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January 15th, 2019 by admin

Eberle returns from injury, joins shaken-up Oilers lineup

EDMONTON – One of the Edmonton Oilers’ key pieces will be back on the ice Friday night.

Jordan Eberle, who’s been out of the lineup since injuring his shoulder during preseason, is back at full health.

Eberle will start Friday’s game against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on the first line.

“I’m excited, even a little nervous for the first game, which is funny,” said Eberle. “But I’m excited to finally get my season going.”

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  • Oilers forward Jordan Eberle out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury

  • Connor McDavid out for ‘months’ due to broken left clavicle

Eberle was hurt in the Sept. 29 game against the Arizona Coyotes, and has missed all of the team’s 13 games.

READ MORE: Oilers forward Jordan Eberle out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury

While every player wants to be 100 per cent effective after coming back from injury, Eberle is keeping his expectations realistic.

“It’s tough. I’d like to think I can jump in and be at the top of my game, but it’s probably gonna take a bit,” he said after practice on Thursday.

“I think with the tempo of practices we have and the kind of staff we have, they’ve made it a lot easier to get as ready as I can be.”

READ MORE: Connor McDavid out for months due to broken left clavicle 

Eberle’s return, along with the recent injury to Connor McDavid, means that the Oilers’ first two lines will see a few changes for Friday’s game. Eberle will take the wing on the team’s first line, along with team scoring leader Taylor Hall.

Recent AHL call-up Leon Draisaitl will take the first line centre position. Since being called up from Bakersfield, the 20-year-old Draisaitl has seven points in three games.

READ MORE: Leon Draisaitl scores twice, Oilers come from behind to beat Habs 4-3

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will centre the second line, along with Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov.

Oiler coach Todd McLellan is looking forward to having Eberle back on the ice.

“He’s gonna bring some experience back in.

“When players return, they have an energy level that’s maybe a little bit higher than the others who have been grinding it out, so he’s going to have that little spark in him, that energy.”

Eberle will put in time on the team’s power play, which coach McLellan says will benefit from having an experienced player with good positional skill.

“We have ‘long’ skill right now; we have lots of speed through the neutral zone, rush-type skill. Jordan’s very good in tight areas, cycling, handling pucks, making little plays.”

©2015

January 15th, 2019 by admin

Notley’s NDP apologizes for invite offering access to premier, cabinet for $250

EDMONTON – Alberta’s NDP government has done an about-face over allegations it was selling access to Premier Rachel Notley and her cabinet.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman apologized in the legislature for invitations to an upcoming NDP party fundraiser in Calgary.

She says there was an error in the wording of the invitation sent out by the party for a Nov. 26 event at Stampede Park.

In return for a $250 donation, it promised a chance to talk about issues with Premier Rachel Notley, cabinet, and MLAs.

ChangSha Night Net

Just seconds before Hoffman apolgized, house leader Brian Mason was defending the event under questioning from the Wildrose.

Wildrose critic Jason Nixon says it was a clear case of influence peddling, but Mason says it was no such thing.

Before session began, the premier was asked about the fundraiser.

“I think the fundraiser is simply a fundraiser,” said Notley. She said the previous PC government and other opposition parties charged between $500 and $1,000.

“I think that we will continue as members of a political party to raise funds for our political party.”

The Acting Provincial Secretary of the Alberta NDP, Chris O’Halloran, issued the following statement late Thursday afternoon:

“In promoting an upcoming fundraiser, we used regrettable language, referencing the Executive Council roles of several Alberta NDP MLAs.

The event is a fundraiser that will be attended by the Alberta NDP Leader and a number of NDP MLAs, along with supporters.

I take full responsibility for this error, and all reference to Executive Council roles have been removed from promoting this event.”

With files from Global News

©2015

January 15th, 2019 by admin

Terminally ill Star Wars fan’s dying wish granted, has private screening of new film

A cancer-stricken Star Wars fan has been granted his dying wish —; a private screening of the yet-to-be-released Star Wars film.

Texas native Daniel Fleetwood, 32, has been a huge Star Wars fan since we was a kid. For the last two years he has been battling a rare and aggressive cancer, spindle cell sarcoma. Fleetwood was recently told he had one to two months to live; his cancer had spread to his lungs and was inoperable.

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A gofundme page for Fleetwood, created by his wife Ashley, describes their struggle with the illness, including a trial study that was not successful.

“He is now on hospice at home and we are cherishing every moment we have,” Ashley wrote.

Fleetwood has been quoted as saying he didn’t believe he would live long enough to see The Force Awakens, due for release Dec. 18.

A social media effort, #forceforDaniel, was launched in an effort to grant Fleetwood’s dying wish to see the movie. His story made headlines, and even caught the attention of Mark Hamill who retweeted messages of support.

