So tinder dry Trains suspected in some grass fires in prairie communities

first_imgWINNIPEG – An extremely dry spring in the eastern Prairies has meant an early start to fire season and in some cases trains are being suspected as the cause.“It is tinder dry,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada. “The only thing that has prevented a burning inferno is that it has only recently turned warm.”Several grass fires have broken out in recent days in Winnipeg, where a record low of 28 millimetres of precipitation has fallen since Jan. 1.It’s a similar story throughout southern Manitoba and much of Saskatchewan. The snow has melted and there’s been virtually no rain to start the grass turning green. The dry, brown fields can be like kindling to the smallest spark.“Even if it’s a broken glass bottle that’s lying in a ditch. The sun can shine through there and ignite a fire because the conditions are so tinder dry,” said Tom Wallace, deputy chief of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.Wallace said a train that rolled through Winnipeg on Sunday is suspected of starting five grass fires. The investigation is in its early stages, he cautioned, but the flames erupted at different points along the track as the train passed through the city from east to west.A similar scenario was reported in Kannata Valley, Sask., north of Regina on Monday. A grass fire erupted and destroyed three homes. An area resident, Linda Schaeffer, said some people saw sparks coming from the wheel of a train.Gary Friesen, manager of the Manitoba government’s wildfire program, said train-related fires account for a small number of blazes each year. Dry conditions this year have added to the problem.“When you have either a piece of hot metal from a malfunctioning piece of equipment from the train, or a spark blown out by the locomotive, that lands on the (grass), they can ignite.”Even a buildup of carbon in the diesel engine, blown out the exhaust, can start a fire when conditions are very dry, Friesen added.A spokeswoman for Canadian National Railway says the company takes measures to reduce the risk of fires and takes extra steps during extremely dry weather. Inspections of locomotives are increased as is monitoring of the land beside the rail bed.“Engineering crews working on the track monitor weather temperature conditions and must follow specific procedures to reduce and eliminate sparks,” Kate Fenske wrote in an email. “That includes restrictions based on wind and other weather conditions.”Officials with CN and the City of Winnipeg were to meet this week to discuss the issue.CN covers damages when one of its trains is determined to be at fault, but there are times when cases go to court because of a dispute over the source of a blaze.The Manitoba government recently filed a lawsuit against CN over a May 2016 fire near the Ontario boundary. The province is seeking $3.8 million — an amount that it says would cover its expenses.Just west of Winnipeg, a tree-care company has also sued CN over a fire it says was caused by a train in April 2016.The allegations have not been proven in court and CN has not yet filed statements of defence. Fenske would not comment on the cases while they are still before the courts.last_img read more

Russia Canada US try to leave disagreements outside Arctic Council

first_imgOTTAWA – Bitter disagreements over Syria. Concern over Russian interference in foreign politics. Worries about battling climate change. Assemble the foreign ministers of Russia, the U.S. and Canada, and those are just a few areas rife for fireworks.But not, it would seem, if they are meeting at the Arctic Council. Canada and the U.S. are both describing Thursday’s meeting of foreign ministers in Alaska as a veritable oasis distant from intertwined international tensions.Sure, there’s plenty to disagree about, says one Canadian official speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of those issues.But given that all three countries have wide and overlapping interests in the vast, melting and resource-rich Arctic region, it is in everybody’s interest to co-operate and advance a co-operative agenda on those challenges, the official added.Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will represent Canada at the meeting in Fairbanks, which will also include Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.The foreign ministers of the five other Arctic Council countries — Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Sweden — will also be on hand.However it is the Freeland-Lavrov-Tillerson dynamic that will be closely watched.The new Liberal government wants to co-operate with Russia on the Arctic, but it has blasted the Kremlin for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, especially after the recent gas attack on civilians.Freeland said recently she’d be open to a bilateral meeting with Lavrov in Alaska. But it is not certain the two will have a formal tete-a-tete, though the ministers will be meeting in a relatively tight, informal setting, so anything is possible.Freeland was playing down any possibility of controversy, saying her priorities included supporting the “resilience” of Arctic communities, including indigenous people, to climate change, and “conserving Arctic biodiversity through science-based decision-making.”“The Arctic Council is an important vehicle that supports peaceful co-operation,” Freeland said in a statement Wednesday. “We are pleased to work with our neighbours and partners — the other Arctic countries and indigenous peoples in the Arctic.”Earlier in the week, a U.S. State Department official offered the same feel-good message.“We have a venue that has been doing very well in promoting international co-operation among all the eight nations, including Russia,” said David Balton, the senior State Department official on environmental issues in the Arctic.Whatever other differences the various members may have, they “don’t manifest themselves in the work of the Arctic Council,” he said.Some of the possible tension may have been averted by the fact Lavrov stopped in Washington ahead of the Alaska summit to meet Tillerson and President Donald Trump.After the Oval Office meeting, the White House said Trump made clear the need for Russia to “rein in” Assad, Iran and its proxies.Lavrov also poured cold water on the ongoing firestorm in Washington over the allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, deriding that as fake news and calling it a “humiliating” scenario for the American people.The U.S. will be handing over its two-year chairmanship of the council to Finland at Thursday’s meeting. Freeland said that will be a good time to take stock of the accomplishments of the last two years.She highlighted Canada’s recent investments on protecting the Arctic environment, including its $1.5 billion investment to protect oceans and $400 million to wean communities off using diesel.Balton said the U.S. remained committed to the Arctic Council’s ongoing work to combat the challenges presented by climate change, notwithstanding the unanswered question about whether Trump will pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change accord.“Climate change has been an ongoing topic of interest for the Arctic Council for many chairmanships going back in time and I foresee that it will continue to be one of the things the Arctic Council focuses on,” he said.“And the U.S. will remain engaged in the work that the Arctic Council does on climate change throughout.”last_img read more

