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Nothing could save victim

A neurologist says there was nothing doctors could do to save a Calgary gas station employee brought to hospital after a hit-and-run.

Maryam Rashidi, 35, was trying to stop a driver from leaving the Centex gas station in Calgary without paying in June 2015. She chased the vehicle into traffic and climbed on the hood of the truck to get the driver to return and pay his $113 bill.

Joshua Cody Mitchell, 22, is on trial for a number of charges including second-degree murder.

Court has heard the driver swerved, causing her to fall to the ground where she was run over by the front and rear dual tires of the vehicle causing devastating injuries.

Dr. Phillippe Couillard, an expert in critical care neurology at Foothills Medical Centre, told court Rashidi was brought in by air ambulance and examined by the emergency team.

He said scans and X-rays showed the bone at the base of her skull and the first vertebrae in her neck both had fractures. Couillard said there was bruising on her lung and some cuts.

Couillard said she also remained in a deep coma and a CT scan revealed three out of four blood vessels going to the brain were damaged.

He said one of the blood vessels was blocked with a blood clot.

"That clot went to the main blood vessel into the brain on the right and caused a very large stroke on that side," Couillard testified.



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Border agent drug charges

Two Canadian border agents are among five people arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling.

RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency say the agents worked out of Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Authorities allege the pair facilitated the importation of more than 30 kilograms of cocaine between January last year and April this year.

They also seized cocaine shipped from Colombia and Jamaica to Toronto.

Charged with offences including breach of trust, conspiracy, and importing a narcotic are CBSA agents Patrick Ruddy, 37, of Toronto, and Brano Andrews, 41, of Barrie, Ont.

Facing similar charges are Roberto Leyva, 32, of Niagara Falls, Ont., and Keith Hamid, 41, and Rennie Escoffery, 57, both of Brampton, Ont.

"Allegations of improper or illegal behaviour by CBSA employees are taken very seriously," Goran Vragovic, CBSA regional director general, said in a statement. "These allegations in no way reflect upon the true professionalism, dedication and integrity displayed each and every day by our CBSA staff."



Bernier 'wouldn't quit'

But O'Leary says he was the ultimately the one to leave because Bernier had the better argument — the seats needed in Quebec for a parliamentary majority could only be delivered by a Quebec-based leader.

O'Leary says while he's now gone from the race, he doesn't intend to be forgotten.

Instead, the reality TV star and businessman said his campaign team and Bernier's are merging in order together deliver Bernier the leadership and then the federal election in 2019.

O'Leary insists that his decision to drop out of the race wasn't motivated by the concern that losing it would tarnish his personal brand.

He told The Canadian Press he'll prove that by campaigning for the Conservatives from now until the next election to fulfil his original promise to unseat the Trudeau Liberals.



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Officers felt 'outgunned'

A senior RCMP officer says he warned superiors about the lack of firepower for front line officers long before the 2014 Moncton shooting rampage that left three Mounties dead.

Supt. Troy Lightfoot told the RCMP's trial on labour code charges Thursday he became concerned about officer and public safety after various active shooter incidents including the 2005 attack in Mayerthorpe, Alta., that killed four Mounties.

"We felt at the time that we were basically outgunned," Lightfoot said of active shooter incidents. "I felt that we needed new tools."

The allegations against the RCMP stem from its response to Justin Bourque's shooting rampage in Moncton, N.B., in which he killed three officers and wounded two others. Bourque was armed with a semi-automatic rifle.

Police use of C8 carbine rifles became a central focus in the fallout from the shootings, with some Moncton officers complaining they were outgunned because they did not have carbines. The high-powered weapons have a greater range than the officers' standard-issue pistols.

Lightfoot told Moncton provincial court Judge Leslie Jackson he contributed to a briefing note in 2006 that recommended looking at carbines for Mounties, and was told his team should continue researching the issue.

The national police force ultimately approved the C8 carbine rifles in September 2011, but the rollout took time.

