Canadian National Railway profit surges to $1.69 billion in Q3

Canadian National Railway Co.’s embattled CEO is retiring in the new year, the railway says as it reported a big jump in third-quarter profits thanks in part to a $770-million after-tax break fee it received after walking away from a takeover bid for Kansas City Southern railway.

The Montreal-based company says Jean-Jacques Ruest will leave at the end of January or when a successor has been appointed. Ruest has been a target for replacement by activist shareholder TCI Fund Management Ltd.

Read more:
CN calls special shareholder meeting in response to request from TCI

“I am not going anywhere and I will deliver with the team here today around me on the fourth-quarter results and to be sure that we have a successful setup to the 2022 business plan,” he told analysts in a conference call after markets closed.

Railway chairman Robert Pace said Ruest had deferred his retirement due to the KCS transaction and introduction of its strategic plan.

TCI has proposed former CN chief operating officer Jim Vena but Ruest said a search committee will consider a wide variety of candidates both inside the railway and elsewhere.

“We know there is some candidate out there, at least one, but I think the world is bigger than that. And before the board makes a decision, we want to be very, very thorough.”

CN said it earned $1.685 billion or $2.37 per diluted share for the three months ended Sept. 30, up from $1.38 per share or $985 million a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items such as the break fee, adjusted earnings increased 9.5 per cent to $1.08 billion or $1.52 per share, up from $985 million or $1.38 per share in the third quarter of 2020.

Revenues increased 5.3 per cent to $3.59 billion, up from $3.41 billion.

Read more:
CN Rail launches new strategic plan after failed bid for Kansas City Southern

CN was expected to report $1.44 per diluted share in adjusted profits on $3.54 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

CN said its operating ratio, a key measure of railroad efficiency where a smaller number is better, increased 2.8 points to 62.7 per cent due to the impact of fires in Western Canada and other factors, while the adjusted ratio improved to 59.0 per cent.

The railway is “making progress on executing our strategic plan,” Ruest said. “This includes delivering immediate shareholder value while maintaining our long-term commitment to safety, customer service and sustainable value creation.”

CN said it has already achieved 75 per cent of the promised jobs cuts of more than 1,000. Nearly 600 are management workers and 190 unionize with most taking place in Canada. It has also reduced the use of consultants.

The railway expects all parts of its business will grow in 2022 except for grain as it anticipates a 10 per cent increase in adjusted earnings per share in 2021 above $5.30 in 2020.

The results came a day after TCI made its case for replacing four directors and Ruest in a bid to improve the railway’s financial performance. A special shareholder meeting is set for March 22.

Read more:
The battle is over: CN Rail drops takeover offer for Kansas City Southern

TCI is unhappy with CN’s bid to acquire KCS, saying it is among some questionable decisions made by the railway. It launched its efforts in response to CN’s US$33.6-billion takeover bid for Kansas City Southern.

CN netted the break fee when KCS determined CP’s bid was superior after the U.S. railway regulator rejected its request for a voting trust.

Ruest rejected suggestions that his departure moves the railway closer to what TCI has been demanding.

“I think it’s maybe the other way around, it’s maybe TCI is getting closer to what CN’s long-term strategy is,” he said.

Ruest said CN’s strategy is to position the company for the future and is looking for a leader focused on growth and having a diverse workforce.

Referring to an adage by hockey great Wayne Gretzky, he said CN wants to be where the puck will be next, not where it was in 2010 or 2015.

“When you look for a CEO in early 2022, you want to have somebody who can actually get the company the way it needs to be in 2025.”

In a news release, TCI founder and portfolio manager Chris Hohn said a CEO change doesn’t go far enough.

“Dismissing the same CEO that the Board put in place just three short years ago is a good start, but it does not address the fundamental problem of a lack of leadership, failed strategic oversight, and the vacuum of operational expertise at the Board level,” he said.

“Putting a new plan out a month ago without having the CEO needed to implement it is a massive corporate governance failure and puts the future of the Company at risk. The good news is TCI has a clear plan and the right people available now to fix that.”

Analyst Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial says TCI’s written submission to shareholders was short on specifics about proposed changes to improve CN’s financial and operational performance.

