Officer who investigated Indigenous man's death in Thunder Bay demoted, family says more needed

An Ontario agency that oversees complaints against police has demoted an officer who was found guilty of investigating with bias the 2015 death of an Indigenous man in Thunder Bay.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director ruled on Friday that Shawn Harrison has been demoted to sergeant but can return to his rank of staff sergeant after 18 months if his disciplinary record remains unblemished.

The agency said Harrison also has to go through Indigenous cultural competency training.

In October 2015, Stacey DeBungee was spotted in Thunder Bay’s McIntyre River and the Thunder Bay Police Service put out statements deeming his death non-suspicious hours later, before an autopsy was completed.

In 2022, Harrison was found guilty of neglect of duty and discreditable conduct after adjudicator Greg Walton found the officer’s unconscious bias led him to conduct a grossly deficient investigation that was tainted by racism.

Lawyers representing DeBungee’s family, who wanted the officer terminated, say on the family’s behalf that the demotion is not enough to deter similar behaviour in the future and is a missed opportunity to address larger issues between Indigenous people and police.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Will the Bank of Canada cut interest rates this year? What market watchers are saying

WATCH: Bank of Canada raises key interest rate again, will pause further hikes

The Bank of Canada will cut interest rates by a half a percentage point to four per cent by December, according to a median of market participants surveyed by the central bank, with borrowing costs seen coming down further next year.

The Bank of Canada on Monday released for the first time a quarterly survey of market participants.

Last month the bank hiked its key interest rate to 4.5 per cent, the highest level in 15 years, and said it would hold off on further increases for now.

None of the 28 market players surveyed predicted that rates would go higher this year, while some forecast that the key borrowing rate could fall to 3.75 per cent by December. A median of those surveyed put rates at three per cent in the fourth quarter of next year.

After the rate decision on Jan. 25, Governor Tiff Macklem in an interview pushed back against traders who were betting that the central bank would cut rates as soon as October, saying the bank is pausing to determine whether rates must go higher, not lower.

In the same survey, a median of 26 market participants forecast that real gross domestic product will be down 0.4 per cent at the end of this year versus a year earlier, and will bounce back to grow two per cent annually by the end of next year.

The median forecast for annual inflation is 2.9 per cent at the end of the year, which is just inside the central bank’s one-to-three-per-cent target range, compared with 6.3 per cent inflation in December.

© 2023 Reuters

Vancouver police investigate man's homicide in Chinatown

Vancouver police officers were called to an area of Chinatown overnight after a man was discovered deceased.

Police said they received a call to West Pender and Carrall Street shortly after midnight.

That was where a man was found dead, reportedly on the street, where a white tent has now been set up.

Police said the victim has not yet been identified and no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information is asked to call VPD’s homicide unit at 604-717-2500.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has been called to Surrey after a woman was found dead and a man was found seriously injured in an apartment Sunday evening.

The man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Sask. Premier Scott Moe expecting increased health care funding ahead of meeting

All 13 Canadian premiers will be meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday to discuss funding for health care.

On Sunday, as he was leaving for Ottawa, Premier Scott Moe said he was pleased to finally have the meeting, noting that they’ve been asking for it for the past 18 months.

“In order to address the challenges that are similar – but often different as well – across the nation, we are going to need some flexibility across Canada in how we’re going to invest those dollars,” Moe said.

He noted the premiers asked for a $28-billion increase to the federal government’s contributions to health-care coverage, calling it a return to the feds being a fair funding partner.

Moe said this investment would ensure the stability of programs in the province, noting that all provinces have increased their investments in mental health and addiction treatment beds.

He said if they don’t get that number, it means there is “more work to do.”

“If the offer isn’t at that number, which it should be, I would put forward, that would mean that there’s more work to do. We would maybe consider this a down-payment on future work and future discussions that the provinces can have.”

In terms of the privatization of health care, Moe said they are looking at it “where it makes sense.”

“For example, we have publicly funded, but privately delivered surgeries that have been happening in Saskatchewan for a while. We’re going to expand on those numbers, in particular where it comes to orthopedic surgeries, but we’re also expanding the number of surgeries in the public sector.”

