Feds to delete near-death requirement but could impose new limits to MAID

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government has accepted a court ruling that Canadians should not have to be near death to qualify for medical assistance to end their lives but it is now considering whether other hurdles should be imposed to guard against abuse.

The possibility of new eligibility requirements was revealed Monday as the government launched a two-week public consultation on how best to respond to a September court ruling that concluded it's unconstitutional to limit the right to assisted death to those whose natural deaths are "reasonably foreseeable."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to appeal the ruling from the Superior Court of Quebec, which gave the government until March 11 to amend the law.

Once the consultations conclude on Jan. 27, the government will have only about six weeks in which to introduce legislation and pass it through both the House of Commons and Senate. 

Justice Minister David Lametti said Monday he might have to seek an extension. But he suggested that public opinion has evolved so much since the law went into effect in June 2016, it may be possible to achieve agreement quickly.

"It's possible under perfect circumstances," he said in an interview.

"It may be that we have the consensus for it, depending on what we do, and then it slides through. If not, we haven't ruled out asking for an extension."

The government's online questionnaire, launched Monday, suggests the coming amendments won't be as simple as just removing the foreseeable-death provision. It asks Canadians to consider whether other restrictions should be implemented to ensure a balance between a person's right to choose to end their life and protecting vulnerable people who could be pressured into early deaths.

Among other things, it asks respondents to consider whether amendments should:

— Increase the current 10-day minimum wait between requesting and receiving a medically assisted death.

— Require that both the medical practitioner and patient agree that other reasonable treatment options have been tried without success.

— Require psychological or psychiatric assessments to determine capacity to consent.

— Require consultation with an expert in a person's medical condition, in addition to the current mandatory two medical assessments.

"We do have to strike an appropriate balance," Lametti said, noting that there is "a sector of the population that sees itself as being vulnerable to being influenced."

"Is that easy? No, but we have to do it if we're going to move forward in a sensitive way."

But Cory Ruf, spokesperson for Dying with Dignity Canada, warned politicians against applying more safeguards that could wind up unfairly depriving people of their right to an assisted death — and being shot down again by the courts. Requiring consultation with medical specialists, for instance, could create real barriers to access, especially for people living outside big cities.

"This is a major concern," Ruf said. "We strongly caution lawmakers against imposing safeguards for the sake of imposing safeguards."

Some of the issues canvassed in the questionnaire were debated extensively when the federal assisted-dying law was introduced in 2015. But Lametti predicted the debate will be different this time.

"There's a level of acceptance across Canada ... that wasn't there before and so I'm really confident that the discussion that some people may want us to have on safeguards will be done in an entirely different context than it was in 2015 when there was a lot of fear that quite frankly just hasn't been borne out."

Lametti, then a backbencher, was one of only four Liberal MPs to vote against the initial law, fearing it was too restrictive and would be struck down.

While the public consultations now are aimed primarily responding to the Quebec court ruling, they also dip into broader issues which must be considered as part of a parliamentary review of the law that is to begin this summer: whether mature minors and those suffering strictly from mental illnesses should be eligible and whether people should be able to make advance requests for medical assistance in dying.

The questionnaire asks people to decide if a person who has been approved for an assisted death should be denied if they lose the mental capacity to give consent prior to the procedure.

That was the dilemma that faced Audrey Parker, a Halifax woman with terminal breast cancer that had spread to her brain. She chose to die with medical assistance in the fall of 2018, earlier than she wanted, rather than risk losing the capacity to give last-minute consent.

If there's "sufficient consensus" on that issue, Lametti said it could be dealt with in the coming round of amendments, rather than waiting for the parliamentary review.

The questionnaire also asks people to consider whether someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease should be able to prepare an advance directive to apply later.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2020.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

  • Elite talent: The private school education of NHL All-Stars
    News
    CBC

    Elite talent: The private school education of NHL All-Stars

    Of the 37 North American players named to this year's NHL All-Star game or filling in as replacements, 15 — or 40 per cent —  attended private school. It's a statistic that reinforces the notion that hockey, particularly at its very highest levels, is increasingly a sport not just for those who can afford it, but for those in the highest tax brackets.Some attended athletic academies. The Oilers' Connor McDavid attended Premier Elite Athletes' Collegiate, a now-defunct private school in the Toronto area with an annual tuition that ranged from $15,500 to $27,000. The Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner went to The Hill Academy in Vaughan, Ont., (where Prep Hockey tuition is currently $13,000) and later Blyth Academy (where tuition is $15,995).Carolina's Dougie Hamilton, who was named to the Metropolitan Division team but is injured, and St Louis goalie Jordan Binnington went to Crestwood, a private day school in Toronto, which currently costs $28,500 per year. Tuition was even higher among some American players. Chicago's Patrick Kane went to Detroit Country Day School, where tuition is $32,200 US.Max Pacioretty of the Las Vegas Golden Knights went to The Taft School, a prestigious private academy in Watertown, Conn., where day school tuition is $46,500 US and boarding runs to $62,500 US.All the private schools offer scholarships and some sort of financial aid to those who qualify. CBC News was not able to determine if any of the NHL All-Stars who attended the schools received scholarships or financial aid.But the number of private school alumni is astounding, considering the chances of any young hockey player having a steady — non-All-Star — career in the NHL are just .02 per cent, according to an oft-quoted study.Game for the rich?And it may be the starkest evidence yet of what some say is a growing socioeconomic exclusion in hockey due to skyrocketing costs."For generations — and I don't think that's overstating it — generations we've been talking about the cost of the game," says Sean Fitz-Gerald, author of Before the Lights Go Out: A Season Inside a Game on the Brink.Fitz-Gerald's book suggests the expense of playing hockey now has the sport approaching a state of crisis, and that expense runs far beyond $300 sticks and $1,200 skates."It's power skating lessons, skills, development lessons and skating on treadmills. It's private coaching. It's all of these things and they start from the age of four. Sometimes I bet you you can go out and find one under the age of four," says Fitz-Gerald.Parents can pay between $10,000 and $15,000 per year or more for their children to play in minor hockey's highest level, AAA. But as Fitz-Gerald notes, those are just capital costs."It's [also] the soft costs, the costs you don't necessarily think of," he says."Competitive tournaments now start on Fridays. Are you able to get that Friday off of work to go? Your child might have after school skating on a Wednesday or practice before school on a Thursday. Do you have the flexibility in your job to be able to accommodate that?"All of that has the effect of winnowing down potential players not just economically but also geographically.Fitz-Gerald cites a series of 2016 articles by Teri Pecoskie at the Hamilton Spectator. The series looked at players in the Ontario Hockey League (Major Junior A) and found 80 per cent came from neighbourhoods with median family incomes above the Ontario average of $80,987.Roughly 15 per cent of the players came from neighbourhoods with median family incomes at least 50 per cent higher than average. And the vast majority of players also came from urban areas, which just happen to be where the expensive extra-curricular hockey training and facilities are often located.It's a far cry from the days when NHL legends like Gordie Howe honed their game on used skates on frozen prairie ponds. Wayne Gretzky, whose father worked as a telephone repairman, addressed the differences in an interview on The National in 2016."Do you think your parents would have been able to support you through hockey in today's world?" asked Peter Mansbridge."Probably not," said Gretzky.WATCH | Peter Mansbridge interviews Wayne GretzkyThe possibility that the next Great One might never become great due to lack of financial resources is very real, says Fitz-Gerald."Those [less well-off, small town] children statistically don't make it to the NHL anymore. Because today, statistically speaking, you have to be from a well-to-do part of an urban area," he says.Number of players not droppingOverall participation rates in hockey dropped for five straight years from 634,892 in 2013/14 to 626,090 in 2017/18. But the number of registered players in 2018/19 leapt back up to 643,958, thanks a huge jump in female players.Hockey Canada is well aware of the economic constraints in the sport."When it comes to the cost of hockey, I think there's no doubt with hockey, just like all sports, as you get to the higher levels and more competitive levels, that cost does go up," says Corey McNabb, Hockey Canada's director of player development.McNabb says Hockey Canada has several programs designed to make the game more accessible financially. The First Shift program offers full equipment and six on ice sessions for $200 as a way of introducing new players to the game.There are also 150 Hockey Canada Skills Academy programs across the country that operate with local schools. They allow kids to get on the ice up to four times per week at a cost of about $750 per year.At the same time, McNabb attributes some of the soaring costs of the sport to parents spending far more than required."I think parents need to sometimes take a step back and really look at how much is too much," he says."You don't need to be going to six hockey schools in the summer and being on the ice 12 months a year. I think that's one of the things that is a little bit of a misperception in the game right now."

