Prentice family thanks TSB

The family of former Alberta premier Jim Prentice, who was killed in a 2016 plane crash near Kelowna along with three others, has issued a statement thanking the Transportation Safety Board for its investigation.

Prentice was Alberta's premier from October 2014 until his election loss the following spring.

"While (the TSB) report cannot restore what has been lost, it is our hope the learnings from this tragic event can be used to prevent similar accidents in the future," the statement said.

"We are proud of Jim's contributions to Alberta, to Canada and to public service, but he was first and foremost a loving husband, father, grandfather and sibling. We will always miss him."

Lead investigator Beverley Harvey said pilot Jim Kruk likely suffered spatial disorientation.

The "physical illusions" that accompany disorientation while flying can occur during prolonged acceleration such as during an initial climb after takeoff.

"Even though they are erroneous, these sensations can be intense, causing pilots to doubt their instruments, to incorrectly adjust controls or even put the aircraft into an accidental spiral dive," she said.


Cartoonists capture mood

Halifax cartoonist Michael de Adder says he was simply trying to find a small bit of positivity with an image that has garnered national attention for its depiction of recent tragedies in Toronto and Humboldt, Sask.

The cartoon, published in the aftermath of Monday's van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured 14, shows two boys in hockey sweaters sitting on a bench, sticks by their sides.

The boys, one wearing a green and yellow Humboldt Broncos jersey and the other wearing a blue and white Toronto Maple Leafs sweater, have their arms around one another, supportive in crisis.

"The reality is, I'm just happy to perhaps in a small way add a little bit of positivity in a very negative situation, so that's all I'm trying to accomplish with that cartoon," de Adder said in an interview.

De Adder, an award-winning national freelancer, is one of two Halifax cartoonists regularly garnering attention for works that appear to capture the national mood.

Both Halifax cartoonists downplay the attention for work emanating from a smaller market like Halifax.

They also say they have known each other for years, and share a friendship rather than an outright rivalry.

NDP pipeline appeal

UPDATE 10:00 a.m.

The British Columbia government will ask a court if legislative amendments allow it to control the flow of heavy oils through the province to protect human health, the environment and communities.

The reference question the government is filing today with the B.C. Court of Appeal seeks to affirm the province's right to protect it from the threat of a diluted bitumen spill as it tries to thwart the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

In addition to asking the court to review proposed amendments to the Environmental Management Act that would give the province the authority to regulate the impacts of heavy oils, it will also ask if federal legislation would override its changes to the law.

Provincial government officials say the court decision in B.C. could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Premier John Horgan said the reference case is aimed at protecting B.C.'s coastline and economy from the harms of an oil spill.

B.C.'s efforts to stop the expansion of the pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby caused Kinder Morgan Canada to curtail spending on the $7.4-billion project earlier this month.

The company set May 31 as the deadline for governments to find a solution to the impasse and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly vowed that the project will go ahead.

ORIGINAL 5:27 a.m.

Details are expected to be released today about British Columbia's court case that questions if the province has the power to regulate the flow of oil from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Premier John Horgan has said a reference case will be filed in B.C.'s Court of Appeal by April 30, seeking to clarify the province's rights to protect its environment and economy from an oil spill.

A B.C. government official says the scheduled announcement on environmental protection is about the legal reference case.

Horgan has said B.C.'s coast and jobs could be at risk if the Trans Mountain expansion goes through, tripling the capacity of an existing pipeline between Edmonton and Burnaby, B.C.

Pipeline builder Kinder Morgan curtailed spending on the $7.4-billion project earlier this month, blaming opposition and delays in B.C.

The company set May 31 as the deadline for governments to find a solution to the impasse and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly vowed that the project will go ahead.

Companies in this story: (TSX:KML)


You are what you eat

You are what you eat, even if you're a dinosaur.

University of Alberta scientists are learning more about the lives of the ancient lizards by studying their teeth to see how they used them — and what on.

"If we're to fully understand how these animals were living, we need to understand what they were eating and how they were eating," said Ryan Wilkinson, an undergraduate and co-author of a paper published Thursday in Current Biology.

Wilkinson and his colleagues studied scratches left by struggling prey on the teeth of three different raptors and read them like grooves on a record to determine how the dinosaurs tore into lunch. They then used techniques developed to test the strength of bridges to suggest what prey was preferred.

"The phrase we use in the paper is 'puncture and pull,'" Wilkinson said.

The scientists looked at three similar dinosaurs — Dromaeosaurus, Saurornitholestes and Troodon.

Each were meat-eating, stood on their hind legs, were about two metres long and weighed between 15 and 25 kilograms. They lived at about the same time in the same environments and are often found together in fossil beds. All three had serrations like steak knives on the back of their teeth to help slice through flesh.

