BlackBerry selling most Canadian real estate

NEW YORK – BlackBerry is selling most of its real estate holdings in Canada as the struggling smartphone company continues to look for ways to improve its business.

BlackBerry Ltd. did not disclose the buyer or purchase price, but said Friday that it will sell more than 3 million square feet of space and vacant lands. It will also lease back part of the space.

“The successful sale of property in Canada will help us move toward our goal of continued operational efficiency,” CEO and Executive Chair John Chen said in a statement.

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The company had announced in January that it planned to sell the majority of its Canadian real estate holdings.

BlackBerry pioneered the smartphone in 1999 and dominated for years, but since the late 2000s the company has been hammered by competition from the iPhone as well as Android-based rivals.

Under Chen — who took on the CEO post permanently late last year — BlackBerry has been working to turn around its business.

Chen said that BlackBerry is still committed to having a strong presence in Canada. It is keeping its headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.

The company said that more terms of the transaction will be announced once principal conditions are satisfied or waived by the parties.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

BlackBerry’s stock rose 13 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $9.55 in morning trading Friday. Its shares are up more than 32 per cent over the past three months.

Beauty queens tweet for peace in Venezuela – National

TORONTO – The political unrest in Venezuela has spawned an online campaign for peace with beauty queens posting photos of themselves with the hashtag #Misses4Peace.

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Started by Miss Trujillo 2005, Angelika Hernandez, #Misses4Peace “tries to join Misses and ex-Misses voices in a cry to the global community to help them find peace and harmony in their country,” it says in a statement on her YouTube channel.

Venezuela has more Miss World and Miss Universe titles than any other country, with a total of thirteen.

In February, 22-year-old Genesis Carmona, Miss Tourism 2013 for the central Venezuelan state of Carabobo, was shot down by members of the armed militias known as “colectivos” who opened fire on a demonstration in Valencia.

READ MORE: Beauty queen killed during political protest mourned in Venezuela

Carmona, who was in her final year in a marketing program at a university in Valencia, was not ardently political, friends and family said. Her uncle said she was drawn to the rally by the dismal economic conditions that the oil-rich country has experienced after 15 years of socialism-inspired policies and that her mother had gone with her to protect her.

Monica Spear, a popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela, was shot and killed along with her ex-husband in January when they resisted robbers by locking themselves inside their car after tire punctures disabled it on an isolated stretch of highway. Their 5-year-old daughter was wounded in the incident as well.

Seven people were arrested for their deaths after a digital camera stolen in the crime was discovered.

READ MORE: Outrage over beauty queen’s slaying a call to action in crime-wracked Venezuela

“This is not a political initiative, but we do demand PEACE for our beloved Venezuela,” it says on Hernandez’s YouTube channel.

On Monday, Air Canada suspended flights to and from Venezuela as they can no longer ensure the safety of its operation there. They said they will resume flying into the country once they are “satisfied that the situation in Venezuela has stabilized.”

The #Misses4Peace campaign has spread far since launching in February with beauty queens from around the world getting involved.

杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/TodoMiss/status/443586697847001088

杭州桑拿按摩论坛twitter杭州夜网/TodoMiss/status/436998257965670400

-With files from The Associated Press

©2014Shaw Media

Halifax police charge 4 in connection with Matthew Penney homicide – Halifax

CORRECTION: The original article based on the information provided by the RCMP stated that Jason Patrick MacKenzie faced a charge of manslaughter in connection with Matthew Penney’s homicide. The RCMP have since provided updated information that MacKenzie has not been charged with manslaughter. The article has been updated to reflect the change.

HALIFAX – Halifax police have charged a man with manslaughter following an investigation into a burnt body that was found at a provincial park on New Year’s Day.

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Tyler Berry, 24, is also facing numerous other charges in the death of 26-year-old Matthew Penney.

Police have also charged Berry with criminal negligence, causing death by a firearm, indignant disposal of human remains and public mischief.

Jason Patrick MacKenzie, 27, has been charged with accessory to manslaughter, accessory to criminal negligence causing death by firearm, indignant disposal of human remains and public mischief.

Penney’s remains were discovered at Oakfield Provincial Park in Grand Lake, about 35 kilometres north of Halifax. He had last been seen the night before in Dartmouth.

Two women have also been charged in connection with the case.

Keisha Slawter-Vassel, 24, is charged with accessory to manslaughter, accessory to criminal negligence causing death by firearm and public mischief.

