Monthly Archives: September 2018

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Crown says Sona is Pierre Poutine – but more than one person involved in robocalls

GUELPH – Both sides agree: It couldn’t have been just one person behind the robocalls.

But exactly who orchestrated the scheme to mislead Guelph voters during the 2011 election remained the question at the heart of the last day of Michael Sona’s trial.

The 25-year-old former Conservative staffer is the only person charged with preventing people from voting – a crime that carries up to five years of prison if convicted.

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  • Conservative friends point finger at Michael Sona on Day 3 of robocalls trial

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  • Witness gave Conservatives IP addresses, Sona trial hears

Crown prosecutor Croft Michaelson argued Sona was “instrumental” in the scheme that primarily targeted Liberal supporters – and that he was the young man behind the now-infamous Pierre Poutine cellphone.

Sona’s lawyer Norm Boxall cast doubt on Crown’s evidence, labelling key witness Andrew Prescott as “not credible” and suggesting he may have been involved in the scheme along with campaign manager Ken Morgan.

But who Justice Gary Hearn believes will be revealed when he delivers his verdict on August 14.

‘More than one person’

The Crown argued Sona inquired about making anonymous calls days before the May 2 election and, along with Morgan, received information from Prescott about how to create an automated calling account with Edmonton-based company RackNine.

Michaelson said the evidence shows Sona set up a robocalls account under the pseudonym “Pierre Jones,” and also bought prepaid credit cards and a burner cellphone registered as the now-infamous “Pierre Poutine.”

READ MORE: Crown wraps case against Sona in robocalls trial as court hears of possible second person

“I say the evidence points towards Mr. Sona as being ‘Pierre Jones’ and being instrumental in carrying out the scheme,” Michaelson said.

Michaelson suggested Sona did this to retaliate against the Liberals during what many described as a “dirty” campaign.

“He wanted to win the election by preventing Liberal voters from voting.”

But he also said someone else on Conservative candidate Marty Burke’s campaign was likely involved, noting that someone logged onto a proxy server and purchased credit cards at roughly the same time.

“It appears that more than one person was involved in executing the plan,” he said.

That person may have been Morgan, the Crown suggested, who along with Sona had login information about creating a robocalls account.

But Morgan has since moved to Kuwait and did not cooperate with investigators or testify at the five-day trial.

Michaelson said even if Sona aided or abetted someone else, he can be found guilty.

‘Not credible’

Boxall, Sona’s lawyer, suggested there’s more evidence against the Crown’s star witness – Prescott – than his own client.

Prescott received immunity to testify against his former friend in the case.

“Mr. Prescott is just not credible,” Boxall said.

READ MORE: Conservative friends point finger at Michael Sona on Day 3 of robocalls trial

Prescott, who worked as deputy campaign manager, has an information technology background and had set up his own robocalls account during the campaign.

He was also tipped off about the investigation by Matt Meier, who owned the automated calling firm RackNine which was used to make the misleading calls.

Boxall noted that both Prescott and “Pierre Jones” paid for the robocalls using the PayPal system in small dollar amounts.

Prescott also destroyed the computers associated with the campaign after the election.

In his testimony last week, Prescott said that he logged into the Jones account – client 93 – after Morgan told him to stop another round of robocalls from going out on election day.

He also told the court he withheld information from investigators to protect himself.

“Mr. Prescott is deflecting responsibility from himself, and perhaps others,” Boxall said.

Boxall also cast doubt on the recollection of four witnesses, all young current and former Conservative staffers, who testified against Sona.

He said their statements are “unreliable” because at least a year had passed before they first came forward, and they may have been influenced by media reports.

Boxall added it was “somewhat unusual” that three of them had spoken with the Conservative party’s lawyer Arthur Hamilton before meeting with Elections Canada.

Northern Gateway pipeline deadline 10 days away

VANCOUVER – Some time in the next 10 days, the federal government is supposed to announce its final decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline – the multibillion-dollar political minefield dividing the West.

Even detractors expect the federal government to give the $7-billion project the go-ahead.

