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Another Alberta MLA resigns from PC Caucus

EDMONTON – Donna Kennedy-Glans has become the second Calgary MLA, and first cabinet minister, in less than a week to resign membership in the Progressive Conservative Caucus.

Kennedy-Glans – who was elected as the MLA for Calgary-Varsity in 2012 – made the announcement Monday morning.

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  • MLA Len Webber quits Tory caucus, slams Redford

“In 2012, I was very happy to carry the PC party’s banner to win back Calgary-Varsity. I was excited about the dream of government in Alberta we talked about in that election,” explained Kennedy-Glans.

The Calgary-Varsity MLA says part of her dream included working for a government willing to make difficult decisions for the long term prosperity of Alberta’s youth, a more transparent government, willing to hear all voices, and a government free of entitlement. A dream that has now vanquished.

“I am increasingly convinced that elements of this 43-year old government are simply unable to make the changes needed to achieve that dream of a better Alberta.”

Kennedy-Glans will now sit as an Independent. Read her full statement here.

“I believe, I can better serve my constituents this way,” said Kennedy-Glans.

In December 2013, Kennedy-Glans was sworn-in as Associate Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy.

Last week, MLA Len Webber announced he was leaving caucus because he could no longer work with Premier Alison Redford.

“I cannot work for an individual who treats people poorly, who treats our tax-payer dollars poorly,” said Webber.

READ MORE: Calgary MLA Len Webber quits Tory Caucus, slams Redford 

(Watch: Tom Vernon reports on the PC Caucus)

Webber said he had personally endured bullying and was treated with disrespect by the premier, and had witnessed Redford in fits of rage and throwing temper tantrums.

“For me to leave the party right now, I feel sad,” added Webber.

“I feel sad at what our premier has done to this party, to this province basically.”

Redford has been facing public criticism during the past few weeks over extravagant travel expenses, such as a $45,000 trip to Africa for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Last week, the premier announced she had repaid the money.

During Question Period on Monday, NDP leader Brian Mason asked the premier how the recent Caucus departures could affect her ability to lead.

“Do you have enough support to keep governing?”

When Redford stood to reply, the PC MLAs stood and applauded, giving her a standing ovation.

“All I can do is thank the honourable member for his question,” said Redford.

“Nice show of unity there, Tories,” replied Mason, adding, “I didn’t get a count of the ones who stayed in their seats.”

At a media availability Monday morning, Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes made his support for Redford clear.

“We have a lot of very talented people in this Caucus, and I’m very confident that we will find a way to ensure that we provide what Albertans want, which is good focused leadership.”

“I support the leader,” he said, before thanking reporters and ending the question portion of the event.

Opposition parties say they are waiting to see what happens to the PC Caucus.

“It’s very interesting indeed to be standing at the sidelines and watching what’s going on,” said Wildrose MLA Jeff Wilson.

“We’re interested to see what happens and whether or not there’s a bunch of new independents sitting in the house on Question Period starting today.”

“It’s a minimal legislative agenda,” he added. “We are basically done debating all the bills that they’ve put forward with the exception of the budget.”

“It’s pretty clear that this government is spinning its wheels and they really don’t have much of an agenda at all other than to stay in power.”

NDP MLA Rachel Notley is calling it the beginning of the end for Alberta’s PC party.

“We know what’s really going on here is the provincial conservative party is probably finally on its last days, and everyone is reacting in a kind of childish, hysterical sort of way,” said Notley.

“At the end of the day, we have work to do.”

WATCH: Donna Kennedy-Glans joins Global Calgary to discuss her decision her decision to resign membership in the Progressive Conservative Caucus

©2014Shaw Media

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Delta motorhome fire caused by suspects attempting to siphon gas from station – BC

Delta Police confirm the motorhome fire that sent three people to hospital on Saturday was caused by an attempt to siphon gas from the holding tanks of the gas station nearby.

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“Typically, gasoline stolen in this fashion is subsequently sold on the black market for a substantial discount over pump prices,” said Delta Police spokesperson A/Sgt. Sarah Swallow. “This case is by no means the first of its kind and it illustrates the potentially devastating impact of this type of criminal behaviour. This method of obtaining gasoline poses inherent dangers to innocent bystanders, first responders, property, and the suspects themselves.”

