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Hospital bombed

An aid agency says a Canadian-funded hospital in Syria has been destroyed.

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations says the Al Marjeh Primary Health Care Centre in Aleppo, which has received millions of dollars in medical supplies from Canada, was bombed during air strikes Friday.

The group's website says the facility was hit strikes conducted by Syrian government and Russian aircraft.

The organization says it was the second bombing of a civilian hospital in three days.

Calling the attack a war crime, the non-profit agency is urging the international community to protect hospitals and aid workers targeted in the country's civil war.

The organization says the Al Marjeh health care facility was opened in 2014 and has since performed over 46,000 consultations, with mostly women and children.


Introspection after kid death

A coroner's inquest into the death of a seven-year-old Toronto girl killed by her guardians says children in the child welfare system should have a say in how their case is handled.

Jurors in the Katelynn Sampson inquest say the child should always be at the centre of any investigation and should be consulted when crucial care decisions are made.

The five-member panel has delivered 173 recommendations, including many on the duty to report child abuse, the training of child protection workers and information sharing between agencies and law enforcement — which were key themes in the inquest.

Katelynn's battered body was found Aug. 3, 2008, after one of her guardians called 911 claiming the child had choked while eating.

Katelynn came to live with Donna Irving and Warren Johnson after her mother, who was addicted to crack, realized she could no longer care for the girl herself.

It was later discovered that a judge had granted the couple custody without knowing they had lengthy criminal records and previous involvement with child welfare agencies.

Irving and Johnson pleaded guilty in 2012 to second-degree murder and are serving life sentences.

The inquest, which began in November, aims to clarify the circumstances surrounding Katelynn's death and suggest ways to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

The sharing of information between Toronto's four overlapping child protection agencies has been a focus of the inquest.

The jury has heard that three agencies — including the Children's Aid Society of Toronto and Native Child and Family Services — were contacted about Katelynn or her guardians while she was living with them.

Responsibility for the file was given to Native Child and Family Services because of Irving's aboriginal heritage. The couple's file had been handled by Children's Aid before Native Child and Family Services was designated as a child welfare agency in 2004.

The agency's executive director admitted in his testimony that several opportunities to help Katelynn were missed but denied those mistakes led to her death.

Irving, who had lost two children to child protection services, was receiving voluntary support from the agency in caring for her other two children when Katelynn came to live in the home.

A caseworker noticed the girl a month later, but was told the couple was only babysitting, the inquest heard.

Later that summer, another caseworker opened a protection file after realizing Katelynn was living there. But it was quickly closed after Irving said Katelynn had gone back to live with her mother, which wasn't true.

No one at the agency spoke to Katelynn or her mother, Bernice Sampson. Shortly afterward, Irving severed all ties with Native Child and Family Services, the inquest heard.

Katelynn's school also called Children's Aid several times. Some of those calls were to clarify the custody arrangement between Sampson and Irving, but at least one was to report burns and bruises on her body.

Those calls were referred to Native Child and Family Services, though no investigation was launched.

A third agency, the Catholic Children's Aid Society, also received a call in early 2008 from a neighbour claiming that Irving was using crack and working as a prostitute, leaving Johnson— who also had substance abuse problems— to care for Katelynn and the couple's other children, according to testimony.

The Catholic agency sent the information to a caseworker at CAS who had previously dealt with Katelynn, but the caseworker doesn't recall receiving it.

In the spring of 2008, Irving herself called the Children's Aid after-hours line saying she wanted Katelynn removed from her home.

The matter was referred to Native Child and Family Services, but when a caseworker called her back more than two weeks later, Irving lied and said she was receiving help from the girl's school. Her file was once again closed at her request.

Katelynn was pulled from school in May 2008 under pretext of a death in Irving's family. A month later, when the school asked if Katelynn would return for the last days of the term, Irving said the girl was unable to come due to a broken leg.

Irving was granted full custody in early June, roughly two months before Katelynn died from septic shock as a result of her injuries. The inquest has heard she was beaten hard enough to rupture her liver.

Her mother's lawyer told the jury that despite the miscommunications, everyone around Katelynn had enough information to save her.

Katelynn was the victim of their "significantly flawed decision-making," Suzan Fraser said.

Among the changes that followed Katelynn's death was the creation of a uniform referral system shared by Toronto's four child welfare agencies, which also tracks whether the information has been received.