READ MORE: Dad turns son’s wheelchair into an out-of-this-world Star Wars-inspired Halloween costume

On Thursday Ashley posted a message on Facebook with the good news.

“Today the wonderful Disney and Lucasfilms made his final dream come true, in the amazing typical Disney way, they really do make dreams come true!”

She said the new film’s director JJ Abrams called the couple Wednesday to tell them Daniel’s wish would be granted. He has since had a home screening of an “unedited” version of the film.

Ashley Fleetwood’s Facebook post with the good news.

Facebook / Global News

I want to thank ALL the amazing people who helped make this happen, thank you beyond words!!! May the force be with you all #‎forcefordaniel‬ !!!!”

Hamill, whose reprisal of Luke Skywalker in the new film has been shrouded in mystery, tweeted he was “elated for Daniel and his family.”

This isn’t the first time Abrams has given a fan on their deathbed a sneak peek of a film; in 2013 a New York man, Daniel Craft, saw a rough version of Star Trek Into Darkness months before it was in theatres. Craft died just days after seeing the film.

©2015

January 15th, 2019 by admin

Climbing to the top of Africa for the children of B.C.

Climbing to the top of Africa for the children of B.C.: My journey to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

The Mountain

Twende…polepole.” These were the Swahili words we’d heard over and over for the last five days. “Go…slowly.”

ChangSha Night Net

The morning was dark and very cold. The altitude, nearly 5,800m (19,028 feet), had sucked the life out of most of us, leaving us tired, nauseated, and with searing headaches. The only accompanying sign of life among our group and African guides was the sky full of twinkling stars, brighter and more vibrant than I can ever recall seeing anywhere in my life.

Were we done? Was our task complete? Had we reached the summit? Not yet. A little higher to go still. Turn your headlamp on, get in line, and climb towards the stars. Polepole. Slowly.

How It All Began

This was a journey that was months in the making.

Our team was made up of 11 individuals, all representing the not-for-profit group, Summits of Hope (SOH). For almost 16 years, this organization has been raising money for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation by hiking some of the highest peaks on the planet.

My invitation to join this group on an expedition had come in 2014 during the BC Children’s Hospital Miracle Weekend Telethon when climber Pieter Dorsman suggested I sign up. Naturally being an adventure seeker I said, “Sure, I’d love to go!” But I was still knee-deep in meteorology school, making the trip that fall impossible. The following year at the telethon, Summits of Hope donated over $204,000.00 to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and, after the cheque presentation, SOH President Russ Barstow told me they were saving a spot for me on the 2015 team. How do you say no to that? You don’t. You go and have the experience of a lifetime.

About three weeks before our Vancouver departure, the majority of our team had a chance to meet at the Mountain of Toys event hosted by SOH at BC Children’s Hospital where over $5,000.00 dollars worth of toys were donated to the playrooms. It was wonderful to meet my fellow climbers and get a sense of their anticipation for our adventure, but the highlight of the event was meeting the children themselves, some of whom were able to join us in the playroom. Those too sick to join us got personal visits in their hospital beds. These children were the inspiration for our climb and their names were written on a flag we would carry to the top of Africa.

It was at this event that the journey really began for me. Meeting the children and their caregivers put a clearer focus on the importance of what we were doing. I felt an immediate sense of responsibility to make it to the summit. Carrying that flag with the names of some of BC’s sick kids would be an honour. But it wasn’t solely this flag that would be kept close as we climbed. From my first steps on the mountain to my last, I also carried with me prayer flags containing messages from people who had donated to my effort. Some were messages of hope, luck, encouragement, and inspiration, and others were prayers for those currently battling illness and remembrance of loved ones who have passed.

Tanzania

The bonding process for our team had begun days before setting foot on the mountain. Not only had we travelled together from Vancouver, but on our first day in Tanzania we visited two orphanages, delivering much needed school supplies, clothing, and other necessities not so easy to come by in this poor African nation. Children as young as two and as old as 12 live in these shelters. Their parents are mostly victims of HIV, and if their grandparents can’t take them in, they end up in these small concrete houses off the beaten dirt path. It is here they live and receive an education, and where one can’t help but feel the love the adults have for them. These teachers and caregivers help to ensure their safety and well-being, and make sure they receive schooling and learn English as best they can to put them on a track to success. Learning English, we were told, would give them the best chances for a better job and therefore a life full of opportunity.

We were strangers yet they welcomed us into their homes with smiles, drawings, and songs. They greeted us with handshakes, introduced themselves by name, and held our hands as we toured their barren living conditions. Coming from the opulence of Vancouver and all the comforts of the modern world, it was humbling to walk into this modest environment where the classroom is no bigger than a large walk-in closet, and where half a dozen children sleep in one room lined with bunk beds. I immediately knew this experience would stay with me long after returning home.

