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Former Fort McMurray fire chief accused of harassment in earlier jobs

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CALGARY — A former Alberta fire chief hailed by many as a hero for his role in battling the destructive Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 has been accused of sexually harassing a female subordinate during previous jobs he had.

The allegations against Darby Allen when he worked in Calgary’s fire department date back to about 2002 and have not been proven in court.

The woman filed a statement of claim in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in 2018 that alleges Allen made sexually charged comments, groped her and became hostile when she made plans with other men. It also alleges Allen poked her in the back with his erect penis in her cubicle.

“Allen subjected the plaintiff to near daily sexual harassment, assaults and battery,” says the claim, first reported by CBC News on Thursday.

“Allen abused his power and authority over the plaintiff to threaten her employment, as well as her personal autonomy and safety, to further his sexual harassment and battery.”

The claim also alleges the City of Calgary knew that Allen, who was decades older than the plaintiff, was abusing his power.

“At all material times, the city allowed Allen unfettered authority and power in his positions of power over the plaintiff.”

The claim says Allen’s actions caused or worsened the woman’s post-traumatic stress disorder and resulted in headaches, night terrors, insomnia, depression and other ailments.  

The document says a city investigation ultimately led to Allen being fired.

Allen, who is originally from the United Kingdom, became the face of the fight against the Fort McMurray fire, which he famously nicknamed “the beast.”

When he and other Fort McMurray first responders marched in the Calgary Stampede parade two months after the disaster, Allen’s history in Calgary was not widely known. He said at the time it was “like coming home again.”

In a statement of defence filed last May, Allen denied the harassment allegations and said the matter was settled when the woman accepted compensation from the city.

It also said the plaintiff signed a release which “acknowledged that she released all employees of the City of Calgary, and by implication, Allen.” 

The woman told the CBC that she did not sign such a document or receive any compensation.

The city says in its statement of defence that the court has no authority to hear the claim and asks that the suit be dismissed with costs. It filed a separate application last February saying the matter should be settled through arbitration and asked the court to strike the statement of claim.

Allen left his job as Fort McMurray fire chief in early 2017. He told The Canadian Press at the time that he and his wife were looking to relocate somewhere more temperate due to her health.

His LinkedIn page says he now lives in Vancouver and does public speaking.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 13, 2020

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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Woman returning from Iran is B.C.’s sixth case of new coronavirus

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VANCOUVER — A sixth case of the novel coronavirus has been diagnosed in British Columbia after a woman in her 30s returned to the province from Iran.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday the woman’s case is relatively mild and a number of her close contacts have already been put in isolation.

She said health officials are working on a detailed investigation of the woman’s travel and when her symptoms started to help determine if they need to notify those who travelled with her on the same aircraft.

Henry said the diagnosis shows B.C. has a robust system for identifying people who have the virus.

“This one, clearly, is a bit unusual in that the travel to Iran is something new,” she told a news conference.

“Iran has recently started reporting cases and we’ll be working with our national and international colleagues to better understand where she may have been exposed to this virus prior to her return to Canada.”

Henry said earlier this week that four of the five people already diagnosed with the virus were symptom free. The fifth person, a woman in her 30s who returned from Shanghai, China, is in isolation at her home in B.C.’s Interior.

Henry said over 500 people have been tested for the virus in B.C. and many of those tested positive for the flu.

Three cases of the virus have also been confirmed in Ontario.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Government needs to produce plan for dealing with veterans’ backlog: Ombudsman

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OTTAWA — Veterans ombudsman Craig Dalton says the federal government should clearly explain how it plans to eliminate a backlog that is keeping thousands of former service members waiting to find out if they qualify for benefits and aid.

The number of unaddressed applications for disability benefits and other assistance continues to grow despite repeated government promises to fix the problem.

Most recently, Veterans Affairs Canada revealed that there were 44,000 applications waiting to be processed at the end of September, which was a 10 per cent increase from six months earlier.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay says eliminating the backlog is his top priority and the department is trying to move files along faster.

Yet Dalton says the government has not laid out a clear plan that includes specific actions and targets.

Dalton also says the government needs to invest more money and resources into tackling the backlog, which he worries is leaving some veterans at greater risk of financial and health problems.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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february, 2020

sun12jan(jan 12)2:00 pmsun22mar(mar 22)5:00 pmAnne Frank: A History for Today opening at Red Deer MAG(january 12) 2:00 pm - (march 22) 5:00 pm mst Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery Address: 4525 - 47A Avenue, Red Deer

sun02feb(feb 2)7:00 pmsun15mar(mar 15)8:00 pm7:00 pm - (march 15) 8:00 pm Festival Hall, 4214 58 St, Red Deer, AB Event Organized By: Country Pride Dance Club

thu20feb(feb 20)10:00 amsun23(feb 23)4:00 pmRed Deer RV Show10:00 am - 4:00 pm (23)

tue25feb5:30 pm7:30 pmDiabetes Discussion Drop InLearn about Type 2 diabetes5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

wed26feb7:30 pm11:00 pmCeltic Illusiion7:30 pm - 11:00 pm

thu27feb5:30 pm7:00 pmMonthly Mindfulness Drop-In5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

fri28febsun01mar54th Annual Sport & Outdoor Show4:00 pm - (march 1) 9:00 pm

fri28feb6:00 pm11:00 pmFriday Family DanceFamily Dance6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

fri28feb7:00 pm11:00 pmBattle of the Bands for Crime Prevention7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Burgundy's Food & Stage, 5008 48 ST Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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