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Trudeau to visit communities hit by Fiona in Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

PM to tour storm damage

Justin Trudeau is scheduled to travel today to P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, where he will meet with residents and inspect the extensive damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona.

The prime minister is expected to make stops in Stanley Bridge, P.E.I., and two communities in Cape Breton: Glace Bay and Sydney.

While in Sydney, the largest city in Cape Breton, Trudeau will visit the Canadian Coast Guard College, which is being used to house people forced to flee their homes after the storm roared over the island on Saturday.

Fiona left a trail of destruction across a wide swath of Atlantic Canada, stretching from Nova Scotia's eastern mainland to Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island and southwestern Newfoundland.

Meanwhile, more than 200,000 homes and business across the region are still without electricity.

The storm is being blamed for two fatalities.

A 73-year-old woman in Port aux Basques died Saturday when a storm surge flooded her home, tore apart her basement and swept her out to sea.

On Monday, Nova Scotia RCMP said they believe an 81-year-old man was also swept out to sea on Saturday near Lower Prospect, N.S. Larry Smith was reported missing Saturday, and police say an exhaustive search turned up nothing.



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12 years later, police lay murder charge in case of dismembered Ontario man

Murder charge 12 yrs later

Ontario Provincial Police have charged a person with first-degree murder in a 12-year-long investigation into the macabre death of an Ontario man.

It’s the second arrest – and the first since 2011 – tied to the killing of 45-year-old Morris Conte from Bolton, Ont.

His dismembered body was found in three different areas of central Ontario shortly after he was reported missing in May 2010.

Police in Orillia, Ont., say a 62-year-old from Woodbridge was arrested Monday and charged with first-degree murder.

Police say a $50,000 reward continues to be offered for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.

Police charged a man in July 2011 with accessory after the fact to murder and causing an indignity to a human body.



Calgary teen's murder trial to resume in hit-and-run death of police officer

Murder trial to resume

The trial of a Calgary teen charged with first-degree murder in the death of a police officer in a hit-and-run is scheduled to resume nearly eight months after the Crown wrapped up its case.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett of the Calgary Police Service died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020, after being dragged by a fleeing SUV and falling into the path of an oncoming car. 

The suspect vehicle's alleged driver, who was 17 at the time, turned 19 in January but cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. 

After the Crown finished with its witnesses in February, the teen's lawyer, Bob Aloneissi, was granted an adjournment to have an expert report prepared on his client’s behalf. 

Aloneissi was subsequently appointed as a judge to Alberta's Court of King's Bench and has been replaced as the accused's lawyer.

A passenger in the SUV, 20-year-old Amir Abdulrahmen, pleaded guilty last December to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison. 



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Alberta to change licences in spring, reduce second road tests for new drivers

Alberta revamps licences

A graduated driver's licence program in Alberta that has been in effect for the past 19 years is getting an overhaul.

The Graduated Driver Licensing program was introduced in Alberta in 2003. New drivers are not permitted to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. Their licence can be suspended with an accumulation of eight or more demerit points, and there is zero tolerance in the use of alcohol or drugs while driving.

In addition, after successfully making it through two years probation, drivers are requested to take a second, more advanced road test in order to receive a full licence.

That is to change next spring.

Alberta says it will no longer require the advanced road test for Class 5 (passenger vehicles) and Class 6 (motorcycle) driver's licences, saving those drivers $150.

"The objective of the changes are meant to reduce red tape and also cut costs for Albertans and businesses without cutting the safety aspects of the program," said Alberta Transportation Minister Prasad Panda in an interview.

Since the program began, drivers who made it past their two-year probation and didn't take a second test have been allowed to continue driving with their graduated licences, and many do.

Panda said an estimated 700,000 Albertans are driving with graduated licences. And in the past five years, 65 per cent of those with graduated licences did not take the second advanced road test.

"Some of them are not that young anymore. They are in their 40s, but they are simply not taking the test because they're already driving with the (Graduated Driver Licence)," he added.

