Dellen Millard wrote in a text he would hurt Laura Babcock court

first_imgTORONTO – One of two men accused of killing a young Toronto woman five years ago promised in a text message to “hurt her” and “make her leave,” court heard Wednesday.Jim Falconer, a recently retired detective sergeant from the Ontario Provincial Police’s technical crimes unit, testified in the trial of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, who are charged with first-degree murder in the presumed death of Laura Babcock.It took Falconer and a team of forensic officers months to comb through troves of data retrieved from three computers seized by police at Millard’s home in 2013. The data included backup copies from three of Millard’s iPhones and Smich’s iPad, hundreds of photos, videos and text messages.Millard and his girlfriend, Christina Noudga, sent late night and early morning messages back and forth discussing Babcock at length a few months before Babcock vanished in the summer of 2012.In a series of messages Falconer read in court, the couple compared Babcock to the herpes virus, in that it never goes away.“For every turn of kindness you showed her, she took it and threw it in my face making me discouraged, f— she’s like a virus. Like herpes. She’s always there but only shows up once (in) a while with a whole lot of annoying lesions!” Noudga wrote to Millard on April 17, 2012.“There’s a difference, herpes you can’t really hurt or get rid of, it just feeds off you until you die. First I’m going to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave,” Millard responded.Court has heard that Millard was sleeping with both Babcock and Noudga at the same time, leaving bad blood between the two women.Millard, who is representing himself, has said he didn’t care about the brewing animosity, but the Crown alleges he and Smich killed Babcock because she had become a problem for Millard.They contend Millard and Smich killed Babcock then burned her body in a large incinerator that was later found on Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont.Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., have pleaded not guilty to the charges.“I don’t know why, but when you say things like ‘from her dealings with you…I’m going to hurt her…make her leave…remove her from our lives’ I feel really loved and all warm on the inside,” Noudga wrote to Millard a few days later on April 19, 2012.Many in the packed courtroom gasped. Babcock’s mother, Linda, shook her head, then stared at Millard.“Nothing like sinister insinuation to make you feel all warm & fuzzy,” Millard wrote back to Noudga.A few months prior, Babcock, in the throes of mental health issues, professed her love for Millard in several text messages.In one text sent at 1:34 a.m. on Feb. 9 2012, Babcock wrote to Millard: “u already know but I really do love you. And u don’t need to respond.”“Love is a wonderful & terrible thing. I am thankful for your feelings. It would be better for you if you found someone else to love,” Millard wrote back.Falconer also went through a series of texts showing Millard had someone named “Shaner” build a homemade incinerator for him.On May 28, 2012, Shaner sent images of the incinerator to Millard. It looked like a homemade rocket with several green oil barrels stacked on top of each other.Millard sent the same image to Smich in a text.“Do u have any bones for tonight? Or we just putting it together,” Smich wrote to Millard.“I will have something,” Millard wrote back.“Maybe we should get me a dog. Or your neighbors dog,” Smich wrote.“Lol,” Millard texted back.Falconer, who the judge described as the trial’s “most substantial witness,” will continue his testimony Thursday.last_img read more

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TDSB reassures parents who were worried about the future of gifted ed

first_imgTORONTO – A Toronto District School Board task force has walked back a proposal to restructure gifted and special education programs, which stoked major concerns among parents and advocates last week.Many families were alarmed by an initial draft report from a TDSB task force which recommended, in part, that gifted students and students who need “special education” be integrated into regular classrooms.Teachers would receive special ed and gifted training, and kids would still get the specially tailored learning they need. But, instead of travelling to one of the TDSB schools that offers “congregated” classes of exclusively gifted kids or exclusively special ed kids, the students would be in schools closer to home, mixed into regular stream classes.In the updated finalized version of the report posted late Friday, the task force – which is dedicated to making the district more accepting, inclusive and fair for low-income, racialized and otherwise marginalized students – changed its gifted and special ed proposal, saying the board should retain congregated classes “while exploring options to include Special Education” at local schools.Under this new proposal, the board would examine ways in which gifted and special ed programs could be made available at more schools in more communities, so kids with those special needs could access them closer to home.One of the concerns identified by the board’s task force on equity was that students in lower-income areas had to leave their community to go to schools with special programming, leading to a perceived division between “good” schools in affluent areas and “bad schools” in less affluent areas.TDSB trustees will discuss the finalized report at their meeting on Wednesday, and propose next steps. No final decisions will be made until early 2018.“There will absolutely be more opportunity for the community to have input before any decisions are made by the board,” the TDSB says on its website.The TDSB’s gifted program is lacking in racial diversity, and needs a total overhaul, said Carl James, a York University professor who specializes in the education of minority students.“The larger process of getting students identified as gifted will have to be looked at,” James said, adding that black students in particular are less likely to be in gifted programs than their peers.“We have to look at the extent to which the gifted test might have inherent cultural biases, that might disadvantage some students,” James said.“There is (also) the extent to which teachers identify some students and even suggest that they be tested for being gifted.”The prospect of having gifted students integrated in regular-stream classrooms was a major point of concern for parents who said their kids needed special accommodations in special classes to fulfil their academic potential.Amanda Gotlib, a Grade 10 student in the gifted program at Northern Secondary School, tested as gifted when she was in Grade 4, and entered gifted classes in Grade 7. Her time in the regular-stream classes was hard, Amanda said. She had trouble concentrating, and would take hours to finish even short assignments.Although regular-stream teachers knew she was gifted and promised to provide her with special accommodations, they didn’t really understand her needs, she said.“I have some techniques I use when I’m trying to listen or focus and a lot of regular-stream teachers don’t really get that,” Amanda said. “I often draw. I like to do art and doodling while the lesson is going on.”The term “gifted” gives people the false impression that kids like Amanda are effortlessly brilliant, said Amanda’s mother Gail Agensky. The reality is their brains work differently from other kids’ and they have different learning styles. They may not fit in socially with their peers, and often struggle with regular school work.Placing gifted students in classes with only other gifted students takes away many of the anxieties and misunderstandings, Agensky added.Cuts to special ed programs across the province have already resulted in many kids with learning disabilities, behavioural issues and other education needs being placed in regular classrooms, said Katharine Buchan, educational material co-ordinator with Autism Ontario.“With the right supports, every student typically could be integrated into a regular classroom, but for high needs students or some students with autism that’s not always the answer,” Buchan said.There are longstanding concerns about the burden placed on teachers by putting kids with special ed needs in regular-stream classes, said Andy Lomnicki, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario’s Toronto chapter.“There’s nothing wrong with applying the lens of equity, but it can distort what you’re looking at and how you’re trying to fix (equity problems),” Lomnicki said.“An equitable lens could say that every student (should be) in the same classroom, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is serving their needs, or their parents needs, or the other kids in the classroom’s needs, or the teacher’s needs.”last_img read more

