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Leaders link up with their political families for Day 3 of federal campaign

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OTTAWA — The Conservatives, NDP and Greens have returned to their national tours today after an evening spent sparring in Toronto, while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau picks up his campaign in Quebec.

Trudeau began his morning by promising a suite of packages aimed at helping small businesses, including eliminating so-called “swipe fee” on sales taxes that merchants must pay to credit-card companies on every transaction.

The Liberal leader is scheduled to end the day with a rally in his Montreal hometown.

Green Leader Elizabeth May is also heading back to family — joining her new husband, and fellow candidate, John Kidder for an event in the B.C. riding where he’s seeking a seat. Kidder is running in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, a riding that sprawls in a vast crescent northeast of Vancouver.

And it’s back into the NDP family fold for leader Jagmeet Singh as well, who campaigns in Toronto before ending the day with a pizza party at the home of Olivia Chow, the former NDP MP and widow of the party’s beloved former leader Jack Layton.

Singh promised to put a price cap on cellphone and internet services, part of an election campaign platform that is aimed at appealing to voters worried about being able to afford the things they need in their everyday lives.

Telecom companies have previously warned that government attempts to restrict the cost of internet and cellphone services will hurt both the quality of service and investments in infrastructure.

Singh is also to give a lunchtime speech to the Canadian Club.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is also campaigning in and around Toronto, making an announcement at a Mississauga bus garage in the morning, then visiting a pool hall and campaigning alongside Tory candidates in Etobicoke and Brampton.

The Toronto suburbs, within the city and in the “905” belt around it, are among the hottest battlegrounds this campaign, with lots of potential flips between the Liberals and the Conservatives. The New Democrats see opportunities, too, especially in Singh’s former hometown of Brampton.

People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier will campaign on his own home turf in Quebec’s Beauce region, including a photo op as he submits his nomination papers to Elections Canada.

Scheer, May and Singh crossed swords for the first official debate of the campaign last night, while Trudeau instead attended an event in Edmonton.

The Canadian Press


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Father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

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VANCOUVER — A father accused of murdering his two daughters has told his trial a “yarn” about the day the girls were killed, a Crown attorney argued Friday.

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments in the B.C. Supreme Court that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters on Christmas Day in 2017 in Oak Bay, near Victoria.

As Christmas Day loomed, Berry was “so destitute he didn’t even have food for the girls” and he had no one he could turn to for help, Weir told the jury.  

Berry has testified that he owed thousands of dollars to a loan shark named Paul and that he was attacked in his apartment by a “dark haired, dark skinned” man on the day of his daughters’ deaths.

He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of four-year-old Aubrey Berry and six-year-old Chloe Berry. 

In his testimony, Berry told the jury that two henchmen connected to the loan shark visited his apartment and stored a bag of drugs there in the months before the attack on Christmas Day.

Weir said Berry’s testimony was “like the plot from a bad low-budget movie.”

“Like everything in his life, he wouldn’t accept his responsibility,” he said. “There was no Paul … no dark-skinned child murderer… .”

Weir alleged Berry’s “entire story of Christmas Day is a lie.”

“It’s self-serving, illogical and at some points defies the laws of physics,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, this attack simply didn’t happen.”

How is it that Berry could remember a doctor’s exact words when he was in the hospital after he says he was stabbed but cannot provide more than a “generic” description of Paul than “tall, Chinese, and in his 50s,” Weir asked.

“He has no explanation of things that cry out for explanation,” Weir told the jury. “Andrew Berry’s evidence is selective and it’s self-serving.”

Weir said evidence presented during the trial showed the father tried to kill himself after killing his daughters, but “in the end, Mr. Berry was destined to survive this nightmare he created.”

When Weir cross-examined Berry, he suggested the accused had stopped opening mail, paying bills and ignored a Christmas invitation from his sister in 2017 because he had decided to end his life.

Berry denied he was planning to kill himself.

“He cannot be believed, and his evidence cannot raise a reasonable doubt. His story has conflicts at every turn,” Weir said.

It is an “elaborate yarn,” he said.

The only person who knows what happened on that Christmas Day in 2017 is Berry, Weir told the court.

But the only reasonable conclusion is that “Berry took the lives of his girls,” he said.

Weir said the motive for the murders was Berry’s “long-simmering animosity” towards his estranged wife, Sarah Cotton.

Berry believed she wanted to get him out of their daughters’ lives, he said.

Weir said Berry believed he would lose custody of the girls after that Christmas.

“If he couldn’t have them, Sarah couldn’t either,” he told the jury.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.

 

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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Trudeau was only one in dark makeup at 2001 party but nobody took offence: attendee

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VANCOUVER — A man who attended an “Arabian Nights” gala held by a private school in Vancouver says no one besides Justin Trudeau attended in skin-darkening makeup, but no one else there was dressed as Aladdin.

Wayne Hamill, who is white, says he doesn’t recall anyone expressing any offence over Trudeau’s costume or “brownface” makeup at the time.

Hamill went to the 2001 party because his kids were West Point Grey Academy students and he says the future Liberal leader’s costume was in keeping with the theme and others were dressed as belly dancers or wearing saris or veils.

He says he’s not a Trudeau supporter but he believes the uproar over a photograph showing Trudeau made up in brownface is unfair because it’s applying today’s standards to yesterday’s context.

Trudeau has apologized for the image and others that have emerged of him wearing skin-darkening makeup, saying he had a blind spot because of his privilege and he deeply regrets behaviour he now recognizes as racist.

He says in his 2014 book, “Common Ground,” that teaching at West Point Grey Academy gave him new insights into the “privileged lives” of private-school students that he didn’t glean from his own advantaged upbringing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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