RCMP confirmed Monday the two bodies found in northern Manitoba last week are those of homicide suspects, Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky, and said the two died in what appears to be suicides by gunfire.
Mounties had expressed confidence that the bodies belong to the men, but officers were not able to confirm the identities until autopsies were completed by the Manitoba Medical Examiner.
The autopsies suggest both individuals were dead for several days before they were found, but the exact time of their deaths are not known.
Police said two firearms were found near the bodies, and forensic analysis is underway to confirm whether these weapons are connected with the northern B.C. homicide investigations.
The search for McLeod, 19, and Schmegelsky, who would have turned 19 on Aug. 4, covered 11,000 square kilometres in northern Manitoba alone — an area larger than Jamaica.
The two men are suspects in the deaths of a young couple and a botanist, killed within days of each other in northern B.C. last month. They had all been taking summer road trips.
UBC lecturer Leonard Dyck, 64, was found dead on a highway pullout on July 19. A burned-out camper truck believed to be driven by McLeod and Schmegelsky was found in the vicinity.
Australian Lucas Fowler, 23, and American Chynna Deese, 24, had been found dead days earlier next to Fowler’s blue Chevy van at the side of the Alaska Highway — hundreds of kilometres from where Dyck would be found. The couple had been shot.
McLeod and Schmegelsky, who told their families they were going to Whitehorse in search of work, were initially believed to be missing after the camper truck was found. RCMP named them suspects in the three killings on July 22, warning the public they were armed and dangerous.
13-day search in northern Manitoba
A nationwide search for the fugitives ramped up after a Toyota RAV4, later confirmed to have belonged to Dyck, was found scorched near Fox Lake Cree Nation on July 22. RCMP believe the suspects had been driving the vehicle.
The gruelling search had Mounties and Canadian military trawling unforgiving Manitoba backcountry riddled with boggy swamps and clouds of insects. The hunt left many locals afraid to leave their homes, threw quiet communities into the international media spotlight and transfixed Canadians across the country.
Investigators received more than 1,000 tips during their search. RCMP announced they were scaling back the operation after nine days of unsuccessful efforts on July 31. But two days later, a damaged boat and several personal items linked to the fugitives were found along Manitoba’s Nelson River, which flows between Gillam, Man., and Fox Lake.
That discovery led officers to the bodies. The remains were discovered eight kilometres northeast of where the RAV4 was found and one kilometre from where the personal items were located.
Manitoba RCMP Sgt. Paul Manaigre said the search was punishing.
“We were describing it over the last couple of weeks as being some pretty dense bush and some pretty remarkable terrain — in my opinion that’s almost an understatement,” said Manaigre, who participated in police searches after the bodies were found.
“It was incredible. The steep hills, you’ve got a fast moving river with very little riverbank.… It’s unimaginable how … you could traverse that type of area.”
Manaigre said a motive for the B.C. killings is still unknown.
“That’s going to be the biggest puzzle to solve in this investigation,” he said. “And we hope we can get some answers on that question.”
Trudeau spends final day of campaign in B.C.
VANCOUER, B.C. — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is making his final pitch to voters with a whirlwind trip through British Columbia.
The Liberal campaign will make several stops in and around Vancouver today, including in ridings held by the New Democrats, before heading over to Victoria for the last rally before Canadians cast their ballots Monday.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, as well as both NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and the Green’s Elizabeth May, are also spending the day in the province.
The Liberals have faced criticism from progressive voters in B.C. over their decision to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project for $4.5 billion, but in Alberta, they have been accused of not doing enough for people who work in the oil and gas sector.
Last night in Calgary, the Liberal campaign was greeted by protesters carrying signs accusing Trudeau of treason, as well as about 1,500 supporters who showed up for a late-night rally.
Trudeau told the crowd there are thousands of progressive voters in Alberta, where the Liberals won four seats in 2015 after having not won a single riding in the province since 2004.
“I know that there are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of progressive Albertans who do not feel that (Alberta Premier) Jason Kenney speaks for them,” Trudeau said.
NDP turned low expectations into high spirits on the campaigns
PORT ALBERNI, B.C.— It’s about the energy.
Ed Ross felt it when he pressed a long, slate grey eagle feather into Jagmeet Singh’s hands. Ross was among a group of drummers from the Tseshaht First Nation who sang and played for the NDP leader as he disembarked from his campaign bus Friday morning in this valley town in the mountainous interior of Vancouver Island.
