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Canada  

A beer makeover?

Your beer is about to undergo a government makeover. Federal officials are proposing changes to national beer standards that would widen the number of ingredients permitted in a pint and force brewers to list every ingredient on a can or bottle.

Even the Canadian definition of "beer" would change.

The changes would mark a major overhaul of beer standards introduced more than 30 years ago, but they must first go through public consultations quietly launched days ago.

Beer aficionados who have closely watched the industry for years say the proposals would help regulations catch up with an explosion in styles and types of beers. Between 1990 and 2017, the number of Canadian breweries jumped to over 750 from 62, while the number of beer brands has grown to over 7,000 from about 400.

Stephen Beaumont, co-author of The World Atlas of Beer, said there are any number of beers on the market today that violate the existing standards, either through ingredients or fermentation methods.

"This is all stuff that is going on and the regulations just haven't been there to catch up to all of it," Beaumont said.

No longer would beer be required to "possess the aroma, taste and character commonly attributed to beer" or be categorized into different styles or types like ale, stout, porter and malt liquor. Instead, officials are proposing to set limits on sugar content and simplify language around the use of additives that would set define what is a beer.

Added to that would a wider list of herbs and spices among other ingredients that can be used in the brewing process.

"We're not going to be excluding anything that is currently defined as a beer, but it does provide a criteria for brewers to work with," said Luke Harford, president of Beer Canada, a national trade association that represents more than 50 companies that make about 90 per cent of Canada's beer.

Brewers could use different fruit, lavender or coriander for instance, providing options to smaller operations which want to test something new in the marketplace, said Dirk Bendiak, technical adviser for Ontario Craft Brewers. He said the proposed regulations won't stifle creativity.



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Low taxes better for business

A new study suggests federal and provincial governments can help ease some of the frustrations of travellers and grow the country's air transport sector by reducing taxes and fees imposed on the industry.

Alexandre Moreau of the right-leaning Montreal Economic Institute says Canada's massive geography and low population density help keep airline prices high, but even a small reduction in taxes and fees could make a big difference for travellers.

In his study, Moreau writes that comparatively high airport rents and security charges, coupled with provincial taxes, are restricting the potential for growth in the country's air transport sector.

Canada is ranked 31st out of 32 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the competitiveness of airport fees and taxes.

Moreau says Transport Canada collected $349 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year in airport rents and over the past five years, the federal government collected $404 million more in security fees than it spent on security-related expenses during the same period.

Moreau says in an interview that research indicates consumers are sensitive to modest price decreases, especially for tourism-related travel, adding that a one per cent decrease in the price of a ticket corresponded with a 1.3 per cent to two per cent increase in demand.

"If we reduced the burden of taxes and fees that weighs down the air transport sector, the resulting increase in economic activity and tax revenue would likely compensate for at least a portion of the lost government revenue," Moreau said.

Every year, federal and provincial governments collect more than $1.5 billion from airlines and airports.

By reducing taxes and fees, Moreau said airlines could lower prices, which would spark increased demand for flights and more revenues for airlines.

A higher demand for flights makes it easier and potentially more profitable for smaller and lower-cost airlines to enter the market, he said.

Airline ticket prices are felt acutely in Quebec, with many people living outside big cities stuck with airline monopolies and high prices for domestic flights.

In order to encourage domestic tourism, the Quebec government recently announced $173 million over five years to renovate regional airports, help low-cost and smaller airlines become more competitive and to directly subsidize flights for Quebecers living outside big cities.

Moreau said, however, the Quebec policy could end up increasing fares over the long term.

"With subsidies for airplane tickets, it's possible the flights stay the same price or even increase because the companies know consumers will have high purchasing power," he said.



Attempted bulldozer murder

A Saskatchewan man who bulldozed a house with two people inside, including his son's wife, has been sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

Ronald Fatteicher, who is 60, knocked down the house last summer on rural property near Calder east of Yorkton.

Fatteicher's daughter-in-law and a neighbour escaped unhurt, but Fatteicher had minor injuries.

Court heard there was a family dispute over ownership of the home.

Fatteicher believed it belonged to him, but it had been sold to his son in 2015.

It's believed Fatteicher was intoxicated when he tore the house down.

Fatteicher pleaded guilty to nine charges in total, including uttering death threats and assaulting a police officer. A second charge of attempted murder was dropped.

