Saskatchewan Serious Incident Response Team appoints executive director

The Saskatchewan government has appointed a civilian executive director to lead the Public Complaints Commission and the new Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT).

The SIRT is expected to start operating in the fall. The civilian-led team will investigate serious incidents involving police officers.

Read more:
Saskatchewan takes next step in establishing police watchdog

Gregory Gudelot held the role of assistant executive director for Alberta Serious Incident Response team since 2017.

“In that role, he has overseen a number of complex investigations and helped shape national standards for police oversight in Canada,” a provincial press release stated.

Gudelot is originally from Saskatchewan and also has criminal law experience as a crown prosecutor and defence counsel.

“We could not have asked for a more qualified and dedicated candidate to support our transition to this new model of police oversight,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said in the press release.

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“I was born and raised in Saskatchewan and maintain strong ties to the province,” Gudelot said.  “I am passionate about the topic of civilian oversight of law enforcement, and welcome the opportunity to help bring oversight to my home province.”

Working under Gudelot, SIRT members will investigate all matters where a person has suffered a sexual assault, serious injury or death while in custody of police or as the result of the actions of a police officer, the release explained.

The SIRT will also require the appointment of a community liaison of First Nations or Métis ancestry, if the victim is of First Nations or Métis ancestry.

Public Complaints Commission Chair Michelle Ouellette said she looks forward to working with Gudelot.

Read more:
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“Mr. Gudelot’s leadership skills, expertise in police oversight, and legal knowledge will be tremendous assets to the Public Complaints Commission,” Ouellette said in the release.

SIRT investigations will apply to municipal police officers and RCMP officers working in Saskatchewan, and certain prescribed classes of special constables, like traffic officers and conservation officers.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Trial date to be set for teen accused in Calgary officer's hit and run death

A teen charged with first-degree murder in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary police officer is expected to have a trial date set at the end of the month.

The accused, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was 17 when he was arrested following the death of Sgt. Andrew Harnett on New Year’s Eve and has since turned 18.

READ MORE: Defence to elect a trial by judge and jury for youth accused of killing Calgary Sgt. Andrew Harnett

He appeared briefly by video in a Calgary courtroom today and has had a two-day hearing under the Youth Criminal Justice Act set for June 29 and 30.

Court heard the teen will once again ask to be released from custody and placed in the care of a responsible adult until his trial begins.

READ MORE: Bail denied for man accused of first-degree murder in death of Calgary police Sgt. Andrew Harnett

A trial date is expected to be set on June 29.

Police allege the accused was driving the vehicle, and have also charged a 19-year-old passenger with first-degree murder.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Manitoba reports four new COVID-19 deaths Friday

Four more Manitobans with COVID-19 have died, the province reported Friday.

Public health officials said the new deaths are three women from the Winnipeg region including one in her 30s, and a woman from the Prairie Mountain Health region.

All four have been linked to variants of concern.

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As of 9:30 a.m. Friday, the net-new number of virus cases is 183, bringing the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba to 55,098.

The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 8.3 per cent provincially and 8.3 per cent in Winnipeg.

There are currently a total of 60 intensive care patients in Manitoba with COVID-19, 23 of whom are no longer infectious but still require critical care.

A further 20 Manitobans are in ICU care outside of the province — 19 in Ontario and one in Alberta.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

You got the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in B.C. What happens now?

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization updated its guidance Thursday to say that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, are the preferred second doses for those who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as their first dose.

This has left many of the 280,000 British Columbians who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine curious, and in some cases frustrated, about what will happen next.

Here are some answers to questions about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

If I received AstraZeneca as my first dose, should I get AstraZeneca as my second?

British Columbia is not adopting NACI’s guidance and said British Columbians can still make a personal choice for either a mixed schedule or two doses of AstraZeneca.

“The very real world evidence shows us we have good protection across the board with both vaccines in our community,” B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said

Henry says B.C. is informing people to make the choice right for them, adding that all vaccines in B.C. are “safe and highly effective, and so are all of the options.”

“We still know from the information that we are seeing here in B.C., but also primarily in the U.K., where a lot of AstraZeneca has been used, that vaccine effectiveness is very good for both AstraZeneca and the mRNA vaccines,” Henry said.

Why did NACI change its advice?

The science around COVID-19 vaccines has been evolving and changing as more studies are done. This latest guidance shift is based on preliminary data from a German study that showed people who had an mRNA vaccine after a dose of AstraZeneca had immune markers as good or better than those who received two doses of AstraZeneca.

But Henry was quick to note it was a very small study that adds to the information that we know.

What benefits could an mRNA vaccine provide as a second dose?

Health officials say both vaccination approaches are highly effective but mixing an mRNA after a dose of AstraZeneca may give some boost to the immune system.

What is still unknown is whether that translates into better protection.

What B.C. and the rest of the world still do not know is whether the little bit of extra antibody or the cell-mediated response translates into better protection in the real world.

How much AstraZeneca do we have in B.C.?