Rona Ambrose expected to resign seat in House of Commons by summer

first_imgInterim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is expected to announce Tuesday that she will resign her seat in the House of Commons this summer.The longtime Alberta MP has been serving as the temporary head of the party since the fall of 2015.Sources tell The Canadian Press she intends to outline her plans in a farewell breakfast speech Tuesday ahead of a planned tribute in the Commons.The Conservative party is currently in the process of picking a new leader, with the winner to be announced May 27.Ambrose had always intended to stay serving as an MP during the transition period, though she is already moving out of the Official Opposition leader’s residence of Stornoway.She was first elected an MP in 2004 and served in several cabinet positions under previous Conservative leader Stephen Harper.last_img read more

Military sends extra help for exhausted police officers dealing with BC fires

first_imgKAMLOOPS, B.C. – Hundreds of Canadian Armed Forces members will support the police response to devastating wildfires in British Columbia, bringing some relief to scores of exhausted officers on the ground.About 225 soldiers travelled on Thursday from CFB Edmonton to Williams Lake, where they will assist the RCMP with observation and reporting along access roads, help with evacuations of people in distress and assist in delivery of aid.Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he was grateful the federal government had responded to B.C.’s request to provide the military members in order to free up local police.“I’m pleased that they have acted as quickly as they have done in terms of recognizing the pressure that not only the people fighting the fires are under, but also the RCMP and policing forces,” he told reporters in Kamloops.“There are a lot of tired people out there who need a break.”The members will join 150 personnel already in Williams Lake and the surrounding area, which was evacuated last week when a fast-moving wildfire approached the city’s outskirts.The added personnel will bring with them 60 vehicles of various types, including 10 light armoured vehicles that are uniquely suited to difficult conditions, said Rear-Admiral Art McDonald.He said they will not conduct law enforcement activities and will mostly be unarmed, apart from a few personnel who will carry arms intended to protect members from predatory animals.“This group of men and women … will work shoulder to shoulder with some impressive federal, provincial and municipal partners, including thousands of first responders, in uniform and out, who are working diligently in service of citizens in need,” McDonald said.The military has already sent a number of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to the province.RCMP Assistant Commissioner Eric Stubbs said 500 additional officers have been sent to help in the fire zone from within B.C. and across Canada.More than 150 fires were burning in the province on Thursday and about 43,000 people remained out of their homes. More than 3,500 square kilometres of land have been scorched by wildfires this year.Farnworth, who was sworn in Tuesday as part of B.C.’s new NDP government, said he, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson, and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness Jennifer Rice, will meet with federal ministers on the weekend.On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan extended a provincewide state of emergency for another two weeks.Evacuees are eligible for $600 from a $100-million provincial fund, and Horgan said that they will be able to access an additional $600 for every two weeks they are displaced.Former premier Christy Clark, now leader of the Opposition, established the $100-million fund less than two weeks ago and is now calling for the NDP to double it.Farnworth said the fund is currently sufficient, but the government will spend whatever is necessary on the emergency.“This is just the start of the fire season,” he said. “I hope we get a honking big rainstorm that puts everything out, but we’re just at the beginning and so we’re going to make sure that people are looked after.”Donaldson was asked whether B.C. had done enough to prevent wildfires and, in particular, whether he thought recommendations in a 2003 report after the province’s last major wildfire emergency had been adequately implemented.“Some of the recommendations were acted on. Others need further action,” he said.“Today, I want to focus on the public safety aspects: people’s homes, people’s livestock, people’s animals, people’s lives.”Rain fell on many parts of the province on Thursday, but some of the showers came with thunder and lightning. Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek described the rain as merely a “blip” before hot and dry conditions were expected to return on Friday.Residents of the West Bench suburb of Penticton, in B.C.’s Okanagan, were forced to flee when a small fire broke out Thursday. A couple roofs caught fire but the homes were not destroyed, said a city official.Officials in one of the regions hardest-hit by the wildfires, the Cariboo Regional District, said Wednesday that 41 homes had been lost.Another eight homes were confirmed lost in the Central Okanagan region last weekend and almost three dozen trailers were destroyed when fire raced through the Boston Flats trailer park next to Cache Creek, B.C.— By Laura Kane in VancouverNote to readers: This is a corrected story. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth earlier said 150 additional military members were coming to B.C.last_img read more

