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100 years later, Montreal’s Black Watch regiment returns to Wallers, France

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Soldiers from Montreal’s Black Watch regiment marched Saturday through the streets of Wallers, France, returning to the French village their regiment liberated a century ago.

The village issued an invitation to the regiment to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

In October 1918, German artillery was set up on the western part of the city to hold back Allied forces. The German troops were eventually pushed back, but not before setting several buildings on fire during their retreat.


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After four years of occupation, local residents greeted the Canadian soldiers as heroes.

To commemorate the anniversary, the Black Watch regiment sent a contingent of 100 past and serving members.

“To walk in the footsteps of those who came before us, whether in the Black Watch or other regiments, it’s moving,” said Eric Booth, a former Black Watch reservist. “It’s moving. The people have made us feel very welcome.”

Booth’s grandfather wasn’t in the same regiment, but did move through the same village in 1918. Private J.W. Thresh served with the 22nd Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery.

WATCH: Canada’s 100 days: Key battles from the First World War






One of the stories Booth says his grandfather shared was how he found out the war had ended. The morning of November 11th, 1918, Thresh had climbed a hill of mining tailings to get a view of the area. When he came down, he ran into a young local woman.

“The miner’s daughter looked up at him and said ‘la guerre c’est fini’: the war is over,” Booth said.

The village was decked out in Canadian red and white for the occasion. Part of the parade route was under Canadian flag banners.


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About 200 local residents turned out, including a local hockey team that’s preparing for a trip to Quebec City’s upcoming PeeWee tournament.

The day’s events started with a wreath-laying at a monument dedicated to local soldiers, but then moved to the town square in front of a church for speeches about Canada’s role in the liberation.

Rene Gonnez says he attended to thank Canadians personally.

“It’s to honour Canadians,” said Gonnez. “That’s very important.”

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One member of the Black Watch regiment contingent was American Hugh Gemmell. The United States didn’t enter the First World War until 1917, and Gemmell’s grandfather turned to Canada for an opportunity to fight. Willam Gemmell joined the Canadian military and served with regiment. After the war, he returned to the US.

Gemmell never met his grandfather, who died in 1938 at just 45 years old.

“He was sick after he got back from the war,” Gemmell said. “He died young, like a lot of them did.”

There was also a dedication to a fallen Black Watch soldier. A street in Wallers has been named after Corporal Hugh Gray, killed by a German mortar shell just days before the signing of the Armistice that ended the war.

Gray made it through the village and was on a reconnaissance patrol alone. The street where he was killed is now called “Rue Caporal H. Gray.”



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Modest price gains expected in real estate in 2019

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Canadian realtors are predicting modest gains in the Toronto area re-sale housing market in 2019 — a return to a pre-bubble balance that will see home prices climbing in the low single digits.

Royal LePage is expecting a 1.3 per cent price gain to an average of $854,552 next year, including houses and condos, in the Toronto area. That’s a sliver above the company’s 1.2 per cent national forecast.

Re/Max is slightly more optimistic, forecasting a 2 per cent price increase in the Toronto region, compared to the 1.7 per cent Canada-wide. The relative calm is a relief after the turbulence of recent years, said executive vice-president Christopher Alexander.

“Buyers are going to be more cautious,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of fear of the unknown. That is going to affect consumer confidence a little bit.”

Royal LePage CEO Phil Soper said 2018 was the first year in two decades when the market actually went backwards but the outcome could have been far worse.

The correction has been tough for mortgage-related businesses and real estate brokerages. But, Soper said, “It was a beautiful thing because the prospect of a difficult and economically dangerous deep correction was looming when we had prices increasing at 30 per cent per annum.”

How good the next year’s market is for buyers and sellers will depend on where they’re located, said Re/Max’s Alexander. Toronto continues to be a hot market, particularly west of Yonge St., but some of the 905 municipalities lowered the average price 4 per cent for the region this year, he said.

