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An Edmonton public school board trustee is asking her colleagues to support a motion calling for the phase-out of government funding for private schools.

The agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting includes a motion from trustee Trisha Estabrooks that trustees “advocate the provincial government begin phasing out public funding of private schools and reinvest that money in public classrooms.”

If the board approves the recommendation, a letter will be sent to Education Minister David Eggen requesting action on the issue.

“There are members of the Alberta legislature right now that are saying if [they form government] that they would equally fund private schools and public schools,” Estabrooks told CBC’s Radio Active.

“As a publicly elected school board trustee now, I just have to stand up, I have to speak out against that,” Estabrooks said.

In a draft policy document published late last year, the United Conservative Party said the Alberta government should ensure equal per-student funding regardless of school choice — public, separate, charter, home or private.

Estabrooks, who was elected to the board in October, said she’s hopeful government will consider the request as it plans the 2018 spring budget.

In 2016, Alberta private schools were given $248 million in provincial funding.

Some advocates say about $100 million could be freed up each year for education funding if public dollars went to public schools only.

Time to start 'phasing out' funding for private schools, says trustee on Edmonton public board

Public school board trustee Trisha Estabrooks says the NDP government has “stalled” on the question of funding private schools. (Edmonton Public School Board)

Estabrooks campaigned on the issue during the 2017 election. She introduced her notice of motion at the board’s Feb. 6 meeting.

“I hope my colleagues are out talking to their constituents in their nine individual school-board wards about this issue,” she said.

“I have certainly heard a lot about it either through email or through phone calls, mostly supportive … Frankly, I don’t want to see any further delays on this.”

In February 2017, 13 groups including Public Interest Alberta, the Alberta Teachers’ Association and several public employees’ unions came together to ask the province to cut private school funding, saying the money could be used to reduce class sizes in the public system.

Estabrooks said that while NDP MLAs have previously supported ending funding for private schools, the topic has become “sensitive” with the current NDP government.

“Now that they are in government, they have stalled on this and I think they need a reminder that they promised that they would look into this, and they haven’t looked into it,” said Estabrooks.

“No politician who is seeking re-election is going to jump on this bandwagon, sadly.”

Board meetings are open to the public. Tuesday’s meeting starts at 2 p.m. on the second floor of the Centre for Education, 1 Kingsway.

When Tess Aboughoushe heard the scream, her instinct kicked in. 

She chased the purse-snatcher down an alley and found him hiding behind a dumpster.

An hour later, she would be sharing a coffee with him in a nearby café.

“I offered the guy a coffee because you could tell he was very distraught and upset,” Aboughoushe said in an interview Friday with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.

“He wasn’t leaving or running away but just looking very lost.”

‘Just like in the movies’

Aboughoushe was returning from a lunch-hour appointment at the chiropractor Wednesday when she spotted a struggle down the block.

“I was walking back to my office and crossing the street and a lady calls out, ‘Stop. Thief. He took my wallet.’

‘I didn’t stop to think or anything. I just kind of took off after the guy.’
–  Tess Aboughoushe

“Just like in the movies, she screams and I see this man start to run. I didn’t stop to think or anything. I just kind of took off after the guy.”

Aboughoushe sprinted after the man for two blocks before she turned a corner and found him cowering in an alley near a parkade.

His face was lined and scratched beneath a clean-shaven head.

Though she is a long-distance runner, Aboughoushe’s five-feet-three-inch frame was trembling. Her heart thumped in her chest.

The man had one hand shoved deep in his pocket. Aboughoushe feared he might have a knife. 

But instead, he hunched over inside his oversized blue parka and began to sob.

“He came out from behind the dumpster and says, in a conciliatory way, ‘Here is the wallet, I can’t do this anymore, I’m sorry, just take it, take it.’

“So I took the wallet, and the woman caught up soon after. I gave it back to her and he stayed there, apologizing a lot.”

Aboughoushe gave the woman a hug and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Then, she walked with the man to Credo, a few blocks down the street, and bought him a large black coffee.

The man told Aboughoushe he was desperate. He had been visiting the city with his friends from Calgary when they left him stranded without money.

He told Aboughoushe he didn’t have anywhere to go and needed to get back home.

“He said, ‘I’ve never done anything like this before. I just really need the money. I don’t know where to go. I’m lost.’ “

Aboughoushe wished the man luck and gave him directions to the public library, so he could seek out the social workers on staff. 

