Parrots form friendships with long-term care residents in Lethbridge

A spoonful of peanut butter and a visit from her feathered friends is all it takes to put a smile on Elma Koenig’s face.

The long-term care resident at St. Michael’s Health Centre is one of many who gets frequent visits from Brian Shields and his two parrots Baby and Taz.

The centre welcomes volunteers and their pets to visit residents as a way of providing socialization.

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    “A lot of them don’t get out or go home, or have families who visit,” recreational therapist Cheryl Bodell said. “It’s a chance also for that one-to-one visiting, or in a group, just interacting with the animals and the different owners.”

    Shields started making trips to St. Michael’s three years ago with a Cockatoo named Abby.

    “Abby was the star of the show because she was so social and could go to anybody,” he said.

    But when Abby escaped from her home and passed away about a year ago, he wasn’t sure if the visits would continue.

    READ MORE: More than just hugs: Therapy animals require training, the right temperament 

    His other bird, Baby, was left on her own and wasn’t used to being in the spotlight.

    “Over the summer, we did a lot of treat training and other things to try and get Baby a little more adjusted to being the star of the show,” Shields said.

    Now Baby, along with her new flock mate Taz, are frequent visitors and make their rounds on a regular basis.

    READ MORE: Animal therapy offers hope for veterans struggling with PTSD 

    Bodell says for Sandy Johansen, another long-term care resident, the parrots make great companions.

    “She doesn’t do a lot outside of her room so to have animals come in and a chance to socialize and interact is really a special treat for her,” Bodell said.

    It’s also a treat for the parrots, Shields said.

    “Unfortunately a lot of people think that a bird is a cage animal and the parrots, especially the bigger and smarter ones, they need entertainment and they need to go out,” he said.

    “A busy parrot is a happy parrot.”

    Although Taz and Baby are the only parrots that visit, St. Michael’s has had dogs in the past.

    They’re encouraging anyone with people-friendly pets to contact them and get involved.

Unspoiled, ‘tremendously special’ forest at west edge of Edmonton to open to public in the fall

The Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area, a 250 hectare old-growth forest just 30 kilometres from downtown Edmonton, is expected to be open for nature lovers to enjoy this fall, according to the Edmonton and Area Land Trust (EALT).

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The EALT, along with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, held a media event at the parcel of land west of Alberta’s capital on Tuesday to talk about its future now that it has acquired the land. The property, acquired from private landowners, features diverse vegetation and wildlife.

‘It features aspen parkland woods as well as pockets of white spruce, tamarack, jack pine and wetlands, giving way to diverse plant communities throughout the whole area,” the EALT’s website says. “This natural area is an important refuge for wildlife and is home to many species including moose, deer, squirrels, owls, hawks and songbirds.”

In May 2015, the Nature Conservancy of Canada announced it was hoping to raise $4 million to purchase the forest and wildlife habitat. The land belonged to five families who preserved it in its natural state and agreed to sell it to the conservancy at a fraction of its market value.

READ MORE: Group raising $4M to buy large natural area outside Edmonton

Watch below: On May 21, 2015, Fletcher Kent filed this report after five families agreed to sell their land at a discount to Nature Conservancy Canada so it can be preserved.

“We’ve owned this for 45-plus years now and as kids, this was a long way from the city… it was a trip out to the country and it was always a special day when we got to come out here,” Kim Laskin, one of the former landowners, said on Tuesday.

The owners kept the land intact despite significant development all around it over the years.

“It’s like an oasis in the middle of a whole bunch of farmland.”

Laskin said his family also owned a nearby farm and would often take their horses to gallop through the Bunchberry Meadows area. He said he and the other landowners approached the conservancy about selling the land because with growing families, the land wasn’t being used as much as before.

“(It’s) very important that this was protected forever,” he said. “(This was) the ultimate way to preserve our parents’ legacies and keep this property exactly how it should be.”

“This is a tremendously special property,” said Pam Wight, executive director of the EALT. “It’s very large for the Edmonton area – a whole section of land. It’s completely natural.

“There are large populations of people who have to drive considerable distances to get to areas that are natural and this has tremendous promise.”

To help buy the land, the EALT was buoyed by a $1.667-million gift from an anonymous donor.

Wight said the green space won’t open to the public until the fall because her organization needs time to ensure the area and its trails are safe for nature lovers to use and to take steps to make sure the land isn’t damaged when visitors begin using it.

