Mismanagement, internal strife detailed in new book on inner workings of Vatican

Written by admin on 27/07/2019 Categories: 广州桑拿网

The Vatican’s new leaks scandal intensified Tuesday as a book detailed the mismanagement and internal resistance that has been thwarting Pope Francis’ financial reform efforts.

Citing confidential documents, it exposed millions of euros in potential lost rental revenue, the scandal of the Vatican’s saint-making machine, greedy monsignors and a professional-style break-in at the Vatican.

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“Merchants in the Temple,” by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, is due out Thursday but an advance copy was obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press. Its publication, and that of a second book, come days after the Vatican arrested two members of Francis’ financial reform commission in an investigation into stolen documents.

The Vatican on Monday described the books as “fruit of a grave betrayal of the trust given by the pope, and, as far as the authors go, of an operation to take advantage of a gravely illicit act of handing over confidential documentation.”

“Publications of this nature do not help in any way to establish clarity and truth, but rather generate confusion and partial and tendentious conclusions,” the Vatican said.

The arrests and books mark a new phase in the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal. The saga began in 2012 with an earlier Nuzzi expose, peaked with the conviction of Pope Benedict XVI’s butler on charges he supplied Nuzzi with stolen documents, and ended a year later when a clearly exhausted Benedict resigned, unable to carry on.

With the scandal still fresh, Francis was elected in 2013 on a mandate from his fellow cardinals to reform the Vatican bureaucracy and clean up its opaque finances. He set out promptly by creating a commission of eight experts to gather information from all Vatican offices on the Holy See’s overall financial situation, which by that time was dire.

Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, a high-ranking Vatican official affiliated with the Opus Dei movement, and Francesca Chaouqui, an Italian public relations executive, were both members – and now are accused in the leaks probe.

Chaouqui was quoted by Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Stampa Tuesday as saying she had nothing to do with the leaks and that she had tried to prevent Vallejo Balda from revealing Vatican secrets.

Nuzzi’s book focuses on the work of the commission and the resistance it encountered in getting information out of Vatican departments that have long enjoyed near-complete autonomy in budgeting, hiring and spending.

“Holy Father, … There is a complete absence of transparency in the bookkeeping both of the Holy See and the Governorate,” five international auditors wrote Francis in June 2013, according to Nuzzi’s book. “Costs are out of control.”

Citing emails, minutes of meetings, recorded private conversations and memos, the book paints a picture of a Vatican bureaucracy entrenched in a culture of mismanagement, waste and secrecy.

It might not be far off the mark given that Francis has repeatedly and publicly warned the Roman Curia against engaging in “intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and partiality” and acting more like a royal court than an institution of service. Last Christmas he delivered an infamous dressing down of his closest collaborators, citing the “15 ailments of the Curia” that included living “hypocritical” double lives and suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer’s.”

That said, the book is clearly written from the point of view of the commission members, sympathetic to their plight and setting up an “us against them” narrative of the new reformers battling the Vatican’s entrenched Old Guard, without addressing why the Old Guard might have had reason to distrust them.

The book cites a memo listing six priorities when the commission began work, starting with the need to get a handle on the Vatican’s vast real estate holdings. Nuzzi cites a commission report that found that the value of the real estate was some 2.7 billion euros (dollars), seven times higher than the amount entered onto the balance sheets.

Rents were sometimes 30 to 100 per cent below market, the commission found, including some apartments that were given free to cardinals and bureaucrats as part of their overall compensation or retirement packages. The book says that if market rates were applied, homes given to employees would generate income of 19.4 million euros rather than the 6.2 million euros currently recorded, while other “institutional” buildings which today generate no income would generate income of 30.4 million euros.

The No. 2 priority on the commission’s list was to get a handle on the management of bank accounts for the Vatican’s “postulators,” the officials who spearhead candidates for sainthood. The process – which involves painstaking research into the “heroic” deeds of saintly candidates and the search for miracle cures – has always been steeped in secrecy.

After the Vatican’s saint-making office told the commission it had no documentation about the postulators’ funding or bank accounts, the commission had the postulators’ accounts frozen at the Vatican bank, Nuzzi said.

