Feb 15

Calgary police say fatal domestic dispute spurred by ‘ongoing argument’

Police have identified the victim in a tragic domestic incident in Calgary’s northeast that left a woman dead and her daughter in hospital. Her common-law husband has been charged in the murder, which police believe was the result of an “ongoing argument.”

Hue Ngoc Nguyen, 41, was found dead inside a home after police were called to the 6900 block of Rundlehorn Drive N.E. at around 12:15 a.m. Tuesday for reports of gunfire. Her 15-year-old daughter was being treated for a gunshot wound in hospital as of Wednesday afternoon.

“She’s doing remarkably well, from what I can tell since the incident,” Inspector Don Coleman from the CPS Major Crime Section said.

“She’s a very courageous young lady.”

Shortly after the women were found, officers spotted the victim’s husband in a vehicle in the 4000 block of Whitehorn Drive N.E.

Forensic investigators bring out physical evidence at the scene of a fatal domestic incident in Calgary’s northeast on May 25, 2016.

Gary Bobrovitz / Global News

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    Calgary police responded to multiple calls of shots being fired at a residence in the 6900 block of Rundlehorn Drive N.E. on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

    Police said he fired at least one shot from his vehicle before pulling over. An 11-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy were discovered inside the man’s vehicle. Both were uninjured and taken into police custody.

    Hien Tuan Lam of Calgary, 43, was charged with first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Lam is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

    WATCH: Insp. Dan Coleman speaks to media after a 43-year-old man was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his common-law partner, and attempted murder in the shooting of his 15-year-old daughter.

    Police said Wednesday he was the common-law partner of Nguyen for “an extended period of time” and the father of the three children involved in the incident.

    Coleman said Lam was known to police, and was prohibited from possessing firearms. Coleman didn’t know how the suspect obtained the gun used in the incident.

    Coleman said it appeared both Nguyen and the 15-year-old girl were targeted as a result of “a prolonged argument which ultimately led to a physical confrontation” which ended in the gunshots.

    He said a social services response team is assessing the situation and will remain with the family until a decision is made.

    “There’s no reported record of police involvement in that house, although we do believe there was some domestic history – it had gone unreported,” Coleman said.

    READ MORE: Calgary police expect high domestic violence levels in 2016 amid economic downturn

    Police couldn’t speak to the specific financial situation of the family, but Coleman said he believed Lam was unemployed.

    Staff Sgt. Rob Davidson from the Domestic Conflict Unit attended a press conference on the incident Wednesday, and cited a study that found a significant correlation between the unemployment rate and domestic violence rate.

    “I do want to stress that unemployment is not a cause of domestic violence, but it is a stressor,” Davidson said.

    “So those families that are already prone to violence, when you add in that complexity or that layer of unemployment and stresses in finances, that appears to correlate significantly to increased domestic violence.”

    The Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC) released a statement in response to the incident Tuesday, saying there are numerous agencies in Calgary available 24 hours a day that provide support.

    The group offered the below list.

    If you are experiencing or have questions about domestic abuse, you can call: 403-234-7233 (SAFE)
    If you are experiencing or have questions about sexual abuse and sexual assault, you can call: 403-237-5888

    For additional support, you can call:
    Distress Centre 403-266-HELP (4357)
    Calgary Counselling Centre 403-691-5991
    Family Violence Information Line 310-1818 (toll free)
    Peer Support Services for Abused Women 403-234-PEER (7337)

    With files from Global’s Melissa Ramsay

Feb 15

City of Vaudreuil-Dorion scraps contentious plan to demolish senior’s home

VAUDREUIL-DORION – In the wake of backlash from its residents, the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion seems to be backing off plans to demolish a hand-built home in which an elderly man lives.

“We understand Mr. Mortensen wants to live in this thing and we can accommodate,” Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said on Wednesday.

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    Last week, Peder Mortensen learned the city was seeking a court injunction to evict him, demolish his house and send him to an old age home.

    At the time, city officials said the home was deemed unsafe by the fire department.

    READ MORE: Vaudreuil resident heartbroken over city’s plan to demolish his home

    After the story became public, the mayor received hundreds of complaints over the controversial plan and residents delivered a petition to city hall featuring over 1,500 signatures from people demanding the city leave the elderly resident alone.

    READ MORE: Support grows for Vaudreuil senior facing eviction

    “I didn’t know I had so many friends around my neighbourhood,” said Mortensen, who first moved to Vaudreuil-Dorion in 1962.

    “I’m a solitary person so that’s one good thing that came out of it.”

    “We’re not going to let it happen – it just doesn’t make any sense – he needs to live in this house,” said Mortensen’s neighbour, Charlie Berkovits.

    Peder Mortensen in his home, Wednessday, May 25, 2016.

    Anne Leclair/Global News

    On Wednesday, the mayor said he has received a death threat over the issue.

