Saskatoon firefighters respond to three fires on Saturday – Saskatoon


It was a busy weekend for firefighters in Saskatoon, responding to three different fires throughout the city.

The string of incidents began when crews with the Saskatoon Fire Department were called to a garage fire just before 2 a.m. Saturday morning at 1631 Avenue C North.

Firefighters say flames were licking the outside of the garage and had already moved into the attic when they arrived.

Fire destroys home under construction in Greenbryre Estates

Crews extinguished the fire quickly, but remained on scene for about an hour to ensure it was completely out.

Firefighters were then called to a house fire at 201 26th Street West about an hour later.

Smoke and flames were seen coming from the back of the house, which was boarded up and appeared to vacant, firefighters say.

Fire causes over $200,000 in damage to two homes

Firefighters remained on scene, rotating staff throughout the night.

WATCH: Fire destroys home under construction in Greenbryre Estates

Finally, fire crews were called to an apartment fire at 209 Willis Crescent shortly before 7 p.m.

Firefighters say heavy smoke was emanating from a main floor apartment, which led them to evacuate the building.

Saskatoon firefighters spend over 5 hours dealing with Caswell Hill house fire

There were no occupants in the main floor apartment, firefighters say.

Fire crews found the fire in a bedroom and extinguished it.

The cause of all three fires and the cost of the damage is unknown at this time, but no injuries were reported during the fires.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Military investigating series of fires, power outages on board naval vessels


The Canadian military is investigating a rash of fires and power outages on board several naval ships, but says preliminary indications are that there are no connections among the various incidents.

The Royal Canadian Navy has been rocked over the past two weeks by fires on two of its frigates during operations at sea near Europe. One of those frigates and a coastal-defence ship in the Pacific also experienced power outages.

Crew members were able to put out the fires quickly and restore power in each incident. A senior navy officer said there were no injuries and the problems had little impact on the vessels’ missions.

Navy Capt. Trevor MacLean, chief of staff to the commander of maritime operations, said initial investigations have also failed to uncover any links among the various incidents.

There was also no indication that the problems on the two frigates, HMCS Halifax and Toronto, were connected to a series of recent technical upgrades that all 12 of the navy’s frigates have undergone in the past few years, he said.

« The initial returns from those investigations are indicating that there is absolutely no relationship between these four incidents and it was really just coincidental that they happened in such a short period of time, » MacLean said.

Still, MacLean acknowledged the sheer number of incidents was both unprecedented and of great concern to the navy, and said more detailed investigations will be conducted in the coming weeks.

‘Highest concentration’ in a long time 

The problems started when a fire broke out in an engine room on HMCS Halifax on Oct. 26 as the frigate was participating in a NATO exercise off the coast of Norway. A clogged drain in the engine enclosure is believed to have been the culprit.

Three days later, HMCS Toronto lost power while patrolling off Britain. Power was restored, but a fire broke out in the engine room after the ship docked in Belfast. Indications are that a tank overflow, likely caused by the power outage, was to blame.

While HMCS Halifax escaped without significant damage and remains deployed, MacLean said HMCS Toronto is heading back to Canada and that the affected engine is « quarantined, » meaning it can only be used in an emergency.

The most recent incident came Monday, when the coastal-defence ship HMCS Edmonton also lost power while involved in a U.S.-led drug-interdiction mission in the Pacific. Power was quickly restored and Edmonton later intercepted an illegal drug shipment.

« To the best of my knowledge, this is definitely the highest concentration I’ve seen in this short a time, » MacLean said. « But the great thing we did see is we didn’t skip a beat on operations. »

Fires have caused significant damage — and even death — on board Canadian navy ships in the past.

Crew members on board HMCS Protecteur spent 11 desperate hours fighting a fire on their navy resupply ship in 2014, while 21 sailors on HMCS Ottawa were treated for minor injuries in 2004 after a blaze on the frigate.

And navy Lt. Chris Saunders died and three fellow crewmates were treated for serious injuries after a fire on board the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi while traversing the Atlantic in 2004.

Retired navy captain Harry Harsch said the type of fires that struck HMCS Toronto and Halifax aren’t common, but do happen, and he expected a detailed investigation to identify the causes and ensure they don’t happen again.