At about 3 a.m. on March 15, police and fire responded to calls to the 10200-block of River Road and found the motorhome fully engulfed in flames.

Delta Police investigators believe that the motorhome was parked over the top of the in-ground fuel tanks. Once parked, the suspects then removed a trap door in the floorboards of the motorhome and accessed the tanks. Police estimate that the suspects siphoned hundreds of litres of gasoline from the in-ground tank into a large plastic storage tank inside the motorhome. During the siphoning process an unknown ignition source ignited the on-board gasoline, resulting in the fire and severe injuries to the victims.

Two men found at the scene remain in critical but stable condition in hospital, and the injured woman who was seen fleeing from the fire was later found at a New Westminster address. She was treated for severe burns.

Police say the investigation is ongoing, and the suspects face several potential charges, including theft over $5,000.

©2014Shaw Media

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Lawsuit settled over Robert Pickton murders

VANCOUVER – The botched investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton has resulted in a settlement of $50,000 for each of the victims’ children who sued three levels of government and the RCMP.

Lawyer Jason Gratl said Monday that the deal involves 13 plaintiffs who filed civil lawsuits against the provincial and federal governments, the City of Vancouver and several Mounties.

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Gratl, who represented the families, said the children of the murdered women took legal action reluctantly, but felt they had no choice when the governments didn’t act on a recommendation from a public inquiry to compensate them.

His clients are generally pleased with the settlement, Gratl said.

“It’s giving the children of missing women a leg up to try, in some small measure, to give them a chance to improve their lives, improve their prospects in the future. It was something worth doing.”

Eleven family members have accepted the proposal, one person is expected to respond shortly and B.C.’s public guardian must approve a settlement accepted by a boy who has not yet turned 18, Gratl said.

The agreement includes paying for children’s legal fees, but doesn’t come with an admission of liability, Gratl said.

A lawyer for the B.C. government told a judge in January that there could be more than 90 children who would qualify for compensation. It’s unclear if other family members will also be compensated.

The B.C. government announced Monday afternoon that it would be holding a joint news conference Tuesday along with federal and City of Vancouver representatives.

The government statement said it would outline a shared, significant response to a key recommendation by missing women’s inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal.

The B.C. Ministry of Justice later issued a brief email statement saying that a settlement with the 13 plaintiffs remained outstanding.

“At this time, we can only say that we are hopeful we will reach a settlement with those litigants and be in a position to compensate them in a way that is consistent with what Mr. Oppal envisioned.”

The DNA or remains of 33 women were found on Pickton’s farm in Port Coquitlam after he was arrested in 2002. He was convicted of second-degree murder for killing six women and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years.

The B.C. Crown prosecutor’s office then announced that 20 other charges of first-degree murder would be stayed because Pickton already faced the stiffest sentence available under Canadian law.

The families claimed in their lawsuits that Vancouver police and the RCMP were negligent when they investigated reports of missing sex workers and the possibility that Pickton might be responsible.

The court action also said the Crown was wrong when it didn’t put Pickton on trial for attempted murder following an attack on a sex worker in 1997.

The public inquiry into the murder investigation and Pickton’s actions found many failures by police. Commissioner Wally Oppal recommended a so-called healing fund to compensate the children of Pickton’s victims.

Oppal concluded systemic bias against poor, drug-addicted sex workers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside prompted public indifference and led to police failures.

The Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP publicly apologized for their lack of action on the killer’s case.

However, in documents filed in response to the civil lawsuits, the departments said their officers acted reasonably when they received information that women were vanishing and that Pickton was a suspect.

Gratl said civil action against Pickton and his brother continues.

“There’s nothing in this settlement that restricts the plaintiffs from carrying on against Robert and David Pickton, and they intend to do so.”

B.C. law limits compensation to financial loss and loss of affection, but there’s no recovery for loss of life or wrongful death, Gratl said.

“Given the parsimonious state of the law, these settlement amounts are strong and solid.”

He said the settlements also allow the children to forgo difficult questions in court about the relationships they had with their murdered mothers.

