Rain is expected to give firefighters the upper hand on a fast-moving Alberta wildfire that has destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of land and triggered evacuation orders in areas west of Edmonton. Residents who live near in or near the hamlet of Tomahawk in Parkland County, about 100 kilometres west of the capital, have been ordered to leave their homes. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for parts of the area Thursday evening. The evacuation zone expanded overnight due to high winds. The most recent critical alert issued says the evacuation area is now defined by Highway 22 to the west, Township Road 524 to the north, Range Road 63 to the east and Township Road 510 to the south. Anyone in the area must leave immediately. In a statement issued shortly after 9 a.m. Friday, Parkland County said the fire is expected to be contained by nightfall due to the forecasted rain, with Environment Canada saying as much as 15 millimetres is expected in the region overnight. The county said the fire has covered at least 1,000 hectares or roughly 2,500 acres. Fire could smoulder for weeks Parkland County fire chief Brian Cornforth said conditions are tinder dry and the winds remain unforgiving. While rain would help, he cautioned that the forecast has proven unpredictable. "We had a good forecast for rain yesterday, but it keeps getting diminished," he said. "We need several millimetres of rain to make a difference." Brian Cornforth, Parkland County fire chief, expects to have the fire contained by Friday night but says crews will likely be on scene for up to two weeks to monitor smouldering areas. (David Bajer/CBC) Even if the forecast remains in their favour, Cornforth expects the fire to smoulder for weeks. The area is riddled with peat bogs where fire can burn deep underground, even in damp conditions. "The fire is going to sit in that ground for a long time," Cornforth said in an interview from the scene. "We're going to be here for a week or two." Cornforth said 20 additional firefighting crews have been dispatched to the scene, along with air tankers and three helicopters used in aerial firefighting, and a bulldozer crew that digs for hotspots and monitors potential flare ups. At least 45 people have been forced from their homes, but he said that number is expected to grow as more evacuees register. All evacuees are required to register — in-person or by phone — at a reception centre set up at the district sports arena in Tomahawk. The fire had covered at least 1,000 hectares of land as of Friday, leaving charred trees in its wake.(David Bajer/CBC) Cornforth said conditions remain unsafe and urged residents to stay out of the evacuation zone. "People may not see fire at their door," he said. "We need to evacuate you because we can anticipate where that fire is going to go. And last night was a great example of how fast that fire went. "We literally drove up the driveway, told people to leave and the fire was at the door when they were packing their house out, so we need people to co-operate with us on that." Waiting for evacuation orders Krystina Lynn Kowalik, who lives on the edge of the evacuation zone, watched the fire burn from her 300 acre property. She and her husband, Dan, were driving into town Thursday afternoon when they noticed a puff of smoke on the skyline. Then Kowalik got a call from her neighbour telling her to turn around because their home was under threat. They returned home to their dogs and horses, packed up a few belongings and waited at the end of their driveway for evacuation orders to come. But they never did. The couple didn't have to leave, but they spent a fitful night worried about their land and their neighbours. "We could still see the glow of two hot spots in the distance," she said. "I'm terrified to think of the homes that have been lost and the livestock and whatever that didn't get out." Kowalik said the community has come together and people in need of a place to sleep have been taken in. Others spent the night driving around in their livestock trucks, helping people save their horses and cattle from danger. "We're out of harm's way at this point unless the wind changes direction," she said.
The head of the Kelowna RCMP is defending her force's management of recurring protests against provincial health measures to contain COVID-19 in light of a recent court ruling that she interprets as favouring people's right to protest. On March 18, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson said the public health orders unjustifiably violated the right of Dawson Creek, B.C., man Alain Beaudoin to organize public protests in December. But on the other hand, the judge also said public health mandates against large gatherings are necessary to stop the transmission of coronavirus. Beaudoin petitioned the court to quash the $2,300 ticket he received for helping to organize a protest, but the judge declined to overturn the fine. About 1,000 people attended a rally in Kelowna, B.C., on Dec. 12, 2020 against provincial health restrictions intended to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Brady Strachan/CBC) Supt. Kara Triance notes that while she isn't a constitutional lawyer, she believes the court ruling establishes the freedom of peaceful assembly among those who have been protesting public health restrictions in Kelowna every Saturday since December. "I need to make sure that I am striking a balance between what those provincial health orders are and what that supreme [charter rights] legislation within Canada is," Triance said Tuesday to Chris Walker, host of CBC's Daybreak South. Triance affirmed her interpretation of the court decision in a video statement released Friday. WATCH | Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance's joint statement with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran on anti-mask rallies "We continue to attempt to dissuade protests and gatherings, but when they take place, the RCMP is present to ensure the safety of the public and the protesters, and to prevent confrontations," Triance said in the statement. Some Kelowna residents were taken aback to see police cars escorting anti-mask demonstrators in the city over the past several weekends. Triance said Kelowna RCMP have been enforcing laws in response to criticism from the local community that the police aren't taking any action. "There have been charges [in the form of violation tickets] laid in every instance since January on the matters that we're seeing striking downtown Kelowna in Stuart Park," she said. "All of those violation tickets still stand there at $2,000 apiece, and these matters are being brought before the court." Kelowna RCMP officers attended an anti-mask rally in Stuart Park on Jan. 9. (Heather Friesen) Simon Fraser University criminology professor Rob Gordon says the B.C. Supreme Court ruling attempts to strike a balance between civil liberty and public health mandates, but he isn't sure about the ruling's implication on how the police should approach protests during the pandemic. Gordon says he would recommend Supt. Triance seek legal advice from her superiors within the B.C. RCMP. "You cannot expect a superintendent of a detachment in the Interior of B.C. to be an expert on constitutional law," he said. Simon Fraser University criminology professor Rob Gordon says the B.C. Supreme Court ruling is ambiguous about how the police should approach protests under public health restrictions.(Simon Fraser University) "It would be unwise to proceed to do something that is going to lead to negative consequences down the road — and in particular, the negative consequences for the RCMP and conceivably for the municipality. It's not clear to me which way an enforcer of the law should go with it [the court decision]." Gordon also says he expects the province to appeal the decision to the B.C. Court of Appeal. "There needs to be clarity," he said. Tap the link below to hear Supt. Kara Triance's interview on Daybreak South:
