Concerned community members hold public safety rally in Nanaimo, B.C.

A man has died after being stabbed outside of a shopping mall on Vancouver Island Sunday evening. Nanaimo RCMP have a suspect in custody and say there is no risk to the public, but as Kylie Stanton reports, residents say they no longer feel safe.

A couple dozen Nanaimo, B.C., community members gathered Saturday to hold a public safety rally.

Local residents and businesses have serious concerns about violence and crime that is taking place in their neighbourhood.

“Demand action against violence and crime. Restore public safety in our homes, schools, parks, stores, businesses, and neighborhoods,“ an organizer wrote online.

“Join the growing movement to demand action against violence and crime.“

The rally was held at the Country Club Mall, where a few different speakers voiced their concerns.

“It has been shocking to see the slow destruction of our small towns,” said Irene Pady, a concerned resident.

“The government has not been proactive to do something about it. I think the government needs to realize what’s happening in Nanaimo and all of the small cities.”

An organizer, Karen Kuwica, spoke with Global News and said she has talked to lots of different residents and they all echo the same concern — public safety is at risk.

“This is important because in my other volunteer roles as a block watch captain and with the neighborhood association, (I hear) constant concerns about the degrading (public) safety in Nanaimo,“ Kuwica said.

“The concern is widespread across all demographics in Nanaimo.”

Kuwica said a recent rash of crimes in the area has many people concerned.

“In the last week, we’re just starting a new year and we’ve already had a loss of life from a robbery that became violent, we’ve had fires in vacant buildings, we had a suspected hit-and-run loss of life… the list goes on and on and it’s only been a week,” she said.

A local businessman, Jeff Ross, spoke at the rally. He owns seven businesses between Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo that he’s been running for more than 24 years.

“It’s been increasingly difficult. It has gotten to the point where I can’t sleep. I can sleep only for a couple of hours because I am waiting for an alarm to go off,” he said.

“It has affected every aspect of my life. I have created layers and layers of security but criminals just go right around them. The taxpayers of the city are being victimized over and over again.”

Nanaimo’s mayor, Leonard Krog, addressed the crowd as well.

“There is no question that there are a number of people living in our streets who in any other time would have been in secure, involuntary care getting treatment for mental health, trauma, and addiction issues,” Krog said to the crowd.

“The reality is, the kind of crime that is disturbing you and frustrating businesses arises from people supporting a drug habit.“

Krog went on to say he believes the province needs to bring back involuntary care facilities.

He told the crowd to email and write to provincial officials to expand health services, expand housing services, and to bring back involuntary care facilities.

Krog’s presence drew attention from the crowd as they were heard asking critical questions regarding the city.

Rally attendees said they do not believe the city, the province, and the federal government are doing enough to address public safety concerns.

“There is a long list of things we need to happen fast. We need policy changes, funding requirements, legislation changes… we need widespread changes,” Kuwica said.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Struggling Kelowna Rockets fall 3-1 to Vancouver Giants

A little deja vu for the Kelowna Rockets this weekend as they repeat two-thirds of last weekend's schedule with a home-at-home series against the Vancouver Giants. Just like last Friday, the series started in Langley, only Friday night the Rockets were unable to leave the lower mainland with a victory over Vancouver. Travis Lowe has the highlights.

The struggles of the Kelowna Rockets continue as they fell 3-1 to the Vancouver Giants Friday night.

The Rockets were in Langley facing off against the 7th-place Giants, who are currently 11 points ahead in the standings.

Kelowna got on the board first 7:39 into the game, with Adam Kydd scoring his 14th goal of the season, the only goal of the first period and for the Rockets’ game.

In the second period, penalties hurt the Rockets as Vancouver scored two powerplay goals.

Giants leading scorer Tyler Thorpe would net the first for his 24th of the season at 4:50 in.

At 14:41 Jaden Lipinski would score his 15th of the season putting Vancouver ahead 2-1 going into the third.

In the third period, the Giants would net an insurance goal at 14:16.

Kelowna was without lead scorer Andrew Cristall, who has now missed seven games. Ty Hurley, John Babock and Marek Rocak also missed the game due to injury or illness.

The Rockets have now lost three games in a row and are 2-8-0-0 in their last ten.

The two teams face off again Saturday in Kelowna, as the Rockets look to end their losing streak.