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Albertas status of women minister joins Twitter debate over womens marches

first_imgEDMONTON – A minister in Alberta’s NDP government has chastised a tweet by the Opposition’s communications chair that slammed women’s marches held over the weekend.Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean was responding to a Twitter post on Saturday from Sonia Kont of the United Conservative Party, who stated that “ideological marches like the one in Washington” do not empower women.Kont added that the last time she checked everyone had the same rights in society, and the march lacked clarity and purpose.McLean responded that the UCP “ridiculed the strength of women marching together in solidarity and using their voices fighting for equality.”Dozens of marches were held in communities across Canada on Saturday, a year after women’s marches that sprang up around the globe in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president.The event drew a large crowd at the provincial legislature in Edmonton, and an even larger one in Calgary.“What rights have women lost in the United States or Canada? It’s a shame these marches don’t say a word about the horrific conditions women face in the Middle East,” Kont tweeted in response to criticism of her initial posts.“Did this march also voice support for Iranian women or the Kurdish female heroes fighting ISIS? How about the Saudi Arabian women? They deserve rights and freedom too.”McLean, meanwhile, noted that women face a pay gap with men, are responsible for more childcare, make up only a fraction of corporate boards, and face other issues such as domestic violence.A number of people supported McLean on Twitter, including one who linked to a tweet by former prime minister Kim Campbell.“What I love about these marches are that they are everywhere,” Canada’s first and only female prime minister said. “And there are LOTS of great MEN smiling and marching with the women!”But there was also support for Kont, including a tweet from fellow UCP member Bettina Pierre-Gilles, who is listed on the party’s website as a member of its policy committee.“I couldn’t agree more with you Sonia. I’m a proud advocate for women and working our way to the top,” her tweet states.“These marches indeed only sends a message that only the loudest few can be heard, while nothing is advocated on policies.”UCP Leader Jason Kenney added his own voice to the discussion on Sunday evening.“Proud that the United Conservatives have so many strong, outspoken women as members. Our party doesn’t force conformity. Members are free to hold differing views,” Kenney tweeted.Canadian organizers said Saturday that 38 communities were hosting marches, rallies and other events.Police in Calgary tweeted their own support for the event in that city, along with a picture of a uniformed officer with marchers.“We were honoured to not only ensure the (march) was safe for all participants, but also to show our support by taking part,” the tweet from the Calgary Police stated.last_img read more

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Auto industry skeptical of Canadian TPP side deal on autos with Japan

