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Canada  

Leaders talk gun violence

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says he'll be speaking later Sunday with the mayor of the Toronto-area city rocked by a brutal shooting.

A 17-year-old was killed and five other people were injured in what police are calling an "ambush-style" attack in Mississauga, Ont., on Saturday evening.

Trudeau, as well as the leaders of the Conservatives and NDP offered their condolences to the families of the victims, but all three parties stopped short of making any new promises to address gun violence.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and the NDP's Jagmeet Singh both said the root causes of the situation need to be addressed, taking differing approaches to defining what those are.

Scheer suggested stricter bail and punishments for gang members were needed, while Singh pitched better access to housing, health care and jobs as necessary to keep young people out of gangs in the first place.

Trudeau was expected in Mississauga later Sunday for a rally celebrating tennis champion Bianca Andreescu, and en route, said his party will speak more about community safety and gun control in the coming weeks.





Conservatives vow tax cut

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer continued making a pitch to voters via their pocketbooks Sunday with the promise of a new tax cut. Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket, slicing the rate from 15 per cent to 13.75 per cent.

The Conservatives say that could save a two-income couple earning an average salary over $850 a year.

That's in line with how much they say people's taxes have increased under a Liberal government.

The party says the tax cut will be phased in starting in 2021 and fully implemented by 2023.

Scheer made the pledge in Surrey, B.C. — part of the volatile voting area that is B.C.'s Lower Mainland.



Shooting left 1 dead 5 hurt

The mayor of Mississauga, Ont., says she's "shocked and saddened" after a teenage boy was killed and five other people were wounded when gunfire erupted in the city west of Toronto on Saturday evening.

Bonnie Crombie called the incident a "senseless act of gun violence" and says her thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families.

Peel Regional Police Chief Chris McCord said at a news conference late Saturday night that according to witnesses, multiple suspects unleashed a barrage of gunfire from semi-automatic weapons near a parkette behind an apartment building at around 6:20 p.m.

He said a 17-year-old old boy died at the scene and that five others — a 13-year-old, a 16-year-old, two 17-year-olds and a woman in her 50s — were injured.

McCord said one of the wounded was in serious condition and that the other four suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

No suspect information has been released as officers continued to canvass the area for surveillance footage and police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to come forward.

Crombie thanked first responders who rushed to the scene and she says she hopes to take action in response to the shooting.

"As a member of the police board, I am committed to ensuring Mississauga remains one of the safest cities by working to get illegal guns off our streets," said Crombie in a statement.

McCord has said that "a lot" of shell casings were found scattered over a wide area and that several vehicles were hit by the gunfire.

He said it's early in the investigation and that many questions about the incident remained unanswered, including the motive, whether the victims were targeted and whether the shooting was gang related.

A music video was being filmed near the scene of the shooting, but McCord said he didn't know if it was in any way linked to the case.



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Federal leaders scatter

Federal party leaders have scattered across the country as the election campaign starts to ramp up in earnest.

Sunday was the legal deadline for Justin Trudeau to ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and call the election, but the Liberal leader got the jump on that by starting the campaign last Wednesday.

The first five days were marked by numerous candidates across the partisan spectrum turfed from their rosters or forced to apologize for past homophobic and racist remarks.

The Liberals were also haunted by the re-emergence of the SNC-Lavalin scandal and questions about the RCMP investigation running up against issues of cabinet confidence, while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer found himself again needing to address his socially conservative views.

And the NDP found themselves constantly facing questions about whether they were ready to run at all, considering they had yet to nominate dozens of candidates.

Today, all three main parties hope to regain some solid footing.

The Liberals will campaign in and around Toronto, with Trudeau scheduled to appear at a massive rally for tennis superstar Bianca Andreescu who captivated the country with her win over Serena Williams at the U.S. Open last weekend.

Scheer heads to B.C., starting the day in a Liberal-held riding in Surrey, and then in two NDP-held ridings on Vancouver Island.

