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Brandt takes aim at City Hall in newspaper ad

1 hour 17 min ago
Brandt Developments’ side of the story of its proposed building in Wascana Park is now plain for all to see, sprawled out across a four-page advertisement in the Regina Leader-Post. Shaun Semple, president and CEO of the Brandt Group of Companies, said it was a way to get the message out unfiltered. “We’re being singled out and named in articles,” he said. “We took it out and placed an ad so that it wouldn’t be changed. The public could read it the way it was.” He said the public has been misled into believing that Brandt got an “inside deal” because his father, Gavin Semple, is a supporter of the Saskatchewan Party. The ad contains a letter addressed to Regina city council. Gavin Semple, Brandt’s chairman, wrote that his name and the name of his company have been “slandered and dragged through the mud.” He claimed the City of Regina had joined “the misinformation campaign in order to kill the project.” Mayor Michael Fougere responded by saying he understands Brandt is “frustrated.” But he said Semple is misdirecting his fire. The city has no authority over the proposed structure, which would replace the now-demolished CNIB building in Wascana Park. “The decision of whether the project goes forward or not is not done by city council. We don’t approve it. It’s actually the Provincial Capital Commission,” Fougere said. “It’s out of our hands.” Coun. Barbara Young, who sits on the board that reviews projects in Wascana Park, said two council motions calling for more transparency on the project are set to be deferred. She noted that council, as a body, has not taken a position on the project. A marketing expert at the University of Saskatchewan believes Brandt may be making a mistake. David Williams, an associate professor at the Edwards School of Business, said a newspaper ad is a great way to get a message onto “people’s breakfast tables.” But it also keeps people talking about a controversial issue. “It will just keep discussions ongoing and flowing,” he said. “I don’t think it will control the discussion.” He talked about what he called “crisis management 101.” When a controversial story hits the news, a business is wise to make its leaders constantly available to media to refute it. “You can’t choose to speak when you want to speak,” he said. “You don’t own the story or control the story or control the facts.” The ad lays out a series of alleged fictions and facts. It calls any notion that the process was hidden from the public a fiction. But Young said the steps the ad pointed to were only a small part of the process. Much else, she explained, took place behind closed doors. She said that even she was unaware of a list of prospective kinds of tenants. Asked what he wanted to challenge above all, Semple pointed to the notion the project contravenes the Wascana Centre Master Plan. He said he wanted to let the image speak for itself. It’s a partial map of the park, showing an expanded CNIB building conditionally approved by the Wascana Centre Authority (WCA). The Leader-Post showed that image to Fougere, who, the ad points out, was WCA chair at the time. He said the conditional approval was just that: conditional. It was never meant to signal an endorsement for Brandt’s current proposal. “I think the nuance is different,” he said. “It was not a formal end-of-decision approval. If that was the case, why would the capital commission still be reviewing the file and saying stop the project?” He said the WCA deferred the decision to the Provincial Capital Commission that replaced it, after laying down numerous conditions around size, parking and the kinds of tenants that would go in the building. He said the board never approved the 77,500-square-foot building Semple claims it did. But Semple said the mayor is “mistaken.” “The building that we proposed is the one in the master plan. It’s exactly our building layout, and everything,” he said, calling Fougere’s statement “disappointing.” awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

Faculty union serves strike notice to U of R

2 hours 21 min ago
In the wake of the U of R holding a town hall with students Friday afternoon about the potential for a faculty strike, the University of Regina Faculty Association (URFA) has given the university administration official notice that a strike could begin Thursday morning. In an email sent to students, U of R Provost Thomas Chase wrote, “We respect the collective bargaining process and acknowledge that this is another step within that process. It is important to note, however, that URFA’s strike notice does not necessarily mean there will be a strike.” The strike could potentially begin Thursday, March 28 at 10 a.m., although two more bargaining days are currently scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. “Two weeks ago, we presented our final offer to URFA in hopes that they would take it to their membership for a vote. That did not happen,” read the email to students. “The offer was fair, and acknowledges the work that our faculty does within the constraints of a challenging financial environment. We remain hopeful that URFA will reconsider its position.” Related The faculty’s most recent contract expired in June 2017, and bargaining began in April 2018. Four days of bargaining between the two parties wrapped up March 12 without any agreement being reached. After that, URFA president Sylvain Rhealt said in a prepared statement that, “It is now a very real possibility that reaching an agreement will require some form of job action. “While URFA is still hopeful that an agreement can be reached, preparations for possible job action are currently underway,” he said. The winter semester’s classes end April 11, and exams are ongoing until April 29. lgiesbrecht@postmedia.com

Pats' John Paddock thinks playoffs are a realistic goal next season

5 hours 37 min ago
When the WHL playoffs took centre stage on Friday night, the Regina Pats were quietly watching from the background. Not only is Regina a post-season spectator for the first time in six years, the team is still very much in a rebuild mode that comes with no guarantees for next season. “I’m not sure (what to expect),” admitted GM John Paddock. “I will say that we will be better because we were better after Christmas. The young players had time for adjustment. We were better in the second half basically with taking out our two (best) players.” After trading Nick Henry and Jake Leschyshyn to Lethbridge, the Pats entered the Christmas break with a 9-24-0-1 record. They went 10-21-1-2 the rest of the way, which was a slight improvement over the first half despite the fact that their lineup was weakened by further trades prior to Jan. 10. “We’ll be better as long as our goaltending plays like it did in the second half,” Paddock continued. “In saying that, there won’t be a team in the league that hasn’t said their goaltending didn’t cost them three or four or five games during the course of the year. That just happens because there’s no perfect player. But we expected a little bit more consistency out of Max (Paddock) in the first half. Those things translate to being better.” The Pats have 21 players eligible to return next season (12 forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies). The only guaranteed losses are 20-year-olds Liam Schioler, Brady Pouteau and Brett Clayton — all of whom are defensive-minded skaters. “Other teams are going to lose (more) players,” Paddock noted. “We had no offensive impact from our overagers this year so there are some things that give you hope. We need to come in with the mindset that we’re going to be in the playoff hunt and I don’t think that’s unrealistic.” It’s also the closest thing to a prediction you’ll get from Paddock, who’s all-too aware of junior hockey’s volatile nature. While teenage players usually grow a lot — literally and figuratively — from one season to the next, the degree of improvement (or regression) is impossible to predict. “You look at (Tristin) Langan in Moose Jaw,” he said. “They were probably expecting 25 to 30 goals out of him. They got 53. Before this season, his high was (16) goals. How do you project that? Can that happen with us? I don’t think it’s out of the question. Jake Elmer went from 18 to 39 (for Lethbridge). You just don’t know what certain guys are going to do when you’re dealing with 16- to 20-year-olds. It should be a progression as you get older. Once in a while it’s not. Sometimes that progression jumps off the charts. That’s what makes it so unknown.” One thing that’s more certain is the continuity within Regina’s hockey staff. Paddock doesn’t anticipate any major changes — in personnel or philosophy — heading into next season. “It’s really important for the players to know the message is an organizational message within the hockey department. It doesn’t vary. We’re sort of all one,” said Paddock, who stepped down from the bench after the 2017-18 season and promoted Dave Struch from lead assistant to head coach. “He did a really good job. There wasn’t the talent (like past years). Clearly there still isn’t the talent but they’re going to be better because they’re going to improve and they’re a year older.” Paddock is also confident in Struch’s ability to extract a consistent work ethic from his players. As the season progressed, it became a trademark of the club. “They bought in,” Paddock added. “I only saw him really upset about three times all year. In one way, (an expectation of work ethic) is always a given. If you don’t work, you’re not going to be successful. But you also can’t take work ethic for granted when you’re in the situation we were in. It takes a little bit more perseverance or character. Maybe some don’t have it (as much as others) but they’ve growing into it. The coaching staff deserves lots of credit for that.” gharder@postmedia.com  