The province has also changed how courts deal with private custody arrangements to ensure judges consider police record checks and child welfare reports.

Snooping nurse suspended

An Ontario nurse who admitted to snooping into the medical records of patients will have her licence suspended for four months and face a formal reprimand.

The College of Nurses of Ontario has also ordered Mandy Edgerton — formerly Mandy Reid — to undergo remedial training on privacy rules.

According to college documents, Edgerton committed professional misconduct between January 2010 and September 2013 by accessing personal health information without consent related to about 300 patients at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre in Peterborough, Ont.

The registered nurse also failed to maintain appropriate boundaries with a client and the client's family when she discussed personal issues, took personal friends to the home of the client, invited her family for dinner at the home of the client and travelled with the family of a client for an event, the documents show.

The health centre fired Edgerton for the privacy breach, according to the Peterborough Examiner, which reported that she looked into the records of people she knew and cases she found interesting.

One woman told the Examiner she was embarrassed because Edgerton had shown her sensitive medical records to her classmates.

Ashes, message in a bottle

A Nova Scotia man says plans are underway to fulfil the wishes of the late Gary Robert Dupuis after the mystery man's ashes washed up on the shores of Cape Breton inside a tequila bottle.

Norman MacDonald says he was collecting trash on West Mabou Beach on Wednesday when he came across the Sauza Gold Tequila bottle.

Inside was $25 in Canadian five dollar bills wrapped around small note written in blue ink, purportedly from one of his children.

The note says Dupuis, born on July 1, 1954, lived recklessly in his younger years but dreamed of travelling the world later in life.

The note says his favourite drink was tequila — straight up — and asks the finder to buy a drink for themselves and Dupuis with the money provided before releasing the bottle back into the ocean to continue its journey.

It asks the finder to write on the back of the note where the bottle was found and where it was released, but it does not say where the bottle originated.

MacDonald says he plans on bringing the bottle to the local dance at West Mabou Hall on Saturday night, so Dupuis can take in some traditional Cape Breton revelry.

He then plans on handing the bottle off to a local fisherman, who can drop it offshore.

Actor's farewell to sick boy

Actor Ryan Reynolds has posted an emotional goodbye on Facebook to a boy in Edmonton who has died of cancer.

Reynolds visited 13-year-old Connor McGrath earlier this year in hospital and gave him an advance screening of his film Deadpool weeks before it was released to theatres.

Reynolds says the Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged the visit and Connor was the first to see the movie.

"There were still huge sections with wires we hadn't yet painted out, jokes which weren't working (and still aren't) and green screens," Reynolds says in the Facebook post.

"Connor didn't seem to mind. And I'd never felt luckier to get to be Wade Wilson."

In the movie, Reynolds plays Wilson, who undergoes an experimental procedure that gives him healing powers and turns him into the snarky Marvel superhero Deadpool, known for his salty language and off-humour.

"Before you jump down my throat for showing a 13-year-old an R-rated film, please know this kid knew more swear words than a British chef," writes Reynolds.

He offered his sympathies to Connor's family in Edmonton and Newfoundland.

He says he's grateful he got to "orbit Connor's world for a brief time" and that the two became friends who shared "pages and pages of hilarious texts."

Reynolds visited Connor in hospital a second time and says his prognosis wasn't clear.

"After my visit, I didn't know if I was saying goodbye or see ya later. Sitting here now, I realize it was both."

He says Connor was especially smart and funny, and everything Deadpool aspires to be — "balancing pain, fearlessness, love and a filthy (filthy!) sense of humour in one body.

"I wish he could've stuck around a lot longer."

Thousands mourn child

Thousands of people gathered in a small community in eastern Newfoundland on Thursday to pay tribute to a five-year-old girl whose body was found in her father's burned-out home.

Friends and family of Quinn Butt attended a service at a soccer field in Harbour Grace, where they sang, prayed and read poems for the little girl.

Firefighters recovered her body from a burned-out home in nearby Carbonear on Sunday, while her father was rescued and taken to hospital with injuries.

He was later charged with arson and first-degree murder in her death.

Butt's mother and other family members sat in a cordoned-off area for the memorial.

Father Clem Flaherty, who participated in the service, says the family is taking comfort in the outpouring of support from the community.

Trudeau pays visit to reserve

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hauled large jugs of drinking water and spoke with school children Thursday as he was immersed in the daily struggles of an isolated reserve that has been under a boil advisory for 19 years.