Earlier this week, Supt. Bruce Stuart testified that the carbine purchasing, training and rollout was a highly complicated process with many people involved, and one that was not to be rushed.

Alphonse MacNeil, a retired assistant commissioner with the RCMP, has said the carbines should be rolled out faster. His 2015 report on the Moncton shootings concluded the high-powered weapons could have made a difference in that incident.



She did it for thrills

A young woman stranded for hours after scaling a construction crane in the middle of the night is a thrill seeker, a friend said Thursday.

Marisa Lazo, 23, appeared in court Thursday to face six counts of mischief by interfering with property.

Lazo was granted bail for $500 with several conditions, including staying away from construction sites and rooftops. The dual Canadian-American citizen also had to surrender her U.S. passport and attend "suitable counselling."

Lazo's perilous climb and the dramatic hours-long rescue operation that followed on Wednesday made headlines around the country.

Her friend, Sara Burton, called her a "really good girl" and an "adventure-seeking" person.

"When I saw it, I knew that it was maybe not the best decision, obviously, maybe some logic was not playing into place," Burton said outside court. "But the fact that she did it was not a shock to me — or that she had the ability to do it."

Firefighters said Wednesday they believed Lazo climbed up the crane, crawled out along the boom, and slid down a cable to a large pulley, where she was stranded.



Dive team joins search

A team of scuba divers was being called in Thursday to help in the search for four hunters missing in northeastern Alberta.

The RCMP dive team from British Columbia was to arrive in the area north of Fort Chipewyan in the afternoon.

Police said the divers would work with boats equipped with sonar to search beneath the surface of the Rocher River.

On Wednesday, RCMP and Parks Canada shifted their efforts to a recovery operation after failing to find the men in the rugged bush.

The hunters left Fort Chipewyan on Sunday night in a boat, which was later found in the river that flows through Wood Buffalo National Park.

Earlier this week, more than 70 people took part in the search which included three helicopters and volunteers from the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations.



Cops told to ditch the camo

Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux has tabled a bill to force municipal police officers to ditch their colourful protest pants.

The bill amends the Police Act to obligate police officers and special constables to wear the uniform and equipment provided by their employer.

Montreal police have been wearing camouflage and other brightly coloured pants since July 2014 as part of pressure tactics stemming from a battle over pension reforms.

The bill would require the heads of police forces to enforce the rules and would impose hefty fines on officers who don't comply.

Coiteux has previously said it's important for police to wear their uniforms to maintain public confidence and ensure officers can be easily identified.



Study rooms not for sex

University students in Newfoundland are being asked to keep their studies family friendly after a custodian recently walked in on two people having early morning relations in a study room.

"That space is for learning and working," Memorial University business administration dean Wilfred Zerbe said Thursday, "and it's not really appropriate or fair for our custodial staff to come upon that kind of behaviour."

Associate dean Larry Bauer stated in a recent email the students were "apparently having sex" in one of the faculty's many study rooms about two weeks ago. Enforcement officers will now be closely monitoring the areas, he added.

The incident prompted a flurry of emails to all business students, faculty and staff, including one from Zerbe, who assured them the executive will be debriefed on it to ensure everyone knows how to maintain a "healthy and productive" environment.

It was just the second time in four years that a staff member had walked in on students engaged in an "activity of a more personal nature" in a so-called study room, he said.



Building up from the ashes

Farid El-Hayouni and Ibtissam Saidi are almost certain they won't live on Prospect Drive again.

The couple had a duplex on the street in Fort McMurray's north end, where they lived with their three young sons and El-Hayouni's parents.

They had a beautiful view of a nearby pond from their bedroom window and, on warm nights, their block would fill with the sounds of children playing.

But their home was one of nearly 2,600 dwellings destroyed in last May's wildfire.

The flames forced more than 88,000 to flee for safety and caused an estimated $3.8 billion in insured damage.

The rebuild of the oilsands city has lumbered along in the year since. About 650 development permits have been issued representing 900 dwelling units — about a third of what was destroyed.

About 33 families were living in rebuilt homes as of the start of April.

