Texas company makes $9M from jail phones contract, Saskatchewan government $1M

A Texas-based company that supplies phone service for Saskatchewan jails has made nearly $9 million, while the province has only received $1 million.

NDP Justice critic Nicole Sarauer says that money should have stayed in the provincial coffers and SaskTel should be delivering the service.

Synergy was awarded the contract for phone service for inmates in 2010.

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Drew Wilby, a Ministry of Justice spokesman, says the government was looking for security improvements to jails after six inmates escaped from the Regina Correctional Centre nine years ago.

Wilby says one recommendation was to get a phone system that could record calls, and there were no Saskatchewan companies that could do that.

He also said SaskTel did not express any interest in the contract at the time.

“It’s a specialized technology that’s required, due to the nature to record the calls, as well to hold them, be able to play them back and utilize that,” said Wilby.

“So, I’m not sure if SaskTel could provide that service or not.”

Sarauer says giving the contract to a U.S. company makes no sense.

“We have a Crown corporation here that could be doing that work. The profits could be then going to the Saskatchewan people through the Crown, instead of going to a company in the United States.”

The government recently renegotiated a new telephone contract with Synergy, which is set to last seven years.

Now, all inmates are allowed one free daily call. Long-distance calls are going down by $5, from $7.50 for 20 minutes, to $2.50 for 20 minutes. Local calls are going up by more than one dollar, from $1.35 for 20 minutes, to $2.50 for 20 minutes. Inmates can also pay $35 a month to make two calls a day on 15 days.

The government says the division of profits from the phone calls remains similar to that of the previous contract.

“Between about $125,000 and $150,000 a year has been returned to the inmate trust, so that’s about 10 per cent of the revenue,” said Wilby.

When asked to explain the cost structure for phone calls, Synergy declined to comment, citing confidentiality.

Charges upgraded to 2nd-degree murder in bloody west Edmonton ‘drug debt’ attack

Two men originally charged with attempted murder in connection with a west Edmonton machete attack are now facing charges of second-degree murder after the victim died in hospital.

At around 2 p.m. on Saturday April 15, police were called to a disturbance at a high-rise apartment building near 173 Street and 69 Avenue.

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A 34-year-old man was found suffering from multiple stab wounds and blunt force trauma inside a 17th-floor apartment suite. He was rushed to hospital where he died seven days later.

Family members identified the victim as Dustin Horsethief. Police said the victim was known to police. An autopsy revealed he died as a result of sharp and blunt-force injuries.

READ MORE: Autopsy confirms man died of sharp, blunt force injuries in alleged ‘drug debt’ attack in west Edmonton

Several other people were found in the apartment suite, police said. Their wrists were zip-tied and they were face down on the floor. Some suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said police believe the accused “forcibly” took those individuals to the suite. Several of them are known to police.

“We believe it’s a drug debt,” Pattison said. “Police also confiscated a machete that’s also alleged to have been used in the attack.”

Two men covered in blood were taken into custody as they came off an elevator in the building. They were later arrested and charged with attempted murder.

READ MORE: Bloody ‘drug debt’ attack in west Edmonton leads to attempted murder charges for 2 men

On Tuesday, police said the charges against Trevor Auger, 36, and Jason Hope, 38, were upgraded to second-degree murder. The pair was also charged with numerous other offences, including aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and unlawful confinement.

With files from Emily Mertz, Global News.

Mother’s Day in Hollywood: The biggest mama’s boys (and girls)

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate all the lovely things that your mother does for you year-round.

Some Hollywood stars get tribute tattoos or take part in public declarations of mom-love, but what we see most often is actors bringing their mom as a red carpet date to the latest award show or movie premiere.

In honour of Mother’s Day, here are some celebrities that celebrate their moms in the best possible ways.

Mama’s Boys

Ryan Gosling:

Ryan Gosling frequently walks the red carpet with his mother, Donna, on his arm. In 2013 he brought her to the Los Angeles Premiere of Gangster Squad.

The also actor brought her to the 2011 premiere of Ides of March. 

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They’ve also appeared on other red carpets together, including the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards in November 2010 and the 79th Oscars, where he brought both his mom and sister Mandi Gosling in 2007.

READ MORE: Ryan Gosling blames his perfection on his ‘Canadianness’

In 2012, he also made sure that his girlfriend, Eva Mendes, spent quality time with his mother early on in their relationship. The same year, Gosling watched as his mother graduated from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Gosling also gushed about the women in his life at a 2015 screening of Lost River: “I grew up with two incredible women, my mother and sister, and naturally my way of looking at the world was shaped by a female perspective.”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson:

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shared a touching personal story on Mother’s Day in 2015, as he and his mother, Ata Johnson, reflected on his success after years of struggling to make any money at all.

He posted a photo of his mother sitting on an airplane about to eat breakfast and wrote: “I’m sittin’ across from my mom when out of the blue she looks around the plane, then looks at me and says “Son, I can’t believe the life I have… grandma and grandpa would be so proud.”

View this post on Instagram

Cool Mother’s Day story.. early am flight and I’m sittin’ across from my mom when out of the blue she looks around the plane, then looks at me and says "Son, I can’t believe the life I have.. grandma and grandpa would be so proud." I asked her, "Are you happy ma?". Just then the flight attendant placed my moms breakfast down on the table and my mom said to me, "Am I happy?.. I used to worry about how I was going to buy groceries for us and now I just had my breakfast placed down in front of me". She bursts into tears and says "Yes, son I couldn’t be happier". This is the woman who when I was 14yrs old we were evicted out of our apartment in Hawaii ’cause we couldn’t afford the $180 per week rent. At this moment Im shaking my head and smiling quietly (as my mom blows her nose;) ’cause she just told me she’s happy. And y’all know when our parents tell us they’re happy, its so satisfying for us, ’cause it means we’ve done a good job for them as their kids. Happy Mother’s Day to all the deserving amazing mamas out there. And Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing mom who will no doubt kill me for posting this crying pic. #EnjoyBreakfastMom #GratefulTears #TryNotCryInTheEggs

A post shared by therock (@therock) on May 10, 2015 at 1:17pm PDT

“This is the woman who when I was 14 years old we were evicted out of our apartment in Hawaii ’cause we couldn’t afford the $180 per week rent. At this moment I’m shaking my head and smiling quietly (as my mom blows her nose) ’cause she just told me she’s happy.”

