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Manitoba pastor who openly violated COVID-19 restrictions arrested on warrant

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WINNIPEG — A Manitoba pastor who was openly violating COVID-19 public health orders has been arrested.

RCMP said officers arrested Tobias Tissen on an outstanding warrant for contravening public health orders during a traffic stop in Steinbach, 60 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg, on Monday.

Tissen is a pastor at the Church of God Restoration in the Rural Municipality of Hanover.

He has spoken at anti-restriction protests and held church services in defiance of public health orders put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“This arrest is an egregious violation of his constitutional rights. Canada is on a dangerous path,” the Church of God Restoration said in an emailed statement.

A video of the arrest was posted on a social media account under Tissen’s name. In it, Tissen is asked to step out of his car due to the outstanding warrant. In the video, a couple bystanders tell Tissen to be strong.

Tissen and his church have been fined numerous times for violating the restrictions. The pastor posted on social media in May that he was told an arrest warrant had been issued for him.

In a video posted on Rebel News last week, Tissen said Manitoba police were not eager to arrest him.

“This whole court system makes me laugh because it’s turning out to be more and more of a joke,” he said in the video.

Pastor Henry Hildebrandt, who is with the Church of God Restoration in Aylmer, Ont., posted a video on social media in response to Tissen’s arrest saying it was a “shame on Canada.”

He sent a message to police adding, “today it’s the pastors, tomorrow it’s you.”

Tissen is also part of a court challenge by seven Manitoba churches fighting the province’s public health restrictions.

Throughout the pandemic, there have been times when Manitoba’s health orders restricted worship services. A significant surge of infections in the second wave clogged hospitals and prompted all in-person and drive-in services to be banned.

Restrictions have been loosened significantly in Manitoba since the spring, as cases of COVID-19 dropped and there was less pressure on the health-care system.

Currently, places of worship have to choose between requiring people to be vaccinated or restricting in-person attendance to 33 per cent capacity or 25 people — whichever is less.

The seven churches, represented by the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, argued in court in May that the restrictions were unjustified violations of charter-protected freedoms.

“We have no authority scripturally based and based on Christian convictions to limit anyone from coming to hear the word of God,” Tissen told court at the time.

He said it was “God’s jurisdiction.”

The decision over the constitutionality of public health orders is expected later this week.

There have been attempts by churches across the country to quash COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings. Controversial Alberta pastor Artur Pawlowski has also been arrested more than once for breaking rules.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2021.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

TC Energy shuts down Keystone pipeline system after leak in Nebraska

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CALGARY — TC Energy Corp. says it has shut down its Keystone pipeline after a leak in Nebraska.

The company says it has mobilized people and equipment in response to a confirmed release of oil into a creek, about 32 kilometres south of Steele City, Neb.

TC Energy says an emergency shutdown and response was initiated Wednesday night after a pressure drop in the system was detected.

It says the affected segment of the pipeline has been isolated and booms have been deployed to prevent the leaked oil from moving downstream.

The Keystone pipeline system stretches 4,324 kilometres and helps move Canadian and U.S. crude oil to markets around North America.

TC Energy says the system remains shutdown as its crews respond and work to contain and recover the oil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

The Canadian Press

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Indigenous

Advocate asks AFN chiefs to ensure $40B settlement deal leaves no child behind

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By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa

A First Nations child welfare advocate on Wednesday implored chiefs to ensure “no child is left behind” in a landmark $40-billion settlement agreement with the federal government.

Cindy Blackstock delivered the message to an Assembly of First Nations gathering in Ottawa, after being invited to take the stage by Cindy Woodhouse, regional chief in Manitoba who helped negotiate the agreement, which had been thrown into question since being rejected by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

The AFN, representing more than 600 First Nations across the country, had asked the tribunal to approve the settlement deal, which would see the government spend $20 billion to compensate families and children for systemic discrimination in the Indigenous child welfare system. It would also spend another $20 billion on making long-term reforms.

Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Caring Society who first lodged the complaint at the heart of the issue, raised concerns that the agreement wouldn’t provide $40,000 in compensation to all eligible claimants, which is the amount the tribunal ruled they should get.

“We can make sure that in our First Nations canoe of justice, no child has to see their money go away and no child is left behind in justice,” she said Wednesday.

“We are capable of that.”

Following the tribunal’s decision in October, the federal government filed for a judicial review of some parts of its decision.

Endorsing the settlement agreement loomed as one of the biggest items on the assembly’s agenda, with chiefs being asked to vote on what the organization should do next.

The chiefs had been preparing to vote on conflicting resolutions, with one asking them to support the final settlement agreement, while another sought to see the organization not appeal the tribunal decision and renegotiate the deal.

But on Wednesday, further talks between both sides took place, assisted by former senator and judge Murray Sinclair, who helped the AFN, federal government and lawyers for two related class-action lawsuits reach the $40-billion agreement in the first place, which was formally announced in January.

Chiefs ultimately voted late Wednesday against re-entering negotiations but to instead support compensation for victims outlined in the agreement and “those already legally entitled to the $40,000 plus interest under the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal compensation orders.”

It also included a provision that AFN leaders must regularly return to chiefs to provide it with progress updates and “seek direction” from chiefs on implementing the final agreement.

Many chiefs thanked Blackstock, who was greeted with applause after further agreement was met and said she was honoured to see people come together for children harmed by Ottawa’s discrimination.

“We have had too many apologies, we’ve had too many compensation deals, we’ve had too many kids hurt. And this has got to be it,” she said.

She added more discussion on the long-term reform part of the deal would be presented to chiefs on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, the assembly heard from sisters Melissa Walterson and Karen Osachoff, plaintiffs on the case, about the impact the foster care system had on their lives.

Osachoff said she had been in the child welfare system since she was born and didn’t have a chance to grow up with her sister.

“Had it not been for the ’60s Scoop and the child welfare (system), her and I would have grown up together.”

She said she understands why the tribunal characterizes those like her as “victims,” but told chiefs to instead think of them as survivors.

“I am not a victim and our claimants are not victims.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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