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Mitchell throws for over 300 yards for Stampeders in 30-23 win over winless Elks


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CALGARY — Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell validated a late decision to play and Malik Henry overcame a couple early gaffes with the go-ahead touchdown for the Calgary Stampeders in a 30-23 win over the visiting Edmonton Elks on Saturday.

Mitchell, a game-time decision to start because of a sore foot, threw for 321 yards and a touchdown in his 150th career CFL start. The 32-year-old Texan completed 21 of his 28 pass attempts.

Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson had made the decision to start backup Jake Maier until Mitchell indicated Saturday afternoon the taping of his foot made it feel secure enough for him to play.

“I talked to Dave and said ‘meet me on the field and see how it feels,’ and it felt good enough to move around the pocket,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think I was running full speed at all. I was thankful for Dave having that trust in me.”

Said Dickenson: “I could see in his eyes he was fired up to play and felt confident in it so I went with him. If you have a sore foot and can still move around like that, I think that’s a good thing.”

Ka’Deem Carey and Tommy Stevens scored rushing touchdowns in addition to Henry’s touchdown catch for Calgary (3-0) in front of an announced 22,739 at McMahon Stadium.

Henry compiled 173 receiving yards on six catches in the game, including a 46-yard grab. He also fumbled the ball away and incurred an offside penalty in the first half.

So taking a 28-yard pass from Mitchell and sprinting to plant his foot in the corner of the end-zone for a touchdown in the last minute of the third quarter felt like redemption.

“I needed that. The fumble early on made me angry,” Henry said. “Teammates told me to stay in the game. Came back in the second half and made a couple plays.”

Calgary’s René Paredes kicked field goals from 46, 28 and 35 yards and added three points in converts.

Kai Locksley scored a short-yardage rushing touchdown and Emmanuel Arceneaux had a touchdown catch for Edmonton (0-3).

In his first start against the team that gave him his start in the league, Elks quarterback Nick Arbuckle was 20-for-31 in passing for 225 yards and one touchdown throw. He was intercepted once.

Arbuckle spent his first two seasons with the Stampeders in 2018 and 2019. He went 4-3 in the latter season when Mitchell was injured.

Sergio Castillo kicked a pair of 46-yard field goals and another from 47 yards. Matt Mengel scored a 60-yard punt single in the first of four meetings this season between the CFL’s Alberta clubs.

Calgary and Edmonton haven’t played four games against each other in a single season since 2012. The Stampeders face the Elks again in Edmonton after their upcoming bye week.

“I love it. I love the fact that you’re getting to go against a team that’s as well coached as they are, that knows how to win as well as they (do) because that makes you a better football team,” Elks head coach Chris Jones said. “You have to show up and play top-shelf ball all the time.

“We got a lead and couldn’t protect a lead due to a bunch of factors. All three phases in the second half did not play very well.”

The Stampeders trailed at halftime for a third straight game, but three points down was the smallest deficit of the three.

Calgary linebacker Cameron Judge intercepted an Arbuckle pass intended for Kenny Lawler to put the ball on the 38-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Mitchell’s throw to Henry on the next play gave the Stampeders the lead for the first time in the game.

In addition to Judge’s pick, defensive end Shawn Lemon contributed a pair of sacks and a pass knockdown in the third quarter that ended 20-17 in favour of Calgary.

Paredes padded the Stampeders’ lead to 23-17 with a 35-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter, but Castillo responded with a 46-yarder to keep the Elks within range.

Stevens, Calgary’s third-string quarterback behind Mitchell and Maier, scored his first CFL touchdown on a one-yard effort with two minutes remaining in the game, after Edmonton’s defence denied Stevens from the same distance on the previous play.

The Elks trailed by a converted touchdown following Castillo’s 47-yard field goal with 33 seconds to play in the game. Edmonton’s attempt to recover an onside kick was foiled by Kamar Jorden grabbing the ball first.

The Elks led 13-3 with two minutes remaining in the first half on Arceneaux’s 33-yard catch and run to the end zone, and a Castillo convert.

But Calgary quickly countered with a six-play drive highlighted by Mitchell’s throws of 24 and 37 yards to Reggie Begelton. Carey capped the march with a three-yard dash to the end zone.

Edmonton’s Deon Lacey knocked the ball out of Henry’s hands for Thomas Costigan to recover on the Elks’ 52-yard line midway through the opening quarter. The visitors didn’t convert the turnover into points, however.

Dionte Ruffin’s pass interference penalty on Arbuckle’s throw to Lawler in the end zone put the Elks on the one-yard line during their opening drive of the game. Locksley scored on the short-yardage plunge for a 6-0 visitors lead.

Calgary’s defence denied Edmonton’s two-point convert attempt. The Elks are in Hamilton on Friday to take on the Tiger-Cats.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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Alberta premier defends new rules on in-person learning, no mask mandates in schools

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By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is defending new rules ordering schools to provide in-person learning during the current wave of viral illnesses, saying a clear, measured response is crucial for students and parents.

“We need a normal school environment for our children, and we need to make sure that the classrooms stay open to be able to support our parents,” Smith said at a news conference in Medicine Hat on Friday.

“That’s why we made the decision that we did — to give that clear direction.”

Her comments came a day after she announced regulatory changes saying school boards must provide in-person learning. Schools also can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

The changes take effect immediately.

“Anyone is welcome to wear a mask if they feel that that is the right choice for them, but we should not be forcing parents to mask their kids, and we shouldn’t be denying education to kids who turn up without a mask,” Smith said.

She has said mask rules and toggling from online to in-person learning adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and strained parents scrambling to make child-care arrangements when schools shut down.

That’s over, Smith said.

“We’re just not going to normalize these kind of extreme measures every single respiratory virus season,” she said.

School boards have been asking for more direction as a slew of seasonal respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, along with some COVID-19 cases, have led to high classroom absentee rates and have jammed children’s hospitals.

In Edmonton, Trisha Estabrooks, board chair for Edmonton Public Schools, said the decision provided the clarity that the board was seeking.

“All Albertans now understand that it’s not within the jurisdiction, and nor should it ever have been within the jurisdiction of individual school boards, to make decisions that belong to health officials,” said Estabrooks.

She said the province has made it clear that any future public health order would supersede the new rules.

The in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

The Opposition NDP criticized the new rules, saying it’s unrealistic to force schools to be all things to all students while also handling a wave of viral illnesses and not providing additional supports to do it.

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the government needs to work with school boards to figure out how to make this work.

“You have schools that are struggling to staff the building, (they) can’t get substitute teachers, teachers are sick, they’re covering each other’s classes, principals are covering the classes,” Schilling said in an interview.

“And then to say if you go online, you are to still offer the same programming in person — we just don’t have the people to do that.”

Wing Li, communications director for public education advocacy organization, Support our Students, said it will be difficult for schools to offer hybrid learning without any additional resources.

“There are no teachers,” Li said in an interview. “Pivoting online was mostly due to staffing shortages, which is worse now three years in.”

Li said online learning is challenging for students but, when temporary and supported, can keep schools and communities safe from spreading illness.

“This is a quite aggressive use of the Education Act to enshrine an ideology,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022

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Don’t have a cow: Senator’s legen-dairy speech draws metaphor from bovine caper

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OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.

Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.

“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.

“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”

On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.

Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.

The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.

“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage. 

She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.

But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do. 

“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.

Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

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