Trudeau spent seven hours on Shoal Lake 40 First Nation — a man-made island near the Manitoba-Ontario boundary, cut off from the mainland a century ago during construction of an aqueduct that carries fresh water to Winnipeg.

"It was an extraordinary day. It was a day for him to see and feel it, our daily struggles here," Chief Erwin Redsky said afterward.

The visit was deemed a private one, closed to all media outlets except Vice Canada, which is shooting a documentary on the tour.

Trudeau hopped onboard a truck used to haul 20-litre jugs of water and delivered them to three homes, Redsky said. He visited every classroom in the local school, talked to elders and later watched a hockey game at the local arena.

The federal government, along with Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg, recently committed to building an all-weather road that will connect the community to the Trans-Canada Highway. The reserve is not remote — it's less than an hour away from Kenora, Ont. — but it has been isolated economically and in terms of basic services by the lack of a dependable roadway.

The few hundred residents use an aging ferry to access health care, shopping and other necessities in the summer and a treacherous ice road in the winter. People have died falling through the ice. A road will also make construction of a water treatment plant affordable.

Redsky said he was not looking for any new specific promises from Trudeau, just a commitment to an improved relationship with First Nations. He said Trudeau gave him a firm promise "to be a full partner in our treaty relationship."

A permanent road was originally estimated to cost $30 million but that has been revised to $46 million after a detailed design study.

The K in K-tel

Phil Kives, the tireless and optimistic pitchman who pioneered the television infomercial, died Wednesday after being hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.

Kives, who was 87, grew up in poverty and made his riches after founding marketing company K-tel International. He sold everything from Miracle Brush hair removers to Veg-o-matic vegetable slicers to vinyl albums under titles such as "Goofy Greats" and filled with cheesy novelty hits.

Through it all, he remained in Winnipeg and always balanced his work with family life, his daughter, Samantha Kives, said Thursday.

"He would literally leave in the middle of a business meeting to come watch us play in a tennis tournament," she recalled.

"The commercials were also a family affair. A lot of the commercials he shot, he'd bring us kids in ... and we'd be actors in the commercials."

Kives was born on a small farm near the town of Oungre, Sask., in 1929. The family survived on welfare at times during the Depression and by the age of eight Kives was trapping animals and selling the fur to afford clothes, according to his autobiography on the K-tel website.

"In 1957, I left the farm for good for the lights of the big city of Winnipeg, Man. I had various jobs — from taxi driver to short-order cook. Then I tried my luck selling door-to-door, such items as cookware, sewing machines and vacuum cleaners," he wrote.

In 1961, Kives made his way to New Jersey and did sales items demonstrations at a department store. The following year, he returned to Winnipeg and found a new way to push products to a much larger audience.

"I made a live five-minute TV commercial on a Teflon non-stick fry pan. To my surprise, sales took off at a remarkable pace. I quickly spread the TV advertising throughout Canada and this five-minute commercial became the world's first infomercial ever."

More products would follow — including the Bedazzler, a Pocket Fisherman, a hamburger patty stacker and the mood ring —sometimes accompanied by the hook line: "But wait, there's more!"

And for a generation of teenagers in the '60s and '70s, his legacy was a long list of compilation albums with hit songs that were sometimes edited down to fit 20 or more on two sides of vinyl. A glam-pop song by The Bay City Rollers could be found on the same record as country star Dolly Parton and soul act The Drifters.

The same jam-them-in approach was used for novelty-song compilations such as "Goofy Greats," which featured songs about purple people-eaters, itsy-bitsy bikinis and surfing birds.

Kives had a positive outlook that helped him overcome any business hurdle, his daughter said.

"His favourite expression to us was 'Fear not' ... and I think that was his mantra for life."

He was inducted into the Canadian Professional Sales Hall of Fame in 2002 and kept active throughout his life.

"Even at 87, he went into the office every day," his daughter said.

Paralyzed by buck passing

A retired admiral is telling the Trudeau government's defence review that National Defence is often paralyzed by timid bureaucrats and politicians who pass the buck on decisions.

Retired vice-admiral Bruce Donaldson, who until a few years ago was second-in-command of the military, says in a written brief that the system is set up to avoid risk and accountability.

"I suggest that there is a culture of risk intolerance that has infected the federal level — financial in the case of public servants, and political in the case of ministers — that has led government to prefer additional process, "third-party validation" of responsible officials’ work, and serial delay to achieving results," Donaldson wrote.

