Highlights from the news file for Monday, July 18
CREATOR OF LOONIE COIN DESIGN DIES
The man who created the design for Canada’s loonie coin has died. Artist Robert-Ralph Carmichael’s image of a solitary loon was introduced in 1987, when Canada replaced its one dollar bill with a coin. The Royal Canadian Mint says the loonie design has since appeared on more than one billion one-dollar coins. Carmichael died Saturday in a hospice in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. He was 78.
SCATHING REPORT DETAILS WIDESPREAD RUSSIAN DOPING
A scathing report detailing a complex system of widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia — a scheme that included government officials tampering with hundreds of positive samples — has led the World Anti-Doping Association to call for the country’s outright ban at next month’s Rio Olympics. An independent inquiry headed by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren alleges a plan to make positive tests in some 30 sports “disappear” was in force in Russia at least from late 2011 to August 2015. While Monday’s report makes no recommendations for any discipline against Russia, saying that is not its mandate, the WADA executive board called on the International Olympic Committee to ban all Russian teams from Rio. Read our Q+A with Richard McLaren here.
ALBERTA DOWNTURN WORST FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH
A new report says Alberta’s current recession is expected to shrink the economy by more than double the average of the past four recessions. The TD Bank report released Monday said it estimates Alberta’s economy will contract 6.5 per cent over 2015 and 2016, which would widely exceed the 2.7 per cent average retreat of previous economic downturns going back to the early 1980s. The estimate came after TD tripled this year’s expected GDP decline to three per cent, after factoring in the Fort McMurray fires and a higher than expected drop in industry activity. More on the story here.
FEDERAL PAY ISSUES AFFECT MORE THAN 80K
Government officials say more than 80,000 federal employees have experienced problems getting their proper paycheque. Officials apologized Monday for the magnitude of issues created by a new pay system known as Phoenix. The majority of problems involve civil servants who didn’t receive proper compensation for overtime and other extraneous payments. More than 700 employees have complained of receiving no paycheque at all. Officials said about 400 workers should receive emergency payments by next week, but it could take months for the government to fix all the pay problems.
UKRAINIAN EMBASSY CONFIRMS ONE DEAD IN FRANCE
The Ukrainian embassy in Ottawa says one of its citizens died in a deadly truck attack in France last week but won’t confirm whether the victim is a missing student studying in Canada. Mykhaylo Bazelevskyy, who was 22, has permanent resident status in Canada, but was travelling on a Ukrainian passport. Bazelevskyy is a fourth-year bachelor of commerce student at MacEwan University in Edmonton who was in Nice participating in a summer program.
GUNMAN WHO KILLED 3 POLICE WAS ‘SEEKING OUT’ OFFICERS
A former Marine dressed in black and carrying extra ammunition set out to ambush police in Baton Rouge, authorities said Monday, a day after three law enforcement officers were killed in the attack. The gunman’s “movements, his direction, his attention was on police officers,” state police Col. Mike Edmonson said. He would not elaborate but said the shooter was definitely “seeking out” police. The gunman was identified as Gavin Long of Kansas City, Mo., who was black. He turned 29 on the day of the ambush and was killed in a gun battle with police.
PILOT IN ALBERTA CRASH REMEMBER AS HUMBLE, HAPPY
A pilot killed during an airshow in Alberta on Sunday is being remembered a someone who had a passion for planes. Pilot and geologist Bruce Evans died when his vintage Trojan T-28 aircraft crashed in front of thousands of spectators at the Cold Lake Airshow. The Transportation Safety Board says the cause of the crash is still unknown and an investigation at the Canadian Forces Base is underway.
AUDIT OF 500 REFUGEES SHOWS ONLY THREE WERE YAZIDIS
An audit of more than 500 Syrian refugees let into Canada by the previous Conservative government shows three Yazidis were among them. The numbers appear to bolster the argument being made by the Liberals on Monday at a Commons’ committee studying refugee settlement. The committee is focusing on immigration solutions for hard-to-reach populations, a study that was spurred by the Conservatives who want more done for the Yazidis, a Kurdish minority group. The Tories have been pushing the Liberals to do more for the group, but several Liberal MPs tried to make the point Monday that the previous government didn’t help them either.
WALMART KICKS OFF VISA CARD BAN
Three Walmart stores in Thunder Bay, Ont., are no longer accepting Visa, the payment company said Monday as it encouraged its customers to take their business elsewhere. After months of negotiations, Walmart said last month it would eliminate Visa as a payment option at those stores because it believes it pays the retail giant too much in merchant fees. The company has promised to extend the ban on Visa cards to its 400 locations across Canada, though it has not said when that will happen.
SOMBRE CANADIAN SITES WELCOME POKEMON GO PLAYERS
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg is welcoming eager Pokemon hunters to visit and explore the museum as long as they remain respectful of sometimes sensitive surroundings. The museum’s Garden of Contemplation has been designated as a “gym” in the Pokemon Go universe, a place where players are encouraged to visit repeatedly to battle and earn in-game currency. It’s been a different story elsewhere, with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia both explicitly asking visitors not to play the game there. Spokespeople at both locations said they were trying to have their sites removed from the game, deeming it “extremely inappropriate.” Read Kathleen Wynne’s advice to Pokemon Go players.