NHL won’t participate in 2018 Olympics

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It appears the 2018 Winter Olympics will lack the star power of Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews after the NHL announced Monday it will not interrupt next season to accommodate the Pyeongchang Games.

Instead, hockey will likely be represented on the global stage by many players with unrecognizable names — think Brad Schlegel, David Harlock and Dwayne Norris from Canada’s silver-medal winning team at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

“It’s very disappointing and I feel like we’re short-changing some of the younger players that haven’t had that opportunity,” gold-medal winning Canadian goaltender Carey Price said.

He added: “At a human level this is a big worldwide event that the world takes part in and we want to shine our light too.”

Max Pacioretty, Price’s American teammate with Montreal also called the league’s decision disappointing.

“We want to be there,” Pacioretty said. “It’s good for the league, good for everybody, good for the owners, good for the players, and good for expanding the game. It’s extremely disappointing, we’ll see what happens and how the reaction goes but we’re not too happy about it.”

The IOC said Tuesday it “feels very sorry for the athletes,” but could not give the NHL special favours.

“The IOC, which distributes 90 per cent of its revenue for the development of sport in the world, obviously cannot treat a national commercial league better than not-for-profit international sports federations which are developing sport globally,” the Olympic body said in a statement.

The NHL Players’ Association said in a statement that players are “extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision.”

“The League’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself,” the statement read. “NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly.”

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who led Canada to consecutive Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014, said: “I’m just going to tell you I’m disappointed.”

Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson was more direct in his response.

“It is crap. That’s pretty much what I think,” said Karlsson, a member of Sweden’s silver-medal team in 2014 . “It’s going to do more damage to this sport than people realize, and whoever made that decision obviously doesn’t know what they are doing.”

“Disappointing news, (the NHL) won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted,” tweeted Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers goaltender who won the 2006 Olympic gold medal with Sweden.

Former NHL forward Brandon Prust, who’s now playing in Germany, tweeted: “Way to ruin the sport of hockey even more Gary #Olympics.”

What exactly might have swayed the opinion of owners toward letting players attend isn’t clear. The group never bought into the idea that shutting down the season for 17 days in February would benefit the league in the long run.

Their angst was most certainly sparked by the International Olympic Committee’s insistence that out-of-pocket payments for players to attend in 2018 would no longer be covered.

“I think when the IOC said ‘You know what, we don’t think it’s worth it we’re not going to pay,’ I think that may have opened a whole can of worms,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said at one point in the process.

And from there, the owners dug in there heels and never moved — even when the International Ice Hockey Federation found apparent money to cover costs like travel, accommodation and insurance.

But it was beyond just dollars and limited growth potential from South Korea. Owners were wary of the season disruption and impact of a compressed schedule along with increased risk for player injury — a small price to pay, the NHLPA argued, for the opportunity to reach fans on the “enormous international stage.”

Bettman said in March that “there’s somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject.”

In a statement announcing their decision, the NHL said “no meaningful dialogue has materialized,” pointing fingers at both the IOC and NHLPA.

The league revealed a relatively new position from the IOC, suggesting that participation at the 2022 Beijing Games hinged on participation in 2018 and adding that the NHLPA had demonstrated “no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs.”

What the players’ association could have presented is unclear. Perhaps a counter-offer to a late-2016 proposal that swapped Olympic participation for an extension of the current collective bargaining agreement may have moved the needle.

The NHLPA balked at that proposal, unwilling to hurriedly alter terms of an agreement reached to conclude the 2012-13 lockout.

Asked in late March how players would react if the NHL opted not to let them go to South Korea, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said they wouldn’t be happy.

“They know we think it’s important,” Fehr said. “They know that we believe very strongly that players ought to have an opportunity to play. They know we think it’s in the long run good for the game. And it’s something that we ought to try and do.”

Fehr suggested then that players might be able to attend the Games in 2018 regardless. He said the union thought it was “very probably an individual club decision” on whether players could go to the Olympics, an avenue that could conceivably allow those like Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin to come to agreements on attending with their respective teams.

Ovechkin has insisted that he’ll attend in South Korea no matter what the NHL decided and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis has supported that stance.

The NHL is sure to address that matter at a later date, but it’s worth wondering how the league would react if stars like Ovechkin suddenly bolted mid-season to play for their countries.

The move also came as a blow to broadcasters and individual federations, with rights-holder NBC and Hockey Canada both expressing their disappointment in statements.

Hockey Canada president Tom Renney said that the organization will resort to “Plan B.” A Canadian roster would likely be built using players from professional leagues in Europe and other minor circuits. Team Canada is the two-time defending Olympic champion.

Fehr noted recently that the Olympics might have to be worked into future CBA negotiations with opt-outs for the current agreements in September 2019 now looming large.

This might not be the end of the story, though.

While the NHL insisted that it considered the matter “officially closed,” the NHL has been working on two separate 2017-18 schedules for months — one that includes the 2018 Games and one that doesn’t. And given the bigger potential implications, it wouldn’t be surprising if an already bumpy process took another turn.

“NHL players should be there and I certainly hope they are there,” McDavid said back in January. “I can’t picture an Olympics without (NHL players) to be honest.”

— with files from The Associated Press
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Six stories in the news today, April 4
April 4, 2017, 4:15 AM

Six stories in the news for Tuesday, April 4

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NO SEATS CHANGE HANDS IN FIVE FEDERAL BYELECTIONS

The seating grid in the House of Commons is unchanged following five federal byelections. The Liberals retained three seats — in Ottawa-Vanier, Markham-Thornhill north of Toronto and Saint-Laurent in Montreal. The Conservatives logged easy victories in Calgary Heritage, formerly help by ex-prime minister Stephen Harper, and Calgary Midnapore.

———

BYELECTION RESULTS SENT MORE WOMEN TO OTTAWA

Four more women will take their seats in the House of Commons following byelections held Monday night. Victories by Mary Ng in Markham-Thornhill, Mona Fortier in Ottawa-Vanier, Stephanie Kusie in Calgary Midnapore and Emmanuella Lambropoulos in Saint-Laurent bring to 92 the total number of women in the Commons. Equal Voice, which is committed to electing more female MPs, says that works out to 27 per cent of the available seats.

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MMIW INQUIRY NOT REACHING OUT TO FAMILIES: ADVOCATES

The national missing and murdered indigenous women’s inquiry has failed to adequately reach out to loved ones and survivors, says a coalition of advocacy groups and families less than two months before hearings are set to begin. A member of one such group says it is concerned about reports that the inquiry had only located about 100 family members or survivors as of two weeks ago. An RCMP report in 2014 said police had identified nearly 1,200 missing or murdered indigenous women and girls.

———

INQUIRY INTO JOURNALISTS’ SURVEILLANCE CONTINUES TODAY

An inquiry resumes today looking into police surveillance of journalists and the protection of confidential sources. On Monday the inquiry heard from editorial bosses from Montreal newspapers La Presse and Le Devoir as well as Radio-Canada, the CBC’s French-language network. The inquiry was announced by the Quebec government last year after revelations that police had obtained warrants to collect data from the smartphones of several prominent journalists.

