Saskatchewan RCMP looking for missing man last seen nearly 3 months ago

Saskatoon RCMP are asking for help for the public’s help in locating a missing man.

It is believed Benjamin Matthews, 36, was last seen in the Assiniboia, Sask., area on July 23, but it is not confirmed if he is still in the area, read a press release on Tuesday. Police received a missing persons report on Monday.

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RCMP said he may be travelling anywhere in Canada and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Family and police would like to speak with Matthews to confirm his well-being, read the press release on Tuesday.

Police described the man as being five-foot-eight, 200 pounds with red hair and blue eyes. They added Matthews may also have a beard.

RCMP released these images of several of Benjamin Matthews’ tattoos.

RCMP released these images of several of Benjamin Matthews’ tattoos.

Saskatchewan RCMP / Supplied

Anyone with information is asked to contact their nearest police service or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Assiniboia is approximately 150 km southwest of Regina.

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

Fired houseworkers file human rights complaint against Vancouver hotel

More than a dozen hotel housekeepers and supporters protested outside the Pan Pacific Vancouver on Tuesday, alleging it discriminated racialized women in a pandemic “firing spree.”

Last year, the Westmont Hospitality Group, owner of the luxury downtown hotel, let go of about 100 long-term employees of the company. Most of them were housekeepers.

Of the women who were laid off, 94 per cent were racialized, according to UNITE HERE Local 40, a labour union representing workers in the province’s hotel, food service and airport industries.

Global News reached out to the Pan Pacific Vancouver and Westmont Hospitality Group several times by phone and email but received no response. The houseworkers’ allegations have not been proven.

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“These women’s jobs were their bread and butter,” said union organizer Sana Poornasi at the rally.

“How dare they treat these workers after being so loyal to this company and fire them overnight during the pandemic that no one saw coming.”

On Tuesday morning, the houseworkers filed a complaint of sex and race-based discrimination against the Pan Pacific Vancouver to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

The complaint acknowledges there is a “high proportion” of women and racialized women in the hotel workforce, but says now, they make up less than 40 per cent of the hotel’s remaining staff.

According to the union, there were 250 hourly employees at the hotel before the pandemic, but of the 100 people fired, the majority were racialized women.

“The Respondent used its limited resources to maintain staffing in male-dominated job categories, retaining more than half of its all-male maintenance team,” reads the complaint.

Rather than extending the layoff period, the complaint adds, the Pan Pacific Hotel chose to terminate the women’s employment.

“Westmont why won’t you commit to bringing us back?” asked Stephanie Dan, who worked at the Pan Pacific Vancouver for seven years. “This is racism and sexism and it’s not fair.”

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Poornasi said Westmont tried to avoid paying severance to laid off employees, and the hotel has been uncooperative in the union’s efforts to find a solution, such as compensation for lost wages, or a commitment to rehire the women when hospitality sector conditions stabilize.

“How I got kicked out of the hotel feels like how my ancestors got kicked out their land 100 years ago,” said Dan.

“This land belongs to Squamish Nation before they were forced out of their homes and it happened to me at the Pan Pacific.”

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has not yet decided whether the complaint constitutes possible discrimination.

If it does, it will notify Pan Pacific Vancouver, which can then agree to settle with the houseworkers, respond to the complaint or apply for a dismissal.

“(The tribunal is) looking at factors like, is it just people of specific ethnicity that got terminated, is it just people of a certain gender that got terminated,” said Jenson Leung, an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLIP in Vancouver.

“Is it that this discussion was already happening, and it was based on genuine financial reasons?”

Leung does not represent any of the parties involved in the complaint.

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

Saskatchewan premier apologizes to those left without health care due to COVID-19

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he’s sorry some people have been left without health care as the province redirects resources to deal with its fourth wave of COVID-19.

Moe made the apology Tuesday on CBC’s The Morning Edition radio show, one day after the Saskatchewan Party government announced it was sending six COVID-19 patients to Ontario for care.

