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Advocates Praise Government's Introduction Of Poverty Reduction Plan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joel Willick   
Thursday, 23 October 2014 17:19

Several different groups are applauding the provincial government’s commitment to a poverty reduction plan.

The government made the announcement during yesterday’s Throne Speech that opened the 27th session of the legislative assembly.

The Poverty Costs Campaign was on hand for the speech.

Poverty Costs spokesperson Alison Robertson says she is glad to see the first steps being taken toward building a healthier community.

“This is just the first step and there is a lot of work to be done,” she says. “It is very critical to move forward with the poverty reduction plan and to work closely with the government to develop the plan.”

Robertson says although the Poverty Costs Campaign worked closely with the government to get this initiative off the ground, several other groups were also involved.

“All credit is due to all of the people in our community who work every day on these topics…this is a community achievement.”

Another organization who commends the government’s plan is Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate.

Bob Pringle says he is very pleased the provincial government is making a commitment to tackle poverty in a comprehensive way.

“I believe that this will help us advance the goals of the Saskatchewan Child and Family Agenda: children get a good start in life; youth are prepared for their future; families are strong and communities are supportive,” he says.

The poverty reduction plan will be developed over the coming months.

Throne Speech Goes Ahead Amidst Heightened Security PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 16:35

It was a Speech from the Throne like no other at the Saskatchewan Legislature Wednesday afternoon.

Not so much for what was in the speech but for the unprecedented security that surrounded it because of an armed attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa earlier in the day.

All ceremonial activities were moved indoors, police swept the building and even the Regina police swat team was called in.

Changes included the cancellation of the 21-gun salute and the fly past by 15-Wing Moose Jaw.

There are normally some seats for general members of the public in the legislature for the Throne Speech but these were removed and the event became invitation only.

Premier Brad Wall says it was the government’s decision to go ahead with the ceremony, providing it could be done safely.

He notes there is a large military presence as well as a large number of foreign diplomats here for the Throne Speech.

Wall says ensuring everyone’s safety was his primary concern and security measures at the legislative building are under review.

“Our balance we’ll always want to strike is access to this building that does not belong to the politicians, it belongs to the people of Saskatchewan but also to the security of all those who work here and those who visit here,” he says. “So, there may be changes.”

The Throne Speech focuses on the economy and the theme is “Keeping Saskatchewan Strong.”

To that end, the speech includes a number of measures and tax breaks.

Premier Wall says among the items focused on growing the economy is the reintroduction of interest rate subsides to help municipalities with infrastructure costs.

He says the program will also be expanded to include some First Nations.

Right now the only First Nation that qualifies is Whitecap Dakota.

The speech mentions the development of a poverty reduction strategy; something the Premier says is a “work in progress.”

This is one of the few items in the Throne Speech welcomed by the NDP opposition.

NDP Leader Cam Broten says the party has been pushing for a poverty reduction strategy for years.

“I am pleased to see there is now a flip-flop on the need for a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy,” he says. “We’ve been calling for that for ages. We’ll have to see what the actual plan is to see whether or not it will do the job.”

The Throne Speech also says the government will not spend another dollar building liquor stores.

This fall, it will gather public feedback on the future of liquor retailing in the province.

Wall says while the throne speech makes no mention of private MRIs in the province, he expects further debate in the legislature on the issue.

Other measures in the Throne Speech include a tax break for manufacturers who create new corporate and head office jobs in the province, legislation to help better protect the victims of domestic violence and increases in the number of adult basic education and apprenticeship training seats.

Judge To Decide Next Month On Whether To Reopen Hales Murder Trial PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fraser Needham   
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 16:08

A judge has reserved his decision until next month whether or not to reopen the Douglas Hales murder trial.

Hales is on trial for first-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Daleen Bosse of Onion Lake Cree Nation who was last seen in May 2004.

RCMP officers used a Mr. Big undercover operation to obtain murder confessions out of Hales in 2008.

In this type of operation, officers pose as a fictitious criminal organization and lure the target in with promises of big money, friendship and notoriety.

A verdict in the case was initially supposed to come down in late August.

However, a Supreme Court ruling in July draws into question the reliability of statements made during Mr. Big operations.

Defence lawyer Bob Hrycan wants to introduce a psychological assessment of Hales as evidence as part of an application to reopen the trial.

He says the Supreme Court ruling opens the door to a medical assessment of the psychological state of mind and reliability of the murder confessions Hales made to police in 2008.

“We know from the Supreme Court of Canada, that they now consider it important,” he says. “They now have instructed trial judges to consider the reliability of a statement made by a Mr. Big target in the context of that particular individual’s susceptibilities and malleabilities.”

However, prosecutor Matt Miazga says the Crown still believes the murder confessions introduced at the trial are reliable and it shouldn’t be reopened in spite of the Supreme Court ruling.

“The Hart case and of course there’s a sister case now, the Mac case, is it certainly has outlined a new rule of evidence that applies to these particular decisions,” he says. “But again, my view is that it doesn’t change the relevancy of certain evidence and those kinds of things are still the same as they were before.”

Both sides were in a Saskatoon courtroom Wednesday morning.

Justice Gerald Allbright will rule on whether or not to reopen the trial on Nov. 14.

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