Court heard that Fatteicher yelled obscenities at his daughter-in-law and wasn't aware that she had been able to get out of the house and hide in tall grass.

She called 911 and her husband, who was able to stop his father when he tried to leave the scene in a farm truck. Fatteicher's son dragged him out of the truck and held him down until police arrived.

The defense told court that Fatteicher was under immense stress due to family problems, has struggled with alcohol throughout his life and was worried his family was trying to destroy his farm.

Judge Donna Taylor said it's not often a family dispute reaches this level and told Fatteicher "this is not the way we deal with our problems."

She said she hopes what happened will serve as a lesson to others about what can happen if violence is used to try to settle family disagreements.

Fatteicher's sentence also includes a 10-year prohibition from owning firearms and a one-year driving ban upon his release.



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Hardie admits misconduct

Ontario winemaker Norman Hardie is disputing parts of a report detailing accusations of sexual misconduct against him, while admitting that "many" of the allegations are true.

The Globe and Mail reported numerous misconduct allegations against Hardie on Tuesday, including unwanted sexual contact and inappropriate remarks.

The winemaker told the newspaper he does not "physically grab people or touch them against their will," but later affirmed a former employee's claim that he tried to kiss her on her first day of work.

Hardie released a statement Wednesday apologizing to those who felt "marginalized, demeaned or objectified" while working alongside him.

He said some of the allegations against him aren't true, but "many are." He did not specify which of the reported allegations he believed to be true or false.

Hardie said he's been working for several years to change his behaviour. He said that after being contacted by reporters several months ago, he hired an "independent advisor" to conduct a review of the workplace culture at his winery in Wellington, Ont.

Hardie said the assessment was completed in April and "did not find any examples of sexual harassment in the workplace today."

Hardie added that his team has begun implementing some of the recommendations from the review, including providing specific training on harassment.



Unfair beer markup!

A judge has ruled the Alberta government's markup policy on craft beer is unconstitutional.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Gillian Marriott has awarded Toronto-based Steam Whistle Brewing and Great Western Brewing Co. of Saskatoon more than $2 million.

Lawyers for the companies had argued the Alberta markup is basically a tax.

The government charges all small breweries $1.25 per litre sold, but returns much of that to Alberta producers as a grant.

The province argued it has the right to support its small breweries.

Marriott says in her decision that the markup discriminates between craft brewers on the basis of provincial origin, which creates an unfair trade barrier.



Legal weed as of Oct. 17

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada as of Oct. 17.

Trudeau made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons, which is expected to rise for the summer break after today.

He says the government has delayed the legalization schedule in order to give the provinces and territories more time to implement their regimes.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted to end its opposition to certain aspects of the federal bill, most notably the plan to permit Canadians to cultivate marijuana plants at home. A proposed Senate amendment would have prevented legal challenges to their constitutional right to do so.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called the legislation — which still requires royal assent to become law — "transformative" and predicted it would protect young people and keep organized crime out of the pot market.

But she's reminding Canadians that until it goes into effect, recreational marijuana remains illegal, as is driving while impaired.

Bill C-46, a companion bill that Wilson-Raybould predicts will give Canada the strongest impaired-driving rules in the world, will also become law "in the near future," she said.

Until then, "I would like to also remind the public that driving while impaired by drugs is, and will remain, illegal."



Ford widow's DUI charge

The widow of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford has been given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to impaired driving.

A judge ordered three years of probation and 100 hours of community service for Renata Ford, and also issued a two-year driving ban and a $1,100 fine for the 2016 incident.

Her lawyer had argued for no jail time and a minimal fine, while the Crown had asked for 45 days behind bars and a license suspension for one to three years.

Ford kept a relatively low profile during her late husband's tumultuous term as mayor from 2010 to 2014 but entered the spotlight earlier this month when, in the final days of Ontario's election campaign, she filed a lawsuit against her brother-in-law, Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford.

That suit claims Doug Ford, now Ontario's premier-designate, and his brother Randy Ford mishandled Rob Ford's estate and destroyed the value of the family business, depriving Renata Ford and her children of income.

Doug Ford has called the allegations in the suit false and said he has always stood by his brother's wife and children.

During sentencing submissions in Renata Ford's impaired driving case, an agreed statement of facts presented in court said she was turning into an LCBO parking lot on Dec. 28, 2016, when her vehicle "rubbed up against" another vehicle.

