Sunday, February 1st-1.3°C

4 rescued from capsized boat

Four men are back on shore after a fishing vessel capsized off Nova Scotia's southwest coast early Saturday morning.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax says around midnight it received a distress call from the Poseidon Princess approximately 100 km offshore from Yarmouth.

Spokesman Cameron Hillier says the centre co-ordinated a response from nearby fishing vessels as well as a Cormorant helicopter and a Coast Guard vessel.

Hillier says three men were located in a lifeboat and a fourth was rescued from the water.

Shawn d'Entremont of Inshore Fisheries, the company the Poseidon Princess fished for, says three of the men were crew members Martin, Lee and Oscar d'Entremont, and that the fourth man was an onboard fisheries observer.

Shawn d'Entremont says all four men were brought to hospital for medical treatment.

He said he did not know what caused the vessel to capsize but expected there will be an investigation into the incident.

The Canadian Press


Islamic community centre blocked

The Islamic community centre that controversial imam Hamza Chaoui had hoped to open in east Montreal will not see the light of day, local officials said.

Real Menard, mayor of the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough, told a news conference Saturday he would not grant Chaoui an operating licence to open a centre in the neighbourhood.

Chaoui, a Moroccan-born imam who has made statements deemed homophobic and sexist, had not yet applied for such a permit.

He has described Islam and democracy as "completely" incompatible.

Menard said he based the pre-emptive decision on security considerations, but added that places of worship were not permitted in the area the youth centre was planned to be established.

He added the borough council would meet to redefine what constitutes a community and cultural centre, and religious instruction would be excluded.

"The measure would freeze any demand for a certificate of occupation for a community centre," Menard said.

Reached over the phone by The Canadian Press on Saturday afternoon, Chaoui said he was too busy to comment on the situation.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre backed Menard's decision, saying it was an issue of public order and safety, and not freedom of expression.

Coderre described Chaoui as an "agent of radicalization and instigator of social tension."

"It could provoke things. Lone wolves can exist and that's the fruit of radicalization," Coderre said.

The mayor added he could have intervened to block Chaoui's project under city laws by arguing that it would cause "disturbances to the public order."

Coderre said the city was ready to tackle any legal challenges.

"We feel solid if ever there are legal proceedings. Our role is to govern and to make sure to have a balance between openness and vigilance," Coderre said, adding he did not want to stigmatize Montreal's Muslim community.

The case had nothing to do with religion, he said.

Coderre, who was a federal minister at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, urged members of Parliament to adopt new anti-terrorism legislation, tabled by the federal government Friday, as soon as possible.

Bill C-51 puts forth several measures to thwart terrorist acts, including granting Canada's spy agency stronger anti-terror powers.

The Canadian Press

Top service dog mourned

Winnipeg Police are mourning the death of a top service dog that was involved in more than 500 arrests.

Judge, an 11-year-old Belgian Malinois, died this week after retiring last year.

Sgt. Dave Bessason of the Winnipeg Police K9 unit says Judge was a great tracker who loved to work.

Since his retirement Judge had been living with his handler.

Bessason says Winnipeg Police believe Judge was one of the best service dogs in Canada.

He says Judge has left a living legacy, siring 23 puppies over the years that are now working across the country and the U.S., with more to come through artificial insemination.

"We have samples from Judge for probably another 10 to 12 breedings," Bessason said Friday.

"We saw the abilities of that dog and wanted to make sure for the future that we produce the very best dogs possible."

The Canadian Press


Cross-border bandit collared

An RCMP tactical team has arrested a man wanted in up to nine bank robberies across Western Canada.

Mounties say a 26-year-old suspect was taken into custody Friday afternoon at a motel in Grande Prairie, Alta.

Police say no one was hurt in the takedown and charges are pending.

The first robbery police recorded was Dec. 1 in Princeton, B.C.

Eight days later, the same robber was 200 kilometres to the north, where he held up a Vernon financial institution.

Between Dec. 19 and Jan. 28, the same suspect jumped between the three provinces, holding up banks in High River, Alta., Merritt, B.C., Swift Current, Sask., Lethbridge, Alta., Claresholm, Alta., Langley, B.C., and Dawson Creek, B.C.

