VANCOUVER – Cellphone distraction and confusion over a complex railway crossing caused a Canadian National train to hit an ambulance in Langley, B.C., the Transportation Safety Board says.Helena Van Gool, 87, was a patient being taken to hospital from a long-term care facility when the crash occurred on Sept. 11, 2015. Van Gool was airlifted to hospital, where she later died.A paramedic who was in the back of the ambulance with Van Gool was injured.The vehicle entered an intersection when a railway crossing bell was ringing, lights were flashing and the gates were descending, Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge Peter Hickli said Thursday after the agency issued a report.He said phone records indicated the ambulance driver, a paramedic, was on a cellphone a number of times during the trip.Other factors contributed to the driver’s distraction, he said, adding the paramedic was intending to turn left at a green light but stopped on the track when a lowered crossing gate appeared to be blocking the way forward.However, Hickli said the gate had come down for traffic moving in the opposite direction.“From videos of the incident and all the information it’s likely that the driver perceived they were trapped behind the gate as we see two (vehicles’) forward movements late, just before the collision,” he said.The report says there were two tracks about 13 metres apart at the crossing, with two different warning systems at the intersection.Faded road markings added to the confusion, Hickli said.Motorists were getting conflicting information because a red signal at the crossing indicated an approaching train required them to stop while a green traffic signal suggested they could proceed when it wasn’t safe to do so, an examination of the scene revealed.Since the crash, a warning system of flashing lights and a gate that protects the main track has been moved to make it more visible and an LED sign alerting drivers of approaching trains has been added to the same area while roadway markings have been painted, Hickli said.In 2014, the Transportation Safety Board gave road authorities and railways two years to find design deficiencies at all crossings and another five years to bring them up to standard, he said, meaning the changes did not have to be completed until 2021.Three other incidents had already occurred at the same Langley crossing in the last decade, Hickli said.“In this case, Transport Canada was actively engaged with both the railway and the road authority in changes that Transport Canada wanted to see made at this crossing. Unfortunately, the change hadn’t taken place at the time of the occurrence.”A Transport Canada official was not immediately available for comment.Hickli said the investigation also found ambulance drivers lacked training on how to properly use a crossing, such as the need to roll down the windows in order to hear any approaching trains.“They didn’t have a performance management program for drivers, unlike most transportation companies, to ensure drivers are sticking to policies, he said.Linda Lupini, executive vice-president of B.C. Emergency Health Services, said all ambulance drivers are now being trained on how use railway crossings and their performance is being monitored through a more organized system.The driver was using a hands free cellphone but it’s clear from the multiple studies cited in the report on distraction from any cellphones that mobile devices should not be used behind the wheel, Lupini said.“We have a policy now that says no cellphone use, hands free or otherwise, when you’re with a patient.”— Follow @CamilleBains1 on Twitter.
HALIFAX – More than two years after a mentally ill Nova Scotia man killed his mother and two grandparents, a team of mental-health professionals argued Tuesday he should be granted unescorted day passes.They said Codey Hennigar has shown no signs of violence, aggression or psychotic symptoms.But members of Hennigar’s own family and a Crown prosecutor persuaded a review board that the 33-year-old — declared not criminally responsible for the 2015 killings — is not ready to function on his own in the community.“Please, don’t risk it yet,” Hennigar’s younger brother, Chandler, told the board.In an emotionally charged hearing inside a psychiatric hospital, a six-member Criminal Code Review Board denied Codey Hennigar’s request for unescorted passes, concluding in a 5-1 decision that more time was needed to ensure he is mentally stable.The board’s chairman, Peter Lederman, said it had been only two months since Hennigar had completed the transition to a new anti-psychotic drug regime.“We want to see a longer period of stability on the new drug,” Lederman told the hearing.Another hearing has been scheduled for January.Dr. Scott Theriault, director of the Department of Psychiatry at the Capital District Health Authority, told the board Hennigar was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2014. Since he started receiving treatment at the hospital, he has been “fastidious” about taking his medication, he said.Theriault said Hennigar has expressed remorse for what he did, but he has yet to speak about what happened in detail.Dressed in green dress shirt and jeans, Hennigar said nothing during the hearing, his hands folded on the table in front of him. The heavy-set, bespectacled man appeared to pay attention to the hearing but displayed no obvious reactions.He was arrested in January 2015 after the bodies of his mother, Mildred Ann Ward, and her parents, Clifford and Ida Ward, were found following a fire inside a home in rural Wyses Corner, N.S.Hennigar was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and he was ordered to stand trial in December 2016.However, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Judge Patrick Murray agreed with the defence and Crown that Hennigar, who had previously admitted to the killings, was not criminally responsible for his actions due to mental illness.At the time, Crown attorney Mark Heerema said the victims died of a combination of blunt-force injuries to the head and smoke inhalation, and that at least one of the victims was still alive when the fire was set.Since then, Hennigar has been receiving treatment at the Halifax-area East Coast Forensic Hospital. He was granted escorted day passes after a similar hearing in March, and has travelled to the city with staff members on at least a dozen occasions, mainly for “recreational treatment.”Chandler Hennigar told the board that he wanted to see his brother rehabilitated, but it was too soon to grant him more freedom.“I’m not sold on it right now,” he told the board.Chandler Hennigar said he suffers from night terrors and he worries about the safety of his family and his neighbours.“I have scars both inside and out, and there’s a scar on the inside that is never going to heal,” he said.One of Hennigar’s neighbours was more blunt.“You’re sugar-coating the fact that this man violently bludgeoned a family to death,” said the woman, who identified herself as Geraldine.She said Hennigar was a manipulative and vindictive person who was known for making threats in the community before he was taken into custody.“Please, I want justice,” she said. “Two years is not enough for this man …Whether he was not criminally responsible or not, he (killed) three people and the family dog. I want him in long enough that we know he is not a threat.”Crown lawyer Aileen McGinty said the safety of the public was of paramount importance.“This has all been very quick,” she told the board, adding that Hennigar has a history of violence and was refusing to take his medication before he killed his relatives. “There’s a significant threat to public safety … The severity of the outcome if things go wrong is the main factor to consider.”Beth Kennedy, one of Hennigar’s aunts on his father’s side, told the board he should be granted his request.“I’ve seen such an improvement in Codey,” she told the board, adding that when she first met with him after he was arrested, he was in rough shape.“He wasn’t Codey. You would look into his eyes just see black holes,” she said. “Now, he’s a big, gentle soul … I love him and I don’t think he’s a risk.”Outside the hearing room, she said she was disappointed with the decision. She said family members opposed to his request just don’t understand.“I think it’s their hurt that they can’t get by. They have to understand that it really wasn’t him doing it. It was his sickness. He fell through the cracks. He didn’t get the help he needed.”
