5 at 5: NATO doesn’t believe Putin

Also: Liberal nomination issues, RIP Farley Mowat and rebels move out of Homs

<p>Russia&#8217;s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, accompanied by President Dmitry Medvedev, meets with their supporters in Moscow December 1, 2011.  REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool  (RUSSIA &#8211; Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT)</p>

Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/Reuters

Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/Reuters
Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/Reuters

Five of the top stories this afternoon.

NATO not so sure of Putin’s claims of troop withdraw. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he had withdrawn his troops from the Ukrainian border, but NATO is questioning this statement. “We have no indication of a change in the position of military forces along the Ukraine border,” a NATO official told Reuters. There are still up to 40,000 Russian troops stationed near the border, NATO says. The Pentagon agreed that there was no change along the border, as far as it could see. Putin also said Wednesday that referendums on eastern Ukrainian independence, planned for May 11, should be postponed. To that, acting Ukrainian President Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Putin’s posturing was “hot air.”

More problems for the Liberals during riding nominations. There are new questions about the Liberal nomination process in the Montreal riding of Ville-Marie. Maclean’s Quebec bureau chief Martin Patriquin spoke to several people who voted in the nomination race who were given voter cards by someone else and told to vote for candidate Marc Miller, rather than purchasing the cards themselves. This clearly goes against the stated party policy, which says cards must be “paid from the applicant’s own funds.” Miller said he was “absolutely not” aware of the fact that some of his supporters didn’t pay for their party memberships. Miller is a close friend of Trudeau’s. He went on to win the riding nomination, beating candidate Bernard Amyot, with a vote of 292 to 175. These latest revelations come after another spat over Liberal nominations in the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina.

Liberals want pro-choice candidates only. On the topic of riding nominations, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that his party will only accept pro-choice candidates during the next election. Anyone against abortions will be weeded out in the nomination process, he said. The decisive stance in favour of a woman’s right to choose is a shift from the old Liberal policy, which used to allow each MP to make up their own mind on abortion, rather than adopting a party-wide position.

Farley Mowat dies. The famed Canadian author has passed away at the age of 92, his assistant confirmed Wednesday. Mowat was a tireless advocate for the outdoors and published 40 books, many about his adventures in nature. One of his best-known books, Never Cry Wolf, was inspired by his own time in the North studying the creatures. Mowat was outspoken about issues he believed in, whether is was better treatment for First Nations or the abolition of the Canadian seal hunt. He was proud of how he lived his life, Mowat told the Canadian Press in 2006. “I could honestly say I’ve fought the good fight,” he said. For more on Mowat, here’s an interview with the author that appeared in Maclean’s in 1981.

Syrian rebels leave city of Homs. Hundreds of rebels have finally been pushed out of a stronghold in the city of Homs in Syria Wednesday. The deal to grant the rebels safe passage out of the city ends three years of resistance bases there. On Wednesday morning, rebels loaded onto two waiting green buses where they were driven to two rebel-held towns north of the city. “The rest of the world failed us,” one of the rebels told BBC news. As part of a deal, rebels also agreed to release dozens of political prisoners.