Caitlin Fay Thompson, 23, is charged with public mischief.

On Thursday, officers executing two warrants at residences on Bras Dor Lane and Springhill Drive in Dartmouth took the suspects into custody.

All four are due to appear in Dartmouth provincial court on Friday.

©2014Shaw Media

Windsor tops Acadia, Alberta over Carleton at University Cup – Saskatoon

Watch above: highlights from the Windsor vs. Acadia matchup at the University Cup

SASKATOON – The Windsor Lancers say they don’t mind playing as underdogs. And so far, that title has been working for them.

Richard Cameron had a goal and an assist as the No. 3 Lancers upset No. 2 Acadia 4-2 in the CIS men’s hockey championship on Thursday.

Drew Palmer, Kenny Bradford, and Mike Christou also scored for Windsor (1-0), while Spencer Pommells and Saverio Posa contributed two assists apiece.

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“Not a lot of people knew about the University of Windsor Lancers before this tournament,” said Windsor’s head coach Kevin Hamlin. “To be honest, I don’t care if they know us by name at the end of it but they will know who the Lancers are.

“We’ve had some lean times through the course of this season but we have battled together and battled through.”

Mike Cazzola and Liam Heelis each scored one and assisted on another for Acadia (0-1), and Evan Mosher shouldered the loss after stopping 24-of-28 shots on net.

Lancers goaltender Parker van Buskirk made 25 saves for the win.

Acadia led 1-0 after a goal from Cazzola at 1:19 of the first period. Cameron tied it up at 16:52.

Heelis’ goal at 1:43 of the second gave the Axemen a 2-1 lead, but Windsor replied with three unanswered goals – including two power-play goals – to seal the win.

The Lancers will face the tournament host University of Saskatchewan Huskies Saturday. Acadia will take on the Huskies Friday with its season on the line.

“We probably didn’t play our best tonight and we got beat by a good opponent,” said Axemen head coach Darren Burns. “But we will stick together and we will be ready to go tomorrow.”

Earlier, top-seeded Alberta used a three-goal first period en route to a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Carleton.

Watch below: highlights from the Alberta vs. Carleton matchup at the University Cup

Travis Toomey, T.J. Foster and Rowley Jordan scored for the Golden Bears (1-0), who outshot the Ravens 41-17.

Joe Pleckaitis scored a power-play goal at 14:40 of the first period for Carleton (0-1), and Damian Cross rounded out the Ravens offence with another power-play goal at 17:21 of the third.

Kurtis Mucha picked up the win with 15 saves, while Carleton’s Francis Dupuis stopped 38 shots.

©2014The Canadian Press

Loonie gets boost from solid retail sales numbers – National

TORONTO – The Canadian dollar closed higher Friday in the wake of a better than expected reading on retail sales for January and rising commodity prices.

The loonie was up 0.26 of a cent to 89.21 cents US as Statistics Canada said sales were up 1.3 per cent, against the 0.7 per cent rise that had been expected.

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The agency also reported that Canada’s annual inflation rate fell to 1.1 per cent in February from 1.5 per cent the previous month. But on a month-to-month basis, prices rose 0.8 per cent from January.

READ MORE: Don’t look now but loonie’s plunge is deepening 

Economic optimism that followed the release of two pieces of U.S. data on Thursday sent commodities higher with the May crude contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange moved up 56 cents to US$99.46 a barrel.

The April gold contract gained $5.50 to US$1,336 an ounce while May copper rose two cents to US$2.95 a pound.

The U.S. Conference Board’s index of leading indicators, an indicator of future economic activity, rose in February by the largest amount in three months. And a key manufacturing reading, the Philadelphia Fed’s manufacturing index, rebounded in March from a negative reading in February.

The data helped persuade investors that the U.S. economy is strengthening to a point where it can withstand higher short-term interest rates.

Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the U.S. central bank could begin raising short-term rates six months after it halts its bond purchases around year’s end. The Fed has been cutting back on those purchases — a key element of stimulus that had kept long-term rates low — in $10-billion increments since December, lowering monthly purchases so far from $85 billion to $55 billion.

Yellen’s comment on interest rates helped sink the Canadian dollar by about a cent this past week.

Another source of pressure was Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz, who said earlier in the week that interest rate hikes in Canada could be further away than thought.

He added that a rate cut by the Bank of Canada could not be ruled out.