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But the nod from Ottawa would not be the crest of the mountain Northern Gateway must climb before the oil – and the money – begin to flow. The path to the British Columbia coast has many hurdles left for Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB) and its partners.

A joint review panel of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency recommended approval of the project six months ago, subject to 209 conditions.

“The bottom line is there are 113 conditions that need to be met before construction can begin. That’s going to take a lot of time,” said company spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht.

If approved, that would be merely one more step in an ongoing process, Giesbrecht said.

“We have a lot of work to be done before we would be able to begin construction.”

There are also the five applications before the Federal Court for judicial review of the federal panel recommendation, and further court challenges are likely.

To read our continued coverage on the Northern Gateway pipeline click here

The opposition of environmental groups was always a given. Expansion of Alberta’s oil sands has become an international target for climate activists.

“Approval seems obvious. At the same time, opposition is so strong,” said Nikki Skuce, a resident of Smithers, B.C., and a campaigner for the environmental group Forest Ethics Advocacy.

“It’s going to be caught up in the courts for years and it’s going to be ugly on the ground. People are willing to do what it takes.”

That is no idle threat in a province that saw a decade-long War in the Woods over logging of old growth forests, which ended with new government regulations.

Protestors form a \”women\’s circle\” to honour those leading the fight against the Enbridge Northern Gateway project in George Little Park, Terrace, B.C., June 16, 2013. About 300 people attended the rally the day before the final arguments begin for the Joint Review Panel on the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Robin Rowland

And opposition is not limited to environmentalists and First Nations.

Another crippling blow to the project came from the residents of Kitimat – the B.C. city with the most to gain as the pipeline terminus – when they voted to reject the project in a non-binding plebiscite.

Kitimat is no stranger to industry, born of an aluminum smelter in the 1950s, but for a majority of those who voted the risks outweigh the rewards.

Even the provincial government officially opposed the project at review hearings.

Victoria appears poised to reverse itself, deploying key ministers to a flurry of recent federal announcements on marine and pipeline safety. But the Liberal government may be waiting to see which way the political wind is blowing before they change direction.

“There’s a question of whether going along with the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline will make LNG development in B.C. more challenging by angering First Nations so adamantly opposed to the oil sands pipeline,” said George Hoberg, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of forestry and founder of UBCC350, a group pressing for action on greenhouse gas emissions.

There is deep resistance in B.C., he said.

“I think it’s likely to be approved, but I would not be shocked if it was delayed or even denied,” Hoberg said.

The product that the pipeline would carry is a hurdle.

The pipeline west would transport molasses-like diluted bitumen. Studies and previous spills have found that dilbit sinks in turbulent water conditions.

Opponents like Art Sterritt, director of Coastal First Nations, have said a tanker spill is possible – even likely – and cannot be cleaned up. His coalition of nine aboriginal communities remains vehemently opposed.

The greatest obstacle is the unflagging opposition of First Nations. Hamstrung by the federal government’s failure to negotiate treaties in decades of talks, the company has been left in a legal limbo.

The company said the project has 26 aboriginal equity partners and consultations continue but Clarence Innis, acting chief of the Gitxaala Nation on the North Coast, said they haven’t heard from anyone and no talks are planned.

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to protect our territory,” said Innis, whose community is located on an island at the mouth of the Douglas Channel.

The Gitxaala are already preparing a legal challenge.

“We played by the rules,” Innis said.

“We’ve been ignored.”

The fight is far from over on either side. There are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, the company has said.

“It’s in the national interest to be able to diversify the markets that we have for our most valuable natural resource,” Giesbrecht said.

“We believe the project is the right thing for Canada, we’ve felt that way right from the very beginning and that’s why we’ve pursued it.

©2014The Canadian Press

WATCH: Woman describes how fallen Mountie saved baby brother’s life

Watch above: A Moncton family wants to pay tribute to a fallen RCMP officer who save a baby boy’s life six years ago. Shelley Steeves reports.

MONCTON – A Moncton woman whose family has a special connection to one of the three RCMP officers killed last week said they were devastated when they found out he had died.

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In an interview with Global News, 18-year-old Chelsea Furlotte said Const. Douglas Larche saved her brother Kodie when he was only a few days old.

