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State Dept. backs up Canada’s decision to return Nord Stream 1 turbines to Germany



WASHINGTON — The federal government has found a powerful supporter for its decision to allow a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Europe to resume operations.

The U.S. State Department says it backs Canada’s decision to send repaired turbine equipment vital to the Nord Stream 1 pipeline back to Germany.

Spokesman Ned Price says it’s the right decision because it will allow Europe to fortify its gas reserves in the short term.

Price says that will, in turn, help Germany and others increase their energy security in the name of ultimately countering Russia’s energy dominance in the region.

Ottawa’s decision has been roundly criticized by Ukraine, which calls it a “dangerous” exception to Canada’s sanctions against Russia.

Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the decision was necessary to ensure Europe has immediate access to reliable, affordable energy.

“In the short term, the turbine will allow Germany and other European countries to replenish their gas reserves, increasing their energy security and resiliency and countering Russia’s efforts to weaponize energy,” Price said in a statement.

“We are grateful for the partnership with Canada and Germany and their solidarity in defence of Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war against its sovereign neighbour and the significant sanctions they have each put in place to hold the Kremlin accountable.”

Wilkinson announced Saturday that the turbines, which had been sent to Montreal for scheduled repairs by Siemens Canada, would be returned.

Back in June, Siemens said Canada’s sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine meant the company couldn’t return the turbines.

In a statement Sunday, Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and Energy Ministry expressed “deep disappointment” in Canada’s decision.

“This dangerous precedent violates international solidarity, goes against the principle of the rule of law and will have only one consequence: it will strengthen Moscow’s sense of impunity.”

Germany had feared Russia would shut off deliveries of natural gas to Europe after the planned maintenance, having already slowed the flow of energy — something Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, attributed to the needed repairs.

Ukraine isn’t buying it, describing Russia’s threats as little more than “blackmail that has no technical justification.”

“Russia is able to continue to supply gas to Germany in full without this turbine,” it said.

Germany, which is Europe’s largest economy, warned last month it was in a crisis over Russia’s decision to cut the amount of gas flowing through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 60 per cent.

The same day Wilkinson announced the turbines would be returned, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced Canada planned to apply a new set of sanctions targeting Russia’s land and pipeline transportation and manufacturing sectors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2022.


The Canadian Press


Sentencing Hearing August 26 for Activists Convicted of Indictable Offences for Exposing Animal Cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm in 2019



Activists Convicted of Indictable Offences for Exposing Animal Cruelty
Never Seen Before Documentation from Trial Reveals Rights Violations, Missing and Destroyed Evidence, and Appearance of Collusion Between BCSPCA and Police
Abbotsford, BC – A sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 26 in the case of two activists convicted for exposing animal cruelty at Excelsior Hog Farm. Amy Soranno and Nick Schafer, who were convicted in July of break-and-enter and criminal mischief, face jail time. A press conference will be held in front of the BC Supreme Court at 9:30am that day.

What: Press conference followed by sentencing hearing for two animal activistsWhen: Friday, August 26: Press conf at 9:30am / Sentencing hearing at 10amWhere: BC Supreme Court, 32375 Veterans Way, Abbotsford, BC

