Harper meets in Kyiv with new Ukrainian president – National

WATCH: PM Harper first western leader to meet Ukraine’s new president. Mike Le Couteur reports.

KYIV, Ukraine – Prime Minister Stephen Harper affirmed Canada’s unwavering support of a new, westward looking Ukraine on Saturday as he became the first world leader to meet the country’s newly inaugurated president.

Harper’s meeting with Petro Poroshenko, who formally took the oath of office as president Saturday morning in Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, has significant political overtones in Canada. There are 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent, and they represent an important voting block.

WATCH PREVIEW: Global’s chief political correspondent Tom Clark sat down for an in-depth, one-on-one conversation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You can watch the full interview this Sunday on Global’s “The West Block”.

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Harper said that although Ukraine faces tough challenges, it can count on Canada’s continued support.

“I am here on behalf of the government of Canada to express our solidarity with the government of Ukraine as you stand up for your unity, your liberty and your territorial integrity,” Harper told Poroshenko in an ornate meeting room in his new presidential office building.

“We’re fully behind you on that. I also do want to express the solidarity of the Canadian people with the Ukrainian people in your aspiration for a democratic European future and not a return to the country’s Soviet past.”

Harper said Poroshenko and his administration have some tough challenges ahead as they set out to rebuild Ukraine’s political and administrative systems and grow what has become a hobbled economy.

WATCH:  A look at Harper’s tough stance against Russia. Tom Clark reports

Harper also met with U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden on the margins of Saturday’s inauguration.

“They re-affirmed the need for Russia to recognize the result of elections in Ukraine, to stop the flow of weapons and militants across the border and to exercise its influence among armed separatists to lay down their weapons and end the violence in Ukraine,” Harper’s office said in a statement.

Poroshenko was elected on May 25, in a ballot that was monitored by 500 Canadian observers.

The vote was called after his predecessor, pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, fled Ukraine in February following anti-Russian protests.

The popular uprising in Ukraine was sparked in November when Yanukovych reneged on an economic co-operation agreement with the European Union after pressure from Putin’s Kremlin.

READ MORE: Ukraine says 15 rebels killed in clashes

Paul Grod, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, said he got good feedback on Poroshenko in meetings in Kyiv on Saturday with Ukrainian MPs, Canadian expatriates and others as part of a weeklong visit.

“They support his strong western focus and the need to elect a new parliament as this one is dysfunctional,” Grod told The Canadian Press.

“He hit all key messages. Crimea is and will always be part of Ukraine, Ukraine will sign EU Association Agreement, unitary state with more local control, corruption is first thing that must tackled,” he added. “People are saying he’s the right person at this time for Ukraine.”

Thousands gathered in Kyiv’s streets in sweltering heat as the candy billionaire was about to be sworn in.

“Crimea is, was and will be Ukrainian. There will be no trade-off,” Poroshenko said in his inaugural address to the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

Poroshenko said he hopes to negotiate a solution to the violence in his country’s east, where pro-Russian separatist gunmen are continuing to cause unrest following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March – a move denounced by Harper and other Western leaders as an illegal act.

Poroshenko said he wants to grant amnesty “for those who do not have blood on their hands” but added he would not negotiate with the pro-Russian insurgents, calling them “gangsters.”

As the prime minister headed for the ceremony Saturday morning, the mood in the capital was subdued, with people strolling casually about in shirtsleeves under blue, sunny skies.

The Maidan, Kyiv’s main protest point where more than 100 demonstrators were killed in February, was calm just before the inauguration, with small groups of people milling about what is still very much a fortress city, barricaded by piles of rubble and tires.

Anatoli Shanchuk, 61, a Kyiv consultant, strolled through the square headed for the crowds gathered at the inauguration several blocks away.

“I am optimistic,” he said, but he didn’t want to get his hopes up too high, just yet, over Friday’s meeting in France between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in France at the Normandy invasion ceremonies.

“We consider this very important that people in North America, Canada especially, they are supporting us psychologically, financially, politically. The question is people in those countries really understand what is going on here.”

In the square outside the parliament, the sharp thundercrack of ceremonial gunfire was heard just after the swearing in, making some flinch.

Andrei Tolchko, 43, and his family were making their way toward the inauguration site, one week after being forced to leave their home in Donetsk, in Ukraine’s turbulent east.