He said there is a long list of people waiting for surgeries, noting they are looking to expand services everywhere.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said he was hoping for an Indigenous voice at the premier’s meeting, noting that these decisions affect First Nations people.

“There’s an expectation now that First Nation people, by way of inherent treaty rights, that we’re fully included in major decisions that obviously impact First Nation people coast-to-coast,” Cameron said.

The premiers were looking for the federal government to increase health transfer payments from 22 per cent to 35 per cent.

“To not have our voices at the table in these decision-making tables, it’s a huge slap in the face.”

He said everyone talks about reconciliation, adding that this would be a big move for reconciliation.

There is the possibility that the AFN might have a seat at the table, but Cameron wondered if Chief Roseanne Archibald would get to have her voice heard or not.

“Do they get to voice their concerns, and put forth our position based on treaty?”

Details are still up in the air, but Cameron said if he was invited but expected to sit and be quiet the entire time, he wouldn’t go.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Real-life Doogie Howser: Boy, 9, becomes one of the youngest-ever high school graduates

Nine-year-old David Balogun is a certified class act.

Balogun, who lives with his family in Pennsylvania, became one of the youngest-ever high school graduates — and he’s already finished a semester of community college.

The nine-year-old began high school just before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He attended Reach Cyber Charter School and graduated with an over 4.0 GPA before 2022 came to a close.

Balogun’s mother, Ronya Balogun, told the outlet that he was tested for giftedness in Grade 1. He skipped several grades in elementary school and has a particular interest in science and computer programming.

His parents, both of whom have advanced degrees, said it can be challenging to raise a child with such advanced intellect. Though Balogun is like any other nine-year-old — he plays sports and the piano and is working on his martial arts black belt — his parents had to think “outside of the box” in terms of his education.

“He’s a nine-year-old with the brain that has the capacity to understand and comprehend a lot of concepts beyond his years and sometimes beyond my understanding,” Ronya told the local news outlet WGAL.

Balogun, who is already a member of Mensa, the largest high-IQ society in the world, said he wants to be an astrophysicist who studies black holes and supernovas in the future.

One of Balogun’s science teachers, Cody Derr, said he is the type of student “who changes the way you think about teaching.”

Balogun currently attends Bucks County Community College, where he has obtained a few credits already. His family is currently searching for other colleges or universities that may be a good fit for the nine-year-old.

Harvard University, however, may not be in the cards for Balogun — or at least not yet.

“Am I going to throw my nine-year-old into Harvard while I’m living in Pennsylvania?” asked Balogun’s father Henry. “No.”

There is only one known person to ever finish high school before the age of nine. Michael Kearney holds the Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to complete secondary education at the age of six. In his teens and 20s, after graduating from the University of South Alabama at 10, Kearney won US$1 million on the game show Gold Rush. 

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Barrie Ont. woman charged with attempted murder after police officer stabbed

A 20-year-old woman is facing charges of attempted murder and assault after an officer was stabbed responding to a person in crisis over the weekend.

On Sunday, Feb. 5, shortly after 10 p.m., Barrie police officers, along with Simcoe County paramedics, responded to a call about a person who was reportedly in crisis at an apartment complex on Duckworth Street in Barrie.

After arriving, police gained access to the apartment and say they cautiously approached the 20-year-old female occupant.

Police say as officers helped her to her feet, the woman lunged at one of the officers and stabbed her in the face.

The officer, who has been a member of the Barrie Police Service since February 2018, was rushed to a local hospital where she was treated for a serious injury. She has since been released.

“Police officers face significant risks with every shift. We are thankful that she will make a full recovery, but we know the long-term impacts of this incident and injury will have on the officer involved, and our entire Service,” said Barrie Police Chief Rich Johnston.

“I am grateful to everyone who assisted in the emergency response for our injured officer in their time of need.”

As a result of the ongoing investigation, the 20-year-old faces several assault charges and a charge of attempted murder.

Police say the young woman is scheduled to appear for a bail hearing on Monday at the Ontario Court of Justice located in Barrie.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Raj Grewal seeking dismissal of criminal charges connected to time as Liberal MP

WATCH: No clear answers yet in ongoing RCMP investigation of Ontario Liberal MP

A former Liberal MP is seeking the dismissal of two criminal charges connected to his time in office.