  • Most controversial moments from the Grammy Awards
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    Yahoo News Canada

    Most controversial moments from the Grammy Awards

    Before Sunday’s show, Yahoo Canada looks back at some of the most controversial Grammy Awards moments from ceremonies past.

  • News
    CBC

    Nenshi says it was 'a mistake' to open just one supervised consumption site in Calgary

    Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he made a mistake in suggesting the city open just one supervised consumption site at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre.Nenshi said when conversations started around supervised consumption in the city, the initial plan was to open a few sites at once."I've never loved supervised consumption sites. I've always thought they're an admission of a system that's not working," Nenshi said in an interview with Alberta@Noon. "But I understand they save lives and that's the important part. So I suggested, let's just have one."The supervised consumption site opened in 2018 as part of a provincial strategy to battle the ongoing opioid crisis.At the facility, individuals are able to pick up harm reduction supplies — such as new needles — and use their drugs in designated booths under the supervision of a registered nurse trained in overdose response. According to information from Alberta Health Services, these sites increase referrals to health services and long-term addiction treatment, while decreasing overdose deaths, public substance use and transmission of disease.ControversyBut the downtown site has also been controversial — a recent police report showed crime and calls for service in the area have risen since the site opened."I suggested, let's have one [site], put it in a big health-care facility where there are lots of wraparound services, and let's study the heck out of it and figure out how it's working, how it's not working," Nenshi said."That was my suggestion, and [the province] took the suggestion. This was a mistake."The Alberta government formed a panel last year to look at the impact of the sites on crime rates, property values and social order. Speaking in Calgary on Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he had viewed a preliminary report from that panel and said it was possible that the province could close or relocate some of those supervised sites.There are currently seven safe consumption sites in Alberta — in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge — with proposals for one each in Red Deer and Medicine Hat and another one in Calgary."As the province is looking at a new model, I think one of the solutions actually should be to have more of them, to spread the problem out a little bit more in the community," Nenshi said. "If the province really wants to move the Chumir site because of specific problems at that site, listen, we can do that."A report published by the Alberta Community Council on HIV last year found that Alberta's supervised consumption sites have had a 100 per cent success rate at reversing overdoses.

  • Dems say oust Trump or he'll betray again; 'He is who he is'
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Dems say oust Trump or he'll betray again; 'He is who he is'

    WASHINGTON — Closing out their case, House Democrats warned in Donald Trump's impeachment trial that the president will persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervenes to remove him before the 2020 election.They then implored Republican senators to allow new testimony before rendering a final verdict.“Give America a fair trial,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democratic impeachment manager, said Friday. “She’s worth it.”Schiff delivered Democrats’ final remarks in the Senate trial after three days of methodical and impassioned arguments detailing charges that Trump abused power by asking Ukraine for politically motivated probes of political rivals, then obstructed Congress’ investigation into the matter. The president’s lawyers get their first chance to defend him Saturday, and are expected to argue he acted appropriately.The opening arguments appear to have done nothing to shake Republicans’ support for Trump or persuade enough centrist GOP lawmakers to call for new witnesses, including Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton. In his final appeal to lawmakers and a divided nation, Schiff argued that a guilty verdict in the Senate is the only remedy left to curb what he called the “'imminent threat” posed to the nation by Trump’s unconstitutional impulses.“He is who he is,” Schiff declared. “You know it’s not going to stop. ... It’s not going to stop unless the Congress does something about it.”The moment of history was apparent, only the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president, as were the partisan views of the Trump presidency and the effort to end it.When Schiff cited a news story with someone close to Trump saying any Republican voting with Democrats would have their "head on a pike," GOP senators in the chamber began murmuring, “That's not true.”The House impeached Trump last month, accusing him of abusing his office by asking Ukraine for politically motivated probes of Biden and other matters while withholding military aid from a U.S. ally that was at war with bordering Russia. A second article of impeachment accuses him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House ensuing probe.Said Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, “We're going to rebut and refute, and we're going to put on an affirmative case tomorrow.”Republicans are defending Trump’s actions as appropriate and are casting the impeachment trial as a politically motivated effort to weaken him in his reelection campaign. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and eventual acquittal is considered likely.Before that, senators will make a critical decision next week on Democratic demands to hear testimony from top Trump aides, including Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who refused to appear before the House. It would take four Republican senators to join the Democratic minority to seek witnesses, and so far the numbers appear lacking.“This needs to end,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Trump confidant.With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, Friday's session opened with an overarching case from Democrats that Trump's actions with Ukraine were not unique but part of a pattern of "destructive behaviour" now threatening the core foundations of American democracy.Schiff told the senators that Trump has shown repeatedly that he is willing to put his personal political interests above those of the country he is sworn to protect.The evidence shows, he said, that Trump bucked the advice of his own national security apparatus to chase “kooky” theories about Ukraine pushed by lawyer Rudy Giuliani, resulting in "one hell of a Russian intelligence coup” that benefited Vladimir Putin at U.S. expense.This was not simply a foreign policy dispute, Schiff argued, but a breach of long-held American values for Trump to leverage an ally — in this case Ukraine, a struggling democracy facing down Russian troops — for the investigations he wanted ahead of 2020.When the House started investigating his actions, Democrats said, Trump blatantly obstructed the probe. Even then-President Richard Nixon, they argued, better understood the need to comply with Congress in some of its oversight requests.Drawing on historical figures, from the Founding Fathers to the late GOP Sen. John McCain and the fictional Atticus Finch, Schiff made his arguments emphatically personal.“The next time, it just may be you," he said, pointing at one senator after another. "Do you think for a moment that if he felt it was in his interest, he wouldn't ask you to be investigated?”The impeachment trial is set against the backdrop of the 2020 election, as voters assess Trump's presidency and his run for a second term. Four senators who are Democratic presidential candidates are off the campaign trail, seated as jurors.A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed the public slightly more likely to say the Senate should convict and remove Trump from office than to say it should not, 45% to 40%. But a sizable percentage, 14%, said they didn't know enough to have an opinion.One issue with wide agreement: Trump should allow top aides to appear as witnesses at the trial. About 7 in 10 respondents said so, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, according to the poll.No president has ever been removed by the Senate, neither Andrew Johnson in 1868 nor Bill Clinton in 1999. Nixon left office before a House vote that was likely to impeach him.The House mounted its Trump case after a government whistleblower complained about his July 2019 call with Ukraine. The House relied on testimony from current and former national security officials and diplomats, many who defied White House instructions not to appear.Evidence presented in the House probe has shown that Trump, with Giuliani, pursued investigations of Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on a Ukrainian gas company’s board, and sought a probe of a debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.It's a story line many in the president's camp are still pushing. Giuliani, in an appearance Friday on “Fox & Friends,” insisted he would present evidence on his new podcast.At close, Schiff predicted the Trump team will try to distract senators from the case, in part by lodging personal attacks against all the House prosecutors. He reminded senators what is at stake and read the articles of impeachment one more time.___Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram, Andrew Taylor, Laurie Kellman, Matthew Daly and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.Lisa Mascaro, Eric Tucker And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