Sask. 'very concerned' about China not buying Canadian canola seed

5 hours 40 min ago
Premier Scott Moe says the provincial government is “very concerned” with reports that Chinese companies have stopped buying Canadian canola seed. In an emailed statement, Moe said his government is “seeking clarity” from the federal government “on these concerning reports.” In addition to collaborating with producers “during this uncertain situation,” the province has requested a formal meeting between Saskatchewan’s agriculture and trade ministers and their federal counterparts. “We have also requested that the federal government elevate their engagement to a diplomatic level to rectify this situation as soon as possible,” Moe said, adding the province has offered “any and all assistance to the federal government to resolve this matter.” He remains hopeful the federal government will “continue to engage on a technical level with Chinese officials.” Canola seed exporters have told the Canola Council of Canada that Chinese importers are currently unwilling to purchase their product, the group said in a statement released Thursday. Companies that are members of the council include Viterra Inc., Louis Dreyfus Company, Cargill Ltd. and Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd. “Under the circumstances, Canadian canola seed exporters who normally ship to China have no alternative but to supply customers in other countries who value high quality Canadian canola,” said Jim Everson, the council’s president, in a statement. The reports come weeks after China’s foreign ministry blocked imports from one of Canada’s largest grain producers, Richardson International Ltd., citing fears of insect infestation. “The Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspected this canola, said it was of high quality as is the nature of the product that we export. The Chinese say that it has impurities. We say to the Chinese, ‘Show us. Show us a sample,’ ” Federal Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr said at the time. At the time, some suggested the move was retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top Chinese tech executive. In December, Canadian authorities arrested Huawei Technologies Co. Inc. senior executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver at the behest of the United States. There was some initial optimism that Chinese concerns with canola trade could be resolved quickly, the industry group said, and it’s disappointed that did not happen. Canada exports about 40 per cent of its canola seed, oil and meal to China with canola seed exports to the country being worth $2.7 billion in 2018, according to the council. In 2017, the last year for which annual data are available, Saskatchewan exported $3.6 billion worth of canola seed — about 26 per cent of all agricultural exports. China was among its best customers, buying $1.4 billion of that total. The price of the commodity also fell in futures contract trading since Wanzhou’s arrest. The May canola futures contract was trading at $458.30 per tonne Friday afternoon — down nearly 2.2 per cent. The issue is especially worrisome for Saskatchewan farmers, three of whom said earlier this month that China’s decision to close the door on Richardson is likely to put downward pressure on prices at a time when seeding plans are difficult to change. — With Canadian Press files

Regina's John Schepers honoured by Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame induction

6 hours 33 min ago
The timing of the call from the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame was inconvenient for Regina’s John Schepers, but greatly appreciated all the same. “We were just sitting down to supper and my wife (Barbara) wondered what was wrong,” Schepers says. “It was such an unexpected surprise that I said, ‘You have to be kidding.’ “I have a lot of confidence in my ability, but to have someone recognize me is a different situation. I’m not an arrogant person and I don’t like to tell people what I’ve done. When something like that comes along, it makes you feel really special.” The 76-year-old Schepers is one of 12 people who are to be inducted as a special class of past Canadian players from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. The inductees played in the Pacific Coast League, the Western Canada Soccer League (WCSL), and the National League of Ontario and Quebec. The official induction ceremony is to be held Sunday in Vancouver during the Canada-French Guiana CONCACAF Nations League qualifying match at BC Place. Schepers starred in the WCSL, setting the loop’s all-time scoring record with 131 goals over a nine-season span that began in 1963. He played for Canada’s national team during a 1960 tour of the Soviet Union and Great Britain, in the 1971 Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia, and in a Summer Olympics qualifying match in Mexico in 1971. “It was funny because in the first game we played, we had all of the fans cheering for us,” Schepers recalls of the Pan American Games. “Then we played Colombia and the atmosphere changed. We beat them 3-2 in a qualifying round and they didn’t like us any more. We had security guards that helped get us to the bus, but it wasn’t anything serious.” Schepers was born in Tiel, Netherlands before immigrating to Winnipeg in 1953 with his family when he was 10. There wasn’t any youth soccer in Winnipeg, so he played senior men’s soccer as a 16-year-old. “I got the heck kicked out of me because it was a very physical game,” says Schepers, who would later move to Regina. “They also don’t say, ‘Well, he’s only 16 …’ I weighed about 140 pounds and I learned my skills playing against guys who were big and strong.” Schepers had a knack for scoring.  He led the WCSL in scoring four times and was the league’s top scorer in the 1960s, with 102 goals. “To score that many goals you have to have good teammates,” Schepers says. “I made the teams I played with better, but I also had some quality players playing with me too.” One of those players was Saskatoon’s Andy Sharpe, who was Schepers’ teammate in 1970. “Johnny could score goals and he was very fast,” Sharpe told Canada Soccer in a recent interview. “He took care of himself, was good in the locker room, and he went about his business.” Schepers played with Winnipeg, Calgary and the Regina Concordia in the WCSL. He shared in league titles in 1963 and 1964 with Concordia and the Calgary Buffalo Kickers in 1968. He retired as a player in 2004, in his sixth decade in the sport, after having his right knee replaced. Schepers was more than a soccer player. He was a member of the first University of Regina Cougars men’s basketball team in 1968. “I was probably better at soccer than basketball, although it was close,” Schepers says. “I just didn’t have the height for basketball.” Schepers was a teacher and vice-principal in Regina for 30 years before retiring. He also coached and was a long-time basketball official. He still serves as the coach of a masters men’s team. “Basically, I got into teaching because I wanted to coach,” Schepers says. “Then when I started, I got a Grade 6 class. It turned out that I loved the classroom and the kids were just great.” Schepers, Barbara, their children (A.J., Kathleen and Joe) and other family members are expected to be in Vancouver for the induction. “The fun part about playing was being with a bunch of guys and celebrating after a win,” Schepers says. “You also had a bunch of guys who could comfort you after a loss. The team part was special.” mmccormick@postmedia.com twitter.com/murraylp

Player safety is the focus of CFL rules committee proposals

6 hours 35 min ago
Protection of quarterbacks was a priority during discussions at the CFL rules committee’s annual meeting, which concluded Friday in Toronto. The committee proposes the following rule changes: • Giving the Command Centre the ability to upgrade a roughing-the-passer penalty from 15 to 25 yards when there is a direct blow to the quarterback’s head or neck with the helmet. That would apply when the player has a clear view of a quarterback who does not end up ducking his head before contact is made. • Allowing the Command Centre to assist referees with roughing-the-passer calls and non-calls, including situations in which the official’s view is obstructed and a call is not made as a result. • Whistling a play dead whenever the quarterback, as the ball-carrier, gives himself up by sliding with any part of his body. Only a feet-first slide warrants a whistle under the current rules. Among other recommendations that were announced Friday: • Coaches should be given a second video-review challenge if their first is successful. As it stands, coaches have one challenge, period. • Spearing should be upgraded to a 25-yard penalty by the Command Centre when a defender, with a clear view of the opponent, delivers a blow with the top of the helmet. The opponent cannot be ducking his head if the 25-yard penalty is to be considered. “There is a real focus here on player safety in general and the health of quarterbacks in particular,” Darren Hackwood, the league’s senior director of officiating, said in a media release. The rules committee is comprised of head coaches, general managers, team presidents, league officials and a representative of the CFL Players’ Association. Recommendations will be considered later in the spring by members of the CFL’s board of governors, which would have to approve any proposed changes.