« Fire at sea, that’s the one thing everyone takes very seriously, » he said.


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Bishop Strachan School fires head and issues apology after production of Merchant of Venice criticized for being anti-Semitic


One of Toronto’s most prestigious private schools for girls has fired its head and issued an apology in the wake of a controversial and deliberately provocative touring adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

The performance, by a U.K. theatre company, offended students at Bishop Strachan School (BSS), and sparked fury amongst parents who described it as blatantly anti-Semitic. A group of two dozen unnamed parents expressed outrage in a letter to the board over the “demeaning, derogatory and highly inappropriate language” in the play, including an audience participation element with students urged to chant “Hallelujah” in response to statements like “Burn the Jews” and “Take away their holy books.”

On Monday, BSS issued an apology, admitting “it was an error to present that particular version of the play” and “appropriate context was not provided to students to prepare them.”

“For that, BSS is deeply sorry,” according to an emailed statement from the school. “An internal review is underway to establish guidelines and procedures to ensure this will not happen again.”

The school has “parted ways” with its head Judith Carlisle in the wake of the controversy, citing “an inability to align on a strategy for moving forward for the future.” She is replaced by the deputy head, Angela Terpstra. Carlisle is the school’s 19th head and was appointed last year after BSS hired her away from Oxford High School in England.

Carlisle is currently represented by law firm Henein Hutchison LLP, which released a statement Friday on her behalf. In it, Carlisle states that the play, which was performed at the school for Grade 11 and some Grade 12 students on Oct.17, “draws attention to the enduring and insidious impacts of anti-Semitism in Shakespeare’s time and since then.” She noted it had been previously performed and well-received at Oxford High School, when she worked there.

“I would never deliberately offend students entrusted to my care or their parents,” said Carlisle, who could not be reached for comment Monday. “That was not my intention. I deeply regret that there was not a plan in place to ensure that teachers were fully prepared to engage the students on the play.”

The adaptation by Box Clever Theatre, where Carlisle previously volunteered as a director or “trustee,” is a modern interpretation of the 16th-century dark comedy that incorporates Hitler and the Holocaust. Shakespeare’s classic play has long been critiqued for anti-Semitic elements, particularly its depiction of the character Shylock, a Jewish money lender.

Stagings of The Merchant of Venice regularly provoke controversy, according to Allen MacInnis, artistic director of the Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. He was not involved in the play but watched a public evening performance at the school that was primarily attended by adults.

“Every time a production is done of it, people ask the question of whether it should be done anymore,” he says. “Lots of times, people interpret it in a way to try and make us understand something more of what’s there… but from my experience, it’s almost always failed.”

According to Box Clever Theatre’s website, the play “fuses classical text with modern language” and was produced with “support” from BSS. It is scheduled to perform the play Nov.14 at the Supreme Court in London, England.

In an emailed statement, Box Clever said the play was first produced in 1998 and has been staged in the UK, Ireland, and in Israel and “none of these productions have prompted any complaints.” But Box Clever said it is “opposed to anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination” and is “sorry if any students at (BSS) were upset.”

Box Clever said its adaptation seeks to “challenge hatred in all its manifestations and remind audiences of the dangers and consequences of unchallenged discrimination.” But according to the letter written by 24 BSS parents, dated Oct. 22, the play fell woefully short of this goal and “materially exaggerated the anti-Semitic sentiment of the original version” while minimizing the Holocaust’s impact.

“Many Jewish students whose families were personally affected by the Holocaust were made to feel extremely uncomfortable and alienated as the production encouraged their fellow students to laugh at the horrific events and cheer anti-Semitic chants,” the letter stated.

The parents said they didn’t watch the play but its contents were confirmed and corroborated by “numerous students.”

The letters says they appreciate the “educational value” of controversial and racially charged subject matter. While this adaptation may have intended to provoke discomfort and “meaningful dialogue on the dangers of conformity and mob psychology,” it was presented without any “necessary preamble and debriefing” to “highly impressionable teens.” According to the letter, many students couldn’t understand why the content was hurtful, or failed to recognize misstatements about the Holocaust, and Jewish students were further hurt by their classmates’ comments that the play “was amazing” and “Jewish students are ‘overreacting.’”

