Nov 16

Leaders at G7 summit in Japan to grapple with sluggish world economy

TOKYO – Leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations will undoubtedly voice unity over fighting terrorism, pandemics and tax evasion at their summit in Japan this week. Finding a consensus on how to breathe life into their sluggish economies is proving more elusive.

Aging workforces, sagging productivity and lingering damage from the 2008 financial crisis are complicating efforts to spur growth while the effects of the slowdown in China and the other big developing economies ripple across the globe.

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    At a pre-summit meeting in northern Japan’s Sendai, finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-7 failed to concur on a co-ordinated approach to fighting what Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz calls the “Great Malaise.”

    They did agree the world’s growth engine is running on fumes: “We as the G-7 believe the biggest economic problem is demand. Demand – there is no demand – and that is the biggest problem around the world,” said Japan’s finance minister, Taro Aso.

    The reluctance of consumers to buy and businesses to invest, despite rock-bottom interest rates, has caught economists by surprise and policymakers flatfooted, as the IMF, World Bank and governments repeatedly have had to downgrade overly rosy forecasts.

    READ MORE: Trudeau tries to woo Japanese automakers ahead of G7 Summit

    Last month, the IMF lowered the economic growth projection for 2016 and 2017 for the world’s advanced economies, including Europe, the United States and Japan, where collectively growth has remained below 2 per cent since 2010.

    “It’s a difficult environment indeed,” PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said last month in announcing a drop in her company’s first-quarter sales and profits.

    “Most of the developed world outside the United States is grappling with slow growth.”

    When G-7 meetings began in the 1970s, Japan was in the midst of its post-World War II industrial boom. Growth peaked in the late 1980s, and has mostly stagnated since a massive stock market and lending bubble imploded in the early 1990s. It has continued to limp and languish despite massive public works spending and, more recently, a barrage of monetary stimulus.

    In Sendai, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and other officials said co-ordinating growth strategies was difficult given the varied challenges and resource constraints of each country.

    READ MORE: As Trudeau takes day off in Japan, a look at past PMs’ official agendas

    “It’s not a one-size-fits-all,” Lew said. Nonetheless, he made a point of urging Japan not to derail its faltering recovery with a sales tax hike planned for next year and cautioned Tokyo against intervening to drive the yen weaker for the sake of its exporters.

    The IMF says advanced economies could get a healthy economic payoff by investing in research and development, roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and to rewrite tax codes that discourage people from working.

    Instead, governments have tended to rely on central banks to keep interest rates low, or – in Japan and Europe – even negative.

    VIDEO: Trudeau arrives in Japan ahead of G7 summit

    Meanwhile, some economists, notably Robert Gordon at Northwestern University, worry the world lacks the kinds of technological advances needed to drive up productivity and growth.

    Japan’s population is shrinking and aging the fastest among G-7 countries, and its predicament is deepened by productivity that lags behind its G-7 peers.

    The country appeared poised for a revival, emerging from recession as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012, promising to “bring Japan back” with share price-plumping plans to fire up growth through government spending and a flood of stimulus from the central bank.

    READ MORE: Trudeau arrives in Japan for G7 summit

    The “Abenomics” three-pronged combination of monetary easing, government spending and structural reforms was supposed to end deflation and get households and businesses to spend more in the sort of “virtuous” cycle all major economies have been striving for ever since the global financial crisis.

    The Bank of Japan’s “big bazooka” of monetary easing pumped trillions of dollars into the economy, helping to weaken the yen against the U.S. dollar as profits of big exporters like Toyota Motor Corp. soared.

    But Japan is still dipping in and out of recession, and a 2 per cent inflation target remains far beyond reach. Recent data show the outlook deteriorating, despite a 1.6 per cent uptick in annual growth in January-March.

    After more than three years, Abenomics is viewed mainly as a “marketing slogan,” said Kenneth S. Courtis, chairman of Starfort Holdings and a former Asia vice chairman at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Japan needs to “take a blowtorch” to regulations and red tape that discourage competition, he says.

    “There’s a much more critical view of the Abe regime today than in the past,” he said.

    Most Japanese companies simply are not investing in their shrinking domestic market, even after the Bank of Japan pushed interest rates on some bank deposits it is holding below zero.

