By Sue Allan - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - 0 Comments
GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – A man convicted after a crash that killed four high…
GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – A man convicted after a crash that killed four high school football players from northern Alberta has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Brenden Holubowich will also be forbidden to drive for three years once he is released.
Holubowich, 23, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice William Tilleman said determining a sentence for Holubowich may have been the most difficult thing he has ever done.
Tilleman’s eyes filled with tears as he told court he sympathized with the dead teens’ relatives, who had suggested that a three-year sentence would not be enough. He also said he felt for Holubowich’s family.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:23 PM - 0 Comments
WHITECOURT, Alta. – Two suspects are in custody after a sheriff was shot in…
WHITECOURT, Alta. – Two suspects are in custody after a sheriff was shot in the hand at a courthouse in northwestern Alberta.
The shooting happened just before noon in the town of Whitecourt, where two local men were making their first court appearance after a drug bust in the town last week.
Eyewitness Kathlene Campbell-Conlon, a reporter for radio station CFXW who was in court to cover the appearances, said the disturbance began with what sounded like a fight in a hallway used to transport prisoners.
“An officer that was in the court at the time hopped the guard rail and ran behind the door,” said Campbell-Conlon. “The door shut, you heard more fights, you heard a couple high-pitched screams, then two, maybe three gunshots.”
Campbell-Conlon said the immediate reaction in court was panic.
“The entire courtroom is just pushing their way to get out, chairs are being thrown around,” she said. “We all get outside, trying to calm down.”
Once outside, Campbell-Conlon witnessed the suspects escape.
“As I walked towards the sounds of everything that’s happening, I saw a man climb into the passenger side of this sheriff’s van.
“You could hear people: ‘There’s a prisoner in there!’ We’re yelling this. Then they backed out and they drove south out of Whitecourt.”
Whitecourt mayor Trevor Thain confirmed the prisoners escaped in the sheriff’s van.
RCMP eventually nabbed the suspects south of the Whitecourt airport near a roadblock.
Thain says the suspects were among those arrested earlier in a drug bust in the community, about 180 kilometres from the provincial capital.
Six people were arrested and charged after that raid, which turned cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana, as well as an illegal firearm.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:37 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Alison Redford took her message on the Keystone XL pipeline…
EDMONTON – Alberta Premier Alison Redford took her message on the Keystone XL pipeline across the United States Tuesday in the daily newspaper USA Today.
In a guest column published in the newspaper, Redford touts the benefits of the pipeline, which — if approved — would take heavy oil from Alberta to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
But Redford also emphasizes Alberta’s record on the environment and its commitment to reducing climate change.
“Through our actions, we must also be a global leader in environmental management. Projects like Keystone XL only reinforce our commitment to responsible oilsands development. We can have it both ways. And we will,” writes Redford. Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:44 AM - 0 Comments
GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – The case of a man charged in a crash that…
GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – The case of a man charged in a crash that killed four high school football players from northern Alberta is scheduled to be in court today in Grande Prairie.
The Crown has said Brenden Holubowich is expected to enter a plea and then the case is to proceed to sentencing.
The 23-year-old faces 16 charges including impaired driving causing the death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
In October 2011, his pick-up truck collided with a car carrying five members of the Warriors football team from Grande Prairie Composite High School.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 4:43 AM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – The Conference Board of Canada has added its voice to the choir…
CALGARY – The Conference Board of Canada has added its voice to the choir calling on Alberta to implement a provincial sales tax to offset its revenue shortfall.
The Alberta government’s bottom line continues to bleed red ink due to falling oil and gas revenue.
Premier Alison Redford has coined the term “bitumen bubble” to refer to the difference between the benchmark prices for oil in North America and the lower price Alberta receives for its land-locked oilsands bitumen.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, February 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Another energy company has pulled the plug on a plan to capture…
EDMONTON – Another energy company has pulled the plug on a plan to capture and store carbon created by coal-fired power generation.
Swan Hills Synfuels and the Alberta government have announced they will discontinue a $285-million funding agreement that would have seen underground coal converted to gas and then burned to generate electricity.
The carbon dioxide would have been stripped out and sold to nearby oilfields to boost production.
CEO Martin Lambert says natural gas has become so cheap that it no longer makes sense to create more from coal.
Synfuels was one of four carbon capture and storage projects the provincial government was funding out of a $4-billion pot.
The projects have been referred to by government officials defending the province’s environmental record.
TransAlta scrapped a $1.4-billion project last spring.