After being helped from her vehicle by witnesses, and asking them not to call the police, Ford tried to buy a bottle of wine at the LCBO but was denied service, court heard. Police found her sitting in the passenger seat of her vehicle and administered a breathalyzer test, which she failed.

She was charged with impaired driving and driving with over 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The latter charge was stayed when she pleaded guilty to impaired driving.

In court on Wednesday, Renata Ford issued an apology.

"I just want to say that I'm truly sorry for my actions," she said. "I've tried to do what I could to prevent (this) from happening again."

Her lawyer, Dennis Morris, told the court that his client has been in therapy and undergone treatment at an addiction facility, that she no longer consumes alcohol and has an anti-drunk driving lock in her vehicle.



Jailed for sex with student

A former educational assistant in Winnipeg has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years behind bars for having a sexual relationship with a student.

Sheryl Dyck, who was 42 at the time, was arrested in 2015 after a seven-month relationship with the then 16-year-old.

Justice Richard Saull says Dyck groomed the student by giving him money, food and drugs as their relationship became sexual.

Dyck cried and held her husband and children before she was taken into custody.

During a sentencing hearing last week, the victim told court it has had a ripple effect on his life.

He stopped going to school and says every step forward seems like multiple steps back.



Sex assault kept 'in house'

A witness at the court martial of a Halifax-based military policeman says the immediate chain of command decided to keep an alleged sexual assault "in house" at the complainant's request.

The witness was the senior non-commissioned officer (NCO) at a Royal Canadian Navy exercise in Glasgow, Scotland, in September 2015.

He told the court martial of Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre that the complainant told him about the alleged assault at a Glasgow hotel, and showed him bruising on her inner thighs a few days after the alleged incident.

He described the bruising as the size of a tennis ball.

The NCO testified that his immediate superiors were told about the allegations.

"We decided to push it higher," he said, adding that a decision was made to keep it "in house."

He was asked by prosecutor Lt. Jennifer Besner what he meant.

"(The complainant) told us that she didn't want to make a big deal of it or go higher because she didn't want anybody to find out."

He said the complainant appeared distraught in the following days.

"She was shaken and she was worried," he said. "She wasn't herself."

The officer made a formal complaint in March of 2016. MacIntyre has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

In cross examination, defence lawyer David Bright continually questioned the NCO's memory, and asked him whether he took any pictures or notes to document what was described as a "serious incident."

"No," the witness said.

"Was there anything stopping you from doing that?" Bright asked.

Again the reply was no. Besner later asked the NCO to explain why no record was kept.

"(The complainant) didn't want anybody to find out what had happened or any information out there so just I respected her wishes not to get involved and let sleeping dogs lie."

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified Monday she awoke to find MacIntyre in her bed. She said she hadn't slept for about 36 hours after travelling from Canada and going straight to work in Glasgow on Sept. 26.

She told the court martial that she didn't scream or yell during the alleged assault, but told MacIntyre "No," as she was forced to continually remove his hand from her lower extremities "10 to 15 times."

She said he eventually penetrated her. The complainant said she believes she "just froze."



Scheer: 'can win anywhere'

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is welcoming the newest member of his caucus into the fold with a new team jersey.

Richard Martel, who won Monday's byelection in the Quebec riding of Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, was on hand for today's caucus meeting, where he was presented with a blue jersey with a large white "C" and his name printed on the back.

Martel won 52.7 per cent of the vote, more than 5,000 votes clear of Liberal rival Lina Boivin, who took 29. 5 per cent.

Scheer says the Conservatives have shown that they can win anywhere, with Martel's decisive victory sending a "clear" message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Martel told caucus he's "proud" to be with them in the House of Commons and thanked Scheer for his support during the campaign.

The byelection was triggered by the resignation of rookie Liberal MP Denis Lemieux. Chicoutimi-Le Fjord marks the governing party's first byelection defeat in a Liberal-held riding since Trudeau became leader in 2013.



Ideological sexual clubs?

The first court challenge of an Alberta law that bars schools from telling parents about their children's involvement in gay-straight alliances echoes some of the debate over legalizing same-sex marriage more than a decade ago, says one LGBTQ advocate.

Arguments are to be heard in Medicine Hat, Alta., today on behalf of dozens of parents and independent faith-based schools wanting the legislation to be put on hold until there is a ruling on its constitutionality.