She acknowledged she may have put herself at risk, but has no regrets. It was a humbling experience, she said. 

“Thank goodness for the Edmonton police and firefighters who demonstrate a willingness to actively put themselves in risky situations every single day,” she said. “That, I’m truly in awe of.”

Aboughoushe did make a report to Edmonton police later that afternoon but said she has no desire to see the man punished. She said she hopes he gets help he needs.

“You kill more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,” she said. “I wanted to show him some compassion.”

A new guideline for medical marijuana, developed by Edmonton researchers, warns family doctors that the risks may outweigh the benefits for the vast majority of patients.

The guideline, published Thursday in the Canadian Family Physician journal, suggests the benefits of medical cannabis may be overstated, and research on its medicinal properties is sorely lacking.

Canadian doctors should think twice before prescribing the drug, said Mike Allan, who led the research team.

“For most things we shouldn’t be recommending it, because we don’t have enough research to say if the benefits of the therapy outweigh the risks of the therapy,” said Allan, director of evidence-based medicine at the University of Alberta.

The guideline was based on a review of clinical trials involving medical cannabis.

The document will be distributed to 30,000 physicians across Canada, and is intended as a new protocol for doctors to use when deciding whether or not to prescribe marijuana.

‘In general we’re talking about one study, and often very poorly done.’ – Dr. Mike Allan

Thousands of Canadians are already prescribed medical marijuana, and that number is expected to rise after marijuana is legalized this summer.

Family doctors face increasing pressure from patients asking for medicinal pot. But the study authors suggest there is little data for physicians to rely on before making that decision.

Guideline authors found that, in most cases, the number of randomized studies involving medical cannabis was extremely small.

In the rare instances where research did exist, the studies were narrow in scope or poorly executed, said Allan.

He said mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are the number two reason medical marijuana is prescribed, but research doesn’t support its use for those patients.

“In many areas, the research was actually absent or so limited that you really couldn’t make a call,” said Allan.

“For example, there are no studies for the treatment of depression.” 

The guideline paper said there was also only one study on anxiety and it was unscientific. In that trial, half of the 24 patients involved received a single dose of cannabis derivative and scored their anxiety doing a simulated presentation.

Proven treatments

Louis Morin said he has been using medical marijuana for seven years to treat his idiopathic polyneuropathy. The condition is killing his nerve endings, causing burning pain in his extremities.

“The pain level goes up to a 10, but normally it’s about an eight. Medical marijuana will bring it down easily to a four,” said Morin.

The 64-year-old from St. Albert, Alta., was diagnosed with the condition 20 years ago. He said the first line of treatment with opioids such as morphine harmed his quality of life, so he eventually turned to medical marijuana.

“I won’t go near opioids now,” said Morin.

The guideline concludes there is adequate evidence for the use of medical cannabinoids to treat a handful of specific medical conditions, including nerve pain, palliative cancer pain, muscle tightness associated with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury, and nausea from chemotherapy.

Even in those specific cases, the benefits were found to be generally minor, said Allan.

“From the medical community we would argue (that) until we have research, we should hold back on prescribing,” Allan said. “Particularly in any areas except the people who have failed all other kinds of therapies.”

“Given the inconsistent nature of medical marijuana dosing and possible risks of smoking, we also recommend that pharmaceutical cannabinoids be tried first before smoked medical marijuana.”

While the researchers found limited evidence supporting the use of medical cannabinoids, the side-effects were common and consistent. Common side effects included sedation, dizziness and confusion.

‘Better research is definitely needed’

Allan acknowledged the guideline may prove controversial, since the debate over medical marijuana is divisive.  

“This guideline may be unsatisfactory for some, particularly those with polarized views regarding medical cannabinoids,” Allan said.

“Better research is definitely needed — randomized control trials that follow a large number of patients for longer periods of time. If we had that, it could change how we approach this issue and help guide our recommendations.”

The research was overseen by a committee of 10 medical professionals, including doctors, pharmacists, nurses and patients, and was peer-reviewed by 40 others.

Medical colleges have released some general guidelines for primary-care providers and have cautioned physicians against prescribing marijuana.

A trio of advisories prepared by the Alberta College of Family Physicians in 2017 summarized the scientific literature, or lack thereof, that dealt with medicinal marijuana.

Documents released by the colleges of physicians and surgeons in both British Columbia and Alberta cite the absence of reliable evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of cannabis as medication.