The two remaining projects — Enhance Energy’s CO2 pipeline and Shell’s Scotford upgrader — are proceeding.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
When asked to clarify his position regarding the Northern Gateway pipeline project, Mulcair launched. “I am adamantly opposed to Northern Gateway. Is there anything unclear in what I just said?” he asked. And he went on. “It is madness to think of bringing those supertankers into that pristine coast. It is a non-starter. It is the most abject misunderstanding of the importance of protecting the environment I have ever seen in Canada. The company that continues to propose that is the same company that was described by the highest level of the U.S. administration as the, quote, Keystone Kops.”
… The irony in all this is that Enbridge was one of the luncheon sponsors – and Mulcair was seated to the right of one of its government relations execs.
At last report, 75% of Albertans were in favour of the Northern Gateway pipeline (but only 35% of British Columbians felt likewise).
Mr. Mulcair does support sending oil east from Alberta, but one such proposal, from Enbridge, is a source of concern for environmentalists.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 5:46 AM - 0 Comments
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – A school board in northern Alberta has rejected a proposal…
FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. – A school board in northern Alberta has rejected a proposal that would have seen it adopt a four-day week.
The Fort McMurray Public School District came up with the proposal to help save as much as $1 million on things such as busing and support staff.
The plan would have increased the average school day by 11 minutes and cancel classes for students on 15 out of 31 Fridays during the school year.
But trustees voted 3-2 on Tuesday against the shorter model, which was being called a “compressed week.”
Board chair Jeff Thompson said he believed the trustees were swayed by the concerns expressed by parents leading up to Tuesday night’s meeting.
“I think parents were deeply concerned about some of the issues around child care. How were they going to manage in a community where we have a number of shift schedules and parents are coming and going?” Thompson said.
“What was the impact going to be on their family life?”
The board pondered a compressed school week for its 5,400 students about two years ago but decided against it. It’s now facing a $4.4-million budget deficit due to restructuring of provincial grant money and growth pressures in the oilsands city.
Thompson, who was one of the two trustees who voted for the compressed week, said the deficit this year will be absorbed by the board’s $7-million reserve. But he said the problems won’t go away.
“We have to address our fiscal shortfall and doing nothing doesn’t change our problem,” he said.
The separate school system in Fort McMurray already runs on a four-day week. Some schools in southern Alberta — in the Golden Hills and Palliser school divisions — also operate on a compressed calendar.
The Fort McMurray public district’s 13 schools would have shuffled professional development days and made other scheduling changes to meet the number of instruction hours mandated by the province.
The board held several public meetings and deputy chairman Glenn Cooper said the response was overwhelmingly negative.
Some parents voiced concerns about a drop-off in student learning, in addition to the child care concern.
Thompson said there were also some parents who questioned if a shorter week would send the wrong message to students.
He said those parents suggested it would give students the idea that they could expect a four-day week in the real world.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 4:44 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – With the Alberta budget due in less than a month, a revenue…
CALGARY – With the Alberta budget due in less than a month, a revenue shortfall continues to damage Alberta’s bottom line.
Finance Minister Doug Horner says almost 500 management positions in the public sector — or 10 per cent — will be cut over three years.
Horner says in his 2012-13 third-quarter fiscal update that resource income is $2.4 billion lower than expected.
As a result, he is forecasting a deficit of between $3.5 and $4 billion.
That’s at least four times more than forecast in last spring’s budget.
Horner has also announced plans for a three-year management salary freeze beginning April 1, which is expected to save taxpayers $54 million.
The province had already projected a revenue shortfall due to the difference between benchmark prices for oil in North America and what Alberta receives for its oilsands bitumen.
The Alberta budget is to be delivered March 7.
Premier Alison Redford has warned there will be tough choices required, but has ruled out tax increases or a provincial sales tax.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 7:44 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Calgary Dr. Ron Bridges, cited by his peers as possibly being behind…
EDMONTON – Calgary Dr. Ron Bridges, cited by his peers as possibly being behind a queue-jumping scheme at a colon cancer-screening clinic, will get a chance to tell his side of the story at a public inquiry in Alberta this week.
But he has already, at least once, made his feelings known on the issue of preferential access.
“People are triaged on the basis of risk,” Bridges wrote in letter to The Calgary Herald to clarify some points on a news story nearly two years ago.
“Those who have no significant risks for colorectal cancer … are accommodated for colonosocpy screening as resources allow.
“Talk to your doctor and get screened regularly. It could save your life.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 2:02 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – Alberta cabinet ministers are praising U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent remarks on…
EDMONTON – Alberta cabinet ministers are praising U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent remarks on climate change.
