B.C. babysitter charged with second-degree murder

August 12th, 2018

VANCOUVER -A Cranbrook, B.C., babysitter has been charged with second-degree murder in the drowning death of 19-month-old Iyanna Teeple.

Tammy Marion Bouvette, 28, was charged after the infant was found face down in a bathtub in Bouvette’s townhouse on May 26.

According to police, Bouvette called emergency crews at around noon. When they arrived, they discovered the baby girl, who wasn’t breathing, said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Faulkner.

Iyanna was taken to East Kootenay Regional Hospital and then flown to Calgary Children’s Hospital, where she was taken off life support on May 28.

Though Iyanna was declared brain-dead a day earlier, she remained on life support for organ-donation purposes, Iyanna’s mother, Renee Savarie, told The Sun on Tuesday.

A forensic autopsy confirmed that she had died from drowning.

Police said Iyanna had been dropped off at Bouvette’s townhouse a few hours before she was found in the tub. The home is located in a modest area of the southeastern British Columbia town, on a street lined with low-rise apartments, duplexes, and detached homes.

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“We were at work at the time,” Savarie said, adding that she’s known Bouvette for a couple of years. “I met Tammy at a pre-natal group,” she said, explaining that they were acquaintances, “not really friends.”

Bouvette, who has four children of her own, sometimes watched Iyanna for Savarie and her husband, Jason Teeple, when Savarie’s mother or their regular sitter were unavailable.

Asked about the charges, Savarie said, “You don’t leave a baby alone in the tub. That’s every mother’s common sense.”

After interviewing Bouvette several times following Iyanna’s death, police collected enough evidence to indicate that foul play was involved, Faulkner said. On June 24, they sent the investigation to Crown counsel, who on Monday approved a charge of second-degree murder.

Faulkner said police wouldn’t be releasing many details about the case. “I’m glad it’s slowly coming to an end,” Savarie said. “We just want to get it over with.”

Iyanna, an only child, “was very polite, happy and really a great baby,” Savarie said.

“She didn’t like to see people upset, so she would do something silly to make you smile. It’s just been an emotional roller-coaster for us. … It was her birthday on the 14th of October,” she said. “We’re planning to have more kids,” she added.

Renee’s younger brother, Mike Savarie, also of Cranbrook, said his niece “was the happiest little thing around. She was always smiling.”

He said the family hopes the trial won’t drag on so his sister and her husband can finally find a way to move on from the tragedy.

Bouvette appeared in Cranbrook Provincial Court Tuesday, but will have to appear in front of a Supreme Court Justice for a bail hearing.

According to the Criminal Code, second-degree murder carries a sentence of life in prison, though the judge can set parole eligibility anywhere between 10 and 25 years. Generally, the charge applies to homicide carried out intentionally but without premeditation.

Maintenance work curbs MEG third-quarter productions; full-year targets intact

August 12th, 2018

CALGARY – MEG Energy Corp. said Wednesday its output was reduced during the third-quarter as its Christina Lake oilsands project underwent three weeks of maintenance downtime, but that it is on track to meet its full-year production targets.

The Calgary-based oilsands operator (TSX:MEG) produced an average of 20,945 barrels of bitumen per day between July and September, higher than the 19,339 barrels it churned out during the same period a year ago, when maintenance work was also undertaken.

During the first nine months of 2011, MEG produced an average of 25,450 barrels per day, and remains on track to meet its guidance range of 25,000 to 27,000 barrels.

“This quarter was a very busy one for us, and it was marked by the successful completion of a full plant turnaround at our Christina Lake facilities in late September,” said chief executive officer said Bill McCaffrey.

“And I’m happy to report that the shut down was completed in a safe and efficient manner with costs coming in as planned.”

MEG shares rose more than 7.5 per cent, or $3.21, to $45.81 Wednesday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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McCaffrey made his remarks on a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s results during the third quarter, in which MEG booked net and operating losses.