Police released photos of the man entering the banks he robbed and, in every one, he was dressed in black, wearing dark glasses and either a hoodie or a toque.

The Canadian Press

Anti-terror powers strengthened

Newly tabled anti-terrorism legislation would give Canada's spy agency more power to thwart a suspected extremist's travel plans, disrupt bank transactions and covertly interfere with radical websites.

The plan to boost the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's ability to counter terrorist threats flows from a review of fatal attacks on two Canadian soldiers last October — incidents the government believes were fuelled by Islamic extremism.

CSIS would become an agency that actively tries to derail terror plots, not just one that collects and analyzes information about such plans.

As expected, the bill would also make it easier for the RCMP to obtain a peace bond to restrict the movements of a suspect and it extends the period for preventative arrest and detention.

In addition, the legislation would expand the no-fly regime to cover those travelling by air to take part in terrorist activities, whereas currently there must be an immediate risk to the plane.

The bill proposes giving the RCMP power to seek a judge's order to remove terrorist propaganda from the Internet.

It would also create a new criminal offence of encouraging someone to carry out a terrorism attack.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a gathering in Richmond Hill, Ont., the Conservative government is prepared to both condemn and confront terrorism.

"Jihadist terrorism is not a future possibility, it is a present reality," Harper said.

"It seeks to harm us here in Canada, in our cities and in our neighbourhoods through horrific acts."

On Oct. 22, Michael Zehaf Bibeau shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, an honour guard at the National War Memorial, before rushing into Parliament's Centre Block. Zehaf Bibeau was quickly gunned down.

Two days earlier, Martin Couture-Rouleau had fatally rammed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent with a car in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. After a chase, police shot and killed the knife-wielding assailant.

It soon emerged the RCMP had been monitoring the man — who harboured jihadist sympathies — for months.

The Mounties even prevented him from travelling overseas, presumably to join militant fighters. But they did not have enough evidence to arrest him or further limit his movements, saying extreme beliefs were not a crime.

Existing law requires a fear that someone "will commit" a terrorism offence before police can obtain a peace bond — a tool that can mean jail unless a suspect abides by strict conditions, for instance that they surrender their passport and regularly report to police.

The new, lower threshold would be reasonable grounds to fear a person "may commit" a terrorism offence.

Current anti-terrorism law allows police to arrest someone without a warrant and hold them for up to three days before a hearing. Under the bill, the maximum period would be extended to seven days.

Under existing law, CSIS may interview someone with the sole aim of collecting information, not dissuading that person from, for example, travelling to Syria to join militants.

With its new mandate, CSIS would need "reasonable grounds to believe" there was a security threat before taking measures to disrupt it. The spy agency would need a court warrant whenever proposed disruption measures violate the charter of rights or otherwise breach Canadian law.

Threat disruption warrants would be limited to 120 days, with the possibility of limited renewal if a judge agrees.

The new powers would allow CSIS to engage in a joint operation with a foreign partner to divert a shipment of dangerous chemicals so it was not delivered to extremists.

CSIS could also ask the overseeing court to issue an "assistance order" that would, for instance, require a landlord to allow the spy agency to plant listening devices in a tenant's apartment. Currently CSIS cannot force a building owner to comply with such a warrant.

In addition, the spy agency could provide online "counter-messaging" or even "disrupt radical websites and Twitter accounts" to protect impressionable young Canadians, says a federal background document.

Other proposed measures would:

— Allow for more information-sharing when the material — such as passport or immigration information — is relevant to an agency's national security mandate;

— Give the government more power to object to disclosure of classified information in immigration proceedings.

The Canadian Press

Second H7N9 case in BC

A British Columbia man suspected of having been infected with H7N9 bird flu has tested positive for the virus, the deputy provincial health officer said Thursday.

The unidentified man is the second Canadian known to have been infected with the virus.

On Monday, provincial and federal health authorities announced that a woman — the man's wife — was diagnosed with North America's first case of H7N9 flu.

