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SLOBODIAN: With overdoses up 87%, big crime bust is a win for Winnipeggers

Police broke up a huge organized crime ring plaguing a Winnipeg neighbourhood.

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People in Winnipeg’s Point Douglas neighborhood have lived under siege for a long time. Certainly, they’ve rued the day Sandra Guiboche took up residence – which multiplied into 10 residences clustered in a convenient 1.5 km radius – in their community. 

It’s not a particularly affluent area of the city, so one could marvel at the ability of one person to amass so many homes. Or, like alert area residents, become suspicious.  

They were at the mercy of heavy traffic and an influx of strangers prowling around at all hours, lured by drug operations that community members correctly suspected were being run out of these homes. Peace was regularly shattered by noise, disturbances and parties. Their sense of safety for themselves and their children was threatened.

For years, they complained. Fed up, residents banded together to call in help. 

The calvary finally arrived.

The Winnipeg Police Drug Enforcement Unit, flanked by members of other units and the RCMP, recently busted this crack cocaine ring after a five-month investigation called Project Matriarch. It was so named in recognition of Guiboche’s perceived prestigious – although yet to be proven in court – role in the organized criminal operation.

Guiboche, 57, faces a host of charges, including drug trafficking, possessing property obtained by crime and laundering the proceeds of crime. She was the initial target on police radar. The investigation manifested into the takedown of one of the larger criminal operations in Winnipeg. It led to the arrest of 26 people facing, to date, more than 100 charges including drug trafficking, conspiracy, money laundering and proceeds of crime. 

Property and evidence seized is valued at more than $2.3 million. That includes cocaine, crack cocaine, lots of cash, a loaded semi-automatic handgun, ammunition, a 2016 BMW X5, jewelry, and a skid steer. In fairness to the skid steer, it allegedly was not used to help the ring haul copious quantities of illegal, soul and life-destroying drugs.

Criminal Property Forfeiture has filed a statement of claim for multiple bank accounts and the 10 homes. The houses are owned by Guiboche and are mortgage free, confirmed Const. Rob Carver, with Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).

This ring was allegedly buying one-to-two kilograms of unprocessed cocaine a month from other ultra-high-end suppliers within Manitoba. The cocaine – likely smuggled in from Central and South America – would be processed into crack cocaine and distributed from these houses.

“This was a homegrown operation. Not only were the drugs being manufactured and sold and distributed out of Point Douglas, but the people we arrested were residents geographically within that area,” says Carver. “It is believed that Sandra Guiboche was at the top, or near the top of this particular group involved in this drug operation.” 

Hence, he says, it was dubbed Project Matriarch.

“Illegal drugs such as cocaine and crack cocaine continue to pose risks to the safety and well-being of citizens,” says Carver. “Addiction, property crime and acts of violence are often the result of the drug subculture. The drug trade rules violence and is understood as a means of gaining or maintaining a share of the lucrative illicit drug market. The impact on individuals and communities can be devastating.”

Project Matriarch stopped a flow. WPS knows others are anxious to fill that void. 

“Criminals abhor a vacuum,” says Carver.

Indeed, illegal drugs permeate all neighbourhoods. But residents of Point Douglas have the safer, quieter community everyone deserves to live in. 

Maybe someone won’t overdose because this cache of confiscated drugs is safely tucked away. Manitoba saw a disturbing 87% increase in drug overdose deaths in 2020 as it was under varying degrees of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

However, in today’s increasingly offended society, safer neighborhoods and seizure of illegal drugs are apparently not what is of paramount importance. 

“Words” are. 

On the tail end of the recent press conference about Project Matriarch, an enabling CBC reporter shared concerns expressed by Manitoba NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine who tweeted that matriarch is “a sacred word” and its use in this operation was “harmful.” 

More harmful than drug dealers, volatile and desperate addicts, loaded guns, crimes swirling around the drug trade and strangers flooding residential streets?

Crack cocaine is an ugly curse on society. Certainly, this truth doesn’t escape Fontaine. But why waste time fretting over a word approved by two female senior members of the Drug Enforcement Unit spearheading Project Matriarch? 

Some matriarchs are wise, good and deserve respect. Some do bad things. It’s that simple. 

To suggest any disrespect was intended with the use of matriarch is a stretch – and unfair to police who waded into these volatile cesspools to clean them up for the community. 

