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Alberta

Adjournment for 4 Alberta border protesters charged with conspiracy to commit murder

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LETHBRIDGE — Four men charged with conspiracy to commit murder after arrests at last month’s border blockade in southern Alberta made brief court appearances Tuesday.

Christopher Lysak, 48, is also charged with uttering threats, possession of a weapon and mischief to property over $5,000.

He had already been denied bail.

Lysak — along with Chris Carbert, Anthony Olienick and Jerry Morin — is to return to Lethbridge provincial court on March 28.

Defence lawyers requested the two-week adjournment and there was no objection from the prosecution.

“The Crown wants them all kept together,” said prosecutor Steve Johnston.

Bail hearings for Lysak’s three co-accused haven’t been held yet.

The protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions went on for almost three weeks on the U.S. border near Coutts, Alta.

Thirteen people were charged after RCMP found a cache of long guns, handguns, body armour, large amounts of ammunition and high-capacity magazines in three trailers.

Two tactical vests seized displayed badges, which the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said have links to troubling movements. One vest had a “Diagolon” patch on it, a white diagonal line across a black rectangle, which the network has said is linked to an often conspiratorial and antisemitic group.

Police said the threat was “very serious” and the group was willing to use force if the blockade was disrupted.

Outside court Tuesday, about 20 people gathered in support of the accused who are still in custody and others who had been charged. Some were waving Canadian flags while others carried signs that read “Drop the charges,” “Scapegoat tactics are an abuse of the law” and “Truckers exposed Ottawa’s tyranny.”

Tony Hall, who found the group We the People YQL, decried “this effort to criminalize the Coutts 13 and treat them as terrorists and people who are so reprehensible.”

“It’s really ruthless the way the effort is to build up this image.”

Hall, a former University of Lethbridge professor, helped form We the People, which began as a group protesting pandemic restrictions. Its website says it continues to fight to preserve people’s fundamental charter rights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta to bring in another five million bottles of children’s pain medication

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The Alberta government says it has secured another five million bottles of children’s medication to manage fever and pain.

Premier Danielle Smith says the government is working with Alberta Health Services and Health Canada to bring in the pediatric acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Parents across Canada have been scrambling to manage their children’s fever and pain as rates of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and influenza skyrocket amid a dire shortage of the medications.

Smith says overwhelmed parents can feel confident the government is moving as quickly as it can to bring in the medication and get it to pharmacies across the province.

The federal government also imported one million units of children’s acetaminophen — commonly known as Tylenol — across the country late last month.

Health Canada has distributed the children’s Tylenol to retailers and has also sent children’s ibuprofen — commonly known as Advil — to hospitals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

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Alberta

CannTrust CEO was warned over illicit pot growing: former compliance worker

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TORONTO — A former director of quality and compliance at CannTrust Holdings Inc. says he warned the company’s chief executive that Health Canada could levy penalties if the firm grew pot in unlicensed rooms at its Niagara, Ont. facility.

In the months leading up to Health Canada finding pot growing in unlicensed rooms, Graham Lee said Tuesday that he told Peter Aceto he couldn’t say what the exact consequences could be, but knew the government regulator had previously issued warning letters and handed out penalties.

For example, Lee said Health Canada reviewed CannTrust’s inventory more extensively after it discovered the company using a storage facility at its Vaughan, Ont. location contrary to licensing.

“In general, Health Canada was there every day checking up on the inventory,” Lee recalled.

His comments were made at the Old City Hall courthouse in Toronto in response to questioning from Dihim Emami, a lawyer representing the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) in a case aiming to prove Aceto and other former CannTrust executives are guilty of several offences related to unlicensed growing at the Niagara facility.

Aceto, former CannTrust chairman Eric Paul and former vice-chairman Mark Litwin have pleaded not guilty to fraud and authorizing, permitting or acquiescing in the commission of an offence.

Litwin and Paul are also facing insider trading charges, and Litwin and Aceto are charged with making a false prospectus and false preliminary prospectus.

The OSC and Royal Canadian Mounted Police allege Litwin, Aceto and Paul did not disclose to investors that about 50 per cent of the growing space at CannTrust’s Pelham, Ont. facility in the Niagara area was not licensed by Health Canada. They say the men used corporate disclosures to assert that they were compliant with regulatory approvals.

They also allege that Litwin and Aceto signed off on prospectuses used to raise money in the U.S., which stated that CannTrust was fully licensed and compliant with regulatory requirements, and that Litwin and Paul traded shares of CannTrust while in possession of material, undisclosed information regarding the unlicensed growing.

The men no longer work for CannTrust and their lawyers are arguing their clients are all innocent.

Frank Addario, Aceto’s lawyer, previously told The Canadian Press his client was hired because of his financial acumen and track record. Before his time at CannTrust, Aceto was the president and chief executive of ING Direct Canada.

Addario also pointed out that CannTrust was subject to inspections and financial audits that uncovered no material issues.

“The evidence will show Peter Aceto behaved legally and with integrity during his time at CannTrust,” Addario said in an email.

However, Lee testified Monday that the growth of cannabis in unlicensed rooms was “very openly discussed” at the pot company.

“There was no hiding this. There was no denial of this,” he said.

On Tuesday, he reinforced those allegations, describing how he brought up his concerns about unlicensed activity during at least one meeting in winter 2019 that he recalled Aceto attended.

“I noticed that no one in the room was referring to or cognizant of the fact that these were unlicensed areas, so I reminded them,” Lee said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

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