They say the president’s state of the union address shows the U.S. is catching up to Alberta on the issue and allows the province to move even faster to combat the problem.
Still, Environment Minister Diana McQueen says she has asked the group setting up a monitoring agency for the oilsands to speed up their work.
She’s also asked her staff to come up with a renewed climate change strategy, which could include increasing the $15 per tonne the province puts on carbon emissions.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Cal Dallas says government officials are considering another trip to Washington to make their case about the steps Alberta is taking to develop the oilsands responsibly.
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are expected to make a decision soon on the Keystone XL pipeline.
The pipeline is considered as crucial to move more oilsands bitumen to markets, but is bitterly opposed by American environmentalists as long-term infrastructure that will lock the U.S. into high-carbon fuels.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says a sales tax isn’t on the agenda,…
CALGARY – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says a sales tax isn’t on the agenda, even though many of the panellists at an economic summit that her government convened Saturday said it could be one solution to the province’s fiscal woes.
“Oh, I don’t think we’re anywhere near that at all. I think the fact that people are beginning to talk about it as an idea is a really important thing,” Redford told reporters after the day-long event.
“Ideas are important, but no need to jump the gun on that.”
By law, Albertans would need to vote on a provincial sales tax through a referendum.
By The Canadian Press - Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 4:25 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice says Canada has been complacent when…
CALGARY – Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice says Canada has been complacent when it comes to making the most of its resource wealth.
Prentice, currently a CIBC executive, says Canada hasn’t been playing the global energy game with much skill, foresight or cohesiveness.
He told a summit on Alberta’s economy that relying on the U.S. as a customer for energy exports used to be a nuisance but now it’s an enormous vulnerability for Canada and Alberta alike.
Prentice says he’s confident the Keystone XL pipeline between the oilsands and the U.S. Gulf Coast will go ahead.
But he cautions it’s not going to solve the problem since demand growth is in Asia, not south of the border.
He says until recently former Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel was the only public figure making a sustained push for West Coast pipeline access and now it’s time for everyone to pull together to that end.
Prentice says First Nations — some of the most vocal critics to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline — need to play a central role in the discussion.
By The Canadian Press - Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – Experts are debating the underlying reasons for Alberta’s current fiscal troubles.
CALGARY – Experts are debating the underlying reasons for Alberta’s current fiscal troubles.
Unsurprisingly, pipeline access came up as a major challenge, with oilsands crude unable to make it to markets that will pay a fair price — a problem Premier Alison Redford has called the “bitumen bubble.”
Economist Peter Tertzakian says Canada’s only customer, the U.S., can meet its own energy needs but buys Canadian crude anyway because it’s on sale.
Another speaker, Michael Holden of the Canada West Foundation, says Alberta shouldn’t be using oil and gas sales to fund today’s spending and that saving should be a priority.
He says the province shouldn’t be run like a farm — relying on a bumper crop one year only to have the whole crop destroyed by hail the next.
The day’s first panel session was briefly interrupted by Greenpeace protesters holding a banner reading “cut royalty breaks, not social programs.”
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 11:15 AM - 0 Comments
Colby Cosh on spending Alberta’s oil cash
Alberta premier Alison Redford has put her government in national headlines with news that the province, at a time of high oil prices and outstanding labour-market conditions, is going to finish with an enormous deficit for 2012-13. The actual shortfall for the first half of the year came to $1.3 billion, and the 12-month total might be more than $4 billion. Redford blames what she calls the “bitumen bubble.” Alberta has sometimes gotten into ﬁscal trouble because of the unpredictability of benchmark prices for oil, but this time it is getting crushed by poor regional prices as the U.S. Midwest transforms from needy buyer to massive seller.
Economists and pundits inside and outside Alberta have used the opportunity to repeat long-standing pleas for the province to make its public revenue less oil-dependent. Since oil is a “non-renewable resource” that can only be sold once, goes the theory, the province’s share shouldn’t be used to meet ongoing government expenses; the worthy thing to do is to set it aside and invest it.
I find aspects of this argument amusing. In the early ’70s everyone agreed that Alberta’s “non-renewable” conventional oil would be gone in a decade or so. Yet the trend was for the amount remaining to keep getting larger. Meanwhile, how’s Newfoundland making out with its hypothetically “renewable” cod biz? Continue…
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:31 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says raising royalty rates for energy companies won’t…
CALGARY – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says raising royalty rates for energy companies won’t be on the table as experts gather in Calgary this weekend to hash out the provinces’s financial woes.
