Chinese officials mum on Canadian detained, but state media suggests investigation into security matters

Chinese officials say they “do not have information to provide” when asked about Michael Kovrig, the Canadian ex-diplomat who was detained earlier this week, but a state-run news website claims he’s being investigated on grounds of state security.

Kovrig works as an adviser for International Crisis Group, which reports on global conflict and works to build a more peaceful world.

The ICG said he was taken into custody Monday night by the Beijing Bureau of Chinese State Security.

Media in China suggested Kovrig was suspected of endangering China’s national security.

One report from the state-run Beijing News said the “relevant” government departments told them Kovrig was “legally censored” and said the case was under review.

On Wednesday, officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry suggested the International Crisis Group was working in the country illegally, saying it was not registered.

In China, foreign non-government organizations must be registered with the government.

“Once its staff become engaged in activities in China, it has already violated the law,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily news briefing when asked about the case.

“I do not have information to provide you here,” Lu said about Kovrig specifically, declining to say whether Kovrig was charged with a crime.

“If there is such a thing, please do not worry, it is assured that China’s relevant departments will definitely handle it according to law.”

If the law on NGOs is used to charge Kovrig, it would be the first time the Chinese government would do so.

But experts say Kovrig’s detention is likely to do with the fact that Canadian officials arrested Chinese businesswoman Meng Wanzhou, who faces possible extradition to the U.S. to face charges regarding violated sanctions against Iran.

In an interview Tuesday, Brock University professor Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat who has served two postings in China, said he believes Kovrig was arrested to send Canada a warning in the Meng case.

“I can’t help but determine (Kovrig’s arrest) in that way, because of the timing, and it seems to respond to Chinese government statements of serious consequences,” Burton said. “My heart goes out to Mr. Kovrig in this time. I believe that he will be tortured in interrogation.”

Burton said Meng is not simply CFO for Huawei, but a senior member of China’s communist party, along with her father.

“She is someone that is very well connected to the Chinese senior elite,” Burton said.

Burton said he believes China’s government is exerting extreme pressure on Canada, because it fears that if Meng is extradited to face prosecution in the United States, she may be plea bargain for leniency, and in exchange provide evidence revealing Huawei’s connections to China’s government and People’s Liberation Army, and in general, the geopolitical goals of large state-connected Chinese corporations.

Burton said that he believes China will prosecute Kovrig as a spy, without stating specific allegations, and that Kovrig will not have access to legal representation or consular assistance. He said that Kovrig likely was targeted because he has “strong friendships” with the Canadian officials that China is pressing in the Meng case.

“So it seems they wanted to inflict maximum emotion toll on the diplomats that are in direct contact with the Chinese government.”

Meng was released on bail Tuesday night following a three-day hearing. A B.C. Supreme Court judge ordered that she be released on $10 million bail, with $7 million coming in cash and $3 million in sureties.

U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested he would step in on Meng’s case if it would help secure a trade deal with China. The U.S. and China have been butting heads over trade issues for months; Meng’s arrest in Vancouver came on the same day Trump met Chinese President Xi JinPing and the pair promised to continue working to eliminate trade barriers.

Canadian officials said Tuesday they were working with the Chinese government about Kovrig’s case.

“We are in direct contact with Chinese diplomats and representatives,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on his way into Question Period. “We are engaged on the file, which we take very seriously. We are providing consular assistance to the family.”

— with files from the Associated Press

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Glenburnie residents protest planned spa development on agricultural land

Between 80 to 100 people turned out to the Glenburnie United church to hear from BPE Development about their plans to build a spa at the corner of Battersea and Unity roads.

A dozen of those residents showed up before the meeting with signs in hand, waiting for the arrival of BPE Development head Ben Pilon.

The roughly 17-acre plot of land is designated agricultural, and residents say it should stay that way.

BPE’s plans for the property would represent a dramatic change to the largely rural community.

Plans for the spa also include just over three dozen cabins, a restaurant and a conference centre.

Homeowners get their water from wells and fear the impact such a large facility would have.

Bill Hendry doesn’t trust the developers’ claims that residents water won’t be affected.

“When they drilled their wells really deeply and said everything was fine — yeah, right now, but we’re in climate change and talk to me in 10 years,” Hendry said.

George Caron echoes Hendry’s sentiment and worries if the development goes ahead, they’ll have little recourse if their wells become contaminated or run dry.

“It’s not so much today or tomorrow,” Caron said. “It’s three years or four years [from now] when everybody’s gone and we start to find our water is contaminated and we don’t have enough water.”