McCaffrey likened a plant turnaround to a driver taking his or her car to the mechanic for regular tune-ups. First, the company inspects its systems for possible problems, then cleans them out and replaces any parts to ensure they keep working smoothly.

“We found that our equipment was in good shape, which is a strong indication that our existing operations are being very effective. Basically it tells us that our field facilities’ designs and operations are quite robust,” McCaffrey said.

Regulators require oilsands companies to undergo regular turnarounds. And since MEG has got a number of expansions in the hopper, future downtime will be needed to make tweaks along the way.

But in time, McCaffrey said it’s possible that such shutdowns will become less frequent – so long as MEG has gained enough confidence its various components can go a longer time without being cleaned or replaced.

“It is our goal, as we go forward, to reduce the amount of time and potentially the frequency of the turnarounds, and our guys are actively working on that.”

Also Wednesday, MEG recorded a net lost $115.2 million, or 60 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared to earnings of $21.2 million or 11 cents a year earlier.

MEG said its third-quarter loss reflected an unrealized foreign exchange loss of $101.4 million in the latest quarter, compared to a foreign exchange gain of $28.8 million in the same year-earlier period.

Stripped of the effects of unusual items, MEG reported an operating loss of $5.4 million, or three cents per share, compared to profits of $6.1 million, or three cents per share a year ago.

MEG attributed the operating loss to higher interest costs on its debt, higher staffing levels as it undergoes its Christina Lake expansions and higher costs as a result of the maintenance work.

The company develops oilsands deposits in the southern Athabasca region of Alberta using steam assisted gravity drainage, or SAGD, technology. Its key project is the Christina Lake oilsands development.

SAGD oilsands companies pipe steam underground to melt thick tar-like oilsands deposits. The oil is then collected through a second pipeline and pumped to the surface.

MEG said it expects to spend $1 billion on capital projects this year, with the majority invested in the company’s strategic plan to increase bitumen production capacity to 260,000 daily production.

Air Canada may be protecting bottom line by abandoning appeal, say experts

August 12th, 2018

MONTREAL – Air Canada’s decision to abandon a legal challenge of an arbitration ruling with one of its unions may win it some labour goodwill, but the ultimate goal is to preserve the airline’s bottom line, industry observers said Wednesday.

“The last thing that Air Canada needs at this point is more negativity. The whole issue of challenging the pension ruling just optically didn’t look good,” said Robert Kokonis of airline consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

With the economy souring and the key holiday period approaching, the national carrier could ill afford to scare off potential customers amidst a threat of disruptions by customer service workers represented by the CAW union, he said.

The customer service agents represented by the Canadian Auto Workers were the first of Air Canada’s major unionized groups to reach a collective agreement in the current round of contract negotiations.

The deal included a provision to send the difficult issue of pension reform to an arbitrator for what was intended to be a binding resolution.

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Air Canada’s original plan to challenge the arbitrator’s ruling unsettled not only the CAW, but also a hard-won agreement with the Canadian Union of Public Employees – which had agreed to abide by the arbitrator’s decision as well.

Kokonis said Air Canada’s (TSX:AC.B) brand could have been tarnished for several months until case against the CAW arbitration was heard by the Federal Court and Ontario divisional court.

Chief executive Calin Rovinescu said Tuesday the airline would abandon its judicial review “to create a climate of stability so that the company can move forward.”

The move came after he had a telephone conversation with Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza, who had threatened major disruptions.

Kokonis said more negativity at this point would create a snowball effect for the travelling public.

“As the snowball gets larger and the more the public hears about labour instability as Christmas is coming up, there is a real danger of seeing a material impact.”

Air Canada’s flight attendants union said the airline’s decision to abandon the judicial review brings relief for all bargaining groups.

“I would hope that Air Canada does want to forge peaceful times with the unions and the employees. It has been a rough go,” said CUPE national representative Daniela Scarpelli.