Raj Grewal‘s lawyer argues that prosecutors have not presented enough evidence to find him guilty of the two breach of trust charges, and the Crown has failed to establish essential elements required for such a finding.

The Crown has sought to prove that Grewal used his political office for personal gain, offering access to events with the prime minister and help with immigration files in exchange for large loans that went toward his gambling debt.

In written arguments filed in Ontario Superior Court, the defence says his conduct falls squarely within the non-criminal category, and the prosecution’s case doesn’t hold water.

Grewal appeared in court Monday via videoconference as his lawyer, Nader Hasan, put forward his motion for a directed verdict and an acquittal on all charges.

Hasan says in his written arguments there is a difference between misusing one’s official status for a corrupt purpose and making a mistake – or even acting dishonourably – while serving in office.

“The latter is not a breach of trust,” the document says. “It may be an error in judgment deserving of administrative sanction, or it may simply be a personal failing that has no sufficient nexus to merit sanction at all. Either way, it is not criminal.”

Grewal, who was first elected to represent the Ontario riding of Brampton East in 2015 and is himself a lawyer, did not disclose a series of large loans to the federal ethics commissioner.

An analysis of Grewal’s bank accounts offered during the prosecution’s evidence found that he had taken in some $6 million worth of deposits larger than $10,000 in the time after he was elected as an MP, and that significant amounts of that money went to payments at the Casino Lac-Leamy.

The most politically salient allegations against Grewal are that he offered lenders face time with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in exchange for their financial help.

Two Brampton-area businessmen who each provided a $200,000 loan to Grewal also attended events during Trudeau’s storied trip to India in 2018.

A former Liberal staffer testified that both Yusuf Yenilmez and Andy Dhugga were on a shortlist of people whom Grewal invited to a private meet-and-greet with Trudeau.

But neither stated that they expected such access in exchange for the loans – and Hasan argues that the evidence at trial “flatly contradicts” the notion.

Both businessmen described themselves as friends with Grewal and testified that they were unaware their names had been put forward for an exclusive event. Moreover, neither described the opportunity for a photo-op with Trudeau as “particularly valuable,” the defence submission recounts.

The prosecution also alleged that seven other lenders received immigration-related assistance from Grewal’s office, most commonly in the form of letters supporting applications for temporary resident visas.

Hasan notes that such letters are “not scarce,” as MPs’ offices regularly provide them to constituents, and they are not a necessary part of the application packages.

The idea that loans were provided in exchange for the letters as a quid pro quo “defies common sense,” the defence says.

If such letters and even invitations to meet-and-greets are standard activities for an MP’s office, it would have been more problematic, Hasan argues, if Grewal had “refused to provide these men with these standard constituency services simply because he had a personal relationship with them or obtained personal loans from them.”

To meet the standard for a breach of trust charge, the Crown must have presented evidence that Grewal was acting in connection with the duties of his office, that his conduct represented a serious and marked departure from the standards expected of someone in his position or that he acted with the intention to use his public office for a purpose other than the public good.

The Crown has not succeeded in that, the defence insists.

Grewal resigned as a member of the Liberal caucus in 2018 after his gambling problem came to public attention, and he did not run for re-election.

In 2020, the RCMP charged him with four counts of breach of trust and one count of fraud over $5,000, but only two breach of trust charges remain.

His trial began last summer, and only the prosecution has wrapped up its case after nine weeks’ worth of evidence. If the defence does not succeed in obtaining a directed verdict from the judge, the trial could continue into the spring.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Quebec premier calls Montreal byelection to replace ex Liberal leader Anglade

Quebecers living in the Montreal riding of the former Quebec Liberal party leader will vote March 13 in a byelection to choose her replacement.

Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne was held by Dominique Anglade, who resigned after her once-dominant party won less than 15 per cent of the vote in the October election but held on as official Opposition.

The riding is prized by left-wing Québec solidaire, which stole two Montreal ridings from the Liberals in the last election and is hoping to replace Anglade’s former party as the top choice for voters in the region.

READ MORE: Dominique Anglade resigns as leader of Quebec Liberal Party

Québec solidaire’s Guillaume Cliche-Rivard, who lost in October to Anglade by about 2,700 votes, is running again.

