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B.C. RCMP say they’ll leave outpost on Wet’suwet’en territory if road is kept clear – CBC.ca

February 20th, 2020

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says he’s hoping the RCMP’s offer to leave their outpost on Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. will lead to the barricades coming down, as talks aimed at ending the rail blockades crippling the country’s rail network continue.

“I’m very hopeful that that will satisfy the concerns that were raised,” said Blair ahead of a Thursday morning cabinet meeting.

“I believe the time has come now for the barricades to come down.”

CBC News has obtained a copy of a letter sent Wednesday from RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan to the hereditary chiefs offering to move the RCMP’s temporary detachment from near the protest site to the nearby town of Houston — as long as Morice West Forest Service Road remains clear. The RCMP confirmed that letter was sent.

“As always, we encourage dialogue over enforcement with a goal of a long-term solution,” Strachan wrote, while asking for a meeting “in the near future.”

In a separate letter to staff, Strachan said the decision to re-assess their presence was “not an easy one to consider.”

“By making this gesture in good faith, we are not only supporting efforts towards a peaceful and sustainable solution, but also facilitating them,” she wrote in the internal email, first reported on by Global News.

“Our hope has always been to create mutual understanding for a peaceful resolution, without the need for police intervention.”

Watch: Blair says he doesn’t direct RCMP on blockades

[MEDIA

It’s not clear yet whether the hereditary chiefs will meet with federal and provincial government representatives. Earlier this afternoon, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said she had not heard back from the chiefs on whether they will accept Strachan​​​​​​’s offer.

The RCMP, which acts as the provincial police service in B.C., moved in to enforce a court injunction earlier this month after the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters blocked construction of the $6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline project. The B.C. Supreme Court issued an injunction in December authorizing the police to clear away the protesters who had blocked access to the public road.

Those arrests triggered national protests and the rail blockades, which have lasted just over two weeks now. Via Rail announced nearly 1,000 layoffs Wednesday in response to the nationwide rail shutdown, while CN Rail says it has issued temporary pink slips to 450 workers because the blockade has shuttered much of its eastern Canadian operations.

Bennett has offered to meet with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs as soon as possible to help resolve the dispute.

Trudeau calls blockades an ‘unacceptable situation’ 

So far, the hereditary chiefs have said they won’t meet with the federal and provincial ministers until the RCMP leave their territory.

Blair said he hopes the RCMP’s offer will meet the chiefs’ conditions.

“I have not been directing the RCMP, but they have been making very thoughtful and well-informed operational decisions with respect to their deployment in response to concerns that have been raised,” he said after today’s cabinet meeting.

In a tweet, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde called the RCMP’s decision “an important opportunity for progress, dialogue and safety.”

A handful of hereditary chiefs are travelling to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., to meet with protesters there who have been blockading CN Rail in solidarity. The chiefs are also expected to visit Mohawks at Kahnawake in Quebec.

Watch: Blair says B.C. RCMP offering to leave Wet’suwet’en territory

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the federal government has not been directing the RCMP’s actions during the rail blockade crisis. 0:31

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office put out a statement calling the B.C. developments a positive step while pushing for a timeline to end the blockades.

“While the Ontario government believes in the rule of law, it is imperative that elected officials do not direct police operational decisions,” his office said in a statement.

CN gets injunction for Montreal blockade

“We believe the OPP is in the best position to ensure the protest remains peaceful, as both sides find a negotiated resolution.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet met in Ottawa Thursday morning to chart a path forward.

“We’re working very hard to end the blockades. It’s an unacceptable situation,” said the prime minister.

CN Rail says it has obtained an injunction to dismantle a rail blockade on Montreal’s South Shore.

“We’ve obtained the injunction and are hoping for a swift resolution of this incident so that passenger commuter rail service can resume,” it said in a statement.

Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters earlier Thursday that “once the injunction is granted, we will dismantle the blockade.”

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Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months in federal prison – Business Insider – Business Insider

February 20th, 2020
  • A federal judge sentenced the longtime former GOP strategist and Trump ally Roger Stone on Thursday to serve 40 months in prison. He was also sentenced to pay a $20,000 fine, four years of probation following his prison term, and 250 hours of community service.
  • A jury convicted Stone in November of five counts of false statements, one count of obstruction of justice, and one count of witness tampering.
  • Federal prosecutors initially recommended a seven to nine-year sentence for Stone, but senior DOJ leadership overruled them and asked for a lighter sentence after Trump publicly complained about the initial recommendation. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Roger Stone, a former Republican political strategist and informal adviser to President Donald Trump, to 40 months in prison after he was convicted of witness tampering, false statements, and obstruction of justice.

Stone was also charged a $20,000 fine and sentenced to four years of probation after serving out his sentence, as well as 250 hours of community service.

