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Man convicted of killing pregnant wife allowed to leave prison unsupervised

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Michael White Edmonton

GRAVENHURST, Ont. — An Edmonton man found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and dumping her body in a ditch nearly 15 years ago will be allowed to leave prison unsupervised to spend time with the couple’s now-adult daughter.

A Parole Board of Canada panel has granted Michael White four 72-hour unescorted temporary absences over nine months, one of which is earmarked for family time.

The remaining three will be dedicated to helping White familiarize himself with the city of Barrie, Ont., and a halfway house there.

White and several family members, including his 18-year-old daughter, appeared relieved when the panel gave its decision this afternoon following a hearing at the Beaver Creek Institution, the central Ontario federal prison where White is currently held.

White was convicted in 2006 of second-degree murder and offering an indignity to a dead body in the killing of his wife, Liana White.

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 17 years. He maintains his innocence, though the panel heard today he has run out of legal avenues to challenge his convictions.

Liana White was four months pregnant with the couple’s second child when she was stabbed to death in July 2005.

She was reported missing after her SUV was discovered in a park near the White home. Days later, a search party that included her mother and husband found her badly decomposed body in a ditch.

Court documents say security footage from a local pub showed the SUV heading towards the park around 5 a.m. the day of Liana White’s disappearance and, about 11 minutes later, a man closely matching her husband’s description jogging from the park towards the couple’s home.

A forensics expert testified that a product used to detect the presence of blood showed a trail from the couple’s bedroom to the hallway, down the stairs and into the garage, according to the documents. The expert said there was also evidence consistent with blood having been cleaned up in several areas of the house.

A forensic pathologist told the court Liana White likely died from her throat being cut or stabbed, but the expert could not be completely certain given the body’s decomposed state. Other injuries suggested White’s body had been dragged over a rough surface after her death, court heard.

Court also heard police saw Michael White retrieving two garbage bags from an area on the city’s outskirts two days after his wife’s disappearance, and later putting them out for garbage pickup.

Investigators obtained the bags and found they contained clothing, paper towels and latex gloves that had Liana White’s blood on them, as well as a broken lamp and other items. Some also had Michael White’s DNA on them.

White initially told police he didn’t recognize the contents of the bag, then later said the lamp was from the spare bedroom and had been broken months ago, court documents say. He told investigators the blood came from when he had stubbed his toe or had been hit in the nose with a stick.

Testifying at his trial, White then said the blood related to an incident in which their young daughter had jumped on the bed and accidentally hit her mother in the face with a child’s metal coat rack.

He told the court he and his wife often dumped garbage at the site where he picked up the bags of bloody refuse. The area was coming under scrutiny from volunteers searching for Liana White and some were disturbed by the amount of trash, so he decided to clean up his own mess, he testified.

White later challenged his convictions, but Alberta’s highest court unanimously rejected his appeal in 2009.

After White was found guilty, his mother-in-law revealed she believed the couple’s three-year-old daughter had witnessed at least part of the killing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 12, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, 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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Freeland agrees to NDP trade pitch in return for new NAFTA support: letter

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OTTAWA — Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says she wants to make Canada’s trade negotiations more “transparent,” by agreeing to proposals from the New Democrats to provide more details of future deals.

Freeland offers that view in a Wednesday letter to the New Democrats, a promise that secured the party’s support for a speedier ratification of the new North American trade deal, which is still before Parliament.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press, Freeland makes clear she is agreeing to the NDP proposals to get support for ratifying the new continental trade agreement among Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Freeland maintains that the 13 months of acrimonious negotiation among the three countries was open and transparent because the government consulted widely with stakeholders.

NDP trade critic Daniel Blaikie disagrees, saying the actual negotiations were held in secret, and the government provided inadequate analysis of the economic consequences of the deal to Canadians.

Freeland says the government will provide the House of Commons with an economic-impact assessment at the same time the legislation to ratify a trade deal is tabled.

She said that report will include “estimates of overall economic impact of a free trade agreement on the Canadian economy, including changes in gross domestic product (GDP), trade flows, unemployment, and income as well as sector-specific estimates for the sectors directly addressed in the free trade agreement.”

The government also agrees to inform the House of “intent to enter into negotiations” on new deals 90 days before they begin and “to require objectives for negotiations” for new deals to be tabled 30 days in advance, the letter says.

Freelan’s letter says she is making the changes “in light of the NDP proposal and to add further transparency to the free-trade negotiations process.” It says she was responding to written proposals from NDP sent on Dec. 16. 

“In exchange for these changes,” Freeland concludes, “I understand we can count of the support of the NDP” to ‘expeditiously’ ratify the new trade deal — something the U.S. and Mexico have already done.

As the letter states, and Blaikie acknowledges, reopening the deal to further negotiations was a non-starter.

“We’ve always felt that the trade negotiation process has been far too secretive, and Canadians will benefit from a more open and transparent process,” Blaikie said in an interview.

“The way to do that is to make sure that the government has to be more clear about its intentions both in terms of letting Parliament know who it is negotiating with and also laying out its objectives so that at the end you can measure whether the government succeeded.”

Blaikie dismissed a suggestion that his party’s manoeuvring represented a break from its past policy of being skeptical and unsupportive of free trade.

“This agreement is still part of a model of globalized trade driven by corporations that we are critical of,” he said.

“We knew we couldn’t change the deal. You can’t open it up again. So, we wanted to focus on something we could change, which is what this looks like for future trade deals like Canada-U.K., Canada-China and Canada-India,” Blaikie added.

“I look forward to having a better process when the next government comes along that’s looking to sign Canada up for some kind of trade deal.”

Earlier this week, Freeland offered effusive public thanks to New Democrats for supporting the new deal and stinging criticism of the Conservatives for wanting to study it further at a Commons committee. In the House of Commons Thursday she said Blaikie was a pleasure to work with on the changes.

Freeland said the government wanted to limit study of the new deal, and was surprised that Conservatives wanted to extend committees’ study of the agreement into March.

But the Conservative trade critic Randy Hoback told The Canadian Press that there was no circumstance under which his party would vote against ratifying the trade deal. He said the Tories simply wanted to hear from witnesses to give voice to people who are concerned about the deal, to make it stronger in the long term.

“That’s what created the problem in the previous NAFTA is when people were left out. They were the ones that elected Trump this last election, because they were left out,” said Hoback.

President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to rip up the old North American Free Trade Agreement during the renegotiations. Freeland has had cabinet responsibility for Canada-U.S. relations during that time as foreign affairs minister and now as deputy prime minister.

Getting a new deal became the Liberal government’s top priority because of Canada’s massive economic dependence on access to the United States, its biggest trading partner.

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

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

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february, 2020

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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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