———

MAKE SURE MEASLES VACCINATION IS UP TO DATE: HEALTH OFFICIAL

With summer vacations just a few months away, the country’s top doctor is urging Canadians to make sure their measles vaccinations are up to date, especially for those planning to travel overseas. Dr. Theresa Tam says those whose measles immunizations aren’t up to date should be getting their shots six weeks before travelling because the disease continues to circulate in many parts of the world.

———

NHL WON’T SEND PLAYERS TO 2018 OLYMPICS

It appears the 2018 Winter Olympics will lack the star power of Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews after the NHL said it will not interrupt next season to accommodate the Pyeongchang Games. American Max Pacioretty, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, calls the decision “extremely disappointing.” Ottawa defenceman Erik Karlsson — a member of Sweden’s silver-medal team in 2014 — says the move will cause “more damage to this sport than people realize.”

———

ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:

— Finance Minister Bill Morneau will hold a media conference call to discuss his latest visit to the United States.

— In Halifax, a man accused of killing off-duty Truro police Const. Catherine Campbell, appears in court for a bail revocation hearing.

— Statistics Canada will release the merchandise trade figures for February.

— Sentencing hearing for Jennifer Halford, who pretended to have cancer and claimed to be a Fort McMurray fire evacuee.

— Alberta MP Garnett Genuis will hold a news conference to discuss his pending private member’s bill on organ trafficking.

— Carleton University in Ottawa will host an enhanced citizenship ceremony for 40 people.
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Make sure measles vaccination up to date: PHAC
April 4, 2017, 4:00 AM

TORONTO – With the start of summer vacations just a few months away, the country’s top doctor is urging Canadians to make sure their measles vaccinations are up to date, especially for those planning to travel overseas.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s interim chief medical officer of health, said those whose measles immunizations aren’t up to date should be getting their shots six weeks before travelling because the disease continues to circulate in many parts of the world.

“In Europe, there are a number of countries experiencing cases,” said Tam, calling measles a highly contagious disease that is easily spread.

Romania, for instance, has reported almost 2,000 cases since February 2016. Measles has killed 17 children in the country, none of whom were vaccinated.

Vaccination rates have been falling in some central and eastern European countries, driven in part by an anti-vaccination movement whose messages have been taken up on social media.

Measles is caused by a virus that can rapidly spread through person-to-person contact, via droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching objects recently exposed to infected mucus or saliva.

While home-grown cases have been eliminated in Canada — the last domestically acquired case was in 1997 — Canadians who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated can still contract the disease through infected people who travel into this country, she said Monday.

That could mean an outbreak of measles if the virus takes hold within an undervaccinated population, as it did in 2015 in an area of Quebec, when almost 200 cases occurred after an infected visitor introduced the disease into the community.

“The introduction can cause little sparks,” said Tam. “If you introduce that spark into a population that’s underimmunized, that actually catches fire. It will cause a cluster or an outbreak of cases.”

Tam said there have been 10 confirmed cases of measles in Canada so far this year — all related to travel — and a few suspected cases are under investigation.

Three of those cases, confirmed by Toronto Public Health last month, are connected to people who travelled to or within Canada on WestJet or Emirates Airline flights in the last two weeks of March.

“It’s important to remember that measles has a long incubation period, up to 21 days, so we’re still in the period of time when people who are exposed to these three confirmed cases may come down with measles,” said Dr. Michael Finkelstein, associate medical officer of health for Toronto.

Initial symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and irritability. Small white spots may also appear inside the mouth and throat. Three to seven days later, a red blotchy rash develops on the face and spreads over the body.

Symptoms begin a week to three weeks after exposure to the virus and a person can spread the infection to others from four days before the rash starts until four days after its disappearance. The virus is most often spread when people first get sick or before they know they have measles.

“We’re telling people to watch for signs and symptoms of measles if they were exposed,” said Finkelstein. “If they should start to become ill, it’s important for them to stay home.”

Those who develop symptoms should seek medical attention, but call ahead before visiting their doctor, medical clinic or hospital emergency department so precautions can be taken to isolate them to prevent transmission to others, he said.

There is no specific treatment for measles and most people recover within two to three weeks. However, measles can be especially dangerous for infants and young children, and those with weakened immune systems.

“About 30 per cent of those who get measles will have some kind of complication, and they range from ear infections to pneumonia to more severe complications such as encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain,” said Tam. That swelling of the brain can cause seizures, brain damage and even death.

“So it is not a benign disease,” she said.

The best way to prevent measles is to get inoculated with two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) immunization. The initial shot is given to a child at 12 to 15 months of age, followed by a second dose between 18 months and four to six years of age.

Adults whose immunizations aren’t up to date should receive at least one dose of the vaccine, although two is preferable as some people don’t build up antibodies to the virus with a single dose, said Finkelstein.

Tam said having 95 per cent of a given population vaccinated is typically enough to provide protection from infection for those who haven’t been immunized because of a phenomenon called “herd immunity” — which means the virus has difficulty spreading because there are too few hosts left to infect.

In Canada, about 90 per cent of two-year-olds and almost 86 per cent of seven-year-olds had been vaccinated against measles, according to the 2013 childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey.

“So there is a possibility of there being clusters or outbreaks as a result,” Tam said.

Follow @SherylUbelacker on Twitter.
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Tories, NDP challenge Liberals in Ontario
April 4, 2017, 3:13 AM

OTTAWA – Upstart Conservative and New Democrat candidates gave their heavily favoured Liberal rivals a bit of a scare Monday in a pair of byelections in Ontario where some of Justin Trudeau’s policies and promises played a central role.

In the Toronto-area riding of Markham-Thornhill, Liberal candidate and former PMO staffer Mary Ng defeated Ragavan Paranchothy by a margin of nearly 2,500 votes after a stronger than expected early showing by her Conservative rival.

A robust performance in the riding, long a Liberal stronghold held by ex-cabinet minister John McCallum, was critical for the Liberals, given the importance of holding Toronto if they want to form government in 2019.

It was also important for Ng, who is currently on a leave of absence from her job in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office and seen by some as a strong candidate for cabinet.

“The Liberal future is in Ontario,” said political analyst Tim Powers, vice-president of Summa Strategies. “If the Liberal vote goes down in Markham-Thornhill, then they will want to spend a lot of time diagnosing what went wrong.”

That did indeed appear to be the case: with all polls reporting, Ng had claimed just 51.3 per cent of the vote, compared with 55.72 per cent in 2015. The Tory share of the vote was nearly seven per cent higher.

None of that seemed to dampen Ng’s spirits late Monday as she credited the victory to her team of volunteers, who “knocked on a lot of doors, talked to thousands of people, and we earned their vote.”