A beautiful little girl, no more than three years old, ran towards me and wrapped her tiny arms around my neck. It isn’t fair that she’s beginning her life here and it will likely be years before she understands what happened to her parents, but she’s not alone in the world and hasn’t been forgotten. She is loved.

We brought gifts and supplies that would help sustain these outposts for months and maybe years to come. Witnessing the joy a package of pencils and some new socks brought to a child’s face left me feeling elated, but I also felt ashamed of the material possessions we hoard and take for granted here in the western world. It gave me the desire to come home and remind everyone that it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference to a person in need. Pay it forward. These children have nothing but they’re happy, and they gave us so much more than we gave them.

Visiting the Tumaini orphanage in Arusha where this little girl ran into my arms as soon as we arrived. Photo credit Sally Warner.

SOH group photo with the children at the Econef Orphanage in Arusha

SOH group photo with the children and care givers at the Tumaini Orphanage in Arusha

This little boy loved the Canadian flag I gave him, his face lit up when I put it in his hand

From the Tumaini orphanage we walked to the Econef orphanage

SOH climb leader Tom Higashio handing out school supplies to the children at the Econef orphanage

SOH climber, Tahnee Chow, touring the classroom at the Econef orphanage

8-year old Husana drew me this photo. It says “Kate and Husana, friends forever”

The Climb

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak on the African continent and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. It sits right on the Tanzanian border with Kenya and its summit, Uhuru Peak, rises in isolation at an impressive 5,895m (19,341 feet). It is a dormant volcano, often shrouded in clouds which make it impossible to see on approach. It keeps its true beauty a mystery until you have a foothold on a path to the summit, which acts as a beacon, guiding and inspiring you. It’s name, Uhuru, means freedom. It’s well named, because freedom was a state we would all come to experience on the climb.

Summits of Hope has sent climbers to Mount Kilimanjaro many times, so I knew we were in very good hands with capable guides and leaders who had all summited before. The first day was very hot and muggy. Trekking through the Rongai Forest at the bottom of Mount Kilimanjaro was sweltering and dusty making it hard to breathe. Polepole…slowly. Even from our first step on the mountain we were instructed to go slow. It was like a lumbered shuffle, as if we were lazily meandering along with no particular destination. Only our destination was the top of Africa.

Going slowly at the bottom ensures success at the top. We were told the most important thing we could do on this journey was not rush —; ever. Our bodies would need time to clue in to the fact that we were climbing higher and higher in elevation and would respond by creating more red blood cells. This would help us in the days ahead as we got closer to the summit where the air was thinnest. It’s the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the bloodstream. Gord Denhoed, a New Westminster firefighter and one of our seasoned SOH climb leaders explained it to me in layman’s terms. “Think of it like train cars on a track,” he said. “In each of those train cars are your red blood cells. The slower you climb into higher elevation, the more time your body has to put more train cars on the track and fill them with red blood cells. If you climb too quickly, your body won’t have a chance to respond.” It was this analogy I returned to each day as it got harder and harder to breathe.

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

Base of the Rongai Forest where we picked up our trail to the top

Attempting to get online at the foot of the mountain overlooking Kenya

A view of the summit from our first campsite, Simba Camp

Our African guides

Day 2 hiking with the summit in clear view

Days one, two, and three were challenging, but not overly difficult. The nights were cold, but not unbearable. We felt the effects of the altitude, but they didn’t hamper our progress. Each morning we awoke to bright blue skies and a clear view of the peak. Uhuru stood impressive and dominant in the landscape and was our directional signal before the clouds rolled in. At night, it was the stars’ turn to shine. The half moon, blindingly bright with the Milky Way illuminating the night sky, forced us to look up in wonder at the natural beauty all around us.

Friendships started to develop early on. We had gotten past the formal, interview part of being new in each other’s company (Where were you born? How many siblings do you have? Why are you doing this climb?) and the conversations became more in depth. The stories became more personal and trust developed. We were a team. On day two, I opened an impromptu weather school. People are fascinated with the weather and often want to learn more. So, for hours as we climbed, I taught the team about how weather works, what the different cloud formations tell us, and what a 30% chance of showers really means.

It was also on day two that I began recording video updates.

By the start of day three, the increasing difficulty of the climb was starting to show.

The fourth morning found us at an elevation of 4,328m (14,200 feet) and the effects of the altitude were evident in lowered energy levels and how difficult it had become to breathe.