READ MORE: The Rock is the Sexiest Man Alive and here are 7 reasons why

He bought his mom a car in 2012 and posted her reaction on Facebook. “At 14 I saw my mom crying about our only car being repossessed.This felt good,’  Johnson wrote after he bought his mother a Cadillac Escalade.

The former WWE star has graced many red carpets with his mother by his side. They attended the HBO Ballers Season 2 red carpet premiere together on July 14, 2016.

The actor also recently brought his mom to the premiere of Moana.

Leonardo DiCaprio:

Leonardo DiCaprio‘s mother, Irmelin DiCaprio, has been his date for several of his red carpet appearances, from Titanic to many film festivals.

DiCaprio thanked his mother while accepting his BAFTA award for best actor for The Revenant in 2016. “There’s one person I have to thank. I would not be standing up here if it weren’t for this person. I didn’t grow up in a life of privilege – I grew up in a very rough neighborhood in East Los Angeles, and this women drove me for three hours a day to a different school to show me a different opportunity. It is her birthday today. So Mom, happy birthday. I love you very much.”

READ MORE: Leonardo DiCaprio meets with Donald Trump to discuss fighting climate change

The Oscar winner dropped more than $13,000 on a Chanel purse for his mother in 2015 while attending the Heart Fund Gala in Cannes. The bag was sold as part of an auction to benefit the charity, and DiCaprio told reporters that he purchased the accessory for his mom. He didn’t get the purse easily, as he had to endure a bidding war against Paris Hilton.

Drake:

Toronto rapper Drake has celebrated his mother, Sandi Graham, by often dedicating lyrics, songs and social media posts to her.

“Happy Mothers Day to my tiny hero. Love you so much,” Drake captioned a photo in 2015 on Instagram (below).

Drake wished his mom a happy birthday by posting a video of her blowing out candles on Instagram in 2016.

“I do this all for you. Happy Birthday my angel,” he captioned the video.

View this post on Instagram

I do this all for you. Happy Birthday my angel.

A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:40pm PST

His song You & The 6, which appeared on his surprise album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, is a tribute to his mom with the lyrics: “They will not tear nothing down I built this home for you mama/ Know I don’t call enough mama/ I just been working with so little time for personal mama/ Hard labour let me pay the price/ You and the Six raised me right that s**t saved my life.”

READ MORE: Drake accuses California country club of ‘racial profiling’

Drake and his mom have been spotted at many events together, including the Juno Awards and numerous sporting events.

On November 25, 2015, the pair sat courtside while they watched the Toronto Raptors play against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Air Canada Centre.

On August 14, 2015, Drake and his mother were spotted at Toronto’s Aviva Centre watching Serena Williams play against Roberta Vinci at the Rogers Cup.

In an interview in 2013, Drake said of his mother, “My mother is an incredible woman… I talk about her a lot on this album [Nothing Was The Same, released Sept. 24]. She’s brought me to this point single-handedly… She’s the most important person in my life.”

On Drake’s latest album, More Life, his mom quotes Michelle Obama in the song Can’t Have Everything. Sandi reminds her son to stay confident and avoid negative energy near the end of the song.

It sounds like a voicemail being played over top of the track. His mom can be heard saying: “You know, hon, I’m a bit concerned about this negative tone that I’m hearing in your voice these days.” She concludes her message with the Obama quote, “When others go low, we go high.”

Mama’s Girls

Kate Hudson:

When Kate Hudson first burst onto the Hollywood scene in the movie Almost Famous, many people couldn’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to her mother, Goldie Hawn.

In 2013, when Hawn and Hudson were asked if they see the resemblance, Hawn admitted she does.

Hudson said, “I used to say, ‘Why do people say that? I look nothing like my mom,’ but I sometimes walk across a mirror and just get a glance and I see it.”

“What makes mom the best is that she never put any expectations too high on the kids,” Hudson told People in 2016. “She just wanted us to be doing the things that made us happy, as long as we were working hard, but we never had to live up to something.”

READ MORE: Celebrity New Year’s resolutions: Did the A-listers pass or fail?

When asked about the best advice her mom has ever given her, Hudson said, “It’s not really advice so much as she’s my confidante and we talk about our life and her life, and we support each other now that I’m an adult. Where she’s really wonderful is leading an authentic life and a truthful life.”

Hudson paid a loving tribute to her mom and Kurt Russell by sharing a throwback photo of the famous couple from the 1980s on Instagram in March.

“Mama Goldie and Pa killing it 80’s style. I forgot to post a note on my parents 34th Anniversary so I figure why not now. A belated happy one my dear parents. Love you madly, deeply, profoundly ❤,” she captioned the photo.

Hawn and Russell celebrated their 34th anniversary together on Valentine’s Day this year.

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My #tbt is these two love 🐦’s! Mama Goldie and Pa killing it 80’s style. I forgot to post a note on my parents 34th Anniversary so I figure why not now. A belated happy one my dear parents. Love you madly, deeply, profoundly ❤#HairGoals #Love @officialgoldiehawn

A post shared by Kate Hudson (@katehudson) on Mar 23, 2017 at 4:06pm PDT

After a 15-year hiatus, Hawn is making her return to the big screen in the comedy Snatched.

Her daughter interviewed her for the May issue of Interview Magazine.

“This is very dangerous,” Hudson began the interview by stating. “I’ve never had the opportunity to ask you about your career. People always ask me, ‘What advice has your mother given you?’ And my answer is always, ‘We don’t talk about that kind of thing.’”

Hudson also questioned her mom on why she chose to wait 15 years to make her next movie. “Because I believe that life is about doing. It’s about changing. It’s about transitioning,” Hawn answered.

