Christie Pits school on lockdown after police receive reports of gunman inside

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A Christie Pits school is on lockdown after Toronto police received a call there is a man with a gun inside.

Reports came in at 2:43 p.m. at West End Alternative School on Bloor St. W. near Christie St., police said.

Police are on scene searching for the suspect, and said no injuries have been reported.

The lockdown was ordered before the end of the school day, meaning students and faculty are still inside, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said, adding he can’t confirm how many students are inside.

Under lockdown, students and teachers are locked into classrooms, the windows are shut and no one is allowed to roam freely within the building, according to police.

More to come.

Bianca Bharti is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @biancabharti

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Calgary says Olympic funding talks with Ottawa continue despite reports of unsalvageable bid

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A spokesperson from the mayor’s office said negotiations between the city and federal government continue on funding for a potential 2026 Olympic bid, despite a report in the Calgary Herald saying a committee will be asked to recommend killing the bid on Tuesday. 

The Herald said the information came from a senior municipal source with knowledge of the negotiations.

The mayor’s office said a report based on the conclusion of the negotiation talks is to go to the Olympic assessment committee tomorrow.

Coun. Ward Sutherland said he hadn’t heard anything about a recommendation to cancel the bid process, but said he did get notice that the committee meeting had been bumped from 1 p.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Canada’s minister of sport also reiterated Monday the federal government is continuing to negotiate with the city and province over an Olympic funding formula, but no additional money will be offered.

Kirsty Duncan appeared on the Calgary Eyeopener, where she said the federal government has made clear « since March 2018 » that it will fund up to 50 per cent of the public contribution toward the 2026 Olympic Games if Calgary is chosen as the host city.

« That is the policy on our website, and we’ve done that. We’ve come forward with a commitment of $1.75 billion, » she said, referencing a Friday announcement.

Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart, one of the members of the Olympic assessment committee, tweeted about Duncan’s comments, saying « and now we pull the pin, » seemingly referring to ending the bid process.

Calgary’s Olympic BidCo estimates a 2026 Winter Games would cost $5.23 billion, with $3 billion of that coming from the public purse.

The $1.75 billion commitment from the feds is in 2026 dollars, which equates to $1.5 billion in 2018 dollars, or half the needed amount.

Federal Minister of Sport Kirsty Duncan told the Calgary Eyeopener that the federal government will fund only up to 50 per cent of the public money needed to host the Olympics if Calgary is chosen. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

« We have been clear since the beginning we would fund up to 50 per cent, we would not go above the 50 per cent and we have never wavered from that position, » said Duncan.

Duncan also pointed out the federal contribution would match the provincial and municipal amounts.

The province has previously said it would contribute $700 million, while the city hasn’t unveiled its funding plan yet. Based on the other two orders of government, Calgary would have to contribute $800 million to get the maximum federal contribution.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci expressed outrage over the weekend at the federal announcement, with Ceci calling it « bad faith » and saying he understood there wouldn’t be a matching condition attached.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the province has no more money to offer a Calgary Olympic bid and again called on the federal government to drop its matching condition. (CBC)

Nenshi also penned a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, saying he would ask city council to scrap the bid — ahead of a Nov. 13 plebiscite — if an agreement couldn’t be reached by Monday.

The city’s Olympic assessment committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday and council is set to meet for a strategy session on Wednesday.

Pressed repeatedly by Eyeopener host David Gray on what the three sides are negotiating if none are willing to change their position, Duncan was non-committal in her answers.

We ask Minister Kirsty Duncan to clarify the government’s announcement on Olympic funding. 7:20

« It’s been a busy weekend and people are working hard. I’m proud to work with our partners, the City of Calgary and the Province of Alberta, and we keep doing the work, » she said.

« I’m well aware of the timelines for the plebiscite. We support that Calgarians should make their voice heard, and should Calgarians decide to go forward with a bid, we will be right there beside them and we’re still working at it, we’re still at the table. »

Robert Livingstone, who runs GamesBids.com — a website that tracks Olympic bids — said he wasn’t at all surprised by the federal position.