Sleep well Point Douglas.

Linda Slobodian is the Manitoba Political Columnist for the Western Standard

Linda Slobodian is the Manitoba Senior Columnist for the Western Standard. She has been an investigative columnist with the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, and Alberta Report. lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. David

    May 1, 2021 at 6:57 pm

    Its so good to see this quality of journalism again! Thank you, Linda. I’m old enough to remember when the papers were all expected to provide such well-written pieces on a daily basis.

    Then there’s the subject matter. Sadly, this kind of thing has been with us for a long, long, time. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m glad someone is trying.

  2. Left Coast

    April 27, 2021 at 8:40 am

    “concerns expressed by Manitoba NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine who tweeted that matriarch is “a sacred word” and its use in this operation was “harmful.” . . . lol

    The NDP . . . still Krazy after all these years . . .

    Drugs in Canada are only going to get more plentiful, now that China Joe Biden has completely opened the Southern US Border. Illicit drugs are streaming across the border as the Agents babysit the 100s of thousands of Illegal Aliens streaming across & once again being Released into the USA. How many will find Roxham Road?

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Features

Royal Canadian Legion ‘saddened’ over vaccine-related protests

Several vaccine related incidents unfolded on Remembrance Day, including the desecration of a war memorial.

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The BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion released a statement regarding vaccine related disruptions that took place during Remembrance Day ceremonies, as well as the desecration of a war memorial.

“We are the keepers of remembrance in Canada. As long as we exist we will uphold the tradition of remembrance to ensure Canada’s fallen will not be forgotten,” said Val MacGregor, President of BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“We are saddened that anyone would feel it necessary to distract from the sacrifice of our veterans and their families with political agendas. Especially, on Remembrance Day.”

In Cranbrook, RCMP were notified that someone defaced the cities Cenotaph mere hours before the Remembrance Day ceremony was set to take place. Spray-painted across the memorial were the words “the real heroes are the vaccinated.”

dmac88/twitter

In Kelowna, police were called to an unofficial Remembrance Day event at City Park where hundreds of people gathered to pay respect to fallen Canadians. Amid the gathering, a small handful of people protesting COVID-19 vaccine related measures set up a microphone and began speaking over attendees.

Kelowna Now

“Have you forgotten? You have forgotten,” the woman interrupting the ceremony says.

Standing to her left was Bruce Orydzuk, a well known protester in the Kelowna area who went viral in July after berating a security guard at a vaccine clinic.

“I was there with my wife. Veterans were quite upset and a lot of people were screaming at each other. Never thought a remembrance day ceremony would be controversial but here we are. Really sad,” tweeted Matt Glen.

“Not the right time, not the right place,” one man can be heard shouting.

About 166 km away, a similar incident unfolded in Kamloops at the Riverside Park Cenotaph where people had organized their own unofficial ceremony before it was sidelined by anti-mandate protesters.

After going viral, the two latter incidents prompted wide-scale dispute on social media among individuals who would have been fundamentally aligned not so long ago.

Following the provincial declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020, British Columbians have been subjected to 19 months of lock-downs, vaccine passports, and forced business closures. Many live in a state of frustration and rage as a result — thus leading to more forceful behaviour such as what was displayed on Remembrance Day.

“Government breaks soldiers after extracting everything it can out of them. They then leave them with a single day of the year to be acknowledged,” Kip Warner, Executive Director of the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CSASPP) told the Western Standard.

“Protesters have 364 days of the year to protest and be heard. Whether they are protesting COVID-19 related measures, or advocating for them in recently spray painting over a war memorial that the real heroes are the injected, stop doing it. We are Canadians and we should all expect better of ourselves.”

Warner served as an infantry officer in a light infantry regiment part-time for four years while working in tech. He now spearheads CSASPP, a non-profit organization that seeks to reverse COVID-19 related measures in BC. So far CSASPP has raised nearly $150,000 — all of which is regularly audited and available for donors to monitor. No members receive any profit.

The organization’s progress — which has seen three days in court thus far — can be followed here.

While there are a multitude of like-minded individuals across the province working meticulously to combat what they perceive as blatant tyranny on behalf of the state, their endeavour is not simple, and it is frequently sidelined by hot-heads seemingly incapable of reading the room.