  • Leadership race or no, Tories will hold Liberal government to account: Scheer
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Leadership race or no, Tories will hold Liberal government to account: Scheer

    OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer sought Friday to put the Liberals on notice that despite the Tory leadership race, the Official Opposition won't rest.Scheer wished all the candidates well, but said given the Liberals' minority government, his caucus needs to stay sharp."The Trudeau Liberals might think that our leadership race will give them a free ride," he said, in a speech to Tory MPs and senators before the House of Commons sits again Monday."They're wrong. We're all going to continue to be here in Ottawa, in the House of Commons, and on the committee floor every single day fighting for our vision for the country."The meeting of the Conservative caucus came on the heels of a similar gathering of Liberal MPs, who were exhorted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to play nice with their opponents.Scheer offered no similar pitch. He accused the Liberals of using their upcoming budget to buy votes from the Bloc Quebecois and NDP, and attacked a planned Liberal bill banning military-style assault rifles."This is an attack on law-abiding, responsible firearms owners," he said. Liberals caucus chair Francis Scarpaleggia said it seems "premature for that kind of rhetoric" before Parliament has even begun to get down to work."Canadians, on a certain level, don't care about the politics. They want to see the results," he said.Though Scheer may wish to focus his MPs and senators on the upcoming return of the Commons, the ongoing leadership contest does run up against those plans.Former MP and cabinet minister Peter MacKay will formally unveil his campaign on Saturday, just as Scheer is wrapping the last day of his session with MPs. MacKay spent part of Friday tweeting out the names of members of Scheer's team who are now backing him for the leadership.Meanwhile, current MP Erin O'Toole is also expected to launch his bid in the coming days. Foreign policy is expected to be a hot-button issue, with the Liberals facing heat on China and on relations with Iran. O'Toole has been the party's critic on the file for years, but will now have to vacate the post to follow his leadership ambitions.Pierre Poilievre, who is the Tory finance critic, made a stunning announcement Thursday that he's not running for the leadership, citing the burden it would place on his family.He said Friday he remains committed to his work on the Hill, and is stressing to other contenders the need for focus on fiscal issues.MacKay's time with the party harkens back to one of its two predecessors, the Progressive Conservatives.Stockwell Day, who briefly helmed the other — the Canadian Alliance — was also on hand for Friday's meeting. There are lessons from the experience of putting the two parties together, he said."One of the things that people learned in that era was whoever emerges as the leader, as the winner, let's all get behind him or her, whoever wins," he said."That was a hard learned lesson."Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who has not ruled out running herself, said she is growing increasingly frustrated that the debate around the leadership race seems to be ignoring the western branch of the party.Too much time has been spent talking about whether a leader ought to speak French, and how winning Quebec or Ontario is central, she said.Western Canada's support is just looked at as a given and it's not, Rempel Garner said."I think there's enough people who are just looking at this and saying, 'What about us?'" she said.So far, Alberta-based businessman Rick Peterson is the only declared candidate from west of Ontario. Former Edmonton MP and interim party leader Rona Ambrose had been high on many people's lists as a potential candidate, but she announced this week she won't run.Meanwhile, the party continued to grapple with the fallout from comments from one potential contender this week. Quebec's Richard Decarie drew immediate condemnation from some in the party this week after he said he believes being LGBTQ is a choice, and that he'd withdraw funding for abortion services. It prompted rounds of questions to MPs on Friday about their own positions, and whether Decarie ought to be allowed to run.Rempel Garner said she intends to ask the party to disqualify him as a candidate, on the grounds that if he'd said something similar while running to be an MP, he'd be kicked out."Our party is being defined by this conversation right now — what is this leadership committee going to do?" she said.Candidates have until Feb. 27 to submit the first $25,000 of the $300,000 total entry fee and the first third of the 3,000 signatures required to enter. Decarie has said he is putting together his application.After it's in, the leadership committee can decide whether or not to include him as a candidate.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2020.—With files from Joan BrydenStephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

  • Spacewalking astronauts plug leak, finish fixing detector
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Spacewalking astronauts plug leak, finish fixing detector

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Spacewalking astronauts plugged a leak in a cosmic ray detector outside the International Space Station on Saturday, completing a series of complex repairs to give the instrument new life.The $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer could resume its hunt for elusive antimatter and dark matter by midweek.Team members around the world expressed relief as NASA's Andrew Morgan and Italy's Luca Parmitano wrapped up work on the spectrometer. It was their fourth and final spacewalk since November to revive the instrument's crippled cooling system.“Congratulations ... the AMS pump system is now leak tight,” tweeted the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, which helps run the spectrometer.Mission Control cautioned it was too soon to declare success with the space station's premier science instrument, but noted: “It still has a good heartbeat.”Last month, Morgan and Parmitano installed new coolant pumps on the spectrometer. They went back out Saturday to check for any leaks in the plumbing.Parmitano quickly discovered a leak in one of the eight coolant lines — the first one he tested — and tightened the fitting. “Our day just got a little more challenging,” Mission Control observed.The line still leaked after a mandatory one-hour wait, and Parmitano tightened it again. Finally, success — the leak was gone. “Let us all take a breath,” Mission Control urged. By then, the astronauts were already halfway into their six-hour spacewalk.Mission Control acknowledged the leak added some unwanted “drama” to the spacewalk. “Everybody's hearts stopped,” Mission Control told the astronauts. Parmitano wondered aloud what his heart rate was when the leak erupted. “It either flat-lined or spiked, one of the two.”“It was hard fought today, really well done. Cool heads prevailed,” Mission Control said as the spacewalk drew to a close.Barring further trouble, the spectrometer — launched to the space station in 2011 — will have its coolant lines filled with more carbon dioxide Sunday. One pump will be turned on as early as Monday and the remaining three Tuesday. That could lead to the resumption of science observations by Wednesday.NASA described the spectrometer spacewalks as the most complicated since the Hubble Space Telescope repair missions a couple decades ago. Unlike Hubble, this spectrometer was never intended for astronaut handling in orbit, and once it started faltering in 2014, it took NASA years to devise a repair plan.Morgan and Parmitano had to cut into stainless steel pipes to bypass the spectrometer's old, degraded coolant pumps on a previous spacewalk. Then they spliced the tubes into the new pumps — no easy job when working in bulky gloves. New tools had to be created for the intricate job.“We did it. We all did it,” Morgan said once he was back inside.Astronaut Jessica Meir noted that the day ended up being more interesting than anyone envisioned. “But you guys rolled with all the punches and got the job done.. ... Dinner is waiting,” she said.The massive 7 1/2-ton (6,800-kilogram) spectrometer was launched to the space station on NASA's next-to-last shuttle flight. Until it was shut down late last year for the repair work, it had studied more than 148 billion charged cosmic rays. The project is led by Samuel Ting, a Nobel laureate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.The repairs should allow the spectrometer to continue working for the rest of the life of the space station, or another five to 10 years. It was designed to operate for only three years.NASA's two other astronauts on board, Meir and Christina Koch, performed two spacewalks over the past 1 1/2 weeks to upgrade the space station's solar power system.Altogether, this station crew went out on nine spacewalks — or 61 hours in total. That's more than any other station expedition.Parmitano, Koch and Russian Alexander Skvortsov return to Earth in less than two weeks.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

  • N.L. seeking financial help as municipalities recover from major storm
    News
    The Canadian Press