first_imgOTTAWA – Auto workers and manufacturers are rejecting assertions by Canada’s trade minister that the county won major access for them into the highly protected Japanese market in the recently rebooted Trans-Pacific Partnership.International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told the Senate trade committee last week that Canada won its greatest market access ever into the Japanese market when it signed on last month to the new 11-country version of the Pacific Rim pact that was salvaged after the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out last year.Champagne said the agreement between Canada and Japan is contained in a side-letter, not in the text of the agreement, which he told senators is nonetheless “enforceable.”That’s not possible, say representatives from the auto workers union and two trade associations representing Canadian automobile manufacturers.They said side agreements are not enforceable unless they are part of an actual trade agreement.And they reiterated past concerns that Canada’s decision to join the new TPP, without the U.S., would ultimately cost Canadian manufacturing jobs and undermine the country’s interests in wrestling with the U.S. over automobile roadblocks in the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.The text of the new TPP has not been released and Champagne’s office says the side letter with Japan isn’t ready to be released yet but will be.Champagne pledged to release the letter during his upbeat Senate testimony on Wednesday in which he heralded the deal with Japan on autos as a breakthrough.“We were able to achieve something that has never been achieved before, which is the largest market access for Canadian auto manufacturers in Japan, removing non-tariff trade barriers with respect to safety standards,” Champagne said.“We’ve achieved that in a side letter, which is enforceable — the first time that the government of Japan is giving a side letter on auto which is enforceable.”Champagne said the letter also contains a “most-favoured nation clause,” which means if Japan strikes a better deal with another party — the U.S. or Europe — those better terms would automatically apply to Canada.Jerry Dias, the president of Unifor, the union representing auto workers, said the letter carries no weight because it is not part of the agreement.“A side letter is unenforceable. We didn’t even push hard enough to get it folded into the body of the agreement,” said Dias, who predicted the agreement would lead to a flood of Chinese parts into the North American auto market — something the Trump administration is trying to avoid by pressing for higher continental content in autos at the NAFTA negotiations.Dias dismissed the most-favoured nation clause as an admission Champagne “carved a lousy deal.”Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, said there’s no indication the side letter will address any real trade barriers in Japan, and he said it is unlikely it would lead to more Canadian cars being sold in that market.He said the letter will “have as much influence on new car sales in Japan as they will on the price of cheese in Windsor.“Side letters are political agreements to deal with an issue that was too difficult to find an enforceable, termed agreement on,” he added. “In business, anyone seeking an enforceable covenant would put it in the actual contract.”Mark Nantais, the president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, said side letters are not binding and could be “subjectively” interpreted by Japanese regulators.Champagne said the letter reduces non-tariff barriers, such as safety standards, but Nantais said other non-tariff barriers could include something as mundane as dimensions of a license plate holder.“Conceivably you could spend millions of dollars trying to get product into that country and have it all sitting on a dock because you’ve got one dimension that’s off on a license plate.”Nantais said the government has ignored the implications for NAFTA, with the U.S. calling for more North American auto content — not less, which an increase of imports from TPP countries would create.He said companies would be forced to move production out of North America to cheaper off-shore locations because the higher NAFTA content rules will be too hard to meet. “Once you lose production jobs, they’re gone for good.”Champagne’s spokesman Joe Pickerill said the side letter with Japan would be made public and that it is subject to international law.He said the letter will give Japan and Canada the means to settle disputes in a “meaningful way.”“That’s strong, binding and real access for the very first time with teeth to back it up,” he said.last_img read more

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Full statement by Hedley on sexual misconduct allegations

first_imgCanadian rockers Hedley released a statement Wednesday calling recent allegations of sexual misconduct “unsubstantiated.”The band’s statement addressed claims of sexual behaviour involving young fans that emerged on Twitter in recent days:All of us in Hedley respect and applaud the #MeToo movement and the open and honest discussion it has inspired. We believe these conversations are particularly important within the music industry, which does not exactly have an enviable history of treating women with the respect they deserve. We appreciate the bravery of those who have come forward with their own stories, and we realize that all of us, as individuals and as a society, can and must do better when it comes to this issue.However, if we are to have a meaningful, open and honest discussion, we all have to accept and respect that there are at least two sides to every story. The recent allegations against us posted on social media are simply unsubstantiated and have not been validated. We would hope that people will bear-in-mind the context in which these unsupported accusations have been made before passing judgment on us as individuals or as a band.We realize the life of a touring band is an unconventional one. While we are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships, there was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll cliches. However, there was always a line that we would never cross.We realize this conversation is as important to our fans as it is to us, and we never want to distract from these important discussions. To that end, as we move forward, we will be evaluating some of our next steps. Hedley’s music should only ever be a positive force, and our performances and personal appearances should continue to be inclusive and safe experiences that bring nothing but joy and happiness to our fans.last_img read more

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Applause in Alberta courtroom as charges dropped against man in rural shooting

first_imgOKOTOKS, Alta. – A courtroom erupted in cheers and applause Friday as all charges were dropped against a man accused of firing shots at suspected thieves on his rural property in southern Alberta.The Crown withdrew charges that included aggravated assault and firearms offences against Edouard Maurice at a court appearance in Okotoks south of Calgary.“The Crown’s obligation is always to review on an ongoing basis the strength of the case. In this case, information came to light and as a result there’s not a reasonable chance of conviction at this time,” said Crown prosecutor Jim Sawa.“We’ve received information from a firearms expert and that information was compelling to say the least,” said Sawa, who wouldn’t reveal what the evidence was.“It had a direct impact on the decision today to withdraw the charges.”The cheers from dozens of Maurice supporters prompted a comment from provincial court Judge George Gaschler.“The applause, I’m sure, is for the fair administration of justice Mr. Sawa,” Gaschler said.Maurice, 33, was charged after he confronted two people rummaging through his vehicles in February. Shots was fired and one of the prowlers was slightly wounded.Maurice was cheered by 75 supporters outside the courthouse where he spoke for the first time since his arrest.“It’s a relief it’s over. It’s been quite a tough four months to go through this. It’s been a lot of stress, anxiety. With the support that’s come out, it’s really helped,” he said standing with his wife Jessie and his lawyer.“Without us having to go through this, the rural crime problem wouldn’t be at the forefront. It’s got a lot of attention and now the government and everyone else is stepping up and looking at ways to help us out.”In March, the province announced $10 million in funding to hire more RCMP officers and support specialized crime reduction units in rural communities.Defence lawyer Tonii Roulston said being able to defend property is important and often police are delayed in responding to rural calls.She noted that her client was alone with one of his children and had warned the two prowlers to leave before firing.“We’re certainly not advocating don’t call the police. However, at the same time, individual citizens in rural communities have to be able to defend their property and defend their family.“They can’t wait 20 minutes. In 20 minutes, anything can happen.”The alleged thieves are facing theft, trespassing and mischief charges.The case became one of property rights and the concerns of rural landowners who are victims of crime.“We .. hope this becomes an issue in the election that comes up next year. Obviously it’s an issue much bigger than us,” Jessie Maurice said.Maurice said he can now get on with his life.“I’ll probably take a holiday and spend time with the family,” he said.— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitterlast_img read more