The former special counsel Robert Mueller’s office indicted Stone in last year on seven charges — one count of obstruction of justice, five counts of making false statements to the FBI and congressional investigators, and one count of witness tampering.

The charges were linked to his contacts with the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks and subsequent efforts to suppress witness testimony.

Stone’s indictment contained a slew of details about his false statements to Congress about his interactions involving WikiLeaks; his extensive communications with the far-right commentator Jerome Corsi and the radio host Randy Credico about WikiLeaks’ document dumps in summer 2016; and his prolonged efforts to prevent Credico from testifying to Congress or turning over information to the FBI.

After Mueller formally wrapped up his Russia investigation last March, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia took over Stone’s case. A jury convicted Stone on all seven counts in November.

“The defendant lied about a matter of great national and international significance. This is not campaign hijinks. This is not just Roger being Roger,” US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said as she sentenced Stone.

Jackson also refuted Trump’s attacks on federal prosecutors for bringing the case against Stone, saying, “There was nothing unfair, phony, or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution.”

Initially, the federal prosecutors who argued Stone’s case recommended a seven to nine-year sentence for him based on federal sentencing guidelines.

But after Trump publicly complained about the recommendation on Twitter, calling it “horrible” and “unfair,” senior DOJ leadership announced that they would reverse the initial recommendation — which they called “excessive and unwarranted” — and request a lighter sentence for Stone.

The highly unusual intervention prompted all the prosecutors on Stone’s case to either withdraw from the case or resign from the DOJ altogether.

Attorney General William Barr later told ABC News that he had already decided to request a lighter sentence for Stone before Trump blasted out his tweet, but he said the president’s constant public comments made it “impossible” for him to do his job.

Still, the timing of the DOJ’s announcement raised questions and rankled former officials who accused the attorney general of catering to the president’s public demands.

“Can’t recall a worse day for DOJ and line prosecutors,” Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the DOJ, told Insider. “A robbery in broad daylight in the middle of Chicago is more subtle than Barr’s obsession to shield Trump and his co-conspirators.”

At Stone’s sentencing hearing Thursday, Jackson addressed the DOJ’s unusual move to reverse prosecutors’ initial recommendation and ask for a lighter sentence.

“For those of you new to this and [woke] up last week to the fact that the [sentencing] guidelines are harsh…I can assure you that defense attorneys and many judges have been making that point for a long time but we don’t usually succeed in getting the government to agree,” she said.

The judge also criticized Trump’s tweet about Stone’s sentencing as “entirely inappropriate.”

She added, however, that although she believed the initial sentencing memo was “thorough, well-researched and supported,” a recommendation of seven to nine years “would be greater than necessary.”

Jens David Ohlin, a vice dean at Cornell Law School and an expert on criminal and constitutional law, told Insider that although Stone’s sentence is lighter than what was originally requested, it is still “substantial” and “much more than a slap on the wrist.”

“It sends a dual signal: that Stone’s criminality was significant and also that the judicial system is independent,” he added. Now, “all eyes are on Trump to see if he will immediately pardon Stone.”

Stone came onto the political scene in the 1980s, developing a reputation as a “dirty trickster” who often employed unsavory tactics to help his clients. Stone established a Republican political consulting firm along with the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and both men later became well-known lobbyists.

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Feds say RCMP offer to move off Wet’suwet’en land ‘significant’ step towards ending blockades – CTV News

February 20th, 2020

OTTAWA — The federal government says the British Columbia RCMP’s offer to move from their position on Wet’suwet’en territory to a nearby town is a “significant” step towards ending the ongoing blockades.

“These are opportunities to come to a peaceful resolution, which is what we’ve always aimed for,” said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, accompanied by Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett after meeting with the federal cabinet.

“The step that was made by the B.C. RCMP was significant, it reflects the professionalism of the police forces across the country. It is something we respect, we believe that is a significant step to ensuring that this situation resolves in very short order,” Miller said

Earlier Thursday Blair told reporters that given the RCMP has met this condition of repositioning, he believes it’s now time for the protesters to remove their barricades.

“The RCMP— I think in a very appropriate pursuit of less confrontation and in the goal of peacekeeping—have agreed to continue to serve the area but by locating their people in a nearby town, which is entirely their decision but I think the right one,” Blair said, adding that he thinks this should bring the situation to a point where it can be resolved.

Protests and demonstrations have been ongoing across Canada in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation who oppose the planned Coastal GasLink pipeline project to carry natural gas to the B.C. coast.

The nationwide response comes after the RCMP moved to enforce a court injunction earlier this month, against a blockade at an access road to the project’s work site.

The chiefs had asked that the RCMP move off of their land before any further de-escalation talks with provincial and federal leaders could go forward.

Blair said that the B.C. RCMP have sent a letter to the hereditary chiefs offering to deploying their police officers from the nearby town of Houston, B.C.

