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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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.

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.

Alberta aims to speed up orphan well cleanup with $235M loan

Alberta’s NDP government is trying to speed up the cleanup of old, orphan oil and gas wells with a $235-million loan.

The province announced legislation Thursday that will allow it to lend the money to the Orphan Well Association.

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  • Alberta oil companies to face stricter rules for sale of oil and gas wells

    The industry-funded, not-for-profit group manages the shutting and cleanup of oil and gas sites where there is no longer anyone legally responsible for those tasks, often because a company has gone out of business.

    “The number of orphaned wells in Alberta is a growing problem that has been made much worse by the collapse in oil prices,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said at a rural property north of Calgary.

    A well was first drilled on the land just outside Carstairs, Alta., in 1980 and passed through the hands of 10 different owners over the years. It was orphaned in October 2015. A storage tank and pumpjack still remain even though nothing is being produced.

    READ MORE: Inactive oil and gas wells in Alberta should have time limits: report

    Notley said $30 million earmarked in the recent federal budget will cover the interest costs of its loan, which it expects to be repaid over 10 years.

    “By using this funding from the federal government to backstop a loan this large, we’re able to get much more favourable rates than the Orphan Well Association could access on its own,” she said.

    Listen below: News Talk 770’s Angela Kokott speaks with Brad Herald, chair of the Orphan Well Association. 

    The repayment will come out of the association’s existing levy. Its budget is set to double from $30 million to $60 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

    The idea came up when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Notley, other provincial officials and the industry in February 2016.

    The province estimates the loan will help create up to 1,650 new jobs over the next three years. Work could begin as early as the summer.

    As of March, the Orphan Well Association had a list of 2,084 wells to be dealt with. It closed 185 last year.

    READ MORE: Alberta landowners’ advocate speaks on ‘mushrooming’ problem of abandoned oil wells

    To date, industry spent $250 million to reclaim 600 sites, said association chair Brad Herald.

    “The government of Alberta’s assistance will accelerate that work, returning properties to their original state at a much faster pace.”

    In Alberta there are 83,000 inactive wells, which are no longer producing but not necessarily orphaned.

    There are another 69,000 abandoned wells, which have been plugged, cut and capped so that they’re safe.

    The Petroleum Services Association of Canada lobbied for government funds to accelerate the decommissioning of dormant wells. It initially asked Ottawa for $500 million in infrastructure spending, but later amended its request.

    PSAC president and CEO Mark Salkeld welcomed the loan, especially while costs are low and workers are available.

    “The funding and strategies announced today will go a long way in helping PSAC members retain and rehire employees, keep equipment active and at the same time ramp up the efforts required to take care of oil and gas wells that no longer have owners.”

    The move helps address the major environmental risk that comes with having so many neglected wells, said Nikki Way, an analyst at the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank.

    “It’s a positive step in addressing the problem of orphan wells and we look forward to seeing more proactive rules to ensure that there are adequate funds collected in the future.”

Man who lost fingers to frostbite crossing into Canada wins case to stay

WINNIPEG —; A man who lost all ten of his fingers crossing the border into Manitoba this winter has been granted the right to stay as a refugee.

Seidu Mohammed, who came to Winnipeg as an asylum seeker, has won his court case.

“I feel so excited and so happy that the decision I was hoping for has come true,” Mohammed said Thursday. “I was so happy and emotional that I got a chance to stay in this country for the rest of my life.”

WATCH: Seidu Mohammed speaks with Global News after finding out he’s won his case to stay in Canada

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He was one of two men who crossed into Canada on Christmas Eve, in a minus thirty degree windchill. They were rescued by a Canadian truck driver who called 911.

RELATED: Ghanaian community in Winnipeg comes together to help frostbitten refugees

Mohammed lost all of his fingers and has been living in Winnipeg, waiting for news.

His immigration lawyer, Bashir Khan, said he received a decision by mail Wednesday afternoon.

“I called him into my office and I told him, you won. I gave him a big hug. He didn’t let go for nearly three or four minutes, it seemed like an eternity,” he said. “He kept saying ‘thank you, thank you’. He was in tears. He was over, over, overcome.”