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WATCH: Christians, Muslims join anti-slavery campaign – National

WATCH ABOVE: Christians, Mulsims unite at Vatican in initiative to end global slavery

VATICAN CITY – Christians and Muslims have joined to try to help free millions of men, women and children held in modern-day slavery, forced to work as maids, prostitutes, child soldiers and manual labourers.

The Global Freedom Network launched Monday at the Vatican aims to eradicate slavery by encouraging governments, businesses, educational and faith institutions to rid their supply chains of slave labour.

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READ MORE: Mauritania, Haiti top new global slavery index

The initiative is the brainchild of billionaire Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who founded the Walk Free Foundation in 2012 to mobilize a grass-roots movement to end slavery.

Forrest, ranked 270th on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, used personal contacts to bring the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church, 85-million strong Anglican Communion and al-Azhar university in Cairo, the world’s foremost seat of Sunni learning, on board with the initiative.

Representatives from all three gathered Monday at the Vatican to sign an agreement to launch the project, which will be based at the Vatican and have a chief executive responsible for implementing a five-year business plan. Objectives include getting the G20 to condemn modern-day slavery, persuading 50 major corporations to commit to slavery-proofing their supply chains and convincing 160 governments to endorse a seven-year, $100 million fundraising effort to implement anti-slavery programs globally.

In an interview, Forrest said it makes financial sense for countries to rid themselves of slave labour.

“We have absolute economic proof that once you take slavery out of a community, that community grows and grows and grows,” he said.

The Walk Free Foundation in 2013 published the “Global Slavery Index,” a country-by-country breakdown which found that some 29.8 million people were currently enslaved around the globe: child labourers harvesting cocoa in Ivory Coast, women sold for sex in Moldova, and Haitian children trafficked and forced into begging. Everyday items used in the developed world – soccer balls, bricks, diamonds and flowers – are often produced or extracted using slave labour, the report said.

The presence of al-Azhar at the Vatican for the launch was particularly significant given that relations between the Holy See and al-Azhar collapsed during Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy. Pope Francis has spoken out about human trafficking and was behind a November 2013 Vatican conference on modern-day slavery.

The International Labor Organization has estimated that trafficking in human beings – just one segment of the slavery industry – generates $32 billion in profits every year.

Forrest said representatives of other faiths were welcome to join the project’s governing council.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Chris Pine pleads guilty to DUI, pays small fine

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Hollywood actor Chris Pine, known for playing Captain Kirk in the Star Trek movies, pleaded guilty Monday in a New Zealand court to a charge of drunken driving.

The 33-year-old American was fined $93 New Zealand dollars ($79) and had his New Zealand driver’s license suspended for six months during a hearing at the Ashburton District Court.

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Police pulled over Pine early on March 1 after he’d attended a party to mark the end of filming on the movie Z for Zachariah, which is due for release next year. Fairfax Media reported that Pine told police he’d consumed four vodka drinks.

Police told the court that a blood test found Pine’s blood-alcohol level was 0.11 percent, which is over New Zealand’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Pine stood silently during the hearing, allowing his lawyer, Marilyn Gilchrist to enter the plea.

According to Fairfax, Gilchrist told the judge that Pine acknowledged he’d made the wrong decision to drive that night. Gilchrist said her client had suffered emotionally and professionally and that the negative publicity had put his acting contracts in jeopardy.

The judge said she accepted Pine was “entirely remorseful,” Fairfax reported.

Pine appeared relaxed as he left the courtroom, stopping to sign a couple of autographs for fans who had gathered outside before being driven away.

Much of the filming of Z for Zachariah took place on the South Island’s picturesque Banks Peninsula.

Before being pulled over by police, Pine had been at the Blue Pub in Methven with his Icelandic girlfriend, Iris Bjork Johannesdottir.

“The pub was closed to the public later in the evening and approximately 80 actors and crew attended the party, which finished at 3 a.m. on March 1,” the bar said in a statement. “This was a well-controlled party, the cast and crew were friendly and it was a great night, not a wild party.”

The statement said that “Chris Pine did not appear to staff to be intoxicated to a level where intervention might have been warranted.”