But the most challenging days were still ahead. There were times that truly tested our mettle and drove me to an ongoing internal dialogue to remind myself to focus on my breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. “Don’t stop. Keep moving. Slowly. Breathe…in through your nose and out through your mouth. You can do this. This mountain is not bigger than you. You will make it to the top.” I grew quiet, mostly listening to conversations around me. Pavel Bains and Peter Schmidt’s ‘Top Five Lists’ kept us thoroughly entertained and wonderfully distracted. Rachel Warner’s “What if…?” and “What would you do…?” style of questioning allowed us to fantasize about different life scenarios and be outrageous with our answers.

The altitude on day four hit as we traversed The Saddle, a barren and vast expanse of landscape that resembles the surface of the moon and put us right in line with the summit. We walked slowly uphill for eight hours to 4,750m (15,585 feet), stopping only for lunch and to take a picture of the team holding the flag with the names of the patients back at BC Children’s Hospital.

Breakfast at Mawenzi Tarn Camp. On the sunny mornings we dined outside where we enjoyed the views of Kilimanjaro’s many peaks

Breakfast at Mawenzi Tarn Camp. Me and fellow climber John Doyle. In the background from left to right, Tom Higashio, Kelly Oliver, Peter Schmidt

Our porters and guides sending us off with a morning song and dance

Two of our amazing African porters, Muba and Peter

Mawenzi Tarn Camp, elevation 4330 m (14210 feet)

Our Lifelines

We travelled with a group of 45 African guides, porters, cooks, and servers. These 44 men and one woman were our lifelines. (The video above includes footage of some of them.) Every day I marveled at how incredible these people were in everything they did, from setting up our camps and cooking us three meals a day to carrying our duffel bags, tents, and supplies. With barely a fraction of the warm-weather gear we had —; yet equally feeling the effects of the altitude —; these people kept us comfortable, nourished, and entertained. They sang songs in the morning before we set out and came to our aid on the mountain if our day packs had become too heavy to carry. This is the work they do to support their families and while they will never be rich, they are happy and grateful.

One of our guides, Daniel, told me his longest run on the mountain was 26 days straight of going up to the summit and back down, over and over again before having one day off at home. I couldn’t imagine getting to the bottom and then literally turning around to go right back up even once, let alone for 26 days. My porter, Donadee, wore nothing more than a fleece pullover and thin cotton pants. He spoke broken English but I could tell he was proud to assist me. In the end, I gave him some of my clothing and toques to show my appreciation for all he had done. “Thank you, for my family,” he said. They were our lifelines.

The Summit

The push to the summit was a two-day affair that began with a nine-hour climb up the northeastern face of the mountain, a steep switch-backing scree that took us to the rim of the Kibo crater. Saying it was tough is an understatement.

Climbing into the thinnest air yet, most of us grew quiet as conversation had become exhausting. Our climb leaders, Gord Denhoed, Tom Higashio, and Kelly Oliver have more than a dozen summits of Mount Kilimanjaro between them. Their words of encouragement, “Looking good, team!” and “Great job, everyone!” helped us push through the discomfort. My head had started pounding and I had begun to lose my appetite, which was ironic because it was then I needed the calories the most.

We descended into the crater where we would set up camp and attempt to rest at an elevation of 5,600m (18,375 feet). Our porters met us half an hour out to take our day packs from us. Even with the weight off my back, I knew I could only take a few more steps.

Stepping off the trail so our porters could pass us on their way to the next camp

Our porters advancing rapidly in front of us to set up our next camp

The bright stars of the Milky Way (photo credit John Doyle)

At night on the mountain the stars were brighter than I can ever remember seeing anywhere in my life. Photo credit John Doyle.

Day 4, crossing the Saddle. A slow gradual uphill to over 4572 m (15000 feet)

Summits of Hope team with the flag holding the names of the sick kids at BC Children’s Hospital (Back row: Gord Denhoed, Kate Gajdosik, Peter Schmidt, Jesse Parsons, Pavel Bains. Front row: Rachel Warner, Sally Warner, Tahnee Chow, Tom Higashio, Kelly Oliver, John Doyle)

Our porters meeting us on approach to camp to relieve us of our daypacks. They did this daily, and we were all extremely grateful. My porter, Donadee, is in the red hoodie.

It was hard to appreciate the lunar-like beauty of the crater, which housed spectacular glaciers tens of thousands of years old. I wanted to walk towards them but I couldn’t. The thin air had halted us and as the sun began to drop below the horizon, most of us had succumbed to nausea and temple-piercing headaches. These are normal symptoms of altitude and we were warned to expect them, but it was still hard. Barely anyone ate dinner that night. We opted instead to lie in our tents, all too aware of how difficult it was to breathe and tracking our rapid heart rates at more than 120 beats per minute. I think I slept an hour that night and, even then, my sleep was broken.

It was cold in the crater that night. The temperature dropped well below -12°C. The next day we would reach the summit.

