- Liberals rethinking leaders debate over ticket costs, lack of French
- Georgia mother’s terrifying 911 call: ‘My children are trying to kill me’
- Winnipeg Transit delays could last until December
- #Elxn42: Race in Mount-Royal riding heats up
- Australian principal fired for building ‘calm down’ cage for autistic child
WATCH ABOVE: As Canadians respond to the Syrian refugee crisis it’s more important your money goes to the right place and the right people. As Jayme Doll reports, it’s donors like you who play a crucial role in keeping charities accountable.
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Rally held at Alberta legislature in support of Syrian refugees
NDP and Liberals call for Canada to accept more Syrian refugees
CALGARY – Albertans have rallied in support of Syrian refugees, mourning thousands who’ve died trying to reach safety, and personally donating to the cause. Donors can play a crucial role in keeping charities accountable and making sure the money goes to where it’s needed, by carrying out a few simple checks.
The Red Cross is on the ground in Europe and the Middle East, making an international appeal for contributions. The Alberta government said it will contribute $75,000 to the Canadian Red Cross and match up to another $75,000 in donations made by Albertans to the organization.
READ MORE: Will this photo help people grasp the desperation of Syrian refugees?
But how much of that money goes to refugees themselves?
The Red Cross said out of the funds raised through this appeal, a maximum of five per cent will go to fundraising costs associated with it—the rest will go directly to the people who need it.
“Our field staff right now, working, supporting this crisis, are volunteers,” said Canadian Red Cross’ Jenn McManus. “The money is going to temporary shelter, basic needs like clothing, shelter, and water, and medical assistance for the refugees coming into the region.”
Samaritan’s Purse has six people on the ground running programs and providing aid for refugees in Europe and the Middle East. Its overhead cost tops out at 10 per cent, but that covers everything from marketing to keeping the lights on in its offices. The group said 90 per cent of the money it raises goes straight to the cause.
“Money is going directly to purchase food, relief supplies, to refugees who are moving with literally the clothes on their backs,” said Brent Davis of Samaritan’s Purse.
Both organizations have earned “A plus” in MoneySense Magazine’s annual charity ranking. But there are other charities out there, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Canadians to do their homework before donating.
“We encourage people to ask the charity: where is the money going? And do they have people on the ground?” said Leah Brownridge of the BBB.
It’s estimated there are 350,000 refugees from Syria alone currently on the move, with a long list of aid organizations trying to help. While there haven’t been any reports of scams in Calgary as of yet, the BBB says unfortunately whenever there is crisis, there will be people trying to take advantage of generosity. The group warns about donating online, especially if you’re receiving what could be spam messages. It advises Canadians check to see if charities are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.
READ MORE: World mourns drowned Syrian boy Alan Kurdi
With files from Erika Tucker
KELOWNA – Thousands of refugees are continuing to flee from Syria to any country that will take them, but an Okanagan couple is wondering why Canada isn’t doing more.
Jim and Wendy Scorgie worked as international teachers in Aleppo in 2001. They recount meeting so many sincere, kind-hearted people, including a fellow teacher named Marwa Saffaf.
When war broke out in Syria, the Scorgies were living in Kelowna. They put out a call on facebook in 2013 to see if any of their friends overseas needed help; Marwa responded.
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From there the Scorgies tried to get Marwa and her three young boys to Canada. They helped her file for a visitor’s visa two separate times, but both applications were denied for no apparent reason.
“We didn’t feel her application was given a fair look,” said Wendy Scorgie.
She and her husband then talked to Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas, who gave them some suggestions on federal programming, but says there isn’t much else he can do.
“In all cases we can help people identify programs, pass them on and help the family,” says Albas, “but it’s not the politicians that decide…immigration officers judge a visa application on its merits.”
“It’s as if we know the holocaust is underway and we’re doing nothing about it,” says Jim Scorgie, “If you can’t move quickly at a time like this there’s something wrong with our bureaucracy and decision making that doesn’t allow us to make fast decisions to help people that are dying.”
