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Clement admits to multiple acts of infidelity as long ago as last summer

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  • OTTAWA — Former Conservative MP Tony Clement has had inappropriate online relationships with more than one woman and went to the police months ago because someone was trying to pay one of the women to offer up intimate details of their exchanges, he admitted Thursday.

    When Clement told Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer last week that he had shared explicit images of himself online in October and was being extorted to prevent the images from being released publicly, he insisted it was an isolated incident.

    It was not.

    “During a period of personal difficulty and weakness I engaged in inappropriate exchanges that crossed lines that should never have been crossed,” Clement wrote Thursday in a statement to his constituents in the Ontario riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka.

    Scheer looked grim as he was forced to take time away from a policy announcement on crime in Brampton, Ont. to respond to the latest admissions.

    “This was a shock to me when I was made aware of the situation,” said Scheer.

    Despite knowing for several months that someone had been trying to dig up dirt on him, Clement continued to sit until Tuesday on Parliament’s national-security and intelligence committee. Members have top-secret clearances and can be privy to extremely sensitive information.

    Clement is no longer on that committee and the RCMP and the Privy Council Office are investigating possible security breaches.

    Clement approached Scheer last week to let him know someone was trying to extort him because he’d sent explicit images and a video to someone he thought was a “consenting female.” He also asked the RCMP to investigate.

    Thursday, Clement said the most recent extortion attempt was by “foreign actors” but provided nothing to explain why he believed that to be the case.

    Clement said he wouldn’t comment beyond what was in his statement. Scheer said he knew no details of the extortion, including how much money was sought.

    Clement resigned as the Conservative justice critic and from his committee assignments Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, Scheer said Clement would remain in the Conservative caucus because he trusted Clement’s claim that he’d committed a single, though terrible, “lapse in judgement.” A few hours later, after more allegations about Clement approaching young women online surfaced on Twitter, Scheer said Clement was no longer welcome in the Conservative caucus.

    Scheer said he found out about the information in Clement’s Thursday statement only when he posted it publicly.

    Clement wrote on Thursday that he had let himself and everyone who cares about him down.

    “Pride and vanity got the better of me, and shame held me back from getting back to the path of good,” he wrote.

    “I apologize to the women with whom the exchanges occurred, and I also apologize to anyone else who felt in any way that I crossed online boundaries that made them feel uncomfortable, even without my knowing. I am deeply sorry,” he wrote.

    He said his constituency office will stay open and he will remain an MP.

    Clement has already been reassigned a new seat in the back row of the House of Commons. He is in a small section with three other MPs —  former Liberal cabinet minister Hunter Tootoo, former Liberal MP Darshan Kang and former NDP MP Erin Weir — who have also found themselves on the outs with their parties because of allegations of improper behaviour.

    Clement was a Conservative party stalwart, a cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government and twice a candidate for the federal party leadership. He dropped out of the most recent leadership contest early on and endorsed Maxime Bernier. He has also run for the provincial Tory leadership in Ontario, where he was once a cabinet minister.

    Janice Dickson and Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press



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    Online real estate auctions try to shake up sales with novel approach

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  • An online auction for a luxury home in Abbotsford, B.C., is drawing attention for its novel approach, which some observers say has potential to inspire new sales even if it doesn’t have any notable impact on the housing landscape.

    Bidding opens Tuesday on the 12-bedroom, 10-bath restored train power station known as the “Sumas Powerhouse,” which was previously listed for $5 million and has an assessed value of $2.2 million on B.C. Assessment.

    It’s one of three properties in Canada listed on global firm Concierge Auction’s website. A news release says it’s targeting Chinese buyers and will be sold in co-operation with Re/Max.

    Scott Pate, a project sales manager with Concierge, said luxury real estate has been a buyers market for quite some time in both the United States and Canada and auctions are a way to give sellers more certainty.

    “We’ll bring the market to this sale instead of the normal way of selling real estate, which is putting it on the market and waiting for an offer, which could take years and years,” he said.

    “The market is motivated because there’s a fear of missing out. This auction is going to end on a certain day … so it creates a lot of interest.”

    Real estate auctions are typical in Australia and New Zealand, but the model is less common in Canada. 

    A real estate agent in Victoria tried the in-person auction approach in 2016 with a property in the city’s upscale Rockland neighbourhood, holding a public auction featuring a pianist playing a grand piano in the ballroom at the event.

    But local media reported that although 60 people filled the room, only one was an interested buyer so the auction was cancelled. In 2017, the B.C. Supreme Court accepted a $1.8-million offer for the historic mansion in foreclosure.

