10 year old once given 48 hours to live has ‘miracle’ recovery a year later

Almost a year ago, Patty Furco was told she was going to lose her daughter.

Her second child, Abby, was diagnosed with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of four. Today the 10 year old based in Virginia Beach has made a “miracle” recovery even doctors can’t explain.

“Sometimes we can’t grasp what has happened and what continues to happen,” the 41-year-old mom-of-three tells Global News. “We had prepared for Abby to die.”

Abby’s long journey

In the last few years, Abby went through several hospital visits, intense chemotherapy sessions and radiation treatments, Furco says, but in 2015, things took a turn.

After being in remission for 11 months, Abby relapsed in September 2014. A year later, she had a bone marrow transplant that caused acute graft versus host disease (GvHD) — a common side effect of the transplant.

“Late last spring the side effects [of GvHD] were out of control and started a downward spiral leading to continuous dialysis [and] a long pediatric intensive care unit stay,” Furco says.

Abby’s organs weren’t keeping up and her kidneys began to fail.

“[My husband] and I tried to be hopeful, yet we prepared everyone, including our other daughters, for the end.”

Her family was told by doctors their little girl would die.

“I still have flashbacks to sitting at my dining room table with the head hospice nurse, choosing a funeral home. [My husband] Joe and I talked about where we wanted her remains. I clearly remember thinking about specific songs I wanted played during her memorial service,” Furco says.

Living in a tight-knit military community, Furco says her friends gathered together to give support.

Last year she remembers driving Abby to a girl scout event in another part of town, and passing by the funeral home she had picked out for her daughter.

“My heart sunk and I called Joe crying,” she says. “It just caught me off guard. Here I am in the car with my thriving Abby and we’re driving by the funeral home I picked six months earlier.”

Her recovery can’t be explained

Abby’s doctor, pediatric hematologist and oncologist Jacob Wessler, told People magazine there’s no real explanation of Abby’s recovery.

“We have no idea [how she got better] and there is no way to test it,” he tells Global News. “She’s the only patient I have to do this. She is one for one as far as our experience.”

Wessler was the first person to diagnose Abby and has been working with the Furco family for six years.

READ MORE: Saskatoon family appealing for more childhood cancer research funding

Although he adds there have been ups and downs throughout the journey and continues to be, last June he remembers bringing Abby home to feel more comfortable. At this point, he had believed she wouldn’t survive.

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He reduced the amount of medication and check-ins, as her family prepared for the worst.

“But she sat there and just started getting better,” he says. “It was really interesting and fascinating.”

At first, Wessler told the family there was no absolute timeline of when her organs would fail, but weeks and soon months went by and Abby was feeling better. Almost a year later, she is the best she’s ever been.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know what happened, but it’s a good news and bad news situation,” he says. “It’s great that it has happened, but it is a little maddening we don’t know why. But for Abby it doesn’t matter why — what matters is she’s better.”

The heartache living with a sick child

Parenting coach Julie Romanowski of Vancouver says for any family or parent who is going through a similar situation with a sick child, the most important thing to do is to be aware of your situation.

“It sounds obvious but when people are in crisis mode, we think life is ‘normal’ and we need to keep going,” she tells Global News. “Get a good support network and let them know you are in crisis. Pretending nothing is going on adds more stress.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of Calgarians take part in annual ‘Run for Childhood Cancer’

And if you have other children, it can get difficult to talk about what their sibling is going through, especially the topic of death.

Romanowski says siblings also need a support network and parents need to be honest with them.

“If you pretend nothing is happening, that’s what makes the situation dangerous. We have to get real and accept our current situations… younger children will look at their parents on how to deal with the crisis and mimic it.”

Her recovery is also inspiring others

Furco says since 2012, the family has been very active in raising awareness for childhood cancer. They raise money for cancer research and put time into learning about Abby’s medication.

Abby is also an ambassador for the St. Baldrick`s Foundation, a private fund of childhood cancer research grants. Since 2012, her fundraising campaign has raised US$133,226.

Patty Furco and her daughter Abby.

Courtesy of Patty Furco

But Furco says hearing from other families with similar situations has been the most heartening. Some people tell her Abby has inspired them to get out of bed or keep fighting their own disease.

“That’s a gift that could only come out of this dark journey that has consumed our lives for many years,” she says. “It’s giving people hope and letting them continue dreaming about the future.”