The Liberals are running Christopher Baenninger, president of a marketing agency, who lost in October by about 7,200 votes to the Québec solidaire candidate in a neighbouring riding.

The Coalition Avenir Québec, which holds 90 of the legislature’s 125 seats, will run Victor Pelletier, president of the party’s youth wing.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Consortium president 'hopeful and optimistic' Bulldogs will be back after Hamilton redevelopment

The head of the private operator that’s taken over managament of FirstOntario Centre insists his group wants the Bulldogs to return to Hamilton once a multi-million-dollar renovation is complete.

Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) president PJ Mercanti says they’re “hopeful and optimistic” they will be able to work out a deal with the Bulldogs, who are on the cusp of securing a multi-year deal to play in Brantford, Ont.

“We’ve got a long relationship … with the Bulldogs and their foundation,” Mercanti told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

“We’ve got nothing but respect and admiration for Mr. Andlauer and the Bulldogs, so we’re hopeful to be able to welcome them back to a newly renovated arena.”

The Hamilton Bulldogs maybe a step away from moving to Brantford for three seasons amid the estimated $100-millon renovation of the 38-year-old arena set for this year .

Brantford city councillors will consider a proposal from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) franchise on Tuesday night, which includes investments to upgrade the city’s Civic Centre, which currently holds only around 3,000 spectators.

Mayor Kevin Davis told Global News last week that the arrangement would see the city contribute some $3 million towards the upgrades, with no impact to taxpayers.

The total upgrade package is set for an estimated $7.5 million, with some of the spending coming from Bulldogs ownership.

A staff report is recommending council approve the move and renovations be funded via a casino reserve fund.

Davis said upgrades “should have been done long ago” and that reaching out to the Bulldogs in November 2022 provided the platform to justify getting to it.

“In some ways we have neglected that building and we haven’t made the kind of investments to make sure the building stays current,” Davis said.

“So, that’s why I say these renovations and upgrades we’re looking at … this is going to be the catalyst doing that.”

The deal would allow for additional three one-year renewals and a renaming of the squad to the Brantford Bulldogs.

Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer told Global News last week HUPEG did say in January they wanted the team back when the new facility is operational but says there’s “nothing concrete.”

“There’s nothing in writing. There’s no lease, nothing of the sort,” Andlauer told 900 CHML’s Hamilton Today.

“I haven’t seen any designs or or anything that would indicate that there’s something concrete, just a desire to have us back.”

Mercanti says the “most efficient way” of quickly completing the renovations is to vacate tenants since “working around existing activities” would slow the process down.

The timeline for the start and finish of the project is still not public, but likely to commence in late summer once FirstOntario honours commitments to Disney on Ice in mid-March, as well as the Canadian Country Music Awards and Shania Twain, both set for June.

Mercanti says the latter activations are an example of a business group hoping to attract more reservations on a regular basis, boasting a modern “world class” venue.

Specifics of the venue’s design, which enlists aid from the Oak View Group run by former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Tim Leiweke, are also not clear.

Mercanti hopes to answer those questions for Andlauer when more details are available.

“We do look forward to presenting him with more information over the course of the immediate future with regards to what a return to the arena looks like,” Mercanti said.

“We’re hopeful that it works for him and for the arena.”

A more concrete timeline of the development is also something the city and Mayor Andrea Horwath hope to see soon following the “disappointment” expressed in a statement released last week on the pending move .

“I encourage the Bulldogs and HUPEG to work on a timeline for their return to what will be a modern, state-of-the-art arena in Hamilton,” Horwath said in a statement sent to Global News.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Vernon man faces charges after being found with gun during overdose

A 23-year-old man from Vernon, B.C., is facing firearms charges after being found during an overdose with a gun concealed in his coat.

It was Thursday when Vernon Mounties responded to a report that an unresponsive man had apparently overdosed in the 4500 block of 27th Street.

“When the bystander began to administer first aid, they found what appeared to be a firearm strapped to the man’s body underneath his coat,” RCMP said in a press release.

“Police were called and front-line officers responded immediately to the scene and seized a .22 calibre firearm and loaded magazine.”

The man was administered a dose of nasal naloxone. He later regained consciousness and was transported to hospital.

The man was released from custody and faces a number of potential firearms-related charges.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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