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Alberta

Record number of online child exploitation reports in Alberta. Police warning parents

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From ALERT (Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team)

Online Child Exploitation On the Rise

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit and the Canadian Center for Child Protection are reminding parents about the need to closely monitor their children’s internet activity in light of a noted increase in cases of online child exploitation, likely in part related to digital dependency during COVID-19 isolation measures.

The ICE unit, which investigates online instances of child exploitation in Alberta, has experienced a record number of investigative referrals during the past month. For the month of March, ICE received 243 reported instances of online child exploitation in Alberta, far exceeding the unit’s two-year average of roughly 110.

“With children being home from school, not only are they spending more time online, but it appears that so are the predators. And they are looking to take advantage of our most vulnerable population: our kids,” Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT CEO

ICE receives the bulk of its 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.

“As a parent myself, I have recently noticed some concerning online behavior and have had to be even more diligent in monitoring what apps my child is using and who they are engaging with. All parents need to be vigilant of their kids’ online activities

During the first three months of 2020, ICE made 21 arrests and laid 61 charges in communities big and small across the province. As the result of these arrests, four children were rescued from sexual exploitation, abuse and/or instances of luring.

ICE is anticipating an increase through April; however, the unit wants to buck the upward trend and is partnering with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to warn parents and make internet safety resources available.

“During these unprecedented times and higher than usual online connectivity, it is essential that we work together to educate to the public on the risks and ways to reduce harm to children while online,” says Signy Arnason, Associate Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “Cybertip.ca has seen an increase in reporting involving offenders attempting to lure and sextort children through various chat and live streaming platforms. Now more than ever, parents/guardians must be vigilant in knowing who their children are connecting with online.”

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has information on its site dedicated to supporting families during the COVID-19 crisis, including resources for families and caregivers; schools and educators; and child serving organizations. This information is available at: https://protectchildren.ca/en/resources-research/supporting-you-through-covid-19/

Anyone with information about any child exploitation offence is encouraged to contact local police or cybertip.ca.

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.

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

Judge sides with Enbridge Inc. in Michigan’s latest effort to halt Line 5 pipeline

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A judge in Michigan has ruled in favour of Enbridge Inc. in the company’s long-running dispute with the state over the Line 5 cross-border pipeline.

In her ruling, Judge Janet Neff says the case belongs in federal court — a blow to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s bid to shut down the pipeline.

It’s the second time in nine months that Neff has sided with Enbridge on the question of jurisdiction.

Whitmer has been trying since November 2020 to shut down Line 5 for fear of a spill in the Straits of Mackinac, where the pipeline crosses the Great Lakes.

Proponents, including Canada’s federal government, call Line 5 a vital and indispensable source of energy for Ontario, Quebec and several Midwestern states.

Environmental activists fear an anchor strike or technical failure could trigger a catastrophe in one of the area’s most important watersheds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.

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Alberta

Reports: Flames closing in on signing UFA forward Nazem Kadri

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The Calgary Flames are closing in on a deal to sign unrestricted free agent Nazem Kadri, according to multiple media reports.

Sportsnet reported the deal is for seven years at US$7 million per season.

The Flames, according to Sportsnet and TSN, are moving forward Sean Monahan to the Montreal Canadiens to create salary cap space for Kadri’s contract. Details of that trade have not been released.

The 32-year-old Kadri was one of the biggest names available in free agency after an All-Star season with Colorado that ended with the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup.

Kadri had 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 71 games for the Avalanche in 2021-22.

He added 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 16 playoff games, including the overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay. That was his return to action after being injured in Game 3 of the Western Conference final after being hit from behind by Edmonton forward Evander Kane.

Kadri’s signing would be the latest chapter of a chaotic off-season for the Flames.

Calgary lost leading scorer and Hart Trophy candidate Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets early in free agency, then was informed that star forward Matt Tkachuk would not sign a contract extension after the upcoming season.

The Flames dealt Tkachuk to Florida for a package that included forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 115 points last season, and defenceman Mackenzie Weegar.

The Flames then locked up Huberdeau long-term with an eight-year, US$84-million contract extension.

Monahan, selected sixth overall by the Flames in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has played nine seasons in Calgary. The three-time 30-goal scorer tallied just eight goals and 15 assists for 23 points in 65 games last season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 222.

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