Category: Canada

Quebec invests $47 million in youth protection to cut down wait lists

MONTREAL – The Quebec government is investing $47 million in the province’s maligned youth protection system, in an effort to add more staff and cut down on lengthy wait lists.

Junior health minister Lionel Carmant says the money announced Thursday will be used to add up to 400 employees to reduce burnout and eliminate the backlog of cases.

Carmant says the province plans to recruit heavily on new graduates to fill the positions.

The Quebec government has announced a commission to look into the youth protection system as a whole, but Carmant says he didn’t want to wait for its findings to begin adding more resources.

The commission was announced following the death of a seven-year-old girl in Granby, Que. who’d been followed by youth protection services from birth and whose slaying last April sparked outrage and raised questions about the system’s effectiveness.

The funding is being spread across the province, with heavy investments in the greater Montreal area.

The Canadian Press

Hunger strike ends after agreement reached on Ottawa Indigenous Peoples’ space

OTTAWA – An Algonquin grand chief’s hunger strike is over after an agreement with the federal government on a project to create a major Indigenous centre in Ottawa.

Steps away from Parliament Hill, Verna Polson, head of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council, had been in a wigwam since Monday without eating or drinking.

Following the agreement Tuesday, Polson went to hospital.

“We’re glad an agreement was reached,” said Lisa Robinson, chief of Wolf Lake First Nation, an Algonquin community that isn’t part of Polson’s group, who was on the site of the protest following the deal.

“The big thing for us and the chiefs working at the Algonquin Nation, we were concerned with the health of Grand Chief Verna,” she said.

Polson was protesting the fact the Algonquin Nation was not an equal partner in the redevelopment of the building in the former U.S. Embassy directly across from the Peace Tower, which is meant to become a centre known as the Indigenous Peoples Space.

In June 2017, the federal government pledged the use of the embassy building to a group of Indigenous organizations, made up of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Metis Nation Council.

The building, used for not much since American diplomats moved to a new larger building 20 years ago, was hung with banners representing the three large Indigenous groups and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to work with them to transform the property. He held a public event outside, calling the project a step to “ensure that the dialogue we have started is sustained and deepened as we move forward together.”

But Polson said the Algonquin deserve equal standing because the building is on unceded, traditional Algonquin land.

“I think we’re going to be playing a pretty prominent role,” Robinson said, but wouldn’t discuss details of the announcement pending a statement from Polson herself.

At stake in the conversations among the parties was not just the prominent location on Ottawa’s Wellington Street but two additional sites that might be added to the Indigenous Peoples Space: lot adjacent to the former embassy and a building backing onto it from the next street south that now holds a bank.

Earlier in the day, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said his organization was pushing the federal government to formalize the two additional locations as part of the space. He said if that was guaranteed, that might convince Polson to end her strike.

Robinson said formalizing the status of those sites is part of the agreement.

“I think we’re happy with how that turned out,” she said.

The Assembly of First Nations has supported Polson but her proposal that the Algonquin Nation have equal standing as a partner was opposed by national groups representing Inuit and Metis peoples.

Bellegarde said Tuesday a series of memorandums of understanding had been drafted with the help of Assembly of First Nations staff and might form the basis of an agreement between the Algonquin Nation and the national organizations.

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press

Former N.S. Mountie sentenced to decade in prison for theft, cocaine trafficking

HALIFAX – A former Nova Scotia Mountie has been sentenced to 10 years in a minimum security prison for stealing 10 kilograms of cocaine from an exhibit locker and arranging sales that earned him $100,000 in cash.

Craig Robert Burnett – former commander of an RCMP National Port Enforcement Team – stole the drug from the force’s Nova Scotia headquarters about eight years ago, and replaced it with another substance.

Before he sentenced Burnett, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice James Chipman said the former senior officer’s “egregious breach of trust” was motivated by financial gain.

Burnett was convicted in April on seven charges following a 21-day trial.

Court heard the former RCMP sergeant gave the cocaine to a friend, who then gave it to a third man to sell.

Burnett was convicted of theft over $5,000, trafficking cocaine, laundering the proceeds of crime, obstructing police, fabricating evidence and two counts of breach of trust.

The Canadian Press

Helped in Nunavut’s creation: 20-year northern politician Ludy Pudluk dies

RESOLUTE, Nunavut – A 20-year northern politician who was instrumental in the movement that led to the creation of Nunavut has died.

Ludy Pudluk, who was 76, died in hospital in Iqaluit on Monday following a long illness.

He represented the communities of the High Arctic in the Northwest Territories legislature from 1975 to 1995.