In an indication of the controversy that the commission’s work engendered, Nuzzi recounts a previously little-known incident: a March 30, 2014, break-in at the commission’s offices and theft of commission documents. The burglary was clearly an inside job, as the thieves knew exactly which locker to target to get the documents.

Finally, Nuzzi recounts the tale of Monsignor Giuseppe Sciacca, the No. 2 in the Vatican City State administration, who wanted a fancier apartment. Top-ranking Vatican cardinals often enjoy enormous apartments, with some commanding upward of 400 square meters apiece. When Sciacca’s neighbour, an elderly priest, was hospitalized for a long period, Sciacca took advantage of the absence to break through a wall separating their residences and incorporated an extra room into his apartment, furniture and all, Nuzzi recounts.

The elderly prelate eventually came home to find his possessions in boxes, and died a short time later, the book says. Francis, who lives in a hotel room, summarily demoted Sciacca, forcing him to move out.

The second book, “Avarice,” by La Repubblica Vatican reporter Emiliano Fittipaldi, details financial malfeasance at the Vatican, citing among other documents reports by independent auditors.

Among the revelations, Fittipaldi wrote in Tuesday’s paper that a foundation to support the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome paid 200,000 euros toward the renovation of the former Vatican No. 2’s sprawling apartment, under an agreement that the apartment would be used also for hospital functions. Former Vatican secretary-of-state Tarciso Bertone came under fire last year for the apartment, described as a “mega-penthouse,” in contrast to Francis’ vision of a “poor church.”

Fittipaldi also said 378,000 euros donated in 2013 by churches worldwide to help the poor, the so-called Peter’s Pence, wound up in an off-the-books account that had been used in the past to pay Vatican department expenses.

“Avarice” will be published on Thursday.

—;

Colleen Barry contributed from Milan.

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Father of slain teen told family she had run away, brother tells murder trial

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TORONTO – The father of a 17-year-old girl whose body was found in a burning suitcase two decades ago explained his child’s disappearance from the family home by saying she had run away, the teen’s half-brother told a Toronto court on Tuesday.

But Cleon Biddersingh said he found his father’s words surprising because at the time, his sister had been extremely frail, in pain from regular beatings, had no money and no friends.

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“She’s so weak, she don’t know anyone, so where would she go,” the now 41-year-old recalled on the witness stand at Everton Biddersingh’s trial. “I didn’t believe that she run away.”

READ MORE: Brother of girl found dead in suitcase testifies at trial of father charged in death

Biddersingh is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter Melonie. He has pleaded not guilty.

The case of Melonie’s death remained unsolved for about 18 years as police were unable to identify the girl’s charred remains until they received a tip that led to the arrest of Biddersingh and his wife in March 2012. Elaine Biddersingh’s first-degree murder trial is to begin next April.

The jury that will decide Everton Biddersingh’s fate has heard that in 1991 Cleon, Melonie and a younger half-brother, all born in Jamaica, were brought to Canada to live with their father and his wife. Jurors have been told that the younger half-brother died accidentally in 1992.

Cleon Biddersingh has testified that the opportunity was initially a dream come true, but soon turned into a nightmare. He alleged that he and Melonie were never sent to school, were turned into domestic labourers and were increasingly mistreated by their father, suffering frequent beatings and food deprivation.

In the weeks before Melonie disappeared, Cleon said his sister was crawling around the apartment because she was in pain and too weak to stand.

Her condition deteriorated to the point where she became incontinent, he said, and he’d have to clean her up.

READ MORE: Graphic images shown in trial of dad charged in daughter’s death

“You could see her bones, you could see her ribs,” he said, choking back tears. “It’s not Melonie anymore, there’s a lot of bruises.”

The last time he saw his sister, Melonie was lying on her side on the floor – where she was made to sleep – holding her stomach, Cleon said.

That night, his father woke him up saying Melonie had run away, Cleon testified.

“I remember he said (she’d) run away and he’s going to go drive down the road and see if he see her walking,” he said. “He leave the apartment and I just panic.”

While Biddersingh was out with his wife, Cleon said he searched a nearby stairwell where he had once found his sister before. The jury has heard that incident was the only time Melonie left the apartment herself, and she made it only as far as the third step before telling Cleon that she wanted to die.

