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New book about Humboldt Broncos crash was released against families’ wishes

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The families of the Humboldt Broncos crash victims are urging people not to buy a recently released book about the team.

Barry Heath, a former Saskatchewan coroner and veterinarian, wrote Humble Beginnings of the Humboldt Broncos and the 2017-2018 Team based on media interviews with the families.

Toby Boulet, whose son Logan died in the crash, said the 29 families did not endorse the book.

Boulet said Heath contacted many of the group’s representatives, including fellow Broncos’ dad Scott Thomas, who told him the families were not ready to talk for the book.

Boulet said Heath rushed to put out the book so it would be the first of its kind.

He set the release for Sept. 15, just days after the team’s home opener, and announced a book signing on that day at the Coles bookstore in Lloydminster. Boulet said he urged Coles to cancel the book signing and refuse to sell the book.

« It’s our story to tell, individually or collectively. My story about Logan Boulet is mine and my wife’s to tell because Logan can no longer tell his story, he’s passed away, » Boulet told CBC. « It’s not for Doctor Barry Heath to tell Logan’s story.

« All the other families feel the same way. »

Logan Boulet’s father Toby, pictured, says the families of the crash victims do not endorse the book released about the team last month by Barry Heath. (CBC News)

Coles did as asked by the families. Canadian Tire also stripped store shelves of the book. Then, Boulet said, Heath began marketing his book through Chapters on the six-month anniversary of the crash.

« The timing is always horrible. All the parents are still grieving, » Boulet said. « So now the families are mad again. »

Heath disrespecting the families, says Christina Haugan

Christina Haugan, whose husband and Broncos coach Darcy died in the crash, said it feels like Heath put his own interests above those of the families who are still grieving. 

« We just … feel it’s too early. A lot of the stories aren’t even finished being written yet. Layne [Matechuk] just got released from the hospital, » Haugan said.

Haugan said the families do not want the book at this time but it seems like Heath just isn’t hearing the message. While she’s unsure if she wants an apology, Haugan said she just doesn’t want the book out there.

Christina Haugan’s husband, Darcy, died in the April 6 crash. She said Heath is disrespecting the families by publishing and selling the book, despite opposition from the families. (Alexandre Lauzon/Radio-Canada)

« It doesn’t seem like he has even a connection … but just a random interest, » Haugan said. 

Haugan said she saw the table of contents of the book. One of the chapters was directly related to Parker Tobin and Xavier LaBelle, who were misidentified as each other, which she felt was in poor taste.

« Every time that he has been asked to not do it, everything gets justified and there’s a reason — it doesn’t matter what the reason is, » Haugan said.

« It doesn’t matter that you’re donating some of the money … To me, this is about us. I think he’s disrespecting every single person that’s involved in this by not listening to us. The message is quite clear: We don’t want the book out there. Not yet. »

‘The nation’s hearts are with us’

Boulet said the families decided to take to social media to tell people not to buy the book. He said he told Heath by email to respect their wishes and stop marketing the book.

« I said, ‘The nation’s hearts are with us on this one. You’re going to lose. Don’t try and sell your book,' » Boulet said.

Heath would not do an interview with CBC, but sent a statement via email.

« I am sorry some of the families, including the billet families who have been affected in the same way, believed they had to give permission for me to celebrate their loved ones as I have done, » he said.

« Throughout the Broncos story, people talked about the team being part of the fabric of the city of Humboldt, » Heath continued. « I wove a story where the fabric itself intertwines in so many ways, one cannot help but treasure the team’s history and its promise for the future. »

Former Humboldt Broncos team president Kevin Garinger said no one is denying Heath’s right to write about the incident. Instead, it’s a matter of principle and none of the families endorse the book. (CBC)

« Nobody is questioning his right to write a book … What we’re talking about is moral imperative here, » said Kevin Garinger, former president of the Broncos organization.

Garinger said when he talked with Heath back in the spring, the organization said it would support the families’ wishes that the book not be released.

« It’s something that they didn’t advocate for, they didn’t ask for and at this time, no one is truly ready for that, » Garinger said.

If a book were to be written about the crash, an endorsement from the families would be crucial, Garinger said. As it stands now, there is no endorsement for Heath’s book.

Chapters/Indigo told CBC that company headquarters has given a « recommendation » to their stores to take down the book. Most of the stores in Saskatoon have already done so.

Heath says all of the proceeds of the book will go to hockey bursaries for players in need. He said he expects that selling the book for $20 will allow at least $10 per book to go to charity.

Boulet said the 29 families plan to tell their own story in a book one day, after taking time to grieve and collectively agreeing to an author. He said that author will be granted the opportunity to interview each of the families.

Boulet said the communication between Heath and himself has remained respectful, but he hopes people will refrain from buying his book.  

« I don’t think he’s a bad person. I think he had good intentions. But I don’t think he made the right choice, » Boulet said.

– With files from Radio-Canada’s Omayra Issa and CBC’s Olivia Stefanovich

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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