Additional cases are not expected to arise from this event, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s deputy provincial health officer said via email.

"No other contacts are ill and are now past the incubation period so we do not foresee any further cases," she said.

The couple are believed to have contracted the virus during a recent trip to China. They returned on Jan. 12.

The man became ill about a day before his wife but did not seek medical care. When the woman developed the same flu-like symptoms, she went to her family doctor who tested her for influenza.

Testing at the provincial laboratory at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control revealed the woman was infected with an H7 virus, which is not one of the flu subtypes that normally infect people.

A sample was sent to the Winnipeg lab, which confirmed the virus as a H7N9 flu.

H7N9 is a subtype of flu that infects poultry. But in March 2013, authorities in China reported several cases of human infections.

Since then, roughly 500 human infections have been diagnosed, all either in China or in people who had travelled to mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia have all diagnosed infections in returning travellers.

Roughly a third of the people who have been diagnosed with this infection have died from it.

When it became apparent what the woman was infected with, public health officials tested the husband.

The couple, who are in their 50s, were not sick enough to need to be hospitalization. But their symptoms were such that they did stayed home and had little outside contact at the height of their illness.

They have both since recovered.

The Canadian Press

Alberta cabinet to take pay cut

Premier Jim Prentice says he and his cabinet ministers will cut their pay by five per cent to set a tone of self-sacrifice as Alberta deals with billions of dollars in lost oil revenue.

"This is the kind of leadership that Albertans expect from their elected officials in these challenging times," Prentice told a news conference at the legislature Thursday.

Prentice said the reduction will kick in Sunday.

With the change, cabinet ministers will now make $190,950 a year, down from $201,000.

Prentice will make almost $207,000, down from $217,750.

The premier said he will ask his whip George VanderBurg to bring forward a motion next week to the legislature committee that handles pay to pass a similar measure for government backbenchers and opposition members.

If the other MLAs accept the cut, it would reduce their annual pay by $6,700 to $127,300. If accepted by all 87 legislature members, the savings would total about $600,000, Prentice added.

He said the five per cent was selected because it was "a reasonable number."

Prentice signalled last week that reductions were coming from his team as he crafts a financial plan to be presented next month that he says will fundamentally restructure Alberta's economic model with an eye to getting off the roller coaster of volatile oil resource revenues.

Oil prices have plunged from more than US$100 a barrel last summer to less than $50 a barrel today, siphoning billions of dollars from the treasury.

Prentice has said many ideas are on the table, including a sales tax and changing the 10 per cent flat on income. He has ruled out changing oil royalties, which critics have said are too low.

He has also said he will talk to the public sector unions given that they are, on average, the highest paid in Canada.

Prentice was asked if Thursday's announcement was to pave the way to asking the unions for a similar five per cent cut.

"Discussions with the public service have begun (but) we have not put specific measures on the table," said Prentice.

He said the pay for deputy ministers and other senior civil service bureaucrats are also in play.

"The discussions will involve everyone who is paid by the citizens of Alberta," he said.

Wildrose Leader Heather Forsyth said Prentice did not go far enough.

"Today’s announcement amounts to window dressing. It does not go near far enough to achieve savings or signal a change in culture," Forsyth said in a news release.

"MLA wages should also immediately be rolled back by a full eight per cent to where they were before the PCs rewarded themselves with an extra $11,000 in the fall of 2012," she said.

She said cabinet pay should be cut by 30 per cent and adjusted for inflation to 2008 levels.

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said the savings achieved by the pay cut will not fix the "revenue imbalance caused by years of the PC government's sense of entitlement, waste, mismanagement, and over-reliance on volatile resources to pay the daily bills."

He said the Tories have raised their wages over the last seven years, and given the largest tax breaks in the country's history to the top one per cent of wage earners.

"I have consistently said that MLAs are in a conflict of interest when it comes to setting their own pay," he said. "It should be set independently. Alberta Liberals have repeatedly proposed legislation to establish a citizens panel that is comprised of our real bosses, the people of Alberta, to determine the salaries of their elected representatives."

