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KICKOFF: The CFL returns

Monday, the CFL’s board of governors voted unanimously to proceed with a 14-game season kicking off August 5.




The CFL confirmed it will return this summer, to the delight of fans and players alike.

Monday, the CFL’s board of governors voted unanimously to proceed with a 14-game season kicking off August 5.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself. This is great news for everyone who loves our game and our country,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a press release.

Players sidelined since November of 2019 are happy they can return to the game they love.

“I’m excited to get back to work! LET’S GO!” tweeted Simoni Lawrence of the Tiger-Cats.

Training camps will open July 10, but the chirping has started already.

“I hope everyone picks us to finish dead last, I love playing with a chip on my shoulder,” Blue Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols told TSN.

The season was made possible after the league and players association reached a new agreement on June 10. Players will see a drop in pay, given they will play four less games this year.

Regardless, sports broadcaster and former voice of the ‘Riders, Rod Pedersen, remains upbeat.

“It’s a positive day. The owners have voted to play; the players are excited to play. I prefer to move forward with that. The revenues are still going to be down, the players are taking it on the chin,” Pedersen told the Western Standard.

How many fans will be allowed is an open question. The Lions hope B.C. Place will allow 5,000 fans for August games, but full attendance by September.

Ontario’s seven pro franchises made a joint submission to the provincial government requesting that home stadiums and arenas be allowed 35% capacity at Stage 2 of re-opening and full capacity at Stage 3. July 2 is the earliest date for Stage 2 and July 23 the earliest date for Stage3. Minister of Sport Lisa McLeod wants to accomodate, but gave no guarantees.

Pedersen said the long wait means available seats will be taken.

“Let’s just have a look at what’s going on in America right now with NHL games, NFL games, Major League Baseball, those parks – stadiums are filled to whatever capacity they’re allowed. I think the same thing is going to happen in the Canadian Football League.”

After calling themselves the Eskimos since 1949, Edmonton players will take the field as the Elks. Edmonton resident Moshe Lander, a senior lecturer in economics at Concordia University, said the change will take some getting used to, but won’t keep fans out of the stands.

“The CFL fan base is a hardcore fan base, and that’s committed one, so I don’t really think that they’re going to lose much from them. I think that they’ll race back, the rock-solid franchises with Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan. The fan bases that have been a little more fickle in the past – Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto maybe BC to some extent, they were always a trick anyway to try and motivate them to come out,” Lander said in an interview with Western Standard.

The short season will also run late. The 108th Grey Cup will be held December 12 in Hamilton. Ironically, the city also hosted the championship last December as the hometown Tiger-Cats beat the Roughriders 13-10 in 1972.

Lander suggests the current make-up of CFL fans may be problematic.

“The CFL’s problem is that it’s very difficult to get beyond its hard core group of fans. And that hardcore group is increasingly old, white, and male,” Lander said.

“Their issue is not trying to shore up their existence. It’s trying to find an expansion of that fan base…and they don’t have a solution to that, pandemic or not.”

That said, many young female fans also love the game. In Calgary, Mount Royal University broadcasting student Makayla Berze was happy to hear the CFL was back.

“I’m so excited that I’m probably going to go on a #CFL jersey shopping spree,” she tweeted.

“I’d probably put a Hughes, Simpson or Raymond on a white Stamps jersey. Thurman for a current red? And then while we’re at it Tate for my sister (she doesn’t watch but she’s always loved him).”

Harding is a Western Standard correspondent based in Saskatchewan


BC removes capacity limits in some areas, but only if you’re double vaccinated

The change comes into effect October 25, and it applies to indoor sporting events, concerts, theatres, weddings, funeral receptions outside of a funeral home, and organized parties.




British Columbia will be seeing some restrictions eased for those who have can prove two doses of vaccination against COVID-19.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Tuesday that capacity limits for events and gatherings throughout much of the province — where proof-of-vaccination is required — will be lifted.

The change comes into effect October 25, and it applies to indoor sporting events, concerts, theatres, weddings, funeral receptions outside of a funeral home, and organized parties.

Health officials will also be removing the requirement to stay seated at restaurants.

The changes do not apply to regional restrictions in effect in Interior Health, Northern Health, and eastern Fraser Valley.

Personal gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, are restricted to fully vaccinated people throughout the Northern Health region, with the exception of Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, and the Nisga’a areas.

Indoor mask requirements remain in effect for all indoor gatherings and events.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard

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WORLD WATCH: U.K. warns of new COVID variant as cases rise yet Japan numbers plummet

Experts are taking a close look at AY.4.2. to see how much of a threat it may pose, but say it is not yet considered a “variant of concern”.




News reports out of the U.K. are linking an uptick in cases to a new variant that “could be 10 times more infectious than Delta,” yet Japan is seeing some of their lowest case counts since this time last year.

According to the latest official data out of the U.K., an increase in COVID-19 cases includes a genetically sequenced variant labelled AY.4.2 accounting for 6% of new cases.

Graph courtesy worldometers.info

The new strain, some call “Delta Plus”, is said to contain mutations that could give the virus “survival advantages” and could make it more contagious.

