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Man pleads guilty to trafficking fentanyl from Quebec prison cell

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man accused of dealing fentanyl from Quebec prison cell

A Colombian national accused of managing an international fentanyl trafficking operation from a prison cell in Quebec pleaded guilty to multiple charges in a U.S. courtroom on Friday.

Daniel Vivas Ceron, 38, entered the plea in North Dakota, the state that formed the epicentre of a sweeping international probe following the overdose death of an 18-year-old man.

Ceron pleaded guilty to three charges, including conspiracy to import controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury and death. He faces life in prison for his crimes, which U.S. law enforcement authorities also said directly caused fatal overdoses in North Carolina, New Jersey and Oregon.

“From a Canadian jail cell, Daniel Vivas Ceron directed a deadly drug ring that fuelled the opioid epidemic and took the lives of four Americans,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Today’s guilty plea brings some measure of justice for the victims and families that fell prey to Vivas Ceron’s dangerous organization and its tragic track record of spreading addiction and abuse.”

The statement, which outlined details from Friday’s court proceedings, said Vivas Ceron admitted to being the ringleader of an operation that saw drugs distributed in Canada and the United States.

He told court that Chinese sources shipped hundreds of kilograms of drugs to Canada and the U.S. between 2013 and 2017, the statement said, adding he and other associates would then distribute them to customers.

The statement said Vivas Ceron relied on aliases, encrypted online accounts and a variety of email addresses to conduct his transactions, at least some of which were orchestrated from the medium-security Drummond Institution in Drummondville, Que.

Vivas Ceron was arrested in July 2015, the Justice Department statement said, noting he was extradicted to Panama and then the United States.

In addition to the four fatal overdoses authorities attribute to Vivas Ceron’s operation, they say drugs sold by the trafficking ring also contributed to 11 instances in which someone suffered serious harm but did not die.

More than 30 people, including five Canadians and five Chinese nationals, are accused in the case of dealing large amounts of the powerful opioid in the U.S. and Canada.

The investigation dubbed “Project Denial” began in January 2015 when 18-year-old Bailey Henke was found dead inside a Grand Forks, N.D., apartment building.

Authorities have said Henke overdosed on fentanyl supplied by Brandon Hubbard, a Portland, Ore., man who obtained his drugs from Vivas Ceron. Hubbard was sentenced to life in prison.

The case drew the attention of former U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions, who came to North Dakota in April to discuss the investigation after charges were laid against a prominent participant from China.

The Department of Justice named the RCMP as one of the international law enforcement partners in the investigation. The force did not immediately respond to request for comment on the case as a whole or Vivas Ceron’s plea.

— with files from The Associated Press

Michelle McQuigge , The Canadian Press

Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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november, 2019

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thu21nov6:00 pm11:00 pmFestival of Trees - Preview Dinner6:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

fri22nov8:00 pm11:00 pmFestival of Wines8:00 pm - 11:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

sat23nov9:00 am12:00 pmFestival Family Bingo - 1st time ever!9:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

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sun24nov9:00 am12:00 pmBreakfast with Santa9:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

mon25nov1:30 am2:30 pmPlanning A Calmer Christmas1:30 am - 2:30 pm

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