“I am sorry that we have experienced those slowdowns here in the province, and the government will do everything we can to ensure those services are available to Saskatchewan people as soon as we are able,” Moe said.

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Vicki Mowat, health critic for the NDP Opposition, said she listened to the interview.

“That was not an apology,” Mowat said.

“What people are looking for is ownership from the premier and Minister of Health (Paul Merriman) to accept responsibility for how the fourth wave has gone.”

More than 275 services have been cut in Saskatchewan in the pandemic’s latest wave, including all elective surgeries and operations for open-heart and neurology patients. The province has also suspended its organ donation program.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said this has freed up 175 health-care workers who are looking after COVID-19 patients in hospitals. The province still faces a staffing shortage and has requested intensive care workers from the federal government after other provinces and U.S. states could not help.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, has said reduced services are likely to remain until COVID-19 hospitalizations decline dramatically.

“If we have 10 people in the ICU and 30 in acute care with COVID, that is a number I think we can sustain and have no impact on other services,” Shahab said last week.

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Saskatchewan reported 335 COVID-19 patients in hospitals on Tuesday, 252 of them in acute care and another 83 receiving intensive care. One ICU patient was transferred to Ontario.

Shahab has said half of all virus transmission in Saskatchewan is occurring in unvaccinated households. He recommends people keep to a bubble of two to three families.

The government remains one of a few provinces without a public health order on gathering restrictions.

“You see this as being a clear example of where there’s light between what Shahab said and what the public health order actually looks like,” Mowat said.

The NDP is urging the government to release recommendations Shahab has made throughout the pandemic and to publicly report them moving forward

The Saskatchewan Party government did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but last week Merriman would not disclose if Shahab made a recommendation on gathering sizes.

“Public health orders are one part of this whole picture, but ultimately it’s about the government, premier and minister of health owning up to their actions, and being upfront to people,” Mowat said.

“And if they don’t have anything to hide, share those recommendations of Dr. Shahab with the public.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Netflix Q3 earnings grow amid rise in subscribers

Netflix posted sharply higher third-quarter earnings Tuesday thanks to a stronger slate of titles, including “Squid Game,” the dystopian survival drama from South Korea that the company says became its biggest-ever TV show.

The company has ramped up production, rebounding from pandemic-induced delays in the first half of the year. It’s also looking beyond movies and TV and said it plans to fund “new growth opportunities” such as video games, which are being tested in some markets.

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“It remains very early days for this initiative and, like other content categories we’ve expanded into, we plan to try different types of games, learn from our members and improve our game library,” the company said.

And as it faces saturation in the U.S. market, Netflix is focusing on growing its international subscriber numbers. For instance, it launched a free mobile plan in Kenya, in the hopes it will get more people in the country to sign up for paid memberships.

In all, Netflix said its subscriber base grew 9% from a year earlier, to 213.6 million, surpassing its own projections.

The increase came about even as Netflix’s subscriber growth softened “a little bit” in Latin America after the company increased prices in Brazil, Spencer Neumann, Netflix’s chief financial officer, said during a conference call with a Wall Street analyst.

“It’s a short-term slowdown in growth, but good for our business and we’re already continuing to grow through it,” he said.

Netflix earned $1.45 billion, or $3.19 per share, in the latest quarter. That’s up from $789.9 million or $1.79 per share, a year earlier.

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Revenue grew 16% to $7.48 billion from $6.44 billion.

Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $2.56 per share on revenue of $7.48 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

Shares of the Los Gatos, California-based company fell about 1% in after-hours trading.

Netflix also said Tuesday that later this year it will change how it reports its viewership metrics. Instead of how many accounts watch its titles, it will report the number of hours viewed. Netflix said this is a “’slightly better indicator of the overall success of our titles and member satisfaction.”

“It also matches how outside services measure TV viewing and gives proper credit to rewatching,” Netflix said.

For the current quarter, Netflix said it expects to add 8.5 million net subscribers.