Kelowna currently has a record of 12-26-3-0 and sits eighth in the western conference.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'History will tell' if Canada's military facing new decade of darkness: defence chief

WATCH: Canada has confirmed it will send four Leopard 2 tanks to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia, which launched a fresh round of deadly missile strikes hours after the announcement. Crystal Goomansingh reports on the devastating attacks, while Mercedes Stephenson looks at whether Canada could have committed more heavy armoury, and whether there could be retaliation for supplying aid to Ukraine.

Is Canada’s military facing a new decade of darkness amid persistent personnel challenges and growing demands on the force from around the world?

“History will tell,” said Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre in an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, airing in full on Sunday.

“I think it’s too early to say … if it’s a decade of darkness. I’ve certainly faced some challenges in this position, and the armed forces writ large are facing some challenges,” he said.

“But our job is to do everything we can within our power to make it better, to be ready.”

In addition to a lack of recruits, the Canadian military continues to face longstanding challenges in procuring new equipment, maintaining aging gear, and tracking down replacement parts.

There are also ongoing questions about whether the federal government will move to contract replacements for the weapons, gear and other equipment such as ammunition that the Canadian military has been donating in the billions to Ukraine.

While military officials aren’t placing blame on any single issue with respect to the recruitment and retention problems, the Canadian Forces have been shaken in recent years by a sexual misconduct crisis that touched even the highest ranks, along with wider attention on systemic racism.

The reputational problem has been compounded by concerns about the presence of right-wing extremists and racism in the ranks, which a review said last year were factors “repulsing” new recruits.

But the compounding problems come amid a world rapidly becoming more unstable and uncertain — one Defence Minister Anita Anand said last year is growing “darker” and more “chaotic.”

“We can still respond pretty fast, but are we big enough for what the requirement is? And so we need to work on all of those factors,” Eyre said.

“I am concerned because we see that increased demand signal around the world and here at home, because our security situation globally is deteriorating. And what that means is the country is going to require more and more out of the Canadian Armed Forces in the years to come.”

Eyre said he worries those factors mean Canada’s military is not ready for the challenges the future holds as the global security situation continues “deteriorating.”

The full interview will air at 11 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Calgary businesswoman to meet the Queen Consort as part of new military role

Calgary entrepreneur Manjit Minhas has been named the new honorary lieutenant-colonel for the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and will be meeting with the Queen Consort this week.

The co-founder and CEO of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Winery is well known for her appearances on Dragon’s Den but she has no military experience on her resume — until now.

“When the Armed Forces and the Queen’s Own Rifles reached out, I first thought it was spam. I didn’t think it was real,” Minhas said.

On January 22, Minhas was was appointed to the role of Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel at a ceremony in Toronto.

Minhas will promote the unit’s welfare and provide mentorship to its leaders.

“There definitely is a lot going on, and I look forward to communicating that and being an ambassador for not only the Regiment but for the Armed Forces,” Minhas said.

She’ll also help with recruitment — in an effort to make the Armed Forces look more like Canada does.

The Canadian Armed Forces, which has long struggled to boost the number of women in its ranks, hopes to have them represent one-quarter of members by 2026.

“Choosing an incredible representative like Manjit as our honorary lieutenant colonel, I’m very hopeful that we can we can attract and retain more female members as well as members from the various different communities within Toronto,” said commanding officer of QOR Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Moody.

“Specifically, I recall when I was in Afghanistan we were doing work with women’s groups, having women who could support us that were serving with us was critically important in building those relationships, and working with the women in Afghanistan at that time,” Moody said.

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada is a Primary Army Reserve infantry regiment based in Toronto. Founded on April 26, 1860, it is the oldest continuously serving infantry regiment in Canada.

Moody said the regiment has some roots in Calgary.

“There was a point where we were a full-time unit and we were stationed both in Calgary and in Victoria,” Moody said.

Minhas said she hopes to bring positive change during the time in her new role.

“I think the armed forces are very open to understanding how they need to change and how they have to do so consciously not only to include Canadians of all types, but also to take responsibility and accountability for the past,” Minhas said.

Her Majesty Queen Consort Camilla is the colonel-in-chief of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

Less than two weeks into the job, Minhas has a audience with the Queen Consort at Buckingham Palace on Feb. 1.

“I’m excited. It’s an opportunity to talk about things not only as a Canadian but as a woman. I’m interested to talk and ask her questions and for her to have questions of me,” Minhas said.