Abby is looking forward to summer

Today, like many children, Abby is looking forward to her Grade 5 graduation. She is once again in remission and is receiving steroids twice a day.

Her mom says she loves to play Minecraft, hang out with her friends and plans on being a chef when she grows up.

“This is amazing as last year around this time, she was barely walking then wheelchair-bound. Through very hard work she is now able to walk on her own, currently working on long distance stamina,” she says.

Furco says her daughter is also looking forward to summer camp, a place where she meets other cancer patients and survivors.

“Our hope for Abby is that she gets to live a full life full of happiness. We take each day as it comes, so we hope that each day continues down the path of good health and growth in every way possible.”

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To buy or rent a cottage? These 5 questions will help you decide

To buy or rent a cottage? It’s the eternal question Canadian families face, especially as summer draws near.

Ask your friends and relatives, and you’re likely to find an even split between those who can’t imagine life without a lakeside property and those who see a second home as a ball and chain.

READ MORE: Why this may be the best summer ever to spend your vacation in Canada

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Coming up with a list of pros and cons isn’t much help, either. In theory, there as many good reasons to purchase a cottage and as there are not to.

In the buy camp: Building priceless memories by the same lakes as the kids grow up. Having an affordable gateway for every break and long weekend. Eliminating the risk of a ruined vacation because your rental cottage looks nothing like the pictures. Similarly, avoiding massive family disappointment — especially for the little ones — when it turns out the rental you have been booking every summer and have grown to love isn’t available this year. And so on.

READ MORE: Think you don’t need insurance when travelling in Canada? Think again

In the rent camp: The kids’ memories may be priceless, but owning a cottage certainly has a price tag — and a hefty one. Renting means your hard-earned vacation time won’t be sucked into a black hole called “cottage upkeep.” It also means being able to explore a different lakeside spot every summer — or deciding, guilt-free, that you’d rather go to Paris instead.

A more productive approach may be examining your specific circumstances and financial situation, according to Maureen Reid, Meridian Credit Union branch manager in Penetanguishene, a popular cottage country destination on the southeasterly tip of Georgian Bay, Ont.

For the undecided cottage vacationer, she has a list of five key questions:

1. How much will it really cost you?

Step one is assessing whether you can really afford to own a cottage. The question goes beyond whether you can carry two mortgages, Reid points out. As with any residential property, buying involves a slew of legal fees and taxes, as well as monthly expenses like utilities. Heat in particular can be a financial back-breaker in a cottage, said Reid, especially if you have to rely on electricity to keep it cozy inside.

READ MORE: The genius life hacks that working moms and dads use to get it all done

Other potential costs include owning, maintaining and docking your own boat if that’s the only way to reach your property, said Reid.

And then, of course, there’s upkeep. Although Reid told Global News it’s hard to come up with an average estimate for this kind of expense, it’s safe to say it will likely be higher than whatever your average yearly spend is on your first home. From rodent infestations to pipes that burst in winter, the fact that cottages are usually immersed in nature and used only for part of the year tends to drive up the maintenance bill.

READ MORE: Flooding, flooding everywhere – do Canadians have insurance for it?

2. How much will you (realistically) use it?

Once you’ve come up with a comprehensive cost estimate, ask yourself how much R&R bang you’re going to get for your buck, according to Reid. Is the cottage close to home? Do you get lots of time off in the summer? Will you be able to use the property in the winter as well? If so, then great.

On the other hand, if you only have two weeks to spend lakeside every year, will the stress of the drive and the upkeep work eliminate your ability to relax?

READ MORE: Here’s why a good school isn’t always worth the home price premium

3. Are you going to rent it?

This one goes back to question No. 1. Being able to rent your cottage for periods of time when you’re not there will make it easier to afford it, noted Reid.

Doing so has become easier than ever with online home-sharing services like Airbnb. And if you’re worried that the tenants who presented themselves as a “a quiet middle-aged couple’ will turn out to be a horde of partying teenagers, Facebook groups, which tend to be more community-focused, are another great resource. A short post advertising your property among friends and neighbours can quickly locate a trustworthy tenant.

READ MORE: Buying and selling online? Instead of Craigslist or Kijiji, try Facebook

Still, not all cottages rent easily, cautioned Reid. Remote properties in less well-known areas might have fewer takers.

4. Is it a good investment?

This is really a two-part question. The first thing to consider is whether using your savings to buy a cottage makes sense. Owning two homes could mean tying up a lot of your investments in real estate, which can be risky.

