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‘Happy Stampede’: Prime minister mobbed by admirers at Stampede events

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CALGARY — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent Sunday in Calgary where he was surrounded by mostly friendly crowds as he attended a pancake breakfast, visited the Stampede grounds and spoke at a Liberal fundraiser.

The Stampede, an annual 10-day celebration of the cowboy way of life, has become an irresistible magnet for politicians of all political stripes.

Trudeau, decked out in a white cowboy hat, red plaid shirt and jeans, is no exception and has made regular appearances year-after-year.

“This is a moment to gather and to celebrate being able to gather once again. It’s great to see everyone in person. Happy Stampede,” Trudeau said early Sunday when he attended a breakfast hosted by George Chahal, the lone Liberal MP in Calgary.

Trudeau briefly referenced the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and global events before spending some time flipping pancakes.

“It’s been a tough couple of years where people have had to pull together and make it through and we really saw the strength of community,” he said.

“We’re facing more challenges with the war in Ukraine and with the global inflation crisis, but at the same time we’re seeing it — time and time again — Canadians stepping up and being there for each other.”

A lone protester, carrying a Canadian flag, yelled “traitor” a number of times before being quietly escorted out of the parking lot and across the street.

Trudeau was mobbed as he slowly made his way through the crowd, posing for pictures, holding small children and shaking hands.

Similar crowds gathered around him at the Stampede grounds, where he met with Mayor Jyoti Gondek and various Stampede officials.

Gondek said it was great to talk to Trudeau about the Stampede and their shared responsibility.

“We had a great conversation about the vibe that he’s feeling in the city — his words — so it’s really good to make sure that the federal government is aware that Calgary’s in good shape,” she said.

Trudeau stopped by one of the barns, where he talked to some heavy horse owners before walking through the crowds on the grounds, where many young families attended a Family Day event with free admission before 11 a.m.

People stopped him and asked for selfies as he talked to them about how nice it was to be back at Stampede.

“It’s been too long since we’ve been able to do this, so it’s nice to get out and be with people again,” said Calgarian Chris McLachlan after he talked to Trudeau.

Osman Husein, who was attending his first Stampede, said he felt like he had a celebrity moment.

“It’s cool. It’s cool to see him. I didn’t expect him at Calgary, not at Stampede,” he said.

Others took a moment to thank him.

“We’ve had Ukrainians thank him in Ukrainian, we’ve had Syrians thank him, we’ve had Afghans thank him,” said Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, who’s an Edmonton MP.

“We’ve had five women come up and say, ‘Thank you, you saved my house.’ We’ve had people come and talk about saving their businesses.”

At least one man was overheard saying, “Oh, it’s Justin Trudeau, I want to punch him in the face,” before walking away. Another woman said Trudeau wasn’t her favourite, but it was great he took the time to visit Stampede.

One man could be heard yelling: “Prime Minister Trudeau, you’re a tyrant” and “You’re a failure.”

After more than an hour of walking through the crowds, Trudeau was whisked off by his security detail to a Liberal party fundraiser at a brewery in northeast Calgary, where he spoke to a friendly crowd.

He took the opportunity to rally the troops by talking about a federal child-care deal, providing pandemic supports from Ottawa and standing up for democracy in places such as Ukraine.

Trudeau said the government will continue to “have people’s backs” as inflation rises and supply-chain issues continue.

The prime minister’s visit came on the heels of the federal Conservative barbecue in Calgary on Saturday night where four of the five leadership candidates had an opportunity to impress supporters before the party elects a leader in September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2022.

 

Colette Derworiz and Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Stable weather allows fire crews to focus on containment of B.C. wildfires

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Crews battling the wildfire that has forced the evacuation of more than 500 properties in British Columbia’s southern Okanagan are taking advantage of calm winds and stable conditions to bolster fire lines.

The BC Wildfire Service says the the wildfire covers 68 square kilometres southwest of Penticton, with most of the recent growth due to planned ignitions needed to create the control lines.

An update from the wildfire service says newly created control lines are “holding well.”

It says a key objective is to continue mop-up work along Highway 3A in an effort to reopen the route connecting Keremeos and the evacuated community of Olalla with towns further north.

Crews are keeping a close eye on weather conditions as a storm approaches from Washington state, bringing showers later this week and possible lightning strikes on Wednesday.

The wildfire service has recorded 564 blazes since the season began, 58 of them in the last seven days, and lists the fire danger rating as high to extreme on Vancouver Island, the entire B.C. coast and across the southern quarter of the province.

Of the eight wildfires of note currently burning in the Kamloops and Southeast fire centres, only the blaze near Penticton continues to keep residents out of their homes.