In fiscal year 2022-23 to date, the CAF Regular Force has enrolled 471 females, representing 14.62 per cent of total enrolments. That is comparable to the last fiscal year that saw female enrolments representing 14.4 per cent of total enrolments.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

As Fredericton creates more housing than ever, affordability is a challenge

The City of Fredericton says it has surpassed most previous records for development in the province’s capital.

It issued $257 million in building permits for 2022, an additional $70 million from the previous year. The construction has led to 938 new housing units.

“Relatively, we’re meeting the demand and we’re seeing development happen in the right places in those designated growth areas,” said Frederick VanRooyen, a planner with the City of Fredericton.

VanRooyen said the residential development has increased by $31 million alone, which is double the 10-year average.

Affordable housing a challenge

Despite 737 new apartment units and townhouses, the city said affordable housing does remain a challenge.

Mayor Kate Rogers said, in an interview on Friday, while the development is positive, including the growth that is double what was originally predicted, only 25 per cent of the units built in 2022 were considered affordable.

She said she knows the private sector isn’t the whole solution to the affordable housing issue. One of the biggest challenges identified by council was land acquisition for the non-profit sector.

“It’s the unlocking of land to make their developments doable,” Rogers said. “They don’t necessarily have liquid funds to buy the land.”

The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights said it feels the city's policies are moving in the right direction, but more urgency is needed.

The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights said it feels the city's policies are moving in the right direction, but more urgency is needed.

Nathalie Sturgeon / Global News

On the other hand, the private sector said funding through federal and provincial partners is slow and likely not enough to keep up with the increased costs of building.

“The funding is delayed given what the actual costs are,” Rogers said.

The city did consider creating bylaws that would require new developments to have a minimum number of affordable units, but said inclusionary zoning wasn’t the right solution after a study.

“We were shown from that study it might not be the most effective tool we could use and we should maybe put our focus in other areas,” Rogers said in an interview Friday.

She said speed is also a part of the equation.

“We need housing now,” she said.

More urgency and co-operation required

The New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights said in an emailed statement that it feels the city is moving in the right direction on some of its policies.

“They’ve discussed a variety of inclusionary zoning tools (and are now focused on densification bonuses), seeding and supporting community organizations, providing land specifically for affordable housing, and advocating for enhanced renter protections,” said Angus Fletcher, who is with the coalition.

“We think there is potential in some of these policies, but that the city is not treating this affordability crisis with the urgency required.”

Fletcher said the city’s data shows that government concerns over the rent cap possibly deterring development are not founded.

In late November, the minister responsible for housing, Jill Green, said the rent cap “wasn’t having the desired effect,” and when pressed further by reporters, she said it was deterring developers.

“The current environment results in a lot of housing being built, and very little of it being affordable,” Fletcher said.

The city has a housing affordability implementation plan for 2023 that does include zoning flexibility. Rogers said she understands the urgency of the crisis.

“It’s (a) crisis,” she said. “The pricing, even when we looked at the jump of costs in Fredericton, it’s too much for a person to bear – really given that salaries are not keeping up with the increased costs of housing.”

She said the next step is to hire a housing development specialist. The position will help the planning and development offices, which are dealing with record levels of development.

For Rogers, all levels of government must be on the same page.

“We have to pay attention to unintentional consequences,” she said.

“Because some things that are being done are then going to have a negative ripple effect. So, I would say all three levels of government have to be very cognizant that every move we make in this sector impacts another.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Faculty at Cape Breton University go on strike to back demands for higher wages

Global News at 6 New Brunswick from Jan. 27, 2023.

Some faculty members at Cape Breton University have walked off the job.

Their strike started Friday, with the faculty’s union saying the administration has disrespected it at every turn, leading to a large number of labour grievances.

The union issued a statement saying it is seeking pay raises to deal with the soaring cost of living, but it is also calling for changes to how the university is dealing with a rapidly growing population of international students.

The Cape Breton University Faculty Association represents librarians, lab instructors, writing centre advisers, archivists, research chairs and nursing practice educators.

The administration issued a statement assuring students that no Canadian university has ever lost a term to strike, though it confirmed that most classes have been cancelled.

The university’s latest wage proposal offers an an increase of eight per cent over the next three years, in addition to existing annual step increases. The administration says the union is seeking a 14 per cent raise over the next two years.