    The G-7 summit venue of Ise once was a centre for silk and cotton processing and shipbuilding. Today, its main industries are pearls, “Matsuzaka” fat-marbled beef and tourism.

    The region is picturesque but sparsely populated: Villages have been emptying out for decades as businesses, mines and entire communities were abandoned.

    Some were casualties of earlier shifts in the global market, as factories migrated to China and other developing countries.

    Stalling growth is not unique to rural Japan: Long-term economic growth in each of the G-7 countries is the worst it has been since the annual summits began 42 years ago, says Howard Rosen, an independent economist based in Washington.

    In the advanced economies, automation and online commerce have meant the disappearance of many skilled, high-wage jobs. To a growing extent, the meagre or unpredictable pay of service-sector and contract or part-time work is sapping consumers’ purchasing power.

    As the usual policy tools fail, for the G-7 as a whole what prevails is uncertainty, said Dave Tilstone, president of the National Tooling and Machining Association.

    His group’s members are showing “a lot more hesitation, more than before, to make long-term commitments. Their customers just aren’t getting those long-term contracts either,” he said.

    Looming unknowns include the ups and downs of oil prices; whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again, possibly slowing the U.S. economy; whether Britain will opt to leave the European Union in a June 23 vote; and the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, which could put Donald Trump in the White House.

    Europe is struggling with floods of refugees, as its banks, still holding bad debts left over from the financial crisis, remain wary of lending.

    “There are deep holes in the banking system, and there is no appetite to deal with it,” said Ashoka Mody, visiting professor at Princeton University. “Someone has to bear the losses and no one wants to deal with the losses.”

    Though Germany alone has kept its conservative stance toward spending, the other G-7 members have been constrained in varying degrees by law, politics and financial limitations from pursuing needed spending increases.

    “Years ago, they came out with a co-ordinated growth plan and everyone kicked into gear,” said Courtis. “Now there are very different views and that’s what’s paralyzed the G-7.”

    —;

    Wiseman reported from Washington.

Nov 16

Ontario father convicted of killing son, 2, sentenced to 10 years in prison

TORONTO – An Ontario father who lost his temper and hit his toddler so hard the child died of his injuries has been sentenced to ten years in prison in a case a judge called “tragic from every angle.”

Mario Wint pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April after originally being charged with second-degree murder in the January 2015 death of his two-year-old son, Ty.

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“The killing of Ty Wint is tragic from every angle and I suspect will confound us all as we try to reconcile the emotion it inspires,” said Justice Nyron Dwyer as he delivered Wint’s sentence in a Newmarket, Ont., courtroom.

“The offence in this case is serious and strikes at the trust we as a community place in parents to care for their children.”

Crown and defence lawyers had jointly suggested a ten-year prison sentence for Wint, but the Crown also requested a delay in parole eligibility for the 30-year-old to one half of his sentence, rather than one third.

Dwyer, however, did not see the need for delayed parole eligibility. He also gave Wint a two-year credit for time already spent in custody, leaving the man with eight years left in his sentence.

On the morning of January 22, 2015, Wint lost his temper and hit Ty more than once in the abdomen “with significant force,” causing devastating internal injuries that subsequently caused the child’s death, according to an agreed statement of facts submitted in the case.

“After striking Ty, Mario Wint knew that he had caused serious injury to his son. He delayed calling 911 for several hours out of fear that what he had done would be discovered,” the statement of facts said. “After he was struck by his father, Ty was bleeding extensively internally, and had a rapidly declining level of consciousness. His dire medical state became obvious.”

Court heard that after hitting Ty, Wint refused to take his son to a medical clinic at the suggestion of his own mother, who noticed her grandson looking unwell during a late-morning visit to her home. When he called 911, hours later at his own home, first responders found the boy with no vital signs.

“Mario Wint lied to the 911 operator and emergency responders about what had happened to his son in an effort to protect himself,” the agreed statement of facts said. “This impacted the medical care provided for Ty.”

An autopsy revealed “extensive” blunt force injuries to Ty’s chest and abdomen, severe internal bleeding and bruises on the boy’s head as well, court heard.

The “horrific” nature of Ty’s injuries, the position of trust held by Wint as the child’s father, the lies he told to protect himself and the delay by Wint in seeking medical intervention for the boy were all seen as aggravating factors in the case, Dwyer said.