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, took to social media to condemn Prentice's announcement as cynical bargaining.

"Prentice (is) setting up for (an) attack on public sector wages, even though MLAs have enjoyed far bigger wages and increases than front line workers," wrote McGowan.

Union leaders have said their wages have risen to reflect inflation in Alberta's recent hypergrowth economy, adding that while their wages have gone up five per cent relative to the rest of Canada, private sector wages have soared 25 per cent.

Alberta's teachers, under legislation passed in 2013, received a three-year wage freeze retroactive to September 2012.

The announcement and the financial deliberations are set against a backdrop of an expected spring election.

Prentice has refused to confirm voters will go to the polls a year earlier than dictated by law, but has said his economic plan requires a mandate from the people.

All parties are busy signing up candidates.

The Canadian Press

Escapee taunts police online

A 21-year-old man being sought by police after escaping custody appears to have been taunting police online.

RCMP say Solomon Toutsaint ran away from the courthouse in Black Lake, Sask., on Jan. 21 while officers were taking several people in custody to their court appearances.

Since then, RCMP say it appears Toutsaint has been posting updates on his Facebook page saying "Catch me if you can lol" and "Imma bad boy."

Sgt. Cory Niedzielski of the Stony Rapids detachment says Toutsaint is "sort of treating everything a little bit like a game."

However, Niedzielski says the posts and information being supplied by the public may be giving investigators some idea of where Toutsaint might be.

The officer says Toutsaint would have to be using a Wi-Fi connection or someone’s home connection to be posting.

"We don't have cellphone service up here," he says. "So these posts are not mobile in nature, like how you could be driving down the highway and posting something, and you could be between one place and another place.”

Niedzielski says that raises the possibility that someone has allowed Toutsaint into their home to use their computer briefly.

The RCMP considers Toutsaint to be non-violent, adding he faces two counts of break and enter.

He is described as aboriginal, five feet nine inches, about 150 pounds, with a slender build, short black hair and brown eyes.

The Canadian Press

First Nation water woes highlighted

A group is using Winnipeg's boil-water advisory to highlight the ongoing struggles of the First Nation that supplies the city with its drinking water.

Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, which provides Winnipeg with water through an aqueduct, has been under a boil-water advisory for 17 years. Chuck Wright said it's time Winnipeg residents learned more about the cost of their drinking water.

"I really hope that the inconvenience of only a day and a half of an E. coli scare that it will create more empathy for the many, many First Nations, not just Shoal Lake 40, that have been under boil-water advisories and without adequate drinking water for so many years, sometimes decades," he said.

Wright and a few others handed out bottled water Thursday in downtown Winnipeg, plastered with the label "Boil Water Advisory Day Count — Winnipeg: 1.5, Shoal Lake 40: 6,205+" to raise awareness about the reserve.

Winnipeg's boil advisory was issued on Tuesday after routine testing found coliform and E. coli at extremely low levels in six of 39 water samples. Although subsequent tests Wednesday came back clean, the city is testing once again before lifting the ban. An update is expected later Thursday.

Shoal Lake, on the Ontario-Manitoba boundary, was flooded and essentially made into an island so Winnipeg could tap its water. For years, the community has lived under a boil-water advisory while calling for the construction of an all-weather road.

"While clean drinking water is still in the air, in the public mind, we wanted to come out and remind Winnipegers of this disparity," Wright said. "We hope, as a response, people will contemplate more where their water comes from and what our responsibility is through our relationship to Shoal Lake 40 First Nation."

Throughout the boil-water advisory, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman has urged residents to remain calm while the city continues to test the water.

Businesses and residents were told that tap water was safe for bathing and laundry, but were advised to boil it for at least a minute before drinking it.

Most coffee shops and restaurants were open, although some menu items were not available. Schools were also open, but some warned students to bring bottled water because the water fountains were closed. It was business as usual at city pools.

Hospitals saw no sign of a spike in illness, and surgeries and other services went on as usual.

The Canadian Press

7 seconds too late for $13.5M

Timing, it is said, is everything. Just don't say that to Joel Ifergan.