« Honestly, I would have been surprised to hear that the dollar matching concept would have been dropped, so there’s miscommunication at some level somewhere, and I’m not sure where that would have come from, » he said.

« It is a policy the federal government has used to fund sports events for years now. So I don’t see why it would have been different for Calgary and why they would have made a different plan, unless there was some agreement made back in March. »

Speaking in Edmonton on Monday, Ceci said negotiations continue but the province has no more money to offer and called on the federal government to remove the matching condition. 

« Seven hundred million dollars is all we can do, » he said. « That being said, there is a path forward for this bid and it relies heavily on the federal government coming to the table with what they originally promised the province and the City of Calgary during negotiations. If the feds can commit $1.75 billion in 2018 dollars to this project and drop this 50/50 funding rule, then we have what we need and the bid can go ahead to plebiscite. »

Despite Duncan’s assertions, Ceci said the 50/50 rule was not discussed during the negotiations.

« This was learned through the news last week. This was a surprise to us, » said Ceci. 

Study shows surpluses

Calgary’s BidCo also issued results Monday of a study looking at Olympic cost overruns and revenue surpluses between 2000 and 2018

The study was done by two professors and a PhD student at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and the Pantheon-Sorbonne University in France.

« The report intentionally excludes major infrastructure not needed to stage the Games, » it reads.

« These projects, such as roads, trains and public facilities, often complement the Games, are accelerated to coincide with the Games and may be part of the overall Games legacy. They are not, however, required to stage the Games and as such are not counted as a Games cost. »

The report found that with the exception of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, each event analyzed either broke even or had a surplus.

« This report clearly shows that, historically, Games organizing committees either balance their budgets or realize a surplus through good planning and rigorous financial management, » said BidCo chair Scott Hutcheson in a release.

« All Olympic Winter Games in this report balanced their books, and Vancouver 2010, which was modelled on the [1988] Calgary Games, showed that we host Games well in Canada and we’ll do so again in 2026. »

Tourism Calgary Cindy Ady says a 2026 Olympic Games in Calgary would be a $5-billion injection into the local economy. (Kate Adach/CBC)

Should Calgary be chosen, it will be a much-needed economic boost, said Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady.

« This is almost $5 billion being injected into the Calgary economy when it’s been through a pretty tough recession and is looking forward as to how it redefines itself and where it’s going to go in the future, » she said.

« Relative to just tourism, though, one out of every 10 Calgarians make their living in tourism. So if we were to go back to previous Games, whether it be Vancouver or Salt Lake or others, for sure the main beneficiary is the tourism industry. Vancouver had a double-digit increase post-Games, and every year since they’ve had double-digit increases … it’s the billion-dollar brand push that you won’t get in any other way. »

With files from The Calgary Herald, Michelle Bellefontaine, Kate Adach, Sarah Rieger and the Calgary Eyeopener.

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3 consecutive earthquakes strike off Vancouver Island, with no reports of damage

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A series of three large earthquakes have struck off the coast of British Columbia, according to the United States Geological Survey.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage from the quakes, the first of which struck just before 11 p.m. PT, around 190 km southwest of Port Hardy, a town on the northeast end of Vancouver Island.

The first quake, reported as magnitude 6.5, was followed by another, of magnitude 6.8, around 40 minutes later.

The third quake was reported at magnitude 6.5 just before midnight, near the same area as the previous two.

Three in a row ‘unusual’

CBC meteorologist and seismologist Johanna Wagstaffe said the earthquakes are a reminder that B.C. is in a « complicated » tectonic setting.

« If any one of these quakes had hit closer to land, there would have been devastating consequences, » said Wagstaffe.

« Three large ones in a row does seem unusual and I’m sure scientists will be learning as much as they can over the next couple of days about the change in stresses just off our coast. »

There were no immediate tsunami warnings following the earthquakes.

Earthquakes Canada also reported a magnitude-4.4 aftershock from the first quake before midnight.