“Despite its intentions, without any advanced preparation and the necessary interpretation and perspective provided to young teens, the important message is lost and replaced with the perpetuation of dangerous anti-Semitic stereotypes,” it said.

Journalist Rebecca Eckler, who is Jewish, was “appalled” by reports of the play at BSS, where her daughter is a Grade 10 student. “I was stunned that something could even happen like that,” said Eckler, who has freelanced for the Star in the past. She read accounts of a Grade 11 drama student who participated in the production being instructed to make a nose “as large and offensive as possible” for the play. “In this day and age, how could someone say that?”

Eckler is particularly saddened by reports of the play creating division amongst students. While she believes BSS eventually did the right thing by apologizing and firing its head, she thinks the school can still do more.

On Monday morning, BSS held an assembly to address Carlisle’s firing and apologized to students for not better preparing them for the play. According to Eckler’s daughter, the school announced plans to hold a Holocaust education week in February — but Eckler wonders why this can’t happen sooner, especially in light of the deadly synagogue attack in Pittsburgh that killed 11 worshippers on Saturday.

Eckler won’t be pulling her daughter from BSS, as some friends and acquaintances have urged her to do. But she and her husband have been donors for the past seven years and these recent events have her rethinking her financial support. At BSS, where more than 900 students are enrolled, annual tuition fees for domestic students are as high as $58,000.

Jewish advocacy groups, such as the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) and B’nai Brith Canada, have reached out to the school. FSWC offered to run educational sessions on the Holocaust and B’nai Brith said it could provide sensitivity training and education to teachers and administration. Neither offer has so far been accepted.

“We were outraged,” said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of FSWC, adding that whenever students are taught about literary works that deal with racism or anti-Semitism, “context has to be provided.”

“We’re not in favour of censorship of historical works of art,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, who applauds the school for taking action. “This was not The Merchant of Venice… This (was an) anti-Semitic modern interpretation that was very wrongly brought before students.”

For MacInnis with the Young People’s Theatre, he walked away from the performance at BSS questioning how he would have felt about the play if he were a Jewish person. He also asked himself if he would have programmed this play at his theatre and decided the answer was no. “It feels like one of those things that really had lots of good intentions, but may have really missed the mark,” he said.

Jennifer Yang is a Toronto-based reporter covering identity and inequality. Follow her on Twitter: @jyangstar

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74


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Surrey firefighters battle pair of early morning 2-alarm fires – BC


Surrey firefighters were busy overnight Monday with a pair of two-alarm fires.

Just after 1 a.m. Monday, crews were called to an auto-wrecking business near Scott Road and 110th Avenue.

The fire was quickly knocked down but the building was heavily damaged.

An adjacent pallet manufacturer and several cars were saved.

Two people living in a suite above the business escaped, but the fire chief says a pet dog is missing.

Two barge fires within three months at same Surrey location

While firefighters were there, another two-alarm blaze broke out at a home near Cedar Drive and 124th Street.

No one was hurt in that one either.

Large fire burns at Surrey propane recycling facility

The causes of both fires are under investigation.

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


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Ottawa fires back at Ford over USMCA grousing


Put a sock in it, Doug.

That’s the message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to Doug Ford in the wake of the premier’s grousing about Ontario being hurt by the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade deal.

The federal Liberals are striking back at Ford over his charge that Ottawa “left out” key sectors in the new USMCA.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc has taken the unusual step of publicly reminding the premier of his position during the contentious trade talks.

“Premier Ford fully supported Canada’s NAFTA negotiating position, both in public and in private,” LeBlanc told the Star on Friday.

“Just days before the deal was concluded, the premier was briefed in detail in Washington, D.C., including about the modest changes to the supply management sector,” the minister said, referring to concessions that give U.S. dairy farmers access to about 3.6 per cent of the Canadian market.

“The premier left that meeting and said publicly what he told us behind closed doors, that he stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Canada’s negotiators. His … minister (Jim Wilson) even pleaded with us to get to a deal at any cost,” he said.

