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Fox found on city bus

A fox that snuck onto an Ottawa city bus has achieved temporary Internet fame after photos of the critter sleeping on a seat circulated online.

OC Transpo says the fox climbed through the open front door of an out-of-service bus parked at one of its garages Sunday morning and quickly settled in for a nap.

It says an employee called police, which alerted the Humane Society, but the fox eventually took off on its own.

The agency joked on Twitter that the fox — whose image spread on social media within minutes — wouldn't replace its existing mascot, OC Owl.

It says there have been reports of birds and even a raccoon making their way onto parked buses before.

The Canadian Press


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No booze at the Rob Ford Fest

There will be no booze at the Rob Ford Fest this week after the province turned down the organizers' application for a liquor licence, but the Toronto mayor insists those who come to his annual barbecue will still have a good time.

A spokesman for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says the event didn't qualify for a special occasion permit because it is not considered "municipally significant."

Jeff Keay says that designation must be granted by city council.

He says previous Ford Fests obtained the permit by applying through their caterer, who already had a liquor licence.

Ford, meanwhile, says organizers were denied the licence over "timing" issues.

The event, which typically draws huge crowds, is being held Friday at Thomson Park in the city's east end.

The Canadian Press


Drug dealers hand out samples

Edmonton police allege that three drug dealers trying to drum up business were handing out cocaine samples to young people.

Police spokesman Scott Pattison says the trio parked a truck in a popular location on the city's south side and began luring potential customers over.

Pattison says their contact information for future purchases was printed on the back of five-gram packages of the drug.

Pattison says it's like they were giving out their business cards.

Jesse Levesque, 22, Chris Hefford, 22, both from Edmonton, and Dan Friedrick, 25, of Spruce Grove, Alta., have been charged with trafficking, possession for the purpose and living off the proceeds of crime.

The Canadian Press


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Lac-Megantic's 'train from hell'

It's been known to belch oil from its exhaust, it's caught fire at least once and it led the "train from hell" that smashed into Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

And pretty soon locomotive MMA 5017 can be all yours.

The lead engine on the runaway oil train that derailed and exploded last summer in Quebec is scheduled to go to auction Aug. 5., a month after disaster-scarred Lac-Megantic marked the first year of the catastrophe.

The opening bid for the locomotive that played a key role in one of Canada's worst-ever rail disasters has been set at $10,667 (or US$10,000).

The auctioneer says he has yet to receive any specific inquiries about MMA 5017, but he's expecting more spectators than usual when he belts out its name at the Derby Rail Yard in Milo, Maine.

"It is unique and obviously this locomotive's got some history to it," Adam Jokisch, president of a St. Louis-based auction house, told The Canadian Press.

"It's definitely not a good piece of history, that's for sure. . . I don't think I'd want to be reminded about that horrible accident."

MMA 5017 will also have company on the auction block.

In all, the auction will feature 25 locomotives from the fleet of the now-bankrupt Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, as well as seven units identified as the property of an affiliate of MMA's former parent company, Rail World Inc.

The black-and-green MMA 5017 appears to have avoided any serious damage in the incident. The night of the disaster, the diesel-electric machine continued rolling along the rails as 63 tank cars filled with volatile crude oil careened off the tracks behind it.

But like several of the MMA locomotives that will be sold off, the General Electric C-30-7 is not in running condition, according to the auction-house blurb that also mentions its connection to the disaster.

"The MMA 5017 unit was the lead locomotive in a derailment and fire incident in Canada," reads the ad on the website for Adam's Auction & Real Estate Services, Inc.

It notes that due to that crash, "the number 4, 5 & 6 power assemblies were removed." The ad also states that MMA 5017 has a "defective piston."

The Canadian Press


Teenager swims English Channel

A 19-year-old from Swift Current, Sask., has successfully swum across the English Channel to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Canada.

The news was announced on Twitter by the City of Swift Current, which congratulated Meghan Chisholm with the hashtag #proud.