Wint’s guilty plea at a relatively early stage in the legal process, however, was a major mitigating factor, the judge said.

Wint’s lawyer said his client is “tremendously remorseful.”

“No jail sentence can impose the most severe punishment that Mario Wint will take from this matter, which is that he inflicted the injury that killed his two-year-old son. He will have to wear that for the rest of his life,” Steven Skurka.

“He regrets what he did, indicated by his plea of guilty for the charge of manslaughter.”

Nov 16

Fort McMurray wildfire: ‘We expect weeks, if not months, fighting this fire’

Despite much of the province seeing a cold, wet May long weekend, the Fort McMurray wildfire saw very little rain.

The west edge of the fire received between three and five millimetres of rain while the northern edge – where the fire is most active – saw none at all.

“Most of the growth is in those northern sections,” wildfire manager Chad Morrison said. “There was no rain received in the north or eastern portions… In the Fort McMurray area, there was very little rain.”

As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, the wildfire was 522,895 hectares in size.

A map showing the estimated wildfire perimeter of the Horse River wildfire (Fort McMurray wildfire) as of 10 a.m. on May 24, 2016. Areas marked in red show where hot spots were detected on May 24, 2016 and areas marked in yellow show where hot spots were detected on May 23, 2016.

COURTESY: Government of Alberta

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    READ MORE: Phased re-entry plan for oilsands camps near Fort McMurray begins

    The municipal affairs minister said there were 40 new wildfire starts on Monday.

    “What’s concerning is that most of them were camp fires that were abandoned,” Danielle Larivee said.

    Morrison said the fire continued to spread to the forested areas northeast of the city and the oil facilities. It has crossed into Saskatchewan and burned 2,496 hectares in that province.

    “The fire is now being fought on both sides of the border,” Morrison said.

    He added while crews continue to build up fire guards, create barriers and make good progress, the region has not received significant rain in two to three months.

    “We expect the potential for extreme wildfire conditions to occur,” he explained.

    “We expect weeks, if not months, fighting this fire in the forested areas.”

    The forecast was calling for warmer days ahead, so officials said suppression efforts will be a challenge and air quality continues to be a concern.

    International crews helping:

    An additional 1,000 firefighters should be on the ground in the next two weeks from other parts of Canada, the United States and other parts of the world.

    There are currently 1,200 firefighters on scene, the majority of which are Alberta crews being rotated through. This week, firefighters from across parts of Canada, and the U.S., including Alaska, will arrive. Next week, international crews, including 280 firefighters from South Africa are expected to arrive.

    “We’ve always been in contact with our partners nationally and internationally,” Morrison said.

    READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: evacuation order lifted for some work camps north of the community

    However, after not receiving as much rain as hoped for over the weekend, officials made the call to bring in outside crews.

    “With the cooler conditions, we have the ability to safety deploy some of those experienced firefighters,” Morrison explained.

    “We have more safe places to put boots on the ground.”

    Fort McMurray Airport:

    Commercial air service is tentatively scheduled to resume at the Fort McMurray International Airport on June 10.

    “YMM is the gateway to our community,” Scott Clements, Fort McMurray Airport Authority president and CEO, said. “My colleagues and I look forward to reopening following the devastating wildfires.”

    The return of commercial air service is contingent on several factors, including the airspace requirements of the province as the fire fight continues and the voluntary re-entry date for residents.

    “Safety is our first priority and while every effort will be made to adhere to this opening date, residents are reminded that this will only occur if conditions for re-entry are safe,” Clements said.

    Passengers booked on flights prior to June 10 should contact their airlines for rebooking information.

    RCMP detachment fully operational:

    The RCMP said Tuesday its Wood Buffalo detachment was back up and running out of the Timberlea building on the north side of Fort McMurray.

    The building had been closed over air quality concerns but the majority of the local detachment’s personnel have now returned to work on a regular shift schedule.

    There are still 79 members from other Alberta RCMP detachments working in Fort McMurray to help with security patrols.

    All personnel are staying in accommodations outside the evacuation zone.

    “Having a fully-functioning detachment and our people back on the job is great news for the RCMP and this community,” Supt. Rob McCloy said. “We know that people are understandably concerned about the property they left behind, and we are working hard to keep the things safe until they can come home.”