Kris Jenner’s children (Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, Kylie & Rob)

Kris Jenner has six uber-famous children —Kourtney, Khloé, Kim, Rob, Kendall and Kylie — who celebrate her all the time for being their mom and their “momager.”

Jenner turned the Kardashian name into a multi-million dollar brand and she manages all six of her kid’s careers, as well as her own.

Kim recently shared a photo of herself on Instagram dressed exactly like her mother, and captioned the photo “Kris Jenner vibes.”

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Kris Jenner vibes

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on Mar 29, 2017 at 4:28pm PDT

READ MORE: Caitlyn Jenner’s book: 7 things we learned from reading ‘The Secrets of My Life’

All her daughters shared their love for her 61st birthday last November when they took to their apps with tributes.

Kendall, 21, said: “Happy birthday to the most amazing mom a girl could ever ask for!”

Kylie, 19, wrote: “Happy birthday to the best mother ever!!! You’re the one person I admire most and you inspire me in everything I do. I can only hope to be half the businesswoman you are! I love how close we are and the sweet little texts you send me.”

Khloé, 32, said: “It’s the HBIC’s (Head B*tch In Command) bday!! Kris Jenner is hands down the ultimate momager.”

Kourtney, 38, wrote: “Love you. Happy birthday mommy!!! I will treasure you always for the incredible things you do for us, the invaluable lessons you have taught us, and for the unconditional way you love us. Have the best day.”

At the time, Kim, 36, still remained silent and out of the limelight after being robbed at gunpoint during Paris Fashion Week last October. But her Kimoji team shared a nice message and offered some gifts for her fans to purchase.

“In honor of Kris Jenner’s birthday, the KIMOJI team turned her into a KIMOJI!”

When Jenner turned 30 years old in 1985, she made a music video to share with her family and friends. For her 60th birthday, the Kardashian-Jenner women recreated that video with a little help from their friends. They introduced their parody video of I Love My Friends to her new friends alongside a cast of other famous faces, including Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Cindy Crawford.

>Just like the original video, the scenes are shot in Southern California and inter-cut many celebrities telling the camera, “She loves you!” The original music video was a play on I Love LA by Randy Newman.

The family shared the video at Jenner’s Great Gatsby-themed birthday party.

Beyoncé:

Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, has been by the singer’s side in the music business since 1990 when she was a member of girl group, Girl Tyme.

Most recently, the Lemonade songstress paid a touching tribute to her mother online after raising almost $1 million at her inaugural Wearable Art Gala.

The gathering was held at the California African American Museum to raise funds for Knowles-Lawson’s new WACO (Where Art Can Occur) Theater Centre, which she co-founded with her husband, Richard Lawson.

Beyoncé shared photos from the event on Instagram, posing with her mother, her sister Solange and former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland.

View this post on Instagram

I am super proud of my beautiful mother for creating such an awesome event. Close to $1 million was raised for The WACO Theater Center to benefit young people through their mentorship programs and the arts. Mom, you inspire us all to be generous, selfless, positive, to have empathy, to love and to praise creativity in the world. It brought tears to my eyes to be a witness to what you and Richard have created together. WACO is a safe place truly Where Art Can Occur. I love you.

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Apr 30, 2017 at 7:22pm PDT

“I am super proud of my beautiful mother for creating such an awesome event,” she wrote.

“Mom, you inspire us all to be generous, selfless, positive, to have empathy, to love and to praise creativity in the world,” she continued. “It brought tears to my eyes to be a witness to what you and Richard have created together. WACO is a safe place truly Where Art Can Occur. I love you.”

The New York Times published a profile of Knowles-Lawson in January and for the profile, the publication got the chance to ask Beyoncé a couple questions, which she answered “on email, coordinated through a publicist.”

READ MORE: Beyoncé’s pregnant, and the internet nearly lost its collective mind

“I think it was important to my mother to surround us with positive, powerful, strong images of African and African-American art so that we could reflect and see ourselves in them,” Beyoncé said. “My mother has always been invested in making women feel beautiful,” she continued, “whether it was through someone sitting in her hair chair or making a prom dress for one of the girls at church. And her art collection always told the stories of women wanting to do the same.”

Before Beyoncé stepped on stage at this year’s Grammys, Knowles-Lawson had the opportunity to give a heartfelt introduction.

“I am proud of their accomplishments, their self-confidence, and their desire to make a difference,” she said. But she admitted that what makes her most proud “is the devotion and love” she sees Beyoncé has for Blue Ivy and for “all of those around her.”

Zoë Kravitz:

Zoë Kravitz and her mother, Lisa Bonet, may be the most convincing mother-daughter lookalikes in Hollywood.

Kravitz and the former The Cosby Show actress attended the Met Gala in 2015 with Bonet’s ex-husband and Zoë’s father, Lenny Kravitz.

The former couple, who were married from 1987 to 1993,  also attended the 2016 Saint Laurent at the Palladium event in Los Angeles in February 2016, with Zoë.

Speaking about her parents’ relationship, Zoë told Ocean Drive magazine in March 2015 that the two “have so much love for each other,” and that Kravitz and her stepfather, Jason Momoa, “get along really well.”

When news of the Bill Cosby case came about, many people were questioning Kravitz if her mother had more information on the case. In an interview with The Guardian, Kravitz revealed that Bonet tends to keep her mouth shut regarding the situation.

“She hasn’t, she really hasn’t [talked],” Kravitz said. “She’d plead the fifth, even to me. I think she’s just staying out of it. She’s just as disgusted and concerned as everyone else is, but I don’t think she has any insight. It’s news to her as well.”

Kravitz said she understands why people might assume her mother has inside information.

“Of course,” she says. “She was on the show for a long time. She’s also a beautiful woman. It makes people wonder.”

READ MORE: Zoë Kravitz: Mom Lisa Bonet is ‘disgusted and concerned’ over Bill Cosby scandal

Bonet presented her daughter with the Breakthrough Style Star award onstage during the InStyle Awards at Getty Center in October 2015.