Meanwhile, the union says the university is dealing with more grievances than any other university in Canada

Faculty members voted 92 per cent in favour of a strike in September.

In October, the Association of Atlantic Universities issued a report saying that as of this fall, nearly 4,000 international students were enrolled at Cape Breton University out of about 5,900 total students.

That was up from about 2,400 international students in 2021, when the school had about 4,200 students.

In 2017, the university had fewer than 900 international students among a student body of about 2,600.

Last month, the university’s administration said it was limiting enrolment to a popular business program following concerns the school is not equipped to handle the recent influx of international students.

The university has limited admissions to its two-year post-baccalaureate diploma program starting May 2023.

Based in Sydney, N.S., the university in the fall semester held classes for that program at the downtown Cineplex cinemas — about nine kilometres from campus — because of a lack of teaching space.
All but two of the 2,681 people enrolled in the post-baccalaureate program are international students, and 85 per cent of those foreign students are from India.

The recent spike in international enrolment follows targeted recruitment in India that began in 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2023.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Calgarian Abigail Strate podiums at World Cup for ski jumping

Canada’s Abigail Strate climbed her first World Cup ski jumping podium on Saturday, capturing bronze.

The 21-year-old from Calgary scored 236.3 points over two runs, posting a pair of celebratory pictures on Twitter afterword with the word “Happy” and a smiling emoji.

Katharina Althaus of Germany won the gold with 258.8 points, while Ema Klinec of Slovakia was second (237.6).

Strate’s medal comes two weeks after teammate Alexandria Loutitt made Canadian ski jumping history, becoming the first Canadian woman to reach the top of the World Cup ski jump podium. It was also the first time a Canadian ski jumper had won World Cup gold since Horst Bulau in 1983.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

First-ever BCHL Pride Night held in Coquitlam, B.C.

The BCHL's Coquitlam Express are preparing to host the league's first Pride Night. General Manger Tali Campbell discusses the importance of bringing Pride to the ice rink.

A major milestone was reached Friday night as the first-ever British Columbia Hockey League Pride Night was held in Coquitlam.

More than 900 fans were in attendance, showing their support for the event and the Coquitlam Express, team officials said.

The Coquitlam Express sent their fans home happy with a decisive victory over the Cowichan Valley Capitals 6-2.

More importantly, Tali Campbell, the Coquitlam Express chief operating officer and general manager, said seeing the community’s support for the event and team is encouraging for future events.

“It’s a night that we get to show our love for everyone in the community,” he said. “It’s big for us as the largest sports team in the Tri-Cities to be very clear everyone is accepted here. Tonight is about acceptance, love, and inclusion while enjoying some great hockey.”

The Express will be heading to Chilliwack on Sunday to take on the Chiefs for a 5 p.m. puck drop.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Taliban double down on barring women from taking university entry exams

WATCH: Afghanistan women barred from working at foreign, local NGOs by Taliban

The Taliban on Saturday doubled down on their ban on women’s education, reinforcing in a message to private universities that Afghan women are barred from taking university entry exams, according to a spokesman.

The note comes despite weeks of condemnation and lobbying by the international community for a reversal on measures restricting women’s freedoms, including two back-to-back visits this month by several senior U.N. officials. It also bodes ill for hopes that the Taliban could take steps to reverse their edicts anytime soon.

The Taliban barred women from private and public universities last month. The higher education minister in the Taliban-run government, Nida Mohammed Nadim, has maintained that the ban is necessary to prevent the mixing of genders in universities _ and because he believes some subjects being taught violate Islamic principles.

Work was underway to fix these issues and universities would reopen for women once they were resolved, he had said in a TV interview.

The Taliban have made similar promises about middle school and high school access for girls, saying classes would resume for them once “technical issues” around uniforms and transport were sorted out. But girls remain shut out of classrooms beyond sixth grade.

Higher Education Ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashmi said Saturday that a letter reminding private universities not to allow women to take entrance exams was sent out. He gave no further details.

A copy of the letter, shared with The Associated Press, warned that women could not take the “entry test for bachelor, master and doctorate levels” and that if any university disobeys the edict, “legal action will be taken against the violator.”

The letter was signed by Mohammad Salim Afghan, the government official overseeing student affairs at private universities.

