As Nova Scotians prepare to greet summer, the province’s 10,000 motorcycle users are tuning up their two wheelers for the open road. To make sure all road users stay aware of the summer increase in motorcycle traffic, the Nova Scotia government, in partnership with the Nova Scotia Safety Council, is proclaiming May as Motorcycle Awareness Month in Nova Scotia. “With the freedom that comes with motorcycling there are also great risks,” said Angus MacIsaac, Minister of Transportation and Public Works. “Already this year two people have been killed on motorcycles in Nova Scotia and that’s definitely not a trend we like to see.” “Before you ride — whether it’s for the freedom, the journey, the adventure, or for cheap transportation — take the time to assess your risks,” said Nancy White of the Nova Scotia Safety Council. “Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Wear a proper helmet and protective gear. Get training. Practise your skills, and know your bike.” While the onus is on motorcyclists to drive safely and wear their helmets, Mr. MacIsaac said all drivers need to be aware of the increased number of motorcycles on the road during the warmer months. “One careless moment can cost a life.” More information about motorcycle safety and motorcycle safety training courses available can be found on the Nova Scotia Safety Council website at www.nssafety.ns.ca .
A New Glasgow teen who is a top student, athlete, musician and volunteer is this year’s winner of a prestigious provincial government scholarship. Charlotte Harrison will accept the $6,000 Dr. P. Anthony (Tony) Johnstone Memorial Fund Entrance Scholarship at her school’s graduation ceremony today, June 26. “Charlotte is an outstanding young Nova Scotian,” said Education Minister Marilyn More. “She excels at school, on the sports field and on the stage. She has also shown that even a busy student can still find time to help others in the community. It is my pleasure to congratulate her on this award.” Ms. Harrison has maintained an excellent academic record at Northumberland Regional High School while being involved in athletics, school musical productions, music and volunteering. She has been an eager tutor and mentor, and was the organizer of the school’s breakfast program. Ms. Harrison is also a counsellor at a camp for disadvantaged youth and helped launch an anti-malaria fundraiser at her school. “I enjoy the experience and I find it very rewarding,” Ms. Harrison said about her volunteer activities. “I am honoured to be receiving this scholarship and I encourage other students to get involved in their school and community.” Ms. Harrison will attend University of Kings College in Halifax this fall. To be eligible for the scholarship, a student must live in Nova Scotia, be graduating from high school and beginning an undergraduate degree program at a Maritime university in the fall. The applicant must also have demonstrated an interest in multiculturalism and human rights. This year, 38 eligible applications were reviewed by the selection committee. Nova Scotia established the scholarship in 1991 to honour the life and work of the late Tony Johnstone, a long-time educator and human rights advocate who devoted his life to promoting multicultural understanding and social equality.
He said it is important to have an objective approach and extend equal treatment to all countries when fulfilling the assigned mandate. With regard to High Commissioner Pillay’s reference to the last days of the armed conflict, Prof. Peiris stated that the Sri Lanka military was involved in the largest hostage rescue operation in contemporary history. It is factually known that the LTTE ruthlessly annihilated people trying to escape from their clutches. While noting that Ms. Pillay too had called on Sri Lanka to end military operations, the Minister stated that if Sri Lanka had acceded to that call the present ground realities would have been different as a responsible government steps had to be undertaken to safeguard the Sri Lankan people not heeding to calls of some external elements.The Minister also referred to the High Commissioner’s concern over the inclusion of the police under the newly created Ministry of Law and Order, instead of the Ministry of Justice. He indicated that her stated position is fundamentally unacceptable and does not move in accordance with the established procedures of Sri Lanka. The Minister pointed out that the Police Department has consistently been under the Ministry of Defence and only briefly, 2002-2004, under an Interior Ministry. It has to be noted that most countries too have Police under Ministries other than Justice, and further, he indicated that the creation of the new Ministry of Law and Order under which the Police Department is now placed is in line with a LLRC recommendation. (Colombo Gazette) On the aspect of accountability, the Minister highlighted the action taken by the law enforcement authorities and cited the instances of some members of the Special Task Force having been indicted in relation to the killing of five students in Trincomalee and status of investigations with regard to the Muttur incident involving the ACF workers. He further explained the difficulties encountered in identifying the perpetrators due to the conditions prevailing at the time of incidence, with regard to the ACF case. The Minister informed however that mobile phone evidence is being pursued in this regard, and therefore the case remains open. He drew a parallel with the case of the assassination of the former Foreign Minister late Lakshman Kadirgamar, where conviction has not been possible due to the lack of evidence.Addressing allegations of disappearances, Prof Peiris explained that the Ministry of Justice has formulated a draft amendment to the Penal Code to criminalize enforced disappearances, also formulated amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act in order to give effect to recommendations in the National Human Rights Action Plan. He outlined the difficulties in identifying the missing due to instances involving persons having migrated to other countries holding multiple identities, and those host governments not divulging their details. This fact aggravates the difficulty in compiling correct statistics. It was indicated that the repeated use of baseless and arbitrary figures in respect of disappearances, eventually acquire authenticity in the face of the massive propaganda that is being carried out against the Government of Sri Lanka. The government says there is no culture of impunity in the country and in instances where evidence is available action to conduct legal proceedings have been instituted irrespective of the status of those accused, which include politicians, public officials and officers of the law enforcement agencies.External Affairs Minister, Prof. G.L. Peiris said this when he met visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay at the Ministry of External Affairs today. Minister Peiris reiterated to High Commissioner Pillay Sri Lanka’s firm resolve to work with the United Nations system. However he said that there is a perception in the country about the lack of objectivity and fairness in the treatment meted out to Sri Lanka. The Minister added that Sri Lanka accepts constructive and justified criticism but resents vicious and baseless positions which are incessantly repeated.