He said CN management has two quarters before the March shareholder meeting to show progress toward its financial targets.

The often bitter proxy battle has seen each side accuse the other of making inaccurate and misleading statements.

TCI has denied CN’s claim that it is in a conflict of interest by being the largest shareholder of rival Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. in addition to being the second-largest CN investor.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

'Shift into Winter': B.C. campaign warning drivers of incoming winter conditions

Colder temperatures have already begun creeping into the region, as fall comes into full effect.

This time of year doubles the risk of being in a  vehicle crash in the Okanagan and around B.C. according to Road Safety at Work, a program from WorkSafeBC.

“Winter is mother nature’s ultimate road test. We know even the most experienced drivers can really be tested in poor weather conditions with road conditions that are snowy, slippery or wet,” said Louise Yako, Road Safety at Work’s program director.

Read more:
Winter tires mandatory on most B.C. highways starting Oct. 1

‘Shift into Winter’, a B.C. winter-driving campaign, is reminding Okanagan and B.C. drivers they need to be prepared and to plan ahead for the coming months.

“We really key on preparation for the ‘Shift into Winter’ campaign because you never know when it will start to get cold or snow so we are telling drivers today, they need to get prepared,” said Yako.

The ‘Shift into Winter’ campaign offers five important tips for B.C. drivers to keep them safe on roads this winter:

  1.  Prepare your vehicle by installing a set of four winter tires with the 3-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol
  2. Give your vehicle a pre-winter maintenance check-up every year
  3. Carry a winter-driving emergency kit
  4. Check road conditions on DriveBC.ca before heading out
  5. Slow down to meet the road conditions

Read more:
Beware of slippery road conditions, say RCMP, following rash of accidents in Southern Interior

The importance of winter tires for BC’s Interior can not be understated as they begin to work at 7 degrees.

“Some people are really surprised that 7 degrees is that cut off temperature. So even if there is no snow on the ground, it is very often that winter tires are better for pavement grip,” Yako told Global News on Tuesday.

The campaign is also endorsed by the provincial government. The B.C. Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming said, “As the weather gets colder, being prepared for snow and icy conditions is critical for keeping yourself and others safe on the roads. I encourage all drivers to follow the Shift into Winter campaign’s helpful tips to get their vehicles ready for B.C’s winter driving conditions.”

Road Safety at Work also is advising that drivers should be mentally ready for the winter conditions as well.

“You can’t predict how your vehicle, or another driver’s vehicle, will react in snow or on ice,” said Yako. “Learn how to brake safely, get out of a skid, and become familiar with how your vehicle handles in winter weather. Think of it as building muscle memory.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Afternoon stabbing in Montreal sends woman, 24, to hospital in critical condition

A 24-year-old woman was rushed to hospital in critical condition after she was allegedly stabbed several times Tuesday afternoon.

Montreal police spokesperson Raphael Bergeron said the incident happened at around 4:30 p.m. following an altercation between a man and a woman on Alymer Street in the city’s Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.

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“The man stabbed the victim … several times in the upper body,” Bergeron said, adding an arrest was made nearby shortly after.

A man in his 30s is in police custody and is being detained for questioning.

The victim was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

“The motive for the aggression still needs to be determined,” Bergeron said.

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St-Donat man charged with 2nd-degree murder in Quebec’s 15th femicide

It is not known yet whether the man and the woman were known to each other.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19 visitor rules keep Winnipeg man away from family for most of his final hours

WATCH: A Winnipeg family is speaking out and hoping to get hospital visitors restrictions loosened. Joe Scarpelli reports.

A Winnipeg family wants to see COVID-19 visitor restrictions loosened in Winnipeg emergency rooms after a traumatic experience.

Alfred Jobse, a 70-year-old cancer patient, collapsed at home last month. He was rushed to the hospital where he waited in an ambulance bay for more than two hours for a bed to open up. He was then taken inside, still without his family by his side.

It took nearly six hours for his wife, Theresa Jobse, to finally get through to staff for an update on his condition.

“I’m terrified because I don’t know what’s happening to him,” Theresa said.

Theresa continued to wait outside with her two daughters while she tried to get inside with her husband.

After it became clear the hospital wouldn’t budge, they decided to head home for some sleep.

