At almost any time in memory, Wednesday’s decision to remove hockey, basketball and volleyball from the University of Alberta’s fall and winter to-do lists would be considered a major surprise.
This year, I suspect fans and athletes should have been at least partially prepared for it. Blame the pandemic. That’s easy.
Explain that sponsorship money has dried up and every available penny must be saved to keep professors employed and students involved. That’s easy, too. Some are sure to suggest that there are deep political motives in this move to move beyond the Bears and Pandas for one year. Maybe. Maybe not. Rightly or wrongly, political movements are seen in every action these days.
If additional explanations are required, Alberta’s UCP government is sure to be singled out as cause number three; they inherited an entity in severe financial difficulty, ensuring that some budget cuts would be made as soon as possible after the NDP lost political control of the province.
This, of course, occurred well before the coronavirus crisis created overwhelming proof that sport, certainly in Canada, is something of an after-thought at all levels of society. As this is written, every professional sport is being exposed on a daily basis as a means for millionaires and billionaires to fatten their bankrolls. If timely political statements are necessary, fine; they’ll be made, but no rational soul would dare to suggest that sport has actual relevance in this time of incoherent arguments and twisted responses.
In one old scribbler’s opinion, good news ultimately will develop, almost as a result of the disappearance of the Bears and Pandas for at least one season. A move so dramatic at a level so vital is sure to create deep thought.
Which is where university sport fits in the puzzle. These organizations are the home of undoubted brilliance. In many ways, they create the model for all amateurs and low-profile professionals to follow. One day, perhaps soon, this world-wide rash of social, physical and emotional misery will be behind us. Then, cohorts of tough and committed leaders across the entire spectrum of athletics will have to step up. They will be obligated to contribute time and effort in a search for the best possible ways to ensure excellence in scholastics, citizenship and competition.
Now, looking back for even a few years, it’s essential to remember that amateur sports were being painfully slammed by financial necessities before COVID-19’s destructive arrival.
Athletic directors at U of A and MacEwan University have spoken of rising costs in tones that sometimes sounded almost desperate. I’m sure the same applies to the University of Calgary.
Similar words have been heard commonly in discussion with coaches and athletic directors at Alberta colleges. NAIT and Concordia leaders know the topic extremely well. So do alumni members working to keep hockey alive in the storied atmosphere of Camrose’s Augustana campus of the U of A.
In a lifetime of hearing old adages, one has stuck out since childhood:
“It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn.”
This corner hopes the dawn comes quickly.
Police seize more than $1.3 million in drugs and cash following an organized crime investigation
News Release from the Edmonton Police Service
The Edmonton Police Service has charged four Edmonton men and seized more than $1.3 million in drugs and cash following a 14-month organized crime investigation.
In February 2021, EPS Drug and Gang Enforcement (EDGE) Section initiated an investigation into the suspected trafficking of drugs by a group of four men. Over the course of the investigation, search warrants were executed on three vehicles and at five residences in south and southwest Edmonton. During the searches, police seized a large quantity of cash, a variety of controlled substances, a weapon, ammunition and vehicles, including:
- $540,000 cash
- 6.6 kgs cocaine (approximate street value of $327,000)
- 74 kgs benzocaine (approximate street value of $222,000)
- 47 kgs acetaminophen (approximate street value of $142,000)
- #$36 kgs of phenacetin (approximate street value of $109,000)
- 429 g boric acid (approximate street value of $1,500)
- 170 ml of GHB
- A Kia Sorento and Dodge Journey with hidden compartments
- A 2021 Mercedes Benz GLE
- 50 rounds of 9 mm ammunition
- .22 caliber firearm magazine
- Box of .22 caliber ammunition
- Brass knuckles
- A large variety of items consistent with the trafficking of drugs
All four men have since been arrested and are facing numerous charges:
Nadeem Abdulgany, 38, and Mohamed Cherkaoui, 34, are each charged with commission of an offence for a criminal organization, conspiracy and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000.
Mahmoud Taliani, 34, and Robert Haberstock, 30, are each charged with commission of an offence for a criminal organization, conspiracy, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime over $5,000. Haberstock is also facing an additional charge for possession of a prohibited weapon.
“As this investigation reveals, drug trafficking can unfortunately be a lucrative business that comes at the expense of our communities and those most vulnerable to the impacts of illicit drug use,” says Staff Sergeant David Paton with the EPS Drug & Gang Enforcement Section.
“By targeting organized crime groups operating in this city, we are making our communities safer, holding these groups accountable, and preventing them from preying on the vulnerable.”
Modified submachine gun taken off Edmonton streets
News Release from ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team)
A MAC-10 submachine gun was amongst three firearms seized by ALERT in a recent investigation. Two Edmonton men have been charged.
ALERT Edmonton’s organized crime team seized two of the firearms after a vehicle was seen leaving a north Edmonton address associated to drug trafficking activity. Another firearm was located in the trunk of a separate vehicle involved in the investigation.
The MAC-10 was equipped with a silencer and prohibited extra-capacity magazines were located in the same bag. Prohibited in Canada and the U.S., the MAC-10 has a fire rate of 1,200 rounds per minute.
“Under any circumstances this is a dangerous weapon to have circulating on city streets. ALERT’s investigators, in lockstep with our colleagues at the Edmonton Police Service, will remain relentless in our efforts to dismantle organized crime and reduce community harm,” said Acting Inspector Blayne Eliuk, ALERT Edmonton.
ALERT also seized a Mossberg 22-caliber rifle, and a Glock handgun that had a silencer attached. The firearms have been submitted for forensic analysis and ballistics testing and Edmonton Police Service’s Firearms Examination unit is involved.
Abdullah Fuad Kalouti, 25, was arrested and charged on April 28, 2022 and Zaher El-Mais, 29, was arrested and charged on April 14, 2022. Together, they were charged with a total of 18 firearms-related offences.
Last year, ALERT teams province-wide seized 98 firearms as the result of organized crime and drug trafficking investigations.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.
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