Conservative insiders had said the local campaign strategy involved talking about the Trudeau government’s forthcoming plan to legalize marijuana, but Ng said it “wasn’t an issue I heard at the door.”

Ng, whose previous experience includes roles at the Ontario legislature and in the president’s office at Ryerson University, was also circumspect Monday about her chances of ending up in cabinet.

“Today is Day 1,” she said. “My job is to represent the people of Markham-Thornhill. And I’m going to work very, very hard to be their strongest voice and their strongest advocate. That’s my job today.”

In Ottawa-Vanier, where the New Democrats campaigned aggressively against the Liberals for breaking a promise to abandon the oft-maligned first-past-the-post electoral system, the NDP’s Emilie Taman gathered 28.7 per cent of the vote.

It was nowhere near enough to challenge Liberal candidate Mona Fortier, however, who had 51.2 per cent of the vote and finished 6,667 votes ahead of Taman.

“I’m feeling really good. We had a great showing. I’m proud of what we achieved,” Taman said in an interview afterward.

“The government is going to take notice that the people of Ottawa-Vanier have their concerns…. I think it was an overall disappointment that I was hearing from people, that they didn’t really get the government they thought they were getting.”

Liberal party spokesman Braeden Caley was having none of it Monday, calling the outcome a “phenomenal result,” also noting that the government would be getting three new female MPs.

“They’re going to be tireless champions for their communities in Parliament,” he said.

Add in Conservative Stephanie Kusie, who cruised to victory in Calgary Midnapore, and that makes four more women on their way to Parliament Hill, said the advocacy group Equal Voice, which is committed to electing more female MPs.

That brings to 92 the total number of women in the House of Commons — 27 per cent of the available seats, up from 26 per cent, said spokesperson Catherine Fortin LeFaivre.

“We are hopeful that tonight’s results will inspire even more women to seriously consider running for political office — Canada needs them.”

Greg MacEachern, a former Liberal strategist now at lobby firm Environics Communications, said significant inroads in Ottawa-Vanier for the NDP suggest a surprising degree of anger over the abandonment of electoral reform.

“Electoral reform came up a lot in the course of the campaign — a lot,” said the NDP’s Taman “Even people for whom it was not their No. 1 priority were really, really disappointed in the way the prime minister went about breaking the promise.”

Three other byelections took place Monday, and their results were hardly a surprise.

In the Montreal riding of Saint-Laurent, Liberal candidate Emmanuella Lambropoulos won 59.1 per cent of the vote, compared with Conservative rival Jimmy Yu, a distant second at just 19.5 per cent.

Lambropoulos, a 26-year-old high school teacher, stunned many when she won the Liberal nomination contest in Saint-Laurent, defeating former Quebec cabinet minister Yolande James.

“I’m sure it will hit me a little later,” she said after her victory speech late Monday.

The Alberta ridings of Calgary Heritage and Calgary Midnapore, formerly held by Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney, respectively, were no contest as the Tories cleaned house.

Bob Benzen, who claimed 71.5 per cent of the vote in Calgary Heritage, well clear of the Liberals’ Scott Forsyth at 21.7 per cent, portrayed his victory as a protest against Trudeau’s environmental policies.

“We wanted to send our prime minister, Mr. Trudeau, a message and I think we did,” Benzen said in his victory speech. “We are telling him we don’t want this job-killing carbon tax.”

Kusie took a similar tone as she cruised to an easy win in Calgary Midnapore, taking 77.2 per cent of the vote, leaving her closest rival Liberal candidate Haley Brown at 17 per cent.

“The Liberal party policies, Justin’s policies, are not working here in Calgary Midnapore,” she said. “The electorate has shown that … they are not satisfied with the job the Liberal party is doing.”

— with files from Giuseppe Valiante in Montreal and Bill Graveland in Calgary
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Five Things: Monday’s federal byelections
April 4, 2017, 1:04 AM

OTTAWA – The final outcomes of Monday’s federal byelections might appear to do little to change the political landscape in the House of Commons, since no seats changed hands among the parties. In fact, the opposite may well be true.

Here are just five headlines from Monday’s vote that could prove to be significant developments as the 2019 federal election rapidly approaches:

1. The New Democrats showed signs of life in Ottawa-Vanier. The riding, a politically savvy region adjacent to Parliament Hill, played host to an aggressive push by the advocacy group Fair Vote Canada to punish the Liberals for abandoning their commitment to electoral reform. In response to media reports suggesting the group colluded with the NDP, a statement Monday insisted the campaign was theirs and theirs alone. “Fair Vote Canada’s approach in these byelections has been to ask citizens to vote for candidates who have shown consistent support for electoral reform,” including the NDP, the statement said. The fact the riding also includes the University of Ottawa, as well as many student residences, suggests the issue of electoral reform was a major motivator for a segment of voters said to have supported the Liberals for precisely that reason.

2. Four out of five of the newest MPs are women. At a time when talk of gender-based analysis, gender equity in cabinet, Canada’s self-proclaimed feminist prime minister and the need for more female representation in the House of Commons, the fact that four out of five of Monday’s victors are women can only be seen as good news. However, women still only comprise 27 per cent of all MPs, the group Equal Voice said in a statement. “We are hopeful that tonight’s results will inspire even more women to seriously consider running for political office,” the statement said. “Canada needs them.”

3. The showing of hand-picked Liberal candidate Mary Ng. Ng, formerly the director of appointments in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, didn’t overpower her Conservative rival in Markham-Thornhill to quite the degree that some expected. The riding is one that longtime Liberal MP and former cabinet minister John McCallum won with nearly 56 per cent of the vote in 2015; on Monday, it was just 51.3 per cent. Those votes went to the Conservatives. Possible motivations: Blowback from widespread unhappiness with Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government in Ontario, or Conservative efforts to exploit apprehension in the riding about the federal Liberal plan to legalize marijuana.

4. Conservatives utterly dominated the Calgary ridings, despite concerted Liberal efforts to make inroads. A bit of a dog-bites-man headline, this one, but illustrative nonetheless of the fact that Fortress Alberta — or Fortress Calgary, at least — is as strong as ever. Anger over the Liberal plan to price carbon, as well as Justin Trudeau’s town-hall musings about the eventual phase-out of the oilsands, surely helped to fortify Conservative support. Following in the footsteps of Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney couldn’t have hurt, either.

5. Upstart Liberal giant-killer going to the House of Commons. The fact the Liberals won the Montreal riding of Saint-Laurent is no surprise. What is a surprise is who will be taking the seat that Stephane Dion previously occupied: Emmanuella Lambropoulos. The 26-year-old school teacher came out of nowhere to beat former Quebec minister Yolande James for the Liberal nomination last month, and hasn’t looked back, even though James was widely seen as the Liberal establishment’s preferred candidate. “I’m sure it will hit me a little later,” Lambropoulos said after a victory speech at an Italian restaurant in the riding.
Jean, Kenney at odds on gay student clubs
April 3, 2017, 11:09 PM

EDMONTON – Alberta’s two conservative parties, working on a deal to join forces, are at odds when it comes to social clubs for gay students in schools.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean says he disagrees with Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney.