A lottery ticket the Quebecer purchased in May 2008 turned out to have all the winning numbers, leaving him thinking he had hit a $13.5-million jackpot.

There was just one problem — he technically purchased the ticket seven seconds past the deadline.

Ifergan's bid to get his hands on the windfall reached the end of the road today when the Supreme Court of Canada announced it would not hear his case.

Ifergan alleged the transaction was concluded on time and that the lag of the Loto-Quebec terminal is what cost him the massive payout.

He lost his initial legal challenge in Quebec Superior Court in 2012 and again at the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2014.

The Canadian Press

Crown seeks 15 years in slaying

A Cape Breton fisherman should be given a 15-year prison sentence for killing a man he said enraged him after cutting his lobster traps and threatening to burn his home, the Crown said Thursday.

Sentencing arguments are being delivered in the case of Joseph James Landry, who was convicted by a jury in November of manslaughter in Phillip Boudreau's death.

The 43-year-old man vanished on June 1, 2013. His body has never been found.

Boudreau's sister spoke of the anguish she felt "knowing his body was left discarded like old bait."

"How do I put into words the reality and cruelty of my brother's death?" Margaret Rose Boudreau said in a victim impact statement before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

The defence is seeking a sentence of seven years, minus 2 1/2 years credit for time Landry has served in custody awaiting trial.

Landry pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. During his trial, the Crown said Boudreau's death was the result of a sustained attack by a three-man lobster fishing crew that included Landry, one of four people charged in the case.

The jury heard that Boudreau's boat, called the Twin Maggies, was rammed three times in Petit de Grat harbour and Landry fired four rifle shots at Boudreau, one of which hit him in the leg.

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court was told that Boudreau was then hooked with a fishing gaff and dragged out to sea before he was tied to an anchor.

Craig Landry, who is Joseph James Landry's third cousin, was previously charged with second-degree murder but that was withdrawn. He now faces a charge of accessory after the fact.

The captain of the Twin Maggies, Dwayne Matthew Samson, also faces a second-degree murder charge. His wife Carla Samson, who owns the lobster boat, faces a charge of accessory after the fact. She is also Joseph James Landry's daughter.

Those three accused have yet to stand trial.

The Canadian Press

Super Bowl ad subs set to end

Canada's broadcast regulator is banning the substitution of Canadian advertisements over American ads during the Super Bowl.

The decision won't take effect in time for this Sunday's game, but it could be in place for next year if Bell Media — the rights holder for the 2016 event — waives its rights to switch ads.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says the new rule will be officially in place for the 2017 Super Bowl.

Television networks will, however, still be allowed to simultaneously substitute advertising on programming broadcast over local TV stations, but not on specialty channels.

CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais also warns that penalties could be imposed on broadcasters if the ad switching disrupts programming enough for viewers to complain.

In a speech to a London, Ont., business gathering today, Blais also announced that broadcasters will lose the ability to switch ads, along with mandatory carriage privileges on cable and satellite services, if they shut down transmitters that allow Canadians access to free, over-the-air TV signals.

Blais also announced today that the CRTC is ordering Bell Mobility and Videotron to stop giving their own mobile television services an unfair advantage over other Internet services.

The two companies have exempted their own mobile television services from their standard monthly data charges while content from other websites or apps is counted against a customer's data cap.

Videotron had already indicated it was ceasing the practice by the end of 2014, but the CRTC says it wants proof of that by March 31.

Bell Mobility is being given until April 29 to stop doing it.

The Canadian Press

Robbery to help terrorist group

A Montreal teenager facing two terrorism-related charges linked to a robbery will have a trial date set next month.

The 15-year-old appeared Wednesday in youth court, where his lawyer was granted a request to postpone proceedings until Feb. 16.

Federal prosecutors allege he committed a robbery for the benefit of an unspecified terrorist organization. Authorities also say the adolescent is charged with planning to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group abroad.

Wearing grey sweat pants and a black-and-grey hoodie, the accused listened quietly as he sat between two guards. His lawyer said his parents were not present because they knew the postponement was coming.

