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‘Very intense:’ A look at judge who will sentence truck driver in Broncos crash

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  • REGINA — The judge deciding the fate of a truck driver who caused the deadly Humboldt Broncos crash is a passionate former Crown prosecutor who once worked as a conservation officer and played on a boys hockey team while she was growing up in rural Saskatchewan.

    Provincial court Judge Inez Cardinal is to hand down a sentence  Friday for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu.

    The 30-year-old Calgary truck driver blew through a stop sign and into the path of the junior hockey team’s bus near Tisdale, Sask., last April. Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured.

    During an emotional sentencing hearing in January, Cardinal sat for four days in a makeshift courtroom in a gymnasium in Melfort, Sask., and listened to relatives of the people on the bus describe their pain and grief.

    Lawyers argued that Sidhu, who pleaded guilty to 29 counts of dangerous driving, be sentenced anywhere from 1 1/2 years in jail to 10 years in prison.

    Greg Brkich, a member of the legislature with the governing Saskatchewan Party, grew up with Cardinal in the village of Bladworth, south of Saskatoon.

    “She was very intense,” Brkich told The Canadian Press. “When she wanted to do something she did it.” 

    The daughter of a grain buyer and a homemaker, Cardinal had 10 siblings and was involved in sports growing up, Brkich says. He remembers his 10-and-under boys hockey team needed more players and Cardinal ended up on the roster.

    With an interest in the environment, she worked as a conservation officer and earned a diploma in renewable technology, but eventually settled on a law career.

    She worked as a Crown prosecutor in Regina, La Ronge and Saskatoon.  

    And she was a teacher.

    Willie Ermine helped hire Cardinal for a position as sessional lecturer in Indigenous law at the First Nations University of Canada in Prince Albert. She fit in well, he says.

    “I always had the sense she really wanted to work with the students,” he says.

    “She had a good mind for Indigeneity.”

    In 2006, Cardinal became Saskatchewan’s first designated prosecutor for environmental offences.

    “It was something very close to her heart,” says Matthew Miazga, a Crown prosecutor who worked with Cardinal in Saskatoon.

    Miazga now does environmental prosecutions, but says Cardinal defined the role.

    She did educational seminars with conservation officers, travelled across North America to talk about environmental law and worked with an organization focused on environmental crime, he says.

    She also loved fishing and created elaborate wood carvings of game birds.

    “I’m just laughing because I’m looking on my desk. I still get her subscription to the Western Canadian Game Warden (magazine),” he says.

    “Maybe she’s wondering why she hasn’t got them for several years.”

    Darrell Crabbe, executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, sat in on a few cases that Cardinal prosecuted. He credits her for helping increase fines and penalties for people guilty of environmental crimes such as illegal hunting and outfitting.

    “Inez was instrumental in changing, I would say, the legal system’s attitudes towards the values of fish and wildlife,” he says.

    Cardinal knows her way around a courtroom and is not the type to suffer fools, adds Miazga, who has appeared in front of her since she was appointed to the bench in Melfort in 2012.

    He also remembers her playing in some office hockey matches.

    “She could be a pretty tough opponent … and I seem to recall her being somebody you’d rather have on your team.”

     

    Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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    Scheer accuses Trudeau of ‘stacking the deck’ to get re-elected

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  • OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberals’ decision to name an anti-Conservative union to a panel that will decide which media outlets receive government funding is the latest example of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “stacking the deck” in his favour to get re-elected in October.

    Scheer told The Canadian Press today he believes the decision to include Unifor on the panel — which will determine eligibility for a $600-million bailout package —is unacceptable and will undermine the credibility of the panel’s work.

    Unifor has campaigned against the Conservative party and the union has recently published tweets calling itself Scheer’s “worst nightmare.”

    Scheer says this is the latest in a string of moves by Trudeau to give himself an upper hand ahead of the fall federal election.

    He also points to changes made to pre-election spending for political parties that impose restrictions that he says mainly affect the Conservative party, while no limits have been placed on government spending or travel in advance of the writ period.

    Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has defended Unifor’s place on the panel, saying the union represents over 12,000 journalists and media workers and has been included among other journalism groups to ensure broad representation from the industry.

    The Canadian Press

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    Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

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  • Toronto police say it’s “impressive” that they didn’t have to arrest anyone after the Raptors’ historic win on Saturday night sent thousands of celebratory fans careening onto the streets.

    The roar of fans cheering and chanting “We the North” and “Let’s go Raptors” flooded the downtown core after Canada’s sole NBA team earned a spot in the final for the first time in franchise history.

    On social media, videos emerged of fans running into intersections and dancing on top of streetcars and buses, but on Sunday, police spokeswoman Katrina Arrogante confirmed that not a single arrest was made.

    “It’s impressive. It certainly is,” said Arrogante. “We’re amazed — police were there to keep the peace and that’s exactly what happened.”

    The festivities ramped up shortly after 11 p.m. when the Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94, becoming the Eastern Conference champions and advancing to the NBA Finals.

    Earlier in the day, fans lined up for hours to pack Jurassic Park, but a thunderstorm prompted Toronto police to post on Twitter that they wouldn’t open the fan zone on schedule because of safety concerns. The ban was lifted an hour later and Jurassic Park quickly overflowed with Raptors supporters who braved the rain to watch the game outside Scotiabank Arena.

    There was a heavy police presence as some fans got rowdy, but officers say everyone managed to stay out of trouble as the celebrations continued.

    Arrogante said officers were called to various spots around the city to assist with crowd control and directing traffic, but no one was arrested. She said she saw videos of fans dancing on streetcars but said there were no reported injuries, and in terms of arrests: “nothing came out of that,” she said.

    “It turned out better than it could have,” said Arrogante.

    She said police will be out again Thursday night when the Raptors play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors in Game 1 and she hopes fans will continue to have fun safely.

    Arrogante said fans planning on drinking should get a designated driver or take public transit.

    “We’re reminding anyone that is going to be celebrating or taking part in any events forthcoming of the playoffs, is to be respectful.”

    Alanna Rizza, The Canadian Press

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