Ronald Smith sounds tired. Despite good news last month, when a bill to resume executions in Montana was unexpectedly defeated, the Canadian on death row in that state is in a sombre mood. Smith, originally from Red Deer, Alta., has been facing capital punishment since 1983 for killing two young Montana men in 1982. "I thought we were screwed," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press from Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Mont. "I didn't think there was a chance in hell that this wouldn't be approved. Once my daughter found out, I explained to her which road we were going down and what the probable outcomes were going to be. I was that sure that it was over." All executions have been stayed in Montana since 2015 because the state requires the use of an ultra-fast-acting barbiturate, which is no longer available. There hasn't been an execution in Montana since 2006. Montana's house of representatives passed a bill in February that would have amended protocol to include any substance in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death. But the senate voted it down 26-24. The execution issue is likely to arise again in two years when the state legislature reconvenes. "Obviously, I'm happy about it, but at the same time it keeps running through the back of my head, 'Oh crap. I'm stuck sitting around here again,'" Smith sighed. "A lot of people look at it and say, 'Well at least you're alive,' but I'm really not. I'm just sitting around like a bump on a log is all I'm doing, and after almost 40 years of this, anything is preferable." Smith, 63, rephrased his response when asked if he would prefer to be executed. "Well, maybe not preferable, but I wouldn't be bothered by it. As soon as I heard what was going on, I accepted it. I went, 'OK, cool. I don't have to deal with this crap anymore.' "I was worried about my family because they were going to take it hard. Personally, I don't care. I've hit that point where I've done enough of this. If they're (legislators) not going to cut me a break, than go ahead and do away with me." Smith and Rodney Munro, both high on LSD and alcohol, shot and killed two Indigenous cousins near East Glacier, Mont., in 1982. They admitted to marching Harvey Mad Man, 23, and Thomas Running Rabbit, 20, into the woods by a highway. They shot each man in the head with a sawed-off .22-calibre rifle. Court heard that Smith and Munro wanted to steal the victims' car. Smith also said at the time that he wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. He was initially offered a plea deal that would have taken the death penalty off the table, but he rejected it. He pleaded guilty and asked to be put to death, but later changed his mind. He has had five execution dates set over the years. Each has been overturned. The victims' families have continued to push for Smith to be executed. Munro took the plea bargain, was eventually transferred to a prison in Canada, and has been free since 1998. "He's been out 23 years and doing well and I wish him all the very best. Had I taken that plea deal, then I'd have been out a long time ago. It's hard not to have that in the back of your mind on a pretty regular basis." Smith said he's content with paying for his crimes, but would like to be transferred to a prison in Canada, where he has a daughter, two sisters, grandchildren and a great-grandchild. "I'm getting pretty much what I deserve for the crime I committed," he said. "If I was in a position where I could see my family on a constant basis, then leave me locked up. I don't care. "It is what it is. I committed the crime." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021. — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
SURREY, B.C. — The first person in British Columbia to have a rare blood clot associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been hospitalized after a family doctor quickly recognized her symptoms, the provincial health officer says. Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday the woman in her 40s contacted her physician about symptoms five or six days after being vaccinated and a blood test confirmed the clot linked to the rare condition. A monitoring program in B.C. provides all doctors with information reminding them of symptoms to look for in case of a clot in the veins or arteries of the legs or arms and in very unusual cases, veins in the brain, Henry said. She said the likelihood of such clots is about one in 100,000 doses and anyone with symptoms such as a persistent severe headache, chest pain and swelling or redness in a limb should seek medical help right away. "I want to make sure that people are monitoring for these unusual symptoms and I know that many people have lots of anxiety about that. So take a deep breath and be assured that this is rare, that physicians know what to do and that if you have concerns that you contact your health-care provider," she said. "We only have to look at places like the U.K. to see how beneficial it has been to stop the outbreaks that we've been seeing," she said of AstraZeneca, which has been linked to three deaths in Canada since last month. Henry said anyone who has had the vaccine can choose to get a different one for their second dose and switching between any two vaccines may provide better protection against COVID-19, but more details on that will be available in the coming weeks after the results of a study in the United Kingdom. British Columbia was expected to reach a vaccination milestone on Thursday, with over two million vaccines administered, representing nearly half of over 4.3 million eligible residents. The province is mostly getting the Pfizer vaccine now, after a slowdown in deliveries of AstraZeneca, Henry said. Health Canada anticipates a total of 36.5 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna as well as AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute of India by June 30, though supplies from that country are expected to be disrupted because of a worsening COVID-19 crisis. Grocery workers aged 18 and up were asked Thursday to register for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in Fraser Health, the province's largest region and home to a high number of essential workplaces. Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, said COVID-19 has spread quickly in the area's multi-generational homes where disadvantaged people don't always find it easy to get away to get vaccinated. "There can be difficulties in terms of having protection at workplaces to prevent transmission as well, so all of that together has led to a greater number of cases and transmission." She said more options will soon be available in Surrey, for example, like vaccination at places of worship, including temples and mosques. Henry said she, Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix met this week with leaders of the South Asian and Chinese communities to better understand their needs related to registration and appointments for vaccines. The single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has been approved in Canada, may be preferred for some populations so they are not required to return for a second shot, Henry said. She said other provisions, such as sick leave, will also make a difference after it is legislated in the province in the coming weeks. British Columbia recorded 694 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and one more death for a total of 1,592 fatalities from the virus. — By Camille Bains in Vancouver This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
Tofino, BC - Lucy Sager grew up along the Highway of Tears in Terrace. The 725-kilometre corridor of highway in British Columbia has been the location of many missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). Driven by a range of factors, including colonization, the disproportionately high number of MMIW is, in part, a result of poverty. Without a driver’s license or access to a vehicle, many First Nations are forced to hitchhike, she said. “The cost of hitchhiking can be your life,” said Sager. “And certainly, I’ve seen that.” After high school, Sager went on to work in construction but struggled to hire First Nations in the surrounding communities. “I would ask chief and council in multiple territories, ‘what is the biggest challenge for your people going to work?’” she said. “And consistently – for five years – it was driver’s licenses.” The insight prompted Sager to return to school to become a driving instructor and launch the All Nations Driving Academy, which delivers driving courses through an Indigenous lens. “I did this with the intention to support nations to have their own driving schools,” she said. “I was finding that in Indigenous communities [across B.C.] only five to 25 per cent of people have a valid driver's license.” In coordination with Hayden Seitcher of the Tla-o-qui-aht youth warriors, Iris Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation education manager, and ICBC, Sager hosted a two-week driver training session at the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort in Tofino. “In community, a lot of the parents don’t have a car of their own,” said Seitcher. “So when [training] like this comes to where you are, it helps a lot … especially with the L [license] because it’s another incentive to start studying.” Bringing services like driver training to First Nations communities helps “remove barriers” for Nuu-chah-nulth people, said Frank. If you are caught driving without a license in B.C., you face a fine between $500 and $2,000. A court may also sentence you to six months in jail. If you are caught driving while prohibited a second time, you face a similar fine and a court might sentence you up to one year in jail. “If you go to jail, then you have a criminal record,” said Sager. “And if you have children, your kids go into care. It’s actually super serious.” For many coastal communities, not only is travelling to Port Alberni for driving lessons logistically difficult, it is financially inaccessible, said Frank. “All services don't stop in Port Alberni,” she said. Through funding from ICBC and Chee Mamuk, an Indigenous program run through the BC Centre of Disease Control, 21 participants from Ka:’yu:’k't'h'/Che:k:tles7et'h', Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Huu-ay-aht and Ucluelet First Nations received Class 7L and Class 4 Student Courses for free. Since launching the All Nations Driving Academy over three years ago, Sager has continued to mobilize her efforts by studying