Highlights from the news file for Wednesday, Sept. 6———BANK OF CANADA HIKES INTEREST RATE: The Bank of Canada has raised its interest rate for the second time in less than two months in an effort to adjust to the unexpected force of the country’s economic momentum. Wednesday’s hike of its overnight lending rate to 1.0 per cent marks its second quarter-point increase since July, and comes less than a week after the latest data for economic growth showed an impressive expansion of 4.5 per cent for Canada in the second quarter. That April-to-June performance followed surprisingly healthy growth in the first three months of 2017 and easily exceeded the Bank of Canada’s projections.———AID WORKERS BRACE FOR IRMA: A Canadian aid worker in Haiti says Hurricane Irma could deal a crippling blow to the impoverished country while it’s still recovering from hurricane Matthew, which struck less than a year ago. Laura Sewell of Ottawa, assistant country director in Haiti for CARE, says Haiti is less able to handle the effects of a Category 5 storm than other countries in the region. Haiti’s government issued a warning to residents along the north coast late Wednesday to seek shelter.———FORMER ENVOY CONDEMNS SILENCE ON MYANMAR: Canada’s former religious freedom ambassador says Myanmar’s Aung Sang Suu Kyi, the once celebrated Nobel laureate, has squandered her status by not standing up for persecuted Muslims in her country. Andrew Bennett added his own damning assessment to the mounting international condemnation of Suu Kyi for not defending the persecuted Muslim minority now fleeing her country in droves. Canada awarded Suu Kyi honorary citizenship for her peaceful, pro-democracy fight, including 15 years of house arrest, against her country’s military dictatorship.———LIBERALS APPROVE NEW BORDER BRIDGE: The federal government has given the green light for a new bridge connecting Ontario and Detroit to replace the aging Ambassador Bridge. Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the private owner of the 87-year-old bridge, the busiest border crossing between Canada and the United States, can begin building a six-lane replacement bridge. The Canadian Transit Company says on its website that it plans to spend $1 billion US on the new span.———CLIMATE CHANGED PUSHES SKI EVENT NORTH: One of Canada’s most storied nordic ski events — the Canadian Ski Marathon — is shifting farther north as climate change is causing less snow on low-lying portions of its route. Cross-country skiers who for 51 years have slid over roughly 80 kilometres of trails between Buckingham and Montebello, will instead ski the same distance along a more wooded, higher route just south of Mont Tremblant to Montebello this winter.———COP PLEADS GUILTY TO ASSAULT: A Toronto-area police officer pleaded guilty to assault Wednesday after siccing his K-9 unit dog on a man who was lying down awaiting arrest. York Region police Const. Michael Partridge admitted to his role in the assault that occurred on March 30, 2016 and left a man with minor injuries. Prosecutors called the officer’s actions an “excessive use of force.”———LICENCE PLATE CASE TO BE TRIED NEXT YEAR: A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge will allow constitutional arguments in a case where the province decided a man’s personalized licence plate was offensive to women. Lorne Grabher had his licence plate with the text “GRABHER” — his last name — revoked last year after government officials agreed with a complainant that it was a “socially unacceptable slogan.” The court also set fresh dates for a trial, with the matter now scheduled for one year from now, on Sept. 5 and 6, 2018.———ONTARIO TO REVIEW SCHOOL CURRICULUM: Ontario is looking to overhaul its school curriculum to place more emphasis on life skills such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity and what she called “global citizenship.” Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Wednesday that the government will start public consultations to modernize the curriculum.———PARENTS, TEACHERS DEAL WITH SPLIT CLASSES: As the new academic year gets underway, students, teachers and parents are gearing up to deal with one of the education system’s more controversial elements: split-level classes. Some parents worry that integrating students from several grades, typically to offset shrinking enrolment or mitigate a surge in a particular year, leaves younger pupils behind or fails to adequately challenge more advanced ones. But educators and experts say split classes can be beneficial — and the outcome often depends on the teacher.———DAD BARRED FROM LETTING KIDS RIDE BUS ALONE: The case of a British Columbia father who says the Children’s Ministry barred him from letting his children ride the bus alone is sparking debate about when parents should be allowed to leave their kids unsupervised. Mariana Brussoni, a population and public health professor at the University of British Columbia, says it’s important for kids to learn independence and the case highlights how “over-parenting” has become normal.———