Kenney says schools, in some circumstances, should tell parents when their child joins a gay-straight alliance, also known as a GSA.

But Jean says parents are already notified if sexuality issues are taught in the curriculum, but says a gay-straight alliance should be left as a peer group for students.

“It’s much like a math club or a prayer club, and I don’t think that would be appropriate (for parents to be told when a child joins),” Jean told reporters Monday.

His comments came as NDP members heckled and criticized and shouted “Shame!” at the PCs in the house Monday over Kenney’s stance.

It’s also an issue that has gone around the globe, with international singing star Boy George calling out Kenney’s viewpoint on Twitter.

“Gay obsessed straight people. #creepy” the United Kingdom performer tweeted out to his 435,000 followers over the weekend. In a second tweet, he wrote “Surely his move cannot be constitutional or lawful. It’s certainly not moral or helpful.”

Kenney did not respond to a request for an interview but spokesman Blaise Boehmer, in a statement, reiterated that Kenney does not want schools outing students.

“(Kenney’s) position has not and will not change,” wrote Boehmer.

Kenney has not spoken publicly about his views since he spoke to a Postmedia editorial board a week ago. He said that parents should be told by school staff when a child, gay or straight, joins a GSA unless it’s believed telling the parents would cause harm to the child.

He reiterated that view in a Facebook posting last week.

“I trust teachers, principals and school counsellors to exercise their judgment about such matters, and that there should be a presumption that most parents are loving and caring, seeking only what is best for their children,” wrote Kenney

Gay-straight alliances are clubs for gay and straight students. The purpose is social but the goal is to foster better understanding and to give LGBTQ kids a safe place to be if they are facing harassment and intimidation.

They are also places for students to talk to peers about issues they feel may not be welcome at home.

Under a law passed by the PCs in 2015, all schools must set up a gay-straight alliance if students ask for one.

Critics, including Premier Rachel Notley’s government, say telling parents before a child is ready is effectively outing a child and could have harmful consequences if the parents have concerns about homosexuality.

NDP member Estefania Cortes-Vargas told the house Monday that GSAs play a vital role and can prevent gay kids leaving home or even killing themselves.

“Outing them could be devastating,” said Cortes-Vargas.

Education Minister David Eggen agreed.

“Unlike the leader of Conservative opposition, our government does not out students,” said Eggen as other NDP backbenchers hollered “Shame” toward the PC benches. Ric McIver, the leader of the PC caucus in the house, and member Dave Rodney shouted back, their comments lost in the din.

Talking to reporters, McIver said he doesn’t want to out gay students either, but declined to answer specifically if he believes schools should, in some circumstances, inform parents if their child joins a gay-straight alliance.

The issue is playing out against a backdrop of negotiations between the Wildrose and the PCs to join forces under a consolidated conservative coalition. Both Jean and Kenney have promised to run for the leadership should a new coalition be formed.

Kenney does not have a seat in the legislature and won’t seek one in the short term as he works to unify the two conservative party.
Pallister says he’ll take Trudeau’s word
April 3, 2017, 9:40 PM

WINNIPEG – Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he’s now ready to move ahead with a health-care funding deal with Ottawa.

Pallister had earlier accused the federal government of threatening to kill a multimillion-dollar research facility over the province being the lone hold-out in the dispute.

Even after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly promised his government was not holding up the Factory of the Future project, Pallister said he wanted the assurances in writing.

But the premier says he will now take Trudeau at his word the $60-million aerospace and automobile research hub is not at risk.

He says he probably should take Trudeau’s word on such things, noting it “wasn’t he threatened Manitoba, it was one of his negotiators, so it’s not him who was personally responsible for the threat.”

Manitoba is the last province holding out over a 10-year agreement on transfer payments.

Pallister’s says his government will be participating in a Winnipeg Regional Health Care announcement later this week.

(CTV Winnipeg)
Redford cleared again over tobacco lawsuit
April 3, 2017, 8:36 PM

EDMONTON – Another investigation has cleared former Alberta premier Alison Redford of wrongdoing on how she selected a law firm to sue tobacco companies on behalf of the province.

Redford was Alberta’s justice minister in 2010 when she chose a consortium of law firms that included a company that employed her former husband.

The $10-billion lawsuit is to recover smoking related health-care costs.

An investigation in 2013 cleared Redford, but a second probe found the first review did not have access to all of the relevant documents.

Alberta’s ethics commissioner then asked her counterpart in British Columbia to investigate to determine if there should another investigation

In a report released Monday, Paul Fraser, B.C.’s acting ethics commissioner, says Redford did not break Alberta’s Conflict of Interest Act.

“I have found on a balance of probabilities that Ms. Redford did not improperly further another person’s private interest in making her decision and, therefore, did not breach the Conflicts of Interest Act,” the report says.

The report says Redford selected a consortium known as International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers (ITRL) to represent Alberta and that her former husband, Robert Hawkes, was a partner in one of the firms.

ITRL was selected out of three consortium applicants to handle the lawsuit.

Fraser says he focused on whether Redford’s decision improperly furthered Hawkes’ private interest.

“In making the choice of counsel in the tobacco litigation, she used sensible and principled reasoning, based on cogent information she received in the briefing note from government officials and that she had collected in the course of her active tenure as Minister of Justice and Attorney General,” the report says.

In a statement, Alberta Justice Kathleen Ganley thanks Fraser for his work but offers little other comment.

“The report was just tabled in the house this afternoon, and we will be reviewing it,” she says.

The consortium remains in charge of the lawsuit.
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Inquiry not reaching out to families: advocates
April 3, 2017, 8:08 PM

VANCOUVER – The national missing and murdered indigenous women’s inquiry has failed to adequately reach out to loved ones and survivors, says a coalition of advocacy groups and families less than two months before hearings are set to begin.

The Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in British Columbia is calling on the commission and federal, provincial and territorial governments to do a better job of communicating with distraught families.

“This is the last chance that family members who want to be heard will be heard,” said Michele Pineault, the mother of Stephanie Lane, whose DNA was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm. “This inquiry is very, very important to a lot of people.”

Coalition member Fay Blaney said at a news conference Monday that the group was concerned about media reports that said the inquiry had only located about 100 family members or survivors as of two weeks ago.

An RCMP report in 2014 said police had identified nearly 1,200 missing or murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Blaney said she understood the federal government had not shared with commissioners the names of those who came forward during pre-inquiry consultations due to privacy obligations.

She said the commission should immediately request that all levels of government and indigenous organizations reach out to family members and survivors to ensure they know how to register to be a witness.

The coalition is also concerned that federal, provincial and territorial governments appear not to be assisting the inquiry, Blaney added.