The head of Air Canada’s machinists union, whose members handle aircraft repairs and maintenance and baggage transport, said he was disgusted by the judicial review, calling it ridiculous.

“There was no common sense to that decision so who knows why they came to their senses,” Chuck Atkinson, district chairman of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said from Ottawa.

The Machinists union resumes negotiations next week with eight days of talks.

Atkinson doesn’t believe the arbitration rulings for customer service agents or flight attendants will set precedents for his union’s members.

It doesn’t accept a two-tier wage system for new hires and opposes a hybrid pension model favoured by the CAW and CUPE.

“We have a separate proposal that we think will meet the needs of the company and the union guys that’s not the hybrid plan.”

The company has put a low-cost carrier on the bargaining table, but the key issues for the Machinists is money. Like other workers, they want to recoup losses from the airline’s 2003 bankruptcy protection and 2009 wage freeze.

And it’s prepared to fight back, possibly through a legal challenge, if Labour Minister Lisa Raitt threatens back-to-work legislation to prevent a strike, Atkinson said.

“We are there to get a deal, to move forward for our members, and we would not like to have a disruption in service but we’ll do what we have to do.”

Air Canada faces intense competition from lower-cost WestJet (TSX:WJA) and Porter Airlines, along with charter operators such as Transat A.T. (TSX:TRZ.B) and Sunwing.

Ian Lee, who teaches strategic management at Carleton University, said Air Canada likely miscalculated when it launched the legal challenge.

But it faces the daunting challenges of an unfunded pension liability exceeding $2 billion, low margins and intense competition.

“I think that they decided from a rational, strategic point of view that going to judicial review on the pensions was not good for their bottom line,” he said in an interview.

Just the noise about possible disruptions – even without a strike – could have affected bookings and further eroded its relationship with customers, added George Smith, a former Air Canada director of employee relations and fellow at Queen’s University.

“If you’re running a fragile business and a highly competitive one…you’ve got a lot of pressure without adding the pressure of labour unrest to the travelling public’s thought about whether and when they travel.”

He said the airline may have been trying, through the legal challenge, to send a message to the flight attendants arbitrator to stay within the bounds of their jurisdiction.

The airline has found itself in a difficult position by having a pension ruling it can’t afford, which now serves as a precedent for other labour groups, he said.

“It’s a little hard after that milk has been spilt to scoop it back into the glass.”

Air Canada’s pilots will return to the bargaining table in the fall after previously rejecting a tentative agreement.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Air Canada’s shares closed down two cents to $1.32 in Wednesday trading.

Teen dies in hospital after head-on collision in northeast Calgary

November 26th, 2018

Calgary police said a 17-year-old has passed away Friday after injuries suffered in a head-on collision that sent four others to hospital Thursday night.

Emergency crews were called to the area of 16 Avenue and 19 Street N.E. shortly after 8:30 p.m.

Police said a speeding vehicle lost control and struck another vehicle, sending debris flying across the road.

Three males, all believed to be in their late teens or early 20s, were taken to Foothills Medical Centre with critical, life-threatening injuries Thursday night, according to Alberta Health Services. Paramedics said all three men were thrown from the vehicle they were in.

Two people from the other vehicle – a man and woman, both believed to be in their 20s or 30s – were taken to Rockyview General Hospital with minor injuries.

Acting Staff Sgt. Travis Juska said police have seen a variety of collisions at the intersection.

He called the crash a “stark reminder that people need to slow down when they’re driving.”

Police respond to a two-vehicle collision in the area of 16 Avenue and 19 Street N.E. on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.

Global News

With a file from Global’s Kim Smith

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Drug addict sheds tears for his despicable crime against elderly woman

November 26th, 2018

It was a vicious home-invasion style robbery that left an elderly West Kelowna woman injured and highly traumatized.

On Thursday, a chronic drug addict was in a court room for a sentencing hearing after earlier pleading guilty to break-and-enter with intent to commit an indictable offense while wearing a mask.