Although Soranno and Schafer were convicted for their role in exposing criminal animal abuse at the Abbotsford hog farm in 2019, the jury acquitted a third activist, Roy Sasano. A fourth activist, Geoff Regier, had his charges dropped in May. Together, the four activists have been dubbed the Excelsior 4.Because of a publication ban imposed by BC Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven, the activists were unable—until now—to share trial evidence that is crucial to the public interest. Never before seen documentation detailed below includes rights violations by law enforcement, as well as missing and destroyed evidence.What follows are brief descriptions of this malfeasance, and Soranno, Schafer, Sasano, and Regier are all available for interview to provide additional details. Contact Kris Hermes at 604-228-9993 or to arrange an interview.The Abbotsford police obtained a warrant in May 2019 to search Soranno’s phone, but it was limited to the April 2019 “Meat the Victims” protest at Excelsior Hog Farm for which they were arrested. Police violated the scope of the warrant by extracting hundreds of additional videos and contacts from Soranno’s phone they were not entitled to, and which were used to obtain a second warrant in August 2019. Police then violated the second warrant by, again, exceeding the scope of evidence they were allowed to obtain and use against the activists at trial.The Crown then used this unlawfully obtained evidence to lay more charges against the Excelsior 4. Justice Verhoeven recognized these warrant violations at a pretrial hearing in May, but refused to sanction the police or preclude the evidence from being used at trial.The Abbotsford police were also responsible for missing and destroyed evidence. Three hidden cameras were found at Excelsior Hog Farm in March 2019, along with SD cards containing hundreds of hours of video evidence, some of which depicted criminal animal abuse, according to the Excelsior 4. But, instead of ensuring the preservation of this evidence during an active investigation, the SD cards mysteriously went missing while in police custody.Then, on August 14, 2019, for no apparent reason, the Abbotsford police ordered the destruction of all three cameras the activists were accused of planting in the hog farm. Police records revealed at trial show that the evidence destruction occurred a day after the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) contacted the police to discuss whistleblower Geoff Regier. Days earlier, on August 5, 2019, Regier had emailed the BCSPCA to let them know that the cameras in police possession contained evidence of animal abuse.The BCSPCA turned Regier over to police in violation of its own confidentiality policy, giving the appearance that the BCSPCA and Abbotsford police were colluding to criminalize animal activists engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience. In July 2019, Regier made contact with the BCSPCA to provide the private charity—and the only agency authorized to enforce animal cruelty laws in BC—video evidence of criminal animal abuse at Excelsior. Instead of recommending charges against Excelsior, the BCSPCA broke its privacy agreement with Regier and turned him over to police despite no obligation to do so.In addition to its inexcusable practices, the BCSPCA admitted in 2020 that it has no capacity to regulate the more than 6,000 commercial farms in the province. “BC needs an enforcement agency to protect farmed animals that is accountable to the public, not a private charity that is unfit for the role and only answerable to its board of directors,” said Amy Soranno.In the first week of trial, Justice Verhoeven effectively blocked the defence from showing the jury any video footage of animal cruelty at Excelsior, including the footage the activists were tried for exposing. The judge also prevented them from arguing that the hog farm had engaged in unlawful animal abuse, which foreclosed on testimony from expert witnesses the defence had intended to call to the stand. “Without the ability to enter video evidence of animal abuse, the legs were cut out from under several of the defences we had been planning to raise,” said Soranno’s legal counsel Leo Salloum.Also in the first week of trial, Excelsior Hog Farm co-owner Calvin Binnendyk told the jury that the 2019 protest was “hard to deal with,” and resulted in “quite a few sleepless nights.” Binnendyk painted his family as the “victims.” Yet, newly released video footage depicts the Binnendyks joking around while dozens of protesters are occupying their farm.Notably, the footage of the Binnendyks came from one of the farm’s exterior CCTV cameras, illustrating the Binnendyks’ priority to capture video on the outside—but not the inside—of their farm. During the Excelsior 4 trial, the BCSPCA joined the demands of activists for CCTV cameras at federal slaughterhouses across the province.At the conclusion of the trial—the day the jury found Soranno and Schafer guilty—one of the jurors came to court wearing a shirt that read, “Make Canada Great Again.” The Canadian Anti-Hate Network called the phrase “a far-right slogan, copying Trump’s far-right MAGA movement,” according to a recent statement the group made. Besides being a slap in the face to activists who simply wanted to expose animal cruelty, case law indicates that an appearance of bias by jurors may be sufficient grounds to reverse a conviction.The sentencing hearing for Soranno and Schafer comes more than three years after the exposure of animal cruelty at the Excelsior Hog Farm, yet the Binnendyks have never had to answer for the video footage clearly depicting animal abuse. “The fact that we face jail time while Excelsior Hog Farm is free to continue its abusive practices is a mockery of justice,” continued Soranno. “Despite the consequences we face, we will continue to shine a light on the criminal animal abuse taking place at Excelsior, and the failure to hold them and other factory farms accountable.”To learn more about the Excelsior 4 case—how industry has avoided accountability, how the police mishandled evidence, and how the Crown is criminalizing activists—watch this 7-minute video: Additional information can also be found at the Excelsior 4 website:

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Hockey Canada trying to ‘salvage’ World Juniors amid scandal, low ticket sales – Global News



Amid low tickets sales, a flight of sponsors and a national scandal of sexual assault allegations, Hockey Canada appears to be trying to “salvage” its World Juniors championship, says one expert.

The tournament got underway on Tuesday in Edmonton, Alta., with thousands of tickets still available. It was postponed  late last year as a result of the Omicron variant surge.

