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Military to provide aircraft support to RCMP search for B.C. homicide suspects

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The Canadian Armed Forces will lend air support to the days-long manhunt in northern Manitoba for two young men suspected of three homicides in British Columbia.

The Department of National Defence said the CAF will provide aircraft to aid in the ongoing search for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, in the remote wilderness outside of Gillam, Man. after they received a request from the commissioner of the RCMP.

“Canadians can rest assured that the CAF are ready to support and serve alongside our federal, provincial, and municipal partners who are working diligently and tirelessly in these efforts,” spokesperson Jessica Lamirande said in an emailed statement to CTV News on Saturday.

Lamirande didn’t specify what type or how many aircraft the military would supply to the effort.

“We are currently working with the RCMP to determine what CAF air capabilities are most needed, and where they are most needed,” she said.

On Friday evening, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed the military had agreed to assist the RCMP in the case.

“The RCMP have requested aircraft support from the Cdn Armed Forces. Prompt reply – YES,” he tweeted.

On Saturday morning, CTV News’ Todd Battis reported the weather in Gillam had improved from the day before. He said the cloud cover had dissipated somewhat, making it more favourable for an aerial search above the region’s dense bush.

“It’s better searching weather,” he said. “That’ll be a big difference for the crews here.”

Battis also said the introduction of Canadian military aircraft may also be an indication the search area for the suspects is expanding.

“We may not necessarily see those aircraft around Gillam where we are, they may be working a larger perimeter,” he said.

That would be in line with the RCMP’s Friday announcement that McLeod and Schmegelsky may have already left the Gillam area thanks to someone who may have “inadvertently” helped them flee.

“It is possible that someone may not have been aware of who they were providing assistance to, and may now be hesitant to come forward,” Cpl. Julie Courchaine said in a press conference.

Heavily armed police officers from across the country have been scouring the small community of 1,200 people and the surrounding area for the past week after a burned-out SUV used by the suspects was uncovered near the town on Monday.

The military aircraft will enhance an already exhaustive search involving officers with specialized wilderness training, a K9 unit, a helicopter, an RCMP tactical assault vehicle (TAV), and crisis negotiation team. Police have also set up vehicle checkpoints on the only road in and out of the remote town.

On Friday, RCMP said officers would be going door-to-door in Gillam and nearby Fox Lake Cree Nation over the weekend to look for clues. They said they have already received more than 120 tips concerning the case.

Investigators have repeatedly urged the public to come forward with any tips regarding the fugitives’ past or present whereabouts. Anyone who spots the pair has been asked not to intervene and to call police immediately.

McLeod and Schmegelsky set off a Canada-wide manhunt on Monday after RCMP named them as suspects in the shooting deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese, 24, whose bodies were found on the side of the Alaska Highway in northern B.C. on July 15.

The childhood friends from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island have also been charged with second-degree murder in the death of 64-year-old Leonard Dyck, a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia.

Dyck’s body was discovered four days after Fowler and Deese’s at a highway pullout some 470 kilometres southwest from where the couple was killed.

McLeod and Schmegelsky were last seen on Monday in the Gillam area.

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MacKay will vote for Scheer to stay on as Conservative Leader

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Former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay says that when the time comes to vote on Andrew Scheer’s continued leadership of the party, he’s going to back the Conservative Leader.

The comment comes less than two weeks after MacKay told a Wilson Centre think tank panel in Washington that Scheer’s 2019 election loss “was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.”

Now, MacKay – whose name has been floated as a potential challenger to Scheer for the top spot in the party – told CTV Power Play host Don Martin that he supports the current leader and will continue to do so.

“Well Andrew Scheer is going to face a mandatory review, Don, that’s part of the Conservative constitution, so that will be for he and the membership. I’ll be there, and I’ll be voting no,” MacKay told Martin in a pre-taped interview, airing Monday.

MacKay also walked back other comments made during the same panel on Oct. 30. At the time, MacKay said the chatter about issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage “hung around Andrew Scheer’s neck like stinking albatross, quite frankly.”

Speaking to Martin on Monday, MacKay said those comments weren’t directed at Scheer’s position on those issues.

“Those comments, of course, were torqued. It was about the election performance generally, writ large, myself included. It wasn’t aimed directly at Andrew Scheer – and when I said there was an albatross around his neck, he didn’t put it there. It was put there by the media, it was put there by the opposition quite deliberately to hamstring his performance,” said MacKay.

Asked about the lack of clarity surrounding Scheer’s personal beliefs on same-sex marriage, MacKay couldn’t explain why Scheer hasn’t been more clear.

“I think Andrew Scheer, who has very strong beliefs, doesn’t think it’s a sin and I can’t answer why it is he hasn’t been more direct in his answer,” MacKay said.

MacKay went on to defend both Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party’s record when it comes to protecting human rights.

“Andrew Scheer was part of the Conservative government for ten years that not only didn’t remove rights, it enhanced rights. It spoke up for people’s rights on the international stage…there’s a proud legacy that Andrew Scheer is a part of, can take ownership of, and can proudly stand behind and I believe he is doing that. He’s trying to make that case.”