Fighting is still raging in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian separatists.

“This is a great big day for our country. Of course we hope very much that something changes in our country,” Tolchko said.

“We were pressed to here, to Kyiv, but we are glad to be here because in my native city now people with machine guns go everywhere, and it’s not our people mostly.”

He said the militants are “people from all over the world with crazy ideas,” and that support an outdated Cold War notion of a “the great Russian.”

Fighting continues to rage in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian militants.

Harper was on his way back to Ottawa on Saturday after a whirlwind visit, his second since March. He arrived in Kyiv early Saturday morning after attending the 70th anniversary of D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, France.

©2014The Canadian Press

Chinese lawyers protest being denied to Tiananmen Square protesters – National

BEIJING – Around 20 attorneys gathered Saturday in a central Chinese city to demand access to several activists detained ahead of the politically sensitive 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square military suppression of protesters.

Prominent rights lawyer Li Fangping said the attorneys staged an overnight protest starting Friday outside the Zhengzhou city police bureau after authorities denied their requests for weeks to see their clients.

“We feel that the entire system for defence lawyers is facing an enormous challenge,” said Li, who was among those who protested.

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Among the activists detained in Zhengzhou is the well-known lawyer Chang Boyang, who has campaigned for the rights of migrant workers, HIV patients and children poisoned in a 2008 tainted milk scandal.

Discussions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and its military suppression are taboo in China, and authorities tighten security ahead of the anniversary each year. But this year’s suppression was harsher than in previous years, as police rounded up activists who had received only warnings in the past.

READ: 25 years on, no fading of Tiananmen wounds, ideals

“This is setting a very bad precedent in which if you were detained even for the most ordinary offence, you won’t be allowed to see you lawyer on the claim that it endangers state security,” Li said. “This is a subversion of Chinese law.”

©2014The Associated Press

Vibrant colours take over downtown Edmonton for annual Pride Parade – Edmonton

EDMONTON – Edmonton Pride Festival is officially underway, after a vibrant parade made its way through the streets of downtown Saturday afternoon.

Donned in brightly coloured clothes and costumes, thousands of people took part in the yearly event, which showcases the unity and diversity of the LGBTQ community and its allies.

Edmonton’s first Pride celebration took place in 1980, and the festival has certainly come a long way since then.

“People used to wear paper bags marching in the Pride Parade because they were afraid to lose their jobs,” says Dr. Kris Wells, Director of Programs & Services with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services at the University of Alberta.

WATCH: Raw video footage from Edmonton’s Pride Parade in 1993

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    Full interview: Andrew Ference speaks about marching in the Edmonton Pride Parade

Wells is also the co-founder of Camp fYrefly – Canada’s only leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified youth.

This year, Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference marched in the Pride Parade with Camp fYrefly. He was also representing You Can Play – a campaign dedicated to eradicating homophobia in sports.

Saturday was the first time an Oiler has participated in the Pride Parade. The captain says it’s all about supporting inclusion.

“It’s the way it should be. It’s great,” Ference said as he walked through the streets of downtown. “It’s celebrating our differences rather than pushing people to the side. Everybody is included, everybody is having fun.

“There’s absolutely no reason not to. We should be here.”

READ MORE: Oilers’ captain to make history at Edmonton Pride Parade

Wells says it’s leadership like Ference’s that has inspired change in many people over the years.

“Look how far we’ve gone in, really, in just a generation. And that’s because people have been visible, allies have stood up and spoken out. And that’s how change happens.”

For more information on other festivals and charity events happening in and around the city this summer, visit Global Edmonton’s festival page.

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PICS: Singer Suzie McNeil marries musician Andrew Mactaggart

TORONTO — Standing in front of sparkling Lake of Bays and under clear blue skies, Canadian singer Suzie McNeil tied the knot Saturday afternoon with musician Andrew Mactaggart.

Family and friends gathered at the Port Cunnington  Lodge in the Muskoka region of Ontario for the nuptials, which came less than a year after the couple — known as Druzie — got engaged in Las Vegas.

McNeil, in a strapless white gown with black accents, came down the aisle to “Mull of Kintyre” by Wings and the couple’s dog Fizzgig — decked out in a tiny tuxedo — carried the rings.