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Premier Rachel Notley told members of her newly created market-access task force Wednesday she wants legal and strategic advice on what Alberta can do if B.C. continues to block construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline project. 

“To make sure we can end the delays, end the games and get the Trans Mountain pipeline built,” she said.

The panel, announced last week, includes former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan, former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna and the former president of Syncrude Canada, Jim Carter. 

Notley asked task force members to come up with additional measures Alberta can take against B.C., if required, and to evaluate the work government officials have already undertaken. 

The battle between B.C. and Alberta started late last month when B.C. proposed it would restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments while the province studies the effects of oil spills on the B.C. coastline.

Notley has slammed the move as unconstitutional and called on the federal government to take action. The premier retaliated last week by announcing a ban on imports of B.C. wine. 

Notley said Wednesday she won’t take additional action, at least for now, while the federal government tries to resolve the issue with British Columbia. 

“But make no mistake,” she told members of the task force, “we are not standing still. B.C. has triggered a fight with Canada. This task force is helping us lead our response.”

Fast on your feet

At the conclusion of the meeting, Carter told the media the task force had a good discussion about the options Alberta put on the table. 

“You really have to be ready to be fast on your feet and react to whatever happens,” he said. “And I think the government has done a good job at really identifying the things they would put into play, depending on the outcomes.”

Carter said Notley’s decision to impose the wine boycott was necessary in the face of B.C.’s actions. 

“I think that was worthwhile and certainly warranted,” he said.

An Alberta government petition directed at B.C. Premier John Horgan and his government has collected more than 10,000 names since it was launched on Tuesday.

The government is also encouraging people to support the pipeline to share their stories on social media and to write their MP using a pre-written form letter. 

Interviewed in Grande Prairie on Wednesday, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney renewed his call for Notley to convene an emergency sitting of the legislature to deal with the issue.

“I’ve told the premier I’m willing to put aside partisanship to negotiate a unanimous motion we can all support, taking the B.C. government to task, calling on the Justin Trudeau federal Liberals to step in and use their authority to stop British Columbia’s threats against the pipeline,” Kenney said.

“I’m willing to work with the current government constructively to present a united front.”
 

Until the province comes up with a way to limit rising salaries for school superintendents, Education Minister David Eggen will not be signing off on any new contracts.

“These contracts do come across my desk,” Eggen said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM on Wednesday. “And, as for now, I’m not signing any new ones.

Eggen’s decision comes a day after a new report revealed dramatic increases in superintendent salaries.

The survey, compiled for the Alberta School Boards Association, found that base salaries for Alberta school superintendents rose by 10 per cent between 2015 and 2016, while pay for teachers remained flat and compensation for equivalent government positions dropped by 14 per cent.

According to the report by Western Management Consultants, base salaries for Alberta superintendents ranged from $229,448 to $357,404, “significantly higher” than in Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

‘These salaries are out of line’

The province needs to do something to get the situation “under control,” Eggen said.

Eggen told reporters Tuesday, he’s looking at a number of options, including a pay cap and a salary grid.

“These salaries are out of line with other with regular teachers and other education workers, and out of step with the economy here in the province,” Eggen said Wednesday. “Alberta pays more than any other province.”

He would not say what his timelines are, but acknowledged current legislation prevents the government from dictating superintendent salaries, which are which are negotiated and set by school boards.

Eggen said he has yet to sign off on Edmonton Catholic Schools’ new contract with Joan Carr, Alberta’s highest paid school superintendent, who earned $426,824 in total compensation last year.

‘It’s all public money’ 

Eggen will be meeting with school boards to discuss options. He said he wants to respect their autonomy over who they hire, and ability to recruit, he said.

“I certainly have a lot of options that are available to me,” Eggen said. “While school boards hire superintendents and set their salary rates, ultimately it’s all public money that comes from the Province of Alberta.”

The Alberta government has already passed rules to reduce and regulate pay at agencies, boards and commissions. There is also a wage freeze in place for public-sector managers and non-unionized employees.

Teachers agreed to a salary freeze in their current contract as Alberta deals with multi-billion-dollar budget deficits.

Barry Litun, executive director of the College of Alberta School Superintendents, questions the accuracy of numbers in the report, specifically whether the pay increase is as high as 10 per cent.

Litun said on Tuesday, he expects superintendent salaries in Alberta are probably higher than other jurisdictions, but added that “the reality is the salaries in Alberta for virtually every sector, I believe, would be higher.”

