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Sask. RCMP issue Canada-wide warrant for anti-vaccine dad charged with abducting daughter, 7 – CBC.ca

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Saskatchewan RCMP have charged and issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for a Carievale, Sask., man accused of abducting his daughter to prevent her getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Michael Gordon Jackson, 52, is charged with one count of abduction in contravention of a custody or parenting order, RCMP said in a news release Friday evening.

It comes after CBC News reported earlier this month that the father fled with his seven-year-old daughter, Sarah, in mid-November to keep her from getting immunized against the coronavirus. Jackson’s ex-wife, Mariecar Jackson, had wanted to get their daughter vaccinated, but Jackson did not. 

The girl had been visiting her father when she was allegedly abducted.

Since an enforceable court order was issued earlier this month, investigators say they have followed up on several tips and reported sightings of the father and daughter — including by reviewing surveillance footage at several businesses. However, no tips have led to locating them.

Sarah, 7, is described as four feet two inches tall and 76 pounds with waist-length brown hair that’s all one length. She has brown/hazel-coloured eyes and was last seen wearing teal-coloured eyeglasses. (Saskatchewan RCMP)

At this point, RCMP say, the criteria for an Amber Alert has not been met, which is why Mounties are continuing to ask the public for help in tracking the pair down.

“Sarah: we want you to know that you are not in any trouble,” Chief Supt. Tyler Bates, the officer in charge of the Saskatchewan RCMP south district, said in a message to the girl contained in the news release.

“Your mom misses you very much, and we have police officers doing what they can so you can see her again soon.”

Sarah is described as four feet two inches tall, 76 pounds, with waist-length brown hair that’s all one length. She has brown/hazel-coloured eyes and last wore teal-coloured eyeglasses.

Jackson’s ex-wife, Mariecar Jackson, says she hasn’t communicated with her daughter since mid-November. (Submitted by Mariecar Jackson)

Michael Jackson is described as weighing about 250 pounds with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He also typically wears glasses, RCMP said.

While Jackson resides in the Carievale area — located in Saskatchewan’s southeast corner — Mounties said he may have connections to the communities of Dilke, Oxbow, Alameda and Regina, along with Lamont, Alta. RCMP said he may also be in Manitoba.

“Locating Michael Gordon Jackson and Sarah is a top priority for Saskatchewan RCMP officers,” Bates said. “Our investigators are diligently following up on all tips and reported sightings. We are committed to locating Michael Gordon Jackson and reuniting Sarah with her mom.”

WATCH | Sask. woman says she’ll never stop looking for her child:

Sask. mom pleads for public’s help finding daughter taken by anti-vaccine dad

9 days ago

Duration 1:55

A Saskatchewan mother is pleading for the public’s help to locate her seven-year-old daughter taken in mid-November by the girl’s father to prevent her from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 1:55 

RCMP noted that investigators believe Michael Jackson may be getting help in evading police and reminded people that this activity may result in criminal charges. 
 
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Michael or Sarah Jackson is asked to call the Saskatchewan RCMP at 306-310-7267 or 306-780-5563. Tips can also be anonymously submitted to Crime Stoppers at at 1‐800‐222‐8477 or www.saskcrimestoppers.com.

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Women’s groups warn Liberals against ‘downloading’ gun control to potential victims

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OTTAWA — Several women’s groups are imploring the federal Liberals to abandon the idea of creating a new regime for an endangered person to seek a court order to remove firearms from a stalker or abuser.

They say the so-called red flag provision, proposed in a bill that did not pass last year, would lead to more tragic deaths by downloading responsibility for gun-law enforcement to potential victims.

The plea comes in a letter to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Women and Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien as the government prepares new gun-control legislation.

The May 16 letter is signed by Tiffany Butler, executive director of the National Association of Women and the Law, on behalf of representatives of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, YWCA Toronto, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and Women’s Shelter Canada, among others.

“Firearms increase the likelihood that domestic violence will end in death,” it says. “Firearms increase the number of victims: children are often also killed and injured and, in 50 per cent of the cases of domestic violence involving firearms, the perpetrator commits suicide.”