Riders receiver Carter not looking for more punishment against Bombers fan

first_imgRegina Police say they aren’t pursuing any criminal investigations following reports that Roughriders receiver Duron Carter was spit on and Saskatchewan’s mascot Gainer the Gopher was roughed up by rival Winnipeg fans during a game Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.And that’s fine with Carter, who had calmed down by Tuesday after calling out Blue Bombers fans on Twitter on Monday.“It’s just spit, no police, none of that,” Carter said at practice.Carter said the incident occurred after the pre-game introductions before the Riders’ 38-24 victory, their third straight win.“We ran out and I do my normal thing, run all the way down the field,” Carter said. “I’m giving high-fives to guys and some guy just reaches over and spits on me.“I was pretty upset but I went and grabbed one of the security ladies and they escorted him out of the game.“That’s good enough. I mean, everybody makes mistakes.”The two regional rivals, whose fans share no shortage of bad blood, meet again Saturday in Winnipeg.Blue Bombers CEO Wade Miller declined to comment Tuesday but the team released a statement.“We ask that all fans, blue or green, behave in a way that makes us all proud,” the Bombers said.There were also reports another Winnipeg supporter tried removing Gainer the Gopher’s head, but Regina police said they aren’t investigating either alleged incident.Carter added fuel to the fire Sunday night by ranting about the incident on Twitter, calling the Bombers supporters the “worst fans in the league.”But Carter said he wasn’t reminded of the spitting incident until he went on Twitter well after the end of the game.“To tell the truth I played too much football I completely forgot about it,” Carter said. “Then I get on Twitter and I see the picture and I see the guy right there in the picture.“I was sitting in my bed and had a little fun with Twitter and it just got completely out of control. If I met any of those people from Twitter on the street, it would be nothing but love. For me, I’m just having fun, living life. I think people take it just a little bit too seriously.”Carter expects to receive a rousing reaction from Bombers fans at Investors Group Field this weekend.“I guess a bunch of people yelling at me,” Carter said. “I love it.”In fact, Carter welcomed Bombers fans to be creative.“Make signs,” he said. “Anything outside of physically touching me, go ahead.”Carter, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter, said the spitting incident was a first for him. But he also recalled another altercation with a Bombers fan last season while a member of the Montreal Alouettes.“I think last year I knocked over a beer from a guy from Winnipeg,” Carter said. “He was saying some stuff to me that I can’t repeat.”Carter said while he understand the passion of fans, there are clear lines that should never be crossed.“I understand the trash talk, I understand being fanatics,” he said. “I’m a fan of most sports myself.“But if it was any player, if it was (Winnipeg quarterback) Matt Nichols, (Bombers’ receiver) Weston Dressler, our fans shouldn’t be spitting on them. It’s just classless.”The six-foot-five, 205-pound Carter is in his fourth CFL season, first with Saskatchewan. The 26-year-old has 47 catches for 541 yards and seven TDs with the Riders.— With files from Jennifer Graham in Regina and Judy Owen in Winnipeglast_img read more

Berry disappointed Bear tries to eat fake fruit on Manitoba womans door

first_imgSTE. ANNE, Man. – It would have been one berry disappointed bear.Kim Bouwman was sitting in her rural home Thursday in Ste. Anne, about 40 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, when she caught something out of the corner of her eye.A fairly large black bear — Bouwman guesses it was three or four years old — had made its way up to her door and was trying to eat the foam red berries on her fall wreath.She grabbed her camera and started snapping pictures while hoping the animal wouldn’t fall through the glass it was leaning against with its front paws.“My heart was definitely pounding when I saw this, like, holy man, that’s a fair size bear,” she said.“It was probably standing five-and-a-half to six-feet high at the window and had its two front paws on the window.”Once the bear realized he was gnawing on an artificial decoration, he settled back on all fours and sauntered off to the neighbour’s yard.Bouwman said when she posted her photo on Facebook, she heard from another neighbour whose garbage had been ransacked. She figures it was the same animal.“I took the wreath down right away, just because I didn’t want any other bears to come today or whenever else,” she said.“We’ll keep that off the door for a while anyway.”last_img read more

Man charged after woman allegedly threatened in BC gets new court date

first_imgVERNON, B.C. – The lawyer for a man who was charged after police issued a warning to the public and female sex workers in British Columbia’s Okanagan region says her client’s case was put over to next month in court on Thursday.RCMP say 36-year-old Curtis Sagmoen was charged Oct. 17 with disguising his face with intent to commit an offence, uttering threats and weapons offences.Defence lawyer Lisa Jean Helps says her client’s next court appearance in Vernon is scheduled for Nov. 23.The charges were laid after the RCMP warned of a “possible risk to the general public and women sex workers” in the area of Salmon River Road near Salmon Arm after a male suspect allegedly threatened a woman with a firearm.The RCMP are searching a rural 10-hectare property on Salmon River Road after human remains were found.Five women have gone missing in the same area of the north Okanagan in the past 20 months.The Mounties have not linked the property search with any ongoing investigation or with the public warning they issued earlier this month after the alleged incident on Aug. 28.Helps declined further comment on the case.“We are expecting that this may take some time to work its way through the justice system and we look forward to this all being litigated in front of a court of competent jurisdiction,” she said in a telephone interview.last_img read more

By the numbers coalfired electricity generation in Canada and elsewhere

first_imgOTTAWA – A by-the-numbers look at coal and coal-fired electricity production in Canada and around the world in 2015.62 million tonnes: Amount of coal mined in Canada.7.9 billion tonnes: Amount of coal mined around the world.85 per cent: Coal mined in Canada that came from British Columbia or Alberta.36.2 million tonnes: Coal used for producing electricity in Canada.4: Provinces that still rely heavily on coal for electricity.10.6per cent: Canada’s electricity supply generated by burning coal.20 per cent: Canada’s electricity supply generated by burning coal in the year 2000.61 million tonnes: Greenhouse gas emissions that resulted from burning coal to make electricity in Canada.106 million tonnes: Greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal for electricity in Canada in 2000.11.5 per cent: Share of Canada’s total emissions from generating electricity.70 per cent: Percentage of Canada’s total electricity emissions that emanated from the use of coal.30: Number of coal plants still producing electricity in Canada (18 in Alberta, seven in Saskatchewan, four in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick).last_img read more