Caron says the only option, as far as he knows, would be to hire a lawyer.

“The only resource we have is legal and that’s not good,” he said.

The evening meeting organized by BPE Development was not open to the media.



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‘I was devastated’: Family living in Canada for 6 years to be deported Christmas Eve

The Montoyas have lived in Canada for more than six years. They own property, run small businesses and volunteer within their community.

But if the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) has its way, the family of seven, including two small children, will soon be sent back to Colombia — where they say factions of a dangerous paramilitary group want to kill them.

The family is set to be deported on Christmas Eve.

“All the time they told me they will kill me, they will kill me, they will kill me,” said Camilo Montoya, who claims he was kidnapped by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) before fleeing to Canada.

“A guy came to me and made me jump in a car and they kept me for two days,” he said. “They just hit me, they insulted me, they just treated me like shit… And in the end they just released me.”

Camilo says he didn’t stop crying for nearly two months after his kidnapping. He says he still has flashbacks, calling the experience a “nightmare.”

“I was afraid all the time. What about if something happened to my son? What about if something happened to my wife? Basically, they took my life into their hands,” Camilo said.

Family says they were beaten, extorted

Camilo, 31, came to Canada in October 2012 with his wife Bettsy, also 31, their one-year-old son Martin, his parents Henry and Dora, as well as his younger sister Luisa, 26, who arrived five months earlier to make an asylum claim.

Since moving to Canada, Camilo and Bettsy had another son, three-year-old Thomas.

The family alleges members of FARC, a group of Marxist rebels that tried to seize control of Colombia, beat them on multiple occasions and threatened to kill them if they didn’t agree to pay thousands of dollars in extortion fees — money the family says they did not have.

Because FARC was well-known for following through on its threats — and because the family says police in Bogota showed no interest in helping them — the Montoyas chose to flee Colombia and seek refuge in Canada.

Now, more than six years after their claim was first submitted, the Montoyas are set to be deported because a judge at Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) said they were not in need of protection. Conditions in Colombia have improved since they came to Canada, the board said, and FARC is no longer a threat.

Three-year-old Thomas Montoya playing in snow.

But the family says this is untrue, claiming members of FARC continue to threaten them in Colombia, showing up at their former home and questioning neighbours about their location.

They also say that after more than six years living in Canada — at least five years of which were because it took the IRB so long to hear their claim — it’s unfair for them to be sent back to Colombia.

This is especially true for the two young children, the family says, neither of whom have known any country other than Canada as home and one of which is a Canadian citizen.

“I was devastated,” Luisa said, fighting back tears. “To think that it’s just two weeks for us to leave, it was just absolutely devastating. I think that it was the worst news.”

Montoyas waited years for claim to be heard

The Montoyas are what’s known as “legacy” refugee claimants, meaning they filed their application for asylum before December 15, 2012, when Canada implemented a new system for reviewing refugee claims.

But because of a lack of resources and a backlog of more than 32,000 cases at the IRB, their claim was not heard until November 2017.

And because their claim was denied — at least in part because conditions in Colombia had improved during the delay — the family is subject to deportation by the CBSA.

Seven-year-old Martin Montoya preparing for a hockey game.

But the family’s lawyer says this process is unfair and unjust, especially since Camilo and his family have outstanding applications to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds that have yet to be heard by the Canadian government.

Luisa also has an outstanding spousal sponsorship application because she married a Canadian five years after moving to Toronto.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” said the family’s lawyer Tyna Vayalilkollattu.

“[In] this case, they have fallen short of their obligations to meet human rights and humanitarian [considerations],” she said.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the government cannot comment on the Montoya’s case specifically.

He did, however, say Canada’s system for determining who gets to stay in the country involves a “robust assessment process and safeguards to ensure that no one is removed to risk or persecution.”

He also said all Canadian citizens — which would include three-year-old Thomas — have a constitutional right to remain in Canada and that it’s up to parents to decide what is in the best interest of their child.

“An application for humanitarian and compassionate consideration does not stay a removal,” said Public Safety spokesperson Scott Bardsley. “By law, once all avenues of appeal are exhausted, CBSA must enforce removal orders as soon as possible.”

Roughly 900 ‘legacy’ claims remain

As of the end of October there were roughly 900 people in Canada still waiting for their “legacy” claims to be heard, according to the IRB.

That compares to nearly 4,000 people that were waiting at the end of 2017 and roughly 5,600 at the end of 2016.