He said there are other factors to consider. He noted that since Ontario and B.C. capped superintendent and other senior salaries, there have been problems filling those jobs because pay for principals and teachers has continued to rise.

“In many jurisdictions, the principals are earning a higher salary than those in the leadership positions at the district level,” he said.

The Edmonton Eskimos football team is asking its core fans whether it should change its name.

The question has come up in the team’s annual survey of season ticket holders. This is the first time the question has been formally posed to fans, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a name change is going to happen.

“I wouldn’t read it that way,” said Allan Watt, Eskimos vice-president of marketing and communications.

“Our name comes up in discussions more and more. It’s the most polarizing discussion that you can have in and around what we do,” Watt said.

“We’ve been asking people to share their thoughts with us, all of it on an informal basis, and that’s what prompted us to think that it was important for us to do something on a more formal nature.”

League commissioner weighs in

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie weighed in on the controversy at an event in Edmonton Tuesday, saying that “pride, respect and honour” are all that come to mind when he thinks of the team name.

“My personal reflection has been that of all the wonderful things that I’ve been privileged to do in my life and all the organizations I’ve had the pleasure of being associated with, I’m not sure there’s ever been one I was prouder of than being an Edmonton Eskimo,” Ambrosie said.

“Ultimately, this is an issue for the Eskimos, for the fans here in Edmonton, for the team here in Edmonton, for the relationship between the citizens of Edmonton and the Inuit community.”

The debate has been around for years, and Inuit leaders have said the current name is a derogatory term that symbolizes colonial policies.

The 34th question on the survey asks whether the team should consider changing its name in the future, and offers options of “Yes,” “No,” and “Don’t know.”

There is a general comment box for feedback at the end of the survey.

The survey has gone out to over 5,000 season ticket holders, Watt said, but the team has no plans to formally pose the question to fans more broadly.

Watt said it’ll take until mid-April to gather all the data, at which point it’ll be analyzed.

“It gives us the opportunity to see what our fans are thinking,” Watt said.

‘A nice demonstration of reconciliation’

Matt Machado, a season ticket holder for 16 years, has already answered the survey. He said the current name should stay.

Machado, who is not Indigenous, said he does not believe the name is offensive and does not understand why the team would cater to what de describes as a “vocal minority.”

He said he worries a name change would erase the team’s history of charity work. 

“When people think Eskimos, the first thing they think of is the team,” he said. 

“Nobody ever turns around and then thinks, ‘Oh you’re speaking about Indigenous people up North.’ So what you would essentially be doing is erasing 60, 70 years of history surrounding this team.

“The vast majority of people that I talked to say that they should not, so I’m hoping that this survey is finally their way of driving the nail in the coffin of ending this debate.”

Norma Dunning, an Inuk woman and PhD student in Indigenous People’s Education at the University of Alberta, said it’s about time the name is changed.

In an interview with CBC News last year, she said the word “Eskimo” is a demeaning term that encompasses how Inuit were viewed and discriminated against during the colonization of Canada’s North. It is not a term Inuit use to describe themselves, she said.

She said she is, admittedly, not much of a football fan. She’s been to one game in 27 years of living in Edmonton, though she did enjoy it.

On Tuesday, she said it makes sense the organization would pose the question to season ticket holders — those who have demonstrated consistent loyalty to the team — but wishes the survey would be issued to a broader fan base.

“People have an extreme amount of loyalty toward teams, and I wish people had that energy and would place it into social justice,” Dunning said. 

“I think it would be a nice demonstration of reconciliation,” Dunning said. “Because we haven’t seen those actual steps come to fruition yet within our country.”

Two Canadian women who spent almost two weeks in a Cambodian jail are expected to arrive in Toronto on Friday evening with the lawyer who helped secure their release.

Eden Kazoleas, 19, from Drayton Valley, Alta., and Jessica Drolet, 26, from Ottawa, were among seven westerners released Wednesday.

“The understanding that I have is that the charges have been dismissed,” said Michael Tibollo, a lawyer involved with the Ontario firm representing Kazoleas. “They were provided their passports, and they were permitted to leave the country.”

2 women jailed in Cambodia, accused of dirty dancing, returning to Canada

Eden Kazoleas has been documenting her travels on her personal Instagram account. (Eden Kazoleas/Instagram)

The women were among 10 foreigners arrested Jan. 25 when Cambodian police raided a party at a rented villa.

