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Voters keeping pressure on Kenney, Moe, survey results suggest


OTTAWA — As provincial and territorial leaders prepare to gather, new survey results suggest two western premiers pushing Ottawa to help kickstart their economies face some uneasiness among voters back home.

In a web survey conducted in November for The Canadian Press, polling firm Leger found 42 per cent of Alberta respondents had a somewhat positive opinion of Jason Kenney, while 50 per cent had a somewhat negative opinion.

In Saskatchewan, 48 per cent of those who took part had a somewhat positive view of Scott Moe, with 36 per cent holding a somewhat negative opinion.

Ontario’s Doug Ford, meanwhile, was highly unpopular at home and across the country.

The survey was conducted Nov. 15 to 25 among 3,040 Canadians eligible to vote who were randomly recruited from an online panel.

Premiers gather in Toronto on Monday to try to come up with a cohesive plan to advance their interests in a national context. The meeting comes just weeks after Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals returned to power, but with a minority government and no Grit MPs from Alberta or Saskatchewan.

Kenney and Moe have been pressing Ottawa to do more to revitalize the flagging oil-and-gas industry that is so vital to their region.

The indication that a sizable number of voters in Alberta and Saskatchewan hold less-than-favourable impressions of their provincial leaders does signal a need to “put the pressure on Ottawa even more to satisfy their own electorate,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

In Ontario, 69 per cent of survey participants had a somewhat negative opinion of Ford, while 26 per cent had a somewhat positive view. Nationally, 65 per cent had a negative opinion.

The numbers might explain the fact Ford stayed largely out of sight during the federal campaign as well as his recent efforts to make peace with Trudeau, Bourque said.

Ford is slated to face the electorate in two-and-a-half years.

“There is still enough road ahead, but I think the recovery probably will be slow and difficult for him,” Bourque said.

By contrast, 65 per cent of respondents in Quebec had a somewhat positive opinion of provincial leader Francois Legault.

The survey also looked at views on the political fate of Andrew Scheer, who faces calls from several quarters to step down as federal Conservative leader after failing to unseat Trudeau’s Liberals.

Among those who identified as Conservative voters, 48 per cent said he should remain at the helm, while 40 per cent said he should resign. Twelve per cent said they did not know or refused to answer the question.

“It seems to me it’s getting tougher and tougher for Mr. Scheer to stay on,” Bourque said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh exceeded many people’s expectations during the campaign, even though his party lost 20 seats from its 2015 total.

The sentiment was reflected in the survey, with 87 per cent of NDP voters saying Singh should stay on as leader.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

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

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

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



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



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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