In the middle of the night on October 25 2015, Benjamin Duane Barnhart pried open the kitchen window of an 85-year-old woman.

There was a struggle in her bedroom with Barnhart trying to gag his victim with a scarf.

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He demanded money, jewellery and prescription medications.

When Barnhart was distracted, the woman fled to a neighbour’s home while Barnhart fled with about $200 and the victim’s bank cards.

A few hours later, the cards were used for purchases at several stores and to withdraw $800 from a bank machine.

Security camera pictures helped police track down Barnhart, who was well known to them, at his nearby residence.

Saying the victim’s safety was violently violated in the security of her own home and she was profoundly impacted, the prosecutor is asking for a prison sentence of six to seven years.

Barnhart’s legal aid lawyer is seeking a term of three and a half years, saying Barnhart’s long-time drug addiction fueled his crimes while claiming he’s a strong prospect for rehabilitation.

At times crying in court, the 25-year-old apologized to the victim and her family, saying: “Everyday I think about it and I truly don’t have the words to describe how sorry I am. I never planned to do such a thing and I’m disgusted. Just want to say sorry.”

The judge is expected to hand down his sentencing decision in early December.

Canadian soldier found dead in military gym in Jordan

November 26th, 2018

OTTAWA – A Canadian soldier who was looking at ways to train the Jordanian military as part of Canada’s fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has died, the Department of National Defence said Thursday.

Maj. Scott Foote, 50, of Carbonear, N.L., was found unconscious in a military gym in Jordan’s capital city of Amman, officials said. Foote was pronounced dead after attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

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His death has been labelled non-combat related. National Defence has launched an investigation, but officials said there were no indications of foul play.

READ MORE: Governor General David Johnston tours refugee camp in Jordan

A veteran of Afghanistan, Foote arrived in Jordan at the beginning of September as part of a small team tasked with examining ways in which the Canadian Forces could train Jordanian counterparts.

“This mission is not a combat mission,” said Maj.-Gen. Omer Lavoie, commander of 1 Canadian Division in Kingston, Ont., where Foote was most recently serving as a logistics officer.

“It’s a mission where we’re there to enhance the capabilities of the Jordanian Armed Forces in areas such as resources, planning, organization and equipment.”

A similar team is currently working in Lebanon. Lavoie said both missions fall under the umbrella of Canada’s broader effort to fight ISIL.

Foote was to return to Canada just before Christmas, Lavoie said. He leaves behind a wife and son.

“Maj. Foote was a good Newfoundlander and always maintained his eastern roots,” Lavoie said.

“Scott was level-headed, jovial and a good mentor for his peers. He was an outstanding officer and a great member of my team here at 1st Canadian Division.”

Peachland residents warned of mail thefts

November 26th, 2018

Residents in Peachland are being told to regularly pick up their mail from community mailboxes.  The warning comes as police investigate at least a dozen reports of stolen mail.

“Residents are encouraged to immediately report to police if they observe suspicious activity or unknown persons around those mailboxes,”  says Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

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The thefts being investigated happened between October 28 and November 15.  Police say in most cases the mailboxes were discovered damaged and empty.  Canada Post is also investigating saying affected customers have been notified.

On one occasion a Canada Post employee reported that they discovered nearly 50 pieces of mail abandoned near the intersection of Coldham Road and Desert Pines Avenue. The mail was reportedly seized by the employee, to be sorted and properly delivered to the intended destinations.

The following are some of the areas which have been reportedly targeted by the unknown suspect or suspects:
• 4400 block of Trepanier Road;
• 5300 block of Princeton Avenue;
• 5600 block of Gladstone Road;
• 5900 block of Victoria Street;
• 6000 block of Ellison Avenue;
• 6100 block of Wilson Road;
• 6200 block of Winton Crescent;
• 6300 block of Thompson Drive;
• 7100 block of Brent Road;Security at 1-866-607-6301.  You can also remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers online

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the West Kelowna RCMP at 250-768-2880 or Canada Post Postal Security at 1-866-607-6301.  You can also remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers online or by calling at 1-800-222-8477.