“I don’t know what people are going to say on Saturday at the summit. I can predict what some people are going to say just based on their reputation,” Redford said Tuesday.
“But we made it very clear that we think supporting our energy industry is fundamental to our future economic success. There are other things we need to do as well but very clearly we will not change royalties.”
Redford will preside over an economic summit in Calgary that is being billed as an opportunity to brainstorm solutions to the province’s reliance on energy revenues ahead of the March 7 budget.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:11 PM - 0 Comments
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Police in southern Alberta say the disappearance of a young family…
LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Police in southern Alberta say the disappearance of a young family man late last week was a hoax.
Matthew Aaron Robillard’s relatives called police Thursday when the 25-year-old Lethbridge man failed to show up for work at a Scotiabank in nearby Picture Butte.
His car was later discovered with a smashed window in an industrial area near the Calgary airport. Media reported his keys, wallet and phone had been left in the car along with a strange package of cigarettes. He apparently didn’t smoke.
Investigators found Robillard, a married father of a six-month-old baby, Saturday morning in a Calgary hotel. They say they are considering whether to lay a public mischief charge.
“Matthew Aaron Robillard left of his own volition and took deliberate steps to cast suspicion on his disappearance,” Lethbridge police Staff Sgt. Ian Sanderson said Tuesday. “Police are satisfied Robillard’s family was not complicit in his hoax. They genuinely believed he was missing.
By The Canadian Press - Friday, February 1, 2013 at 7:04 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – The privately owned DeVry Institute of Technology says it will shut down…
CALGARY – The privately owned DeVry Institute of Technology says it will shut down its campus operations in Calgary at the end of this school year.
It says students will only have the option of studying online under the DeVry University banner as of July.
“We are proud of our strong roots in this community, and of the thousands of graduates who have found success through our degree programs,” said Ranil Herath, president of DeVry Institute of Technology.
“We are committed to making this transition as seamless as possible for all involved and ensure our remaining students in Calgary have access to the quality academic programs necessary to achieve their career goals.”
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 2:27 PM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – A judge has sentenced a psychiatrist who molested three court-appointed patients to…
CALGARY – A judge has sentenced a psychiatrist who molested three court-appointed patients to five years in prison.
Justice Donna Shelley said Dr. Aubrey Levin exploited his patients in a “predatory and repetitive manner.”
“It was a horrible violation of the trust of these three patients,” the Queen’s Bench justice said in handing down her decision Thursday.
The Calgary psychiatrist’s actions were an “extreme breach of a particularly vulnerable victim,” Shelley said.
Levin was convicted on three counts of sexual assault by a jury earlier this week.
The Crown had asked for six to eight years for a man it said was a predator who broke his patients’ trust.
The defence had argued the 74-year-old would suffer in prison and should be sentenced to 60 to 90 days, to be served on weekends.
The patients had been assigned to Levin between 1999 and 2010 by the justice system.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 4:54 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says her government is “comparing notes” with Ontario…
TORONTO – Alberta Premier Alison Redford says her government is “comparing notes” with Ontario on how to negotiate pay for doctors.
She says Ontario and Alberta’s ministers of health have been talking about discussions that took place during contract negotiations with doctors.
In particular, Redford says they’ve been comparing notes about fee structures and salaries.
She says Alberta is facing challenging times and it’s less likely that it can compensate doctors the way it could when revenues were good.
Ontario, which is facing a $12-billion deficit, spent months battling with the province’s doctors before reaching a deal.
Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews played hardball by making regulatory changes last May that cut doctors’ fees and premiums.
But the doctors returned to the table in September and endorsed a new two-year deal that’s expected to trim spending by $400 million.
The governing Liberals reversed the fee cuts to reach the new agreement, which will add $100 million to doctors’ total compensation package. But Matthews said the deal includes savings in other areas to completely offset the additional payments for doctors.
The Alberta Medical Association and the province have been negotiating a new deal for doctors for almost two years.
The deadline for those talks was recently extended until after Redford’s government delivers its 2013-14 budget on March 7.
She has suggested that the way talks go with the physicians could affect whether Alberta brings back health premiums after a four-year absence.
But she’s now ruling out the return of the health premium in the budget.
“Ontario’s minister of health and our Minister of Health Fred Horne have been comparing notes with respect to a number of the discussions that have taken place in doctor negotiations around fee structures, and partly around salary,” Redford said following a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto.
Alberta is facing a “fiscal challenge,” she said.