    Whenever possible, it is RCMP practice to relieve employees who are personally affected by a local emergency as soon as is possible. However, RCMP said McCloy “insisted on contributing to emergency operations, where his knowledge of the city and its people proved invaluable.”

    Restoration work in Fort McMurray:

    “We are still on track for a voluntary re-entry beginning June 1,” Scott Long, executive director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency said.

    He stressed there is still a lot of work to be done and that many services will not be available at that time and residents should be prepared.

    “There is still an awful lot of work that’s being done in terms of environmental testing,” Long said. “It’s going non-stop 24-7.” He added there will be information centres established in each neighbourhood for residents when they come back.

    “Others may want to come up to Fort McMurray to… seek some closure… before returning to existing accommodations,” Larivee said.

    Restoration of the hospital resumed Sunday, water quality sampling equipment is being installed in the Athabasca and Clear Water rivers, electricity is restored to more than 90 per cent of the community, and natural gas is restored to more than 99 per cent of homes.

    “Progress is being made on safe drinking water but a boil water advisory remains in effect,” Larivee said.

    Watch below: While fire crews work to keep the flames away from Fort McMurray, the first wave of re-entry into the community by evacuees is still on track to begin June 1. First access will be given to those living in Anzac, downtown, the Fort McMurray First Nation and Gregoire Lake Estates. The re-entry will continue every day after with the hardest-hit areas scheduled last. Kendra Slugoski has more on what to expect.

    A re-entry information booklet has been posted on the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s website. It includes safety instructions and other information for returning residents.

    Officials will also conduct a re-entry practice run before June 1 to make sure everything goes smoothly.

    “We’re looking at the traffic control plan to get close to 80,000 people back to Fort McMurray in a short period of time,” Long explained.

    Here’s a look at the Fort McMurray re-entry plan, tentatively scheduled to begin Wednesday, June 1.

    Tonia Huynh, Global News

    Jim Mandeville has been on the ground for two weeks with FirstOnSite Restoration. He said residents should be prepared for a few things upon their return.

    “There’s going to be a smell. There’s going to some minor cleaning that’s required and unfortunately, for a lot of people who’ve been without power, there’s going to be an even worse smell from the refrigerator,” he explained.

    Mandeville said even the satellite photos won’t fully prepare people for what to expect in person.

    “I’ve been in a few commercial structures around the city – ones that are really close to the fire – where there’s very little odour, etc. and some that are further away, there’s a lot more odour inside,” he said. “It’s not something we can tell from aerial pictures.”

    The pre-loaded debit card distribution centres have been moved to Alberta Works offices across Alberta, including four each in Edmonton and Calgary.

    The province hopes to have something in place soon for people who are out-of-province. Larivee stressed there is no deadline.

    “If you qualify, you will get it.”

    Oilsands camps:

    On Monday, the Regional Emergency Operations Centre endorsed the province’s recommendation to allow phased re-entry to several camps north and south of Fort McMurray.

    “Right now, I know from our oil and gas partners… they are looking at their re-entry plan, they are well aware of the criteria,” Long said. “There is no set time line.”

    He stressed worker safety is the number one priority.

    READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire now covers more than 522K hectares

    The REOC supported the suggestion from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry that assessments of the following sites could begin:

    AOSTRA Road corridor:

    Suncor Baseline and MacKay River campsAll Brion campsBirch Mountain campSunshine campProduction facilities access by AOSTRA Road

    Highway 63 (south of Fort McMurray) corridor:

    AOCHangingstoneGreat Sand TigerJACOSGrayling Creek Fire Base

    People will not be allowed to stay in the camps until Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and Alberta Health Services inspections have been done to ensure conditions are safe.

    A Google Earth maps shows where the fire has grown Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

    Credit: Google Earth

Nov 16

Fort McMurray wildfire to delay review of Teck oilsands mine proposal

CALGARY – A three-member federal-provincial panel has been appointed to conduct an environmental review of Teck Resources’ proposed Frontier oilsands mine in northern Alberta, a project Teck says won’t start producing oil until 2026 at the earliest.