OTTAWA – If the Conservatives are committed to First Nations reconciliation, they need to show the door to a senator who’s urging Indigenous Peoples to “trade your status card” and practice their culture on their own dime, says a prominent Liberal cabinet minister.Carolyn Bennett, the government’s Crown-Indigenous relations minister, made the comments about Conservative Sen. Lynn Beyak during the daily question period Tuesday in response to a question from a Liberal back bench.“The senator’s ongoing, offensive comments regarding Indigenous people are ill-informed, hurtful, and simply wrong,” Bennett said.“These disturbing views expressed by a sitting parliamentarian undermine progress toward reconciliation.”Beyak no longer has a role in the Conservative caucus, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said earlier this week, but he stopped short of forcing her out, urging her to do so herself if she doesn’t endorse his policy of positivity and inclusiveness.He said he didn’t agree with her comments and that she didn’t speak for the party or the caucus.Beyak rose to notoriety in the spring by saying there were positives that came out of Canada’s residential school system which were ignored by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.Those comments ultimately prompted Scheer’s predecessor, former interim leader Rona Ambrose, to remove her from the Senate’s aboriginal affairs committee.Beyak landed in hot water again this month when she posted a letter on her Senate website saying she had received tons of support for her position on residential schools over the summer, and that it was time for a major change.“Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa,” she wrote.“All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”First Nations people are already Canadian citizens.Beyak’s letter said she was paraphrasing from the 1969 white paper by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and then-indian affairs minister Jean Chretien, which called for abolishing the Indian Act and assimilating all Aboriginal Peoples.Calls for Beyak’s ouster are a form of censorship, Conservative MP Tony Clement said after question period.“I’m going to disagree with her, for sure, but I think we should be beyond the stage where we are shaming people into silence by those kinds of activities,” he said.“I think the best thing to do is disagree with someone with facts and evidence. That’s the best way to deal with this.”Beyak’s letter prompted the mayors of both Winnipeg and Edmonton to call on her to resign her Senate seat.Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas added his name to the list of people who want Beyak out of the upper chamber, calling her comments “blatantly ignorant and outright offensive” — especially from a senator.— Follow @mrabson on Twitter
MONTREAL – Air Canada says it has resolved a computer issue that disrupted web and mobile check-ins and call centre operations, and temporarily delayed boarding on some flights.The Vancouver International Airport reported some congestion Tuesday morning due to technical issues with Air Canada’s system.Air Canada says in an email that it has fixed the computer issue, and that airport check-in and all remaining systems are now back online.The airline also says it can confirm there were no flight cancellations as a result of this, though there were some minor delays associated.Air Canada did not provide details on how many airports were affected but Toronto Pearson International Airport has not reported disruptions.
TORONTO – A new poll suggests Canadians have a lot to learn about the accomplishments of some of the country’s most famous women.The survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Historica Canada found the majority of Canadians couldn’t name the achievements of such famous women as Emily Carr and Lucy Maud Montgomery.Only 37 per cent of respondents to the poll could identify Carr’s accomplishments as a painter, while only 27 per cent knew that Montgomery’s fame sprang from her authorship of such Canadian literary classics as “Anne of Green Gables.”Knowledge levels were next to non-existent when respondents were asked about the accomplishments of some notable Indigenous women, such as painter Daphne Odjig, who co-founded what’s known as the Indian Group of Seven. Only two per cent of respondents could account for Odjig’s fame.The other two Indigenous women on the list, 18th-century Mohawk diplomat Molly Brant and Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak, were recognized by three per cent and one per cent of participants respectively.But the survey suggests Canadians are aware of the knowledge gap, with just 30 per cent of respondents saying the country is doing well at teaching youth about female accomplishment.Historica Canada says the organization is seeing increasing demand to shine a light on women’s issues and successes.Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wilson-Smith said Historica staff got a clear message from teachers and school boards who were asked where the organization needed to help fill in some key blanks from Canada’s past.“People are saying, ‘look, yeah, tell us more about women’s history,’” Wilson-Smith said in a telephone interview. “‘Tell us more about who are the great Canadian women? What have they done?’”The poll presented respondents with a list of 15 women drawn largely from the ranks of Canadian artists, politicians and civil rights activists and asked if survey participants were familiar with their achievements.Wilson-Smith said respondents were not asked to name individual works or recognize specific career milestones, only indicate whether they had a basic understanding of why the women were famous.The number of poll participants who had never heard of any of the notable women surpassed the number who were familiar with one of Canada’s most famous artists.The survey found 40 per cent of respondents were unfamiliar with any of the women compared to 37 per cent who had heard of Carr, a British Columbia-based painter celebrated for her depictions of Indigenous culture and Canadian nature scenes.Montgomery, whose books about red-haired orphan Anne Shirley are globally renowned, received the second-highest recognition score of 27 per cent among respondents. Only 16 per cent had heard of suffragette Nellie McClung, who came third in the poll rankings.Wilson-Smith said he’s encouraged by the finding suggesting people want to see more concerted efforts to step up education on women’s issues, saying the survey results should not be mistaken for lack of interest in Canada’s female icons.