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Child-killer story used by parties to push campaign messages

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A story in a British newspaper claiming that a convicted child killer could be sent to Canada is one of the latest salvos in a Twitter battle between Liberals and Conservatives that plays on old news while sowing confusion about the parties’ positions on key issues.

On Saturday, British tabloid The Daily Mail published a story claiming convicted child murderer Jon Venables would soon be released and sent to Canada. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted a link to the Daily Mail story and said it was “disturbing that this pedophile child killer might come to Canada.”

“As Prime Minister I won’t let him come here. Where does Trudeau stand?” Scheer wrote. “Our country should not be a dumping ground for murderers, terrorists, and perverts.”

Venables was just 10 years old when he and another boy, Robert Thompson were convicted of killing toddler James Bulger in 1993. Both men were released in 2001 and given new identities; Venables was convicted of further crimes after his release, including possession of child pornography.

Jon Venables, pictured in a police photo in 1993. ((Associated Press))

The Daily Mail reported that unnamed sources said Venables is set to be released from prison again and “will most likely be sent to Canada within days, but Australia and New Zealand are also options.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada initially said it could not comment on specific cases while noting several reasons that potential immigrants would be inadmissible to Canada — among them the fact of having “a criminal record” or having “committed an act outside Canada that would be a crime in Canada.”

But on Tuesday, as the story drew international attention, a government official speaking on background told CBC News that there is currently no application in the system for Venables — and that the government has not been contacted by U.K. officials about his case.

Rumours about Venables coming to Canada first circulated in June, when a National Post story — citing an anonymous government official — stated there was no basis for the claim.

A spokesperson for the U.K.’s Ministry of Justice said that while a convict’s potential move to Canada doesn’t fall under its jurisdiction, they “don’t know of any truth to this story” and said aspects of the story relating to Venables’ process of release were “complete nonsense.”

Barbara Jo Caruso, an immigration lawyer and the founder of the Corporate Immigration Law Firm, said there are some exemptions to inadmissibility but added that it would be “unlikely” for someone like Venables to be approved to come to Canada.

Both parties pointing fingers across the aisle

As with another recent story in the British press — about the U.K. stripping citizenship from a dual Canadian-British national held by the Kurds and accused of aiding ISIS in Syria — the Daily Mail story played into a Conservative narrative that the Liberal government would be soft on crime.

The Liberals also have been taking to Twitter lately with their own specific narrative against the Conservative leader: that Scheer hasn’t changed his previous stances on divisive social issues. That effort included digging up a video of a speech Scheer gave opposing same sex marriage in 2005, and footage of Scheer discussing funding for private schools in 2017.

CBC News contacted Scheer’s office to find out if he knew that the claims in the Daily Mail story had been denied previously.

“Mr. Scheer quite simply wants to know if Justin Trudeau would let this monster into Canada,” said Daniel Schow, Scheer’s press secretary, in an email. “Thus far, (Trudeau) has failed to clarify his position and Canadians deserve to know where he stands.”

In response, Liberal party spokesperson Braeden Caley told CBC News that the tweet was an example of “divisive politics.”

“As we have seen in the past, Andrew Scheer is repeating another false online conspiracy theory as his Conservative Party doubles down on Harper-style divisive politics,” Caley wrote in an email. “After a decade of cuts by the Harper Conservatives, the Liberal government reinvested in the services that keep criminals out of Canada.”

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Pedestrian killed by car in Surrey

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One person has died after being struck by a car on Saturday night in the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey, B.C.

RCMP say a pedestrian was hit by a vehicle around 10:34 p.m, near the busy intersection of 152 Street and Highway 10.

Police say the pedestrian was pronounced dead on scene.

Evidence markers dotted Highway 10 for several dozen metres west of the intersection where a white car sat with front end damage.

The intersection was closed to traffic overnight while collision analysts examined the scene.

Police have not announced any details on what caused the crash.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, saw the vehicle beforehand, or has dash camera footage of the incident is asked to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

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Mississauga mayor statement after shooting in the city

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The mayor of Mississauga, Ont., says she’s “shocked and saddened” after a teenage boy was killed and five other people were wounded when gunfire erupted in the city west of Toronto on Saturday evening.

Bonnie Crombie called the incident a “senseless act of gun violence” and says her thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families.

Peel Regional Police Chief Chris McCord said at a news conference late Saturday night that according to witnesses, multiple suspects unleashed a barrage of gunfire from semi-automatic weapons near a parkette behind an apartment building at around 6:20 p.m.He said a 17-year-old old boy died at the scene and that five others – a 13-year-old, a 16-year-old, two 17-year-olds and a woman in her 50s – were injured.

McCord said one of the wounded was in serious condition and that the other four suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

No suspect information has been released as officers continued to canvass the area for surveillance footage and police are asking anyone with information on the shooting to come forward.

Crombie thanked first responders who rushed to the scene and she says she hopes to take action in response to the shooting.

“As a member of the police board, I am committed to ensuring Mississauga remains one of the safest cities by working to get illegal guns off our streets,” said Crombie in a statement.

McCord has said that “a lot” of shell casings were found scattered over a wide area and that several vehicles were hit by the gunfire.

He said it’s early in the investigation and that many questions about the incident remained unanswered, including the motive, whether the victims were targeted and whether the shooting was gang related.

A music video was being filmed near the scene of the shooting, but McCord said he didn’t know if it was in any way linked to the case.

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Police seeking 7 suspects in shooting in Mississauga

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A 17-year-old boy who was killed in a shooting in Mississauga on Saturday night was an innocent victim, Peel Regional Police say.

Peel Police Chief Chris McCord told reporters on Sunday that investigators believe there were seven shooters involved in gunfire that injured four other teens and a woman in her 50s in a parkette behind an apartment complex.

The shooting occurred on Darcel Avenue near Dunrankin Drive, in the area of Morning Star and Goreway Drive. Police were called to the scene at 6:22 p.m.

Officers have recovered more than 100 shell casings at the crime scene.

McCord said police also believe the shooting was motivated by a rap music video that was filmed in the parkette and released last week.

The teen boy, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene. The five injured people — a 13-year-old girl, a 16-year-old boy, and two 17-year-old boys — were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police say one of the injured people has been released from hospital and the remaining four are in stable condition

McCord said some of the injured are also believed to be innocent victims.

He said the shooting occurred as people in the parkette were setting up to shoot a music video and an ice cream truck was nearby.

No one is in custody, no suspects have been identified and officers are reviewing security camera video.

Police believe the shooters used semi-automatic weapons, but none of those weapons have been recovered.

Mayor says she is ‘deeply shocked’ by shooting

On Sunday morning, police canvassed the neighbourhood, knocking on doors in the hopes of finding witnesses and security camera video.

Officers also sent out a drone to obtain an aerial view of the crime scene and brought in a metal detector to scan for stray bullets in the grass.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement Sunday that her thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened to hear of this senseless act of gun violence in our city, it’s simply unacceptable. I urge anyone with information to contact police immediately,” Crombie said.

“As a member of the police board, I am committed to ensuring Mississauga remains one of the safest cities by working to get illegal guns off our streets.”

Crombie also thanked Peel police and paramedics who “swiftly” went to the scene.

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