REGINA – Three Saskatchewan families are continuing to battle for equality for their transgender and non-gender-identifying children.Fran Forsberg went to the Human Rights Commission requesting that gender be taken off Saskatchewan birth certificates and other identification, but four years later she is still waiting for a decision.So now she and two others have filed a statement of claims requesting the Court of Queen’s Bench step in to address the issue.The legal arguments being made before Justice Jennifer Pritchard are complex and cover issues of the procedures of the commission.Forsberg says she is frustrated that the issues don’t address what she says is the emotional torture many transgender children are living with every day.She says removing the gender qualification on identification will help remove the stigma, questions and bullying that their children go through every day.“This government needs to take responsibility for this, they need to move on it now, it needs to be settled,” says Forsberg. “It does not need to be dragged on and there is no reason for it to do so.“I don’t understand what they’re talking about, their jargon — what I do understand and what I see myself is that children are taking their own lives.”That’s a sentiment echoed by Megan Cheesbrough, another parent in the lawsuit.“The arguments that we think are so clear and emotional and necessary are really being hung up on matters of procedures,” says Cheesbrough.(CJME)
Six stories in the news for Friday, July 14———PM TRUDEAU MEETS TODAY WITH PENCE, GOVERNORSPrime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Providence, R.I. to meet with five state governors and hold a formal one-on-one session with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence. Trudeau and other Canadian officials hope to forge relationships that could prove useful should trade talks hit a difficult patch and Canada find itself in need of allies willing to speak up in favour of NAFTA.———B.C. FIREFIGHTERS BRACE FOR WIND-WHIPPED FLAMESDespite a slight break in the weather in recent days, crews battling the B.C. wildfires are now preparing for winds to pick up over the weekend. The Cariboo Fire Centre says this could fuel dozens of fires across the Interior region of the province. The province declared a state of emergency last week and more than 16,000 people have been evacuated, with thousands more on alert.———LUMBER PRICES UP AFTER B.C. WILDFIRESThe B.C. wildfires that have forced some sawmills to close have resulted in a boost in lumber prices at a time when forestry companies have been squeezed by U.S. softwood duties. The benchmark price of Western spruce-pine-fir lumber has risen 5.5 per cent to US$400 per thousand board feet in less than a week. Ketan Mamtora, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, says he expects prices will rise between six and eight per cent over the next couple of weeks, partly due to a limited supply.———CALGARY POLICE INVESTIGATE QUADRUPLE HOMICIDEA man and two sisters found dead in a burned-out car may not have been the intended targets in what Calgary police say was a brutal and ruthless quadruple homicide. Investigators are exploring the possibility that Cody Pfeiffer, 25, Glynnis Fox, 36, and Tiffany Ear, 39, were “simply at the wrong place and at the wrong time with the wrong people.” Their bodies were found Monday in a burned-out car and police believe the vehicle’s owner, Hanock Afowerk, 26, was the target.SENTENCING FOR DRUNK DRIVER WHO KILLED MOUNTIEA man who killed a mother of two when his truck rammed into her RCMP cruiser while driving drunk and speeding will be sentenced by a court near Victoria today. Court heard Kenneth Fenton had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit when he ran a red light, hitting Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser broadside. Fenton pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death for the April 2016 crash.———SENTENCING EXPECTED TODAY FOR ANDREA GIESBRECHTThe case of a Winnipeg woman convicted of hiding the remains of six infants in a rented storage locker will be back in court today. Judge Murray Thompson is scheduled to deliver the sentence for Andrea Giesbrecht, 43, but may also hear a motion by her lawyer, who wants the case thrown out because it took 33 months to conclude.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Michelle Rice to appear in Edmonton court, charged with second-degree murder in the death of her daughter, 11, from a meth overdose.— Representatives of the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy Room initiative make an announcement today in Halifax.