Calvin Klein released an ad in January 2016 featuring the pair. “Mother daughter #ckminute. @ZoeKravitz + Lisa Bonet, as feat. in the 2016 Calvin Klein Watches + Jewelry campaign,” the fashion brand wrote.

Follow @KatieScottNews

Young, single women turning to sperm donors to conceive

When she was 31 years old, Montrealer Geneviève Roy decided she was tired of waiting around for Mr. Right to come by — and she knew she didn’t want to be in her 40s when she had her first child.

“I knew that it would not be easy every day, but I also knew that I was able to handle it,” the now 38-year-old told Global News.

“I’ve never stopped myself from doing anything in life, so that was kind of natural for me to have kids alone.”

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Related

  • Single parent by choice: Women turn to sperm donors to conceive

  • Single Momtreal: An online resource for single mothers across Montreal

  • Looking for an egg or sperm donor? Here’s what you need to know

    Roy, a government worker, spent six to 12 months looking up everything she needed to know to have children via a sperm donor.

    READ MORE: Single parent by choice: Women turn to sperm donors to conceive

    Since she was still young, Roy was told she had a 25 per cent chance of the treatment would work, and that most people conceive within four to six months.

    After six rounds of insemination using an anonymous sperm donor, Roy welcomed her daughter, Flavie, into the world.

    “When you do fertility treatments, you live on a roller coaster: two weeks of hoping, one week down, one week to try again,” she said.

    “So, the emotions are also on a roller coaster.”

    A few years later, just months before her 36th birthday, little Justine was born, using the same donor.

    READ MORE: Single Momtreal: An online resource for single mothers across Montreal

    “It was really important for me to use the same donor, so the kids can be 100 per cent related,” Roy told Global News.

    File photo of a pregnant woman.

    Henrik Sorensen

    Dr. Neal Mahutte, medical director of the Montreal Fertility Centre, explains the first instinct of many young women is to inquire about freezing their eggs.

    Nevertheless, there are some who walk through the clinic’s doors, set on having a child as soon as possible with a sperm donor.

    “I think there may be more awareness, which is a good thing,” he told Global News.

    “Women are more aware than they have been in years past about the fact that their age affects their fertility and they have some limits as to when they may or may not be able to have children in terms of their own eggs.”

    He explained that, while in the 70s, women were having children in their 20s, nowadays, the inclination is to wait.

    “For a whole variety of societal reasons, people are delaying having kids,” he said.

    Single mother by choice

    Roy’s girls are now five and a half and three years old; she said if she had to do it all over again, she’d only change one thing.

    “I should have done it earlier — two or three years earlier,” she told Global News.

    She explained the experience has been an empowering one.

    READ MORE: Looking for an egg or sperm donor? Here’s what you need to know

    “I have friends saying that they are alone with the kids for 48 hours and do not know how they will handle it,” she said.

    “[I wanted to be able to] spend some quality time with the kids while still in shape and have the energy to play.”

    READ MORE: Assisted reproduction rules to be revamped by Health Canada

    She added that she’s always been very open with her children about where they came from.

    “They always knew. It’s very important for me. For now, it’s still in kid terms, but they know,” Roy told Global News.

    “They know I went to a clinic to see the doctor who had baby seeds.”

    What happens if Mr. Right stumbles along?

    “If he really likes me, he will like my kids as well,” Roy declared.

    Thinking about the future

    Susanna Josef, 31, says she’s been mulling over the idea of having a child via sperm donor for quite some time.

    “I have never found a man that I can love yet. I went through many many relationships and not one of them had what it takes to be called a strong one,” she told Global News.

    “And yet, I’ve always wanted to be a mother of more than one child.”

    READ MORE: Everything men and women should know about fertility testing

    Josef had her first daughter, Myra, at the age of 29 and has been a single mother ever since.

    “[I had to decide between] wanting a perfect family of a mother and a father for my children or doing it the way I always wanted to do it — as just me, one single loving parent providing a healthy environment with no stress, hate or fights,” she told Global News.

    Susanna Josef with her daughter, Myra.

    Susanna Josef

    The Montrealer said she doesn’t want her daughter to grow up without a sibling.

    “Having to be in this spot with my daughter taught me a lot and made me sure I am able to do it with another child,” Josef said.

    “Going through the hardships of being a single mom taught me a lot and I don’t want my marital status to have any effect on my vision of having a loving family that I have made.”

    READ MORE: 7 fertility myths and misconceptions Canadian women need to know

    Josef said if she decides not to conceive via a sperm donor, she will start looking into adoption.

    [email protected]杭州龙凤
    Follow @rachel_lau

Timeline: London bus rapid transit

Londoners’ comments and concerns about the future of the city’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plans will be the focus of a public participation meeting at Budweiser Gardens on Wednesday.

Two proposed routes are at the core of the meeting.

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The north corridor which starts on Clarence Street and includes a 900-metre tunnel that runs below Richmond Row and resurfaces on Richmond Street near St. Joseph’s hospital; and King Street, which runs one-way going east but could be reduced to one lane of vehicle traffic with dedicated bus lanes running east and west.

Councillors will vote on the proposed routes for the largest project in the city’s history on May 15 and 16. The routes aren’t expected to be finalized until June.

Funding for the $560-million project will see city hall contribute $130 million, with upper levels of government filling the gap.

Below is a rough timeline of London’s ongoing Bus Rapid Transit debate:

July 2013

As a campaign to overhaul London’s transit system picks up speed, London Transit members get a first look at what it would take to switch to a Bus Rapid Transit system. An initial report says the costs of widening roads, buying buses, and other expenses could climb to $300 million, and operating costs over the next 30 years could be $114 million.

October 2013

The London Transit BRT report is presented to the city’s Civic Works Committee on Oct. 7, in the hopes an Environmental Assessment is launched. The project, the report says, comes with a $441 million price tag and will likely take about 15 years to complete.

May 2014

The London Plan, dubbed the largest public planning process in Canada, is unveiled May 22. The 20-year plan is the culmination of two years of work by city staff and the participation of nearly 10,000 Londoners through ReThink London. One of the plan’s proposed directions calls to shape the city around rapid transit.