Read more:
COVID-19: Experts, family call for Ontario hospitals to loosen visitation restrictions

Hours later, Alfred took a turn for the worse and Theresa received a call from the hospital asking for her husband’s end of life wishes.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to talk to you over the phone,'” Theresa said. “Not until you let me see my husband.”

She was finally allowed inside.

When it became clear her husband didn’t have much time left, she pleaded with staff to let her daughters see their dad one last time.

“We had maybe half an hour of conscious time with him before his body shut down,” Alfred’s daughter Cindy McKague said.

Alfred later died in an ambulance on his way to a palliative care bed at another hospital.

Alfred’s other daughter, Alicia Thwaites, said not being able to see or get information about her dad made a traumatic day much worse.

“I’m sorry, if you can have fully-vaccinated people at concerts and football games, my fully-vaccinated mother should’ve been allowed to be with her husband,” Thwaites said.

Theresa Jobse (centre) sits with her two daughters Alicia Thwaites (left) and Cindy McKague.

Theresa Jobse (centre) sits with her two daughters Alicia Thwaites (left) and Cindy McKague.

A hospital worker, who Global News has agreed to not identify, said there are reasons the COVID-19 visitor restrictions are in place, but there are also many reasons patients need to be with their family members.

“While we have the absolute best intentions, there may be facets of care we can’t give them that a family member could,” she said.

The worker has been on the job for decades and said she’d like to see visitation policies changed.

“All I can do is hope that they understand that we do care about these folks,” the worker said. “It’s very difficult to have to separate them at the door.”

A spokesperson for Manitoba’s health minister directed questions regarding the policy to Shared Health.

Shared Health said the visitor rules have been “regularly reviewed throughout the past 18-plus months by infection prevention and control experts,” but did not say if there are any plans to loosen the restrictions, despite Manitoba’s high vaccination rate.

Alfred’s family hopes that by sharing their story, they can help prevent others from dying alone.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Man, 24, arrested in connection with sexual assault investigations in Toronto

Toronto police say they are looking to speak to victims in connection with multiple sexual assault investigations in the city.

Police said that the first incident happened late on Oct. 1, into the early morning hours of Oct. 2, when officers responded to reports of a sexual assault at a hotel in the area of Front and York streets.

Police said a man reportedly sexually assaulted a number of people. No charges were laid in relation to that incident as officers are still looking to speak to victims.

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The second incident occurred at 10:20 a.m. on Oct. 12, when officers were called to the Toronto Island Ferry Terminal.

Police allege a man was standing at the entrance to the terminal when he was approached by a stranger riding a bicycle. The stranger then allegedly sexually assaulted the man.

Twenty-four-year-old Toronto resident Prasanna Mondal was arrested in connection with that incident.

Police said he appeared in court on Oct. 13 after being charged with sexual assault and was released.

The next day, police were called to a daycare on Algonquin Island, which is part of the Toronto Islands, at 3:46 p.m. for a suspicious incident.

Police allege that a man sexually assaulted “a number of children” outside the daycare as the children were released.

Mondal was arrested again and charged with sexual interference.

He appeared in court on Friday.

“We do believe, based on the calls we responded to and the witness accounts of what happened, that there are other victims and we’d like to speak to them,” Const. David Hopkinson told Global News.

Police said the accused advertises services on Canadiannanny.ca.

Anyone with information on the incidents is asked to contact investigators at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Hamilton needs tens of thousands of vaccines in arms to reach 'last mile' target

Hamilton still needs to get tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses into arms to meet the Ford government’s “Last Mile Strategy” goal of 90 per cent fully vaccinated, according to public health.

During the city’s board of health update on Monday, health officials told city councillors that in order to reach the province’s mandate for first and second doses, Hamilton will need to put roughly 29,000 first doses into residents’ arms and another 55,000 second doses.

As of Monday, close to 80 percent of the city’s eligible population over 12 years have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine since the inoculation campaign began in late 2020.

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Over 84 per cent of Hamiltonians have had at least a single shot.

Second shots among all residents in Ontario are at 83.2 per cent as of Monday, putting Hamilton behind 30 of the 34 public health units in the province.

