News in Brief: June 22

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guelph Council mulls open-air urinals, free range eggs

A proposal to install street urinals in downtown Guelph and a motion aimed to discourage consumers from buying eggs from cage-raised hens are two topics up for discussion at tonight’s City Council meeting.

Council will debate a proposal introduced by Ward 3 Councillor Maggie Laidlaw that encourages consumers, retailers and restaurants in Guelph to eggs cage-free eggs. If passed, the resolution would also direct city council to write to the provincial and federal government and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency opposing the practice of raising hens in battery cages.

The resolution highlights the health problems and suffering faced by hens raised in battery cages.

A proposed solution to public urination will also be debated in council chambers. A report by the Emergency Services, Community Services and Operations Committee has proposed a pilot project that would install open-air urinals in the downtown area to curb the frequent problem of public urination.

The report suggests “the fabrication and placement of a facility on Macdonell Street near its intersection with Wyndham Street during the coming summer months to evaluate its effectiveness at reducing the frequency of public urination and its public acceptance.”

The portable facilities, which are common in European countries, would be set up Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and be collected the next morning for cleaning.

Despite what their namesake would suggest, the report states the open-air urinals being considered would “screen users from public viewing from their knee upwards” in order to protect users’ privacy.

The plan is endorsed by the Downtown Business Association’s Night Life Task Force, however some residents have expressed reservations.

New revelations stall inquiry into Taser death

The unexpected disclosure of a key email between senior RCMP officers has raised questions about officers' testimony at the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, resulting in a delay of the probe in Vancouver until September.

On Friday, lawyers for the government revealed the omission of an email sent by RCMP Chief Supt. Dick Bent to his assistant commissioner, Al McIntyre, in which Bent recalls a conversation with an investigator assigned to look into Dziekanski’s death at the hands of four officers at Vancouver International airport.

According to Brent, Supt. Wayne Rideout, who was investigating, Dziekanski's death as part of the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said the officers had talked about how to subdue the man if wasn’t compliant, including using a Taser on him.

"Finally, spoke to Wayne and he indicated that the members did not articulate that they saw the symptoms of excited delirium, but instead had discussed the response en route and decided that if he did not comply that they would go to CEW [conducted energy weapon]," the email read.

Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant, died after being tasered multiple times by the four officers.

At the inquiry, the four officers had testified under oath that they didn’t using the stun gun before arriving at the airport.

Government lawyer Helen Roberts gave a tearful apology on Friday, saying the email had been accidentally overlooked among thousands of pages of documents handed over by RCMP.

Commission Thomas Braidwood called the omission “appalling” and suspended the inquiry until September 22 so that lawyers could examine the new evidence and re-call witnesses. Final submissions were supposed to be heard Friday.

Lawyers for the four RCMP officers say the email was essentially wrong and hearsay.

Iran protests quieter after threats from military

Iran’s Revolution Guard issued its sternest warning yet to protesters Monday, saying it would “crush” any further demonstrations against the government.

Yet, hundreds gathered in a public square in Tehran to continue their push for a do-over of the country’s presidential election.

According to Al Jazeera, a statement on the guard’s website said the unit, an armed force parallel to Iran's army, would not hesitate to confront "illegal" rallies organised by supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, who is contesting the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“At the current sensitive situation ... the guards will firmly confront, in a revolutionary way, rioters and those who violate the law," the statement said.

Smaller protests were reported in Tehran as Moussavi encouraged further demonstrations but asked supporters to show restraint.

"The revolution is your legacy. To protest against lies and fraud is your right. Be hopeful that you will get your right and do not allow others who want to provoke your anger ... to prevail," he said.

Moussavi had also urged protesters not to put themselves in harm’s way.

Clashes between protesters and government forces turned deadly over the weekend. At least 17 people were killed according to some sources. The exact number of casualties has not been established, as Iran has placed severe restrictions on foreign journalists operating in the country.

Iran’s English state-run news network, Press TV, reported that Iran's Guardian Council had uncovered some evidence of fraud, including 50 cities where there were more votes than eligible voters.

However, the council emphasized the scale of the fraud wasn’t enough to make a difference in the outcome of the vote.

Press TV also said police arrested 457 people Saturday who vandalized property.

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