Calgary mayor wants wide survey of water lines after catastrophic break

Calgary needs water review

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek is promising a wide-ranging examination of the city's underground infrastructure as the city enters its third week of water use restrictions after a catastrophic pipeline break.

The mayor says she's going to ask city council next week to ensure there's enough of a budget to run a thorough inspection of the state of all underground water pipes.

The city is also in the process of forming a panel to conduct a third-party review, composed of experts from universities and industry.

Gondek says she will be "calling in all favours" from the provincial and federal governments to make sure the job gets done.

Since the pipe break on June 5, Calgarians have been asked to reduce their water use by a quarter as repairs are conducted to the main, which carried 60 per cent of the city's water.

During those repairs, crews found another five spots in the pipe that were nearing failure.


Head of NATO singles out Trudeau as friend and staunch defender of Ukraine

Trudeau singled out as ally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met for a private dinner at Rideau Cottage on Wednesday, capping off nine years as colleagues — and friends.

All of that is about to change though, as Stoltenberg's twice-extended term leading the alliance is ending in October. It's widely expected that Mark Rutte, the outgoing Dutch prime minister, will be chosen to take his place.

Trudeau will face voters by next fall, joining other key NATO allies who will have had elections by then including France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The day after their dinner, Stoltenberg sat down with The Canadian Press in Ottawa to discuss his relationship with Canada, a place he says feels like home.

"That was a good dinner," he proclaimed when asked about his evening with the prime minister.

"He's a good friend and a good colleague."

It's a point he often likes to make. Among his many posts on social media about meetings with world leaders, he's singled out Trudeau as a friend.

His visit to Ottawa this week in the middle of a heat wave may have had the Norwegian longing for a return to the Arctic, where he stopped in 2022 during his last trip to Canadian soil. He moved the interview to his personal room at the Chateau Laurier because it had better air conditioning.

But his fondness for his relationship with Trudeau occupies almost every answer, praising the prime minister for being a staunch supporter of Ukraine when he was first elected in 2015, a year after Russia annexed Crimea.

Stoltenberg even gave him leeway for not meeting the NATO defence spending target of two per cent of gross domestic product.

"One of the challenges in Canada is that in 2014, Canada's defence spending was very low, so you have a long way to go," he said.

Defence Minister Bill Blair had a similar talking point earlier in the week, pointing out that under the previous Conservative government, Canada was barely spending one per cent of GDP on defence.

This year, Canada is set to spend 1.37 per cent of GDP on defence, or $41 billion. There is growing criticism over the fact that it is the only ally that has not presented a plan to meet the spending target.

Stoltenberg has been the messenger for three U.S. presidents — Barack Obama, Donald Trump and now Joe Biden — who urged allies to spend more.

At a rally for his re-election this year, Trump said he would encourage Russia to "do whatever the hell they want" to any NATO member that doesn't pay enough.

Asked how Canada should perceive those remarks, Stoltenberg brushed off Trump's claims.

"We are in a very different place now when it comes to defence spending than we were when Donald Trump was president of the United States," he said.

"The reality is that more and more allies are spending significantly more, and I'm confident that is something any U.S. president will be aware of."

Defence spending across European allies and Canada was up nearly 18 per cent this year alone, Stoltenberg said during a speech at the White House on Monday — the biggest increase in decades. It's expected that 23 of the 32 allies will meet the two per cent target this year.

And while there will likely be a wave of new leadership from key allies in the months ahead, possibly even in Canada, Stoltenberg said his expectation is that every single leader will uphold a strong NATO.

"We live in a more dangerous world with more global rivalry and it's even more important now to stand together," he said.

Stoltenberg has been visiting allies ahead of the NATO leaders' summit in Washington, D.C., next month and to mark the alliance's 75th anniversary.

He's been going through each agenda and issues, but wouldn't disclose any reassurances he received from Trudeau over dinner.

"It's for Prime Minister Trudeau to announce anything on behalf of Canada, but Canada has been and will continue to be a staunch supporter of Ukraine," he said.

Ukraine will be the biggest priority during the summit, as Russia's war raises a threat of expanded conflict in Europe.