“They are changing their profile on the property,” Blair said, calling it a “sound operational decision” made by the RCMP.

“I’m hoping that… the condition that the people said was the reason for the barricades has now been met,” Blair said. “I think now the circumstances are such that those barricades should come down… now it’s time to move forward.”

In an email, RCMP spokesperson Janelle Shoihet confirmed that Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan sent a letter on Wednesday to the hereditary chiefs and that in an internal letter to all B.C. RCMP employees she “outlined her appreciation for the professionalism displayed during the enforcement of the B.C. Supreme Court injunction and subsequent demonstrations.”

According to Shoihet, Strachan said that the decision to “re-assess” their presence was an “important acknowledgement,” and noted that the RCMP’s presence has been viewed as “a barrier to further dialogue.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with his cabinet on Parliament Hill Thursday morning, with his minority Liberal government under pressure to resolve the situation as rail service continues to be impeded across much of the country due to the demonstrations.

On his way into the meeting Trudeau said the government is “working very hard to end the blockades,” calling it once again “an unacceptable situation.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted Thursday morning that with the RCMP “allowing discussions to happen,” it is “now up to the PM to show some leadership.”

The premiers have called for a meeting with Trudeau, as he and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland have been speaking separately with several provincial leaders, including B.C.’s John Horgan.

Bennett and her provincial counterpart in B.C. have offered to meet with hereditary chiefs in Smithers, B.C. to “address the urgent and longer term issues at hand” as early as Thursday. Other chiefs have travelled to Ontario too, to meet with First Nation communities that have set up solidarity blockades, cutting off a critical freight and passenger rail line.

Both Via Rail and CN Rail have announced temporary layoffs as a result of the suspension of service, and as tensions continue to fray in recent days there have been confrontations at blockades between the demonstrators and counter-protesters.

“We just hope that’s enough room to get on with the dialogue,” Bennett told reporters.

She and Miller restated Thursday afternoon that they are ready and able to jump on a plane to have further in-person discussions as soon as the chiefs would like.

In the House of Commons MPs are debating a motion from the Conservatives that calls on the House to “stand in solidarity with every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route, the majority of hereditary chiefs, and the vast majority of the Wet’suwet’en people, who support the Coastal GasLink project, and condemn the radical activists who are exploiting divisions within the Wet’suwet’en community, holding the Canadian economy hostage, and threatening jobs and opportunities in Indigenous communities.”

Without an imminent indication that the rail shutdown will end, federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said that she is looking at “practical” ways to support the Canadian farming community, whose livelihoods have been impacted by the inability to move products by rail.

More to come.

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B.C. RCMP say they’ll withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory if road is kept clear – CBC.ca

February 20th, 2020

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says he’s hoping the RCMP’s offer to leave their outpost on Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. will lead to the barricades coming down, as talks aimed at ending the rail blockades crippling the country’s rail network continue.

“I’m very hopeful that that will satisfy the concerns that were raised,” said Blair ahead of a Thursday morning cabinet meeting.

“I think the RCMP have made a very sound operational decision based on the current circumstances.” 

CBC News has obtained a copy of a letter sent Wednesday from RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan to the hereditary chiefs offering to move the RCMP’s temporary detachment from near the protest site to the nearby town of Houston — as long as Morice West Forest Service Road remains clear. The RCMP confirmed that letter was sent.

“As always, we encourage dialogue over enforcement with a goal of a long-term solution,” Strachan wrote, while asking for a meeting “in the near future.”

In a separate letter to staff, Strachan said the decision to re-assess their presence was “not an easy one to consider.”

“By making this gesture in good faith, we are not only supporting efforts towards a peaceful and sustainable solution, but also facilitating them,” she wrote in the internal email, first reported on by Global News.

“Our hope has always been to create mutual understanding for a peaceful resolution, without the need for police intervention.”

Watch: Blair says B.C. RCMP offering to leave Wet’suwet’en territory

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says B.C. RCMP have offered to withdraw its mobile station in Wet’suwet’en traditional territory. Blair spoke to reporters ahead of a cabinet meeting Thursday. 4:04

The RCMP, which acts as the provincial police service in B.C., moved in to enforce a court injunction earlier this month after the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters blocked construction of the $6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline project. The B.C. Supreme Court issued an injunction in December authorizing the police to clear away the protesters who had blocked access to the public road.

Those arrests triggered national protests and the rail blockades, which have lasted just over two weeks now. Via Rail announced nearly 1,000 layoffs Wednesday in response to the nationwide rail shutdown, while CN Rail has issued temporary pink slips to 450 workers because the blockade has shuttered much of its eastern Canadian operations.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has offered to meet with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs as soon as possible to help resolve the dispute.

Trudeau calls blockades an ‘unacceptable situation’ 

So far, the hereditary chiefs have said they won’t meet with the federal and provincial ministers until the RCMP leave their territory.