Local roundup: Regina Ringette Association honours four founding members

6 hours 36 min ago
The Regina Ringette Association is to present its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Awards on Saturday. The first four founding members of the RRA — Jim Benning, Bob Gotts, Al Heron and Hal Kathol — are to be recognized. Gotts and Kathol will be recognized posthumously. Lifetime Achievement Awards are given to an individual or individuals who have spent a minimum of 25 years within the RRA or other ringette associations in Saskatchewan. The awards pay tribute to exceptional leadership, service and a passion for excellence in the sport. • • • The Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s championship series is to begin Saturday, when the Notre Dame Hounds visit the Saskatoon Blazers. Game 2 is set for Monday at Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox. The best-of-five series then returns to Saskatoon for a Wednesday game. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, would be played March 29 in Wilcox and March 31 in Saskatoon. All games are to begin at 7:30 p.m. • • • The Regina Rebels are to play the Saskatoon Stars in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s championship series. Saskatoon advanced to the final Thursday by defeating the host Notre Dame Hounds 3-1 to end a best-of-five semi-final in four games. Regina needed four games to eliminate the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats. Saskatoon finished first in the regular-season standings with a 24-1-3-0 record and 78 points — 24 more than second-place Regina (16-7-1-4). The Rebels were the only team to defeat Saskatoon during the regular season. Regina edged Saskatoon 3-2 on Jan. 13 at the Co-operators Centre. One day earlier, Saskatoon had won 3-0 in Regina. Also in January, the Stars defeated the visiting Rebels 4-2 and, in overtime, 2-1.

Humboldt Broncos bus crash: Semi driver Jaskirat Sidhu sentenced to eight years in prison

8 hours 59 min ago
MELFORT — Calling the mistakes made by Jaskirat Singh Sidhu “baffling and incomprehensible,” a Saskatchewan judge sentenced the semi driver responsible for the Humboldt Broncos bus tragedy to eight years in prison. Sidhu, 30, pleaded guilty in January to 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harmin the April 6, 2018 bus crash. Court heard during sentencing arguments that Sidhu missed four highway-related signs leading up to the missed stop sign at the intersection where the collision with the Broncos team bus took place. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of a transport truck involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, enters the Kerry Vickar Centre in Melfort on March 22, 2019, where was sentenced for his role in the collision. “It is baffling and incomprehensible that a professional driver could miss so many markers over such a long distance,” Judge Inez Cardinal said Friday, adding that she found Sidhu’s blameworthiness to be “high.” In a makeshift courtroom at the Kerry Vickar Centre that was filled with family, friends and loved ones of both the bus crash victims and Sidhu, Cardinal announced her sentencing decision. Sidhu was joined in the room by around a dozen supporters, while several of the victims’ family members were wearing Broncos jerseys and bunnyhugs, with the last names of their loved ones on the back. As the sentence was read, Sidhu stood with his back turned away from the gallery. There was no overt reaction from either his supporters or from the family members of the 29 victims. “I want all victims and families to know their voices have been heard in these proceedings. It was extremely difficult for them to come forwardand share their experiences in a public forum,” Cardinal said. Sidhu was given eight-year concurrent sentences on each of the dangerous driving causing death charges, and five-year sentences to run concurrently on the dangerous driving causing bodily harm charges. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu (centre), the driver of a transport truck involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, enters the Kerry Vickar Centre in Melfort with his defence team on March 22, 2019, where was sentenced for his role in the collision. Sidhu, an inexperienced truck driver, failed to stop at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335.The bus carrying the Broncos hockey team T-Boned Sidhu’s double trailer semi, according to details heard at Sidhu’s four-day sentencing hearing in January. During sentencing submissions, prosecutor Thomas Healey argued for a 10-year sentence followed by a 10-year driving ban. Defence lawyer Mark Brayford did not argue for a specific sentence, but rather presented case law that involved sentences between 18 months and four and a half years. Both lawyers during arguments, as well as Judge Cardinal during her sentencing, acknowledged no case law that reflects the number of deaths and charges as this one. The judge noted on Friday that because Sidhu is a permanent resident, and not a Canadian citizen, he will be deported after serving his sentence. Cardinal said sentencing principles must reflect the gravity of the offence and moral blameworthiness of the offender. “Proportionality is the fundamental principle of sentencing,” Cardinal said. Cardinal said the most aggravating factor is that his actions led to the deaths of 16 people and caused a catastrophe that will linger for years to come. However, Cardinal continued, there were “many” mitigating factors, including Sidhu’s guilty plea that spared the families a lengthy, painful trial. Sidhu has also shown genuine remorse and will likely suffer psychological pain for the rest of his life, the judge said. Sentences are fact specific, Cardinal continued. She said she accepts that Sidhu did not purposefully drive through the intersection in order to speed up his trip, but says he had “ample time to react” to the intersection — had he been paying attention. In a statement released Friday, Broncos club president Jamie Brockman said the past year has been “extremely difficult” but that the completion of the legal proceedings “is a big step in the healing process for the survivors, grieving families, our organization and the community of Humboldt and surrounding area. “The sentence is subject to varying opinions but what is important is that Mr. Sidhu (pleaded) guilty, has shown remorse and has remained accountable for his careless actions.” ( function() { pnLoadVideo( "videos", "uIxOKIUErcE", "pn_video_886893", "", "", {"controls":1,"autoplay":0,"is_mobile":""} ); } )(); Of three cases involving dangerous driving causing death that were referenced during sentencing arguments, the longest sentence — six years — was given to Mohinder Singh Saini after being convicted in a 20-vehicle collision on an Ontario highway. Saini was charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing death and nine counts of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm. The trial judge found that Saini “deliberately lied” to police and court, blaming another driver for the crash. Sidhuspoke publicly for the first time at the conclusion of his sentencing hearing. He apologized to the victims’ families and said he takes full responsibility for the crash. Court heard he was distracted by a flapping tarp on his trailer and missed four highway-related signs leading up to the stop sign at the intersection. Brayford said the failure to comprehend the signage is what elevated it from a traffic offence to a criminal act. Most of the families of the 29 people involved in the crash gave victim impact statements in court. There was a striking level of forgiveness and sympathy shown towards Sidhu, with some even asking that he receive a sentence that won’t ruin his life. Healey argued the sentence needs to send a strong message about the dangers of distracted driving. “This was not just an accident, this was a crime. A very serious crime,” he said. ( function() { pnLoadVideo( "videos", "E3vFp5hQxUo", "pn_video_346534", "", "", {"controls":1,"autoplay":0,"is_mobile":""} ); } )(); As of December 2018, the Criminal Code of Canada increased the maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death from 14 years to life imprisonment, and the maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing bodily harm from 10 years to 14 years. The changes do not apply to Sidhu because the crash happened before the amendment. Here is a look at other dangerous driving cases cited during sentencing arguments. MOHINDER SINGH SAINI Saini was a transport truck driver who was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of dangerous driving in a fatal 20-vehicle collision on an Ontario highway. Saini was charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing death and nine counts of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm. Two children were among the four people killed. Carl Laws, Jackie Laws, Jesus Duran-Flores and Cuauhtemoc Duran-Flores died. Court heard Saini was driving with a loaded trailer in a construction zone at about 100 km/h when he hit the brakes, but struck a Ford Fiesta and triggered the collision in Whitby, Ont., in October 2015. The trial judge found that Saini “deliberately lied” to police and court, blaming another driver for the crash. A Humboldt Broncos jersey is carried into the Kerry Vickar Centre, which was used for the sentencing hearing of Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the driver of a transport truck involved in the deadly crash with the Humboldt Broncos bus KEITH DUNFORD Dunford was sentenced to just under two years in jail after he was found guilty of killing a flag worker in a construction zone near Midale, Sask., in August 2012. Court heard that it was 18-yearold Ashley Richards’s first day on the job when she was struck by Dunford’s speeding SUV. Richards, who had recently moved from Lakeside, N.B., was thrown about the width of a football field. Dunford told court said he didn’t see any of the construction warning signs and he was distracted by some papers blowing around in his vehicle. NORMAND LAVOIE Lavoie was sentenced to three years in prison and banned from driving for five years after pleading guilty to “senselessly” killing three Saskatchewan teenagers. Justin Gaja, Kristian Skalicky and Carter Stevenson were killed while returning home from football camp on May 3, 2015, when a semi rear-ended their car in a construction zone near Spalding, Sask. Lavoie told a police officer he felt like he was on autopilot before the crash. JASWINDER SINGH BAGRI Bagri was sentenced to three years in prison and received a five-year driving ban after he was found guilty of killing a family of four from Palo Alta, Calif., in Kootenay National Park in July 2011. Court heard that Bagri was driving westbound through a sharp corner, crossed the centre line and jackknifed, colliding head on with a camper van near Radium Hot Springs, B.C. All four people in the van – Andrew Howard, his wife Ana-Maria Dias and their children Samantha and Veronica – died in the crash. — With Canadian Press files bmcadam@postmedia.com twitter.com/breezybremc Related Russell, left, and Raelene Herold, parents of Adam Herold, hug with Toby Boulet, father of Logan Boulet, outside the Kerry Vickar Centre on March 22, 2019. Christina Haugan, wife of former Humboldt Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan, enters the Kerry Vickar Centre on March 22, 2019.