None of the other seven have grown significantly in recent days and the wildfire service website says the roughly three-square-kilometre fire in grasslands northwest of Kamloops is now listed as “being held,” allowing crews to finish building control lines.

Wildfires of note are either highly visible or pose a threat to people or properties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Warrant issued for man in Amber Alert, Saskatchewan children believed to be in U.S.

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REGINA — Saskatchewan RCMP say an arrest warrant has been issued for a convicted sex offender at the centre of an Amber Alert for two children.

Police say seven-year-old Luna Potts and eight-year-old Hunter Potts, along with their mother, are believed to be in South Dakota with 50-year-old Benjamin Martin Moore.

“We are very concerned about the well-being of those children,” RCMP Chief Supt. Tyler Bates said Tuesday.

“We feel they are in danger.”

Bates said Moore has a history of sexual offences against children and was previously convicted of sexual interference with a minor.

Moore now faces a charge of failing to report information within seven days of changing his address, which is required for convicted sex offenders.

RCMP said Moore was being investigated by social services when he left with the children and their mother.

Officers went last week to their home in Eastend, southwest of Regina, to question Moore but found it abandoned.

Police issued the Amber Alert on Monday evening for the girl and boy. Bates said RCMP enacted the alert after social services received an apprehension order for the children.

Bates did not say why police believe Moore crossed the border into the United States, but said RCMP were looking to extend the Amber Alert into South Dakota.

Moore is described as being five feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds with black hair.

Police also said Moore, the children and their mother may be travelling in a 2015 dark blue Chevrolet Equinox with the Alberta licence plate CGC 2492.

Police have received a slew of tips in the case.

Bates said officers have also been contacted by a person who is believed to be a victim and encouraged any others to come forward.

Court records show Moore was convicted in 2009 for sexual interference of a minor. He was sentenced in Regina provincial court to two years and two months in prison.

Records also say he served another three months in jail in 2011 after he was convicted of breaching a recognizance order.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

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Senegalese diplomat arrested by Quebec police owed former landlord more than $45,000

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MONTREAL — The detention and alleged beating of a Senegalese diplomat by Quebec police last week occurred while a bailiff was attempting to seize property at her residence in connection with a court judgment against her.

Quebec’s rental board in June ordered Oumou Kalsoum Sall to pay a former landlord more than $45,000 for damage to a furnished home she occupied from Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2020. The tribunal found that she caused flooding that led to structural damage and that her use of the property forced its owner, Michel Lemay, to replace most of his furniture.

“The pictures speak for themselves,” Anne A. Laverdure, an administrative judge, wrote in her ruling. “The furniture is full of cockroaches. Pieces of furniture are scratched and scuffed. Some are missing. Everything is dirty.”

Laverdure awarded Lemay almost $13,500 for structural damage to the home and $23,000 to replace furniture. The administrative judge awarded Lemay another several thousand dollars for other damages.

Court records show that the debt was not paid and that a bailiff went to Kalsoum Sall’s residence in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa, on Aug. 2 to seize property in connection with the debt.

Kalsoum Sall is a first counsellor at the embassy of the Republic of Senegal in Ottawa, according to a federal government database of foreign delegations. The Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has claimed that the diplomat had to be hospitalized after being handcuffed and beaten by police.

Quebec’s independent police watchdog said Monday it opened an investigation into the incident. Gatineau police have said that they were called to the residence to assist a bailiff and that they arrested a woman with diplomatic status after she allegedly hit a police officer in the face, adding that she was tackled to the ground after allegedly biting another officer.

Global Affairs Canada has described the incident as “unacceptable,” adding that the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations — which Canada has signed — gives diplomats immunity from any form of detention or arrest.

Gilles Rivard, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and to Haiti, said that while he doesn’t know exactly what happened during the Aug. 2 incident, some diplomats can be aggressive because they believe there will be no consequences for their actions.

“They can be aggressive because they know that they have immunity, so they believe that they can do whatever they want,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

While police are not officially supposed to arrest a diplomat, Rivard said, it’s possible a police officer might handcuff an individual while they wait to confirm the person’s diplomatic status.

“But if after that, that person shows that she is a diplomat, or he is a diplomat, normally they have to be released,” he said.

In 2001, a Russian diplomat struck and killed a woman while driving in Ottawa. The Canadian government asked Russia to waive the diplomat’s immunity so he could be charged in Canada, but Russia refused, Rivard said, adding that Canada’s only option in that case was to expel the diplomat.

Rivard said he doesn’t think the Aug. 2 incident is serious enough to damage Canada’s very good relationship with Senegal.

The Senegalese Embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Tuesday afternoon. A call to the embassy was not answered.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 9, 2022.

 

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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