Police arrest 3 in abduction, assault, robbery of man on U of T campus, 3 still on loose

Toronto police have arrested three people and are looking for three others in connection with a violent robbery and abduction of a young man at the University of Toronto earlier this month.

The three people still on the loose, all men, are considered armed, violent and dangerous. Security camera images of the three have been released. Two have been named.

Police allege that a 21-year-old man was walking on Nov. 16 in the area of St. George Street and Willcocks Street, south of Harbord Street on the U of T campus, when he was approached by four people. One of the four had a conducted energy weapon.

Police allege that the man was choked and robbed of personal items.

The man was then forced to go to a nearby bank machine to withdraw money. After that, he was forced into a cab and taken against his will to an east-end motel. There, he was held until he raised his credit limit.

Police allege his bank account was emptied and he was released.

The victim didn't receive any serious injuries during the altercation, police say. 

In a new release on Saturday, police said they have charged two men, aged 18 and 21, and a woman, 21, with several offences, including use of a credit card obtained by crime. All three appeared in a Toronto courtroom on Thursday. 

Toronto Police Service

Officers are looking for Adisoon Admoon, 20, of Mississauga, and Arthur McLean, 19, of Toronto. Both are wanted for:

  • Kidnapping for ransom or service.
  • Forcible confinement.
  • Robbery with violence.
  • Assault by choking.
  • Five counts of use of a credit card obtained by crime.

A sixth suspect is described as male, black, between 20 and 25 years of age, six feet tall, with a skinny build. He was wearing blue jade jeans, a grey or beige jacket, a grey hoodie, a red baseball hat with a white symbol and black shoes.

Police believe there may be other victims.

Anyone with information is urged to call police at 416-808-5200, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

Toronto Police Service
  • Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

    VANCOUVER — For 30 years, Hilary Jordan talked to her husband about the goings on in their family and the world but she wasn't sure if the police officer injured in a crash could hear anything as he lay unconscious in a hospital bed."I like to believe that he did hear me," she said in an interview this week."I said something to him before he passed, which made him know that it was OK to leave us, and I had never said those words before, so shortly thereafter he did pass. I do believe he could hear."Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987. He died in April 2018.Now, research from the University of British Columbia suggests people who are unresponsive can hear, even hours before they die.Lead author Elizabeth Blundon, who recently graduated from the university with a PhD in psychology, said the findings may bear out a persistent belief among health-care workers that hearing is the last sense to go in the dying process.The study, published recently in Scientific Reports, was the first to investigate hearing when people are close to death, in one case six hours beforehand, Blundon said.The research involved eight patients at a hospice doing a hearing task when they were still responsive. Five of them repeated the task when they became unconscious.A control group of 17 young, healthy participants also took part in the study, which was completed between 2013 and 2017.Participants wore a cap with 64 electrodes that measured brain waves as they listened to a series of tones grouped in five patterns that would occasionally change.Those in the control group pressed a button when they heard the pattern change while the responsive patients at the hospice were asked to count the number of times the pattern changed.The brain activity of the control group and the responsive hospice patients was very similar to that of the unresponsive patients, Blundon said."It's an encouraging sign that at the very least the brain is reacting and processing at some capacity the auditory information that it's receiving," she said of the glimpse into brain activity that persists in the transition between life and death."But I can't tell anybody if their loved one understands them or knows who's talking to them," Blundon said, adding further research is needed to delve deeper into the mysteries of end-of-life hearing.Previous research into hearing of unresponsive patients has been done in Europe on patients with traumatic brain injury and showed they also respond to sound, said Blundon, who hopes to continue her work at the University of Miami, where she may also look into the effects of music on those near death.Dr. Romayne Gallagher, who recently retired as a palliative care physician at St. John Hospice where part of the study was completed, said she noticed during 30 years in her job that patients would react positively when they heard the voice of a loved one, even on the phone.Families can take some measure of comfort from spending time talking to their loved ones, even when they don't respond, she added."A lot of people are scared of this time and they don't quite know what to do and we often say to them, 'Talk to them, play their favourite music.' Things like that."Jordan said she spent thousands of hours "chit-chatting" with her husband and playing his favourite music from the 1970s and '80s on a boom box she brought to hospital."It just seemed natural, speaking to him," she said, adding he seemed to respond most favourably every time she mentioned their son Mark, who was 16 months old when the crash happened.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

  • Trump niece describes 'malignantly dysfunctional family' in new book
    Politics
    Reuters

    Trump niece describes 'malignantly dysfunctional family' in new book

    In a new book, a niece of President Donald Trump applies her training in psychology to conclude that the president likely suffers from narcissism and other clinical disorders - and was boosted to success by a father who fueled those traits. In "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man," Mary Trump writes of a "malignantly dysfunctional family" dominated by a patriarch, Fred Trump, who showed little interest in his five children other than grooming an heir for his real-estate business. Ultimately, he settled on Donald, she wrote, deciding that his second son's "arrogance and bullying" would come in handy at the office, and encouraged it.

  • Calgary hailstorm that caused $1.2B in damage ranks as Canada's 4th costliest natural disaster
    News
    CBC

    Calgary hailstorm that caused $1.2B in damage ranks as Canada's 4th costliest natural disaster

    The hailstorm that hit Calgary on June 13 cost at least $1.2 billion in insured damages, making it the fourth costliest natural disaster in Canada's history, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada."We're looking at the most expensive hailstorm, and I think the residents on the ground are probably not surprised as they're going through the rebuild on this," Celyeste Power, western vice-president of the bureau, told CBC News Wednesday.The storm hit northeast Calgary, Airdrie and Rocky View County hardest.It damaged at least 70,000 homes and vehicles, and destroyed entire crops, as hailstones the size of tennis balls fell at 80 to 100 km/h.The $1.2 billion is just a preliminary estimate and could rise, Power said, as total costs are finalized in the coming months."It is clear this is a devastating thing for many people," Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday. "Many people in Calgary have had their homes completely wrecked … a lot of people have had their livelihood taken away, and even those who were fully insured are still looking at huge deductibles, having to come up with thousands of dollars today for an expense that can't be delayed."The provincial government announced financial support for residents who experienced overland flooding, as overland flooding insurance is often not available in flood-prone areas.But some residents in northeast Calgary have said that's not enough. Nenshi, who also lives in the area, said it's important for the province to understand the impact to residents and said much of that money isn't flowing to homeowners. Many residents in that quadrant of the city are immigrants to Canada, and many were already facing financial hardships tied to the pandemic and oil price crash.Nenshi said he spoke to one couple who are fully insured but out of work. He said their house was hit with $16,000 in damage and insurance will cover only $6,000, leaving them to come up with the remaining $10,000."We've got to come up with a better solution," he said. 6 of Canada's 10 costliest disasters have hit AlbertaSix of the 10 costliest natural disasters in Canada's history have hit Alberta, Power said. The most expensive on record was the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, which cost nearly $4 billion. The next highest was the 2013 flooding that put downtown Calgary and much of southern Alberta under water, at a cost of $3.5 billion.Power said while no single storm will cause insurance premiums to increase, June's hailstorm is part of a pattern."It's hard to ignore the fact Canada has been hit hard with natural disasters over the last decade, we're seeing much more frequent severe weather.… We are working with all levels of government to try and reduce risk and build as resilient of communities as possible, investing in infrastructure, getting people out of floodplains," she said.The Insurance Bureau of Canada said it has deployed its mobile assistance unit to help people in the region access insurance information.

