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Former Alberta MLA gets 3 years for sex offence involving 10-year-old girl

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  • RED DEER, Alta. — A young woman says it felt good to see a former politician who sexually touched her when she was a child being led out of an Alberta courtroom to begin a three-year prison sentence.

    Don MacIntyre, 63, resigned as a United Conservative MLA in February of last year after he was charged with sexual interference and sexual assault.

    He pleaded guilty to the first charge in Red Deer on Friday and the second charge was withdrawn.

    “He’s always been in a position of power and it’s so good to see that taken away from him,” the victim, who cannot be identified, said outside court.

    She said she’s looking forward to going to university and living a normal life. She also said she can move forward feeling happier, safer and more confident.

    “I know that, in the end, the justice system worked out for me and I don’t have to be afraid anymore.”

    An agreed statement of facts read out in court said MacIntyre touched the victim sexually with a part of his body in 2010 and 2011.

    The touching happened between five to 10 times when the victim was 10 years old. She told her mother in 2015.

    “He told her that God said that God was OK with the touching,” the statement said, adding the victim felt depressed and had suicidal thoughts.

    Court heard MacIntyre apologized after the assaults, asked for forgiveness and said it was part of “Satan’s plan to destroy (the victim’s) faith.”

    The victim, with two family members standing behind her, told court she sometimes thought she was imagining things or that it was her fault. When MacIntyre finally apologized, “I was so relieved I was not losing my mind,” she said.

    She described how the abuse made her give up creative pursuits she loved, gave her nightmares and made her sick to her stomach.

    She said she is still often angry.  

    “I will carry this rage I have for him to my grave.”

    The Crown asked for a prison sentence of between three and 3 1/2 years, while MacIntyre’s lawyer asked for two years.

    Prosecutor Julie Snowdon said MacIntyre’s remorse was a mitigating factor, but she suggested that was tempered by his linking his actions to the devil.

    “It’s easy and convenient to deflect blame to an external force such as Satan,” said Snowdon, who added that was a further example of the manipulation tactics MacIntyre used on his victim.

    Defence lawyer Ian McKay argued the immense publicity the case attracted should factor into the sentence.

    Court heard MacIntyre, who his lawyer said is deeply religious, has also lost the support of his church community.

    “This is a man who has been punished in so many ways and will continue to be punished until his last breath,” McKay said.

    Queen’s Bench Justice Debra Yungwirth said the media attention was not a mitigating factor because MacIntyre ran for public office knowing he’d committed the offences.

    MacIntyre apologized to the victim from the prisoner’s box for the “pain and anguish” he caused.

    He then wished her a life that is “whole and healthy and happy.”

    MacIntyre had represented the central Alberta seat of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake for the United Conservative Party.

    He was first elected in 2015 for the Wildrose Party, which merged with the Progressive Conservatives in 2017 to form the United Conservatives.

    The United Conservative caucus issued a statement Friday condemning MacIntyre.

    “We hope this disgusting individual faces the full extent of the law in sentencing for his odious crime. Our thoughts remain with the victim and all those affected at this time.”

    The caucus statement said it found out about the charges the day MacIntyre resigned last year. The party said he is no longer a member.

    Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

    Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had prosecutor Julie Snowdon’s last name spelling incorrectly



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    Soldiers deploying to flood-prone areas as water levels rise in New Brunswick

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  • FREDERICTON — About 120 Canadian soldiers will soon be deployed in western New Brunswick to help residents threatened by rising floodwaters.

    The soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in southern New Brunswick have been tasked with helping fill sandbags and assisting with evacuating homes, if necessary.

    Lt.-Col. Sean French, commander of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, says the soldiers are also prepared to conduct “wellness checks” in various communities, using heavy vehicles that can move through deep water.

    Water levels in the Saint John River Basin are expected to rise significantly over the next few days, reaching or passing flood stage in several areas.

    With heavy rain expected to continue through the day, particularly in northern New Brunswick, residents of 15 communities have been warned to remain on high alert.

    Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick’s Emergency Measures Organization, says the rising waters are sure to lead to road closures in several areas, particularly in the Fredericton area and communities farther south.

     

    The Canadian Press



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    Rain, wind equals no 4-20 blow out for Parliament Hill, but West Coast shines

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  • OTTAWA — It was a blow out, man, the kind that’s a total drag.