Canada’s annual inflation falls to 1.1% in February – National

OTTAWA – Consumer prices rose more in February than expected but not enough to keep annual inflation from dipping four-tenths of a point to 1.1 per cent – near the low end of the Bank of Canada’s target range.

Economists had anticipated Statistics Canada’s annual inflation rate would fall because a spike in gasoline prices in February 2013 didn’t happen again this year but the actual decline was less than expected.

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Consumer prices also increased more than anticipated between January and February, pushing up last month’s consumer price index  0.8 per cent as travel tours, hotels, autos and gas were all higher.

Economists had generally estimated the month-month increase would be 0.6 per cent and that the annual inflation rate would fall below 1.0 per cent, the low end of the Bank of Canada’s acceptable range.

“The smaller year-over-year rise in the CPI in February compared with January was mainly attributable to gasoline prices, which fell 1.3 per cent in the 12 months to February, following a 4.6 per cent increase in January, ” Statistics Canada explained.

On a monthly basis, gasoline prices rose 2.3 per cent this February, a smaller increase than in the same month a year ago (8.4 per cent).”

Earlier in the week, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said he would discount this month’s reading because it did not present an accurate picture of inflationary pressures in Canada. He said he believes the trend rate of inflation is about 1.2 per cent, exactly the level for February’s core rate, which excludes volatile items such as energy and some fresh foods.

Poloz has expressed some relief of late that inflation has moved steadily up from single-digit territory, although it still remains well below the two-per-cent level the bank targets. Some analysts believe it could return to the level as early as this summer, however.

On a monthly basis, the big movers were gasoline, travel tours, hotels, women’s clothing and autos. As well, there was a 2.8 per cent increase in cigarettes, some of which may be due to a tax increase handed down in last month’s budget.

On an annual basis, electricity costs rose 4.7 per cent, property taxes 3.2 per cent, rent 1.5 per cent and fresh fruit 7.5 per cent. Food, a major contributor to the index, rose a modest 1.1 per cent, matching the increase in January.

Meanwhile gasoline, women’s clothing, digital computing devices, prescribed medicines and tools and other household equipment all cost less.

Regionally, inflation was strongest at 2.7 per cent in Prince Edward Island and weakest in British Columbia, where prices declined by 0.3 per cent.

©2014The Canadian Press

Top 10 memorable moments from Quebec election campaign

MONTREAL – Quebecers vote in a provincial election Monday and if the party leaders can agree on one thing, it’s that this has been the dirtiest of races.

READ MORE: Live coverage of the 2014 Quebec election

Here are ten key moments from the campaign. Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments below.

The PKP fist pump

When Pierre Karl Peladeau, one of Canada’s most-powerful media barons, was unveiled as a star Parti Quebecois candidate, he thrust his fist into the air and vowed to make Quebec a country.

“My joining the Parti Québécois is an adhesion to my deepest and most cherished values, making Quebec a sovereign nation!’’

The polarizing majority owner of the Quebecor empire had a clapping PQ leader Pauline Marois at his side — an image that has been shown throughout the campaign.

“Le Shove”

On Day 9 of the election campaign, Pauline Marois pushed Pierre Karl Peladeau away from a news conference microphone in an effort to regain control of the message of her unravelling campaign.

It happened only a few days after Peladeau’s introduction and pro-independence proclamation.

Marois cornered on referendum

In the first leaders’ debate, Coalition Leader Francois Legault cornered Marois on the thorny issue of Quebec independence by asking her whether she would hold a referendum in her next mandate. “No, there will be no referendum as long as Quebecers are not ready,” Marois replied.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, leaves the stage after her post-debate news conference Thursday, March 20, 2014.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Couillard blasted on bilingualism

During the second leaders’ debate, the presumed front-runner Couillard was ganged-up on by his rivals. He madecontroversial remarks about the importance of bilingualism, even for workers on factory floors. His opponents pummeled him with accusations that he is too soft when it comes to protecting the French language.

Watch: Leaders’ debate highlights

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Bernard Drainville brings the Charter of Values back into the spotlight

Two weeks into the campaign and the word “charte” was finally uttered by the Parti Quebecois. Bernard Drainville made sure to draw attention to Bill 60 with his infamous line, “A vote for the PQ is a vote for the charter.” 

In another interesting twist, the PQ did not run a candidate in the riding of Lapinère so Independant MNA and supporter of the charter, Fatima Houda-Pepin had a better chance of winning.

Marois’s tax-cut Hail Mary

With the PQ struggling in the opinion polls, Marois made a sudden and surprising promise of future income-tax cuts, just days before the end of the campaign.

