2 dead in small plane crash

A small plane crashed Sunday along the Mouchalagane River in northern Quebec.

Quebec air ambulance company Air Medic says two people were killed in the crash and one other person is in critical condition.

Air Medic spokesman Aziz Fikri says the survivor suffered severe burns and was taken to hospital in Sept-Îles.

Quebec provincial police could not immediately confirm the number of dead or how many people were on board.

The military sent two of their aircraft to the site, which is not easily accessible.

Police and Air Medic have also sent helicopters, but police said the choppers were unable to land nearby.

Mom wants to know why

Valorie Smokeyday will never give up.

For the past 11 years, Smokeyday has been living with the pain of not knowing why her daughter was killed, but she will never stop seeking answers.

Family and friends gathered for a memorial walk and graveside service to remember Melanie Dawn Geddes on the weekend.

She was last seen at a house party a short walk from her Regina home in November of 2005.

The remains of the 24-year-old mother of three were discovered four months later in a field 50 kilometres north of the city.

“In my heart I really feel that I have to know what happened,” Smokeyday told CTV Regina.

The RCMP and the Regina police continue to investigate the case as a homicide, but no suspects have been charged or officially connected to Geddes’ death.

Smokeyday hopes the opening of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which officially started on Sept. 1, will help raise awareness of the disproportionate level of violence across Canada’s indigenous communities and see more resources deployed to provide answers for grieving families who feel left in the dark.

- with files from CTV

UN may look at Site C

A United Nations monitoring mission to a world heritage site in northern Alberta appears likely to focus more attention on the contested Site C hydroelectric project next door in British Columbia.

Wood Buffalo National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1983, is under review this week at the request of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, which petitioned the world body in 2014 to list the park as being under threat from various developments.

The park is at the convergence of the Peace and Athabaska rivers and is considered the largest freshwater boreal delta on the planet.

Conservationists and local First Nations are concerned about how two existing hydro dams on the Peace River are affecting the hydrology of the park — a problem they say will be compounded by B.C.'s massive Site C dam that's going ahead on the Peace River.

"We're looking for them to list it as endangered so Canada can really take a more proactive means in managing those impacts and activities," Melody Lepine, the director of government and industry relations for the Mikisew First Nation, said Sunday in an interview after arriving with the review group in Fort Smith, N.W.T.

The World Heritage Centre concluded in 2015 that a review of cumulative effects on Wood Buffalo National Park was warranted, and in the meantime asked that Canada not make any other development decisions that "would be difficult to reverse."

Nonetheless, the Trudeau government issued federal fisheries permits this summer to allow construction to go ahead on Site C, which will dam an 83-kilometre long reservoir on the Peace River.

"They should have waited until they knew the outcome of the mission and the actual state of the Peace-Athabaska delta in terms of its ecological integrity and needs," said Lepine.

"So to approve another project that could have those irreversible impacts I think is deeply concerning. It's not fair to the community, it's not fair to the Mikisew, it's not fair to the heritage site that they're supposed to be managing."

The 10-day "reactive monitoring mission" of Wood Buffalo by two international UNESCO experts got underway Sunday, after being postponed earlier in the year due to the wildfires around Fort McMurray, Alta.

The park review opens a new front in the battle over Site C, which is already being challenged in Federal Court by two B.C. First Nations.

The federal permits quietly issued in late July further inflamed the debate, with Perry Bellgarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, publicly stating this month that the hydro project is not being handled in keeping with Canada's constitution nor with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Those concerns about indigenous consultation dovetail with the complaints over the management of Wood Buffalo National Park.

The World Heritage Committee's decision to go ahead with the review noted "with concern the lack of engagement with indigenous communities in monitoring activities, as well as insufficient consideration of traditional ecological knowledge."

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna welcomed the UNESCO monitoring mission, which could only come with the invitation of the federal government.

"The government of Canada is committed to preserving our national parks, some of which are recognized World Heritage sites, and doing so in partnership with local communities, Indigenous peoples and other stakeholders," McKenna said in a statement Friday.


'We lost family'


Teammates of Calgary Stampeders defensive back Mylan Hicks say they feel like they've lost a family member after a fatal shooting outside a Calgary nightclub early Sunday.

Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel said several players were at the Marquee Beer Market & Stage after their win Saturday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

"Everyone in the organization is grief stricken, hurting and we all have to heal," he said.

Police say at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, police responded to reports of a shooting at the club, where they found a man in his 20s who'd been shot. He was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition and later died.

Three suspects are in custody and an autopsy is expected to be completed on Monday.

The Calgary Stampeders say defensive back Mylan Hicks died on Sunday morning. He was 23.

