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Video inconclusive on B.C. mayor’s foot, but other evidence backs mischief case: RCMP



SURREY, B.C. — Surveillance video is inconclusive about whether a woman ran over Surrey, B.C., Mayor Doug McCallum’s foot as he told police, but other issues related to his complaint led to a charge of public mischief, the primary investigator said at his trial.

RCMP Sgt. André Johnny told the provincial court Tuesday that a bush in a grocery store parking lot may have concealed exactly what happened on Sept. 4, 2021.

However, Johnny told Crown attorney Richard Fowler that the video does not support McCallum’s claim the woman also pinned him against his vehicle with her car.

Instead, the video played in court on Monday shows McCallum walking away from his vehicle and toward Debi Johnstone’s car, where he stood by the front passenger side for about a minute as the two engaged in what she described as a “heated debate.”

Johnstone testified that she yelled at McCallum to resign, swore at him, told him he had a scaly face and called him evil.

Johnny, testifying by video, said that after that interaction, the surveillance footage shows McCallum walking in the same way he did when he arrived at the lot and that he was not limping.

“At no point when he is walking away does he appear to be in pain,” say investigation briefing notes that were read in court. They add that McCallum went grocery shopping afterward and video from inside the store shows his gait does not change.

Fowler said McCallum complained of a hit and run, saying Johnstone cut a corner to run over his foot, as well as harassment, assault, and dangerous driving, although the video shows the car being driven into a parking spot at normal speed.

McCallum was charged with public mischief last December when RCMP headquarters in B.C. took over the investigation, but his lawyer, Richard Peck, said that was hardly an independent agency.

McCallum was elected in 2018 on a promise to replace the RCMP in Surrey with a municipal police force, but he lost his re-election bid on Oct. 15.

Johnstone had been in the parking lot to collect signatures for a petition against the policing plan.

Peck suggested that RCMP decided early into an investigation that his client deceived police by saying his foot was run over and that police ignored his client’s claim that he was targeted in the parking lot by a woman who was vehemently opposed to his policies.

Peck also suggested to Johnny that McCallum was being treated unfairly when police discussed deploying a surveillance team as part of their investigation.

“What on earth is the surveillance team going to unearth about McCallum? He’s the mayor of Surrey,” Peck said.

“The idea was put forth to determine how Mayor McCallum was walking, whether or not he seemed injured,” Johnny said, adding that the idea was shelved.

“The idea did not make a great deal of sense. That is why it was shut down,” Peck said.

He said the RCMP neglected to investigate McCallum’s claims of harassment by someone with a history of similar interactions with him going back several years.

However, Johnny said it’s not uncommon for some people to use expletives and yell at others and that Johnstone did not seem to target or follow the mayor because he arrived at the parking lot about 45 minutes before she did.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 1, 2022.


Camille Bains, The Canadian Press


Faster progress needed on removing interprovincial trade barriers: CFIB report



TORONTO – Doing business across provincial lines is starting to get easier but progress is slow, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

In a report released Tuesday, the CFIB says it’s important for provinces and the federal government to remove barriers to interprovincial trade to improve productivity and boost the economy.

It says the vast majority of small business owners want governments to prioritize removing barriers, while a little over half of those surveyed say they’re losing productivity because of multiple sets of regulations.

There has been some recent progress, including the federal government removing eight procurement exemptions to the Canadian Free Trade Agreement this year and committing to removing an additional six by year-end.

The federal government has also launched an internal trade data hub, while the government body tasked with implementing the Canadian Free Trade Agreement has set up an online portal for Canadians to identify potential regulatory barriers to trade.

But the CFIB says there have still been no tangible improvements on removing alcohol trade barriers, or much in the way of reducing obstacles to doing business.

“Despite some positive steps … overall progress has been minimal,” said Jairo Yunis, director for B.C. and western economic policy for the CFIB, in a statement.

There was a small step recently to at least return to the status quo on alcohol shipments after Alberta imposed more restrictions earlier this year.

In January, Alberta’s liquor sales regulator said it would no longer accept shipments of B.C. wines unless B.C. wineries stopped direct sales to Alberta consumers. Last week, the provinces announced they had agreed on a path that would see direct sales resume.

Overall, the report ranks Manitoba as leading the way on interprovincial trade, while Quebec ranked last.

Businesses looking to expand operations across borders within Canada experience several challenges, depending on the province or territory, the CFIB says. All provinces and the federal government have implemented what’s needed on first aid kit standards, for example, while all but the feds have done it on life jackets.

It gets spottier on categories like certifying entry-level truck drivers, with only about half of provinces done, while on construction codes, the CFIB says all provinces are working on it but none are complete.