In the months since, the national organization has become embroiled in condemnation and controversy over its handling of the allegations. As a result, regional tourism body Explore Edmonton, told Global News, it paused promotion of the tournament in July.

“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard, CEO of Explore Edmonton.

Click to play video: 'Thousands of tickets still up for grabs for World Juniors Championship games in Edmonton'

Thousands of tickets still up for grabs for World Juniors Championship games in Edmonton

Thousands of tickets still up for grabs for World Juniors Championship games in Edmonton

For sports culture expert Dan Mason, that’s not a huge surprise.

“Hockey Canada is hurting because they’re lacking sponsorship and the usual promotion that they get. I don’t think it’s necessarily something that they would really want to be doing anyway, given the circumstances that they’re in,” said Mason, a professor of sport management at the University of Alberta.

“I think they’re just trying to salvage this opportunity to have some player development.”

Read more:

As Hockey Canada re-opens alleged sex assault probe, here’s what 2018 players say so far

The World Juniors is the international championship for players aged 20 or younger competing for spots on teams run by the national hockey league.

It is run by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which confirmed last week it is now among the growing number of official bodies investigating Hockey Canada over its handling of sexual assault allegations. The Zurich, Switzerland-based world governing body for ice hockey said it wants more information amid a continued storm of criticism and condemnation, which has rocked Hockey Canada to its core.

“These are deeply troubling incidents that the IIHF takes extremely seriously,” the organization told Global News on Aug. 1.

Read more:

International Ice Hockey Federation probing Hockey Canada over alleged sex assault

TSN first reported in May that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit in which a young woman, “E.M.”, alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players including members of the 2018 Canadian World Juniors team following a gala organized by the organization.

In the months since, Hockey Canada has been engulfed in scrutiny including: three parliamentary committee meetings focusing on the matter, a funding freeze ordered by the federal sports minister, a financial audit, a renewed criminal investigation by police in London, Ont., and an NHL probe.

The organization has lost multiple major sponsors for the World Juniors tournament including Tim Hortons, Telus, Canadian Tire and Scotiabank, and faced a revolt from provincial hockey organizations vowing to withhold funding. The chair of the board of directors is gone — though the president Scott Smith remains. Former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell is leading a governance review due in November.

Whether Smith will remain in the role after that review remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, Canadian parents are furious, particularly over the revelations of a slush fund used to pay out sexual assault claimants using registration fees paid by parents for their children to play what Stompin’ Tom Connors once called “the good ol’ hockey game.”

Click to play video: 'Abuse survivors react to Hockey Canada executives’ testimony'

Abuse survivors react to Hockey Canada executives’ testimony

Abuse survivors react to Hockey Canada executives’ testimony – Jul 28, 2022

Mason said he expects the impact of the revelations will play out in youth enrolment numbers.

At the same time, some locals who planned to attend the World Juniors said they trust that the problems in the organization are being taken care of and don’t want to penalize the players.

Randy Thompson spoke to Global News outside the Rogers Centre in Edmonton. He said he plans to catch a few games, and after years of COVID-19 disruption watching the World Juniors feels like a return to a “nice tradition.”

“I think it’s on all of our minds and we hope that there’s a positive resolution to that,” he said of the allegations and the outcry facing Hockey Canada.

“But hockey still is what it is and we shouldn’t let that affect us too too much. I think we need to stay true to our hockey culture or hockey tradition, and I know that the right people will take care of things.”

Click to play video: '‘More diversity’ needed at Hockey Canada following Brind’Amour resignation'

‘More diversity’ needed at Hockey Canada following Brind’Amour resignation

‘More diversity’ needed at Hockey Canada following Brind’Amour resignation

The Canadian team is set to face off against Latvia on Wednesday in their first game of the tournament.

Team Canada’s head coach André Tourigny said leaders have been emphasizing to players that they are under the spotlight, but kept his remarks to the media brief about the outcry facing Hockey Canada.

“We’ve addressed that. We recognize that there’s steps to be taken,” said Tourigny earlier this week. “We did a sexual violence thing, we did a code of conduct thing.”

Read more:

Sex abuse ‘code of silence’ still runs deep in Canadian sports, says former league head

Brenda Andress, who was commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for 12 years, told Global News she still sees a “code of silence” in Canadian sports when it comes to sex abuse and sexual allegations.

