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Alberta

Alberta Juniors Choose Positive Path

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Alberta Juniors Choose Positive Path

Everywhere there is gloom. Well, almost everywhere.

A welcome exception is the 15-team Alberta Junior Hockey League, which lost much of its gate revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic arrival at playoff time, and now waits for permission from Hockey Canada and Alberta Health Services to go ahead with its 2000-2001 season.

President Ryan Bartoshyk confirmed on Monday that his league is “in the process of drawing up our schedule right now. We’re aiming (to have teams on the ice) by Sept. 1 and we hope to get the season started by Sept. 18.” Any and all final decisions must meet with at least two levels of official approval, of course, but operators have expressed their confidence by agreeing to put in the work, recognizing that later starts (or no start) are still possibilities.

To an outsider, the clearest declaration of league independence is this: the schedule, with various possible opening dates pencilled in, is being drawn up for all 15 teams. This is most impressive when it is known that several franchises – no names provided by president Bartoshyk or any team spokesman – have expressed serious concern about the cost of business in the coming season.

We have lost at least one league camp for tryouts,” said a spokesman. “We know we’re going to lose more.”

Not included are the Blackfalds Bulldogs, who will replace the former Calgary Mustangs at the start of the 2021/2002 season. Bartoshyk was pleased to say “work on the new arena for Blackfalds is due to start this month.”

Among the established teams reported to have mentioned their problems outside of league meetings are the Canmore Eagles, but the team’s two captains and a pair of assistants have already been named for the coming season. At least a couple of promising signings have also been announced. As a result, pessimism has shrunk a great deal.

Also optimistic about the coming season are the Olds Grizzlys, whose attendance averaged well over 1,500 a game when they dominated Junior A ranks several years ago but dropped to about 600 a game last year. “This is a great sports community, a great place to be,” said club governor and vice-president executive Trent Wilhauk. “We know the fans will come back; they love their Grizzlys.”

Population of the community is slightly more than 10,000. “It’s a happening place when the team is going good.”

After wiping out last year’s playoffs and destroying some of the regular post-season increases at the gate, COVID-19 has continued to harm the AJHL, just as it has damaged so many other areas of the economy. “We have lost at least one league camp for tryouts,” said a spokesman. “We know we’re going to lose more.”

Those financial setbacks may have been dwarfed by the loss of some appealing playoff matchups. “Some of the teams that drew above-average numbers for us (Okotoks Oilers, Brooks Bandits, Sherwood Park Crusaders) didn’t have a playoff game before we had to stop,” Bartoshyk said. “They all had byes in the first round.”

Other teams with relative season-long success at the gate also missed money-raising opportunities. “It’s obvious that our league relies on corporate sponsorship and support at the gate,” Bartoshyk added, mentioning a handful of promising pending post-season clashes — Drayton Valley and Sherwood Park, the Whitehorse Wolverines and the Spruce Grove Saints, Camrose Kodiaks and Drumheller Dragons – that could not take place.

At this point, the day’s general feeling that the AJHL future remains bright surfaced again.

Said Bartoshyk: “We’re ready. We’ll do what is necessary.”

https://www.todayville.com/edmonton/hundreds-of-young-athletes-grow-more-anxious-by-the-day-acac-season-a-series-of-options/

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Alberta

‘Brutal and callous:’ 15-year parole ineligibility for man who killed father

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CALGARY — A man who killed and dismembered his father has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance at parole for 15 years.

A jury found Zaineddin Al Aalak guilty in December of second-degree murder in the death of 53-year-old Mohamed Al Aalak. He was also convicted of offering an indignity to the man’s body.

Jurors rejected a claim by the 24-year-old that he was not criminally responsible because he was in the throes of a psychosis at the time of the killing and was unable to understand that his actions were wrong. 

Court heard that Zaineddin Al Aalak attacked his father from behind with a hammer and strangled him with his hands in July 2017. He dismembered and decapitated the body using power tools and dumped the parts at a construction site in Okotoks, a town south of Calgary.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Labrenz said the crime was “brutal and callous” and that Al Aalak disposed of his father’s remains like they were “pieces of garbage.”

“There was a display of brutality at the time — and there was displayed a lack of compassion –over the way the father was killed and the way his body was treated after his death,” the judge said while giving his sentencing decision Thursday.

The conviction comes with an automatic life sentence, but court heard submissions from lawyers about how long Al Aalak should have to wait before he could apply for parole.

Crown prosecutor Carla MacPhail had requested a wait of 16 to 18 years.

“Part of Mohamad Al Aalak’s body was never actually recovered and found,” she said. “His right hand was never located by police and therefore was not able to be buried with … his remains … in Iraq.”

Al Aalak’s lawyer, Alain Hepner, suggested his client serve 13 or 14 years in prison before could ask for release.

Hepner said his client, still a young man who had been “the favourite son” before the killing, is remorseful.

“He has — and he knows — he has destroyed his family. He knows what he’s done. He knows what has happened.”

Al Aalak offered an apology.

“It was by my hands that he died and for this I am sorry and in grief beyond words,” he told the court.

“The reason this happened was because of an altered state of mind that I experienced. I am consigned to live with that reality nonetheless.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Pembina Pipeline posts $1.2 billion loss on petrochemical, LNG project impairments

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CALGARY — Pembina Pipeline Corp. is reporting a $1.2 billion net fourth-quarter loss thanks mainly to $1.6 billion in non-cash after-tax impairment charges on its proposals to build an Alberta petrochemical plant and Oregon LNG export facility.

The Calgary-based company said in December it and joint venture partner Petrochemical Industries Co. of Kuwait had decided to halt work on an integrated propane dehydration plant and polypropylene upgrading facility near Edmonton.

Pembina has a 50 per cent interest in the project designed to turn propane into plastic pellets, similar to the nearby $4 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex under construction by rival Inter Pipeline Ltd. 

It says it is also taking a charge against its proposed Jordan Cove LNG Project at Coos Bay, Ore., and a related natural gas supply pipeline in light of “regulatory and political uncertainty.”

The project received tentative Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval last year but hasn’t been able to secure a required clean water permit from the state.

Pembina says it thinks both projects are sound but it is taking the impairment charges because it can’t reasonably forecast when they will be built.

“We believe the time for these projects may come; however, we can sadly no longer predict with certainty when that time will be and hence were compelled to reflect their impairments in our 2020 financial statements through a non-cash charge,” it said in a news release.

It says its fourth-quarter earnings would have been $338 million excluding the impairments and the associated deferred tax recovery.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:PPL)

The Canadian Press

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