"We are rebuilding. It is happening," says Erin O'Neill, operations manager with the local recovery task force. "Demolition was done long ago ... We're glad to already see people moving home."

El-Hayouni, an engineer at an oilsands mine, and Saidi, a stay-at-home mom, are in limbo.

They adore Fort McMurray and want to stay, but they feel drained even thinking about rebuilding where their home once stood.

"It's like a grave for me now," Saidi, 32, says as she holds her 15-month-old son Wassim on her lap.

Waterways, Fort McMurray's oldest neighbourhood, faces particular challenges that have slowed the rebuild. One is how to manage future flood risk from the nearby Clearwater River. There are also concerns over slope stability because trees that held the soil together burned up.



Tory race 'just got real'

The Conservative leadership race now enters the final weeks with penultimate debate showcasing the task at hand for the majority of candidates: take down clear front-runner Maxime Bernier.

Wednesday night's final party debate in Toronto was supposed to be a big political spectacle in its own right, with the May 27 climax looming on the calendar.

But then celebrity businessman and front-runner Kevin O'Leary went and quit the race just hours before, a development that some party members seemed to welcome; when the debate moderator announced he wouldn't be on stage, sustained applause broke out.

"Today, the race just got real," said candidate Erin O'Toole. "Elvis has left the building."

O'Leary threw his support behind Bernier, his closest rival in the contest. The Quebec MP is known for his libertarian bent and self-proclaimed "Mad Max" nickname. His competitors seized on both as they turned on him fast.

Michael Chong called his policies "extreme," highlighting Bernier's pledge to cut the size of federal programs by a third.

What's necessary to beat Trudeau was a point of contention during the event, with candidates also pivoting to attack Kellie Leitch and her proposals on face-to-face interviews for all immigrants and tests for Canadian values.

Lisa Raitt, an MP from a Toronto-area riding, said giving the suggestion the party is not inclusive is a direct way to lose all the seats the party has in that area.

She said people who might support the policy should do so at the party's peril.

But everyone mostly saved their fire for Bernier, the pile-on heaviest over the MP's bedrock pledge of abolishing supply management, an issue that's leapt into the national spotlight anew after catching the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump who has said he wants it gone too.



Decade of deficits ends

Ontario's first balanced budget in a decade is being released this afternoon and is expected to contain new money to benefit seniors, students, parents, caregivers and patients.

The deficit-free fiscal plan gives the province's Liberal government some room to bring in new spending as it heads into an election year.

In a speech this week, Premier Kathleen Wynne said her plan has fairness at its heart and her approach is not to cut services, taxes and regulations and hope the results will trickle down to Ontarians.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa has already announced the budget will include a public transit tax credit for seniors, and what he calls a "booster shot" for health care.

The government has also already indicated there will be funding to increase respite services for people who act as caregivers to friends and family members, money for child-care spaces, a student job training placement initiative, investments in innovation, and money for affordable housing.

But even with a balanced budget this year, Ontario will still have debt of more than $300 billion.



Killed wife in self defence

The defence lawyer for a man who admits he strangled his wife and buried her body in their home says his client acted in self-defence.

Closing arguments are set for today at the second-degree murder trial of Allan Shyback. He is also charged with causing an indignity to the body of Lisa Mitchell, 31, who was last seen alive in Calgary in October 2012.

An undercover "Mr. Big'' sting operation was launched in 2013 and ended with Shyback's confession and arrest in Winnipeg a year later.

During his testimony this week, Shyback told the judge hearing the case alone that he had been the victim of nearly a decade of domestic abuse and that Mitchell had attacked him with a knife the day she died.

"I expect self-defence to be the first defence that will be raised and that can lead to a complete acquittal," Shyback's lawyer, Balfour Der, told court Tuesday.

Mitchell's mummified body was found in a Rubbermaid container that had been entombed in cement in the basement of the house she and Shyback shared.

"There is no defence raised to the indignity charge. I would expect there would be a finding of guilt," said Der.



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