‘Undone, uncontrollable’: Doctor describes man shot by police in Winnipeg skywalk

WINNIPEG —; A Winnipeg doctor says the man shot by police inside his downtown office was asked several times to drop the weapon he was holding.

The 25-year-old man, shot on Monday over the lunch hour in the Winnipeg skywalk, has since been upgraded to stable condition.

“He was what we call undone, uncontrollable,” Dr. Robert Lecker said. He said the man burst into his optometry office with what looked like a homemade spear.

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READ MORE: Man shot by police officer in downtown Winnipeg skywalk

“It was a thin metal pole probably about three feet and at the end of it there was a pair of scissors, half a pair of scissors, taped to the end of the rod,” Lecker said.

The man appeared to be in some kind of confrontation between police and downtown patrol members in the skywalk just outside the front door to the clinic, according to Lecker’s receptionist, Nicelyn Romero.

He then came through the door into the office where Romero was at the front desk and Lecker was in the back with two patients.

WATCH: Man shot by police officer in downtown Winnipeg skywalk

“He’s staring at me, I’m staring at him and I don’t know what to do next,” she said.

Police were right behind the man, asking him to put down the spear, Romero said.

“He’s telling him to drop the weapon, otherwise he’s going to shoot him and he didn’t listen,” she said.

One of the two shots fired hit the man, Lecker said.

“Everybody acted in an appropriate fashion and it was done in the best possible fashion to protect everyone who’s in here,” he said. “People shouldn’t be afraid to come into this area so whatever has to happen to prevent this from happening again is essential.”

Canadian MP Andrew Leslie uses hamburgers to illustrate importance of NAFTA

WASHINGTON – Just before lunchtime in Washington, a Canadian MP spoke to his audience’s stomach about the tasty attributes of the North American Free Trade Agreement and how cancelling it would cause economic indigestion.

Andrew Leslie told the story of a hamburger.

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The parliamentary secretary for Canada-U.S. relations used the journey of a burger to illustrate the interconnectedness of modern supply chains and argued that tearing up NAFTA would rip the bread from the patty and the condiments and leave an economic mess.

READ MORE: Donald Trump will keep focus on trade as he celebrates 100th day in office

He was speaking at Johns Hopkins University a few days after President Donald Trump floated the idea of serving notice the U.S. might start pulling out of the continental trade agreement in six months.

Leslie talked about the tens of thousands of Americans employed by TD Bank, the thousands who work on TransCanada pipelines and the states that have Canada as their No. 1 customer.

And then he brought up burgers.

WATCH: Trump on NAFTA: will renegotiate or terminate deal

He described a how a cow raised in Alberta gets processed in the U.S., and ends up in a bun baked in California with wheat from Saskatchewan, topped with lettuce from Arizona and a tomato from Ontario.

“You (get) that (burger) for what – five bucks?” Leslie said. “Think of the complexity of that. Think of the decades it took for the various elements to reach their peak efficiency in what they were doing best, into an integrated supply chain. . . .

“How do you untangle that? How do you do that and retain the value-added that’s built up over the last 40 or 50 years? That was a simple example.”

The Trump administration says it intends to start renegotiating NAFTA with Canada and Mexico later this year and reserves the right to withdraw if those negotiations fail to achieve a new deal.

But it’s articulated conflicting objectives – just in the last few days.

On the one hand, Trump’s team has spoken of the need for major upgrades in complex areas, like dairy, lumber and pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, it’s expressed a desire to do it quickly, within months – and get a deal wrapped up before the Mexican election next year.

READ MORE: Donald Trump planned on giving Canada only 5 days’ notice of NAFTA withdrawal

Trade-watchers are overwhelmingly skeptical these two goals are compatible.

“The U.S. is hoping to fuse quick with thorough by rolling Canada and Mexico on the issues they care about,” said Eric Miller, a former Canadian official who runs a trade consultancy, Rideau Potomac Strategy Group.

“(But) I don’t see how you do a major rejig in six months.”

Asked whether the Canadian government favours a quick renegotiation, or a thorough one, Leslie said little. He said the Canadian government has a list of demands ready, but intends to keep its cards hidden for now.

He said Canada is waiting for the U.S. to make its opening move, which would come after the White House sends a formal notice to Congress that negotiations will start in 90 days.

One thing Leslie described as a non-starter: cancelling the deal.

“Tearing up the agreement is, in my opinion, not the answer,” Leslie said. “There’s a deep understanding there’s no good that would come from replacing perceived impediments to Canada-U.S. trade with real ones.”