    N.L. seeking financial help as municipalities recover from major storm

    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — One week after a record-breaking blizzard battered eastern Newfoundland, businesses in St. John's were permitted to call in staff Friday to prepare for the lifting of a state of emergency the next morning.The provincial capital has been under the emergency declaration for eight days since last week's fierce storm that dumped more than 76 centimetres of snow in a single day.The city has kept emergency measures in place while staff worked to clear the streets, as have several neighbouring towns including Mount Pearl, which lifted its own state of emergency on Friday.As communities in the region gradually work their way back to normal operations, many municipal politicians say they are seeking financial assistance for million of dollars from storm-related costs, including damages, worker overtime and extra fuel for snow-clearing equipment.St. John's Mayor Danny Breen said this week he would be seeking assistance from the federal government to help cover the cost of the cleanup and to support workers who lost pay during the shutdown, though the city has not yet put a price tag on the operation.In a news conference Friday, Breen said: "I'm not focused on the cost of this operation, I'm focused on of getting it done."He said the city has been challenged by back-to-back heavy snowfalls this winter, even before the most recent blizzard. He warned that conditions would remain tricky and said the city still has work to do, advising drivers to remain cautious when hitting the roads on Saturday.In an effort to reduce traffic while cleanup work continues, the city is offering free public transit until Feb. 7.North of St. John's in the historic community of Bonavista, Mayor John Norman said the storm surge and waves — some of them up to nine metres high — had knocked down already deteriorating sea walls that protect aging homes along the coast.The town is still working on cost estimates, but Norman said he's "quite certain" Bonavista has taken on at least $1 million in damage.A week after the storm, Norman said the need for funding has become urgent. He expects the infrastructure will not withstand another major storm without far more severe and costly damages to homes, roads and water and sewer lines underneath."We're now in an emergency situation," Norman said by phone Friday.After witnessing increasingly severe storms over the last few years, Norman said he has "no doubt" his community is being affected by climate change, and infrastructure needs to be adapted accordingly."There's no possible way anyone that anyone in Newfoundland these days can deny that the climate is more volatile. Winter storms, summer storms, fall hurricanes, everything is stronger in the last 15 or 20 years," he said.Conception Bay South, another coastal community on the Avalon Peninsula, also saw major damage to infrastructure from the storm surge.Mayor Terry French said the surging ocean damaged roads across his community, ripped storm sewers out of the ground and destroyed parts of a central walking trail."We're looking at millions of dollars, if not tens of millions of dollars, to replace some of this — and some of it we've got to do right away," he said. "Obviously, living in Newfoundland and Labrador, we know the wind will blow again."For the City of Mount Pearl. which borders St. John's, mayor Dave Aker said the biggest costs will come from the extra snow-clearing efforts, including worker overtime, road salt, equipment maintenance and fuel."There's no doubt, it's going to be a lot of money," he said, adding it's too early to know the total cost.In Bay Roberts, about 90 kilometres west of St. John's, Mayor Philip Wood said he's heard of some operators working 75 hours this week — essentially double their usual weekly hours.He said the town is hoping to receive some funding if federal assistance is made available to cover costs."It's gonna be costly, but it's not gonna break us," Wood said.Premier Dwight Ball said Thursday the province would request financial assistance from Ottawa to help recover costs to communities and infrastructure.About 400 Armed Forces personnel have been in the province this week, responding to hundreds of requests from people unable to dig themselves out of their homes.Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters in Ottawa on Friday morning that the Liberal government would do all it could to help people in the region recover from the storm."Newfoundlanders can count on our support," said Blair.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2020.Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press

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    The Canadian Press

    WALL STREET JOURNAL-BEST SELLERS

    Bestselling Books Week Ended January 18th.FICTION1\. “Dog Man: Fetch-22” by Dav Pilkey (Graphix)2\. "Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (G.P. Putnam's Sons)3\. “Lost” by James Patterson and James O. Born (Little, Brown)4\. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne)5\. “The Congerence of the Birds” by Ransom Riggs (Dutton Books for Young Readers)6\. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball" by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)7\. “Grumpy Monkey” by Suzanne Lang (Random House Books for Young Readers)8\. “Moral Compass” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)9\. “Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls” by Dav Pilkey (Grpahix)10\. “Dear Edward” by Ann Napolitano (Dial Press)NONFICTION1\. “Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual” by Jocko Willink (St. Martin's Press)2\. “Eat What You Love: Restaurant Favourites” by Marlene Kock (Running Press)3\. “The Blue Zones Kitchen” by Dan Buettner (National Geographic)4\. “StrengthsFinder 2.0” by Tom Rath (Gallup)5\. “Tightrope” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Knopf)6\. “Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover (Random House)7\. “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)8\. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (Avery Publishing Group)9\. “The Defined Dish” by Alex Snodgrass (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)10\. “Brain Wash” by David Perlmutter, Austin Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg (Little, Brown Spark)FICTION E-BOOKS1\. “Sweep With Me” by Ilona Andrews (NYLA)2\. “Securing Zoey” by Susan Stoker (Susan Stoker)3\. “Lost” by James Patterson and James O. Born (Little, Brown)4\. “The Last Sister” by Kendra Elliot (Montlake)5\. “The Fight for Forever” by Meghan March (Meghan March)6\. “The Last Wish” by Andrzej Sapkowski (Orbit)7\. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (G.P. Putnam's Sons)8\. “Eye of the Needle” by Ken Follett (Penguin)9\. “The Guardians” by John Grisham (Doubleday)10\. “Sex and Other Shiny Objects” by Lauren Blakely (Little Dog)NONFICTION E-BOOKS1\. “Non Obvious Megatrends” by Rohit Bhargava (Ideapress)2\. “The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider)3\. “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez (Penguin)4\. “Running Against the Devil” by Rick Wilson (Drown Forum)—5\. "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover (Random House)6\. “Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual” by Jocko Willink (St. Martin's Press)7\. “Uncanny Valley: A Memoir” by Anna Wiener (MCD)8\. “The Essential Mexican Restaurant Instant Pot Cookbook” by Deborah Schneider (Ten Speed)9\. “Tightrope” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (Knopf)10\. “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)The Associated Press

  • Adam Schiff says Trump actions alienating decades-long allies
    CBC

    Adam Schiff says Trump actions alienating decades-long allies

    Rep. Adam Schiff says U.S. President Donald Trump's actions could lead to the destruction of international alliances.

  • Opposition parties express 'confusion' over plan for rural health-care hubs
    News
    CBC