Mactaggart’s father gave a reading of the Robert Burns poem “A Red Red Rose” and the happy couple’s special moment was capped with the Beatles classic “Here Comes the Sun.”

Andrew Mactaggart and Suzie McNeil pose as newlyweds on June 7, 2014.

Courtesy Paula Danylevich

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Live music was provided by singer Tomi Swick.

The service was followed by cocktails and dinner at the resort.

Druzie will cut into a three-tiered wedding cake created by Stacey Kaniuk of Toronto’s Milk and Honey Custom Cakes.

McNeil is a Juno-nominated vocalist who is currently performing in the band Loving Mary.

Her solo hits include “Believe” and “Supergirl.” She starred as Oz in the original Toronto production of the Queen musical We Will Rock You and served as a judge on YTV’s The Next Star after becoming a finalist on the reality show Rockstar: INXS.

McNeil is also the voice of the ubiquitous Marineland commercial jingles.

Mactaggart is a well-known musician.

The wedding took place not far from country superstar Shania Twain’s summer home.

The newlyweds plan to honeymoon in England and Scotland.

Truck driver charged in fatal crash that left Tracy Morgan critically injured

TORONTO — A truck driver has been charged with death by auto after an accident early Saturday that killed a friend of Tracy Morgan and left the actor-comedian and two others in critical condition.

Kevin Roper, 35, was also charged with four counts of assault by auto in connection to the accident.

Morgan remains in intensive care after the vehicle he was in was struck by a tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike.

According to state police, the 45-year-old Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star was in a luxury Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van with six other people when it was hit at around 1 a.m. Saturday and flipped over.

BELOW: Watch the aftermath of the crash

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Morgan was returning from a show in Dover, Delaware.

The Associated Press reported a spokesman at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey, confirmed Morgan is in critical condition.

Police said passenger James McNair, 62, of Peekskill, N.Y. was pronounced dead at the scene. McNair, known on the comedy circuit as Uncle Jimmy Mack, was Morgan’s writer and friend.

Morgan’s assistant Jeffrey Millea and fellow comedian Ardie Fuqua were also critically injured. Comic Harris Stanton was treated and released from hospital.

According to the van’s owner, there were two drivers — one behind the wheel and one in the front passenger seat. Both escaped uninjured.

Just before the accident, Fuqua posted photos from the show with the message: “Road life is a good life.”

Fuqua lost his 19-year-old son in a car crash in 2012.

Late Saturday morning, Morgan’s rep issued a statement confirming the comic was injured. “His family is now with him and he is receiving excellent care. We don’t anticipate much of a change in his condition today but will provide a further update once more information becomes available.”

Morgan and his fiancée, model Megan Wollover, welcomed Maven Sonae last July. He also has three adult sons from a previous marriage.

His Saturday show in Charlotte, N.C. has been cancelled.

Morgan’s famous friends and fans reacted on social media.

Update: One person in hospital after fire breaks out in Saanich home – BC

VANCOUVER – A 20 year-old man has been taken to hospital after a fire broke at a Saanich home Friday night.

Sgt. Steve Eassie with Saanich police says the fire may have originated in and around the living room of the home in the 3800 block of Saanich Road around 10 o’clock last night.

The Saanich Fire Department responded with 18 firefighters and upon arrival found smoke and flames showing from the main floor area.

Police found a lone man inside the residence. He’s been taken to hospital and remains in custody.

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Aside from the man, one caged bird was also removed without injury from the building.

Investigators say it appears the fire was deliberately set.

Eassie says the incident is an ongoing arson investigation.

He says it appears an accelerant was used to start the fire.

The home has been rendered uninhabitable. It’s estimated the fire has caused more than $100,000 in damages.

“At this time the residence is not occupied by the family that owns the home,” says Eassie. “They are taking steps to return to the home relatively quickly.”

He says the 20-year-old suspect is a member of the family.

“It would appear that there are some mental health components to this investigation.”

Eassie says the man suffered non-fire-related injuries and there was indication of attempted self harm.

The suspect has had no prior police contact or criminal record.

Police are looking at a possible charge of arson in this case.

Eassie says the fire is an isolated incident, and is not connected to other fires that occurred in the Greater Victoria area in recent weeks.