The group had taken part in a pub crawl organized by a local hotel then ended up at the villa rented by one of the group, said Tibollo.

Three of the 10 people arrested remain in jail, he said.

The group was in Siem Reap, an area of Cambodia that attracts many young tourists because it is inexpensive, said Tibollo, who likened it to Cancun, Mexico.

“What underscores the situation here is, what we consider to be normal behaviour is not seen that way everywhere in the world,” he said. “This situation, it sounds like it got out of hand.”

It’s alleged the group took pornographic pictures. But the only photograph linked to the Canadian women was one of an exposed breast, Tibollo said. The image in the picture didn’t look like either of the women, he said.

“The evidence they had was circumstantial,” he said. “The judge dismissed it.”

2 women jailed in Cambodia, accused of dirty dancing, returning to Canada

In this photo dated Jan. 27, 2018, issued by Cambodian National Police, a group of foreigners stand after they were arrested for “dancing pornographically” at a party in Siem Reap. (Cambodian National Police via AP)

Tibollo said his daughter, Frances Tibollo, also a lawyer, heard about the case and reached out to the Kazoleas family.

“She lived there [Cambodia] for a year, she worked there and is very familiar with the legal system,” said Tibollo.

His daughter felt compassion for the girls “being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.

‘Cautionary tale’

The conditions in Cambodian jails differ greatly from Canadian jails, said Tibollo.

The Canadians were in a room with about 45 other women and were given little food, he said.

“When they got out, my daughter said they ate enough food for five people. They were very lucky to get out.”

Tibollo said the story was a cautionary tale parents should pass on to their children before they travel to foreign countries.

“When you go to another country, you’ve got to understand that their boundaries are different than our boundaries,” he said. “You have to be cognizant of the fact that your activities could get you into trouble if you cross those boundaries.”

The Canadian women and Frances Tibollo are expected to arrive in Toronto on Friday on a flight from the Philippines.

United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney says the federal government’s new process to approve and regulate pipelines will stop future projects from going ahead.

“This is the worst possible news, at the worst time, for Canada’s energy industry,” Kenney told reporters in Ottawa Thursday.

The changes are contained within Bill C-69, introduced earlier Thursday by the federal Liberal government.

The bill creates the new Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to hold more extensive consultations with groups on the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of proposed oil and gas projects. The agency will also assess potential impacts on Indigenous communities.

Ottawa will also replace the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator, which will still operate out of Calgary.

Kenney, who is in Ottawa to speak at the Manning Networking Conference, says it will now be harder for energy companies to get projects approved.

“The process announced today is going to extend the timelines, massively expands the consultation process, allows anybody, including any activist, anywhere in Canada, to get intervener status at the agency, which could mean endless process and delays,” Kenney said.

The Alberta government offered little reaction to the moves announced by federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and  Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

Alberta will consult with stakeholders

Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd said in a written statement that Alberta wants to first consult with “key stakeholders” on the new bill.

“Our priority is to ensure the federal regulatory changes are implemented in a way that makes sense for working people and provides greater certainty for investors,” she said.

“It’s important to acknowledge the federal government’s intent to reduce overall regulatory timelines and improve Indigenous consultation at the front end.

“To achieve that, it will be critical for Canada to ensure the proposed timelines are achievable within the new, broader impact assessment criteria released today.”

The new agency will have set timelines for the review of projects — a maximum of 300 days for smaller projects and 600 days for larger projects that require a panel review.

The current timeline is two years.

The changes come after years of criticism that the National Energy Board, the regulator that weighs approval for construction of projects such as pipelines, was ill-suited to conduct environmental assessments or the Crown’s duty to consult with Indigenous peoples.

Premier Rachel Notley released a video and tweeted excerpts of supportive messages from B.C. residents on Wednesday, the second day of Alberta’s boycott against B.C. wines. 

Notley announced the boycott in response to the B.C. government’s call last week to further review the oil-spill risk from the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon he would not be distracted by the boycott and would not take retaliatory action against Alberta.

“I’m not responding in any way, other than saying I’ll defend our wine industry,” he said. “I’m here for B.C., not for Alberta.”

Horgan said his government is well within its jurisdiction to consult the public on regulations, despite what Notley contends. 

“I see no ground for the premier to stand on,” he said. 

Notley has insisted that B.C.’s actions are illegal and unconstitutional. 

In the video posted to her Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, Notley explained why she announced a boycott and urged Ottawa to intervene.