    Opposition parties express 'confusion' over plan for rural health-care hubs

    P.E.I.'s Official Opposition says its proposal for a pair of rural health-care hubs is "just a line in the [capital] budget" at this point, while MLAs from all three parties in the legislature continue to say they don't understand what government plans to do with the $5 million allocated to the project."We were really glad to see that commitment in the capital budget," said Green Party health critic Trish Altass."We just know that it's a line in the budget, we don't know what the government's plans are moving forward."Budget documents describe the allocation, to be made starting in the 2020-21 fiscal year, as "providing the necessary space for renewed and strengthened community-based primary care to meet the needs of West Prince and Kings County."The issue sparked many questions during the fall 2019 sitting of the legislature, with Premier Dennis King eventually telling the House the idea came from the Green Party platform.Not 'invited to the table'In fact, the Greens submitted a proposal for funding for the hubs to government as part of capital budget deliberations.That submission suggested one rural hospital each in eastern and western P.E.I. receive upgrades in infrastructure to accommodate an expansion of services, including primary and long-term care, community support services, mental health and addictions treatment, home care services and emergency, acute and post-acute care.The "key question" that needs to be addressed is "what services can we possibly bring from urban areas to our rural communities and what do we need to do that?" Altass said.But she said the capital funding to prepare the space and purchase equipment for the hubs is just one component. The plan would also require new staffing policies and strategic planning from Health PEI."We would certainly hope to see follow through with the rest of what would be needed to make this work," Altass said. "However to this point we have not yet had those conversations. We've not been invited to the table to figure out what this is going to look like."On the last day of the fall sitting — a sitting extended by one day by Liberal MLA Robert Henderson over his frustrations over a lack of information on the hubs and other topics — Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward said government "will be increasing the breadth of health services while maintaining the existing services in communities as they are, including family doctors."He said the hubs will provide services in rural areas that aren't currently available, including cancer care, diabetes and mental health support.This week Aylward said government will "absolutely" collaborate with the Opposition on fleshing out a plan for enhancing rural health-care services through the hubs."We had lengthy discussions in the latest session of the legislative assembly where we talked about this. I was questioned daily on health-care hubs," said Aylward.He said he's told Altass "that we are going to continue to have the consultative process and discussions on our plan to move forward with health care here on P.E.I."A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness told CBC News the province will be engaging with communities and health-care professionals to talk about the hubs, but didn't provide any timeline.'The Opposition is also confused'At a committee meeting Wednesday where the province's plans for primary care in rural P.E.I. were questioned, MLAs from all three parties each said they don't know what government's plans are for the hubs."There's been a continual story from the third party [Liberals] that they're confused about what these hubs are," said Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. Where's this money going to be spent? What's it going to be spent for? — Liberal MLA Robert Henderson"The Opposition is also confused about what these hubs are ... I have no idea what government is doing when they talk about health hubs."Bevan-Baker said a proposal from South Shore residents to have a doctor and two nurse practitioners provide primary care from a new clinic in Crapaud is something "that can absolutely live comfortably together" with his party's ideas around health-care hubs — but it's not a hub."I also don't know quite what the health hubs are either so I'm not going to get into that debate," said Cory Deagle, a backbench MLA with the governing PCs.O'Leary-Inverness MLA Robert Henderson, who asked most of the questions around hubs during the fall sitting, said in an interview with CBC a lack of specific information around staffing and services is the "missing link" in terms of the proposal, and the main reason why he voted against government's capital budget."That's the whole thing — what's missing here?" Henderson said."What the Greens seem to be talking about … is really funding that would be through the operational budget. That's why I'm confused … whose initiative is it? Where's this money going to be spent? What's it going to be spent for?"More P.E.I. news

  • Inuk elder honoured for helping the home front during Second World War
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Inuk elder honoured for helping the home front during Second World War

    OTTAWA — Qapik Attagutsiak, a 99-year-old Inuk woman, will be the guest of honour at a ceremony Monday to recognize the little-known contribution by Inuit communities to help Canada and the Allies during the Second World War.Canadians across the country were encouraged to salvage whatever waste materials they could, including metal, rubber, paper and rags, which were then recycled into various items for the war effort.The call for raw materials also extended into the High Arctic, where Inuit communities were encouraged to collect bones that were then transported south and used in the manufacturing of ammunition and aircraft, as well as in fertilizer to grow food.Attagutsiak's family was among those who helped with that effort, and even now she remembers collecting bags full of dogs that had died from disease, as well as walrus and seal bones, at the behest of a local Catholic priest who told them of the war.Eighty years later, she is the last known survivor of Inuit who contributed to those efforts and will be recognized at a ceremony organized by Parks Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.While Attagutsiak says her family at that time knew little about the rest of world, they understood that their way of life was under threat and felt compelled to help however they could.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • CBU prof says new approach needed to break addiction, incarceration cycle
    News
    CBC

    CBU prof says new approach needed to break addiction, incarceration cycle

    A Cape Breton University sociologist says criminalizing drug use isn't working and a new approach is needed, one that includes more supportive communities.On Friday, Margaret Dechman presented her findings at the annual general meeting of the Ally Centre of Cape Breton, a Sydney harm-reduction centre.In partnership with CBU, the Ally Centre and the Cape Breton Correctional Facility, researchers interviewed 107 men who are or had previously been incarcerated."We really wanted to look at what are the impacts of criminalizing substance use, and really talk to people about the experiences of their life and what could have helped," said Dechman.Several of the people who turned out for the meeting had their own stories to share.Troy Matheson said he spent the last several years on the streets of north-end Halifax and did time in the Burnside jail."It's heartbreaking, cause once you get out, you're given a bus ticket for a city bus to get back and nothing else," he said.That led Matheson back to homeless shelters and into the cycle of addiction."Unfortunately, that's the lifestyle in shelters," he said.Poverty, employment and finding secure housing were some of the challenges cited at the meeting.For John MacEachern, who used drugs from an early age and lived on the street by the age of 10, incarceration became a safe haven."You're up against it on the outside," he said. "You don't have the coping skills to cope while you're on the outside, so you return to what you know, right."He said reducing the stigma of addiction would go long a way toward helping people in his position.How to make communities more supportiveDechman agreed. She said having safe and supportive communities would be both preventive and a cure."Once you provide safety and security for people, they can make a choice," said Dechman. "And without that, they really can't because they're just so consumed with dealing with that stress every day."She said everyone in society has a role to play in making communities more supportive."When you're walking down the street, smile at somebody, speak to them, make them feel like they're a human being," said Dechman.MORE TOP STORIES

  • Highway 417 flying ice victim frustrated by police response
    News
    CBC

    Highway 417 flying ice victim frustrated by police response

    A Peterborough, Ont., man whose windshield was smashed by flying ice in Ottawa is frustrated police didn't charge the other driver despite having their licence plate and a witness.On Tuesday at about 5 p.m., while heading to Ottawa for a music rehearsal, conductor John Kraus says a sheet of ice flew off a truck in front of him on Highway 417 in Kanata.It cracked his windshield, dented the roof and left glass fragments on the inside of his car. "I swerved a little bit and I'm glad I did because if I wouldn't have done that, the ice would have [hit] full centre," said Kraus."It basically turned the windshield in front of the passenger side of the car into a spider's web, with [cracks] coming all the way across into the drivers side."Kraus said fortunately he was able to keep control of the car and there was no passenger with him because he hadn't picked up his daughter yet.  He said he tried to get the other driver to pull over to exchange information, but was seemingly ignored. No specific lawKraus said he took down the licence plate of the other driver and contact information of a witness nearby.When he contacted Ontario Provincial Police, he said they told him there was nothing they could do because it was an act beyond human control and that insurance would cover damages and repairs. "There is no specific charge under the Highway Traffic Act related to 'snow and ice' on vehicles, however we do have other charges we can apply depending on the circumstances," said acting Insp. Marc Hemmerick, manager of traffic and marine programs for the OPP's east region, in an email to CBC when asked why OPP didn't lay charges."When an officer sees a vehicle which may cause a hazard to themselves or the rest of the motoring public they have the authority pull that vehicle over and assist the driver in rectifying the situation."OPP in the region have used having an unsafe vehicle as one example and police in other areas have pointed to other charges available to them, such as driving with an insecure load.Drivers can also have their licences suspended for unsafe winter driving and if loose debris from a vehicle results in a collision causing injury or death, drivers can also face criminal charges.Disappointed in responseKraus said he's frustrated and disappointed the police didn't do more."I'm not sure how much more information they require, especially when there is a witness who was literally right beside me and saw the whole activity going on," he said. Kraus said he had just read the story CBC reported earlier this week about the same thing happening to a Cobden, Ont., man. "Fortunately for me, I didn't have that significant of a situation, but at the same time … it could have been a very different story and a different ending for me," he said. Kraus also wants people to clean off their vehicles in the first place before hitting the road.