UPDATE: Edmonton’s 2014 Folk Fest sold out of adult and youth passes – Edmonton

Watch above: The demand to buy Folk Fest tickets was so high Saturday, the festival’s website crashed.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, June 18 – All weekend passes and all individual day passes for adults and youth to the 2014 Edmonton Folk Music Festival are sold out. There are still tickets available for seniors. There have been some changes to the lineup and schedules. For details, click here.

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EDMONTON – Hundreds of people lined up at Telus Field bright and early Saturday morning in hopes of snapping up tickets to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Those purchasing tickets online hit a bit of a roadblock, though, when the festival’s website crashed Saturday afternoon.

Just over 1,000 people were able to purchase tickets to the festival in person at Telus Field, after winning a lottery – the festival’s way of fairly distributing tickets.

At 2 p.m., the rest of the tickets were made available for purchase online via the Edmonton Folk Festival website and Ticketmaster. However, sometime before 3 p.m. the Folk Festival’s website crashed, due to the sheer volume of people hoping to get their hands on tickets to the highly-popular event.

“There’s worse things than, you know, your site crashing because you’ve got too much demand for tickets,” said festival producer Terry Wickham. “I always say there’s one thing worse than a sell out and that’s when no one shows up. That’s a lot worse.”

Due to the sheer volume of people attempting to buy tickets to Folk Fest, the festival’s website crashed Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Credit: edmontonfolkfest杭州夜网

The tickets held by the Folk Fest were transferred to Ticketmaster to go on sale at 4 p.m.

The festival announced its highly-anticipated lineup at the end of May. Ben Harper, Blue Rodeo, James Vincent McMorrow, Michael Franti, Dan Mangan, Vance Joy, Los Lobos and many others will hit the stage in Gallagher Park August 7th to 10th.

Edmonton Folk Music Festival lineup.

Global News

You can see the Folk Fest schedule here.

Of course, there was no shortage of reaction to the lineup on social media:

“I know when the festival gets to be this size, people can have expectations that we’re going to be everything to everybody musically — we’re not,” said Wickham.

“We look first and foremost: ‘are they a folk artist?’ Second question we ask is: ‘how good are they?’ Not how much they cost.

“You know, a million dollars goes a long way with folk music and that’s what we’ve spent — that and a bit more.”

You can see some of the ticket prices for adults (aged 18-64) below:

Personal Pass: $169

4-Day Transferable: $199

Thursday or Friday evening: $57

Saturday or Sunday full day: $67

Seniors over 80 can still attend for free.

Up to half of the 11,000 four-day passes were allotted for in-person purchase at Telus Field. The rest are up for grabs online through Ticketmaster.

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Massive apartment fire in Vancouver displaces dozens of residents – BC

VANCOUVER – Firefighters were on the scene of an East Vancouver fire for hours on Saturday following a massive apartment fire.

Flames broke out just after midnight at 748 East Broadway, between Prince Albert and Fraser Street, and dozens of residents have been forced from their homes.

Fire crews believe everyone got out safely and without injury, but the building is destroyed.

Neighbouring buildings suffered smoke and water damage.

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“When crews arrived on scene, flames were showing, heavy smoke,” says assistant chief Joe Foster from Vancouver Fire Rescue. “It went from a one-alarm assignment to a working fire very quickly and a second-alarm even faster.”

“It was a very challenging fire because the two buildings on either side of the fire building, it was only a six-inch space so our goal was to keep those uninvolved buildings from burning.”

Residents who do not have family or friends to stay with will be housed at a local hotel until they can return to their homes.

But it is unclear when that will happen.

“My first instinct was to wake my girlfriend up, get her out of the house and run around the rest of the apartments and wake up everybody I could,” says resident Mike Dewall. “So I went and knocked on all the doors and the one family above me was passed right out and the only reason they woke up is because I went and knocked on the door.”

The cause of the three-alarm fire is unknown and under investigation.

All residents have now been accounted for.

Broadway between Prince Albert and Fraser was shut down to traffic for a number of hours, but it has since reopened.

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Fire on 756 East Broadway in Vancouver.

R. Jaime Smith

Residents evacuated after massive fire on East Broadway.

