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Police chief said ‘Freedom Convoy’ would end by first Monday: ex-police board chair

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Police chief said ‘Freedom Convoy’ would end by first Monday: ex-police board chair

OTTAWA — As the “Freedom Convoy” rolled toward Ottawa in late January, the city’s police chief said he would be “very surprised” if the protesters stayed longer than one weekend, the former chair of the police board said Wednesday.

Coun. Diane Deans told the public inquiry examining the federal government’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act that she was in constant contact with then-chief Peter Sloly as the protest unfolded. But she said she was not always given a full picture of the situation.

Documents filed with the Public Order Emergency Commission show the former chief told the police services board in a Jan. 26 briefing that trucks were expected to arrive in Ottawa that weekend and may stay for an “extended period.”

But Deans told the inquiry that in a one-on-one conversation, Sloly had a different take.

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“He said to me, ‘What are you worried about?’” Deans said during her appearance Wednesday.

“I recall Chief Sloly saying to me that he would be very surprised if (the protesters) were still there on Monday.”

An Ontario Provincial Police intelligence report dated the same day as that meeting showed the protesters had “no expressed departure date,” but Deans said those facts were not shared with her or the board.

She said no specific intelligence reports were shared with the oversight board, even in confidential sessions.

When asked what led Deans to understand the board wasn’t entitled to that intelligence information, she said she took Sloly “at his word.”

The trucks began arriving in Ottawa on Jan. 28, and gridlocked the downtown core near Parliament Hill for about three weeks. The City of Ottawa declared a state of emergency on Feb. 6, and the province declared its own state of emergency five days later.

In the days after the Trudeau government invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, Sloly resigned as police chief. Deans was removed as chair of the police board by her city council colleagues.

Deans told the inquiry that she and the police services board never lost confidence in Sloly.

The testimony from Deans suggests Sloly’s resignation was the result of pressure from the public, city hall and within the police service itself.

Deans said she mentioned to Sloly during one of their regular phone calls that there were a lot of people in the city who wanted him gone, as public frustration about the protest grew.

“His reply was, ‘Well, cut me a cheque and I’ll be out of here,’” Deans told the commission. “I didn’t expect that and I didn’t know if it was kind of just said passing, if it was flip, it was just frustration in the heat of the moment.”

In the days after that, Deans learned some of her city council colleagues planned to table a motion to formally ask Sloly to resign. She said there’s no way a motion like that would make it to the council floor without the knowledge and consent of Mayor Jim Watson.

“And then there was what I would describe as some sort of insurrection from within that was happening,” Deans said.

She said she learned from a producer at CBC that the news outlet was about to publish a story that included allegations against Sloly made by members of the service.

The CBC published a report on Feb. 15 citing multiple unnamed sources alleging that Sloly “belittled and berated” senior Ottawa police officers in front of their co-workers.

Deans told the commission on Wednesday that they were the “kind of accusations that clearly came from within the (police) service.”

Deans said she called Sloly late that evening to ask him if he meant it when he said he would leave, and he told her he intended to see the convoy through to the end.

The next morning he called her. “He said, ‘I want to leave,’” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2022.

 

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press

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Quebec coroner questions why witnesses failed to report drunk driver before crash

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A Quebec coroner is questioning why people who saw a drunk driver get behind the wheel failed to call authorities before he got into a crash that killed four members of a family north of Quebec City last year.

The report by coroner Donald Nicole says multiple witnesses saw Éric Légaré drinking at a bar all afternoon and subsequently driving erratically, but only one person called the police.

Evidence showed Légaré was driving at least 130 kilometres an hour in a 70 km/h zone when he crashed into another vehicle stopped at a red light, killing a man, his adult daughter and her two children.

In April, Légaré was sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to several charges, including impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death.

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Blood sample analyses taken after the crash showed that Légaré’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and he also had traces of cannabis in his blood.

The coroner says that through his discussions with alcohol awareness groups, he learned that very few people intervene when they witness a drunk driver get behind the wheel.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 7, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Canada commits $800 million to support Indigenous-led conservation projects

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Ottawa will spend up to $800 million to support four major Indigenous-led conservation projects across the country covering nearly one million square kilometres of land and water, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.

Trudeau made the announcement at the Biosphere environment museum in Montreal accompanied by Indigenous leaders and federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault as a UN meeting on global biodiversity, known as COP15, takes place in the city.