Trudeau has made Ukraine a highlight of his foreign policy since taking office, and that hasn't gone unnoticed.

Canada has been there helping Ukraine even before the 2022 full-scale invasion, Stoltenberg said.

Since then, Canada has provided billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, including battle tanks, F-16 pilot training, ammunition and other military equipment.

Canada also leads a battle group in Latvia, one of eight such multinational forces meant to deter and respond to threats posed by Russia. It's set to scale up to a brigade-level force with the addition of troops from new ally Sweden.

Still, Stoltenberg will be asking for more when allies meet next month.

More money for Ukraine will be an agenda priority, after Stoltenberg recently proposed that NATO allies to contribute 40 billion euros a year, Blair said this week.

"Our support to Ukraine is not a charity, it is in our interest," Stoltenberg said.

If Russia wins, then the lesson for Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping "is that when they use military force and invade another country, they get what they want," he said.

"The most expensive option for NATO allies is to allow Putin to win, because then we will need to invest even more in our defence."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2024.

Newfoundland and Labrador getting help from Quebec, Ontario to battle wildfires

Fire help for Labrador

Water bombers from Quebec and Ontario will soon be helping battle wildfires in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Provincial forest fire duty officer Mark Lawlor says two water bombers from Quebec arrived Thursday evening and two more from Ontario are due to land today.

There are now 11 wildfires burning in Newfoundland and Labrador and Lawlor says the extra planes will double the water bomber capacity in the province.

Three new fires ignited since Thursday in Labrador, bringing the total in that region to 10.

One new fire started in southwestern Newfoundland, and the provincial wildfire dashboard says that blaze is no longer growing.

Lawlor says crews are working hard to keep the fire that forced the evacuation of the Labrador community of Churchill Falls on Wednesday from spreading.



Canada lays more sanctions on Haiti gang leaders as violence surges

More Haiti sanctions

Canada is imposing economic sanctions on three more people for their involvement in worsening violence in Haiti.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly made the announcement Friday, saying Ottawa won't remain idle as gangs terrorize vulnerable people.

Global Affairs Canada says gang leaders Luckson Elan, Gabriel Jean-Pierre and Ferdens Tilus have undermined the peace, security and stability of Haiti.

To date, the Canadian government has provided some $400 million in assistance and sanctioned 31 Haitian citizens, barring them from having any economic dealings with Canadians.

A United Nations report released earlier this week says surging gang activity has displaced nearly 580,000 since March alone.

Kenya is set to lead a UN-backed international peacekeeping mission to quell the violence in the Caribbean country.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Four people dead at rural southwestern Ontario home, police investigating

4 found dead in home

Police say they are investigating after four people were found dead at a rural home in southwestern Ontario.

Ontario Provincial Police say the death investigation is in its early stages and they have released few details but say there's no "imminent threat to public safety."

Police say officers were called to a residence in Harrow, a community in Essex, Ont., around 1:30 p.m. Thursday where they found four people dead.

OPP say their identities and cause of death cannot yet be confirmed.

Police say residents can expect to see a large police presence for the next several days.

They say postmortems will take place in London, Ont.


Man charged with first-degree murder in Toronto shooting, second suspect wanted

One charged in teen killing

Police say they have charged a man with first-degree murder and are searching for an additional suspect after a shooting killed a teenage boy in east Toronto last weekend.

Police say they responded to a report of a shooting following an altercation in the Scarborough area last Saturday shortly before 2 p.m.

They say the 16-year-old victim was found at a hospital and pronounced dead.

Police say there were two shooters involved and one fled on foot and the other in a vehicle.

They say one suspect, a 45-year-old man, was arrested and faces a first-degree murder charge.

A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the second suspect, a 29-year-old man who is wanted for first-degree murder.


Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.7 per cent in April to $66.8 billion

Retail sales rose in April

Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.7 per cent to $66.8 billion in April, helped by higher sales at gasoline stations as well as food and beverage retailers.

The agency says sales were up in seven of the nine subsectors it tracks as sales at gasoline stations and fuel vendors gained 4.5 per cent.

Sales at food and beverage retailers also gained 1.9 per cent. Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 2.2 per cent as sales at new car dealers dropped 2.9 per cent.

