23. 12. 2018
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Lawyers request extension for Matthew de Grood’s mental health review – Calgary

Lawyers request extension for Matthew de Grood’s mental health review – Calgary

CALGARY- The man accused in Calgary’s worst mass murder made a court appearance on Thursday.

Matthew de Grood appeared via CCTV from the Edmonton Remand Centre, to face five counts of first-degree murder following a horrific stabbing back in April.

Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, Josh Hunter, 23, Kaitlin Perras, 23, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were celebrating the end of the school year when they were killed.

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READ MORE: Site of Calgary’s worst mass murder up for sale

De Grood’s defence team has requested an extension for his mental health review, so the doctor has more time to compile his findings. The report will be presented to court, and includes a psychiatric assessment as well as interviews with de Grood and his parents.

“His parents are doing as well one would imagine under the circumstances,” says lawyer Allan Fay. “They have been up to Edmonton a number of times, so they’re appreciative of that opportunity.”

READ MORE: Calgary concert to honour Brentwood murder victims

The report will be used to determine whether de Grood can be found criminally responsible for the five young adult’s deaths.

“It’s important to know that this report is opinion evidence from one witness,” says prosecutor Neil Wiberg. “At the end of the day, the judge or jury has the final say in determining issues such as this.”

De Grood will be transferred back to Calgary on September 19, and the report is scheduled to be released on September 26.

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23. 12. 2018
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Legal-aid lawyers take action over funding

Legal-aid lawyers take action over funding

CALGARY – Alberta’s legal-aid lawyers are threatening to clog the courts with applications from people denied coverage to draw attention to what the lawyers say is a severely underfunded system.

Ian Savage, president of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association in Calgary, says the government has raised the bar so high that people living on income support or with major disabilities can’t get a legal-aid lawyer.

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    Alberta legal aid resignation

“This is what the government is now forcing us to do — bring applications on behalf of individual clients in court to direct the government to give them coverage for legal aid or a defence lawyer,” Savage said Thursday.

“They’re going to have to pay in some fashion or another for these representations like they would have anyway under the legal-aid system before.”

The province raised legal-aid eligibility thresholds by about 30 per cent in 2010.

Last month, Legal Aid Alberta closed six regional offices and laid off staff in Calgary, Whitecourt and Lethbridge. Lawyers threatened job action to try to pressure the government to provide an additional $8 million a year to fund legal aid.

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis has rejected calls for increased funding and has instead asked the federal government to provide more money to Alberta. He has said he is willing to look at what can be done in next year’s budget for legal aid.

Earlier this month, Alberta’s assistant chief Judge Larry Anderson indicated he would stay charges in three criminal assault cases, unless legal aid provided lawyers to the defendants. Anderson pointed out the three accused were on social assistance and living below the poverty line, but their income was still too high for legal help.

“Is that what Albertans want? We think not,” Savage said.

“They’ve raised the criteria to an artificial level such that people on (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped), people with brain injuries, people with ongoing mental health issues, cannot actually get a lawyer. It’s ridiculous.”

The lawyers say they have created a website, Missingadvocate杭州夜网, to ensure Albertans do not fall victim to unfair trials or miscarriages of justice.

Alberta Justice arranged legal-aid funding for the three defendants referenced by Anderson days before his deadline.

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©2014The Canadian Press

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23. 12. 2018
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Two sides to the e-cigarette debate

Two sides to the e-cigarette debate

SASKATOON – An electronic cigarette seller in Saskatoon says he supports some regulation of the industry. Mitch Tarala runs Vapor Jedi, which has grown rapidly, along with the popularity of e-cigarettes.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report calling for stricter regulation of the industry, including banning sales to minors, and banning their use indoors.

“I’d like to see age restrictions,” Tarala told Global Saskatoon’s Morning News. “Here, as a store policy we don’t sell to anyone under 18, we don’t even let them come in the store.”

However, Tarala says he also does not want to see over-regulation. For example, he’d like bars to be able to decide for themselves if they’ll allow “vaping,” as it’s called, inside.

“I would like to see it left up to businesses.”

Watch below: Mitch Tarala says e-cigarettes are a positive thing by helping people switch away from something that is harmful


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The Canadian Cancer Society has a different view. Donna Pasiechnik, who is the Canadian Cancer Society’s manager of tobacco control for Saskatchewan, said the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, especially among youth, is ringing some alarms.

“There’s a perception among young people that electronic cigarettes are harmless,” she told Global’s Morning News. “Many kids who might not otherwise smoke are choosing to try electronic cigarettes, and that can lead to tobacco use and addiction, which is a concern.”

She added the Canadian Cancer Society has tried to reduce tobacco use for decades, and they don’t want those gains eroded.

“The last thing we need are young kids trying electronic cigarettes, thinking they’re safe, and getting hooked on nicotine – that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

Watch below:  The Canadian Cancer Society recommends not using e-cigarettes until it is approved by Health Canada

Like WHO, the Canadian Cancer Society wants to see more regulations, including no sales to minors, and a ban on indoor use. Pasiechnik added there is a lack of information on their long term health effects.

WHO says e-cigarettes are less toxic than conventional cigarettes, but may also contain nicotine and other compounds. Those are some of the reasons why it wants the industry regulated.

In Canada, there is little regulation of e-cigarettes, although Health Canada does recommend against using them.

Tarala admits e-cigarettes may not be completely safe – but for people who smoke, he thinks it can be an alternative.