  • Alberta physicians express alarm over proposed health-care bill
    Health
    CBC

    Alberta physicians express alarm over proposed health-care bill

    Alberta doctors are speaking out against a new health-care bill introduced by the provincial government.Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, proposes to cut approval times for private surgical facilities, allow the ministry to contract directly with doctors and allow private companies to take over the administrative functions of physician clinics. The changes affecting physicians' pay come after the government terminated the master agreement with the Alberta Medical Association in February.At the time, the health minister said ending the agreement was a necessary move because the province was at an impasse with doctors over how to reduce costs and improve service in the $20.6-billion health system. If passed, Bill 30 would allow doctors who so desire to move away from the fee-for-service model, where they bill for each patient visit, and instead sign contracts and be paid salaries.In a letter to members dated July 7, AMA president Dr. Christine Molnar said it's concerning the association was not consulted about Bill 30, but there are some positive aspects among its many provisions."Most notable is the increased opportunity for Albertans to participate in their health-care system. There is an increased focus on patient-centred care," she said in the letter.Molnar said the AMA's board of directors would hold a special meeting Wednesday evening to go over the legislation."We will also consider the findings of last week's member survey, which points to clear distress in the profession," she said. Dr. Christopher Ewing, an Edmonton pediatrician,  says he has been scouring Bill 30 and is worried about what it contains."First reaction from me is that this is the start of further privatization of the health-care system, which we've been advocating against for many months now," he said.The bill would make it easier for private surgery facilities to set up shop as well as allow the ministry to contract directly with private companies to run medical clinics.Dr. Kerri Johannson, a lung specialist with the University of Calgary, says the bill seems to be the UCP's tool for privatizing health-care services in Alberta."And what we as the medical and health-care community are concerned about is that this will compromise the care of patients in Alberta," she said. "Anytime you bring privatized services in, it places the emphasis on profit rather than patient care."Johannson says privatization of health care will lead to multiple tiers in the quality of care available to patients."This is not a pathway that we as Canadians value or one that we want to go down," she said.Lorian Hardcastle, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary who specializes in health law and policy, also says the shift toward increasing private delivery options is concerning. "Wait times in the public system can tend to get longer because, of course, there's a finite number of doctors and a finite number of hours that they have in a day," she said."The concern is that these patients with less complex medical needs will be seen quickly in private facilities. Whereas, others will end up waiting longer in the public system."The bill also proposes to make it easier for physicians to negotiate individual contracts — called ARPs — directly with the government.These agreements move doctors away from fee for service to a salary model. But Bill 30 would see physicians negotiate without the Alberta Medical Association.Johannson says the problem is the provincial government lost the trust of doctors when it tore up their agreement with the AMA."Nobody is going to sign that directly with the UCP government at this point without going through the Alberta Medical Association, because we don't trust them."Johannson and others are calling on the province to resume negotiations with the AMA. Calgary family physician Dr. Brendan Vaughan also says trust has been broken between physicians and the provincial government. And he says this bill fails to address that."The way that they've proceeded to terminate the master agreement really failed to even address the fact that physicians are quite concerned about that, and then ultimately have made signing a contract directly with the government — bypassing the AMA — easier, when in fact that is precisely the thing that physicians are less confident than ever to do," he said.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    US seizes 81 vehicles in Venezuela smuggling ring

    Federal investigators said Wednesday they have seized 81 vehicles worth an estimated $3.2 million that were bound for Venezuela as part of a smuggling ring operated for wealthy and politically connected people. “This is all part of an ongoing effort to combat foreign public corruption and in particular for public corruption in Venezuela and the laundering and the fleecing of the Venezuelan people’s wealth and the stealing of the Venezuelan wealth from the national treasury for the gain of a few politically exploited, exposed people, kleptocrats and their associates,” Salisbury said.

  • 'You haunt my dreams:' Sex assault victim confronts ex-nightclub worker in court
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'You haunt my dreams:' Sex assault victim confronts ex-nightclub worker in court

    EDMONTON — A woman who was sexually assaulted by a former nightclub employee says he may not remember her, but she will always remember him.Matthew McKnight, 33, was accused of sexually assaulting 13 women ranging in age from 17 to 22 between 2010 and 2016. He pleaded not guilty, but a jury convicted him in January on five of the 13 counts.Court heard he met most of the women in bars and assaulted them at his Edmonton apartment.Two of the victims and four family members, including the sister of a third victim, spoke at the start of McKnight's sentencing hearing in Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday.One woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, addressed McKnight directly as she read her victim impact statement. "You sexually assaulted me," she said through tears."For years, I have been terrified of you. You haunt my dreams and dictate my waking moments."She said she hasn't been able to forget the night he attacked her."The bruises you left on my skin faded, but the nightmares ... will forever be with me."Another woman, who also cannot be named, told court about how her life changed four years, two months and 23 days ago."I remember walking into a pub with friends ... to waking up in a nightmare that I will have to relive for the rest of my life," she said. "I still cannot get over the thought of having a stranger inside of me, violating my body."I did not want to believe what happened to me was real."The woman said she was traumatized by the sexual assault and often wouldn't leave her house to go for groceries or walk her dog."I feared there were other men out there just like you," she said.The Crown, which said alcohol and "something else" were used in at least three of the offences, is seeking a total sentence of 22 1/2 years for what it calls "drug-facilitated" sexual assaults."These are gravely serious offences and Mr. McKnight's degree of moral responsibility is high," said prosecutor Mark Huyser-Wierenga in his opening submission."He's a man who has had a privileged upbringing in many ways."Huyser-Wierenga said the judge must "denounce and deter" the vile abuse of the five women.Justice Doreen Sulyma challenged the Crown's submission that evidence of drugs had been proven in court or accepted by the jury."I don't think there was evidence of drugs, just evidence of blackouts," she said.Huyser-Wierenga said one of the woman only had one drink, which she testified was given to her by McKnight before she blacked out."She's come to and she's in Mr. McKnight's bed," the prosecutor said.The Crown recommended consecutive sentences, which would be served one after another, because each of the five offences was separate. It asked for two terms of four years, one of 4 1/2 years and two at five years.Defence lawyer Dino Bottos is to give his submissions Thursday.The hearing, which is to also to get statements from at least two more of the victims, is to run until Friday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

  • Federal website advertising hundreds of non-existent student-volunteer positions
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Federal website advertising hundreds of non-existent student-volunteer positions

