Canadian Politics (Provincial), Multimedia, Published Articles

Tuition reform, infrastructure, cap-and-trade: major initiatives outlined in Ontario budget

Jeremy Appel
Originally published at Humber News Online 

Education, infrastructure and the environment were some of the big-ticket items included in the 2016-17 Ontario budget unveiled by Finance Minister Charles Sousa at Queen’s Park Thursday.

The major revelation in the budget was the introduction of free tuition for low-income students, those who come from families that makes less than $50,000 a year.

Unlike the other high profile items –  investments in infrastructure and the introduction of a cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions – the tuition announcement wasn’t leaked to the press prior to Thursday.

The budget boasts “the largest investment in infrastructure in Ontario’s history” – $160 billion over the next 12 years focused on building highways, hospitals, public transit and schools.

Cap-and-trade is a system whereby a maximum of carbon emissions is established. Those who emit less than the maximum receive carbon credits they can then sell to companies who exceed the cap. This is expected to raise about $1.9 billion in revenues.

The government insists its $4.3-billion deficit will be eliminated by 2017-18.

Humber News made an infographic to help explain the budget’s major components, which you can view here.


Ghomeshi’s lawyer continues agressive questioning of DeCoutere

Britnei Bilhete, Christy Farr and Jeremy Appel
Originally published at Humber News Online

Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyer continued her aggressive cross-examination of actress Lucy DeCoutere on the fourth day of the disgraced radio host’s sexual assault trial.

DeCoutere, known for her role on the Trailer Park Boys, testified early on Friday that she had no romantic interest in Ghomeshi. She maintained that she only sought friendship.

Marie Henein, Ghomeshi’s lead lawyer, presented the court with documents she said demonstrate that DeCoutere was withholding key details of her relationship with the ex-CBC host.

One document was an e-mail from July 5, 2003, mere hours after the alleged assault, which Henein had DeCoutere read out loud in court.

“You kicked my a– last night and that makes me want to f— your brains out tonight,” the e-mail read.

DeCoutere countered that her and Ghomeshi never had sex and that she doesn’t remember writing the e-mail, but doesn’t deny authorship.

In an e-mail dated June 11, 2004, almost a year after the night in question, DeCoutere threatens to “beat the crap” out of Ghomeshi if they don’t meet in Banff.

Another document the defence revealed was a hand-written letter DeCoutere wrote to Ghomeshi on July 9, 2003, four days after the alleged assault.

In the letter, DeCoutere said she came to Toronto solely to see Ghomeshi.

“You totally knocked me out,” it reads. “What could be better than lying with you listening to music?”

DeCoutere had testified Thursday morning that Ghomeshi’s stated desire to listen to music while cuddling was “creepy” and “awkward”.

The letter continued describing feelings towards Ghomeshi that appear to be romantic.

“I’m worried that I gave you mixed messages. If I did, I apologize … Jian, you’re great. I want to have more fun easy times with you,” the letter said. “I’m sad we didn’t spend the night together.”

Henein then asked DeCoutere to read the final line aloud. “I love your hands,” signed Lucy.

During a brief redirect, the Crown asked DeCoutere to describe the context and explain why she wrote the letter.

“This is and remains the trial about Mr. Ghomeshi’s conduct…what Lucy did and how she felt of the aftermath of the assault does not change that essential fact.” – Gillian Hnatiw, Lucy DeCoutere’s lawyer

“It was very candid. There was no untruth in this letter,” DeCoutere told the Crown. “The last line is me pointing love to the very thing he used to hurt me.”

DeCoutere maintained that she forgot she had written the letter, conceding that she didn’t tell the Crown, police or judge about its existence.

Henein asked DeCoutere why she repeatedly attempted to contact Ghomeshi if she had no interest in him romantically.

“A lot of people who have been assaulted will stay in touch after, especially if they work in a small industry,” DeCoutere said.

Ghomeshi sat silently throughout DeCoutere’s testimony, staring at the witness stand and occasionally fidgeting.

The day in court ended when Crown attorney Michael Callahan said they have a new disclosure from their next witness and requested adjournment until Monday at 10 a.m., which was granted.

DeCoutere’s lawyer, Gillian Hnatiw, addressed the media outside the Old City Hall courthouse after the day’s proceedings.

“This is and remains the trial about Mr. Ghomeshi’s conduct,” Hnatiw said. “What Lucy did and how she felt of the aftermath of the assault does not change that essential fact.

“She maintains her allegations and remains resolute in her decision to come forward and please be reminded when the allegations against Mr. Ghomeshi first began to surface he himself admitted that he does enjoy engaging in violence for sexual pleasure,” she added.

Ghomeshi faces four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance through choking. There are three separate complainants, including DeCoutere.