Pudluk, who was originally from the Pond Inlet area in what would become Nunavut, spent most of his life in Resolute after he was relocated there by the Canadian government in the 1950s along with other Inuit.

He served as Resolute’s mayor after he left territorial politics and was part of several local organizations, although he moved back to Pond Inlet in his later years.

He was awarded the Order of Nunavut in May 2018.

A release from the Speakers of both the N.W.T. and Nunavut legislatures offered condolences to his friends, families and former colleagues.

“Mr. Pudluk was a dedicated spokesperson for the North, was a strong climate-change activist and made significant contributions to the creation of Nunavut,” N.W.T. Speaker Jackson Lafferty said in the release.

Speaker Simeon Mikkungwak in Nunavut added: “Ludy Pudluk received the Order of Nunavut last year in recognition of his lifetime of public service.”

A date was not yet set for a memorial service.

The Canadian Press

Trudeau shoots back at China’s claim it is being ‘naive’ in courting allies

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed today that President Donald Trump made good on his pledge to raise the plight of the two Canadians imprisoned in China with President Xi Jinping.

Trudeau says Trump did raise the cases Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor with Xi during their meeting at the G20 leaders’ summit in Japan this past weekend, just as he pledged to do in their White House meeting last month.

Trudeau also shot back at a Chinese government spokesman who accused Canada on Wednesday of being “naive” in assuming that Trump did it any favours by raising the matter with Xi.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, twice derided Canada for relying on a “so-called” ally and said China would allow no interference in its affairs.

On the contrary, Trudeau says, Canada, the United States and other allies are telling China they’re all concerned about its behaviour and that it needs to follow the rule of law and other international standards.

Trudeau says Canada, along with its allies, will continue to push that message on Beijing as China’s international economic influence grows, and while still trying to ensure the safety of Kovrig and Spavor.

The Canadian Press

PM defends system for appointing judges amid questions about ties to N.B. minister

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending the federal system for appointing judges after revelations several in New Brunswick have personal connections to Liberal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc.

CBC reported this week that five of the last six federally appointed judges in New Brunswick have ties to LeBlanc, who is Trudeau’s minister of intergovernmental and northern affairs.

One is LeBlanc’s neighbour, a second is a relative and three helped him pay off debt he accumulated during his unsuccessful run for the Liberal party leadership in 2008.

A complaint has since been filed to the ethics commissioner by watchdog Democracy Watch, which is asking for the government to suspend further appointments until an investigation is concluded.

Trudeau didn’t specifically address the five judges in New Brunswick when asked about them during an event in Montreal, but instead defended the Liberal-installed system for appointing justices as merit-based and transparent.

He added that the government was pleased to have nominated “top-notch judges” across the country, and that it does not plan to stop appointments.

The Canadian Press

Man found not responsible in stabbing of priest at St. Joseph’s Oratory

MONTREAL – A man charged with stabbing a Catholic priest during a mass that was being streamed online from Montreal’s St. Joseph’s Oratory in March has been found not criminally responsible.

The ruling in the case of Vlad Cristian Eremia came down Wednesday at the Montreal courthouse, according to a spokeswoman for the Crown.

The 27-year-old Eremia will remain housed at a Montreal psychiatric hospital until authorities deem he can be released.

He’d been charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon stemming from the March 22 attack on Rev. Claude Grou.

Grou suffered injuries in the knife attack during a morning mass that was being streamed online.

The oratory’s rector returned to work one week later and has said he holds no resentment toward Eremia and hopes he gets the help he needs.

The Canadian Press

Dragonflies with tiny fanny packs show migration patterns in new study

GUELPH, Ont. – A study in which insects were equipped with tiny radio-tracking fanny packs could help conservation efforts as populations around the world decline.

The research by University of Guelph biologists published in a scientific journal Wednesday tracked butterflies and green darner dragonflies on their migration through southern Ontario and into the northern United States using radio transmitters.

“We were able to document some pretty basic things that no one had ever done before,” said lead author Samantha Knight, who is also a program manager at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Researchers captured the insects on Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula in the falls of 2015 and 2016. The radio transmitters, which weighed about as much as a raindrop, were carefully glued on the bugs’ undersides kind of like fanny packs, Knight said.

The little packs emitted radio signals which could be picked up by towers along the insects’ migration route. The signals sent information about speed and distance back to researchers.

Knight explained the bugs’ breeding habits and the areas they stay in winter have been studied, but there’s almost no information about migration patterns.

Recent studies have shown that habitat loss, land-use changes and global warming mean up to 40 per cent of insect species are at risk of extinction. There’s also been a decline in bird populations that rely on insects for food.