    OTTAWA — The federal website advertising volunteer positions for students hoping to earn money for their educations through a $900-million government aid program contains hundreds of positions that do not actually exist.Among the student-volunteer positions advertised as available on the I Want to Help website are 1,500 spots with YMCA Canada to help create online exercise regimes for kids and seniors in their communities. Yet the YMCA says those positions were actually the brainchild of WE Charity, the organization originally tapped by the Liberal government to administer the Canada Student Services Grant, and that the YMCA never agreed to them.Both the YMCA and WE blame a miscommunication as WE scrambled to get the grant program — through which students can get up to $5,000 toward their schooling if they volunteer the maximum 500 hours — up and running as quickly as possible.WE has since withdrawn from running the program.In an interview, YMCA Canada president Peter Dinsdale said his organization proposed hosting 391 volunteers through dozens of YMCA locations. They would focus on three areas: helping local branches with marketing and website design; data analysis; and assisting seniors with tech questions.The YMCA arrived at the number after reaching out to branches across the country, Dinsdale said, after which the national office drew up a draft memorandum of understanding with WE to formalize the arrangement."We sent a draft in and they sent a draft back and that's when we saw these other positions and we asked to separate them," he said of the 1,500 positions for online exercise regimes. "And they said great. And we haven't heard from them since all this has gone down.""These discussions (with the YMCA) took place quickly, given our short timeline for delivery, and some confusion arose around the two separate agreements," WE said in a statement to The Canadian Press."That confusion contributed to a misunderstanding on our part which led to one group of service positions being posted, rather than the other group of service positions."It nonetheless means those advertised positions are not actually available.The status of thousands of other positions apparently created by WE to meet the requirements of the volunteer program remains uncertain.Youth Minister Bardish Chagger's spokeswoman Danielle Keenan stood by the Canada Student Services Grant program on Wednesday, saying that while there will be delays in its rollout following WE's departure, the government remains committed to it."The Canada Student Service Grants program provides opportunities for students who want to help with their communities COVID-19 response," Keenan said in an email to The Canadian Press."Although the delivery of the program will change, our objective has not changed which is to ensure students, not-for-profits, and communities are supported throughout the pandemic."WE and the Liberal government announced last week that they were ending a sole-sourced contract to have the charity manage the grant program after questions were raised about a potential conflict of interest between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the organization.Dinsdale said the YMCA did not know the 1,500 positions had been posted, noting the agreement with WE was never signed. At the same time, the 391 positions that the YMCA does want to fill have yet to be advertised. Dinsdale said the YMCA is waiting to hear from the government on those."The 391 that we're actually putting forward, our Ys are ready and willing to engage in it and there are some really interesting opportunities that could exist for youth and our YMCAs and communities," he said. "So we're certainly hopeful those go ahead."Thousands of other positions posted on the federal website involve the creation of online content or the mentoring of other students on such topics as COVID-19's impact on the environment, nutrition and cyberbullying.Some of those are posted in huge batches, such as a call for 1,000 volunteers to be trained to hold one-to-one sessions with people on "the impact of COVID-19 on food security in your community."Another seeks 1,250 volunteers to devise "social-media assets" such as captions, memes and videos, for local and regional awareness campaigns to help stop the spread of COVID-19.None of those postings includes the name of a hosting organization: they're listed as "supporting local non-profits in your community" rather than with a specific agency.WE did indicate that it was behind many of them as it sought to meet the government's requirement that in order to be eligible for the student grant, positions must be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic."The purpose of the CSSG was to engage tens of thousands of post-secondary students in service programs to assist with the impact of COVID-19," WE said in its statement."COVID-19 has been in Canada for a relatively short period of time and there are limited new service opportunities related to addressing (it). This is partly why WE was brought in (to) develop and co-ordinate service roles that fulfil the program guidelines and deliver a meaningful impact."Employment and Social Development Canada, which will now administer the grant program instead of WE, did not respond to repeated questions about the positions, including whether they would move ahead or not.Conservative employment critic Dan Albas said the questions about the federal website underscore the need for answers when it comes to the student grant program, including how positions have been chosen or created and what benefit they are expected to have."To find out that perhaps hundreds of positions have been put forward and in good faith maybe people have applied for those positions without having a correction from the government?" he said."This is public money. They need to come clean and clean up this program so that any dollar that is spent gets the maximum opportunities for young people and value for money for taxpayer dollars."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

  • Canada handled the coronavirus outbreak better than United States, PM Trudeau says
    News
    Reuters

    Canada handled the coronavirus outbreak better than United States, PM Trudeau says

    Canada handled the novel coronavirus outbreak better than many of its allies, including the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, in a rare public comment on the faltering U.S. effort. Canada - with a population one-tenth the size of the United States - has so far recorded 8,711 deaths and 106,167 cases and Trudeau said the situation was stabilizing, although some hot spots remained. In contrast, the United States has recorded more than 3 million cases and 131,336 deaths.

  • Ontario overestimated cost of services to irregular border crossers, AG finds
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Ontario overestimated cost of services to irregular border crossers, AG finds

    TORONTO — Ontario significantly overstated the costs of providing services to asylum seekers coming into Canada from the United States, the province's auditor general said Wednesday.In a special report, Bonnie Lysyk said the $200 million estimate given by the governing Progressive Conservatives in 2018 represented the cost of providing services to all refugee claimants, not just so-called "irregular" border crossers.She said the minister of social services at the time, Lisa MacLeod, was given inaccurate information by civil servants."The accuracy of information provided by the ministry to the minister for the public announcement was far off the mark," Lysyk said in a statement Wednesday."Senior government officials need to ensure the accuracy of the information provided to government for public announcements and decision-making."MacLeod had formally requested $200 million from Ottawa to cover costs she said were incurred by the province and its municipalities as a result of an influx of asylum seekers arriving from the U.S.Lysyk said her office found the Ontario government spent roughly $81 million on services for irregular asylum seekers between April 1, 2017 — when the federal government first started tracking their arrival — and July 31, 2018.More costs were incurred until the border was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lysyk said.She recommended Ontario seek an immigration agreement with the federal government that includes compensation for providing services to refugee claimants, including irregular border crossers.The current deal does not, and the federal government has given $15.6 million in compensation to Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region for their expenses during the April 2017 to August 2018 period, she said.Quebec, which has a separate cost-sharing agreement with Ottawa, incurred $300 million in costs and has received $286 million in compensation, Lysyk said.When asked about the report Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said his government did not intentionally mislead the public and was simply relying on the information provided.Ford blamed the federal government for leaving the province to shoulder the costs of what he called "illegal immigration," and suggested the auditor general should do another report to examine more recent expenses related to the issue."Where's the money? We need the money," the premier said. "Every single day, it's costing us more and more and more."Opposition legislators criticized the government for using inflated numbers to make policy decisions."The auditor general's report makes clear that the claims Doug Ford and Lisa MacLeod made about the cost of accommodating asylum seekers in Ontario were pure fiction," NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement."Shame on them for making stuff up to fan the flames of division instead of uniting us like they should have been."Liberal House Leader John Fraser said the Ford government has a record of "continually overstating, overstepping, and exaggerating."Ford previously came under fire for saying his government inherited a $15 billion deficit from the Liberals, and later revising that number down by about half, to $7.4 billion.Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the debate over the costs of services for irregular border crossers took place at a time when many governments were "playing politics with immigration.""The government inflated this number ... to provide cover for what in this case is a divisive political agenda, which I think was to question immigration policy in this country. And I think it's wrong," he said.Canada's Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S. says asylum seekers are required to make their claims in the first "safe" country where they arrive, which means those who try to enter Canada at an official land crossing are sent back to make their claim in the U.S.The agreement does not cover those who come in through unofficial crossings, known as "irregular" asylum seekers.The auditor says 36 per cent of refugee claimants in Ontario in recent years entered at unofficial points.Federal data show 26,415 asylum claims were filed in Ontario in 2019, which could include some filed by irregular border crossers.The province provides services such as temporary housing, settlement services and language training.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 8, 2020.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

  • Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    Three patients dead: Edmonton hospital declares full COVID-19 outbreak

    EDMONTON — A hospital in Edmonton is no longer admitting patients due to a full outbreak of COVID-19, including three deaths.The outbreak at the Misericordia Community Hospital was earlier declared by Alberta's chief medical health officer and restrictions have tightened as case numbers increased.Alberta Health Services announced Wednesday that 20 patients and 15 staff have tested positive.Three other patients have died from the infection."I know the public will think that this is difficult news and I want to assure everybody that we're taking this aggressive step to stop the transmission," Dr. David Zygun, medical direction with AHS Edmonton Zone, told a news conference Wednesday."This is an exceptional situation is what has been an excellent safety record in managing outbreaks."He said it was necessary to declare a full outbreak to protect remaining patients and staff.The 312-bed hospital, which is run by Catholic health provider Covenant Health, is not allowing visitors except in end-of-life situations and is postponing day procedures. Its emergency department is also closed.Alberta Health Services said people who were to come in for health services are being contacted and will be cared for at another city hospital.Current patients who have tested positive are being treated at two units in the Misericordia.Zygun added that the hospital has enough supplies and staff to deal with the outbreak and continue to treat those patients who are there.He said officials have reinforced with all 2,700 workers and physicians that it's important to make sure each day that they're fit for work, use appropriate personal protective equipment, wear masks and wash their hands.On Monday, the province announced 46 new infections across Alberta, for a total of 8,482 cases. So far, 7,716 people have recovered and 158 have died.This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020The Canadian Press