For two years the Kelowna couple continued to try to help Marwa find a new home, but by May of 2015 the fighting had literally reached her door. The Scorgie’s knew time was running out.
“The war, as she said it, the war was over their heads,” says Wendy, “It just became reality our friends were in the middle of a war zone. Our [old] house was in the middle of a war zone.”
Marwa’s husband illegally fled to Germany in hopes his family would be able to seek refuge status and join him. But the wait was more than a year, so Jim and Wendy jumped into action, paying the way for Marwa and her three young boys to make it to Istanbul.
The Scorgies made the trip to Turkey to meet Marwa and her family when they arrived.
“We get there and we see three little pairs of running shoes and a big pair and we thought ‘they made it, they made it!’,” says Wendy.
Now the next step is to reunite Marwa with her husband in Germany, a process that has started but is still underway.
The Scorgies have started a “Go Fund Me” account called “Rescue Marwa” and they say the response so far has been amazing.
Watch above: Saskatoon city council and the RM of Corman Park want dog owners to leash their pets at Chief Whitecap Park because of recent attacks. Joel Senick finds out what concerns park users have and whether a simple solution can be found.
SASKATOON – A new design plan for Chief Whitecap Park contains a fenced off dog park that is expected to be constructed in 2016. The details were unveiled at a public open house Wednesday by the City of Saskatoon and the Meewasin Valley Authority.
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Meewasin, Trans Canada Trail expansion opens to the public
“We just want a safe area both for the non dog walkers and the dog walkers,” said Brad Babyak, the City of Saskatoon’s integrated facilities supervisor.
The fenced off area will be built in two phases, both of which cover roughly 40 acres. When both phases are complete, the area will be roughly 80 acres.
“That’s two times the size of Kinsmen Park,” said Babyak.
“That’s a fairly large, significant area; even though it’s fenced, you probably won’t even realize it’s fenced.”
News of a possible enclosed area was not received well by Wendi Stoeber, who was walking her dogs in the park Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s lovely out here, there’s lots of space for them to run, we have access to the river,” said Stoeber.
“I think it would be a huge loss, but I guess we have to go with what they say,” she added in regards to the proposed fenced area.
The park’s initial master design plan was put forth in 2010. Other changes unveiled Wednesday include an extra proposed parking lot and the relocation of the Meewasin Trail to the top of the bank, instead of the eastern portion of the park.
READ MORE: Who should pay for dog complaint investigations at Chief Whitecap Park
Another change came around the area of law enforcement. The City of Saskatoon’s Animal Control Agency will enforce its by-laws at the site. Previously the RM of Corman Park imposed the law at the park, even though the majority of its users are from Saskatoon.
The plan still needs to be approved by city council and the RM of Corman Park. Much of the project still depends on future capital budget requests.
Athletics at Coaldale, Alberta’s Kate Andrews High School, will have a much different feel in 2015.
“Our football program is on a one-year leave of absence,” said Kate Andrews athletic director Kevin Holland.
The Kate Andrews Pride is not fielding a football team this year. After a dismal turnout to the team’s spring camp, the school was forced to make a difficult decision.
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“We met with our parents in April and said, ‘hey let’s get 25 kids out for spring camp’ and it didn’t happen,” said Holland. “We were in the mid-teens and half those kids had never played football before. They were honest with me and they said, ‘I’ll try it, but I’m not sure.’ So we just felt at that time, we just couldn’t go forward.”
The move comes as a shock to many, but a shortage of players is something the school has been dealing with for years.
“A year ago we probably didn’t have enough kids to field a team,” said Holland. “We were in the low twenties, but we had such a talented group of Grade 12 [students] we persevered and got through the year.”
It’s tough news to hear, for the few dedicated students that love the game, including Kate Andrews Grade 12 student Blake Thompson.
“It was heartbreaking, because my senior year I wasn’t going to be able to play football, and it’s one of the sports that I love,” said Thompson.
But the school is letting some of its lions step outside the pride.
“We put the word out to the schools in Lethbridge and it allowed our kids to go play at an existing program,” said Holland.