So far, only one health unit has surpassed the provincial target — Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District, which has 94 per cent of its estimated 170,000 people fully vaccinated. Seven regions have surpassed 90 per cent in single doses as of Tuesday.

As of Monday, the campaign’s pace has been increasing by approximately 0.5 per cent in first dose coverage each week and about one per cent in second dose coverage per seven days.

The city has reached over 90 per cent in second doses with much of it’s seniors population, between 70 and 84 years, but challenged with those between 25 and 29 — of whom only 68.4 per cent have had a second jab.

Some good news in public health’s “hyper local” approach is the deployment of clinics into forward sortation areas (FSA) where uptake has been low in comparison with other sectors of the city.

According to program manager Melissa Biksa, between September and October a number of lower central areas that have been problematic are now seeing positive changes in the rates.

“L8L, which is at Hamilton’s urban FSA that needs the greatest number of doses to achieve 90 per cent coverage, has increased its first and second dose coverage among the eligible population by two point nine and four point five percentage points, respectively,” Biksa said.

Hamilton public health said teen clinics that began administering COVID-19 vaccines in areas of the city with low uptake have seen noticeable gains in recent months toward the province's 90 percent vaccinated initiative.

Hamilton public health said teen clinics that began administering COVID-19 vaccines in areas of the city with low uptake have seen noticeable gains in recent months toward the province's 90 percent vaccinated initiative.

City of Hamilton

 

By all accounts, the city’s medical officer of health suggested the tens of thousands now needed to reach the province’s last mile target will be a bigger challenge than the 850,000 jabs that have already been given out.

The vaccination strategy’s challenges with rural areas, such as L0R in Flamborough, continues to be small percentage changes month over month in uptake.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson characterized the rural struggle as one that works on changing minds about the benefits and efficacy of getting vaccinated.

“It’s quite a complicated decision for them to go through and decide about having a vaccine,” Richardson said.

“What their particular medical issues are, is what we’ve heard from some people.”

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Public health expects demands for vaccines to increase once again as the city’s five- to 11-year-olds become eligible for shots in the late fall/early winter.

Also, putting strain on the campaign will be the distribution of third dose “booster” shots to older high risk populations and the immunocompromised, like some cancer patients.

So far the city has administered over 5,000 third doses as mid-October with about 74 per cent hitting long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes and cancer clinics.

Overall vaccinations rebounded on Monday with 858 doses administered compared to Thanksgiving Day when only 169 shots were put in Hamiltonians arms.

Over the last week, city clinics have seen a drop of about 22 per cent in overall doses administered between Oct. 12 and Oct.18.

Last Monday, Thanksgiving Day, saw an 88.53 per cent drop compared with the same day the previous week.

 

Hamilton’s seven day average number of new COVID cases held steady at 23 for the fourth day in a row according to public health data from Oct. 19.

The city reported just 18 new cases on Tuesday and a drop in active cases day over day from 181 to 174.

More than 52 per cent of those active cases involve residents under the age of 30.

Read more:
Ontario reports 328 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths

Of Ontario’s 328 new cases recorded on Tuesday, the province revealed that more than half were unvaccinated people (177), 16 partially vaccinated, 105 fully vaccinated and for 30 people the vaccination status was unknown.

During Tuesday’s pandemic update, Hamilton’s MOH said the bulk of the city’s new cases is in line with what’s happening across the province to those who have not had vaccine shots.

“Also a small proportion among those that are partially vaccinated, mostly because that’s a very short period of time for most people. So there’s a very small number there and then only a small number of vaccinated,” Richardson said.

Public health reveled three new outbreaks day over day with the largest involving a wedding reception at Copetown Woods Golf Club in Hamilton’s west side.

Officials say six cases are tied to attendees at the Saturday, Oct. 9, event.

Read more:
Public health says 4th wave likely ‘averted’ in Hamilton but COVID-19 will still be around

The two other new outbreaks reported were at Gatestone Elementary Public School, and manufacturer Karma Candy Inc. Each reported two cases each.

As of Monday, Hamilton had seven outbreaks tied to 22 total cases. Three are at schools involving 5 student cases and one with a staffer.

There were three new COVID-related hospitalizations reported by the city’s two networks, St. Joe’s and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), day over day.