Re/Max forecasts a better year for some of those in 2019. Oakville could see prices climb as much as 5 per cent after a 12 per cent dip this year. Mississauga and Brampton, which experienced a flat 2018, are anticipated to have 4 per cent price gains. Durham Region could see a 3 per cent increase after a 5 per cent drop in 2018, says the company.

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Alexander had no figures for York Region, where the market’s recovery has lagged.

Soper suggested that some 905 communities will benefit by demographic trends next year.

“We don’t forecast (sales) volumes, but we believe volumes will pick up as the year goes on,” he said.

There is a pent-up demand among aging baby boomers for more suitable accommodation, said Soper. As well, millennial condo owners, who are having children, are looking for more space that could put more pressure on suburban houses in 2019.

The shortage of listings is also expected to be a challenge in the coming year. That’s because people like to list when the market is frothing, said Soper. They don’t recognize that a lack of competition can be a good thing, he said.

On the front lines, the lack of listings is challenging for realtors, said Harvey Kalles agent Ira Jelinek, who has been in the business 12 years.

“Sellers are hanging tight and the market is very scarce,” he said. “I’ve been looking for a house in the Cedarvale and Forest Hill area for about six months and nothing has come up. Nobody is selling.”

He expects “moderate” single-digit price gains next year with “a nice equilibrium between buyers and sellers.”

“I think it’s going to be more of the same (as the late part of 2018) — a healthy, balanced market where things won’t sell in two days at crazy record level prices,” said Jelinek. “A real estate agent has to work. You can’t just put a sign on the lawn.”



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City to rebuild Maple Leaf Pool – Regina

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Sharp public outcry has turned the tide for the embattled Maple Leaf Pool.

On Tuesday night, Regina city council voted unanimously to replace the 72-year-old facility in the Heritage neighbourhood. It had been scheduled to close in 2019.

“We know that the people of this city want  that pool replaced, and replaced in a hurry,” Councillor Bob Hawkins emphatically remarked.

Councillors cited a slew of emails and phone calls supporting the ageing pool in addition to a weekend protest and more than a dozen delegates presenting at budget.

“There’s a lot of newcomers in our neighbourhood,” Heritage Community Association executive director Shayna Stock said. “About 20 per cent are First Nations or Metis, and it’s a mix of lower income families and working class families, so the pool is really a hub for the community.”


READ MORE:
Regina residents protest closure of Maple Leaf Pool

“We changed our minds. We’ve changed the focus back to a local pool that’s critical- the centerpiece of a community. We understand, we agree,” Mayor Michael Fougere said.

Hawkins pushed to have a new pool open by 2020- though administration felt that was a little too ambitious.

“2020 we would start construction. 2019 we’d do design. You can’t move any quicker than that,” City manager Chris Holden said.

Administration will report back with funding options early in the new year, though council discussed financing through debt and increasing the mill rate at Tuesday’s meeting.

A proposal from Hawkins to pay for it through a .45 per cent mill rate increase was squashed after much debate.


READ MORE:
Maple Leaf pool the focus of Regina’s budget debate

Council heard there is almost $17 million in debt dedicated to replacing Wascana Pool with a new water park by 2021. While Maple Leaf Pool will be a priority, the proposed destination outdoor aquatic facility is not off the table.

“It may be a modified one, but I don’t think we’re going to be talking about the end of the destination (aquatic facility),”Fougere added. “I think we’re talking about moving forward on both projects.”

While details on construction and a price tag may be hazy, it appears the Maple Leaf Pool has a new lease on life.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Meng Wanzhou is out on bail — but could be in legal limbo for years

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Meng Wanzhou says she hasn’t read a novel in 25 years.

As the lawyer for Huawei’s chief financial officer told B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke Tuesday, the 46-year-old has been too busy raising a family and helping her father grow his company into a global telecommunications giant.

Defence lawyer David Martin said his client practically welcomes the constraints Ehrcke considered before granting her $10 million bail under strict supervision: more time to spend with her daughter, to catch up on her love of literature — and who knows, maybe even to consider getting her PhD?