According to the BC CDC dashboard, a total of 339,839 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in the province. That is out of the 438,000 AstraZeneca vaccines that have been delivered to B.C

There are 34,000 more doses on the way. The province has said anyone who received AstraZeneca as a first dose will have the option to get it as a second dose. So far about half of those who got AstraZeneca as a first dose have received it as a second dose while the other half have opted for the mRNA vaccine.

Read more:
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If I received two doses of AstraZeneca already, can I get a mRNA as a third dose right now?

B.C. does not see any evidence that getting an mRNA vaccine a short time after receiving two doses of AstraZeneca will be needed or that it provides any additional benefit.

In the U.K., the vaccine effectiveness after two doses of AstraZeneca was exactly the same as after two doses of mRNA vaccines.

Henry and health officials around the world are looking at whether boosters will be needed in the fall.

“It may be months from now that we’ll find that immunity decreases with one or the other combinations of vaccines, and it may decrease with all of them,” Henry said.

“There are studies going on both in the U.K. and here in Canada, in the U.S., looking at intervals as well. It may be that people who got the vaccine at a shorter interval may need a booster dose sooner.”

When the border opens, will I be able to travel to the United States where the vaccine is not approved for use?

B.C. expects that vaccines approved by the World Health Organization will be the standard that someone will need to meet.

AstraZeneca is approved by the WHO.

The expectation is mixing-and-matching will also be approved for international travel but that has not been determined.

“These are details that are still in flux,” Henry said.

“We don’t know the answers to everything yet, but we have heard, at least my colleagues in the U.S., that AstraZeneca will be one of the vaccine combinations that they will approve.”

If you travel to the United States and have been doubled-dosed with AstraZeneca will you be able to do the same things as those vaccinated with a vaccine approved in the U.S.?

So far Saturday Night Live, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Springsteen on Broadway have announced fans will not be allowed in if they are immunized with AstraZeneca. Guests must be fully immunized with a vaccine approved in the United States.

But the expectation from B.C. health officials is this will change as COVID-19 case numbers decline and international travel is encouraged. Ultimately, businesses will have the ability to choose how they set vaccination policies for admittance.

“I understand it was the concert venue itself that made those decisions for reasons that I don’t know,” Henry said.

“We do expect that it will be the standard that WHO sets that allows us to have a measurable standard around the world, and all of the vaccines that are approved for use here in Canada and all the combinations are approved by WHO as well.”

If you received AstraZeneca as a first dose, how long should you wait to get an mRNA vaccine as a second dose?

There is still no solid information as to what interval is best.

Henry said on Thursday that there is no evidence to say that a gap of eight weeks is better than 10 weeks, or 10 weeks is better than 12 weeks, or 12 weeks is better than eight weeks.

B.C. wants to reassure people that are up to 16 weeks between doses, there is data showing that’s just as good too.

The body doesn’t lose its immunity in that short period of time.

“I wish it were black and white, but what we can say is that we don’t actually know what the optimal interval is yet, but there is mounting evidence and I think most of us would agree that the short interval of three to four weeks that was used in the clinical trials is probably not the optimal interval,” Henry said.

“And we don’t yet know for other series of vaccines against viruses like hepatitis and others. It actually is better, longer-lasting if you get it about six months, but we have not yet had these vaccines for that period of time to be able to know how long immunity lasts.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Delays, closure on Highway 403 westbound after transport truck loses load on roadway

A few lanes on Highway 403 heading westbound were shut down on Friday afternoon after a transport truck dropped its load on the roadway just before 1 p.m.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say some large pipes fell off the back of a carrier and into the far right lane. The roadway was fully closed for a period of time.

Traffic is still moving slowly, with some vehicles being rerouted at York Boulevard.

Read more:
OPP charge man for alleged sexual assaults in Caledonia, Ont.

OPP say specialized equipment is occupying a number of lanes for the cleanup.

Police revealed the cleanup would take hours. There were no injuries.


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Fraser Health to host 32-hour 'vax-a-thon' in Surrey this weekend for people needing 1st dose

Fraser Health has announced what it is calling a 32-hour COVID-19 vax-a-thon from Saturday morning to Sunday night.

The immunization clinic at Surrey’s Guildford Recreation Centre will open at 11 a.m. Saturday and run around the clock until 7 p.m. Sunday.

More than 7,000 doses will be available to people aged 12 and up who haven’t yet received their first jab.

Participants will be able to enjoy physically distant live music and have the chance to win door prizes.

Read more:
COVID-19: Fraser Health sets up same-day clinics for people to get first vaccine dose

The vax-a-thon is Fraser Health’s latest effort to boost immunizations in the region.

Last week, the health authority announced what it calls easy, accessible, same-day vaccine clinics in Surrey and Boston Bar.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Nova Scotia drops course that asked pupils to list benefits of residential schools

Responding to complaints from an Indigenous girl and her mother, the Nova Scotia government has deleted a high school correspondence course that asks students to list the advantages of the residential school system.

Malaika Joudry-Martel and her mother Shalan Joudry were reviewing the chapter on First Nations on Wednesday when the 15-year-old student warned her mother that some of the content in the English course was racist.

Joudry says she was stunned when she found an assignment that asks students to list in chart form the benefits and disadvantages of being placed in a residential school.