September 2014

With the municipal election less than two months away, Mayor Matt Brown unveils his mayoral campaign platform, with rapid transit front and centre. The document, made public on Sept. 10, calls for ground to be broken on rapid transit within four years, as opposed to the previous 15-year projection.

October 2014

Londoners hand Matt Brown and his campaign platform a landslide election victory on Oct. 27. “I think what we see here is a community that’s ready to turn the page, a community that’s ready for positive change,” said Brown the day after. Brown and the new council would be officially sworn in Dec. 1.

January 2015

At his first ever State of the City address on Jan. 27, Mayor Matt Brown launches “Shift” – the comprehensive city-wide public engagement effort meant to launch a rapid transit overhaul in the city. Brown had pledged to break ground on rapid transit before the end of his first four-year term.

August 2015

During 2016 budget talks, London Transit Commission (LTC) requests a 4.6 per cent increased investment from the city over the previous year in order to make improvements to service. The boost in funding is also to move forward with and prepare for rapid transit, says councillor and LTC board member Phil Squire.

October 2015

Justin Trudeau is elected Prime Minister on Oct. 19. Responding to Trudeau’s win, Mayor Matt Brown expresses optimism about the shared priorities of the incoming prime minister and the city. Trudeau had pledged support to Londoners for rapid transit, Brown says.

November 2015

The city unveils a proposed transit overhaul on Nov. 9. A report before the city’s Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee outlines four alternatives for rapid transit in London, but suggests a hybrid Bus Rapid Transit/Light Rail Transit (LRT) network as the preferred option.City councillors unanimously endorse a staff recommendation to pursue a hybrid transit system with an estimated price tag of $880 million.

March 2016

Downtown business owners operating on Richmond and King Streets express concerns about the proposed rapid transit plans at a drop-in meeting on March 23. Construction for up to three years on the hybrid project could cause major disruptions, three merchants at the meeting say.

April 2016

The city says a new business case shows the best model to pursue is full Bus Rapid Transit, instead of the hybrid model previously endorsed by council. The full Bus Rapid Transit proposal comes with a rough price tag of $500 million and would see high-frequency buses run on L and 7 shaped corridors, both intersecting in the downtown. Mayor Matt Brown backs the BRT recommendation.

May 2016

The Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee defers a decision on rapid transit on May 5, voting 15-0 in favour of allowing council more time to consider the staff-endorsed rapid transit plan, and to give politicians time to reconsider a decision made May 3 to avoid a public participation meeting on the issue. (Councillors would vote unanimously the following week in approval of a public participation meeting.)After more than two years of consultation and review, the final draft of the London Plan is made public. Rapid transit remains one of the key priorities.Ahead of a council vote on whether to choose Bus Rapid Transit or a hybrid model, a final public input session on rapid transit is held at City Hall on May 28. Light rail advocates pack the gallery, but fail to sway enough city politicians.City council officially signs off on plans for the development of full Bus Rapid Transit at a meeting on May 31. Committee had approved the plan the week before. The final vote saw 11-2 support, with councillors Jesse Helmer and Mo Salih opposed. The two were the most vocal advocates of the hybrid model.

June 2016

London Plan receives unanimous approval from council on June 23.

August 2016

City staff report heads to council, recommending firm doing environmental assessment on BRT plan be paid additional $1.6 million to finish work.After debating whether to make the BRT plan public and then approving the request to make BRT plan public, the BRT plan is made public. The full BRT model, it says, offers the greatest value for Londoners, and has the highest benefit to cost ratio. Implementation in the preferred corridors would come at a capital cost of $500 million, the plan says.

October 2016

Mayor Matt Brown announces plan to seek second term.Brown attends Big City Mayors’ Caucus where topics including infrastructure spending on rapid transit, climate change, and poverty take centre stage. Afterwards, Brown says the city has a strong business case for BRT plans and expresses optimism about London’s chances of receiving federal funding.

January 2017

The city’s rapid transit implementation working group is told Jan. 12 the city may need to alter one of the four arteries proposed for the BRT system, in particular, the plan to have the buses run down Dundas Street through the Old East Village. Two potential alternatives are devised: to have buses run both ways down King Street, leaving one lane for traffic, or to have buses run one way down Dundas and snake the opposite direction down King.The cost of the BRT plan rises by about 10 per cent. Queen’s Park had requested the project’s contingency fund be increased from 40 to 50 per cent in case of unforeseen costs, and the cost of electric buses adds over $6 million to the plan.Western University’s Board of Governors softens language of requirements from the city regarding BRT on campus on Jan. 26. A list of 15 “conditions” the city would be required to abide by for the project is renamed 15 “issues.”

February 2017

City councillors get an in-depth look at plans for Bus Rapid Transit on Feb. 9. Some of the major developments include a potential restructuring of King Street to have it prioritize rapid transit with dedicated east and westbound BRT lanes. Plans for a 900-metre long tunnel on Richmond Street stretching from Central Avenue to St. James Street are also unveiled.Local merchants opposed to the Bus Rapid Transit plan form Down Shift, a grassroots organization representing taxpayers, concerned citizens, neighbourhood associations, and local business owners. In response, BRT proponents create a similar grassroots organization in early March called Shift Happens. Down Shift would later add lawn and window signs to the mix on Mar. 30, followed by Shift Happens.

March 2017

A $53-million lawsuit is filed against the city by Danforth London over their development project at King and Clarence Streets, a project they say would be hampered by the city’s BRT plan. The intersection is set to become a downtown hub for the Bus Rapid Transit system.A petition calling on the London Downtown Business Association (LDBA) to withdraw support for the BRT plan begins to circulate among downtown merchants. The petition cites a lack of consultation between the board and business owners. The petition would receive more than 130 signatures by mid-March. In the wake of the petition, the LDBA commits to consult and survey members on Bus Rapid Transit.The rapid transit implementation working group on March 9 recommends an additional public input meeting, the discussion of impacts and mitigation strategies with businesses, and for two alternative routes to be developed by city staff. The recommendations are voted through by committee on March 27.The federal government announces the investment of $37 million into 54 infrastructure projects across London; $8 million will go toward the design and study of London’s BRT plan.