So far in this campaign, Scheer has fired one candidate and defended four others for comments about abortion, transgender rights and Muslims as well as homophobic slurs, after online posts and videos were unearthed by Liberal researchers.

On the plane Saturday night, Scheer defended the decision to keep those four candidates on the roster, including one whose past was deemed controversial enough to bar her from running for the provincial conservatives in Ontario.

"I think we all have to acknowledge the fact that people can make mistakes and people can own up to that," Scheer said, though he added that decisions would be made on a case by case basis.

The New Democrats will be in Quebec, where in the 2011 election they made historic gains, winning 58 seats in a province where previously they'd held just one.

The surge was known as the orange wave, and it's receded quite a bit since. The party is down to 11 seats in the province now, which recently saw one of its stars defect to the Greens and had to fire another candidate over domestic assault allegations.

On Sunday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will lay out his plan to try and reconnect with the province, an effort that has already seen him launch a targeted ad campaign there to address what many see as a potential liability for him in the province: his faith.

Singh, a Sikh, wears a turban and carries a ceremonial sword known as a kirpan, tightly strapped to his body. Yet in Quebec, a majority are in favour of a provincial bill that bars people in the public sector from wearing religious symbols on the job.

Earlier this month, Singh addressed the issue directly in an ad that shows him with his hair down, and a message that he understands the fight Quebecers wage over their identity.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier marked the first birthday of his party on Saturday, noting it now has 41,000 members across the country. He is set to campaign in his home province of Quebec Sunday.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is in her home riding on Vancouver Island, and she is expected to travel to Toronto late Sunday in preparation for her party's platform launch on Monday.



Candidates talk about Trump

A familiar U.S. face finally showed up front and centre Saturday on the federal campaign trail: Donald Trump.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh promised to go toe-to-toe with the mercurial, unpredictable American president just as Justin Trudeau's Liberals released a new English-language ad touting their own record in confronting the White House during last year's tension-fraught free trade talks.

Trump served as a convenient political foil for the New Democrats in particular as both they and the Liberals battled for working-class votes on the first Saturday of the campaign — a day party caravans typically use to pause, refresh and reset their efforts for the coming week.

Singh vowed never to let Trump put the brakes on his plans to jump-start Canada's stalled auto sector and get manufacturing workers back on the job.

"You fight a guy like that — you just don't back up, you don't back down," he said during a campaign stop in Oshawa, Ont.

"When it comes down to it, just because he wants to create jobs in the United States doesn't mean we should give up on jobs in Canada. And we're not going to give up on jobs in Canada."

The Liberals also happened to be thinking about unions and blue-collar workers Saturday, unveiling "Fought Tooth and Nail" — a radio and internet ad, narrated by Chrystia Freeland, that celebrates the new North American trade pact and the successful end of punitive U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel.

Trudeau, who spent the day shaking hands with members of the public throughout Quebec, including at a western festival and a local Tim Hortons, has been under sustained criticism from Singh and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer over how the Liberal government handled the marathon talks, which lasted nearly a year and a half.

During that time — and the preceding months, when Trump seemed to delight in bashing NAFTA at every turn — Trudeau and Freeland were careful to avoid referencing the U.S. president by name. They instead referred generally to the American administration, a strategy government officials believed would avoid provoking Trump into drastic action that would threaten the effort.

But that strategy goes through a partisan wood chipper in the English-only ad, which is being deployed across southwestern Ontario — a Canadian manufacturing heartland that had a lot at stake in the free-trade effort — but not in Quebec, where dairy farmers are decidedly less pleased with the deal.

"We stood up to Donald Trump on trade when the Conservatives wanted Canada to back down," Freeland says in the ad over a visual of Trump greeting Trudeau at the White House. "The Conservatives told us to take any deal we could get. Capitulation is not a negotiating strategy."