“When revenue is good, we certainly want to make sure we’re compensating our public sector and our doctors as well as we can,” she added.
“These are challenging times for us, so it’s going to be less likely that we can do that.”
Earlier in the day, Redford made a stop at the Ontario legislature to sit down with the new premier-to-be Kathleen Wynne, outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.
Wynne and Redford settled in a room in the legislative library to talk, giving each other a high-five for the cameras. But it didn’t go as well with Hudak, who needed two tries to get it right.
Redford said she spoke to Wynne about economic growth and the challenges both provinces are facing this year, as well as the importance of a national transportation strategy.
The meeting gave them a chance to discuss where they can find some common ground, she said.
“I think we’re already starting to find those,” Redford said.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 5:53 AM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – A Calgary psychiatrist convicted of sexually assaulting three of his court-appointed male…
CALGARY – A Calgary psychiatrist convicted of sexually assaulting three of his court-appointed male patients is to face a sentencing hearing today.
The Crown has described Dr. Aubrey Levin, 74, as a “convicted serial sex offender” who violated a position of trust he had with the patients during court-ordered sessions.
Levin initially faced charges involving nine different men. Earlier this week, a jury convicted him on three of the counts and found him not guilty on two others. It could not reach a verdict on four of the charges.
Prosecutor Dallas Sopko has said he will ask Justice Donna Shelley for a sentence of between four and seven years.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 3:18 PM - 0 Comments
EDMONTON – The Alberta government is changing the rules on how consumers buy electricity…
EDMONTON – The Alberta government is changing the rules on how consumers buy electricity to try to rein in soaring power bills.
Energy Minister Ken Hughes says the two-thirds of Albertans who buy their electricity off the wholesale market will now be able to buy it four months in advance.
Previously, consumers of the regulated rate option could only buy their power a month and a half in advance.
Hughes says the change will give consumers a chance to average prices over a longer period of time and avoid debilitating price spikes brought on by things like severely cold weather.
The remaining third of Alberta’s power consumers buy their electricity on fixed-rate contracts from retailers.
Hughes was reacting to the recommendations of an independent panel set up by the government almost a year ago after Albertans were hit with skyrocketing power bills.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 5:24 AM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – After days of deliberation, a jury found a Calgary psychiatrist guilty Monday…
CALGARY – After days of deliberation, a jury found a Calgary psychiatrist guilty Monday on three counts of sexual assault against his male patients.
Dr. Aubrey Levin stood quietly and without outward emotion as he was found not guilty on two counts and a mistrial was declared on four other counts. Court will reconvene on those matters on March 15 to set a date for a new trial.
Sentencing on his three sexual assault charges is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. Levin will remain free until then despite an application by Crown prosecutor Dallas Sopko to take him into custody immediately.
He said Levin is now a “convicted serial sex offender” and the Crown will be seeking a prison term of four to seven years.
“It’s no longer all about the accused. It’s about the victims as well,” said Sopko.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 5:13 AM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – The jury in the sex assault trial of a Calgary psychiatrist appeared…
CALGARY – The jury in the sex assault trial of a Calgary psychiatrist appeared to have reached an impasse on Sunday.
After three days of deliberations the jury sent a note to Alberta Justice Donna Shelley.
“Despite vigorous and lengthy deliberations we are unable to reach a verdict on any of the nine charges,” said the note read to the court by Justice Shelley.
The jury said it was not convinced that “further deliberations would help” in determining the guilt or innocence of Dr. Aubrey Levin.
Levin’s lawyer, Chris Archer, made an application to have the proceedings declared a mistrial.
“They have deliberated for quite a long time and are just not able to reach a verdict and won’t be able to,” Archer told the court.
Crown prosecutor Bill Wister said he is concerned about prior allegations of jury tampering.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 6:15 AM - 0 Comments
CALGARY – For a third straight day a seven man-four woman jury will seek…
CALGARY – For a third straight day a seven man-four woman jury will seek to determine the fate of a prominent Calgary psychiatrist accused of molesting several of his court-appointed patients.
Dr. Aubrey Levin, 74, is accused of sexually assaulting nine of his male patients, all of whom were assigned to him through the courts between 1999 and 2010.
The case was handed to the jury on Friday but it failed to reach a verdict for a second straight day Saturday.
The allegations came to light in 2010 after one of the patients came forward with secret videos he recorded during court-ordered sessions with the psychiatrist.
The videos, played in court last fall, show Levin undoing the man’s belt and jeans and appearing to fondle him.