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Gay cops to march in NYC

If they can't march with Pride in Toronto, they will do it in New York City.

A group of Toronto police officers who are barred from marching in the city’s Pride Parade in uniform this weekend are heading to the U.S. where they will march beside their American counterparts.

Some 100 people that include officers from Toronto and other parts of Ontario along with civilian police department employees are headed to the Big Apple to participate in pride festivities there.

The trip was organized after a New York gay advocacy group, Gay Officers Action League, invited the snubbed officers to attend the NYC parade.

And it is not the Toronto Police Service or a government edict that is banning the officers from marching in uniform.

In January, the membership of Pride Toronto voted to ban uniformed officers from this year’s parade in the wake of a protest from members of Black Lives Matter - Toronto that briefly halted the event last year.

“We are delighted and overwhelmed by the support in New York City and that New York was able to get it right,” Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said, as he got ready to board a flight to New York. “Our wish and our hope is that Toronto organizers get it right next year.”

Police Chief Mark Saunders has said that it is important that the TPS takes a step back from its formal participation in the Pride Parade this year in order to allow important conversations to take place.

McCormack, however, said on Saturday the decision to ban officers from wearing their uniform in the parade is an “insult” to his members.

“It is an insult to the people here who have been working so hard to say that there has been no inroads and that this relationship is fractured,” he said

For her part, the executive director of Pride Toronto has previously said that the ban on uniformed police at this year’s pride parade is not necessarily a permanent one.

"We are utterly welcoming to LGBTQ+ members of the police service and their allies. But what we are asking this year is that they not wear their uniform, that they not bring all the aspects of their uniform until we are able to have conversations with those parts of our community that feel that this is not appropriate to what they would like to celebrate in a parade,” Olivia Nuamah said in May.

- with files from CTV News



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Trudeau to march with Pride

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be returning to one of Canada's largest Pride celebrations this weekend.

Pride Toronto, organizers of the city's festival celebrating the LGBTQ community, says Trudeau will be marching in Sunday's parade again this year.

He made history last year when he became the first sitting Prime Minister to take part in a Pride parade.

Trudeau marched in Vancouver's Pride festival later that summer.

This year, he will be joined by other dignitaries including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, making his first appearance at the Toronto Pride event.



Critters named after Rush

The offspring of Toronto's wandering capybaras now have names — Alex, Geddy and Neil, for members of the band Rush.

The High Park Zoo says the "capybabies" were born in February to famed escape artists Bonnie and Clyde.

The elder capybaras, which resemble oversized tail-less beavers, became celebrities when they escaped last May and eluded zoo staff and animal detectives for weeks.

Their daring escape led to dozens of sightings. One capybara was eventually caught June 12 and the other remained free until June 28.

The zoo has said the couple credits their "long time apart" for kindling the passion that led to the birth of the three pups.

Coun. Sarah Doucette, whose ward includes High Park, says nearly 45,000 people voted in a contest held to determine the triplets' names.

Runners-up included "Snap, Crackle and Pop", and "Mocha, Chino and Latte."

Doucette says the winning set of names received more than 30,000 votes.





Several whales found dead

Fisheries officials are trying to figure out what caused the recent deaths of several endangered right whales in the waters off eastern Canada.

The Fisheries Department is raising concern about the deaths of at least five North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

It says aircraft and Canadian Coast Guard vessels have been dispatched to study the dead whales.

It says one of the carcasses may be towed so officials can conduct a necropsy.

The department says it is working with scientists and other experts to understand what happened to these whales so further deaths can be avoided.

It says the global population of North Atlantic right whales has been pegged at about 500.



Military to take Pride

Canada's top soldier is planning to issue a directive in the coming days encouraging military personnel to attend Pride events in uniform, as part of a larger effort to make the Forces more diverse and inclusive.

Chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance's directive is expected to mirror a similar order that Royal Canadian Navy commander Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd issued to his sailors this week.

"In an effort to epitomize diversity and inclusion," Lloyd wrote, "the (navy) encourages attendance to Pride events and authorizes the wear of uniform to participate in or attend the parade."

Lloyd went on to state that, effective immediately, navy personnel were no longer required to seek permission before being allowed to wear their uniforms to Pride events.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Lloyd, who marched in last year's Pride Parade in Toronto, said he decided to take action after a recent meeting with members of the LGBTQ community.

"They were speaking to the fact that you needed chain-of-command approval in order to wear a uniform," he said.

"There is no reason why you should not be able to march in that parade in uniform if you should be so inclined. ... I didn't ask permission, and maybe I was supposed to. But it's about being inclusive."

National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said the military-wide directive from Vance is still in development, but will likely follow Lloyd's lead.

"The Canadian Armed Forces recognizes that the strength of the team comes from the diversity of its people," Le Bouthillier said, "which is why participation in Pride parades is absolutely supported."

The Canadian military's history when it comes to LGBTQ issues is checkered, starting with the forced resignation of some service members because of their sexual orientation in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.

Things began to change in 1992, when a high-profile case forced the military to lift its ban on members of the LGBT community serving in uniform, but there were still problems.

Retired Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps's explosive report on military sexual misconduct in 2015 found some service members were still facing discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

Since then, however, military leaders have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct, and appear to have embraced the need to make the Forces open to Canadians of all backgrounds.

That includes not only members of the LGBTQ community, but women, visible minorities and indigenous peoples as well.

Alan Okros, an expert on diversity at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, said there has been a recognition by senior commanders that diversity and inclusiveness are essential for military success.