The team first examined grooves on the teeth.

The scratches ran in two directions: up and down and angled laterally. That's evidence that dinosaurs ate by chomping down into their prey then tearing the flesh off the carcass, said Wilkinson.

"There's a vertical plunging bite, then an oblique cut as the animal closes its mouth as it draws its head backwards."

This may be the way all meat-eating dinosaurs ate. Teeth from Gorgosaurus, a gigantic, nine-metre cousin of T. rex, show the same pattern.

But the teeth had more to say than that. Troodon's serrations, called denticles, were much larger than those of the others.

"They have these large, hooked denticles, really bizarre," Wilkinson said.

Trying to understand what those denticles might reveal about Troodon's diet, the team built a computer model of the teeth and subjected them to stress tests.

Cosmic cluster set to collide

Astronomers have discovered the beginnings of a gigantic "cosmic pileup" in the far reaches of the universe that has never been seen before and could form one of the largest structures in the cosmos.

The team of Canadian and international scientists used a powerful telescope in Chile to make the startling finding that involves the "impending collision of 14 young, starbursting galaxies" that will become a massive galaxy cluster.

The research, published in the journal Nature, says the so-called protocluster or group of galaxies is 12.4 billion light years away — suggesting its light began travelling to Earth when the universe was 1.4 billion years old.

"Having caught a massive galaxy cluster in throes of formation is spectacular in and of itself," researcher Scott Chapman, an astrophysicist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said in a release.

"But, the fact that this is happening so early in the history of the universe poses a formidable challenge to our present-day understanding of the way structures form in the universe."

Chapman said up until now, astronomers had theorized that protoclusters as large as this one would have taken much longer to form. But this formation upended that thinking because it happened quickly and in a space only about three times the size of the Milky Way, he said.

Galaxy clusters are thought to be the largest objects in the known universe, with masses comparable to a million billion suns, the study says. They are bound together by gravity and can contain a thousand galaxies, dark matter, expansive black holes and gas that can reach over a million degrees in temperature.

The paper's authors say the discovery could shed light on how galaxy clusters form in environments characterized by hot, ionized gas.

Winnipeg Jets, last hope

At first, it was just a few thousand people braving the cold to cheer on the Winnipeg Jets in a street party.

Then the numbers grew. And, with each game, the crowd got bigger.

Organizers say that by Game 5 of the first round of the NHL playoffs — which the Jets won against the Minnesota Wild — almost 20,000 people had gathered in the street outside Bell MTS Place to cheer, watch the game on big screens and be entertained by DJs.

Playoff fever has fully erupted in a city that had been starved of an NHL playoff victory for two decades.

"The patience as a fan base ... has created this enormous sense of pent-up excitement to explode and let it all out," says Darren Ford, who led a grassroots campaign to bring the NHL back to Winnipeg after the first Jets franchise left for Phoenix in 1996.

The new version of the Jets came to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. They made the playoffs in 2015 but were swept by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.

This time, the team shows a lot more promise and fans have come out in droves, dressing all in white for a ritual known as The Whiteout.

Edmonton E.coli outbreak

Investigators have linked an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 36 people, including a person who likely died from the bacteria, to pork products from a meat shop south of Edmonton.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall warning for pork products sold and distributed by the Meat Shop at Pine Haven between Feb. 19 and April 24.

Alberta Health Services says there is a link between between the E. coli cases and meat from the business.

It warns eating these products is a health risk.

Both agencies say people should throw the meat away or return it for a refund.

Last week, Alberta Health Services said 21 of the lab-confirmed cases were linked to Mama Nita's Binalot restaurant in Edmonton.

Officials say the person who died did not dine at Mama Nita's, and there are no longer health concerns about that business.

"All the cases that we’ve identified to this point have a linkage to some degree back to the meat shop,” Dr. Jasmine Hasselback, medical officer of health, said Wednesday.

"When we were looking at the foods people ate at the restaurant, there actually wasn’t a consistent pattern at that time. It wasn’t until we were able to start adding information regarding the individuals not linked to the restaurant that pork became clearer."

E. coli O157:H7 infections are generally caused when a person eats food or drinks water that is contaminated with human or animal feces, or through direct contact with a person who is sick or with animals that carry the bacteria.

Symptom can include bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and kidney failure. 

Cop says he's no hero

A Toronto police officer who has earned international acclaim for the peaceful arrest of a man accused in a deadly van attack does not want to be hailed as a hero.

Deputy police chief Peter Yuen said the officer, Const. Ken Lam, feels there are many first responders and members of the public who should be praised for their actions in the moments after a van mounted a sidewalk, killing 10 pedestrians and injuring 13.