“Emotions are one of the main things that derail communication. Once people get upset at one another, rational thinking goes out of the window,” writes former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss in his book Never Split the Difference.

Voss has explained how human beings are influenced by the level of respect they feel they’re given — complying in response to perceived fairness, whilst lashing out at what they feel is unfair.

As for unfairness, veterans living in BC are not allowed to enter fitness facilities, attend sporting events, or even grab a drink at a restaurant if they are unvaccinated — and the Royal Canadian Legion has not condemned the policy. This treatment of not only those who have served, but British Columbians as a whole, provides causal explanation for the lashing out of protesters as of recently — it is human nature, after all.

Capuchin monkeys behave the same way when treated unfairly.

However, what separates human beings from monkeys is the ability feel emotion well up from the carnal abyss, and subsequently detach from it. An understanding that lashing out — although feeling like the right move — may serve no benefit in a specific context.

This can be be observed in the Kelowna example. The outcome of which not only lacked benefit towards the cause protesters claim to be fighting for, but sent potential fence-sitters running the other direction. The scene resembled little difference from a bunch of capuchin monkeys screeching over who gets the banana — all the while those in power swirl their scotch glasses, laughing opportunistically at how they will further exploit the chaos.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn said “a state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

The narrative peddled from the top down is that Canadians are locked in a deadly war with a virus and therefore sweeping mandates must be implemented for “our safety.” This narrative has driven people into not only accepting, but encouraging the states’ ever tightening grasp. The policies are masked under compassion, but beneath the sheepskin resides an opportunistic snake — and to assume human beings have evolved beyond our proclivity towards consented despotism is detrimentally naive.

Pulling back from the brink requires a methodical approach. Attempting to change one’s beliefs by interrupting and scolding them is like trying to push water uphill, and those who do so fail to recognize how they themselves are contributors to the problem they claim to fight.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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WATCH: Calgary psychologist says lockdowns, mandates creating serious mental crisis

From people fearing the collapse of our healthcare system to government mandates, Dr. Angela Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”

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A prominent Calgary psychologist said she’s seen an increase in clients coming to her in crisis — especially frontline and healthcare workers — over the last 20 months.

Registered psychologist Dr. Angela Grace shared her perspective on supporting her clients through the COVID-19 pandemic in an exclusive interview with the Western Standard.

Along with providing “trauma work” for first responders in her private practice at Heart Centered Counselling, Grace also offers professional counselling and school assessments for children.

“What I found immediately [when the pandemic began] was an increase in crisis in clients,” said Grace, who explained she was also navigating the complexity of pivoting from in-person to online counselling, while also dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on her children and family.

“What was a seven-out-of-10 crisis before is now a 12 out of 10. What was a client who was doing really really well and hadn’t been to counselling in a while was all of the sudden back in the chair in distress.”

Grace said her clients went from worrying about the pandemic and how life was going to change for them and their families to worrying about decisions around getting the COVID-19 vaccine or not and the bullying and isolation people faced with that “tough decision.”

She said she has also seen an increase in first responders and healthcare workers coming to see her in distress over the fear of losing their careers and livelihoods due to mandatory vaccination policies.

“It’s moving beyond a sense of stress and trauma from the pandemic to now moving into moral injuries,” said Grace.

Medical workers have gone from “being a praised hero” to being “vilified because they don’t want to get the vaccine,” said Grace adding that normal job stressors for these workers have been exaggerated so much more because of these moral injuries.

Grace said the situation created “confusion and mistrust” among healthcare workers and first responders who navigated through the first, second and third waves of the pandemic without being vaccinated but have now been told they can no longer work unless they get the jab.

“Not only is there this divisiveness, but there’s this increasing lack of trust they (medical workers) are going to be taken care of,” said Grace.

According to Grace, children are also being impacted by the pandemic, especially those from divorced homes where parents have differing opinions on issues around how to best protect their children.

Teens “have really been struggling,” said Grace.

“Since the beginning of COVID, there has been a tremendous increase in eating disorders,” said Grace, who explained it’s often a result of an inability to cope and social isolation.

Grace said much of the social anxiety for teens is centred around returning to school after gaps of time when normal socialization was absent.

For younger children, especially those in the formative years, Grace said those learning gaps are leading to children missing out on normal development without the foundation of normal schooling.

