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B.C. RCMP bosses talk challenges faced in 2018, including future of Surrey policing

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With 2018 nearly in the rear-view mirror, the B.C. RCMP’s leadership team reached out to Global News to provide their perspective on the year that was.

Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr said she wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the force’s successes and challenges as well as to highlight the complexity of some of the operations that RCMP officers faced in the past year.

Among the accomplishments the deputy commissioner wanted to highlight was the technological advancement the force has been taking on.


READ MORE:
New leader of B.C. RCMP is first indigenous woman to hold the title

“We’ll be piloting digital evidence, continuing to advance our interactions with Crown…those are things where we can take advantage of modern technologies that are available to us,” she said.

The conversation quickly veered towards one of the biggest stories the B.C. RCMP faced in 2018: the public inquest into the suicide of Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre.

WATCH: Coverage of the Pierre Lemaitre inquest on Globalnews.ca


Lemaitre was the force’s spokesperson during the fallout from the Tasering death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport in 2007. The inquest found Lemaitre was traumatized after being forced by his superiors to lie about the circumstances that led to Dziekanski’s death; Lemaitre took his own life in 2013.


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Inquest recommends Mounties make mental health assessments mandatory

Butterworth-Carr said she wasn’t in a position to say whether Lemaitre was betrayed by the RCMP but noted that she and the force had learned lessons from the inquest, which made recommendations for improvements in supporting the mental health of RCMP officers.

“I think there’s room where we’re going to continue to improve,” she said. “I think it’s an area we need to invest in more and continue to invest in.”

Assistant commissioners Eric Stubbs and Kevin Hackett, who joined Butterworth-Carr for the interview, agreed that a progressive culture is necessary and that the leadership team is committed to improving the RCMP’s workplace culture, although they’ve also heard positive feedback.


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‘They want to disappear’: psychiatrist speaks to Mounties’ PTSD struggle

“There are a lot of challenges that the RCMP is facing operationally, administratively and internally, perhaps,” Stubbs said. “But all three of us travel the province on a regular basis, and we’re in town halls and detachments and we’re talking to our members a lot and we see a lot of positivity out there.”

“If people feel like they’re respected in the workplace, if they feel they’ve got meaningful work and contribute and they’re listened to, then that will increase morale,” added Hackett.

To date, more than 3,000 women have made harassment claims against the RCMP as part of a class-action lawsuit. When asked if she had ever faced harassment in her career, Butterworth-Carr was diplomatic.


READ MORE:
‘Nothing has changed’: Ex-Mounties take aim at RCMP during inquest

“I’ve certainly worked with challenging individuals earlier on in my career,” she said.

“I can’t speak to the reasons they behaved the way they did, but I can tell you that in the course of my career I’ve been very willing to stand up and convey challenges or things that needed improvement and continued to provide that environment.”

WATCH: Coverage of Surrey’s switch to a municipal police force on Globalnews.ca


As for Surrey’s decision to move to a municipal police force, Butterworth-Carr wouldn’t say if she thought there was any possibility the RCMP might stay in the city.


READ MORE:
Surrey mayor’s policing comments risk ‘erosion of public trust,’ says B.C.’s top Mountie

The new Surrey city council severed its contract with the RCMP shortly after entering office in November, the first step in its plan to create its own municipal police force within two years. In the meantime, the deputy commissioner said she was concerned about shortfalls during the transition.

“I think whenever we see a potential lack of investment it causes me angst, and that would be the same with any of our municipalities,” she said.

As for the future, Butterworth-Carr said her leadership team plans to take further steps to push the force into the modern age.

“Certainly being a lot more tenacious within the social media environment as well and equipping people with the ability to get out in front of news stories,” she said.

“[We want to] be proactive and take opportunities when they present themselves.”

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

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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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