N.B. government drops controversial bilingual school bus court case

November 26th, 2018

The New Brunswick government is stepping away from its court cases concerning separate school bus systems for English and French students in the province.

A new policy released Wednesday says the responsibility will now be on the individual school districts, apparently closing the book on reviewing the controversial bilingual bus issue.

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READ MORE: Constitutional case over bilingual school busing in New Brunswick gets underway

The provincial government has withdrawn its request to the Court of Appeal to determine whether there is a constitutional obligation to provide separate school buses for English and French schools.

The province says the school districts will now be in charge of the transportation of their pupils as part of a Policy 514 within the education act.

Policy 514 will outline how district education councils can operate, including sharing services with other districts, or engaging private sector transportation providers in the process.

It will also repeal the regulatory requirement for districts to seek government approval before entering into transportation contracts with third parties.

READ MORE: New Brunswick French immersion returning to Grade one

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny said in a release that what government is implementing will clarify that pupil transportation rests in the hands of education councils, which are elected by the public, including parents.

Kenny also noted in the release that government previously hoped to get clarity on the bilingual bus issue, but says it’s clear the court of appeals is hesitant to rule on the reference question they posed.

Supermoon sends big wave to Moncton tidal bore surfers

November 26th, 2018

Despite an overcast and dreary day, surfers hoping to catch a big wave at Moncton’s tidal bore got what they wanted Wednesday, thanks to this week’s supermoon.

Nearly waist-high, the wave came in at 10:40 a.m. with hundreds of onlookers lining the shore.

This natural phenomenon happens when the rising tides of the Bay of Fundy are funneled into the narrow Petitcodiac River, creating a tidal wave.

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READ MORE: It makes a nice photo, but is the ‘supermoon’ really that special?

The tidal bore comes into the Petitcodiac Causeway twice a day and travels at about 13 km/h.

Costa Rica-born Melvin Perez rode the wave Wednesday, and even though it wasn’t his first time, this one was special.

“Here you only have one try —; the power is insane because its all the water from the tide coming in, so that’s a big, big, big difference,” Perez said.

The unusually high tide was caused by the supermoon —; the moon was at its perigee, the point where it’s closest to earth, Sunday night and into Monday morning. The last time the moon was this close was in 1948, and it wont be this close again until December 2034.

READ MORE: Filmmaker captures ‘drastically different’ surfing experience near Saint John

“We already have the biggest tides on earth here in the Bay of Fundy, there’s going to be tides at Hopewell Rocks today of 48 feet, Burntcoat Head which is literally where the highest tides on earth are, its pushing 52 feet, it’s huge,” said James Upham, Resurgo Place program director.

WATCH: ‘Super-duper’ moon to rise on Nov. 14

The effects of the supermoon on the tides should last for another day or two.

Marijuana can combat drug and alcohol addiction: UBCO study

November 26th, 2018

It’s a relatively unorthodox use of medical marijuana, but according to UBC Okanagan researchers, pot could be used to combat substance abuse.

“Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce the use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” the study’s lead investigator, associate psychology professor Zach Walsh said.

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Walsh and his team, in conjunction with researchers from Florida State University, also found marijuana has the potential to help treat depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Researchers conducted in-depth reviews of numerous studies on marijuana and mental health to come to their findings.

UBC Okanagan touts this as one of the ‘most comprehensive reports to date’ on the effects of medical marijuana on mental health.

With Canada coming closer to legalizing marijuana, Walsh believes his team’s research can help push boundaries and better understand the benefits of cannabis.

READ MORE: How will legal pot be sold? Three things that might happen, and one that won’t

“There is not currently a lot of clear guidance on how mental health professionals can best work with people who are using cannabis for medical purposes,” Walsh said. “With the end of prohibition, telling people to simply stop using may no longer be as feasible an option. Knowing how to consider cannabis in the treatment equation will become a necessity.”

