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Acadia Axemen player takes responsibility for hockey brawl with St. FX X-Men

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  • WOLFVILLE, N.S. — A member of a Nova Scotia university hockey team has taken responsibility for making comments that led to a bench-clearing brawl last weekend.

    Acadia University’s Rodney Southam admitted to making a comment about sexual assault to an opposing player during a physical confrontation when playing against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday night.

    Southam claims in a statement issued late Thursday night to have been unaware that Sam Studnicka, the target of his comment, has a sexual assault survivor in his family.

    “Immediately after my comments to Sam, I realized something more was happening because of the reaction from the team and surrounding coaches,” said Southam. “I know when this was said that the linesman heard it and so did the X-Men players on their bench. I take full responsibility for saying something I should never have said.”

    Southam said he told Studnicka “You look like a little (expletive) rapist.” Minutes later, Southam and Studnicka were to take a faceoff against each other, but after two false starts, the melee began.

    The brawl led to five Axemen players, eight X-Men and both head coaches being ejected. Video of the fight went viral.

    Atlantic University Sport, which oversees university sport in the region, launched an investigation and suspended the two head coaches and 15 players on Wednesday. During the investigation Southam told AUS executive director Phil Currie of his role in the incident.

    The AUS and St. Francis Xavier University did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday night.

    Studnicka, through his university, issued a statement on Monday explaining he had regularly been targeted with comments about sexual assault in his three years playing for St. FX.

    He said there’s no place for comments about sexual assault in society as it’s a very serious issue.

    Southam, who was captain for two seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Kelowna Rockets, said he was completely unaware of Studnicka’s relationship to a sexual assault survivor.

    “In my year and a half at Acadia, we’ve had battles with St. FX but nothing to do with comments around sexual violence,” he said. “I’ve read in the St. FX statement that those types of comments have been a continuous and ongoing part of the games between our teams, but this issue has never come up in our locker room or any other time during my year and a half at Acadia.”

    Southam also explained in his statement that when he was playing junior hockey he was accused of sexual assault but allegations against him didn’t proceed.

    He said he carries those allegations with him and is frequently the target of taunts calling him a rapist.

    “Because the taunts I endured are never far below the surface and are always in the back of my mind, that’s why I think I said what I said in the heat of the moment on Saturday,” Southam said. “I do know I wish I could take that word back and I should have known better.”

    Official complaints have been filed by the AUS on five athletes and three coaches involved in Saturday’s incident and will be subject to a secondary review process.

    Additional evidence will be gathered to determine if further sanctions are needed.

    The Canadian Press


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    Liberals want quick results from new skills-training think-tank in Toronto

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  • OTTAWA — Federal efforts to calm anxiety about a rapidly changing job market took another step Thursday as the Liberals launched a new agency ahead of a federal budget that will put a heavy focus on skills training.

    The new “Future Skills Centre” job training centre — run by Ryerson University, The Conference Board of Canada and Blueprint ADE — is to advise the federal government on how to prepare workers for digital shifts in the job market and help workers make decisions about how to develop the in-demand skills they’ll need to land and maintain good jobs.

    The Liberals are hoping for early wins from the arm’s-length agency, which will be part think-tank and part lab to test ideas big and small, so Canadians can see tangible results from what risks being seen as an academic exercise.

    “My hope is the sooner we can actually talk about specific projects, or specific pilots, the better we can bring it alive for Canadians in terms of what this investment means for their children’s future, for their own future,” Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said in an telephone interview.

    At the same time, Canada’s labour minister says she is looking at ways to get workers to use skills-training programs routinely, as part of their normal working lives, rather than waiting for a layoff or work crisis.

    The question, as always, revolves around money: how much can the public purse handle and how much is needed for any measure to work.

    “We’d have to ask ourselves, what actually would make a meaningful change to Canadians and is that enough to incent people to use the benefit?” Hajdu said.