Chief commissioner Marion Buller said in a statement that the commission has now identified 195 family members and survivors.

Buller said it has been reaching out to families and communities through its website, social media, podcasts, newsletters, regular teleconferences with national indigenous organizations and advisory meetings.

The inquiry is holding a series of regional meetings across the country to receive input from survivors and families before the first public hearing on May 29 in Whitehorse.

The commission has said families and survivors who would like to share their stories do not need to apply for standing and should instead send an email or call a toll-free number. It has asked national indigenous organizations to share the contact information, said Buller.

But Lorelei Williams, whose aunt went missing decades ago and whose cousin’s DNA was found on Pickton’s farm, said the commission should be proactively reaching out.

“I’m feeling so frustrated and very upset about what is going on with this inquiry so far,” she said. “Families are freaking out right now.”

Williams questioned why pre-inquiry consultations were held at all, if not to collect names of family members for the inquiry.

“What did they do that for?” she asked. “I’m going to assume that those families put their names forward for a reason. … They want to be a part of this.”

Shawn Jackson, a spokesman for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, said it transferred to the national inquiry in November a database of information collected during the pre-inquiry process including meeting recordings and correspondence.

However, Jackson said many people participated in the consultations anonymously and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is prevented by privacy rules from providing the lists of participants.

The coalition is also urging the inquiry to make efforts to include “families of the heart,” or friends. Evelyn Youngchief’s friend Georgina Papin was killed by Pickton and she said many friends of the missing and murdered would like to speak.

“We’ve been waiting for a very long time,” she said. “Changes need to be made on how aboriginal women are looked at. Stop killing us.”

Pineault said it has been difficult to tell her story over and over again for the past 20 years.

“It’s at a point now where I just want to say, ‘I want a life of normalcy. I just want to stay home and not have anything to do with this.’ But I have to do it to the bitter end.”

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.
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Preliminary hearing starts in farm shooting
April 3, 2017, 8:00 PM

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. – Lawyers on both sides in a preliminary hearing for a Saskatchewan farmer accused of fatally shooting an indigenous man say they hope the truth will come out.

The week-long hearing, which began Monday, will determine whether Gerald Stanley will face trial for second-degree murder in the death Colten Boushie last summer.

Boushie, who was 22, was shot and killed Aug. 9 while riding in an SUV that went onto a farm near Biggar, Sask.

Details of the preliminary hearing are under a publication ban.

Lawyer Chris Murphy, who represents Boushie’s family, said the family wants to get to the truth and ensure Stanley receives a fair trial.

Murphy said it was hard for the family to hear evidence presented at the preliminary hearing.

“I think it’s difficult for anybody to watch the evidence that occurred today and that’s just if you’re not a family member,” Murphy said outside the provincial courthouse in North Battleford, Sask.

“So I think if you compound that basically by a thousand times and you probably understand what the family’s going through.”

At one point in the hearing, Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, became emotional and briefly left the courtroom.

Baptiste declined to comment outside court.

Stanley’s lawyer, Scott Spencer, said the process is extremely hard for his client as well.

“This is extremely stressful, extremely difficult,” Spencer said outside court. “The tragedy’s not lost on anybody. The family’s in the courtroom suffering and you know that’s tough on everybody.”

Stanley has pleaded not guilty and is out on bail. He sat quietly next to Spencer in court Monday.

The killing of Boushie, who was from the Red Pheasant First Nation, ignited racial tension in Saskatchewan.

There have been large rallies outside court when Stanley made previous appearances.

RCMP closed the road in front of the courthouse Monday for the preliminary hearing, but the scene was quiet.

“The last thing on anybody’s mind in this family is to cause any unrest. They’re here just to see what happened to their son and their brother,” said Murphy.

A handful of people held signs that said “Justice 4 Colten.” Another sign said “He was somebody’s son, cousin, nephew, uncle, brother, grandson, friend.”

Still another held a sign quoting lines from Boushie’s obituary.

“Not how did he die but how did he live? Not what did he gain but what did he give?”
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Air Miles irks users with cash miles limits
April 3, 2017, 6:19 PM

Some Air Miles collectors reacted with anger Monday after learning the reward program is lowering the cap on in-store cash miles redemptions to $50 per day as it prepares to resume the program Wednesday.

The redemptions were halted after Air Miles discovered nearly two weeks ago that some stolen cash miles had been used to make purchases.

The latest changes to Air Miles redemption policies follow a controversy that erupted last year, when the company was planning to void Air Miles that hadn’t been claimed after five years. That plan was withdrawn before it was to take effect after an outcry from customers.

Francis van Roode, 50, said he’s considering replacing his Air Miles credit card for one that offers other rewards because of the new spending limit.

“I use those cash rewards to go to Staples, buy a new computer monitor or, like a few weeks back, I bought a new office chair, things like that,” said the Vancouver information technology consultant.

“Fifty bucks? So if I want to buy a $300 monitor, I get $50 off and have to put up the rest? That’s not great.”

The previous daily limit for in-store redemptions was $750, but Air Miles says most of its collectors use the cash miles in small amounts.

However, Andrew Allen says he shares an Air Miles card with his parents so that they can afford to buy big-ticket items, such as fixtures for his bathroom renovation project.

“Fifty dollars is not going to pay for the bathtub I want to get,” said the 32-year-old administrator at McMaster University in Hamilton.

“The tub alone is probably going to cost $300 or $400,” Allen said. “The old way was $750, which was fine for me.”

He said he’s been collecting Air Miles since the 1990s and doesn’t want to stop, but hopes the company changes its decision.

Air Miles said it chose to implement the $50 cap to reduce the risk of fraud while ensuring most of its collectors can still claim their miles for discounts.

The loyalty program says Air Miles customers will be able to redeem up to 475 cash miles worth $50 per day, starting Wednesday as of 5 a.m. ET.

But Air Miles won’t allow the loyalty points to be used to purchase gift cards, prepaid credit cards or other similar products.

“I worked hard to collect those Air Miles,” said Deonne Garry, a 39-year-old office worker from Fall River, N.S. “I think I should be able to use them the way I want to use them.”

She said she has been using her points to buy Visa gift cards at a grocery store and is furious that Air Miles won’t allow it anymore.

Spokeswoman Kahina Haffad said in an email that Air Miles is “evaluating this process on an ongoing basis to ensure collectors continue to get value from the program” when asked how it will respond to the complaints.

The company is urging customers to ensure their email addresses on file are up-to-date to receive notices when the cash points are used and instructions if it appears somebody else redeemed them.

Follow @HealingSlowly on Twitter.
Bombardier pay puts Liberals in cross hairs
April 3, 2017, 6:14 PM

OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau refused Monday to denounce Bombardier for enriching its executives even as the company rakes in nearly $1 billion in taxpayer money, drawing opposition charges that the Liberals are on wobbly legs when it comes to standing up for the middle class.

The ensuing public outcry has prompted the Montreal-based aerospace firm to put off for a year giving six executive officers more than half of the compensation it had planned — and has also prompted the prime minister to change his tone.

