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Soldier dies in training

A Canadian soldier has died while training in New Brunswick.

The Canadian Armed Forces issued a statement saying the soldier collapsed while taking part in physical training outside 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown.

The soldier was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The incident did not take place on Department of National Defence property, and the RCMP is investigating.

The soldier's name has not been released.

However, the military says he was a member of the 5th Canadian Division Support Group Signal Squadron.



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Party killing verdict today

A judge is to deliver his verdict today in the first-degree murder trial of Matthew de Grood.

The 24-year-old son of a police officer admits stabbing five people to death at a Calgary house party two years ago but both the defence and the Crown agree he was suffering from a mental disorder at the time.

The trial was told de Grood became withdrawn about a month before the attack and started posting about the end of the world, religion, vampires and Darth Vader on Facebook.

He reported hearing voices telling him to kill and believed the end of the world was coming before he grabbed a knife from a kitchen in the northwest Calgary home and stabbed the victims to death.

Defence lawyer Allan Fay said in his closing argument that his client believed he was defending himself from werewolves and vampires at the time.

Prosecutor Neil Wiberg said the experts concluded de Grood was not feigning his mental illness and was incapable of realizing his acts were morally wrong.

The trial heard evidence that de Grood became withdrawn about a month before the attack on April 15, 2014 and started posting about the end of the world, religion, vampires and Darth Vader on Facebook.

He reported hearing voices telling him to kill and believed the end of the world was coming before he grabbed a knife from a kitchen in the northwest Calgary home and stabbed the victims to death.

Killed in the attack were Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22.



Warm with soggy days

The Weather Network is forecasting a warm summer for the majority of Canadians but warns that rainfall will be "highly variable," bringing rapidly developing electrical storms to certain areas at times.

Chief meteorologist Chris Scott says Mother Nature will be spreading the warmth across the country over the next few months. But he says she'll also be spreading the precipitation at times.

Scott says it's not going to rain much more than average anywhere in the country, but when it rains, it'll likely pour.

The Weather Network's forecast for June, July and August predicts Western Canada will not experience as hot or dry a summer as the last few years, while Eastern and Central Canada will get slightly higher temperatures than in previous summers.

The potential for unpredictable individualized thunderstorms, however, is threatening to turn increasingly popular outdoor music festivals soggy, and poses potential risks for events held in remote, rural areas with very little in terms of permanent structures.

But event organizers say they are preparing for possibly stormy and wet weather.

The festival creative director at Republic Live, a company that organizes two camping festivals in southern Ontario, said extensive planning helps alleviate the risks of extreme weather.

Both of Republic Live's festivals — Wayhome, an alt-rock festival modelled after Tennessee's Bonnaroo, and Boots and Hearts, a country festival — are held at event grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ont., a town of about 20,000.

Creative director Ryan Howes said last year's edition of Wayhome drew 35,000 people per day, and they're expecting 40,000 per day this year.

"Basically, with a camping festival, you're building a small city," he said. "So you put emergency procedures in place that would be very similar to an actual small city."

Most people, he added, camp onsite. Those campsites — along with cars in the parking lot — are where festival-goers should head in a storm.

Howes said that because the cars parked at campsites and in the lots have rubber wheels separating people from the ground, they're safer than being out in the open or sheltered under a tree in an electrical storm.

Because there aren't many — if any — permanent structures at these festivals, it's safest to take shelter in a car during windstorms, too.

And it's not just Ontario's festivals that need to plan for inclement weather, Scott said.

Pemberton Music Festival — with acts like Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa — in Pemberton, B.C., has already sold out of campsites. And Evolve Festival, which this year will be held outside of Moncton, N.B., has drawn headliners from all over the world.

Evolve organizer Jonas Colter said they were surprised by a thunderstorm once before, about a decade ago.

"What ended up happening is we had to shut all the stages and light towers down," he said. "And people ended up thinking it was the best Evolve festival of all time!"





Forced to reopen NAFTA?

Canada might be forced to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if the next U.S. president insists upon it, a Washington lawmaker said Tuesday.

The California congressman said the northern neighbour is so trade-reliant on the U.S. that it couldn't easily ignore an American ultimatum on revising the deal.

"We could walk away from NAFTA any time," said Darrell Issa, who sits on different congressional committees dedicated to intellectual property, foreign affairs and trade. "We've always been able to."