During Thursday's leaders' debate, Scheer took aim at an absent Trudeau, saying the Liberal leader signed a deal with the United States and Mexico that hurts Canada's economic interest by caving to White House demands. And Green party Leader Elizabeth May cited a famous vaudeville puppet act to illustrate what she considers the Conservative leader's affinity for the president.

"You will do what Trump wants," she railed. "He might as well be the ventriloquist and you're Charlie McCarthy."

"That's just false," Scheer replied. "I believe that we should not sign away our sovereignty on our foreign affairs, which is what Justin Trudeau did when he signed NAFTA and conceded a huge concession to the United States on future trade deals and future exports of certain Canadian products."

On Saturday, despite his best efforts to talk about the Liberal leader, Scheer found himself fending off questions about a star Conservative candidate running in an Ottawa suburb and some of her past comments about Quebec — as well as her relationship to a far-right political commentator banned from Facebook.

Justina McCaffrey, outed on social media by the Liberals, apologized for the comments and distanced herself from Faith Goldy. Scheer accused his rivals of trying to distract from Trudeau's record as prime minister.

But McCaffrey, who introduced her leader at the event in the suburb of Kanata, refused to talk to reporters when she was done, fleeing into a waiting car and driving off.

Trudeau, for his part, was in show-don't-tell mode Saturday, glad-handing with voters in three Quebec ridings Saturday. But those voters wanted to know about his personal opposition to Quebec's controversial secularism law, Bill 21, which could pose an electoral hurdle for the Liberal chances in Quebec.

Singh was the only of the major leaders to lay down a policy plank on Saturday, and he did it with his own brand of Trump-style protectionism: a suite of measures to keep auto jobs in the country and encourage new-car buyers to spend their money on built-in-Canada cars and trucks.

The measures, also intended to encourage Canadian consumers and businesses to opt for zero-emissions vehicles, are part of the climate-change strategy the NDP unveiled in May and that Singh brandished an event later in the day at a farmer's market in downtown Kingston, Ont.

There, Singh doubled down on his anti-Trump stance, calling out the president's immigration measures at the U.S.-Mexico border, where the detention of migrants and the separation of families has made headlines for months.

"He's done really disgusting things," Singh said.

"We've got to call out the treatment of families: babies being ripped from the arms of mothers — that's horrible. They're fellow human beings; they should not be treated that way. The fact that Mr. Trudeau has remained silent and has not called that out is really troubling. It's wrong. You've got to call out people who are doing these types of things. Canadians expect it, I'm willing to do it, I'm prepared to do it."

The Liberals responded with a statement from Sandra Pupatello, a former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister trying to win in a longtime NDP riding in the border town and automotive hub of Windsor, Ont. Pupatello said Singh's opposition to the "new NAFTA" was the "quickest way to eliminate every single auto job in Canada" by cutting access to the American market.

Meanwhile, Green party Leader Elizabeth May was back in her Vancouver Island riding to attend a fair before travelling to the mainland for an evening event with a local candidate. On Monday, she'll preside over the release of the party's campaign platform.

People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was in his Quebec stronghold of Beauce, and was scheduled to be in the area again Sunday before a few days of campaigning in New Brunswick.



Baby formula recalled

The federal food safety watchdog says a brand of baby formula has been recalled due to rancidity and the product being off-colour.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Abbott Laboratories is recalling its Calcilo XD powder.

The CFIA says there have been reported illness associated with the consumption of the product, but it did not specify how many were affected.

The agency says rancid food has an unusual odour and should not be consumed as it may cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

It says the formula was distributed in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

The CFIA says it's conducting a food safety investigation which could lead to other products being recalled.



RCMP official charged

Cameron Jay Ortis, a senior RCMP intelligence official, made a brief court appearance Friday on charges of breaching Canada's secrets law.

Ortis, 47, was charged under three sections of the Security of Information Act as well as two Criminal Code provisions, including breach of trust, for allegedly trying to disclose classified information to a foreign entity or terrorist group.

The alleged recipient, or potential recipient, isn't specified in the charges.