Beware of websites selling unauthorized tickets for NHL Heritage Classic, says Evraz Place

9 hours 9 min ago
If you’re a hockey fan looking to buy tickets online for the NHL’s Heritage Classic in Regina, don’t trust anyone other than Ticketmaster. That’s the advice Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) is giving those trying to buy tickets for the game, which will see the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames face off at Mosaic Stadium on Oct. 26. Although ticket reseller websites such as Secure Box Office are already selling tickets for the game, REAL said these sites are speculative and not officially authorized by the NHL. Tickets do not officially go on sale until April 25. “What we tell people is never buy unless it’s Ticketmaster. That’s who we work with, that’s the NHL’s ticketing partner and that way you’re covered,” Paula Kohl, a spokesperson for Evraz Place, said Friday. Evraz Place first issued an official warning about unauthorized re-sellers on Jan. 22. It warned guests that anyone trying to enter the game with counterfeit or fraudulent tickets would be denied access. Aside from Tickermaster.ca, fans will be able to buy their tickets from the NHL’s website and at the Brandt Centre’s box office (in person or via phone at 306-781-9300). Ticket prices for the game have not been formally announced, but a Global News report said an email sent to to Winnipeg Jets season ticket holders stated prices would range from $124.50 to $394.50. On Secure Box Office, ticket prices for the game range from $277 U.S. to $1,047 U.S. Anyone wishing to file a formal complaint about a ticket seller can contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Saskatchewan government at 1- 877-880-5550 or consumerprotection@gov.sk.ca. mmelnychuk@postmedia.com

City of Regina has spring in its steps

10 hours 48 min ago
As the melting snow gives way to puddles, trash and grime, the City of Regina has turned to the task of spring cleaning. It’s also fielding more weather-related calls and advising people to take care around thin ice. Here’s what’s on the go, and how residents can help: Catch Basins There are about 22,000 catch basins around the city. Crews are out opening blocked and frozen catch basins, but the city notes in a news release that the freeze-thaw cycle at this time of year can pose some challenges. Priority is based on the level of risk to public safety or the risk to property damage. Residents can help by clearing snow, ice and debris from neighbourhood catch basins to provide a path for melting ice and snow to enter the storm drainage system. In most cases, blocked catch basins can be opened by chipping ice away. To locate the nearest catch basin, visit Regina.ca or call 306-777-7000. A pothole on Quebec St. near the General Hospital in a photo from February 2017. Pothole Repair The City of Regina repairs potholes in a priority sequence based on location and severity, starting with high-traffic, high-volume roads. Crews then repair potholes that may impact underground infrastructure, followed by residential roads. Through winter and early spring, potholes are temporarily repaired using “cold mix asphalt.” The temporary repairs may need to be redone with a more permanent repair in the summer. Permanent pothole patching season typically runs from May to the end of October, when hot mix asphalt is available. If you see a dangerous pothole, call Service Regina. Thin Ice Warning (Storm Channels) Fire and Protective Services is reminding parents to warn children and teenagers about the dangers of thin ice and to keep children away from lakes, ditches, creeks and storm channels. If you see anyone, especially children, playing on the ice or near dangerous water, call the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500. In an emergency, call 911. Regina Fire and Protective Services conducted ice rescue training on Wascana Lake this week. Spring Sweep Program The City’s street sweeping program begins in the next few weeks, as more snow melts and water drains away. First crews sweep off the salt, sand and debris from boulevards and major roads, then about three weeks later, they start sweeping subdivisions. Signs will be posted in neighbourhoods to advise of the sweeping dates, and it’s important to park off-street on those scheduled days. By moving vehicles off the road, street sweepers can get as close to the sidewalk as possible. As the schedule becomes, it will be posted to Regina.ca. Litter pick up Litter cleanup costs the City of Regina about $300,000 annually. Residents can help by securing and tarping loads when heading to the landfill, properly disposing of garbage and picking up litter. Street sweeping crews were making their way through the Cathedral neighbourhood in Regina in this photo from May 2018.