The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

Freedom

4:34am, dark and cold. It was time to go. Polepole. Slowly.

The sky was bright with stars but our path was illuminated by our headlamps. I wasn’t feeling well and silently wondered if I would make it to the top. It must have been obvious because the next thing I heard was, “Kate, give your day pack to Daniel.”

“No, I can carry it,” I said.

In the end, I gave it up. It was not the time to be a hero.

Along a steep, jagged, and rocky path, we climbed a short hour and a half to the summit. As we went higher, the sun began to rise, colouring the sky with vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow. It was breathtaking.

At the edge of the mountain we could see the summit in the distance. Uhuru Peak, the top of Africa, 5,895m (19,341 feet). Three more minutes and we were finally there.

Humbled, elated, proud, and tired, I hugged my teammates and allowed the tears to well up in my eyes. We pulled out our prayer flags with the messages of support and encouragement, remembrance and inspiration, and flew them in the wind beside the flag holding the names of the kids at BC Children’s Hospital. It was a moment I will never forget.

It took six days to get to the top. We climbed to support the sick kids in our community. Along the way, we experienced a gamut of emotions, witnessed strength in the face of adversity, and felt the power of the human spirit. We’d been pushed well beyond our comfort zones and had made friends for life.

And at the peak known as ‘freedom’, our task was complete.

Sunrise on the mountain

Taken at 15,000 feet of the SOH climbers who had never been that high in elevation before. From back: Jesse Parsons, Rachel Warner, Peter Schmidt, Tahnee Chow, Kate Gajdosik, Pavel Bains

Day 5 climbing the northeast rock face of Mount Kilimanjaro to the rim of the Kibo crater

Day 5 climbing the rock face, looking down

Kennedy, our main African guide and Vancouver Canucks fan!

Day 5, SOH team

Day 5, SOH team with our porters moving well in advance

Day 5, rounding the rim of the Kibo crater, a view of the Kibo icefields

Inside the Kibo crater where we would set up camp before reaching the summit the next morning. Elevation 5750 m (18,800 feet)

Summits of Hope team with the flag holding the names of the sick kids at BC Children’s Hospital (Back row: Gord Denhoed, Kate Gajdosik, Peter Schmidt, Jesse Parsons, Pavel Bains. Front row: Rachel Warner, Sally Warner, Tahnee Chow, Tom Higashio, Kelly Oliver, John Doyle)

SOH climb leaders, Kelly Oliver, Gord Denhoed, and Tom Higashio at Gilman’s Point on the rim of the Kibo crater

Sunrise on summit morning with Uhuru Peak in the distance

SOH team at the top, Uhuru Peak, elevation 5895 m (19341 feet)

Kate standing at the top of Africa holding the prayer flags containing messages from those who donated to BC Children’s Hospital

My certificate! (No, I’m not avoiding documenting my age, our guide didn’t fill out that information)

Thank you to Summits of Hope for the experience of a lifetime and for showing me that anything is possible. Thank you also to everyone who supported me with words of encouragement and generous donations for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

©2015

December 16th, 2018 by admin

Washington man catches baby being tossed from burning building

A Washington man is being praised for his quick-thinking after he spotted his neighbour’s house ablaze, and ran over just in time to discover a family trapped on the second floor.

What happened next was remarkable, and may have been responsible for saving a little girl’s life.

Mark Hedgpeth says he was at his home in Longview, Washington this past Sunday night when he noticed something strange on his home security camera.

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“I noticed on my security cameras a massive amount of light,” Hedgpeth told KGW News in Portland, Oregon.

WATCH: Taco Bell executive offers tearful apology to Uber driver he assaulted

That “light” was a fire which had nearly engulfed the duplex next door to Hedgpeth’s home. A moment later, he says he heard his neighbours screaming for help and rushed over to see what was happening.

A dire situation was waiting for him: the fire had trapped a family in both the basement and the second floor of the duplex.

Chiann James was trapped along with her husband, her infant daughter, and two-year-old son on that second story.

She screamed to Hedgpeth from the second story window, getting his attention. Realizing she had only seconds before the fire reached her family, James says her “moma instincts” kicked in and she dropped her baby girl down to Hedgpeth.

“You realize that child’s well-being is in your hands and nothing was going to make me miss [the catch],” Hedgpeth said.

The two-year-old boy was the next to take the perilous leap, followed by James and her husband.

WATCH: Reporter left speechless as boyfriend proposes live on the air

Incredibly, no one was seriously hurt in the blaze – the family in the basement crawled to safety through a ground floor window.

“[The fire] was growing like you can’t believe,” Battalion Chief Troy Buzalsky said. “They all got very lucky.”

“I feel like I’m someone who stepped up when someone needed help,” said Hedgpeth. “I would hope and pray anyone would do the same.”

