Canada in Brief, Dec. 31-Jan. 6

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
January 6, 2016 Updated: January 6, 2016

Dion slams North Korea’s purported H-bomb test

OTTAWA—Canada is condemning North Korea for what Pyongyang says was its first test of a hydrogen bomb.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion initially took to Twitter to express Canada’s outrage about the “reckless behaviour” of North Korea, then followed that up with a formal statement.

“North Korea’s continued violations of its international obligations pose a grave threat to international peace and security, and particularly to the stability of the region,” the statement said.

North Korea’s announcement has been met with widespread international skepticism. The development has ratcheted up tension between the impoverished pariah state and the rest of the world, and could lead to more sanctions.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Tony Clement called on the government to take a strong stand with its allies, while not losing sight of the severe human rights violations of the Pyongyang regime.

Discount airline set to take off Feb. 12

MONTREAL—A new discount airline in Canada is set to launch next month. NewLeaf Travel announced Jan. 6 that it will fly between seven airports in Canada starting Feb. 12.

They include Halifax, Hamilton, Regina, Saskatoon, the B.C. cities of Abbotsford and Kelowna, and Winnipeg, where the carrier is based.

The company is promoting one-way fares for as low as $89, but in exchange passengers will face charges for carry-on bags, seat selection, drinks, and printed boarding passes.

NewLeaf Travel says its initial scheduling won’t see it fly daily as it plans to focus on leisure and vacation travel, but that could change if there is demand for it.

TransCanada to file NAFTA claim over Keystone XL rejection

CALGARY—TransCanada says it intends to file a claim under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement in response to the U.S. government’s rejection of the company’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The company said Jan. 6 it has filed a notice of intent to initiate the NAFTA claim on the basis that the denial was arbitrary and unjustified.
The Calgary-based firm says it will be looking to recover US$15 billion in costs and damages as a result of what it says is a breach of NAFTA obligations.

TransCanada says it has also filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Federal Court in Texas asserting that President Barack Obama’s decision to deny construction of Keystone XL exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution.

The 1,900-kilometre pipeline has been in limbo for more than seven years, and at times has been an irritant in U.S.-Canadian relations.

Sheldon Kennedy accepts apology from city where he was abused in junior hockey

SWIFT CURRENT, Sask.—Former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, who was sexually abused by his junior hockey coach while playing in Swift Current, Sask., says he accepts an apology from the city. He says he wasn’t sitting around waiting for an apology, but that it needed to happen.

Kennedy revealed 20 years ago that he was abused by Graham James, then coach of the WHL Swift Current Broncos.

Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer has written a statement expressing “sincere and absolute sorrow to the victims of Mr. James and their families.”

On Jan. 8, the city will launch a new initiative for community organizations that will require a criminal background check of adults, along with education on the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination.

Kennedy says Swift Current is in a position to show great leadership and turn a tragedy into something positive around child protection.

Oland family members call on police commission to release inquiry’s findings

SAINT JOHN, N.B.—Dennis Oland’s mother and wife have issued a joint statement urging the New Brunswick Police Commission to make public the findings of an ongoing inquiry into the Saint John Police Force’s investigation of Richard Oland’s murder.

A jury found Dennis Oland guilty last month of second-degree murder in the July 2011 death of his father, well-known New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland.

In the Jan. 5 statement, Connie and Lisa Oland repeat their assertion that Dennis Oland was wrongfully convicted and they suggest that the possibility that the inquiry’s findings may be kept under wraps “is unacceptable, and serves only to further erode the community’s confidence and trust.”

In a previous statement, the two women said they are certain the person who killed Richard Oland is still on the loose, and the family is working on an appeal.

Ex-Quebec doctor to appeal second-degree murder conviction in kids’ deaths

MONTREAL—A former Quebec doctor is appealing his second-degree murder conviction in the stabbing deaths of his two children.
Guy Turcotte was found guilty on Dec. 6 in the 2009 slayings of Olivier, 5, and Anne-Sophie, 3.

Turcotte’s lawyers were hoping the jury would find him not criminally responsible by way of mental disorder—the verdict that was handed down in 2011 at his first trial. He is to be sentenced Jan. 15.

The Crown is recommending Turcotte serve at least 20 years in prison before being eligible to apply for parole.

The defence suggested that Turcotte serve less than 15 years, and closer to 10, before being eligible to apply.

A conviction on second-degree murder carries a sentence of life imprisonment but the court has some latitude on setting parole eligibility. The minimum time to be served before being able to apply is 10 years, while the maximum is 25 years.

With files from The Canadian Press