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Canadian Red Cross launches appeal for donations for Florence relief

first_imgVANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Canadian Red Cross is hoping people across Canada can help those impacted by Tropical Storm Florence.The organization has launched an appeal for donations, as the major storm continues to batter parts of the U.S. east coast.“People can go online to redcross.ca or call 1.800.418.1111 to donate to that appeal,” Andrew Hopkins with the Canadian Red Cross says.The appeal has only just launched, but Hopkins says the group has had success raising money in the past.“Generous Canadians always seem to respond in these situations and the Red Cross will be here to accept those donations and get them to people in need as a result of this hurricane.”The Canadian and American Red Cross both work independently from one another, but Hopkins says they do support each other when needed.He adds the American Red Cross is currently responding across six states, mostly providing safe shelter and comfort for evacuees at this point.“There’s more than 2,000 American Red Cross personnel who are on the ground supporting emergency relief efforts. More than 20,000 people staying overnight in shelters, so Red Cross is providing support. Also, equipment and relief supplies are key in these situations, so about 100 emergency response vehicles and more than 120 trailers of equipment have been deployed to deliver help to people in need.”That help can include things like food, cots, and blankets, he explains.It’s unclear how long the fundraising campaign will run for, but Hopkins says it’ll continue to go on until things cool down.The Canadian Red Cross will continue to monitor the situation south of the border.“We are prepared to provide to provide support in the form of personnel and items, as requested… We’re in contact with [the American Red Cross] and making sure that as their needs come up here in the hours and days to come, that the Canadian Red Cross is there to provide support. The donations to the hurricane Florence appeal will assist with providing that support quickly to the people who need it.”-With files from Taran Parmarlast_img read more

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Rookie party leader chided for wearing jeans in Manitoba question period

first_imgWINNIPEG – A Manitoba politician changed his pants after being chided for wearing jeans in the legislature chamber.Dougald Lamont, the Liberal leader who was first elected in July, found himself in the spotlight when NDP house leader Nahanni Fontaine stood up at the end of question period and complained that Lamont was wearing jeans.Fontaine said the informal trouser attire violated the dress code in the chamber, and she asked legislature Speaker Myrna Driedger to correct Lamont.Driedger said the dress code only specifies “contemporary business attire” and does not specifically forbid jeans.But she said it has been a long-standing practice by previous legislature speakers to not allow them.After question period, Lamont went to his office for a meeting and later came back to talk to reporters with new pants on.“This is not even worth talking about,” Lamont said Thursday, before being prompted for more comment.“I’ve been wearing (jeans) for a while … and I thought it might be considered contemporary business attire.”last_img read more

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Kenney says navys needs guided 700M Quebec ship deal not electoral math

first_imgOTTAWA — Former defence minister Jason Kenney is rejecting suggestions he pushed the Harper government to negotiate a $700-million deal with a Quebec shipyard because of electoral considerations.The contract was to refit a commercial vessel into a navy supply ship. The current Alberta opposition leader says his only thought as the Conservatives were weighing the sole-sourced deal with Davie Shipbuilding in 2015 was the navy’s urgent need — a point that he says he emphasized to his fellow Tory ministers.“I was always clear with my colleagues in government that the only consideration should be meeting the navy’s urgent operational requirements as quickly as possible,” Kenney said in a statement Friday, “and that regional political considerations should not be a factor in the decision.”The comments are in response to a Canadian Press article this week that cited an RCMP interview with a federal civil servant who attended secret cabinet meetings about the controversial project under both the Harper and Trudeau governments.A partial transcript of the Mounties’ interview with Privy Council Office analyst Melissa Burke was filed in court by suspended Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s lawyers and made public last week. Her comments have not been entered as formal exhibits or tested in court.Suspended as the military’s second-in-command in January 2017, Norman was charged this past March with one count of breach of trust for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets to Davie. He has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charge.Burke told the Mounties in January 2016 that both the Conservatives and Liberals were highly conscious of Davie’s location in Quebec — just across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City — and worried about the impact not signing the deal would have on their respective political fortunes because of the money and jobs it involved.Burke said in her police interview that Kenney underscored the importance of the deal to both the navy — which did not have any support ships at the time — as well as the Tories’ electoral prospects during a cabinet meeting in April 2015.Kenney, however, said while he would not reveal cabinet secrets, “I can confirm that I did not say the words cited in Ms. Burke’s deposition.”The Conservatives decided in June 2015 to launch negotiations with Davie and changed federal procurement rules to allow a contract without a competition, but the deal was not finalized before the October 2015 election.After the Liberals won, a new cabinet committee decided to ask the company to extend the deadline for signing the contract by 60 days. Eleven days later, the Liberals approved the deal, which Burke said came after Davie threatened to close its Quebec shipyard.Davie’s converted supply ship, the MV Asterix, was delivered earlier this year and is operating with the navy in the Pacific.Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Manitoba premier mulls expanded cannabis ban to include sprays and more