©2015Global News

December 16th, 2018 by admin

Liberals say they’ll retroactively fix gendered pay inequity in cabinet

The Liberal government was in damage-control mode on Day 3 of its government after it emerged that five of the historic 15 women cabinet ministers were actually ministers of state, more junior cabinet members who get paid less than their ministerial counterparts.

The Liberals say this will change, that all 30 ministers are full-fledged ministers and will be paid the same.

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“To reflect their role as full members of Cabinet, the government is taking steps to adjust their salary so that it is the same as that of their colleagues,” Raymond Rivet, director of corporate and media affairs with the Privy Council Office, said in an emailed statement Friday.

But no one from the party was willing to go on the record to clarify the reason behind this apparent taxonomical hiccup.

Meantime, the pay scale for those ministers says otherwise: Ministers of State make $20,000 less per year, according to the Parliament of Canada website.

The salary change would be retroactive to Wednesday, when these ministers were sworn in. But it isn’t clear how long the change will take.

All of the Ministers of State in the new cabinet are women.

A Liberal source told Global News that these five MPs are being called Ministers of State to ensure they’ll have departmental support regardless while the government changes are being made.

“They’re all ministers and there’s nothing wrong with describing them all as ministers,” said Rob Walsh, a former parliamentary law clerk.

“But the term ‘Minister of State’ is used for a minister who doesn’t have a department for which he or she is responsible.”

All the same, Walsh thinks that the Liberals should have realized this would be an issue, especially after Trudeau’s public embrace of gender equity in his cabinet.

“I think they’re caught in an embarrassing position where they appear to have been slighting women generally by putting them in these junior portfolios at reduced pay, and they’re trying to repair that by bringing in equal pay and equal status, and disregarding the question of whether in fact the responsibilities are comparable.”

That last thing, Walsh argues, should be what determines members’ paycheques.

“The Minister of National Defence, you can be sure, is going to be called upon to account for the operations of his department and government policy in relation to defence far more often than will the Minister for Sport, Status of Women or Science,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Trudeau found himself, perhaps unwittingly, giving the junior portfolios to women only. But I think the system itself is sound. It’s fewer responsibilities, so you have a lower pay scale and you don’t have the same status.”

READ MORE: Trudeau’s gender-equal cabinet makes headlines around world, social media

Several Liberal MPs have defended the setup, saying all 30 ministers are equal.

“We’re a singular cabinet and each minister has equal responsibilities and input into cabinet decisions,” Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould told Global News Friday afternoon.

Peter Schiefke, Liberal MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, argues the Ministers of State issue is “just semantics.”

“The fact is that we’ve got 15 women and 15 men that are in very high-profile positions who are incredibly qualified and capable.”

Not all Liberals are happy with these optics, however. Sources have told Global News that many women in the party are furious this happened, saying it’s been embarrassing for the five women appointed Ministers of State.

The website of the Privy Council Office listed the following five members of cabinet, unveiled on Wednesday and styled as “minister” by the new government, as “ministers of state”:

Bardish Chagger, Small Business and Tourism

Kirsty Duncan, Science

Marie-Claude Bibeau, International Development and La Francophonie

Patty Hajdu, Status of Women

Carla Qualtrough, Sport and Persons with Disabilities

Qualtrough, for example, is listed as “a Minister of State to be styled Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities” with a mandate “to assist the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Employment and Social Development, effective November 4, 2015.”

She told Global News that she considers herself a full minister.

“As far as I’m concerned, and the message I get regularly is, I report to the Prime Minister, I don’t report to another minister,” she said.

WATCH: Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough discusses her role in cabinet

“The machinery of government is such that because there’s no separate ministry of sport  – Sport Canada is currently housed in he department of Canadian Heritage – there’s a bit of work to be done in terms of the machinery side of government. I think that’s personally where some of the confusion and concern is laying.”

“But my marching orders, and the person I report, and I’m very confident in that, is the Prime Minister himself.”

©2015

December 16th, 2018 by admin

Calgary police chief warns of ‘fluid’ gangs, more weapons on city streets

CALGARY – Speaking to a recent spate of gun and gang violence in the city, Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin said Thursday he’s seen “big increases” in the presence of weapons on the street, and warned against the changing nature of gangs.

“The difference is, how difficult it is to notice it,” he said, comparing gang members past and present. “They could be standing beside you, in the same bar as you…you wouldn’t necessarily say, ‘hey there’s a gang member standing next to you.’”

“They’re not beholden to each other like in the past…they tend to go to each other by need.”

Chaffin said police are in the midst of five major operations dealing specifically with guns and gangs, and 85 other operations related to crime in the city.

“Rest assured that the service’s intent in this is to identify these people that are doing this, to arrest them, to put them before the courts and the justice system, and to lock them away. These people need to be behind bars; they need to be away from the community.”