She said in an interview last week that many still have trouble wrapping their heads around the extent of the problem.

“Being in the sports world as long as I have been, there is a code of silence. There’s a culture that we have created, and I think most of us can’t handle the truth that’s out there — that’s really going on in our sports world,” Andress said.

“It’s time that we take a look at it in a lot deeper avenue than we’re currently doing.”

— With files from Global Edmonton’s Morgan Black.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Sask. woman, accused of faking own death, says she had 'no choice' but to flee –



The Saskatoon woman accused of staging the disappearance of herself and her son has issued a statement to CBC News from an Oregon jail.

Dawn Walker, 48, was the subject of an extensive missing persons search after she disappeared with her son about two weeks ago. She was found and arrested in Oregon City on Friday and has been detained in the U.S. since.

“I left Saskatoon because I feared for my safety and that of my son,” Walker said in a written statement to CBC News. She didn’t name the person she said she fears, but Walker has previously made domestic violence allegations against her ex, who is the father of her seven-year-old son. 

Police have said the domestic violence allegations were investigated, but no evidence was found to support them. 

Walker’s friend, Eleanore Sunchild, recorded Walker’s statement during a visit at the Multnomah County Jail in Portland on Monday. 

Walker is charged in the U.S. with aggravated identity theft, which, if convicted, would lead to a minimum prison sentence of two years. She has also been criminally charged with parental abduction and public mischief in Canada. 

U.S. prosecutors allege that Walker faked her and her son’s deaths as part of an elaborate scheme that involved stolen identities and a fraudulent bank account. Police were able to locate Walker and her son last Friday by following bank transactions for gas, food, Netflix and Airbnb rentals. 

Walker says justice system failed 

Walker said she was “failed by the Saskatchewan Justice system, the family law system and child protection.”

She said she previously filed domestic abuse reports with Saskatoon police and RCMP and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The police services did nothing to assist me. I reported my concerns to the child protection authorities and again nothing was done. I am fighting systems that continuously fail to protect me as an Indigenous woman and protect non-Indigenous men,” Walker said.

“So many women and children before us have had to run for their lives to protect their children. The SPS and RCMP only cared when they thought I was dead and the pressure they were under because of their blatant failures.”

Before Walker was located by police, her friends and family suggested foul play or interpersonal violence could be involved in her disappearance. Saskatoon police were asked Monday about the allegations. 

“Any potential or any previous allegations made by Dawn Walker were thoroughly investigated and no charges resulted as a result of those investigations,” Saskatoon police Deputy Chief Randy Huisman said. 

The allegations of domestic abuse were also put directly to her ex, the father of the seven-year-old, by CKOM before Walker and her son were found. 

Andrew Jansen told CKOM he “would never hurt Dawn or [her son]. There’s no truth to any of that, and that’s all I can say.” CBC News contacted Jansen about the allegations. He declined to comment, saying he is taking time to focus on his son and family. 

After Walker was arrested, agents found and reviewed a series of notebooks with handwritten notes she possessed. Within those materials agents ‘found the defendant’s check list for how to stage her death and disappearance,’ according to the court documents. (United States Attorney District of Oregon)

Walker says she had ‘no choice’

In her statement, Walker had a message for the dozens of family members, friends and others who prayed and searched for her in the days after she was declared missing.

“I apologize to anyone I hurt. I was left with no choice. No one heard me. I love my son so very much. He is my only child…I was motivated out of my immense love for [him],” she said.

She said she witnessed something involving the boy “that scared me to the core,” but did not elaborate.

“More will come out as I further tell my story upon my return to our Treaty lands,” she said.

Sunchild and Walker’s family also emailed written statements to CBC News. They are pressing for Walker’s extradition to Canada and encouraging others to do the same. 

“We, her supporters, urge the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments to commence extradition proceedings immediately so Dawn can return to Canada to deal with her matters there,” said Sunchild, a Cree lawyer in Saskatchewan who is in the U.S. supporting Walker as a friend.

The family said Walker “deserves our compassion and understanding.… It’s not easy being an Indigenous woman in Saskatchewan. All she wanted to do was raise her son in peace.” 

Saskatoon police said the criminal investigation into Walker — and those who may have helped her — is ongoing. They said there could be more criminal charges laid depending on the outcome.

A rally is being held Tuesday evening at the Legislature building in Regina in support of Walker, who appears back in court next month.

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