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Alberta

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

Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

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EDMONTON — A judge has found an Edmonton woman guilty of manslaughter in the death of her five-year-old daughter.

Court heard that the girl died of blunt-force trauma and prosecutors alleged her mother beat her with a belt and a spatula.

The woman, who is in her 30s, had been charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life, assault with a weapon and second-degree murder.

Justice Avril Inglis says there was not enough evidence to convict the woman beyond a reasonable doubt on those charges.

But Inglis convicted the woman of manslaughter because evidence showed that the girl’s severe brain injuries were caused by an assault and the only person in the home capable of inflicting them was her mother.

The woman is expected to be sentenced in the fall. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

TC Energy reports $1.1-billion net loss after $2.2-billion writedown on Keystone XL

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CALGARY — TC Energy Corp. is reporting a first-quarter net loss of $1.1 billion after taking a $2.2-billion after-tax asset impairment charge on its cancelled Keystone XL export oil pipeline.

It says the impairment charge doesn’t yet include the government of Alberta’s investment and guarantees for the project, which are expected to eventually reduce the company’s net exposure to about $1 billion. 

Keystone XL was suspended after newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise to cancel its presidential permit in January.

Since then, shippers including Cenovus Energy Inc., Suncor Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd. have reported non-cash writedowns on earnings related to their commitments to it.

In its quarterly report, TC Energy said comparable earnings without the charge were $1.108 billion or $1.16 per share, down from $1.109 billion or $1.18 per share in the year-earlier period.

It says revenue was $3.38 billion, down from $3.42 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

“While we were very disappointed by the revocation of the presidential permit for Keystone XL and the resulting after-tax impairment charge, we are well positioned to deliver sustainable, high-quality growth in the years ahead,” said CEO Francois Poirier in a news release.

 “We are advancing a $20-billion secured capital program and working on a substantive portfolio of other similarly high-quality opportunities under development.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

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