Blair said he hopes the RCMP’s offer will meet the chiefs’ conditions.

“We have met the condition that those who were on the barricades had said was important to them before they would change their posture,” he said.

“I believe the time has come now for the barricades to come down.”

It’s not clear yet whether the hereditary chiefs will meet with federal and provincial government representatives.

In a tweet, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde called the RCMP’s decision “an important opportunity for progress, dialogue and safety.”

A handful of hereditary chiefs are travelling to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., to meet with protesters there who have been blockading CN Rail in solidarity.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office put out a statement calling the B.C. developments a positive step while pushing for a timeline to end the blockades.

“While the Ontario government believes in the rule of law, it is imperative that elected officials do not direct police operational decisions,” his office said in a statement.

“We believe the OPP is in the best position to ensure the protest remains peaceful, as both sides find a negotiated resolution.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet met in Ottawa Thursday morning to chart a path forward.

“We’re working very hard to end the blockades. It’s an unacceptable situation,” said the prime minister.

CN gets injunction for Montreal blockade

CN Rail says it has obtained an injunction to dismantle a rail blockade on Montreal’s South Shore.

“We’ve obtained the injunction and are hoping for a swift resolution of this incident so that passenger commuter rail service can resume,” it said in a statement.

Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters earlier Thursday that “once the injunction is granted, we will dismantle the blockade.”

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Teens arrested in violent Markham bank robbery allegedly connected to similar incidents across GTA – CTV News

February 20th, 2020

TORONTO — Three teenagers, who were arrested after a violent Markham bank robbery, have been connected to a series of similar incidents across the Greater Toronto Area, police say.

Four people were injured during the robbery at a RBC near 16th Avenue and Markham Road around 8:10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Police said it was reported that three suspects, who are 13, 15 and 16 years old, allegedly arrived at the Markham bank in a vehicle and were armed with knives and firearms.  

Upon entering, the suspects allegedly ordered everyone onto the ground and demanded cash from the safe, police said. 

markham bank

Officers said two bank employees were stabbed and two other people were kicked in the face.

One person was transported to a trauma centre with serious injuries while the others were taken to a local hospital for treatment. All four had non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said the three suspects attempted to flee on foot when officers arrived at the scene. Police said that with help of the K9 unit, the suspects were later located and taken into custody.

Investigators said the youths were arrested directly north of the bank, where they were hiding inside a townhouse under construction.

Two of the suspects have no fixed address, while the third is from Mississauga, police said.

Police said the allegedly vehicle used by the suspects had been stolen on Feb. 10 during a violent carjacking in Toronto.

“They pulled up in a vehicle and this vehicle has now been confirmed to be stolen,” Const. Laura Nicole told CTV News Toronto. “It was stolen during a violent carjacking incident where the victim was also stabbed in Toronto.”

The suspects face a number of charges, including robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault, disguise with intent, unauthorized possession of a firearm and possession of property obtained by crime.

Wednesday’s robbery is the latest in a series of bank robberies across the GTA in recent months.

York police said evidence has been obtained connecting these suspects to the additional robberies, but the suspects are not facing any charges in connection with those incidents yet.

armed robbery, 16th avenue

“We’ve seen a very significant increase in robberies like this over the last few months,” Nicole said.

“We’ve had more robberies in only two months of 2020 than we’ve had in an entire year in the past, so our highest number for a full year was 17 and we’re close to 20 robberies at this point.”

She said the age of the suspects and the “level of violence” allegedly committed is shocking.

“This is the first one that I can think of recently where we’ve had employees of the bank essentially complying with the demands that they are given and so violently assaulted,” she said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6630, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS. 

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B.C. RCMP say they’ve offered to withdraw from Wet’suwet’en territory – CBC.ca

February 20th, 2020

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says he’s hoping the RCMP’s offer to leave their outpost on Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. will lead to the barricades coming down, as talks aimed at ending the rail blockades crippling the country’s rail network continue.

“I’m very hopeful that that will satisfy the concerns that were raised,” said Blair ahead of a Thursday morning cabinet meeting.

“I think the RCMP have made a very sound operational decision based on the current circumstances.” 

CBC News has obtained a copy of a letter sent Wednesday from RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan to the hereditary chiefs offering to move the RCMP’s temporary detachment from near the protest site to the nearby town of Houston — as long as Morice West Forest Service Road remains clear. The RCMP confirmed that letter was sent.

“As always, we encourage dialogue over enforcement with a goal of a long-term solution,” Strachan wrote, while asking for a meeting “in the near future.”

In a separate letter to staff, Strachan said the decision to re-assess their presence was “not an easy one to consider.”

“By making this gesture in good faith, we are not only supporting efforts towards a peaceful and sustainable solution, but also facilitating them,” she wrote in the internal email, first reported on by Global News.