  • News
    CBC

    $500K severance deal for police lawyer a 'sham,' according to CPS and new chief

    A severance deal worth more than $500,000 is a "sham" and should not be paid out, according to the Calgary Police Service, which filed a statement of defence this week in connection with an employee's lawsuit.CPS lawyer Stephanie Morson filed her lawsuit last month after the service refused to pay out her severance, which was negotiated in 2018 with then-chief Roger Chaffin.Morson hasn't been paid — which CPS says is because she breached the conditions of the contract — and now she wants the severance plus an additional $180,000 in general and punitive damages.The Calgary Police Service filed a strongly-worded statement of defence this week, criticizing Morson and Chaffin for making the deal in the first place."It was a sham orchestrated by Morson and Chaffin acting together, without authorization, to appropriate public funds for Morson's private benefit," reads the document.Morson gave herself $50K raiseMorson, general counsel for CPS, is on long-term disability leave, which she says she was forced to take after being the victim of sexual harassment and bullying at work."CPS has been insensitive and demonstrated a lack of concern for Ms. Morson's well-being, despite knowing of the vulnerable mental state caused by the campaign against her and her constructive dismissal," reads the statement of claim.But current Chief Mark Neufeld and CPS said through their joint statement of defence that "CPS had never substantiated the 'sexual harassment and loss of reputation' said to underlie Morson's alleged entitlement to general damages."CPS alleges Morson was in a "clear conflict of interest" when she negotiated her severance, an agreement that was drafted by one of her subordinates at her direction.The statement of defence also alleges Morson commissioned a salary review just before her disability leave, which saw her receive a $50,000 raise, bringing her to $246,000 annually.The document suggests Morson's salary was "well above what was considered industry standard for an employee in Morson's position."Morson breached contract, says CPSAccording to the deal, CPS would top up Morson's disability payments until she was cleared for work and then she would be paid three instalments of $180,000. In exchange, Morson would release CPS from any further actions. She agreed not to pursue any actions against CPS in the form of civil claims, human rights grievances or Workers Compensation Board (WCB) proceedings.But just two months later, Morson advanced a WCB claim seeking compensation for alleged workplace harassment.The same month she filed an Occupational Health and Safety complaint against CPS, and in January 2019, Morson made a complaint under the Alberta Human Rights Act against CPS and the chief "alleging they had discriminated against her on the basis of gender during her employment."'Unconscionable and unjust'All three actions were "contrary to the clear and unequivocal terms of the release," according to the statement of defence filed on behalf of CPS and the chief. "It would be manifestly unjust for Morson to obtain the benefit of the severance agreement after flouting her only substantial commitment under that agreement, which was to refrain from bringing any complaints, claims or proceedings against CPS and the COP [chief of police]"As a result, CPS has incurred "significant legal costs," and the WCB claim and HR complaint remain unresolved.If Morson was to receive her severance, it would be "unconscionable and unjust," according to the statement of defence.In February 2019, CPS informed Morson she had breached the agreement, which meant she was no longer entitled to her severance.Morson victim of 'personal vendetta,' says lawsuitMorson's troubles with CPS began after a failed relationship with Staff Sgt. Bruce Walker, who then "initiated a personal vendetta and campaign" against her, she alleges in the statement of claim.Walker was behind complaints against Morson filed with the Law Society of Alberta and CPS's respectful workplace office, according to the court document. The complaints were ultimately investigated and dismissed.In her lawsuit, Morson says those allegations created an "intolerable working environment for her with the result that she was forced to take a medical leave of absence and go on disability benefits."Last year, Walker sued CPS and named employees, including Morson, for $300,000, alleging he was bullied and harassed and that his career was sabotaged.The senior officer alleged Morson tried to ruin his career. In September 2019, Walker discontinued his action against all defendants.

  • One body found as police search for missing French snowmobilers for third day
    News
    The Canadian Press

    One body found as police search for missing French snowmobilers for third day

    ST-HENRI-DE-TAILLON, Que. — Rescue divers with Quebec's provincial police have pulled the body of one of the five missing French snowmobilers out of the waters of a river in the province's Lac-Saint-Jean region.Four other tourists from eastern France remain unaccounted for Friday as authorities continued to search on land, on the water and from the air.Police say the body was located about two kilometres from where police found submerged snowmobiles and other personal items on Thursday.They did not identify which of the five missing tourists was found.For reasons that remain unclear, the group of nine snowmobilers, including their Quebec guide, left the safety of the marked trail through the woods and ventured towards the icy expanse of Lac-Saint-Jean, where the ice gave way somewhere between St-Henri-de-Taillon and Alma.Two of them managed to get a third person out of the water and alerted authorities. Their guide, 42-year-old Benoit L'Esperance of Montreal, was recovered from the freezing waters and died later in hospital.The five missing French snowmobilers were identified by police as Gilles Claude, 58, Yan Thierry and Jean-Rene Dumoulin, both 24, Julien Benoit, 34, and Arnaud Antoine, 25.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    OC Transpo trains damaged in collision at Belfast Yard

    Two trains will be temporarily out of service because they collided Friday at Belfast Yard, Rideau Transit Maintenance said Friday.The maintenance group says the trains made "slight contact with one another" at a "slow speed" at the maintenance and storage yard located between Tremblay and St. Laurent stations on the Confederation Line."The side of one vehicle made light contact with a stationary vehicle on an adjacent track when passing it," an email from Rideau Transit Maintenance spokesperson Jodi Rogers said Friday evening."There was minor damage to the side panels on both vehicles, and the situation was quickly and safely brought under control."Tory Charter, director of Ottawa's transit operations, told CBC in an email the city is aware of the incident. A spokesperson for the city directed CBC to Rideau Transit Maintenance for more details. The collision comes after the longest stretch of disrupted schedules for OC Transpo's new Confederation Line since it launched four months ago. OC Transpo is currently facing a shortage of trains and running special supplementary buses between Tunney's Pasture and Hurdman stations to downtown in an effort to offset delays for passengers. The special buses are scheduled to run until Jan.31.The cost of the extra service is being charged to Rideau Transit Maintenance. Rideau Transit Maintenance said it is investigating the cause of Friday's collision.laura.glowacki@cbc.ca

  • STF ends contract talks, saying province not willing to 'make a change'
    News
    CBC

    STF ends contract talks, saying province not willing to 'make a change'

    The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) says it has shut down the conciliation process with the province that was initiated after regular bargaining was unsuccessful.The teachers' bargaining committee has been in talks with the government trustee bargaining committee through conciliator Ernie Peltz for four days. "We hadn't moved very far, if at all, on the issues that are important. And so we ended up deciding that conciliation just wasn't a success," said Patrick Maze, president of the STF. Conciliation was set up after nine months of failed negotiations, which ended in November. The teachers want salary increases of two per cent, three per cent and three per cent over a three-year agreement. This follows two years with no increases.They also want changes to class size and composition. Maze said classrooms are overloaded with students and those with special needs don't get the attention they need because teachers are too busy "putting out fires.""We would want to make sure that every student has the highest quality education possible and unfortunately under the current classroom situations that's not being offered to them," Maze said. In the fall Education Minister Gord Wyant said was not willing to include class size and composition in an agreement with the union.He argued it would take away the ability to respond to individual situations.Maze said the province seems to be unwilling to come to an agreement for financial reasons. The STF reinstated it's offer to divert $20 million in annual contributions to the teachers' health plan to address student needs if matched by the provincial government. Maze said the government didn't explore the offer.Education Minister says he's awaiting report from conciliation panelMinister of Education Gordon Wyant said the government's bargaining committee felt that progress was being made toward solutions on a number of items."The [committee] awaits the report from the conciliation panel and continues to look forward to future negotiations with the Teacher's Bargaining Committee," Wyant said in an statement emailed to CBC. The teachers' bargaining committee will work with the STF Executive to decide what to do next. It will also be meeting with teachers' associations across the province in February. Maze said a solution could include going back to the bargaining table, attempting to negotiate a deal or having a sanctions vote.

  • News
    CBC

    Railways will need to invest $5B to keep up with shipping demand, says CERI

    The Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates railways in the country will require about $5 billion of investment over the next five years to keep up with demand, including increased shipments of oil. If new pipeline projects don't come online, CERI estimates crude-by-rail will almost double from its current level of about 400,000 barrel per day. "Crude will be in the Top 5 commodities if those pipelines aren't built," said Dinara Millington, vice-president of research for CERI, referring to nationwide shipping. Currently, the Canadian Top 5 list includes: * Coal. * Forest products. * Miscellaneous. * Minerals. * Plastic and chemical products.Even with the completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Line 3 and Keystone XL, the institute still foresees growth. Shipments in Alberta of petrochemicals — everything from propane to plastic pellets — are also expected to grow, but agricultural products will continue to top the provincial list of goods shipped by rail.

