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ASIRT investigating shooting death of 39 year old suspect near Rocky Mountain House

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New Release from ASIRT (Alberta Serious Incident Response Team)

Investigation into RCMP officer-involved shooting fatality continues

On Aug. 14, 2021, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a 39-year-old man who was shot and killed by police at an oilfield battery site during a standoff that same day.

On the evening of Aug. 13, 2021, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police became involved in what started as an investigation into an armed carjacking earlier that day in Parkland County, during which a GMC truck was stolen. During the course of that investigation, a 39-year-old man was identified as a suspect. As the situation unfolded, police received additional information that led them to believe that the 39-year-old man may also have been involved in a homicide in Edmonton.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 14, 2021, the 39-year-old man repeatedly contacted police. He advised them that he was in possession of a weapon and that he had a hostage. As these communications continued, police continued in their efforts to locate the man and the stolen vehicle from the carjacking.

The stolen GMC truck was located and, at approximately 7:43 a.m., the vehicle was cleared by police. A police service dog tracked the occupant(s) of the vehicle to a nearby outbuilding at an oilfield battery site west of Rocky Mountain House. It was determined that the man police had been in communication with was inside one of the outbuildings on site; however, it remained unclear whether anyone else was inside. The man was believed to have been armed with a firearm.

RCMP officers, including RCMP Emergency Response Team (ERT) officers, a dog handler and a police service dog, contained the scene while negotiators attempted to persuade the man to surrender peacefully. As these negotiations continued, at approximately 1:30 p.m., the man exited the outbuilding, initiating a confrontation with police. During the confrontation, one officer discharged a service weapon that fires less lethal rounds; other officers subsequently discharged service firearms. The man was struck, sustaining critical injuries, and fell to the ground. Emergency medical intervention was attempted, but the man died on scene.

A 12-gauge pistol grip pump-action shotgun, as well as live and spent shotgun ammunition, were recovered on scene. The scene was subsequently cleared and it was determined that during the period of containment, the man had been alone in the outbuilding.

The events leading up to the eventual critical incident at the oilfield battery site, and any offences that may have been committed by the man, including the carjacking and possible homicide, remain under investigation by the police services of the relevant jurisdiction. ASIRT’s investigation will focus on the events relating to the containment at the oilfield battery site and the uses of force that ultimately resulted in the death of the man.

ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.

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Alberta

Alberta premier defends new rules on in-person learning, no mask mandates in schools

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By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is defending new rules ordering schools to provide in-person learning during the current wave of viral illnesses, saying a clear, measured response is crucial for students and parents.

“We need a normal school environment for our children, and we need to make sure that the classrooms stay open to be able to support our parents,” Smith said at a news conference in Medicine Hat on Friday.

“That’s why we made the decision that we did — to give that clear direction.”

Her comments came a day after she announced regulatory changes saying school boards must provide in-person learning. Schools also can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

The changes take effect immediately.

“Anyone is welcome to wear a mask if they feel that that is the right choice for them, but we should not be forcing parents to mask their kids, and we shouldn’t be denying education to kids who turn up without a mask,” Smith said.

She has said mask rules and toggling from online to in-person learning adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and strained parents scrambling to make child-care arrangements when schools shut down.

That’s over, Smith said.

“We’re just not going to normalize these kind of extreme measures every single respiratory virus season,” she said.

School boards have been asking for more direction as a slew of seasonal respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, along with some COVID-19 cases, have led to high classroom absentee rates and have jammed children’s hospitals.

In Edmonton, Trisha Estabrooks, board chair for Edmonton Public Schools, said the decision provided the clarity that the board was seeking.

“All Albertans now understand that it’s not within the jurisdiction, and nor should it ever have been within the jurisdiction of individual school boards, to make decisions that belong to health officials,” said Estabrooks.

She said the province has made it clear that any future public health order would supersede the new rules.

The in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

The Opposition NDP criticized the new rules, saying it’s unrealistic to force schools to be all things to all students while also handling a wave of viral illnesses and not providing additional supports to do it.

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the government needs to work with school boards to figure out how to make this work.

“You have schools that are struggling to staff the building, (they) can’t get substitute teachers, teachers are sick, they’re covering each other’s classes, principals are covering the classes,” Schilling said in an interview.

“And then to say if you go online, you are to still offer the same programming in person — we just don’t have the people to do that.”

Wing Li, communications director for public education advocacy organization, Support our Students, said it will be difficult for schools to offer hybrid learning without any additional resources.

“There are no teachers,” Li said in an interview. “Pivoting online was mostly due to staffing shortages, which is worse now three years in.”

Li said online learning is challenging for students but, when temporary and supported, can keep schools and communities safe from spreading illness.

“This is a quite aggressive use of the Education Act to enshrine an ideology,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022

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Alberta

Don’t have a cow: Senator’s legen-dairy speech draws metaphor from bovine caper

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OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.

Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.

“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.

“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”

On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.

Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.

The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.

“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage. 

She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.

But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do. 

“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.

Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

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