Experts are taking a close look at AY.4.2. to see how much of a threat it may pose, but say it is not yet considered a “variant of concern”.

Meanwhile, reports from Japan say a very different narrative where cases have mysteriously plummeted over the last two months.

Low case rates have not been the norm in Japan throughout the pandemic. However, despite the 2020 Summer Olympics being postponed to the summer of 2021 and Japan seeing some of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the world at times, the country has never implemented any full lockdowns.

Over the last two months, rates in Japan went from over 26,121 new cases recorded on August 22 to 494 new cases as of Monday.

Graph courtesy worldometers.info

Some are crediting the incredible turnaround to a late but rapid uptake in vaccinations. Others say it could have something to do with bad August weather in the latter part of the month that kept people home.

Officials are still trying to determine the cause of the huge decline in cases and experts are warning Japan could face another surge with the gradual waning of vaccine efficacy as well as heading into the colder winter months.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard

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EXCLUSIVE: Chu vows not to resign, apologizes and speaks out on allegations

Chu speaks out after allegations against him come to light.




Embattled Calgary Councillor Sean Chu says he has no intention of resigning, but has apologized to a woman he had a sexual encounter with 24 years ago.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any harm,” Chu told the Western Standard in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

City of Calgary officials confirmed Chu won the election race in Ward 4 by a mere 52 votes after allegations surfaced last week of his involvement in August of 1997 with a girl who was just 16 at the time.

“This was nothing but a political assassination,” said Chu.

Chu, who has represented Ward 4 since 2013, also fired back at some media reports which he claims were completely wrong.

Chu said he met the unidentified girl at a pub near Macleod Tr. and 94 Ave. S and not the Husky House restaurant downtown that some media had reported.

“Because it was a licensed establishment I thought the girl was at least 18 years old,” said Chu, who was in uniform with his partner at the time.

“I was single at the time and I thought some girl liked me.”

The Western Standard cannot confirm at this time if there is documentary evidence the encounter was at the Husky House or at the pub on Macleod Tr.

At some point in their interaction, Chu caressed the girl’s leg, an incident that later earned him a letter of reprimand on his file.

Chu said the girl seemed interested in him so when he was off duty he changed into civilian clothes and went back to the pub to meet the girl.

The evening continued with Chu and the girl eventually heading to his home.

Once there, the pair “started kissing and hugging, but there was no intercourse,” said Chu.

Chu admits there was “some touching underneath clothes”.

“She then said she wanted to go home and I drove her straight there.”

Chu denied media reports that a gun was produced during the evening at his home. He said he checked his service weapon in at the police’s traffic office when he signed off duty.

At one point Chu said he owned a shotgun, but denied that weapon was ever produced or shown in any way that night.

“If there had been a gun involved there would have been charges,” said Chu.

The Western Standard has not seen any documents that indicate the presence or absence of a firearm on the evening in question.

Chu said he does not drink alcohol, but added he didn’t know if the girl had been drinking.

After the incident, the girl reported the case to city police claiming she was sexually assaulted. That lead to nine years of investigations, court battles and appeals, with news of the case only leaking last week, days before the civil election.

There were never any sexual assault or weapons charges laid, and Chu says the letter of reprimand was the only discipline that came out of the entire process.

Documents obtained by the Western Standard and other media indicate that the woman claimed the whole process was a “cover-up.”

Chu served as a Calgary police officer from 1992 until he was elected in 2013.

Chu is now at the centre of a political storm with friends and supporters deserting him.

Premier Jason Kenney described the allegations as “appalling” but said he didn’t think there was any way for the province to remove a councillor who han’t been convicted under the Criminal Code.

He said he would be happy to meet with Mayor-Elect Jyoti Gondek to discuss the situation.

Kenney said as much of the legal documents are under seal, it’s up to Chu to prove his innocence.

Calgary-Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner tweeted her disgust at the incident.

“I have supported Mr. Chu in the past, but firmly withdraw all such support in light of these reports. Believing women means walking the talk,” she tweeted.

“In light of the disciplinary action, as a result of inappropriate contact with a minor which has been reported by CBC Calgary, MP Rempel Garner is formally withdrawing her endorsement of Councillor Sean Chu and he is no longer a member of her Constituency Association.”

Rempel Garner tweet

Now Chu said he is looking at his legal options and a possible defamation suit over some of what he called the false reporting.

“I have always told the truth. My reputation is important to me and now my family is hurting,” said Chu.

Chu said he wouldn’t comment on remarks made by Gondek that she will try and remove him from council.

“I will continue to tell the truth at council and will be a fiscal hawk,” he said.

“The most important thing is I told the truth and the truth will prevail.”

It appears any bid to try and remove Chu would fail because he was not charged or convicted criminally.

Calgary police released a statement Monday about its investigation in 1997. It states:

“We want to reassure Calgarians that when this matter came to light in 1997 it was taken seriously by the Service and managed in accordance with the Police Act. This has been a complex legal matter with multiple complaints and investigations as well as appeals to the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board. One of those decisions was overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal. Ultimately, one allegation of misconduct was sustained through our internal disciplinary process.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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