  • News
    CBC

    Sue Montgomery removed from Projet Montréal

    The borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Sue Montgomery, has been expelled from Projet Montréal's caucus, the mayor's office announced Friday afternoon.In a statement, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, the leader of Projet Montréal, said she removed Montgomery because the borough mayor refused to fire a member of her staff found to have committed psychological harassment.A report by the city's comptroller said two employees had suffered psychological harassment at the borough office."I have a zero-tolerance harassment policy, and this applies to elected officials, politicians and all public servants in our public service," Plante said.'I stand for justice and the truth': MontgomeryMontgomery, a former journalist at the Montreal Gazette, was elected borough mayor in 2017. In a statement on her Facebook page, Montgomery said she was "very disappointed" with the decision."I stand for justice and the truth. Up until now, I have respected the confidentiality of this conflict and worked in good faith to find a solution," she said.Montgomery said that she had not seen the report and neither had Plante nor the staff member who was the subject of the investigation."I would be the last person to condone harassment," said Montgomery, who before she was elected had co-created a social media campaign that shed light on survivors of sexual violence."I will also not condone lack of due process. We live in a democracy where people have a right to see evidence against them and to defend themselves. This has not happened and I cannot accept it."Montgomery said she will continue to hold her position independent of her former party.

  • Trump joins anti-abortion protesters at March for Life rally in D.C.
    Canadian Press Videos

    Trump joins anti-abortion protesters at March for Life rally in D.C.

    Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to address Washington, D.C.'s March for Life anti-abortion rally in person Friday, illustrating how important evangelical voters are to his re-election changes. Against the backdrop of Capitol Hill, where the Senate impeachment trial against the president was in its third day, Trump turned the march into one of his trademark "Make America Great Again" rallies, telling the crowd the Democrats were coming after him because they oppose socially conservative values. Campaign Life Coalition national president Jeff Gunnarson led a contingent of Canadian activists from Toronto to attend the rally.

  • News
    CBC

    Roommate got away with killing until he confessed to undercover cops 21 years later

    More than two decades after he killed his roommate and hid the body in a freezer, Randolph Westman confessed to undercover police officers, a Calgary judge heard Friday.The details of the crime were made public as an agreed statement of facts was filed in court as part of the 58-year-old's plea and sentencing hearing.Originally charged with second-degree murder in the 1996 death of Daniel Boysis Turner, 22, Westman pleaded guilty last week.On Friday, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison for manslaughter and indignity to a body after Court of Queen's Bench Justice Robert Hall accepted a joint submission from prosecutor Mike Ewenson and defence lawyer Darren Mahoney.Case goes coldIn 1996, the two men and Westman's wife, Linda, all lived together. The victim was last seen at his home in the northeast Calgary community of Falconridge on Dec. 1, 1996, but he wasn't reported missing until 1998.That's when two of Linda Westman's family members reported to police that they had overheard the couple talking about Boysis Turner's death "specifically indicating that the victim died at the hands of the accused."Later that year, Linda Westman told police her husband had killed Boysis Turner. But police were unable to locate the body and there wasn't enough evidence to lay charges at the time. Undercover operationIn 2017, police reactivated their investigation, targeting Westman in an undercover operation, a so-called "Mr. Big" sting.Undercover officers befriended Westman and invited him to participate in a fictitious criminal organization, eventually eliciting several confessions.According to the agreed statement of facts, Westman returned home on Dec. 1, 1996, to find his wife and Boysis Turner "engaged in intimate activity of some nature."Westman believed the encounter was not consensual and attacked Boysis Turner, hitting him so many times, he believed he broke bones in both his hands.Then, Westman retrieved a gun from his car and shot Boysis Turner in the head.'I have no grave to visit'Afterward, he cleaned the kitchen and hid the body in the fridge before he rented a freezer, where he stored Boysis Turner's remains until "he was able to discard the body in a rural location."Westman was never able to remember where he hid the body. He was finally charged in 2018.Boysis Turner had been adopted but before he died had reconnected with his birth family. Two members of his birth family wrote victim impact statements as part of the sentencing. The sister he was raised with in his adoptive family also wrote a victim impact statement. Theresia Boysis said that after she and her son found each other, they made plans to buy an acreage together."I wanted to see my son so bad and hold him in my arms," she wrote. "It hurts that I am unable to give my son a proper burial. I have no grave to visit."

  • News
    CBC

    Parking ban lifts after Edmonton crews work around the clock to reach bare pavement

    A parking ban that has been in place since mid-week to allow crews to clear snow and ice from Edmonton streets will end Friday afternoon.City and contractor crews have worked around the clock to clear major roadways, bus routes, paths and certain city-maintained sidewalks and bike lanes, a city news release said Friday.The ban ends at 4 p.m Friday."Our objective was to get down to bare pavement on collector roads and bus routes to improve driving conditions, and allow warmer weather to dry the roadways instead of melting the accumulation," Andrew Grant, general supervisor of infrastructure field operations, said in the release.Under the ban, which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, vehicles had to be removed from major roads, bus routes and roads designated with "Seasonal Parking Ban" signs. Any vehicles left on the street during the ban were subject to tagging and towing.Last week's extreme cold reduced the effectiveness of salt and sand, leaving substantial snowpack on major roads.The ban was announced on Tuesday. The next day, a major snowfall added another seven centimetres to the mess.The city said it will provide a minimum of eight hours notice prior to a parking ban going into effect.

  • France confirms 3 cases of virus from China, 1st in Europe
    News
    The Canadian Press

    France confirms 3 cases of virus from China, 1st in Europe

    PARIS — France on Friday announced the first cases outside Asia and the United States of the deadly new virus from China, and the country's health minister said Europe should brace for other new cases from the spreading epidemic that she said must be fought like a wildfire.The three confirmed cases, Europe's first, all involved people who had travelled to China, where hundreds of people have fallen ill and more than two dozen have died.The first two French cases were announced by Health Minister Agnes Buzyn at a hastily called news conference on Friday night. The third was announced in a statement from her ministry about three hours later. All three were hospitalized, in isolation — two in Paris, the other in the southwestern city of Bordeaux. The third person sickened is a parent of one of the first two people diagnosed, the ministry said.In part because of Europe's open borders, the minister said she expects more cases.“We see how difficult it is in today's world to close the frontiers. In reality, it's not possible,” she said.“We will probably have other cases."Buzyn said speed in diagnosing new cases will be essential in slowing the spread of the virus. She said the likely reason that France has the first European cases is that it quickly developed a test allowing medics to rapidly diagnose the sickened.“You have to treat an epidemic as you would a fire, that's to say find the source very quickly,” she said. “We identified the first positive cases very quickly."One of people sickened, a 48-year-old man, passed through Wuhan, the epicenter in China for the virus, before travelling to France on Wednesday, the minister said. He has been hospitalized in Bordeaux since Thursday. She said he is a French national who travelled to China for work and who lives in the Bordeaux area.The health ministry didn't give the age, nationalities or other personal details about the other two people hospitalized in Paris, other than saying that they travelled to China. The first of the Paris cases was confirmed just minutes before Buzyn announced it at her news conference. The other was still being investigated and was only confirmed later on Friday night.The ministry said efforts are underway to find all those who came in close contact with the three patients. They will be told to limit their contacts with anyone else, to try to contain the spread of the outbreak.The Bordeaux patient was in contact with about 10 people before he was taken into care, the minister said.The minister urged people who suspect they've been sickened to call emergency services and to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus. She said those who came into contact with the sickened patients would be told likewise.“It's important to control the fire as quickly as possible. Hence the need to piece together patient histories and to find people who were in contact with the patient,” she said.“We will do everything possible to confine this epidemic," she pledged.The French minister promised “total transparency” as the country battles the outbreak and said her ministry would give daily news updates “so there is no false information on social networks.”She said informing the public is “the most effective barrier" against the spread of the virus, more so than taking people's temperatures as they arrive at airports and other entry points to test if they have a fever. Such tests are easily fooled and provide a false sense of security, she said.“People only need to take aspirin 15 minutes before landing to no longer have a fever,” she said.The number of confirmed cases around the world has climbed sharply to more than 850, the bulk of them in China. There have been at least 25 deaths, all of them in China.The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or involved people who visited the city or had personal connections to those infected.Fewer than two dozen cases in all have been confirmed outside mainland China, in Hong Kong, Macao, the U.S., South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam.The U.S. reported its second case, involving a Chicago woman in her 60s who was hospitalized after returning from China. She was reported to be doing well.John Leicester, The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    Most parking violation tickets at B.C. hospitals go unpaid, says group advocating for free parking