Trudeau said the four projects — which will be located in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, northern Ontario and Nunavut — will be developed in partnership with the communities in question.

“Each of these projects is different because each of these projects is being designed by communities, for communities,” he said.

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Chief Jackson Lafferty, of the Tlicho government in the Northwest Territories, said Indigenous groups have long been working to protect their lands and water but have lacked the resources and tools to fully do so.

Lafferty, who attended the announcement, called the funding “a significant step forward on a path to reconciliation across Canada.”

Among the projects to be funded is a marine conservation and sustainability initiative in the Great Bear Sea along British Columbia’s north coast, championed by 17 First Nations in the area.

Another project includes protection for boreal forests, rivers and lands across the Northwest Territories, spearheaded by 30 Indigenous governments.

Funds will also go to an Inuit-led project involving waters and land in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region and to a project in western James Bay to protect the world’s third largest wetland, led by the Omushkego Cree in Ontario.

Trudeau told reporters that the exact details of the agreements have yet to be worked out — including which portions of the lands will be shielded from resource extraction.

The Indigenous partners, he said, will be able to decide which lands need to be completely protected and where there can be “responsible, targeted development.”

“We know we need jobs, we know we need protected areas, we know we need economic development,” he said. “And nobody knows that, and the importance of that balance, better than Indigenous communities themselves that have been left out of this equation, not just in Canada but around the world, for too long.”

Dallas Smith, president of Nanwakolas Council, said the B.C. funding to help protect the Great Bear Sea would allow Indigenous groups to build on previous agreements to protect the terrestrial lands of Great Bear Rainforest, which were announced about 15 years ago.

“I did media all over the world, and I got home and my elder said, ‘Don’t sprain your arm patting yourself on the back, because until you do the marine component, it doesn’t mean anything,'” he said.

Grand Chief Alison Linklater of the Mushkegowuk Council, which represents seven Cree communities in northern Ontario, said their traditional territory includes ancient peatlands that store “billions of tons” of carbon, as well as wetlands that are home to many migratory birds and fish, and 1,200 kilometres of coastline.

She said caring for the lands is one of her sacred duties as grand chief and one of the main concerns of the people she represents.

“Without our lands and waters we do not exist,” she told the news conference.

In a statement, the federal government said the program would employ a “unique funding model” bringing together government, Indigenous Peoples, philanthropic partners and other investors to secure long-term financing for community-led conservation projects.

The government did not specify how much of the funding would be allocated for each project.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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B.C. Premier David Eby unveils his new cabinet

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B.C. Premier David Eby to reveal new cabinet with health, safety, housing priorities

Here is a list of British Columbia Premier David Eby‘s ministers following his first major cabinet shuffle since taking over as leader:

Agriculture and Food — Pam Alexis (new to cabinet)

Attorney General — Niki Sharma (new to cabinet)

Children and Family Development — Mitzi Dean (unchanged)

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Citizens’ Services — Lisa Beare

Education and Child Care — Rachna Singh (new to cabinet)

Minister of state for child care — Grace Lore (new to cabinet)

Emergency Management and Climate Readiness — Bowinn Ma

Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation — Josie Osborne

Environment and Climate Change Strategy — George Heyman (unchanged)

Finance (includes Columbia River Treaty) — Katrine Conroy

Forests and minister responsible for consular corps. — Bruce Ralston

Health and minister responsible for Francophone affairs — Adrian Dix (unchanged)

Housing and government house leader — Ravi Kahlon

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — Murray Rankin

Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation — Brenda Bailey (new to cabinet)

Minister of state for trade — Jagrup Brar (new to cabinet)

Labour — Harry Bains (unchanged)

Mental Health and Addictions — Jennifer Whiteside

Municipal Affairs — Anne Kang

Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills (includes immigration/foreign credentials) — Selina Robinson

Minister of state for workforce development — Andrew Mercier (new to cabinet)

Public Safety and Solicitor General (ICBC) — Mike Farnworth (unchanged)

Social Development and Poverty Reduction — Sheila Malcolmson

Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport — Lana Popham

Transportation and Infrastructure (BC Transit and Translink) — Rob Fleming (unchanged)

Minister of state for infrastructure and transit — Dan Coulter (new to cabinet)

Water, Land and Resource Stewardship — Nathan Cullen

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022

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