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Canadian police criticized after forcing protest plane to land

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One of Canada’s largest public sector unions on Tuesday alleged political interference after police ordered a small plane towing a banner reading “Stephen Harper hates us” to land.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police told public broadcaster CBC the weekend flight over Ottawa strayed into restricted airspace, so the pilot was ordered to land for questioning.

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“The RCMP undertook questioning of the pilot in order to determine if there was a threat to Parliament Hill,” Corporal Lucy Shore said to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

But the Public Service Alliance of Canada said it believed the RCMP’s actions were a politically motivated attempt to silence critics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

The union has balked at massive public sector layoffs, and paid for the plane pulling the banner, according to the pilot.

“Had the RCMP been concerned about the plane’s potential route, it could have easily communicated with the pilot via radio and sought clarification rather than ordering it back down to the airport,” the union said in a statement.

Pilot Gian Piero Ciambella has denied breaching restricted airspace around Canada’s parliament and the prime minister’s official residence.

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He told CBC: “They were worried. They weren’t sure who I was, what it was all about.”

He said officers warned him the anti-Harper message might constitute hate speech banned under Canadian law.
Neither the union nor the RCMP were immediately available for comment.

Harper spokesman Carl Vallee denied the prime minister’s office was involved in any way. “It was an operational decision made by the RCMP,” he told AFP in an email.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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