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Millard called dad a failure, blamed him for family business woes, trial hears

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  • TORONTO — Days before an aviation executive was found dead in his bed — a bullet lodged in his brain — his son called him a failure and blamed him for the financial woes the family-owned business was facing, a murder trial in Toronto heard Tuesday.

    Dellen Millard, 32, a twice convicted murderer who is serving two consecutive life sentences, is accused of killing his father, Wayne Millard, on Nov. 29, 2012. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in his father’s death, which was initially ruled a suicide.

    A retired forensic detective showed court scores of text messages Millard sent after purportedly finding his father dead in bed. Jim Falconer said the texts were recovered from one of Millard’s computers seized from the home he shared with his father in Toronto’s west end.

    At 5:56 p.m., Dellen Millard sent a text message to his friend Andrew Michalski.

    “Bro please come over, I don’t want to be alone, something terrible has happened,” he wrote.

    Court has heard Michalski went to Millard’s home for a brief visit.

    Millard texted his girlfriend in the early morning hours of Nov. 30, 2012, that his 71-year-old father had suffered from depression and had shot and killed himself.

    In the texts read out by Falconer, Millard tells Christina Noudga his “world has never been so upside down.” At the time, Dellen Millard was working for his father, who was in the middle of transforming Millardair from a company that rented out hangars to a maintenance and repair company and had built a massive hangar at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.

    “The last time I spoke to him, I told him the company’s financial troubles were his doing and that he was a failure,” Millard wrote. “Usually he tells me not to worry. But this time he said maybe I was right.”

    Millard also told her his father has “always had depression, but he’s never been suicidal.”

    Within days of his father’s death, Dellen Millard changed the locks at the hangar and fired everyone working at Millardair, court heard.

    On Dec. 4, 2012, Millard called all Millardair employees to the new hangar, which included 11 mechanics and five managers, including John Barnes, a longtime aircraft maintenance and repair manager.

    “We were advised of Wayne’s death,” Barnes testified. “We were told at the time it was an aneurysm and that the business was going to be closed down.”

    Barnes said he met Wayne Millard the day before his death to discuss what benefit packages to sign the new employees up for. The company had recently received a crucial licence from Transport Canada to operate the business.

    “He seemed excited, enthusiastic,” Barnes said.

    But money was tight, Barnes added, and Wayne Millard was dipping into his personal fortune to help finance the new business along with a multimillion-dollar business loan he took out.

    The elder Millard told Barnes he had taken out a mortgage on the hangar and on the family home.

    Barnes said Millardair had a customer lined up in Halifax, and there were other opportunities as well.

    The company, he said, was “going to be viable,” but at that point did not have any contracts signed.

    Barnes said he wasn’t sure of the younger Millard’s role in the business other than that Dellen Millard’s property company was doing the interior work on the hangar. He later found out Dellen Millard owned half of Millardair.

    “He (Wayne) told me it was to leave something to Dellen,” Barnes said. But Wayne and Dellen Millard “didn’t see eye to eye.”

    Dellen Millard had a collection of vehicles and trailers on the hangar floor and the washrooms were used, but never cleaned, Barnes said. “It was deplorable,” he said, adding that he couldn’t show the hangar in that state to either Transport Canada or potential clients.

    The trial has heard that Dellen Millard bought the handgun found next to his father’s body from a weapons dealer. Dellen Millard’s DNA was found on the handle of the gun.

    Millard told police he last saw his father alive around noon the day before and said he stayed the night at his friend Mark Smich’s house. Phone records indicate one of Millard’s phones moved from Smich’s house around 1 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2012, to his father’s home where it stayed until shortly after 6 a.m.

     

    Liam Casey , The Canadian Press


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    Canada should do more to help women refugees worldwide: Oxfam Canada

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  • OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s self-proclaimed feminist government could and should be doing more to address gender-specific challenges faced by female refugees affected by wars and displacement.

    That’s according to a new report from Oxfam Canada, which takes a close look at how Canada provides international humanitarian aid and the gaps that exist when it comes to outcomes for women and girls in refugee situations.

    Canada has made great strides when it comes to making gender equality and feminism a key priority of its domestic and foreign policy agenda, but more can be done to help women being disproportionately affected by global crisis, the report says.

    “Currently, Canada’s international assistance funding is out of step with its ambition to be a world leader on gender equality and feminist aid and foreign policy,” the report states.

    “The fact that Canada’s international assistance spending is at a near historical low, merely reaching 0.26 per cent of gross national income, as compared to the UN aid target of 0.7 per cent, undermines its credibility and leadership on the international stage.”

    The study zeros in on areas where women in conflict zones are not getting the help they need or where efforts to improve gender equality in these areas are not being fully realized.

