Monthly Archives: December 2018

Court doc says shortage leaves Alberta judges ‘without requisite time’ for cases

A court document related to a recent appeal in an Alberta divorce case has highlighted the consequences of a shortage of judges in the province, an issue the solicitor general said she’s raised with her federal counterpart.

The memorandum, filed April 13 and attributed to Justice Ronald Berger, described what it was like in the court room during the appeal:

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“The chambers judge, not unlike most Queen’s Bench judges sitting in family law chambers, had before him that morning a veritable plethora of applications similar in kind. He was clearly pressed for time. Indeed, after brief introductory submissions, counsel for the respondent was told:

“I —; I hate to cut you short but there’s other people here we’re moving along, you know. We’re —; I want to be able to give you some order before you leave today but if you burn up all your time, you’ll leave without anything.”

It went on to read:

“The shortage of judges in the Court of Queen’s Bench places the presiding justices in family law chambers in the unenviable position of having to pronounce upon difficult and often complex issues, but without the requisite time to carefully consider the competing considerations. They do the best they can.”

Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley told Global News she knows current vacancies on the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Court of Appeal are “creating challenges.”

“Although the province can increase the number of positions on those courts, only the federal government has the authority to appoint justices,” Ganley said in a statement. “I’ve raised this issue with my federal counterpart and will be advocating for these vacancies to be filled.”

Ganley suggested new appointments will help address pressures on the justice system by allowing more cases to be heard in a given day. Currently there are six justice vacancies on the Court of Queen’s Bench, and four vacancies on the Court of Appeal.

Speaking to reporters on April 12, Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould said she’s working on expanding judicial appointments to include “merit and diversity.”

“I’ve spoken with the Chief Justice in Alberta. I recognize the urgency,” she said.

“That was impressed upon me middle of last week, and we are working as quickly as we can to ensure that we make substantive appointments and that we get it right.”

A request for comment to Justice Berger’s office was not returned by publication time.

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Abu Sayyaf vows to behead Canadian hostage if ransom not paid by Apr. 25

The federal government say it’s aware of the latest video released by the terror group Abu Sayyaf, vowing to behead Canadian hostages John Ridsdel and Robert Hall if ransom isn’t paid in the next 10 days.

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“We’re told that this is the absolute final warning so this is a final urgent appeal to governments, Philippine, Canadian, and families,” Postmedia reported Ridsdel, a former Canadian mining executive, saying in the video. “They will behead me.”

“I am told to tell you that my ransom is 300 million [Philippines pesos],” Hall reportedly said. The purported ransom amount is equal to about C$8.3 million.

The video, which has already been pulled down from YouTube, comes a week after a previous deadline passed. The group had been demanding the equivalent of $28 million for each of the hostages.

READ MORE: ‘They will execute us’: Ransom deadline set for Canadians held hostage in Philippines

“Notice to the families, to the Canadian government, and to the Philippine government. Now that the deadline of warning is over last April 8, 2016, but still you procrastinate. Now, this is already an ultimatum. Once you don’t meet the demand, we will certainly behead one among the four (hostages) this coming April 25 at exactly 3 p.m.,” the Philippines’ GMA News Online reported one of the armed captors saying in the video.

The Canadian government would not go into any details about the situation or what efforts have been made to secure the release of the two Canadian men.

READ MORE: Canadians kidnapped in the Philippines: Here’s what you need to know

“The Government of Canada will not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadian citizens,” Global Affairs Canada spokesperson Rachna Mishra said in an email Friday afternoon.

Ridsdel and Hall were kidnapped from a marina in the southern Philippines resort island of Samal on Sept. 21. They have been held captive along with Marites Flor, reported to be Hall’s Filipna partner, and Norwegian hostage, Kjartan Sekkingstad, the manager of the Ocean View Samal Resort.

WATCH: Coverage of the kidnapping of Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel.

Government working to free 2 Canadians held hostage in Philippines


Government working to free 2 Canadians held hostage in Philippines


Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall kidnapped in the Philippines


John Ridsdel, Canadian kidnapped in the Philippines, has ties to Calgary


Gunmen abduct 2 Canadians, Norwegian and Filipino in Philippines


Philippines armed forces conduct search operations after abductions from island resort


2 Canadians among group abducted from resort in Philippines


2 Canadians among group abducted from resort in Philippines

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Animal rights group lashes out at OSPCA over Bowmanville Zoo animal cruelty case

An animal rights group says Ontario’s animal welfare agency didn’t go far enough after laying animal cruelty charges against a zoo owner famous for training animals for Hollywood movies.

In December, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released footage that appeared to show Michael Hackenberger repeatedly whipping one of his tigers at the Bowmanville Zoo and boasting about it.

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Earlier this week, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals laid four counts of causing an animal distress and one of failing to comply with the prescribed standards of animal care, all under the authority of the provincial OSPCA Act.

READ MORE: Bowmanville Zoo owner faces animal cruelty charges after questionable training practices

“The OSPCA should have charged Hackenberger under the criminal route,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, the head of Animal Justice, an animal rights organization.

“They’ve got a very strong case. This guy deliberately and wilfully caused pain to the tiger. It’s conclusive; the video doesn’t lie.”

The OSPCA has the authority to lay Criminal Code charges but chose not to, according to OSPCA senior inspector Jennifer Bluhm.

“In consultation with the Crown attorney, these five charges were the most appropriate in this case,” she said.