Montreal university says training Chinese judges helps advance human rights

first_imgQUEBEC – A program that allows Chinese judges to come to Montreal to study Quebec law is helping to advance human rights in China, according to the Montreal university that administers it.L’Universite de Montreal’s program offers Chinese judges the chance to study the fundamentals that underpin the province’s legal system, namely the combination of common and civil law as well as the administration of justice.One of the school’s administrators says the program could eventually inspire reforms in China.While the university has had links in China for 20 years, the judge’s program is a result of a co-operation agreement signed in 2014 between the school’s law faculty and China’s National College of Supreme Court Judges.International affairs department vice-rector Guy Lefebvre believes that Quebec could help serve as a type of model to China as it overhauls its legislative system.He says Quebec, a province with a civil code based on Napoleonic law, trades almost exclusively with countries that operate under common law.“When (the Chinese) write, for example, a securities law, which is more Anglo-Saxon in origin, we are able to say how we manage to work in these systems,” he said.Lefebvre says the program allows judges to do internships in the courts and chambers and offers them a chance to learn about Quebec’s legal system, without implying that one system is the better one.He believes there is something admirable in the Chinese model, where “the collective is more important than the individual” and where compromise is valued over confrontation.He said China has made some much-needed improvements to rules surrounding expropriations and intellectual property — and Quebec may have been an influence.As an example, he said that families who are forced to move because of huge construction sites now get better compensation.And China, the world champion of counterfeiting, is moving to insert the principles of intellectual property into its civil code.Lefebvre says China is also expressing interest in creating a legal aid system, which he credits to Quebec influence.“If it’s adopted, we will be able to say that we have allowed society to evolve,” he said. “That’s how we contribute slowly, modestly, but in the long run to change things.”The vice-rector says that the Chinese students who come to study in Quebec tend to be interested in the issues of gay marriage, freedom of the press and the fight against corruption.Some, he said, followed the Charbonneau commission hearings into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry.The university says many of its graduates now hold prestigious positions in China, including at the national school of the judiciary.In January, the school’s president was received by Chinese Supreme Court President Zhou Qiang for a meeting in which they discussed the use of artificial intelligence in the courts.During his trip to China last month, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was criticized for not having addressed the issue of human rights in his meetings.He defended himself, saying it was more efficient to work for action than “to insult people in the public square.”Quebec’s representative in China agreed, citing Quebec’s influence on the courts as one of the best examples of how to advance human rights in China.“We have helped make the courts better trained, more transparent,” Jean-Francois Lepine said in an interview.Both Couillard and Lepine said they anticipate upheavals in China thanks to the emergence of the middle class, which has “formidable power,” according to Lepine.“Here, contrary to what many people think, there is a democracy from the bottom up, there is a pressure to which the government must respond in an extremely important way,” Lepine said.last_img read more

Manitoba politician sorry for saying crash that paralyzed colleague was a gift

first_imgWINNIPEG – A Manitoba politician apologized Friday for saying a highway crash that left former MP Steven Fletcher a quadriplegic was a gift.“I obviously hurt Mr. Fletcher and I deeply regret that,” Liberal Judy Klassen said.“I did send him an email apologizing that I hurt him and if everybody would like, I will get up and read my email to him on Monday (in the legislature).”Klassen made the comment Thursday when politicians were debating a bill to limit the use of spotlights for night-hunting.Fletcher, who nearly died when his vehicle hit a moose in 1996 and cannot move his limbs, said he is no fan of moose and would not mind seeing them wiped out.A few minutes later, Klassen stood and asked Fletcher to take back his remarks.“I would like to request (Fletcher) retract his last statement on behalf of my four-legged relations, who cannot speak for themselves,” Klassen told the chamber.“It was a moose that gave him the beautiful gift to become a spokesman for people in his very same situation, and I would appreciate if he would retract that statement.”Fletcher, a former federal and provincial Conservative who now sits as an Independent in the legislature, immediately took exception.“I hope that there’s an understanding that being a quadriplegic is not a gift — not a gift at all,” he said.“I’m not out to have a happy life because I can’t. I can’t have a family. I have to have 24-hour care which is expensive and tough to get, and there’s turnover, no privacy. And for someone to minimize this on behalf of four-legged friends … to minimize any disability is bad, but it is even worse, even worse, when it’s a severe disability.”Klassen said Friday the idea of Fletcher’s accident being a gift comes from her Indigenous heritage.“In our world view, you’re either born with your gift, or you’re given the gift throughout the course of your life,” Klassen said.“I’ve never seen a person (with) you know what they call disability in a negative view. I believe that person has been gifted in some miraculous way … and it is our job to make sure that they’re supported. So that way, these people with unique gifts are encouraged to become the bigger part of our society.”Fletcher said Friday he received Klassen’s apology and considers the matter closed.The episode was the latest in a string of controversies at the legislature over how politicians interact with each other.Klassen, along with some women in the NDP caucus, accused Premier Brian Pallister of intimidating them in question period by looking harshly at them while answering their questions. One Tory cabinet minister accused a New Democrat of sexism when he allegedly said he enjoyed watching her defend government policy.last_img read more