"In broad strokes, the allegations are that he obtained, stored, processed sensitive information, we believe with the intent to communicate it to people that he shouldn't be communicating it to," prosecutor John MacFarlane said after the Ontario court hearing in Ottawa.

"I won't be commenting in any more detail other than that at this stage."

An insider familiar with the case, but not authorized to speak about it publicly, said Ortis had served as director general of an RCMP intelligence unit, a civilian position.

He earned a doctorate in political science from the University of British Columbia, completing a dissertation on the international dimensions of internet security.

Brian Job, a professor of political science at the university, said by email that he's seen Ortis very occasionally since Ortis left UBC.

"Cameron never provided details of his employment with the RCMP. Nothing in my experience with Cameron would lead me to suspect his alleged involvement in the activities for which he charged. Indeed, the exact opposite is true," Job said.

"I am deeply shocked by the news and will have no further comment, as the matter proceeds through the courts."

Ortis, wearing a blue dress shirt, appeared in court by video link.

MacFarlane said the Crown will argue at a coming bail proceeding that Ortis should remain in custody while his case is before the courts.

The charge sheet lists a total of seven counts against Ortis under the various provisions, dating from as early as Jan. 1, 2015, through to Thursday, when he was arrested.

The RCMP said the charges stem from activities alleged to have occurred during his time with the force, suggesting he was active with Mounties upon being taken into custody. However, neither the RCMP nor MacFarlane would clarify whether he was employed by the force when he was charged, or if he still is.

The Mounties declined to make further comment, saying the investigation was ongoing.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said little about the events during a stop on the Liberal election campaign.

"I was of course made aware of the arrest," he said. "I can assure you that the authorities are taking this extremely seriously."

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted that the arrest was extremely concerning. There is no indication of the recipient of the information Ortis allegedly intended to share, but Scheer said the development was "another reminder of the threats we face from foreign actors."

"As prime minister, I will not hesitate to identify these threats and act accordingly."

The Security of Information Act, ushered in following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, is intended to safeguard sensitive government secrets. Charges have been rare but Jeffrey Paul Delisle, a naval officer who gave classified material to Russia, pleaded guilty to offences under the act in 2012.

The law forbids discussion or release of "special operational information," including past and current confidential sources, targets of intelligence operations, names of spies, military attack plans, and encryption or other means of protecting data.

The penalty for revealing such information is up to life in prison.

Being a senior intelligence official, Ortis was designated as "permanently bound to secrecy." Such individuals are held to a higher level of accountability than others under the secrecy law.

It means unauthorized disclosures are subject to penalty whether the information is true or not and even if it was obtained after the employee left a sensitive post.



Bronco going home

For the first time in 526 days, former Broncos hockey player Ryan Straschnitzki will be back in Humboldt, Sask.

The 20-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., was paralyzed from the chest down when a bus carrying Humboldt's junior hockey team collided with a semi truck on the way to a playoff game on April 6, 2018.

Sixteen people died and 13 others, including Straschnitzki, were injured.

"I wanted to give myself the right amount of time before returning," Straschnitzki told The Canadian Press.

"It's time."

His visit coincides with the Broncos hosting the Notre Dame Hounds in their season opener Saturday night. The Humboldt team is also celebrating its 50th anniversary and plans to welcome various alumni.

Straschnitzki says returning this weekend seemed like the right opportunity.

"I've got a lot of mixed feelings about going back. It seems like a long time ago now."

The driver of the semi, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu of Calgary, pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving for causing the crash. He was sentenced earlier this year to eight years in prison.

Court heard that the rookie driver was distracted by a flapping tarp on the back of his load when he barrelled through a rural stop sign and into the path of the hockey team's bus.

Graysen Cameron of Olds, Alta., fractured a vertebrae in the crash.

He took an assistant coaching role last year with the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs, his former team in the Alberta Midget Hockey League before he joined the Broncos. He then had surgery to remove metal rods and screws in his back in an attempt to improve his mobility.