April 2017

City council votes on April 4 to have city staff look into alternative route options.Council approves a motion on April 18 to have city staff come forward with additional information before the May public participation meeting. In particular, staff are directed to look into allowing rapid transit buses to run in mixed traffic along part of King Street, to identify ways to access businesses affected by the transit construction and to consider a temporary community improvement plan. The plan is received positively by opponents. City councillors and local MPPs meet the following day to discuss several issues, including BRT, at City Hall.The idea of a King Street route alternative called a “couplet” gains traction at a public input session for King Street and Queens Avenue business owners on April 25 at Centennial Hall. Instead of having two lanes of rapid transit on King Street in the downtown, an eastbound BRT lane could run on King while a westbound lane could run on Queens. Fewer than two dozen attend the session.Alternatives for the north Bus Rapid Transit corridor are unveiled by Shift London, and include either a railway underpass on Richmond Street for both BRT and vehicles, building no tunnel or underpass at all, or moving the route to Wharncliffe and Western Roads. While the underpass would cost less than the proposed tunnel, it would require the razing of several blocks of either the east or west sides of Richmond Street. Meantime, Wharncliffe Road property owners attend a meeting at Centennial Hall on April 26 to voice concerns about the potential loss of land to road widening.

May 2017

City hall hosts its first-ever public participation meeting at Budweiser Gardens on May 3. The meeting lasts more than six hours and sees a turnout of around 900 people, most in opposition to BRT.A survey commissioned by Down Shift London and conducted by Forum Research is released on May 9, showing a majority of respondents (67 per cent) say they oppose the current BRT plan. The survey was conducted on May 2 by telephone and had a sample size of 712 people. BRT proponents criticize the survey, saying it contained misleading information.A report from city staff on May 12 recommends the King/Queens couplet plan, and recommends that Richmond Street be the preferred northern corridor. Staff also recommend the axing of the proposed Richmond tunnel as the estimated capital cost rose from $90 million to $170 million, said the city’s engineer. Instead, a Richmond corridor with an at-grade intersection at Oxford Street is recommended, meaning BRT buses will have to cross the CP Rail tracks. With buses coming every few minutes, a train passing could jam the system.

Staff also recommend the long-term evaluation of alternate methods to separate vehicles and BRT buses from the railway. Physically moving the tracks themselves, city manager Martin Hayward notes, would cost billions of dollars. (CP Rail has also expressed no desire to relocate the tracks.)Following city staff’s recommendations, the project’s price tag is now estimated at $440 million compared to $560 million.In the May 12 report, staff also recommend (pending the approval of the Richmond at-grade recommendation) that the implementation of a railway grade separation on Adelaide Street at the CP Rail tracks be considered a “necessary element of the rapid transit system.” Staff say a funding request under the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund Phase II program should be advanced.On May 12, Councillor Bill Armstrong says he will put forward a motion suggesting council lobby Ottawa on the idea of track sharing —; requesting CP Rail move their trains onto CN Rail lines within the city.City council is scheduled to vote on transit routes and city staff’s recommendations May 15 and 16.

June 2017

Updated business case will be presented to city council (if proposed routes are approved and unchanged).

July 2017

Updated business case will be present to city council (if proposed routes are changed).

Ontario government seeking reports on preventing youth radicalization

TORONTO – Ontario is looking for advice on how to prevent youth from becoming radicalized and drawn into extremist groups.

The Liberal government has issued a request for proposals, seeking one or two experts to do research and report back on youth radicalization.

Michael Coteau, the province’s minister of children and youth services, said Tuesday that the government is concerned about all kinds of radicalization.

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“We’ve seen young people being brought into terrorist groups, we’ve seen young people join white supremacist groups,” he said. “We’ve seen extremism in so many different forms.”

READ MORE:
Ottawa’s anti-radicalization centre to look at all forms of hate including alt-right: Goodale

Some Canadians who have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have gained widespread publicity, including Ontario-born John Maguire, who joined ISIL and released a video calling on Muslims to launch attacks against Canadians. He and two other Ottawa men were charged with terrorism offences, but he is believed to have been killed.

Coteau said he believes young people can become radicalized when they don’t see a future.

“We need to make sure young people know that there are many options and we’re here to support them, and we have their back as a government, as a community and as a province,” he said.

It’s too early to tell what kind of government program the research on youth radicalization could lead to, Coteau said.

READ MORE:
Liberals work to reassure Canadians following terror threat

The request for proposals posted online asks for research that “will contribute to ministry’s understanding of youth radicalization process and identify practical ways of preventing” it.

“The proposed solutions and approaches should be aligned with the ministry’s vision of an Ontario where children and youth have the best opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential and focus on strategies and resilience factors that contribute to prevention of youth radicalization,” it says.

The research must be specific to youth, and separate from security approaches and information concerning the radicalization of adults.

Coteau cited a deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque earlier this year and what he sees as increasing race-based hate in the United States as reasons for his growing concern about youth radicalization.

READ MORE:
Justin Trudeau: ‘Make no mistake – this was a terrorist attack’

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder with a restricted weapon following the January shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services says the request for proposals stems from a commitment the province made at a Federal-Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Justice and Public Safety in January of 2016 to work together on countering radicalization. Coteau said Tuesday he’s looking forward to working with his counterparts on the issue.

The federal government has also promised action to combat radicalization, including the establishment of an Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Co-ordinator. In a speech last week, federal Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland her government is expanding its efforts in Canada and abroad.

“As an open, pluralistic, democratic society, Canada is committed to becoming a world leader in countering radicalization. We really believe we have to do this right at home, and we are committed to doing it,” Freeland said. “Preventing radicalization often starts most effectively at the community level, when we work with local leaders to develop early intervention tailored to local conditions.”

