Alberta hires energy executive as point person for plan to transition off coal

EDMONTON – Alberta has hired a retired U.S. electricity executive to work with industry to draw up a plan to move the province off coal-fired electricity generation.

Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous announced Wednesday that Terry Boston will be paid up to $600,000 and will report by September.

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    “I’m confident that Mr. Boston will be tough but fair, recognizing the need to protect consumers, taxpayers, workers, and communities while respecting the need to provide certainty and fairness to both companies and their investors,” Bilous told reporters at the legislature.

    Boston, who is from Tennessee, recently retired as the head of PJM Interconnection, which is the second largest, centrally-dispatched power system in the world.

    “He is the best in the business and this is why we wanted to bring him on as a facilitator,” said Bilous.

    Boston was not at the news conference and was not immediately available for comment.

    As part of its climate change plan, Alberta is shutting down coal-fired electricity generation by 2030 to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

    Twelve of Alberta’s 18 coal-fired generating units are already expected to be shut down by then, so the focus of Boston’s work will be on the remaining six.

    By 2030, the plan is to have two-thirds of Alberta’s coal generation capacity replaced by renewable energy. One third will be replaced by natural gas.

    READ MORE: 30 Alberta municipalities sound alarm over NDP plan to phase out coal power

    There are eight coal mines operating in Alberta. Five mines produce coal for the province’s electricity sector.

    Bilous said at the same time he will be working and meeting with people in the communities affected when the transition from coal happens.

    “(We’re) looking at different options, whether that’s through potential training or retraining (of workers) but also looking at opportunities within existing communities,” said Bilous.

    In 2013 the electricity sector accounted for 17 per cent of Alberta’s total GHG emissions. Most of that came from coal-fired generation.

    The opposition Wildrose party is calling for the province to complete a full economic analysis to make sure that the grid changes don’t send power prices soaring or lead to massive job losses.

    Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said he is skeptical of the outcome.

    “No matter what happens, no matter who is directing traffic as far as what amount is going to be paid, we know that consumers are ultimately going to have it all downloaded on them,” said Jean.

    “(That) means our power costs are going to be significantly higher than what they are right now.”

Wildrose blames centralized dispatch for EMS Code Reds

Alberta’s opposition says it believes centralizing EMS dispatch has led to more ambulance code red alerts in Edmonton and will lead to more code reds in Calgary if dispatch services are taken away from the city’s control.

A red alert is triggered when there are no metro ambulances available to respond to 911 calls.

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“Ever since AHS began its centralization experiments with EMS services, Albertans have watched services decline across the province,” Wildrose health critic Drew Barnes said in a release.”The numbers show that centralization results in a 3,000 per cent increase in code reds.”

The Wildrose pointed to a document it accessed under the Freedom of Information Act that showed the Edmonton zone experienced 888 code red events during the first 11 months of 2015. According to the document, some of these events lasted for as little as a single second. The longest event occurred on Feb. 18, 2015 and lasted just over 16 minutes.

“In contrast, over the entirety of 2015, Calgary experienced just 39 (red alerts),” the Wildrose press release said.

READ MORE: EMS red alerts down in Alberta but problems still remain

Last week, AHS responded to a request from Global News for 2015 code red data. AHS confirmed that Calgary had experienced 39 code reds in 2015, down from 60 in 2014. It reported Edmonton’s code red numbers as an accumulated total time. In 2015, AHS says Edmonton EMS was in a state of red alert for a total of 27 hours, down from 49 hours in 2014.

According to Nick Thain, executive director for EMS South Sector for Alberta Health Services, code reds are tracked differently between Alberta’s two major cities because in Calgary, dispatch services are still managed by the City of Calgary. “In Calgary, red alerts are tracked manually, so a dispatcher will go in and report that the system has either entered or ended a red alert.”

In Edmonton, Thain says red alerts are tracked with computer software so the information around how long red alerts last is more precise.

Alberta had planned to move to one province-wide dispatch system in 2009 but that plan was put on hold before the provincial election last year.  Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says she’s still reviewing the issue and hasn’t decided if the province should proceed with a fully centralized dispatch service.