“Our hope has always been to create mutual understanding for a peaceful resolution, without the need for police intervention.”

Watch: Blair says B.C. RCMP offering to leave Wet’suwet’en territory

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says B.C. RCMP have offered to withdraw its mobile station in Wet’suwet’en traditional territory. Blair spoke to reporters ahead of a cabinet meeting Thursday. 4:04

The RCMP, which acts as the provincial police service in B.C., moved in to enforce a court injunction earlier this month after the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and their supporters blocked construction of the $6-billion Coastal GasLink pipeline project. The B.C. Supreme Court issued an injunction in December authorizing the police to clear away the protesters who had blocked access to the public road.

Those arrests triggered national protests and the rail blockades, which have lasted just over two weeks now. Via Rail announced nearly 1,000 layoffs Wednesday in response to the nationwide rail shutdown, while CN Rail has issued temporary pink slips to 450 workers because the blockade has shuttered much of its eastern Canadian operations.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has offered to meet with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs as soon as possible to help resolve the dispute.

Trudeau calls blockades an ‘unacceptable situation’ 

So far, the hereditary chiefs have said they won’t meet with the federal and provincial ministers until the RCMP leave their territory.

Blair said he hopes the RCMP’s offer will meet the chiefs’ conditions.

“We have met the condition that those who were on the barricades had said was important to them before they would change their posture,” he said.

“I believe the time has come now for the barricades to come down.”

It’s not clear yet whether the hereditary chiefs will meet with federal and provincial government representatives.

In a tweet, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde called the RCMP’s decision “an important opportunity for progress, dialogue and safety.”

A handful of hereditary chiefs are travelling to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., to meet with protesters there who have been blockading CN Rail in solidarity.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s office put out a statement calling the B.C. developments a positive step while pushing for a timeline to end the blockades.

“While the Ontario government believes in the rule of law, it is imperative that elected officials do not direct police operational decisions,” his office said in a statement.

“We believe the OPP is in the best position to ensure the protest remains peaceful, as both sides find a negotiated resolution.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet met in Ottawa Thursday morning to chart a path forward.

“We’re working very hard to end the blockades. It’s an unacceptable situation,” said the prime minister.

CN gets injunction for Montreal blockade

CN Rail says it has obtained an injunction to dismantle a rail blockade on Montreal’s South Shore.

“We’ve obtained the injunction and are hoping for a swift resolution of this incident so that passenger commuter rail service can resume,” it said in a statement.

Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters earlier Thursday that “once the injunction is granted, we will dismantle the blockade.”

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Man who taught in Sask. in ’90s charged after historical sexual assault investigation – CBC.ca

February 20th, 2020

Charges have been laid in a historical sexual assault investigation started by police in east-central Saskatchewan.

A news release from the Wynyard RCMP said a woman reported a historical sexual assault in February of last year. Since then, five other people have provided information to police involving the same individual.

Gerard Loehr, 57, is facing five charges related to sexual assault and six charges related to sexual interference for incidents that allegedly occurred between 1990 and 1996.

“At the time of the alleged incidents, Loehr was a teacher in Wynyard and Foam Lake schools in Saskatchewan,” a statement from RCMP said. 

“He may have substituted in other schools in the area as well. Due to the length of time that has passed since he taught in Saskatchewan, we do not have the exact details about the schools he taught in.”

Police said Loehr moved from Saskatchewan to Ontario to continue teaching there after 2000.

RCMP said Loehr was a music teacher at the time he was arrested in Ottawa on Monday. 

Loehr was also charged last year with 22 sexual offences involving 11 students after an investigation by police in Ottawa.

He was transported to Yorkton, Sask., on Monday and appeared in court there on Tuesday morning. He also appeared in Wadena provincial court on Thursday morning.

“While the charges have been laid in relation to these reports, there may be other victims,” the police news release said. 

Anyone with information about these incidents has been asked to contact their local police detachment or Crime Stoppers. 

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Trump associate Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months in prison after rollercoaster trial – CBC.ca

February 20th, 2020

Calling the president’s frequent tweets about the case “entirely inappropriate,” a federal judge sentenced Donald Trump ally Roger Stone to over three years in prison on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed down a 40-month sentence after Stone was convicted in November on a seven-count indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign co-ordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

The sentence seems likely to draw a public rebuke from Trump, who maintains that Stone’s entire case is just an aspect of the ongoing “witch hunt” against him and his allies by bitter Democrats and the “deep state” inside the FBI and the Justice Department.

Given Trump’s clemency spree this week, there has also been speculation that Trump could eventually pardon Stone.

“I haven’t given it any thought … but I think he’s been treated very unfairly,” Trump said this week.

Outside the courthouse, a small crowd gathered for Stone’s arrival. Two people held a large banner featuring a sketch of Stone and #PardonRogerStone emblazoned underneath. Next to it was a large multimedia figure of a rat constructed to look like Trump, with his distinctive red tie and hair.