“When I gave him the feather at first, he grabbed it, embraced it, and then went in and held it through the whole (event),” said Ross, dressed in an orange T-shirt and black vest with a band of sweetgrass tied around his head.
“I’m an energy guy. It’s how I feel when I meet you,” he said. “I can see that he’s listening. I can see that he’s engaged. I can see the eye contact that he makes …
“You can see that he’s a good man.”
For weeks before the start of the federal election campaign, top NDP officials were saying Singh — the 40-year-old rookie leader of Canada’s social democratic party — had personal magnetism and charisma that could ignite on the campaign trail. Now that the campaign is in its final days, polls suggest they may have been right. Singh has seen a bump in recent weeks, both in national voting intentions for New Democrats, and in his own personal favourability ratings, that one pollster characterized as “through the roof.”
Marie Della Mattia, the NDP’s campaign co-chair, said the party has stayed true to its plan. At every turn, Singh has cast the Liberals and Conservatives as beholden to the interests of the rich, and tried to convince Canadians that New Democrats will tax corporations and the wealthy to pay for broad and expensive social programs that would benefit everyone.
A big part of why people might be listening, Della Mattia said, is Singh himself.
“He’s a really good campaigner. He’s energetic. He’s enthusiastic. He loves doing this,” she told the Star on Friday outside the NDP’s campaign office in Port Alberni. “We couldn’t wait for the campaign to start.”
When it finally did start, in early September, the NDP appeared to have a rough road to voting day. Annual fundraising returns had tanked from more than $18 million in 2015 — when the party was the official opposition in the House of Commons — to just $5 million last year. Several high profile incumbents, like B.C.’s Nathan Cullen and Quebec’s Hélène Laverdière, had decided not to run again, and the party lagged in filling a roster of candidates for the coming campaign.
There were also questions about Singh himself, who had stumbled repeatedly in the early months of his leadership, sometimes appearing ignorant of his own party’s policies as he tried to lead the NDP caucus for more than a year without his own seat in the Commons.
Farouk Karim, who was press secretary to Singh’s predecessor as NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair, said the struggles that Singh appeared to endure may have given him an advantage in disguise: he entered the federal campaign this fall with low expectations.
This “allowed Singh to introduce himself for the first half of the campaign without being a threat and therefore without attacks from his opponents,” Karim said. “It also allowed Singh to make a very good impression to Canadians who might have written him off because of the negative chatter on the party.”
Della Mattia believes the seeds of the NDP’s momentum were sown in the early days of the campaign as Singh hammered a message of contrast, with the NDP on one side and the Liberals and Conservatives on the other. At the first debate in early September, which Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau skipped, she said Singh tried to show that he’s preoccupied with everyday Canadians by citing examples of their struggles to afford prescription drugs or find housing.
Lorne Bozinoff, president of the polling firm Forum Research, said he believes a turning point for the NDP was Singh’s emotional reaction to images of Trudeau in brownface and blackface. After Singh listened to Trudeau’s first apology that night, he decided to make a late-night statement urging people of colour not to “give up on Canada, and please don’t give up on yourselves.”
“That got people looking at him and listening to him,” Bozinoff said. “He was very, very compelling.”
Della Mattia said the reaction was pure Singh. “He reacted with such humanness and it was super raw … It was just what he was feeling and thinking at the time.”
But rather than being the turning point, Singh’s campaign co-chair sees the moment as one of several through the campaign that set the stage for the recent lift in the polls. In Grassy Narrows, Singh shot down a question about spending unspecified amounts of money on Indigenous infrastructure and social services by asking whether resources would be a concern if Vancouver or Toronto didn’t have access to clean water. He was generally seen to have performed well in the official campaign debates, and flared on social media with a viral “Tik Tok” meme video.
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“What I said all along … it doesn’t happen right away,” said Della Mattia. “It takes five to 10 days to percolate into the consciousness of dental hygienists with two teenage boys.”
On Friday, as Singh toured Vancouver Island, he was questioned — as he has been all week — about how the New Democrats will handle a minority parliament, given that they’ve ruled out supporting the Conservatives in any way. He refused to say whether he would try to defeat a Conservative minority before it tries to scrap the federal carbon price, or whether he would make the cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion — a key priority for federal New Democrats — a condition for supporting the Liberals.
But regardless of what happens when votes are counted Monday, Della Mattia argued that the NDP campaign has already succeeded. Singh could be the kingmaker in a hung parliament, just weeks after many questioned whether the NDP would even retain official party status in the House.
“Despite the smaller budget than the other parties, our campaign has actually looked better and been stronger,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anything I could say we would do differently.”