    “The SQ have that death threat,” Pilon said.

    “Someone said they’re going to kill me and put [me in a] cement block in the river.”

    The mayor also said the court injunction was never intended to force Mortensen out, but rather to ensure the next person living on the property would build a home that respects the building code.

    READ MORE: Community rallies behind Vaudreuil senior facing eviction

    The city is now working with a group of residents who have agreed to help fix a long list of items considered to be a fire hazard.

    “We’ve agreed to work together,” Pilon said.

    “We will have a meeting with them, telling them what we want and what we would like to see.”

    Still, Mortensen feels the city should focus on more important issues such as fixing the drinking water problem.

    “We’ve had a boil water advisory for three and a half years,” he said, while showing off a contraption he’s made to distil his drinking water.

    “I make distilled water that’s the purest water you could make.”

    While it has been a stressful week for the Vaudreuil-Dorion resident, Mortensen said he’ll sleep well knowing that his community supports what he says is his unique and harmless way of life.

    “I feel good,” he said.

Feb 15

Palliser superintendent takes leave amid delayed review into ‘culture of fear’

The head of Palliser Regional Schools is temporarily stepping aside after a controversial year addressing allegations of a “culture of fear” and abusive behaviour.

A release from district officials said superintendent Kevin Gietz is taking a temporary leave and will be replaced in the meantime by a familiar face.

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The Board of Trustees of Palliser Regional Schools passed a resolution Tuesday to appoint Dr. Garry Andrews as acting superintendent, effective immediately. Andrews is no stranger to Palliser, having served as superintendent from 2004 to 2007.

Gietz has served as superintendent of Palliser Regional Schools since 2007, when he succeeded Andrews. Gietz joined Palliser in 2005 as an associate superintendent working as part of Andrews’ team.

Earlier this year, an online petition, started by a group calling itself Concerned Parents of Palliser Schools, asked for an investigation and independent review into the school system after allegations of a “culture of fear” and alleged abusive behaviour by Gietz.

Palliser Regional Schools and Gietz have denied the allegations, claiming they “are entirely without merit.”

Gietz himself requested an independent operational review in January, but the process has been delayed several times.

READ MORE: Palliser Regional Schools Superintendent calls for external review into ‘culture of fear’.

The public has been left with many unanswered questions as to why Geitz has taken a temporary leave, but the board is not willing to release any details at this time.

The board’s motion appointing Andrews is for a term ending July 4 or until Gietz returns.

No further details of the leave will be made public in keeping with privacy legislation.

READ MORE: Palliser Regional Schools’ operational review plan changed again

Palliser Regional Schools is a public school division serving more than 8,000 students from Coaldale to Calgary. The division includes 15 community schools and 10 faith-based alternative schools, as well as 17 Hutterian colony schools, and a number of alternative programs. It also includes an online and international program.

Jan 15

Bank of Montreal to cut more than 1,800 jobs

TORONTO – The Bank of Montreal said Wednesday it is cutting about 1,850 positions from its workforce as consumers shift more of their banking online and technological advancements allow it to digitize some of its operations.

There were 46,166 full-time equivalent employees at the bank (TSX:BMO) as of the second quarter, a decline of 616 employees from the previous quarter.

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The lender said it will trim its head count by an additional four per cent, which amounts to roughly 1,846 positions, as it took a $132 million restructuring charge relating to severance costs for employees.

“The underlying activity that drives the charge really relates to the increased use of technology in our business,” BMO chief financial officer Thomas Flynn said during a conference call to discuss the bank’s quarterly earnings.

“And that’s true both on the customer-facing side, where customers are increasingly doing things in a digital way – either mobile or online – but also in terms of how we use technology to drive efficiency in our business.”

READ MORE: Just shy of $1B: Loan losses trim BMO’s Q2 profits

BMO (TSX:BMO) was the first of the big Canadian banks to report its second-quarter earnings results. CIBC (TSX:CM), Royal Bank (TSX:RY) and TD Bank (TSX:TD) will follow on Thursday, and Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) will wrap up the earnings parade next week.

The bank said its second-quarter profit slipped three per cent as it set aside more money for bad loans to the oil and gas sector, in addition to feeling the brunt of the restructuring costs.

It reported net income of $973 million during the quarter or $1.45 per share, down from $999 million or $1.49 per share, during the same period last year.

Restructuring charges have emerged as a common theme among Canada’s biggest banks in recent quarters, as the lenders look to reduce costs and digitize certain functions in response to a tough economic environment and changing consumer behaviours.

READ MORE: Nearly 40% of Canadian homeowners struggle to pay monthly bills, survey finds

“The banks are responding to a very difficult loan growth and revenue growth environment by getting a lot more aggressive with expenses,” said Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan.

“Ultimately, this is really bad for financial services industry employment in the greater Toronto market.”