When he found no sign of her, Cleon said he checked a closet to find Melonie’s clothes were still at home, then scanned the street from the apartment window but didn’t see his sister.

When Biddersingh and his wife returned, Cleon said he was instructed to dispose of a barrel in which Melonie was sometimes confined, throw out a chain used to shackle her to furniture and clean the balcony on which she was forced to bathe and relieve herself.

READ MORE: Trial begins for father charged in 1994 death of teenage daughter found in suitcase

Biddersingh did not call police to report his daughter as missing, Cleon said.

A few years after Melonie’s disappearance, Cleon said he managed to escape from his father’s home – by that time he was in his early 20s – and begin a new life.

He had children, married, told his wife a little about his painful past and tried to look for his sister through Internet searches over the years, court heard.

Cleon said he only found out his sister was dead when he was arrested in connection with her death in March 2012 and charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and indignity to a dead body. His charges were eventually stayed.

The jury has heard that Melonie died on Sept. 1, 1994.

Under cross-examination later Tuesday, Biddersingh’s defence lawyer repeatedly suggested to Cleon that punishments inflicted upon him and Melonie occured when their father’s wife was upset or angry.

“I take it the bottom line was that whatever was happening to Melonie was fundamentally being driven by Elaine,” said Jennifer Penman.

“Yes,” said Cleon.

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Hardisty mayor says Keystone not only game in town

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HARDISTY, Alta. — The mayor of the southeast Alberta community where the Keystone XL pipeline would begin said news that TransCanada Corp. has asked the U.S. government to temporarily suspend its application comes as a blow.

Anita Miller called the move “really unfortunate” and says it’s going to affect “lots and lots of people” in Hardisty, Alta., particularly in support businesses such as gas stations, hotels and restaurants.

But she said luckily, Keystone is not the only game in town and while activity has slowed down, there is still construction and expansion in the Hardisty area’s oil and gas industry.

In fact, TransCanada is just one of nine oil companies working in and around the town, which has 700 permanent residents along with 250 oil industry workers, though that number used to be 500 when oil prices were high.

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Related

    Notley sympathetic to energy woes but no short-term lifelines contemplated

    Notley meets with New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant to talk Energy East pipeline

    Premier Rachel Notley said in a statement that TransCanada is taking a step they feel is appropriate, given the nature of their application before the State Department.

    She said her government’s focus is to spend time building relationships to promote projects “that have the best chance at success.”

    READ MORE: Notley meets with New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant to talk Energy East pipeline

    She also said her government wants to improve the province’s environmental record in order to build support for Alberta products in markets that are not available at the moment.

    The Keystone XL expansion would carry crude oil along a 1,897-kilometre pipeline from Hardisty to Steele City, Neb., where it would link up with other pipelines that run to the Gulf Coast and the U.S. Midwest.

    It would carry an average of 830,000 barrels of oil per day to American refineries. Proponents have long suggested it would lessen American reliance on oil from the Middle East while creating thousands of jobs. But opponents have argued it would be an environmental disaster and have suggested its economic impact has been overstated.

    In May 2012, TransCanada filed a new application for a presidential permit — a requirement for any cross-border pipeline — after the U.S. State Department denied its first application.

    READ MORE: TransCanada says Q3 profit down from the same time last year

    Earlier this year, the State Department put off its decision again, pending the outcome of a court fight in Nebraska over the proposed route.

    On Monday, TransCanada sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking the American administration to delay its decision on a border-crossing permit, pending an ongoing dispute in Nebraska over the route.

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Dalhousie University president questioned on what school knew about teacher misconduct, The Cavity

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HALIFAX – It has been almost a year since news broke about the Dalhousie University dentistry scandal. While reports have been commissioned by the university, there are still questions that linger about what the university knew and how it responded to some of the reports’ findings.

RELATED: Dalhousie dentistry student from controversial 广州桑拿网 group comes forward

The dentistry scandal came to light last December after revelations that male students were posting misogynistic and sexist comments about their female peers on 广州桑拿网. The men were suspended from clinical work, and the university said the students decided on a restorative justice approach.

READ MORE: Female dentistry students feel forced into Dalhousie’s restorative justice approach

Inappropriate behaviour

A task force report published in June brought to light questionable behaviour from professors.