READ MORE: City of Moncton releases details of funeral for fallen Mounties

Kodie, now six years old, had stopped breathing, and their mother called the police.

“He took my brother out of the crib…and he started to do CPR,” said Furlotte. “He saved his life.

“It’s terrible to know that if it wasn’t for Doug, my little brother wouldn’t be here right now.”

Larche received a special commendation for his efforts.

RAW VIDEO: Chelsea Furlotte speaks to Global News’s Shelley Steeves about the death of Const. Douglas Larche

Furlotte described Larche as “an amazing man” who cared about everybody.

She said he would stop by regularly to see how her brother was doing.

“He would come over to our house and he’d make sure Kodie was okay,” she said. “He really loved Kodie.”

“He shouldn’t have died. It’s not fair.”

The one message she said she would like to send Larche’s family is one of gratitude.

“Thank you, for everything that you’ve done for us and this community,” she said tearfully.

READ MORE: People of Moncton take back their streets, thank RCMP after shootings

Furlotte said she and her family are planning to attend the funeral of the three officers in Moncton on Tuesday.

“We’re going to pay our respects to all of the officers who passed away,” she said.

Larche’s family released a statement on Sunday that spoke of his love for his family — especially his three daughters, aged nine, eight and four.

With files from Shelley Steeves

GALLERY: Jazz Fest Regina Preview at Darke Hall – Regina

REGINA- Several local artists, including Arnie Davis and Jeffery Straker performed a sampling of the musical offerings at this year’s Jazz Fest Regina Monday morning at Darke Hall. The festival runs Tuesday through Saturday with various free and ticketed events throughout the city.

Jeffery Straker performs “Luck ain’t chasing me” live for the Morning News Monday.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Kevin Kasha plays a Dixieland tune on the trumpet in Darke Hall at the U of R College Avenue Campus.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Inside the Fazioli piano.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Joe Kleisinger accompanies Arnie Davis on bass live on the Morning News Monday at Darke Hall.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Arnie Davis plays the U of R’s Fazioli piano at Darke Hall Monday morning.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Rick Harris provides a preview of his multiple

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Reporter Raquel Fletcher sits behind the Fazioli piano in Darke Hall at the U of R College Avenue Campus.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

This Fazioli piano was gifted to the U of R in January 2014 by Dr. Roberta McKay and Elmer Brenner.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News


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Police station sale, disaster assistance on Saskatoon council agenda – Saskatoon

SASKATOON – The City of Saskatoon is taking steps to sell the old police building at the corner of 4th Avenue and 23rd Street once it is vacated after the move to the new headquarters is complete.

On Monday, council will be asked to remove the reserve price of $15.6 million.

If approved, the building will be listed for three months with Colliers International.

The parking lot just north of the current headquarters is also part of the deal.

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City officials said there has been considerable interest in the property since it was put up for sale last fall but no offers have been made.

Also on Monday, council will be asked to pass a resolution which could assist property owners who are dealing with spring flood damage.

The city is seeking disaster relief from the provincial government and needs to be declared an eligible assistance area before homeowners can apply for provincial money to cover the cost of damages not covered by insurance.

The city is pointing to the riverbank slump along Saskatchewan Crescent which recently prompted evacuation alerts to a number of homes.

Official are also blaming heavy rain for 12 calls about flood damage.

Also on the agenda are proposed amendments to the city’s vending policy on public sidewalks which regulates mobile food vendors.

The amendments would remove outdated sections for hours of operation and rental fees.

Additions to the policy would allow for the provision of parking patios, which is recommended in the City Centre Plan, and modifies the name to reflect the use of parking stalls.

Corsets to Wonderbras: Fashion museum takes on lingerie

NEW YORK – From a 1770 corset to a 2014 bra-and-panty set in lacy stretch silk, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology has put the focus on lingerie and ladies foundation garments in a new exhibition.

In about 70 pieces, “Exposed: A History of Lingerie” touches on the mechanics, marketing and cultural touchstones — hello Wonderbra! — that not only shape and adorn but also helped define culture around the globe.