OTTAWA – As he prepares to return to private life after seven years as Governor General, David Johnston is being toasted as a warm and genial man of the people who connected deeply with Canadians.Johnston’s term ends Monday, when former astronaut Julie Payette is to be sworn in.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s known Johnston since childhood and has always considered him a “man of strength and intelligence and compassion,” an athlete and an academic dedicated to education and lifelong learning.Working with him since becoming prime minister two years ago, Trudeau says he’s also come to know Johnston as a “man of integrity who embodies the principles for which our country stands.”As a parting gift, the federal government is donating a $3 million grant and up to $7 million in matching funds over 10 years to the Rideau Hall Foundation, a charity Johnston founded to promote equality of educational opportunity, invest in Canadian innovators and foster more volunteerism.For his part, Johnston says it’s been an honour to serve Canada.“Serving as Governor General is a responsibility I have cherished for the past seven years,” he said during a farewell ceremony Thursday in Parliament’s Hall of Honour.“I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to give back to this country I love so much.”Earlier Thursday, Johnston’s name was immortalized in the cornerstone of a new tourist welcome centre on Parliament Hill that is slated to open next year.At the ceremony, Trudeau had particular praise for Johnston’s ability to connect “in deeply meaningful ways” with Canadians. Johnston’s example is a reminder of how important it is to maintain a strong connection with people from all walks of life, he added.Trudeau also praised Johnston’s wife, Sharon, for her own “incredible” public service over the past seven years.“On behalf of all Canadians, I need to express my deepest gratitude to their excellencies for their many, many contributions to Canada. Together you’ve made this country a better place to call home.”Prior to being chosen as Canada’s 28th governor general in 2010 by then prime minister Stephen Harper, Johnston had spent a distinguished career in academe, including stints as dean of law at the University of Western Ontario, principal of McGill University, and president of the University of Waterloo.He was born in Sudbury, Ont., the son of a hardware store owner and attended Sault Collegiate Institute in nearby Sault Ste. Marie. He played high school football and hockey and was scouted by the NHL at one point.He attended Harvard University, where he was captain of the varsity hockey team and toyed again with the NHL before opting for Cambridge and then Queen’s University.
OTTAWA – In the last decade, Canadians have legally imported more than 2,600 trophy animals that are on an international list of endangered species.The imports also include thousands of animal skins, skulls, feet, ears, tusks, horns and tails of everything from antelope to zebras from all corners of the earth.Earlier this month, the United States made waves when the Fish and Wildlife Service suddenly reversed a 2014 ban on elephant imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia.U.S. President Donald Trump stepped in to halt that reversal, tweeting earlier this month that he considers elephant hunting a “horror show” and that it was unlikely anyone could convince him hunting the animals was good for conservation.Canada, on the other hand, never banned the imports in the first place.The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, tracks animals on three lists based on the level of protection needed and requires permits to be issued before these animals or any parts of them can be traded across international borders.That database shows that between 2007 and 2016, Canada allowed the legal importation of 2,647 mammals as hunting trophies, including 83 elephants, 256 lions, 134 zebras, 76 hippos and 19 rhinoceroses.Another 280 mammals were imported intact after having been stuffed, including antelope, oryx, monkeys and lions. Canadians also imported 434 skulls and 260 feet from elephants, zebras, hippos and rhinos; 87 elephant ears; 1,156 elephant tusks; and 17 rhinoceros horns.Those do not include animals brought back as trophies that are not considered endangered, which do not require any kind of special permit.Elephants are among the most endangered species in the world, with a 2016 census finding populations down 30 per cent between 2007 and 2014. Elephants are on the most-endangered list of CITES in all countries except four: Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.Populations in Zambia and South Africa are stable, but elephant populations in Botswana and Zimbabwe have dropped 15 and six per cent, respectively, since 2010.Sixty-one of the elephant trophies imported into Canada between 2007 and 2014 came from those four countries. Fifteen elephants came from the most endangered list.When it comes to allowing the importation of trophies, any decisions that are made have to be based on sound science, not on feelings, said Jason St. Michael, operations manager for Safari Club International in Canada.“I think people need to really take the time to educate themselves about the values of big game hunting,” he said.In some countries, elephant hunting should be banned, but in places like South Africa — where elephant populations are being well managed — it is both an economic driver and a conservation program to allow regulated hunting.“The government should be using science and not emotions to make these decisions,” said St. Michael. “President Trump is probably not using science and listening to emotions.”Elephanatics, a Vancouver-based elephant conservation group, is petitioning the Canadian government to support moving all elephants onto the so-called Appendix I list, including those from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa.Canada was one of a number of countries that voted against such a move last year.Environment Canada would not make an official available for an interview, but said in an emailed statement that Canada voted against moving all elephants to Appendix I because the four countries affected “did not meet the CITES criteria for listing on Appendix I.”