John Oakley Show – Tuesday May 2, 2017

On the Tuesday edition of the Oakley Show, MPs want spies watching spies; later we talk to our resident criminal lawyer about a rapist released even though he may re-offend and why millennials are at high risk for mental health issues.  Listen to it again!

Liberal and NDP MPs recommend increased oversight over CSIS

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Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director, Privacy & Big Data Institute – Ryerson University and Former Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario joins the Oakley show to tell us why more oversight and restricted the spy agency’s powers are necessary in light of Bill C-51

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READ MORE:
CSIS use of personal data troubles privacy watchdog

‘High Park Rapist’ back on streets, high risk to re-offend

Rejected several times for parole, and still considered a threat, Michael Giroux is now free and living near McGill University. We talk to criminal defense lawyer Lorne Honickman and ask if there was a way to keep Giroux in prison and if police have an obligation to let the neighbourhood know.

View link »

READ MORE:
Seattle jogger who fought off her rapist sparks self-defence boom

It’s Mental Health Week – More Canadian millennials then ever are at high risk of mental health issues

A staggering 63 per cent of Canadian millennials are at “high risk” for mental health issues, according to a new Ipsos report released exclusively to Global News. Mark Henick, national director of strategic initiatives at the Canadian Mental Health Association discusses the struggles younger people are experiencing and how we can help them.

View link »

READ MORE:
Why more Canadian millennials than ever are at ‘high risk’ of mental health issues

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

Expel Meredith, Senate ethics committee says

OTTAWA – The Senate ethics committee is recommending that disgraced Sen. Don Meredith be expelled for engaging in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl — the first such recommendation in the history of the upper chamber.

It’s now up to the full Senate to decide whether to accept or reject the recommendation.

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    “He has brought disrepute to himself and to the institution,” the committee’s recommendation reads.

    “Your committee is of the opinion that Sen. Meredith’s misconduct has demonstrated that he is unfit to serve as a senator. His presence in the chamber would in itself discredit the institution.

    “No lesser sanction than expulsion would repair the harm he has done to the Senate.”

    Meredith must be given five sitting days in which to respond to the committee report, should he wish, so a vote on his fate can’t occur before next Tuesday at the earliest.

    READ MORE: Expelling Don Meredith from the Senate will be no easy task

    The recommendation follows an explosive report from Senate ethics officer Lyse Ricard earlier this year.

    She concluded that Meredith, a 52-year-old, married, Pentecostal minister, had begun a relationship with a 16-year-old girl that later became sexual; she also found that Meredith had abused his position as a senator to take advantage of the teen.

    Meredith has called the affair a “moral failing” but insists he did not have intercourse with the girl until after she turned 18 and has rejected fellow senators’ near-universal demand that he resign.

    WATCH: NDP demands Liberals condemn Sen. Don Meredith’s actions

    The Senate has never expelled a senator. But the general feeling in the Senate — from senators to a number of female staffers — has long been that Meredith is no longer welcome.

    Prior to Tuesday’s report, experts said Sec. 18 of the Constitution says both the Senate and the House of Commons have the same powers as the British House of Commons, which can expel a member and declare their seat vacant.

    READ MORE: Meredith broke code of conduct during alleged relationship with teenager, says ethics office

    Meredith has publicly apologized to his family, his fellow senators, the woman in question — known only as Ms. M — and to all Canadians, hoping the contrition would be enough for him to hold on to his Senate seat.

    “This is a moral failing on my part,” Meredith said in March in an interview with , with his lawyer in attendance.

    “As a human being, I made a grave error in judgment, in my interactions. For that I am deeply sorry.”

    The Senate ethics report found Meredith, 52, had sex with the woman once before she turned 18 and twice afterward, and also engaged her in explicit online chats.

    Ricard ruled that Meredith used his position as senator improperly, and that he failed to uphold the “highest standards of dignity inherent to the position of senator” in violating the Senate’s ethics code.

Fort McMurray children processing wildfire trauma: ‘I’m still not sleeping right’

The sounds of the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation still reverberate in Emma Rose’s mind. In fact, out of all her memories of that day, it is the noises that stand out the most.

“My mom and I were next to an explosion,” the 17-year-old said. “We could hear it. It was only like 100 or 200 feet away across the highway.

“The radio, the beeping, hearing the cries on the videos, the popping of the fire. It’s terrifying.”