Every major candidate for president has expressed support for changing NAFTA. Republican Donald Trump is a virulent, decades-long critic of trade deals which he's repeatedly said he would change; Democrat Bernie Sanders has been equally critical; and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has occasionally expressed support for reopening NAFTA.

Trade analysts have called the idea of scrapping NAFTA mind-bogglingly complex, given how product supply chains have grown since the 1993 agreement and tariffs have shrunk.

Even overhauling the deal might be risky, Issa himself cautioned. But if it happens, he offered two examples of sectors the U.S. could demand to have opened up.

Both are important to his home state.

One involves the so-called sharing economy — whose applications like the Uber car-ride app and AirBnB home-rental program face uneven regulation in different jurisdictions.

The Republican lawmaker also alluded to broadcasting and Canadian-content quotas that survived the original NAFTA, during a forum co-hosted Tuesday by the Canadian American Business Council.

"If we want to renegotiate NAFTA and say, 'You've got to open up to the sharing economy. (And) you can't require, in French Canada if you will, that there be this content requirement to everything,' is that a big problem for Canada? Yeah.

"Canada lives based on its ability to trade with the United States."

Issa expressed skepticism that the likely Democratic nominee means what she says about unpopular trade deals during elections: "If you're going to vote for Hillary Clinton you can trust the fact she's lying."

He also defended NAFTA.

Issa said globalization would be happening without NAFTA and it would potentially be worse for the U.S. He said more factory jobs would have wound up in Asia instead of Mexico, Mexico would have been poorer and the U.S. would face a greater influx of impoverished illegal migrants.

Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains defended NAFTA while speaking to the same forum later Tuesday.

"For more than 20 years now our two countries have had the most successful trading relationship in the world — which of course was made possible by NAFTA," Bains said in a speech.

"Commentators will likely never stop debating the merits of NAFTA. It's come up a few times over the past few months and I suspect it may come up in the coming months as well.

"But there's absolutely no disputing the fact that trade and investment between Canada and the United States represents not only millions of jobs for Canadians — but nine million jobs here in America. I'm an accountant by background, so I just want to let you know that numbers do matter."

He referred to the nearly four-fold increase in trade on the continent since 1993.

In his speech, Bains promoted the new Canadian government's innovation agenda — which he said will include a heavy investment in clean-energy technology.

Bains is also planning a visit to California's Silicon Valley next month, as part of a wide-ranging review of innovation policy. He said policy-makers face the dual challenge of promoting high-tech activity, while dealing with the impact on workers in disrupted industries.

"We're in an innovation race. This race is pretty intense. And the stakes are high," he said.

The CABC business group released a paper Tuesday with recommendations for improving Canada's performance in innovative sectors. It highlighted Canada's persistent, long-term struggle to convert cutting-edge research into commercial products.

The paper offered ideas for bolstering ties between science and industry, reforming the patent system and simplifying access to funding that might help Canadian start-ups grow.



Finger lickin' gone?

Tubs of fried chicken breasts and drumsticks used to be served with perogies and rice, hot desserts and puddings.

An all-you-can-eat buffet at the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Weyburn, Sask. — believed to be the first of its kind in the country when it started in 1988 — is one of the last remaining smorgasbords still being served at the fast-food chain in Canada.

Its items have dwindled in recent years to include only menu staples, along with nachos and cheese from its sister restaurant Taco Bell.

But the threat of its closure has the hungry in Saskatchewan and parts beyond rallying to save it from the corporate chopping block.

"It's big for Weyburn. We get people that drive three, four hours just to come for the buffet," said head manager Larie Semen in a phone interview Tuesday

"We just want the buffet to stay."

Top brass from Yum Canada, the owner of KFC, were set to tour the Weyburn restaurant Wednesday, said Semen. He believes possible remodelling could mean the end of the buffet someday and wants officials to talk to customers about its popularity.

The city's local newspaper and radio station have been covering the issue.

Even Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall took to Twitter on Tuesday about the buffet possibly shutting down. Using the hashtag "SaveWeyburnKFCBuffet," Wall urged people to retweet his message to the company and "say NO."

"This is madness," responded one KFC fan, Ray Quon.