The team said in statement that Hicks's "life was taken in act of violence."

"Obviously this is an extremely difficult and upsetting time for the players and staff," Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel said. "It's a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mylan's family."

The Calgary Police said earlier Sunday that they were investigating after a fatal shooting outside a Calgary night club.

The police statement said the victim had been taken to hospital in life-threatening condition before dying of his injuries, but the release did not identify the victim.

Hicks, who signed with the Stampeders in May and was on Calgary's practice roster, was born in Detroit and played for Michigan State, where he recorded a career-high 19 tackles and four pass break-ups in nine games in his senior year in 2014.

Hicks signed with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in May 2015 before being released at the end of training camp.

"The loss of this 23-year-old young man at this stage of his life and his career is an unfathomable tragedy," said Ken King, president and CEO of the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation. "Our sympathies to Mylan's family and to the Stampeders family of players, coaches and staff."

CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said the league's "thoughts and prayers" are with Hicks's family and the Stampeders.

Brian Ramsay, the executive director of the CFL players association, said Hicks was just starting to establish himself as a member of the team and was well thought of.

"Mylan was a respected young man throughout his collegiate and professional careers," Ramsay said in a statement.

Former Calgary teammate Taylor Reed sent out a tweet about Hicks on Sunday.

"RIP Mylan Hicks. Good fball player, Great Dude. Such a tragedy. You will be missed brother...," the tweet read.

Olympic sized brouhaha

Montreal's Olympic Stadium may be among Canada's most iconic buildings, but that doesn't mean it can be put on a T-shirt, a Montreal designer has been told.

Pier-Luk Bouthillier says he received a notice on Sept. 13 informing him that a tourist T-shirt he makes featuring drawings of various Montreal landmarks is in violation of Canada's copyright laws and may infringe on the rights of the man who designed the stadium more than 40 years ago.

The notice, sent out by SODRAC, the society that represents authors, composers, music publishers and artists in Canada, demanded he stop producing the T-shirts, which include images of the stadium and Alexander Calder's iconic "Man, Three Disks" sculpture.

He says it also asked him for compensation for having reproduced the two works without authorization.

Bouthillier says the letter claimed he was violating the rights of the authors — namely Calder and Roger Taillibert, the French architect who designed the stadium for the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

He says he was shocked when he read the letter.

"These monuments are part of Montreal and Canadian identities, and I never for a second thought it would cause a problem," he says.

Bouthillier says he has not yet decided how he will respond.

Gilles Lessard, a spokesman for SODRAC, confirmed the notice was sent.

Although he did not want to discuss Bouthillier's case specifically, he says Canadian copyright laws protect authors' rights to their work, unless there is a specific contractual agreement specifying otherwise.

He says that while an exception exists for public works that allows them to be drawn, painted, photographed or filmed, he does not believe that includes the right to reproduce their images for commercial purposes.

"There can be different readings of this law, and that's the way we've read it," he told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.

Lessard says while technically the society could go as far as to prosecute individuals who don't comply, he would not say whether the group was considering that option in Bouthillier's case.

The Olympic stadium — dubbed the "Big Owe" for its runaway construction costs, which amounted to more than $1 billion — was finally paid off 30 years after the city hosted the 1976 Olympics.

But although it, and Calder's sculpture, may be widely viewed as public monuments, a McGill University law professor says they're still considered "works," and therefore covered by copyright law.

"Technically speaking, whether it is a song, a text or a sculpture, reproduction needs to be authorized," says Pierre-Emmanuel Moyse, who specializes in intellectual property law.

"It might come as a surprise because we see them as public monuments, but they're works."

He says that even if a building is publicly owned, an author still retains certain non-transferable moral rights, including the right to refuse to be associated with products they don't like.

Reached by phone at his home in France, Taillibert says he "was not at all aware" of Bouthillier's case, but confirmed he still retains rights over the use of the stadium's image.

The 90-year-old architect says getting authorization was generally uncomplicated and offered to help direct Bouthillier's letter to the relevant people.

Remembering Richard Hong

Friends and family of Richard Hong are remembering him as a free spirit who loved the outdoors and always had a smile on his face.

The 41-year-old actor was found dead early Friday at the Los Angeles home rented by television personality George Stroumboulopoulos.

Police say Hong died of blunt force trauma and his death is considered a homicide.

One of his high school friends says Hong grew up in Montreal before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

John Struthers added he was shocked to learn his friend had died so young.

Hong's sister also posted a short message on Facebook saying her brother would "forever be missed."

Stroumboulopoulos, the former "Hockey Night in Canada" host, said in a prepared statement on Friday that he's "heartbroken" after a "dear friend" was found dead.