“Canada adheres to a strict set of principles in the CITES fora and believes decisions regarding trade controls should be founded on best available science, support sustainable use of well-managed populations, and the conservation needs of species,” it reads.Fran Duthie, president of Elephanatics, said Canada also needs to ban the domestic trade in ivory. Canada is one of just four countries that refuses to do so, joining Japan, Namibia and South Africa. In Canada, the ivory trade includes Inuit hunters who trade in ivory from narwhals and walruses.Elephanatics, however, says as long as any trading of ivory is allowed, illegally obtained ivory from poachers who slaughter elephants — even in highly endangered populations — can slip into the system without much trouble.— Follow @mrabson on Twitter
Five tweens and teens have been charged with threatening schools on social media, Ontario’s provincial police said Tuesday as they reported a “spike” in online threats following a deadly school shooting in Florida last month.Sgt. Peter Leon said officers conducted six separate investigations in the province’s central division, starting shortly after the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which 14 students and three teachers were killed.“We started to see a spike in them,” Leon said of the online threats. “Unfortunately, when events take place south of the border…we do start to see situations present themselves here in Ontario.”Five people between the ages of 12 and 17 were charged with uttering threats. Four of the five were students at the schools they’re accused of threatening and the other was a former student, Leon said. Police did not arrest a sixth because the person was too young to face charges.Most of the investigations occurred in areas overseen by the Nottawasaga, Collingwood and Barrie detachments of the force but the problem is pervasive and extends beyond the province, Leon said.On Monday, for instance, police in Bathurst, N.B., announced they had arrested three people after social media threats sent two schools into lockdown.Local media reported similar lockdowns in Halifax on Feb. 23, in Clarenville, N.L., on March 12 and in Coxheath, N.S., on March 15.A student on Vancouver Island was arrested on March 7 for a social media post that allegedly showed them firing a weapon into a small target with the caption “practicing for school,” local media reported.Aimee Morrison, a professor of digital media at the University of Waterloo, said the copycat effect is well documented.“When a school shooting happens at a high school, all of a sudden everyone is online looking for information about school shootings,” she said.“If you are someone who’s looking to draw some kind of attention or make some sort of splash, you would also, if you were going to engage in a prank like this, probably make the prank about a high school shooting.”Leon noted that Instagram is among the platforms where threats have popped up, and he suspected kids might be making such posts in an effort to gain followers.Morrison concurred. She said that as Instagram has grown in popularity, it’s increasingly become a hub for kids and teens to make threatening posts.“The hashtag ecosystem of Instagram makes it a lot easier to go viral or be discovered by a much broader range of people.”She said the people making posts often don’t intend to follow through, but that the behaviour is still unacceptable.“They will say, often, that they are doing it for the ‘lolz,’ that of course they’re not meant to be taken seriously, that it’s how the internet works,” she said. “But what they are doing is they are deliberately yelling ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theatre to get the attention, and then saying, ‘But I didn’t start any fires.’”Leon said Ontario Provincial Police are trying to get the message out that they’re arresting people for making these sorts of threats and intend to prosecute.“I can assure you posting an image of a firearm with threatening words following it is not the right way to go about doing things,” Leon said. “We just want the public and young children and young people to know: If they do something like this, they will be held accountable.”
SASKATOON – A five-year-old autistic boy who fell into a pond on his first full day of school last fall and drowned was fascinated by water, according to a report released Wednesday by Saskatoon Public Schools.Kindergarten student Ahmedsadiq Hussein Elmmi was found in a pond near Ecole Dundonald School on Sept. 11 after the morning break.He was pronounced dead in hospital.The coroner’s office said the death was accidental and no inquest will be held.Saskatoon Public Schools outlined what took place on the day that Elmmi died and listed some of the steps that were taken to ensure his safety prior to his death.“The school felt confident that they had a solid safety plan in place for Ahmed’s arrival at school,” the report says.“Unfortunately, in the end the plan was not executed to perfection.”According to the report, his parents informed the school when they registered their child in June that he had autistic symptoms. He was diagnosed as autistic in August.They expressed concerns about his safety as he had been known to want to escape from any building he was in. His pre-school teacher also said that he would hold onto an adult’s hand while outside.The report says that the school worked throughout the summer to ensure that a safety plan would be in place for Elmmi.On the morning of Sept. 11 he tried to get away twice from the educational assistant assigned to him for recess. On a third try, he went into line for the slide, which was his favourite activity.That’s when recess supervisors lost track of him.As children started to file back into class after recess, playground supervisors were alerted to look for him. His teacher also called emergency services.The report estimates that all this happened within about five minutes.