a doctorate in social sciences to determine the impact of colonization on driver's licensing for Indigenous people in Canada. Research on the topic has been studied in New Zealand and Australia, but never in Canada, she said. For some, their first experience in a car was when they were being driven away to residential school, explained Sager. “There’s a lot of trauma around the car,” she said. The rates of death, hospital admission and injury related to motor vehicle collisions are twice as high among Indigenous populations than the general Canadian population, according to a 2013 study published in the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine. Between 1992 and 2006, motor vehicle collisions were the leading cause of death for Indigenous children aged 1 to 4 years old. With a rate of 5.6 per 100,000, it was nearly four times higher than the rate for other B.C. children, according to the 2016 report Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Reducing the Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes on Health and Well-being in BC. Through exposure therapy, Sager said she hopes to create positive memories for First Nations people so they feel safe in a vehicle. “I want people to feel like they’re safe to move their life forward,” she said. “There’s so many incredible stories like mothers getting reunited with their children and people who have chosen a life of sobriety because now they can be a legal, compliant driver and get a job.” Frank said she hopes the nation continues with the pilot project after debriefing with Seitcher and Sager to determine how they can improve it for Nuu-chah-nulth members going forward. Not only do the courses provide members living in Ty-Histanis or Esowista the ability to complete simple daily duties, such as checking their mail in nearby towns, it gives them another skill set to add to their resume, said Frank. “When people get a driver's license [they’re] challenging systems,” said Sager. “We're challenging systems of policing – like justice, corrections and health, because there's this whole conversation around social mobility. When people start to rise, we're disrupting how people are also kept down. And I will say it's rocking the boat, and I think it's rocking it in a really good way.” Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa
BANGKOK — A U.S. citizen charged with killing his pregnant Thai wife in Thailand was accused of attempting to kill what appears to be the same woman while living in Colorado in 2019. Jason Matthew Balzer, 32, was arrested Thursday in the northern city of Chiang Mai and confessed to killing Pitchaporn Kidchob, 32, Maj. Gen. Weerachon Boontawee, chief of Provincial Police Region 5's Detective Department, said Friday. It is not clear whether he had a lawyer representing him. The name of the woman Balzer was accused of attempting to kill while living in Longmont, Colorado, was redacted from court records. However, a spokesperson for the 20th Judicial District Attorney's Office, Shannon Carbone, said the victim in the domestic violence case and the woman killed in Thailand have the same name and appear to be the same person based on photographs of her in the media. The office has not received any official information about the victim in Thailand, she said. According to court documents, the victim met Balzer around 2017 and later left Thailand to live with him in the United States. In 2019, after the victim rebuffed Balzer's attempt to have sex, he allegedly grabbed her arms, hit her in the face and slammed her head repeatedly into a headboard in the bedroom of their apartment before pointing a gun at her and saying “I will kill you," an arrest affidavit said. According to the document, the victim pushed the gun away, and it fired a shot next to her head. She escaped while Balzer tried to cover up bullet holes in the wall. She also told police that Balzer strangled her two weeks before during an argument in which he accused her of cheating on him. While Balzer was charged with attempted second-degree murder, he was able to plead guilty to a lesser charge of third-degree assault because the victim went back to Thailand and did not want to return to Colorado to testify, Carbone said. He was sentenced to probation, including domestic violence treatment, she said. “This murder highlights the danger of domestic violence as well as the potential for lethality that can often exist for victims. Our hearts go out to the victim’s loved ones; it is a very tragic case. We hope that he will be held fully responsible for the murder,” she said. Balzer was also arrested in Colorado in December after police allegedly found 73 guns in his van, a violation of his probation that prohibits him from having any firearms. An attorney listed as representing Balzer in that ongoing case as well as in the domestic violence case did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Police in Thailand said Balzer was interrogated Friday in the northern city of Nan, where he had lived with Kidchob, police Lt. Col. Somkiat Ruam-ngern said. The murder charge carries a maximum penalty of death. According to Weerachon, Balzer said Pitchaporn had “given him hope,” so he married her and bought her a house in Nan, her home province. Balzer said he became enraged when she tried to chase him out, so he stabbed her with a knife, the police officer said. He said Balzer put her body in a rubbish bin that he sealed and buried in the woods about 5 kilometres (3 miles) from their home. Balzer then drove on a motorbike to Chiang Mai, where he was arrested, Weerachon said. Police had been alerted to a possible crime when Pitchaporn’s mother, who was unable to reach her daughter by phone, went to the couple’s house and found blood stains. Balzer, a programmer, met Pitchaporn in Thailand and they were married in the U.S., after which Balzer quit his job, sold all his property and moved to Nan, the newspaper Thai Rath reported, citing Provincial Police Region 5 commander Prachuab Wongsuk. Balzer said he did not know his wife was three months' pregnant, Prachuab said. ____ Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin contributed to this report from Denver. Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul And Grant Peck, The Associated Press
There's a "dirty little secret lurking under the ocean of Newfoundland and Labrador" and the documentary, "Hell or Clean Water," tells the story of the one man who is trying to fix it, part of the 2021 Hot Docs festival.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 6, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 350,701 new vaccinations administered for a total of 14,918,768 doses given. Nationwide, 1,196,166 people or 3.2 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 39,364.255 per 100,000. There were 1,147,668 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 17,981,872 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 82.97 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting 18,126 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 188,204 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 359.421 per 1,000. In the province, 1.85 per cent (9,676) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 35,880 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland and Labrador for a total of 244,930 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 47 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 3,556 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 56,758 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 357.803 per 1,000. In the province, 6.78 per cent (10,750) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 12,390 new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 76,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 73.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 43,096 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 347,283 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 355.86 per 1,000. In the province, 3.83 per cent (37,346) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 62,150 new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 450,600 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.07 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 27,943 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 285,000 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 365.366 per 1,000. In the province, 3.70 per cent (28,847) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 62,820 new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 373,815 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.24 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 80,582 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,446,157 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 402.746 per 1,000. There were 165,678 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 4,059,217 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 47 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 84.