"He wants to make sure that everyone understands he was not a hero, he was merely doing a job," Yuen told a news conference on Wednesday.

Lam, who has been on the force for seven years, clearly exhibited and understood police training when he arrested 25-year-old Alek Minassian, the alleged driver of the van, the deputy chief added.

"That could have turned into a very tragic situation for more people — for the accused's family and for officer Lam's family, if (Lam) had opened fire," he said.

Video footage of the interaction shows Lam talking to Minassian, who can be heard shouting, "Shoot me,'' and "I have a gun in my pocket.''

"I don't care, get down or you'll get shot," Lam is heard shouting back.

Lam, 42, is in "good spirits" and has been off duty since the incident, taking time to recuperate, Yuen said.

"Any time an officer goes through a traumatic experience ... it is mandatory for the Toronto police service to have a debriefing and an aftercare program," Yeun said.

The aftercare program will include a visit with a psychologist, he said.

"When you go through traumatic experiences there's a cycle that you go through and … some people can rationalize this and digest this in three days, some it's three months, some will be a lifetime. For officer Lam it will be day by day," he added.

Yuen said he has been in "constant contact" with Lam since the arrest, even waking him up by text the last two mornings to ask how he is doing.

Did feds pay protesters?

The federal Liberal government found itself taking fire over the stalled Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from opposite flanks Wednesday: accused of helping to finance pipeline protesters on the one hand, and rigging the review system in favour of the project on the other.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer led off question period with the revelation that one of the successful applicants to the government's Canada Summer Jobs program is a B.C. group looking to hire someone "to help ... stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project."

"Does he not realize that he is funding the very groups that are protesting against the project that is in the national interest?" Scheer demanded.

"We are talking about taking tax dollars from people who are out of work in the energy sector and giving it to people who are trying to block a project in the national interest."

The B.C. group, Dogwood, however, has been receiving federal money for years — including from the previous Conservative government, Trudeau retorted.

"Unlike, apparently, the leader of the official Opposition, we believe in free speech," he said.

Scheer's question was far from the only Trans Mountain offensive the Liberals faced — indeed, question period has, of late, been dominated by the project, given what proponents say of its potential economic impact, as well as how it's likely to influence next year's federal election.

Kinder Morgan declared earlier this month it was halting all non-essential spending on the controversial expansion, which has been beset by protests and is at the centre of a fierce dispute between the governments of B.C. and Alberta.

The expansion — which B.C. is blocking — would twin an existing pipeline from Alberta's oilsands to Kinder Morgan's Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, where diluted bitumen would be loaded onto tankers.

Earlier Wednesday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and energy critic Guy Caron released a letter to Trudeau effectively accusing the Liberals of having decided to proceed with Trans Mountain well before the federal review process had completed its evaluation.

The letter cites recent media reports suggesting the government's decision to proceed was a purely political calculation, rather than a decision based on whether or not the project would indeed be in the national interest.

"These revelations throw into question the legitimacy of the government's entire review as they point to an approval based on political interests," the letter reads.

Caron pressed the issue during question period, but Trudeau waved off the NDP's concerns.

"Under the previous government, the approach of not understanding how important it is to properly consult and engage in acquiring social licence needed to be fixed," he said.

"We actually added additional steps to make the process more rigorous. In fact, we extended the consultation process to ensure we were meeting and exceeding our responsibility to engage with and consult Indigenous people."

Bronco tells crash story

A Humboldt Broncos player who was paralyzed in a bus crash that killed 16 people has vivid memories of the accident but is focusing on regaining his health and hopefully being able to walk again.

Ryan Straschnitzki, 19, sat in a wheelchair Wednesday as he spoke at Calgary's Foothills hospital, where he is undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

"I was sitting on the bus texting my girlfriend and getting kind of prepared for the game. All of a sudden I heard a scream from the front of the bus and a semi-truck pulled in front of us and that's all I remember," said Straschnitzki.

"I kind of blacked out and woke up ... my back was against the semi. I saw my teammates in front of me. My first instinct was to get up and try and help, but I couldn't move my body. It was terrible."

The collision April 6 between the junior hockey team's bus and a tractor-trailer unit in rural Saskatchewan is still being investigated. RCMP have only said the transport truck was in the intersection when the crash occurred.

The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin, Sask. Besides the 16 people who were killed, 13 were injured.

Straschnitzki says he and his teammates text message each other every day as they all try to cope with their injuries and grief.

"You think about it and let out some emotion. I'm just trying to push through and get better for those guys that didn't make it," he said. "If somebody needs someone to talk to, we'll contact them. After all this ... we've gotten really closer."

Straschnitzki said his rehab is going well and he will continue to push through it despite the pain.

He has spoken about playing sledge hockey for the Canadian Paralympic team, but has set his sights much higher than that.