No arrests have been made so far.

Trouble tracking convictions

While military commanders have pointed to an increase in criminal investigations as proof the fight against sexual misconduct is working, military justice officials admit they don't know how many service members are ever actually convicted.

It's one of a number of statistical deficiencies that military officials say they are working to address — a fix experts say is essential for instilling confidence in victims and ensuring cases are being handled properly.

Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance told a Senate committee last week that military police are on track to see a 22 per cent increase in the number of reported sexual offences from the previous year.

"About half of these are old cases," Vance said. "This demonstrates to me that at least some of these victims now believe, perhaps for the first time, that we will hear them and take action."

According to the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service, military police opened 174 investigations into alleged sexual offences in 2015, as compared to 106 during just the first six months of 2016. Officials say the majority of cases were sexual assault.

But those numbers, which Vance referenced in his testimony, are only the beginning. Of those 280 cases, 49 actually led to charges. As for convictions, that's where things get muddy.

When it comes to sexual offences and a number of other crimes, military police have the option of referring cases to either military or civilian courts. The investigative service says 40 of the 49 sex-related cases that led to charges in 2015 and the first six months of 2016 went to civilian courts.

Lt.-Col. Brian Frei, deputy commander of the Canadian Forces military police group, said his officers continue to be involved in such cases. "But in terms of tracking military offenders through civilian courts, that's something that we have not historically done in a way that would allow us to do statistics."

It is difficult to track cases when they go from one system to another, said Holly Johnson, an expert at the University of Ottawa who was the principal investigator of Statistics Canada's first national survey on violence against women.

But she said such information is essential not only to understand whether investigations are working, but also to show results to victims who are weighing whether to take the difficult step of coming forward.

"How do you transmit the message that reporting's a good thing if there's nothing to show the military members that we are taking this seriously?" Johnson said.

Gathering to watch debate

Sparks are expected to fly when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton face off in the first presidential debate of the U.S. election, and viewers north of the border are planning to watch with anticipation usually reserved for prize fights or championship sports games.

Canadians and American expats alike are gearing up for the debate that could make or break the campaign, gathering in homes and bars to catch an exchange they expect will be as entertaining as it is informative.

While the political impact of the debate is not to be minimized, part of the appeal lies in waiting for Trump "to say something crazy," said Omar Lujan, 36, a researcher at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Lujan and roughly 10 friends, all in their 30s, are planning a viewing party Monday night at one of their homes, where they can drink beers and make comments as the candidates clash.

Trump's extreme and at times outlandish statements make for good TV but also raise the alarm over the possible future of American policy, he said. The Republican candidate's stance on immigration is of particular interest to Lujan, who hails from Peru and has family in the U.S.

"I find it quite entertaining but also a bit uneasy," he said.

The 90-minute debate is considered must-see TV by many and is expected to draw an estimated audience of 75 million or more viewers, with many more expected to keep tabs on the event online.

"It'll be more like the Superbowl than the Superbowl," said Alex Smith, an American expat who has been living in Canada for 46 years.

Smith has booked space at Eton House, a bar in east Toronto, to watch the debate on a big screen with dozens of others, many of them expats like him. As of this weekend, close to 50 people had indicated they would attend, he said.

It's the first time Smith has organized such an event, though he follows American politics "fairly closely."

"This (debate) is probably one of the more important ones in our time," he said. "Obviously it's going to be entertaining, I think some people might be going for the entertainment value, but in my opinion it's a very important debate as far as what direction the world is going to be going in."

Statcan eyes digital register

The mandatory long-form census returned this year, a decade after it was last seen.

If things go as planned, a decade from now the short-form census won't be seen again.

Statistics Canada is working on a plan for the 2026 census that would eliminate the mandatory short-form census that goes to every household and instead use existing government databases to conduct a virtual count of the population.

The plan would save taxpayers millions of dollars and provide the same information used by governments to plan roads, hospitals, schools and other public services.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act paint a detailed picture of what officials hope to have in place by 2026: a digital register of every Canadian that could be updated every five years, if not annually, and a smaller long-form questionnaire.

"This approach to replace the short-form questionnaire will require a complete redesign of the long-form questionnaire," reads the April report provided to former chief statistician Wayne Smith.

The agency said in a statement that it hasn't yet determined its approach for the 2021 census, but made no direct reference to the 2026 count. The statement said the agency "conducts ongoing research activities to determine the most efficient way of collecting census information."

For decades, Statistics Canada has mobilized a small army of workers — 1,400 this year — to mail questionnaires to households, go door-to-door and phone for follow-ups and read through the millions of returned forms that contain detailed information about the population.