“I want to make sure that I make the right decision,” Hoffman said in an interview with Global News.  “We’re going to keep working with AHS, the Health Quality Council of Alberta and local leaders like (Calgary’s) Mayor Nenshi to make sure we’re doing what’s best for Albertans.”

In 2013, a report from the HQCA recommended the province expedite work to complete plans to consolidate EMS dispatch in order to improve ambulance service across the province. But critics, including Calgary’s mayor, have said they believe that would be a mistake.

Muslim man claims alleged attacker chanted ‘Trump, Trump, Trump’

A Muslim man says he and a Hispanic friend were randomly attacked by a man who chanted “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “make America great again”, GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s popular tagline.

At a press conference in Wichita, Kansas Monday, Khondoker Usama, 23, gave his account of what happened early Saturday morning as he and his friend stopped at a convenience store to get fuel and some drinks.

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WATCH: Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau invites Americans to Canada with ‘open arms’

Usama, who is student body vice president at Wichita State University (WSU), said they were going about their business when a man approached and confronted them.

“He was yelling at my friend, calling him ‘brown trash’ and telling him, ‘you wanna live in this country? You gotta leave this country!’,” Usama said.

“Things escalated really quick.”

In a security camera video of the incident released by police, Usama and his friend can be seen standing outside the car at the gas pump when a man pulls up on a motorcycle.

While there is no audio on the video, the man is seen exchanging words with Usama’s friend. The man then starts swinging.

Usama appears to try to calm the situation, and the man then pushes Usama. The altercation continues for a few more minutes.

“The person kept kicking my friend, it was a gut-wrenching scene,” Usama said.

“That person was shouting and screaming, chanting like ‘Trump, Trump, Trump, we’ll make America great again, we’ll throw you out of the wall.’”

Despite having no political experience, Trump has charged to the front of the GOP pack in his bid for the Republican nomination and a shot at the White House. He has said he supports building a wall spanning the United States-Mexico border, deporting undocumented immigrants, and banning all Muslims from entering the U.S.

READ MORE: Trump blames opponents for violence at his rallies: ‘My people are nice’

Recently Trump’s rallies have become increasing heated as protesters and his supporters clash; last week a Chicago rally was cancelled due to the violence.

WATCH: Donald Trump rally cancelled after protesters and supporters fight

In the video Usama is seen on the phone with 9-1-1 as the man gets back on his motorcycle.

Before the man drives away, he circles the men on his motorcycle while yelling out that Trump is winning, chanting Trump’s name and calling them losers, according to Usama.

“There is nothing else to say other than it was a hate crime,” Usama says.

The Kansas chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) says it wants Trump to denounce the alleged attacker’s actions and statements.

WATCH: Donald Trump supporter sucker-punches protester at rally

Wichita police say they are investigating the incident and are looking at it as a hate crime.

Usama says he is grateful for the support he has received after deciding to go public. He’s asking others to denounce the “bigotry and hatred” he faced that night.

“If we allow this kind of hatred towards each other, then we can’t make America great again.”

In a statement WSU president John Bardo condemned “all acts of anger and violence motivated by racism and intolerance.”

“At WSU, we constantly strive to build an environment where a diversity of culture, thought, experience and opinion can coexist in harmony. This core value is vital to the success of the university and to the nation as a whole,” Bardo said.

“We would ask that the community keep this in mind as debate and discussion continue during a heated presidential election season.”

Trump maintains a commanding lead in the race for the Republican nomination. On Wednesday, he stated that if the party tries to block the nomination there would be “riots.”

50-year-old political ad goes viral after it seemingly describes Donald Trump

For something produced over 50 years ago to “go viral” today seems a little strange.

But that’s exactly the case for one political ad from the 1964, which has seen a resurgence online after people began noticing the almost eerie parallels between the ad’s target, and Republican front runner Donald Trump.

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    Titled Confessions of a Republican, the ad is a black-and-white, single-camera shot without background music or cuts of any kind, featuring a man talking into the camera lens while smoking a cigarette – meaning it’s as much a relic of 1960’s television as you’re likely to find.

    The premise is simple: a Republican voter is “confessing” his concern for his party’s nominee for President.