“Every road, school and hospital in Canada owes something to Alberta’s energy industry,” she said. “Our fellow Canadians need to understand that.

The Alberta Government will continue to defend Alberta jobs, Canadian jobs, & Ottawa needs to do the same: It doesn’t have to be this way. We can act as one country, with one national economy, with one national climate plan and with one common future. It’s time for Ottawa to act. pic.twitter.com/kyVZEQsrxf

@RachelNotley

“In the coming days, the government of Alberta will be closely monitoring the situation and preparing further action,” shesaid. “We’ll also be providing Albertans with additional tools to make your voices heard.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can act as one country, with one national economy, with one national climate plan. With one common future. It’s time.”

Notley followed the video with a series of tweets, which she said came “from the inbox.” They were excerpts of messages from B.C. residents, including “Sean” who lives in Vancouver.

“My friends and neighbours do not support this illegal and unconstitutional action,” the tweet said. “We must not fight each other. I have written the B.C. premier, prime minister and mayors … expressing my absolute support of this pipeline.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, said he hoped the dispute would soon come to a resolution so the Trans Mountain expansion could proceed.

Notley’s boycott has received mixed reactions on social media, with some support coming from Alberta conservatives. United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney said he supported the premier’s actions. 

Others have called the boycott silly. B.C. environmentalists and Kinder Morgan opponents posted photos of themselves buying and drinking B.C. wine on Wednesday. 

My response to Notley’s pettiness today –> Picked up three bottles of amazing BC VQA: 1) Mission Hill 2015 Reserve Shiraz; 2) Tinhorn Creek (also Canada’s 1st carbon neutral winery) 2015 Cabernet Franc; 3) Dirty Laundry 2015 Merlot. #BCBuysBCWine #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/M9sCCALDHk

@AJWVictoriaBC

A marketing expert at the University of Alberta praised Notley for forcing the federal government to act while using an issue most people can understand, unlike inter-provincial electricity sales. 

“I think this was a brilliant stroke on her part, politically,” said John Pracejus, director of the university’s school of retailing. 

“It’s a way to put the spotlight on this issue in a way that will not have much of a negative consequence for the average Alberta consumer. Even people who are very into wines will certainly be able to find an alternative to pair with a particular meal that does not come from the Okanagan Valley.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, said he hoped the dispute would soon come to a resolution so the Trans Mountain expansion could proceed.

A senior Liberal source told CBC News that B.C. and Alberta officials have been told the federal government wants to lower the temperature on this issue. 

“Ultimately, the federal government will not allow any province to impinge on its jurisdiction over the national interest. Full stop,” the source said. 

It’s been a bizarre introduction to municipal politics for former Beaumont councillor Sabrina Powers.

In less than four months, Powers won a council seat, resigned, then failed to regain her seat in a byelection vote Feb. 5.

In Nov. 2017, Powers was asked by her fellow councillors to resign when an unpaid utility bill and an unpaid property tax bill were uncovered.

Powers called it an honest mistake and said her husband simply forgot to pay the bills.

According to the Local Authorities Election Act, all money owed to a municipality must be paid by nomination day, which for Powers was Sept. 18.

She did not say how much the bills were for, but said she paid them when she realized they were outstanding.

At the time, Powers was told she had three options to address the issue. She could resign, bring the issue to council where they could dismiss it, or it could be brought before a Court of Queen’s Bench judge.

Powers said she felt “blindsided” when council asked her to resign.

“I thought if all of your colleagues ask you to resign, what would you do?” Powers told CBC in November.

“They obviously have their reasons and I wasn’t privy to those reasons, but it wasn’t necessarily an option that was presented or that should have been presented.”

Byelection loss

Powers’s resignation triggered the Feb. 5. byelection.

Beaumont woman fails to win back council seat after resigning over unpaid bills

Steven VanNieuwkerk won the Feb. 5, 2018 by-election to fill the last town of Beaumont council seat. (Steven vanNieuwkerk/Facebook)

In total, eight candidates ran for the seat.

Unofficial results on the town’s website show Powers came in fourth with 155 votes.

Steven vanNieuwkerk ultimately won the byelection with 410 votes, after losing to Powers in the general election by 400 votes.

“Losing was a tough thing … I was still kind of in campaign mode because it’s not something very easy to turn off,” said vanNieuwkerk.