"I'm just hoping one day I'll get to that point where I'll be able to walk again. Some people have said that I won't be able to, but I kind of want to prove them wrong," he said.

"We just take it, like I tell Ryan, shift by shift. We're still in the first period, the fourth shift in, so we've still got a full game to go. That's how we take it," his father Tom Straschnitzki said.

An 'incel' rebellion?

A message allegedly posted by the accused in Toronto's deadly van attack is shedding light on a mostly male online community that an expert says endorses violent rhetoric against women.

Police have said they are looking into a "cryptic" message about an "incel rebellion" posted on Alek Minassian's Facebook profile minutes before pedestrians were mowed down on a northern stretch of Yonge Street.

Facebook has said it deleted the account associated with the widely circulated post, which refers to involuntary celibacy, often shortened to "incel."

Ryan Duquette, of the Toronto-based digital forensics consulting firm Hexigent, says it's not clear who accessed the account when the message was posted based on the information that's publicly available.

Both Facebook and police declined to provide more information about the post's origins.

An associate professor at Dublin City University who studies gender and social media says incels mostly consist of men who are resentful of their inability to find a partner and typically blame women for their sexual rejection.

Debbie Ging says the post's warning of an "Incel Rebellion" echoes violent language used on incel forums, most of which she ascribes to "venting."

The post also refers to Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and then himself at the University of California in 2014, as a "Supreme Gentleman," a moniker Ging says is often used by incels.

She says the post has generated a discussion about violent sentiment in male-dominated online subcultures, reinforcing the need to take these communities seriously as a "political entity."

Police have said those who were killed or injured in Monday's attack were "predominantly female."

Minassian, 25, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Police said a 14th attempted murder charge would be laid following further investigation.

Road landing: out of gas

UPDATE: 1:05 p.m.

Jamal Hammoud woke up about 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday to get a drink of water when he saw the flashing lights of fire trucks outside his window.

At first, he thought there was trouble with the light-rail train that runs along the busy boulevard right by his northeast Calgary home. But when he went out to see what was going on, he was surprised to see a plane, intact aside from a damaged wing, parked on 36th Street N.E.

"It's something that you see in movies, not in real life," he said.

Police say the twin-engine plane was coming in from the south, heading for a landing at the Calgary airport, when a pilot radioed in that the aircraft was low on fuel.

Sgt. Duane Lepchuk said the aircraft came down on a two-lane stretch of road about five kilometres south of the airport and not far from the Trans-Canada Highway.

There were no injuries among the four passengers and two crew members on the Piper Navajo.

Lepchuk said there was minimal traffic on the street at the time and no reports of drivers having to swerve to miss the plane.

Hammoud said security footage from his home captured the plane passing right over a car.

By early afternoon, the plane was still there and the scene was abuzz with investigators and passersby snapping photos, he said.

Jason Hollyoak told CTV Calgary that he saw the plane make an incredible landing.

"I would say he was just trying to keep it underneath all the light poles and street lights and everything. He had to have flown over probably two or three cars," Hollyoak said.

Super T Aviation of Medicine Hat, Alta., said in a statement that the plane was forced to land "due to a loss of power of unknown cause."

– The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 6:50 a.m.

A small plane carrying six people made an emergency landing on a Calgary street Wednesday morning.

Police say the twin-engine plane was coming in from the south, heading for a landing at the Calgary airport, when the pilot radioed in that the aircraft was low on fuel.

Sgt. Duane Lepchuk said the plane came down shortly before 6:00 a.m. on a two-lane stretch of 36th Street, about five kilometres south of the airport and not far from the Trans-Canada Highway.

There were no injuries among the four passengers and two crew members.

Lepchuk said there was minimal traffic on the street at the time and no reports of drivers having to swerve to miss the plane.

"36 (Street) is an overpass that goes over the Trans-Canada," noted Lepchuk, who said there was no indication the plane was damaged during the landing.

- with files from CP

ORIGINAL: 6:34 a.m

More small plane issues forcing highway landings, this time in Calgary.

A private dual prop Piper Navajo, based out of Medicine Hat Alberta made an emergency landing in northeast Calgary after the dual prop plane experienced engine trouble.

The Piper Navajo was forced down in the northbound lane of  36 Street between 12 Avenue and 16 Avenue NE just before 6 a.m.

"Remarkably, there was no injuries of anyone aboard the aircraft," said EMS Public Education Officer Stuart Brideaux. "But also, no injuries to anyone on the ground or involving any other vehicular traffic on 36 Street. It is quite extraordinary."

Witnesses report seeing the plane fly beneath the traffic signals at the intersection of 36 Street and 12 Avenue NE, in fact, the wing made contact and damaged several signs.

- with files from CTV

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