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 141,038 new vaccinations administered for a total of 5,740,761 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 390.818 per 1,000. In the province, 2.62 per cent (384,589) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 420,690 new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 7,056,415 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 48 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.36 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 9,485 new vaccinations administered for a total of 519,507 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 377.273 per 1,000. In the province, 5.41 per cent (74,435) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 110,170 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 686,160 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 50 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 10,195 new vaccinations administered for a total of 480,910 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 407.843 per 1,000. In the province, 3.85 per cent (45,419) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 39,980 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 542,935 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 46 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.58 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 37,907 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,732,582 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 393.586 per 1,000. In the province, 7.00 per cent (308,027) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 228,150 new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 2,002,215 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 86.53 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 52,266 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,995,496 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 388.866 per 1,000. In the province, 1.87 per cent (95,868) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 9,760 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 2,330,040 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 45 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 199 new vaccinations administered for a total of 49,140 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,177.542 per 1,000. In the territory, 54.94 per cent (22,927) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 55,920 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 87.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 48,007 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 1,064.009 per 1,000. In the territory, 48.04 per cent (21,674) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 58,800 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 130 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 81.64 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 126 new vaccinations administered for a total of 28,963 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 747.895 per 1,000. In the territory, 32.77 per cent (12,692) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 44,100 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 110 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 65.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published May 6, 2021. The Canadian Press
The founder of a failed B.C. cryptocurrency exchange has been ordered to pay $535,000 to a man who agreed to sell him 50 bitcoin in 2019 — despite the fact the missing commodity is now worth more than $3 million. According to a B.C. Supreme Court judgment, Michael Gokturk wrote to Scott Nelson in August 2019, two months after Nelson transferred bitcoin into Gokturk's digital wallet at an agreed price of $10,700 a piece. Within months, Gokturk's Einstein Exchange would shut its doors amid a B.C. Securities Commission investigation, a cloud of complaints, lawsuits and debts of $16 million owing to customers. "None of this is your problem and I owe you what I owe you," Gokturk wrote to Nelson, who was asking for the money he'd been promised. "Keep these text messages and email records as proof. I am sorry I have been avoiding you. This has been the absolute worst year of my entire existence. These are not excuses, I just don't know what to tell you besides the truth." 'Wire is being set up right now' The details of the correspondence are contained in a B.C. Supreme ruling released this week. Nelson, a Vancouver technology entrepreneur, sued Gokturk for breach of contract in 2019, asking for either the amount the bitcoin was worth on the open market on Feb. 16, 2021 — $3,084,393 — or the amount Gokturk originally agreed to pay. The Einstein Exchange shut its doors in 2019 after a slew of complaints. An interim receiver found that the company had assets of $45,000 and debts of $16 million.(Yvette Brend/CBC) In coming to a decision, Justice Sheila Tucker found Gokturk had breached a contract that concluded on June 7, 2019, when he sent Nelson a text reading: "BTC received! Thank you. Wire is being set up right now. Will send you confirmation." Tucker said the law required her to award Nelson the amount lost at the time of the breach, not the amount his bitcoin would be worth in 2021, following recent astronomical gains. "Using the date of breach to assess the damages puts the defendant in the position he would have been had the contract been fulfilled, Tucker wrote. "The fact that [bitcoin] is worth more now than it was at the time of the contract does not result in an injustice." 'No one will lose their money here' The judgment comes a year and a half after accountants estimated that the Einstein Exchange had "hard" assets of $30,000 in cash and less than $15,000 in cryptocurrency when the court appointed an interim receiver to take control of the company on Nov. 1, 2019. The same report noted that customers were owed around $16 million, noting Nelson's lawsuit and another call from a creditor who said they were owed $7 million but had not yet filed a claim with the court. A visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency, bitcoin. Bitcoin has seen a massive increase in value, which poses a question for judges trying to determine the value of the loss in a contract breach. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) Gokturk spoke to the CBC in January 2018 about a storm of online criticism that accompanied the opening of the exchange. Customers claimed that staff were slow to respond and expressed fear they might lose their money. At the time, Gokturk claimed his team was overwhelmed by the response and demand for digital currency and promised that "no one will lose their money here." Gokturk has filed responses to a number of B.C. Supreme Court claims in the months since the collapse of the Einstein Exchange, arguing that he was not personally liable for agreements made with the company. The responses claim the customers signed agreements acknowledging that "some digital currency exchanges had been the subject of cyberattacks that have resulted in the loss or theft of digital currencies to their users and there is a risk that a similar cyberattack could affect Einstein's services and result in the theft or loss of your digital currencies." According to Tucker's decision, Gokturk's counsel withdrew last November, after which he stopped responding to Nelson's lawyer and failed to attend an examination for discovery. He did not respond to a request for comment through LinkedIn. 'Which date do you use?' Evan Thomas, a Toronto-based litigator with Osler who specializes in digital assets and blockchain, says Tucker's decision is notable because it's one of only a few in a growing body of Canadian law to deal with disputes involving cryptocurrency. He says it's interesting to see judges treat bitcoin as property in the same way as a physical asset like a gold bar. Thomas says courts have also had to grapple with the question of how to determine the value of a commodity that has seen such rapid shifts in worth in recent months. A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that the founder of a collapsed bitcoin exchange must pay $535,000 for breaking a contract to purchase 50 bitcoin.(David Horemans/CBC) In the past year alone, bitcoin has risen from around $13,000 Cdn per unit to highs of nearly $80,000. One bitcoin was worth $68,000 Cdn Thursday. "This has come up before in cases about how do you value bitcoin, a cryptocurrency which is a bit unique in commodities in that the prices can change quite dramatically over relatively short periods of times," he said. "So, of course, there's an obvious question: which date do you use?" Thomas says it's well-settled law that breach of contract disputes assign value at the date the breach occurred — which in Gokturk and Nelson's agreement was June 2019, "when the buyer actually failed to pay the money for the bitcoin." The decision says Nelson doesn't know whether Gokturk sold the 50 bitcoin and if he still has any or all of it in his possession. Thomas says it's easy to see how Nelson might feel out of pocket by $2.5 million, even if Gokturk pays the court-ordered amount. But had bitcoin dropped in value instead of soaring in the interim, Thomas says Nelson likely would not have asked for 50 worthless bitcoin as compensation. "The law says it you're going to make that argument when the price goes down, you have to live by the same argument if the price goes up," Thomas said. "We can all disagree on whether that's fair or not, but that's just what the law is."
