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UPDATED: Kelowna crane accident kills five

The accident led officials to declare a local state of emergency.

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Five people are dead and several are injured after a crane collapsed at a construction site in Kelowna.

The crane was attached to a high rise under construction when it fell, hitting an adjacent building and the roof of an old age home, said RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh.

Four bodies have been recovered and a search continues for the fifth but he is believed dead.

One of the bodies recovered was of Edmonton man, Jared Zook, his family confirmed.

Officials earlier had said the accident resulted in “multiple confirmed fatalities.”

MacIntosh says that one person is still unaccounted for, adding the person is not from the work crew that was on site. He provided no further details.

The crane took down hydro lines and power was disrupted to much of downtown Kelowna. A local state of emergency was declared Monday afternoon due to the damage of several structures and danger posed by the crane.

“Mission Group expresses its deepest sympathy for the families of those affected by this tragedy,” said the developer in a release.

“We have set up support services to help those in need. The health and safety of our employees, trades and the community at large remain our top priority.

“We will update you as information becomes available.”

While the construction site was run by Mission Group, the crane is supposedly owned by another company. That company has not yet been named.

The area remains “unstable and unsafe,” said MacIntosh. A structural engineer has been brought in to assist with the evaluation of the site and determine the necessary steps needed to ensure its safety.

The police will work closely with WorkSafeBC, the Kelowna Fire Department, and the BC Coroners Service.

“I am deeply saddened to hear about the terrible incident involving a construction crane in Kelowna today,” said Minister of Labour Harry Bains in a statement.

“My thoughts are with the workers affected, and I send my sincere condolences to the families, friends and co-workers of the victims. Every worker has the right to return home safely at the end of the day, and I feel awful for the loved ones and colleagues impacted by this tragedy.

“We will have more to say as further details become available.”

WorkSafeBC says they will be working to determine the cause of the incident, including any contributing factors, so similar incidents can be prevented in the future.

Police ask everyone to avoid the area until the state of emergency is lifted so first responders have room to safely go about their work.

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

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Massive, loud support displayed as BC’s truckers roll east

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.

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The eastbound “freedom convoy” rolling towards Ottawa in protest of government mandates is well underway with hundreds coming out to support the truckers’ departure from BC’s Lower Mainland early Sunday morning.

The recent mandate — instituted by the federal Liberal government on January 15 — is forcing truckers crossing the border into Canada to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival using the ArriveCan app if they want to avoid testing and quarantine requirements.

American truckers will be denied entry.

Prior to the the January 15 mandate truckers were deemed an essential service.

Despite widespread concern of further economic devastation amid an already hurting supply chain, Liberal Health Minister Jean Yves-Duclos maintains his position that restricting cross-border movement of unvaccinated truckers is the “right thing to do.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) anticipates the loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) cross-border commercial drivers as a result.

In border areas, drivers will often cross over five or six times a day.

“That’s a lot of loads in a year that no longer have a way of coming up,” Colin Valentim told the Western Standard.

Valentim — who has been a trucker for more than 20 years — spearheaded the group out of BC, which steadily grew in size throughout the day as truckers across the province joined the Ottawa-bound convoy.

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.

When the convoy arrives in Ottawa, it will rendezvous with four convoys from various points of Ontario, convoys from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, other Atlantic areas, and Quebec — forming a mass coalescence of rolling steel within the nation’s capital.

“We need to show this government what they’re doing is wrong and we won’t take it anymore,” said Valentim.

While the national demonstration is organized by big-riggers, those involved say it represents other professions that have been effected by mandatory injections such as healthcare workers, municipal workers and more. All professions and vehicles are welcome in the convoy.

The official GoFundMe page has received more than 37,400 separate donations adding up to more than $2.8 million with donations steadily flowing in by the minute.

The fund’s page — organized by Tamara Lich — says money raised will be dispersed to truckers for the cost of the journey and “any leftover donations will be donated to a credible veteran’s organization which will be chosen by the donors.”

The page says GoFundMe will be sending donations directly to “our bulk fuel supplier.”

“Your hard-earned money is going straight to who it was meant for without having to flow through anyone else,” reads the page.

The Western Standard reached out to Lich for further details regarding the allocation of donor’s funds, but has not heard back.

“Time to stop these mandates destroying people’s lives and businesses,” writes one donor.

“This tyranny must stop, and I believe the truckers are uniquely positioned to make this point,” writes another.

Maps, routes, times, and contact information for the respective organizers can be found here.

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

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Judge slashes large defamation award to only $50,000

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.

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A Manitoba judge has slashed the $500,000 awarded to a defamation victim to $50,000, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.

“Civil jury trials in Manitoba are rare,” wrote Justice William Burnett of the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

“Awards for defamation in that amount are virtually non-existent.”

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is wholly disproportionate and shockingly unreasonable,” wrote Burnett, who worked 32 years as a civil litigator.