Stone, wearing dark sunglasses and a fedora, had no comment as he arrived, with one onlooker shouting “Traitor!”

Stone is the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are currently serving prison sentences, while Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos received short prison terms. The fate of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has yet to be determined; Flynn withdrew an earlier guilty plea.

Sentencing recommendation changed, sparking resignations

In Stone’s initial sentencing memorandum filed Feb. 10, prosecutors said Stone deserved a prison term lasting seven to nine years, in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. Such a sentence would send a message to deter others who might consider lying or obstructing a congressional probe or tampering with witnesses, the prosecutors said.

Prosecutors had charged in the filing that Stone “decided to double- and triple-down on his criminal conduct by tampering with a witness for months in order to make sure his obstruction would be successful.”

“Stone’s actions were not a one-off mistake in judgment. Nor were his false statements made in the heat of the moment. They were nowhere close to that,” prosecutors wrote in the court papers.

William Barr’s intervention in the Stone case led to the resignations of four prosecutors and an open letter signed by over 1,000 former Justice Department officials calling for the attorney general’s resignation. (The Associated Press)

Trump took to Twitter to denounce that recommendation as a “miscarriage of justice.”

Attorney General William Barr then backed off that recommendation, prompting four prosecutors to quit Stone’s case. 

The attorney general ordered a new memorandum with a less harsh punishment, though it provided no specifics and left the details to the judge.

Barr later said in an ABC News interview that he had not been asked by Trump to look into the case, but he did not go into great detail as to why he chose to intervene in this specific case.

The controversy prompted a rare statement from the Chief Judge of the D.C. District Court, Beryl A. Howell, who said “public criticism or pressure is not a factor” in judges’ sentencing decisions.

In an open letter to the media, over 1,000 former Justice Department officials last week called on Barr to resign. 

“A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President,” the letter read. “Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.”

Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks under scrutiny

Stone, 67, has denied wrongdoing and consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated. He did not take the stand during his trial and his lawyers did not call any witnesses in his defence.

Stone’s defence team requested a new trial and had asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson to delay sentencing until she rules on that motion. Earlier this week she refused, opting to rule on the motion separately. 

An inflatable rat depicted as U.S. President Donald Trump is seen outside federal courthouse, along with a banner in support of Roger Stone’s defence. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Trump associates at conservative media outlets have run segments and articles alleging that a specific juror in the case was biased against Stone.

The evidence presented in trial provided new insight into the scramble inside the Trump campaign when it was revealed in July 2016 that the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks was in possession of more than 19,000 emails hacked from the servers of the Democratic National Committee.

Witnesses testified that Trump’s campaign viewed Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks and tried to use him to get advance word about hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.

Prosecutors argued that Stone had lied to Congress about his conversations about WikiLeaks with New York radio host and comedian Randy Credico.

During the 2016 campaign, Stone had mentioned in interviews and public appearances that he was in contact with founder Julian Assange through a trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

Godfather references, dog threats

Testimony revealed that Stone, while appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, named Credico as his intermediary to Assange and pressured Credico not to contradict him.

After Credico was contacted by Congress, he reached out to Stone, who told him he should “stonewall it” and “plead the fifth,” he testified. Credico also testified during Stone’s trial that Stone repeatedly told him to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,'” a reference to a character in The Godfather: Part II who lies before Congress.

Prosecutors also charged that Stone had threatened Credico’s therapy dog, Bianca, saying he was “going to take that dog away from you.”

Stone is shown in 2017 in Boca Raton, Fla., speaking to members of the conservative group America First beside a placard of Trump. The relationship between the two men stretches back to the 1980s. (Michael Ares/Palm Beach Post/The Associated Press)

In the run-up to trial, Stone raised the ire of the judge with comments made in social media posts and interviews, leading to a gag order and the threat of pre-trial detention.

While Trump has tried to downplay his personal relationship with some of the associates previously charged or convicted, it is more difficult in the case of Stone, a friend for decades.

The real estate tycoon was a client of the lobbying firm Black, Manafort and Stone beginning in the 1980s, and admitted in the recent documentary Get Me Roger Stone that the Republican operative has long groomed him for a run for political office. Stone was often by Trump’s side as he talked up a possible 2000 bid for president as a candidate of the Reform Party.

In 2015, Stone was on board as Trump launched his bid for president as a Republican, but left the campaign under unclear circumstances in August that year, soon after Corey Lewandowski took over as campaign chair.

But as details of the indictment made clear, Stone was regularly in touch with Trump campaign officials throughout the campaign in 2016 and into the transition phase.

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Public Safety Minister Blair says B.C. RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, offers to move officers away – National Post

February 20th, 2020

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the RCMP in British Columbia has offered to move its officers to a town away from the area where traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have been opposing a pipeline project on their territory.