Chisholm swam competitively for years growing up and is now a lifeguard, swimming instructor and coaching assistant for the Swift Current Barracudas swim team.

She has said she always had a goal to do a major long-distance swim and that teaming up with the foundation gave her the extra motivation to train for a good cause.

As of Tuesday night, she had raised $8,552 for the foundation, about a third of her goal of $25,000.

The Canadian Press


Couple reveals $50M lotto win

How long can you keep a $50-million secret?

Andrea and Bill Groner managed to keep their lottery windfall in the immediate family for seven months.

But the Edmonton couple's exciting news is now out — they are the mystery winners of the $50-million Lotto Max jackpot from Dec. 20.

Andrea discovered the win two days after the draw when she stopped at a shopping mall and checked the ticket at a self-serve scanner.

The couple decided to keep to their normal routines for awhile and continued to work.

But now that their identity has been revealed, they say they want to help family, friends and charities.

"We have some ideas for the money," Andrea said as they picked up their cheque Tuesday at the Western Canada Lottery office.

"We'll take it one day at a time," Bill added.

Andrea recalled her reaction when she found out the ticket was a winner.

"I saw the amount on the screen. I didn't have my glasses on, but I saw a lot of numbers," she said. "I asked the store clerk to look, too. She asked how much I thought I'd won. I said, 'I won the lottery?'"

Not wanting to be overheard on the phone in the mall, Andrea waited until she got home to tell her husband the news.

"I had to double-check the numbers in the paper to be sure," he said. "It was hard to believe."

When asked how they managed to keep to their normal lives, Andrea said it's not that easy to make a wholesale change.

"A lot of people think they'd quit their job as soon as they found out," she said. "But you have friendships and relationships with the people you work with and it's hard to just cut those ties. You don't want to leave people in the lurch."

The winning ticket was bought at a tobacco kiosk at Londonderry Mall in northeast Edmonton.

It's the second-largest lottery prize ever won in Alberta. The largest Canadian windfall also came from that province — $54.3 million won by oilfield workers in a Lotto 6-49 draw in October 2005.

The Canadian Press


Thief steals child's ashes

EDMONTON - The parents of a nine-year-old boy killed in a plane crash are hoping a thief will return a cross necklace that holds some of their son's ashes.

David and Crystal Pentecost moved to Edmonton from Manitoba two weeks ago to try to start anew after Dawson's death last year. Police say a man broke into their pickup truck on Friday and stole the necklace and some loose change.

"It's like losing him again," Crystal Pentecost said Tuesday as she pleaded for the jewelry to be returned. "I don't know where it is. It's my son and ... I feel guilty. I should have done more."

Dawson went for his first plane ride on Feb. 10, 2013, with his friends Logan, also 9, and Gage, 10, and their father Darren Spence, who was an experienced crop-duster.

The four died when the plane crashed in a field near Waskada, Man., where the Pentecosts lived. An investigation concluded that whiteout conditions were to blame.

The Pentecosts had cremation pendants made for themselves and for each of their other three sons so they could carry Dawson with them always.

"He was angelic. He was funny, smart, yet quiet," said his mother, who cried as she recalled the loss of her son. "You wouldn't hear anybody say anything bad about him."

Const. Michael Roblin said the thief probably doesn't have any idea what the necklace contains.

"It's a nice-looking chain and I think it was just an opportunity when he saw something nice ... he just went with it."

The necklace consists of a gold-and-silver cross with five crystals running down the front. The cross hangs on a silver chain.

It belongs to Dawson's younger brother and had been hanging in the truck since last May. Dawson's mother explained that he loved his dad's truck and the boy's brother wanted to keep the necklace there so Dawson "could come for all the rides he wants."

"We left it in there and it was never moved until now."

Roblin said police decided to ask for the public's help after hearing from the Pentecosts.

"When they told me what had been taken, it was heart-breaking. It's one of those things that insurance can't cover and you can't replace it," he said.