The 20-year-old is back playing for the Broncos this season.

"I think it's great that Graysen is back with the Broncos — and he's been named the captain," Straschnitzki says.

"I spent some time with Graysen in Kelowna over the summer and that's when I decided to go. I want to be there for him and it will be great to see some of the guys."

Straschnitzki says he also hopes to see fans and meet with billet families.

A decision on whether he'll visit the site of the bus crash near Nipawin, Sask., is still up in the air.

"Going to Humboldt is one thing. But whether I will be able to go to the site — might be too difficult," he says.

"Maybe if I were to go with some of the other guys."

While still in hospital after the collision, Straschnitzki decided to take up sledge hockey and has kept himself busy pursuing a spot on Canada's national sledge hockey team.



Past haunting candidates

The federal party leaders have spent the first days of the election campaign talking policy, as they'd like, and dismissing and defending candidates over old social-media posts, which they'd rather not.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Friday urged Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to denounce controversial comments by an already-turfed Liberal candidate in Montreal, accusing the party of trying to keep anti-Semitic messages hidden from Canadians.

"I'd like to hear from Justin Trudeau why people who hold anti-Semitic views feel that their home is in the Liberal Party of Canada," Scheer said Friday in Mississauga, Ont., after making an announcement about public transit.

Scheer grappled with questions about past controversial statements by his own candidates — one who was fired, and two who apologized and remain with the Conservative team.

Last month, the Liberals dropped Hassan Guillet as a candidate in the Montreal riding of Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel after B'nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, uncovered a series of old statements he made on social media that B'nai Brith described as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.

Guillet later told reporters that he had discussed the old posts earlier that month with Liberal party officials, who reassured him they were convinced he was neither racist nor anti-Semitic.

The former imam also said he and the Liberals discussed a plan to head off any negative publicity should the posts be discovered, but when they were, he ended up being ejected as a candidate instead.

"(Trudeau) has refused to explain why he was working to keep those anti-Semitic messages hidden from the public and from Canadians," Scheer said.

The Liberal party has said Guillet's comments do not correspond to the party's values. The party has not answered questions about when Liberal officials first learned of the posts.

Scheer brought up Guillet after responding to questions about troubling past statements by his own candidates.

Liberal candidate Ruby Sahota, who is seeking re-election in Brampton North, issued a tweet on Friday showing a Facebook comment from 2010 in which her Conservative rival, Arpan Khanna offhandedly used a homophobic slur apparently to tease a friend.

"I deeply regret the offensive language I used when I was a teenager," Khanna, with whom Scheer campaigned in Brampton on Friday night, said in a statement sent by a Conservative party spokesman.

"Over the past decade, I have come to understand that creating safer and more inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people in Canada happens in our homes, workplaces, on social media, and in the conversations we have every day," he said. "I apologize unequivocally."

Last month, the National Council of Canadian Muslims called on the Conservatives to drop Ghada Melek, who is running in Mississauga-Streetsville, over past social media posts they said were anti-Islam.

Melek has also apologized, saying that as a Coptic-Christian who cares for her homeland of Egypt, she allowed her passion to rule her in 2013.

"While these are almost entirely retweets from more than half a decade ago, I do understand how some of them may be offensive, and I do regret that as well as retweeting them," she said in a statement issued alongside the one from Khanna. "I will always stand with Muslim-Canadians."

The National Council of Canadian Muslims also suggested she endorsed a speaker who supports conversion therapy for LGBTQ people.

She said the online activity in question was actually in support of Ontario's review of its elementary-school health curriculum, over allegations it was too blunt about some topics with children who are too young to hear about them.

"As an MP, I will represent all of my constituents, including the LGBTQ community," she said in the statement. "I absolutely oppose any so-called therapy or treatment that forces someone to try and change their sexual orientation against their will."

Both of those candidates are still running for the Conservatives and when asked about that Friday, Scheer said they had apologized.