READ MORE: Halifax family calling for change after 19-year-old’s sudden death from meningitis

As well, Joudry says the 170-page course offers other “passively racist” content, including questions asking why poverty, alcoholism and unemployment are common among First Nations populations.

Joudry says she posted the material on her Facebook page on Wednesday, which prompted provincial Education Minister Derek Mombourquette to call her Thursday to personally apologize.

Joudry, a Mi’kmaw poet from Bear River First Nation, says she was surprised that no one had noticed the offensive content before, adding that it appears to have been approved by the government in 2003.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

RCMP dog killed, suspect believed to be armed and dangerous on the loose in northern Alberta: RCMP

WATCH ABOVE: An RCMP police service dog was killed Thursday in what is still an ongoing situation in northern Alberta Friday involving a suspect who is believed to be armed and dangerous.

An RCMP police service dog was killed Thursday in what is still an ongoing situation in northern Alberta involving a suspect who is believed to be armed and dangerous.

RCMP Cpl. Deanna Fontaine said Friday morning police continue to search for a suspect in the area of Winagami Provincial Park — about 30 kilometres northwest of High Prairie, Alta. — following an incident that began Thursday morning.

At about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, RCMP conducted a traffic stop of a man they said had outstanding warrants. The vehicle the suspect was in did not stop, but RCMP said they did not pursue the vehicle for public safety reasons.

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At around 11 a.m., police spotted the vehicle turning into the Winagami Provincial Park from Highway 679. RCMP contained and searched the area and found the vehicle abandoned.

Fontaine said the vehicle got stuck in the mud and the suspect fled on foot.

Police, along with a police service dog, attempted to track the man, at which time Fontaine said the dog was killed. Further details about the dog and how it was killed were not provided Friday morning.

“I am saddened to report that during this incident, the police service dog was killed,” Fontaine said.

Police are still searching for the suspect, Lionel Ernest Grey, from the High Prairie area. Fontaine said he is considered armed and dangerous.

Grey is described as 190 pounds, six foot two with black hair and a dark complexion. He is believed to be wearing a black coat and grey sweater.

The RCMP emergency response team, police dog services unit and air services remain on scene in the area of Winagami Provincial Park Friday where the suspect was last seen. The area has been evacuated and the public is being asked to stay away from the park and let police continue their investigation.

“As of this morning, we have ample resources in the area as they continue to search for the suspect,” Fontaine said.

Read more:
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Fontaine could not say how many residents were forced from the area.

“The safety of the general public is our priority. We are asking all residents in the High Prairie area to stay away from police activity, to remain vigilant and to report anything suspicious to police,” she said.

“That area is not a safe place at the moment. Our number one priority is the public. Members of the public that are in an area that is unsafe have been evacuated by police in the area. Any unsafe areas will continue to be evacuated and kept that way at the moment.”

No officers have been injured, Fontaine said.

High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk said the town’s flags have been lowered to honour the police service dog that was killed.

“From the town’s perspective, when we heard that… we consider the dog or the K-9 unit to be a regular RCMP member so we lowered our flags to honour him.”

More information is expected to be provided at 1 p.m. Friday.

High Prairie is located about 365 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Calgary man convicted of murder in child death to face sentencing in September

A sentencing hearing is to be held in September for a Calgary man convicted of second-degree murder in the beating death of his girlfriend’s three-year-old daughter.

Ivy Wick was injured on Sept. 27, 2017, and died in hospital of head and brain injuries eight days later.

READ MORE: Calgary man convicted of second-degree murder in death of 3-year-old Ivy Wick

An autopsy revealed she suffered blunt-force trauma, which prompted homicide investigators to take over the case.

Justin Bennett was charged a year later following a confession to undercover police officers.

READ MORE: Judge reserves decision in trial of man charged with death of Calgary toddler Ivy Wick

He said he had become angry after being interrupted by the child, smashed her in the head, threw her against a wall and then tripped her.

Bennett is to be back in court Sept. 29.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

City of Edmonton to conduct enhanced e-scooter enforcement blitz this weekend

For the second time this year, City of Edmonton peace officers will be conducting enhanced e-scooter enforcement this weekend.

According to a news release from the city, officers will be looking for riders using e-scooters illegally, such as riding on the sidewalk, on Saturday and Sunday.

Read more:
Edmonton to conduct 1st ever e-scooter enforcement blitz this weekend

The fine for riding on a sidewalk is $100.

“As a reminder to e-scooter users, they can be used on bike lanes, shared pathways, shared streets and on roads where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less,” the news release read.

“E-scooters cannot be used on sidewalks, park trails which the city does not maintain, or vehicle lanes for patio use on Jasper Avenue, in Old Strathcona and along 124 Street.”

Enforcement will be escalated in downtown and Old Strathcona, the city said.

Earlier this year, the city conducted an enforcement blitz from May 22-24. During that time, peace officers issued 127 warnings and 17 tickets.

All the warnings and tickets involved people riding on the sidewalk, the city said.

Further enhanced enforcement periods may take place on future dates as well.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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