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Alberta’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit working on record number of cases

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Article submitted by the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team

ICE responds to surge in record number of case files

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit has begun the new year with a number of arrests across Alberta. Twenty-four suspects have been charged with 60 offences related to the online sexual exploitation of children.

After receiving a record number of case referrals in 2020, ICE has been collaborating with its policing partners across the province to make arrests. Last year, ICE experienced nearly a 40% increase in its number of case referrals with over 2,100 intakes.

  • 2020-21 – 2,136;
  • 2019-20 – 1,555;
  • 2018-19 – 1,237;
  • 2017-18 – 903;
  • 2016-17 – 894;
  • 2015-16 – 749.

“This is a concerning consequence of our digital dependency during the pandemic. ALERT has responded by directing more tools and resources to our ICE units and we are prepared to travel to every corner of the province in order to stop child sex predators,” said ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakusta.

“The sexual exploitation of children is a crime that tears at the fabric of society and preys on our most vulnerable. Increased provincial funding is enabling ALERT to double the size of its ICE unit, ensuring it has the tools and resources to track down predators who commit these heinous acts and bring them to justice,” said Hon. Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

With new provincial funding, ALERT has sought to double the size of the ICE unit with the addition of investigators, forensic technicians, analysts, and disclosure clerks, along with new technologies and software applications. With now more than 50 positions, Alberta’s ICE unit is one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

Between January 1 and March 31, 2021, ICE arrested 24 suspects. There is no definitive link between the suspects other than the nature of offences allegedly committed.

The arrests came as the result of investigative referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, which works with internet and social media providers to track and investigate online instances of child sexual exploitation.

Each of the suspects was charged with at least one child pornography offence:

  • Michael Antonio, 25-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Curt Backlund, 48-year-old man from Grande Prairie;
  • Brad Bailey, 19-year-old man from Marlboro;
  • Brett Beer, 54-year-old man from Onoway;
  • Eric Bultmann, 30-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Kevin Dykstra, 35-year-old man from Barrhead;
  • Brian Harrison, 35-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Jeremy Henderson, 42-year-old man from Okotoks;
  • Bryan Hillman, 39-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Christopher Hoffner, 34-year-old man from Medicine Hat;
  • James Kydd, 39-year-old man from Calgary;
  • Mica LePage, 44-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Jordan MacDonald, 30-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Cris Marshall, 29-year-old man from Stettler;
  • Stedson McDonald, 32-year-old man from Grande Prairie;
  • James Merrison, 21-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Traline Munn, 44-year-old man from Cold Lake;
  • Krishnamoort Nalla Naidu, 38-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Van Linh Nguyen, 24-year-old man from Edmonton;
  • Ivan Scott, 47-year-old man from Cochrane;
  • Jerry Lee Thompson, 47-year-old from Fort MacLeod;
  • Hunter Tonneson, 20-year-old man from Blackfalds;
  • Chase Viau, 23-year-old man from Edmonton; and
  • Richard Westland, 45-year-old man from Medicine Hat.

During the investigations, ICE relied upon the assistance of a number of partner agencies, including: Calgary Police, Edmonton Police, Lethbridge Police, Medicine Hat Police, and RCMP detachments in Barrhead, Beaverlodge, Blackfalds, Cochrane, Edson, Fort MacLeod, Grande Prairie, Onoway, Okotoks, Slave Lake, Stettler, and Wood Buffalo.

Anyone with information about these investigations, or any child exploitation offence is encouraged to contact local police or cybertip.ca.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Alberta paleontologists find dramatic change in bite force as tyrannosaurs matured

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Tyrannosaurs are well known as having been ferocious predators at the top of the food chain millions of years ago, but a study led by an Alberta-based researcher shows the reptiles didn’t start out life that way.

François Therrien, curator of dinosaur paleoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta., said the study focused on tyrannosaur teeth and their dramatic change as they matured. 