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Rose continues to see a counsellor once a week to help her cope with a trio of traumas. Last May – in a matter of two days – she fled the wildfire alongside 88,000 others, her home burned to the ground and her close friend Emily Ryan died in a collision.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray triplet killed fleeing fires was daughter of deputy fire chief 

“I never slept right for days, maybe even weeks. I’m still not sleeping right.”

Dr. Vincent Agyapong knows there are many others like Rose.

This fall, the University of Alberta associate clinical professor plans to survey 5,000 Fort McMurray students between Grades 7 and 12 to see how the wildfire evacuation and displacement has affected them. Agyapong will interview a cross-section of parents and kids as well to measure issues like depression, anxiety, substance use and resilience.

READ MORE: Mental health response to Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees to be assessed by province 

“The ultimate aim of the project is to be able to document the mental health of this population… People feel mental health issues go away,” Agyapong said, adding that isn’t the case.

Kevin Bergen, the principal of Fort McMurray Composite High School, has been surprised by how resilient students have been since returning to school. He says staff have needed to access mental health supports more than the students.

“I think it’s really because young people really don’t fully understand the scope of the types of trauma and chaos that happened that day. The adults did and it’s easier I think for the students — young children — to be able to move past that unless they see something that re-triggers the emotion of that day.”

READ MORE: ‘We need to be listening’: Fort McMurray schools prepare to welcome students back after wildfire 

The triggers have been unavoidable for some young people.

Virginia Poole, 16, was overcome by emotion recently after smelling burning wood.

“One night, my mom lit the wood stove and I went outside to look at the sunset,” Poole said. “I was like, ‘This is gorgeous. It’s amazing out!’ and I smelled the wood smoke and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’

“I didn’t think I would be affected by it and I was like, ‘Oh my God, Mom – I can’t.’ I couldn’t move.”

Poole thought she was okay, but in the lead up to May 3 this year, memories have been rising to the surface.

“This could happen again, I think that’s on everyone’s minds. We just don’t want it to happen again.”

READ MORE: ‘It takes a toll on a person’: Fort McMurray wildfire subject of case study on PTSD

Students have found a support network in each other.

Rose says friends just need to see a certain look on her face and they immediately ask if she’s okay.

While the support and counselling make her feel stronger, May 3 still looms loudly in her mind.

“It’s kind of hard not to be worried about it.”

Montreal police brotherhood head says Liberals asked him to run

The Surete du Quebec has opened a criminal investigation into allegations made by Yves Francoeur. Then on Tuesday, the head of the Montreal police brotherhood dropped another bombshell.

Francoeur first made serious allegations Thursday on live radio. He alleges two Liberal MNA’s —; one still in office —; should have been charged in a 2012 fraud case.

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READ MORE: 2 Quebec Liberal MNAs obstructed criminal investigation: Montreal police union president

The crown prosecutor’s office made the call even after attacking Francoeur’s credibility.

“It’s like going on a fishing expedition,” said Annick Murphy, the crown prosecutor’s office director, during a justice commission at the National Assembly on Monday.

Murphy said the union boss should meet with her to tell her what he knows.

“I don’t understand how it is possible to have that information for years, and just act now,” said Minister Pierre Moreau, Treasury Board President. “This is very suspicious, don’t you think?”

It wasn’t the only suspicious thing to come from Yves Francoeur. Tuesday, he made another surprising announcement —; using the Montreal police brotherhood 杭州桑拿会所 account, he claimed the Liberal Party asked him several months ago to run as one of their candidates. He said they offered him the Montreal riding already held my MNA Robert Poeti.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Robert Poëti reflects on being shuffled out of cabinet, wanting to make a difference

“If some people think I’m going away, I’m leaving politics, they’re wrong,” an emotional Poeti said.

When asked if he felt betrayed by the Liberal Party, he said: “Not by the party, but by the person who thinks I’m leaving, or the person who thinks he has the right to offer my riding.”

Last week, Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette also said someone was trying to force him and other colleagues out of the party and offer their seats to other candidates.

“We don’t know if it’s true. We’ll see. We’ll try to know if anyone would have tried to do that,” said Sylvain Langis, Liberal head organizer. He added that no one in any official capacity to recruit candidates, spoke with Francoeur.

The premier wouldn’t answer reporter questions about any of Francoeur’s allegations, but in question period, he denied the Liberal caucus was in chaos… or that any of these recent events have shaken the party.