“It’s not as though these are deliberate slights by people,” he said. “It just shows that … we have a lot of heroes and just a lot of very accomplished people whose work deserves to be known. We and other places have to continue to do everything we can to put them forward.”The survey also explored Canadian responses to the #Metoo movement, finding that roughly half of respondents feel Canadians are succeeding at making women feel safe from sexual harassment on the job and in society at large. The survey found 51 per cent of male respondents felt Canada was making good progress on this issue, while 45 per cent of women surveyed held that view.The poll of 1,001 Canadians was conducted online between Feb. 23 and 26. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.Here’s the list of notable Canadian women used in the survey and the percentage of respondents familiar with their achievements:Emily Carr 37 per centLucy Maud Montgomery 27 per centNellie McClung 16 per centGabrielle Roy 14 per centViola Desmond 13 per centTherese Casgrain 10 per centRosemary Brown 8 per centAgnes Macphail 7 per centEmily Stowe 7 per centMary (Molly) Brant, or Konwatsi’tsiaiénni 3 per centBertha Wilson 3 per centDaphne Odjig 2 per centMary Ann Shadd Cary 2 per centKenojuak Ashevak 1 per centBobbie Rosenfeld 1 per centNone of the above 40 per cent
EDMONTON – Two old English bulldogs named Rocky and Jersey are the focus of a police search for a pickup truck in which both pooches were waiting for their master when their ride was stolen this week in Edmonton.Jersey, a brown three-year-old female, and Rockey, a six-month-old black-and-white male, were in the cab when the pickup truck was taken from outside a business Monday afternoon.The owner was inside for about 20 minutes and when she came out the vehicle was gone and there was nothing left but glass on the ground from a shattered driver-side window.The truck, which was also hauling an all-terrain vehicle, was reportedly involved in a hit-and-run collision in Leduc later Monday.It was last seen travelling towards the community of Calmar, southwest of the city.Police say they want to help the family get their dogs back as quickly as possible.The truck is a grey 2014 Ford F150 with Alberta licence plate RPA249.The ATV is a 2016 Can-Am DS90 with Alberta plate GDA50.
MONTREAL – Montreal police outlined a proposal Tuesday to bring in stun guns for every two-person team by 2020.A group of senior police officers told city councillors Tuesday they’ve been impressed with the effectiveness of the controversial weapon — noting that simply displaying it is usually enough to defuse the situation in 80 to 85 per cent of cases.The presentation to the city’s public security committee focused on police use of intermediate weapons — a term for tools such as conducted energy weapons, batons and spray that are not intended to cause serious injury or death.It includes a plan to make stun guns more widespread.Officers will begin training soon — using the stun weapon requires two days of training and an annual refresher.Cmdr. Daniel Gervais said the weapon was deployed 236 times in Montreal in 2017 and made contact with a suspect just five times.“The simple act of showing the weapon to the suspect was enough to defuse the situation,” Gervais said.Montreal police deputy police chief Dominic Harvey, in charge of rank-and-file officers, told councillors about a recent high-risk intervention in a busy downtown mall that was resolved using a Taser.“They (officers) said if they didn’t have it, they would have only had their service weapon to resolve the situation,” Harvey said. “Whether it’s maintaining order in a situation like the one I described, the objective is to minimize the amount of force used.”Interim police chief Martin Prud’homme sent a memorandum to officers Monday, noting police stationed at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport as well as in the subway system will also have the weapons in addition to front-line officers.But one longtime Montreal city councillor urged caution before the city authorizes widespread use of the stun guns.“All the information shows quite clearly that Tasers are not harmless weapons,” said Marvin Rotrand.He said an increase in the number of shock weapons in the United States has resulted in far more frequent use by authorities.“What’s generally happened is that intermediate weapons have led to lazier policing,” he said.Similar debates over expanded use are taking place in other cities like Toronto and Ottawa, where police have also made the request.Montreal police subsequently added more electro-shock weapons to their arsenal following a recommendation in a 2016 coroner’s report into the death of a homeless, mentally ill man named Alain Magloire in 2014.Magloire was fatally shot by police, with the coroner finding that officers didn’t have a stun weapon available during the incident.The coroner suggested the number of stun weapons was insufficient for a city the size of Montreal and lagged behind the number in other Canadian cities like Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto.There was a call for a moratorium on stun weapons after the death of Quilem Registre in October 2007. He was shocked six times in a minute and died four days later. The coroner who investigated said it might have contributed in his death.Rotrand, who voiced his opposition following Registre’s death, again urged careful consideration.“I don’t think that this should be buffaloed through city council,” he said.Dan Philip of the Black Coalition of Quebec also called for police to take a different tact and focus on training to deal with mental health cases.“The emphasis should be on training, the emphasis should be on protecting lives,” Philip said.“A system should be in place — not to Taser people — but to give them an opportunity, to give police an opportunity, to deal with those problems.”