The adolescent will remain detained until the next court appearance.

The teen pleaded guilty to a separate robbery charge in November and was to have a sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Instead, provincial Crown prosecutor Marie Vauclair told the court a psychiatric report would remain shelved and that a sentence will be rendered only when the federal matter is resolved.

"For now, the facts of the case are inseparable," Vauclair said outside the courtroom.

The RCMP announced the terrorism charges last December and declined to provide any other information about the case pending the ongoing proceedings.

A spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada said the teen boy's arrest marks the first time a minor has been charged with trying to leave Canada to commit a terrorist offence since the Criminal Code was amended in 2013.

A federal prosecutor who was also present Wednesday told the court she's considering seeking an adult sentence.

"I advised my colleague in court that I'm presently considering an application ... and that I would advise the court at the next court date," Lyne Decarie told reporters.

According to the Criminal Code, being convicted for committing an offence on behalf of a terrorist group carries a maximum life sentence.

Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the maximum sentence is three years.

The RCMP has been cracking down on people allegedly trying to go abroad to participate in jihadist activities. One of three men arrested in Ottawa this month allegedly was seeking to leave the country to take part in terrorism.

The Harper government is about to introduce new laws which the prime minister says are designed to help authorities stop planned attacks and prevent terrorists from travelling and recruiting others.

The overhaul of the terror legislation is in response to the October 2014 attacks in which two soldiers — one at the National War Memorial and the other in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. — were killed in broad daylight.

The Canadian Press

Mom wants new Pickton charges

The mother of a woman whose DNA was found on Robert Pickton's property says the serial killer should be charged with murder, arguing human remains returned to her represent new evidence.

Michele Pineault said an official with the B.C. Corners Service met with her last September and gave her fragments from two vertebrae belonging to her daughter, Stephanie Lane, who was 20 when she vanished in January 1997.

Lane is among six women whose DNA was found on Pickton's farm but whose cases did not result in any charges.

Pineault said prosecutors told her at the time that Lane's DNA was found in a freezer, which wasn't enough to proceed with charges. She said she was never told about the bone fragments' existence.

"I was told that .. if there had been more (than DNA), it would have been enough to charge him," Pineault hold a news conference in Vancouver, holding a pair of small plastic bags containing her daughter's remains.

"I want Robert Pickton charged with my daughter's murder."

However, it quickly became apparent that no new charges will be laid.

The B.C. Corners Service said in a statement that the remains were known to police during the original investigation and "do not represent new evidence."

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said prosecutors also knew about Lane's remains when they made their decisions about charges. He repeated the criminal justice branch's long-standing position that Pickton will not be prosecuted for additional murder charges.

Pickton was arrested in 2002, setting off an exhaustive search for human remains on his farm in Port Coquitlam, east of Vancouver.

Investigators found the remains or DNA of 33 women.

Pickton was eventually convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, and prosecutors then stayed another 20 murder charges because the serial killer had already received the maximum sentence under the law. A 27th murder charge involving a woman referred to only as Jane Doe, whose remains were found on the property, was dropped.

No charges were ever laid in the deaths of six other women, including Lane, whose remains or DNA were found on the farm.

Pineault said getting her daughter's remains opened up painful wounds.

"I have no words," said Pineault, who was wearing a shirt emblazoned with a photo of Lane.

"They told me that she was very safe in a storage locker. She should have been at home years and years and years ago."

RCMP said in a statement that the force turned over the victims' remains following the Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2010 upholding Pickton's conviction.

The coroners service said it could not explain why Lane's remains were not returned as soon as the agency received them from the RCMP.

"The B.C. Coroners Service has apologized to the family of Ms. Lane, and does continue to extend its sincere apologies for any further stress caused them by the delay," the statement said.

The province's attorney general, Suzanne Anton, said in a written statement that the current chief coroner has implemented "safeguards to prevent similar instances."

Pineault said Lane had a son, who was just eight months old when his mother vanished.

"She was very exuberant, happy," Pineault said.

The Canadian Press

Read more Canada News


Recent Trending




Member of BC Press Council