"Many of them probably thought spending that extra $150 for the advanced test is not giving them any extra benefit or comfort other than getting a full licence."

An additional road test will also no longer be mandatory to obtain a Class 4 driver's licence, which is required to transport passengers in taxis, ride-share vehicles, limousines, small buses and ambulances.

Eliminating the road test was suggested by many Albertans in a 2019 government survey on red-tape reduction. 

Panda said about 500,000 graduated licence holders are likely eligible to move to full Class 5 licences.

"It is common sense. It reduces costs for drivers and also, in a way, for businesses, without compromising safety in any way," Panda said.

"It's not reducing safety. They have to be on probation for two years, so those two years should sort out if there are any issues with those drivers, whether it's traffic violations or drug and alcohol."

Under the change, drivers who show poor driving behaviour and get demerits or are ticketed for other unsafe driving offences during the last year of their probation would have their probationary period extended for an additional year.  



In Port aux Basques, N.L., residents reeling after Fiona destroys dozens of homes

Left reeling after Fiona

Jocelyn Gillam knows she’s lucky to be alive after coming face-to-face with the post-tropical storm that destroyed part of her southwestern Newfoundland town and nearly swept her away in a surge of rushing water.

Gillam was standing near her home in Port aux Basques on Saturday morning when a storm surge hit, sweeping her off her feet and dragging her underneath a Jeep as she clung to the undercarriage for dear life.

The 61-year-old said she'd been chatting with family and neighbours when she turned her head and “saw Fiona coming.”

“It was brown, it was white, it was angry,” she said in a phone interview. “You could see she was coming with a vengeance.”

Post-tropical storm Fiona carved a path of devastation across parts of Atlantic Canada, leaving behind smashed homes, roads strewn with debris and hundreds of thousands of people without power.

But few places have been hit as hard as the 4,000-person community of Port aux Basques, where dozens of homes were destroyed and a 73-year-old woman died after being swept out to sea when a storm surge flooded her home.

Gillam remembers feeling the water rising as she struggled to hold on to the Jeep and her brother-in-law fought against the current to reach her.

"He came up but he couldn't find me because there was so much water," she said. "I was down under the water so, so much."

She said her brother-in-law called for help, and he and some neighbours were able to grab her when the water began to subside.

Gillam escaped with only a banged-up knee, and memories she says will live with her "forever and a day."

"Last night I didn't sleep a wink because every time I turn over, I could see the waves and then I could taste the water and I could smell it in my nose," she said. However, she says she's on the mend and feels lucky that her home wasn't damaged.

Many in her town weren't as lucky.

On Monday, residents escorted by provincial response crews sorted through piles of debris in the pouring rain to salvage what they could from what remained of their homes.

One house perched on the edge of the rocks was missing an entire wall, its kitchen table and cupboard fully exposed on the sagging wood floor. About 30 metres away, another house was almost flattened, its roof and side wall missing. Nearby, a stuffed animal and blanket with Pixar "Cars" characters lay under splintered wood.

Premier Andrew Furey visited Port aux Basques and nearby communities Monday and compared the devastation in southwest Newfoundland to disaster zones where he has worked as a medical doctor.

As of Monday afternoon, he said, at least 80 homes were destroyed or structurally damaged in Port aux Basques alone — but the number could rise as officials continue to take stock of the damage.

“For every roof that’s floating in the ocean, there’s a family, there are stories and there are memories attached to that piece of infrastructure, and that’s what’s heartbreaking," he told reporters.

He said officials were still working with the federal government about where to deploy Armed Forces members and other federal aid that has been offered.

Andrew Parsons, the provincial legislature member for Burgeo-La Poile, told the briefing that the immediate focus of relief efforts is ensuring people have shelter, food and clothes. While an emergency shelter was made available, he said all those who have been displaced are staying in hotels or with family.

The longer rebuilding effort will take more time, and will involve co-ordination and aid from the federal government. "We don’t have all the answers right now, but we’ll get there, and we’ll have everybody’s back throughout this entire ordeal," he said.