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The report found professors made inappropriate sexual jokes to students, commented on whether they were hot or not and made remarks such as how they would not mind having affairs with their female colleagues.

At the time, the university declined to comment on those specific findings in the task force report. But Global News recently questioned Dalhousie University president Richard Florizone about the behaviour at his school.

READ MORE: Faculty behind confidential complaint at Dalhousie come forward

He agreed when Global News said those types of behaviours seemed to run contrary to the school’s code of conduct.

RELATED: Dalhousie University confirms formal complaint filed

“It was completely unacceptable,” he said. “That’s why action was taken.”

Global News asked Florizone on whether those involved were reprimanded.

“They would have been dealt with exactly, according to our policy, when comments were made in class, they were raised up to the dean. There were apologies and there was steps taken to help the professors understand the impact of their comments,” he said.

Global News then asked for more specifics and asked whether anyone was disciplined for their behaviour.

“In each of these incidents, in all of them, whether it’s a student, staff or faculty member, they would be dealt with again very consistent with the policy, consistent with the law. Of course I can’t comment on individual cases but I can assure you each of them would be dealt with very fairly.”

Graffiti in student lounge

RELATED: Report into sexism at Dalhousie dentistry school released today

A report on the restorative justice process was published in May. But deep in the report was a section on “The Cavity.”

READ MORE: Dalhousie professor on dentistry report: ‘I’m not totally satisfied’

“The Cavity” is the student lounge in the dentistry school  and the report found it was covered in misogynistic, racist, sexist and homophobic graffiti. The report  found faculty knew about “The Cavity” and some even thought it was a rite of passage to sign it. It was only after the restorative justice process began that the room was painted over.

At the time, requests for comment specifically on “The Cavity” were denied. But Global News questioned Florizone on what the university knew and when.

Global News asked whether Florizone knew about “The Cavity” and its contents previously or whether the dean of dentistry knew about its existence.

“The specific content came to light during the process, during the dentistry review,” he said.

When Global News referred him to the report findings that staff knew about it and questioned why that information never made its way to the top level of administration, Florizone didn’t directly answer the question.

“Some students and faculty would have been involved because it was in a student space, not all of them because not all of them would have gone into that student space,” he said. “What the report pointed at is that this is a broader cultural issue so clearly there was enough people that thought this was fine.”

When Global News pointed out that type of graffiti was not “fine”, Florizone said the university was striving for a new, more positive environment and is moving towards recommendations from the task force report.

Global News then inquired whether anyone was ever reprimanded for the existence of “The Cavity”. Florizone promptly ended the interview and walked away from the conversation. He did not respond when asked again off-camera.

READ MORE: Dalhousie refuses to release names of suspended students to dental boards

Changes ahead

Earlier on in the conversation, Florizone said the university continues to work towards adopting the recommendations laid out in the task force report.

RELATED: Dalhousie dentistry students break silence on ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ 广州桑拿网 scandal

He said changes have been made to how orientation is conducted and the university is looking to hire an executive director of diversity and inclusivity.

READ MORE: Many Dalhousie dentistry students already employed

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Rally held at Surrey City Hall to protest city’s appropriation of golf course

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A rally was held at Surrey City Hall Monday night to protest the city’s appropriation of the family-owned Riverside Golf Centre.

Owner Ken Poirier and several supporters arrived at City Hall by bus hoping to get the ear of council. But when they brought out their signs and placards they were told they would have to stay outside as the signs weren’t allowed inside City Hall.

For more than 50 years, the par-3 course and driving range in South Surrey has been in Poirier’s family. But this summer, the City of Surrey expropriated the property to build a marsh and extend Crescent Road.

Poirier spoke on the steps of City Hall, outlining what he would like to see done with the land.

WATCH: Golf course appropriation being fought in Surrey

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“They have these wonderful grandiose plans, but they’re not looking at the effects that they’re going to have on the individual members of the society…taking our little 16-acre plot of land used by thousands of people..for a freshwater marsh, which is going to be used by far fewer people,” he said.

The owners were given $3.25 million for the land, but Poirier said there is no way he could start another business somewhere else with that amount of money.

“They’re taking away our livelihood, they’re basically throwing us out from our own neighbourhod, paying us so little we can’t even stay where we’ve been for the last half-century.”