WATCH: A new video released by PETA shows questionable training practices at Bowmanville Zoo. Other animal handlers are now challenging the training methods seen in the video. Christina Stevens reports.

The Bowmanville Zoo and Hackenberger have declined interview requests, but on the zoo’s Facebook page, Hackenberger said he was not guilty of the charges. He also said he has stepped down as director of the zoo “until such time as this legal matter is resolved.”

Meanwhile, PETA said it was satisfied its investigation was taken seriously.

“We’re really just happy that Michael Hackenberger has been charged with anything,” said PETA spokeswoman Brittany Peet.

She said the organization began looking into Hackenberger after he was seen on live television in Toronto last summer angrily cursing an unco-operative baboon that resisted riding a miniature horse.

READ MORE: New PETA video shows questionable training practices at Bowmanville Zoo

So they enlisted one of their members to go undercover and begin working at the zoo with a hidden camera.

“It didn’t take long for the eyewitness to get that footage,” Peet said.

The video shows Hackenberger repeatedly whipping a cowering tiger named Uno.

“Cause I like hitting him in the face and the paws … and the beauty of the paws being on the rock, when you hit them it’s like a vice … it stings more,” Hackenberger says to the PETA member with the hidden camera.

READ MORE: Dozens gather in front of Bowmanville Zoo to protest animal abuse allegations

PETA released that video in December, which made headlines around the world. The organization also sent a copy to the OSPCA.

Bluhm said the video is the key piece of evidence in the case, but they’ve also interviewed everyone involved in the incident, including the PETA undercover operative and Hackenberger himself.

It’s unclear if there have been problems at the zoo before. The OSPCA runs a voluntary zoo registry as part of the $5.5 million fund it receives each year from Ontario government.

The animal welfare agency said it inspects 69 zoos and aquariums in the province twice yearly, but cannot discuss the results of those inspections.

READ MORE: Ontario zoo owner denies PETA allegations he abused tiger

“We can only tell you we’ve been there, but not what we saw,” Bluhm said.

Many of the Bowmanville Zoo’s animals appeared in a variety of Hollywood movies. The zoo’s other tiger, Jonas, for example, is famous for appearing in the movie adaptation of “Life of Pi.” And many of its animals, including tigers, can be rented out for events or private encounters, according to the zoo’s website.

Hackenberger is set to appear in court on Tuesday.

He faces a maximum fine of $60,000, two years in jail and a lifetime ban from owning animals if convicted.

WATCH: ‘PETA once again is lying’: Ontario zookeeper roars back at allegations

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Halifax sees late blast of winter

An early spring snow storm covered much of Halifax Friday morning causing school closures and traffic issues.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport saw around 13 centimetres while metro Halifax saw close to 5 centimetres.

Both the Halifax Regional School Board (HSRB) and the Strait Regional School Board cancelled classes because of conditions.

“We didn’t believe that we could operate safely to get students to school in the morning, and we also knew that there was going to be some tricky weather late in the day as well,” said Doug Hadley, a spokesperson for the HSRB.

“We’ve had cancellations as late as April 1, but this is a few weeks later, and I’ve never seen a cancellation this late in the school year.”

Halifax Regional Municipality says snow clearing crews are out clearing main roads and bus routes.

At Coast Tire and Auto Service, assistant manager Myril Wells said about 200 winter tires would be switched Friday.

“The snow we have or that we get, it’ll be short-lived, and it’ll be gone within a day so it’s really not a problem,” he said.

The system is expected to pass through the region but not before it changes to rain.

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Amid controversy, Jersey’s Saloon opens in ‘mom-and-pop’ neighbourhood of NDG

NOTRE-DAME-DE-GRÂCE – Stephanie Carrière and her husband have owned a jewelry store on Sherbrooke Street in NDG for the last five years.

Along with most of the other businesses in the area, she considers her store to be a mom-and-pop shop.

So, the opening of a western-style bar right across the street came as a bit of a surprise.

“Initially, my hackles went up and I was like ‘oh,’” she said.

“Because I looked at the video and I was like, what is that?”

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  • New western-themed bar Jersey’s Saloon serves up controversy in NDG

    No to Jersey’s Saloon in NDG

    Jersey’s Saloon opens in NDG

    READ MORE: New western-themed bar Jersey’s Saloon serves up controversy in NDG

    The promotional video features scantily-clad girls dancing on the bar.

    Carrière told Global News as soon as she finished watching the video, she called the owner, Peter Sergakis.

    “He said, ‘would you like to come to our private grand opening Thursday night and see for yourself?’ so I said ‘yeah, okay,’” she said.

    After checking it out for herself, Carrière admitted the bar isn’t as scandalous as she previously thought, and it may just bring more business to the area.

    However, some residents don’t seem to be on the same page.

    “This is a family area,” said one NDG resident.

    “I have children, grandchildren around here. I don’t want them walking around and seeing that.”

    Residents said that with a school nearby and a park down the street, the bar doesn’t seem to fit into the family-oriented neighbourhood.

    “It’s good business, but it may not be the best location for it,” a resident told Global News.

    “We don’t have anything against the business, it’s just not the right location.”

    Carrière said she understands the concerns, but is willing to see how it plays out.

    “I’m willing to just let it go,” she said.

    “I saw it and I don’t think it’ll be that much of a big of the deal and hopefully that’ll be the case for everybody and everyone will just relax a little.”

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