He is referring to a trend that has developed since the political fiasco surrounding the F-35 stealth fighter purchase, which has seen government increasingly turn to outside experts and panels to assess and rubber-stamp its plans.

"Indeed, it appears that there is now a view that avoiding spending on intended outcomes is somehow a desirable 'result' for Canadians."

Instead, Donaldson says the net result is costly delays and failure to deliver necessary equipment and support.

Donaldson, who retired in 2013, also says the public has little understanding of federal finances, and doesn't realize that less money is spent on defence than in servicing the country's debt.

"Canadians lack any context for understanding the management of public funds at the federal level, and have been encouraged to view the expenditure of hundreds of millions — or billions — of dollars on military capability as inherently wasteful and unreasonable and has been encouraged to see spending on the military as wasteful."

He suggests government has done a poor job of educating citizens on the necessary cost of doing business as a country.

The Liberals held the first in a series of six public consultations this week in Vancouver as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan attempts to craft an updated vision for the military.

It is the first time in over 20 years that citizens have been asked what role they believe the Canadian Armed Forces should be playing in the world and with what equipment.

The panel also heard from the country's leading organization representing defence industry contractors, which encouraged the Liberals to talk about more than just capabilities and hardware lists.

Christyn Cianfarani, head of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, says the defence review should commit the federal government to crafting a vision of how the defence industry can address the country's unique security and economic challenges.

Canada, unlike other countries, has not sat down and determined which industries are key national security assets. The notable exception is the shipbuilding industry, where the Harper government made a conscious decision to build both warships and coast guard vessels in the country, rather than off-shore.

Other nations, such as Britain, France, Japan and even Australia, have a more sophisticated relationship with their industries and weapons-makers and have decided to nurture and support key industrial sectors.

Cianfarani says she is not advocating anything as radical or expansive as the national shipbuilding strategy, which was also intended to stave off the collapse of the sector.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, she said more focus and organization could be put towards encouraging development in cyber-technology, Arctic mapping and communication, even unmanned aerial vehicles.

That could open up the Liberals to charges of picking winners and losers in the corporate world.

"I would rather have you pick a winner, than pick nothing and end up with losers," she said.

"In the absence of making a decision, inevitably the decision will be made for you. If we do not signal to foreign nations and foreign suppliers that there are things in Canada — things we are willing to invest in — then inevitably business will decide for you. Other nations will decide for you what you are left with."

Beekeeper stung by theft

A Quebec beekeeper is in a sticky situation after thieves buzzed off with about five million of his bees.

Jean-Marc Labonte says he discovered Wednesday that 180 hives were stolen from a field near Victoriaville, Que., about 150 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

He says the bees and the hives are worth about $200,000 and believes they were stolen sometime between Sunday and Tuesday this week.

The beekeeper says Quebec, like many areas in North America, is suffering from a shortage of bees that for years have been decimated by disease and pesticides.

Labonte says he thinks that lack of bees is the reason why his were stolen.

Provincial police say they're investigating but have not made any arrests.

Labonte said Thursday the bees were hibernating for the winter and in about five weeks time were set to pollinate the blueberry bushes around the Lac Saint-Jean region before moving on to cranberry fields in July.

Don't divide over pipelines

The premier of Alberta says she has no interest in turning the current pipeline debate into an inter-provincial shouting match that strains national unity.

Rachel Notley said she intends to have a respectful conversation based on the facts, allowing both sides of the issue to feel like they've been heard.

Ongoing pipeline proposals have caused tension with neighbouring B.C., become a hot topic for the Parti Quebecois and prompted Saskatchewan's premier to express annoyance with Quebec.

Notley said she'll avoid finger-pointing.

"Canada is a collection of provinces. Historically some people play that feature off against one another. I don't think that's typically resulted in progress," she said in an interview Thursday.

"It is not in any way, shape or form the appropriate frame for this conversation. And we're not going to do that with it."

The National Energy Board has just announced that a review into the biggest of the ongoing pipeline projects, TransCanada's Energy East, should be completed by March 2018 after consultations with communities along the route; amid vocal opposition in Quebec, the provincial government there has agreed to conduct a separate review.

Notley said the conversation should be based on facts — about safety, the environment, and the economy. And she said people's concerns should be heard.