No one from council is speaking publicly about the pleas to save the Riverside Golf Centre. In a news release, they stated the owners can pursue legal action if they are dissatisfied. If not, they need to be gone by the end of January 2016.

-With files from Jill Bennett and Justin McElroy

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Evacuation order lifted for one Oliver fire as conditions improve

Written by admin on 26/07/2019 Categories: 广州桑拿网

WATCH: Many residents are still under an evacuation order. Some, however, are ignoring it, and that’s a big concern for emergency crews who have to respond if something goes wrong. Nadia Stewart reports on the people who stayed in their homes, and why they did it.

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Two fires were raging near the picturesque tourist town of Oliver in the Okanagan Valley. Though residents affected by the three-square-kilometre Wilson Mountain fire were allowed home Saturday, about 100 homes near the 15-square kilometre Testalinden Creek fire remain under evacuation order.

“The fire activity out there this morning has been quite a bit milder than what we were seeing last night,” Kevin Skrepnek, chief fire information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, said Saturday.

“Certainly there’s still a lot of work to do out there. The fire at this point is zero per cent contained, but we’re not seeing that incredibly aggressive wind event that came through the area yesterday,” he added.

The Wilson Mountain fire is now estimated at 317 hectares in size. Officials lifted the evacuation order Saturday, but residents in the affected area are still on an evacuation alert.

The Testalinden Creek fire is now estimated at 1,566 hectares, and 100 homes have been evacuated.

One home has also been lost.

However, the fires pose a smaller threat than the previous day, when officials said both blazes posed an imminent threat to the homes on the western edge of the town of 5,000.

WATCH: Night time footage of wildfires spreading near Oliver

On Friday night, close to 300 people registered at the Emergency Reception Centre in Oliver. Most were able to find a place to stay, however some spent the night at the town’s community centre.

Doug and Denisse Allan were forced to retreat to the centre, after watching the fire rapidly approach their home.

“It came a thousand feet from our house,” said Doug.

From the centre, he has a clear view of his home, so he knew early this morning it was fine.

“I can look across the valley and I can see the house and there’s grass around it so it wasn’t bburned but all around it is pretty much black,” he said.

Others were too scared to leave their home–some even ignoring the evacuation order and staying in their homes.

JC Oliveira heeded the order, but he didn’t go far. He loaded up the family van and parked across the street so he could watch fire crews fight to save the homes on his street.

Returning today before the evacuation order was lifted, he and his neighbours are a lot less on edge.

“See the fire over there is pretty extinguished. It cannot burn more than it already did,” said Oliveira.

Dozens of fruit trees that served as the makeshift fire guard were scorched and she expects they’ll have to be replanted.

“But that’s Mother Nature,” Souto said. “You can’t stress out about it.”

The region’s agricultural backbone may have prevented more extensive losses, said a spokesman for the Oliver Fire Department.

READ MORE: Wildfire near Oliver threatens local wineries

“Some of those orchards and vineyards that kept stuff green definitely saved those areas,” said Rob Graham, who was among 30
members of the department who assisted provincial crews.

“There were structures threatened, but that’s why we were there.”

Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said approximately 300 people registered Friday night at an emergency reception centre in town. Upwards of 40 evacuees slept there, while others spent the night in their vehicles or bunked with friends and family.

He described the mood Saturday morning as “pretty calm.” following a fitful night.

“Last night it was pretty horrific when you’re at the foot of the hill… and watching flames licking at the backs of houses. It was pretty tense,” Hovanes said.

“And the smoke was thick. You could hardly breathe.”

– With files from Nadia Stewart

GALLERY: Photos of the Oliver fire (all pictures courtesy @br_webb/HomoCulture广州桑拿网)

A man on a hillside near Oliver uses a hose to fight a fire threatening his home.

Global BC

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‘I don’t think I lied to the prime minister’: Wright cross-examined in Duffy trial

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WATCH ABOVE: Nigel Wright was feeling the pressure again today while on stand during the Mike Duffy trial as he was cross-examined by Duffy’s lawyer on why he would “lie to the prime minister” about Duffy repaying his own expenses. Mike Le Couteur has the story.

Stephen Harper’s former right-hand man rejected accusations on Monday that he lied to the prime minister as he and other top advisers scrambled behind the scenes to make Mike Duffy’s expense scandal disappear.