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The exhibition, which spans the 1760s to present day, opened June 3 and runs through Nov. 15. A companion book will be released by Yale University Press this summer.

___

THE CORSET’S RISE AND FALL

The corset’s profile was first upped in the late Renaissance and remained popular in many forms through the early 20th century.

“It was a pretty essential element of fashionable dress for about 400 years,” said assistant curator Colleen Hill, who organized the exhibit.

The corset, which originated within aristocratic court culture and gradually spread throughout society, was all about a slender waist, she said. By the mid-18th century, the desired silhouette was an inverted cone, lifting the breasts with the help of stays crafted out of silk, whalebone or wood.

Decorative centre busks were carved, painted and adorned with text or years. They were key in thrusting a woman’s posture upright to make the most of the shape the corset was intended to achieve, Hill said.

By the early 19th century, the corset still included a centre busk but lacked all-around stays for a more softly structured fit that still encased the body and kept a woman’s posture erect.

“It was important for women to have this correct posture,” Hill said. “It was essential for fitting into your clothes, for decorum and for modesty.”

At the dawn of the 20th century, some corset makers continued to promote their wares as “healthy style,” but the designs remained “extremely restricting,” she said. Certain designs made a woman appear rigidly straight in front while resulting in a severely arched back.

By 1920, the corset had essentially become a girdle.

___

THE PEIGNOIR AND LOUNGEWEAR

One late 19th-century article discovered by Hill said American women wore loungewear with a corset underneath while doing morning household chores or preparing for their day.

The corset under a peignoir “is something French women did not do,” she said. “I thought that was very interesting because some of these garments were meant to essentially be a reprieve from these really constricting foundation garments like the corset.”

By the early 20th century, Hill said, loungewear served more functions. The tea gown developed from the peignoir or dressing gown and was worn during 5 o’clock tea.

“It was something that a woman could wear within her home but you would greet your guests at home for tea in this garment, so you still wanted something really fashionable, as luxurious as you could afford, but it was something that could be worn without a corset. We don’t see tea gowns today.”

___

SEDUCTION AND EROTICISM

The British company Agent Provocateur, founded in 1994 by Joseph Corre, the son of Vivienne Westwood, and his now ex-wife, Serena Rees, represents a turning point in lingerie’s modern history, Hill said. They opened their first boutique in 1996.

“They were selling lingerie that was highly eroticized, things that were high end and beautifully made, so they’re classy yet they’re taking a cue from things like the old Frederick’s of Hollywood catalogues that are just really overtly erotic,” she said.

The evocative nature combined with high-end craftsmanship offered by Agent Provocateur led to a greater acceptance of eroticized undergarments and lingerie, Hill said. The company now operates boutiques around the world.

___

THE WONDERBRA

Pre-Wonderbra, women looking for some help in the bust department relied on “gay deceivers,” an early 20th-century euphemism for falsies that could be placed inside bras, Hill said.

“Even some corsets from the 19th century have these kind of falsies built into them, so the idea of augmenting your natural breast size in some way is very old and probably impossible to trace all the way back,” she said.

Enter the Wonderbra, with its plunge, padding and pushup via underwire. According to some reports, the name was first trademarked in the U.S. in 1955 but came out of Canada in 1939 as developed by Moses Nadler, founder of a corset company. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the Wonderbra really took off, Hill said.

Sales were driven by a 1994 ad campaign that featured smiling model Eva Herzigova looking down at her breasts in a Wonderbra with the tagline: “Hello Boys.” The popularity of the ad, including billboards, sent sales skyrocketing. At one point demand exceeded supplies, Hill said.

“There’s an urban legend that when people saw these billboards on the street they would literally cause traffic accidents,” she said.

©2014The Associated Press

Horwath tries to reclaim Jack Layton’s legacy in final days of campaign – Toronto

Watch above: Why the Ontario NDP is fighting back against a call for strategic voting. Jackson Proskow reports. 

TORONTO – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath aligned her campaign Monday with the federal New Democrats, invoking the late Jack Layton’s legacy as another former party leader came to her defence following an attack from the Liberal premier.