    She said the government would look at data from other G7 nations to see whether things like a tax credit for taking training in new skills “actually does result in people able to re-enter education or skills training.”

    Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, said the government should consider using the employment-insurance system to give workers funding and a right to take time off to upgrade or learn new skills. He said some employers do a good job of funding training for their employees, but most only “talk a good line.”

    “We have to take the whole skills agenda from a different angle,” he said during a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press. “People want to improve their skills. The question is when and how and who pays for it.”

    The percentage of Canadian workers researchers say are at high risk of being affected by automation over the next two decades varies from nine to 42 per cent, depending on the study.

    Federal officials who have spent years looking at the issue aren’t sure if the disruption in the labour force they’re expecting from smarter computers and robots will create enough jobs to replace the ones that are likely to be lost.

    Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said his upcoming budget — expected mid-March — will include money to help workers adapt and retrain. On Thursday, he told reporters in Toronto he didn’t think spending for training would “be over in budget 2019 or in budget 2020,” but “an ongoing discussion.”

    The new think-tank in Toronto is to help with projects led by provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

    The Liberals have committed $225 million over four years for the arm’s-length agency, starting this fiscal year, and $75 million annually afterwards.

    A June briefing note to the top official at the Finance Department noted the government was eyeing a December 2018 launch date for the centre, and expected to have some early ideas in hand by next month from its advisory council. 

    Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


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    Teacher who recorded students with pen camera is guilty of voyeurism: high court

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  • OTTAWA — A high-school teacher who used a pen camera to surreptitiously take videos of female students is guilty of voyeurism, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

    In a ground-breaking decision Thursday, the high court said the teenage students were entitled to a reasonable expectation they would not be secretly recorded by their instructor.

    Teacher Ryan Jarvis was charged with voyeurism after discovery of more than two dozen videos on his pen, many of which focused on the chests and cleavage area of students at the London, Ont., school.

    During 2010 and 2011, Jarvis made the recordings in different locations around the school, including in hallways, classrooms, the cafeteria, staff offices and outside the building.

    The videos range from six seconds in length to just over two-and-a-half minutes, often involving a conversation between Jarvis and the student. In most, the camera is on the girl’s face, but also focuses for a considerable amount of time on her chest area.

    Jarvis was acquitted when the trial judge found that while the students had a reasonable expectation of privacy, it was not clear the videos were taken for a sexual purpose.

    The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the Crown’s challenge of the ruling, although for different reasons.

    A majority of the appeal court concluded the videos were taken for a sexual purpose, noting at least five featured close-up, lengthy views of cleavage from angles both straight on and from above. However, the court said the students should not have an expectation of privacy in areas of the school where they congregate or where classes are taught. 

    One of the appeal court judges dissented, opening the door to a hearing before the Supreme Court to decide the privacy considerations in the case, as it was no longer in dispute that Jarvis made the recordings for a sexual reason. It marked the first time the high court had examined the Criminal Code offence of voyeurism, which took effect in 2005.

    All nine judges of the high court agreed Jarvis should be found guilty. However, they provided two sets of reasons in coming to that unanimous conclusion.

    In writing for a majority of the court, Chief Justice Richard Wagner pointed out that legislators created the new voyeurism offence due to concerns about the potential for rapidly evolving technology, such as tiny cameras, to be abused for the secret viewing or recording of people for sexual purposes, and in ways that involve a serious breach of privacy.

    He noted that the students were unaware they were being recorded, and a school board policy in effect at the time prohibited Jarvis from making such videos.

    Wagner said a student attending class, walking down a school hallway or speaking to her teacher certainly expects she will not be singled out by the instructor and made the subject of a secretive, minutes-long recording focusing on her body.

    “The explicit focus of the videos on the bodies of the students recorded, including their breasts, leaves me in no doubt that the videos were made in violation of the students’ reasonable expectations of privacy.”

    — Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

    Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press



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