Furey said the government would be announcing a financial support package in the coming days that will help those whose insurance won't cover the damage.

The full extent and cost of the damage was still being assessed on Monday, Furey added. He said the Canadian Armed Forces were also determining where help is most needed.

Warrant Officer Bradley McInnis was among the first to arrive in Port aux Basques from the 5th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, based in Gander, N.L., to report back to the military about areas in greatest need.

He paused briefly in the pouring rain on a street lined with damaged houses and debris to discuss the early stages of the work. As families passed by carrying belongings, McInnis said the scale of the destruction was only just sinking in.

“Parts of the town, it’s just a wasteland,” he said. “It’s unimaginable to think about where you’re going to start.”



Fourth coyote killed following attacks on humans in Burlington, Ont.

Fourth coyote killed

The city of Burlington, Ont., says it has eliminated a fourth coyote following a string of unprovoked attacks on humans since late August.

The city said in a Friday tweet the coyote was eliminated because it was stalking and chasing people, was aggressive, not afraid of humans and not "showing normal coyote behaviour."

The previous three coyotes were identified and eliminated because they were believed to be responsible for several human injuries in south central Burlington in the past several weeks.

In a separate tweet, the city urged residents not to feed coyotes.

It said coyotes become aggressive when fed, leading to attacks on humans.

The city says its Animal Services staff remain on high alert, including patrolling the city, gathering information and looking for coyote food sources.



Travel restrictions removed as medical professionals reiterate the risk of COVID-19

COVID still a threat

The removal of mask mandates and vaccine requirements has medical professionals and front-line workers reiterating that COVID-19 is still a threat.

The federal government announced on Monday that starting Oct. 1, all COVID-19 entry restrictions will be removed, including testing, quarantine and isolation requirements for anyone entering Canada.

A professor of epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, Nazeem Muhajarine, said that the lifting of restrictions did not come as a surprise to him and other medical professionals as Canada could only last so long before joining other countries' regulatory practices.

Canada is one of the last countries to remove travel requirements following the U.S. and the U.K. — yet, Muhajarine said, the removal of the requirements does not mean the removal of the threat of COVID-19.

"On the one hand saying that there's no restrictions now applied, and on the other hand saying that the pandemic is not over, those two things seem to not go hand in hand," said Muhajarine.

"From the beginning, my mantra as tourism minister was safety first, and then travel," said Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault in a video statement.

The minister of tourism said that the measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science to make sure that travellers are kept safe while helping the tourism sector recover.

Muhajarine said that passengers should continue to wear a mask through all stages of the travel process, to reduce the number of potential infections.

Leslie Dias, the director of airlines for Unifor, a union representing many of Canada’s airport staff, said that there has been a mixed response from workers as some are happy to no longer have to enforce restrictions while others are concerned about the health of them and their family.

Further concern remains around the timing of the removal of restrictions as mandates will be lifted just before the start of what could be a more intense flu season, said Muhajarine.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents many of Canada’s flight attendants, has called upon the federal government to ensure sufficient workplace personal protective equipment is provided to staff once the mandate has been lifted.

President of CUPE’s airline division, Wesley Lesosk, also said in a statement that they are thankful members will no longer have to fulfill the difficult role of "mask police" on top of their many other duties onboard.

“The timing of lifting the mandate isn’t ideal,” said Dias. “But let’s face it, there’s also a number of people who are really happy that the mandate is being lifted.”



Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly raises abortion in UN speech, as Trudeau sanctions Iran

Joly makes speech at UN

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly urged countries to uphold women’s rights and abortion access on Monday, while Canada announced looming sanctions on Iranian officials over the death of a young woman who was detained by the country's morality police.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, as the global gathering draws to a close, Joly summarized Canada’s priorities and concerns in foreign relations, including by calling for more multilateral solutions to problems like climate change and sexual violence.

Canada ispart of "a global coalition in support of equality" that will "repel these increasing attacks on women's rights and freedoms," she told the assembly in French on Monday.