The company made no mention in its earnings news release or call of the fallout surrounding a recent Dave Chapelle special, which premiered earlier this month after the third quarter ended.

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Netflix said Friday that it had fired an employee for disclosing confidential financial information about what it paid for the Chappelle’s comedy special “The Closer,” which employees and advocacy groups condemned as being transphobic and harmful to transgender people.

The employee, who wasn’t named, shared “confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” a Netflix statement said.

The media watchdog group GLAAD said that “anti-LGBTQ content” violates Netflix’s policy to reject programs that incite hate or violence.

However, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told managers in an internal memo that the show doesn’t cross “the line on hate” and will remain on the streaming service.

Transgender employees and their allies planning to stage a walkout Wednesday in protest.

AP Business writer Alex Veiga in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

B.C. casinos used foreign high rollers as money-laundering 'pawns,' inquiry hears

The Cullen commission into money laundering in B.C. heard from the whistleblowers, the people who came forward with their concerns. As John Hua reports, they gave the commission a failing grade

In 2012, an RCMP investigation reported that Richmond’s River Rock Casino and New Westminster’s Starlight Casino “are a very significant source of money-laundering activity, using wealthy People’s Republic of China gamblers as willing pawns in their activity.”

The confidential RCMP document that makes this explosive allegation — which has not previously been reported on — appears to be the most direct evidence cited in British Columbia’s provincial money-laundering inquiry: that specific B.C. government casinos were “using” foreign high rollers in transnational money-laundering schemes.

This week, on the final days of the two-year Cullen Commission, lawyers representing the federal government cited records, including this “Investigational Planning” document, to counter closing arguments by lawyers representing River Rock owner Great Canadian Gaming and Starlight owner Gateway Casinos.

The RCMP document provides shocking new details about undercover operations targeting high-end patrons and loan sharks operating at the two casinos. And it highlights the thorny questions that commissioner Austin Cullen now must consider in his mammoth task of sifting through some 70,000 pages of evidence and determining which of the commission’s 198 witnesses is telling the truth and whether corruption allowed money laundering to continue in B.C. casinos and real estate investment.

Great Canadian Gaming lawyers argued there were gaps in police enforcement in B.C. casinos, and that it wasn’t the company’s responsibility to investigate or reject suspicious cash transactions. Instead, the company “appropriately relied upon the RCMP and Fintrac to provide direction,” lawyer Mark Skwarok argued.

He acknowledged the company sometimes erred in obligations to report suspected money-laundering transactions, but claimed “any mistakes that may have occurred were simply the result of human error, rather than the company turning a blind eye to anti-money laundering.”

The company also doesn’t dispute evidence that it often challenged BC Lottery Corporation investigators’ decisions to ban suspicious patrons, Skwarok said. But, he argued, the company was appropriately offering information “that might convince BCLC to take a different approach.”

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Any suggestion that Great Canadian broke anti-money laundering regulations to boost revenue and cater to the high-limit baccarat gamblers at the River Rock “has simply not been proven in this hearing,” he added.

Meanwhile, David Gruber, lawyer for Gateway Casinos, argued that evidence regarding casino managers pushing back against anti-money laundering actions referred to Great Canadian, and not Gateway.

Gruber also addressed evidence from the B.C. Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch’s former director Larry Vander Graaf, in a case that should have resulted in licensing action against Gateway, according to Vander Graaf’s testimony.

In the 2010 case, Starlight high roller Yu Xiang Zhang walked into the casino and immediately converted $1.2 million worth of casino chips into cash, before asking the managers to provide him a letter saying the money was a legitimate payout.

This was despite the fact, according to the enforcement branch, that upper management knew this gambler obtained cash from known loan sharks, and that an RCMP officer later called the casino’s letter a “get-out-of-jail-free card” that effectively gave the gambler immunity from money-laundering investigations.

But according to Gruber, this case was limited to one occasion under a previous ownership group.