Vancouver home sales slide nearly 26% last month

VANCOUVER – The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says the number of home sales slid last month by nearly 26 per cent year-over-year while prices continued to climb.

Residential property sales in Metro Vancouver totalled 3,553 last month, a 25.7 per cent decline compared to a year ago.

READ MORE: Vancouver real estate could experience ‘market whiplash’ as home sales jump: report 

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Sales of detached homes fell 38.8 per cent from April 2016, while the composite benchmark price for those properties rose 8.1 per cent in that time, reaching $1,516,500.

The composite benchmark price for all homes was $941,100, 11.4 per cent higher than April 2016.

Vancouver’s real estate market remains the most expensive in Canada, though Toronto is catching up, with prices rising at rates that have alarmed governments at various levels.

Last August, the B.C. government implemented a 15 per cent tax on foreigners purchasing properties in Metro Vancouver in a bid to cool down the city’s housing market.

For the first four months of the year, Multiple Listing Service data in Metro Vancouver show that condominium and townhome sales now make up a larger percentage of all residential transactions, accounting for 68.5 per cent, on average. That’s up 10 per cent from 58.2 per cent over the same period last year.

The total number of properties listed for sale on the MLS in Metro Vancouver increased 3.5 per cent in April compared to a year ago, the board said.

“Our overall market is operating below the record-setting pace from a year ago and is in line with historical spring levels. It’s a different story in our condominium and townhome markets,” Jill Oudil, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, said Tuesday in a statement.

“Demand has been increasing for months and supply is not keeping pace. This dynamic is causing prices to increase and making multiple offer scenarios the norm.”

Calgary not considering help from Edmonton in potential Olympic bid

It looks like any participation of Edmonton playing a secondary role in a Calgary 2026 Winter Olympics bid is off the table.

In an update Monday, Calgary’s bid exploration committee confirmed it’s only looking at the feasibility of that city along with Canmore and Banff.

READ MORE: Committee needs to do more number crunching before it decides on Calgary Olympic bid 

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Watching security costs was one reason given for keeping the potential of a bid in that cluster in the Rocky Mountains.

Former Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson, who’s chairing the 17-member committee, said the city committed $5 million to look at the infrastructure within Calgary to see how it fits with the idea of a bid.

“Our mandate, our mission, was not to go across the province or go elsewhere and assess what they have and look at these things; it’s very specific to come out with a report to assess what does Calgary need to maintain its reputation as a world-class winter sport city?”

“Whatever decision is made we’re going forward with the full knowledge of what is required to do this or not and if it isn’t, it’s because of really good solid reasons that people can look at and say, ‘that makes sense.’”

READ MORE: Could Edmonton and Calgary co-host 2026 Olympics or Commonwealth Games? 

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson confirmed there have not been any official talks between Calgary and Edmonton.

“Formally, we haven’t heard from Calgary but informally, we hear lots of different things about different possibilities… I think one has got to grapple with the political realities of what Alberta can afford in this situation and I think even the federal government has certainly got lots of options on its plate between FIFA and some of the other events that are out there.”

Iveson wants to keep the lines of communication open.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton withdraws bid for 2022 Commonwealth Games 

“There’s the school of thought that wants to go it alone and then there’s the school of thought that recognizes that may be a pretty difficult political sell with the provincial government, so I doubt the question is settled yet. We remain very open to the conversations about working together around either Olympics or Commonwealth Games.”

The report to Calgary city council on whether to give the idea of a bid a green or red ligh, will come in July.

Is mental health stigma lessening? Canadians opening up more than ever, survey suggests

Alicia Raimundo knew she was different from her peers when she was only six years old.

“The things that would make my friends excited or happy would make me sad or anxious. I hated going to birthday parties because I was always worried I’d say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing,” Raimundo told Global News.

She admits she’s facing a lifelong battle with mental health. She was hospitalized three times – twice in university.

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  • World Health Day 2017: Why the WHO chose depression as its focus this year

    “In a lot of ways, I felt like a superhero, if that makes sense, because I had two different identities: I had the person who was at night trying to get by and battle my own personal bad guys, anxiety and depression, and I had that person that people saw their daughter, their friend, their student. And the more I would lose my battles against anxiety and depression, the less of that other person was there,” she said.

    READ MORE: These 3 groups are at ‘high risk’ of mental health issues in Canada. Here’s why

    Raimundo, now a mental health advocate, is opening up about her story in hopes that more Canadians, young and old, know that what they may be going through is more common than they think.

    “For me, I wish we had mental health awareness weeks all year long,” she said.

    Turns out, like Raimundo, more Canadians may be aware and willing to talk about mental health than ever before.

    Is mental health awareness improving?

    After years of campaigns and advocacy, mental health stigma may be lessening while awareness may be increasing, according to promising new Ipsos findings released exclusively to Global News.

    Eighty-five per cent of Canadians surveyed say they consider mental health to be as important as physical health – another 12 per cent say it’s even more important, the pollsters revealed.

    Half of Canadians (49 per cent) say they’re personally more comfortable talking about their mental health compared to two years ago.

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

    Fifty-one per cent even say they feel like Canadians, on a whole, are generally more comfortable with discussing mental health, too.

    “There is a silver lining here. I find it encouraging that stigma seems to be lessening. It is shrinking and people are more comfortable talking about [mental health] and getting help in any way they can,” Jennifer McLeod Macey, vice-president of the polling firm’s Health Research Institute, told Global News.

    “We’re slowly seeing mental health as part of our overall health and as an important component. We have a long way to go but it’ll continue to nudge up. But it may take years before it’s fully normalized,” she said.

    It’s the third year the polling firm zeroed in on their Mental Health Risk Index and the report’s release marks Mental Health Week.

    READ MORE: How mental health should be taught in Canadian schools

    Based on Canadians’ levels of stress and feelings of hopelessness and depression, the report classifies a whopping 41 per cent of Canadians as being at “high risk” for mental illness. That’s a significant increase from 2016’s 35 per cent.

    The findings point to some grim patterns: 36 per cent of Canadians admitted that several times throughout the year, they felt stressed to the point where it impacted their daily lives.

