Canada in Brief, Sept. 17-23

September 23, 2015 Updated: October 1, 2015

Purple ribbons outside court for hearing in father-daughter murder case

LETHBRIDGE, Alta.—Purple ribbons were tied to a row of parking meters outside a southern Alberta courthouse Sept. 23 in memory of a two-year-old girl and her father who were killed last week.

Purple was Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette’s favourite colour and supporters felt it was appropriate to remember her as the man accused in the killings was scheduled to make his first court appearance.

But Derek James Saretzky didn’t appear inside the Lethbridge courtroom. The matter was quickly adjourned to Sept. 30. Saretzky, 22, faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Terry Blanchette, 27, and Hailey. There is an additional charge of committing indignity to a body in the girl’s case.

Blanchette and Cheyenne Dunbar, 20, were separated, but the two maintained a good relationship and both cared for Hailey. Authorities have not disclosed why they believe the father and his daughter were killed.

Trudeau nixes support for Tory minority, Harper warns of economic turmoil

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and his Conservative rival found rare common ground Sept. 22 as they both imagined Canada without Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The latter, not surprisingly, painted a familiar scorched-earth portrait of what he believes Canada’s economy would look like in the event anyone but the Conservatives were to win next month’s federal election.

“The wrong decisions at the national level on taxes, spending, and deficits will cause real economic damage everywhere,” Harper said during a campaign event in Winnipeg.

Should the Tories claim a narrow minority, however, they would have to look past the Liberals for support with Harper at the helm, Trudeau said emphatically.

“There are no circumstances in which I would support Stephen Harper continuing being prime minister,” he said at an event in Montreal.

At the same time, Trudeau did not rule out forming some kind of alliance with the New Democrats in the event that no majority government emerges from the Oct. 19 vote.

Saskatchewan government says rejection of Keystone XL pipeline seems likely

REGINA—One of the biggest backers of the Keystone XL pipeline is acknowledging that the project is likely doomed to fail. The Saskatchewan government is expecting Keystone’s demise after American Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton said she opposes it.

Clinton said Tuesday that the project has been a distraction and she doesn’t believe it’s in the best interests of what needs to do be done to combat climate change.

Saskatchewan Economy Minister Bill Boyd says he’s not surprised by Clinton’s stance, but also that opposing Keystone won’t stop Canadian oil exports to the U.S. Boyd also says Clinton appears more interested in appeasing certain environmental groups and the celebrity critics of fossil fuels than putting forth what he calls sound energy policy.

The Saskatchewan government and Premier Brad Wall have been vocal supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oilsands crude from Alberta to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Men in Via train terror case sentenced to life in prison

TORONTO—Two men found guilty of terrorism charges after being accused of plotting to derail a passenger train have been sentenced to life in prison.

Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier were found guilty in March on a total of eight charges between them.

Justice Michael Code, the Toronto judge who presided over their trial earlier this year, found both men have not renounced their extremist beliefs, have not expressed remorse, and present questionable prospects for rehabilitation.

Crown lawyers had asked for life sentences for both men.

Alberta premier tells business leaders energy industry must clean up its act

EDMONTON—Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has told the province’s business leaders the energy industry is critical to the province’s economy but must “clean up its environmental act.”

Notley delivered the keynote address on the night of Sept. 22 at the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, acknowledging the fiscal challenges facing the province but also sounding a note of optimism about its future.

Notley said that while her government wants to do more to diversify the economy, there’s no doubt that oil and gas will play a leading role.

But she said energy-producing jurisdictions such as Alberta must help address the global problem of climate change. She said if Alberta doesn’t get its act together, a solution will be imposed by others, including markets that will insist the products they buy are mined and processed responsibly.

Triple slaying suspect charged with three counts of first degree murder

A 57-year-old man has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the separate slayings of three women whose deaths sparked a lockdown and manhunt in and around Wilno, a tiny hamlet in eastern Ontario, on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

Basil Borutski made an appearance in a Pembroke, Ont., courtroom to answer to the charges. He was remanded in custody until Oct. 5.

A woman’s support group held a vigil outside the court building as Borutski’s brother, meantime, said the family was devastated and in mourning for the three victims.

“Right now, my heart just goes out to the families … all our brothers and sisters, our hearts go out to all the victims,” Will Borutski said, adding that two of the victims used to date his brother.

Local residents said the stunning deaths of three women, all slain within hours of one another on Tuesday morning, have thrown the community of about 300 people into a profound state of grief.