Local MMA fighter tangles with aggressive dog

13 hours 55 min ago
In mixed martial arts, a fight ends by submission if an opponent visibly taps the floor with their hand. That’s not the case when wrestling a canine. “If it was a human, they’d tap. With a dog that’s trying to kill me and my best friend and my dogs, I will kill it,” said Samson Bieri. “It was a super wild scenario but I was ready to do whatever I had to.” Bieri, 19, didn’t kill the neighbour dog that hopped the short fence dividing the two properties on the 700 block of Argyle Street. But the dog met its end anyway. Animal Protection Services attended along with Regina police and, “with the agreement and approval of all parties involved, the dog was euthanized,” a spokesperson for the Regina Humane Society said Thursday. Bieri and his roommate Josh Wilkinson just wanted to enjoy Sunday’s warm weather with their three dogs. “We had them on the harnesses and the leashes. We were just going to walk them around the backyard because they hadn’t been out there basically all winter,” Wilkinson said. As they entered the yard before heading to the dog park, Wilkinson didn’t notice the neighbour’s big dog was outside — or hear Bieri’s warning shouts. The neighbour’s dog hopped the fence and latched on to Waffles, the roommates’ oldest dog, a Golden Pyrenees. “He looked like he was biting (Waffles) really hard,” Wilkinson said. “I shoved him off and he latched onto my arm.” That’s when Bieri’s seven years of MMA training literally kicked in. Samson Bieri, a local mixed martial artist, says he had to put a neighbour’s dog in a chokehold to defend his friend. “I ran over and kicked him in the head and he let go,” Bieri said. “I dove on him, got to his back and just started trying to choke him out.” Bieri stayed like that, putting pressure on the dog’s neck while it made gurgling noises, until the owner came and dragged the dog back into the yard. It was a good moment to have a mixed martial artist as a roommate. “I never feel more safe in my life than around him,” Wilkinson said of Bieri, who has an amateur fight record of 3-1 in the featherweight division. Even with Bieri’s quick reflexes, Wilkinson wasn’t completely spared from harm. He sustained four big puncture wounds on his forearm and was transported to hospital feeling like he was going to pass out or vomit. He missed three days of work as an auto detailer but returned Thursday despite lingering pain. He’s not eligible for short-term disability because he missed less than a week of work. Neither man is happy about the fate of the dog, but Bieri said it wasn’t the first time issues arose in the past four months. They weren’t sure of the attacking dog’s breed, but  Bieri estimates it weighed more than 100 pounds. He often saw the animal dragging a 20-pound-dumbbell in the owner’s backyard. As for Waffles, the pooch bled a bit from his leg but the cut healed quickly. Wilkinson said there’s already a stark difference in letting the dogs out into the backyard now that the neighbour’s dog is gone. “They were out there for an hour and they still didn’t want to come in,” Wilkinson said. adavis@postmedia.com

Group homes in Regina and Weyburn get different reception

14 hours 1 min ago
Patrick Doran and Steven Gass have at least 24 bowling trophies between them, each one proudly on display in their rooms in a Harbour Landing bungalow. Their home is full of merchandise celebrating their love for the Calgary Flames, the Regina Pats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. For Coun. Bob Hawkins, it all goes to show that the two men — roommates in a group home for people with intellectual disabilities — are neighbours “like you and I.” “We’re so glad to have these residents as our neighbours, and we know they’re going to contribute greatly to the neighbourhood,” said Hawkins, who represents Harbour Landing at Regina city council. “Its a perfect fit. We welcome them generously and with open arms.” Four men with intellectual disabilities — Patrick, Steven, Brodie and John — have lived in this house since July. But Thursday was the grand opening for the group home, which offers 24-hour support through Regina Residential Resource Centre. It’s much the same kind of home that Weyburn Group Homes Society Inc. was hoping to operate in Weyburn’s Creeks neighbourhood, another new suburban development on the edge of town. But the welcomes the two homes got from their city councillors are like night and day. Hawkins took a tour of the group home in his ward. After the ribbon cutting, he and Doran exchanged a hug. A group home operated by the Regina Residential Resource Centre (RRRC) in Harbour Landing in Regina. Group homes are a permitted use on the Harbour Landing street where the house is located. That means the proposal never needed to come before city council, unlike the Weyburn proposal, which was rejected on March 11. Weyburn city councillor Brad Wheeler cited the “stigma” of group homes before voting against granting discretionary approval to the proposal to open the home. He later apologized for his language, but council has not reversed its decision. That left Gass incredulous. “Why don’t they want them?” he asked. The reaction of his next-door neighbour provides a hint. Retired farmer Roy Hunt said he understands that group homes have to go somewhere in Regina, but he isn’t so happy about his new neighbours. He said he has little interaction with them, since, in his view, they “don’t react to you.” Gass admits he doesn’t know his neighbours very well, but says it’s because he’s “shy.” Hunt also shares the concerns that some Weyburn residents raised in letters to council, worrying that the group home could reduce property values. “We put a lot of money into having a place in a nice neighbourhood, and now it’s gone,” he said. “There is just a price to be paid for having it next to you.” The grand opening of a new home operated by the Regina Residential Resource Centre (RRRC) in Harbour Landing in Regina. But Hawkins said he doesn’t believe those concerns are valid. “There’s no evidence whatsoever that the presence of a group home in a community lowers property values,” he said. “It’s just not the case.” He had little patience for the views stated by Wheeler in Weyburn. “Stigma has no place in this conversation,” said Hawkins. Social Services Minister Paul Merriman feels the same way. He showed up for the grand opening on Thursday. The government is contributing $23,338 for a mortgage on the property, which replaced an aging home in Rothwell Place. He said he met “four great guys with a great sense of humour.” In Merriman’s view, one group home is much like another. He said he’s still hopeful that Weyburn city council will change its tune, and afford the same welcome. “We’ve heard some very positive information earlier this week that they had an emergency meeting and they were reconsidering their decision,” he said. “Hopefully they will reconsider their decision and finalize it at their Monday meeting, and I’ll be anxious to hear what decisions they come to.” He said officials from his ministry travelled to Weyburn to explain the benefits of having a group home in the Creeks. Hunt said he was never consulted on the decision to put a group home on his street on Harbour Landing. Two doors down, on the other side of the home, Bob Bratley said much the same thing — but he had much warmer feelings about the home. “It would have been nice to know that the group home was going in there,” said Bratley. “But since they’ve been there, we’ve had no problems at all. No noise. Just like any other neighbour.” He said the only trouble he has is with the parking, due to staff doing shift work. He isn’t worried about property values. “They mind their own business and do their own thing,” he said. “It shouldn’t affect the neighbourhood at all.” While Gass was surprised to hear that anyone would oppose a group home, he said there’s something critics on Weyburn city council should understand. “Well, maybe that we’re nice people,” he said. awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