WATCH: Chief Cst. Roger Chaffin responds to the recent violence in Calgary, Nov. 5, 2015.

The press conference came a day after a man was rushed to hospital after a shooting in the community of Marlborough Park. One witness, who did not wish to be identified, told Global News he heard several shots fired, at which point he left his house and saw the victim covered in blood and sitting inside a vehicle. Shortly after the attack, armed officers were seen performing what appeared to be a takedown along Marlborough Drive N.E.

Watch below: Calgary police investigate another shooting, this time in Marlborough Park. Global’s Bindu Suri reports.

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“Obviously when shots are fired in a residential community, it puts everybody at risk,” said Chaffin. “Bullets…go through walls and places and it’s not acceptable–not acceptable for us, and not acceptable for the city.”

Staff Sgt. Quinn Jacques of the guns and gangs unit said recent violence, while based on drugs, also raises issues of territory and disrespect.

“It’s new that we see criminals bypass all reasonable methods of settling a dispute and escalate right to guns. We saw it last night and the night before,” he said, referring to Marlborough Park and another shooting in Panorama Hills on Tuesday.

Jacques said using the term “gangs” is simplifying what’s going on in the city.

“They don’t view themselves as gangsters…That’s a handle we put on them,” he said. “They cooperate with each other for a brief amount of time and move on. They are, I hate to say it, but they are thrivers. They develop relationships with who they need for what they need, and once that is no longer of value to them, they move on.

“The old days of ‘blood brothers forever’ and the signs—we are not seeing that in Alberta anymore.”

Watch below: Staff Sgt. Quinn Jacques of the Guns and Gangs Unit talks to media regarding the recent violence in Calgary on Thursday.

Chaffin said police are currently “looking at” around 50 to 100 people who may be involved in gang activity, but emphasized it’s a “fluid group.” He said there’s been some movement between the Lower Mainland in British Columbia and Calgary.

Police are also predicting an 80 per cent uptick in their seizure of weapons this year, which he called alarming.

“Our homicides related to gang problems last year were, I think, one, and this year we’re up to five,” Chaffin said. He said what’s also alarming are the many incidents where people could have died.

Chaffin said he didn’t have scientific data to back it up, but assumes there is a relationship between the struggling economy and the current crime trends. He said despite all this, Calgary is still an “incredibly safe city for people to live in.”

“What’s going on is a new trend in a) presence of weapons and the propensity to use those weapons and just the day to day activities those criminals have with each other. It is a cause for us to re-look at ourselves, to ensure a professional police service… is on the street and it’s doing everything it can to get in front of it and create long-term solutions.”

READ MORE: Police searching for suspect in Panorama Hills shooting

The chief said he wouldn’t “insult the intelligence” of residents and suggest more arrests were the only answer, but said enforcement plays an important role.

“There are people that need to be arrested, put before the courts and locked away in order to really create safety. That’s something that has to happen…that is certainly one of our major goals.”

Police suggested community members who want to help can make sure they’re locking their own cars and homes, and make sure to call police whenever they see suspicious activity.

“The real message to any community is whether you’re part of offending group or just innocent people, is these are real lives that are at risk, and people have to understand how serious it is to use weapons like they are with such random recklessness.”

©2015

December 16th, 2018 by admin

Alberta government to review all agencies, boards and commissions

EDMONTON — The provincial government is now reviewing all agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs) as it looks to find cost savings and eliminate duplication of services.

There are 301 ABCs in the province, and they direct the spending of almost 50 per cent of the provincial budget. They include everything from the Alberta Energy Regulator to the Health Quality Council and the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says Albertans need to feel confident ABCs are using public dollars effectively.

“This review, combined with new legislation to expand the sunshine list and enshrine it in law, will help ensure Albertans are getting value for their money,” he said.

The government introduced new legislation on Thursday to expand what’s commonly called the sunshine list. Bill 5 requires public disclosure of the salaries of all government agency employees who earn more than $125,000 a year.

The review of the 136 public agencies which fall under the newly-expanded sunshine list will be complete by March of next year.

The remainder will be completed by the fall of 2016.

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©2015

December 16th, 2018 by admin

Alberta folk musician John Wort Hannam shares story from the road

LETHBRIDGE – Life as a troubadour isn’t always easy.  Just ask Fort Macleod folk musician John Wort Hannam.  Halfway through his latest Alberta tour, he lost one of a travelling musician’s most valuable tools.

“As soon as we started to go, the van started to do this weird shimmy thing,” said Hannam.  “I’m not a mechanic, but I knew it wasn’t good.”