Four players have changed uniforms this season, including Thompson, who has joined the program at Winston Churchill High School.
“I was super pumped, because I was actually going to play volleyball just to do something over the break, but I heard I could play football, so I was super jacked.”
Kate Andrews plans to revisit its football program’s future later this year.
WATCH ABOVE: In honour of the Queen’s remarkable achievement, the Naval Museum of Alberta held a special ceremony Wednesday, which included the addition of some new items. Global’s Doug Vaessen reports.
CALGARY – Calgarians joined the celebrations happening around the world in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Wednesday.
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She reigns supreme: Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria in length of service
Key milestones in Queen Elizabeth II’s life
The Naval Museum of Alberta held a special ceremony, which kicked off with the naval tradition that calls for a tot of rum and a toast to the monarchy. Four new ship models that will be added to the museum’s collection were unveiled, including the last of three aircraft carriers in Canadian history.
“When you look at the name of all of our ships, HMCS Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship, every one of our ships honours Her Majesty,” said Commander Janet McDougall, of HMCS Tecumseh.
HMCS Bonaventure was large enough to land jets. The ship was laid down in 1943 as part of the British Royal Navy just before Capt. Bill Wilson was preparing for D-Day, and later joined him in the Canadian Navy.
“She was well-manned, our sailors and pilots were the best. But it took almost a quarter of the people in the sea-going navy to man it,” said Cpt. Bill Wilson, who is now retired from the Royal Canadian Navy. “It was a big aircraft carrier and we just couldn’t provide all the troops necessary, so she was sold for scrap.”
The HMCS Nipigon, a Cold War destroyer, the Huron A Tribal Class destroyer and the Saguenay were also added to to the museum’s growing collection.
“I have always had a dream…to sail in the navy, but back then women weren’t allowed in the navy, so the first chance I got a chance to sail, I sailed on this ship,” said Lt. Rose Tanchyk, who served on HMCS Nipigon. “We were the first women on a combat ship ever.”
The last time Queen Elizabeth II was in Calgary was in 2005 to mark Alberta’s centennial.
“Every time the Queen has come to Canada she has said that Canada very much feels like a second home,” said Josh Traptow, of the Monarchist League of Alberta.
With files from Global News
OSOYOOS — During the peak of tourism season in Osoyoos, the unexpected heavy smoke that filled the valley caused visitors to cut their vacations short and discouraged others from coming. While this happened at the end of August, the tourism industry is still feeling some effects.
Don Brogan, the general manager at Walnut Beach Resort, says he was expecting the hote to be nearly full but once the smoke rolled in, the occupancy rate dropped down to 35-40 per cent.
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“From the 21st of August of when the fires started, my business just tanked,” he says. “When the valley was filled with smoke, 40 per cent of my arrivals cancelled at that moment and then each day after that — the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday — we were running 10 to 20 cancellations calling in saying ‘No, we’re not coming, not coming.’”
The owner of Lakeview Motel, Derrick Davies, saw a 30 per cent financial hit because of the smoke. He’s taking the loss in stride.
“Yes, being 30 per cent down, it does make a terrific difference to the bottom line,” he says. “That’s what running a business is: you’ve got to take the good and the bad.”
Destination Osoyoos, the organization that promotes tourism in the town, estimates there were about 30-40 per cent fewer overnight guests compared to August 2014.
The effects of that are now spilling over to the organization, which relies on a 2 per cent hotel tax it receives every time a guest checks into one of the hotels or motels.
With last month’s lower-than-expected occupancy rate, it estimates a $30,000 loss.
“It doesn’t mean we won’t be able to deliver all that we want to deliver, it just means we may have to cut back on how much we were going to spend on that campaign,” says Gail Scott, the managing director at Destination Osoyoos.
Scott was also hoping to hire a third full-time staff member to oversee visitors’ services and administration, but says that likely won’t be happening this year.
But there is some good news anticipated for the tourism town.
With the low Canadian dollar, Osoyoos is anticipating to have a higher-than-average number of visitors come to stay over the winter.