  • Evan Penner healing with family after arrest by Saskatoon police caught on video: FSIN
    News
    CBC

    Evan Penner healing with family after arrest by Saskatoon police caught on video: FSIN

    After not being heard from since a court appearance on Monday, following an arrest caught on video and widely shared, Evan Penner has been found and is healing with his family, according to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.Penner was the subject of an arrest in the 500 block of 11th Street East on Saturday that was captured on video. In the video, officers can be seen punching Penner numerous times as he struggles on the ground. Penner was also pepper sprayed and Tasered during the incident.How Penner and the officer became engaged in a physical confrontation is unclear, but witnesses who encountered Penner before his arrest say he was quiet and non-confrontational.The call that led to his arrest was a non-emergency call. A tenant told her landlord she was feeling unsafe, as Penner was using the apartment block's garden hose to bathe and was said to be acting erratically.Penner is facing numerous charges following the arrest, including attempting to disarm a peace officer, assaulting a police officer, mischief and possession of a controlled substance.The video of his arrest resulted in advocates calling for the firing of the officers involved, as both the Indigenous Joint Action Coalition and Black Lives Matter YXE say police "violently brutalized" Penner, who is from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in northern Manitoba."This is a very serious and stressful situation for Mr. Penner and his family," said the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in a news release. Evan's mother, who travelled from northern Manitoba after seeing video of her son's arrest, is now in Saskatoon, the FSIN said.Before he was located on Wednesday morning, Penner's lawyers and his family were unsure about his whereabouts, and hadn't heard from him since he made an appearance via telephone at Saskatoon's provincial court on Monday morning.The FSIN, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, added its voice of concern about the video on Tuesday. It is calling on the Saskatoon Police Service to immediately review and amend its use of force policies."We are still healing the relationship between the First Nations community and the Saskatoon police following the Stonechild Inquiry. Incidents like this one continue to put a heavy strain on that relationship," FSIN Vice-Chief Dutch Lerat said in a news release Tuesday."There are still instances of police brutality taking place at the hands of SPS members."Officer not on administrative leave: policeIn a release from Saskatoon police, the service said it's treating the matter as a "critical and serious incident," noting Penner sustained a non-life-threatening injury to his face during the arrest.The statement indicated "addictions and related mental health issues were present during the incident and this will form part of the investigation.""I recognize this incident was a traumatic event for our community, for those involved and for those who witnessed it," police Chief Troy Cooper said in the statement."Whenever force is used we are accountable and I want to assure the public that this is being taken seriously and we will do our utmost to be open and transparent as the investigation unfolds."The Saskatoon Police Association, which represents Saskatoon police members, said in a statement on Tuesday it feels a fulsome investigation into the matter will find that its officers acted appropriately, given the circumstances."The resulting video, which only depicts the use-of-force aspect of the arrest, doesn't show much needed context around the interaction, and the Saskatoon Police Association hopes people will hold judgment in this incident until a full, independent investigation can take place," said the association's president, Dean Pringle, in the release.The association also said Penner was the subject of an indecent exposure call on the day of his arrest. The Saskatoon Police Service confirmed Wednesday that call happened in the 600 block of Clarence at around 8 a.m., but said Penner was released after being apprehended.The police service originally issued a statement indicating that one of the officers involved in the arrest was placed on leave. However, on Wednesday, the police association and the police service clarified that the officer is not on any kind of punitive leave, but was given time off following the incident, ahead of previously scheduled time off."This is in line with the SPS response to serious incidents," the police service said in a statement Wednesday."The officers most involved in the incident take a leave before taking part in a debrief regarding the incident. This is different from when an officer is placed on administrative leave for disciplinary reasons or during a criminal investigation."The association says the officer is set to be back on shift next week. 'Need to see immediate changes'Anger about the video has now spread beyond Saskatchewan's border, with Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a political advocacy group that represents roughly 72,000 First Nations people in northern Manitoba, also condemning the actions of the officers in the arrest. "I am very concerned with the handling of incidents across the country where police have been called for assistance," MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a Wednesday news release."It is devastating to our relationships with police when we see arrests of Indigenous peoples being handled with such violence. We need to see immediate changes to the ways in which the RCMP, and other police, are working with Indigenous peoples."In the release, Settee says MKO will protect its citizens regardless of where they live, saying it is concerned for "the well-being of Indigenous peoples from coast to coast to coast." "The Saskatoon Police Service needs to take a good look at their organization to investigate what is happening within their ranks," Settee said in the release."They must work closely with First Nations leaders to eliminate the systemic discrimination that exists within their force."Saskatoon's board of police commissioners is set to hold a special meeting on Thursday to discuss Penner's arrest. A representative for the board said it is refraining from further comment until after the meeting.

  • Doctor accused in Campbellton, N.B., COVID-19 outbreak won't face criminal charges, says lawyer
    News
    CBC

    Doctor accused in Campbellton, N.B., COVID-19 outbreak won't face criminal charges, says lawyer