Entrance exams start on Sunday in some provinces while elsewhere in Afghanistan, they begin Feb. 27. Universities across Afghanistan follow a different term timetable, due to seasonal differences.

Mohammed Karim Nasari, spokesman for the private universities union, said the institutions were worried and sad about this latest development.

“The one hope we had was that there might be some progress. But unfortunately, after the letter, there is no sign of progress,” he told the AP. “The entire sector is suffering.”

He expressed fears that if education did not restart for girls, then nobody would take entrance exams because student numbers would be so low.

Also, Nasari said private universities want the authorities to waive land taxes for universities built on government property, and waive taxes on universities in general, because they are suffering huge financial losses.

Afghanistan has 140 private universities across 24 provinces, with around 200,000 students. Out of those, some 60,000 to 70,000 are women. The universities employ about 25,000 people.

Earlier this week, U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and leaders of two major international aid organizations visited Afghanistan, following last week’s visit by a delegation led by the U.N.’s highest-ranking woman, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. The visits had the same aim –to try and reverse the Taliban’s crackdown on women and girls, including their ban on Afghan women working for national and global humanitarian organizations.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Petr Pavel, former NATO general, wins Czech presidential election

WATCH: Winner of Czech presidential election, Pavel, thanks supporters

Petr Pavel, a retired army general, decisively defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in a runoff vote Saturday to become the Czech Republic’s new president.

Pavel, 61, will succeed controversy-courting Milos Zeman in the largely ceremonial but prestigious post. His election is expected to cement the country’s Western orientation following Zeman’s decade in office.

With all the ballots counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Pavel had 58.3% of the vote compared with 42.7% for Babis. Turnout was just over 70%, a record high for a presidential vote.

“We can have different views of a number of issues, but that doesn’t mean we’re enemies,” Pavel said in a message to voters who cast ballots for Babis after what was considered a nasty presidential campaign period. “We have to learn how to communicate with each other.”

Babis conceded defeat and congratulated Pavel on his victory. He called on his supporters “to accept that I’ve lost and accept we have a new president.”

Pavel, who ran as an independent, is a former chairman of NATO’s military committee, the alliance’s highest military body. He fully endorsed the Czech Republic’s military and humanitarian support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion and stresses the importance of the country’s membership in the European Union and NATO.

“Foreign policy is his strong point,” Petr Just, an analyst from the Metropolitan University Prague, said. Just noted that Pavel’s NATO experience and views would “boost” the country’s Western leanings.

The president picks the prime minister after a general election, one of the office’s key responsibilities, and appoints members of the central bank. The office-holder also selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament’s upper house.

Otherwise, the president has little executive power since Czechia is run by a government chosen and led by the prime minister.

President Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia, who beat established politicians to win his country’s 2019 presidential election, joined Pavel on a Prague stage Saturday to congratulate him in front of his supporters.

“Your victory is a victory of hope, of hope that decency and honesty is not a weakness but a power that could lead to victory even in politics,” Caputova said.

“Personally, I’m happy that we have a new head of state in our region and Europe who respects democratic values,” she said.

Pavel said he planned to travel to Slovakia and Ukraine for his first foreign trips as president, and also to Poland to assure President Andrzej Duda that his country fully respects its NATO commitments and the alliance’s principle of collective defense.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated Pavel in a tweet written in Czech, adding he looked forward to their close cooperation.

Czechia has been a firm supporter of Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion. The Ukraine war was a core campaign issue. Babis presented himself as a peacemaker and labeled Pavel a warmonger due to his military past.

In his most controversial statement, Babis said he wouldn’t send troops to Poland or the Baltics if the NATO allies were attacked. He later backtracked.

Losing the race to Pavel was another major defeat for Babis 68, a former prime minister. His centrist ANO (YES) movement ended up in opposition after losing the 2021 general election.

Zeman, the outgoing president, had backed Babis, one of country’s richest people. The two men share euroskeptic views and the habit of using anti-migrant rhetoric.

While Babis has been a divisive figure, he maintained his popular support with older voters. He accused Pavel, during a campaign marred by false accusations, of having been a KGB-trained communist spy. He provided no evidence for the claim, and went on to compare his opponent to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zeman, who took office in March 2013, was the country’s first president elected by popular vote. His second and final five-year term expires in March. Lawmakers elected the previous two presidents, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus.

Before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Zeman divided the nation with his pro-Russia stance and support for closer ties with China.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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