Combined the two have 33 patients with 11 in intensive care units (ICU).

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kindness of strangers propels B.C. cyclist on journey to raise funds for mental health

Revelstoke, B.C., resident Mikey Friedland had no idea what was in store for him when he decided to go on a bike ride to raise funds and awareness for mental health.

“I didn’t have any training,” said the 23-year-old. “I planned this about three weeks before I started and I learned as I went.”

Friedland cycled for 50 long days on his ‘Ride Don’t Hide for the North’ campaign, travelling more than 4,000 kilometres over the summer from the Canada-U.S. border in Osoyoos, B.C. to Tuktoyaktuk, a hamlet in the Inuvik region of the Northwest Territories.

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He overcame inclement weather, rockslides and treacherous highways, while fleeing bears and mosquitoes.

In the end, he raised more than $30,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association, but the cyclist maintains he didn’t do it alone.

“They just stopped to give me water and fried chicken,” he said, describing one of many kind gestures from strangers who helped him along the way.

Friedland had no car following him to ensure his safety, and said passing motorists would sometimes pull over and give him roadside meals or snacks. Others offered up their cabins for him to sleep in.

“As I was patching my tire, a man stopped to offer me some hard boiled eggs,” he told Global News.

“I had help from dozens of strangers including Canadians from all backgrounds.”

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It’s those personal connections and acts of kindness that surprised Friedland even more than the perils he faced on the road.

He said the gestures, and handfuls of little personal victories, made the journey very meaningful.

“It’s something I’m trying to take into my life off the bicycle,” he explained. “Create these moments where I can get that satisfaction, get that feeling of accomplishment and self-worth.”

Friedland said he was motivated to ride for mental health after facing his own struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Statistics Canada, one in five Canadians surveyed during the pandemic had at least one of three mental health issues: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The positive screening rates were three times higher for young adults between 18 and 24 years old.

Safely at home in Revelstoke, Friedland is still collecting funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association, and sharing his journey on YouTube. All funds raised will be split between the organization’s branches in the Shuswap and Revelstoke area, northern B.C. and the Yukon.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Calgary massage therapist charged with sexual assault

A Calgary massage therapist has been charged with one count of sexual assault, police said Tuesday.

In early September, a woman reported to police that she had been sexually assaulted during a massage at Massage Heights, located at 5957 Signal Hill Centre S.W., officers said.

Calgarian Maxim Klimov, 27, was charged with one count of sexual assault and is scheduled for court on Nov. 24.

Read more:
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Police thanked people at Massage Heights for their co-operation and encouraged anyone who is a sexual assault victim to contact officers — “no matter when the incident occurred” — at 403-266-1234 or 911.

“There is no statute of limitations on criminal sexual offences in Canada, and we encourage anyone who has been a victim of a serious crime to report it, even if many years have passed since the incident,” police said.

For support without police involvement, contact the Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse at 403-237-5888.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

New Calgary councillors 'going to have a fire hose' of learning to do

WATCH: Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek will lead a council with several councillors new to municipal politics. Adam MacVicar has more on the historic turnover on council.

Eleven Calgarians have a new job as new councillors following Monday’s municipal election. And like any new job, there’s some learning to be done.

The ten weeks following the swearing in ceremony on Oct. 25 is spent in council orientation with city officials.

Councillors and their staff will learn about their new roles and responsibilities, existing plans and projects, how municipalities work and are organized, the city’s code of conduct, and public participation. Representatives from across city departments participate.

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Councillors also have opportunities for “deep dives” on topics they’d like to or need to get more information on.

But they’ve got less than two weeks until they begin work on the largest file on their desk: the city budget.

“First thing I did was read the budget front back, like, twice,” outgoing Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley told Global News.

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“A long time” was the answer when asked how long it took him on the first two reads of the city budget.

One of the first meetings for the new city council is a special meeting on Nov. 8 to begin addressing adjustments to the city budget, an annual process that’s part of the four-year budgeting cycle.

“Money talks. Money tells the story of how the organization is run,” the two-term councillor said, recalling the first budget meeting came “very, very quickly” in his first term in 2013.

