Good morning. It’s James Keller in Calgary.
A Vancouver father has won a court battle that centered on how young is too young to take the bus alone.
Adrian Crook was ordered three years ago to prevent his four oldest children, whose ages ranged from 7 to 11, from taking public transit by themselves.
He filed a legal challenge, and now the B.C. Court of Appeal has found the province overstepped its authority when it ordered him to supervise his young children on public transit.
The decision means that his youngest children – now 11, 10 and 8 – will be permitted to take the bus to school on their own if that works for the family.
The case prompted a debate about discussions over what age children should be to be left to their own devices. Mr. Crook said the decision is a relief, but he said it’s disappointing it took so long.
“So it’s really down to what it should be – which is my perspective on whether or not they are mature enough to do the bus ride that particular day.”
Mr. Crook had been teaching his children to take a city bus to and from school when, in 2017, he received a letter from the province’s Ministry of Children and Family Development that said children younger than 10 could not be unsupervised “in the community, at home, or on transit.” The government also told him that a child under 12 cannot be responsible for younger kids when no adult is present.
Mr. Crook publicized the case on his blog and launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover legal fees.
The ministry says it’s reviewing the decision, but adds that it would be comfortable with children riding the bus alone if they are capable of doing so safely.
This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.
AROUND THE WEST
JAMIE BACON PLEA: An alleged gang leader is expected to plead guilty for his role in the notorious Surrey Six murder, in which six people, including two innocent bystanders, were gunned down in a high-rise condo during a violent gang war in Vancouver in 2007. Several other people have also been convicted in the case, which has dragged on through an earlier trial and lengthy procedural battles since Mr. Bacon’s arrest in 2009.
OUTBREAK AT SIKSIKA FIRST NATIONS: Dozens of people on an Alberta First Nation are under isolation amid a COVID-19 outbreak, but health officials on Siksika Nation say they believe testing, contract tracing and restrictions such as a curfew have helped bring the situation under control.
INDIGENOUS OVERDOSE DEATHS: The number of deaths from illicit drugs among First Nations and Métis people and Inuit in B.C. between January and May of this year jumped by 93 per cent compared with the same period last year. The numbers show the need for accessible treatment, a safer drug supply and culturally appropriate medical care, health officials say. Measures taken to prevent transmission of COVID-19 – such as reducing capacity in shelters and closing some public facilities – had the unintended negative consequence of forcing some people away from places where they would typically get support, Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said. Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said in a statement last month that border closings to stop the spread of the coronavirus have disrupted the usual illegal supply chains, leading to drugs that are more toxic than ever.
MANITOBA MAN CHARGED IN RIDEAU HALL INCIDENT: The man who rammed his truck through the gates of Rideau Hall and got near the residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister allegedly carried a high-capacity magazine and four loaded firearms – including an M14 rifle – and uttered a threat against Justin Trudeau, according to the RCMP. Corey Hurren, 46, of Manitoba faces a total of 22 charges. A member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Mr. Hurren was considered to be “on duty” on the day of the incident through his work as part of Operation Laser, under which the Canadian military has helped governments cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the CAF said he travelled to Ottawa without informing his superiors. Neither Governor-General Julie Payette nor any member of Mr. Trudeau’s family were present at Rideau Hall at the time of the incident.
TORY ATTENDANCE: Alberta’s only non-Conservative member of Parliament is calling out some of the province’s Tory MPs who haven’t been participating in virtual House of Commons special COVID-19 committee meetings. There have been 14 of the new hybrid sessions since the change at the end of May, but a tally by the NDP shows the average attendance for Conservative members from Alberta was about 42 per cent; the number was confirmed by The Canadian Press through online minutes. Of the 33 Alberta Conservative MPs, none has attended all 14 meetings. About a dozen have attended more than half, and four haven’t participated at all. Len Webber, who represents the Calgary Confederation riding and is also chairman of the Alberta Conservative caucus, said the attendance numbers were news to him. Mr. Webber said it’s not a boycott by the Conservatives. He suggested many members – including himself – are busy with other meetings. He’s on the health committee, for example, and online minutes show that he’s attended all of those meetings.