Dustin Duncan, who represents Weyburn in the legislature, told reporters Tuesday that he ate at the buffet a few days ago and hopes it will last for years to come. He worked as a cook there as a teenager. Now, as health minister, he realizes it's ironic to be backing fried fast food.

"But I would say, you know, all things in moderation," said Duncan. "They do have salads available."

Semen said there are still about 500 KFC buffets in the United States. At one time, there were 27 in Canada. A petition about three years ago saved the Weyburn buffet from closure, he said.

Besides the one in Weyburn, a city of 10,000 people southeast of Regina, the only other remaining KFC buffet is in Humboldt, east of Saskatoon.

The Humboldt buffet was open for lunch Tuesday, although a manager there could not be reached for comment on whether it could also face closure.

A statement from KFC Canada said that while it has closed some of its buffets around the world, the Weyburn lunch wagon is not facing an immediate shutdown. It did not mention the Humboldt outlet.

"As we constantly evolve and find ways to better service our customers, our operations will continue to change. While we cannot guarantee that the Weyburn buffet will remain open forever, we can guarantee that it will be open for now," said Lenoard Free, director of operations and restaurant excellence.

"We want to thank everyone who came to the buffet's defence. It's nice to know we have an important place in your community and across the country."

Truck driver Warren Solie stopped for the buffet lunch in Weyburn on Tuesday. He said he was shocked to learn it could close and hopes the company drops the idea for good.

"I guess when a guy makes enough of a stink about stuff, they reconsider," Solie said.

"It's quite a deal here. It belongs to all of southern Saskatchewan."



Psychosis during stabbings

The Crown agrees a young man was suffering from a mental disorder when he stabbed five people to death at a Calgary house party two years ago.

The two psychiatrists and psychologist who testified last week at Matthew de Grood's trial did careful, thorough work and have vast experience dealing with such cases, prosecutor Neil Wiberg said during his closing arguments on Tuesday.

"As an officer of the court, I do not take issue with the reports that are provided by these three experts," Wiberg told the packed courtroom.

"I agree that the accused was suffering psychosis, which qualifies as a disease of the mind, on a balance of probabilities. And I also agree that on a balance of probabilities, the accused was incapable of realizing his acts were morally wrong."

The trial heard evidence that de Grood became withdrawn about a month before the attack on April 15, 2014 and started posting about the end of the world, religion, vampires and Darth Vader on Facebook.

He reported hearing voices telling him to kill and believed the end of the world was coming before he grabbed a knife from a kitchen in the northwest Calgary home and stabbed the victims to death.

Killed in the attack were Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Segura, 22.

Defence lawyer Allan Fay said in his closing argument that his client believed he was defending himself from werewolves and vampires at the time.

"Some might question the manner in which he did it. The stabbings seem somewhat purposeful, but Mr. de Grood explained that in his delusions, he believed that the only real way to kill demons of this nature was to stab them in the heart," Fay told the court.

"He was not trying to be cruel. He was trying to do this as best he could under the circumstances. He truly believed that his life would be forfeit if he did not."

Wiberg said the experts weighed all possible alternatives — including that de Grood may have been feigning mental illness or intoxicated — before coming to the conclusion that de Grood, now 24, was suffering psychosis at the time of the killings.

"There was a rapid descent into that state where he committed these five murders," said Wiberg. "They were done with brutality and ruthless efficiency. The psychotic episode that affected his mind did not reduce his effectiveness as a killing machine."

Alberta Justice Eric Macklin is to release his verdict on Wednesday.



World joins fire fight

Officials say about 1,000 additional fire crews from across Canada, the United States and South Africa will be joining the fight this week against a massive wildfire near Fort McMurray.

Senior wildlife manager Chad Morrison says the blaze continues to move northeast away from communities and oilsands facilities in northern Alberta.

He says there was a disappointing "touch of rain" over the long weekend but cooler temperatures have aided the fire fight.

The fire has grown to about 5,230 square kilometres, with 25 square kilometres spreading over the boundary into Saskatchewan.

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee says work camps that were evacuated are being inspected for possible re-opening, and oilsands companies are looking at when they can resume operations.

A phased re-entry for about 80,000 evacuated Fort McMurray residents is still set to begin on June 1, if conditions are safe.



Canucks' dad enters plea

Curtis Vey has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill his wife.