Three people were hospitalized — and more than 160 seniors have been displaced — after a massive fire broke out at a seniors' residence in St. Albert, northwest of Edmonton Thursday night. Two people were treated for smoke inhalation and were in serious condition, and a third person suffered minor lacerations, officials said, after fire engulfed the Citadel Mews West Continuing Care Facility just before 8 p.m. The building is near the Sturgeon Community Hospital, between St. Albert Trail and Erin Ridge Drive, south of Erin Ridge Road. The fire forced the entire complex to be evacuated and saw firefighters from across the region called in to assist. St Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said many of the displaced residents were living in the extended care wing of the facility. "The priority will be finding space for every one of those residents and making sure they're cared for," Heron said in an interview Friday. Heron, who was at the scene Thursday night, said it was the largest fire she had ever seen and watching residents be evacuated was overwhelming. She commended firefighters for their coordinated efforts to extinguish it and ensure residents were safe. Heron said the offer of donations and care for the displaced residents has been overwhelming. "I love my community and the residents, they have responded with their hearts, which they always do." At least 167 seniors were displaced. Alberta Health Services said about 129 long term care residents and 38 designated supportive living residents were evacuated from the complex. Those numbers don't account for residents of the independent living wing of the complex, AHS said. The evacuated residents were relocated to the St. Albert Inn. Most were accommodated in hotel rooms and others were placed in available beds in other long-term care facilities in the region. The city is working with Alberta Health Services to ensure residents are appropriately cared for and provided transportation, the city said in a news release. Firefighters remained on scene throughout Friday morning, assessing extensive smoke and water damage to the property. In a statement Friday, the city asked for residents to stay away from the scene during the investigation, There's no word yet on the cause of the fire or a full estimate on the damages. Jackson Brown, 17, said he spotted smoke and helped some people leave the building. "All the alarms are going off and there was about four or five of us evacuating everyone, just going door-to-door trying to just get every one out," he said in an interview Thursday night. "Then the firefighters and police got here and of course helped us." Police officers were called to assist firefighters around 8 p.m. Officers blocked off nearby roads and helped residents evacuate the building. Residents were transported by bus to a muster point in the Costco parking lot, RCMP said. The St. Albert Alliance Church has opened its doors to residents until others arrangements could be made. Residents evacuated the Citadel Mews residence Thursday night after a fire broke out that engulfed much of the building. (Submitted by Jackson Brown) Fire crews from St. Albert, Morinville, Spruce Grove, Edmonton and Strathcona County all helped at the scene. A spokesperson for Edmonton Fire Services said some of its firefighters assisted with the blaze. According to the Christenson Communities website, the two Citadel Mews residences combined have about 175 units.
A 59-year-old man from Regina faces a charge of uttering threats for an email police say he sent to the Prime Minister's Office last weekend. Police in Regina were notified Wednesday of the email by the Prime Minister's Office, according to a news release from the Regina Police Service. The email, sent Saturday, detailed threats about damaging the Saskatchewan Legislative Building and the Court of Queen's Bench, according to police. Threats to the safety of an out-of-province physician and a retired judge were also made in the email, police allege. The major crimes unit investigated and arrested the 59-year-old man at a home in Regina on May 5 without incident. He appeared in court on Thursday morning on a charge of uttering threats.