Scheer was criticized during the election campaign for failing to clarify his personal beliefs on issues including same-sex marriage and abortion. Scheer, a social Conservative who has publicly opposed both issues in the past, says he would uphold the law on abortion.

He also said in a pre-campaign speech that if he formed government, he would “support and introduce” legislation that protects LGBTQ Canadians.

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Nova Scotians condemn Don Cherry’s poppy comments

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Joseph Lunda recalls choking back tears while teaching high school students about the contributions of Canadian soldiers in the First and Second World Wars.

A historian, he immigrated to Canada from the Democratic Republic of Congo 37 years ago, and became a Canadian history teacher in Nova Scotia.

“Any time I’m talking about a site where Canadians fought, all the time tears were coming,” he told Global News at the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Dartmouth.

“Why? Because I remember what these people have done for all of us to benefit (from) — the liberty, the freedom — in this country.”

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Lunda is one of many Canadian immigrants who felt hurt by comments from Don Cherry suggesting not enough newcomers wear poppies, and therefore don’t support veterans.

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Cherry made the complaint during his Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday, and has since received an abundance of backlash, including calls for his resignation.

Lunda, who now teaches at Université Sainte-Anne, attended the Remembrance Day Ceremony with his family. He said not wearing a poppy is not necessarily an indication that one doesn’t support members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past or present.

“Let’s say I have it on my chest and it falls down, and I meet Don Cherry. He’s going to tell me I’m not supporting veterans?” he said. “You see I am here at this memorial. Why am I here? Because I support.”

Others agreed with Lunda and spoke out against the hockey commentator’s suggestion.

Don Cherry faces backlash over comments on Remembrance Day, poppies and immigrants

Gerry White, a veteran of both Royal Canadian Navy and RCMP, said it’s “pretty straightforward” — Cherry’s comments were “out of line.”

“I won’t say disgusting, (but) I guess I already did,” White told Global News. “I don’t think that was a comment that’s shared by the large majority of Canadians…

“One of the rights we fought for was your right to wear a poppy or not wear a poppy. It’s pretty straightforward.”

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Civilians and military members lay down wreaths at the Sullivan’s Pond Cenotaph in Dartmouth, N.S. on Remembrance Day.

Civilians and military members lay down wreaths at the Sullivan’s Pond Cenotaph in Dartmouth, N.S. on Remembrance Day.


Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher said he was “very disappointed” in Cherry’s Saturday night rant and said Canada is a country made up of immigrants. The new federal government in Ottawa has a responsibility to unite Canadians, he added, in the face of anti-immigrant sentiments.

“We hear it occasionally and it’s very disappointing every time we hear it. This is not a time to be divisive in Canada, this is a time to be united,” he explained.

“Look at the crowds here today. This is a beautiful, beautiful day to honour our veterans — the women and men who served Canada.”

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“I think Canadians get it more and more.”

Fisher said he’d like to see all Canadians show the same level of support for veterans, not just on Remembrance Day, but every day.

Cherry has yet to apologize for his comments over the weekend. Late on Monday Sportsnet confirmed that Cherry had stepped down from his role on Hockey Night in Canada.

“Following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday Night’s Broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down,” said Sportsnet’s president Bart Yabsley in a statement.

“During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for,” said Yabsley in a statement.

—With files from Hannah Jackson 

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Man up and apologize, Liberal MP from Quebec tells Don Cherry

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Greg Fergus notes his Montserrat-born grandfather was a tailor in the RAF — “that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve.”

Don Cherry, in his weekly Hockey Night in Canada segment, suggested new immigrants were not wearing poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day. Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer is calling upon Don Cherry to apologize for remarks about immigrants he made on last Saturday’s edition of Hockey Night in Canada.

“My Montserrat-born and bred grandfather signed up for the RAF and served as a tailor, for that was as far as they would let that young Black man serve,” Greg Fergus wrote in his Twitter account in the hours after Cherry’s comments. “Because of that service, he was able to bring his young family to Canada.

“Seven decades later, I am able to take my seat in the House of Commons and serve my country. Mr. Cherry: my grandfather’s story is not unique. I trust you are a big enough man to apologize for your comments.”

Fergus’ comments are part of the larger wave of backlash over comments made about immigrants by Cherry during his Coach’s Corner segment.

The 85-year-old commentator — no stranger to controversy sparked by his comments in the past — suggested new immigrants were not wearing poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance Day.

“You people … that come here … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that,” Cherry said. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

After Cherry’s remarks sparked a massive online backlash, Sportsnet issued an apology, saying “Don’s discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network.”

Ron MacLean, Cherry’s on-air sidekick who had nodded and given a thumbs up during the remarks, also issued an apology, saying the comments were “were hurtful and prejudiced and I wish I had handled myself differently. It was a divisive moment and I am truly upset with myself for allowing it.”

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