RELATED: Canada a ‘dreamland’ for Somalis in Minneapolis

Khan said Mohammed had a “straightforward” case because of his sexuality. He is bisexual, which is a serious crime in his home country of Ghana.

“His profile is high enough, the fact that he has lost his hands, he stands apart and he stands out. If he were to go to Ghana, everybody would recognize him in Ghana,” said Khan. “His life is severely at risk.”

Mohammed said he plans to stay in Winnipeg and make it his new home.

“I’m happy I’m here now and I will do anything I can to contribute for this country,” Mohammed said. Once he’s recovered, he said he plans to play and coach soccer.

RELATED: Asylum seeker who lost fingers crossing border ‘very confident’ after first refugee hearing

“Seidu really is going to be a great contribution to Canadian society.”

The man Mohammed entered Canada with, Razak Iyal, is still awaiting the outcome of his case.

According to numbers from the federal government, 477 asylum seekers have crossed into Manitoba in 2017.​

Third lawyer for Amanda Totchek withdraws from case

There was a surprise in a Saskatoon courtroom on Thursday when the lawyer for Amanda Totchek is looking for a new lawyer withdrew from the case.

Instead of a bail hearing for Totchek, who is also known as Alexa Emerson, Lisa Watson, Totchek’s third lawyer in a little over five weeks, withdrew from the case due to a conflict of interest.

READ MORE: Amanda Totchek charged in Saskatoon bomb threats

“Unfortunately there’s a number of people involved in this case and I have a discovered that I have had an interaction with one of those people,” Watson said.

“That would mean my representation of Alexa on this matter would compromised so it’s not appropriate for me to continue and I sought leave to withdraw.”

Totchek is now facing 83 charges linked to bomb threats and suspicious packages.

Amanda Totchek facing more charges after several bomb threats made in Saskatoon


Amanda Totchek facing more charges after several bomb threats made in Saskatoon


Alexa Emerson turns herself in to Saskatoon police


Over 50 charges for Alexa Emerson in suspicious package cases


Suspicious package calls cost Saskatoon $75K


Another suspicious package incident in Saskatoon as many wonder about the motive behind these incidents


Recent suspicious package scares and the serious charges you could face in connection to the crime


Woman charged in suspicious packages incident pleads not guilty


Saskatoon suspicious package incident costs services nearly $67K


Arrests made in suspicious packages incidents that kept Saskatoon police busy for most of the day

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  • Over 50 charges for Alexa Emerson in suspicious package cases

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  • The profile of a perpetrator in the wake of suspicious package scares in Saskatoon

    Her case will now go back to legal aid, however it will be farmed out to a private firm as Totchek worked there for three years.

    “This is what I would call a unique situation in that there are so many witnesses involved, so many businesses involved,” Watson said.

    “With this accused having a connection to the legal aid office – that conflicts an entire office off of a file so it’s not usual that there would need to be so many lawyers however it’s not strange given these circumstances when there’s just so many people involved.”

    There are roughly 250 witnesses at this point in the case, which is why Totchek may require private counsel from outside the region.

    Totchek is accused of uttering threats after six bomb threats were emailed to businesses and schools in April, including Global Saskatoon.

    She is now accused of sending bomb threats to Hague School and Warman High School.

    Totchek is also facing more than 65 charges related to suspicious packages being delivered to a number of Saskatoon locations in the fall of 2016 and again in the spring of 2017.

    City officials said it cost over $170,000 in resources to respond to all the suspicious package calls.

    READ MORE: Amanda Totchek maintains innocence in Saskatoon suspicious package cases

    Totchek, who has maintained her innocence, could be ordered to pay back the money if she is convicted.

    She is now scheduled to reappear in court on May 23.

    Her now former lawyer is asking the public not to draw any conclusions about the case but to allow the court process run its course.

    “I think that it’s important that the public wait until they hear the evidence in a court room and have a judge rule on that evidence on the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt,” Watson said.