After recognizing that long delays in processing claims create challenges for refugees, including trouble accurately remembering what happened years earlier and problems recovering documents and other evidence that may be used to substantiate a claim, the IRB set up a “Legacy Task Force” in May 2017, with the goal of clearing the backlog of cases within two years.

But legal experts who spoke with Global News argue the government’s efforts to speed up this process, though largely successful, have proven insufficient for families such as the Montoyas who have been caught up in the backlog.

“These deportations are happening and it just doesn’t make any sense,” said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

“It’s not the fault of the people that they didn’t get their claims heard soon after they fled when maybe they might have had a good chance of being recognized as refugees,” she said.

Martin Montoya (left) and Thomas Montoya (right) at a Christmas parade.

Dench says it’s also likely the Montoyas have been swept up in the CBSA’s renewed efforts to “substantially increase” the number of failed refugees it deports each year. She says the goal of removing 10,000 failed asylum seekers in 2018 — a 35 per cent increase over previous years — has placed families like the Montoyas in jeopardy.

“They’re creating an incentive or pressure on officers to deport people whether or not it makes any good sense,” she said.

Sean Rehaag, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school, agrees these cases have not been handled properly.

He says deporting legacy refugees is also often “counter-productive” because most of the costs typically associated with integrating them into Canadian society have already been incurred.

“After six years, Canada is now their home,” Rehaag said. “[This] is attributable to choices made by the Canadian government not to adequately prioritize determining their refugee claim.

“Deportation, in those circumstances, is cruel,” he said.

The Montoyas, meanwhile, are fighting the CBSA’s decision to send them back to Colombia.

They’ve filed an application with the CBSA to postpone their removal date until their humanitarian applications have been heard. They’re also calling on the Canadian government to intervene, hoping they will not be forced to leave their home on Christmas Eve.

“I made Canada my home,” Luisa said. “I did all I could with the position I was put in.”

“I love this country. I love its people. I would never do anything to go against [it],” she said. “This country definitely gave us the opportunity that my home country took away from me and my entire family.”

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Maggot cheese, putrid sea herring or virgin boy eggs – bon appetit at the Disgusting Food Museum

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Care for some maggot cheese, fried tarantula or a bat? Or how about fried locusts, grasshoppers or virgin boy eggs?

These delicacies are among about 80 items featured at the Disgusting Food Museum that opened in Los Angeles on Sunday (Dec 9), aiming to expose visitors to different cultures and foods and what we may all be eating in the future.

Samuel West, the museum’s founder, said he came up with the idea for the two-month exhibit – which first opened in his native Sweden in October – in the light of the ongoing debate about environmentally sustainable sources of protein and food security.

“If we can change people’s notions of disgust, maybe we can also open them up to new sustainable proteins,” said West, pointing to platefuls of Iru locust beans eaten in Nigeria, mopane worms eaten in South Africa or Nsenene, grasshoppers considered a delicacy in Uganda.

The entrance ticket to the museum in downtown Los Angeles is a vomit bag that visitors can use should any of the items from some 40 different countries be too much to stomach.

Some of the foods on display might be considered revolting because they simply stink.

That includes French Epoisses cheese, shark meat from Iceland or surstromming, a Swedish delicacy that is considered one of the most pungent dishes in the world and is usually eaten outdoors.

It consists of fermented Baltic Sea herring and is so smelly that it reportedly got one tenant in Germany kicked out by his landlord in 1981 after he opened a can of surstromming in the apartment building’s stairwell.

Other foods in the exhibit could be considered disgusting because of the way they end up on our plate and include Chinese mouse wine, which involves drowning and brewing baby mice in rice wine.

And let’s not forget the virgin boy eggs, a traditional dish in China made from boiling eggs in the urine of young boys.

Rocky Mountain Oysters, also known as bull testicles, in the US on display at the Disgusting Food Museum in Los Angeles on Dec 6, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Andreas Ahrens, co-curator of the exhibition, said the foods chosen haven’t gone down well with several countries that haven taken offence.

“The Vegemite from Australia is causing a bit of an international incident,” he said, referring to the thick, black food spread. “They have been quite pissed off that we’ve included it in the exhibit.

“The Americans are upset about the Root Beer and Twinkie… and we’ve had Peruvians upset that we have included Cuy, or roasted guinea pig, a famous Peruvian dish.”

He said focusing on the word “disgusting” misses the point of the exhibit.

“This is aimed at getting people to realise that we shouldn’t judge the foods of other cultures as disgusting so quickly,” Ahrens said. “But if we would have named this the Museum of Sustainability or the Exhibit of Cultural Differences, no one would come. It wouldn’t be interesting.”

