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Author defends book about Humboldt Broncos after families call for boycott

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SASKATOON — A Saskatchewan author says he had good intentions when he wrote a book about the Humboldt Broncos and the team’s deadly bus crash.

“Humble Beginnings of the Humboldt Broncos and the 2017-2018 Team,” written by Barry Heath, was published last month.

Heath, a former veterinarian and community coroner, says he’s sorry some of the victims’ families believe they had to give him permission to celebrate their loved ones.

Sixteen people were killed and thirteen were injured in April when the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi truck collided at a rural intersection near Tisdale, Sask.

Several family members say they didn’t want the book published and have asked people not to buy it.

Michelle Straschnitzki, whose son Ryan was paralyzed in the crash, says most of the families weren’t ready and didn’t want to participate in the book.

The team’s president at the time also asked Heath not to write it, she said.

“It seems very opportunistic and exploitive, to be honest,” said Straschnitzki.

“It’s not that we want to hurt this man’s way of making a living but … for him to include this very, very raw tragedy without our consent — the timing is really suspect.”

Heath said he relied on media interviews with family members and others to “capture and retell the beautiful memories of lives lost and changed.” Two parents had initially been willing to participate in the book, he said.

He believes some of the families are understandably still grieving and need someone to be angry at.

“Without knowing what is in the book — a tribute to the Broncos of last year, the response, the worldwide attention and giving, and the team history from its inception — I am the current focus of blame and anger.

“I am sorry they feel that way and understand one’s anger needs to have a focus.”

Indigo’s website lists the book as available in some of its Saskatchewan stores as well as online.

Heath has written three other books that include his work as a coroner and veterinarian.

 — By Chris Purdy in Saskatoon. With files from Bill Graveland

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Premier Jason Kenney kicks off campaign to attract skilled workers to Alberta

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CALGARY — Premier Jason Kenney kicked off a campaign to lure skilled workers from Toronto and Vancouver as he doubled down on his criticism of a so-called Alberta sovereignty act pitched by one of the candidates running to replace him.

Kenney held a news conference Monday to announce the United Conservative government’s plans to start recruiting workers to Alberta as the provincial economy grows.

“Alberta is back in a big way, but one of the biggest challenges to sustaining that amazing growth is having enough people who are filling the jobs that are being created,” he said.

“As far as problems go, that’s a pretty good one to have.”

The campaign comes after Kenney called a key platform promise of one of the candidates to succeed him as leader and premier “nuts.”

Candidate Danielle Smith has said if she wins the leadership, she would bring a bill this fall to give Alberta the power to ignore federal laws and court rulings deemed not in the province’s interest.

Legal scholars say such a bill would be illegal, unenforceable and a dangerous dismissal of respect for the rule of law.

Kenney said he’s certain that even if the legislature passed the law, the lieutenant-governor would refuse to give it royal assent and Alberta would become a “laughingstock.”

Smith chastised Kenney in a statement Sunday for “interference” in the leadership contest, saying his comments were “ill-informed and disrespectful to a large and growing majority of UCP members that support this important initiative.”

“If elected to replace him as leader and premier, I will work closely and collaboratively with our entire UCP Caucus to ensure the Sovereignty Act is drafted, passed and implemented in accordance with sound constitutional language and principles,” Smith said in her statement.

Kenney said Monday that he’s not interfering in the leadership campaign, but restating his position on an important public policy issue.

“This government was elected on a commitment to create jobs, grow the economy and get pipelines built,” he said. “This so-called sovereignty act would be a body blow to all three of those things.

“It would massively drive away investment, it would cause people to leave the province, businesses not to come here just when our economy is experiencing fantastic economic investment.”

Kenney said it could also hurt the campaign to attract people to the province.

“Here we are launching a campaign for Canadians to move to another part of Canada,” he said. “If Alberta were to decide effectively to launch a separatist project, I think that would automatically exclude a lot of Canadians.

“To the contrary, instead of being able to attract people, we would start hemorrhaging people.”

He said that’s not theoretical because of what happened in Quebec in 1976 when René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois were elected on a separatist platform.

“Quebec overnight began to hemorrhage people, money and investment,” Kenney said.

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

Colette Derworiz and Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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COVID-19

Public hearings in Emergencies Act inquiry to start in September

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OTTAWA — The inquiry into Ottawa’s unprecedented use of the Emergencies Act during protests in February will start its public hearings next month.

The Public Order Emergency Commission announced today that it expects the hearings to run from Sept. 19 until Oct. 28 at Library and Archives Canada in downtown Ottawa.

Commissioner Paul Rouleau said in a statement that he intends to hold the government to account and wants the inquiry to be as “open and transparent” as possible.

Hearings will be livestreamed online and members of the public will have opportunities to share their views, with a final report expected early next year.

Parties to the inquiry including “Freedom Convoy” organizers, police forces and all three levels of government are expected to testify and contribute documentary evidence on the invocation of the act in February.

The federal Liberals made the move amid border blockades and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

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

The Canadian Press

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