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Related

    Duffy trial cheat sheet: Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

    During Nigel Wright’s fourth day on the stand in Duffy’s trial, the embattled senator’s lawyer hammered Wright on his decision to, according to testimony and evidence, tell the prime minister Duffy was going to repay his expenses.

    “That wasn’t true, and you knew that wasn’t true,” Donald Bayne said Monday.

    READ MORE: Harper grilled about Duffy trial while campaigning in New Brunswick

    The plan, at that point in February 2013, was to have the Conservative Party repay the dubious housing and living expenses Duffy had accumulated throughout his tenure as a Harper-appointed senator.

    In a brief meeting with Harper on Feb. 22, 2013, Wright said only “that Duffy was going to repay” the money at the centre of the Senate expenses scandal —; then thought to total $32,000 —; not where the funds were coming from.

    “Why would you lie to the prime minister, if in fact that’s all you told him?” Bayne asked Wright. “Did you not think there was a difference [between Duffy repaying the money and a third party paying it]?”

    READ MORE: Harper didn’t know Mike Duffy wouldn’t use his own money to repay claims, Nigel Wright says

    “I don’t think I lied to the prime minister,” Wright responded. “I didn’t mention the source of the funds … I didn’t think that was a distinction that was that significant … The significant fact was that the expenses were going to reimbursed and he wouldn’t be claiming them anymore.”

    WATCH: During his fourth day on the stand at the Mike Duffy trial, Nigel Wright was cross-examined by Duffy’s lawyer and was asked why he “would lie to the prime minister.” Laura Stone reports.

    That plan eventually fell apart: The amount owing turned out to be almost triple, and the party was no longer willing to foot the bill, leading Wright to reach into his personal bank account.

    Wright’s name has become inextricably linked with Duffy’s case since it was revealed that, while serving as the prime minister’s top aide, he used personal funds to cover $90,000 of the senator’s dubious expense claims.

    READ MORE: Mike Duffy’s lawyer suggests Nigel Wright ‘deliberately deceived’ Canadians

    That decision was made after the party finally balked at cutting a cheque when the amount owing turned out to also include per diems and food allowances, ballooning from $32,000 to $90,000.

    Wright told the court Duffy never actually asked for money to repay the claims. Rather, he said, he felt it was implied after Duffy twice said he didn’t have the means to.

    “I think it implied in the context of the conversation when he said he doesn’t have the money,” Wright told the court. So he offered to find Duffy a “source” for the funds.

    READ MORE: Duffy trial cheat sheet

    Throughout Wright’s testimony, he has maintained his decision to pay – a decision he described as quick and which he says he’s since regretted – was in the taxpayer’s best interest.

    The Crown has argued Duffy was an “equal partner” or “instigator” of a scheme that would allow him to tell everyone he had repaid the money when, in truth, he’d managed to get someone else to.

    During cross-examination, however, Bayne has offered a different take. He has suggested Duffy, who is accused of fraud and accepting a bribe, was coerced into accepting the $90,000 despite believing he’d done nothing wrong following “threats” his status as a senator would be at stake if he refused to repay the questionable expenses.

    Wright assured the court there was no implicit or explicit threat to Duffy, despite emails Bayne entered as evidence.

    “The threat seems obvious,” Duffy wrote in a Feb. 20, 2013 email to the lawyer who was then handling his case. “You take the dive or this [Conservative-majority Senate committee looking at the issue] will throw you out on the residency issue before you’ve had any kind of hearing.”

    The embattled P.E.I. senator is on trial for a total of 31 charges of breach of trust and fraud, including a one-way bribery charge. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

    The veracity of Harper’s public statements on the Duffy repayment and those of his spokespeople and cabinet ministers, continue to dog the Conservative leader on the campaign trail.

    Harper told the House of Commons in June 2013, well after Wright’s payment had come to light, that his former chief of staff had told no one in his office about his decision.

    A reporter asked Harper again Monday about the fact his staff had apparently lied to him. Harper has not directly responded to such questions.

    The prime minister said Duffy and Wright are responsible and are being held accountable.

    With files from

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First Nations communities call Kapyong Barracks update a victory

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WINNIPEG – It’s being called a great victory in First Nations communities.