VICTORIA — British Columbia's minister of mental health and addictions say a suspected overdose death of a 12-year-old girl from Vancouver Island is driving the government "to do more and do better." But Sheila Malcolmson says she needs to learn more details about the case of Ally Thomas, who died April 14, before commenting specifically on what the government can do. Malcolmson made the comment during a news conference to announce the new Foundry BC app, a portal for people ages 12 to 24 to access counselling, primary care and peer support. Ally's mother, Adriana Londono, says her daughter had overdosed three times before her fourth fatal "cry for help." Londono says the family tried to get her support but was only given a list of counsellors, an avenue Ally wasn't willing to take. She says the family was told by government staff that Ally was too young to qualify for rehab because she was under 14. The Children's Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "It was extremely frustrating, there was nothing we could do," Londono said in an interview on Friday. "Ally was frustrated too. She was crying for help but she didn't get the help she needed." Malcolmson aid the government is working "as hard as we can" to build a system of care that offers a variety of different supports, including the app. "This is a terrible story that just re-strengthens our commitment as a government to build the kind of addictions and mental health care system that anybody can access," Malcolmson said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021. The Canadian Press
A review of the province's rental housing market is ruling out a cap on rent increases in all but the most extreme cases. The report, drafted by civil servants and released, Friday says creating more incentives for the construction of new units is a more workable way to address the supply crunch in the white-hot housing market. It calls for "better protections against unreasonable rent increases" but Executive Council clerk Cheryl Hansen, the province's top civil servant, told reporters that does not mean "across the board" rent controls. "We have discovered that a far more comprehensive approach is required," she said, though in response to a reporter's hypothetical question she said the province was open to restricting extreme increases in the 25 to 30 per cent range. "I would suggest that we do not need to have that across the board." Officials say limiting rent increases to once a year, and requiring landlords to give tenants more notification of hikes, would help alleviate the phenomenon of soaring costs seen in recent months in the province. Earlier this year Statistics Canada reported that rent paid on accommodations in New Brunswick between March 2020 and March 2021 rose 4.8 per cent, the largest increase in the country. Nationally, rents inched up a fraction of that, an average of 0.5 per cent, over the same period. Hansen said Friday that the lowest-income New Brunswickers have seen rents increase by 34 per cent in the last decade while their incomes have risen only 18 per cent. But officials who briefed reporters said a cap on rent increases could have "negative consequences" for the housing market, creating a disincentive for landlords to build new units. They also said rent control tends to benefit higher-income renters the most. Higgs responded to the report within hours, telling reporters he has "sympathies" for tenants who experience "rate shocks." Premier Blaine Higgs said he doesn't believe his stated position on rent controls influenced the report prepared by public servants.(Ed Hunter/CBC ) "I believe there needs to be some protection there for tenants in relation to the frequency and the extent to which a rate could be changed in a span of time," he said. He attributed part of the phenomenon to more people moving to New Brunswick for work and driving up demand for housing, which he suggested has given apartment owners an opening to raise rents. "Did we have some cases where landlords looked at the market and said 'Now's our chance?'" he said. "I don't want people's livelihoods and situations played with just because it's the right time." Sarah Lunney of Acorn New Brunswick, a group advocating for low-income people, said she was disappointed with the rejection of rent control and rejected the rationale. "Saying that rent control disincentivizes development, that's just not a thing," she said. "I don't agree with that. Other provinces [with rent control laws] are still developing housing." The report found there are gaps in access to affordable, adequate, quality and safe rental units.(David Zalubowski/Associated Press) She said restricting rent increases to once a year would not do anything to protect people from big increases. "You would still need some kind of rent control to ensure that when that one time a year comes around, tenants aren't being forced out of their buildings at that time of year." Abram Lutes of the Common Front for Social Justice said he was disappointed the report dismisses the role of non-profit housing. The document quotes a developer saying the non-profit sector lacks the "knowledge and experience" to build multi-unit apartments. "The information in the report is useful in terms of knowing how bad the situation is, but the recommendations are inexcusably inadequate given what's been reported in the document," he said. The report says large rent increases are being driven by a changing rental market: more people are working longer, the population is increasing and older people are downsizing into apartments. Abram Lutes, with the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice, pictured earlier this year, was disappointed the report dismissed the role non-profit housing could play in helping alleviate the affordable housing shortage.(CBC) At the same time, a growing number of remote workers are looking for more space so they can have a home office, and the growth of short-term vacation rentals is removing some apartments from the monthly rental market. Meanwhile, shortages of construction workers can slow the building of new apartment stock. "We're not necessarily in a crisis, but a crisis is pending," Higgs said. "We've got a situation we can't ignore." The report says housing is seen as both a human right and as a business. "These truths do not always co-exist comfortably and can polarize conversations." Premier rejects suggestion of influence Higgs said he didn't think his comments earlier this year opposing rent control influenced the report, which despite being drafted by civil servants was described as an independent process similar to a third-party study. "I don't think anyone would suspect that I would feel any differently about putting price controls on the free market. That's a position I've had for a long time," he said. The report does not comment on a proposal pushed by developers to cut property taxes on apartment buildings by removing the provincial portion of the tax. Hansen said that's being looked as part of work on local government reform. Higgs announced a phase-out of the provincial portion of the tax in the March 2020 budget but cancelled it after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — First came the amazing pictures, then the video. Now NASA is sharing sounds of its little helicopter humming through the thin Martian air. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California released this first-ever audio Friday, just before Ingenuity was set to soar on its fifth test flight. The low hum from the helicopter blades spinning at more than 2,500 revolutions per minute is barely audible. It almost sounds like a low-pitched, far-away mosquito or other flying insect. That’s because the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) helicopter was more than 260 feet (80 metres) from the microphone on the Perseverance rover. The rumbling wind gusts also obscured the chopper's sound. Scientists isolated the sound of the whirring blades and magnified it, making it easier to hear. The sound was recorded during the helicopter’s fourth test flight on April 30. Ingenuity — the first powered aircraft to fly at another planet — arrived at Mars on Feb. 18, clinging to Perseverance's belly. Its first flight was April 19; NASA named the takeoff and landing area Wright Brothers Field in honour of Wilbur and Orrville, who made the world's first airplane flights in 1903. A stamp-size piece of wing fabric from the original Wright Flyer is aboard Ingenuity. The $85 million tech demo was supposed to end a few days ago, but NASA extended the mission by at least a month to get more flying time. Friday afternoon's test flight was aiming for twice the altitude — as high as 33 feet (10 metres). The helicopter was also headed to a new touchdown spot. With the helicopter's first phase complete, the rover can now start hunting for rocks that might contain signs of past microscopic life. Core samples will be collected for eventual return to Earth. ___ 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