However, hotel and motel owners aren’t expecting to recover what was lost during those 10 smokey days during prime tourist season.
“Even if you sold out your hotel, you wouldn’t come anywhere near the revenue that you’d get in July or August numbers,” says Brogan.
REGINA – One in every 100 babies born in Canada has some form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). However, more troubling is that in Saskatchewan that rate is estimated to be even higher.
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“Anywhere from two to five per cent of babies born in Saskatchewan have FASD,” said Lisa Workman, the chair of the Regina FASD Community Network. That compares to one per cent nationally. “It says that we have an issue with addictions in our province.”
On International FASD Awareness Day, a group of people in Regina want more of us to start talking about the disorder. Dozens of people walked along 5th Avenue over the noon-hour Wednesday in a show of support for people living with the disorder.
“My mom drank when she was having me,” said Simon Moccasin, a participant in the walk. He was only diagnosed with FASD in 2007 at the age of 33. “It didn’t affect the intellectual part of my brain as much but the other side, like behavioural, thought patterns, speech at times.”
“Generally, I consider it an invisible disability. You can’t assume that just because a person looks like they have FASD or because a person looks normal, they don’t have FASD,” said Workman.
Tanya Bunnie’s 30-year-old sister has FASD. Their mother has passed away, so Bunnie and her family have taken over the responsibility of caring for her.
“We went through hard times and how to deal with the disorder,” said Bunnie. “Growing up with it we didn’t really know very much and health nurses would only tell us so much. It was kind of a thing we had to learn.”
Workman said one of the biggest challenges concerning services for people with FASD is the difficulty finding positive diagnoses.
“The only way you can diagnose FASD is to say with 100 certainty that the mom drank during pregnancy and not a lot of moms are willing to stand up and say this is the situation,” said Workman.
Watch above: When driving into Asquith, Sask., visitors are welcomed to the “Centre of the British Empire.” Meaghan Craig takes a look at how this small community celebrates Queen Elizabeth II as she becomes the longest serving monarch.
ASQUITH, Sask. – We are now all part of history. Wednesday marked a major milestone in time as Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history.
Addressing Scottish Borders, it is now 23,226 days and counting for the 89-year old monarch since her accession to the throne in 1952.
“Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones, my own is no exception but I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness.”
READ MORE: She reigns supreme: Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria in length of service
Millions have watched Royal Family coronations, weddings, their baby announcements and now this.
Royal subjects as far away as Asquith, Sask., a humble town of 650 named after a British peer and known as the Centre of the British Empire, celebrated this historic moment.
“I think this is momentous occasion so it’s very important that she has something like this to remember,” said Lori Dufort, who brought her four-year-old granddaughter to the ceremony.
In attendance at Lord Asquith School was Asquith Mayor Gail Enhart.
“We’ve always learned about the Queen, we sing O’Canada every day. I think it’s really important to know who our Queen is.”
Barb Heineke, a member of the Red Hat Society, calls the day hugely memorable and appreciates how much the Queen has been able to keep up with the times.
“They’re fascinating to watch, they’re interesting people.”
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Key milestones in Queen Elizabeth II’s life
A small ceremony held behind the school marked the major milestone. Many in the crowd shared memories of the times Queen Elizabeth II visited the province and the country.
“I saw her twice, once when I was a little girl and once when I was older,” said Sharon Smutt,
“It was so awesome to see them.”
Conservative MP Kelly Bock said she’s never had the chance to met the Queen but came close.
“She came out to Ottawa and I had the privileged of attending a tea at Rideau Hall,” said Block of an event on Canada Day 2010.
“It was amazing to be that close to the queen and it was a great experience.”
At the Britannia Restaurant on main street, Wednesday’s special consisted of English fish and chips to commemorate the Queen’s landmark day.
“When I was with the Saskatoon Police Service, I did some point duty of course for her procession,” remarked owner Jim Madden, who said he was stationed that day at Spadina and Queen Street.
“That’s about the closest I ever got to the Queen.”
Queen Elizabeth II has now surpassed her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria, who served for 63 years and seven months.