“This is a result of many, many years of a fight by the First Nations to have their right recognized,” said Norman Boudreau, the lawyer representing the First Nations group.

A long awaited federal court of appeal ruling came down late Friday, saying the federal government did fail to properly consult several Manitoba First Nations before the sale of Kapyong Barracks.

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“The judgment of the federal court of appeal really sets out as its never done before,” said Boudreau.  “What Canada must do is to consult with First Nation when their rights are at stake.”

Since 2004, the land along Kenaston Boulevard that was once the Kapyong military base has been vacant. In 2007, Treaty 1 bands asked the federal government if they could claim it. It has been tied up in court ever since. Now First Nations leaders are eager to finally start development, even though it could still be years before a shovel hits the ground.

“I would like to see some businesses, and something that will benefit our people and the city of Winnipeg residents,” said Alfred Hayden, chief of Roseau First Nation.

Back in March, an open discussion was held to educate the public about urban reserves. Leaders of the forum were happy with the turnout and say it’s an indication of a changing Winnipeg.

“Yes there is still relationship building to do but I feel positive that will happen,” said Leah Gazan, president of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

The next step is likely consultations, but it is not known whether the federal government will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Here’s how fast mortgage loans are growing at Canada’s big lenders

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The country’s big banks are set to report financial results in the next couple of weeks and experts are busy weighing in with estimates about how they’ve fared over the past few months.

There’s been plenty of focus on the Canadian housing market of late given the strong run-up in prices in some places (namely Vancouver, Toronto and their surrounding areas).

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Related

    Liar loans helping to inflate hot housing markets, experts say

    Some, like bank investors and those casting a skeptical eye on the boom, are watching to see how much lenders are doling out to borrowers who are forced to take on increasingly big loans relative to their incomes in order to buy a home.

    Recent interest rate cuts from the Bank of Canada have only encouraged more lending, with some fretting about a renewed borrowing boom as buyers on the sidelines are convinced to take a rock-bottom rate.

    ‘Moderating’

    The good news for those worried about the rate-cut impact: Growth in residential home-lending, at least among the prime lenders, continued “moderating” over the summer months, experts at CIBC World Markets said in a new research note on Monday (ditto for other personal loans like auto and credit card debt).

    “Growth in personal loans and residential mortgages looks to be moderating in line with recent trends,” the CIBC analysts said in a research note on Monday.

    The report looked at Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank and National Bank (CIBC wasn’t included).

    MORE: Canada’s housing boom, complete coverage 

    As a group, growth in home lending from the big banks has come down markedly since the heady days of mid-2013 when the amount of money going into new mortgages was growing by nearly double digits. But “recent trends” – like a slowing economy, an increasingly tapped out consumer and tightening loan practices – have served to tap the brakes, experts suggest.

    Major lenders passed on to customers only a portion of the central bank’s two rate cuts in the first half of the year, for example.

    Loan losses

    CIBC’s bank experts also said they expect big lenders to write off more loans to consumers as the economy continues to struggle through the current downturn. But ultra-low rates that are keeping payments current for most right now will help keep a lid on those losses.

    “[W]ith interest rates seemingly set to remain low for the foreseeable future, the burden on the Canadian consumer is not as big a concern as it otherwise might be,” they said.

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30 homes destroyed in Rock Creek fire; now 3,750 hectares

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WATCH: Some of the evacuees chased out of the Kettle Valley campground by the fire finally got to collect their belongings today. Everyone —; even those who lost everything —; are thanking fire crews and the community of Midway. Nadia Stewart reports.

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Thirty homes have been confirmed lost in an immense wildfire in British Columbia’s Boundary region, several days after the blaze sparked and forced hundreds from their homes.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said Sunday that 11 other structures that were not homes were also lost in the 37-square-kilometre blaze near the tiny community of Rock Creek.

The district said it was contacting all homeowners whose properties were lost.

Some evacuation orders were downgraded to alerts meaning the occupants of 88 homes and businesses were allowed to return, but others remained in force.

The district said the RCMP continues to patrol evacuated areas to ensure safety and security.

Kerstin Klenheimer and her husband deserted their house when the 37-square-kilometre Rock Creek fire broke out Thursday evening. On Sunday she stood next to a charred piece of property on the side of a highway and stared into the distance at the fire burning near her house.