“Ahmed’s death was a tragedy of unfathomable magnitude,” the report says. “The school division is deeply sorry for the family’s loss and that it occurred while their child was under the school’s supervision.“This tragic event happened over a very brief period of time, and it is the responsibility of the school division to learn from this event and to consider what precautions can be recommended in the interests of student safety.”The report makes recommendations to the school board to prevent similar deaths.They include having kindergarten students take part in recess at an alternate time from the rest of the school until the students with critical special needs have become acclimatized to being in the school. Another recommendation calls for having a specific plan for students who are considered to be “runners,” including the use of reflective vests, gait belts or tethers.The coroner’s office also called for future ponds be located away from schools, for increased water safety education and for additional barriers around ponds near schools.Education Minister Gordon Wyant said the government will review the findings and recommendations and help with any necessary safety improvements.“The safety of all Saskatchewan students is always our government’s first priority,” Wyant said in a statement.Earlier this month, a city committee proposed a wrought-iron fence be built to separate Ecole Dundonald School from the park where the pond is.City council is to consider the recommendation next month.— By Ryan McKenna in Regina.Follow @RyanBMcKenna on Twitter
MONTREAL – The elegant draft horses that pull tourist caleches through Old Montreal will soon be clip-clopping their way into the city’s history books as the municipal administration moves forward with a plan to ban the activity as of 2020.City Coun. Craig Sauve said Thursday he’s introducing a regulation to end the horse-drawn carriages amid growing concern over the welfare of the animals, despite tighter rules imposed on the industry in recent years.“The conclusions are clear: the unfortunate incidents involving horses and caleches have continued to occur,” he told a news conference.There have been at least four accidents involving carriage horses since 2014, as well as several hundred citizen complaints over the treatment of the horses, according to data provided by the city.There were also 14 tickets given out in 2016 and 2017 for infractions related to horse health and the state of the carriages.The city’s new regulation would prohibit horse-drawn carriages anywhere on Montreal’s territory as of Dec. 21, 2019.Sauve said the timeline would give drivers and owners enough time find other work, noting the administration had been promising to end the carriage horse industry since the municipal election campaign last fall.“We see there have been a lot of cases of horses being mistreated, horses dying while doing their caleche activities,” Sauve said.“We promised in the campaign to put an end to this industry, and we’re giving them a year and a half to adjust and we think that’s enough time.”The city also unveiled its revamped animal-control bylaw, six months after overturning the previous administration’s ban on pit bull-type dogs.Fomer mayor Denis Coderre enacted the pit bull ban in 2016 after a 55-year-old Montreal woman died after a dog attack in her backyard.Mayor Valerie Plante’s adminstration revoked the controversial ban in December and later held a series of citizen consultations to come up with the framework that was presented on Thursday.While the new regulations do not target a specific breed, they impose tough conditions on dogs that are considered potentially dangerous due to past behaviour.Any dog who is involved in an altercation or shows signs of aggression must wear a muzzle, be kept on a short leash away from children, and be evaluated by a behavioural expert to determine whether it should be euthanized or whether the owner should abide by strict conditions.Owners of these potentially dangerous dogs must be over the age of 18 and cannot have been convicted of an animal-related or violent crime.The bylaw also introduces mandatory sterilization of dogs, cats and rabbits and will require pet stores to sell only rescued animals.It also brings in new welfare rules, including a ban on spiked or electric collars and a rule preventing dogs from being left tied outside for more than three hours.Sauve said the city’s approach will do a better job of reducing dog bites than breed-specific legislation, which he described as both ineffective and hard to apply.“The best practices across the world show it’s impossible to identify a dog (breed) visually,” he said.“You have to have a comprehensive approach, and that’s what we’re proposing here, to look at all dogs that are aggressive and not target one breed.”He noted the Quebec government recently reached the same conclusion when it decided to backtrack on breed-specific legislation tabled in April 2017.Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said there wasn’t enough scientific data to warrant going ahead with a provincewide ban on new pit bulls.Both of Montreal’s animal-themed bylaws are expected to take effect once they are adopted at a future city council meeting.While the Montreal SPCA praised both the animal-control bylaw and the caleche ban, the owner of the city’s largest carriage horse operation had a predictably different reaction.Luc Desparois, who owns 22 horses and operates a stable near downtown, accused the administration of taking away at least 50 jobs and robbing the city of a historic profession he calls “a jewel of Montreal.”In a phone interview, Desparois said he’s been the victim of animal activists and special interest groups who have worked to shut him down at all costs, despite the fact he says he’s followed all the city’s regulations.He vehemently denies his horses are mistreated and says he has the vet records to prove it.“Come and visit them and see: there’s not a mark on them, not a sick one among them,” he said.