    “I’ve always been a Republican,” the man begins. “My father is, his father was, the whole family is a Republican family.”

    But quickly, the confession begins: the unknown man admits the party’s current nominee “scares” him. He “seems to be against just about everything.”

    “When I read some of these things he says… I get a little worried,” the man admits.

    Of course, the candidate in question isn’t Donald Trump – it’s Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican nominee for President in the 1964 general election.

    READ MORE: 5 things Donald Trump was for, then against (or against, then for)

    Like Trump, Goldwater was seen as a bold candidate who was unafraid to speak his mind on the issues. Also like Trump, some of Goldwater’s ultra-Conservative positions and inflammatory statements worried left-leaning Republicans and moderate voters.

    This allowed his political opponents – namely President Lyndon B. Johnson, the incumbent in the 1964 election – to paint him as a dangerous reactionary.

    Such is the case here: Confessions of a Republican was an attack ad put out by the Johnson campaign. And yes, the man giving the “confession” is actor Bill Bogert. It was a requirement when casting the ad that the actor actually be a Republican.

    As the advertisement goes on, the parallels to the modern-day Trump campaign become even starker.

    “A reporter will go to Senator Goldwater and he’ll say, ‘Senator, on such and such a day, you said, and I quote, blah blah blah whatever it is, end quote,’” Bogert says. “And then Goldwater says, ‘Well, I wouldn’t put it that way.’ I can’t follow that.”

    “Was he serious when he did put it that way? Is he serious when he says I wouldn’t put it that way? I just don’t get it.”

    READ MORE: Saskatchewan voters looking for NDP leader online sent to Trump’s website

    Then Bogert makes a statement that could have been pulled right from the headlines in 2016.

    “I [don’t worry] so much about party unity because if you unite behind a man you don’t believe in, it’s a lie,” Bogert says. “I tell you, those people who got control of [the Republican] convention: Who are they?”

    “I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor of the candidate of my party — either they’re not Republicans or I’m not.”

    Of course, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsement of Trump’s campaign made waves around the world, especially when Trump initially didn’t denounce him.

    “Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK?” Trump said at the time. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

    Trump would eventually denounce the KKK leader in later statements.

    The Johnson/Goldwater campaign is viewed as an important moment in US Presidential politics. Thanks to political ads like this and the infamous “Daisy” commercial, Johnson soundly defeated Goldwater in the 1964 election.

    However, the election signaled a shift in US presidential politics: Johnson became the first Democrat to win in Maine, and Vermont, while Goldwater became the first Republican to win Georgia, signaling the start a geo-political shift in where the two parties would draw their support in the coming decades.

    READ MORE: Donald Trump wins Florida but loses Ohio, Marco Rubio drops out

    The election also signaled a shift within the ranks of the Republican Party, with many longtime Republicans losing their seats. This had the effect of “clearing the way” for a new breed of Republican politicians to bring about the “Reagan Revolution” of the 1980’s, and the birth of the modern American Conservative ideology based on religious values, low taxes, and an aggressive foreign policy.

    And there’s one more interesting tidbit from the 1964 campaign: it represented the first foray into politics, on the side of Barry Goldwater, of a young girl named Hillary Rodham.

    “I was also an active Young Republican and, later, a Goldwater girl, right down to my cowgirl outfit and straw cowboy hat,” Hillary Rodham, now Hillary Clinton, wrote in her autobiography Living History. “I liked Senator Goldwater because he was a rugged individualist who swam against the political tide.”

    Remind you of anyone?

    Meanwhile, following more gains in Tuesday’s primaries, Donald Trump has begun to present himself as the inevitable Republican presidential nominee, warning that if party leaders try to deny him the nomination at a contested convention when he is leading the delegate count, “You’d have riots.”

    The brash billionaire, who won at least three more states Tuesday but doesn’t yet have the needed majority of delegates to secure the nomination, predicted he’d collect enough support to win the nomination outright before the Republican convention this summer.

    -With files from the Associated Press

Dutch ban arms trade with Saudi Arabia, but Canada will ‘respect’ its $15B deal

While the Dutch parliament has taken a step to chastise Saudi Arabia for its abhorrent human rights record, voting in favour of banning arms exports to the country, Canada’s prime minister reasserted a controversial arms deal with the kingdom won’t be cancelled.