He collaborated with Darla Zelenitsky and Jared Voris of the University of Calgary, as well as Kohei Tanaka of the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

For the study, published this week in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, the researchers examined the lower jaws from the Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus, types of tyrannosaurs commonly found in Canada that predated the T. rex by millions of years.

“Our fossil records for those two species of tyrannosaurs is excellent,” Therrien said about the collection at the museum.

“We have so many specimens of those … that represent a full growth series from very young individuals that were probably three or four years of age all the way to fully grown adults that were over 20 years of age.”

By examining a wide range of fossils, the researchers were able to see a significant change in tooth size and jaw force once the tyrannosaurs reached about 11 years of age.

Feeding behaviour did not appear to change during the lifespan of the tyrannosaurs, because their jaws were adapted to capturing and seizing prey with their mouths, probably because the forelimbs were too short to grasp food, Therrien said. 

“Tyrannosaurs were truly unique when you look at all the theropods,” he said. “They were atypical … because their bite and their skulls were their main weapon for killing prey.”

But what did change, he said, is the size of their teeth and their bite force.

A tyrannosaur at about three years of age was still a deadly predator, but it had smaller blade-like teeth that could only slice through flesh. The bite force, Therrien added, was about 10 per cent that of a fully grown alligator.  

That means younger tyrannosaurs ate smaller prey and had to compete with other like-sized predators such as the Velociraptor. 

Once tyrannosaurs turned 11, Therrien explained, they went through a growth spurt in which their teeth became larger and wider. By the time the reptiles were fully grown, their bite force was eight times more than that of an alligator. 

And that meant their diets also changed. 

“These teeth were better adapted for resisting twisting stresses either associated with biting of big prey or even crushing bone.”

Therrien said his study shows that young tyrannosaurs were distinct predators that occupied different ecological niches.

“Young tyrannosaurs were not just scaled-down versions of the mature parents,” he said. “They were creatures that actually had their own lifestyles.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021. 

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

JUST RELEASED: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0
It is the government’s responsibility to implement policies that protect the following:
 
1. Its citizens, their lives and their freedoms.
2. The economy in a manner that benefits that majority of its citizens, without mortgaging the wealth of future generations in favour of short-term gain or votes.
3. The environment in a manner that preserves the country for future generations without impeding, in any material way, the points listed above.
 
Canada is a global leader in clean technology and adheres to some of the highest environmental regulations in the world. We need to continue to build upon this expertise and deliver solutions to global problems.
 
Protecting the environment is a global issue. Banning tankers on the west coast of Canada or forcing domestic energy projects to comply with crippling regulatory requirements does nothing to change emissions in countries such as China or India. If we choose to ignore what happens beyond our borders we are doing a disservice to not only ourselves but to the world.
 
Moving forward, government must end ideological policies that alienate millions of Canadians, destroy tens of thousands of jobs and crush our economy. Canada can continue being a global leader of ethical, socially, and environmentally sourced energy. It is through our natural resources and the development of value-added products that Canadians can continue to enjoy a high standard of living. It is through cost-effective energy production that the world will continue to prosper.
 
Energy and environment have co-existed for years. It will continue to do so in the future. Instead of putting our energy industry on the sidelines, we must embrace all that it is capable of doing for us. Passive houses, small nuclear reactors, liquefied natural gas and other advanced technologies would not be possible without Canada’s energy industry and are immediate and proven environmental solutions.
 
ECCC proposes a plan rooted in crony capitalism, wealth distribution, higher energy prices and stifling regulation. The alternatives outlined in A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0 provide realistic free market options that will not only protect the environment, but create a prosperous future for all Canadians.
 
When considering which options are be best suited for Canadians going forward, consider the following. The Government of Canada has added significant power, spent hundreds of billions of dollars and regulated nearly everything over the past year and a half in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Have you been impressed with the results? If not, why would you expect ECCC’s plans for the economy and environment post-pandemic, to be any different?
 
Click the link below for the complete document.
 
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