As footy fans around the country watch the FIFA World Cup in Russia, the anticipation is already growing for the 2026 tournament which will feature games in Canada, maybe even Edmonton.It is still a maybe, and Calgary is looking at bidding for the Winter Olympics that same year which could be another costly undertaking.But do the competing events mean one may not happen?Concordia University Economist Moshe Lander doesn’t think the Edmonton FIFA bid will affect a Calgary Olympic bid directly.“The two events would happen six months apart, they’re technically in two different cities,” he said, adding compared to the Olympics, the cost of hosting two or three soccer games is relatively small.“Olympic Games tend to quickly outrun their budgets, the typical 50 per cent cost overrun could very easily apply in Calgary once you start digging away and realizing we need to add this or fix that,” he explained.He notes the biggest cost hosting any event is security.“Winter Olympics aren’t quite as internationally covered as say the World Cup is, there’s not a corner of the world where the World Cup is not going to be a major event and so it becomes a major target,” said Lander.While all three levels of government would need to be involved, Lander says the brunt of the costs for either event would likely be borne by the provincial government.“The contribution of the federal government would probably be proportionally smaller than the requirement for the provincial government,” he said, arguing having the games in Edmonton would be huge for the city’s international profile.When asked if the province would financially support hosting World Cup games in Edmonton financially, and if a potential Calgary Olympic bid factors into that decision, 660 NEWS received this statement from Minister of Culture and Tourism Ricardo Miranda:“With respect to Edmonton hosting World Cup 2026 matches, we have received an initial proposal for funding from the City of Edmonton, but are awaiting a more detailed business plan that addresses the financial needs for a bid. While things are looking up – our economy is growing, and people are returning to work – Albertans still expect their government to spend their money in a responsible way. We will work closely with the City of Edmonton and the federal government on this in the weeks ahead.”At the end of the day, the decision could come down to FIFA.“If you feel that there’s a hostile government, rather than just an indifferent government, FIFA might use that as an excuse then to say alright then Edmonton’s gone, but given that only 10 games are going to be played in Canada, and given that it’s only going to be two, maybe three in Edmonton, the need to knock Edmonton from the list probably isn’t that great,” said Lander.
HALIFAX – Though he may be better known for combing through Nova Scotia’s finances, the province’s auditor general has decided to try his hand at writing something other than fiscal reports: a book about lessons he learned from his grandmother.Michael Pickup describes his nan as a superhero, a friend, and “everything and more than people traditionally think of a grandmother.”“My primary drive in writing the book was firstly to thank her and leave a tribute for her,” he said Sunday.Mary Ann Pickup of Cape Breton was the oldest of 12 children, the mother of five sons, and became a grandmother at 42 when Pickup was born to teenage parents.The recently released self-published “Nan-Made: How a Grandmother Made a Man” recounts 25 of her lessons Pickup has carried with him through his life, including the importance of living with integrity and taking the time to love oneself and others.While she was a career woman — returning to school in her 30s to pursue a career in health care, an uncommon feat for women at the time — Pickup said she always took the time to care for her family, imparting her wisdom to him as a child and well into his adulthood.She also worked as a union leader and community activist, a job from which she retired around the same time Pickup began working in public service — but not before teaching him a lesson that has stuck with him throughout his career.“Always remember, in public service, what you’re there for,” he said she told him 30 years ago. “You’re there to make the lives better of the people who use those services.”Each chapter recounts a memory of his grandmother and concentrates on the lesson he learned from her in that situation.Every Christmas, beginning when Pickup was a young child and up until his adulthood, he would help his grandparents put up their Christmas tree.Nana Pickup had an annual tradition: she and her husband would co-write a letter and store it in the box where they kept the first ornament they got together as a married couple. The next year, they would all read it and write a new one.His grandfather died suddenly around three decades ago, and the next year Pickup and his grandmother read the letter from the year before, grateful for the opportunity to hear from him one last time.The story inspired a chapter in Pickup’s book: “Ring a bell of gratitude.”“The letter was simple: it was thankful for the family that was there, the good times, the getting together, and the wish for health in the future,” he said.“So I’ll always have that in my mind.”Pickup said he spent all of his spare time writing the book over the past year, working against the clock so his grandmother, who fell ill in April, would get to read it.He included her throughout the book-writing process and showed her the finished copy in early July.“She said to me, ‘Michael, that was a lot of work,’” said Pickup.“And I said, ‘it was worth every bit of it, and it pales in comparison to all you did for everybody.’”She died two weeks later at the age of 94.Pickup — whose day job is quite demanding — said he might need a bit of a break, but hopes to write another book: this time, focusing on his mother’s side of the family.He describes his maternal grandmother as “the complete opposite” of Mary Ann Pickup, but still someone who taught him a lot about life.“Things like being independent, being strong, being hardworking, making decisions,” he said.