The trial for the father of Vancouver Canucks forward Linden Vey began Tuesday in a Prince Albert, Sask., courtroom.

The elder Vey and his mistress, Angela Nicholson, are both facing the same charges and both have professed their innocence.

Police said Vey was having an affair with Nicholson and the pair were plotting to kill their partners.

After the charges were laid, Nicholson’s husband, Jim Taylor, said he was informed of the plot after Vey’s wife, Brigette, recorded her husband and Nicholson discussing murder.

Brigitte said she overheard the accused say she would die in a house fire and Taylor would die of an overdose on Halloween.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

- with files from CTV



Khadr can't get judge tossed

An attempt by Canada's Omar Khadr to have a judge thrown off his appeal panel has raised important legal questions that U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress should deal with quickly, a court in Washington has ruled.

Nevertheless, the D.C. Circuit said it was not prepared at this time to grant the former Guantanamo Bay inmate's request.

"Although we deny the writ, we cannot deny that Khadr has raised some significant questions," the D.C. Circuit said.

"We encourage Congress and the executive branch to promptly attend to those issues."

At issue is Khadr's call to have the court toss presiding Judge William (Bill) Pollard from the panel hearing his appeal of his war crimes conviction. Khadr and his lawyers argue that Pollard's position on the panel is illegal based on federal statutes that prohibit a judge from continuing to work as a lawyer.

Pollard, a partner in a Wall Street law firm, is one of two civilian appointees on the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review, which acts as an appeal court for matters related to military commissions.

The presidential appointee has refused to step down, arguing the rules do not apply to his situation. He maintains he's a "special government employee" of the Department of Defence and is allowed to work as a judge on the military review court while maintaining his law practice.

In its decision, the D.C. Circuit said the law does not afford Khadr a "clear and indisputable" right to the "drastic and extraordinary remedy" of having Pollard bumped. At the same time, the court said, if the Court of Military Commission Review denies Khadr's war crimes appeal, he can raise the Pollard issue again.

"Our denial...does not preclude Khadr from advancing these same arguments in a future appeal where the standard of review will not be so daunting," the court said.

In the interim, the court said the U.S. government and Congress must make clear whether civilians who serve as judges on the Court of Military Commission Review can also practise law part time and, if so, the "circumstances under which they may do so."

The appeal over which Pollard resides relates to Khadr's conviction by a widely condemned military commission in Guantanamo Bay in October 2010. Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes he was accused of committing as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan in 2002.

The commission sentenced him to a further eight years in prison. He was transferred to Canada to serve out his sentence in 2012 and has been on bail in Alberta for a year pending the outcome of his U.S. appeal, which remains in limbo.

His appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review argues in part those offences were not war crimes under either U.S. domestic or international law at the time they were committed. The review court presided over by Pollard has so far refused to deal with the merits of the appeal.

An analysis in the Lawfare Blog argues the Pollard issue — unlikely to be fixed any time soon given the "highly politicized, dysfunctional context" in which the top levels of the U.S. government operate — is just a "symptom of a broader problem" with the military commissions.

"At nearly every turn, the hastily crafted military commission system shows that being novel and untested comes at a great cost in time, resources and ultimately credibility," authors Robert Loeb and Helen Klein note.



Cops to record use of force

Mounties wearing video cameras must hit the record button when there is "a high likelihood" they'll use force against someone, says an interim RCMP policy on use of the devices.

In general, officers have discretion as to when to turn on the body-worn cameras that clip on a uniform, or may be embedded in glasses or a helmet.

But RCMP members should not record every public encounter or conversation, according to the interim policy. And when "tactically feasible," officers are supposed to inform citizens when they are being recorded.

The national police force recently published a summary of the policy, which was provided to a small number of RCMP officers who were involved in a video camera feasibility study last year.

If the body-worn video program is adopted force-wide, the policy will be finalized and a full version released publicly, said Sgt. Harold Pfleiderer, an RCMP spokesman.

RCMP detachments in Wood Buffalo, Alta., and Windsor and Indian Head, N.S., took part in the 2015 tests. In addition, the Mounties have advised the federal privacy commissioner of ad-hoc evaluations of the technology.

"For example, they have used the cameras at protests in New Brunswick and in Burnaby, B.C.," said Tobi Cohen, a spokeswoman for the privacy commissioner.