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Horwath shot back at Premier Kathleen Wynne while standing in front of a memorial statue of Layton, who led the federal party to a massive surge in support and official Opposition status in the last national election.

Wynne used Layton’s name over the weekend to slam Horwath for refusing to rule out propping up a Tory-led minority government. Horwath, whose party has been a consistent third in the polls during this provincial campaign, said the Liberals want voters to forget that Layton would have stood against their scandal-ridden government.

“Ms. Wynne likes to talk a lot about great NDP leaders, but I can tell you the same people like Jack Layton that she talks about fought Liberal corruption all his life,” Horwath said Monday.

“Jack fought the same battle that I’m fighting today and that’s why I’m standing in front of this memorial to remember, to remind people exactly what Liberals are like.”

Wynne launched a direct appeal on Sunday to New Democrat voters, telling them that a vote for Horwath is a vote for Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak because only the Liberals have a chance at beating him on Thursday, when Ontario voters go to the polls.

READ MORE: Party leaders prepare for final stretch of campaigning

“That is how far the NDP has fallen – it’s not the party that it was,” Wynne said. “It’s not the party of Jack Layton. It’s not the party of Ed Broadbent. It’s not the party of Stephen Lewis.”

A group of 34 current and former New Democrats, some well-known within the party, wrote an open letter earlier in the campaign, wondering if Horwath had “given up” on progressive voters by not supporting a left-wing-friendly Liberal budget and saying they are considering not voting NDP. But Broadbent was quick to fire back at Wynne.

“Partisan debate is one thing, but by invoking my name in weekend speeches and articles to attack Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP, Kathleen Wynne has gone beyond the pale,” he said Monday in a brief statement.

“Let no one doubt: I fully support Andrea Horwath and the Ontario NDP.”

Ed Broadbent, a former leader of the federal NDP at the 2012 leadership convention

Global News

It’s not uncommon for federal parties to help their provincial cousins in election campaigns – federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has campaigned with Wynne and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has appeared on the campaign trail for Hudak.

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has only appeared with Horwath at a private campaign event, which the NDP says is a result of scheduling conflicts.

Horwath said Wynne is using Layton’s name to distract voters.

“They want you to forget about their corruption. They want to forget about the billions of dollars of your money that they wasted,” Horwath said.

“Kathleen Wynne likes to talk a lot about great NDP leaders, but she cannot even stand in their shadows.”

Though Horwath said she could not support Hudak’s plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs, nor would she support “corrupt” Liberals, she didn’t explicitly rule out propping up either party if it wins a minority government.

In Depth: Ontario Election 2014

“I’m running to be the premier of this province,” she said when asked if she would be part of a coalition government. “I’m going to respect the people’s decision on Thursday, but I can tell you for sure I will not support 100,000 families being kicked to the curb and I will not support corrupt Liberals.”

Horwath did prop up the Liberals for years, and on Monday defended that support.

“I respected the decision that people made in their last election campaign that we had here in Ontario,” she said. “People voted for a minority parliament and I worked very, very hard to make that parliament deliver results for them and I’m proud of that work.”

She ultimately decided to pull the plug, triggering the election, due to scandals such as the cancellation of two gas plants, which is estimated to have cost taxpayers up to $1.1 billion.

Tuesday June 10th on The Morning News – Halifax

The three Mounties who were killed in Moncton last week will be remembered in a regimental funeral on Tuesday and the Morning News will have extensive coverage. We’ll have live reporter updates throughout the morning from Moncton along with a look at how the rest of the Maritimes will also be remembering the fallen officers.

Maybe you picked up a gem over the weekend during the Curbside Giveaway – but now, you’re wondering what to do with it! The folks at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore are experts at giving old things new life. At 6:45 we’ll be joined by a member of the team who will give us some tips and tricks to rethink our garbage.

Bringing home a new puppy or kitten is an exciting and rewarding experience that will provide hours of laughter and fun. But but along with the joy and responsibility also comes the expense of pet ownership.  At 7:45 we’ll talk with our Money Sense Expert Leanne Salyzyn to find out more about how to plan financially for adding a pet to your family.