Old building housing temporary Senate makes new cameras shake

first_imgOTTAWA — The long-delayed introduction of cameras to broadcast meetings of the Senate is proceeding after a shaky start.The House of Commons has been televised for more than 40 years but the Senate is only beginning to broadcast meetings in its main chamber with a move into a temporary home while Centre Block is being renovated.It hasn’t gone perfectly smoothly.“Currently, there is one remaining camera in the Senate Chamber that is still vibrating and we’re confident it will be resolved,” Senate spokesperson Alison Korn wrote in an email.A special engineer was brought in to deal with the wobbly cameras, which were attributed to “natural vibrations and inherent movements” endemic to older structures. The new Senate chamber was retrofitted into a former train station in downtown Ottawa, a block off Parliament Hill, that opened in 1912. It’s older than Centre Block, which had to be rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1916.Dampers, which aim to absorb mechanical vibration, and isolators, which separate equipment from a source of vibration, were installed to provide permanent stability for the cameras.“It’s all brand new equipment, every last piece,” said Alberta Sen. Scott Tannas, the chair of the Senate committee overseeing the move to the new building. “The challenge has been getting all of that technology harnessed and co-ordinated but my understanding is we are 99-per-cent done and working on the last one per cent.”Further testing is expected in the next few days. When the Senate next sits on Feb. 19, only audio will be broadcast, with video to follow by March.“We’ve had cameras in the committee rooms for a long time and I would say nobody is thinking too much about it,” Tannas said. “So it’ll be a novelty in the chamber for a while and our question period maybe gets a little livelier for a few weeks. But my bet is that we will come back to our true characters over time.”Opening of the new Senate chamber was previously delayed by a design flaw in the ceiling that produced echoes and caused “disruptive noise levels,” according to a December news release.Stephen Cook, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Jurors deliberating case of expastor accused in death of pregnant wife

first_imgTORONTO — Jurors have begun their deliberations at the trial of a former Toronto pastor accused in the drowning death of his pregnant wife nearly eight years ago.Prosecutors allege Philip Grandine secretly drugged his wife with the sedative lorazepam or offered her the medication so she would be less vigilant while he continued to carry out an affair with her friend.The Crown says Grandine then failed to protect her from danger by leaving her alone in the house to take a bath while she was incapacitated by the drug, also known under the brand name Ativan.Anna Karissa Grandine was 29 years old and 20 weeks pregnant when she was found in the bathtub of their Toronto home in October 2011.Her husband has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and the defence has argued Anna Grandine either died by accident or took her own life.Jurors heard Philip Grandine was already tried in connection with his wife’s death but were not told the outcome of the previous trial, nor the reason for the new one.Those details can be revealed now that deliberations are underway.In the first trial, Grandine was charged with first-degree murder, accused of drugging his wife and either actively drowning her or letting her drown in the bathtub.He was convicted of manslaughter, which means jurors did not believe he intended to kill his wife the night she drowned.The trial judge found, however, that Grandine did drug her, which affected her ability to protect herself from harm.The former pastor was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.A new trial was ordered on appeal, however, after Ontario’s highest court found the trial judge had made mistakes in his instructions to the jury.In answering a question from jurors, the trial judge introduced a new theory that could lead to conviction — one that was inconsistent with how the case had proceeded, the appeal court found.Since the Crown did not appeal the acquittal on the murder charge, the appeal court deemed that Grandine should be tried again on manslaughter.As a result, in arguing the second trial, prosecutors could not allege Grandine intended to kill his wife nor present any evidence to that effect.Grandine did not testify in either trial. Both times, the defence argued Anna Grandine took the drug herself and either drowned accidentally or committed suicide.In the second trial, defence attorney Amit Thakore sought to have the case dismissed through what is known as a directed verdict application, arguing no reasonable jury, if properly instructed, could return a guilty verdict.In his application, made in the absence of the jury, Thakore argued there was no evidence to support the Crown’s allegations that Philip Grandine obtained lorazepam through his work or by purchasing it, nor that he secretly drugged his wife.Thakore further argued that the duty of care to a spouse has not been defined to include preventing an able-bodied adult woman from taking a bath.The Crown argued, meanwhile, that there is evidence Anna Grandine did not take the drug herself but that she had it in her system and her husband had access to it. That evidence has a “cumulative effect,” prosecutors said.Justice Faye McWatt dismissed the directed verdict application.Court heard Grandine stepped down as pastor after it came to light that he was having an affair with a parishioner, who was also his wife’s friend.The couple decided to try marriage counselling, with the conditions that Grandine had to end the affair and stop viewing pornography, court heard. However, the affair continued and Anna Grandine grew suspicious, jurors heard.Three days before her death, Anna Grandine was taken to hospital after experiencing dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms, court heard. Her mother testified that Anna Grandine asked whether her husband had given her a pill, a question that surprised him and he denied.An analysis of the couple’s shared computer found searches related to lorazepam and how much is considered a fatal dose.Police could not say conclusively who conducted those searches, but prosecutors allege it was Philip Grandine and the defence argues it was his wife.Lorazepam can cause side effects including drowsiness and reduced motor control, court heard. It had not been prescribed to Anna Grandine, court heard.On the night she died, Philip Grandine said he was going for a run and used that time to call his mistress, court heard. He told police he found his wife unresponsive in the tub when he got back.Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Federal politicians keeping watch as Alberta election results could have ripple effect