With files from Reuters

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Number of injured from Irving refinery explosion higher than initial reports

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The number of workers injured in the explosion and fire at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Monday is higher than the four initially reported.

Family doctor Mike Simon says he treated five workers that day alone, including two who were thrown by the blast.

He expected to see at least six more injured by the explosion or fallout by the end of the day Wednesday.

And there could be many more with psychological scars, Simon said.

« It’s almost like you’re being in a war zone, right? Because suddenly, the explosion, a lot of guys are running for their life.

« It’s extremely scary ’cause you’re in a situation, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Big bang, the force knocking you over, you know, blowing your … hard hat off your head, blowing your desk around, throwing you off a chair. You know, it’s significant. So these are real-life events. »

Irving Oil and Saint John Emergency Measures Organization officials have said four workers were treated at the Saint John Regional Hospital for minor injuries after the 10:15 a.m. blast that sent flames shooting an estimated 30 metres high and left a plume of black smoke billowing over the city’s east side for hours.

The Horizon Health Network has said the hospital treated five people for non-life-threatening injuries that day, but declined to elaborate, citing patient confidentiality.

The flames and plume of black smoke towered over the stacks at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John Monday morning. (Submitted by Doug McLean)

Officials have not provided any updates on injured workers since Tuesday, but WorksafeNB’s assistant director of investigations suggested Wednesday « the number seems to be growing. »

Eric Brideau, who visiting the site Tuesday and met with employees, said he could not confirm the total number of workers injured.

The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, but officials believe it stemmed from a malfunction in the unit that removes sulphur from diesel.

Brideau described the investigation as « technical and complex. » He expects it will take two to three months to complete.

The Irving Oil refinery is the largest in Canada. It employs about 1,400 people and is capable of producing more than 320,000 barrels per day at the sprawling site, which covers more than 300 hectares.

Close to 3,000 people were working at the time of the holiday Thanksgiving explosion because of a massive turnaround maintenance project that’s underway. About 100 of them were the normal operations crew, while the rest were contracted tradespeople from across New Brunswick and other provinces.

Variety of injuries

Simon, who’s the go-to doctor for some of the contractor companies, says they called him about an hour after the fiery explosion, asking him to open his office in the city’s north end for incoming patients.

« There was a fellow [who] hurt his ear because the blast sort of hit him on the side. There was a guy who was blown off a ladder and twisted his ankle.

« There was a guy, who again, was blown off his desk, and fell into a railing and he had some contusions, injuries on his arm.

« Another guy, a little bit of inhalation injury because of the smoke and the dust and stuff from the explosion, he was very close to the blast. And he hurt his shoulder as well. Mostly musculoskeletal things like that. »

Boilermaker Terry MacEachern was rattled by Monday’s blast at Irving Oil facility, but is ready to return to the job. 1:31

Simon said treating less serious injuries at his office helped free up the emergency room to deal with anything more serious that came up and saved the workers from facing long waits.

The Saint John Regional Hospital went into « code orange » after the explosion was reported, meaning it was prepared for a possible mass casualties influx.

« They plan for these events well in advance » and run mock drills, said Simon, who has worked in the emergency room over the years.

There are protocols about calling in extra doctors and nurses, if necessary, as well as administrative and janitorial staff, and surgical specialists would be on-call, he said.

It takes a while for that shock to sort of percolate through somebody.– Mike Simon, family doctor

Trauma rooms would be prepped, patients discharged to clear beds, and medications readily available.

« So you’re going to get the best care available in the 21st century. »

Simon said it could take a few days for workers to even realize they’re injured after such a traumatic incident.

« It happens so quick. And it’s shock effect. And so it takes a while for that shock to sort of percolate through somebody. »

As their experience sinks in, some might find they’re having nightmares or struggling with worries, he said, calling it « normal human nature. »

« You get hit in the arm, you get a contusion or a cut, that’s the way the arm heals. You get a shock value like this, it takes a while for your brain to bounce back too. » 

He encourages the affected workers to seek counselling or at least find someone they can talk to as they work their way through any issues.