    Tom Davidoff, director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said online auctions aren’t all that different from the way we buy and sell homes traditionally in Canada, especially in cases where there are multiple interested buyers and a bidding war.

    That could make it comfortable for Canadian buyers to transition to the model.

    “It certainly could be a direction the market could go. In segments where the market is slow today, people will try different approaches to move product, so it’s certainly possible,” he said.

    But beyond creating another way for potential buyers to bid, he said he doesn’t believe there will be an impact on the market in terms of housing prices or competition.

    “This will have no impact on the market overall,” Davidoff said.

    In Toronto, On the Block sells real estate both the traditional way and through its online auction platform but doesn’t focus on luxury sales.

    Co-founder Daniel Steinfeld said online auctions offer a way around some of the frustrations that come with silent bidding wars under the traditional system.

    As part of the company’s model, buyers must sign agreements to make the value of their bids public while their identities remain protected. Real estate board regulations otherwise prohibit real estate agents from disclosing the substance of competing bids.

    “Buyers, especially in the Toronto and Vancouver markets, have grown pretty frustrated with the blind bidding approach,” he said.

    The platform also allows the company to post more information than might be available through MLS listings, like copies of home inspections and agreements of purchase and sale, which makes it less likely for a sale to fall through.

    The most important factor in a successful real estate auction is the starting price, which can inspire competitive bids, Steinfeld said. So when identifying potential properties for auction, the company interviews the sellers to determine their objectives and market expectations.

    If the seller has unreasonable expectations about the market value of their property, it’s probably not the right fit for auction.

    Market conditions matter less, he said.

    “We have seen in both good and bad market conditions that it can work, it really just comes down to the appropriate pricing strategy,” Steinfeld said.

    Auction properties are typically first-time listings and the company sets a reserve price, which represents the minimum value at which the seller is obligated to sell.

    “Once bidding reaches that number, everyone knows for sure that property will sell,” he said.

    “Then everyone starts to bid quit a bit more because they know at that point that if they win, it’s theirs.”

     

    Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


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    A week on, vigil held for Christchurch victims in Prince Edward Island

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  • CHARLOTTETOWN — More than a week after the deadly shooting rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a vigil was held at the Charlottetown cenotaph in Prince Edward Island on Saturday to show solidarity with the victims.

    Sobia Ali-Faisal, a faculty member at the University of Prince Edward Island’s psychology department, said while the temperature was cold the atmosphere at the vigil was warm.

    “It was sombre, but the signs that people had were very, very supportive,” she said, adding that the hundreds of people who attended “really wanted to be there.”

    Ali-Faisal said it was particularly heartening to see support from outside the Muslim community.

    “It’s soothing because you can feel quite vulnerable after something like this happens,” she said.

    “It could happen here. You could be a target, and you just kind of become cautious and take a lot more precautions. So it’s nice when you see people come out and support you. It makes you feel safer.”

    Vigils can also be a starting point for challenging hate by allowing people of different faiths to connect, she added, but said it’s important to keep up the momentum they create.

    Shaukat Khan, the president of the Pakistan Canada Association in Vancouver, said it’s “amazing” to see Canadians standing with the Muslim community, adding that Canadians always come together in hard times and these vigils show that.

    There are a number of groups in British Columbia and other parts of the country meeting up and thinking of ways to sustain the dialogue following the attacks, he said.

    The gunman killed a total of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, in the nation’s worst terrorist attack.

    Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in the attacks and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 5.

    Alhadi Abusneena, the president of the Muslim Society of Prince Edward Island who was also at the Charlottetown vigil, echoed Ali-Faisal’s words.

    The people of Charlottetown and P.E.I. support the Muslim community and “we stand as one family,” he said.

    “I see in their eyes, I see the love and compassion,” he said.

    Such vigils show that in spite of the sorrow, people choose love over hatred, he said.

    Although the vigil on Saturday took place more than a week after the shooting, Abusneena said the timing is irrelevant since the victims’ families have to live with a lifetime of pain.

    —By Hina Alam in Vancouver, with files from The Associated Press

    The Canadian Press


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    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

    sat30mar - 31mar 3010:00 ammar 319th Annual Central Alberta Family Expo10:00 am - 5:00 pm (31)

    sat30mar1:00 pm- 4:00 pmMAGSaturday @ the MuseumMAGnificent Saturdays welcomes all ages and abilities to participate in a fun art project every week! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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