READ MORE: Moody’s downgrades Canadian banks: Beginning of the end for the housing market?

Speaking to your financial advisor is always a good idea, said Reid.

The second part of the equation is figuring out what the rate of return on your cottage will likely be. A winterized property in a coveted, easily accessible location will be easy to sell and likely to appreciate over time, said Reid.

The opposite is generally true, if your version of a cottage is only a few steps removed from a wooden shack, or if it becomes inaccessible in winter.

READ MORE: Here’s how much climate change can cost homeowners in damages

5. What financing is available to you?

Location and features like insulation, heating and running water will also dramatically affect what kind of financing you’ll be able to access in order to purchase your cottage, said Reid.

What Reid calls a “type A” cottage — one with all the amenities — usually guarantees you’ll be able to get a regular mortgage.

For a more rustic “type B” property, on the other hand, your only option might be a personal loan, for which the going interest rate is generally 7 per cent, much higher than currently available mortgages.

William Sandeson murder trial hears full day of testimony ahead of holiday weekend

The seven-woman, seven-man jury sitting on the first-degree murder trial of Dalhousie medical student William Sandeson heard a full day of evidence on Thursday.

Sandeson, 24, is accused of killing fellow Dalhousie student Taylor Samson, 22.

Samson was studying physics and about to start his fifth year of university when he disappeared in August, 2015. His body has never been found.

WATCH: Murder trial hears from police, Taylor Samson’s girlfriend

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Staff Sgt. Andre Habib, a forensic identification officer with Halifax Regional Police was the first witness on the stand Thursday.

The crown had questioned Habib the previous day but court ended before the defence had an opportunity to complete their cross-examination.

Lawyer Eugene Tan questioned Habib about what protective clothing he wore when at Sandeson’s apartment on Henry Street. He told the court he wore both gloves and booties.

READ: Jury hears William Sandeson told roommate not to come home on night of alleged murder

The defence also questioned Habib about his experience using a trajectory kit. He testified not only did he take a two month course but he also did a seminar with a firearms expert in Calgary a few years ago.

Habib told the court he was not a ballistic expert but that he and other identification officers are able to use the trajectory kit to determine which way an object, like a bullet, may have come from.

Habib also testified that he was involved in the search at the Sandeson family property in Lower Truro, N.S.

He said he had been involved in searches of that nature “numerous times” and was satisfied that police did the best they could at the scene. “We left no stone unturned,” he told the jury.

WATCH: William Sandeson murder trial hears police searched family farm looking for body

The second witness to testify on Thursday was Rick Chadwick who currently works with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Chadwick told the court before going to RBC he worked as an RCMP officer.

Chadwick says he was served a production order – which requires documents to be made available to law enforcement  – for the banking information of Taylor Samson.

He told the court that Samson was a client at the bank for eight years and had an everyday account, a tax-free savings account and a MasterCard.

Chadwick testified that until August 13, 2015, there was “actual activity by the client.” Following Samson’s disappearance, the only activity he said was on the accounts was automatic.

WATCH: Former teammate of William Sandeson tells court he saw bleeding man, bloody cash

Two volunteers with Ground Search and Rescue were also called as crown witnesses.

Wayne Burns, a volunteer with search and rescue for 15-years, told the court that he and a team of volunteers searched the farm property for hours.

Burns was the one who located the refrigerated ice cream truck and informed police. He testified he looked inside and saw three bags but did not enter the truck.

READ: Court hears bag found in ice cream truck at Sandeson farm smelled like decomposition

Lawrence Corbin, also a volunteer searcher, testified that when he arrived to search at the farm in August 2015 he was told by officials that searchers could possibly find human remains. None were ever located.

Corbin and his team found a pair of gloves located in some brush, not far from where the ice cream truck was. He told the court that he flagged the gloves and called his command centre before searching the rest of the area.

READ MORE: William Sandeson says during interrogation video intruders may have shot Taylor Samson

Cpl. Shawn Reynolds, an RCMP officer, was the incident commander for the Sandeson farm search. He told the court that he helped coordinate and run the search, as well as pass information along to the Halifax Regional Police major crime unit.

Reynolds said he was notified by search and rescue that a pair of gloves were located and helped seize them. He also secured the scene where the ice cream truck was located until ident officers arrived to process it.