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USA Today readers rank Jasper as No.1 ski town in North America

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, a mere four hours west of Edmonton, Jasper now has another title to boast about.

The readers of USA Today have recently voted this Alberta resort town the best ski town in North America.

It beat out a lot of competition. The second and third spot were taken by North Conway, N.H. and Steamboat Springs, Colo. Jasper was not the only Canadian spot to make the Top 10 list. Rossland, B.C. came in at No. 6 and Nelson, B.C. came in at No. 10.

“It doesn’t come to us as a big surprise,” said Brian Rode, vice-president of the Marmot Basin ski area.

“Jasper has always maintained that authenticity, that real comfortable feel,” he said. “It’s an unpretentious kind of a feel here in Jasper; that’s what people like, that is what people keep coming back for.

“We’re in a national park. There is nothing wrong with a purpose-built resort, but we’re sort of the antithesis of that.”

Watch below: Some Global News videos about Jasper, Alta., and the surrounding areas.

Like all other communities that made the list, Jasper was judged on its access to the slopes, its small-town vibe, its history and its food scene.

“People feel comfortable when they get here for the first time,” Rode said. “After a day or two, we hear this all the time from international travellers: ‘Wow, I feel so welcome here. It’s not overly commercialized by any means, and yet I can still go out to a lot of great restaurants.’”

For anyone heading to Jasper in the near future, Rode pointed out that two-thirds of the mountain runs at Marmot Basin are open and the conditions are great right now for people who love groomed slopes.

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‘I Just Love White Men’: White Man Aims Racist Rant at Columbia Students of Color

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“White people are the best thing that ever happened in the world,” a white man, gesticulating wildly and pumping his hands in the air, yelled at a group of people of color.

The young man, dressed in a blazer and button-up shirt, was hopping off the ground outside a Columbia University library early Sunday morning as he continued.

“We are so amazing,” he added as the students, some of whom were filming him with their phones, yelled back in outrage.

“I love myself,” his voice cracking as his screaming intensified, “and I love my people!”

In the backdrop of his racist tirade, Columbia’s campus in New York was mostly empty in the hours before dawn.

Now, heading into a grueling final exam period, students on campus are contending with the outrage and backlash sparked by a viral video that shows the young white man, whom the school’s newspaper identified as a student, spouting white supremacist remarks at a group of students of color.

The episode comes less than two weeks after a Columbia professor’s office was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti.

In a statement posted on its website on Sunday, Columbia University administrators denounced the episode, calling it “deeply disturbing” and “racially charged.”

“We are alarmed at the rise of incidents of racism and hate speech in our world today,” the deans of three Columbia schools said in the statement, later adding that Columbia stands “firmly against white supremacist language and violence.”

“Our community will not waver in its support for those of any faith, race, gender, sexual orientation, background or identity,” the deans said in their statement.

The university said it was investigating Sunday’s episode.

Kwolanne Felix, a freshman at Columbia, said she was walking on campus with about 10 other students at around 3 a.m. Sunday when the white student in the video began walking with them. Several of the students were conversing with each other, she said, so initially he went unnoticed.

As they neared the library, Ms. Felix said, he touched one of the women, who pulled away. At that point, she said, the man raised his voice and became agitated.

The students became concerned for their safety, Ms. Felix said, and some of them took out their phones and began filming.

“We’ve never seen this man,” she said. “We don’t know what he’s doing. We’re just going to take out our phones in case this situation ends up in a way that it shouldn’t.”

One of the students posted a recording of the encounter on Twitter, where it has been viewed more than one million times. It starts with the white student pronouncing, “We built the modern world,” a claim he repeated several times during a 54-second clip. He went on to bellow his views on the white race, occasionally using profanity to punctuate his point.

Throughout the video, several of the students of color pushed back against his comments. At one point in the video, when the white student asserted that “we” saved billions of humans from starvation, several students rebutted his point by reminding him about slavery.

“Look, I don’t hate other people,” the white man said in a hoarse voice at the end of the video. “I just love white men.”

Ms. Felix said that the group of students eventually decided to stop engaging with the white student. As they headed to JJ’s Place, a campus dining hall, he followed them there but did not enter.

Then, some minutes later, Ms. Felix said, he followed another group of black women into the dining hall and began repeating similar remarks to the ones in the video. Ms. Felix posted a short video of that encounter on Twitter.