Meng, who was arrested in Vancouver at the request of U.S. officials, is accused of violating international sanctions against Iran through a « hidden » Huawei subsidiary called Skycom.

U.S. prosecutors claim she put American banks in legal jeopardy by lying about the relationship between the companies, inducing them into « carrying out transactions that they otherwise would not have contemplated. »

Meng Wanzhou left B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver around 8 p.m. local time, nearly five hours after the judge delivered his decision. (CBC)

The U.S. wants to see her extradited.

But if the legal precedents Ehrcke considered in granting Meng her freedom are anything to go by, she may have time to finish War and Peace, Anna Karenina and the complete works of Marcel Proust before her extradition odyssey is done.

« This has been an unusual case, » the judge said as he wrapped up the day, which drew crowds so large the sheriff had to set up televisions in the lobby. 

The proceedings spoke to a number of Vancouver stereotypes: a part-time yoga instructor, a real estate agent, an insurance salesperson and a homemaker all came together as last minute sureties to guarantee the freedom of a woman whose father with an estimated worth of $3.2 billion US.

And all of this on a day with torrential rain.

Left holding the bag

In considering bail, Ehrcke had to balance Meng’s risk of flight against the guarantees of friends who put their own property on the line as sureties.

He considered the examples of Rakesh Saxena and Lai Changxing, two men who fought long battles against extradition.

It took 13 years before Saxena was deported to Thailand, where he was jailed for fraud.

And Lai — once considered one of China’s most wanted men — fought deportation for more than a decade before being sent back to face charges of bribery and theft.

Both men lived under house arrest and were eventually freed pending the resolution of their cases. Saxena was placed under house arrest again after violating the conditions of his release.

Lai Changxing fought deportation from Canada for years. His case was one of the examples the judge considered in granting bail to Meng. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

Ehrcke also considered the case of Michael Wilson, an accused fraudster, who — like Meng — was wanted for extradition to the U.S. and who — also like Meng — had multiple sureties step forward.

But Wilson fled to Vietnam with two of those guarantors in a bid to escape justice, leaving the other two holding the bag.

Wilson’s actions cost one of them $200,000. The friends who stepped forward for the Huawei CFO could be on the hook for as much as $3 million if she flees.

‘Myriad’ reasons to avoid the U.S.

Meng was arrested just over a week ago on a provisional arrest warrant as she passed through Vancouver International Airport en route to Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina and France.

Prosecutors claim the fact she hasn’t stepped foot in the United States since 2017 is proof she’s avoiding possible arrest in that country.

But Ehrcke rejected that argument, pointing out that people have « myriad » reasons for avoiding the United States in the past two years.

U.S. President Donald Trump chats with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Tensions between the two countries have been rising. (Andy Wong/Associated Press)

The judge didn’t mention Donald Trump’s name — but the tense relationship between the U.S. president and China’s leadership has simmered in the background from the moment Meng first stepped foot in court.

« There’s a larger macro struggle going on between the United States and China, » Martin told the court during his client’s first appearance — proceedings to which the CBC News has since listened.

Many of the people who packed the courtroom for three days running questioned the timing and motive of the arrest. They applauded Ehrcke’s final decision and some congratulated Meng’s husband as he left the courtroom.

Supporters decried the allegations and one man walked outside the courthouse and shouted, « We love Huawei. »

Patience and time

The arrest of a Canadian in China on the same day that Meng’s release was to be decided increased the air of intrigue.

And Trump’s assertion that he might intervene in the case against Meng if it would help national security interests or close a trade deal with China only helped reinforce the sense that the case may ultimately be decided in Washington and Beijing, not Vancouver.

For now, though, Meng is confined to a strict radius of locations in Vancouver, Richmond and parts of North and West Vancouver.

She’ll pay for round-the-clock shifts of security guards to watch her every movement — sworn to arrest her if she breaches the terms of her parole.

She’ll swap her green prison sweats for an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.

And she’ll finally get to pick up a book. To paraphrase War and Peace, she may learn that patience and time are the strongest warriors of all.



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