Global's Jennifer Okrusko

Broadway Fire

Jennifer Palma

Broadway Fire

Jennifer Palma

Broadway Fire

Jennifer Palma

Broadway Fire

Jennifer Palma

Walk for ALS draws hundreds to Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park – Edmonton

Watch above: Hundreds of Edmontonians laced up their walking shoes Saturday, in support of ALS research. 

EDMONTON – Hawrelak Park was packed Saturday morning as hundreds gathered to take part in the annual Walk for ALS.

ALS, also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly degenerative neuromuscular disease. It attacks the nerves that the body would normally use to send messages from the brain to the muscle. Most patients die within two to five years of diagnosis and there is no cure.

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READ MORE: Edmonton mother with ALS hopeful a cure will be found

Edmonton’s Walk for ALS raises money for the ALS Society of Alberta, which supports people living with and affected by ALS across the province.

People of all ages, and even a few pups, took part in Saturday morning’s walk, which gives people the opportunity to come together to support those living with ALS.

“The spirit is hopeful and it’s joyful and it’s optimistic and it’s a community,” says Tara Pentney, chair of the ALS Board of Directors with the ALS Society of Alberta. “This is definitely a community that are working together, walking together, they are sharing memories today.

“It’s a wonderful day to celebrate the individuals that are living with ALS.”

In 2013, there were 11 Walks for ALS across Alberta. The walks raised over $1,089,300. For more information, visit the ALS Society of Alberta’s website.

For more information on other festivals and charity events happening in and around the city this summer, visit Global Edmonton’s festival page.

2014 Walk for ALS at Hawrelak Park Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Global News

2014 Walk for ALS at Hawrelak Park Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Global News

2014 Walk for ALS at Hawrelak Park Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Global News

2014 Walk for ALS at Hawrelak Park Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Global News

2014 Walk for ALS at Hawrelak Park Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Global News

2014 Walk for ALS at Hawrelak Park Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Global News

2014 Walk for ALS at Hawrelak Park Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Global News

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Stroman wins second start, Jays down Cards

TORONTO – Marcus Stroman pitched six strong innings and Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie hit home runs as the Toronto Blue Jays defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 on Friday for their sixth consecutive win.

Bautista also lined into a triple play in the sixth inning, the seventh turned by a Blue Jays’ opponent. It was the first triple play against Toronto since May 12, 2008, in the second game of a doubleheader at Cleveland.

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READ MORE: Toronto Blue Jays win again, 8-2 over slumping Tigers

Stroman (3-0) held the Cardinals to one run on seven hits, two walks and a hit batter while striking out seven in his second major-league start, both wins. The right-hander was lifted after a leadoff single in the seventh by Tony Cruz.

Casey Janssen pitched the ninth for his 11th save of the season.

Right-hander Lance Lynn (6-4) took the loss, allowing six hits, including two home runs, and four walks while striking out six in five innings.

The Cardinals (31-31), who have lost two in a row, scored a run in the first. Matt Carpenter led off with a walk and took third on Matt Holliday’s ground-rule double to right. Allen Craig singled to right to score Carpenter but Holliday was thrown out at home by Bautista.

The Blue Jays (38-24) left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and stranded two in the second. But they tied it 1-1 in the third when Bautista led off with his 15th homer of the season, a high drive to left on a 2-1 fastball.

READ MORE: Toronto’s SkyDome turns 25

The Blue Jays loaded the bases again with two out in the fourth. Anthony Gose, who tripled in the second inning, reached first in the fourth on an error by second baseman Daniel Descalso. After Jose Reyes singled with one out and Bautista walked two out, Adam Lind grounded out to second.

Lawrie lined his 11th homer of the season to centre on a 2-1 fastball with two out in the fifth to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.

Bautista hit into a triple play in the sixth inning on a liner to second base.

The Blue Jays loaded the bases against right-handed reliever Seth Maness with singles from Gose and Reyes and Carpenter’s error on a grounder to third by Melky Cabrera. Bautista lined a 2-0 sinker to Descalso who threw to shortstop Jhonny Peralta who caught Reyes off second. Peralta then threw to Craig who stepped on first before Cabrera could return to the base.

The Blue Jays scored a run in the eighth. Lawrie and Dioner Navarro singled against right-hander Jason Motte to put runners at first and third. Reyes singled to right to score Lawrie and send pinch-runner Kevin Pillar to third.

©2014The Canadian Press