Last week, Trudeau said the government respects “the free market and the choices that companies will make.” On Monday, he said the government is “obviously not pleased” with Bombardier’s decision, “but we are happy to see it make decisions that are fixing that for Quebecers’ and Canadians’ confidence.”

Bombardier is eliminating 14,500 jobs around the world by the end of next year, part of a restructuring plan aimed at helping the company turn itself around. The plan includes federal and provincial money: a $372.5-million federal loan for Bombardier’s CSeries and Global 7000 aircraft programs, and $1 billion from Quebec.

Last week, the company issued a proxy circular showing that six executives were in line for a nearly 50 per cent increase in compensation, most of which was to be granted in 2019.

The fact the company can afford to enrich its senior leaders while laying off employees suggests the taxpayer money they were given by the government is doing nothing to help Canadians, said interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.

“This is not helping the middle class. This is lining the pockets of the 1 per cent of the 1 per cent with tax dollars,” Ambrose said during question period.

Anger at the planned pay raises culminated in a weekend protest at the company’s Montreal headquarters and a late night climb-down by Alain Bellemare, the chief executive officer, who declared he was asking Bombardier’s board of directors to delay the payments.

The company underestimated public anger and is now paying attention, Bellemare said.

The Liberals, however, remain tone-deaf, opposition MPs charged.

“We have seen anger expressed by voters in both the United States and in Canada about how out of touch elites are,” Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong wrote in an email to supporters.

“The Bombardier example is one reason why this anger is out there. And citizens and taxpayers have every right to be upset.”

Government bailouts to industry are a politically sensitive issue for the Tories, given their avowed commitment to free market principles but also the fact that while in government, they provided billions to bail out the auto sector.

Conservative MP Tony Clement — who was industry minister at the time of the auto bailout in 2009 — said in his view, 400,000 jobs were on the line and had Canada not helped shore up the automakers, the economy would have collapsed.

“It was an extraordinary circumstance. We were facing an economic depression,” Clement said. “Bombardier, every year they come to the government asking for more money.”

Clement is supporting leadership candidate Maxime Bernier, who has said he disagreed with his government’s decision at the time, and that he won’t support bailouts if he becomes leader.

“Corporate welfare is a terrible policy, for businesses, for taxpayers, for Canadians,” he said in his own letter to supporters Monday.

The only way to help them is by cutting taxes, Bernier said.

The Liberals had also pledged to make cuts — to provisions that help corporate CEOs like those at Bombardier make more money, pointed out NDP leader Tom Mulcair on Monday.

Total compensation for Bombardier’s top five executives and board chairman Pierre Beaudoin was to be US$32.6 million in 2016, up from US$21.9 million the year before, and some of that is in stock options.

People pay less tax on for income earned on stock options than they do if they are paid in cash.

The Liberals had pledged to close that tax loophole but have backed off in the last two budgets, arguing in the past that for many companies it is a valuable way to compensate all employees, not just CEOs.

It’s a loophole primarily for the wealthy, Mulcair said.

“So it’s another case of Justin Trudeau saying one thing and doing another, and frankly, I know that a lot of Canadians are growing very tired of Justin Trudeau not doing what he says he’s going to do.”
Inquiry into journalists’ surveillance begins
April 3, 2017, 6:13 PM

MONTREAL – The provisions that currently exist to protect journalists’ sources are insufficient, three senior Quebec newsroom supervisors testified Monday at a provincial inquiry looking into the matter.

The inquiry, which will look at police surveillance of journalists and the protection of confidential sources, heard from editorial bosses from Montreal newspapers La Presse and Le Devoir as well as Radio-Canada, the CBC’s French-language network, at Day 1 of hearings.

The inquiry was announced by the Quebec government last year after revelations that Montreal and Quebec provincial police obtained warrants to collect data from the smartphones of several prominent journalists.

As a result, sources became fearful and left newsrooms scrambling to review ways of keeping their sources from risk, the trio of bosses told the inquiry.

Brian Myles, head of Montreal Le Devoir, said investigative journalists have had to take exceptional measures such as avoiding meetings in public places, using intermediaries and even photocopying documents to avoid DNA evidence on original documents.

Myles, a former president of Quebec’s professional journalists’ federation, said that sources take great risks to come forward and are seeking assurances from journalists in doing so.

It’s not normal to have to use such methods to avoid police surveillance in Canada, where the freedom of the press and the protection of journalistic sources are supposed to be a given, Myles said.

The fact that confidential sources are being targeted by law enforcement is “very problematic for a democracy,” he added.

Inquiry chair Jacques Chamberland, a judge with the province’s court of appeal, opened the hearing by saying the commission’s role is not to assign guilt.

Chamberland said there is a need to strike a balance between what the public has a right to know, protecting confidential sources and upholding and applying the law.

Guylaine Bachand, a lawyer specialized in media law, and former Quebec City police chief Alexandre Matte are the other two commissioners who will hear from witnesses.

They will hear from actors on all sides including law enforcement, media and the courts.

The commission must report back to the government with recommendations by next March 1, 2018.

The inquiry resumes Tuesday.
Ontario’s first cap-and-trade auction sells out
April 3, 2017, 5:54 PM

TORONTO – Ontario’s first cap-and-trade auction sold out all current allowances, giving the new market a strong start, but the province’s environment minister warned the real test of the system will be in the emission reductions it brings about.

The March 22 auction brought in $472 million, the government said Monday.

But over the next 15 auctions, to the end of the compliance period in 2020, the market can probably expect “a reasonable amount of volatility and unpredictability,” said Environment Minister Glen Murray.

“The participation rate, whether it’s 100 per cent or 20 per cent or 50 per cent or 60 per cent or 13 per cent, is not the success of the market,” he said. “The success of the market is really based on our ability to reduce (greenhouse gases). We will not expect to get 100 per cent all the time.”

The system aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions puts caps on the amount of pollution companies in certain industries can emit. If they exceed those limits, they must buy an equal number of allowances at auction or from other companies that come in under their limits.

Most large emitters in Ontario are receiving allowances for free until 2020, which the government says is meant to prevent them from moving to jurisdictions without carbon pricing. But for now certain electricity importers, natural gas distributors and fuel suppliers are among those required to participate.

Bidders in the first auction included Union Gas, Enbridge Gas, Imperial Oil, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, the city of Kingston, Ont., the University of Guelph, Ontario Power Generation, Apotex, Labatt, BP Canada Energy Group, Shell Energy North America and Suncor Energy Products Partnership.

The provincial Liberal government hopes the quarterly auctions will bring in $1.9 billion a year, to be invested in programs that reduce emissions and help businesses and consumers adapt to a low-carbon economy.

The auction floor price was $18.07 and the actual settlement price was $18.08. Murray said he was pleased about that because he wanted the actual price to be as low as possible.