"It's clear that the language they used was unacceptable and offensive to the LGBT community, so I'm glad they apologized," Scheer said.

Shortly before a leaders' debate began Thursday night, the Conservatives announced they had dumped their candidate in Winnipeg North, Cameron Ogilvie, over "discriminatory social media posts." The party said he had kept the messages from view during the vetting process.

"The candidate in Winnipeg North hid those messages from the party, so we asked him to resign and we will have a new candidate in that riding," Scheer said when asked about it Friday.

Ogilvie declined to comment when reached by telephone Friday.

Rejean Hebert, who is running for the Liberals in Trois-Rivieres, Que., was also asked about his very public past as a health minister in the Parti Quebecois government of former Quebec premier Pauline Marois.

Hebert told reporters he now believes Quebec is better off within Canada and that those in the province should focus on bigger priorities.

"I wouldn't have joined the Liberal party if I hadn't turned the page on the issue of Quebec sovereignty," he said Friday.

The Green Party, meanwhile, does have a candidate who remains an avowed sovereigntist.

Pierre Nantel, who was elected as an NDP MP in 2011 and 2015 but jumped to the Greens this summer, confirmed his current support for the movement on Thursday. On Friday, Green party Leader Elizabeth May said he would remain a party member and candidate.

However, May told CBC that the party is "re-vetting" another candidate — Mark Vercouteren in the southwestern Ontario riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington — who as recently as last year expressed blanket opposition to a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, contrary to Green party policy.

Meanwhile, the People's Party of Canada also dropped one of its candidates in British Columbia.

Brian Misera, who was the candidate for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, said on Twitter on Thursday that the party had sent him an email to revoke his status, which came a day after Misera posted a video on Twitter urging party leader Maxime Bernier to speak out more clearly against racism.

"If you can't be adamantly clear about that, I don't know how the hell you expect me to campaign for you," said Misera.

The same video also said he wished Bernier understood that not every member of his party is skeptical of climate change.

Johanne Mennie, executive director of the People's Party of Canada, said in an email Friday that Misera's candidacy was revoked because he said he was acting as the financial agent for his own campaign, which she claimed is against Elections Canada rules.

However, a spokesman for Elections Canada said that while it is unusual for a candidate to be his own financial agent, it is not actually against the rules.

Misera did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. And Mennie did not immediately respond to a follow-up question asking what Bernier, who was campaigning on his home turf in the Beauce region of Quebec, thought of the video.

The Conservatives, NDP and Greens returned to their national tours after an evening spent sparring in Toronto, while Trudeau picked up his campaign in Quebec.

Trudeau began his morning by promising a suite of policies aimed at helping small businesses, including eliminating a portion of so-called "swipe fees" that merchants must pay to credit-card companies on each transaction. The Liberals would stop credit-card companies from charging that percentage on sales taxes.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Toronto, where he promised to put a price cap on cellphone and internet services, part of a campaign platform aimed at voters worried about being able to afford the things they need in their everyday lives.

Scheer, meanwhile, campaigned in and around the Toronto suburbs, kicking off the day at a bus garage in Mississauga. He promised to bring back the public-transit tax credit, a policy from the Stephen Harper era that's now a core element of the Tories' environmental plan.

May headed back to family — joining her new husband, and fellow candidate, John Kidder for an event in the B.C. riding where he's seeking a seat. Kidder is running in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, a riding that sprawls in a vast crescent northeast of Vancouver.



Grisly job for cops

Medicine Hat Police Service is defending two officers who killed a severely injured deer with a knife to end its suffering.

The officers were called Friday to a residential area, where they found the deer missing a leg. Two of its other legs were badly fractured, likely after being hit by a vehicle.

Police said the officers determined they couldn't shoot the deer because they were too close to homes. They decided that using a knife was the safest way to quickly euthanize the animal.

Resident Denis Bagaric said he was driving to work when he saw the injured deer cross a road and curl up near the door of a house. He said he couldn't believe police used a knife on the animal.

