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24 June
Comments Off on Protesters rally for intervention in alleged dogfighting euthanasia case in Ontario

Protesters rally for intervention in alleged dogfighting euthanasia case in Ontario

Dozens of protesters rallied outside of a Chatham-Kent, Ont. courthouse Thursday in support of 21 alleged fighting dogs seized last year by the Ontario Society for the Protection of Animals.

The OSPCA applied to euthanize the dogs, but other animal welfare organizations are fighting to save them.

“They do deserve the opportunity to be rehabilitated and to experience love,” said Clare Forndran, a spokesperson for Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary.

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READ MORE: 3 pit bulls seized in Ontario to be adopted out by Nova Scotia SPCA

The OSPCA used two specialists from the United States they described as “world experts” to assess the dogs.

Those experts concluded the canines were dangerous and could not be rehabilitated.

Their conclusions are part of the OSPCA’s application to euthanize the dogs, filed in court. Dog Tales and Animal Justice are arguing to get intervenor status to fight the OSPCA’s application.

The groups want to bring in their own outside experts for an assessment.

READ MORE: Ongoing dogfighting investigation in southwestern Ontario leads to new charges

“We are extremely critical of the assessments done to date by the SPCA,” said Camille Labchuk, Executive Director of Animal Justice Both groups said all requests to access the dogs and do an independent assessment have been refused.

Global News sought comment from Crown attorney James Boonstra. He is currently refusing to allow an outside, independent assessment of the dogs by either the Crown or the OSPCA. Boonstra declined to speak to Global News.

The OSPCA said it is not up to them to determine how the case proceeds.

READ MORE: OSPCA sounds alarm over Ontario dogfighting operations

“The decision to have evaluations or assessment, independent or otherwise, would be at the Crown or the court’s direction,” said Jennifer Bluhm, Senior Inspector for the OSPCA.

Dog Tales has said it would cover all costs to take custody of the dogs, which are being kennelled by the OSPCA in a secret location.

Even the dogs’ owners, who are accused of abuse, said they would voluntarily sign the canines over to Dog Tales.

“If it means that they will be saved, absolutely,” said their lawyer, Ken Marley.

The dogs have been locked up for over a year now and the animal rights groups alleged they are getting minimal care.

“It’s like a human being on death row. These dogs are on death row with the OSPCA,” said John Nunziata, lawyer for Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary.

“No effort is being made to rehabilitate them.”

The OSPCA said that is not true.

“They have specialized care plans which include stimulation, exercise,” said Bluhm.

The justice of the peace reserved his decision. He expects to release it before the next court date on Dec. 22.

Meanwhile, the dogs remain caged where they have been for the last year.

24 June
Comments Off on Liberal convention to build B.C. election team

Liberal convention to build B.C. election team

It’s still six months before British Columbians go to the polls, but the unofficial start of the election campaign is expected to get underway Friday as the Liberal party gathers in Vancouver.

Up to 1,300 people are registered to attend a three-day convention, which is being billed as the party’s largest team-building exercise before it seeks a fifth consecutive victory in May.

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Campaign strategy adviser Jim Messina, who helped both U.S. President Barack Obama and former British prime minister David Cameron win second terms, has been hired as the keynote speaker to rally the grassroots.

“With six months to go, we are better prepared than ever before,” party spokeswoman Jillian Stead said. “We know that campaigns matter and as the clock ticks to May 9, 2017, we know this is going to be a really tough one.”

Part of the election readiness plan includes getting candidates nominated early and out into their ridings, Stead said. So far, the Liberals have named 60 of 87 candidates, she added.

British Columbia’s top-performing economy compared to the rest of Canada and the current budget surplus forecast of almost $2 billion will be widely discussed at the convention among candidates and delegates, Stead said.

“We do really need to stick to our free enterprise plan of controlling spending and creating growth and opportunity,” Stead said.

Michael Prince, a public-policy expert at the University of Victoria, said B.C.’s growing economy gives the party and its candidates confidence, he said.

“This is a government now that is in a pretty solid and admirable financial position,” he said. “I think they are going into this feeling very good about what they’ve been doing.”

Prince said he expects the government to start spending its surplus dollars in the coming months and for Finance Minister Mike de Jong to deliver a “classic-pre-election budget” in February.

“He’ll say, ‘We’ve made the sacrifices,’” Prince said. “‘We all deserve a group hug. And the purse strings will be loosened, in a responsible way of course.’”

But the Liberals should be cautious about their promises of a secure tomorrow because many British Columbians are insecure about their current financial status, let alone what the future holds, Prince said.

“If we mean by that financial security or a sense of confidence in one’s own personal security, socially, economically, financially, that’s where I would think the New Democrats might want to focus their attentions,” Prince said.

NDP Leader John Horgan said he’s not overly concerned about the Liberals racing to nominate candidates before the election.

“It’s insignificant,” he said.

“I’ve been laying out campaign planks over the past number of weeks and we’ll have a comprehensive, costed platform going into the next campaign.”