first_imgWINNIPEG — “I’ve never seen this before.”Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, sitting in his legislature office for a year-end interview, is looking at a 15-ml container of cannabis spray. It’s one of the ways through which recreational cannabis can be consumed since legalization in October.It is discreet, quick, smokeless and — perhaps surprisingly under Manitoba law — legal to consume in most public places.“My lunch could be really good,” Pallister jokes before handing it back to the reporter who brought it to him.The premier has said on more than one occasion he’s more of a beer man.Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government is not alone in having to adjust to the complex realities of legalized recreational cannabis.Across the country, governments have had to set down rules on where pot can be smoked, vaped, dripped, sprayed, eaten and sold. Police forces scrambled to get equipment to test motorists for the drug.Pallister considers the Manitoba model for retail outlets a success. The province charges a wholesale markup and regulates distribution and sales, while the private sector operates the stores. And while every province has experienced supply shortages, retailers in Manitoba have not faced the same scarcity as those in Quebec, Ontario and other jurisdictions.More than a dozen stores opened in Manitoba in the weeks following legalization. They are run by four companies that had been selected earlier.Pallister expects more retailers to be approved in the new year with the aim of eating into the long-established black market.“We’ve got to get the black market out of this stuff, or (else) why are we doing it?”One area where Manitoba has been caught off guard is in public consumption. Many other provinces have banned using cannabis in any form in most public areas, but Manitoba’s law was written specific to smoking or vaping (except in vehicles, boats and schools, where all consumption is prohibited).As a result, it’s open season for cannabis oil, sprays, gels and capsules.“I thought oils were with edibles and not available until next year (under federal law),” Pallister said.The federal government delayed legalizing sales of edibles until sometime in 2019, although people are already allowed to make their own with legally purchased cannabis. Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen has said the province is considering expanding the ban on public consumption to cover all forms of cannabis. Pallister said a decision has not yet been made.“We’ll have to inquire and find out.”Steve Lambert, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Wildfires force more people out of their homes in northern Alberta

first_imgMore people are being forced from their homes as several wildfires rage out-of-control in northern Alberta and blanket areas to the south in an acrid haze.The Alberta government issued an emergency alert early Thursday morning for Chipewyan Lake Village, about 450 kilometres north of Edmonton.People were being asked to leave immediately because a rapidly moving wildfire was threatening to cut off access to the area.Different fires forced evacuations from the hamlet of Wabasca, the Bigstone Cree Nation and Northern Lights County.In the High Level area, about 5,000 people have been out of their homes for more than a week because of a raging fire that won’t stop growing. It stood at 1,500 square kilometres on Wednesday, but crews have managed to keep the flames out of the town.  High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer, Reeve Josh Knelsen of Mackenzie County and Dene Tha’ First Nation Chief James Ahnassay issued a joint statement on Facebook.“We know that many of you are very anxious to hear about what is happening with the wildfire and the situation in our communities. Many of you have been out of your homes and away from your work for a long time.” they wrote.The leaders urged patience.“On Wednesday, the wildfire threatening our communities grew significantly and exhibited extreme and volatile fire behaviour. We simply don’t know for sure what this fire will do next.“The danger to High Level remains, and the danger to communities in Mackenzie County and the Dene Tha’ First Nation has increased. Four more areas were evacuated … More than 600 of our neighbours had to leave their homes.”The goal is to get residents of High Level home by the weekend, the post said.“But with this wildfire we can’t promise anything. For other communities, we know it will be later. Please be patient with us. The situation is constantly changing and there are no firm timelines.”People in Edmonton awoke Thursday to a thick, smoky haze that turned otherwise blue skies an eerie grey-orange.Environment Canada issued a special air-quality statement for the Alberta capital, warning that people might experience coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with heart and lung disease were said to be at special risk.Hot, dry conditions and gusty winds on Wednesday had Alberta fire- watchers warning that various blazes burning in the north could explode in size.It triggered what’s known as a red-flag warning, which warns firefighters that there’s potential for fires to blow up in some areas.“It’s a bit of an alert for our operations staff,” said Derek Gagnon, a provincial information officer.“It’s something to pass along to them that says, ‘Hey, this is something to look out for, because the fire danger conditions are going to be extreme. If you are going to be putting firefighters on the ground, keep in mind that these fires can grow very quickly and spread very quickly and it can put them into danger.’” The Canadian Presslast_img read more

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Man who scammed romantic partner wants mistrial despite guilty finding