“One of the objectives of cap and trade is to manage the transition to a low carbon economy at the lowest-possible prices to Ontarians and Ontario businesses,” he said. “So we didn’t want to see early upward movement on that.”

The successful first auction is a great start for the new market, but it’s good to avoid reading too much into it, said Erica Morehouse, senior attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund.

“It is just one auction and I think the overall success of a program should be judged on the strength of its design and whether it’s able to work to keep carbon pollution in check,” she said.

About one quarter of the future vintages on offer were also sold and while the number may seem low, Murray said it was more than they were expecting. The result shows confidence in the longevity of the market, he said.

Ontario plans to link its cap-and-trade system with a joint Quebec-California market next year, and Murray said he will be in California soon for negotiations.

But when linked, an estimated $466 million will leave the Ontario economy over three years, because it will be cheaper to buy allowances in those jurisdictions, the auditor general has said. Both the environmental commissioner and the auditor have said that means greenhouse gas emissions won’t actually be cut in Ontario.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown — whose party is ahead in the polls and could form government in 2018 — has said he would dismantle the cap-and-trade system in favour of a carbon tax, with the cost to consumers and business offset through other tax cuts.

Brown was undeterred by the first auction’s success.

“The Wynne Liberals want us to believe they are protecting the environment, but it’s a smokescreen,” he said in a statement. “Their plan sends millions of dollars to one of the richest jurisdictions on earth for emission reductions there, which means failing to cut emissions here at home. This does not make sense.”

NDP critic Peter Tabuns said he is still concerned that revenue could be used to finance projects that are already underway, which wouldn’t help fight climate change.

“We still have our concerns about effectiveness, transparency, fairness, but we do believe the cap-and-trade system is something Ontario needs,” he said.

Since Jan. 1, cap and trade has added 4.3 cents per litre to the price of gasoline and about $80 a year to natural gas home heating costs, in addition to indirect costs that will be passed onto consumers.

The next auction is on June 6.

___

The report summarizing the results of the auction can be found at: http://bit.ly/2oCGkUv
Sister of Tina Fontaine now missing: family
April 3, 2017, 5:25 PM

WINNIPEG – The sister of a Manitoba teen who became one of the poster children for the issue of missing and murdered indigenous woman is now missing herself and her family says it all stems from the tragedies she has experienced in her life.

Sarah Fontaine, 16, has lost a father, a sister and a cousin in recent years. She is the younger sister of Tina Fontaine, the 15 year old whose body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014.

“Her and Tina were just inseparable. They were always together, and then when she lost Tina, she felt she just lost everything,” Thelma Favel, the great-aunt who took care of the girls from a young age, told The Canadian Press Monday.

“There were just too many memories that she never really faced.”

Eugene Fontaine, father to both Sarah and Tina, was beaten to death on the Sagkeeng First Nation, northeast of Winnipeg, on Oct. 31, 2011. His death was what caused Tina to spiral downward and require foster care, Favel and others have recounted.

Two men pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Eugene Fontaine’s death. Another man has been charged with murder in Tina’s case and is currently awaiting trial.

Last month, the girls’ cousin, Jeanenne Fontaine, 29, died after being shot in the back of the head in a Winnipeg house that was set on fire.

“(Sarah) talked about it. She just wanted to know what was happening to the Fontaine family — why they were being murdered,” Favel recalled.

Sarah Fontaine got pregnant after Tina was killed, Favel said, and had been living in a Winnipeg-area home with her infant and receiving counselling for about a year.

RCMP reported the girl missing last week. Favel said Sarah drove to Favel’s home.

“She wanted to come back home here but she’s not ready. She didn’t receive the proper counselling that she needed.”

Favel said she called police when Sarah arrived last week and the girl and her baby were taken into new, separate homes in Winnipeg-area.

On Monday, Favel learned Sarah had disappeared again.

In a news released issued over the weekend, the RCMP said Sarah was last seen on Sunday morning in the Polo Park area of Winnipeg and was last heard from on Sunday afternoon.

She is described as Indigenous, 5-foot-3 with a heavier build. She was last seen wearing a pink hoodie, black pants with white lettering and was carrying a large, shiny red purse.

“I just want to tell Sarah, ‘Please, Sarah, go back home. You’ll get help, and that we love you,'” Favel said.

“I just want her safe.”
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Comedian’s comments inappropriate: minister
April 3, 2017, 5:19 PM

OTTAWA – Comedian Russell Peters’s performance as host of the Junos on Sunday night is getting a bad review from Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.

Peters, who hosted the music awards ceremony in Ottawa along with musician Bryan Adams, introduced the minister before she presented an award alongside artist Coleman Hell.

“With him is the minister of heritage, Melanie Joly,” Adams said.

“I don’t know why, but she’s hot, so who cares?” Peters replied.

Peters also commented on the number of young women in the audience, suggesting it was a “felony waiting to happen.”

Speaking outside the House of Commons on Monday, Joly said Peters’ comments were inappropriate, adding this type of humour does not have a place at the Junos.

The minister said she is proud to represent an industry worth $53 billion, noting Canada is the third largest exporter of music in the world.

“We need to make sure that all our role models are supporting the importance of gender parity,” Joly said. “I really hope that he takes that into consideration and understands … the importance of what he said.”

Peters was not immediately available for comment on Monday.
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Floodwater subsiding in Manitoba: officials
April 3, 2017, 5:06 PM

CARMAN, Man. – Some of the floodwater that prompted states of emergencies and evacuations in small Manitoba communities is starting to subside, although officials say the danger is not over yet.

Rising water from the spring melt over the weekend forced dozens of people from the Peguis First Nation along the Fisher River north of Winnipeg.

There were also evacuees from the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation along the Assiniboine River in western Manitoba.

Closer to Winnipeg, ice jams on the Boyne River caused water to pour into dozens of basements on the weekend.

The community of 3,400 closed its high school and elementary school Monday as a precaution.

But Premier Brian Pallister says the weather is co-operating in most areas and ice jams are breaking up.

“It’s a little early to breathe a sigh of relief yet, but nature has been co-operative in diminishing the likelihood of floods in a number of our water basins,” Pallister told the legislature Monday.

“Local people seem to have things in hand … and I know that if needed, Manitobans, as they always have, will rise to the challenge.”

Carman’s schools were expecting to reopen Tuesday, Pallister added.

Flooding is an almost annual event in Manitoba, as spring melt water from as far away as Alberta and South Dakota passes through the province, sometimes butting up against still-icy sections of north-flowing rivers.

Winnipeg is protected by the Red River Floodway, a massive ditch that diverts water around the city. Smaller communities along the Red have large dikes that can be completely sealed to keep the water at bay.

The Red Cross was handling evacuees Monday from Peguis First Nation and Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.

Local states of emergencies remained in effect for eight other communities.
N.S. doctor stands trial on drug charges
April 3, 2017, 5:05 PM

BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – The drug-trafficking trial for a Nova Scotia doctor accused of prescribing 50,000 pills to a hospital patient stalled Monday as the defence made a bid to exclude statements she made to medical regulators in the early days of the case.