Core retail sales — which exclude gasoline stations and fuel vendors and motor vehicle and parts dealers — rose 1.4 per cent in April.

In volume terms, retail sales gained 0.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada says its advance estimate of retail sales points to a decline of 0.6 per cent in May, but cautioned the figure would be revised.


Official bilingualism in Canada a 'myth,' says new poll

Bilingualism a 'myth"

A new poll reveals a stark divide between Quebec and the rest of Canada about whether the country should be bilingual.

In a Leger poll conducted for The Canadian Press, only 43 per cent of respondents across Canada said they held a positive view of federal bilingualism — which was enshrined into law in 1969, making English and French Canada’s official languages. Eighteen per cent of respondents held a negative view.

However, in Quebec, 70 per cent of respondents said they view bilingualism positively; 11 per cent held the opposite opinion. Outside Quebec, the percentage of respondents who view official bilingualism positively was 35 per cent — and 23 per cent in Alberta, with Manitoba and Saskatchewan close behind.

Asked whether it's important for Canada to remain officially bilingual, 83 per cent of Quebecers said it was; nearly half that number — 43 per cent — in the rest of Canada agreed.

“It’s the two solitudes expressed in a poll," Sébastien Poitras, vice-president of public affairs at Léger, said in an interview.

“This value put forward by the Canadian government, that we're a country with two official languages, and therefore have 'coast-to-coast' bilingualism, is a myth that doesn't hold true in the rest of Canada,” Poitras said.

New Brunswick is Canada's only officially bilingual province; in Quebec, French is the only official language. Sixty per cent of respondents in Quebec said provinces other than New Brunswick and their own should be bilingual, while 26 per cent said the same in the rest of Canada.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents in Quebec said their province should have both French and English as official languages, compared to 22 per cent in the rest of the country. However, 65 per cent of Canadians outside of Quebec said that province should be bilingual.

"We've seen that, for the rest of Canada, people don't see Canada's official bilingualism as something positive," Poitras said.

In fact, 41 per cent of total respondents — 60 per cent in Quebec — said official bilingualism is at the heart of Canadian identity; 49 per cent in the rest of the country said it exists only to satisfy a minority.

Federal bilingualism, Poitras said, leaves Canadians outside Quebec "indifferent at best. Then, when asked about the importance of Canada's official bilingualism, just over half of anglophones say it's not important."

In Quebec, 70 per cent of respondents said the survival of French was threatened in Canada, dropping to 19 per cent in the rest of the country. When focusing on the survival of French in Quebec, 63 per cent of Quebecers said it was under threat compared to 11 per cent in the rest of Canada. Thirty-eight per cent of Canadians outside of Quebec said English was under threat in Quebec compared to only 17 per cent of respondents in the province.

The Léger survey was conducted online with 1,536 respondents between June 14 and 17, 2024. As the poll's sample was not probabilistic, the survey doesn't have a margin of error. Leger says a probabilistic poll with a similar sample size would have a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


Eby's baby countdown brings B.C. election campaigning forward

Eby expecting 3rd child

British Columbia's election is still four months away, but Premier David Eby has held a campaign event in Vancouver ahead of what he says is a personal count down — next week's expected birth of his third child.

Eby says he and his wife, Cailey, are expecting a daughter on June 27, so he wanted to make an early start to campaigning for the Oct. 19 election before taking a break to spend some time with his family.

He introduced four New Democrat candidates, including former broadcaster Randene Neill and Baltej Dillon, the first RCMP officer to wear a turban on duty.

Eby's early campaign start comes amid open battling between B.C.'s two right-of-centre parties, Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon's BC United and John Rustad's upstart B.C. Conservatives.

Professor David Black, a political communications expert at Greater Victoria's Royal Roads University, says B.C.'s fixed election date law puts parties in constant campaign mode, but the battle on the right has heightened awareness of the coming election.

Black says people usually tune out politics during the summer months, but the feuding between BC United and the Conservatives is keeping the public's attention on the distant election.

Eby says his government is making progress on health, housing and the economy and he wants that to continue.