Woolley counts himself fortunate for not being a complete novice in how the City of Calgary operates, having experience in the city’s culture division and heavily involved in his local community association.

Woolley, who recently became a father and announced he would not seek another term in early 2021, said he would regularly clock a 40-hour work week by Wednesdays.

But the council orientation process was still a steep learning curve for him.

“A ton of information to consume very, very quickly.”

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong, who was re-elected for a fourth term on Monday, said the faster a new councillor gets up to speed, the better they will be able to represent their constituents.

“For the first six months, these guys are going to have a fire hose permanently attached to one of their ears, there is so much to learn,” Demong told Global News.

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Demong, who enters his third term as a veteran council member willing to provide guidance the novices sitting around the horseshoe in city hall.

“One of the first things I’m going to suggest to anybody that’s willing to listen is: go to all the committees. You’re not necessarily appointed to all the committees, but go to all of them. There’s so much more than just reading an agenda. … There’s a lot of osmosis involved here.”

Woolley said he also sought audiences with senior management at the city early in his first term.

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“Relationships are important, and I spent a significant amount of time introducing myself to the senior management team at the city,” he said. “Getting to know them very, very quickly is very important to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish.”

The respect given to councillors from public servants was a surprise to the man who was the city’s youngest councillor at 33 years old.

“It’s a very powerful role and I was surprised at that,” Woolley recounted. “I remember thinking, ‘Did you realize when you got elected that your jokes became a little funnier and your words became a little more profound?’”

But Woolley also realized that members on council fell into two broad categories.

“Workhorses and show horses on city council. And the workhorses are the ones who do the work and there’s a lot of work to do.”

Ideological differences were dropped in order to get the work of governing the city done.

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“Peter Demong and I have very different views of the world and (didn’t) vote often the same way,” the outgoing Ward 8 councillor said. “That said, I had an unbelievably close working relationship and friendship with Peter Demong despite that, because there’s just (a large) amount of work to do.”

Demong says his first days on council were “certainly intimidating” in 2010.

“I was scared spitless when I walked into that thing,” the Ward 14 councillor said. “There were people in here that seemed to know what they’re doing left, right and center. I had 15-year vets on council. I had grizzled campaigners that I had been in battle with.”

But the collegiality took over as soon as the campaign ended.

“It was very pleasant because there was no animosity in that room. And I hope to continue that trend by saying, ‘Listen, if there’s anything you need to know, it’s just a matter of asking.’”

When Woolley became a veteran on council in 2017, he also helped the new council members: Jeromy Farkas, Jyoti Gondek, George Chahal and Jeff Davison.

“I worked very closely with all of them as they came on and most people are open to it.”

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Not all of the new faces on council are completely inexperienced in how the city works. Richard Pootmans and Andre Chabot have previously served on council. Sonya Sharp, DJ Kelly, Terry Wong and Evan Spencer all have experience in city and councillor offices.

And even the vets on council have to be constantly learning. Demong said he’ll be alongside his colleagues to learn about the recent reorganization of city committees.

Woolley’s advice to the new crop of councillors is simple: “Don’t spend time on silly things that don’t matter,” a quote that hung on his office wall.

Demong’s advice for council newbies seemed to fit alongside Woolley’s.

“Remember through your term that all politics is local. Remember who got you there. Remember to take care of the people that not just voted for you, but the people that are in your ward because they’re the reason you’re there.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Greg Fertuck reveals Sheree Fertuck’s last words during gravel pit shooting

WATCH: Speaking to a fake crime boss, Greg Fertuck re-enacted what he said was the shooting of Sheree Fertuck at a gravel pit near Kenaston, Sask.

Pointing his walking stick like a rifle, Greg Fertuck re-enacted what he said was the shooting of his estranged wife, Sheree Fertuck.

He was more than two hours into a June 21, 2019, meeting at the James Hotel in downtown Saskatoon. Speaking with the boss of an RCMP-crafted, fake criminal organization, Greg Fertuck gave a step-by-step account of the shooting.

Read more:
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The interactions were recorded on hidden video and audio recording devices as part of a Mr. Big sting.

On Dec. 7, 2015, he drove to a Kenaston, Sask., area gravel pit to confront Sheree about their divorce proceedings.