    The doctor accused of being patient zero in a northern New Brunswick COVID-19 outbreak after he travelled to neighbouring Quebec in May and didn't self-isolate upon his return has been notified he won't face criminal charges, his lawyer said.Dr. Jean Robert Ngola's defence team is now "seeking answers as to why proper procedures were not followed, why [he] was singled out and why privacy laws were breached," said a statement issued by EME Professional Corporation, the Toronto-based law firm representing him.Ngola, who is from Congo but has had a practice in Campbellton, N.B., for about seven years, is also still seeking an apology from New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs for what his lawyer calls "unacceptable and unfounded public accusations" and for the "extreme racism and threats of violence that he and his family have had to endure."If Higgs refuses to apologize, Ngola's legal team will seriously consider taking the matter to court, his lawyer, Joël Etienne, said."We firmly believe the premier should publicly apologize for the condemnation he hurled against Dr. Ngola without taking, in our opinion, satisfactory steps to learn the truth in the matter," Etienne said in the statement.The absence of criminal charges does not preclude the possibility of charges being laid under the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Act.A spokesperson for the New Brunswick RCMP said the investigation is ongoing.During a news conference late Wednesday afternoon, Higgs told reporters he stands by the comments he made on May 27.Higgs never publicly named Ngola but blamed a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Campbellton region and a resurgence of the coronavirus in the province on an "irresponsible" medical professional who travelled to Quebec for personal reasons, "was not forthcoming about their reasons for travel upon returning to New Brunswick" and didn't self-isolate."If you ignore the rules, you put your family, your friends and your fellow New Brunswickers at risk," Higgs had said. "Today's case is evidence of that.""My position hasn't changed," Higgs said Wednesday. "The comments I made previously, I stand behind those comments. I don't intend to withdraw them."Ngola drove to Quebec the week of May 10 to retrieve his four-year-old daughter because her mother had to travel to Africa for a funeral. He immediately returned to work at the Campbellton Regional Hospital without self-isolating for 14 days.He and his daughter were both tested for COVID-19 on May 25 after he was informed one of his patients had tested positive for the respiratory disease. Although neither of them were exhibiting symptoms, their results came back positive. A total of 41 people in the Campbellton region became infected with COVID-19 during the outbreak that began May 21, and two of them, who were in their 80s, died. As of Wednesday, there is only one active case remaining in the province and it's linked to that outbreak.Etienne said his client was questioned by the RCMP to determine whether he should be charged with negligence causing death or bodily harm.But the lawyer said he received confirmation a few days ago that no criminal charges will be laid.No timeline on investigationCpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, spokesperson for the New Brunswick RCMP, said she is not aware if the RCMP had a conversation with any lawyer."However, we would not discuss any private conversations we have had anyway," she said in an emailed statement."The investigation is still ongoing, that has not changed. I cannot speculate on the status of any charges as we are still investigating."On May 30, the New Brunswick RCMP received a complaint from the provincial government and the Vitalité Health Network regarding an individual who "may have violated the mandatory order under the current Emergency Measures Act by travelling outside of N.B., and not following the guidelines of self-isolating upon their return," Rogers-Marsh said.The RCMP are continuing to investigate to "determine if a violation has occurred."Rogers-Marsh declined to discuss the details of the investigation.There is no timeline on how long the investigation will take, she said.Doctor still suspendedNgola, who is also known as Ngola Monzinga and as Jean Robert Ngola Monzinga, declined to comment on Wednesday, directing media inquiries to his lawyer.He remains suspended, said Vitalité spokesperson Thomas Lizotte, identifying Ngola only as "the individual.""Unfortunately, we cannot add any more comments as this is a confidential file in human resources' hands," he said.Ngola was suspended on May 28, the day after provincial officials announced his case without naming him.He has about 2,000 patients and also works at the Campbellton Regional Hospital's emergency department. He cannot practise anywhere in the province while suspended.Ngola's lawyer, who wrote a letter to the premier last month saying he had proof his client was not patient zero and seeking a public apology, has written him another letter."For us, it is a truth that he has always been innocent and that is why we ask the premier of the province once again to apologize," Etienne said.The defence team contends the province should have, "at a minimum," initiated an investigation "before immediately blaming Dr. Ngola."The investigation, it contends, should have included: * Performing out-of-province contact tracing, in consultation with pandemic medical experts. * Investigating and tracing a "massive breach of privacy" that allegedly originated from within the government within an hour of Ngola testing positive for COVID-19 and resulted in the "unlawful outing and shaming" of him, complete with his photograph circulating on social media.Defence hired its own investigatorsPrivate investigators for Ngola concluded last month that he "could not have been the first patient" and that his trip to Quebec was not the source, his lawyer said.During Ngola's overnight round trip, he interacted with only a few people — all of whom subsequently tested negative for COVID-19, Etienne said.Based on the coronavirus incubation period of up to two weeks, Etienne said, the investigator concluded Ngola was infected in New Brunswick by either a patient or a colleague and did not carry the virus over the border.The premier said at the time he's bound by privacy rules and limited in what he could say."But I am quite comfortable in the position that I've taken, how I've spoken about it and the reality of how this situation developed," he said."And if the facts are all on the table, I am sure that others will be clear as well."Asked Wednesday what the government is doing to look into the defence's allegations of a privacy breach, Higgs replied, "Well, I appreciate that's been the accusation."I don't believe that certainly that I did that. I was concerned about the protocols being followed. I think that Vitalité [has] done a lot of research in that regard. We've had lessons learned from that experience in Campbellton."Rules for health-care workersPublic Health officials did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.At the time of Ngola's trip, health-care workers who live and work in New Brunswick were required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return from travel outside the province, officials have said.There were exceptions, however. Doctors and nurses who work in New Brunswick but live across the border and commute regularly don't have to isolate, for example.Out-of-province doctors who fill in on a temporary basis, known as locums, had not been required by Vitalité to fully isolate. But the province's pandemic task force became concerned about the number of locums coming in and issued a directive on May 19 requiring the regional health authorities to seek isolation exemptions for their locums through WorkSafeNB.Before the Campbellton outbreak, New Brunswick had managed to flatten the COVID-19 curve, going more than two weeks without any new cases.

  • Pence says COVID-19 fatality rate remains 'low and steady'
    News
    CBC

    Pence says COVID-19 fatality rate remains 'low and steady'

    U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence thanked health care workers and the American people for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Police searching for vandal who threatened totem poles 'will start falling' on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast
    News
    CBC

    Police searching for vandal who threatened totem poles 'will start falling' on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast

    Mounties on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver are looking for the person responsible for threatening to tear down two totem poles, apparently in retaliation for any toppling of statues of historical figures.The threat was spray painted on a banner that was discovered Tuesday morning, strung between the two poles at the entrance to Pender Harbour Secondary School.Patrick Bocking, superintendent of schools for the Sunshine Coast school district, said staff immediately tore down the banner and called the RCMP."This is somewhat heartbreaking to see such a thing from anyone," Bocking said. "It was absolutely a disappointment."The poles are the work of shíshálh master carver Arnold Jones, created with the help of students at the school.The shíshálh Nation issued a written statement Wednesday condemning the vandalism, as well as a separate incident reported Tuesday where the word "conquered" was painted on a highway sign containing shíshálh language."Our Nation members are saddened and upset by these most recent acts of racism," hiwus (Chief) Warren Paull said."Of course, we are not surprised. Racism exists here on the Sunshine Coast, as it does elsewhere. And as always, racism will be confronted for what it is — as an expression of ignorance and hate that must be completely rejected in all forms." Sunshine Coast RCMP are circulating surveillance photos of a suspect in the incident in the hope that someone can identify the person responsible."Given the sensitive nature of this threat, police are working diligently to locate a suspect and are asking for the public's assistance in identifying the person in the surveillance video," Const. Jihan McDougall said in a news release."There is no tolerance for this type of behaviour and we will work very hard to find the person responsible."'It's just not carefully thought through'The banner was made with a large piece of fabric tied to the poles with rope at all four corners.An image provided by the shíshálh Nation shows a square of material painted with the grammatically incorrect message, "If u touch George/Stanley/or John A., ur totem's will start falling."Bocking said it appears the threat may be a reaction to ongoing debates in the U.S. over the toppling of statues of Confederate generals and other historical figures who owned slaves or committed racist violence.Closer to home, there have been heated discussions about statues of Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, because of his anti-Indigenous policies, including the establishment of the residential school system. A statue of Macdonald was removed from the front steps of Victoria City Hall two years ago.But there have been no such debates in Pendour Harbour, according to Bocking."We try to make sense of the messaging, and it's really not possible," he said.Bocking said it's possible that "George" refers to a statue an hours' drive away in Gibsons that commemorates town founder George Gibson, though he's unaware of any movement to tear down that monument."Stanley" may refer to Lord Frederick Stanley, whose statue greets visitors to Stanley Park in Vancouver, but it's not clear that anyone is calling for that piece to be removed, either."It's just not carefully thought through, and of course it seems to be coming from a really unfortunate attitude about how things are worked through in a community," Bocking said.shíshálh Nation thanks community for supportDespite the two separate incidents on Tuesday, representatives of the shíshálh say their spirits have been buoyed by support from people across B.C."This is the most heartening thing," Coun. Selina August said in the written statement."While we woke up today to hurtful news of racist incidents, we are also met with the love, support, and generosity of British Columbians from all walks of life who wish to see true reconciliation become the reality across this country."Anyone who has information about the threats to the totem poles is asked to call RCMP at 604-885-2266.