READ: Jury shown gun, bullets and cash seized from William Sandeson’s apartment

David Webber, a civilian member of the RCMP was also called to the stand. He is a forensic lab technician and was tasked with examining Sandeson’s DVR.

He told the court that although the DVR was passport protected he found a back door to access the video. Webber testified that he was able to dump video from Aug. 13-18, 2015 from the DVR and give it to investigators.

Webber said he did not splice or edit any of the video. After the initial video dump from Aug. 13-18, Webber said he was able to go back and locate video for two and a half months, which was also turned over to investigators.

Under cross-examination, Webber admitted he originally thought he had discarded his notes from the case but later found them.

WATCH: Last images of Taylor Samson shown to jury in William Sandeson murder trial

The final witness to take the stand Thursday was Det. Const. Jonathan Jefferies, a Halifax Regional Police officer. He told the court that he was the scene coordinator for the farm search.

Jefferies said he executed a search warrant at the property and explained to William Sandeson’s father what police would be doing.

When questioned by defence lawyer Brad Sarson, Jefferies said that police and volunteer ground search rescue members did search some property that was not covered under the search warrant. However, Jefferies said they asked the owners of the property if they could search there and had them sign consent forms.

Jefferies was also tasked with getting a DNA sample from Sandeson after he was arrested and remanded to the Central Nova Correctional Facility in Dartmouth. While there, he also told the court he questioned Sandeson about the whereabouts of Samson’s body but Sandeson did not speak about it.

READ MORE: William Sandeson ‘confident’ as murder trial begins in Halifax: defence

The trial is scheduled to sit for 32 days over the course of eight weeks.

The case does not hear evidence on Friday and because Monday is a statutory holiday, the jury is scheduled to resume hearing testimony on Tuesday morning.

Language researchers say traditional alphabet books are confusing for kids

A speech and language researcher says a lot of students in early grades don’t know the alphabet and how they are taught is part of the problem.

Denyse Hayward, associate professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Educational Psychology, conducted a literacy test of more than 1,000 Canadian students aged three to eight, between 2012 and 2014.

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“When we went across Canada we found that many children who were Kindergarten age and Grade 1 age, and even some Grade 2 children, did not have very good alphabet knowledge, which we would certainly assume – particularly by the time they were in Grade 1 or Grade 2 – that they would at least know their letter names and many of the common sounds that they represented,” Hayward said.

“We were a little bit surprised by that.”

Hayward considers traditional alphabet books a big part of the problem. She says many of them aren’t based on literacy research or include features that provide kids with an easy introduction to their ABCs.

Watch below: Denyse Hayward says many alphabet books don’t present letters with common sounds that make learning the alphabet easier for kids.

The researcher and her colleague Linda Phillips have published Alphabet Stage in response. The book offers young readers the chance to trace the font, relate to each character with a memorable illustration and review each letter as they turn the pages.

“We know that alphabetic knowledge is really critical for reading and writing success but also your vocabulary knowledge and your oral language development, and so we’ve really worked hard in this book to provide parents and children access to all of those aspects that will help them become, hopefully, good readers and writers.”

Alphabet Stage is available at Amazon杭州夜网 or at Audrey’s Books in Edmonton.

Experiencing symptoms of menopause?Why avoiding hormone therapy could be a mistake

Davinder Bhullar was just 45 years old when she started experiencing symptoms of menopause.

“I had actually had a partial hysterectomy about seven years ago and started having symptoms in the second month,” the Calgary nurse said. “Water retention, forgetting things… I had heart palpitations and no energy.”

Suspecting her symptoms were related to low levels of estrogen, Bhullar began to ask doctors about hormone replacement therapy.

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“I had actually gone to quite a few [doctors] and I was deterred. Instead, I had a doctor recommend I take an antidepressant.”

WATCH:
Busting myths about menopause

Controversy and confusion has surrounded hormone replacement therapy (HRT) since a major study back in 2002.  An initial results paper from the Women’s Health Initiative grabbed headlines because it appeared to link HRT with an increased risk of breast cancer.

“HRT was branded as being harmful, something that women should certainly avoid, and it did unfortunately turn the tide and really turned the world upside down,” said Dr. Robert Langer, principal scientist at the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine and a researcher involved with the Women’s Health Initiative.

Langer says results that linked HRT with cancer risk were largely misinterpreted and overstated. He says in recent years, research has lead medical societies to again recommend hormone therapy, especially for younger women.