Greg Fertuck

Following a Mr. Big sting, RCMP charged Greg Fertuck in June 2019 with first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a body. He’s pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Facebook

“I’m not sure if she was surprised (to see me) or not,” Greg Fertuck told the crime boss, who was actually an undercover police officer.

An argument broke out while Sheree and Greg Fertuck were standing outdoors at the pit. Greg Fertuck said he “snapped,” returned to his truck, picked up a .22 calibre rifle and shot Sheree in the shoulder.

Sheree uttered her last words: “Oh my God,” as she fell to her knees, the accused said.

During the re-enactment, the crime boss posed as Sheree and dropped to his knees.

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Greg Fertuck touched the back of the crime boss’ head, indicating where he claimed to have shot Sheree the second time.

“I never told anybody about that. You’re the first guy I ever told,” the accused told the crime boss. “The less people that know about it, the better off.”

The accused said he never picked the shell casings from the bullets. A police search of the scene in the spring of 2016 revealed two casings.

He told the crime boss that he used the nearby front-end loader to lift Sheree’s body into the back of his Dodge Ram pickup truck. He also wrapped it in black plastic, court heard.

Videos show Greg Fertuck’s suspected movements before Sheree Fertuck disappeared

Video suggests Greg Fertuck had an appointment in Saskatoon on the morning of Dec. 7, 2015, wasn’t recorded for a few hours, and then took his truck to a car wash late in the afternoon.

Court Exhibit

Greg Fertuck drove to a nearby wooded area and left the body, still wrapped in plastic, under some logs, according to the story he told the undercover officer.

The crime boss, who told Greg Fertuck he would help “clean up” the situation, raised concerns about fingerprints and DNA that could be left on the plastic.

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“That’s going to sink your battleship, my friend,” the crime boss said.

The crime boss instructed Greg Fertuck to draw maps of the gravel pit, where he disposed of the body and where he hid the rifle in the Biggar, Sask. area.

Neither have ever been found.

Greg Fertuck map

Greg Fertuck drew this map for the fake crime boss, illustrating where he thought he left Sheree Fertuck's body.

Court Exhibit

On Dec. 7, 2015, following the shooting, Greg Fertuck was recorded on surveillance video at an 11th Street West car wash in Saskatoon. It shows him leaving the driver’s seat, opening the tailgate and rummaging around the bed before entering the wash bay.

“I just washed the back of the tailgate off,” Greg Fertuck said.

Court has heard the accused missed a spot of blood — inside the tailgate — matching Sheree’s DNA.

Greg Fertuck truck tailgate

A DNA expert says blood found inside the tailgate of Greg Fertuck's truck matches the profile of samples taken from Sheree's razor.

Court Exhibit

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During their meeting, the crime boss showed Greg Fertuck a fake letter claiming to be from an RCMP staff sergeant to a superintendent. It stated investigators contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C., requesting satellite imagery of the gravel pit, Kenaston and Saskatoon area from Dec. 2015.

The purpose of the letter, according to the crime boss’ testimony, is that a person who is not guilty would welcome the images because they would provide exoneration.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Morris Bodnar, the crime boss said he was not aware of brain bleeds and a blood clot Greg Fertuck suffered after hitting his head on Jan. 1, 2019.

The witness said he knew Greg Fertuck had memory issues because he didn’t recall a meeting the two men had. The accused also couldn’t remember the location of the rifle due to his head injury, he said on the undercover recording.

Read more:
Greg Fertuck defence says RCMP manipulated drunk, lying, head-injured client

Mr. Big stings are controversial, as some legal experts say the approach leads to false confessions. While proponents say the operation’s only goal is to determine the truth, opponents often argue the stings are examples of police tunnel vision, with officers attempting to get a specific target to confess to a crime.

Greg Fertuck has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and offering an indignity to a body.

His lawyers have argued undercover police preyed on the man as he was dealing with a head injury and alcoholism. They have also raised examples of when Greg Fertuck lied to undercover operators to draw into question the validity of his admission to the crime boss.

The entirety of the Crown’s case over more than six weeks has been entered in a voir dire hearing. Justice Richard Danyliuk will rule on what evidence can be applied to the trial itself.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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