Leading the challenge is the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which argues keeping parents out of the loop violates charter rights including freedom of religion and expression.

The group calls gay-straight alliances "ideological sexual clubs" that make graphic information on gay sex available.

Kristopher Wells, an assistant professor in the University of Alberta's faculty of education, said he's troubled by some of the language used in the court filing.

"Certainly these arguments are no different from when same-sex marriage was legalized and how that was going to lead to bestiality and polygamy and how it was a slippery slope," said Wells, who is faculty director with the university's Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services.

"Their methodology and tactics haven't changed. Just the battleground has shifted."

Wells said the possibility of the challenge being successful is not his primary concern.

"I'm more worried about the rhetoric and the damage it does to LGBTQ youth when they have to hear these kinds of ridiculous, outdated stereotypes."

The legal challenge was filed in April in response to the ban passed by Premier Rachel Notley's government late last year.

Gay-straight alliances are peer support networks organized by students meant to help gay kids feel welcome and to prevent bullying or abuse.

The challenge says parents are alarmed at the "climate of secrecy" the legislation has created.

"The impugned sections of the School Act have stripped parents of the ability to know fully where their children are, who they are involved with and what they may be encouraged to think or do," it says.

"Children have a right to be protected and supported by their own parents, by way of the parents' constitutional right to parent, counsel and protect and come to the aid of children who may have been pressured, coerced or compelled either emotionally or sexually against their wills."



Collapse disappoints Singh

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he's reviewing his tour schedule and his party's policies in the wake of a federal byelection Monday in Quebec, in which the New Democrats' vote collapsed.

The NDP finished a distant third Monday in a byelection held in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, taking just 8.7 per cent of the vote in a riding where the NDP won in 2011 and finished a close second in 2015.

The collapse of the NDP, along with an equally disastrous showing for the Bloc Quebecois, worked to the benefit of the Conservatives, who wound up snagging the seat from the ruling Liberals.

Monday's dismal result marked the second time since Singh became leader that the NDP has been reduced to the role of bystander in a Quebec byelection.

The party came a distant fourth last October in Lac-Saint-Jean, where it had finished a close second in 2015.

"It's clear we're very disappointed with the results and the results show that we've got a lot of work to do," Singh said Tuesday.

"It's a priority for me."

The NDP rode a so-called orange wave under the late Jack Layton in 2011, sweeping 59 of the province's 75 seats, and vaulting over the Liberals to capture the role of official Opposition for the first time in NDP history.

But it's been downhill since then.

Under Tom Mulcair, the party won just 16 seats in the province in 2015. And judging by the grim faces of Quebec MPs who stood behind Singh as he fielded questions Tuesday, few if any think their seats will be safe during the next federal election under Singh's stewardship.

Singh vowed to do whatever it takes to re-create the orange wave.

"Everything is on the table. You know, looking at our policies, looking at our tour schedule in Quebec, looking at the kind of issues we want to raise, spending more time in Quebec — all these things are on the table," he said.

Indeed, Singh added, he's even considering spending some time living with a family in Quebec to immerse himself in the province's culture.

Singh said he has a "formidable" team in Quebec but it's clear that the issues the NDP has been raising thus far "aren't penetrating and we're not connecting with people. We need to make sure that our message resonates with people."

He also acknowledged that he's had "different crises to manage" since becoming leader — including caucus discontent with some of his decisions and sexual harassment allegations against two of his MPs — which "takes away time and effort from other areas."

During last year's leadership contest, one New Democrat MP from Quebec, Pierre Nantel, openly said secular Quebecers wouldn't vote for a leader who sported an ostentatious religious symbol. Singh, a practising Sikh, wears a turban.

Singh insisted his religion was "not at all" a factor in the NDP's disastrous byelection showing. Indeed, he said, he was welcomed warmly in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord when he campaigned there.

One of his Quebec MPs, Alexandre Boulerice, said it's not that Quebecers don't like Singh, it's that they don't know him.

"The real problem is that they don't know him enough yet and this is our job to present him," Boulerice said. "This is something we need to do, we need to do it fast, and we know that."

Singh, an Ontario politician before jumping to the federal scene, does not have a seat in the House of Commons, which hasn't helped him raise his profile in Quebec or anywhere else across the country. Singh said he's open to running in a byelection in future but Boulerice said he should do so only if he's certain to win.



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