"Sexual and reproductive health rights for women and girls are being rolled back or denied in too many countries," Joly said in English.

"Canada will always stand up for your right to choose."

Though Joly did not mention the United States in this section of her speech, her comments come after months of backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to ban abortions, with some seeking to prosecute those who help people end their pregnancies in other jurisdictions.

"We will speak up for your rights and dignity. No government, no politics, no judge — no one can take that away from you," Joly said, which prompted applause.

Joly’s remarks did mention women targeted by autocratic governments, such as the Taliban preventing Afghan girls from attending school. She called out Myanmar’s military junta imprisoning female democracy activists and sexually assaulting Rohingya women.

The speech also cited Iran’s crackdown on protesters seeking accountability after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, when morality police arrested her for "unsuitable attire" in allegedly wearing a hijab improperly.

In a news conference on Monday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is sanctioning dozens of Iranians, including the morality police, as a result.

"We've seen Iran disregarding human rights time and time again," Trudeau said.

"To the women in Iran who are protesting and to those who are supporting them: we stand with you."

Joly's office could not provide a list Monday of whom Canada will sanction.

"We will be able to provide more details on these sanctions in due course," wrote her spokesman Adrien Blanchard.

The Conservatives have called on the Liberals to fulfil a motion Parliament passed in 2018 to deem Iran's political police, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist group. Only the force's clandestine branch has that designation.

On Monday, Joly also noted that Ukrainian women have been subjected to sexual violence in Russia’s ongoing occupation.

She argued that deliberate policy choices are resulting in rising violence against women, who are excluded from "the negotiating table, the boardroom, the classroom."

Her speech also called out the "abusive" use of veto powers by permanent members of the UN Security Council, such as Russia and China.

She said countries need to be deterred from violating human rights, particularly after a UN report found China may have committed crimes against humanity in its treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

"Those who break the law must be met with the force of the law. A permanent seat on the Security Council is not a licence to kill, nor to silence anyone, and it should never guarantee impunity," Joly said.

She also said Canada would support "a fair and equitable reform" to global financial institutions, so they can better help developing countries respond to crises.

In Joly's view, countries need to work closer together to navigate economic, political and environmental tumult.

"There are no simple solutions to the challenges we face. But it is obvious that to isolate oneself, to disregard the rule of law and to silence people, is contrary to progress."



Shandro: Alberta will not participate in federal efforts to seize prohibited weapons

Alberta will not participate

The Alberta government is taking steps to oppose federal firearms prohibition legislation and the potential seizure of thousands of assault-style weapons.

Since May of 2020, Ottawa has prohibited more than 1,500 different models of assault-style firearms from being used or sold in Canada. 

It has committed to establishing a buyback program to remove those firearms from communities.

Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro says he received a letter from the minister of public safety asking for police resources to begin confiscating firearms beginning this fall.

He says Alberta will not agree to having RCMP officers act as confiscation agents and will protest any such move under the provincial-federal agreement that governs policing.

Alberta also plans to seek intervener status in six ongoing judicial review applications challenging the constitutionality of legislation.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.



Atlantic Canada's economy likely to take big hit from post-tropical storm Fiona

Fiona will batter economy

While the damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona is still being assessed across Atlantic Canada, it’s become clear the economic fallout will be substantial for some parts of the region.

Elmwood, P.E.I., potato farmer Alex Docherty estimates his farm suffered losses of about $500,000 following the weekend's storm. In an interview Monday, Docherty said three of his storage buildings were destroyed by hurricane-force winds, as were the barns of several nearby farmers.

“If a bomb went off, I don’t know whether it would do any more damage,” Docherty, owner of Skyview Farms, said. “On my road within a mile of me there’s nine barns down — you’d swear it’s a war zone.”

The storm made landfall as farmers were getting ready to harvest their potato crops, he said. The ongoing blackouts across many parts of the province, he added, risk causing storage problems because the potatoes need to be kept cool.

The Island's agriculture industry is facing a "huge" hit, Docherty said.