“It’s helping a lot of people to switch away from something that’s known to be harming them, turning to something that’s provably safer, maybe not completely safe, but definitely safer than smoking tobacco,” he said.

“I don’t think it should be looked at as negatively as its going.”

A WHO official told reporters on Tuesday that e-cigarettes are a story of both risk, and promise.

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23. 12. 2018
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PQ hopefuls wary of PKP’s wealth – Montreal

PQ hopefuls wary of PKP’s wealth – Montreal

QUEBEC CITY – “We don’t want a race to chase money, we want a race of ideas.”

Thirty-six-year-old leadership hopeful Alexandre Cloutier said times have changed and politics shouldn’t be about money.

“What we don’t want is candidates like me who have a mortgage to pay and if you ask people like me to get half a million dollars tomorrow, we may have a problem to participate in the debate,” he said.

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As the race to replace Pauline Marois picks up steam, Cloutier and fellow contender Martine Ouellet are asking the party president to cap the expense ceiling at a quarter of a million dollars and to limit individual contributions to $200 instead of $500.

“It will give everyone a fair shot,” Ouellet argued.

READ MORE: PQ leadership race gains momentum

The man considered to be the early favourite in this race is well-connected multimillionaire Pierre Karl Péladeau.

He did not want to comment.

Though the idea seems to please, some, like Bernard Drainville, aren’t convinced it’s necessary.

While he was a cabinet minister, Drainville modified the Election Act to lower contributions.

“In the case of leadership races, there is no public financing right, so this is the reason why we lowered the threshold at $500 but we didn’t go lower,” he explained.

The aspiring leaders – their number swelling to 8 now – will keep their portfolios when the Assembly resumes sitting September 16th.

They’ll be on double duty, said PQ Interim Leader Stéphane Bédard, campaigning and making sure the Liberal government maintains services to the population and respects workers.

“There have already been social tensions and there could be more,” said PQ MNA Nicolas Marceau.

“We think again the ball is in the hand of the government.”

All expect a busy Fall, with protests looming and a government program review that is bound to cause conflicts.

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23. 12. 2018
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‘Coolest Cooler’ beats Pebble to become top Kickstarter project – National

‘Coolest Cooler’ beats Pebble to become top Kickstarter project – National

TORONTO – For more than two years the Canadian-made Pebble smartwatch has been a shining example of how crowdfunding can launch entrepreneurs into full-blown success.

Since raising over $10 million on Kickstarter in 2012, Pebble has held its title as the highest-funded project in the history of the site – until now. Turns out, a fully loaded picnic accessory is much “cooler” than a smartwatch.

The “Coolest Cooler,” a high-tech cooler with a massive amount of features, has raised over $11 million in funding in eight weeks, stealing the title of most-funded Kickstarter project right out from under Pebble.

Listen: Why is the ‘Coolest Cooler’ so cool?


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What makes a cooler so special, you ask?

Well, not only does it include a number of high-tech features – like a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger and built-in LED lights – it has a built-in blender, cutting board, bottle opener, and storage for plates and cutlery.

Like the cooler and Pebble (which connects to iPhone and Android), many top Kickstarter projects have been tech-related despite the fact that in the site’s early years, films were the most popular type of project.

The Ouya gaming console, which earned more than $8 million in funding from over 63,000 backers, is now the third-highest funded project in the site’s history. The Pono music player, which earned over $6 million in funding earlier this year, now takes the fourth spot.

READ MORE: How Pebble thrusted crowd-funding into the spotlight

However, both the Coolest Cooler and Pebble impressed with how quickly they reached their fundraising goals – Coolest Cooler hit its initial fundraising goal of $50,000 in just 36 hours.

Pebble reached a goal of $100,000 in only two hours.

But there are many other tech-based Kickstarters that are setting impressive records in their own ways – some of which are also Canadian.

Little Robot Friends

Created by Toronto-based tech company Aesthetec Studios, “Little Robot Friends” more than doubled its initial fundraising goal in 2013.

The tiny autonomous robots are designed to interact with their human owners with preprogrammed “personalities” that affect how they respond to different stimuli. For example, you can program your robot friend to be afraid of the dark – but if you can teach it to be braver by touching its hair.

The project garnered over $123,000 in funding from just over 1,300 backers, surpassing its initial goal of $55,000.

Chameleon

Chameleon garnered attention on Kickstarter for its customizable Android home screen app, which allows users to set up multiple home screens with app layouts on their smartphone or tablet.

Designed by Ottawa-based Teknision, the project reached its initial fundraising goal of $30,000 in just one day and had earned over $66,000 by the time its campaign ended in July 2012.

However, at the time of this publishing the app only has a three star rating (out of five) on the Google Play Store.

bKey

Montreal-based creators Shaun Teblum and Rob Gold have managed to secure over $52,000 in funding for their cable-free emergency smartphone battery dubbed bKey.

The device looks like a USB key, but consists of a lithium ion battery that can last up to 30 minutes of smartphone use. Users charge bKey through its USB port and plug it into their phone using an adapter.

With eight days left in its campaign, bKey has managed to double its initial fundraising goal of $25,000 through only 1,271 backers.

Alpha

Alpha, a heart rate monitor created by Vancouver-based MIO CEO Liz Dickinson, raked in over $321,000 in funding in 2012.

Dubbed the “holy grail of heart rate monitors,” the device can get an accurate electrocardiography (ECG) reading from the user’s wrist and is accurate at speeds of up to 20 kilometres per hour.

Alpha reached its initial fundraising goal of $100,000 within a week of launching on Kickstarter.

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