    Another 24 per cent said there were several instances in which they felt stressed to the point where they couldn’t even cope. Nineteen per cent said they felt hopeless almost every day for a couple of weeks or more.

    A glimmer of hope in the fight against mental health stigma

    But the results offer some hope, too: more Canadians than ever before are talking about mental health concerns, getting help, and taking time off to manage their mental well-being.

    Forty-two per cent of Canadians said they talked to someone about their mental health in the past year, up seven percentage points from last year, and 11 points from two years ago.

    READ MORE: What happens when mental health education isn’t taught to kids?

    Twenty-three per cent said they talked to a primary health-care provider, such as their family doctor, while another 16 per cent reached out to a counsellor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.

    Another 10 per cent even wrote about or posted about their mental health woes online – millennials led the way with this openness with 24 per cent sharing their mental health difficulties online in the past year.

    Ed Mantler, vice-president of programs and priorities at the Mental Health Commission of Canada, isn’t surprised by the results.

    The years of promoting mental health awareness and shedding stigma are paying off, especially on millennials, he said.

    READ MORE: Major depression is on the rise in youth, especially teenage girls

    “We’ve been tackling stigma and forcing awareness on youth, so now we have a population of millennials who are more comfortable than previous generations for speaking up early about mental health issues they’re facing,” he said.

    “It’s a good news story in a way because we know early intervention is an important factor in recovery, so people seeking help and getting that early intervention is far more impactful than waiting until they’re in their 30s and 40s,” he said.

    Creating an open space to discuss mental health is huge, according to Mark Henick, national director of strategic initiatives at the Canadian Mental Health Association.

    READ MORE: The No. 1 mental health issue Canadian employees take time off work for

    “Sometimes one of the most therapeutic acts you can do when you’re struggling is open up to others,” Henick said.

    It’s what pushes Raimundo to keep sharing her story and encourage others to do the same.

    When Raimundo was in the hospital for her mental health, another patient reached out to her and handed her a necklace that said “hope.”

    That word meant a lot to her.

    “If I was going to beat this, if I was going to make it to the other side, I needed to have something to hope for, to get me through,” she told Global News.

    READ MORE: One-third of Canadians at ‘high risk’ for mental health concerns

    “I hoped to watch my sister grow up, I hoped to watch her graduate from high school. I wanted to see her come into somebody who was awesome and independent,” she said.

    The experts are glad mental health is coming to the forefront of Canadians’ minds.

    “A lot of people who may have been hidden in their house or suffering and we wouldn’t know are showing up to be diagnosed or are showing up for treatment,” Raimundo said.

    READ MORE: Why the WHO chose depression as its focus this year

    Still, there is some way to go. Twenty-six per cent of Canadians admitted they may not know enough about mental health.

    “It’s just right now that it’s starting to change. We’re a part of something huge and it’s only going to get better from here,” Henick said.

    The Ipsos poll was conducted in mid-April 2017. A random sample of Canadian adults were interviewed online for the survey, which was weighted to bring it in line with Canadian demographics and which has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

    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.

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Trans Mountain opponents can’t hold Alberta economy hostage: Rachel Notley

The Federal Court of Appeal has granted the Alberta NDP government intervener status in lawsuits filed against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which Alberta Premier Rachel Notley defended Tuesday.

Several First Nation bands and B.C. municipalities filed the lawsuits in an attempt to stop the project, which already has federal and B.C. approvals.

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Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Edmonton, Notley said the project means tens of thousands of new jobs for people across the country, not just in Alberta. She said opponents in B.C. can dislike the project — but they can’t stop it.

“Of course, we understand that some oppose the twinning of the pipeline and I respect their opinions,” she said during the news conference at the legislature.

“But I fundamentally disagree that one province, or even one region, can hold hostage the economy of another province, or in this case, the economy our the entire country.”

The fate of the project had been cast into some doubt by the results of last week’s B.C. election, with the Green party – which opposes the development – holding the balance of power in a minority
government.

Notley has maintained that the election results don’t jeopardize the project because it already has the regulatory approvals in place.

READ MORE: Notley’s outlook for Kinder Morgan pipeline unswayed by B.C. vote

“It’s our view that there are no tools available for a province to overturn or otherwise block a federal government decision to approve a project that is in the larger national interest,” she said.

“If there were such tools, Canada would be less a country and more a combination of individual fiefdoms fighting with each other for advantage. And let me be very clear — that does not help any of us, any of the provinces to advance our economic interests on the world stage. Thankfully, Canada is more than 10 provinces and three territories.”

Having said that, Notley said provinces still have the right to pursue things that are in their own citizens’ best interests.

Notley supports the $7.4-billion project proposed by Texas-based Kinder Morgan to triple the amount of crude that flows from the Edmonton area to the B.C. Lower Mainland.

The proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion route.

Courtesy: Trans Mountain

The federal government approved the project late last year, so Notley doesn’t believe a political shift in B.C. is much of a factor.

READ MORE: Trans Mountain pipeline agreement includes investment deadline, BC hiring priorities

The B.C. election last week left Christy Clark’s Liberals just shy of a majority with 43 seats, but recounts and absentee ballots could change the final tally. The NDP won 41 seats and the Green Party holds the balance of power with three seats.

Pipes are seen at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain facility in Edmonton, Alta., Thursday, April 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Alberta and B.C. New Democrats may share the same party name, but the similarities end there when it comes to Trans Mountain.

The B.C. NDP’s campaign platform promised to use “every tool in the toolbox” to stop the Trans Mountain project from going ahead but did not outline how.

It’s fairly common for members from different provincial wings of the same party to help in each other’s campaigns, but this year Notley dissuaded her workers from doing so.

READ MORE: Alberta premier warns her government workers away from campaigning for B.C. NDP.

In announcing his blessing for the Trans Mountain expansion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the Notley government’s efforts to combat climate change through a carbon tax and other measures.

In filing for intervener status, the Alberta government said it would defend the province and its key industries in court.

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News