first_imgCALGARY – With just months to go before Canadians cast a ballot, federal politicians are keeping a close eye on the results of Alberta’s provincial election.The outcome could have an impact on national political strategies, and comes just months ahead of the federal election.If Rachel Notley and her NDP return to power, federally it will be steady as she goes. However, it could be a bumpy ride if the United Conservatives take the helm.UCP Leader Jason Kenney would join Ontario’s Doug Ford and four other premiers in attacking the Trudeau government’s carbon tax and pipeline policies. Kenney has also slammed the federal government over its pipeline policies.Mount Royal University Political Scientist Lori Williams says it will be pile on against the prime minister.“An alliance of provincial premiers that are trying to help Andrew Scheer,” she notes. “A continued attack on Justin Trudeau and the federal government is part of a sort of united strategy.”Meantime, Keith Brownsey, who is also a political scientist at Mount Royal University, agrees an NDP versus UCP win could have varying outcomes at the federal level.“A Notley win, it would be status quo. With a Kenney win, all bets are off,” he says.He says says not much will change in federal strategies if the NDP maintains power, but if the UCP claims victory, he notes it could be a problem for the prime minister.Conservatives could benefit with a Kenney win, but so could the Liberals. The issues of homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny were hot topics in the Alberta campaign and may hit the federal stage — a battle Trudeau is willing to fight.“The issue of intolerance is something that is easily seen and grasped by voters,” Williams explains.Trudeau won in 2015 partially due to battles over religious rights and refugees.“They will play up on the white nationalists within the Conservative movement,” Brownsey says of the Liberal Party.The already-struggling NDP need a win in Alberta because a loss may cause more damage to a party failing to gain national traction.last_img read more

Air search launched for three people overdue on trip in Northwest Territories

first_imgYELLOWKNIFE — A search is underway in the Northwest Territories for three people who are overdue on a trip between two remote communities on the north side of Great Slave Lake.RCMP say two men and a woman left Dettah, southeast of Yellowknife, around 10:30 p.m. Monday for what was believed to be a journey to Lutsel’ke on the eastern arm of the lake.They were in a 1990s-era Black Bombardier Scandic two-seater, towing two toboggans.Police say they have equipment appropriate for the trip and at least one person is believed to be an experienced traveller on the land.They were reported overdue just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and an air search over part of Great Slave Lake was carried out soon after.The air search was to resume Wednesday but Mounties say ice conditions on the lake are too treacherous for ground crews, and they’re advising against individual search attempts due to deteriorating ice conditions.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Afghanistan memorial at new defence headquarters to open to public Friday

first_imgOTTAWA — The Department of National Defence says its memorial for those killed in Canada’s mission in Afghanistan will open to the public Friday afternoon.People who aren’t military members, veterans or their families will have to register for visits in advance but will be guided to the memorial in the department’s new headquarters in western Ottawa when they arrive.The centrepiece of the memorial is the cenotaph that once stood at Kandahar Airfield, a key base for much of Canada’s military and aid effort in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014.The Kandahar cenotaph honoured the more than 160 Canadians who died in the Afghanistan mission, on Afghan soil, and the Canadian Forces brought it back when the mission ended.The department has taken heavy criticism for putting the memorial in the secure zone of its new building without an immediate plan to allow visits by people who don’t work there.Chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance says that was a bad call, but was based on the idea that the public would want to visit a separate national memorial closer to central Ottawa, which will be much more accessible.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Tory leader pitches tax cuts carbon fight ahead of Manitoba election day

first_imgWINNIPEG — Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister has made a final pitch to voters ahead of tomorrow’s provincial election.Pallister, surrounded by his party’s candidates outside the legislature, said his party is the only one that will fight the federal government’s carbon tax and reduce other taxes.Pallister reiterated his platform promises to boost health-care spending, cut property taxes and move toward a balanced budget if he wins a second term.Pallister called the election more than a year early and has offered several different reasons in recent months for doing so.Last December, he said the ability to change the timing of an election was a competitive advantage he had over his opponents.He later said he did not want an election to interfere with the province’s 150th birthday in 2020, and more recently has said he needs a fresh mandate from voters for new plans for the coming year.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Def Leppards Rick Allen Talks About His Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

first_img“PTSD does not discriminate and is not just a military condition. PTSD is a perfectly normal reaction to a screwed up situation.” So says “The Rockstar and the Warrior” page at the Raven Drum Foundation website.The Rockstar and the Warrior program was launched last year by Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen and John Roberts of Wounded Warrior Project, the musician who lost an arm in a car crash and the marine who sustained third degree burns to 80 percent of his body in a helicopter crash. The goal of this rock star and this warrior is to destigmatize Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).“The self medicating, the anger, the isolation, what we did to our families,” says Roberts, “living with this was not pleasant.”Allen says the main issue is that warriors won’t ask for help, so the two men created Warrior Gatherings as a sort of group therapy. Before Def Leppard concerts, they are joined by soldiers and their families and Allen and Roberts talk about their experiences with PTSD, what they did wrong, what they did right, and how they came to grips with what their new “normal” is. Hearing these two men talk so openly about their journeys encourages the soldiers to come out with their own experiences that they were never able to discuss before.“It’s a wonderful way to draw them out,” says Allen. “A shared trauma. The warriors realize that they’re not alone.”“Were trying to educate the public that PTSD is normal,” says Roberts. “This can happen to anybody, whether you’re a warrior, a rock star or a civilian. Asking for help is not a weakness. It really takes a stronger person to ask for help than it does to sit home in silence, suffering, not moving forward with your life.”Find out more here.Copyright ©2013Look to the Starslast_img read more