Authorities in Ottawa and Alberta say the panel will be given an extra three months to submit its report in view of the affect of the Fort McMurray wildfires on local residents and indigenous groups.

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    READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: ‘We expect weeks, if not months, fighting this fire’

    That means its due date will be in 13 months or June 2017.

    A decision is then expected from the federal cabinet four months later.

    In May, Vancouver-based Teck (TSX:TCK) said its earliest first oil date for the 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier project is 2026 — a five-year revision from the original timeline of 2021 — due to the time expected to receive regulatory permits in light of project revisions.

    Last summer, Teck said it would build Frontier in two phases instead of four.

Nov 16

Finding a job is a major problem for military spouses: study

WASHINGTON – Military spouses struggle to find jobs and are more likely to work for less pay or in positions below their education level, spurring unemployment and other costs of as much as $1 billion a year, according to a study.

Wrestling with frequent moves, deployments and erratic schedules of their service member mates, military spouses have an unemployment rate of up to 18 per cent, compared to last month’s national jobless rate of 5 per cent.

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    The problem is not new to the Pentagon, and in recent years has triggered a flood of new programs aimed at encouraging companies to hire military veterans and spouses.

    The latest study was commissioned by Blue Star Families, a group that co-ordinates services for families with a loved one who is currently serving or has served in the military. And it found that up to 42 per cent of military spouses — or as many as 95,000 — are jobless, compared to about 25 per cent of a comparable civilian spouse population. In addition, it estimated that military spouses with a bachelor’s degree earn 40 per cent less than their civilian counterparts.

    The report noted that various groups have done studies on military spouse unemployment that yielded varying statistics. But there was broad agreement on the overall conclusion that they face higher unemployment rates than civilians, especially those of comparable age.

    “The math is shocking, but it also shows the way forward,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, founder and chief executive officer of Blue Star Families.

    “If we work together to reverse the crippling employment trends facing military spouses, we will add money back to our economy.”

    And she called on the government and private companies to do more to battle spouse unemployment in the same way they did to beef up the hiring of veterans.

    READ MORE: Canadian veteran’s wife makes impassioned plea for increased help from feds 

    “Military spouses are faced with unique challenges in starting and maintaining a career as a result of the military lifestyle they lead that requires frequent moves and sometimes being the single parent while their military spouse is deployed,” said Marine Lt. Col. Gabrielle Hermes, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

    Defence Department data from surveys comes up with different numbers, finding that 23 per cent of military spouses identify themselves as unemployed.

    According to the study, the estimated cost of the problem is largely borne by the federal government, including unemployment and health care benefits and lost income taxes. The study estimated that those costs ranged from about $710 million to $1.07 billion per year.

    There has been increased attention on veteran and military-related unemployment issues over the past decade, particularly as service members came home from repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and found it difficult to find jobs after they left the military. That focus has also expanded to spouses, who often find themselves moving every two or three years and often can’t find jobs that are flexible enough to compensate for the long hours, absences and irregular schedules of their spouses while still meeting any child care needs.

    The study found that getting meaningful employment is a major concern for spouses. And more than half of them say that having a spouse in the military has a “negative effect” on their ability to find a job that meets their education and experience levels.

    As of 2015, there were about 564,000 female civilian spouses of active duty military members nationwide, and 70 per cent of them were under the age of 35.

    READ MORE: Possible job interview questions to watch out for

    The Pentagon and military services have a number of websites and jobs programs, including ones aimed at military spouses. The Military Spouse Employment Partnership has job listings, resume tips, career counselling and other assistance. According to the Defence Department, partner employers have posted more than 4 million jobs in the past five years.

    The Joining Forces initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden in 2011 has helped more than 1.2 million veterans and spouses get hired or trained, according to numbers announced earlier this month. Of those, Hermes said that about 95,000 were military spouses.

    Another program provides up to $4,000 in scholarships to eligible spouses to pursue certifications, licenses or other degrees.

    Hermes said that the department is assessing the effectiveness of the programs, adding that getting information about them can be a challenge especially when so many military spouses transition out of the military every year and new spouses join. She said the department relies on experts who work for the military services as well as other organizations, employers and communities, to help get the word out.