Blair said on Parliament Hill Thursday morning he believes this move meets conditions set by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

“I believe the time has come now for the barricades to come down,” Blair said before a cabinet meeting.

“We have met the condition that those who are on the barricades had said was important to them before they would change their posture, and that work has been done, and I think quite appropriately.”

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project that would bring natural gas to a liquefaction facility and export terminal on the B.C. coast, though elected band-council leaders broadly support it.

Nationwide protests and blockades followed a move by RCMP to enforce a court injunction earlier this month against the hereditary chiefs and their supporters, who had been obstructing an access road to the company’s work site.

The hereditary chiefs have demanded the RCMP leave their traditional land and have refused to meet with federal or provincial officials until this was done.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under increasing pressure to end the blockades, with Conservatives calling for the government to use force, while the Liberal government insists negotiations are the only way to a lasting solution.

Blair said the decision to move officers away from their outpost on the traditional Wet’suwet’en territory to the nearby town of Houston was a decision made by the RCMP in B.C. and added that he agrees it was the right move.

“I’m very proud of the work that was done by the leadership of the RCMP. Their commitment to peaceful resolution of these complex issues is, I think, quite commendable and Canadians should be very proud of the work that they do,” he said.

“It’s moving towards a less confrontational and a more peaceable arrangement entirely appropriate to the circumstances, and I’m very hopeful that will satisfy the concerns that were raised.”

In a speech in the House of Commons this morning, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said while she has not yet been able to meet with all the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in person, she has conversed with some of them and hopes to meet with them all soon to clarify a path forward.

“We are committed to finding a mutually acceptable process with them and the Wet’suwet’en nation, to sit down and address the urgent and long-term issues at hand,” Bennett said.


A small, mobile RCMP detachment in a remote area of British Columbia has become a bargaining chip in proposed talks that many hope could put an end to blockades that have disrupted rail and road traffic across the country.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

“We hope that the Wet’suwet’en will be able to express to those in solidarity with them that it is now time for them to stand down and let us get back to work.”

Four Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have travelled east and are expected to meet with members of the Mohawk Nation in Quebec and Ontario who have been protesting in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en. Mohawks at Tyendinaga, between Toronto and Montreal, have blocked a critical rail line, cutting both freight and passenger traffic with coast-to-coast ramifications.

Bennett said she would be happy to meet with the chiefs while they’re in eastern Canada, but added that she is willing also to travel to B.C. to meet with them in their traditional territory if they prefer.

Meanwhile, the federal agriculture minister is indicating that help could soon be on the way for farmers impacted by the barricades that have virtually shut down Canada’s rail network.

Marie-Claude Bibeau said last year and the beginning of 2020 have been difficult for Canada’s agriculture sector.

Bibeau told reporters in Ottawa she is looking for “practical ways” to support farmers who have been unable to get their products to market as a result of the barricades. However she would not elaborate, saying she needed to speak with her cabinet colleagues first.

And Ontario Conservative MP Erin O’Toole, who is running for his party’s leadership, issued a statement saying if he were prime minister, he would criminalize blocking transportation corridors and issue a blanket policy telling police to clear blockades without waiting for court orders.

***

Disruptions by anti-pipeline protesters across Canada: A timeline

RCMP began enforcing an injunction earlier this month that prevents interference with construction of a $6.6-billion natural gas pipeline in northern British Columbia.

Here is a timeline of the dispute, along with rail disruptions by people showing solidarity with the hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs opposing the Coastal GasLink project:

Dec. 31, 2019 — The B.C. Supreme Court grants Coastal GasLink an injunction calling for the removal of any obstructions including cabins and gates on any roads, bridges or work sites the company has been authorized to use.

Jan. 1, 2020 — The Wet’suwet’en First Nation serves Coastal GasLink with an eviction notice, telling the company workers are “currently trespassing” on their unceded territory.

Jan. 27 — The British Columbia government appoints former New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen as a provincial liaison with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in the LNG pipeline dispute.

Jan. 30 — The hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en agree to seven days of meetings with the province.

Feb. 5 — The talks that were intended to de-escalate the dispute fail after just two days.

Feb. 6 — The RCMP move in to Wet’suwet’en territory to enforce the court injunction that would have allowed construction work to resume. A handful of pipeline opponents are arrested. Hours later, outside of Belleville, Ont., east of Toronto, protesters start holding up railway traffic in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.


Protesters perform a round dance as they prepare to end their blockade at the CN rail line near 213 Street and 110 Avenue in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, in Edmonton Wednesday Feb. 19, 2020.

David Bloom

Feb. 7 — Via Rail halts service along one of its busiest routes because of the Belleville-area blockade. All travel between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal is cancelled. Canadian National Railway obtains a court injunction to end a demonstration by members of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville. Protesters also begin disruptions at ports in Vancouver and Delta, B.C.