Johnson: Get ready for Uber and Lyft in Regina

14 hours 1 min ago
After years of discussion, ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are about to come to Regina any day. It means we’ll be able to get rides in private passenger vehicles. Ride sharing services use an app on a smartphone to connect people looking for rides with cars and drivers in the area. The drivers use their personal vehicles to give rides. No cash or credit cards are used, because the fare is automatically paid through an app that is set up before the first ride. These features now are also available through apps with conventional taxi companies. By the way, this idea of getting rides from individuals is more than 100 years old. Back in the Model T era, car owners found by giving rides to strangers in their personal vehicles (called “jitneys”) they could earn some extra money. And people looking for rides were glad to have another way to get around, other than crowded streetcars and buses. On May 10, 1915, the Leader newspaper reported “Like all up-to-date cities Regina boasts of a jitney service with some half dozen or more cars in operation,” and wondered whether jitneys “will become a permanent feature.” Well, they weren’t permanent — but modern-day versions of jitneys are returning to Regina, and already have, in most other major Canadian cities. I have travelled by Uber when I have visited other cities. Most of the Uber drivers I have chatted with are part-timers. I’ve talked to Uber drivers who have full-time jobs as financial planners, cable TV installers and computer forensic investigators. With Uber, they can drive as many or as few hours as they want, rather than signing up for a specific shift with a required number of hours. Also, the cars look different. Taxis have signs on top and labels on the sides, while Ubers are unmarked cars. I’ve ridden in a variety of mid-sized, mid-priced sedans, including Hyundai Sonatas, Nissan Altimas and Toyota Camrys. By setting up an account with Uber, the firm has your personal details, including phone number and credit card number. On the app, it simply asks where you want to go; the app determines where you are, and that’s where you get picked up. The request goes out to Uber drivers in the area and the first to respond gets the fare. Uber drivers tell me when they accept a fare, they don’t know where the destination is. That’s so drivers don’t consider a fare too small to bother. There are some similarities between Ubers and taxis: some drivers like to talk a lot and some don’t like to talk at all; and both Uber drivers and taxi drivers may occasionally get lost. When I visit Toronto, I have an Uber pick me up at Pearson International Airport for a 20 km ride southwest to Mississauga. I’ve made this trip several times. It’s about a 20-minute ride along the 401 and 403 highways. When I take taxis, the flat-rate fee is $50. When I use Uber, the fare is $30 to $35. The last time I made the trip and got in an Uber at the airport, after about five minutes I noticed we were in some unfamiliar territory. We were heading north, yet I knew we should be going south. I asked the driver what route he was taking — and reminded him of my destination address. “The GPS isn’t working,” he explained. Then he tried to get turned around, and next thing I knew we were heading in the opposite direction on the 401 — east instead of west — and stuck in a traffic jam, creeping along at about 15 km/h. “This is taking a long time,” I observed. “Can’t do anything about the traffic. The GPS isn’t working,” he said. After another five minutes or so, I suggested that I shouldn’t be charged extra just because his GPS wasn’t working. He agreed, and told me there would be a discount. We finally arrived at my destination, half an hour after I was picked up; the trip took about one-third more time than usual. With Uber, a receipt is emailed to you as soon as the ride ends. As I’m used to paying $30 to $35 for this trip, I was surprised when I opened the email to find out the bill for this ride came to $50.88. The receipt also noted that the trip was 37 kms and lasted 28 minutes, making the average speed about 80 km/h. About 14 hours later, I got another email telling me Uber had refunded me $21.89 bringing the new total down to $28.89, which is lower than the usual price. So mistakes can happen — and mistakes can be corrected. On my return trip a few days later, it was snowing heavily and police were warning people not to drive if they didn’t have to. Well, I had to get to the airport. I wondered if there would be fewer Ubers and more demand in this poor weather. When I went on the app to order an Uber, it said there were eight in the vicinity, and one arrived just two minutes later — which is the quickest pickup I have ever had. Usually I wait 10 to 20 minutes. “Some guys don’t like to drive in this kind of weather, so they stay home,” the driver said. “But I find business is very good in bad weather, and it doesn’t bother me, so I thought I would drive today.” The trip was uneventful, other than the weather. Due to the snow, slush and traffic we went about 45 km/h along the 403 and 401. The trip lasted 28 minutes — identical in duration to the first trip — but the distance was about half, only 20 kms instead of 37 kms. The bill came to $33.37. So, get ready for Uber, Lyft and perhaps other ride-sharing services in Regina. Just like taxis, occasionally drivers can get lost. Dale Edward Johnson is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.  

Fingas: Govt's more concerned with budget optics than substance

14 hours 1 min ago
For upwards of 25 years, Canadian politicians have unduly focused on the state of annual budgets rather than responsible planning for the longer term. And the budgets released this week by both Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party reflect a continued unhealthy obsession with nominal surpluses or deficits — even as they approach the same issue from opposite sides. On the provincial level, the story is a relatively familiar one. The right-wing Saskatchewan Party government has run up massive deficits through years of tax slashing and mismanagement (even as it has underfunded vital public services and left citizens to fend for themselves). But with the 2020 election approaching, the Saskatchewan Party has finally decided it needs to be able to claim a balanced budget for electoral purposes. As a result, Moe’s latest budget includes a continued refusal to even make up for the past damage done to our province’s education system in particular, to say nothing of any investment in the future. It makes no allowance for the circumstances of public sector workers who have been working under expired collective agreements for multiple years. And in order to reach nominal balance, this year’s budget rightly includes a small amount of additional revenue from the potash sector — though the belated and selective inclusion of that income only for electioneering purposes should offer a reminder that we’re not getting our fair share from Saskatchewan’s natural resources. The result is that if one ignores rising longer-term debt, the budget can be spun as being balanced. And if students face overcrowded and under-resourced classrooms, or if people who depend on social assistance are falling still further behind an acceptable standard of living … well, those outcomes are of far less concern to Moe than whether a single summary budget number is printed in red or black. Meanwhile, the federal level has seen a twist on the usual balanced-budget rhetoric — but one which is no better for the public interest. Trudeau’s 2015 election victory was chalked up in large part to his spin — accepted uncritically by much of the national media — that his willingness to promise deficits meant that he was running to the left of the NDP. Needless to say, that claim was never remotely plausible to observers who considered the balance of the parties’ platforms. But the conflation of deficits with progressive politics looks to have worked in Trudeau’s favour once — and sadly, it’s the one campaign theme which has actually been reflected in his governance. Instead of balancing the federal budget (which could have been done by holding off on a couple of election-year baubles and following an additional recommendation or two to increase taxes on higher incomes), the Liberals have thus chosen to project small deficits into the future — even as they punt any meaningful funding for housing, pharmacare, child care or any other genuine policy progress into future terms in office. In other words, Trudeau is betting that he can polarize this year’s federal election around themes of larger versus smaller government at a time when voters would prefer improved social supports — but also that voters will be more interested in whether he’s running a deficit than in whether he’s actually delivering on the public service side. Ultimately, voters shouldn’t be fooled by either side of the deficit-obsessed coin. Regardless of the deficit or surplus number on a public balance sheet, the most important consideration is whether our elected representatives are building the secure and supportive society we deserve. And there’s a reason why neither Moe nor Trudeau wants to see that as a ballot question. Greg Fingas is a Regina lawyer, blogger and freelance political commentator who has written about provincial and national issues from a progressive NDP perspective since 2005.