“I think for her to remain on the throne this long and done the type of job that she has which I think is absolutely remarkable is really something. For her to surpass Queen Victoria as a sitting monarch is something in itself,” said Madden.
“Good on her I say and I hope she has a few more years left.”
WATCH ABOVE: Robert Reitmeier, who was found guilty in the beating death of Mark Mariani, appealed his conviction Wednesday. As Global’s Nancy Hixt reports, the victim’s loved ones worry they will never really find closure in the case.
CALGARY – A white supremacist convicted of killing a Calgary man appealed his conviction Wednesday, requested a new trial and claimed evidence presented during his trial was prejudicial.
Robert Reitmeier is one of two men found guilty in the brutal beating death of 47-year-old Mark Mariani, who was murdered after going to a video store in northwest Calgary Oct. 3, 2010.
Mariani had health problems and had gone into the back alley to empty his ostomy bag, which is a medical pouch that collects waste from the bladder or colon.
47-year-old Mark Mariani was murdered after going to a video store in northwest Calgary Oct. 3, 2010. Obtained by Global News
47-year-old Mark Mariani was murdered after going to a video store in northwest Calgary Oct. 3, 2010.
Obtained by Global News
Reitmeier and Tyler Sturrup boot-stomped and kicked Mariani, leaving him for dead with a fractured skull and ribs. Mariani managed to crawl to his car, where he died.
A jury found Reitmeier guilty of second-degree murder in November 2013.
Reitmeier said some evidence presented during the trial and the charge brought to the jury were prejudicial.
A three-justice appeal panel reserved its decision Wednesday, and it could be weeks or months before the decision is released.
Mariani’s family feels justice may never prevail.
“Of course you are angry, but you have to be strong and that’s why we are all here,” said the victim’s brother, Bob Mariani. “And we will show up every time there’s an appeal for anything—the family will be there because it’s for Mark.”
Reitmeier sat showing no emotion through the proceedings, his white power tattoos prominent on his neck, and his head still completely shaved.
“I don’t think he gives a you-know-what,” said brother Dino Mariani. “I don’t think he cares whether we’re there or not.”
Kathrine Mariani, Mark’s sister, said it seems like she’ll never move on.
“There is something coming up—another phone call or another letter,” she said. “You can’t move on, you’re just stuck in 2010, the day Mark got killed.”
Sturrup pleaded guilty in the case; there’s no word yet if he will also file an appeal.
THORHILD, Alta. — Alberta is shaking up the government of a small community north of Edmonton after a review found its council was failing as a leadership body.
Last summer, residents of Thorhild County petitioned the province for an inquiry into the conduct of council and its chief administrative officer.
A report commissioned by the municipal affairs department found laws were not being followed, biased decision making, bad spending practises and poor working relationships among some councillors.
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Some examples of poor behaviour included open animosity and personality conflicts between councillors, including an invitation to “settle conflicts outside” — which was taken as a threat to fight.
In what the government is calling a rare move, the department has issued 14 ministerial directives to fix the problems, including ordering the council to revoke the appointment of its chief administrative officer and for one councillor to step down.
Municipal Affairs Minister Deron Bilous said the changes will help ensure the council is following the Municipal Government Act and acting in the best interest of the county’s 3,400 residents.
“The folks up there want to get back on track. Municipal affairs will be working closely with them to ensure (the directives) are followed,” Bilous said Wednesday.
“Faith will be restored in the County of Thorhild.”
Concerns identified in the report by Russell Farmer and Associates Consulting Inc. include a county decision to levy significantly higher taxes for the Hamlet of Thorhild than for other hamlets in the municipality.
The report also cited a dispute over news coverage of the county by the Redwater Review newspaper.
Some councillors weren’t happy with the coverage, so earlier this year council voted to pay the Westlock News $58,000 to distribute in the county and move all county advertising over to the outside paper.
“Residents have objected to the cost of the contract on the basis that the previous service provider was free,” the report said.
“While this contract does fall within the power of council, we view it as an irregular governance practice. Elected officials should not use the power of the public purse as a means to control a free media.”