“It was like a tornado coming — a fire tornado coming up the valley,” she said, recalling the moments before their hasty departure. “There was no time. You just have to run.”

As of Sunday, Klenheimer still had no idea whether her home was still standing.

“(My) worst fear is that everything is gone,” she said. “We built the home 10 years ago — 10 years of effort just going up in smoke is very devastating.”

Campers who were ushered from Kettle River Provincial Park without their belongings on Thursday night were escorted in small groups back to the park on Sunday.

Almost all vehicles spared thanks to hard working fire crews @BC1 @GlobalNational @GlobalBC pic.twitter广州桑拿网/RuGSw3vnmY

— Jordan Witzel (@jordanwitzel) August 17, 2015

Highway 3 has re-opened and a section of Highway 33 remains closed from Rock Creek to Beaverdell.

Those living in and around the communities of Rock Creek and Westbridge are wondering what the future will hold.

“It’s heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. I don’t know if we even have a town anymore,” said resident Katherine Buck, a day after evacuating her Westbridge home.

READ MORE: Rock Creek fire evacuees share tales of escape

Rob and Melanie Hardy were also chased from their home in Westbridge when the flames began to encroach.

“Literally, the tree tops were bursting like bombs and falling down on the top of our house,” Rob told media outside a Kelowna church that has been turned into an evacuation centre.

“The wind was just carrying (the embers) for miles and miles … I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The Hardys made the difficult decision to let their horses run wild with the hope of saving them.

Rob said he opened a gate and let the animals go down the Trans Canada trail.

“Oddly enough, they actually went towards the fire at first, (but) I think they were just very confused. Once we got them turned around, they just took off for the river. That’s the last I saw of them.”

WATCH: Wildfire evacuation centres set up for Rock Creek victims

Midway epicenter of relief efforts: how you can help

There are still 116 people in the Kelowna emergency reception centre, but the majority of those evacuated, approximately 500, are in Midway.

The small town to the east of Rock Creek normally has a population of 600. With its ranks doubled in the past 48 hours, the people of Midway have stepped up with shelter and donations.

“The community’s being fantastic. It’s amazing. The amount of people with food, and water, and even things for dogs…it’s truly lovely to see this,” said Mark Tulip.

His Maple Ridge family was camping at Kettle River when the fire broke out.

“There was no time to get anything. The fire was surrounding us. It jumped the river, so we thought we’re not even safe in the river,” said Laurie Tulip.

“I thought we were going to die. I thought we were going to burn. The wind was blowing, and it was coming for us.”

‘It took about 45 minutes before everything was fully engulfed’: Fleeing the Rock Creek fire

They escaped and are grateful for the support they’re receiving.

The town of Midway is seriously amazing! @GlobalNational @GlobalBC @BC1 @GlobalCalgary pic.twitter广州桑拿网/0v5feH7hYq

— Jordan Witzel (@jordanwitzel) August 16, 2015

“It’s amazing. It really is. When you have nothing. When people are giving,” said Laurie.

“There’s been an outpouring of support from communities as far east as Grand Forks. People are being put up in family’s houses. There’s been so much in the way of clothing and blankets being donated that they can’t even use it all,” says Gee.

She says that cash will be the most important donation in the coming days. With credit unions in the region closed on Monday however, it may take a few days for an account to be opened.

For the moment, people can phone the Midway Community Centre at 250-449-2310 and give their name, number, and exactly what they can contribute. They will then get a call back to say whether their specific donation offer is needed.

Further north, the town of Beaverdell isn’t under an evacuation order, but it is without power due to the fires. Gee says that support is coming into the community, and it’s hoped the power will be restored sooner rather than later.

“They thought it would be a couple of weeks, but they now think it could be sooner. It’s been very hard, and there were opportunities for people to be evacuated north, but I believe that people have wanted to stay.”

In total, the size of the fire was still measured at 2,500 hectares for over a day.

But with the winds and smoke down, BC Wildfire Service were able to get a better sense of the full size of the blaze, now estimated at 3,750 hectares.

Still yet to be known is the total damage.

WATCH: Rock Creek fire evacuees share tales of escape

– With files from

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