In a statement on Monday, Columbia University said it would create a “working group on bias incidents” in response to both Sunday’s events and the graffiti found in November.

The announcement came after several minority student groups insisted that the university take action to prevent similar episodes on campus.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, the school’s Black Students’ Organization decried the rant and said it would discuss possible measures to respond.

Columbia’s Student Organization of Latinxs, a group for Latino and Latina students, also called on the school to hold the white student accountable for his comments. In a separate Facebook post, it said the incident was part of a larger “institutional problem that is perpetuated by its administrative, academic, and business practices.”

Ms. Felix said she was glad the university was taking the incident seriously and that Columbia staff members had been supportive of them.

But she also said that she was disheartened by the experience and had heard that other students were feeling the same way.

“Seeing this as a student of color,” she said, “even being removed from the situation, takes away from the feeling of safety at Columbia.”

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Police sound 'all clear' after bomb threat at Facebook's Silicon Valley campus

A bomb threat prompted authorities on Tuesday to evacuate a building at the Silicon Valley headquarters of Facebook Inc, police said, but gave the “all clear” after an hours-long search turned up no sign of a device.

The New York Police Department had received an anonymous tip about a bomb threat regarding Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, California, and alerted local authorities at about 4:30 p.m., a spokeswoman for the Menlo Park police said.

Late on Tuesday, police said the building was secure, however.

“The San Mateo County bomb unit was dispatched with explosive detection dogs that conducted a sweep of the building and found no suspicious packages or devices,” they said.

“The building is all clear and secure.”

Menlo Park police spokeswoman Nicole Acker had said the evacuation was confined to a three-story facility on campus that was not the headquarters building, but a company spokesman said by email that “a few” buildings on the site had been evacuated.

Everyone was safe, Facebook and police said.

“We take the safety and security of our people at Facebook extremely seriously and are glad that everyone is safe,” said spokeswoman Genevieve Grdina, adding that the firm had taken swift action to evacuate several buildings.

“We are working closely with local authorities to investigate this threat and further monitor the situation.”

Another Silicon Valley company to face a security threat in the recent past was YouTube. In April, a woman opened fire at its headquarters in San Francisco, wounding three people before she shot herself dead.

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Discipline Records of New York Police to Stay Secret, Court Rules

The latest legal effort by civil rights advocates to force the New York Police Department to make disciplinary records of police officers public failed on Tuesday in the state’s highest court.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the State Civil Rights Law, as it stands now, still allows the department to withhold certain records of misconduct to protect individual officers involved.

The legal battle over making the disciplinary records public has been raging for years, even before the death of Eric Garner in police custody in 2014 made the issue of transparency more urgent. At the time, the police said an obscure section of the civil rights law, known as 50-a, made it impossible to release the disciplinary history of the officer charged with using a chokehold on Mr. Garner.

The New York Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit six years ago, called Tuesday’s decision a “terrible setback.”

“Anyone who has been paying attention to policing over the last several years around the country understands that police misconduct is a major national issue now,” said Christopher Dunn, the civil liberties group’s associate legal director.

“And you can’t have accountability without transparency. When the biggest police department in the country has a secret disciplinary system, that just breeds mistrust and that has to change.”

The civil liberties union had waged a six-year effort to release records of police officers who had gone before the Civilian Complaint Control Board and then had a departmental trial. The suit was started at a time, Mr. Dunn said, when the police still had a policy of stopping and frisking large numbers of men in high-crime neighborhoods.

Mr. Dunn said that the civil liberties union was not seeking the identity of the officers, but rather details about how police administrative judges decided misconduct cases and applied the law in their courtrooms in Police Headquarters.

The civil liberties group won the case in State Supreme Court, where a judge ruled that the Police Department had to release redacted documents. But an appellate court overruled the lower court, and on Tuesday, the Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

The city’s police unions immediately hailed the decision as a welcome victory. The unions have long contended that disciplinary records can be used to harass officers, especially during cross-examinations. They also argue the disclosure of discipline records for police misconduct cases could undermine the faith the public has in law enforcement.

“For more than 40 years, the court has recognized the tremendous potential for abusive exploitation of these records and the harassment — or worse — of police officers, firefighters and corrections officers,” Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, said in a statement.

Michael Palladino, the president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, called the decision “exhilarating, especially in this climate.” He added, “The court recognized both the danger involved in police work and the protections intended by the law.”

Judge Michael Garcia wrote in the court’s opinion that it was not legal to release certain disciplinary records going back 10 years, including “misconduct allegations, hearing judges’ impressions and findings, and any punishment imposed on officers.”