“By a byelection being triggered, it affected all of the candidates who put their names back in the race. I’m just happy we’re at the outcome that we are.”

VanNieuwkerk said he expects to be sworn in within a week.

With Powers out of the seat, Kathy Barnhart is now the only woman on Beaumont town council.

Christopher Cattrall, the brother of actress Kim Cattrall who was reported missing in Alberta this weekend, has died, the actress confirmed on Twitter.

RCMP issued a media release Saturday saying the 55-year-old man had been missing from his home in Lacombe since Jan. 30.

In an Instagram post, Kim Cattrall says her brother’s keys, cellphone and wallet were left on a table in the house, and his front door was unlocked.

She said his seven dogs were left alone.

“He’s a one-of-a-kind brother,” Kim Cattrall wrote online. “Help us bring him home safe.”

On Sunday afternoon, Cattrall confirmed “the unexpected passing” of her brother by posting a photo of herself with him.

“We want to thank you all on social media for your outpouring of love and support in this trying time,” she said in the post. 

RCMP told CBC News Sunday that Christopher Cattrall’s body has been found, and their investigation into his disappearance has concluded. Police said the death is not considered suspicious.

It is with great sadness that myself and my family announce the unexpected passing of our son and brother, Chris Cattrall. At this time we ask for privacy. We want to thank you all on social media for your outpouring of love and support in this trying time. pic.twitter.com/n4dQAMrTvS

@KimCattrall

Messages of hope and reconciliation will light up the Flying Canoë Volant Festival in the Mill Creek Ravine Feb. 2 and 3.

Deep in the woods, giant four-metre lanterns will reveal messages of reconciliation penned by Edmontonians at the festival three years ago.

“In the camps, they did a project in the teepees where the public could come in, and they were invited to write on pieces of tissue paper what reconciliation means to them,” said Betty-Jo Lecours, the visual arts coordinator for the festival.

“It wasn’t long before there were so many pieces of paper, they put them in the trees around the camp. But then they decided they needed to do something with all of these words and all of that collective creativity.”

It took three years to finalize the design, but about 100 of the notes will be painted onto the lanterns.

Filmmaker and graphic designer Lese Skidmore designed the images on the installation, with the support of the Native Counselling Services of Alberta. 

Skidmore also invited artists from iHuman Youth Society to help paint the lanterns. The three-sided canvas frames were designed by the festival’s lead art designer, Dylan Toymaker.

“I was thinking about symbolism that had to do with reconciliation and the festival itself, so I came up with the idea of having some canoes on a path together going down a river,” Skidmore said.

“I also kind of wanted to think about where we were in Edmonton. The way I designed it was that it would look like it had rolling hills, it would be in a valley, the river would be winding.”

Some of the messages include single words like ‘tapwe,’ a Cree word that means truth, and longer phrases like ‘reconciliation is a commitment to change and equity.’

Truth and Reconciliation will light up Flying Canoë Volant Festival

The art installation will be displayed during the Flying Canoë Volant Festival in Edmonton Feb. 2 and 3. (Brent Roy/Radio-Canada)

The Flying Canoe is a folk legend with shared First Nations and French-Canadian origins. It’s the story of voyagers who make a deal with the devil, but ultimately lose their bet.

As punishment, they’re forced to roam the skies in a flying canoe, being chased by a wolf. Legend has it the canoe can be seen blazing through the sky around this time of year.

The festival has become a destination for people to celebrate First Nations, Métis and French-Canadian heritage.

Truth and Reconciliation will light up Flying Canoë Volant Festival

An iHuman Youth Society artist paints a lantern that will be displayed at the festival. (Brent Roy/Radio-Canada)

The reconciliation lanterns will become a permanent fixture at the annual festival.

“Often we act, and then when that moment has passed it falls by the wayside a little and we don’t see any results,” Lecours said.

“For me, integrating this in a permanent work … it’s like a memory of the spirit from the conversations that we received, from the contact we had.

“We hold them closer when we do something with them, and we can see them again every year. To me that shows that we are invested in the idea of reconciliation.”

“I think projects like this are intended to leave a legacy,” Skidmore said.

“Because those messages came from people’s hearts and they wrote them, I think it’s important that they see that we took care in showing their message to everybody else.”

The lanterns will be installed throughout the First Nations camp during the festival.

The festival runs this weekend after dark in the area around La Cité Francophone at 8627 Rue Marie-Anne Gaboury, and in parts of the Mill Creek Ravine.