The women’s groups object to a provision in last year’s federal gun bill — which expired upon the general election call — that proposed to create a new regime for emergency prohibition orders. Under the regime, anyone would be able to apply to a provincial court judge to prohibit another person from possessing a gun for 30 days on safety grounds.

Instead, the women’s groups support efforts to use existing means, as well as additional powers and community education, to identify risks and swiftly remove firearms from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

“There is no support for downloading or eroding the responsibility of law enforcement and other government officials to implement gun laws,” the letter says.

“They are, and must remain, responsible and accountable for ensuring that firearms licences are denied and revoked when there are potential risks to women. Citizens or other organizations, much less potential victims, should not be expected to put themselves at risk by going to court to request action that should be immediate and within the direct responsibility of police.”

It is widely recognized that women are in greatest danger during and after separation, and shifting the onus of enforcement to women and third parties “is a guaranteed route to increased fatality,” the groups say.

The letter cites a number of shootings in which people were aware of patterns of threats and violence against women. “In some cases, police were in fact notified, but no action was taken.”

The groups call on the government to promote use of the existing “red flag” mechanisms in the system, such as the Firearms Incident Police system, and ensure they are used as intended. In particular, they say officials should:

— ensure those flags are raised by a broad range of offences and behaviours;

— encourage community members, health care professionals and others to report red flags; and

— ensure immediate and effective action is taken in response to such red flag reports.

The letter urges the government to focus on training, more rigorous screening, better enforcement, and accountability of police and other government officials responsible for safeguarding the security of women and other potential victims of gun violence.

The offices of Mendicino and Ien had no immediate comment Wednesday.

In a recent mandate letter issued to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Mendicino said victims of intimate partner violence deserve protection.

He asked Lucki to work with chief firearms officers across Canada so that they respond without delay to calls from Canadians who have safety concerns about anyone who has access to firearms, and to work with police of jurisdiction to remove firearms quickly as needed.

Lucki was also directed to provide awareness and training on the importance of recording incidents involving dangerous behaviour and firearms. “This work will also involve implementing new procedures and educational tools in close partnership with community groups, women’s shelters and organizations, academia and more.”

The coming firearm legislation is expected to address several distinct issues. The Liberals have promised a mandatory buyback of banned guns they consider assault-style firearms, a crackdown on high-capacity firearm magazines and new efforts to combat gun smuggling.

The planned buyback would make it mandatory for owners of a wide variety of banned firearms to either sell them back to the government or have them rendered inoperable at federal expense. The list includes the Ruger Mini-14 used in the 1989 shooting at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, where 14 women were killed.

The buyback plan has won applause from gun-control advocates but criticism from some firearm owners and Conservative MPs who say it unfairly focuses on legitimate gun users.

The Liberals have also pledged to work with any province or territory that wants to ban handguns.

The women’s groups and many other organizations pushing for stronger gun laws advocate a truly national ban on handguns.

The letter to Mendicino and Ien says the federal government should not hand off regulation of firearms, including handguns, to the provinces or municipalities. “In order to ensure effective gun control in Canada, your government must proactively exercise the full extent of its powers in this area.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

 

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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Weekend storm: Quebec says some parts of province won’t get power back until Saturday

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MONTREAL — Quebec’s hydro utility says more than 80,000 customers are still without power following last weekend’s violent storm that left a trail of damage from Gatineau to Quebec City.

Hydro-Québec president Sophie Brochu and vice-president of operations and maintenance Régis Tellier told reporters the utility hopes to restore power to more than 50,000 people by the end of the day.

They say the majority of customers still in the dark should get their power back by the end of Thursday.

But people in more remote areas of the province will have to wait until Saturday — one week since the storm levelled trees and power lines across the province and in Ontario.

The deadly storm killed at least nine people in Ontario and one person in Quebec, who died after her boat capsized on the Ottawa River.

Wind gusts up to 151 kilometres per hour caused serious damage to power lines and other infrastructure across both provinces.