"They're new to the city and it leaves kind of a bad taste. I wanted to see if Edmontonians can help out."

"We'd just like it back," said Crystal Pentecost. "I'm not angry at anybody. I'd just like it returned.

"It's my son and it belongs to us."

if it is turned in anonymously.”

The Canadian Press


Mayor dies from wasp stings

The death of a Quebec mayor who was stung multiple times after stepping on a wasps' nest while gardening is a tragic but cautionary tale for those who run afoul of bees, hornets or other stinging insects — especially if they have a severe allergy to their venom, experts say.

Lucie F. Roussel, mayor of La Prairie, died in hospital Sunday after being stung at least 15 times in the garden of her cottage near Stratford, Que., municipal authorities said.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the 51-year-old widowed mother of two teens had an allergic reaction, but La Prairie spokeswoman Chantal Charron said Roussel had never been diagnosed with an allergy to wasp stings.

"She was not diagnosed by a doctor. She did not know that she was allergic — if that was the case," Charron told The Canadian Press, noting that Roussel had emergency injectable epinephrine at her home because her late husband had been allergic.

Dr. Susan Waserman, an allergist at McMaster University, said it's extremely uncommon for someone to die as a result of insect venom directly, although there are a few cases in the medical literature.

"It's possible, but it's rare," Waserman said Tuesday from Hamilton. "This is not a common phenomenon."

Most deaths that result from insect stings are caused by a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be marked by such symptoms as breaking out in diffuse hives, having difficulty breathing, feeling lightheaded and sometimes vomiting, she said.

"Usually, most acute allergic reactions occur within minutes to an hour," Waserman said, noting that people may feel their tongue start tingling and their throat swelling.

"And if you have no reason to believe you are allergic, many people are caught off guard, and they don't generally carry an epinephrine auto-injector."

Epinephrine is a form of adrenalin, given by a shot typically in the muscles of the thigh, that can counteract the allergic reaction until the affected person can receive medical treatment in hospital or by paramedics.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary from one person to another and even from one reaction to the next, said Beatrice Povolo, a spokeswoman for the charitable advocacy group Anaphylaxis Canada.

What makes this allergic reaction so life-threatening is that the airways often swell and the blood pressure plummets, sending the person into anaphylactic shock.

The Canadian Press


Stabbing suspect heads to hospital

A man accused of stabbing five young people to death at a house party is to undergo a psychiatric assessment to determine whether he can be found criminally responsible if convicted.

Matthew de Grood, 22, was charged in April with first-degree murder in the slayings at a celebration near the University of Calgary campus to mark the end of the school year.

He appeared in court Tuesday, in person, for the first time since his arrest. His other appearances had been through the court's closed-circuit television.

De Grood, who was clad in a blue jumpsuit and had his hands and legs shackled, said nothing during the appearance. He leaned forward and stared directly ahead. The courtroom was full of the victims' friends and family members, many of whom leaned forward and stared intently at him.

Defence lawyer Allan Fay said although his client had already been declared fit to stand trial, the new assessment will provide more details about his state of mind.

"It's to determine whether, in the opinion of a psychiatrist, at the time of the offences, whether my client was criminally responsible," Fay said outside court. "In other words, he had the necessary intent or ... he lacked it due to mental disease.

"Suffice it to say that he continues to be treated for mental illness."

Fay said de Grood continues to be certified under the Mental Health Act by a psychiatrist at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatric Centre, "which means in their opinion his mental situation is such that they require him to remain in a secure treatment facility."

The Crown asked for the assessment.

"The first reason is he's been committed under the Mental Health Act," said prosecutor Neil Wiberg.

"The second reason is the report from the psychiatrist on fitness to stand trial recommended that a report be done on criminal responsibility."

Wiberg said it's possible that a hearing about criminally responsibility will be held later, but that depends on the defence put forward by de Grood's lawyer.

Family members had no comment as they left the courthouse.