READ MORE:
How menopause affects heart disease, diabetes and stroke risk in women

Last year, groups like the International Menopause Society  endorsed a new global consensus statement.  It states in part, “MPT (Menopausal Hormone Therapy) is the most effective treatment for symptoms associated with menopause,” and that for women under the age of 60, “benefits are more likely to outweigh risks.

“If (women) do have symptoms — hot flashes, night sweats, other discomfort, concerns about sexuality after menopause as well as other indications like prevention of fractures — HRT is something that they should well consider.”

Langer also warns that avoiding hormone therapy can have serious consequences for patients, putting them at an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and bone fractures. A 2013 study estimated that over 90,000 American women died prematurely between 2002 and 2012 as a result of avoiding estrogen therapy.

Bhullar eventually found a doctor who was willing to prescribe hormone replacement therapy for her symptoms. She says she has now been taking low doses of estrogen for six years and has no regrets.

“In two to three weeks of taking [the hormones], my energy was back. I had no foggy brain, I wasn’t tired anymore and the heart palpitations stopped. I was back to my normal self.”

Judge rules to suspend N.B. PC Party nomination convention for Carleton-York

A judge has ruled in favour of Chris Duffie, suspending the PC Party’s convention to name their Carleton-York candidate scheduled for Friday and continuing a legal battle over whether the party member was unfairly kept from seeking the Carleton-York riding.

Duffie alleged the PC Party didn’t follow its own rules by failing to properly notify all members of the riding association that the convention had been scheduled and those seeking the nomination were required to submit documentation.

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On May 3, the New Brunswick PC Party made the decision to host the convention on May 19.

READ MORE: Denied N.B. nomination candidate says PC Party employed unfair practices

They posted an advertisement in the newspaper the next day, advising that candidates had until the end of the day May 5 to submit their nomination papers.

Duffie’s case argues that while the newspaper advertisement rule was sufficiently met, no formal notification was given to himself or other riding association members.

Duffie’s lawyer Kevin Toner told Justice Judy Clendening that only on a schedule of events hidden deep within the PC Party’s website was there any mention of the convention.

Clendening said that due to the injunction being filed just days ago it is in the best interests of both affected parties to suspend the upcoming convention and return to the case later in the month.

“I think what the judge said is fairly clear, given the short period of time it couldn’t possibly be fair to the [progressive] conservative party today so she’s going to set it aside,” explained Kelly Lamrock, who is representing the PCs in the case.

“If Mr. Duffie’s injunction is rejected it would be an uncontested nomination and it really does the party no harm,” he said, citing incumbent Carl Urqhart being the sole candidate seeking the nomination in Carleton-York.

“All I’m really looking for is an open, transparent and fair nomination for all,” said Duffie outside the courthouse after the decision came down. “Let’s bring everybody to the table. All I want is to take part in the democratic process.”

“Let’s let it all roll out.”

The two sides are set to return to court on May 29.

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Body believed to be that of missing Nanaimo teen found

A body believed to be that of a missing Nanaimo teenager has been found and police are treating it as a homicide.

Makayla Chang, 16, was reported missing on March 22.

She went missing in Nanaimo on March 20.

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Police said before they believed she could have traveled to Metro Vancouver with a 53-year-old man, Steven Michael Bacon. Police eventually located Bacon and spoke with him, but did not call him a suspect.

READ MORE: Missing Nanaimo teen may be in Metro Vancouver, RCMP say

A few weeks after Chang’s disappearance, a tactical team searched two Nanaimo properties in relation to the case. Officers were spotted at a home on Bruce Avenue that Chang was known to frequent. In an earlier search, RCMP looked at an area around Colliery Dam in connection with Chang’s case.

WATCH —; Apr 2, 2017: Nanaimo Search and Rescue searched a park in connection with the disappearance of 16-year-old Makayla Chang. 

The Nanaimo RCMP do not believe the public is at risk and will advise should the risk level change.

The investigation is being led by the Nanaimo Serious Crime Unit along with the assistance of other police resources.

Police say it remains a priority investigation, with dedicated resources tasked with determining the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and suspected homicide of Chang.

Police say Chang’s family is asking for privacy during this time.

Brandy McKee, a friend of the family, told Global News Makayla was a very upbeat, positive young lady with the biggest heart. McKee says the family is thankful to anyone who has shown concern for Makayla while she was missing.