“The statute was designed to protect police officers from the use of their records ‘as a means for harassment and reprisals and for purposes of cross-examination by plaintiff’s counsel during litigation,’” he wrote.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for changing the state law, as have a long list of judges, lawyers’ groups, public defenders and criminal justice reformers. In the past, those bills have gone nowhere because of Republican opposition in the State Senate. The legislation may stand a better chance once the next legislative session begins in January, when Democrats will control both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s office.

The city Law Department released a statement after the ruling stating that the law must be amended to achieve “the transparency this administration favors.”

Mr. Dunn said protections under the law might, for example, come into play in the case of Jazmine Headley, the 23-year-old woman whose baby was pried from her arms last week as she was arrested in a government office. The charges against her were dropped on Tuesday.

“Under this ruling, we are never going to know if those officers are going to be disciplined under the N.Y.P.D.,” Mr. Dunn said. “Whether you think they should be disciplined or not, there’s no question the public should know what happens with these officers, one way or another.”

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Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex postponed in Surrey’s draft capital plan

Surrey councillors voted 5-4 in favour of the city’s draft capital plan, it now goes to a final vote next week — and it includes a postponement of the Cloverdale Ice Complex that has left some council members and hockey parents unhappy.

Coun. Steven Pettigrew, Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and Linda Annis voted against the plan.

Coverage of Cloverdale on

Coun. Locke said significant money has already been spent on the facility.

“It has been promised to that community for a very long time, it has already broken ground and there’s a big sign that welcomes the arena so that makes it equally difficult to turn it down,” she said.

There were two hours of public comment — mostly from hockey parents — before the vote took place.

Concerned parent Shannon Wise said an ice rink would help improve public safety.

“You say you want to make Surrey a safe place again and part of that should include providing spaces where our community can grow, gather and be healthy both in body and in mind,” she said.

Mayor Doug McCallum told the packed council chambers that he agreed the rinks are needed but said it’s a question of when and how.

“We’re going to look at the prospect of only building one rink at a time. In other words, build one first fairly quickly and then once it’s up and running look at building the second one a few years behind it,” he said.

McCallum suggested that a private company build the rinks with the city providing the land.

Mike Bola, a hockey dad and president of the Cloverdale Community Association, thinks this is a bad idea.

“It’s going to drive up cost of registration for hockey parents,” he said. “The whole idea is to make hockey cheaper. Not everybody’s going to like hockey or skating but those who do, we should reduce the cost to allow them to participate.”

Some work had already started on the Cloverdale rinks on the fairgrounds but crews ran into land stability issues earlier this year.

Pile driving and the cost of steel have driven up the price, McCallum said.

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Trump says he is not concerned about being impeached, defends payments to women

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Dec 11) he was not concerned that he would get impeached and that payments made ahead of the 2016 election by his former personal attorney Michael Cohen to two women did not violate campaign finance laws.

“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview.

“I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened,” he said.

Court filings last week drew renewed attention to six-figure payments made during the 2016 campaign by Cohen to two women so they would not discuss their alleged affairs with the candidate. Democrats in Congress said Trump could face impeachment and jail time if the transactions violated campaign finance laws.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in New York for his role in the payments to the women. Trump has denied affairs with Stormy Daniels and the other woman whom Cohen said was given hush money, former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Prosecutors say the hush money payments violated campaign finance laws and were directed by Trump himself to cover up affairs he had in 2006 and 2007.

Earlier this year, Trump acknowledged repaying Cohen for US$130,000 paid to porn star Stephanie Clifford, known as Stormy Daniels. He previously disputed knowing anything about the payments.

Prosecutors on Friday sought prison time for Cohen, Trump’s self-proclaimed “fixer”, for the payments, which they said were made in “coordination with and at the direction of” Trump, as well as on charges of evading taxes and lying to Congress.

Trump, who has criticised Cohen and called for him to get a long sentence, said his ex-lawyer should have known the rules.

“Michael Cohen is a lawyer. I assume he would know what he’s doing,” Trump said when asked if he had discussed campaign finance laws with Cohen.

“Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”

Asked about prosecutors’ assertions that a number of people who had worked for him met or had business dealings with Russians before and during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said: “The stuff you’re talking about is peanut stuff.”

He then sought to turn the subject to his 2016 Democratic opponent.

“I haven’t heard this, but I can only tell you this: Hillary Clinton – her husband got money, she got money, she paid money, why doesn’t somebody talk about that?” Trump said.

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