Wiberg said the Crown has been keeping them up-to-date.

"Obviously it's very difficult for them. They suffered a tragic loss."

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled to begin March 2.

A psychiatric review has already determined that de Grood is fit to stand trial because he understands the charges against him and is able to communicate with his lawyer.

The accused, the son of a senior Calgary police officer, has been in psychiatric care since his arrest.

Police have not said what they think motivated the attack, but say de Grood was invited to the party April 15 and mingled with guests before violence broke out.

Zackariah Rathwell, 21; Lawrence Hong, 27; Joshua Hunter, 23; Jordan Segura, 22; and Kaiti Perras, 23, were slain.

Fay said his client is anxious about what lies ahead.

"He's nervous. Obviously he's been in custody for some time since this occurred. He will continue to be in custody for a long time," said Fay.

"As he is treated further, I think he becomes more lucid and the impact of what he's facing really comes home to him."

The Canadian Press


Human traffickers deported

Twenty members of a Hungarian human trafficking ring that brought people from eastern Europe with promises of a better life in Canada have been deported, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Tuesday.

He said the victims were forced to work illegally, live in deplorable conditions without adequate food, and were intimidated or attacked repeatedly.

"The removal of these foreign criminals convicted of human trafficking demonstrates how our government is keeping Canadians safe," Blaney said during a news conference in Hamilton, where the gang had operated.

The RCMP has previously said the victims were mostly poor Hungarians who were duped into coming to Canada and forced to work for free in a case of "modern-day slavery."

Blaney said 22 members of the Domotor-Kolompar ring have been convicted of human trafficking charges under the Criminal Code of Canada, and all but two have been deported to Hungary.

"Our government will continue to take strong action to address human trafficking in all its forms," he said.

The Canada Border Services Agency, the RCMP Hamilton-Niagara Detachment and local police were all involved in the years-long investigation dubbed Project OPAPA.

"We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us rid the scourge of human trafficking in Hamilton and Ancaster," said David Sweet, MP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.

"There is no doubt that today is a day when justice has been served."

The deportations comes two years after the government toughened measures to prevent human trafficking and prosecute perpetrators.

The Canadian Press


Fruit recalled for possible Listeria

Some fruit products imported from California are being recalled due to concerns about possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the whole peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots are sold primarily under the Sweet 2 Eat brand.

The products, being recalled by Wawona Packing Company of California, may also show the Wawona or Harvest Sweet brand names.

Stickers on individual fruit have the Sweet 2 Eat brand name, and there are 45 packaging variations for the fruits involved.

The CFIA says the fruits may have been sold nationally and says there have been no reported illnesses linked to eating these products.

The federal agency says the recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness.

Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.

The Canadian Press


Duffy misspent over $200,000

The RCMP has provided fresh details of its 31 fraud charges against Sen. Mike Duffy, accusing him of charging taxpayers for personal travel to funerals and providing payments for "illegitimate expenses" to four people.

A new court filing alleges "inappropriate expense claims associated with personal attendance at funeral and related ceremonies."

Duffy is accused of fraudulently awarding a $65,000 contract to his longtime friend, Gerald Donohue. The RCMP allege that Donohue, in turn, paid some of that money to three other people, including a personal trainer.

Donohue has already told investigators that he did "no tangible work" for the money, the RCMP has said.

The court documents allege that Duffy filed eight separate expense claims that the RCMP says involved personal or partisan travel. The claims were filed from June 2009 to September 2012.

The RCMP announced last week that it was charging Duffy with 31 criminal counts related to his expense claims, accusing him of misspending more than $200,000.

The charges stem from the disgraced senator's housing and travel expenses, and a $90,000 payment from Nigel Wright, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Duffy has denied any criminal wrongdoing. He could not be immediately reached for comment today on the new documents.

The Conservative-appointed senator will appear in court on Sept. 16.