BEIJING — Two Canadian citizens have been reported missing in China over recent days amid a dispute over Canada’s detention of a Chinese business executive wanted in the U.S. on bank fraud charges. China has yet to provide any information or even formally acknowledge their detentions.Below are profiles of the two men, one a diplomat on hiatus working for an international think-tank , the other an entrepreneur and business consultant dealing with North Korea.___MICHAEL KOVRIGA Toronto native and resident of Hong Kong, Kovrig had most recently worked as a senior adviser for northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank on global affairs.A Chinese speaker, Kovrig went on leave without pay to take up his position nearly two years ago and no longer holds a diplomatic passport — along with the immunity that bestows. Prior to that, he worked as a Canadian diplomat in various portfolios, including in the consulate general in Hong Kong, where he helped arrange a visit by Prime Minister Dustin Trudeau in 2016.As first secretary and vice consul at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing from 2014 to 2016, Kovrig travelled around China conducting field research on politics and government policies and meeting with contacts, including political dissidents. Such work is common among diplomats and foreign journalists in China, but is viewed with deep suspicion by China’s ruling Communist Party, raising the possibility Kovrig could be charged with espionage.Kovrig, believed to be in his late 40s, was a frequent commentator on China affairs for the foreign media, including The Associated Press.Kovrig was very capable and a “very smart guy,” who was extremely knowledgeable about China, a former Canadian ambassador to China, David Mulroney, told the Toronto Star.Kovrig also worked for the United Nations Development Program after graduating from the University of Toronto and Columbia University.___MICHAEL SPAVORChina-based Spavor is known for his contacts with high-ranking North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, with whom he has been photographed shaking hands and laughing.He was also key to bringing NBA player Dennis Rodman to North Korea in 2013 in what was considered a significant, if somewhat quirky, breakthrough in the outside world’s contact with the young head of the hard-line communist regime.In 2015, Spavor founded Paektu Cultural Exchange, a non-governmental organization that works to facilitate sports, cultural, tourism and business exchanges with North Korea. Its mission statement says it aims to “promote greater peace, friendship and understanding.”The exchange is one of a small group of organizations promoting interactions with North Korea in a manner that has sometimes brought controversy for its unwillingness to criticize the regime’s human rights abuses. Its Facebook page advertises a five-day trip to North Korea over the New Year, including a visit to the Demilitarized Zone and a hot springs resort.A fluent Korean speaker with 16 years of experience working and studying in East Asia, Spavor graduated from university in his hometown of Calgary and also studied North Korean affairs at South Korea’s Kangwon National University, according to his Facebook page.Christopher Bodeen, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal infrastructure minister says he is looking to connect private backers with some of the country’s rural and northern communities to pay for badly needed broadband internet connections.Provincial governments have leaned heavily on the Liberals to use whatever influence they have with the Canada Infrastructure Bank to get it to fund broadband internet projects, particularly in rural and remote locations.The Liberals created the bank late last year to take $35 billion in federal financing, and use it to leverage three-to-four times that from the private sector to help pay for major highways, bridges, and water and electrical systems to ease the financial burden on public coffers.Provinces argue broadband yields a long-term revenue stream that would be enticing to any private investor willing to pay the connection costs.Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says a single broadband line into one rural community is unlikely to grab the attention of large institutional investors, such as pension funds.In an interview with The Canadian Press, Champagne says he is looking at how different revenue models could entice private backers or bundle several smaller projects into one large proposal.The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press VICTORIA — A report alleging “flagrant” overspending by two top officials at British Columbia’s legislature has prompted a call for major accountability and transparency reforms.B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner, the ombudsperson and merit commissioner together say the time has arrived to bring in modern transparency and accountability rules to monitor the legislature and its officials.The three independent officers of the legislature made the call for reforms today in a joint letter to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, which oversees financial management of the legislature.Speaker Darryl Plecas is the chairman of the all-party committee.A 76-page report released by Plecas last month alleges spending in the millions of dollars by suspended sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and clerk Craig James on overseas trips, payout packages and personal purchases.James and Lenz, who are on administrative leave, have denied any wrongdoing.