first_imgColin Perkel, The Canadian Press TORONTO — A con artist who scammed the romantic partner he met online out of hundreds of thousands of dollars has asked a judge to declare a mistrial, months after finding him guilty.In his motion, Shaun Rootenberg argues Superior Court Justice Beth Allen unfairly refused to stay the proceedings against him over problems with pretrial disclosure and his being strip-searched in prison.In July, Allen convicted Rootenberg, of Thornhill, Ont., of defrauding Victoria Smith, a divorced mother of two, out of $595,000.Smith had given Rootenberg the money in September and October 2013 to invest on her behalf. Instead, Allen ruled, Rootenberg used the funds to buy himself a new BMW and pay off gambling debts, among other things.Rootenberg’s lawyer Bryan Badali, who admits a mistrial is an “extreme remedy,” concedes the nine-day trial that began in May before Allen was otherwise fair.But during a hearing last week, prosecutor Mitchell Flagg said he fundamentally disagreed, contending that “everything about this trial was fair.”Evidence at trial was that Rootenberg, pretending to be Shaun Rothberg, met Smith via the e-Harmony dating site in July 2013. She quickly fell for the divorced father of two. Rootenberg talked up his idea for developing an online gaming venture called Social Trivia and, after a month of dating, she handed over $160,000 as an investment.“She believed they were in a committed monogamous relationship,” Allen, who will rule on the mistrial motion next month, said in her judgment.Soon after, Smith gave Rootenberg $435,000 to invest in mortgages he said would yield six per cent interest income every month. Over the ensuing 16 months, she did receive payments totalling about $36,500.“For all the court knows,” Allen said, “Mr. Rootenberg may well have used Ms. Smith’s own funds to pay her the dividends.”About 18 months into the relationship, Smith discovered — much to her shock — that her love interest was a convicted fraudster who had spent time in prison and was not Shaun Rothberg but Shaun Rootenberg. Worried about her money, she testified that she tried to keep the relationship going but ultimately went to police.Rootenberg is also a key figure in an unrelated case in which a former medical officer of health, Dr. Kim Barker, claims he preyed on her vulnerability.At the same time Smith was dating Rootenberg and handing over cash to him, Barker was also involved with a man she knew as Shaun Rothberg, and hired him as interim chief financial officer of the Algoma Public Health Unit in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.Barker has spent years fighting to block the release of an embarrassing forensic report detailing her relationship with Rootenberg and his hiring. She is currently waiting to see if the Supreme Court of Canada will weigh in after a lower court ruled the report should be public.Barker resigned in 2015 after it became public that Rootenberg had served time for multiple counts of fraud.It had been during his incarceration at Beaver Creek penitentiary in 2011 that Rootenberg met another convicted fraudster, Myron Gottlieb, the former second-in-command to disgraced Livent Inc. impresario Garth Drabinsky. The two men, Gottlieb testified, discussed Rootenberg’s plan for the social media business.After their release, Gottlieb, president of B-G Enterprises Inc., agreed to help Rootenberg with the venture in exchange for $70,000. Gottlieb also allowed Rootenberg to deposit money ostensibly from off-shore assets into B-G’s bank account and disbursed the cash as directed. In fact, the money had come from Smith.In finding him guilty, Allen said it was clear Rootenberg had diverted funds for his own personal use and gave them to third parties for their use.“Ms. Smith was unaware of what Mr. Rootenberg had done with her money,” Allen said. “She did not know the BMW she saw him driving around in was purchased with her $435,000.”last_img read more

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Ontarios Doug Ford approval rating still sinking Quebec Premier most popular leader

first_img“Because of extremely small sample sizes, approval ratings cannot be provided for Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and both the Yukon and Northwest Territories,” the firm said.The survey was conducted among 5,273 randomly selected Canadian adults who are members of MARU/Blue’s online panel between Sept. 5 – 11, 2019. The poll is accurate to within plus or minus 1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s approval rating continues to slide while Quebec Premier Francois Legault remains the most popular provincial leader among those surveyed, a new poll released Thursday said.The DARTMaru BluePoll is conducted every quarter to gauge Canadians’ approval or disapproval of their provincial leaders.The polling firm said about 5,273 randomly selected Canadian adults were asked if they approve or disapprove of the performance of their premier.Quebec Premier Francois Legault: unchanged at 59 per centSaskatchewan Premier Scott Moe: 58 per cent, down 2 per centAlberta Premier Jason Kenney: unchanged at 55 per centBritish Columbia Premier John Horgan: 47 per cent, up 3 per centNew Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs: 43 per cent, down 2 per centManitoba Premier Brian Pallister: 40 per cent, up 3 per centNewfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball: 40 per cent, up 9 per centOntario Premier Doug Ford: 26 per cent, down 3 per centNova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil: 19 per cent, up 5 per centlast_img read more

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Exclusive NBA Star Mario Chalmers Talks Charity

first_imgTwo-time NBA Champion Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat) recently partnered with BidSpot Cares, a crowdfunding platform that raises money for charities using online games and social media.Mario Chalmers Gives BackLook to the Stars caught up with Chalmers to chat about his MC15 Miracle Shot Basketball Camp; the Mario Chalmers Foundation and what sparked his interest in charity.Last night you hosted your Foundation’s fundraising event? How was it?Yeah, we had a mixer last night with a silent and live auction with all proceeds going to my foundation and the Ronald McDonald House. It was really good, but my favorite thing is hosting my basketball camp, seeing the smiles on kids faces, being there playing one-on-one with them, parents smiling and everyone leaving with something positive from the camp.You seem to be involved in a lot of charitable work? UNICEF, kids causes, breast cancer for exampleThe story on that is a close friend of mine – his mother died in 2006 of breast cancer, so since then I wanted to find out more about it, how we can help and just make breast cancer sufferers lives a little bit easier. And with the children’s initiatives, just keeping kids off the streets is what’s important.What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome?The hardest thing for me – growing up in Alaska – was people saying I wouldn’t make it. We don’t have a lot of celebrities coming out of Alaska, so for me to make it and follow in the footsteps of people like Carlos Boozer, Scott Gomez, Curt Shilling – people like that who came from Alaska, made a name for themselves and gave back to the community -to have my name mentioned with those people is a great accomplishment.Is there anything you’d like to ask you fans to do to support you?Follow me on Twitter, follow my foundation page and find out about upcoming events to participate in.Finally, if you had a theme song, what would it be?I gotta go with Super Mario.BidSpot Cares founder Cheryl Womack explained how this unique platform works and how it can enhance a charities fundraising ability.For example, an initial ten-dollar donation gives donors VIP access to bid on or purchase amazing experiences or items from their favorite athlete or celebrity. The bids are also donations and go towards a ‘bigger story’.“The plan is, hopefully, to create a bigger awareness for celebrity and athlete charities who do a good job at getting social awareness out there but not so much the story of their charity.” Womack told us. “If you go to the Facebook page for BidSpot Cares, you’ll read the stories about the actual money that was spent from this charity, you’ll get to read about the boys that we found via social outreach that were able to attend Chalmers camp, and although he has a lot of other things he’s doing, we want him to do something specific with some of that money other than just through his regular foundation so we’ve got a story to tell.”Look to the Stars thanks both Mario Chalmers and Cheryl Womack for taking time out to chat with us.Copyright ©2013Look to the Starslast_img read more

