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Lindhout’s mother pleaded for daughter’s freedom during tense phone calls

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OTTAWA — Amanda Lindhout’s mother pleaded with one of her daughter’s alleged Somalian kidnappers to lower a $2-million ransom demand, saying her family wasn’t rich and had little money to offer.

In a series of tense telephone recordings played in court today, Lorinda Stewart tells accused negotiator Ali Omar Ader that she simply wants to see her daughter again.

Lindhout was a freelance journalist from Red Deer, Alta., when she and Australian photographer Nigel Brennan were seized near Mogadishu in August 2008 while working on a story. Both were released in November 2009.

Ader, a 40-year-old Somali national, has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role.

During an August 2009 call, Stewart points out to Ader that if Lindhout and Brennan are killed, the kidnappers will receive nothing.

Ader tells her the men holding the pair want nothing less than $2 million — not the $319,000 that was being offered at that point for their release.

— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

The Canadian Press

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Fire marshal releases cause of fatal Pubnico Head fire that killed four children

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s fire marshal says heat from a wood stove caused a fire last month that claimed the lives of four children in rural Pubnico Head.

Fred Jeffers says the stove was the source of ignition, and the origin of the fast-moving fire on Jan. 7 was around the chimney.

Jeffers released the basic information today after a spokeswoman for the provincial government refused last week to release the basic findings of the fire marshal’s investigation, citing “privacy laws.”

The fire marshal says his office is not in the habit of routinely releasing such information, but he confirmed basic findings have been released in the past when doing so was in the public interest.

Emma Kennedy and her common-law partner Phil Prouty escaped the blaze, but the fast-moving fire killed four-month-old Winston Prouty, four-year-old Jayla Kennedy, seven-year-old Mya Prouty and seven-year-old Mason Grant, a cousin who was visiting for a sleepover.

Jeffers says there needs to be more openness when it comes to releasing such information to the public.

“Based on this incident … we can certainly see that what we’ve done in the past is not in the best interest of the public, and we need to look at it,” Jeffers said in an interview.

The Canadian Press

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First Nations group wins lucrative clam fishery, breaks up Clearwater monopoly

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OTTAWA — A company made up of First Nations from Quebec and Atlantic Canada has been awarded a new licence for Arctic surf clam, breaking up a years-long monopoly on the multimillion-dollar industry held by fisheries giant Clearwater Seafoods Inc.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc says granting the lucrative offshore licence to Five Nations Clam Co. will boost Indigenous participation in the industry and spread economic and social benefits across eastern Canada.

Last year, the government announced it would add a fourth licence comprising 25 per cent of the total allowable catch of Arctic surf clam, and that the successful applicant would be an Indigenous entity and majority Canadian-owned.

Clearwater is calling foul on the decision following their unsuccessful bid, which involved partnering with 13 Mi’kmaq bands in Nova Scotia.

Five Nations Clam will partner with Premium Seafoods to harvest, process and market the catch.

The fishing grounds for Arctic surf clams are located mainly off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the current quota is about 38,000 tonnes and worth tens of millions of dollars annually.

(Companies in this story: TSX:CLR)

The Canadian Press

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