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2 French policemen go on trial accused of raping Canadian tourist

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Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press


Published Monday, January 14, 2019 5:19AM EST


Last Updated Monday, January 14, 2019 1:31PM EST

PARIS — Two French policemen went on trial Monday on charges of gang-raping a Canadian tourist at Paris police headquarters nearly five years ago.

The officers, both members of the BRI anti-gang force at the time, are accused of raping the woman at 36 Quai des Orfevres, a famous address depicted in many crime movies and novels.

They deny any wrongdoing and claim the alleged victim consented to sexual interactions during a booze-fueled evening.

Their trial is expected to last three weeks.

The woman, Emily Spanton, attended the trial’s first day at a Paris courthouse located only a stone’s throw from the police headquarters. She said she met a group of officers across the street near the Seine River in an Irish pub in April 2014.

After several drinks, they invited her for a night tour of police headquarters, where she claimed she was forced to drink whisky, perform oral sex and was raped several times. She left the building about 90 minutes later, barefoot and without her tights.

According to court documents, the men’s DNA was found on the woman’s underwear. Court president Stephane Duchemin said a medical exam performed after she filed a lawsuit showed she had bruises on several parts of her body and a gynecological lesion.

Experts also determined she was drunk and that she had “between 2.6 and 3.3 grams of alcohol per litre of blood in her body” when the alleged rapes took place.

The Associated Press does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual violence unless they have come forward and voluntarily identified themselves, as Spanton did.

Spanton first said that she had been raped by four officers before revising her testimony to cite three police. Only two policemen have been brought to court.

Judges initially threw out the case but the Paris prosecutor and the alleged victim won their appeal to have it brought to a trial.

The officers, who have not been jailed, face up to 20 years in prison. One of the officers admitted he received oral sex but claims he did not force the Canadian woman. The other initially denied any sexual relationship then admitted to some mutual touching.

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Federal Budget 2021: Ottawa adds $1B to broadband fund for rural, remote communities

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The federal government will add $1 billion to a fund for improving high-speed communications in rural and remote areas of Canada, bringing the total to $2.75 billion by 2026, the Liberals said Monday in their first full budget since the pandemic began last year.

The money is going to the Universal Broadband Fund, which is designed to support the installation of “backbone” infrastructure that connects underserved communities to high-speed internet.

It’s one of many government and private-sector initiatives that have gained urgency since the pandemic began, as Canadians became more dependent on internet service for applications ranging from e-learning to daily business operations.

Ottawa says the additional money will keep it on track to have high-speed broadband in 98 per cent of the country by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030.

Money spent on high-speed communications will be good for a recovering economy, said Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, a non-partisan think-tank.

The latest data from Statistics Canada says there were about five million people working from home during the pandemic, up from about two million prior to that, Antunes said in an interview.

“That’s a quarter or so of the workforce,” he added. “And I think a fair number of those people are going to continue to work from home, at least in some part-time way.”

Improved connections to high-speed broadband and mobile communications will add to the productive capacity of the economy overall, especially as it reaches beyond Canada’s cities, Antunes said.

He said there’s been a “real issue” with economic growth outside major urban centres and the improved connectivity “is something that can help stimulate that.”

The Universal Broadband Fund was initially mentioned in the 2019 budget, though specifics were not available until last November’s fiscal update.

The $1-billion top-up to the broadband fund announced today is in addition to $1.75 billion promised to the fund by the federal government’s November fiscal update.

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COVID-19: What you need to know for April 19

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Provincewide

  • Per today’s government report, there are 4,447 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 421,442 since the pandemic began; 2,202 people are in hospital, 755 of them in intensive care, and 516 on ventilators. To date, 7,735 people have died.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are 40 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 36 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 127 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 3,755 confirmed resident deaths and 11 confirmed staff deaths.
  • Per the government’s report on Ontario’s vaccination program, as of 7 p.m. yesterday, Ontario has administered 66,897 new doses of COVID-19 vaccines, for a total of 3,904,778 since December 2020. 3,212,768 people have received only one dose, and 346,005 people have received both doses.

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Federal budget 2021 highlights: Child care, recovery benefits, OAS increases – everything you need to know

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The federal government’s first budget in more than two years certainly looks the part: At 739 pages, it is a hefty document chock full of billions in new spending.

Those funds will be spread among a number of key groups – students, seniors, parents and small-business owners, to name a few – as Ottawa looks to bolster Canada’s recovery from COVID-19 but also plan for life beyond the pandemic.

To that end, the deficit is projected to hit $354.2-billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, which just ended – better than expected about five months ago, given the economy’s resilience over the winter months. It is estimated to fall to $154.7-billion this fiscal year, before dropping further in the years to come as pandemic spending recedes from view.

Here are some of the highlights from Monday’s budget.

The budget outlines tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies for a national child-care program, a promise the Liberal Party has made in some form since the early 1990s. Child-care supports became a point of national debate during pandemic lockdowns as parents with young children struggled to juggle work and family responsibilities.

In total, the government proposes spending as much as $30-billion over the next five years, and $8.3-billion each year after that, to bring child-care fees down to a $10-a-day average by 2026. The proposal, which requires negotiation with the provinces and territories, would split subsidies evenly with those governments and targets a 50-per-cent reduction in average child-care fees by the end of 2022.

The federal program is largely modelled on Quebec’s subsidized child-care system, implemented in the 1990s in an effort to increase women’s access to the labour market. Since then, labour participation rates for women aged 25 to 54 in the province have grown to exceed the national average by four percentage points.

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