“There was no doubt in our hearts that she was going to be brought home safely,” McKee said. “It was very devastating. [There is] a lot of disbelief and shock.”

McKee says the family has received no answers about where Chang’s body was found. The Nanaimo RCMP refused to comment on that aspect of the story on Thursday.

“It makes it extremely hard for the family at this time. They are going through absolute hell right now,” she said.

Police release image of vehicle at fatal south Edmonton stabbing scene

Edmonton police released an image of a vehicle that captured by a surveillance camera at the scene of a homicide on April 30.

READ MORE: Man found dead in south Edmonton 

Homicide detectives would like to speak with the individual or individuals that were seen in a dark-coloured Chevy HHR vehicle near 10682-61 Avenue on Sunday, April 30 at around 3 p.m.

Police said the vehicle was caught on camera driving to and from a home in the Pleasantview neighbourhood where the homicide happened.

Police also would like to speak with anyone else who visited the 61 Avenue basement suite the day of the fatal stabbing.

Chevrolet HHR: Captured on surveillance camera near homicide scene, 10682 61 Ave.

Courtesy: Edmonton police

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Someone called 911 with a weapons complaint at around 3:15 p.m. Officers arrived at the scene — near 106 Street and 61 Avenue — and found a man dead outside the back of the home.

The victim was identified as Jake Myles Skrepnek-Rey, 22.

A few hours later, an injured man was arrested at a hospital.

Investigators determined an altercation led to the stabbing.

READ MORE: 2nd-degree murder charge laid after fatal stabbing in south Edmonton 

Jayson Lunag Bay-Ag, 32, was later charged with second-degree murder. Detectives previously said they thought at least four other people were at the scene and knew either the accused or the victim, and may have information or witnessed the crime.

The incident was Edmonton’s 17th homicide of 2017.

Halifax police issue over $1,500 in tickets after rescuing dogs from car, remind owners to keep pets safe

As Haligonians enjoy unusually warm weather Thursday, Halifax Regional Police (HRP) is reminding people the hot weather can mean added dangers for people’s furry friends — and to not leave them unattended in parked vehicles.

Police say that a car left unattended, even with the windows open, can quickly become like a furnace and can create possible “fatal consequences” for pets inside.

READ MORE:
London Humane Society helping feline moms on Mother’s Day

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Halifax police have already had to rescue two dogs from a vehicle during Thursday’s warm temperatures. According to Cindy Bayers, a police spokesperson, the driver of the vehicle was given three tickets; two $697.50 tickets for leaving animals in an unattended vehicle in conditions that could cause distress and one $250 ticket for owning an unlicensed dog.

Bayers says that if anyone sees a pet in immediate distress, they should call 911 immediately and take directions from the operator.

“We appreciate that people want to help but they’re opening themselves up to issues if they damage other peoples properties,” said Bayers.

READ MORE:
Dogs get decked out for annual Halifax Christmas Pet Parade

HRP have provided a list of alternatives should a person not be able to leave their pet at home:

If you’re visiting a restaurant, HRP suggests people use the drive-thru, allowing your pet to sit with you comfortably while you wait for your food. In addition, they remind people that many businesses have a drive-thru, not just fast-food establishments.Police say if you’re heading somewhere with your pet, bring a friend who can stay in the car and keep the pet company. The friend can also take the pet for a walk, stay in the shade or give the pet some water while they wait for you to return.More stores are allowing pets inside, police say. As a result, they suggest people shop “pet-friendly” by asking stores if they allow pets, and when you return, bring the pet indoors with you for a shopping excursion — though they remind people to make sure the pet is well-behaved before you bring them along.

Quebec pit bull ban and police uniform bills postponed

The provincial government will not pass two important bills which impact Montreal: the pit bull ban and the bill mandating proper uniforms for police officers will not come to a vote this June.

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Debate around other bills introduced by the justice minister was heated this week, but on Thursday, the government offered an olive branch to the opposition. It says it will make three of minister Stephanie Vallee’s bills its top priorities for the end of this session.

That means the pit bull law and the ban on colourful pants worn by police officers will not be passed before the National Assembly goes on summer break.

READ MORE:
‘Catastrophic consequences’: Montreal SPCA concerned about Quebec dangerous dog bill

“Certainly not,” government house leader Jean-Marc Fournier confirmed.

“This has been an almost do-nothing National Assembly led by the Liberals in the last year,” said Parti Quebecois leader Jean-François Lisée.