Feb. 8 — Protesters in Toronto disrupt Canadian Pacific Railway traffic moving through the downtown area.

Feb. 9 — Kahnawake Mohawk community members south of Montreal erect a blockade on a CP rail line.

Feb. 10 — Demonstrators in the Montreal area disrupt commuter train service on the Exo Candiac line. A shuttle bus service is in effect for affected rail stations.

Feb. 11 — CN stops transport between Prince George, B.C., and Prince Rupert, B.C., because of a blockade near Hazelton, B.C. The company says it has halted more than 150 freight trains since blockades started on Feb. 6.

Feb. 12 — The Manitoba government says it may seek a court injunction to end a blockade on a rail line west of Winnipeg, but CN obtains its own court order. Two hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs start a constitutional challenge of fossil fuel projects, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls for demonstrators across the country to observe the rule of law.

Feb. 13 — CN shuts down its operations in Eastern Canada. The railway says blockades have ended in Manitoba and may come down soon in British Columbia, but the orders of a court in Ontario have yet to be enforced and continue to be ignored.

Feb. 14 — A rail blockade that halted train traffic to and from the Port of Prince Rupert is lifted as First Nations leaders agree to meet with federal and provincial politicians.

Feb. 15 — Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller travels to meet with protesters in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near the site of the Belleville blockade. He says “modest progress” was made during nine hours of talks, but declines to share details on what was discussed.

Feb. 16 — Trudeau cancels his planned trip to Barbados, less than 24 hours before his scheduled departure, so he can handle the protests in Canada. Meanwhile, protesters briefly shut down a busy Ontario border crossing.

Feb. 17 — Trudeau convenes the Incident Response Group, an emergency committee that meets in the event of a national crisis.

Feb. 18 — An emergency debate is held in the House of Commons, where the Opposition Conservatives advocate for forceful action and the governing Liberals push for ongoing dialog with backing from other political parties. Meanwhile, CN issues temporary layoff notices for 450 employees, citing the ongoing protests as the reason for the move.


Supporters of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline set up a support station near Houston B.C., on Jan. 8, 2020.

Jason Franson/The Canadian Press/File

Feb. 19 — Protesters erect a blockade along a stretch of CN rail line in Edmonton, but are soon faced with counter-protesters who begin forcibly dismantling the barricade. The blockade is taken down later in the day. Via Rail announces nearly 1,000 temporary layoffs in light of ongoing service suspensions across much of Canada. The rail provider also cancels plans to resume a route between Ottawa and Quebec City as a new blockade is erected near Montreal.

Feb. 20 — Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says a mobile RCMP unit stationed in Wet’suwet’en territory has been relocated to Houston, B.C. He says this concession complies with a key demand from the hereditary chiefs and calls for all rail blockades to be dismantled. Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs travel to Quebec and Ontario to thank supporters who have maintained the blockades.Teresa Wright

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Trump ally Roger Stone sentenced to prison – BBC News

February 20th, 2020
Roger StoneImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Roger Stone has maintained all along that the case against him is politically motivated

Roger Stone, long-time adviser and ally to President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 40 months in jail.

Stone, 67, was found guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

He is the sixth Trump aide convicted in a criminal case resulting from Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Mr Trump has hinted he may pardon his ally.

Stone has maintained the case against him was politically motivated.

Explaining the sentence, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Stone had engaged in “intolerable” “threatening and intimidating conduct” toward her.

Last week, prosecutors on the case quit after the Justice Department said it planned to reduce the amount of prison time sought for the president’s long-time ally.

The prosecutors had recommended a sentence of seven to nine years.

In a tweet, Mr Trump had called the recommendation “very horrible and unfair”.

The court heard that Stone had told five lies under oath, including about his conversations with Trump campaign officials and a supposed “intermediary” with WikiLeaks in early August 2016.

Image copyright Getty Images

He also lied about the existence of certain texts or emails.

Speaking in a Washington courtroom on Thursday, Judge Jackson said Stone “knew exactly what he was doing” when he posted an image to social media last year of a gun sight over the judge, calling the proceedings a “show trial”.

“This is intolerable to the rule of justice,” Judge Jackson said. “The court cannot just sit idly by and say ‘that’s just Roger being Roger.'”

Stone, wearing sunglasses and a dark fedora, declined to speak at Thursday’s hearing.

His lawyer, Seth Ginsberg, said Stone’s public persona – that of a self-described “dirty trickster” – masked the true “human being”, a spiritual man, devoted to his family.

Mr Ginsberg had argued that Stone did not deserve the tougher sentencing guidelines demanded by federal guidelines.

Stone will serve two years’ probation after his custodial sentence. He has also been fined $20,000 (£15,500) and must serve 250 hours of community service.

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