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Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

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MELFORT, Sask. — A judge called for an end to “carnage on our highways” as she sent a truck driver to prison on Friday for causing a fatal crash involving a Saskatchewan junior hockey team’s bus.

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years for causing the collision last April that killed 16 people and injured 13 on the Humboldt Broncos bus.

Sidhu, an inexperienced truck driver, blew through a stop sign and into the path of the bus at a rural intersection.

“It should not take an event such as this to make people realize that operating a motor vehicle requires the full attention of the driver,” Cardinal said in her decision.

She said sentences for dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm must send a strong message of deterrence to everyone operating large vehicles.

Crown prosecutor Thomas Healey said outside court in Melfort, Sask., that he believes the prison sentence does that.

“That message is that criminal driving will not be tolerated,” he said.

Toby Boulet, whose son Logan was killed in the crash, said that although Sidhu apologized, he needed to be held to a higher standard as a professional driver.

“You need to follow those standards,” he said. “In this case remorse is one thing … but the bottom line is he was negligent.”

Many of the parents affected, including Chris Joseph, have been pushing for changes to the trucking industry. The former NHL player lost his son in the crash.

“We’re not getting Jaxon back, so we want to create change,” he said. “(Cardinal) was very firm and she did speak about how her sentencing today is going to help promote some change, so for that we’re grateful.”

Some differences have already been made.

Saskatchewan brought in mandatory training for commercial truck drivers last week and Alberta made the move March 1.

Canada’s transportation ministers have agreed to develop an entry-level national training standard for semi-truck drivers. Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has said it will be in place by next January.

The Saskatchewan government announced in its budget this week that it plans to spend $65 million over the next five years to improve safety at intersections with new rumble strips, lighting and road signs.

— With files from Bill Graveland

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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Report: China bans all Canadian meat before G20 as Trudeau turns to Trump on detainees

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OTTAWA — A report in a Quebec newspaper says China has suspended all Canadian meat exports in a dramatic escalation of its diplomatic dispute with Canada over the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

The latest Chinese move comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to depart Wednesday for the G20 leaders’ summit, where he is expected to rely on U.S. President Donald Trump to raise the plight of two detained Canadians during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A report in the newspaper Journal de Quebec quotes a Montreal-based diplomat with the Chinese consulate-general as saying the ban is temporary.

The diplomat says the move is being taken because about 100 faked veterinary health certificates have been identified on exported meat products.

A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has yet to comment on the report.

China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor and sentenced another Canadian to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for Meng’s release.

China has also stopped imports of Canadian canola and has suspended export permits for three pork producers.

The Canadian Press

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China asks for suspension of Canadian meat, citing forged certificates

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OTTAWA — The Chinese Embassy said Tuesday it has asked Canada to suspended all meat exports, a surprise move that comes amid the diplomatic dispute over the December arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

The latest Chinese move comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to depart Wednesday for a G20 leaders’ summit in Japan, where he is expected to rely on U.S. President Donald Trump to raise the plight of two detained Canadians during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The embassy said in a statement to The Canadian Press on Tuesday that this latest move follows Chinese customs inspectors’ detection of residue from a restricted feed additive, called ractopamine, in a batch of Canadian pork products. The additive has permitted uses in Canada but is banned in China.

“The subsequent investigation revealed that the official veterinary health certificates attached to the batch of pork exported to China were counterfeit and the number of those forgery certificates was up to 188. The Canadian side believes that this incident is criminal offence,” said the embassy statement.

“These forged certificates were sent to the Chinese regulatory authorities through Canadian official certificate notification channel, which reflects that the Canadian meat export supervision system exists obvious safety loopholes.”

China is therefore taking “urgent preventive measures” to protect Chinese customers and has asked the Canadian government to suspend all meat-export certificates, the embassy said.

“We hope the Canadian side would attach great importance to this incident, complete the investigation as soon as possible and take effective measures to ensure the safety of food exported to China in a more responsible manner.”

A spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau did not immediately comment on the report.

A report in the newspaper Journal de Quebec, which first reported the story, quotes a Montreal-based diplomat with the Chinese consulate-general as saying the ban is temporary.

China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor and sentenced another Canadian to death in an apparent attempt to pressure for Meng’s release.

China has also stopped imports of Canadian canola and has suspended import permits for three pork producers.

A senior Canadian government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the dispute, described the matter as a “technical issue.”

The official said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is “seized with the issue and looking into the matter to ensure that all the rules are being followed.”

The CFIA is working with Chinese officials to resolve the matter.

“This is a technical issue related to potentially fraudulent permits,” said the official. “We stand by the quality of Canadian products.”

The Conservatives blamed Trudeau.

“Conservatives know that Canadian farmers produce some of the highest-quality meat in the world. Any assertion by the Chinese government to the contrary is both false and baseless,” said a statement from Tory agriculture critic Luc Berthold. “It is clear that this is not an issue of food safety, but a political issue caused by Justin Trudeau’s incompetence and weakness on the world stage.”

Berthold said Trudeau has to “personally raise this issue” with Xi in at the G20 meeting and demand the trade barriers be lifted.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

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