When data started to flow in from the fanny packs, Knight said it was really astounding.

On average, the monarchs flew about 12 km/h and darners flew about 16 km/h. One darner surprised researchers by flying 77 km/h and travelling 122 kilometres in just one day.

“If a darner was flying through a town, a cop would pull it over,” said study co-author Ryan Norris.

The insects are likely to be even faster, added Norris. They were slowed down by the fanny packs, which weigh about half of the bugs’ body weight.

Norris explained the research showed insects are likely to fly high in the atmosphere to take advantage of the wind.

“There are insects flying over our heads all the time and we don’t know it.”

It also showed monarchs and darners fly faster in warmer temperatures, but they slow down if it gets too hot, so global warming could affect migration. Rain didn’t really have an effect on the bugs at all, Norris added.

The research, while preliminary, has opened doors to more knowledge about insects, Norris said. He expects technology to improve so that bug migration can be better understood.

It’s extremely important, he said, because researchers looking to develop effective conservation strategies need to know where insects go.

“It’s hard to predict what species are going to do if you don’t know what they are doing now.”

– By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

The Canadian Press

Winnipeg man who killed woman, dumped body won’t get parole chance for 15 years

WINNIPEG – The father of a woman who was stabbed numerous times and her body discarded in a shallow grave says he’ll never stop hurting, even though her killer has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for 15 years.

Brett Ronald Overby, 32, was found guilty in May of second-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Christine Wood.

At a sentencing hearing Tuesday, a judge said Overby committed a brutal and relentless murder then went on with his life, and even continued using the dating website where he met Wood, until he was arrested.

George Wood said outside court that the life sentence won’t bring his daughter back.

“It’s not going to take away the pain. It will always be there,” he said.

“If there was something I could say to my daughter right now, ‘I miss you. I wish this didn’t happen to you. … If only I was there to protect you.’”

He described his daughter as beautiful, intelligent and kind with a rich, full life ahead of her – until she met Overby through the dating site Plenty of Fish.

Christine Wood, who is from Oxford House First Nation in northern Manitoba, was in Winnipeg with her parents in August 2016 when she disappeared from the hotel where they were staying while in the city to support a sick relative.

Her parents stayed in Winnipeg for months searching for their daughter and hundreds of people attended a march to bring awareness to her disappearance.

Wood’s body was found 10 months after she went missing near a farmer’s field outside the city.

Evidence showed that she was stabbed 11 times, her throat was slit and her skull and leg were broken.

The jury heard during the trial how Overby and Wood met through the dating site. They decided to go for a few drinks and ended up at Overby’s house.

Overby testified that Wood began acting erratically. He said she came at him with a knife after he took her down to his basement to show her a mouse skeleton.

He admitted to killing Wood but said he blacked out and didn’t remember what happened. Blood evidence was found all over his basement.

When given the opportunity to address the court Tuesday, Overby said he never intended to kill Wood.

“I really do feel terrible for what happened,” he said.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Martin rejected Overby’s assertion that he was provoked and had no memory of the killing.

“I see no genuine remorse, but rather regret for being caught.”

Wood’s family told the hearing that she didn’t deserve to be left in a shallow grave like garbage.

“I’m carrying this heavy pain,” Wood’s mother, Melinda Wood, wrote in a victim impact statement read in court.

Wood’s brothers, cousins and friends also submitted victim impact statements that described the anxiety and fear they have experienced since her killing. They said they worry for their own children, especially when they have to go to Winnipeg.

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, which represents northern First Nations, said Wood’s legacy should be honoured by implementing the calls to justice from the final report of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, who works with families of missing or murdered relatives form northern Manitoba First Nations, added that there needs to be more supports for Indigenous people coming to the city. Many have not experienced life outside of their communities and can be vulnerable.

“We need to remember we cannot stop working to improve the safety of our young Indigenous women and girls,” she said. “We need to work together to protect them.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

New sergeant-at-arms appointed in Ottawa

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is welcoming the appointment of Patrick McDonell as the official sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons.

McDonell has been serving in the role as acting sergeant-at-arms and head of security for the House of Commons since 2015.

He replaces Kevin Vickers, who shot and helped take down Michael Zihaf Bibeau, who barged into Centre Block on Parliament Hill with a rifle in 2014 after killing honour guard reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial.

McDonell has had a long career with the RCMP and the protective service overseeing the protection of dignitaries, including the Prime Minister and the Governor General, as well as the grounds of Parliament Hill and the Supreme Court.

McDonell was chosen as the nominee for the position through the Trudeau government’s merit-based appointment process.

His appointment took effect July 1st.



The Canadian Press