Part of that is the moral need to better reflect the country and society it is sworn to defend, while it's also believed that such efforts will help with recruitment and make the Forces more effective on missions.

And making it easier for military personnel to attend public events, and encouraging them to do so, "becomes a visible symbol that the military is trying to get connected in the community," Okros said.



A month to clean up

Officials in Red Deer, Alta., say it will take more than a month to clean up the city following a bad storm earlier this week.

As of Friday, there are still about 200 properties without power.

The City of Edmonton is sending down crews to help remove downed trees on cars, homes, streets and fences.

Emergency Management coordinator Karen Mann says their other focus is on the parks system and getting damaged trees removed.

Homes where damaged and trees were uprooted Tuesday evening when wind gusts of more than 100 km/h hit.

Windows were blown out at one city mall and the roof of at least one store was lifted off.

One person suffered minor injuries at a campground.



Cougar shot, prowls school

Police say they shot and killed a cougar that had climbed a tree near a school in west-central Alberta.

RCMP say they responded to a 911 call early Friday in Rocky Mountain House about a cougar that was spotted walking down Main Street.

Officers found the cougar in the downtown, where it climbed a tree near Ecole Rocky Elementary School.

They said they were concerned children would soon be arriving for school, so they consulted with an Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer on what to do.

Police said the agency recommended shooting the cougar.

The big cat was put down with a single shot.



Why we need new subs

The head of the navy says the country needs submarines to know what is happening beneath the waves around Canada — though he won't say if foreign subs are actually poking around Canadian waters.

The Trudeau government's new defence policy includes a plan to extend the lives of the navy's four submarines so they can sail into the 2030s, which sources say will cost upwards of $2.5 billion.

Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd says that investment is necessary, as having a submarine is the best way to spot others that may be approaching or have even entered Canadian waters, or those of its NATO allies.

"It's just like airspace. You want to know what's operating in your airspace. You want to know what's approaching your airspace. You want to know what's taking place in your airspace," he said in an interview.

"If you want to know where submarines are operating, when they're operating, how they're operating, submarines allow you the opportunity."

He said the fact that foreign countries are building submarines faster than most other weapons, particularly in Asia, only underscores their recognized importance by militaries around the world.

But Lloyd won't say whether Russia, China or any other country have actually been operating in or around Canadian waters, or those of its closest allies, citing the need for secrecy.



Soldier charged with luring

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Alberta has been charged with child luring as well as with making and distributing child pornography.

Police say child luring allegations were first discovered by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations based in Laredo, Texas, in March.

Steven Massey, who is 32, was arrested Wednesday in Edmonton.

Massey is based in Wainwright, Alta.

Alberta's Internet child exploitation unit alleges that Massey attempted to arrange a meeting with a Texas girl for sex.

He was released from custody with conditions and is to appear in an Edmonton court next Friday.



Longest confirmed kill shot

NDP leader Tom Mulcair is forgoing the celebration and raising red flags after reports a Canadian sniper in Iraq broke the world record for the longest confirmed kill.

National Defence says the sniper is a member of the ultra-secret Joint Task Force 2 unit deployed as part of Canada's mission against ISIL, and that his target was more 3.5 kilometres away.

That is more than a kilometre farther than the previous record, which was held by a British sniper who shot a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan in 2009.

But while news of the shot is spreading around the world like wildfire, Mulcair has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raising concerns about what the shot means for Canada's mission in Iraq.

In particular, Mulcair says the incident raises fresh questions about the Liberals' promise that Canadian soldiers would not be involved in combat with ISIL.

The government has long maintained that Canadians soldiers in Iraq are not in combat, even though their so-called "advise and assist" mission allows them to shoot and kill ISIL fighters.



U2 to play for Canada Day

U2 band members Bono and the Edge will perform at next week's Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Canadian Heritage says the Irish rockers will perform one song around noon at the July 1 Canada 150 festivities on Parliament Hill.

"It's a beautiful (Canada) Day!" Heritage Minister Melanie Joly tweeted Friday, referencing one of the band's biggest hits.

Officials predict upwards of 450,000 people could descend on Parliament Hill and venues in the capital for the massive event.

Other artists set to perform on Parliament Hill that day include Gordon Lightfoot, Walk Off the Earth, Dean Brody, Serena Ryder and Alessia Cara.

U2 will perform in Cleveland that night as part of "The Joshua Tree" tour.



Charges in random killing

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with the second-degree murder of a young Halifax woman found dying on a pathway, in what police now say was a random killing.

Chelsie Probert, 18, was found in medical distress on a north end Dartmouth walkway around 10 p.m. on June 6. She died in hospital.

Halifax Regional Police Supt. Jim Perrin said Friday there was a "violent act," and the killing was random.

"I think any time situations like this occur, it's alarming. It's alarming to the public," said Perrin during a news conference at police headquarters in Halifax.

"I think the public can take comfort in how fast we've solved this particular case. Nonetheless, it's still alarming that these things happen and it's tragic. There's families that are caught in the middle of this and we feel for them."

On Thursday, officers in the force's homicide unit arrested a 16-year-old boy at a Dartmouth home.

He was scheduled to appear in youth court Friday to face a charge of second-degree murder.

Perrin said the age of both the victim and the accused is troubling.

"I don't want to minimize any of the other investigations we have had where the people have been older, but certainly a 16-year-old youth charged with second-degree murder, it's alarming, and an 18-year-old lady losing her life to a violent act is alarming. Very alarming."

Investigators have not released her cause of death.



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