    A group advocating for free parking at B.C. hospitals says the majority of people who get a parking ticket at these facilities don't pay them and the system should be overhauled. The non-profit organization, Hospital Pay Parking, obtained documents through a Freedom of Information request concerning parking revenue and ticket violations at 11 Island Health facilities on Vancouver Island and eight Interior Health facilities in B.C.'s southern Interior for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. According to Hospital Pay Parking, 13,105 parking tickets were issued in the Island Health region and 4,660 of those were paid. At Interior Health facilities,19,401 tickets were issued and 8,068 were paid. "I think people have other priorities when they go to a hospital; keeping the meter topped up shouldn't be one of them," said John Buss, lead volunteer for Hospital Pay Parking. "Not many of these tickets are being paid."In both regions, revenue from the violation tickets goes to parking companies, not the health authorities.Money made from parkingThe group estimates that Impark, the company that runs the lots at Interior Health facilities, made about $460,000 from violation tickets based on the standard $57 ticket. On Vancouver Island, Hospital Pay Parking said Robbins Parking collected about $92,400. A statement from the group called the parking system an "exploitative money grab.""There should be no marriage between the proceeds of pay parking and the specific services or expenses that the health authorities, time and time again, describe as being provided by the proceeds of pay parking," said Buss.The health authorities do, however, get revenue from users who pay to park — just not from violation tickets. According to Hospital Pay Parking, Island Health made $7.9 million in parking fees in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and Interior Health received $5.3 million. That money is used in both regions to cover the cost of regular parking maintenance such as infrastructure upgrades, lighting, security and snow removal."The parking is something that is a necessity and in order to fund that parking we need to have a way that doesn't impact funding that goes to patient care," said Craig Paynton, manager of protection, parking and fleet services for Interior Health.Many tickets cancelledPaynton said up to 30 per cent of violation tickets are waived and the health authority works with people who cannot afford parking to make sure they still have access to facilities without having to pay.The information obtained by Hospital Pay Parking confirms this, showing over 5,000 tickets issued at Interior Health facilities were forgiven.On Vancouver Island, over 3,000 violation tickets were waived and, in a statement, Island Health said Robbins Parking is empathetic to those who are unintentionally delayed. The FOI revealed most violations on the island, 67 per cent, were attributed to staff and not visitors. That information was not provided by Interior Health. In both regions, the only vehicles towed from lots belonged to staff.Call for reformBuss said he hopes the information will get people talking about pay parking at public hospitals, which he says is inconsistent with the values of a social healthcare system."Our goal," said Buss, "is quite simply to have this exploitative user fee reformed into a system that works for everyone and exploits no one."The documents obtained by Hospital Pay Parking can be found on the group's website.The facilities included in the data from the Interior are: Royal Inland Hospital, Kelowna General Hospital, Reid's Corner, Cottonwoods, Brookhaven, Burnett, Penticton Regional Hospital and Vernon Jubilee Festival. Island facilities include: Oak Bay Lodge, Nanaimo Regional Hospital, Victoria General Hospital, Royal Jubilee Hospital, Gorge Road Hospital, Saanich Peninsula Hospital, Aberdeen Hospital, Glengarry Hospital, Mt. Tolmie Hospital, Priory Hospital and Queen Alexandra Hospital.

  • Albertans sew, knit, crochet their way to helping Australian wildfire rescue animals
    News
    CBC

    Albertans sew, knit, crochet their way to helping Australian wildfire rescue animals

    Hundreds of carefully crafted mittens for koalas, pouches for kangaroos and nests for birds are leaving Calgary and heading to Australia for the animal victims of the country's devastating wildfires, thanks to some caring central Albertans who like to knit and crochet and network on Facebook."When animals are going through a catastrophe like this, they need a little bit of extra care to help them out," Jackie Larocque of Sylvan Lake, Alta., told The Homestretch.The Australian counterparts of the Canadian Animal Rescue Craft Guild asked Canada for some help through Facebook, as knitters and crocheters from Down Under were overwhelmed.Raging fires have killed more than 30 people, destroyed thousands of homes and have killed or displaced almost half a billion animals.Larocque said for Canada to make a contribution, it required a lot of people to get on board."Australia said we need some crafters. They sent all the patterns to the guild on Facebook. They started calling out for crafters, basically. I became a drop-off and used social media to spread the word through central Alberta," she said."I got a whole bunch of people."Pet stores step upBut having Larocque drive all over central Alberta to pick up contributions one by one wasn't practical or efficient."I contacted pet stores in Red Deer, Lacombe, Sylvan Lake and Rocky Mountain House to be drop-off points, and they stepped up with no problem."Folks at the Lacombe Pet Valu loved the idea."Anytime we put a shout out looking for something, the community just jumps on board really, really quick," Cheryl Babiak said.She's a sales associate and event planner for the store, located in a community of 13,000 about 25 kilometres north of Red Deer."All the knitters got busy, and the sewers got busy, and they just created all these wonderful little items," Babiak said.4 huge bagsThe response, Babiak said, was amazing."About 20 nests, 30 medium joey pouches, quite a few big slings for the joeys when they get older. A couple of our customers made little bat beds. Those were pretty sweet. It's basically a sleeping bag with a pillow on one end, and then you just roll it up like a burrito and the little bat is inside," she said, with pride in her voice.In total, that one store contributed four massive bags.Larocque took those bags and drove north to do a pick up in Edmonton, then south to Calgary to put 200 to 300 items on a plane headed to Sydney."Air Canada has really stepped up to the plate for us. They've been doing cargo runs for us this last week and into next week. They are not charging us for any of it. It's been great," Larocque said.The airline was happy to help."As part of our support for those affected by devastating bushfires in Australia, particularly the heartbreaking stories of injured animals, we worked with a charity in Sydney and a group of dedicated Canadian crafters to deliver care packages to help in animal care," Air Canada wrote in a statement to CBC News."The Air Canada Foundation is also matching all employee donations and donations made at employee-led fundraisers up to $25,000 to benefit the Red Cross."Larocque says she was told cash would be helpful, but actually pulling out the knitting needles was more targeted support."They said the money is fine, but they need people to make the items, because the Australian craft guild are really overwhelmed because of the amount of animals in dire straits. They just couldn't keep up."Lacombe has been amazingOverall, Larocque is happy with how this project turned out, thanks to a lot of crafters."The people that are doing it are wonderful. They are extremely talented. It's been such a good turn out and such a good response."Back at Pet Valu, Babiak has further confirmation of what she already knew."We live and work in a generous community. Lacombe has been amazing," she said."Every animal, every creature, every person needs a helping hand every once in a while."