Nova Scotia Tories, Liberals trade barbs over lack of women on slate in provincial election

Nova Scotia’s Tories and governing Liberals traded barbs Tuesday over their treatment of female candidates, leaving the third party NDP an opening to point out it alone has almost achieved gender balance in its slate.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia Election: Liberals field the most men, Tories the most white candidates

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“I’m pleased they’ve realized this is a major matter … and I’m glad it is something they’ve decided to attend to,” NDP Leader Gary Burrill said in an interview, after pointing out 24 of his party’s 51 candidates are women.

Accusations over the lack of women candidates erupted on Day 1 of the campaign, as Premier Stephen McNeil responded to questions about why only 12 of the party’s 51 candidates for the May 30 election are women.

He said his government has a track record for appointing women to positions of power, and he accused the other parties of choosing female candidates to contest ridings they’re unlikely to win.

“It’s one thing for parties to go out and identify people to run in ridings that they don’t think they have a great shot in” McNeil said during a campaign stop. “It’s quite another when you actually go out and get them elected and put them in the house of assembly.”

The premier said his party “has stood beside women to have them elected in meaningful ridings.”

READ MORE: All our Nova Scotia Election 2017 coverage

As well, McNeil’s government had six female cabinet ministers, the highest number of any government in the province’s history.

On Tuesday, Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie stood with 12 female candidates and demanded McNeil apologize for his “thoughtless and dismissive comments.”

“When he said some women that are running aren’t making a meaningful contribution, he needs to be accountable for that,” Baillie said in an interview.

Ginny Hurlock, the Tory candidate running against McNeil in the riding of Annapolis, said the premier’s comments were ill-advised.

“And to think of ridings as being meaningful and not meaningful is just nonsense,” she said.

Women make up a third of the Progressive Conservative candidates.

WATCH: Nova Scotia’s three main party leaders are defending the levels of minority representation and gender equity among their candidates standing for election. Legislature reporter Marieke Walsh breaks down the numbers.

However, Baillie promised that if elected his party would increase subsidies to political parties if they nominate female and minority candidates.

“I think it’s important that all party leaders acknowledge there is more work to do on gender balance and representation in the legislature from African Nova Scotians and aboriginal Nova Scotians … The per vote subsidy would increase by 50 per cent in those ridings,” he said.

Baillie also defended himself against criticism his party is far from fielding a slate that represents gender and ethnic groups in the province.

“It’s more than we’ve ever had, and they’re running in ridings across the province,” he said.

Burrill said his party has long had internal financial incentives to promote female candidates. The party also requires local districts to send a woman and a man to its governing executive, and it has internal rules requiring searches by electoral districts for female and minority candidates.

“This is not something left to chance,” he said. “It’s part of our deep self understanding.”

As for McNeil’s remarks, Burrill suggested McNeil withdraw them and offer an apology.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia had lowest rate of women running in federal election

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, McNeil said he may have lacked “eloquence” in his original explanation, but he did not apologize for his remarks.

“One of my proudest moments was when I had the opportunity to appoint the first woman of Mi’kmaq descent to the bench,” he said.

Cabinet ministers Joanne Bernard and Kelly Regan joined the premier for his news conference, with both stating that he’d been supportive of their political careers.

“We’ve had opportunities we might not have had under another leader … We’ve been supported every step of the way by this premier,” said Bernard.

Judge rejects application to have Kelowna drug trial thrown out

The trial for two men charged in a major Kelowna drug bust will go ahead as planned.

Sheldon Durno Harris and Tyson Nicholas Still are each charged with five counts of possessing illegal drugs for the purpose of trafficking.

In October 2014, police raided Harris’ Crawford Road home, seizing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and hashish that RCMP said had a street value of more than $600,000.

Officers also seized almost $19,000, about 500 rounds of ammunition, body armour and six vehicles.

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The trial began with an application by Harris to have his charges tossed out because of unreasonable delay.

The application is based on last summer’s Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that ruled trials in provincial superior courts should be heard within 30 months.

On Tuesday, the judge denied Harris’ request to have his case thrown out.

“The legal burden on an accused person is to establish on a balance of probabilities that there has been a breach of their Charter rights,” said Madam Justice Victoria Gray. “Mr. Harris has not demonstrated he was not tried in a reasonable period of time. As a result, I dismiss his application.”

But the defence lawyer has another legal argument up his sleeve.  He’s accusing a Mountie who was secretly surveilling Harris’ home of standing on the property when the officer made his observations of people allegedly packaging drugs.

That would be an illegal trespass, which would invalidate the search warrant, which would probably lead to the charges being stayed. The police officer denies he was trespassing.