With files from Rachel Cave

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Canadian military says doubling of sex assault reports a sign of progress

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The Canadian Forces say a dramatic increase in the number of sexual assault reports last year is proof that efforts to crack down on such illicit behaviour in the military are having a positive impact, and not that there have been more actual crimes.

Military authorities received 111 reports of sexual assault between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018, according to new figures provided to The Canadian Press. That was more than double the 47 reports received over the previous year.

While those numbers appear troubling, at least on the surface, the head of the military’s sexual misconduct response team suggested that they represent a sign of progress in the Forces’ commitment to eliminate such offences from the ranks.

No breakdown of numbers

« It’s a positive indication that people feel free to come forward, » Commodore Rebecca Patterson, who took over command of the response team in July, said in an interview on Thursday.

« We have to combine that with the fact that things that may have been overlooked in the past are now being reported because there is the understanding among members of the [military] that they will report if they see things. »

However, the military did not provide a breakdown on when the alleged sexual assaults actually occurred, and Patterson admitted that officials are still wrestling with questions about the figures.

« As we move forward and we build the analytics piece into those various databases, the intent would be to be able to say: Are these occurring cases with serving members or historical cases based on a timeframe? » she said.

One thing that is clear is that inappropriate behaviour continued to occur within the Forces over the past year.

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance has promised a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct in the ranks. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

That was despite Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance repeatedly promising to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to sexual misconduct in the ranks, and warning those who didn’t listen that they would be severely punished.

In addition to the alleged sexual assaults, military authorities received 231 reports of non-criminal inappropriate sexual behaviour that included frequent sexual language or jokes, the displaying of sexually explicit material and « pressuring for sexual activity. »

There were another 76 reports of other types of alleged sexual crimes, including sexual harassment, indecent exposure, child pornography, abuse of authority and sexual exploitation.

And while some of the inappropriate behaviour occurred before Vance’s promised clamp down, about three-quarters of the reports dealt with incidents that allegedly occurred in 2017, which represented an average of 25 per month — or just under one a day.

Internal survey results to come

Eliminating sexual misconduct in the ranks remains a priority from the top on down, Patterson said, adding: « It is a very long-term process to hit cultural change, and we are going to continue to put a lot of effort in across the entire institution. »

Aside from the increased reporting, Patterson pointed to the results of a yet-to-be-released internal survey as further proof that military personnel feel confident that their leaders are committed to fighting sexual misconduct.

« Their confidence that the chain of command was actually trying to do something and create a culture of dignity and respect in the units is sitting around 85 per cent, » she said. « Not 100 per cent, we are still going for that. »

And she referenced the fact that around 55 per cent of incidents in the last year were reported by the victim or target of inappropriate behaviour, as opposed to a witness or bystander, further suggesting confidence in the system.

Yet, past military commanders have been criticized for using internal surveys to suggest all was well within the Forces when, it later turned out from media reporting and an investigation by Marie Deschamps, a retired Supreme Court justice, that that wasn’t the case.

Marie Deschamps, a former Supreme Court justice, led an independent investigation into sexual misconduct in the military, and found ‘an underlying sexual culture.’ (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

And the previous year saw roughly the same percentage of incidents reported by victims.

Commanders are continuing to work on eliminating barriers to reporting for victims, Patterson said, and to ensure perpetrators are held to account through reprimands, counselling, expulsion from the Forces or, where warranted, criminal charges.

Military commanders have grappled with the issue of sexual misconduct in the ranks since ​L’actualité and Maclean’s news magazines reported in April 2014 that a large number of military sexual assaults were being ignored or played down.

Deschamps led an independent investigation into the issue and her explosive report, released in April 2015, described an « underlying sexual culture » in the military that was hostile to women and left victims to fend for themselves.

Vance and other commanders have since ordered a zero-tolerance approach, which has included kicking out dozens of military members and speeding up courts martial for cases involving allegations of sexual crimes.

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