On Tuesday, lawyers for the federal government pointed commissioner Cullen towards two previously confidential RCMP probe documents that detail an undercover surveillance operation on “VIP” high rollers and the loans sharks who supplied them. The records say the probe ran from 2010 to 2012, and a January 2012 case summary says one investigative objective was “to work with our partners towards legislative and/or regulatory change.”

“Tens of millions of dollars in large cash-transactions (many transactions well over $100,000, much of it in $20 bills) are funneled-through several of the larger casinos in B.C on an annual basis,” the case summary goes on to say. “Intelligence has revealed that the origin of much of these funds are derived from criminal activity and are the Proceeds of Crime.”

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River Rock and Starlight were targeted in the RCMP investigation, with River Rock taking in the majority of suspected dirty cash, the report says. And both casinos had “groups of loan-shark ‘facilitators’ constantly present in and around the casinos, ready to supply large quantities of cash to these high-roller players.”

“The individuals actually conducting the buy-ins at the casino, and doing the gambling, were wealthy Chinese businessmen, many with little to no ties to Canada,” the RCMP report say. “These high-roller players typically pay-back their losses via bank-deposits in the People’s Republic of China or Hong Kong, which are ultimately brought back to Canada by the loan-sharks (in non-cash form) as ‘legitimate’ money. This is often done by international money-laundering groups.”

The RCMP believed the River Rock and Starlight were using VIPs, including a man named Li Lin Sha, in money laundering, the report says. Other records filed in the inquiry show that Sha completed at least $59 million in suspicious cash buy-ins from 2010 to 2015.

“There is a great deal of competition between the River Rock and Starlight casinos for Sha’s patronage,” the RCMP’s 2012 “Investigational Planning” report says. “Both casinos actually constructed private gambling salons with this individual in mind.”

The probe also named Yu Zhao, a high roller who, in 10 days in October 2011, bought in for $1.8 million at the River Rock — the majority in $20 bills. Zhao, who was surveilled meeting with a known loan shark, was 26 years old and listed his occupation as CEO of a milk company in China, the RCMP’s report says.

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“Surveillance and investigation to-date has shown discrete night-time parking-lot meetings, not far from the casino, where high-roller gamblers have met with these “middle men”, then bought-in at the casino only minutes later with a bag full of cash,” a 2012 summary of the probe’s findings to date said. “To this end, Integrated Proceeds of Crime believes that these casinos are a very significant source of money-laundering activity, using the wealthy People’s Republic of China gamblers as willing pawns in their activity.”

One of the alleged middlemen was a B.C. politician closely associated with River Rock upper management who “vouched” for the politician, RCMP probe documents say.

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The RCMP also believed “the origins of these actual dollar-bills being used can likely be traced-back to drugs, prostitution, or other street-level criminal activities being run and or controlled, by organized criminal groups.”

However, according to Canada’s final arguments in the inquiry, the probe of River Rock and Starlight ended in 2012 for various reasons, including federal police funding pressures and challenges “drawing a concrete link” between cash supplied to the VIPs and the criminal offences believed to have generated the cash.

In a subsequent 2015 investigation called E-Pirate that targeted the same VIPs and loan-sharking networks connected to Mainland China, the RCMP eventually established the link to transnational drug-cash laundering, the inquiry previously heard.

Lawyer Paul Jaffe, representing both former RCMP officer Fred Pinnock and former BC Lottery Corp. anti-money laundering director Ross Alderson, said the men are whistleblowers who didn’t have the legal capacity to question other inquiry participants, and thus were at a disadvantage.

Jaffe argued the “starting point” from Alderson’s testimony is that “everyone” involved in B.C.’s casino industry knew money laundering was occurring.

He pointed to Alderson’s testimony that the BC Lottery Corp.’s board of directors, which claimed that Mainland Chinese VIPs had a “cultural preference” for using cash and therefore should not be discriminated against, had actually privately played a videotape of one high roller staggering into a casino with a heavy bag of cash, putting a humourous soundtrack to the person’s suspicious activity.

