Canada briefs – September 23

Some long overdue wages are finally being paid to 57 tree planters, more than a year after they were found without adequate food, water or shelter in a remote camp in southeastern B.C.

Tree planters found in squalid B.C. camp finally receive portion of unpaid wages

VANCOUVER — Some long overdue wages are finally being paid to 57 tree planters, more than a year after they were found without adequate food, water or shelter in a remote camp in southeastern B.C.

Minister of Labour Stephanie Cadieux says the former employees of Khaira Enterprises are splitting the $105,000 held in trust since the workers were discovered in the squalid camp near Golden, in July 2010.

The money is part of a Ministry of Forests holdback of payments due to the Surrey-based contractor and makes up just under half of the $228,000 in back wages the B.C. Employment Standards Branch ordered the company to pay its tree planters.

Cadieux says the province will pursue the owners and directors of Khaira, to ensure the remaining wages are paid to the mainly immigrant workers — many who had only recently arrived from Africa.

In addition to the payment order from the Employment Standards Branch, the discovery of the abused and hungry workers prompted an investigation by B.C.’s forest safety ombudsman.

That report, issued in late July, made 13 recommendations, such as changing the way forestry contracts are awarded, to ensure the lowest bidder is not automatically successful.

Winnipeg woman charged with 2nd-degree murder in death of elderly woman

WINNIPEG — A 19-year-old Winnipeg woman has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her 84-year-old grandmother.

Rahami Sacranie was found beaten inside a home on Winnipeg’s southeast side on Wednesday.

Officers said the woman had upper body injuries and was rushed to hospital but died of her injuries.

Police say the dead woman, a couple and their children all lived in the home.

Former Tory aide trying to create chill around committee: NDP

OTTAWA — The NDP is accusing a former Conservative staffer of trying to scare MPs and others out of scrutinizing interference by political aides in access-to-information files.

Sebastien Togneri, a former assistant to the public works minister, wrote to three organizations earlier this month warning them to stop making false and defamatory claims about him. In August, he warned the information commissioner about “consequences” for “grandstanding” during her investigation into his actions.

The Togneri case created a political headache for the Tories when it was revealed he had directed public servants to stop the release of documents under the Access to Information Act. Although he originally said he only did it once, other cases of meddling later emerged and he resigned his post as adviser to Christian Paradis.

The information commissioner concluded in a report to Parliament that Togneri had interfered in the release, but the RCMP said they would not be laying any charges. The RCMP have never laid charges under the act.

That spurred the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Newspapers Canada and the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association in August to ask a Commons committee to review the act and make sure that there is no loophole for political staffers.

Lack of documents frustrating residential school survivors

REGINA — The head of the residential schools commission says some survivors are frustrated because they can’t get papers needed to back up their claim.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is trying to collect documents from the government and churches.

But Justice Murray Sinclair says many documents have been destroyed and he doesn’t know if that was deliberate or accidental.

Sinclair told a meeting of the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges in Regina that many credible claims are denied because the government says it can’t find the records.

The deadline was Monday for what is called the common experience payment which recognizes the impact of living at a residential school.

Sinclair said those that didn’t file by the deadline are unfortunately out of luck.

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