Margo Rey Becomes Brides Against Breast Cancer Ambassador

first_imgBrides Against Breast Cancer (BABC) has announced that noted singer and songwriter Margo Rey has been named volunteer ambassador for the national non-profit organization.Her hit, “Let the Rain,” a top 20 Billboard charting song, will become the theme song for a new BABC nationwide campaign.“From my perspective as a breast cancer warrior now undergoing chemotherapy, I believe that education and personal support are just as critical as prompt medical treatment,” said Margo Rey. “It is my pleasure to join Brides Against Breast Cancer to raise awareness and help ensure that no one ever has to face cancer alone.”In her role as ambassador, Margo Rey will visit select cities where Brides Against Breast Cancer holds its “Original Nationwide Tour of Gowns” bridal shows, which raise money for education, information and outreach services to cancer patients and their families. She is also looking forward to becoming a bride herself, planning a fall wedding to her partner for the last five years, famous comedian and actor Ron “Tater Salad” White.“Margo Rey’s cancer journey will offer inspiration to so many people,” said Carl Ritter, chief executive officer for the Sarasota-based nonprofit. “She will spread hope and courage to thousands of families affected by cancer in her role as Ambassador.”Rey’s alternative pop songs have captured a worldwide audience with their unforgettable melodies, groove oriented arrangements and enduring, socially conscious lyrics. Her biggest hit, “Let the Rain” – co-written with the legendary John Oates – remained on the charts for 21 weeks. Rey’s newest single, “Tempted,” is presently in the Top 40 charts and currently being played on dozens of radio stations across the United States.A native of Mexico, Margo Rey is fluent in English and Spanish and holds good conversational skills in French and Italian. She was raised in the Dallas area, where she began performing at the age of 11. She has sung in eight languages and in many countries. A singer, songwriter and a dancer, Rey has been a vocalist in pop groups and TV commercials, and was voice-over talent in the 2008 animated movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and has toured with New York City Broadway shows.In keeping with Rey’s volunteer leadership, BABC is kicking off a new campaign this summer called simply, “I Do!” As Amy Paulishak, vice president, said, “Those two words from all our future brides describe the response we hope to hear when we ask people to support our program, from donating funds, to performing self-breast exams and helping family members and friends facing this disease.”This year, Brides Against Breast Cancer will host more than 120 bridal shows nationwide, and will contribute 2 million dollars to support free programs and services to help people impacted by cancer. In addition, the nonprofit will distribute thousands of breast self-examination cards.Brides Against Breast Cancer sells all brands of new designer and gently worn wedding gowns, with an average offering of nearly 1,000 dresses at each show. Gowns are available in sizes from 0 to 24, and layaway is available. Gown prices start at $99 and range upwards to new name brand and couture gowns valued at $3,900 or more.“Our organization makes it possible for future brides around the country to purchase wedding gowns at dramatic savings, as well as donate their own gowns,” said Paulishak. “If you have already said, ‘I do,’ and want to donate your gown, a charitable tax deduction is available.”For more information on Brides Against Breast Cancer, visit www.bridesabc.org or call 1-877-721-HOPE.last_img read more