“The public know that something terrible has happened in B.C., and that there has been a failure of the institutions in this province to protect the public interest,” Jaffe said. “The public seen the videotapes of hockey bags of cash coming into these casinos. And at the same time, we hear testimony about robust anti-money laundering going on at the time. But the public is not stupid.”

Alderson decided to come forward because he believed some B.C. politicians were connected to the casino money-laundering scandal, Jaffe argued, that there were no prosecutions of the gangsters involved, and that thousand of people in B.C. have died from fentanyl trafficking that he believed casino money-laundering facilitated.

And yet, in coming forward, Alderson faced many personal and professional impacts, including anonymous threats, before he was to testify, Jaffe said, citing emails filed as evidence.

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“This is a threat to keep his mouth shut, and it’s made by someone who has knowledge of inside events at BCLC,” Jaffe said. “And this is a threat against his family. And he still came forward.”

On Tuesday, BC Lottery Corp. lawyer Bill Smart responded to Jaffe, and said the authenticity of the emails cited by Alderson was not proven and that they were not threats.

Jaffe also argued that Pinnock’s testimony, including secret tape recordings Pinnock made with former solicitor-general Kash Heed discussing perceptions of inappropriate relationships between former gaming minister Rich Coleman and senior RCMP officers, were valid evidence that Pinnock and others believed showed that senior officials turned a blind eye to money laundering.

Heed’s lawyer agreed that Pinnock’s testimony had “concluded” inaction and willful blindness on the part of Coleman and that some senior RCMP officers had contributed to the fentanyl overdose and casino money-laundering crisis in B.C. However, Pinnock’s evidence was problematic and motivated by personal feelings, Heed’s lawyer argued.

In its closing arguments, B.C.’s largest public employees union alleged that loan-sharking activity continues in B.C. casinos and that casino management favours the needs of high-limit gamblers over the safety of casino workers.

The union said that evidence in the inquiry suggests the B.C. government turned a blind eye to crime in both the casino and real estate sectors, and that “close ties between casino industry and political decision-makers” caused inaction.

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“In the face of growing evidence from front-line enforcement staff, law enforcement, and industry regulators, Mr. Coleman and other senior officials chose to promote explanations for suspicious cash transactions that avoided acknowledging the potential of criminal activity in general or money laundering in particular,” the union argued.

“The government’s unwillingness to meet their responsibility to protect the integrity of the gaming industry while aggressively pursuing expansion of the industry and enjoying the resulting revenue windfall mirrors the same government’s reluctance to address the overheated real estate market.”

The union referred to testimony from Barry Baxter, the former RCMP inspector involved in the 2010 undercover probe of the River Rock and Starlight casinos. Baxter went public with his concerns about dirty money in the casinos in 2011, the union said, but Coleman “disregarded Inspector Baxter’s advice — going so far as to publicly discredit Inspector Baxter.”

The union also pointed to Baxter’s testimony that the B.C. RCMP’s commanding officer, Craig Callens, turned down Baxter’s offer to brief him on the River Rock and Starlight casino probe, and that Callens told Baxter he should “know my audience” rather than speak publicly on B.C. casinos.

In his testimony, Coleman said neither he nor his government turned a blind eye to dirty money.

The inquiry also heard a final statement from the lawyer of Paul King Jin, the alleged organized-crime loan shark named as the top investigation target in BC Lottery Corp. anti-money laundering investigations at the River Rock.

Jin’s counsel, Greg DelBigio, argued that Jin can’t say much because of an ongoing criminal investigation and civil forfeiture cases, but that Cullen should resist arguments that Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and privacy rights have made it too difficult for Canadian police to investigate money laundering and related crimes.

Cullen is expected to return his final report and recommendations in December.

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

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.

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“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.

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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:
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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.

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‘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:
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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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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.

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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.

Read more:
Police release new image of man suspected of sexually assaulting 16-year-old girl in Toronto elevator

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.

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