Murder-conspiracy trial hears of guns found in travel trailer near Coutts blockade

Guns found in travel trailer

An RCMP officer has told a murder-conspiracy trial that several weapons were discovered inside a travel trailer parked near the 2022 border blockade at Coutts, Alta.

Sgt. Gary MacLaren testified Thursday that he went into the trailer on Feb. 14, 2022, after it had been cleared by a police emergency response team.

"There was an assault-style rifle sitting on top of the master bed. In the kitchen area, there was a shotgun sitting on a bench, some portable radios, some bear spray," MacLaren said.

"As I went down into the trailer further, there was another assault rifle on an upper bunk, on the right hand side as you entered that backroom, and a tactical vest on the floor, green in colour, and a box of ammunition."

Another rifle was found underneath the mattress, along with ammunition, in the bedroom, he said.

Officers also discovered a machete and two sets of body armour, as well as a driver's licence and a firearms acquisition certificate belonging to one of the accused, Chris Carbert.

Carbert and Anthony Olienick were charged with conspiracy to commit murder after police raided the trailer and two others parked on private property in Coutts.

The trial has heard the property owner had allowed the two accused and other protesters to stay there.

Undercover Mounties previously testified that Olienick considered the blockade a war, and he expressed a hatred of police and a desire to kill officers.

They said Olienick also told them he had a stockpile of weapons, including dozens of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

The jury saw a video and dozens of photos taken inside the trailer. Next to the rifle on the bunk was a handgun inside a holder.

A backpack with .223-calibre ammunition was found in a closet. A full box with 500 rounds of ammunition was sitting on the floor.

Carbert's lawyer, Katherin Beyak, expressed concern that MacLaren called the rifles "assault-style" weapons.

Justice David Labrenz cautioned the jury not to read too much into the term.

"Language can seep into your thinking if you're not careful," he said.

"When you describe something as an assault rifle, don't let the description deflect you from your job in determining what the firearms that have been referred to mean in the context of all the evidence."

The blockade in protest of COVID-19 rules and vaccine mandates paralyzed traffic at the busy Canada-U.S. border crossing for two weeks.

Toronto cops probe ad-truck with Islamophobic message, Rebel News claims vehicle

Rebel News investigated

A truck that has been spotted driving around Toronto displaying what police have described as Islamophobic messages belongs to the right-wing media organization Rebel News, the outlet's founder Ezra Levant said Thursday.

Police said its hate crime unit was investigating, noting "community concerns about a truck displaying Islamophobic messaging in Toronto."

In a post on the Rebel News website, Levant described the vehicle as "our billboard truck" and said the outlet was under investigation by Toronto police.

The messages displayed on the truck were created by a group called "Canadians Opposed to the Occupation of our Streets and Campuses,” Levant said.

Toronto police did not immediately respond when asked if Rebel News was the subject of the investigation related to the truck.

Posts on social media this week show the cube truck equipped with digital advertising screens on the back and sides that read “Is this Lebanon? Is this Yemen? Is this Syria? Is this Iraq?"

The screens then show images of Muslims kneeling in prayer followed by, "No. This is Canada. Wake up Canada. You are under siege.”

The National Council of Canadian Muslims described what was seen on the advertising van as "extremely dangerous messaging" that should not be condoned.

Amira Elghawaby, Canada's Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, said she has spoken with Toronto police to convey the "deep concern, fear and anxiety" of members of the Muslim community.

Search for remains of slain women at Manitoba landfill to start in fall

Landfill search to start in fall

The search of a Winnipeg-area landfill for the remains of two slain First Nations women is scheduled to begin in late fall.

The Manitoba government has released a timeline and other details from its plan to search the Prairie Green landfill.

Premier Wab Kinew says the province is to lead the search and work with an oversight committee, which includes the victims' families, an Indigenous elder and anthropology experts.

Construction of a healing centre at the landfill is expected to be completed next month.

The government announced last week that environmental regulators had given it the green light to search the landfill for the remains of Morgan Harris and Marcedes Myran.

The province's former Progressive Conservative government refused a search, saying asbestos and other toxic materials at the landfill would be too dangerous.

Jeremy Skibicki has admitted to killing Harris, Myran and two other Indigenous women, but his lawyers have told a murder trial he should be found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

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