From people fearing the collapse of the healthcare system to lockdowns and mandatory vaccination and masking, Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”

Grace said she is also concerned post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be a “massive burden” on society in the coming months.

“We are in traumatic stress right now. We have to survive the trauma then the healing can happen,” said Grace.

When asked for her advice to those dealing with heightened anxiety and stress, Grace said the first step is to “acknowledge the stressors and reach out for help.”

“As much as possible, shut off the news, shut off social media and focus on what do I need to do today to look after myself and my family,” said Grace.

Turning to exercise, hobbies, art, games, colouring, pets and mindfulness activities are some other ways Grace suggests people handle feelings of stress, isolation and depression. She also highlighted the importance of “continuing to build connections”, whether by phone or video chats.

“I call it pockets of peace; what are the things you do in your everyday life — every day, every week, every month — routines that give you a sense of peace and calm,” said Grace.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can also be an issue for people through the dark winter months, Grace explained admitting she suffers from the disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins in the fall and continues through the winter months leaving those affected feeling tired and moody.

To ward off the effects of SAD, Grace suggests taking Vitamin C, D and Omega fatty acids and eating nutrient-rich foods as well as investing in a SAD lamp and spending 15-20 minutes in front of it daily.

Grace also pointed to the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta website as a referral source for seeking a professional psychologist and recommended their free resources, webinars and tip sheets.

Albertans can access help from the Mental Health Foundation Alberta, the Distress Centre and the Calgary Counselling Centre while the Kids Help Phone and the Canadian Mental Health Association are national support providers.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Features

Elon Musk’s nine must-read books

Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to reading books.

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When Elon Musk tires of the world of AI, solar energy and underground tunnelling beneath Los Angeles, what’s left but to get lost in a good book?

Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to the printed word, according to an article on blinkist.com

“I read books,” Musk said when asked how he learned to build rockets.

Here are the nine must-read books Musk believes everyone should read:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.jpg
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Wikipedia description: “Steve Jobs is the authorized self-titled biography of American business magnate and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The book was written at the request of Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a former executive at CNN and TIME who has written best-selling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.”

Human Compatible by Stuart Russell

Human Compatible (Stuart J. Russell, 2019) book cover.jpg
Human Compatible by Stuart Russell

Wikipedia description: “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control is a 2019 non-fiction book by computer scientist Stuart J. Russell. It asserts that risk to humanity from advanced artificial intelligence (AI) is a serious concern despite the uncertainty surrounding future progress in AI.”

Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Zero to One.jpg
Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters

Wikipedia description: “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future is a 2014 book by the American entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, co-written with Blake Masters. It is a condensed and updated version of the highly popular set of online notes taken by Masters for the CS183 class on startups, as taught by Thiel at Stanford University in spring 2012.”

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Merchants of DOUBT.jpg
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway

Wikipedia description: “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is a 2010 non-fiction book by American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the global warming controversy and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, DDT and a hole in the ozone layer.”

Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

Cover of the book Life 3.0.png
Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

Wikipedia description: “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is a book by Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark from MIT. Life 3.0 discusses Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the future of life on earth and beyond. The book discusses a variety of societal implications, what can be done to maximize the chances of a positive outcome and potential futures for humanity, technology and combinations thereof.”

The Big Picture by Sean M. Carroll

The Big Picture - book.jpg
The Big Picture by Sean Carroll

Wikipedia description: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself is a non-fiction book by American theoretical physicist Sean M. Carroll, published in 2016. In his fourth book, Carroll defends the argument the universe can be completely interpreted by science, introducing “poetic naturalism” as a philosophy that explains the world.”

Lying by Sam Harris

Lying (book).jpg
Lying by Sam Harris

Wikipedia description: “Lying is a 2011 long-form essay book by American author and neuroscience expert Sam Harris. Harris argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie.”

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

Superintelligence.jpg
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

Wikipedia description: “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is a 2014 book by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom from the University of Oxford. It argues if machine brains surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new super intelligence could replace humans as the dominant life form on Earth. Sufficiently intelligent machines could improve their own capabilities faster than human computer scientists and the outcome could be an existential catastrophe for humans.”

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Wealth of Nations.jpg
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Wikipedia description: “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title, The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution”

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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