The CFIB recommends governments across Canada quickly adopt a mutual recognition agreement covering all regulations on the sale or use of all goods and services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Wildfire near Jasper National Park prompts evacuation and highway closures



EDMONTON – Multiple wildfires in Jasper National Park flared up with a vengeance late Monday night, forcing all park visitors along with the 4,700 residents of the Jasper townsite to flee west with little notice over mountain roads through darkness, soot and ash.

Photos and video shared on social media illuminated a midnight cavalcade of bumper-to-bumper cars and trucks, headlights on, red tail lights glowing, cars inching, stopping, starting, crawling through swirling tendrils of acrid smoke.

“It’s wall-to-wall traffic,” said Edmonton resident Carolyn Campbell in a phone interview from her vehicle.

“It (the smoke) is pretty thick. We’ve got masks in the car.”

Campbell said it took hours to move just seven kilometres. She said they had enough gas but worried for others who fled with little in the tank.

The Jasper townsite — and the park’s main east-west artery Highway 16 — were caught in a fiery pincer. Fires threatening from the northeast cut off highway access east to Edmonton.

Another fire roaring up from the south forced the closure of the north-south Icefields Parkway. That left one route open — west to B.C.

The Municipality of Jasper and Jasper National Park said in an updated emergency alert Tuesday morning the evacuation from the townsite and the park is “progressing well” and people should continue to follow directives as the majority of traffic is being directed west on Highway 16.

“Only when roadside fire conditions permit, small groups of escorted vehicles will be directed east on Highway 16,” the town and park officials said in the alert.

“Assembly points are closed. Go to the Activity Centre at 303 Bonhomme Street if you need assistance.”

Park and town officials scrambled to clear up traffic gridlock, find fuel for vehicles, help vulnerable people get to safety while also marshalling resources to battle the fires.

“Everyone in Jasper must evacuate now,” the Alberta government stated in an emergency alert just after 10 p.m.

“Parks Canada is responding to multiple wildfire starts,” the federal agency added in its news release.

“This is an evolving and dynamic situation.”

Evacuees were told they had five hours to clear out — by 3 a.m. local time Tuesday — and to carry with them key documents, pets, medication and any other emergency supplies.

Those without a ride were told to go the Jasper Activity Centre, Forest Park Hotel or Maligne Lodge.

In B.C., the province scrambled to find places to stay.

“B.C. will do everything we can to provide safe refuge for evacuees from Jasper, and are working as quickly as possible to co-ordinate routes and arrange host communities on our side of the border,” Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s minister for emergency management, said in a post on the social media site X.

The village of Valemount, just over the B.C.-Alberta boundary, opened its community hall to take in evacuees, with limited space for overnight lodging.

“We are able to give them some water, potentially some snacks,” village CEO Anne Yanciw said in an interview.

“For those who have been evacuated from their homes, we are able to give them vouchers for a place to stay and vouchers for food.”

Yanciw said there was no immediate need to direct evacuees to move on further west to Prince George — a larger centre with more facilities to handle evacuees.

“They (the evacuees) are already tired. It’s the middle of the night, and a three-hour drive to Prince George could just mean accidents. We’re telling them that (Prince George) is their final destination, but just not tonight,” Yanciw said.

Back in Alberta, travel was not recommended west of Hinton, which is just east of the national park.

“Please avoid the Jasper National Park area along Highway 16 and allow first responders to do their jobs safely,” RCMP said in a news release.

Parks Canada said evacuations had been carried out at numerous campgrounds, as well as the Athabasca Hostel and the Palisades Stewardship and Education Centre.

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, home to campgrounds and extensive trail networks.

The Jasper blazes were one of multiple fires throughout Alberta that have already forced another 7,500 people out in a string of remote communities.

The province has been baking and sweltering for days in scorching 30 C plus temperatures.

More than 160 wildfires were burning across Alberta, coughing up clouds of smoke, obscuring the sky.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2024.

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UPS boosts volume in US for first time since 2022, but profit and revenue slide



UPS boosted its volume in the U.S. for the first time since 2022 during its second quarter, but profit and revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations, partly due to a hefty charge.

Shares dropped 7% before the market opened on Tuesday.

CEO Carol Tome said the package delivery company returned to volume growth in the U.S. during the quarter for the first time in nine quarters.

“This quarter was a significant turning point for our company,” Tome said in a prepared statement.

For the three months ended June 30, United Parcel Service Inc. earned $1.41 billion, or $1.65 per share.

Stripping out one tome costs, earnings were $1.79 per share. This was well below the $1.98 per share that analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research were calling for.

UPS said that the quarter included a charge of $120 million, or 14 cents per share, made up of of a one-time payment of $94 million to settle an international regulatory matter. The period also included transformation and other charges totaling $26 million.

Quarterly revenue was $21.82 billion, short of Wall Street’s estimate of $22.31 billion.

The Atlanta company now anticipates full-year revenue of about $93 billion. Its previous outlook was for revenue in a range of approximately $92 billion to $94.5 billion.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect revenue of $92.77 billion.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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