Upset, he shot a video of the officers and posted it on social media.

"I thought he was going to pick up the deer and take it to a field or let a vet deal with him," Bagaric said. "But to whip out a knife and start stabbing it? I think that's disgusting."

Police said they are aware of the video and agree it is disturbing but stand by the officers.

"The MHPS supports the actions of the involved officers, who took the matter very seriously and attempted to mitigate the trauma to the injured deer and the public as much as possible," the police service said in a statement.

Police said the officers tried to warn people in the neighbourhood before they killed the deer. 



Crushed crane safety issue

Nova Scotia's Labour minister says work will begin this weekend to remove a huge construction crane that collapsed in Halifax during Hurricane Dorian.

Labi Kousoulis says a structural engineering report has been completed and approved by his department and Halifax Regional Municipality Fire Department.

The twisted, yellow structure is draped over a building that was under construction in the city's downtown.

Video posted on social media showed the dramatic collapse at the height of the heavy rain and high winds Sept. 7.

Kousoulis said Friday the first work this weekend will see crews going from floor to floor to shore up the building in case it has been compromised.

"Posts will be put in place to ensure the building doesn't fall in case there's any compromised columns in it," he told a news conference at his constituency office in Halifax.

A drone belonging to Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency could be seen flying around the building Friday to assist crews in their assessment.

"They will then pin the crane to the building. They will strap the crane to the building so as they start dismantling it, it doesn't come apart under itself," he said.

Then a portable crane will be brought in to begin removing the damaged crane piece by piece.

Kousoulis said the work should take about two weeks, depending on the weather or any problems.

"The top part of the crane resting on the building is 67,000 pounds. You are dealing with a lot of steel and a lot of weight. That is essentially what the challenge is," he said.

The minister said the crane collapse could have been much worse, but fortunately it fell on the only unoccupied space possible and no one was hurt.

"It's amazing the angle it fell. We were fortunate because any other way the crane fell, it would have been bouncing off occupied buildings. It would have been on the street."

Kousoulis said he's confident other construction cranes on the Halifax skyline are safe, but inspections will be done as a precaution.

He said some developers have taken it upon themselves to have inspections done by independent engineers.

— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.



Minister quits over remarks

A provincial cabinet minister in Newfoundland and Labrador has resigned for making comments deemed racist by one of the province's largest Indigenous groups.

Perry Trimper issued a statement Friday acknowledging the hurt caused by his statements and saying he is stepping down as environment minister, effective immediately. Liberal Premier Dwight Ball accepted his resignation.

Trimper had apologized to the Innu of Labrador on Thursday after the group released an audio recording in which Trimper is heard saying the Innu are prone to playing "the race card."

The recording starts with a low-key voicemail message from Trimper to an Innu Nation staff member about vehicle registration, but it continues to pick up a conversation Trimper has with someone after he fails to hang up his phone.

Ball said in a statement that Trimper will focus on rebuilding relationships with the Innu from outside cabinet, a process that will include cultural sensitivity training.

"While my words do not represent my values, I recognize that they were insensitive," Trimper said in a statement. "Understanding and sensitivity are critical to relationship building, and I welcome all opportunities for healing, which includes the process of reconciliation."

Trimper initially issued an apology to the grand chief of the Innu Nation, Greg Rich, and his executive assistant Dominic Rich, who received the message.

"I regret that I said these words," Trimper told St. John's radio station VOCM. "I need to apologize and I want to apologize .... Those words don't reflect me. I drifted away from the person I aspired to be."

The politician, who represents a riding in central Labrador, said he has worked with the Innu people for many years, even before he entered politics.

He said he was aware that some within the community are not satisfied with the services they are receiving, but he made it clear his comments were inappropriate and he denied being a racist.

"I'm mad at myself," he told VOCM, adding that he would work to regain the trust of his constituents. "My career has been devoted to Labrador and so much of it to the Innu."



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