    Some of the findings are unsettling, including a statistic showing 25 to 50 per cent of maternal deaths in refugee camps are caused by unsafe abortions and related complications.

    This is due, in part, to a lack of adequate access to sexual and reproductive health services, which are often seen as a “second-tier” priority when people are forced to flee their homes due to conflict.

    “Our argument is that services are totally life-saving when you consider, for example, that last year 500 women and girls died during emergencies every single day from pregnancy and childbirth complications simply because sexual and reproductive health and rights weren’t a priority,” said Brittany Lambert, a women’s rights policy and advocacy specialist with Oxfam Canada.

    “These things should be prioritized from the very inception of these humanitarian responses and could save many lives.”

    Oxfam Canada also published findings last month following a series of interviews, focus groups and surveys of hundreds of women and men from the host and refugee communities in Bangladesh, suggesting Rohingya women and girls who survived genocide in Myanmar are facing new risks in refugee camps, notably when it comes to access to water and sanitation facilities.

    Some women are choosing to go hungry and thirsty and are restricting their children’s diets in order to limit their trips to these facilities to reduce risks of physical and sexual abuse and harassment, according to this research. 

    The organization is calling on Canada to develop a 10-year plan to achieve the United Nations aid target of 0.7 per cent of national income.

    It also wants Canada to establish a dedicated pool of 15 per cent of all its humanitarian aid to be specifically earmarked to address the needs of women and girls.

    “Right now the way Canada’s funding system works is that humanitarian assistance is aligned with the global humanitarian system priorities, which are things like shelter, water, food — but gender is not one of those categories,” Lambert said.

    “Women’s needs can be inserted into these categories but there are really limited funding opportunities to actually undertake programming that address gender inequality as a main goal so that’s why we’re calling for a stand alone pool of funding where Canada could actually fund this kind of feminist programming.”

    In addition, Oxfam Canada says the Trudeau government should take firmer action to ensure weapons do not end up in the hands of those who commit gender-based violence.

    Several international aid agencies, including Amnesty International, have said loopholes exist in Canada’s arms export policy that would allow arms sales to the United States — weapons which could end up being transferred to countries that abuse human rights.

    The government has announced several measures aimed at championing women’s issues both at home and abroad, including launching a feminist international assistance policy and a national action plan on women and government. Canada also disbursed more than $68 million in humanitarian assistance to support sexual and reproductive health needs in 2017-18.

    In addition, Canada has committed to increase its foreign aid effort by $2 billion over five years, which will bring total assistance to nearly $6 billion by 2021, says Global Affairs Canada.

    “We agree with the report that we need to ensure that the voices of civil society partners and affected communities, particularly women and girls, are included throughout the humanitarian response,” said the statement from Global Affairs Canada.

    “That is why Canada expects its partners to directly consult affected communities, and ensure that women and girls, in particular, are involved in the design of initiatives and decision-making processes that affect their lives.”

     

    —Follow @ReporterTeresa on Twitter.

     

    Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


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    MP pays tribute to baby daughter on pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day

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  • OTTAWA — Conservative MP Tom Kmiec choked back tears as he recalled his infant daughter in a heartfelt speech in the House of Commons to mark national pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.

    Kmiec’s daughter Lucy-Rose died in August when she was only 39 days old.

    MPs from all parties struggled to maintain their own composure as an emotional Kmiec used a member’s statement as an opportunity to thank the medical staff who cared for Lucy-Rose, the neighbours who brought his family food and support, and the parliamentarians who sent their condolences.

    Lucy-Rose died of Trisomy 13, a genetic condition that leaves babies with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. Also called Patau syndrome, only five to 10 per cent of babies diagnosed with it will live past their first year.

    “On this day, let us grieve with the parents who have lost a child, as well as the siblings who lost a lifelong best friend,” Kmiec said.

    Speaker Geoff Regan said he hoped Kmiec could see that love and support from the parliamentary family was around him.

    About one in five pregnancies in Canada ends in miscarriage.

    Congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities are the leading cause of death for babies under the age of one year. In 2016, 404 infants died of a congenital abnormality, according to Statistics Canada.

    In all, more than 1,700 babies died before their first birthday in 2016, 75 per cent of them before they were one month old.

    On Tuesday, the House of Commons human resources committee is starting to study the impact on parents of the death of an infant, including possible updates to parental leave programs and benefits.

    The study comes after a motion from Conservative MP Blake Richards, who identified shortcomings in the parental leave program when it comes to being compassionate to parents who are grieving.

    Kmiec urged MPs to hug their kids the next time they go home.

    “If they are old and have their own (kids), hug them anyway, even if they protest,” he said. “Life is too short and none of us knows when our time will come.”

    The Canadian Press


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