In addition to playing Capt. James T. Kirk, Pine also played Jack Ryan in the movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

©2014The Associated Press

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UPDATE: Calgary man who died after avalanche in Banff National Park is identified

A 38-year-old Calgary man who was buried by an avalanche in Banff National Park on Saturday has died in hospital.

Greg Di Valentin was skiing with friends in the Helen Shoulder Glades, south of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on Highway 93, when the slide came down.

He was airlifted in critical condition to Foothills Hospital in Calgary where he had surgery, but it was not successful and he died with his family by his side.

Di Valentin was skiing with three other people when they triggered the slide.

His companions used beacons and probes to find him and dig him out.

Di Valentin was a member of the Calgary Scrambling and Mountaineering Club.

“Greg has been an active and enthusiastic member of the mountaineering community and member of several groups and clubs. Greg’s enthusiasm and generosity will be missed,” said president Tom Waddell in an email to members.

Highway 93 in Banff National Park

Global News

It was the fourth avalanche death in the past week.

On Friday, a 36-year-old man from Lloydminster was killed while snowmobiling near Red Sand Mountain in Jasper.

On Saturday, the bodies of a father and son were recovered from a slide near Lake Louise.

READ MORE: Father and son killed in avalanche on the shores of Lake Louise identified

The avalanche danger in the mountains remains extremely high.

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Big carriers move to lift wireless prices on subscribers – National

Remember when you could phone up your wireless carrier, haggle for a better deal and maybe actually get one?

Those days look to be fading fast, and in their place comes a heftier wireless bill for subscribers being moved onto new plans that will cost more.

Over the past month, all three national wireless operators – Telus, Bell and Rogers – are reported to have quietly lifted prices by about $5 on voice and data plans across their main brands as well as on their discount “flanker” brands in Koodo, Fido and Virgin.

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According to industry blog reports, Bell moved over the weekend to tweak its wireless plans to match those recently introduced by Rogers and Telus – the latter being the first to bring on higher pricing, according to Mobilesyrup杭州夜网.

A spokesperson for Telus said the company’s new SharePlus rates were a response to “changing customer usage trends.”

The new plans “better reflect the costs of providing wireless services and the multi-billion-dollar investments we make to ensure our customers have access to the world-class wireless coverage, reliability and speed they demand,” Donna Ramirez, a spokesperson for Telus, said in an email.

Some experts suggest the new higher pricing is a result of the shift to two-year contracts from three in recent months, a condition imposed by wireless regulators in last year’s wireless code. They cite the shorter window for the carrier to recover costs related to a smartphone subsidy for customers taking a new device.

But others, like Ronald Gruia, a telecom expert at Frost & Sullivan in Toronto, disagree. He suggested on Monday creeping prices are largely a function of diminishing competition from lower-cost rivals.

New entrants stumble

Over the last year, one new carrier, Mobilicity, has filed for bankruptcy protection while a second, Public Mobile, sold itself to Telus.

Meanwhile, Wind Mobile, the largest and strongest of a crop of new carriers who entered the fray a few years ago, has also signaled in recent months that its willingness to continue competing against the far bigger national carriers is fading.

The average revenue collected by subscriber at Wind is about $29.80/month, according to the company — or about half of the $59.40 average bill among Rogers, Bell and Telus customers.

“What the big three are saying, in essence from a high level, is that they’re seeing increasingly less competition,” Gruia said.

The new entrants have “been relegated to kind of a zombie status,” the analyst said. “This new price environment comes as a result.”

READ MORE: With new entrant signal fading, what happens to wireless prices?

How news of the price hikes will be received by Ottawa is unknown, but the moves cut directly against the intentions of Industry Minister James Moore to deliver “lower prices” for wireless customers.

Industry Canada has levelled roaming rates the big carriers can charge smaller operators like Wind when a customer is outside their home zone, a move that will save the smaller carriers some cash.

That announcement followed the implementation of wireless code for consumers that carriers were to adopt by Dec. 2.

©2014Shaw Media

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Rey Williams hanging up his cleats to join Riders front office

REGINA – The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced that import linebacker Rey Williams is retiring from the Canadian Football League.

Williams originally entered the CFL in 2007 when he signed with the Roughriders as a free agent. The Hofstra University product spent three seasons with the Riders before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers for 2010.