Nov 16

Captain America, Iron Man make surprise visit to teen battling cancer for the 2nd time

EL CAJON, Calif. — Each night, 18-year-old Ryan Wilcox sleeps under a portrait of himself dressed as Captain America — the pinnacle of human strength and endurance.

The Marvel Comics fan knows a thing or two about those heroic attributes. He is battling cancer for a second time in his life, and so when he recently received some bad news about his prognosis, his schoolmates rallied and called in the Avengers.

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On Monday, the 67-pound teen answered his front door and was shocked at what he saw: Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. and Captain America Chris Evans had not only teamed up, they were with “Iron Man” star Gwyneth Paltrow on a mission to lift his spirits.

RELATED: Ryan Reynolds shares emotional goodbye to Edmonton teen who died of cancer

“Hey what’s up buddy?” Evans is heard as Wilcox shakes his head, doing a double take in a video taken by Paltrow. “We were in the neighborhood and thought we’d cruise by.”

“Hey guys,” says Wilcox, wearing a T-shirt featuring Captain America’s shield.

View this post on Instagram

Today @ryanwilcox0303 got a little surprise. Thank you to the incredible #chrisevans and my better work half @robertdowneyjr for being the men you both are. And thank you to the Wilcox family for your hospitality! #ryanstrong

A post shared by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on May 23, 2016 at 12:10pm PDT

Paltrow, who plays Pepper Potts in the “Iron Man” films, hugged Wilcox’s mom, as the other two stars plopped down on the carpeted living room floor. They spent an hour at the home, conversing with the teenager, like they were old friends, his mom, Amy Wilcox, said.

“She told me this is a gift from one mom to another mom,” Amy Wilcox said. “She knew how happy it would be for me to see Ryan so happy.”

Wearing a blue “Stark” hat with Downey’s autograph on the bill, Wilcox was still reveling Tuesday in what he described as the best day of his life.

“It was really cool hanging out with them. That really picked me up,” said Wilcox, his voice barely above a whisper. “I’m going to get through this.”

Captain America has been a symbol of strength for Ryan Wilcox. The film series has kept him going, keeping him distracted as he has undergone chemotherapy and bone marrow treatments during numerous hospital visits.

View this post on Instagram

Let’s do this #ryanstrong @robertdowneyjr #chrisevans

A post shared by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on May 23, 2016 at 10:09am PDT

Wilcox was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer at the age of 16. His mother said the cancer may be the result of chemotherapy treatments he underwent to fight a brain tumor at the age of three.

He had a bone marrow transplant from his 14-year-old sister in April 2015, but he had a relapse in December of that year. In February, he had to leave school because his immune system was too weak, and last month the family was told the treatments are not working so far and his disease is progressing, his mother said.

Thousands of students at Grossmont High School in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon held a rally two weeks ago, chanting “Ryan Strong.” Scores were dressed in red, white and blue in honor of his favorite superhero. Then a group of students made a plea on Facebook for the cast of “Captain America: Civil War” to visit Wilcox.

Evans responded within days of the posting with a video message telling Wilcox to “stay strong.”

Evans on Monday signed the shield in the portrait of Wilcox dressed as Captain America above his bed. It reads: “Stay strong Brother!! Chris Evans. CAP.”

In this Monday, May 23, 2016, photo provided by Amy Wilcox, Ryan Wilcox, second from left, poses for a photo with actors from left Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Gwyneth Paltrow during with Wilcox at his home in El Cajon, Calif. The Avengers teamed up to lift the spirits Wilcox, who has been at home for months battling leukemia. (Amy Wilcox via AP)

In this Monday, May 23, 2016, photo provided by Amy Wilcox, Captain America Chris Evans, left, talks with Ryan Wilcox during a visit at his home in El Cajon, Calif. The Avengers teamed up to lift the spirits of the teenage fan Wilcox, who has been at home for months battling leukemia. (Amy Wilcox via AP)

In this Monday, May 23, 2016, photo provided by Amy Wilcox, Captain America Chris Evans, second from right, signs a photo for Ryan Wilcox, second from left, as Iron Man Robert Downey Jr., left, and Gwyneth Paltrow look on during a visit with Wilcox at his home in El Cajon, Calif. The Avengers teamed up to lift the spirits of the teenage fan, Ryan Wilcox, a junior, who has been at home for months battling leukemia. (Amy Wilcox via AP)

RELATED: Chris Pratt, Chris Evans surprise children at Seattle hospital

Nov 16

Edmonton theatre washroom incident results in child porn charges

WARNING: This story contains disturbing content.