Asked why she has waited until Day 30 of the campaign to mention the commitment, Marois replied: “Not a lot of people asked me (about tax cuts).”

A protester holds a sihn reading “We know where to Cut” with a photo of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois during a against anti-austerity measures Thursday, April 3, 2014 in Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The CAQ gains momentum

Francois Legault’s campaign strategy remained constant throughout the election. He tried to stay focused on the economy and repeated that his party offers an alternative to those wary of another referendum under the PQ and the “worn-out” Liberals. As the latest polls suggest, he did gain popularity among Quebecers.

 “It’s better to have an accountant, an entrepreneur, a manager, rather than a social worker or a doctor.”

UPAC PQ Flip-Flop

In a sit-down interview with Global’s Jamie Orchard, PQ candidate Jean-Francois Lisee was adamant the PQ was never visited by UPAC, but the next day, PQ leader Pauline Marois said he simply didn’t know that corruption investigators had visited party offices.

PQ worried Ontario students would steal election

The Parti Quebecois Minister of Justice, Bernard St-Arnaud, along with former student leader Leo Bureau-Blouin demanded that Quebec’s chief electoral officer monitor the alleged wave of out-of-province student voters trying to register to vote.

“Will the Quebec election be stolen by people from Ontario? By people from the rest of Canada?” 

Frequently anglophones and members of immigrant communities, university students in Montreal have since reported issues when trying to register for the vote.

Watch: Quebec’s election threatened by out-of-province voters

Charter chat with Janette

Quebec celebrity Janette Bertrand, an outspoken defender of the Parti Quebecois’ secular charter, raised eyebrows when she tried to stir up support for the proposal at a public event.

To illustrate her point, the 89-year-old former actress told a bizarre, hypothetical story of men who were upset by the sight of women in the water at a swimming pool.

Prominent PQ candidate Jean-Francois Lisee later distanced himself from Bertrand’s comments.

“My reaction was that this was not the best quote of the campaign, this was not the best argument for the charter,” Lisee said.

“But the woman is 89, so I’m going to cut her some slack.”

What have we missed? What were your favourite election campaign moments? Let us know in the comments below.

-With Files from the Canadian Press

©2014The Canadian Press

Manitoba Museum’s new exhibit aims to solve Lake Winnipeg’s woes – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Museum has launched a $1-million exhibit highlighting the continuing problems of Lake Winnipeg.

The health of Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest lake in the world, has been deteriorating for decades.

Part of the problem is the shallowness of the lake, but the bigger issue is the amount of land that drains into the lake.

Lake Winnipeg was listed as the most threatened lake in the world in 2013 by the Global Nature Fund, based on the increase in algal blooms that cover the water with a thick, greenish slime.

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RELATED: Lake Winnipeg earns dubious distinction

The museum’s interactive permanent exhibit centres around a computer simulation of the watershed and allows visitors to make decisions that affect the health of the lake.

The catch is everyone is working as a unit, so if your neighbour makes poor choices, it affects the overall health of the lake, just as it would in real life.

“Every decision has a cost, both in terms of economic impacts but also in the social capital of the province,” said Scott Young, the Manitoba Museum’s manager of science communications and visitor experience. “Does the algae bloom get smaller or bigger, based on your decision? Saving the lake is a balancing act.”

Visitors can visit the live aquarium/terrarium that highlights some of the wildlife that live in the lake, a water table that explores the issues of water flow and flooding, and a number of historical images and videos to round out the learning experience.

The exhibit is slated to open on World Water Day, Saturday, March 22.

©2014Shaw Media

Bustle’s fall 2014 collection inspired by longshoremen

TORONTO – Bustle offered a tip of the cap to docker style in its upscale yet cosy range of separates for fall and winter.

“Last season, we were kind of inspired by the florals and we were in Mexico, and we kind of wanted to do something a little more rugged and a little darker – but still Bustle,” said creative director Shawn Hewson standing alongside his wife and label co-founder Ruth Promislow.

“We found these great quilting fabrics, and it took us in the direction of the Scandinavian longshoremen.”

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The soft, richly textured fabric served as a centrepiece in the line, with jackets and drawstring pants among the garments in the range fashioned from the material. The collection unveiled Thursday at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week also included dual-toned turtlenecks, denim jackets, shawl collar cardigans and slim-fitting cargo pants, each showcasing the label’s interpretation of casual seaport style.