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    Prime minister Justin Trudeau, visiting UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday, where he formally announced Canada would bid for a seat on the Security Council, said his newly-elected government could not renege on a deal secured by the previous one.

    READ MORE: Canada closely monitoring country’s military exports, has legal ‘levers’ on Saudi deal

    “Canada is a country of the rule of law, a country of democratically elected government, and regardless of how we may feel about a previous government, the fact is they were democratically elected. They signed on to a contract and we are bound to respect that contract,” Trudeau said of the $15-billion arms deal the Conservatives signed to supply light-armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the Saudis.

    The deal would see London, Ont.-based General Dynamics Land Systems Canada manufacture LAVs for the Saudi military, providing some 3,000 people jobs in the process. But human rights groups warn arms sent to Saudi Arabia could be used against civilians and government opposition groups.

    The bill put before Dutch lawmakers Tuesday referenced Saudi Arabia’s rising tally of executions, 73 so far this year, and its bombing campaign in neighbouring Yemen, which has led to more than 6,000 deaths — half of them civilians. A UN panel report leaked in January said the kingdom’s assault on civilian targets were “widespread and systematic attacks” and a violation of international humanitarian law.

    WATCH: Ban Ki-moon asked if he objects to Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia

    The Netherlands is the first country in the European Union to adopt such a ban, following European Parliament motion in February urging member nations to put a halt on arms trade with a government that is widely viewed as an ally to Western governments.

    READ MORE: Federal government denounces mass executions in Saudi Arabia

    There has been growing public pressure on governments, including in Canada, to cease arms trade with Saudi Arabia.

    The Liberal government said last month it would review Saudi Arabia’s rights record when taking future deals into consideration, but has maintained it would not cancel a $15-billion deal brokered by the previous Conservative government.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told a Feb. 29 Senate meeting the Liberal government didn’t approve of the deal but would permit it to stand.

    READ MORE: Saudi Arabia has a terrible human rights record. Why are they still Canada’s ally?

    The Saudi government was on the defensive earlier this month, calling criticism of the deal “sensationalized and politicized.”

    “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not accept any interference in its jurisdiction or internal affairs by any party,” the Globe and Mail reported the Saudi embassy in Ottawa saying in a statement.

    Canada is not the only government facing calls to halt arms trade with Saudi Arabia.

    The U.K. sold more than $5.5 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in the first three months of 2015, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

    Germany, which sold approximately $260 million in arms to Riyadh in the first half of last year, said it will take Saudi human rights violations into consideration moving forward but, like Canada, won’t call off previously negotiated deals.

    With files from

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French’s ketchup ‘cannibalizing’ President’s Choice’s: Loblaw memo

TORONTO – A leaked internal memo sent to some Loblaw employees said the grocery chain decided to stop stocking French’s ketchup because it was “cannibalizing” sales of its in-house President’s Choice variety.

Loblaw confirmed the memo’s existence but said it wasn’t an official one.

The memo addressed to grocery managers and retailers said it intended to explain why French’s ketchup was being pulled from store shelves.

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“We are in the process of delisting French’s ketchup because it is cannibalizing the sales of PC ketchup and has had little impact to Heinz ketchup,” reads the memo.

obtained a photo of the memo from someone who says they are a Loblaw employee. The employee, who wished to remain anonymous due to fears of workplace reprisal, identified the sender of the memo as a senior director at the company.

Loblaw, however, described the sender as a mid-level employee who is a member of the company’s operations team for a group of stores.

READ MORE: French’s ketchup uproar: 4 other times consumers were outraged

“The memo was unofficial, misinformed and sent by a staff member prior to (Tuesday’s) decision to restock French’s ketchup,” Kevin Groh, vice-president of corporate affairs and communication, said Wednesday in a statement.

“Customer preference was the single reason the product was removed from our shelves, and the single reason it is back.”

Loblaw announced Tuesday it was reversing its decision to discontinue selling French’s ketchup following social media outcry.

French’s ketchup became an Internet darling after a man’s Facebook post lauded the U.S.-based company for using 100 per cent Canadian-grown tomatoes.

