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The Latest: First debate night of the campaign, minus the Liberal leader

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OTTAWA — The latest developments as federal party leaders take part in the first debate of the campaign (all times Eastern):

7 p.m.

The three leaders taking part in tonight’s election campaign debate have made their way into the Citytv building in Toronto.

Partisan supporters are holding signs, cheering and chanting outside the building, including a group of Maxime Bernier supporters holding a sign asking to get the People’s Party leader into the night’s debate.

Green Leader Elizabeth May was the first to arrive.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer arrived next, and stopped to speak with a reporter after getting off his campaign bus, to say he is ready to talk about the Tory plan.

He also took a dig at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for not showing up.

May, Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are taking part in the Maclean’s/Citytv debate while Trudeau is scheduled to hold a rally 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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