Singh won’t confirm if he would trigger snap election
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been unequivocal in saying he would not help the Conservatives to form a government in the event that no party wins a majority, but he won’t say if that means he’d be willing to trigger a snap election.
Opinion polls suggest many progressive voters remain undecided with only three days left until election day. They also suggest the Liberals and Conservatives remain locked in a tie among decided voters, and that Singh’s New Democrats remain in third place, but have made significant gains since the election began.
The numbers look increasingly like there could be a minority government.
Singh has been firm in saying he would be unwilling to prop up a Conservative minority government. While campaigning in British Columbia Friday, he reiterated his stance, saying he would be willing to work with any of the other parties in a potential minority scenario, including the Liberals, but never with the Conservatives.
“We’re not going to support a Conservative minority government. We’re not going to support in any way Mr. Scheer being put into the prime minister’s seat,” Singh said in Port Alberni.
“That’s something that we’ve ruled out entirely, unequivocally.”
However, when questioned by reporters whether this means he would be willing to trigger a snap election if the Conservatives win the most seats but not a majority, Singh remained vague.
“What they should know is the Liberals have let you down and the more New Democrats you vote for in this election … we’re going to form government. But if you vote for enough of us either way we’re going to fight for the priorities we put forward.”
The Liberals have spent much of the campaign warning Canadians against voting for the NDP or Greens, arguing that to do so would split the progressive vote and let the Conservatives, who have promised to eliminate the carbon tax and cut federal spending, take power.
Singh has used every public appearance — rallies, stump speeches, whistle stops, media interviews — in the last week encouraging voters not to fall for this push for strategic voting. He calls them Liberal scare tactics aimed at keeping themselves in power.
He has also added an another detail in his messaging over the last 24 hours — expressing disappointment at Green Leader Elizabeth May for saying she would be willing to work with the Conservatives in a minority government.
May’s own riding includes the southern tip of Vancouver Island and some polls suggest her party has been doing well in a number of ridings in the province that the NDP hope to capture.
On Friday, Singh pointed to abortion and same-sex marriage — issues Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has struggled to stickhandle politically due to statements he has made saying he is personally against both — as key reasons he has absolutely ruled out working with the Conservatives.
“Ms. May hasn’t done that and that’s one of the big differences,” Singh said.
“We don’t think you can negotiate with a woman’s right to choose, with same-sex marriage, with services.”
Conservative views on abortion and same-sex marriage also landed Singh an unexpected ally on Friday.
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she will vote for the NDP candidate in her riding, despite disagreements with the federal party on energy policy.
Notley released a statement saying she was not planning to take a public position on the federal election, but the prospect of a Conservative minority government backed by the separatist Bloc Quebecois has her deeply concerned for the future of the country.
She criticized Scheer’s plans to roll back action on climate change and cut spending, as well as anti-choice, homophobic and xenophobic views within his party.
That’s why she said she is endorsing the NDP candidate in her riding of Edmonton Strathcona, Heather McPherson — the only candidate she believes can beat the Conservatives there.
Notley, a former Alberta premier, has clashed with Singh over the Trans Mountain oil pipeline and other energy issues.
They still don’t see eye-to-eye on these issues, “nor has my resolve to challenge him on these matters,” Notley said Friday. “However, it is also my view that there is no parliamentary makeup that will allow Mr. Singh to assert those views.”
Later at a rally in Victoria that drew an overflow crowd of more than 800 people, Singh got a more ringing endorsement from B.C. Premier John Horgan.
Federal Election 2019: Singh disagrees with Obama’s Trudeau endorsement
Federal Election 2019: Singh disagrees with Obama’s Trudeau endorsement
The New Democrat premier, who presides over one of three provincial minority governments in Canada, joked to the crowd that he feels an excitement about the party that he’s not felt in a few years — referencing the NDP’s electoral breakthrough in B.C.
“It was as if the mainstream media didn’t know he existed and now everyone in Canada knows the most compassionate, hardest working person on the ballot is Jagmeet Singh,” Horgan said.
Horgan also tried to counter concerns about the increasing possibility of a minority government in Ottawa.
“I’m here to tell British Columbians who know this, but most importantly Canadians: fear not a minority government. Celebrate a minority government.”
From The Canadian Press
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National Arts Centre receives landmark $10-million gift
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Barbara Kay: Concordia's Liberal Arts College finds it's not immune to cancel culture – National Post
For better or worse, 29Rooms raises important questions about art in the age of Instagram – CBC.ca
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