24 June
Comments Off on Nova Scotia daycare operators call government regulations ‘death notice’ to industry

Nova Scotia daycare operators call government regulations ‘death notice’ to industry

A group called “The Nova Scotia Early Childhood Education Action Group” says Nova Scotia’s plan to make child care more affordable is affecting their bottom line.

Spokeswoman Donna Buckland says current daycare regulations, if left unaltered, will result in providers no longer being able to offer high-quality programming and healthy work environments.

“Stop tying our hands because they’re going to put us all under,” said Buckland in a press conference on Wednesday.

Action Plan

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In June 2016, the Nova Scotia government launched an action plan for daycare owners and operators across the province; providing more funding and wage increase for early childhood educators.

But the group says the fan-fare of that announcement didn’t last long when they were informed of the government’s plan to set minimum wages for ECE’s based on education levels and not include experience. They were also disappointed the government would impose a cap on fees.

“This excitement was short lived when we were informed the government of Nova Scotia was implementing a 1 per cent cap on any fee increases. Do they understand that this could potentially shut down our businesses?” said Buckland.

The group also says they aren’t being given enough information about how the new action plan will be implemented and that daycares across the province are being told to sign on to the province’s action plan or risk losing all funding from the province.

Buckland says because of the lack of a long-term plan from government, for the first time she was unable to do this year’s budget for her business.


Buckland, also the owner of Giant Steps Children’s Centre in Upper Tantallon, says operators cannot afford what is being forced upon them.

“With our overall expenses going up by 3-4 per cent each year and our fee increase capped at 1 per cent, how long will it take before we must close our doors.”

“It is important for you to know child care centres have many other expenses such as mortgage, property tax, groceries, advertising, supplies, equipment, snow removal, playground upkeep, landscaping, garbage collection,” Buckland said.

Governments Response

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey responded to those concerns on Wednesday. She wouldn’t say whether the one percent cap on fee increases would stand.

But she did say the government is working on a funding formula – and they’ll be reaching out to directors and operators in the next few weeks for input.

“We have to look at the best way to provide the grants to the daycare centres that are using taxpayers dollars through that grant. And the result of that funding formula review I think could have an impact on how we provide that service,” said Casey.

24 June
Comments Off on COMMENTARY: Condemn political violence, but don’t suppress legitimate debate

COMMENTARY: Condemn political violence, but don’t suppress legitimate debate

The apparently politically-motivated shooting of a high-ranking U.S. Republican congressman has prompted a debate as to the extent to which a toxic political climate may have contributed to the horrific crime.

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James Hodgkinson, identified by police as the gunman, was strongly anti-Republican and a big supporter of Bernie Sanders. Some Republicans have suggested that animosity toward U.S. President Donald Trump and Republicans in general may have contributed to the shooting.

Certainly those who would promote, defend, or excuse political violence have no place whatsoever in mainstream political discourse. That would also apply those who find it appropriate to joke about their political opponents being killed or otherwise harmed. Rhetoric that dehumanizes one’s political opponents, or that casts them as having an evil or sinister intent, is not helpful either. Those engaged in such tactics deserve not just condemnation but ostracization, too.

READ MORE: Wife of gunman who shot Rep. Steve Scalise says she saw no signs he was planning attack

However, tragedies like this should never be exploited to justify the suppression of legitimate political debate. In a free society we are free to not just oppose the policies of governments but to vocally and vigorously oppose those policies. Any calls to “tone it down a notch” fail to explain where those notches lie or who gets to decide what counts as acceptable discourse. We should be wary of any call to police speech.

It’s surprising, though, to see conservatives engaged in this sort of tactic. Usually they’re the ones on the receiving end of it. Two decades ago, conservative media pundits and politicians were accused of fuelling the sort of violent anti-government sentiment that led to the Oklahoma City bombing. In 2011, the conservative Tea Party movement — and Republican politician Sarah Palin in particular — were blamed for contributing to the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Such accusations were unfair then and they’re unfair now.

There’s also a fair amount of hypocrisy at play here. Trump himself, for example, is no stranger to provocative and inflammatory political rhetoric, as witnessed on the campaign trail last year.

Donald Trump himself is no stranger to provocative and inflammatory political rhetoric, as witnessed on the campaign trail last year.

File photo/wire services

Earlier this week, Republican commentator Newt Gingrich told Fox News that “you’ve had a series of things which send signals that tell people that it’s okay to hate the President.” This is the same Newt Gingrich who once felt it was acceptable to accuse president Obama of having a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. Republican congressman Steve King suggested that Obama shares blame for the divided political culture that led to this week’s shooting. This is the same Steve King who once warned that electing Obama would lead to a “totalitarian dictatorship.”

READ MORE: Norway marks sombre 5th anniversary of Oslo terror attack

If these folks want to defend rough-and-tumble rhetoric, then fine. But the babe-in-the-woods routine is pretty pathetic and transparent.

Conservatives in Canada would do well to avoid falling into the same trap, lest they wind up rendering their own criticisms of Justin Trudeau, Kathleen Wynne, and Rachel Notley as beyond the pale.