FISHING RESTRICTIONS: The new measures from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans impose catch limits and size restrictions in several areas and put chinook fishing in parts of Howe Sound and Burrard Inlet off-limits until Aug. 31. Recreational fisheries on the Fraser River will be closed until Nov. 1. In announcing the restrictions, the DFO said the measures would “support the recovery of at-risk Fraser River chinook populations, as well as protect the jobs and communities that depend on chinook.” Critics said the fishing restrictions are not based on scientific evidence and will hurt some fishing sectors, including recreational anglers and the businesses that depend on them. The BC Wildlife Federation wrote to the minister in charge of the DFO, urging her to come up with a much-needed conservation plans instead.
THE STAMPEDE PANDEMIC-STYLE: In Calgary, instead of piling onto Scotsman’s Hill, a popular spot to watch the fireworks that are part of the Stampede’s nightly grandstand show, local residents with a view of the city skyline can see one of two fireworks displays from their homes. The first was last Friday and the second is this weekend. And the daily pancake breakfasts that usually draw large crowds across the city instead will involve lineups of cars and trucks. “For lots of people, it’s synonymous with the Calgary Stampede that they’re going to have a free pancake breakfast,” said Dana Peers, president and chairman of the Calgary Stampede Board. “We wanted to keep that tradition alive and the new rules have brought us to this drive-through method.”
EVICTIONS RESUME: Tenants missing rental payments during the COVID-19 pandemic will no longer have protection from being evicted in Saskatchewan. The government says the Office of Residential Tenancies will start accepting applications from landlords for evictions starting Aug. 4. The province temporarily suspended evictions in March to ensure that tenants had the means to stay home and follow self-isolation measures. Justice Minister Don Morgan says in a statement the province has flattened the COVID-19 curve so it feels it’s appropriate to resume non-urgent evictions.
LYNN VALLEY VOTE: Ninety-six per cent of the workers at Lynn Valley Care Centre mailed a ballot in favour of joining the Hospital Employees’ Union, according to a recent announcement from the union, which represents more than 15,000 care aides in British Columbia’s nursing homes. Workers at two other sites were also voting on whether to join the HEU. The HEU, which is the B.C. health care arm of the federal Canadian Union of Public Employees, said it is actively organizing in other facilities across the province, but could not disclose where or at how many sites. The rival BC Government and Services Employees’ Union, which represents nearly 5,000 workers in nursing and retirement homes across the province, said it is organizing more care aides in the sector to join its union – in part because non-unionized workers can often get paid between $3 to $5 less an hour.
SASKATOON OFFICER PLACED ON LEAVE: A Saskatoon police officer has been placed on leave after a video surfaced of a man being repeatedly punched during an arrest. The footage shows part of the arrest that unfolded in the city Saturday, when an officer responded to a complaint of a suspicious person. In the 6½-minute clip posted on YouTube, an officer is seen on top of a man, who is on the ground. The officer is heard telling the man to “stop resisting.” There is a bit of a struggle and the officer punches the man several times and repeats the order. The police service said in a statement Monday that the video doesn’t capture the entire interaction, and the Saskatchewan Public Complaints Commission will be investigating.
The Globe and Mail’s Editorial Board on the upside to the lengthy Trans Mountain pipeline process: “Yes, Canada’s regulatory process often takes too long to make decisions. There is, however, some good news in the Trans Mountain saga. A stronger foundation for future projects is in place. Considerable legal clarity has been achieved, thanks to the Federal Court quashing cabinet’s first approval in 2018, but at the same time giving Ottawa an instruction manual on how to redo its work and meet its legal obligations the second time around.”
John Carpay on new legislation in Alberta: “For a province that could summarize its cultural zeitgeist in a single word – freedom – Alberta is home to some of the worst government transgressions against democracy during the COVID-19 crisis.”