Shanahan added that other banks could also report similar restructuring charges – if not this quarter, then perhaps in the second half of the year.

“I don’t think this is over,” he said.

Despite the fact that BMO increased its provisions for credit losses to $201 million during the quarter ended April 30, up from $161 million a year ago, Shanahan said he’s still concerned that the bank isn’t setting aside enough money for bad oilpatch loans.

“I’d still argue that outstanding reserves aren’t really adequate relative to this large and growing oil and gas exposure that they have,” he said.

On an adjusted basis, BMO earned $1.152 billion or $1.73 per share, up from $1.146 billion or $1.71 per share a year ago. That includes a $79 million writedown of an equity investment. Excluding the writedown, the bank said its adjusted net income was up seven per cent.

Revenue increased to $5.10 billion from $4.53 billion during the second quarter of last year.

BMO also announced its quarterly dividend will go up by two cents to 86 cents per share, effective Aug. 26.

Jan 15

Premier Rachel Notley rebuts privacy concerns on Alberta carbon tax

EDMONTON – Premier Rachel Notley is dismissing opposition accusations that her NDP government’s carbon tax bill contains invasive and arbitrary rules on search and seizure.

Notley told the house Wednesday that Bill 20 contains rules surrounding search warrants that are commonplace in Canada, and she accused the Wildrose party of fomenting fear.

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    “The opposition is taking language that has appeared in government legislation provincially and federally for years and they’re suggesting that we invented it to create a new right that quite frankly doesn’t exist,” said Notley.

    “If that’s not fear mongering, I really don’t know what is.”

    Bill 20, introduced Tuesday, is designed to give Notley’s government the legal power to hike taxes on heating bills and gas at the pumps to fund its new multibillion-dollar carbon levy, starting in 2017.

    READ MORE: Alberta brings in carbon levy legislation, estimates higher cost to families

    Gas prices are to go up by 4.49 cents a litre next year and to 6.73 cents a litre in 2018. Diesel prices will rise by 5.35 cents a litre next year and 8.03 cents a litre the year after that.

    Farmers, for example, will be exempt from the carbon gas price hike on top of the 9 cents a litre discount they already receive under the Alberta farm fuel benefit.

    The discounted farm gas is restricted to vehicles related to farm activity.

    Farmers need to obtain permits and cannot use the discounted gas for off-farm pursuits, such as recreational vehicles.

    READ MORE: How much is this carbon tax going to cost me?

    Under Bill 20, officials who believe there are breaches of the levy can get a search warrant to go on properties, check fuel tanks, vehicles, buildings and computer hard drives.

    If they feel that someone is at immediate risk of harm or evidence might be destroyed they can proceed without a search warrant, but a search warrant or the owner’s permission is needed to get into someone’s home.

    Wildrose critic Nathan Cooper told the house that Notley is violating the sanctity of property and privacy that she once fought for in opposition.

    “Surely the premier would agree that any legislation that gives the government the right to enter virtually any property without a warrant is a step too far,” said Cooper.

    Outside the house, Progressive Conservative Leader Ric McIver said he will fight to amend or remove the search provisions in the bill.

    “It’s very offensive and it’s something that needs to be fixed,” said McIver.

    Bill 20 fulfils a promise made by Notley to bring in a program to fight climate change and give Alberta more credibility on the international stage when it fights for oil and gas infrastructure such as pipelines.

    READ MORE: Alberta to implement carbon tax in climate change policy

    The government estimates the levy will cost the average family $400 or more a year in direct and indirect costs, with much of that rebated to households in the middle and lower-income bracket.

    The fund, along with levies on large industrial emitters, is expected to bring in more than $9 billion to the government over the next five years to fund green projects such as expanded public transit.

Jan 15

Smoking ban for Montreal’s restaurant terraces goes into effect

MONTREAL – As of Thursday, smokers will have to butt out on Montreal’s restaurant terraces and other public areas as new rules come into effect in Quebec.

READ MORE: Quebec anti-smoking groups want tougher legislation

The new law was unanimously adopted last November in the National Assembly.

READ MORE: Exploding e-cigarettes? Here’s what Canadians need to know

In addition to terraces, smoking is banned in:

cars carrying children under the age of 16playgrounds, campgrounds and sports fieldscommon areas of buildings with two to five residential unitsday cares, preschools, elementary and high schools

WATCH: Anti-smoking laws in Quebec

Quebec tables e-cigarette bill

01:57

Quebec tables e-cigarette bill

02:19

Anti-smoking groups urge government to regulate e-cigarettes

02:35

Smoking Ban



The law also bans the use of e-cigarettes and vapours.

READ MORE: Quebec tables bill targeting e-cigarettes, smoking on patios

Anyone caught breaking the law could be fined $250 to $750, and $500 to $1,500 for repeat offenders.

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