"Those communities have a right to ask those questions. We're not going to question their right — or fight with them over their right. That doesn't help engage in conversation — suggesting they're not allowed to have it," she said.

Notley made the remarks during a trip to Washington, where pipelines are not high on her agenda this week. She's actually in the U.S. to help spread the word about her government's climate-change plan.

Her goal: change environmental perceptions about Alberta.

Opposition to the province's oilsands grew here during the years-long Keystone XL debate. Now Notley wants Americans to know about her NDP government's $30-a-tonne carbon tax, 100 million-tonne cap on oilsands emissions and plan to phase out coal.

She'll meet with a White House environmental official; the head of the Center for American Progress, a prominent progressive think tank that opposed Keystone XL; and the Republican head of the Senate energy committee. She's also delivering a public speech Thursday evening.

"If I leave here with people going, 'Oh, isn't Alberta doing something that maybe we should take a look at, maybe even learn from, and they're kind of doing the right stuff now,' then that's a win," she said.

"I think we have an important, important story to tell. And it's not just a story. That's the new thing. It's real. We have significant action we're taking on climate change."

Alberta's emissions would not actually decline under her plan — just grow slower than previously projected. Canada's overall emissions are growing, too, and remain far above long-term targets.

The premier said she knows perceptions won't change overnight. But she's keen on speaking to audiences ignored by the former Conservative governments in Ottawa and Edmonton.

Asked about her long-term goal — will Alberta's green initiatives buy support for future pipelines into the U.S. — Notley said that's not her focus now.

She wouldn't get drawn into speculating about some future version of Keystone XL.

The Republican presidential candidates support Keystone, which was cancelled by President Barack Obama. The Democrats running for president both oppose it.

"I'm not a big fan of hypothetical questions," she said.

Climate refugees imminent

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the key to dealing with climate change in the Arctic is to have "real conversations" with the Inuit peoples who live there.

But Sally Jewell, the U.S. secretary of the interior, has a much blunter assessment, arguing climate impacts are already underway, can't be turned around and that moving some Arctic communities may be the only solution.

"We will have climate refugees," Jewell said Thursday after meeting McKenna at the Museum of History across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill.

National parks, migratory species, climate change and Arctic adaptation — and an urban hike in the spring sunshine — were on their agenda.

They also met Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, who has become a go-to sounding board for the new Liberal government on the matter of climate adaptation and mitigation in the Far North.

McKenna, not quite six months into her job leading the environment ministry in the climate-focused Trudeau government, was her usual cautious self in describing the daunting challenges of climate change in the fast-warming Arctic. She stressed the importance of co-operation and dialogue when asked to name the single most important measure government can take to address climate change in the region.

Jewell, who has only months left in her post before the Obama administration is replaced, was far less circumspect.

"We need to provide support for adaptation and build communities that are resilient in the face of what's happening in the Arctic," the secretary said flatly. "You're not going to be able to turn this around."

"We can stem the increase in temperature, we can stem some of the effects, perhaps, if we act on climate as we are committed to do through the Paris accords. But the changes are underway and they are very rapid. We will have climate refugees."

On average, Canada has warmed more than 1.3 degrees Celsius since 1948, according to Environment Canada. Parts of the Arctic have warmed at more than twice that rate.

The impact has been little short of disastrous. Melting permafrost is affecting the integrity of buildings and roads. Storms are clawing away shorelines in the absence of stabilizing sea ice. Natural habitat is changing animal behaviour and affecting the ability to hunt "country food." Travel on frozen lakes and sea — the highways of the North — has become perilous.

Jewell said she's visited villages in Alaska whose existence is threatened by erosion.

There has been talk for years that Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories may have to relocate eventually.

"We have to figure out how to deal with potentially relocating villages, or supporting communities in their adaptation and in building resilience within those communities to a changed reality," she said.

Even the suggestion of moving indigenous communities has recently sparked acrimonious debate in Canada.

But that wasn't the only controversy Jewell was prepared to tackle Thursday.

Asked about ongoing court challenges in the United States over allegations of climate-science suppression and denial by Exxon Mobil Corp., McKenna said it's time to move forward.

"Look, we all know that climate change is real. ... It's not just industry that have had challenges understanding that."

Jewell, however, waded in with her fists up.

"There is nothing like a company's reputation," she said.

"It takes years to build and can be stripped down in a hurry and if a company is irresponsible in sharing misinformation, they need to be held to account."

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