Alberta’s top court strikes down provincial impaired driving law

Alberta’s highest court has struck down the province’s impaired driving legislation.

The law allowed the province to suspend the licence of suspected drunk drivers as soon as charges are laid and until their case was resolved in court.

It was upheld in a lower court.

READ MORE: Alleged drunk drivers shouldn’t have licences seized immediately: Alberta court challenge 

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However, in a split decision released Thursday, Alberta’s Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a constitutional challenge to strike down the law.

The appeal was launched by Daniel Sahaluk and others against Alberta (Transportation Safety Board), Attorney General of Alberta, and Registrar of Motor Vehicle Services.

The appeal challenged the constitutionality of the latest version of the Traffic Safety Act, which “provide[s] for the mandatory roadside suspension of the driver’s licence of any person charged with an alcohol-related driving offence under the Criminal Code… a suspension which continues in place until the disposition of that criminal charge.”

Several years ago, Sahaluk was charged with failure to provide adequate sample after he was pulled over at a checkstop. He said he told police he’d had a few beers with friends earlier in the night. He also said he told them he wouldn’t be able to provide a breath sample due to a lung condition and offered to do a blood test.

“They still felt it was necessary to punish me as if I was binge drinking while I was driving,” he said Thursday.

Sahaluk said he was arrested, charged and lost his licence for about seven months.

“I couldn’t work because at the time, I was doing standup comedy where I had to drive to small towns… I needed a licence, so that affected my income drastically.”

Sahaluk said his case was eventually thrown out.

“If there’s no proof of guilt, you shouldn’t be treated as a criminal until there is definite proof and a decision of proof of that guilt.”

READ MORE: Alberta drunk driving law that suspends licence until case over appealed again

In its ruling, the court said the law imposes sanctions as soon as a criminal charge is laid, “without regard to the presumption of innocence.”

Lawyers argued that the tougher penalties would encourage innocent people to plead guilty just to get the process over with, or to shorten their licence suspension.

Scroll down to read the full decision.

In the decision, Justice Frans Slatter said: “Evidence tendered before the chambers judge, who found the legislation to be constitutionally sound, included statistics that about 20 per cent of drivers who become subject to an administrative licence suspension are ultimately found not guilty of any alcohol-related driving charge, yet were prohibited from driving for significant periods of time prior to trial.”

READ MORE: Alberta judge rules people challenging impaired driving law still can’t drive

The justice also found: “The violation of the fundamental constitutional rights of all accused drivers under SS. 7 and 11 (d) of the Charter which flow directly from the administrative licence suspension regime is clear, broad and significantly deleterious. The legislation cannot be saved under s. 1. For the reasons that follow, the appeal is allowed and s. 88.1 of the Traffic Safety Act is declared to be of no force of effect.”

Even though the court struck down the law, it will still remain in effect for one year.

“Impaired driving is still a crime. This decision today doesn’t affect the criminal law of Canada,” said Nate Whitling, the lawyer representing those who filed the appeal.

“The problem with this law is that it would persist and apply throughout the pre-trial stages of a criminal prosecution. It wasn’t for a fixed term like the old law, which was either three months or six months.”

Court delays were further exacerbating the problem, Whitling said.

“Because of the lengthy delay that occurs between the day a charge is laid and the day that it goes to trial, because of the backlog in the courts these days, it’s usually over nine months before someone can get a trial date and this licence suspension would apply the whole time, always applying pressure on the accused to plead guilty.”

He expressed frustration with the one-year delay in putting this decision into effect.

Edmonton’s police chief said he still needs to look at the decision closely, but for now, it’s business as usual for his officers.

However, Rod Knecht said he understands the argument behind the appeal.

“It’s sort of: you’re being punished before you’re found guilty, I get that. But I do think it did have sort of a preventative aspect for a lot of folks. ‘Gee, I’m going to lose my licence right away. It’s a horrible inconvenience getting to work.’”

