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Alberta

Edmonton Oilers legend Kevin Lowe retires from team’s front office

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By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Edmonton

Kevin Lowe’s post-hockey to-do list has been growing for years.

The Edmonton Oilers’ legend sat down with his wife at the end of the NHL season and wrote out all the places they want to go, the things they want to do.

Looking at the results, Lowe realized it was time to step away from the Oilers’ front office. On Tuesday, he retired from his role as vice chair and alternate governor.

“It’s exciting,” Lowe told The Canadian Press. “I’m 63 now. I wanted to spend a little bit more time with family and grandkids and maybe see a little bit more of the world that I haven’t seen. So I figured I’d better get started now. You never know what lays ahead.”

He’ll stay on with the team as an ambassador, and with travel plans, five kids and two grandkids (so far), the Hall of Fame defenceman expects to keep busy.

“I’m still going to be involved in the game as an ambassador, I’d like to get out on the speaking tour, I’d like to write a book. So lots to do ahead,” Lowe said. “But to not be on an expected schedule, being employed by the organization, frees me up to stick my finger in the wind and see what’s out there.”

His retirement marks the end of more than 40 years with the Oilers.

Lowe was the team’s first ever NHL draft pick in 1979. He won five Stanley Cups with Edmonton and helped the New York Rangers to a championship title in 1994.

The native of Lachute, Que., retired from playing in 1998 after amassing 431 points (84 goals, 347 assists) and 1,498 penalty minutes across 1,254 regular-season NHL games with the Oilers and Rangers.

“We had a wonderful group, especially in the early days. I’ve been fortunate to work with so many good people,” he said. “Winning that first Cup always probably sticks out as the biggest moment.”

He served as Edmonton’s head coach during the 1999-2000 season and as the club’s general manager from 2000 to 2008.

Hockey has changed drastically during Lowe’s time in the NHL and the longtime executive said he’s proud of his role in helping shape how the game is played.

Lowe was part of the competition committee that introduced a number of changes aimed at increasing scoring chances in 2005. The new rules rejigged the lines on the ice, reduced the size of goalie equipment and introduced the shootout for games that remain tied after five minutes of overtime.

“The game has changed a lot, all for the good,” Lowe said of the league’s current on-ice product.

In 2002, Lowe was part of the management group for the Canadian men’s hockey team that won Olympic gold in Salt Lake City. He was also a manager for the Canadian squad that took top spot in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

Lowe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020 and received the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2021. The Oilers retired his No. 4 in November 2021.

“Very few have had the impact that Kevin has had, both on and off the ice,” Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson said in a statement Tuesday. “He exemplifies leadership and has done so much to help connect the organization with our fans, while supporting so many worthwhile causes in our community.

“He is a teammate, leader and friend to so many in the organization and we congratulate him on an amazing career and are excited for this next chapter of his career.”

After more than four decades with the Oilers, Lowe said what sticks out is how important the team is to Edmonton and to fans.

“I can still go anywhere pretty much in the country and people will cite the ’80s Oilers or a specific moment they remember,” he said. “Across the country, it’s like living in a small town. That speaks to me about just how important the game of hockey is to Canadians.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2022.

 

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Alberta

‘Short-term pain’: Group of Alberta lawyers escalate job action over legal aid cases

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By Bill Graveland in Calgary

Alberta criminal defence lawyers are taking another step in their dispute with the provincial government over the amount of compensation paid by Legal Aid Alberta.

Organizations representing lawyers in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and southern Alberta began job action Aug. 8 by refusing to accept certain bail and duty counsel files from legal aid.

The lawyers also began refusing certificates for new cases for the most serious criminal charges, including sexual offences, firearms-related crimes and homicides.

Beginning Monday, they say all services will be withdrawn.

“We’re going to stop taking all certificates. That will include some our prior job actions still allowed us to take certificates for people who are already existing clients and there will be a very, very limited set of circumstances now where our members will do that,” said Kelsey Sitar, vice-president of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association in Calgary.

“The default will be: ‘We are just not taking any new work from legal aid until the problem is fixed.'”

Sitar made her comments at a rally in front of the Calgary Courts Centre on Friday that drew about 50 criminal defence lawyers.