FC Barcelona Stars Visit Thailand With UNICEF

first_imgOn the first day of FC Barcelona’s trip to Thailand, internationally acclaimed players Lionel Messi and Jose Manuel Pinto spent the morning sharing football skills with children who have intellectual disabilities.Lionel Messi and Jose Manuel PintoCredit/Copyright: UNICEFThe players and participants represented a unified group of young people with and without disabilities participating in sport and promoting team-work and partnership.FC Barcelona and UNICEF have had a global partnership since 2006 to improve the lives of millions of children by providing them with the opportunity to receive an education, participate in sports and learn positive values such as inclusion. Reflecting the team’s commitment to the partnership, FC Barcelona’s Messi and Pinto answered questions from the 20 children and young people and taught them football skills.Some of the children and young people play on Thailand’s Special Olympics National Unified Football team, which has qualified for the 2014 Global Unified Cup in Brazil – organized by the Special Olympics and FIFA. The Unified Team is made up of young people with and without intellectual disabilities who train, practice and play together on a regular basis, exemplifying how children with disabilities can meaningfully participate in sports together with other children.In Thailand, there are an estimated 1 million people with intellectual disabilities, some 600,000 of them children. Studies have shown that providing children with intellectual disabilities opportunities to participate in physical activities and sports can help promote improved physical and mental development as well as communication and social skills. UNICEF Thailand is working with Special Olympics Thailand, a non-government organization, to promote social inclusion for these children through sports training and competitions.Speaking at the event, Dr. Isiye Ndombi, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for East Asia and Pacific, commended FC Barcelona for shining the spotlight on the important issue of providing equal opportunities to compete in sports for children with disabilities.“UNICEF firmly believes that when society includes children with disabilities, it enriches the lives of everyone,” Ndombi said. “By being here today, FC Barcelona is once again showing how its team’s values extend well beyond the football pitch and help reinforce the importance of social inclusion for the most vulnerable children.”“FC Barcelona wins, but we do it through a style connected with values,” said Mr. Ramon Pont, Vice President of the FC Barcelona Foundation. “It’s through values that you can win. We try to take advantage of the strength of sports to develop people, especially children and UNICEF is our main partner in this challenge.”Answering a question from the children during a session with players, Messi said: “I’ve played many times with children with disabilities and it is no different than playing with any other children.”Asked about how to become a great football player, Messi said: “Training is the key. You have to give up a lot. If you love the game, you have to fight for it and you have to want to learn each and every day.”FC Barcelona is committed to supporting the rights of marginalized children. Since 2006, FC Barcelona has provided €1.5 million annually to support the work of UNICEF.In 2011, FC Barcelona and UNICEF renewed their partnership for a further three years, focusing on Sport for Development within the wider context of ensuring the right of all children to an education. Through the partnership, UNICEF and the FCB Foundation are committed to providing millions of children with the opportunity to receive an education and learn positive values through an integrated programme of physical education, sports and play in Child Friendly Schools in Brazil, China, Ghana and South Africa.The football club also features the UNICEF logo on its premier football jersey as a sign of its continued commitment to campaigning for the rights of all children.Source:UNICEFlast_img read more

Natalie Morales Hosts Inspirational Womens HalfMarathon

first_imgNatalie Morales, TODAY show News Anchor and Third-Hour Co-Host, and Erica Hill, Weekend TODAY Co-Host, hosted the 12th Annual MORE/FITNESS/SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon in New York’s Central Park on Sunday, April 19, 2015.MORE EIC Lesley Jane Seymour, SHAPE EIC Elizabeth Goodman Artis, Weekend TODAY Co-Host Erica Hill, Ivanka Trump, and TODAY News Anchor Natalie MoralesMorales and Hill completed the race in an impressive 1:38:59 and 2:06:52 respectively. More than 7,403 women from around the world took part in the event — one of the largest women’s-only half-marathons in the country — presented by MORE and SHAPE magazines in partnership with the New York Road Runners (NYRR).Morales and Hill kicked off the event early on Sunday morning, cheering on the runners ahead of the 13.1-mile race.“It’s such a powerful group of women,” says Morales. “Everybody here has a story. It’s women supporting women all along the way, so whether you’re a first-timer or a many-timer, this is the perfect race.”Commenting on the unique energy of the event, Hill says, “I love the fact that anybody can be a part of this — you can walk it, you can run it, and you will most certainly be inspired.”U.S. Olympian Deena Kastor raced to a first-place finish for the third consecutive year, finishing in a time of 1:12:51. The mark fell shy of her own event record time of 1:11:38, which she set in 2014. But the victory follows a monumental year for Kastor, in which she shattered the world masters half-marathon record at the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in September, at the age of 41.“My favorite part of coming back to this race year after year is seeing 10,000 women taking over the park and celebrating the empowerment that this sport can bring us,” says Kastor.Following Kastor to the finish line was Jeanna Composti of the New York Athletic Club, who took second place in 1:21:37, and Fiona Bayly of Urban Athletics, who took third place in 1:22:25.Ivanka Trump also took to the course to run her first half-marathon, finishing in 2:11:03. “I started training alongside my team six months ago,” says Trump. “I could barely run a half mile. When you think about it, running tends to be a metaphor for life. Like many things, you get out of it what you put into it. Crossing the finish line yesterday, alongside my sister-in-law Nikki and with my entire team, was the most incredible high. It was a fantastic experience.”In addition to promoting women’s empowerment, this year’s event also addressed the impact of climate change and the importance of sustainability. In celebration of Earth Day and MORE magazine’s May climate change issue, this year’s Women Run the World program honored two women making a difference in this field: Pamela Alabaster, the Vice President of Global Corporate Responsibility at The Estee Lauder Companies, and Marguerite Lauter, the Regional Advocacy and Global Partnerships Coordinator at CARE.“Pamela and Marguerite embody the spirit of this race and our Women Run the World theme,” says Lesley Jane Seymour, Editor-in-Chief, MORE. “They, along with the 10,000 runners here today, demonstrate that all women, no matter their shape or age or size, can change the world.”“There’s nothing more inspiring than watching thousands of women flooding Central Park at sunrise to run in support of fitness and health,” says Elizabeth Goodman Artis, Editor-in-Chief, SHAPE. “No other event shows the spirit of girl-power like this race.”Following the event, race participants enjoyed samples and activations from product sponsors Healthfull by Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat, Hoka One One, MorningStar Farms and Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co., and charity partner CARE, a leading humanitarian organization that empowers women and girls around the world. NBC’s TODAY served as the event’s official media partner, Bloomingdale’s served as the retail partner, and RoC served as the gift bag sponsor. The MORE/FITNESS/SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon also teamed up with Athletes for a Fit Planet to enhance efforts to produce an environmentally responsible event by committing to their Pledge of Sustainability.Source:PR Newswirelast_img read more