The family of a woman from Windsor, Ont., says she has died in the Bahamas as a result of Hurricane Dorian.A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money to bring the body of Alishia Sabrina Lioli back to Canada.The page says Liolli died from the impact of Hurricane Dorian, which authorities say have left at least 20 people dead in the country.The organizer says extra funds will be donated to help rebuild the school she worked at in the Bahamas.The woman’s cousin, Aislinn Liolli, says in a Facebook post she has lost her best friend and confidante.Aislinn Liolli says her cousin would help anyone in need and was always smiling and joking and making those around her feel better.The Canadian Press
His character on the upcoming season of American Horror Story may relish violence, but in real life, James Cromwell is committed to ending it.Video: Oscar Nominee James Cromwell Warns Against ViolenceThat’s why the Oscar nominee has teamed up with PETA UK for a new video public service announcement that warns everyone to look out for people who hurt animals – before they move on to hurting other humans.“People who commit violent acts often start out by hurting animals”, explains Cromwell in the video. “If you know of someone who’s abusing or neglecting an animal, don’t ignore it or just assume that someone else will do something. Call the police. And if you have kids or grandkids, please talk to them about the importance of being kind to animals. That conversation might save a life. Let’s stop the cycle of violence before it begins.”Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused animals as children than criminals who are considered non-aggressive. Young killers Mary Bell, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables as well as serial murderers Ian Huntley, Thomas Hamilton (the Dunblane massacre), Fred West, Dennis Nilsen, Ian Brady and Raoul Moat all started out by deliberately harming animals. Because abusers target the powerless, crimes against animals, spouses, children and the elderly often go hand in hand. An abuser may even harm or threaten to harm an animal as a way of emotionally terrorizing a family member.Known for his acclaimed roles in Babe, The Green Mile, The Artist and Six Feet Under, among many others, Cromwell will soon be seen on FXUK playing Dr Arden on American Horror Story: Asylum.Cromwell is part of a long list of celebrities – including Pamela Anderson, Justin Bieber, Lea Michele, Tamara Ecclestone, Ricky Gervais and Joaquin Phoenix – who have teamed up with PETA UK to promote kindness to animals.For more information on preventing abuse towards animals, visit PETA.org.uk.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, will be hosting its 2014 Los Angeles Gala this Saturday, March 22 at the JW Marriott L.A. Live Hotel in Los Angeles.Vice President Joe Biden will deliver the keynote address. The vice president will be accompanied by Dr. Jill Biden. Other special guests include: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jeff Perry, Reid Scott, George Takei, Meredith Baxter, Cat Cora, Bob Harper, Paul Katami, Kamala Harris, Paris Barclay, Chad Griffin, Dorothy Wang, Jonny Drubel, Betty Degeneres and many more.The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
Staples and global pop music superstar Katy Perry continue to “Make Roar Happen” in the Greater Boston area today by announcing 106 local classroom projects have been funded as part of Staples’ $1 million donation to DonorsChoose.org.Staples fully funded the balance of every project that was on DonorsChoose.org in the Boston Metro, Cambridge and Metrowest communities today. This $80,698 donation helped 83 teachers fulfill classroom needs and helped 8,958 students in the Boston community. For example, Mr. Chen at Josiah Quincy Upper School will receive laptops his students will use for a financial literacy course; and Ms. Robb at Jeremiah Burke High School will receive physics kits and motion sensors to design roller coasters that model energy and motion.“I’m glad to partner with Staples on my Prismatic World Tour to raise awareness and funds for DonorsChoose.org, and to remind my fans that a small gesture can have a huge impact on the very basic materials classrooms need for teachers to help students reach their full potential,” said Katy Perry.Staples and Katy Perry teamed up to Make Roar Happen and support teachers. Through the “Make Roar Happen” program, Katy Perry will help Staples raise awareness of how to help teachers with a $1 donation either in store or on Staples.com. As part of the program, Staples, the presenting sponsor of the North American leg of the Katy Perry Prismatic World Tour, donated $1 million to DonorsChoose.org, a charity which has helped fund more than 450,000 classroom projects for teachers and impacted more than 11 million students. $80,698 of that donation went to Boston Metro, Cambridge and Metrowest classrooms today.“We are so thrilled to have Katy Perry supporting ‘Make Roar Happen’ and look forward to working together with DonorsChoose.org to ensure teachers have the supplies they need,” said Alison Corcoran, senior vice president, North American stores and online marketing, Staples. “Our recent survey found almost three-quarters of parents with teens agree that teachers in their communities inspire their students so it’s imperative we support these everyday heroes.”Additionally, the survey revealed that 76% of parents of teen students believe that a lack of school supplies is a significant challenge for schools today. Most teachers spend an average of $408.71 of their own money each year to provide supplies and materials for their classrooms. Customers are invited to help ‘Make Roar Happen’ for local teachers by donating $1 to DonorsChoose.org at nearby Staples stores or online at www.staples.com/makeroarhappen. The proceeds will benefit teachers in the supporters’ communities and will help fund local classroom projects listed on DonorsChoose.org.“The tremendous support Staples and Katy Perry have provided to DonorsChoose.org through ‘Make Roar Happen’ has made a great difference in classrooms across the country,” said Charles Best, Founder and CEO, DonorsChoose.org. “We understand the financial hardships teachers in the Boston area face when it comes to providing their classroom with the right resources. Thanks to Staples and Katy Perry, local teachers are able to get what they need and ‘Make Roar Happen’ in the classroom.”Win A Trip to Meet Katy Perry Fans have a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to meet Katy Perry and attend her concert on Sept. 19 at the Staples Center by entering the ‘Make Roar Happen’ Video Sweepstakes. Everyone is invited to create videos ‘Roaring’ about their educational goals, inspirational teachers or how education has positively affected their lives. To enter, upload your ‘Roar’ video at www.staples.com/makeroarhappen. Entries must be submitted before 11:59 PM ET on Sept. 3, and participants must be 18 years or older. Participants are encouraged to share their videos on their social channels using the hashtag #MakeRoarHappen. See official rules at www.staples.com/makeroarhappen.Win Tickets to see Katy Perry The Prismatic World Tour Presented by Staples Customers who spend $10 or more at any Staples store will receive a unique code(s) based on the total amount spent. Code(s) will be provided on their store receipt to enter online at Staples.com/MakeRoarHappen for a chance to win two tickets to a concert in the U.S. portion of the Katy Perry Prismatic World Tour Presented by Staples. To win tickets, participants must enter the code on their purchase receipt from June 1 to Sept. 25 at www.staples.com/makeroarhappen.