“This was not a case of widespread or repeated publication of defamatory statements in print media, radio, television or on the Internet.”

Millionaire developer Marcel Chartier in 2021 won his defamation claim against a former business partner who badmouthed him at a lunch meeting. The court was told Chartier’s ex-partner had called him a thief.

“There was no further publication of the defamatory comments,” wrote Burnett.

The slander was uttered to two people over a lunch table, “a small audience by any measure,” and “the impact of the comments was negligible,” the court added.

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is replaced with an award of $50,000,” ordered the court, noting there “is no mathematical formula” to placing value on damages for defamation.

Burnett said he reviewed dozens of rulings in Western courts, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia over the past six years in concluding the half-million award was excessive.

“Having considered more than 50 recent decisions where damages were awarded for reputational harm it is readily apparent the present award is well beyond the maximum limit of a reasonable range,” wrote Burnett.

Large libel awards are uncommon in Canada. The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench last December 15 ordered the CBC to pay $1,659,403 for defaming a local investment adviser in a 2012 television broadcast.

The case is under appeal.

The largest award to date, $3 million, was paid in 2008 to an Ottawa pilot falsely accused of impairment.

The Supreme Court in 1995 upheld a $1.6 million award to a Toronto Crown prosecutor defamed by the Church of Scientology.

In 2016, the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded $1.1 million in damages to a Vancouver businessman falsely accused of being a drug trafficker.

The Supreme Court in 2002 refused to hear an appeal from the CBC over a $950,000 award to an Ottawa physician falsely accused of improper conduct by the news program The Fifth Estate.

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Sask residents say vaccine choices dividing families

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation,” said Ness. “It’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children.”

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For personal and legal reasons, vaccine choices are dividing families, say two Saskatchewan residents.

Michael Jackson, a divorced father from the rural community of Carievale in southeastern Saskatchewan, was opposed to his seven-year-old daughter Sarah receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

When his ex-wife said Sarah would get the vaccine, he refused to return her. Jackson’s ex-wife applied for a court order for police to retrieve Sarah and a judge heard the case in court.

Jackson lost his case and failed in a subsequent appeal. He went into hiding with his daughter before police could enforce the court order.

Two cases in Quebec suggest judges in other provinces take a similar view. Last fall, a 13-year-old boy wanted the vaccine so he could be in school sports and go to movies and restaurants, but his father was opposed. Then his wife, the mother of the boy, went to court and had the father’s objections overruled.

A similar ruling was made by a Lethbridge judge.

Nadine Ness, founder of Unified Grassroots, says a Lloydminster father who got their under-12 child vaccinated for COVID-19 showed her that proper checks aren’t always made. 

“He messaged me, ‘Look, I’m pro-vaccine. But I think you should know this,’” Ness recalled in an interview.

“He was never asked any documentation as to who he was, how connected he was to that child, nothing. He was just asked for the kids’ health card, and that was it, nothing else. So if that’s happening, then parents who have full decision authority over their children’s health, like the other parent can go and do whatever they want because they’re not asking for ID either. That was a story that I found really odd and concerning.

At other times, parents are at odds. Shortly before Christmas, a Quebec judge denied an unvaccinated father visitation rights to his double-vaccinated 12-year-old child. Ness said knows of instances where parents are using the threat of vaccinating children for COVID-19 as a bargaining chip to extract more from the parent who is opposed.

“I grew up in a divorced family with an absent mother. She was a drug addict, so I know what it’s like to grow without a parent there. And I know how important it is for both parents to be involved in children’s lives. I’m divorced myself, so I share custody of my kids,” Ness said.

“I could never imagine anyone trying to keep their kids away from the other parent, but it’s just you see that too often in custody issues…If you’re using your child to go after the other parent, you’re not doing what’s in your child’s best interest.”

Ness said former allowances for the unvaccinated to cross the U.S. border to see their non-adult children have been taken away.

“At this point, policies like that just show more that this is not about health. And this is about punishing the people who oppose government, punishing political opposition,” Ness said.

“Omicron is so mild. We had it all in our house and I was sick for a day and a half…It was the mildest cold I’ve ever had. My son was sick and had fever for six hours. That was it, nothing else. He’s seven. My 12-year-old never got symptoms, and my two-year-old had a bit of a runny nose.”

Ness believes COVID-19 is an inadequate reason for politicians, judges, and families to separate unvaccinated family members from their children or other relatives.

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation…Some of these parents, it’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children or don’t want to see their children,” Ness said.

“These are real people, real lives affected. They’re not just robots. It’s dehumanizing them and not recognizing them. These are children who go to bed at night crying because they don’t have their other parent there, their family member there. 

“They don’t deserve this; they deserve better from us. And we deserve better from our government as well.”

Lee Harding is a contributor to the Western Standard living in Saskatchewan.

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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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No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

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

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