—With files from Brenton Driedger, 630 CHED

Court of Appeal: Sahaluk v Alberta by Anonymous TdomnV9OD4 on Scribd

Suspicious device that prompted Western evacuation found to be water pressure monitoring device: police

A wired water pressure monitor has been identified as the suspicious device that prompted the evacuation of two buildings on Western University’s campus Thursday afternoon, police said.

University Community Centre (UCC) was evacuated around 1:45 p.m. after someone reported locating a wired device counting down numbers inside the ceiling of a men’s washroom in the building.

A building connected to UCC, the Western Student Services Building (WSSB), was also evacuated.

Around an hour later, the university issued an all-clear saying police had “deemed no threat” from the device and that all classes and events would go on as scheduled.

“[The evacuation] was as a safety precaution because public safety is paramount and they needed to ensure that everybody was safe,” said London police Const. Sandasha Bough.

“Our Explosive Disposal Unit, the members did advise that if you didn’t know what this was, you would definitely think that there was the possibility it could be a bomb,” Bough said. “It had numbers counting down, it had wires, and it was very suspicious in nature.”

An initial tweet from the university had stated UCC, WSSB, and nearby Social Sciences Centre (SSC) had been evacuated. The account later clarified that SSC had not been part of the evacuation.

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Ontario plans gender-neutral birth certificates

TORONTO – Gender-neutral birth certificates could be issued to those who want them in Ontario as early as next year, provided the province can work out bureaucratic hurdles involving other governments.

Ontario’s minister of government and consumer services says consultations will be held on the matter this summer and the province is working to ensure a gender-neutral birth certificate would be legally recognized in other jurisdictions.

Tracy MacCharles says she’s hopeful Ontario can issue gender-neutral birth certificates by 2018.

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Youth soccer coach explains why he told his players he’s transgender in heartfelt video

She says she’s been closely following the story of Joshua M. Ferguson, an Ontario-born filmmaker who identifies as neither male nor female and has applied to have a change of sex designation on their birth certificate from male to non-binary — a term used to define someone who doesn’t identify with either gender.

MacCharles says she knows the issue is important to the trans and non-binary community.

Currently, Ontario offers gender-neutral options for drivers’ licenses and health cards but not for birth certificates.

Ferguson, who lives in Vancouver, is also a writer and activist.

U.S. language guide OK’s ‘they’ as gender-neutral pronoun

The 34-year-old has submitted a physician letter along with the application to confirm that the sex on their current birth certificate does not match their gender identity.

Last month, activist Gemma Hickey applied for a non-binary birth certificate in Newfoundland and Labrador, but no decision has been announced.

Vancouver police will be marching in the 2017 Pride Parade

The Vancouver police (VPD) have confirmed they will be marching in this year’s Pride Parade for the 21st consecutive year.

Previously, pioneers of the Vancouver Pride Parade were petitioning to keep the VPD out of the parade.

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This petition comes after members of the Black Lives Matter Vancouver chapter pushed last year for the VPD to voluntarily withdraw all uniformed officers from the parade. The chapter is also asking police not be allowed to march in the 2017 parade, saying “having the Vancouver Police Department on the ground to perform a civil service is understandable however having the institution participate on a float in the organized festivities of the actual parade is inappropriate and insulting to those who came before us to make Pride celebrations possible, some of who even died for the cause. Embracing the institution in an event that originates from protest against its actions makes us justifiably uncomfortable.”

Representatives from the VPD have been meeting with members of the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) and other community groups to address the concerns raised.

This year, there will be a number of changes for the police department to march in the parade.

VPD members and volunteers will walk as part of the City of Vancouver entry, which will include city staff and members of Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services. Most VPD members will walk in t-shirts, while about 20 per cent will walk in uniform. No marked police vehicles will be in the parade.

The VPD will also participate in VPS-facilitated listening circles, before the parade and year-round.

“Our members and volunteers look forward to participating in the Pride Parade each year, and we’re pleased that we can keep that tradition going,” said Staff Sgt. Randy Fincham, VPD spokesperson. “Supporting Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S+ community goes beyond just the parade. We will continue to enhance our existing outreach, education, and awareness efforts year-round to help the community thrive and feel safe.”