Williams spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats before re-signing with the Riders in February, 2013 for his second stint with the Riders.

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Last season, Williams started the first ten games at middle linebacker, registering 42 defensive tackles, seven quarterback sacks and four special teams tackles. He suffered a season ending knee injury on September 8th in Winnipeg.

In his six year CFL career, Williams played in 76 regular season games registering 326 defensive tackles, 49 special teams tackles, and 21 quarterbacks sacks. He also played in four postseason games and the 2009 Grey Cup. He was named a 2011 and 2012 East Division All-Star and was a member of two Grey Cup championship teams, winning with Saskatchewan in 2007 and 2013.

Williams has accepted a position on the club’s football operations staff. He will immediately begin working as the team’s Director of Player Development.

In the role, Williams will assist players in adapting to their roles, both on and off the field, while living in the Regina community. With an emphasis on education and finances, the goal is to provide players with a sense of balance as they acclimatize to life as a CFL player.

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Conservatives accuse Premier Wynne of lying about Ontario’s finances – Toronto

ABOVE: The PCs say they’ve got proof that the Liberals have lied about their efforts to reduce the deficit. Global’s Alan Carter has the story. 

TORONTO – The Progressive Conservatives accuse Premier Kathleen Wynne of lying about the state of Ontario’s finances.

The Tories say cabinet documents released to a committee show finance ministry officials warned the government it was not on track to balance the budget by 2017-18, but Wynne told the public exactly the opposite.

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Opposition Leader Tim Hudak says there’s no way the Liberals can eliminate the $11.7 billion deficit on schedule, and claims the documents provide irrefutable proof that the Liberals can’t be trusted.

Hudak says people have to decide whether to believe the senior finance officials who crunched the numbers or the Liberals who he insists “have a habit of lying to taxpayers.”

The Conservatives say the documents show the Liberals were $3.6 billion short of their deficit reduction targets for the current and next fiscal years, a figure they say has now grown to $4.5 billion.

The Liberals say Finance Minister Charles Sousa admitted in the fall economic statement that revenues were below expectations, but the province remains on track to balance the budget by 2017-18.

The documents also show the Liberals counted on revenue from a Toronto casino, which never got off the ground, and an expected savings of $239 million from the divestment of Ontario Northland Transportation Corporation, which in fact would cost the government $790 million.

©2014The Canadian Press

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Canadian designer turns to crowdfunding to expand brand globally

WATCH ABOVE: Sunny Fong stops by the Global News studios to preview Toronto Fashion week (Mar 11) 

TORONTO – Canada isn’t exactly the friendliest climate for fashion designers looking to make a living selling their designs.

Intense global competition and hefty costs associated with launching and promoting a fashion brand mean that many local designers fail within their first few years.

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Within this challenging climate, innovation solutions have popped up to help designers succeed (like the acclaimed non-profit Toronto Fashion Incubator and new startup Stylist Box).

So it’s not entirely surprising that another innovative concept is helping one designer grow his fashion business.

Toronto-based fashion designer Sunny Fong is using crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise money to launch his luxury brand VAWK internationally.

“Running a business on my own is has been the challenge in Canada,” said Fong on his crowdfunding page.

Fong said the contributions made to his campaign will go toward turning VAWK into an international brand.

The money raise will help fund Fong’s fall 2014 runway show and online store, and help grow his business at home and abroad.

Even with innovation, raising funds to grow a fashion label isn’t easy. The campaign raised nearly $3,000 of Fong’s $30,000 goal.

“It’s tough,” said Fong about his Indiegogo campaign at Toronto’s biannual fashion week. “You’d think it would be a little bit easier since you have a fan base.” Fong did, however, say that he would try fundraising again in the future.

Fong founded his luxury ready-to-wear clothing label VAWK in 2004.

In 2009, Fong was the winner of Project Runway Canada’s second season. After his appearance on the show, he relaunched VAWK, showing his collection offsite at Toronto’s fashion week in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, he began showing in the tents at Toronto fashion week (now called World MasterCard Fashion Week), as well as Vancouver’s fashion week.

He will present his 2014 fall collection on Monday at World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto’s David Pecaut Square.

©2014Shaw Media