  • Sask. government failed to consult First Nations on $4B irrigation plan, says FSIN
    News
    CBC

    Sask. government failed to consult First Nations on $4B irrigation plan, says FSIN

    Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron says the provincial government should have consulted First Nations before it announced a $4-billion irrigation project."That was news to us," Cameron said.Work is set to begin immediately on the massive infrastructure project, the largest in provincial history. It's expected to take 10 years to complete all phases.Officials say they plan to consult First Nations. But Cameron noted the Supreme Court has repeatedly ordered governments to conduct meaningful consultations with First Nations before projects begin, not after.The federal government policy is that those consultations must attempt to obtain "free, prior and informed consent" before any major project affecting First Nations begins."That's the whole purpose of communication, right? You get input prior to any plan coming forward," Cameron said.Cameron said they're still willing to talk, but their support is not automatic. First Nations will meet as a council, get advice from elders and experts, and then give their input. This will be especially important for First Nations in affected regions such as Cumberland House, Battlefords and Qu'Appelle."It's not going to be consultation unless the take our recommendations seriously. They can't just come into a meeting and make the report and all is fine and dandy. It doesn't work that way," Cameron said.More water will be diverted from the Lake Diefenbaker reservoir to irrigate another 200,000 hectares of land.Officials say it would allow farmers to grow vegetables and other high value crops and spark the growth of a processing industry.They also say it would also provide a more stable water source for Regina, Moose Jaw and other communities.Farm groups welcomed the announcement. But others such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said the price tag is too high for taxpayers at a time when government debt is already soaring.

  • Texas resumes executions after 5-month delay due to pandemic
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Texas resumes executions after 5-month delay due to pandemic

    HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas inmate received lethal injection Wednesday evening for fatally shooting an 82-year-old man nearly three decades ago, ending a five-month delay of executions in the nation’s busiest death penalty state because of the coronavirus pandemic.Billy Joe Wardlow was put to death at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the June 1993 killing of Carl Cole at his home in Cason, about 130 miles (209 kilometres) east of Dallas in the East Texas piney woods, near the Louisiana and Arkansas borders.The U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop the 45-year-old man’s execution.Wardlow was the first inmate in Texas to receive a lethal injection since Feb. 6 and the second in the U.S. since the nation began reopening following pandemic-related shutdowns.Strapped to the death chamber gurney, Wardlow declined to make a final statement when asked by the warden. He did nod and smile broadly, mouthing words to several friends who watched through a window from an adjacent witness room.As the lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital was administered, he took three deep breaths, snored twice and then took a couple shallow breaths before all movement stopped. He was pronounced dead 24 minutes later, at 6:52 p.m. CDT.A judge had moved Wardlow’s execution date from April 29 to Wednesday after Morris County District Attorney Steve Cowan requested the change citing the statewide disaster declaration due to the virus.In Texas, the number of confirmed COVID-19 virus cases and hospitalizations have risen in recent weeks. But state prison officials say safety measures they’ve put in place will help executions to go forward. Execution witnesses on Wednesday were given masks and gloves. All prison officers and officials wore masks. Wardlow did not have one.Six executions scheduled in Texas for earlier this year were postponed by the courts because of the outbreak. Two others were delayed over different issues.Wardlow was 18 at the time of the slaying, and his attorneys have argued that one of the issues Texas jurors have to determine before imposing a death sentence — whether a defendant will be a future danger — can’t be reliably made for people younger than 21 because scientific research has shown their brains are still developing. Wardlow’s attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution, saying he committed a “poorly-thought-out and naively-motivated robbery” to steal a truck so he could run away with his girlfriend.“The science really supports precluding the death penalty for anyone under 21 because brain development is still happening,” said Richard Burr, one of Wardlow’s attorneys.Prosecutors argued there was no constitutional error when the jury considered the issue of future dangerousness and society has long used the age of 18 as the point where it draws the line for many distinctions between childhood and adulthood.“Wardlow senselessly executed elderly Carl Cole to steal his truck, something that could have been taken without violence because the keys were in it,” the Texas attorney general’s office said in a petition filed with the Supreme Court.The court also denied petitions from Wardlow over claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and related to the dismissal of a previous appeal in state and federal court. On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down his clemency petition.Wardlow’s petition on brain development had its roots in a 2005 decision in which the Supreme Court banned the execution of offenders younger than 18 when they commit crimes. The Supreme Court pointed to research showing that character and personality traits of juveniles are not fully formed like adults.Since that ruling, scientific research has established that the brains of those between the ages of 18 and 20 are functionally indistinguishable from someone who is 17, making their executions a violation of the constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment,, Burr said.In a clemency petition to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Burr argued that as Wardlow grew older on death row, “kindness and compassion have been his defining characteristics.” Two jurors who condemned Wardlow had asked the board to commute his sentence to life without parole.A group of academics and professionals in neuroscience and brain imaging had also asked the Supreme Court to stop the execution, saying the prediction of Wardlow’s future dangerousness “was scientifically unfounded when made and refuted by his character today.”But the attorney general’s office pointed out that Wardlow had previously threatened to shoot an officer and threatened jail staff and other inmates after his arrest. They also noted that in his written confession, Wardlow said Cole “was shot like an executioner would have done it.”Wardlow was the third inmate put to death this year in Texas and the seventh in the U.S.___Lozano reported from Houston.—-Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70Juan A. Lozano And Michael Graczyk, The Associated Press

  • Documentary warns of 'catastrophic' changes happening in Gulf of Maine
    Science
    CBC

    Documentary warns of 'catastrophic' changes happening in Gulf of Maine

    When Charles Tilburg was approached by the University of New England's communications team about making a documentary on climate change in the Gulf of Maine, he was immediately excited by the idea.The professor of oceanography and director of the school of marine programs at the Maine university saw it as an opportunity to show people just how serious the situation is becoming in the gulf."I want them to be alarmed," Tilburg said, "I want them to realize that there has to be change to the status quo for us to address what's going on in the Gulf of Maine and, in fact, in the world's oceans."Tilburg said the Gulf of Maine, which sits at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, is warming faster than 99 per cent of the world's oceans, and the effects are already being seen, especially with the arrival of species not normally found in those waters.."The lobstermen are finding seahorses in their lobster traps," Tilburg said. "They're bringing up blue crab, you know, crab that normally are in Virginia.""Fishermen aren't able to get as many cod or haddock or any of the groundfish, so they're going out there and they're spending more time and more effort catching less fish."And this is happening now. I mean, lots of times when you talk about climate change, you talk about what's going to happen in the future, but our fishermen are seeing it now."Tilburg said there are also more algal blooms, known as red tide, and more beach closures because of it.A big, shallow bathtubScientists believe the Gulf of Maine is warming faster because it essentially acts as a shallow bathtub, where warm water from the Gulf Stream and nearby rivers are balanced out by cold water from the Labrador Current.Think of it as a warm and cold water faucet, Tilburg said. But now the cold water faucet, the Labrador Current, is being turned down.The gulf is now warming seven to eight times faster than it was 15 years ago.Tilburg said people who live along the Bay of Fundy should be very concerned about what's happening in the Gulf of Maine.He said that in the short term, say five or six years, the bay may actually see an increase in some fish species as they move north in search of colder waters.But that's not likely to last."They can't go much farther north up into the Bay of Fundy, so these different populations are going to start migrating up north and more into the Arctic Ocean," said Tilburg."Long term, it's going to be catastrophic to the fish species that people in the Bay of Fundy normally fish for."The documentary, titled Reckoning With Climate Change in the Gulf of Maine, features scientists and policy experts from the University of New England and other researchers in the state, local fishermen and policy makers in government.Tilburg said it tries to stay away from statistics and numbers and instead tells the story of the Gulf of Maine. 'Be alarmed'"They tried to get a whole swath of different people and perspectives on it, so that there's a piece that everyone's going to be interested in," Tilburg said.The film also focuses on what people can do to help."I want them to think 'What can I, as a citizen of the United States or a citizen of Canada, actually do about it?' and be alarmed enough that they want to take action," Tilburg said."Like, I don't want them at the end to just be demoralized. I want them to realize we can make changes and we can mitigate the change.""Where they can be the most effective is in two things: on the pressure that individuals put on companies so that they become more globally aware, and on their governments.He said if the Gulf of Maine keeps warming, it will lose its lobster and groundfish."We're going to be invaded by blue crabs, all the populations in the Gulf of Maine are gonna change, and that's going to affect everyone in the Northeast," Tilsburg warned.And it won't take long, "This isn't going to happen over 50 to a 100 years. This is going to happen over 10 years."The documentary will air on PBS in Maine on Thursday at 10 p.m. Atlantic time and again on Saturday at 3 p.m.