Almost three years ago, Bobby Joe MacDonald finally received the call he had been waiting for. After a lifetime of breathing difficulties, he was getting new lungs. "I don't know why we were laughing, but we were all excited, it was 2:30 in the morning, it was crazy, it was the best feeling in the world," said MacDonald, recalling that night. "I didn't even know how to adapt to my new life because I was able to breathe." Now, sitting in a small Toronto apartment 1,700 kilometres from home, there's a sense of déjà vu. MacDonald needs another set of lungs. 'You hope it's the call' According to Health PEI, the chances of needing a double lung transplant in the first place is already rare on the Island. In the past 10 years, only three have taken place. As for how many people have required a second one, Health PEI was unable to disclose that information due to confidentiality. Bobby Joe MacDonald says he was born with pulmonary dysplasia. The P.E.I. man's body rejected the transplanted lungs he received almost three years ago, so he's back on the waiting list. (Submitted by Bobby Joe MacDonald) In MacDonald's case, though, his body rejected the first set. He said the Cytomegalovirus (CMV) virus he contracted in 2020 sure didn't help — it's harmless to most healthy people but worrisome after a transplant. So now, he waits again. "It's scary because you don't know how long you're going to live," he said. "You don't know when you're going to get the call and you always hope when you get any kind of a call, as sad as it is..." His fiancée Sheryl Rozell jumps in: "You hope it's the call from the hospital." 'A second life' On top of the sheer weight of needing organs and acknowledging that someone must die in order for you to get them, MacDonald and Rozell have other pressures. In order to qualify for surgery, the couple is required to stay within a few hours of the Toronto General Hospital. There's the added financial burden of paying for housing in the Toronto area, not to mention the risks associated with COVID-19 of being in Ontario right now. "That's what you gotta do for a second life," said MacDonald. "Gotta go through it." "It's unknown how long we're going to be here," said Rozell. "Once we get that donor, then it's 'boom, boom, boom' kind of thing — but it's just the waiting." 'It's great that he's healthy enough right now to be on the list,' says Sheryl Rozell. 'We're just going to try and keep him that way until we get a donor." (Submitted by Sheryl Rozell) The pair said the province puts up $2,500 a month for living expenses. But according to Rozell, rent alone comes with a heftier price tag. Then there are the costs of food, gas, medication. Fundraising efforts are underway to help the couple as they hunker down, and that helps. To add to their worries, Rozell said people in their building recently tested positive for COVID-19, and that could have dire consequences if either one of them were to contract it. "As funny as it sounds, I'm more scared of the COVID than I am of the transplant," said MacDonald. "If I had COVID, it would kill me, so I don't want to get that at all." 'His biggest cheerleader' Still, even through a shaky video call you can sense the optimism in the air. MacDonald and Rozell cry and laugh almost at the flick of a switch. "There are many things I want to do, dear," said MacDonald. "I want to run again. "I want to run a marathon, to be honest with you." Rozell, on the other hand, remains adamant that "oh God no" will she be running alongside him. "I'll watch from the sidelines," she smiles. "I'll be his biggest cheerleader." 'Be a donor' Ultimately it's a waiting game. MacDonald estimates that without a transplant, he has between two and three years left. "I'm hoping we can do it all again," he says of receiving the call, and reliving that "best feeling in the world." If people could donate, be a donor, a transplant donor — they don't realize how many lives they could save. - Sheryl Rozell As for Rozell, she doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon. "I can come home and have a bad day and growl and be cranky and be stressful and be like, 'Oh, where's the wine?'" she said. "And he never has a bad day. He's always smiling." Not surprisingly, they are urging those who are eligible to become donors. "He already had a first shot and it was a beautiful thing and unfortunately it didn't work out," said Rozell. "Now we're getting a second shot, but if people could donate, be a donor, a transplant donor — they don't realize how many lives they could save." More from CBC P.E.I.
The man accusing longtime junior hockey coach Bernie Lynch of sexual assault and assault tells CBC News what he says happened and why it took him more than 30 years to press charges.
Canada Revenue Agency officials are being "outgunned" by "tax giants" when it comes to cracking down on offshore tax cheats, the head of the union representing CRA auditors told members of Parliament Thursday. Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), said her members are passionate about their jobs but they need a better structure and the right tools to do their jobs. "Our CRA professionals are amongst the best in the world at what they do but they face great challenges," Daviau told member of the House of Commons finance committee. "Their job is to go after individuals and entities that, in effect, have unlimited resources and can aggressively exploit legal and international grey areas for their own gain. "The CRA employees, by comparison, often feel outgunned by those trying hardest to avoid taxes." Daviau said the CRA unit that specialized in highly complicated international tax avoidance and evasion structures was broken up several years ago and its members were reassigned to other, more generalized groups. "That has reduced the capacity of employees at the CRA to be able to deliver on getting international tax avoiders to pay their fair share," she said. As a result, Daviau said, CRA has better resources for catching tax cheats within Canada than for pursuing those who have set up elaborate international tax avoidance schemes. 'Precarious positions' "Employees at the Canada Revenue Agency are up against tax giants," she told MPs. "These are people who have immense skill, technology, expertise and other big companies on their side, so they need to be on a level playing field." Daviau said an important step in improving the situation would be to enshrine better protection for whistleblowers. "CRA officials are frequently put in precarious situations where they are asked to hold powerful players to account in a high-stakes setting," she said. "Whistleblower protection is crucial to ensuring professional integrity is paramount during the tax assessment process." The government should curtail practices such as transfer pricing — which sees companies declare the profit on products in low-tax jurisdictions that had little to do with production — and implement the beneficial ownership registry promised in the recent budget, Daviau added. Thursday's hearing came after CBC's the Fifth Estate and Radio-Canada's Enquete reported earlier this year that shell companies set up in the Isle of Man are suspected of involvement in a massive fraud scheme. The scheme cost some investors — like Quebec resident Janet Watson, who recounted her story to the committee — much of their life savings. Janet Watson, who lost money in the Mount Real fraud, wants politicians to reopen an inquiry into Isle of Man shell companies after a Fifth Estate/Enquête investigation exposed links to the massive offshore fraud.(Radio-Canada) Some experts believe KPMG may have had a hand in creating those companies — something the company denied repeatedly Thursday. "Any implication that KPMG had anything to do with the CINAR fraud is false," Lucia Iacovelli, Canadian managing partner for tax and legal for KPMG, told the committee. "Any implication that KPMG was in any way involved with the sword companies is also false." Iacovelli said corporate services companies often supply the names of directors and officers for companies they set up for different clients. Iacovelli said repeatedly that KPMG has not set up any new Isle of Man offshore structures since 2003 and has turned over information about its offshore structure, and the clients for which it was set up, to the CRA. MPs like NDP MP Peter Julian and Bloc Québécois MP Gabriel Ste-Marie made it clear, however, that they have a long list of questions they will be asking KPMG to answer in writing. Senator Percy Downe, who has doggedly followed the question of offshore tax avoidance and evasion over the years, said other countries are doing a better job than Canada in investigating the tax evasion revealed by leaks like the Panama Papers. Downe recommended the parliamentary budget officer be empowered to measure the tax gap between what is actually being collected and what taxes should be paid. He said the government should make it a criminal offence to fail to declare an overseas bank account, implement plans for a public registry of beneficial owners behind companies, and boost the salaries of CRA experts to reduce the number being recruited to work for companies aiding tax avoidance. Thursday's hearing was the first step in what Julian said will be a renewed push to look at the impact of offshore tax avoidance on Canada and to come up with recommendations. The finance committee will now turn its attention over the next few weeks to the omnibus budget implementation bill — but Julian said he expects the committee to return after that to the probe of tax avoidance and evasion. Julian said he did not know how far the committee will get before Parliament is scheduled to rise for the summer the week of June 21. Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at email@example.com.