Earlier this week, music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins hosted their 19th annual Carol Service with readings from supporters Bill Nighy, Anneka Rice and Tara Fitzgerald, and a special performance from 2014 X-Factor winner Ben Haenow and British trumpet soloist Alison Balsom.Bill Nighy at Nordoff Robbins Carol ServiceThe event at St Luke’s and Christ Church Chlesea, which is sponsored by Coutts, was attended by around 900 people and raised vital funds for Nordoff Robbins.To accompany their mince pies and mulled wine, guests were treated to carols by candlelight, with festive readings from supporters Bill Nighy, Anneka Rice, actress Tara Fitzgerald, Dougray Scott, Tom Hughes and Katherine Parkinson.Trumpeter, arranger and producer Alison Balsam stunned guests with a sparkling performance of Giuseppe Tartini’s Trumpet Concerto in D major before 2014 X-Factor winner Ben Haenow closed the night with an exclusive set from who recently released his first album, accompanied by his brother Alex on guitar.Ben recently took time out of his busy schedule to visit the Andrew Lloyd Webber Nordoff Robbins Therapy Centre in Croydon where joined in a music therapy session. Ben said “It was a real pleasure to be part of the Carol service. Nordoff Robbins bring together such a wide demographic of people, and with music you don’t even need to speak the same language.”
Winning Play$: Black Women, Feminism, & Empowerment was held Monday, June 26th 2017 at the Paley Center for Media in New York City.Winning Play$: Black Women, Feminism, & EmpowermentFinancial journalist, author and founder of the award-winning Winning Play$ financial education program Stacey Tisdale, along with an all-star panel, changed the conversation about black women from one of underdogs, to one of a story of resilience that all people, regardless of gender can learn from.Panelists for the evening included: Gloria Steinem, feminist icon, author, and activist; Carol Jenkins, award-winning journalist, writer, producer, and activist; Angela Yee, iheartmedia, Power 105.1 FM, and Breakfast Club host; Grace Vandecruze, Founder, and Managing Director, Grace Capital LLC; and Rianka Dorsainvil, President, and Founder of Your Greatest Contribution for Millennials. Tisdale served as moderator of the panel. Michelle Miller, CBS News Correspondent, was the mistress of ceremonies.Stacey Tisdale pointed out that despite the fact that black women only earn 64 cents for every dollar that white males make, black women have transcended socio economic limitations, and are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States.Feminist icon Gloria Steinem stated that she learned about feminism from black women including such activists as Angela Davis and Alice Walker.Breakfast Club host Angela Yee noted that the modern day feminist movement needs to reflect the diversity of all women, including their social and economic positions.Other panelists, including Carol Jenkins, Grace Vandecruze, and Rianka Dorsainvil, touched on the ways in which immigrants and millennials experience the modern day feminist movement.Among the guests for the sold-out event was the legendary Susan Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essencemagazine, and founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement campaign aimed at empowering women and children of color.The event launched a national social media campaign in which Tisdale’s financial education program Winning Play$ will reach out to youth and communities around the country to empower them with financial skills and knowledge, building on the evening’s flexions of how black women have empowered themselves.Content from the event can be viewed beginning June 27 on Grio.com, which is owned by Entertainment Studios CEO Byron Allen and has an audience of over 11 million.The Grio, which means storyteller in Africa, is a digital video-centric news community platform providing compelling stories and perspectives. They focus on breaking news, opinion, entertainment, health, sports, business, politics and events that have an interest and/or pronounced impact within the African American community.“Conversations have the power to transform,” says Tisdale. The discussion these amazing women had will open minds, open hearts, and inspire millions of people at a time when far too many in the United States are focusing on our differences and perceived limitations. “This year Winning Play$ honored Justin Tuck, and his wife Lauran with the “Game Changers Award”, for their ongoing efforts to make young people financially literate through their R.U.S.H. For Literacy Foundation.There was also a special performance by the iconic alternative rock, and R&B trio BETTY.
The Elders strongly condemned President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.They called on the other signatories to the deal – France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the European Union – to continue to do everything in their power to sustain its spirit and implementation.Kofi Annan, Chair of The Elders, former UN Secretary-General and a Nobel Peace Laureate, said:“The JCPOA was a hard-won diplomatic achievement and proof of what robust negotiations on the part of all those involved can achieve. I deeply regret President Trump’s decision to withdraw, and urge all other signatories to renew their commitment to the deal and avoid a broader escalation of tensions across the Middle East.”The Elders emphasised that after the JCPOA came into effect in January 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s implementation of its provisions.However, they also expressed alarm at recent threats by Iranian officials to resume nuclear fuel enrichment and even withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if President Trump proceeded with his threat to pull-out.Ban Ki-moon, Elder and UN Secretary-General from 2007-16, said:“I am very worried about the risks of a new nuclear arms race, this time in the Middle East, as well as the negative implications for ongoing negotiations on North Korean nuclear issues. To prevent that frightening prospect, everyone must do what they can to keep the JCPOA alive and well. The UN Security Council ratified the agreement unanimously; no single country has the right to declare it dead.”Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former Prime Minister of Norway, added:“I believe that, in the end, common sense will prevail. So, I suggest that a seat at the table should be kept empty for the United States to return to this agreement. The NPT remains a critical element of international security architecture, and any withdrawal by Iran would not be in its long-term interests.”