That tradition is costly for taxpayers and burdensome for workers.

Statistics Canada estimates the 2016 census will cost upwards of $700 million, which covers a seven-year period that includes time to prepare, collect, analyze and distribute results.

Administrative data like tax and income information held by the Canada Revenue Agency, or vehicle registration data from provinces, could provide details faster and cheaper than sending out millions of questionnaires every five years. It would also help the agency combat declining response rates that threaten accuracy (although the short-form census this year had a 98 per cent response rate).

This year, Statistics Canada mailed out 16 million short-form questionnaires, with one quarter also receiving the long-form survey.

Libs face discontent in East

Less than a year after the federal Liberals won all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada, some East Coasters are feeling taken for granted.

Critics and political observers say a number of perceived missteps are starting to take the form of a political narrative that does not reflect well on the governing party or its telegenic leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"When you start adding these up, the cumulative effect can be woven into quite a rhetorical tapestry for an opposition party," says Tom Bateman, a political science professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.

"That's what the Liberals have to worry about."

Among other things, Atlantic Canadians have been irked by Trudeau's suggestion that he may not replace a retired Supreme Court of Canada judge from Nova Scotia with someone from Atlantic Canada.

Failure to appoint an Atlantic Canadian would effectively kill a 141-year-old unwritten convention that ensures every region of the country has representation on the country's highest court. Trudeau has argued that other forms of diversity are just as important.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison, the senior federal cabinet minister from Nova Scotia, says it's too early to judge what the government will do, noting that Atlantic Canadians are among those being considered for the job.

"People ought to wait until that appointment is made," he said, adding that the new non-partisan selection process is based on merit, not the cronyism that he says the previous Tory government was known for.

But the new process hasn't won over some vocal opponents.

Earlier this week, trial lawyers from across the region took Ottawa to court to make sure Atlantic Canada keeps its seat.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil also said the rule should not be dropped, as did two New Brunswick senators: Conservative John Wallace and Pierrette Ringuette, a former Liberal senator who now sits as an Independent.

"Policies to promote diversity need not come at the expense of excluding Atlantic Canada," Ringuette said in a statement earlier this month.

Five bomb threats in 1 hour

Police in the Halifax area say they responded to five unfounded bomb threats within about an hour early Sunday.

The RCMP say they received a call at about 1:30 a.m. from an anonymous male who claimed he was in the parking lot of a sports facility in Cole Harbour with bombs and a hunting rifle.

Shortly after 2 a.m., the RCMP office received an automated phone message from an anonymous person indicating there was a bomb at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

Around the same time, Dalhousie University received a threatening automated phone message, and while police were investigating that, nearby Saint Mary's University also received a bomb threat from an anonymous person.

Seven minutes later, Halifax Regional Police received reports of a bomb threat against a downtown Halifax library.

Nothing suspicious was found in any case.

School districts in four Canadian provinces and territories received unfounded bomb threats last week, with one faxed threat in Prince Edward Island prompting a province-wide evacuation of public schools and colleges.

There were also threats made against schools in Nova Scotia, Winnipeg and Nunavut.

Varying responses to threats

School officials in four Canadian provinces all received similar bomb threats this week, but each responded to the potential danger differently.

Universities and schools across Prince Edward Island were evacuated Wednesday morning after police received a fax from someone threatening to detonate bombs at several schools. Three colleges in Nova Scotia were also evacuated after receiving threats.

Hours later, a school board in Winnipeg received a similar bomb threat, but no schools were evacuated.

And on Thursday, schools in three regions of Nunavut were closed due to a bomb threat, but reopened after lunch.

"Assessing a bomb threat is very, very difficult," said Chris Mathers, a Toronto-based crime and risk consultant. "You can't examine a bomb threat in a vacuum."

Mathers said a number of factors are considered when assessing the credibility of a bomb threat, including the frequency of the threats and whether similar threats have made.

"If you're getting a bomb threat every day, eventually someone had to make a decision not to act out as the person making the threats wants them to," said Mathers. "And typically, serious bombers don't call it in."

But he said with minimal information available, many officials would err on the side of caution, as was the case in P.E.I.

P.E.I. Staff Sgt. Kevin Baillie said this was the case when the threat was received Wednesday.

"There's no question, the vast majority of these types of threats are not credible. However, in the early stages, it's very difficult to say definitively that the threat is not credible," said Baillie, adding that the decision to evacuate schools was made by the school board.

More Canada News

Parliament Hill Webcam
Recent Trending
Castanet Proud Member of RTNDA Canada