Ottawa is blasting Ford — who, associates say, has future national political ambitions — after he escalated his rhetorical attacks on Trudeau this week.

At a campaign rally Tuesday to mark his first 100 days in office, the premier lambasted the Prime Minister.

“The new deal leaves too many Ontario families and businesses out in the cold. The Trudeau Liberals left out Ontario farmers, they left out Ontario’s steelworkers and aluminum workers,” Ford told about 600 supporters in Etobicoke.

“They used Ontario jobs as a bargaining chip and Justin Trudeau is out there taking a victory lap without giving honest answers about … what he will do for the people he’s left behind,” he said.

“My message to the farmers, to the steelworkers, to the aluminum workers, to all of the business and workers in Ontario is this: Justin Trudeau may have forgotten about you, the Liberals may have forgotten about you, but we will never, ever forget about you.”

But an internal memo sent from Queen’s Park to Ottawa after Ford’s June 7 election indicates the two government were always on the same page.

“Ontario is supportive of Canada’s approach to the steel and aluminum tariffs issue and will continue to work with Canada on a consistent approach between both levels of government going forward,” said the provincial missive marked “confidential.”

LeBlanc stressed the USMCA is “a good deal for the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who work in manufacturing, especially the auto sector.”

“It safeguards more than $2 billion a day in cross-border trade and tariff-free access that supports Ontario jobs,” the federal minister said.

Simon Jefferies, the premier’s press secretary, said Ford was a team player throughout the talks, but “the more we study this deal, the more concerned we are that the federal government threw hard-working Ontario farmers, and steel and aluminum workers under the bus.”

“Premier Ford did his part by connecting directly with the governors of Ontario’s largest trading partners to promote free trade and highlight the importance of our trading relationships,” Jefferies said Friday.

“While our government was relieved that a deal was reached, we have a number of questions (that) the federal government (has) been unable to answer in a briefing call and in followup letters,” the aide said.

“We remain highly concerned of the impact on supply-managed agriculture sectors and the compensation that will be provided for affected industries,” he said.

“We also have unanswered questions on the ability of Canada to negotiate future trade agreements, and the engagement plan with the U.S. to ensure tariffs are lifted on steel and aluminum.”

Despite being a newcomer on the national scene, Ford is already touted as a potential successor to little-known federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer if the Trudeau Liberals are re-elected next year.

The premier has privately joked that his bid to stop Trudeau’s carbon-pricing scheme better not be too successful because it could be a useful issue in a future federal election campaign.

“Everyone knows we’ve taken Kathleen Wynne’s hands out of your pocket,” he said Tuesday of the former Liberal premier he defeated last spring.

“Now, we all have a bigger job. But I promise you one thing: we’re going to take Justin Trudeau’s hands out of your pockets.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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Montreal fire department warning about dangers of kitchen fires – Montreal


Montreal firefighters are launching a week-long campaign on fire safety this long holiday weekend — with a special focus on one of the most fatal kinds of domestic fires.

“About a third of the deaths that have occurred in Montreal in house fires, or apartment fires, can be attributed to kitchen fires,” explains Montreal City councillor Alex Norris, who chairs the city’s public safety commission.

There were 51 fatal domestic fires in Montreal between 2012 and 2017. Of them, 15 started on a stove.

“That’s a really high number and we need to bring that number down,” Norris said.

READ MORE: Montreal fire department now fully equipped with animal resuscitation kits

Those numbers are why the Montreal fire department is focusing on kitchen fires during fire prevention week.

As part of the campaign, the fire prevention unit of the fire department will be going door to door to see if homes are fire safe.

They will also give tips about how to stop cooking fires, including not using water to put out a grease fire.

“It’s gonna make an explosion, so you’re going to burn yourself,” says firefighter Eric Lafrance.

“It’s really not a good idea.”

He says if the pot catches fire, the best thing to do is turn the stove off and then close the pot because the fire will extinguish itself.  Then call the fire department in case grease inside the ventilation over the stove starts to burn and gets into the walls.

Fire prevention week is from Oct. 7-13.

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


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