Mandryk: Meili's erratic budget criticism not helping the NDP's cause

14 hours 1 min ago
For an Opposition already driving rather erratically, Wednesday’s 2019-20 Saskatchewan budget won’t make their trip any easier. New Democrat Opposition leader Ryan Meili needs to pick a lane — preferably, one not on the left-hand side of the road where he risks slamming into on-coming traffic. In Saskatchewan, we don’t normally drive on the left side. Meili, who has a natural tendency to drift left, needs to present a better argument why we should. Wednesday’s budget won’t help him make that case. This is not to suggest Finance Minister Donna Harpauer’s budget was especially left wing, nor is it that there isn’t anything to criticize. No budget is bullet-proof. A great starting point for an Opposition that vowed to make this spring sitting all about kids might have been to observe advanced education spending went nowhere, and whether K-12 truly got anything more than commitments to replace a few schools. Education was one of the last things Meili noted in his embargoed press conference Wednesday. Instead, he questioned whether the budget was really balanced and whether the public debt was too high. To be clear, public debt increasing to $21.7 billion by the end of the 2019-20 budget year and to as much as $26 billion by March 2023 is an issue. But budgets for both governments and oppositions quickly become all about making your case as to whether the financial plan does or does not work. For the Opposition, that means focusing on a consistent theme and sticking to it. Ryan Meili is not leading the budget criticism because he’s swerving all over the place. Pick a lane, sir. In Thursday morning’s question period, Meili opened up by chastising the government for it’s “mission accomplished” and “strange sort of self-congratulations”. “This was a budget with a huge deficit … (although) maybe not by an accounting deficit.” Huh? Sure, governments are always far too self-congratulatory, but this was a budget that had the Saskatchewan Association for Applied Behaviour Analysis (Sask-ABA) offering congratulations “for increasing the amount of funding available to families of autistic children under the age of 6”. It had the Saskatchewan representative of the Canadian Mental Health Association calling the additional $30 million for mental health funding a good first step. These stakeholders aren’t Saskatchewan Party government cheerleaders. Many of them have come to the legislature — often, accompanied by the NDP — with specific spending requests. Many such requests were met Wednesday. (Interestingly, one of the NDP’s traditional allies — the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union — was talking Wednesday about government getting a bigger share of cannabis profits. Why? Well, maybe because the list of 2019-20 government employees released Wednesday show only six less full-time jobs.) One of Meili’s more telling comments was his suggestion the Sask. Party stole NDP ideas. Indeed they did: Mental health, focusing on highway intersection safety as opposed to more visible and popular paving, and a royalty rate review so that potash companies paid a fairer share through royalties. So unbeknownst to potash companies like Nutrien, which seemed rather unhappy, the Sask. Party government changed outdated incentive programs, enabling it collect an additional $117 million for provincial coffers. New Democrat finance critic Trent Wotherspoon in his budget reply Thursday morning described this as a shoddy way to treat world-class companies. Again; huh? Finally, you need a ballpark explanation of what you would do differently if you are going to clamour for balanced budgets and lower debt. Meili’s response Wednesday was it’s too early to have that conversation. A third time: Huh? The Dominion Bond Rating Service credit rating agency issued a statement Thursday morning suggesting the Sask. Party government “has fulfilled its three-year commitment to balance the provincial budget” — this despite DBRS’s own misgivings about whether it’s a balanced budget in 2019-20 when you properly account for capital spending. So where does Meili’s “off-balance” criticism go? What would he do differently from a government that stole his ideas? How would his ambitious spending agenda lower the debt? What is Meili driving at? Mandryk is the political columnist for the Regina Leader-Post.

Regina vigil remembers victims of Christchurch massacre

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 20:37
Five prayer mats were laid out in front of Regina City Hall on Thursday, all pointing in the same direction — toward Mecca. On them sat 50 candles, each one symbolizing one worshipper gunned down in Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15. Munir Haque, president of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan’s Regina chapter, said those worshippers would have faced that way on that fateful day, moments before they lost their lives in a massacre. Their names were read out at a Regina vigil at 6 p.m. Thursday. The youngest victim, Mucaad Ibrahim, was three years old. “Like you, I don’t want to be here. I really, really don’t want to be here,” said Haque. “There are too many vigils. There are too many acts of hatred.” Hundreds of people came to call for understanding and an end to hatred. They came wearing baseball hats, police caps, yarmulkes, turbans and hijabs. Mayor Michael Fougere said it was encouraging to see “so many people from so many backgrounds and so many faiths.” He called the murders a “senseless act of violence” committed by “a despicable person of unspeakable evil.” Young people hold signs to create a message at a vigil held at Regina City Hall for the victims of the terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. Regina Police Service Chief Evan Bray said he believes racism is built on ignorance. Supporters of the former Justice from our Stolen Children camp were also standing before city hall, with longtime spokesman Prescott Demas warning that the same ignorance is present in Saskatchewan. Cameron Fraser, a minister from Knox-Metropolitan Church, said xenophobia is too often condoned. He connected the massacre with “white supremacy,” and said all need to do a better job of standing up to hatred. It was a week where the tragedy in Christchurch sparked fiery debate in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly over an alleged link to yellow vest rallies in the province. NDP Leader Ryan Meili said Monday that government ministers attending the rallies were normalizing anti-immigrant sentiment that could one day erupt in violence. But local MLAs from both parties shook hands on Thursday, before listening to the first words of the Quran, read in Arabic by a local Imam. Mark Docherty, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, said the vigil was a chance for everyone to unite and stand up against Islamophobia. “I want to show support for the Muslim community,” he said. “I was horrified by the act of terrorism in New Zealand and it’s become all too familiar, not only in New Zealand, but in Canada and around the world.” People gather for a vigil held at Regina City Hall for the victims of the terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. Fougere said it’s vital for Reginans to take every opportunity to show their Muslim neighbours they’re welcome in the city. “I want our brothers and sisters to know that they’re safe here, that we love them, we want them to be here,” said Fougere. “We all have a choice that we can make, to reach out to those who feel vulnerable, to make them feel safe.” There’s still a lot of work to do. Haque said the vigil announcement drew enough negative Facebook comments to prove it. “The dialogue is just starting,” he said. awhite-crummey@postmedia.com

After an outstanding rookie season, Warriors' Brayden Tracey has the playoffs in his sights

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 17:14
Moose Jaw Warriors forward Brayden Tracey is ready to build on his first taste of the WHL’s second season. The league’s top-scoring rookie made two playoff appearances last season after he was called up from the midget AAA Calgary Northstars. He plans to draw upon that experience when Moose Jaw opens a first-round series against the Saskatoon Blades on Friday night at SaskTel Centre. “We all know (the playoffs) is a lot harder,” said the 17-year-old sniper. “Everything goes up a pace. With those two games last year, it helps. It shows me how much faster it really is from regular season to playoffs. That’s definitely pretty big.” Tracey made both of his post-season appearances last year during a first-round series against the Prince Albert Raiders. He didn’t see the ice in the second round when Moose Jaw lost in seven games to the Swift Current Broncos, who went on to win the league championship. Moose Jaw captured the WHL’s regular-season title last year with a 52-15-2-3 record. Despite graduating a number of key players from that squad, the Warriors still had a strong returning cast this season, highlighted by forwards Justin Almeida and Tristin Langan and defencemen Josh Brook and Jett Woo. That elite foursome led the team to the league’s seventh-best record (40-20-6-2). Moose Jaw ended up third in a stacked East Division which also includes the league-leading Raiders (54-10-2-2) and the fourth-ranked Blades (45-15-8-0). Saskatoon finished 10 points ahead of Moose Jaw and won the season series with a 5-1-0 record, but the Warriors shouldn’t be counted out. “With last year, not going as far as we wanted to, I think it’s a good rebound this year for us,” Tracey said. “Our whole team knows we can do some damage. If we come in and play our game and play the way our coaches want us to, I think we can go a long way. “(The Blades) are a pretty close team to us. It’s going to be tight all the way through but, if we outcompete them and win all those battles, I think we can do it.” After settling for a minor role in the 2018 playoffs, Tracey is now one of the headliners. Playing on a lethal top line with two 100-point men — Almeida and Langan — Tracey led all WHL rookies this season with 36 goals and a CHL-high 81 points in 66 games. He sat out Moose Jaw’s final two contests but says he’s good to go for the playoffs — and eager to build upon an outstanding rookie campaign. “I surprised myself a little bit,” admitted Tracey, a first-round pick (21st overall) in the 2016 bantam draft. “I knew what I could do, though, and obviously with the linemates I have and the team we have, I think that helped a lot.” Tracey was formally named the top rookie in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday. His competition for league honours is Kelowna Rockets import defenceman Lassi Thomson, 18, who had 17 goals and 41 points in 63 games. “It’s pretty sweet to be recognized by the league like that,” Tracey said. “In the last couple years there have been some special players that got that award. It’s pretty special to me and my family and the organization as well.” Tracey’s development appears to have been aided by the decision to keep him in midget AAA last season at age 16. He dominated with the Northstars — 21 goals and 52 points in 30 games — before carrying that momentum into the WHL. Tracey is expected to continue a surge up the Central Scouting rankings — he was 73rd among North American skaters at mid-season — and is positioned to be a high pick in the 2019 NHL draft. “I think we made the right decision last year by going back (to midget),” said Tracey, the WHL’s player of the month in February. “I gained a lot of confidence from that league, playing lots of minutes. It’s a pretty big step (to major junior) so I knew what I had to do. I talked about it a lot over the summer with the coaches here and what they expected from me. I worked for it in the summer and then coming here I just had to prove myself once again.” gharder@postmedia.com

