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One dead after pileup involving dozens of vehicles in eastern Ontario

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TORONTO — One person has died following a pileup involving dozens of vehicles during a winter storm on Sunday that also left thousands without power across southern Ontario.

Between 30 and 40 passenger vehicles and big-rig trucks were involved in the pileup in Kingston, Ont., on Sunday afternoon, provincial police said. Fifteen to 20 people involved in the crash were taken to hospital, most injuries that were not considered life-threatening, a spokeswoman for Kingston General Hospital added.

Police said one person died at the scene of the crash. Investigators said they wouldn’t be releasing their name until the family had been notified.

It was a rough day on Ontario highways, with provincial police reporting approximately 400 crashes in the Greater Toronto Area since the snow started falling on Sunday.

Another crash killed a 24-year-old woman in the Niagara region when her Jeep collided with a truck on Sunday, Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said.

“Who knows how many more crashes may have occurred in the day that were never reported.” he said. “We’ve seen far too often vehicles spinning out because they’re going too fast, because they’re over-correcting or panicking.”

Much of southern Ontario was under a weather advisory and snowfall warning as a messy mix of rain, ice pellets, freezing rain and snow battered the region.

High winds and ice buildup also led to power being knocked out for tens of thousands of people across the province. Hydro One said it had restored power to 65,000 customers by Sunday night, with 14,000 still in the dark at midnight. Roughly 6,000 Toronto Hydro customers were in the dark for a time, but the city utility said it was able to restore power to 5,600 of them remotely.

Multiple communities in southern Ontario also cancelled their Santa Claus parades due to safety concerns — including in Mississauga, Burlington, a small Hamilton community and a small Waterloo community.

Authorities in Burlington said the parade wouldn’t be rescheduled because of the complicated logistics involved.

“Unfortunately, the parade cannot be rescheduled due to the massive amount of scheduling to co-ordinate 90 floats and road closures,” city officials said on Twitter. 

“We encourage all residents to please avoid unnecessary travel today.”

Environment Canada said the threat of freezing rain extended into the nighttime in the Niagara Region and Hamilton, while more snowfall is expected in Kingston and the Bruce Peninsula.

This report by The Canadian Press was originally published on Dec. 1, 2019.

Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press

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Appeal denied: Man who killed couple, their grandson wanted conviction quashed

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CALGARY — Alberta’s top court has upheld the conviction of a man who killed a couple and their grandson, dismissing objections to the warrantless search of his farm, disturbing photographs shown at trial and comments the judge made to jurors.

Douglas Garland was convicted in 2017 of first-degree murder in the deaths of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and Nathan O’Brien more than five years ago.

He is also appealing his life sentence with no chance of parole for 75 years.

The couple and the boy vanished after an estate sale at the Liknes home in Calgary. Five-year-old Nathan was there for a sleepover.

The victims’ bodies were never recovered, but bone fragments, burned flesh and teeth were found in ash from a burning barrel on Garland’s property.

“On arriving at the farm on July 4, 2014, the police had a decision to make: to enter without a search warrant with the hope that the victims may still be alive but in need of medical assistance, or wait to enter until a search warrant authorizing a search of the property could be obtained,” the panel of three Appeal Court judges wrote in its decision released Friday.  

“They chose the former.”

The officer in charge told his colleagues to only search buildings and receptacles that were large enough to hide a body.

“Significantly, it was not alleged the police had an ulterior motive for entering into the appellant’s property and searching it, other than to find the victims, hopefully still alive,” the judges wrote.

“We see no basis to interfere.”

The judges also took no issue with the information provided for the search warrant that was later issued.

“All told, (it) was a thorough document that went into great detail in summarizing the evidence known to the (Calgary Police Service) at the time,” they wrote.

“It provided a detailed account of witness interviews, crime scene photographs and analysis, expert opinions, CCTV video analysis and an extensive summary of the findings at the Garland farm during the warrantless search.

“We can see no error or reason to interfere with these conclusions.”

The Appeal Court also dismissed an argument that the trial judge erred when he allowed jurors to see gruesome photographs found on a hard drive in Garland’s basement, including ones depicting dismembered, diapered and restrained women.

The judges wrote that decisions on evidence that is clearly prejudicial but also affords proof of something are difficult.

“They are best left to the trial judge, who has a full appreciation of the nuances of the case, to decide. Absent a palpable or overriding error, such decisions are entitled to deference.”

Comments the trial judge made to jurors acknowledging the disturbing nature of the evidence they heard did not show bias, they added.

“With respect, viewed in the context of this difficult trial, we find nothing inappropriate about these comments.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2019.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press


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Feds vow to ban guns similar to one used in Ecole Polytechnique shooting

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OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the federal government will be ready soon to produce a list of semi-automatic weapons that will be banned in Canada.

His comments come the same day Canadians are marking the 30th anniversary of one of the worst mass shootings in Canadian history.

But Blair says until the list is approved by cabinet he won’t name any specific guns under consideration, including the one used in the Ecole Polytechnique shooting on Dec. 6, 1989.

He says he doesn’t want to create a run on gun purchases ahead of the ban.

The Ruger Mini-14 was used in the shooting where a gunman entered the Montreal school, killed 14 women and injured 14 people before killing himself.

Blair says the government will be clear about how certain weapons were selected when the list is made public.

While there is no firm date for its release, Blair said it will be done as soon as possible before noting it was only the second day of the new Parliament.

The Liberals promised during the federal election campaign to ban military-style assault rifles and give municipalities the ability to put limitations or bans on handguns within their own borders.

The party also said owners of legally purchased firearms that fall under the ban would receive fair-market compensations for their weapons as part of a buyback program. Blair said during the campaign about 250,000 semi-automatic assault rifles are owned legally in Canada.

The Liberals have been pressured by survivors of the Montreal Massacre to do more to restrict guns in Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his House of Commons speech marking the massacre Friday to say the government will be moving on its campaign promises.

“We will strengthen gun laws and ban the type of weapons used at Ecole Polytechnique,” he said.

“These weapons, designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time, have no place in our communities, in our streets, in our country.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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