VANCOUVER – A woman in her 30s has died after becoming stuck in the door of a clothing recycling bin on Vancouver’s west side.Vancouver police confirm it happened around 4 a.m. Monday.The BC Coroners Service has now taken over the case and is not commenting until its fact-finding investigation is complete.The Developmental Disabilities Association owns the box and says in a statement that it is saddened by the tragic incident in one of its donation bins.The association says community safety is very important and it has made efforts to prevent people from entering the bins and will continue to work with community groups and bin manufacturers.There have been three such deaths in Metro Vancouver since 2015.A man died after becoming stuck while trying to climb inside a donation bin in Surrey in March 2016 and in September 2015, a 45-year-old woman in Pitt Meadows died after dangling upside down in one of the bins for hours.
WINNIPEG – The leader of Manitoba’s Opposition has called for an inquest into the death of an Indigenous man who died during a 10-hour bus trip for a medical appointment.Abraham Donkey of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation was travelling from Thompson to Winnipeg for a followup appointment after a recent heart surgery.The 58-year-old died on Oct. 3 along Highway 6.“In a circumstance like this where he was on a bus — alone — and he had just received medical treatment, and was on his way to get further treatment, it certainly raises a lot of questions,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Wednesday.Kinew said neither Manitoba’s Northern Patient Transport Program nor the federal government’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch offered to pay for a flight and did not cover expenses for a family member to go with Donkey.Kinew added he spoke with Donkey’s family and they requested a formal investigation with some accountability.“It seems like a mistake was made in his care, maybe more than one mistake was made, and we need to get the answers to those questions,” Kinew said.When asked in question period about Donkey’s death, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Indigenous Services Department is looking into the details.The department said in an email that it could not discuss details of individual cases, however, flights are approved based on recommendations from the nurses or doctors depending on the medical condition of the client. The normal mode of travel is by bus because it is cheaper.Kinew acknowledged a provincial inquest does not have the jurisdiction to make recommendations to the federal government, but he said it would be a good first step.He added that the provincial government changed a subsidy last spring that offered airfare to escorts of northern Manitoba patients who fly south for medical appointments..“I think an inquest is a good first step, to have a formal investigative process, to be able to give the family some solace in their time of grief,” he said.“But also importantly to make sure that we avoid having a situation like this happen again.”The Chief Medical Examiner will decide whether there will be an inquest.
Leslie Sole, a Canadian broadcasting veteran who helped lead Rogers Media’s television division, and his wife, popular former radio DJ Terri Michael, were killed in a head-on car crash Monday in Mexico.Sole and Michael retired a few years ago in the Cabo San Lucas area of Mexico.Details of the crash were not immediately available.Sole began his 25-year career at Rogers Communications in 1986 and was named chief content officer at Rogers Media after expanding its television division. He was serving as the CEO of Rogers Media Television when he left the company in 2011.He’s being remembered as a creative executive who never shied away from bold decisions.One of his greatest contributions to Canada’s broadcast landscape was his work at television station OMNI. He was the architect of Canada’s first multicultural television station expanding its footprint from Ontario to B.C. and Alberta.He oversaw the acquisition of five Citytv stations across Canada from CTVglobemedia, five OMNI Television stations and three specialty channels, including The Biography Channel.“Leslie is one of the great innovative thinkers in Canadian broadcasting,” former Rogers Broadcasting President Rael Merson said at the time of the Citytv acquisition.Michael was a popular radio DJ on Toronto radio stations CKFM 99.9 and EZ ROCK 97.3 throughout the ’80s and ’90s when she interviewed some of music’s biggest stars including Elton John, Mick Jagger and Peter Frampton.She wrote and hosted a show on The Biography Channel. Outside of broadcasting, Michael started her own jewelry line in 2006. Terri Michael in an undated file photo. HANDOUT/terrimichael.com In December 2009, Sole was front and centre at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Citytv studios at Yonge and Dundas streets, where CityNews, Breakfast Television and OMNI Television still broadcast.He received Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his contribution to his community and to Canada.Rogers Media President Rick Brace released the following statement.“Leslie was a visionary, who passionately loved Canadian television and left an indelible mark on this industry, and on Rogers. Throughout his 25 years at Rogers, Leslie was a creative executive who never shied away from bold decisions and was the architect of pioneering stations such as OMNI Television. Rogers Media extends its deepest condolences to the entire Sole family on the passing of Leslie and his wife Terri. We join with friends and colleagues in the remembrance of this respected media leader, one we were proud to call our own.”