A table with a sign reading “Save Legal Aid” offered bake goods for sale. Lawyers carried signs reading “Access 2 Justice Must be Equal.” Another read: “This sign is too small to fit my outrage.”

“This is drastic. I mean, what we were doing up until now is something I know has happened in Ontario before, it did not last long, frankly,” Sitar said.

“I can tell you that none of us want to be out here. We all want to be in there doing our jobs.”

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro has said nothing is going to be done until a review of the Legal Aid Alberta administrative system is complete, which is scheduled for next month.

He said any budget changes for legal aid wouldn’t happen until next year.

Sitar said the ministry chose to undertake “an incomplete and, frankly, useless review” at a time when the governing United Conservative Party is about to go through a leadership change.

“So we have to act now and they need to respond now,” she said.

Sitar said she understands the people being affected the most by the job action will be people with lower incomes who need the services to afford legal representation.

“It’s short-term pain right now,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate, but I can tell you that most of the people I’ve talked to on the street who are finding themselves caught up in this understand and are grateful that we’re doing it.”

Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the problem has been growing over the last three years. She said when her party was in power, it committed to additional funding for Legal Aid, but the UCP government backtracked.

“We simply cannot be asking the Legal Aid bar to be doing what we are asking them to do at the rate that we are asking them to do it,” she told reporters.

“We have the lowest funding for Legal Aid in the country. What that means is that we don’t have equal access to justice. It undermines the integrity of our justice system and, overall, it undermines our ability to build a sense of community safety, community security and an overall respect for the rule of law — all of which are important to community health and economic growth.

“It sounds like a niche issue, but it’s not. It actually has knock-off effects to very, very important issues that affect all of us. So, the government needs to come to the table and negotiate decently with these lawyers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

— With files from Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

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Alberta

‘Kind of like carnies’: International balloon festival returns to High River, Alta.

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By Bill Graveland in High River, Alberta

The windswept prairie east of the Rocky Mountains seems an unlikely spot for a hot-air balloon festival, but the town of High River, Alta., is celebrating the event’s 10th year.

More than 20 brightly coloured balloons — including a pink elephant, a black and yellow bee and the purple and yellow Eye of Ra, named after the Egyptian sun god — took advantage of a lull in the prevailing wind this week to get some up-in-the-air time to mark the opening of the Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival.

“We get about 50 per cent of our flights off. Weather impacts us everywhere,” said event director Jamie Kinghorn, who is also a town councillor.

“This is our 10th. We started in 2013 partly because of the flood that happened. I’d been to a number of balloon events and thought this might lift the spirits of the folks in town.”

The town of 12,000 just south of Calgary gained an international profile in 2013 when flooding in parts of southern Alberta caused billions of dollars in damage.

High River was one of the hardest-hit communities. Entire neighbourhoods were under water for weeks.

“I called in a bunch of friends from the balloon community and they knew what happened, so 20 of them came into High River and we put on a balloon festival that was actually amazing for the community,” Kinghorn said.

“That was sort of the first major thing toward recovery after the flood and we’ve been doing it every year since at the end of September.”

Kinghorn said the festival is a boon to local tourism and there’s not a hotel room to be had in town.

He had his first hot air balloon over the city of Calgary in 1988. A year later he was a balloon pilot.

There are 23 balloons participating this year, including some from the United States, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

Kinghorn said it’s a pretty small community.

“We tend to meet at various events. We tend to travel. We’re kind of like carnies to some extent,” he said with a laugh.

“We travel around to different cities to different balloon events.”

Alan Davidson, who has been involved in the sport since 1977, is one of the volunteers.

He said those who get involved tend to stick with it.

“The amazing thing is that there are still seven or eight of the people I was ballooning with in the ’70s and early ’80s who are still here at this event,” said Davidson. “They’ve been working with balloons for over 40 years.”

Kinghorn, who is the owner and pilot of the Eye of Ra, was the first balloon in the air Thursday morning after a Wednesday evening flight was cancelled due to the wind.

“My God am I glad we got this off,” he said as the flight came to an end.

The festival runs through Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

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september, 2022

tue27sep10:00 am4:00 pmCACPC Annual SHRED Event10:00 am - 4:00 pm MST The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre, 4311-49 Ave Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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