News briefs

Winnipeg Folk fest denies animator application of popular local group

The Castle Boys, a popular installation at the campground of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, were denied animator status by festival organizers this year. The group was known for building large themed structures in the campground, and had become a familiar sight for long-time festivalgoers.

Rebecca McCauley, the manager of marketing communications for the festival, spoke to the Manitoban about the decision to deny animator status to the Castle Boys.

“The art and animation program has a specific set of criteria that all applicants have to meet, and unfortunately not all applicants can be included every year,” she said.

“We also look forward to receiving their applications in coming years.”

The group has been building structures in the campground for the last 13 years, with the projects growing in size and scope.

Despite the decision by the festival, the group plans on continuing to be active in the community. Earlier in the month, they held a free event on the Forks river trail, which saw good participation despite being on a night where temperatures dipped below -40 degrees Celsius.

Long-time Castle Boys member Chris Beiko told the Manitoban the group wants to part with the festival on good terms, and does not want to stir up anger at the decision.

“Taking the high road is important for us so that we may retain our following untainted by anger and frustration, which many of us felt for quite some time, but much of which has abated.”

The Castle Boys’ Facebook page saw an outpouring of support and kind words for the group.

“Your yearly installation embodied and promoted all the best parts of the Folk Fest spirit: people and music [ . . . ] There will be a castle-sized hole in Folk Fest’s heart this year. You leave behind a legacy of creativity from which we could all learn a thing or two,” wrote Matt Dubbs.

Danielle Picard posted, “I am feeling such pride to be a part of the Castle Boys, and to have watched what started out as a small group of us on a front yard grow to what it is today. This journey has been indescribable.”

Separation issue dominates Quebec provincial election race

Quebec is in the midst of a provincial election, which has seen a tight race develop between the Liberals and the Parti Quebcois (PQ) amid a debate over the question of Quebec’s sovereignty, which has emerged as the main issue of the election.

The PQ led at the outset of the campaign. However, four days into the campaign, the PQ introduced Pierre Karl Péladeau—a media magnate and strong separatist—as a candidate for the party. Since then, the question of sovereignty has dominated, hurting the support for the PQ, and bumping the Liberals into a lead.

Two-thirds of the Quebec voting population does not want to see the referendum issue revisited. In 1995, the province came very close to leaving the country, with 49.5 per cent voting to separate. Since then, support for separation has waned.

The PQ is seeking a majority government, after governing in a minority position for the last year and a half.

Harper’s nomination to the Supreme Court rejected

The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected the prime minister’s appointment of Quebec judge Marc Nadon to their ranks, arguing he is unqualified for the job.

Three seats on the Supreme Court are reserved for judges from Quebec, to ensure “civil law expertise and the representation of Quebec’s legal traditions and social values on the Court, and to enhance the confidence of Quebec in the Court.”

Nadon was criticized for not meeting these standards, and the court rejected his appointment in a 6-1 decision.

This is a major blow to Harper, who was chided for not treating the question of national unity with sufficient concern by appointing someone with questionable credentials.

One of the most high-profile cases Nadon presided over was that of Omar Khadr. Three different courts and 13 judges who dealt with the case criticized the Canadian government for allowing Khadr, a Canadian citizen, to languish for eight years at Guantanamo Bay. Nadon offered no such criticism of the government.

Never before in its 139-year history has the Supreme Court weighed in on the appointment of a prospective member.

Twitter blocked in Turkey

Social media site Twitter has been blocked in Turkey following a resurgence of protest in the country.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the move after audio recordings purportedly revealing government corruption were widely shared on the popular website.

Protests have become common recently, as opponents of Erdogan have accused him of increasing authoritarianism and introducing religious policy into a country founded on secular values.

In a speech last Thursday, Erdogan said, “We will wipe out Twitter [ . . . ] I don’t care what the international community says. They will see the Turkish republic’s strength.”

Local and parliamentary elections are approaching and Erdogan is in the midst of a corruption scandal. The move to shut down the site is being seen by some as his attempt to curtail the spreading of this information. Erdogan has been prime minister since 2003.