Video: Mandryk says Saskatchewan’s budget was balanced, but just barely

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 16:48
Arthur and Murray are back to talk about the province’s 2019-20 budget. Check out more of our budget coverage here: https://leaderpost.com/tag/skpoli

'In that room there is no racism': annual event celebrates diversity

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 15:45
Spring Free from Racism’s annual Family Day Celebration reaches a milestone this weekend, with two decades of providing the community an opportunity to come together to share traditions and culture from all different ethnic backgrounds. Barb Dedi, president of the Saskatchewan Association for Human Rights and Spring Free From Racism started the event 20 years ago, with the idea of having an event similar to Mosaic that was free to the public, so people could attend regardless of their economic status. “In addition to that, I wanted to recognize in a big way the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which is celebrated on March 21. So our event is always around that date,” she said. The 10th anniversary for the Spring Free From Racism event was held March 15, 2009 at the Italian Club. Dancers from India Canada Association performed a colourful dance during the afternoon performance. According to Dedi, the Family Day Celebration has continued to grow over the years, from beginning with a small event with just over 100 people and just enough entertainment, to non-stop entertainment spanning an entire day. Brian Sklar has been involved in donating the production equipment for the event for about 15 years. He says the Family Day Celebration is “always a wonderful day.” “It’s just a good time. There are children of every possible ethnic origin and background playing together and it’s a really good lesson for anyone. Racism is not something you’re born with, it’s something you’re taught, something you learn,” he said. Katherine Chang performs a Tai Chi Kung Fu fan routine at the Spring Free from Racism event held at the Italian Club in Regina on March 25, 2012. “And when you watch all these little kids playing together, if the world got along like that, everybody would be better off.” With racial attacks continuing to take place around the world, Sklar believes there should be more events where everyone can get together and share their culture. According to Dedi, over the years, baby steps have been made in regards to racial discrimination and harassment, but looking at what’s happening in the world right now, she also believes the world could use more of these kinds of events. Yang Yang Chinese Dance School performers take the stage at Spring Free from Racism held at the Italian Club in Regina, Sask. on March 23, 2014. “With the attack on Muslims and some of our other brothers and sisters, these types of events should be held all the time because we can celebrate our diversity and our culture, we can celebrate all the different newcomers we have in Canada and also the people that have been here for many years — but everyone came from somewhere, some time.” Dedi is encouraging people to come out to the event to see the traditions and backgrounds and taste the food of various different cultures. She says it’s a day of sharing that cannot be experienced anywhere else. Girls from the Bangla Heritage Language School, left, and girls from the Poltava Ensemble Dancers, right, wait for their chance to perform at the annual Spring Free from Racism event held at the Italian Club in Regina on Sunday March 20, 2016. “That day in that room there is no racism,” she said. “If you can socialize and you can understand each other’s culture, then that also decreases the amount of discrimination.” The annual Family Day Celebration will take place on Sunday, March 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Italian Club. The event will feature hundreds of performers from various different groups, as well as a variety of food and display areas. Girls of the Bangla Heritage Language School wait for their chance to a perform at the annual Spring Free from Racism event held at the Italian Club in Regina on March 20, 2016.   Nilufer Kacar (left) scoops tomato sauce onto Turkish ravioli while Esma Kul (center) and Ilknur Uray (right) look on during Spring Free from Racism held at the Italian Club in Regina on Sunday March 22, 2015. It was the Regina Anatolian Cultural Centre’s first time participating in the event.   The Spring Free from Racism event was held at the Italian Club in Regina on March 19, 2017. The Irish Dancers take part of the event.   German dancers Natassja Drews (left) and Ashley Clute were helping out the German Club with selling pretzels from a stick at the Spring Free From Racism event held on Sunday at the Italian Club on March 20, 2011.   The Italian Club hosted “Spring Free From Racism” event Sunday with food and dance from a variety of cultures. Members of the Miorita Romania Dancers perform for the large crowd on March 16, 2008.   alawlor@postmedia.com

Overtime victory powers Rebels into league final

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 15:07
Given recent events, Larissa Bohlken is well-qualified to discuss the scoring and attainment of goals. Bohlken registered two goals, including one in overtime, on Wednesday to propel the Regina Rebels into the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League’s championship series. She was credited with the winner at 4:13 of OT as Regina defeated the host Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats 3-2 to end a best-of-five semi-final in four games. The decisive tally, the result of a lucky bounce, gave the 16-year-old Boulken — who plays defence — two goals on the evening. Most importantly, the Rebels advanced to the league final for the first time since 2014. “Everyone is super-excited,” said Bohlken, a second-year member of a youthful team that will lose only two players to graduation. “We set a few goals at the start of the year and one of them was to get to the league final. “Everyone has been pushing the same way all season. Everybody on the team has bought into the system and into what the coaches are saying. That’s what got us to where we are now.” In the championship series, the Rebels are to face the winner of a semi-final between the Saskatoon Stars and Notre Dame Hounds. Saskatoon carried a 2-1 series lead into Thursday night’s game at Duncan McNeill Arena in Wilcox. Lauren Focht had the other goal for the Rebels on Wednesday. Carissa Hogan and Taylor Lind replied for Swift Current, which rallied from a 2-0 third-period deficit. The Rebels’ ultimate goal is to reach the Esso Cup — the Canadian female midget AAA championship — for the second time in team history. Regina placed fourth at the national event in 2013. The 2012-13 Rebels posted a 27-0-0-1 regular-season record before going undefeated in the provincial playoffs. The Weyburn Southern Range Gold Wings defeated Regina in the 2014 league final. rvanstone@postmedia.com twitter.com/robvanstone      

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