilliers was grazed twice by the Farley Mowat during a tense encounter on the ice-covered waters. But the conservation group insisted its ship was rammed twice by the icebreaker.

Watson s group has long used high-profile, vigilante tactics to stop hunters from killing seals, whales and other marine wildlife around the globe. Its logo is a stylized skull, much like a pirate s Jolly Roger. The Farley Mowat s senior officers were released from a Cape Breton jail in April 2008 after the ship s namesake, Canadian author Farley Mowat, posted their $10,000 bail. The pair were later fined $23,000 each, though they were deported before they were sentenced. As for the ship, the former Norwegian fisheries research vessel was sold for $5,000 in 2009 and was supposed to be refitted. But that never happened. It later showed up in Lunenburg in 2010 and then in Shelburne harbour in September 2014.

On June 25, 2015, the ship sank at its berth, forcing the coast guard to mount a $500,000 cleanup effort that saw the vessel refloated. More than 2,000 litres of pollutants were eventually removed from the hull. But a survey last month found oil-contaminated water in most of the tanks and determined that based on the vessel s current condition, it is at risk of polluting if left unattended, the coast guard said Friday. Dodds has failed to comply with court orders, and the coast guard had given him until last Monday to come up with a plan to address the pollution threat.

Ottawa said it will try to recover costs from Dodds, and will monitor the vessel until it is removed and disposed.

Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the move is part of the government s new Oceans Protection Plan to remove abandoned, derelict and wrecked vessels from the marine environment.

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