The government has its work cut out for it — and only a three-week deadline. The first priority is to make some adoption information, such as like family health history, available to adopted children. A version of this bill has been on the table for nine years.

READ MORE:
Quebec adopts law to force government lawyers, notaries back to work

“It is a real priority… because it really concerns human lives,” said PQ justice critic Veronique Hivon.

The second priority is to fix delays in the justice system. Opposition parties are pressuring the government to use the notwithstanding clause to ignore the Supreme Court’s Jordan ruling.

People accused of murder and sexual assault have walked free because their cases have taken too long to go to trial.

READ MORE:
Justice denied: More money the best fix for court delays, say Crown lawyers

“The measure that [the government] is taking is not enough,” said CAQ  justice critic Simon Jolin-Barrette.

The third priority is a bill which recognizes foreign credentials. After the Quebec City mosque shooting, the Muslim community spoke out against discrimination in the workforce.

READ MORE:
Accused in Quebec City mosque shooting changes lawyer during brief appearance

At the time, the premier said it was more important to address racism in Quebec then pass its religious neutrality bill. Many thought Bill 62 was dead, but this summer the justice minister will call committee members back to the National Assembly to continue work on the religious neutrality bill.

Group takes legal action against Mont-Royal-Outremont riding merger

A group of citizens is taking the fight against the merger of the ridings of Mont-Royal and Outremont to the next level.

The group is now suing the Director General of the Quebec Elections Commission and the commission itself over the merger.

The group includes former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings, Côte-des-Neiges Notre-Dame-de-Grâce councillor Marvin Rotrand and The Suburban editor Beryl Wajsman.

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Related

  • Montrealers come out to oppose Mont-Royal-Outremont riding merger

    City hall passes resolution slamming merge between Mont-Royal and Outremont into one provincial riding

    READ MORE: Quebec minister says she doesn’t like new riding boundaries

    They have the support of mayors of the five cities affected: Town of Mount-Royal, Côte Saint-Luc, Côte-des-Neiges Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Outremont and Hampstead.

    They argue their residents’ votes will be diluted with the change.

    “This is a fundamental injustice and it really must be fought. It will have very significant implications for us in the future,” Hampstead mayor Bill Steinberg said.

    READ MORE: Electoral map reform worries Montreal borough and municipality mayors

    Prominent constitutional lawyer Julius Grey believes they have a case.

    Grey says the lawsuit is based on the issue of fair representation.

    “We think the result is unreasonable given the nature of Montreal’s population, the communities that are affected [by]  the political disenfranchisement that follows by this decision,” Grey said.

    The group has gathered about $26,000 to finance the legal fight.

    Contributions came from affected cities and their residents.

    READ MORE: Montrealers come out to oppose Mont-Royal-Outremont riding merger

    “Every day in the mail cheques are coming in, and we’re calling on the public to help us,” Rotrand said.

    Global News reached out to Quebec’s electoral commission, but officials declined an interview.

    Both parties will meet June 19 to fix a hearing date.

    The group hopes a ruling will come through before the next provincial election in fall 2018.

Danielle Smith: Conservative merger no guarantee of victory in Alberta

The first thing some will say about the announcement of an agreement in-principle to create the United Conservative Party is, “Boy conservatives do a crappy job of choosing acronyms.”

The UCP (You-See-Pee) party has already prompted columns, tweets and ridiculing memes: My favourite – “The Future is Yellow!” Why, oh why, does no one think of these things? It hearkens back to the days of  the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, or CCRAP, in what turned out to be the initial, and only partially successful, attempt to unite conservatives at the federal level. We can only hope the path forward for the new provincial party will be a smoother one. More on that in a minute.

Watch below: Jason Kenney and Brian Jean explain why they’re currently using the phrase United Conservative Party (UCP) amid mockery online.

The mechanics of bringing the parties together won’t be the stumbling block I had anticipated. It seems very straightforward and fast, which is a good thing. The members of both parties will have a chance to vote on the merger by July 22. If members agree, a new party will form and the legacy parties will wrap up. In keeping with the law that money cannot transfer to the new party, they will spend the money in their existing accounts and wrap up their respective liabilities.