  • Almost 35,000 people pegged for removal from Canada evade border agency
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Almost 35,000 people pegged for removal from Canada evade border agency

    OTTAWA — Canada's border agency has failed to promptly remove most of the people under orders to leave the country, and in tens of thousands of cases it has simply lost track of them, the federal auditor general says.In a report tabled Wednesday in Parliament, the auditor said the Canada Border Services Agency's efforts were hampered by poor data quality and case-management flaws, resulting in avoidable delays in thousands of cases.Problems in information-sharing with immigration officials also slowed things down.The border agency is responsible for carrying out removal orders to ensure public safety and the integrity of the immigration system.The report noted the federal government had made significant investments over the last decade to improve the efficiency of the asylum system, including removals.However, the level of enforceable removal orders — those involving people who have exhausted or waived all legal avenues to stay in Canada — remained largely unchanged, even for priority cases.As of April 2019, there were about 50,000 people in Canada with enforceable removal orders. Two-thirds of these — 34,700 cases — involved individuals whose whereabouts were unknown. Of these, 2,800 had criminal histories.Still, the border agency was often not conducting regular follow-ups to try to find them by opening each file at least every three years, or once a year for people with criminal issues.Data integrity shortcomings limited the agency's ability to know which removal orders to enforce, the report said."Without a reliable inventory of removal orders, the agency could not effectively prioritize removals according to risk and complexity. We also found cases in which the agency was unaware that removal orders had been issued," it said."Many cases we examined were also stalled because officers had done little to overcome impediments like missing travel documents."The auditor noted that many countries, mostly in Europe, offer assistance programs that promote the voluntary return of foreign nationals to their countries of origin. Some operate through independent third parties and are not limited to failed asylum claimants, the report said."All recognize that voluntary returns are preferred to enforced removals, are more cost-effective, and facilitate rapid departures."The government will do a better job of ensuring the integrity of the system, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged at a news briefing Wednesday.Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, the cabinet member responsible for the border agency, said the government accepts the auditor's recommendations to fix the various problems.In addition to improving its removals strategy, the border agency will enhance the way it tracks and triages cases to ensure priority ones are addressed promptly, Blair said in a statement."This includes continuing to implement a data integrity strategy to ensure that it can quickly identify the stages all cases are at so they can move forward in a timely fashion."The border agency is taking steps to find foreign nationals whose whereabouts are unknown by reviewing all outstanding cases, prioritizing criminal cases and focusing investigations on the most serious ones, Blair added.Finally, the agency will develop an "incentive program" to increase voluntary compliance, he said.The agency's problems with managing removals date back more than a decade, long before the Liberals took the government reins from the Conservatives.But Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said it was another example of the Liberal government being unable to ensure a fair, orderly and compassionate immigration system. "We need a government that takes this kind of thing seriously."NDP public safety critic Jack Harris said the Liberals must make sure the border agency "has sufficient resources to perform their duties."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.—Follow @JimBronskill on TwitterJim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

  • Victim waits for Jamie Bacon to plead guilty to role in Surrey Six slayings
    News
    CBC

    Victim waits for Jamie Bacon to plead guilty to role in Surrey Six slayings

    As far as Eileen Mohan is concerned, Jamie Bacon has been playing the justice system for a fool for the past decade.The mother of one of six people killed in B.C.'s most notorious gangland slaying says she may be in court to watch Thursday — but she'll get no satisfaction from seeing the gangster plead guilty to one count of conspiring to commit murder in relation to the 2007 Surrey Six killings.She had hoped to see Bacon put away for decades. Instead, in Mohan's view, he chose a moment when he faced a losing hand to reach a plea deal that most likely won't see him get old behind bars. And her son, Christopher, is still dead and gone forever."You have no idea how much loss we have occurred. They stole Christopher and they stole our lives too," Mohan says."It took him 13 years to plead guilty and 13 years we've been running around in circles. Had he been genuine, then he would have pleaded guilty a long time ago."A hit that spiralled out of controlWith the entry of two guilty pleas in B.C. Supreme Court, Bacon will bring to a conclusion a criminal case that has tested the legal system for years. His lawyers say the leader of the Red Scorpion gang will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit the murder of Corey Lal, the intended target of a hit on Oct. 19, 2007 that spiralled out of control to become the deadliest gang shooting in B.C. history.Bacon has also agreed to plead guilty to counselling someone to commit the murder of an associate in 2008 as part of a separate retrial that had just begun in front of a jury in March before the proceedings were interrupted by COVID-19.The Surrey Six murders threw a harsh spotlight on the deadly gang wars that have plagued the Lower Mainland for decades.The Crown alleged that the Red Scorpions coveted a drug line run by Lal, and that when Lal wouldn't pay a "tax" imposed for refusing to hand the line over, Bacon ordered him killed.According to various court proceedings, three members of the gang arrived at Lal's apartment, shooting Lal, his brother and two associates in the back of the head, as well as two innocent bystanders, gasfitter Ed Schellenberg, who was fixing the furnace, and 22-year-old Christopher Mohan, who lived across the hall with his mother.The killers dragged Mohan inside the apartment when he chanced upon them after stepping out of his door.'Once bitten, twice shy'A total of six people have been charged in relation to the murders. Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston were sentenced to life in 2014 after being convicted of six counts of first-degree murder. Both men are appealing.Another killer — known by court order as Person X — pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.Two others pleaded guilty to breaking and entering to help the killers gain access to the suite and of obstructing justice by destroying evidence.Michael Le, who was one of the founders of the Red Scorpions, pleaded guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for testimony against Haevischer and Johnston.Mohan says she was given no word of the plea deal and only spoke with the Crown about it after news of the arrangement emerged following a court appearance earlier this week. She fears Bacon will get a deal similar to the one reached by Le, who was sentenced to twelve years but saw his time behind bars reduced to three years and one month after receiving credit for time served.Like Le, Bacon was also originally charged with first-degree murder, which carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 25 years. The Crown dropped the more serious charge against Le as part of his plea, and now it appears they'll do the same for Bacon."That is why I was very upset — once bitten, twice shy," says Mohan. "I know the process and when these people cut sweetheart deals like this."'Tactics to defeat police techniques'Bacon has been in jail since he was arrested in connection with the case in 2009. Pre-trial proceedings in the Surrey Six case took place over four and a half years, after which a stay was entered because the judge in the case found that police conduct during the investigation "contravened fundamental notions of justice and undermined the integrity of the justice system to the degree she could not permit the case to be tried."The Crown appealed and the province's top court overturned the stay in May, ordering Bacon's trial to resume — and setting the stage for the deal that resulted in this week's plea.The Appeal Court's abbreviated reasons detail the challenges police faced in trying to bring charges against Bacon and his associates. The investigation involved more than 1,300 officers and 80 police informers who were up against "a disciplined organization that used tactics to defeat police techniques."In allowing the trial to proceed, the appeal court judges concluded that while some abuses of process had occurred, there weren't enough to justify denying the public the right to see Bacon's guilt or innocence determined in a court of law.After Bacon enters a plea, a date will be set for sentencing. It's uncertain how much time Bacon will get. He will likely receive a significant amount of credit for the time he has already spent behind bars.Mohan says she'll attend the sentencing and make a victim impact statement. She says it's her only chance to make her voice heard."We have to pick up the pieces and live each day as respectfully and as kindly as we can," she says."Because we don't want to … become monsters like the Bacons."

  • Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation
    Science
    The Canadian Press

    Alberta air force base to use goats, sheep to chew down unwanted vegetation

    A Canadian Forces base in Alberta is recruiting a new battalion of lean, mean, eating machines for a mission that will require limited action this summer.The Department of National Defence has put out a tender for goats and sheep to graze on part of the base at 4 Wing Cold Lake."We did this in (CFB) Comox a few years ago and I have a feeling the idea kind of kicked off from that experience," said Captain Mat Strong, public affairs officer for 1 Canadian Air Division based in Winnipeg."The reason we're using goats is because the areas that need to be trimmed are in precarious locations such ... where drainage ditches exist."The tender, which has now closed, said the base has areas that are difficult to maintain due to the degree of slope and accessibility."To get people in there with trimmers and stuff takes days, because they do it by hand. But you can just dump a bunch of goats in there and they can take care of it in no time," Strong said.The contract calls for a herd of 250 animals: 70 per cent goats and 30 per cent sheep.Strong said it's not something planned for other bases across the country.Using goats for weed control isn't new. It's been around in Europe for centuries and the critters have been employed in Kamloops, B.C., and Regina to deal with invasive weeds.The City of Calgary started to use goats to wipe out noxious weeds — most notably the Canada thistle — in a more environmentally friendly way at an urban park in 2016."We've got three different goat herds operating in the city right now. I would say it has been a success," said Chris Manderson, who handles urban conservation for Calgary Parks.Manderson said the newest area to get a goat herd next week is a steep bluff north of the Bow River downtown."Goats are a lot better at negotiating that hillside than people would be. A conventional approach would be guys out there with backpack sprayers."Strong said removing vegetation is a good way to keep down unwanted wildlife at the base where bears, moose and deer have wandered onto the runway.The new recruits will only be used as needed, he said."It's kind of like a snow removal or lawn care service you'd have for your house," Strong said."They basically use them for a defined period of time. And if they're not needed again for a week or two, they go away and then they come back."This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press

  • Business
    CBC

    Proposed class-action against Skip the Dishes moving forward after Supreme Court's Uber ruling

    A proposed class-action lawsuit against Winnipeg-based food delivery service Skip the Dishes can now move forward through Manitoba courts, after the Supreme Court of Canada reached a decision last month in a similar case involving an Ontario Uber Eats driver.The lawsuit, filed by former Skip the Dishes courier Charleen Pokornik in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench in summer of 2018, argues the company misled its drivers by classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees, allowing it to avoid labour laws covering minimum wages, paid sick leave and other benefits. Pokornik and her lawyers were seeking class-action certification, but the court process was put on hold last year after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought forward by Uber Eats driver David Heller.Like Pokornik, Heller argues Uber has violated the rights of its drivers by misclassifying them as independent contractors. He is also seeking class-action certification. The Supreme Court decision, released on June 26, doesn't deal with whether or not Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors.Instead, it determined that drivers can seek legal recourse through Ontario's court system, rather than going through an arbitration process mandated by Uber and based in the Netherlands.  In July 2018, days before Pokornik filed her statement of claim, Skip the Dishes changed its contract with drivers, requiring them to go through arbitration instead of the courts to resolve disputes. The new contract also stipulated that any action must be brought individually, and not as part of a class. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in the Uber case, the Skip the Dishes case is set to move to a case management hearing in mid-September, says a lawyer representing Pokornik's class-action application."The impact of the Supreme Court decision will be a matter of debate between the parties on the Skip the Dishes action, because the facts, of course, are not identical," Paul Edwards said."But what … we're grateful for, is the Supreme Court has engaged in this issue, and the issues arising from the gig economy, which affects so many people in this country."A spokesperson for Skip the Dishes declined to comment, as the case is before the court.If the court decides that Skip drivers are in fact employees and not private contractors, the company could be required to pay drivers retroactively for lost wages, overtime, vacation pay and more.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Wayne Mixson, Florida's governor for 3 days, has died

    Former Florida Gov. Wayne Mixson, whose three-day term was shortest in state history, died Wednesday. Mixson took over the top spot on Jan. 3, 1987, when Gov. Bob Graham resigned early to be sworn into the U.S. Senate. Mixson died at his home in Tallahassee surrounded by his wife, Margie, and loved ones, according to a statement issued by his family.

  • Border crossing numbers a sign that manufacturing has returned, says expert
    News
    CBC

    Border crossing numbers a sign that manufacturing has returned, says expert

    Border crossing numbers released by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) indicate that overall travel continues to remain heavily affected by border restrictions enforced as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.But while approximately 91 per cent fewer people crossed Canada's land borders and approximately 95 per cent fewer people entered Canada by air during the week of June 29 to July 5 — compared to about the same time last year — there's almost no difference in commercial truck traffic.According to the CBSA's latest numbers, approximately 87,550 truckers crossed the border between June 29 and July 5 — about the same as last year. Bill Anderson, director of the University of Windsor's cross-border institute, says truck drivers numbers indicate that "the sort of large-scale manufacturing that has supply chains that stretch across the Canada-U.S. border is back up and running."CBSA numbers from late April showed a 33 per cent decline in commercial truck traffic across Canada's border."And the reason the numbers were much lower if you looked around the beginning of April was the fact that most of the automotive plants have been shut down, and that's the biggest single industry that drives the movement of trucks certainly through the crossing here at Windsor," Anderson said.Major U.S. automakers began reopening their North American factories in May, after instituting wide scale shutdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Canada-U.S. border is currently set to remain closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21. According to numbers released by the Bridge and Tunnel Operators Association — which has yet to release figures for May and June — 36,729 passengers cars crossed through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel in April 2020, compared to 347,738 passenger cars in 2019. As for the Ambassador Bridge, 52,060 passenger cars crossed through the Ambassador Bridge in April 2020, compared to 572,289 cars in 2019. Though confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the U.S., Anderson said it's difficult to predict how the economy will be affected."There's a lot of discussion about what's going to happen in terms of the level of economic demand over the next six months to a year," he said. "I don't have a prediction on that."

  • News
    CBC

    Toronto police say 3 men charged in death of woman, 38, in March

    Toronto police say three men are now charged with killing a 38-year-old woman in Scarborough in March.In a news release on Wednesday, police say two men have been charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder each in the shooting death of Theepa Seevaratnam of Toronto.Seevaratnam is Toronto's 13th homicide victim of the year.One of the accused, 27, is from Oshawa, while the other, 42, is from Toronto. The Oshawa man appeared in court on Tuesday, while the Toronto man appeared in court on Wednesday.On March 13 at 9:55 a.m., police said they received a call for unknown trouble in the area of Brimley Road and Pitfield Road, south of Sheppard Avenue East.When officers arrived, they found two women suffering from gunshot wounds.Toronto paramedics took both women to a local trauma centre, where Seevaratnam was pronounced dead. The other woman was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.Police said another man, 28, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the case on March 30.His charges will be upgraded to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder when he appears in court on Thursday, police said.

  • Coronavirus: Scheer says kick-starting Canadian economy will take more than just reopening provinces
    News
    Global News

    Coronavirus: Scheer says kick-starting Canadian economy will take more than just reopening provinces

    Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Wednesday said that it will take "cutting red tape," "unleashing the power of the private sector" and "leadership" to successfully restart Canada's economy — more than simply reopening provinces amid the coronavirus pandemic.