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“Vincent Van Go,” Hannam’s 12-year-old Pontiac van, had a broken cylinder.  The vehicle had to be scrapped and replaced.  It was a heavy financial burden for the songwriter, but to Hannam’s surprise, a cheque for $330 soon arrived in the mail.

“It wasn’t a lot of money,” said Hannam. “But, it was a lot of money to me.”

It was from CKUA, the historic, publicly-funded radio network.  Hannam says CKUA was the first station to ever play his music and support his career.  He donates $20 to the station every month, and recently sent a cheque for an additional $330 for advertising. The radio station, hearing of his transportation dilemma, decided to give back.

On a post on his Facebook page, Hannam writes: “[CKUA] just gave me my last 16 and half months of sponsorship back to help me pay for my new tour van. All while continuing to play my songs, ask me to participate in events, and promote the hell out of my tour dates. This is just so above and beyond.”

“Inside was a beautiful note that said, ‘we heard about your van blowing up, please consider this return cheque our contribution so you can continue to play’,” said Hannam.

CKUA’s chief operating officer, Katrina Ingram, said the station was empathetic to Hannam’s plight.

“People don’t go into being a travelling musician for the money; they do it for the love and the passion,” said Ingram.  “It’s really important we have those folks out there continuing to do that work and that’s why we try to support them the best we can.”

As for Hannam – he’s road-ready once again, armed with a new van and new attitude.

“It gives me hope in humanity and it just shows that when there’s a community and people are helping out each other and lending a hand, that anything is possible.”

Hannam’s next Alberta performance is Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Edmonton.

©2015Global News

November 14th, 2018 by admin

‘It was always to get revenge’: Confessed Calgary killer soon eligible for parole

CALGARY – There’s nothing glamourous about life in a jail cell, and for a Calgary man now considered a rat, prison truly means losing all of his freedom.

“I come out half hour every two days…I’m locked in my room the whole time,” said confessed killer Michael Roberto in a videotaped interview with Calgary police.

Roberto is one of the most notorious gang members in Calgary’s history.

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From his jail cell, Roberto is breaking his silence on life as a high-ranking gang member, saying it started when he was a kid who created a “dial-a-dope” operation.

“Getting customers I trusted that I knew weren’t cops or undercovers or whatever, built the phone up to where I knew it was going to make money for me and then I would get people to work for me,” he said. “You look for the younger kids that are kind of not in a cool crowd—they are looking for a friend—so you put your arm around them, bring them in, show them… ‘We’ll be your friends, we’ll be your family, we’ll protect you.’”

There was a war going on between two rival gangs, and Roberto said he wasn’t about to lose it.

“I feared for my life everyday…just always looking over my shoulder, just making sure there was not someone there that was going to shoot me. I wore a bullet-resistant vest everywhere I went. I had a gun with me everywhere I went; I slept with it beside my bed,” he said. “At that point in my life I was just filled with pure hate, and that’s all I wanted to do was get these people.”

Roberto is responsible for some of the city’s most high profile, public killings, including the Bolsa Restaurant triple murder, that killed Aaron Brendle, Sanjeev Mann and innocent bystander Keni Su’a on New Year’s Day in 2009.

“Bolsa happened because of the individual (Sanjeev Mann),” said Roberto. “He was a high-ranking member, a well-known member of the rival group, and he was supposedly known to have killed one of my best friends.”

At the time, Roberto was on top of his game: running drugs and living life as a top-ranking gang member. He said killing became normal, and admitted to murdering five people.

“Five, and four of them were because of the war that I was involved in, because I lost friends,” he said. “One was having to do business. Towards the end I wasn’t even really about business or making money. It was always to get revenge, because I lost people, I lost friends, and I knew they were coming after me so I wanted to get them first.”

When Roberto got caught for the Bolsa shootings and faced life in prison, things changed.

“The person sitting next to you today will testify against you tomorrow,” said Detective Mike Shute with the Calgary Police Homicide Unit. “I think Mike always knew that and always believed that. It just came to a point where he knew he was going to be facing some pretty significant charges, and Mike was looking out for Mike.”

Roberto decided to switch sides. He offered cooperation with police, for immunity on first-degree murder. The catch: he will now testify against his former friends, and he’s officially labelled a snitch.

“He knows because of cooperating with police…that that’s not really an accepted behaviour, regardless of your situation,” said Shute. “So he—everyday, I’m sure, for the rest of his life—will be concerned for his safety.”

“If i could go back, I would definitely not do this whole gang thing,” said Roberto.

Roberto, now 31, will soon be eligible for parole because of the deal he’s cut. In the meantime, he’s in lockup nearly 24 hours a day.

“It’s basically horrible, same thing, day in day out,” he said. “A lot of time to reflect. You are in a room with four cement walls, nothing else.”

Roberto will be testifying in multiple murder trials for years to come.