For example, RCMP last month arrested and charged a Lethbridge woman with making threats toward the federal government, and the Prime Minister’s wife in particular. Does that mean Conservatives should bite their tongues or pull their punches in criticizing the Liberal agenda?

In Alberta, government statistics show a sharp increase in the number of threats directed at Premier Notley. Additionally, Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen was given a security detail after she received threats following her defection from the Progressive Conservatives to the ruling New Democrats.

Many Albertans understandably have strong opinions about the policies of the Notley government and the ethics of political floor-crossing. Hopefully those opinions will be expressed in a respectful way, but when it comes to even uncouth and impolite language we should err on the side of protecting speech. Unless a link can be demonstrated between a threat or act of violence and a specific instance of political speech, it’s wrong and unfair to use that threat or act as a pretext for censorship.

Our political differences need not be overcome, but hopefully we can unite in swiftly and loudly condemning those who carry out, incite, encourage, or justify acts of political violence.

Rob Breakenridge is host of “Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge” on Calgary’s NewsTalk 770 and a commentator for Global News.

24 June
Comments Off on Kelowna girl completes English Channel swim, raises funds for Canuck Place

Kelowna girl completes English Channel swim, raises funds for Canuck Place

UPDATE JULY 14, 2017 – An Okanagan teen has become the youngest Canadian to swim the English Channel.

Emily Epp took 11 hours, 57 minutes to complete the 40 km journey between England and France, ending her swim in the middle of the night, July 15, local time.

Emily Epp just before beginning her swim of the English Channel July 14, 2017.

Kelowna AquaJets/ Global News

Emily Epp swims the English Channel.

Kelowna AquaJets/ Global News

The now 17-year-old Kelowna swimmer has raised nearly $40,000 for Vancouver’s Canuck Place, a charity that has helped her family when her sister has needed medical treatment in Vancouver.

Canuck Place has created a fundraising page for Epp’s efforts, which can be found here.

ORIGINAL STORY – NOV. 3, 2016: KELOWNA, B.C. – Emily Epp is preparing to swim the English Channel next July, and will become one of the youngest if she completes the 40-kilometre distance as planned.

“I’m excited. I’m really excited,” Epp said Wednesday as she took to Okanagan Lake for the cameras. “There’s less people that do this swim than even climb Mount Everest.”

The 16-year-old member of the Kelowna AquaJets was inspired by her coach Brent Hobbs.

Hobbs swam the channel in 2008 when he turned 40, a challenge he had dreamed of as a child.

“It just captured my imagination,” Hobbs said.

Epp is hoping to raise money for Vancouver’s Canuck Place children’s hospice ahead of the swim.

Canuck Place has created a fundraising page for Epp’s efforts, which can be found here.

“We spend a lot of time there,” Epp said.

Epp’s younger sister Elan became ill when she was 18 months old and has required numerous visits to Vancouver for treatment of a mysterious illness that caused her muscles to deteriorate.

“They’ve made her life so much better. She used to scream from the pain and she used to cry.”

Elan Epp and her mother Cheryl.

Contributed/ Global Okanagan

Epp admits swimming the English Channel makes her nervous.

“I get nervous if I think too hard, if I think of all the things that could go wrong. But if I just focus on what I’m in control of, which is not the weather or any of that, then it’s exciting because I know personally I can do it mentally and physically. So it’s all up to the weather,” she said.

Hobbs said the shortest distance across the channel is 35 kilometres but dealing with currents makes the swim about 40 to 45 kilometres.

He believes it could take Epp between 10 and 14 hours in the 15 C water, “on a good day.”

“You have the Atlantic Ocean swells and you have the North Sea winds and it all converges over a shallow shelf,” Hobbs said. “That’s what makes it such a challenge. And then it’s the busiest shipping lane in the world.”

“Big ships. Lots of them. Eight hundred a day plying those waters.”

A 30-year-old Toronto man completed the swim this summer, becoming only the 28th Canadian to make the solo swim.

Hobbs said the swim is 90 per cent mental preparation.

“It gets very lonely and your mind plays tricks on you,” he said.

After swimming around Okanagan Lake Wednesday, Epp said the cold begins to comfort you after a short time.

“It hurts for a little bit,” she said. “Then after a while when your body is fully numb, it feels like a nice sauna. So warm.”

Her training has already begun in anticipation of next year’s swim.

“All through the summer, I’ve been doing long swims, my six-hour qualifier and four-hour swims. Throughout the winter, I’ll swim with my team in the pool every day.”

Her coach is impressed with her determination at such a young age.

“She’s very inspiring,” Hobbs said. “I hope she will inspire other young swimmers and older swimmers to take up similar challenges.”

Epp will make the attempt between July 21 and 24, 2017.

According to the city of Dover, 1,619 swimmers have made the solo journey across the English Channel.

The average time they’ve taken to swim the distance is 13 hours, 30 minutes, 29 seconds.

Just over a third have been women and the average age is 34.


  • Toronto man becomes 28th Canadian to complete solo swim across English Channel

    B.C. open water swimmers set record crossing English Channel

    ChangSha Night Net