Premier Dennis King said that while it’s too early to know the extent of the economic fallout caused by Fiona, it’s expected to be major given the damage to the farming and fishing industries and to a number of businesses, which have been forced to close.

“We will measure it in the millions I’m quite sure,” King said in a briefing Monday.

The premier said there has been significant damage to some mussel and oyster farming operations and he’s waiting to hear about the state of lobster traps. In agriculture, “soybeans and corn took a beating and our apple farms have as well,” King said.

In Sydney, N.S., Marlene Usher, chief executive of the city’s port, said she had to tell three cruise ships on Monday that they shouldn’t come this week. Usher said a total of 12 cruise ships have cancelled their arrivals because of Fiona, for a loss of well over $1 million to the port and various local businesses.

Standing at the reception centre of the port, where electricity had just returned, she said that after several poor seasons due to COVID-19, it’s hard to lose more customers in the prime fall season when ships come to the harbour with thousands of tourists.

“The Port of Sydney’s main revenue generator is the cruise ships … we were already in a serious situation in terms of revenues and reserves at the port. We manage our costs, but this puts us in a precarious situation,” Usher said.

Andrew Prossin, the owner of a small, 100-passenger vessel that tours Sydney harbour, said in an interview that his business has also taken a hit. “All the local tour operators are standing by, and that in and of itself is tough … to keep the engines idling. There will be an impact from the loss of the key business this time of year.”

Usually, the most profitable time of year for marine tourism is September and October, Prossin said, adding that between 60 and 70 per cent of his revenues comes in those months.

In a video news conference Monday, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said it’s anticipated the economic damage from Fiona will be greater than previous storms. Houston also announced about $40 million in provincial aid to people directly affected by the storm.

"Disaster relief funding will be helpful for uninsured losses, but we know this may take time and there will be gaps,” the premier said.

Paul Kovacs, executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at Western University, said the benchmark for destruction in the region is the $200 million worth of insurable losses caused by hurricane Juan in 2003.

Kovacs believes it’s time there was a conversation involving governments about what can be done to better prepare for increasingly violent storms linked to climate change. He said research has shown that building stronger, wind-resistant homes, for instance, can make a difference. Kovacs said the state of Florida changed its building code 15 years ago to impose tougher construction standards.

Kovacs said it can be relatively inexpensive to strengthen the connection of a roof to a wall or of a foundation to a wall while constructing a new home. “Lets start preventing the damage,” he said. “Let’s spend the money upfront so we avoid the damage down the road.”



Poilievre denounces Diagolon 'losers' over threat of sexual assault against his wife

Poilievre condemns 'losers'

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he has asked the RCMP to look into "disgusting" comments made by the founder of a far-right group about sexually assaulting his wife.

Jeremy MacKenzie was referring to Anaida Poilievre on an online video stream over the weekend when he suggested she be sexually assaulted.

MacKenzie, 36, is the high-profile founder of the online group "Diagolon," which shares members and affiliation with the "Freedom Convoy," as well as those opposed to government-mandated health restrictions.

He is facing assault and firearms charges in Saskatchewan and his native Nova Scotia related to separate incidents.

Poilievre, who was previously photographed shaking MacKenzie's hand at a Conservative leadership campaign event in Nova Scotia, called MacKenzie and the other man in the video "dirtbags" and "losers" and said he will not tolerate people threatening his family.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, MacKenzie says he was drinking when he made the comments and nobody meant any harm by it.



Suspect to face murder, arson charges following triple homicide near Montreal

Murder, arson charges

Police say a man detained at the scene of a Montreal-area triple homicide will appear in court today to face murder and arson charges.

A 38-year-old woman and her children, aged five and two, were declared dead in hospital on Sunday after being found inside a burning apartment in Brossard, Que., on Montreal's South Shore.

The suspect was taken into custody and was originally described by local police as an important witness.

The names of the victims are under a publication ban.

Emergency services found the woman and her children while responding to a fire around 1 a.m. Sunday.

Police announced later in the day that the deaths were being investigated as a triple homicide.



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