    Protesters dotted one half of Parliament Hill’s front lawn on a blustery, rainy Saturday at the climax the first 4-20 “Weed Day” demonstration since Canada legalized recreational marijuana.

    The turnout disappointed organizers who expected thousands more, but a festive atmosphere prevailed as the Peace Tower clock struck 4:20 p.m., sparking simultaneous smart phone photography and the lighting of joints, bongs and pipes.

    “The weather didn’t co-operate. It kind of shut us down,” Shawn Mac, a program director for 4-20 Ottawa, said moments earlier. “Coming and going, we’ve probably seen about 3,000, but right now, probably about a thousand.”

    A bout of blowing rain earlier in the afternoon meant the shutdown of a public address system, and a made for a sparse gathering of perhaps several dozen people, most huddled under plastic ponchos or tarps.

    Sara Bakir, 29, of Ottawa was one of early arrivals, dressed in a dark hoodie under a black umbrella.

    “It’s still nice to be out with a few like-minded people,” she said laughing, and casting her eyes at the empty and soaked brownish yellow lawn. 

    Organizers learned a tough lesson even before the rain started falling — new freedoms bring great bureaucracy.

    Mac said his group is encountering more red tape Saturday than on past April 20 protests.

    Organizers can’t use the steps to the now-closed Centre Block, which means spectators will need a front row position on the lawn to see or hear — something Mac calls a “huge letdown.” 

    “Hearing is already a problem so not being able to see is a crushing blow,” he said.

    Organizers have also been told to limit musical performers to just two, Mac said, adding that isn’t in the rules of how to hold a public event on the Hill. 

    New limits on auto access also meant organizers had to haul equipment and material by hand up to the lawn from Wellington Street, he added.

    “It’s frustrating because legalization was supposed to … make things easier and not more complicated,” he said.

    Lingering post-legalization concerns are sustaining a sense of protest among 4-20 event organizers across the country.

    They include concerns over the government’s decision to tax medicinal marijuana, slow progress on legislation to expedite pardons for people previously convicted of simple pot possession, and the fact that provincial and municipal governments are grappling with retail sales and land-use laws for growing pot.

    The federal government also has yet to legalize edible marijuana products and has six more months to set rules to do so. 

    “Everything about legalization has made things harder, which is the opposite of what is was supposed to be,” said Mac.

    Others were more upbeat and saw Saturday’s event as an inspiration to the world.

    “Again, the world is watching, and I’m very proud of Canada today and Canadians,” said Kelly Coulter, a cannabis policy adviser based in British Columbia.

    She said Canada is helping change global attitudes and policies as the first G7 nation to legalize pot, and she expected people from Germany and Britain to take part in Saturday’s festivities on the Hill.

    It was a far cry from Ottawa’s subdued festivities on the West Coast, as hoards of people crowded Vancouver’s Sunset Beach to mark the city’s 25th annual 4-20 event warmed by rays of glorious spring sunshine amid a low lying marijuana haze.

    A much smaller crowd gathered at the front lawn of British Columbia’s legislature in Victoria, but the mood was equally celebratory and defiant.

    “Today, in many ways, is bittersweet for us,” said long-time marijuana activist Ted Smith, who led the countdown chant to 4:20 p.m. in Victoria. “We’re happy it’s legalized, sure, but there’s a lot of things to protest.”

    Smith, in between puffs from a large joint, said the current marijuana rules are biased against entrepreneurs who want to sell their products in much the same way as craft brewers and winemakers.

    And a downpour didn’t dampen the festivities at Woodbine Park in Toronto’s east end, where revellers trampled through the muddy grass to the steady thrum of house music.

    Cannabis artisans sold their wares at tarp-covered stands, many expressing hope that they could one day emerge from the “grey market” to set up shop at brick-and-mortar storefronts.

    Justin Loizos, owner of the Just Compassion marijuana dispensary in Toronto, said the mood Saturday was more celebratory than in past 4-20 gatherings, which felt more like protests.

    The current regime may not be the “legalization people asked for,” Loizos said, but the cannabis community should take heart in just how far Canada has come.

    “I see a lot of people complaining, whatever — don’t,” he said. “We’re just going to celebrate here and enjoy the day.”

    — with files from Adina Bresge and Dirk Meissner.

    Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press




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