The hardest-hit areas in Quebec include the Laurentians, where almost 50,000 customers are still off the electricity grid, along with the Outaouais and Lanaudière regions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 25, 2022.

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

 

The Canadian Press

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Emergency alerts when severe weather happens can be improved: Guilbeault

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OTTAWA — Emergency weather alerts that are broadcast over the mobile network should be improved to make sure they are getting to the right people at the right time, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Wednesday.

Guilbeault is in Germany for a G7 environment ministers meeting this week and adapting to the reality of climate change is high on the agenda.

He said part of that conversation includes public awareness of emergencies, because severe weather is becoming more and more frequent right across Canada.

Large swaths of Ontario and Quebec are still cleaning up after severe storms. There was at least one tornado confirmed in Uxbridge, Ont., and a major wind storm known as a derecho on Saturday.

Environment Canada issued a broadcast alert on the cellphone network for a thunderstorm for the first time Saturday as the storm raced across Ontario with wind speeds above 130 kilometres per hour.

But there have been some complaints about the warnings not being issued early enough or others not getting the message at all.

At least 10 people were killed, most from falling trees, as the storms moved from Sarnia, Ont., to Quebec City over the course of about six hours Saturday. One man was killed after being hit by a tree on a golf course and a woman was killed by a tree while out for a walk. One woman drowned when the boat she was in capsized on the Ottawa River during the storm.

Others were trapped in their cars in Ottawa as power lines fell around them. At Canada’s Wonderland, an amusement park north of Toronto, people were trapped on a roller-coaster in the severe weather for nearly half an hour after the power went out.

“The challenge for us at Environment and Climate Change (Canada) is to put out those warnings when the situation is really dire,” Guilbeault said. “Because if we start putting out warnings too often, then people will just get used to them and not pay attention. And we want to make sure that when those warnings are issued, people pay attention.”

But he said “there is something to be said” for finding a way to improve coordination between the federal government, provincial governments, municipalities and Indigenous communities “to ensure that when the warnings go out, people get the information.”

Environment Canada said in a statement this week the first warning for a severe thunderstorm in southern Ontario was issued around 11 a.m. Saturday, through weather channels and websites. Around 12:30 it was sent out to the first people via the mobile Alert Ready program. It was repeated in other regions as the storm moved east.

Alert Ready is the same emergency alert system that sends people notifications on their phones for missing children. It is only used for weather when there is a tornado, baseball-sized hail or winds exceeding 130 kilometres an hour.

Guilbeault said some people got the warnings four or five hours before the storm hit, others only 10 or 15 minutes ahead.

“Can we ensure that it’s better disseminated?” Guilbeault asked. “Absolutely. Can we ensure that it’s getting to the right people as fast as possible? Absolutely.”

He said that will form part of the discussion as the government works toward its promised national adaptation strategy, which is expected by the end of this year.

Kim Ayotte, general manager of emergency and protective services at the City of Ottawa, said there were warnings about the storm throughout the day. But he also said public education about what to do when people hear warnings is necessary.

“So there were a lot of weather warnings, and the alert came in and I think that it did what it was supposed to do,” he said. “But I have no problem continuing to have these discussions with Environment Canada to see if there’s any opportunity for improvements, but as far as I’m concerned, it worked the way it should have.”

The need for alerts is expected to grow, because climate change is not an abstract concept but a reality we’re already living with, said Guilbeault.

“We’ve entered the era of climate change and we’re not ready in Canada,” he said.

Adaptation generally refers to hardening the defences against extreme weather, such as with better flood protection, or efforts to protect critical infrastructure like power lines from severe storms.

Ottawa, where more than half the city lost power initially and one in six hydro customers are still in the dark, is dealing with its second massive power outage in four years. Tornadoes that hit the city in September 2018 left more than half the city off the power grid for several days.

A climate risk assessment of the Ottawa power grid done in 2019 said the number of days of severe thunderstorms in the city is expected to double in the next three decades, and the risk of tornadoes will rise 25 per cent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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