杭州桑拿

Related

  • Wildrose and PC MLAs speak to Albertans about progress on plan to unite the right

    Alberta Premier Rachel Notley reacts to potential PC/Wildrose merger

  • What an Alberta PC-Wildrose merger could mean for Rachel Notley’s NDP

    There will be an equal number of representatives from each party chosen for an interim board and the leadership election committee. An interim leader will be chosen who cannot run in the leadership race. The first leader will be chosen using the Wildrose rules of one-member-one-vote (though the voting structure might change in the future). That race will wrap up on October 28, 2017, which means the focus for the new leader can switch to election readiness fresh out of the gate in the new year.

    READ MORE:
    Alberta PCs, Wildrose unveil plans to merge, create United Conservative Party

    They have even, cleverly, worked out a backup plan if there is an early election (unlikely in this time frame) or members reject the proposal (more possible). It would involve working together to ensure the PC’s and Wildrose together get the majority of seats in the next legislature and then they’d continue their unity efforts post-election.

    After that it is clear sailing to a majority government right? Maybe not.

    It’s worth reviewing some of the federal history to understand what could go wrong.

    The federal party, CCRAP, became the Canadian Alliance and won only 66 seats and 25.5 per cent of the election of 2000. The Progressive Conservatives stayed separate until Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay brokered a deal to bring them together in 2003. Even after that, the progressive wing sat it out.

    In the subsequent election in 2004 the Conservatives won 99 seats and only 29.6 per cent of the vote. It took until 2011 to win a majority and support peaked out for the party at 39.6 per cent before being reduced to official opposition again in 2015.

    WATCH BELOW: Rachel Notley reacts to potential merger of Wildrose and PC parties

    So what’s the point? Two plus two doesn’t necessarily equal four in political calculations. The federal Conservative Party was never able to attract enough centrist voters to maintain a majority government for more than one election cycle. The UCP may face the same problem if no one other than Jason Kenney and Brian Jean enter the race.

    It’s fair to say that neither leader has been able to attract enough support on their own to secure a victory over Rachel Notley’s NDP. The New Democrats continue to dominate in Edmonton, Wildrose dominates rural Alberta and Calgary is almost evenly divided between all three parties.

    If Kenney was going to light the province on fire, he would have surged to the lead in public opinion polls during the PC leadership contest. He didn’t. If Jean was going to do the same, he wouldn’t be sitting at third place in support in Calgary.

    LISTEN: Rob Breakenridge interviews Jason Kenney on the proposed merger

    It’s clear that voters long for another choice. I keep getting asked if I think Rona Ambrose will enter into the contest. My answer: I wish. I suspect the vast majority of conservative minded voters do too.

    There is a wariness of both Kenney and Jean mostly because of their perceived stances on controversial social issues. If the new party becomes embroiled in controversies over abortion, LGBTQ rights, assisted dying, pot legalization and the like, it will do nothing to broaden its base.

    For UCP to be successful, it needs to offer an equally welcome home for those who have progressive views on these hot button issues. That’s going to require some fresh faces to enter the race.

    Any takers?

    Danielle Smith can be reached at [email protected]杭州桑拿.

Angela Kokott: One more blow against Alberta’s carbon levy

When will the Notley government admit the carbon levy is a big mistake? Right from the get go there has been one misstep after another.

There was criticism about an Ontario company being picked. Then, more criticism about having someone come into your home to screw in light bulbs and over the restrictions on what bulbs will be replaced. All of that criticism warranted.

杭州桑拿

Related

  • Alberta making changes to carbon tax rebates

  • Brad Wall criticizes attempt to link carbon tax with equalization payments

    A closer look at where Alberta’s carbon tax revenues are going

     Roll out another program. Roll out more criticism.

    Then, on May 17, Finance Minister Joe Ceci issues a mea culpa. Thousands of families angry that they were forced to pay back the rebate given to loved ones who had passed away. Minister Ceci admitted “the program didn’t work as it should have”. 

    That’s an understatement.  

    Why was the rebate based on 2015 tax returns? Albertans weren’t paying the levy in 2015. Why weren’t the rebates based on 2017 tax returns  – the year we’re all paying the levy?

    READ MORE:
    Alberta making changes to carbon tax rebates

    I know.  I know.  The government wanted to start the rebate program even before the first dime was collected because it knew it had to get ahead of the criticism.

     Message to the government: it didn’t work.

     The carbon levy was sold to us as a policy needed to get pipelines to the east and west. With the B.C. election results up in the air and First Nations groups joining forces to oppose Keystone, the biggest criticism is yet to come.