The NDP's Peter Julian says as more details emerge about Duffy's alleged crimes, the questions reach all the way to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office. He says it's time for the prime minister to "come clean."

The Canadian Press


Festival death prompts concerns

What police are calling a suspicious death at the Pemberton Music Festival, north of Vancouver, has prompted concerns about security.

Twenty-one-year-old Nick Phongsavath of Regina was found dead in a tent on festival grounds, and homicide detectives are investigating.

Risa Payant, a festival consultant for the Saskatchewan Arts Board, was at Pemberton as a patron.

She said no one she knows of was patted down before entering and security asked people if they had anything illegal but let concertgoers in without checking.

Payant, who has organized and attended festivals around the world, said Pemberton was not the safest atmosphere, and even security officials were not aware of the death.

"They'd just be like, 'I don't know, was there an incident last night?'" she said.

Festival organizers did not immediately return requests for comment, but released a statement saying police are confident the death was isolated and the festival site is safe and well organized.

"The safety of our attendees is always our primary concern," the statement said. "We have significant security resources on site including security personnel, RCMP, customer service representatives and a full medical team."

Organizers said counselling services were being provided for all staff and guests, and people who had to be relocated because of the death were given food, water and shelter.

RCMP spokesman Rob Knapton said the death has not created more safety risks and there have been no significant issues aside from the death.

"We've got no concerns about the safety of the people here," said Knapton "If there were concerns we'd be dealing with things definitely in a different manner."

So far up to 20 people have been arrested, mainly for being drunk in public and causing a disturbance.

The festival is going on as scheduled. 

The Canadian Press


Canadian teacher in jail

The family of a Canadian teacher detained in an Indonesian jail on allegations of child sexual assault has been trying to enlist Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to help win his release.

Neil Bantleman, 45, was working as a learning co-ordinator at the Jakarta International School, a prestigious school popular with expatriate families.

Bantleman's arrest stemmed from a Jakarta police investigation into the alleged sexual assault of three kindergarten students at the school, local media reports said. He was detained along with teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong, who is Indonesian.

The Jakarta Post reported that six outsourced cleaners were arrested for allegedly raping a young boy in a school bathroom in March. Later the parents of two other students filed police reports claiming their sons were sexually assaulted by teachers. The newspaper also reported that one complainant, whose family is suing the school for US $125 million, implicated school teachers.

Bantleman's brother Guy, speaking from his family's home base in Burlington, Ont., is heading efforts in Canada to raise awareness about the case, he said, adding that he has been in touch with Baird's office.

"This is about human rights," Guy Bantleman said. "(My brother) has always been the most honourable person you could meet."

He added that advocating for his brother's release is further complicated by the number of different international bodies involved.

"We are getting responses, it's never as fast as we want unfortunately," he said.

Neil Bantleman's passport is being held by police and his home and office were searched.

"They are co-operating. There is no story, there is no issue, there is no evidence," Guy Bantleman said, adding that Bantleman's wife Tracy, a fellow Jakarta International School teacher, is fighting for her husband's release.

Bantleman said his family was "stunned" at the allegations against his brother.

"My concern is he's half a world away and their process if very different from ours," he said, adding that the goal is to exonerate his brother as quickly as possible and move on from the "nightmare."

John Babcock, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, said details on the case are not being released for privacy reasons.

"Canadian consular officials are providing assistance to a Canadian citizen who has been detained in Indonesia," he said via email.

At a news conference at the Jakarta International School on Wednesday, Tracy Bantleman said her husband of seven years was "absolutely innocent" and pleaded for his release.

The teachers are being represented by Indonesian attorney Hotman Paris Hutapea, who told the Jakarta Post that the police "stepped over the line" by detaining Bantleman and Ferdinand without evidence.

The newspaper also reported that the principal of the elementary school Elsa Donohue has been questioned, but is being categorized as a witness, not a suspect, by Jakarta police. Both Bantleman and Ferdinand could face 15 years in prison if convicted.

The Canadian Press




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