READ MORE: Canada will see 900,000 new pot smokers under legalization, poll implies

The study was recently published int he Clinical Psychology Review. You can view the entire report here.

Arrests made during large police response in northeast Calgary

November 23rd, 2018

Police set up a mobile command centre in the northeast community of Taradale late Friday night, as well as an armoured vehicle and a tactical unit. Empty buses were also on scene but police could not comment on why.

After a lengthy standoff with police, three men were arrested and are considered persons of interest in relation to a suspicious death. 

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READ MORE: Calgary police arrest ‘persons of interest’ in connection with suspicious death

Police said they were waiting to execute a search warrant on the property.

On Saturday morning, two police vehicles remained at the condominium complex on Taralake Way N.E.

A man named Charles, who did not want to provide his full name, said he was surprised when police officers came to his second floor condo unit Friday evening at around 9:30 p.m.

“We had police knock on our doors and escort us out to buses and that was all we found out,” Charles said. “All they told us was that there was a dangerous situation on the floor above us. I was a little peeved at the time. I have a six-month-old kid so it’s hard to move him out when he’s passed out. And then sitting on a bus, not much better. But it’s better than being in a dangerous situation I guess.”

Residents say they were allowed back in at around 11 p.m.

Other people who live at the complex said they are waiting for some answers about the big police presence in their neighbourhood.

“There were two city buses and about six cops here last night,” Travis Wilfer said. “I got home from work and I have no idea what happened.”

-With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo

If your toddler isn’t talking, don’t wait to get support: Edmonton speech language pathologist

November 23rd, 2018

“Bye, bye Kim. See you Monday.”

My husband’s jaw dropped as the words came out of our 21-month-old’s mouth. We knew we had a “talker,” but were increasingly surprised by some of the word combinations he was forming at an early age.

We have friends on both sides of the spectrum. A girlfriend recently heard her two-year-old daughter proclaim, “I am going to put the water bottle in the stroller.”

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Numerous other friends have toddlers on the other side of the spectrum. Some say just a few words while others continue to point rather than verbalize what they are asking for.

For Alberta mother of two Karlee Conway time and extra attention was enough to get her son Nixon talking. But that doesn’t happen for a lot of kids.

“We’re making a lot of difference in their lives by doing some intervention early on,” Edmonton speech language pathologist Karyn Forst says.

She encourages parents who have concerns to get support early. She would prefer to see a child with potential speech issues at 18 months old and discharge them rather than meeting them for the first time at three years old.

“There are parent workshops that they’ll be invited to and also different kinds of assessments that we can do and we can also get parents linked up with many services within the community.”

According to Health Link BC, you should contact your doctor if your child is not saying words by 18 months, or says fewer than 50 words by 24 months.

For access to speech and language services, click on the links below:

Edmonton-area support

Calgary-area support 

To access Vancouver resources 

The Talk Box: A parent’s guide for creating language-rich environments

1 injured in accident at Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa

November 23rd, 2018

A woman was taken out of the crowd in a wheelchair during Friday’s Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa after being struck by a piece of falling plywood.

The large, flat piece of wood fell several stories from scaffolding set up on the side of the Canada Post building on Sparks Street, just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, were arriving at the National War Memorial.

Winds were gusting at between 32 and 43 kilometres per hour at the time of the accident.

There were audible gasps as the plywood, which was several feet in both length and width, tumbled onto the crowd. The ceremony continued uninterrupted, however.

The female victim was seen lying on the ground being helped by paramedics before she was taken away for further treatment. The extent of her injuries was unclear, but she was conscious and visibly shaken as she was wheeled out of the tightly-packed crowd.

Thousands of people gathered at the War Memorial, which recently underwent extensive renovations, on Friday to pay tribute to Canada’s fallen soldiers and veterans.

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