Bustle dialled back on the use of ultra-bright hues, featuring a more muted palette encompassing black, grey and green.

No flashy patterns either, sticking largely to tried-and-true mainstays like plaid, with the print showcased on shirts, coats, pants and the inner lining of jackets.

“It’s always been a thing of ours to mix and match the patterns and textures,” said Hewson backstage following the show.

Models walk the runway in the Bustle show, part of Toronto Fashion Week in Toronto on Thursday March 20, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

“In this case, we didn’t have a ton of variety in terms of the colours and the prints; so we were all about texture, mixing the textures and making sure those kind of made for interesting outfits.”

In past seasons, Bustle has been among the select few menswear designers showing at Fashion Week. But their ranks are swelling, with Christopher Bates, Klaxon Howl, Thomas Balint and Hussein Dhalla of HD Homme among the labels also showing collections during the week.

Promislow called the surge in menswear representation on the runway “fantastic.”

“I think just more and more men are paying attention to how they look,” she said.

“Men’s fashion is becoming something that people are paying attention to in the fashion world, and men on the street are thinking about what they wear and what’s going on in fashion.”

“I think having that many menswear labels here at World MasterCard Fashion Week this season is a sign that guys are starting to embrace their esthetic even more,” Hewson added.

A model walks the runway in the Bustle show, part of Toronto Fashion Week in Toronto on Thursday March 20, 2014.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

©2014The Canadian Press

Harper adds sanctions; Putin signs bills completing Crimea annexation

ABOVE: (Mar. 21, 2014) As Vladimir Putin signs the law that completes the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine’s new government signed a trade deal with the European Union. Mike Armstrong has the details from Kyiv.

LATEST UPDATES:

Harper imposes additional sanctions against Russian officials, bankRussia agrees to sending of international monitors to UkraineRussian President Vladimir Putin signs bills completing annexation of CrimeaPutin says no need for further retaliation against U.S.Stephen Harper becomes first G7 leader to visit Ukraine since Russia moved to annex CrimeaNo need for further retaliation against U.S.Ukraine signs deal to align itself with Europe

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin has signed bills making Crimea part of Russia, completing the annexation from Ukraine.

Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as a “remarkable event” before he signed the bills into law in the Kremlin on Friday.

Russia rushed the annexation of the strategic Black Sea peninsula after Sunday’s hastily called referendum, in which its residents overwhelmingly backed breaking off from Ukraine and joining Russia. Ukraine and the West have rejected the vote, held two weeks after Russian troops had taken over Crimea.

The U.S. and the European Union have responded by slapping sanctions on Russia.

Putin: no need for further retaliation against U.S.

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There is no need for Russia to further retaliate against U.S. sanctions, President Vladimir Putin said Friday as Russia’s upper house of parliament endorsed the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Moscow made its first retaliatory shot on Thursday by banning nine U.S. officials and lawmakers from entering Russia, but Putin indicated that Russia would likely refrain from curtailing co-operation in areas such as Afghanistan.

MORE: Why Moldova, Estonia may feel uneasy about Russia’s actions

Moscow appears to hope to limit the damage from the latest U.S. and EU sanctions and avoid further Western blows.

Russia agrees to accept having international monitors sent to Ukraine

Russia has accepted sending an international monitoring team to Ukraine, following more than a week of stonewalling the push by all other members of the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send such a mission.

The OSCE said the 200-strong team will gather information and report on the security situation “throughout the country.” It didn’t specify whether that included Crimea, which Russia has annexed, but the agreement could signal a slight de-escalation of tensions.

PM Harper makes additional sanctions during historic stop in Ukraine

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Ukraine Friday, to meet with that country’s prime minister and show support for Ukraine as it deals with a Russian incursion in the Crimean peninsula.

Harper imposed economic sanctions and travel bans Friday against 14 additional Russian officials and issued an economic sanction against Bank Rossiya, a financial institution that serves as the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation.

Harper is the first leader of a G7 country to visit the eastern European nation since pro-Western demonstrators drove out its government last month.

Ukraine signs deal to align itself with Europe

Ukraine’s prime minister has pulled his nation closer into Europe’s orbit by signing a political association agreement with the EU at a summit of the bloc’s leaders.

Friday’s agreement between Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and the EU leaders was part of the pact that former President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of last November in favour of a $15 billion bailout from Russia.

That decision sparked the protests that ultimately led to his downfall and flight last month, setting off one of Europe’s worst political crises since the Cold War.

©2014The Canadian Press