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Ashley Greene And Chris Daughtry Take Part In Super Sweet Toy Drive

first_imgAshley Greene, Chris Daughtry, Nolan Gould, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Tom Sandoval, Stephen Kramer Glickman and Drake Bell rolled up their sleeves up to design cupcakes for children’s Hospital Los Angeles at the Super Sweet Toy Drive at Duff’s Cake Mix on Tuesday, March 17th at 6pm.Rachel-Ann Mullins, Stephen Kramer Glickman, Ashley Greene and Chris DaughtryCredit/Copyright: Lisa RhymerGuests donated over two vans full of toys for the children and teens at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Ashley Greene posed for photos with fellow celeb pal and event organizer, Stephen Kramer Glickman. The Twilight star brought a huge teddy bear (perfect for upcoming Easter holiday) and Superman and Despicable Me gift boxes for the Toy Drive. Ashley designed adorable cupcakes that she took photos of later and gave away to one of the fans on the street as she was leaving. Chris Daughtry donated a guitar for the silent auction – which raised a generous donation for the Children’s Hospital.Chris Daughtry with a Batman cake that he decoratedCredit/Copyright: Lisa RhymerAubrey Anderson-Emmons and Nolan Gould posed for photos in the Duff’s Cake mix photo booth while Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix stopped by to decorate a few cupcakes before getting distracted by the original Batman vintage car parked outside of Cake Mix.Ashley Greene getting into decoratingCredit/Copyright: Lisa RhymerAwesome gifts for the silent auction were also generously donated by Hasbro, Gentle Giant Toys, Crosley Records, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, Gibson Guitars and many more. All benefitting CHLA, and hoping to make a difference in these children’s lives.last_img read more

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KISS AND CRY – Opens today in Toronto

first_img Login/Register With: Facebook LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Get your tickets … oh … and remember to take your Kleenex. Twitter Advertisementcenter_img Advertisement Advertisement LINK:  NOW Toronto Review – NNNN RatingINTERVIEWS: Kiss and Cry opens today in Toronto at the Carlton Cinema.Kiss and Cry is the inspirational true story of Carley Allison (Sarah Fisher), an up-and-coming elite figure skater and singer who finds love just as she is diagnosed with an incredibly rare 1 in 3.5 billion form of cancer. Sarah Fisher delivers a groundbreaking performance honoring Carley Allison, her real-life best friend.The reviews have been amazing and I truly look forward to seeing this movie.  Kudos to Director Sean Cisterna, Producer Avi Federgreen, the cast and crew.last_img read more

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Indigenous activists opposing Energy East dont fear proposed antiterror bill