READ MORE: Ketchup politics: Ontario legislature asked to serve French’s, not Heinz

Other Canadians answered the call to support local farmers and demand for French’s increased. People shared stories of their local grocers being unable to keep French’s ketchup in stock due to high demand.

WATCH: Loblaws restocking French’s ketchup after social media outcry

The memo indicates Loblaw was concerned about French’s ketchup eating into its President’s Choice profits, but Groh reiterated his company’s position that French’s ketchup simply wasn’t selling.

“In past, French’s ketchup has not come close to matching the sales of the other brands — even when discounted,” Groh said.

The leaked memo also says that social media buzz didn’t necessarily translate to actual sales.

READ MORE: Loblaws to re-stock French’s ketchup, made with Canadian tomatoes

But the memo does take issue with the notion that French’s ketchup is a Canadian-made product. It says French’s ketchup contains Canadian-grown tomatoes, but it is made in the U.S.

A spokesperson for French’s said the ketchup it sells in Canada is produced in both Canada and the U.S.

Loblaw’s President’s Choice ketchup, on the other hand, sources its tomatoes from California, but is produced in Canada.

“If we truly want to support Canadian, we must rally behind PC ketchup since it is made in Canada,” the memo says.

Groh said one brand is not more Canadian than the other, but President’s Choice is continuing conversations to purchase tomatoes from Canadian farmers if high-quality produce can be available in the amount needed for the right price.

“We have not yet found that balance,” he said.

Stabbing suspect once had restricted airport security clearance

TORONTO —; The 27-year-old man accused of stabbing two soldiers at a Canadian Forces recruitment centre previously worked at Toronto’s largest airport and had access to restricted areas.

Ayanle Hassan Ali worked for a third party employer at Toronto Pearson International Airport from December 2008 to March 2009 and possessed a Restricted Area Identification Card, according to the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

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“[Ali] is not an employee of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority nor does he currently work at Toronto Pearson,” a spokeswoman for the organization told Global News.

“We join all Canadians in wishing the injured soldiers a speedy recovery, and in saluting the brave personnel who intervened to defuse the attack.”

READ MORE: Accused in military stabbing said ‘Allah told me to do this’: police

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Ali walked into the office located in a federal government building in north Toronto around 3 p.m. Monday and slashed a male soldier behind the counter in the arm with a “large knife,” then tried and failed to stab a female soldier before being subdued by Forces members, one of whom was injured in the process.

Both soldiers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

Saunders told reporters Tuesday the accused said at the scene “Allah told me to do this. Allah told me to come here and kill people.”

WATCH: Montreal man faces charges after Toronto military recruitment office stabbings

Police said they believe Ali acted alone in the stabbing but added investigators are looking into any possible connections with terror groups.

Saunders said Ali is a Montreal-born Canadian citizen living in Toronto since 2011. He said the accused had no prior contact with police.

RCMP and federal agencies are involved in the case and terrorism charges aren’t being ruled out, Saunders said.

READ MORE: Man arrested after 2 attacked at Canadian Forces office in Toronto: police

Ali’s lawyer David Burke told reporters the accused is “very scared right now” and may seek bail. Burke refused to answer questions on his client’s personal life or background. The charge sheet states Ali lives in north Etobicoke in the city’s west end.

Police initially announced five charges against Ali but court documents say he faces nine offences: three counts each of attempted murder and assault with a weapon, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of weapons dangerous.

A bulletin issued to members of the Toronto Police Service on Monday and obtained by Global News warned officers to be aware of “potential sympathizers or lone-actors” who may commit similar acts.

It further reminded officers to “maintain heightened vigilance for suspicious behaviour.”

Accused in military stabbing said ‘Allah told me to do this’: Police

00:34

Accused in military stabbing said ‘Allah told me to do this’: Police

00:40

Toronto military stabbing suspect may face terrorism charges

00:19

Toronto police investigating military office attacker’s connections nationally and abroad

00:26

Toronto Police Chief urges public to resist ‘Islamophobia’ in wake of attack on military office

00:49

‘We do remain vigilant’: Canadian Forces recruitment centre



With files from Will Campbell