The Alberta Sheriff Highway Patrol, along with some law enforcement partners, wrapped up a three-day commercial vehicle safety campaign on Thursday that involved hundreds of additional inspections. The campaign was conducted as part of Roadcheck 2021, a North America-wide safety program. In Alberta, officials said the campaign is intended to ensure commercial vehicles and their drivers operate safely on the roads. "There's a large chunk of the trucks that travel on Alberta highways, are very safe trucks and we've got good carriers in Alberta, but obviously there are trucks that do need our attention at times and these inspections tend to pick those trucks out," said Sheriff Shawn Lester. On Thursday, trucks moved slowly throw a commercial vehicle weigh scale near Balzac, and some were randomly picked and directed to a large lot. According to Lester, that's where officers examine driver documents, check hours of service and conduct a 37-step vehicle safety inspection. Sheriff Shawn Lester said though most trucks that travel on Alberta highways are safe, there are those that need the attention of an inspection.(Dave Gilson/CBC) That inspection includes a look at brakes, steering, tires, lights, suspension, the fuel system and how cargo is secured. Most drivers pass inspections, but those that don't can face orders to fix problems and can also be taken off the road. Veteran driver Leon van den Hadelkamp said he supports these types of programs. "Needless to say, every vehicle on the road needs to be safe," he said. Sheriffs said they also share information with drivers and gather safety statistics. They performed 727 inspections during Roadcheck last year.
EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it has taken legal action to stop any planned protests of COVID-19 public health orders, including one at a central Alberta cafe that was closed for not following the rules.On Wednesday, Alberta Health Services closed the Whistle Stop Cafe in the hamlet of Mirror until its owner can demonstrate the ability to comply with health restrictions. The agency says it had received more than 400 complaints against the business since January.Alberta Health Services says it has been granted a pre-emptive court injunction against a planned protest by the cafe owner and supporters.It says it also has received a court order against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.There is an ad promoting a rally this weekend at the cafe in Mirror called "The Save Alberta Campout Protest."The ad says the event is a response to "harmful restrictions" imposed by Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, and "the United Conservative Party caucus' ongoing attack on the rights and freedoms of the people of Alberta."Alberta Health Services says the court order restrains the cafe owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event."AHS has taken this step due to the ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions and advertising social gatherings which, if held, breach current and active CMOH Orders and pose a risk to public health," the agency said in a release Thursday."AHS strongly condemns the intentional disobeying of COVID-19 public health restrictions," The agency says with COVID-19 cases increasing in the province, including the more easily transmitted and potentially more severe variants, there is urgent need to minimize spread to protect all Albertans.Last weekend, hundreds of people gathered near Bowden, also in central Alberta, for a pre-advertised maskless "No More Lockdowns'' protest rodeo.Days later, the premier announced stronger restrictions and doubled fines for scofflawsThis report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021 The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Toronto District School Board is suing the city, the province and local police over a fire that destroyed a high school two years ago, alleging negligence allowed a small blaze to erupt into a much larger one that gutted the historic building. Legal documents filed on Wednesday show the board is seeking $90 million in damages in connection with the fire at York Memorial Collegiate Institute. In an unproven statement of claim, the board alleges firefighters failed to completely extinguish a small fire in the school's auditorium on May 6, 2019, allowing flames to erupt again the next day and eventually destroy the building. "The fire struck the building only weeks before a celebration to mark the school’s 90th anniversary," reads the statement of claim, which notes no one was hurt in the blaze. "The consequences of the fire have been devastating for the TDSB, as well as its staff and its students." The school board alleges that because Toronto police and firefighters suspected that the initial fire may have been arson, the school's auditorium was sealed off as a potential crime scene. The suit notes that the evacuated building was in full custody of police, firefighters, and the Ontario Fire Marshal after the first small fire and alleges the defendants failed to control and supervise the scene, leading to the catastrophic damage to the school. The City of Toronto said in a statement that it plans on fighting the case. "Staff took all appropriate steps to preserve evidence, and allegations in the claim that suggest otherwise are patently untrue and irresponsible," it said. "It is unconscionable that the TDSB and its insurers would impugn the integrity of Fire Chief Matthew Pegg and other Toronto Fire Services staff in this manner." Ontario's Ministry of the Solicitor General said it wouldn't comment on the case as it was before the courts. The Toronto Police Services Board issued a similar statement. TDSB interim director Karen Falconer said in a statement that the school board and its insurers had hoped to resolve the matter outside court but were left with no choice but to take legal action. Falconer said that the school board will rebuild the school regardless of the outcome of the legal proceeding. She noted that the cost of the ongoing rebuild is covered by the TDSB’s insurer, who filed the legal action with the board in an effort to recover its policy payments and additional costs. "Our focus remains on supporting the 900 students and staff that were sadly displaced by the fire two years ago," said Falconer. City manager Chris Murray sent an open letter to Falconer on Thursday defending the reputation of Pegg, who is currently serving as the head of Toronto's emergency response task force charged with handling the COVID-19 pandemic. "We ask you to consider the harm caused to Chief Pegg’s reputation by the false claims of misfeasance advanced in your lawsuit," reads the letter from Murray. "We also ask that you reconsider maintaining those claims and consider whether a public apology is owing to Chief Pegg." According to the TDSB, the school was built in memory of those killed in the First World War and opened in 1929. It held a number of artifacts from the First World War. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2021. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press