Evaluations of the cameras were also carried out at the RCMP training facility in Regina, involving scenarios ranging from everyday interactions to use of lethal force.

The RCMP continues to assess the video technology, but no additional field trials are taking place and no cameras have been approved for operational use, Pfleiderer said.

It is too early to speculate on future use of the cameras due to the complex privacy, legal and policy issues that "must be carefully considered before moving forward," he added.

The small video cameras are intended to openly capture an "accurate, unbiased and reliable" audio and video account of incidents from the officer's perspective, the RCMP says in the interim summary.

The purpose is twofold: to gather evidence for prosecution should criminal behaviour be recorded, and to bolster accountability if questions or concerns arise after an incident.

"Police are making use of a relatively new technology to hold both police officers, and members of the public we interact with, accountable for any actions taken," the RCMP says.

The interim policy says the RCMP has taken steps to address privacy risks by:

— Telling the public when officers are wearing the cameras;

— Informing RCMP members of video policy and best practices;

— Ensuring that recordings are uploaded for secure storage, retained and routinely purged;

— Providing citizens with copies of recordings through the Access to Information and Privacy acts.

The RCMP has told the privacy commissioner another assessment of the technology would be undertaken and provided to the watchdog for comment in advance of any national roll-out of body-worn cameras, Cohen said.

The Mounties also have to consider how storage of the recordings would meet requirements of federal privacy law, police records management and court disclosure, Pfleiderer said.

Other things to sort out are video clarity, battery life and the "operational durability" needed when officers are trying to safely resolve difficult situations involving emotionally charged people, he added.



$331.5M more in aid

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has announced an additional $331.5 million in humanitarian aid at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

Bibeau says in a statement Tuesday that the new funding will help the most vulnerable in more than 32 countries.

Those who will receive the funding include United Nations humanitarian agencies, the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations, as well as Canadian organizations.

Today’s announcement was made on the final day of the summit.

On Monday, Bibeau announced $274 million in humanitarian and development aid that focused on emergency response, child protection and food security.

During the summit, the statement says Bibeau emphasized the need to focus on women and girls in every humanitarian response, as well as Canada’s commitment to be innovative and make every dollar count. She also assured that Canada will continue to defend humanitarian principles.

“Given the size of current humanitarian needs, Canada is committed to working with all partners — including those at the local level — to combine our strengths and maximize the impact we have on humanitarian crises," Bibeau said.

"We are especially concerned with women and girls, who are often the most vulnerable in crises. That is why they are at the heart of Canada’s humanitarian response.”



Case of the missing trailer

The owners of a restaurant south of Montreal are scratching their heads after a trailer emblazoned with their logo and photos of a giant hamburger disappeared.

Co-owner Bobby Dimitriadis said two men in a grey pickup truck "very casually" hitched up the trailer and drove away with it at around 9:45 Friday night.

The nine-metre trailer is covered with the name, logo, address and phone number of the restaurant, Robbie's Smokehouse & Burger Bar.

"It's unbelievable that somebody would do something like that," Dimitriadis said. "I don't know what to say."

He said the incident — which occurred only hours after the trailer arrived at the eatery — was captured by the restaurant's security camera.

The restaurant, which is located in Kahanawake, Que., had planned to install kitchen equipment in the coming days to turn the trailer into a mobile food truck.

Dimitriadis said the trailer's value is close to $20,000.

He said the vehicle is insured but the loss could still be costly.

Not only could insurance premiums go up, but the restaurant could also lose revenue if they can't get a replacement vehicle ready for the summer season, he said.

"We were hoping to be ready for festivals that start off the summer season in and around Montreal with big weekends coming up," he said.

A spokesman for the local police force said there were no suspects as of Monday evening.

Although the theft of food trucks appears to be a rare occurrence, it's not unheard of.

Thieves in Barrie, Ont., made off with an ice cream truck in August 2015. It was found the next day with significant damage.

A representative from Brown & Brown Insurance, which insures over 900 food trucks and trailers in the United States, said they have only had one theft claim.

"Unless they were going to dismantle and sell for parts, I don't see a lot of reasons one would steal a truck or trailer, it's too much risk and work for too little reward," Denton Christner said in an email.

A spokesman for another company, Paprocki Insurance Agency, estimated the risk at one in 400.

Neither company insures food trucks in Canada.



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