A man is facing child pornography charges after an incident in the men’s washroom at West Edmonton Mall’s Scotiabank Theatre Sunday.

Edmonton police said Wednesday morning 41-year-old Aaron Voon has been charged with possession of child pornography, making child pornography and voyeurism.

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Sgt. Steve Sharpe with the Edmonton Police Service said it is alleged Voon used a mobile device to record a video of an individual in the movie theatre washroom. It happened at around 4 p.m. Sunday.

In a video posted to Facebook, a father confronts a man and accuses him of videotaping his young son at the urinal. The father demands to see the man’s phone.

In photos on the same Facebook page, the man is surrounded by three others and put in a headlock.

One witness told Global News she saw the confrontation unfold as she walked out of a screening of The Angry Birds movie with her son. She said the man’s phone was taken by the father.

“They were kind of having a little bit of a confrontation and he (the father) kept asking ‘can I just see what’s on your phone?’” Ashley Jackson said. “The father kept putting up his hands and saying ‘No, I need to see what’s on your phone- I think I saw you take a video.’”

“Then the father of the boy kept saying to his wife ‘Well, what’s on the phone did you find anything?’ And the mother goes ‘I’m still looking, I’m still looking’ and then after a couple of seconds, you kind of hear her let out this scream and that’s when she said that she found the video of her son going to the bathroom. … I won’t be able to forget that.”

Jackson said she was standing close enough to the mother that she could also see the video. While the boy’s face wasn’t in frame, she could see his body from the shoulders down and see him going to the bathroom.

Jackson said she called police and the suspect was held by people at the box office until officers arrived and took him away.

She said she was disturbed because she saw the suspect sit through the same movie she had gone to with her son.

“I grabbed my son and I had to back up and get away from the guy,” Jackson said. “My stomach dropped and I started feeling really hot in the face – I instantly felt just nauseous.”

Staff Sgt. Paul Czerwonka with the Zebra Child Protection Centre said parents need to be on the lookout for suspicious individuals.

“This happens more than people believe it happens. These people come from all levels of society. They’re not the typical ones that you may presume would be obvious to you.”

He said usually children know their offenders.

“The stranger is a very small percentage, very minimal. I would say less than five per cent of our files are stranger offenders,” Czerwonka explained.

He said people looking to prey on children will go where they frequent.

“Bathrooms are an area where there’s public access and these individuals watch where kids are going to be.”

Glori Meldrum, the founder of Little Warriors, which advocates for child sex victims, agreed. She said the alleged incident is concerning.

“If somebody is that bold – to go in and actually videotape a young child going to the bathroom – what are they going to do next?” she asked. “Anybody that preys on children – they go where the kids go – and they’re hunters. They’ll figure out a way to get access.”

Police did not say if the incident is connected to the confrontation caught on video.

-With files from Sarah Kraus.

Nov 16

Taxi to TappCar: how Calgary’s first legal rideshare company stacks up

A rideshare company is finally operating legally in Calgary.

TappCar, an Alberta-based company, launched in Edmonton last March. It said over 5,000 Calgarians had already downloaded its app ahead of the Calgary launch Tuesday.

“We’ve received lots of feedback from Calgarians – popular demand – that we come down here and set up shop so that’s what we’re doing,” Pascal Ryffel, a spokesperson for TappCar, said.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: Edmonton ride-sharing app TappCar expands to more regions 

Former professional hockey player Sheldon Kennedy took the first ceremonial ride. TappCar is donating $2,500 in fares to families using the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and $1 from every ride during the company’s first three days in business.

“One of the things that really caught our attention is all the background checks that they do with the drivers and the safety and security of that,” Kennedy said. “And the fact that we know they’re insured.”

It’s been a point of controversy in the city.

WATCH: Caught on camera – Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi calls rideshare company Uber ‘dicks’ 

Last October, rideshare giant Uber launched in Calgary, but later pulled out calling the city’s livery bylaws “too onerous.”

TappCar is the first of three rideshare companies currently licensed by the city under its new Transportation Network Companies framework.