first_imgTrina RoacheAPTN National NewsHALIFAX—Indigenous grassroots leaders say the Harper government’s anti-terrorism Bill C-51 won’t stop their opposition to the Energy East pipeline.The proposed bill would give more power to law enforcement authorities and Canada’s spy agency to counter perceived terrorism threats.Critics have raised concerns over aspects of the bill, including allowing police to execute “preventative” arrests if authorities suspect a terrorist plot “may be carried out.” Critics also argue that the bill, by criminalizing the promotion of terrorism, threatens free speech.The bill also includes “interference with critical infrastructure” and economy as part of what could be constituted as a terrorist threat.Indigenous activists wonder what that will mean for future protests and blockades of the proposed pipeline, which will cut through 180 First Nations.“I think Bill C-51 represents how desperate this government is,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, Co-Director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign. “The extremes they’ll go to, to deal with the incredible resurgence and energy of Indigenous movements in this country. I’m not afraid of it. Absolutely not.”The bill passed second reading in the House of Commons Monday evening with the support of the Liberal party.At the same time Conservative and Liberal MPs stood to support the bill, over 100 people came out to Dalhousie University in Halifax to hear Indigenous leaders and activists talk about their plans to stop the Energy East pipeline.Judy DaSilva, an Anishnabe activist from Grassy Narrows, told the audience about her fight against clear-cut logging. She knows how vital it is to protect water. Her community in northwestern Ontario lives with the effects of mercury poisoning from a nearby pulp mill.DaSilva fears potential spills from the 4,600 km pipeline, which will stretch from the Alberta to New Brunswick. It will carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil a day, increasing tar sands production, a corner stone in the Harper government’s economic plan despite the crash in oil prices.The proposed anti-terrorism bill won’t stop DaSilva from protesting.“We feel like the law coming out of parliament, it’s nothing to us,” said DaSilva. “To Indigenous people it’s nothing compared to the law of the creator. If we do direct action, we can’t have that fear of Bill C-51, we just got to have our feet, our moccasins, on the ground, to feel the power of mother earth, that’s who we’re protecting. The laws? I don’t understand them, I don’t believe in them, I don’t listen to them.”Thomas-Muller points out since Harper gutted the Fisheries and Environment Acts, Indigenous rights play a key role in protecting land and water.“Indigenous resistance is the last bastion against ravaging the environment,” said Thomas-Muller. “In New Brunswick, there’s now a moratorium against fracking. Direct action works it’s effective. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from that struggle.”Mi’kmaw activist Shelley Young was part of those fracking protests near the Elsipogtog First Nation. She wonders how it would have played out differently if the terrorism legislation had existed then.“There would be many more of us in jail, many more of us attacked,” said Young.The media images of burned-out RCMP cars and reports of violence didn’t reflect what it was like on the ground, said Young.“It was a very positive thing, what you saw in the news, didn’t reflect what was happening there. We drummed, we laughed. It was beautiful,” she said.The bill does allow for lawful protests. But whether it’s over fracking or pipelines, blockades can be seen by government as disrupting the economy or infrastructure.Bill C-51 doesn’t define terrorism, and that’s one of the criticisms NDP leader Tom Mulcair has raised. He calls aspects of the bill vague.Mulcair was in Halifax Monday and met with environmental groups and First Nations leaders to talk about how the bill will impact future protests.“With regard to Peter MacKay our justice minister,” said Mulcair. “I asked him several times last week give me one example of what you mean when you say that you’re going to be going after these groups to disrupt them, what does that means concretely, they can’t give an answer.”Harper said Indigenous groups are right in their concern over the proposed bill.“The groups are correctly concerned that they could be in the crosshairs of Mr. Harper in this plan,” he said.The NDP Leader said police already have the tools to fight security threats.“Yes, we’re going to oppose this bill, we’re going to vote against it, we’re going to fight it every step of the way,” he said.That could prove to be an uphill battle. With Liberal support, Bill C-51 passed second reading with a vote of 176-87 and will now go to the Steering Committee on Public Safety and National Security.troache@aptn.ca@TrinaRoachelast_img read more

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When is it acceptable to make money off sweetgrass

first_imgTamara Pimentel APTN NewsEarlier this week APTN News reported that an Alberta elder was furious a department store in Calgary was selling sweetgrass.She said traditional medicines aren’t meant to be profitable.But when is it acceptable to make money from sweetgrass?Amy Willier and her mother, Yvonne Jobin, run Moonstone Creations in Calgary.It’s a gift shop selling Indigenous art and clothing, along with sage, sweetgrass and smudge kits.Willier argues times have changed.“I can see people being upset with the lack of protocol and having an expectation when you’re picking medicines and using medicines, that it’s done in a traditional way,” she said.“But from a store perspective I also can understand that, yea, you kind of need to make money.”Willier said her sweetgrass is picked by an elder from Saskatchewan who is paid with tobacco and money.“Traditionally we gave gifts – It’s an exchange,” she said. “The exchange right now is money because it costs gas to go and pick. It all costs money because that’s the world that we live in.“The question here in the middle of winter, in January, the question is – are you going to smudge, or not smudge? If you want to smudge you’re going to find a source.”tpimentel@aptn.calast_img read more

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US trade gap rises 6th straight month to 9 12year high

first_imgWASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit rose for the sixth straight month in February, reaching the highest level since October 2008 and defying President Donald Trump’s efforts to rebalance America’s lopsided trade with the rest of the world.The Commerce Department said Thursday that the trade gap — the difference between what America sells and what it buys in foreign markets — widened to $57.6 billion in February from $56.7 billion in January. Exports of goods and services hit a record $204.4 billion; imports set a record $262 billion.The news comes amid a U.S. trade dispute with China that has rattled global financial markets and raised fears among U.S. farmers and businesses that depend on access to the Chinese market. The trade deficit in goods with China narrowed in February to $29.3 billion from $36 billion in January.The United States ran a $77 billion deficit in the trade of goods in February, the highest level since July 2008. That was partially offset by a $19.4 billion surplus in services such as education and banking, lowest since December 2012. The services surplus was dragged down $1 billion in payments for broadcast rights for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which count as a services import.Exports of cars and auto parts posted big increases in February as did imports of pharmaceuticals, crude oil and civilian aircraft.Trump campaigned on a pledge to take aggressive action to reduce America’s massive trade deficits. In March, he slapped tariffs on imported steel and aluminum but exempted most major countries except China and Japan. China counterpunched this week with tariffs on $3 billion in U.S. products.On Tuesday, the U.S. proposed slapping tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports, and Beijing responded within hours with plans to tax $50 billion in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft. The two countries have signalled that they will seek to settle their differences before the tariffs take effect.The president views trade deficits as a sign of economic weakness and as the result of bad trade agreements and unfair practices by America’s trading partners. Most economists say they are caused by bigger economic forces, mainly the fact that the United States consistently spends more than it produces.The trade gap has continued to rise since Trump entered the White House partly because the U.S. economy is strong and American consumers have an appetite for imported products and the confidence and financial wherewithal to buy them.____Follow Paul Wiseman on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PaulWisemanAPlast_img read more

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