Dr. Sarah Dawn Jones sat quietly in the gallery of Bridgewater provincial court as defence lawyer Stan MacDonald argued her constitutional rights would be violated if information she gave the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons is allowed into her trial.

Jones has pleaded not guilty to charges including possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking, drawing a document without authority and fraud.

“She has the right to be free from the Crown using self incriminating evidence against her,” MacDonald said outside court during a break on the first day of the case.

When charges were laid over a year ago, Bridgewater police and the federal Crown alleged that Jones wrote the prescription for oxycodone and oxyneo pills over a one-year period to a hospital patient but the drugs were diverted into the community.

However, the case’s origins run back to August 2015, after a pharmacist reported unusual activity by Jones to the college’s investigative branch and she was swiftly suspended by the medical investigators.

MacDonald said the college immediately contacted the doctor to request she respond to allegations she was diverting the powerful painkillers.

Court heard on Monday that she wrote a lengthy letter to the college on Sept. 4, and four days later gave testimony defending her actions. The college still went on to report the matter to police.

“We say both of these bodies of evidence were provided under compulsion, and are incriminating in nature,” MacDonald argued.

He said the college’s powers under the Medical Act are “draconian,” and it’s difficult to resist a request to provide information when you risk losing your livelihood.

In addition, MacDonald said that evidence about a medical drop box at Jones’ Crossroads clinic in Tantallon, N.S. — which she had told the college committee was supposed to contain some of the prescribed narcotics — should be dropped from the trial.

He told the judge that police wouldn’t have investigated the drop box and an inventory of its contents if Jones hadn’t brought it up with the regulator’s investigation committee.

He said if the drop box evidence is admitted, the Crown can erode Jones’ credibility in the trial.

“The Crown is alleging … that Jones prescribed pills for (the patient) which she then diverted for her own use or for sale,” said MacDonald.

“The Crown is trying to say that though she said in her statement to the college that these pills were returned to the box, there’s no evidence of those pills being in the box, so therefore she must be guilty.”

Federal Crown prosecutor Jill Hartlen argued that Jones had provided the letter and testimony voluntarily to the college.

The prosecutor also said that Jones’ statements were aimed at showing she’d done nothing wrong.

Hartlen told Judge Timothy Landry that police would have eventually investigated the drop box at the clinic as one of the possible explanations of what had happened with the narcotics, regardless of any leads they gained from the college.

“She didn’t provide evidence under oath … or under subpoena,” said Hartlen, arguing that Jones wasn’t compelled to speak to the college.

Judge Landry asked a series of questions of the federal Crown lawyer, including whether he might accept some aspects of the letter to the college, while excluding others.

He said he expects to have a decision on the admissibility of the evidence by Friday afternoon.

The trial had originally been scheduled to begin on Monday and run 10 days.

Hartlen said outside court that if the conversations between Jones and the college and the evidence regarding the drop box are excluded, the Crown will likely continue its case.

“I’m confident we will continue to prosecute, although it depends on how far reaching the judge’s decision is,” she said.

Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
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Malala Yousafzai to address Parliament
April 3, 2017, 4:56 PM

OTTAWA – Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai will receive her honorary Canadian citizenship in Ottawa next week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says the presentation will take place April 12, when the 19-year-old Pakistani woman will also address Parliament.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper was to have presented the award in Toronto on Oct. 22, 2014.

But the event was cancelled, because that was the day a gunman attacked Parliament Hill after killing a soldier at the National War Memorial.

Yousafzai became an international symbol for girls’ rights after surviving a 2012 attack by a Taliban gunman, who shot her in the head while she was riding a bus home from school in Pakistan.

Trudeau’s office says he wants to discuss “girls’ empowerment through education and how they can actively contribute to the sustainable development of their communities and countries.”

Yousafzai is one of six people to have been awarded honorary Canadian citizenship, joining Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, and the Aga Khan.

“The people of Canada are leading the world in their response to the refugee crisis,” Yousafzai said in a statement.

“I am honoured by Parliament’s invitation and look forward to visiting this great nation of heroes.”
Border tax might hurt U.S. more: Morneau
April 3, 2017, 4:49 PM

OTTAWA – Canada’s finance minister warned business leaders in New York on Monday that a proposed U.S. border tax threatens to make both countries poorer — and might even hurt Americans more.

In an appearance at a World Economic Forum event, Bill Morneau cautioned that a tariff-like tax would sting families on both sides of the frontier by disrupting a mutually beneficial trading relationship and imposing extra costs on U.S. firms.

“Our sense is that there would be an initial negative for both economies — and that the negative may be worse for the United States economy,” Morneau said in a question-and-answer session shortly after he raised his concerns about a border tax in a speech.

“We don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Morneau’s stronger public position against the border tax came after Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr noted last week that the policy faced huge opposition in Washington.

Carr made the comments following a series of meetings in the U.S. capital with lawmakers, administration officials and business people, who he said cast doubts on whether the import tax had any chance of passing in an upcoming omnibus tax bill.

The uncertainty surrounding a border tax has created significant concerns among Canadian companies, many of which rely heavily on exports to the U.S.

Morneau told his audience that the Canadian government had conducted “extremely preliminary” assessments on the potential economic impacts of a tax on U.S. imports.

“As you can imagine, there’s too many hypotheticals to get to an answer that is absolutely clear in that regard,” he said.

Morneau also hailed the strength of the countries’ partnership and argued cross-border trade and investment have been “essentially” balanced over the years.

A border-adjustment tax, he warned, would raise prices for American consumers and could create currency issues with additional challenges of their own.

“Anything, from our perspective, that thickens our border is bad for Americans and bad for Canadians,” said Morneau, who will visit Indiana on Tuesday to meet Gov. Eric Holcomb and business leaders and visit CN Rail’s largest U.S. yard in the city of Gary.

The original border-tax proposal came from Republican leaders in the House of Representatives and is designed to raise revenues to help pay for tax cuts and to repatriate cash and jobs sent overseas by U.S. firms.

The plan would likely rake in a lot of money — the U.S. Tax Foundation estimates US$1.1 trillion over a decade.

However, President Donald Trump has sent mixed messages on the subject and there are signs the border tax would not attract enough support in Washington.

Last week, Democratic lawmaker John Delaney told a panel on Canada-U.S. infrastructure hosted by The Hill newspaper that “it’s never going to happen” because it doesn’t have the votes.

Critics have said the plan would provoke a trade war, international sanctions and make American imports more expensive.

Morneau’s comments on the border-tax plan went further than remarks made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month in Houston.

After delivering a speech, Trudeau said he was “concerned” with extra tariffs or new taxes at the border because the economies are so tightly integrated with goods moving back and forth.

“You’re going to be hurting not just the Canadian economy, but the American economy as well,” Trudeau said.

Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter
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