Perhaps surprisingly, Allied Limosines is one of those securing a licence and looking at the possibility of launching in the future.

“It opens up doors for a lot of part-time drivers – people who just want to supplement their income on the side,” Cam Naghshineh, General Manager of Allied Limousine, said.

READ MORE: Cheaper cabs in Calgary? Company lowers fares as Uber-inspired regulations take effect

The company launched an app called Allied Black in April of 2015.

“Basically this app works exactly the same as apps that rideshare companies utilize,” Naghshineh said. “It has all the options such as rating the service, leaving comments, requesting the closest call and all that stuff that the rideshare companies have. It’s basically the same thing.”

As far as prices go, a 10-kilometer car fare comes in at $16.45 on TappCar’s website, compared to an estimated $21 fare for the same ride through Allied Black. But TappCar will also charge a “tech fee” on arrival; an extra $1.50 for using their app.

Nov 16

Saskatoon city councillor to retire after 16 years of service

Veteran Saskatoon City Councillor Tiffany Paulsen will focus more time on her family and not seek re-election this fall according to a surprise announcement she made at the beginning of Tuesday’s council meeting.

“I am sad about leaving,” said Paulsen, Ward 9’s representative, to reporters in council chambers after the meeting concluded.

“But right now, as I said, I have two very young children that I need to have more time in my schedule to be focused on them.”

ChangSha Night Net

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    Paulsen was first elected in 2000 and held her seat over the next four civic elections. The announcement “caught us all off guard,” said Mayor Don Atchison, moments after Paulsen spoke during the meeting.

    “When she stood up on a point of order, point of privilege, and said that she was going to be resigning, I couldn’t believe my ears at the time,” said Atchison to reporters after council adjourned.

    “She’s done just such great work throughout her years on council.”

    Over her 16 years as a councillor, Paulsen has served on almost all of the city’s committee’s and boards, according to her biography. She said her perspective had broadened over the years and leaves with no regrets.

    “I always made decisions based on what I thought was best for the community and for no other purpose or reason,” said Paulsen, who was the youngest person ever elected to council when she took office in 2000.

    “I’ve been fortunate to be able to meet and work with a lot of highly capable and competent people at my career at city hall.”

    Paulsen said she would remain on council and fulfill all of her duties leading up to October’s election. She also expressed her hope that extra time would be allowed during the group’s last meeting in September for her to voice “more extensive comments and thank yous.”

Nov 16

BC mom claims charity scammer taking advantage of 6-year-old son battling leukemia

Lia Weekes’ son Joshua is in BC Children’s Hospital finishing a third round of chemotherapy for an aggressive form of leukemia. Without a bone marrow transplant, he’ll likely die.

Josh’s family has been fighting hard to get the word out in the hopes of finding a donor, and now they’re afraid someone has taken advantage of their situation.

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“On May 7th, my husband’s cousin and her mom were grocery shopping in Coquitlam at the Superstore, and they came across a table set up with Joshua’s face plastered on posters…asking for money.”

Weekes says she went to the store to talk to the woman at the table, who claimed her name was Kathleen.

“First she explained that she was with Canadian Blood Services. When we asked her for her own identification, she couldn’t produce any to verify that she was with Canadian Blood Services and then all of a sudden her story changed,” she said.

“There were many inconsistencies in her story.”

WATCH: Boy with leukemia desperately needs bone marrow donor

Canadian Blood Services confirmed the woman does not work or volunteer for them.

“We do not solicit funds from any individuals,” David Patterson of Canadian Blood Services said. “You will never see an authorized person from Canadian Blood Services at a mall soliciting funds, outside a grocery store. You won’t see that.”

“Kathleen” did send Weekes $850 via email transfer and told her she’d only ever been at one store. But Weekes says that doesn’t appear to be true.

“Now we know of at least four occasions — including the one where we spoke to her — that this lady was outside soliciting funds at various major grocery stores.”

Coquitlam RCMP have now opened a file. Weekes says she hopes the public will still donate their bone marrow to find a match for Joshua.

“I hope that something can be done so that this doesn’t happen again because no one should have to go through this and the public should not have to be wary about wanting to help and about wanting to care.”

Those interested in learning more about the donation process can visit blood长沙夜网.

– With files from Randene Neill