The quest to find Canada’s best comfort food is heading to the south shore of Nova Scotia. This week the Food Network program “You Gotta Eat Here” will feature a popular restaurant from the historic town of Lunenburg. At 8:15 we’ll talk with the people with the Salt Shaker Deli.

At 8:45 Tim Russesco will be by from The Downtown Dartmouth Business Comission to talk about a great event happening this Sunday. Switch Dartmouth is an event that will allow you to experience the city in a whole new way. Switch will open the streets to allow people to walk, jog, cycle, and enjoy!!

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Combined MMRV vaccine carries small risk of seizures: Canadian study

TORONTO — It’s been a contentious year for parents as outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles and chicken pox took their toll on kids across North America. Doctors blamed an anti-vaccination movement — now, a new Canadian study suggests that the combined MMRV vaccine may cause febrile seizures in young children more so than separate inoculations.

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But the Calgary doctors leading the research are reassuring the public: these vaccines are completely safe and risk of seizures is rare.

“Parents should be assured that we are continually monitoring vaccine safety and watching for rare adverse events. It is reassuring that the extra risk is still very low…” said lead researcher Dr. Shannon MacDonald.

“The most important thing is to vaccinate your child, whether it is with separate or combination vaccines,” she told Global News.

READ MORE: Anti-vaccination movement means preventable diseases making a comeback

MacDonald is a registered nurse and University of Calgary researcher studying vaccine safety and parents’ decision-making around immunization. She’s also a mother of two small children, she notes, so she can relate to the anxiety parents feel about making sound health care decisions for their kids.

Her research, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, is timely. Along with measles outbreaks, whooping cough, chicken pox and mumps have also resurfaced in the Western world. Doctors have pointed to one culprit: a steadily growing anti-vaccination movement.

MacDonald’s research considers the MMRV vaccine. A common hesitation parents have about vaccination is the number of needles their very young kids have to deal with. The solution was to combine the MMR — measles, mumps, rubella — vaccine with the chicken pox — or varicella — vaccine to create an MMRV dosage.

Right now, the MMRV is given to kids in Alberta at 12 months old and again between four to six. In total, the MMRV vaccine is used in nine provinces.

READ MORE: Which Toronto schools have the lowest measles vaccination rates?

A U.S. study suggested that the combined MMRV vaccine increased the risk of febrile seizures compared to MMR and varicella vaccines doled out separately. The thing is, the U.S. uses a different MMRV — called ProQuad. MacDonald wanted to know if the MMRV vaccine Canadians use — called Priorix-Tetra — came with the same results.

And to clarify to concerned parents: febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by high fever, typically in babies and young kids. The fever is usually linked to infection, such as a cold, influenza or an ear infection. But the fever can also be caused by a recent immunization. These seizures don’t have any long-term effects, though.

“They can be distressing to parents and result in visits to emergency departments and doctor’s offices,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald’s study looked at all 12- to 23-month-old children in Alberta who received their first dose of the measles vaccine between 2006 and 2012. Her team linked data on immunization status with data on ER visits, hospitalizations and doctors’ visits due to febrile seizures.

READ MORE: What caused a whooping cough epidemic? Scientists blame parents

The MMR vaccine also comes with a small risk of these seizures, but the risk is twice as high with the MMRV vaccine. It’s still very low though — about an extra three or four seizures per 10,000 doses. For some perspective, if you don’t vaccinate your kids, 60 to 70 per 10,000 cases encounter a seizure.

“If you have ever seen a child in the ICU on a ventilator as a result of contracting whooping cough or having a foot amputated due to meningococcal disease — both of which I have seen — you would not doubt the value of immunizing children against diseases,” MacDonald told Global News.

Then there’s the risk of pneumonia, brain inflammation and even death from refusing vaccinations, she said.

“The challenge in communicating this to parents is that most have not seen the devastation that some of these diseases can cause. Fortunately, most parents appreciate the benefits of vaccines and immunize their children,” MacDonald said.

READ MORE: 6 vaccination myths debunked

So what should parents, doctors and health officials do with this research in mind? For starters, parents should be counselled about the risk of fever post-vaccination. They can keep a close eye on their kids for fever within the next seven to 10 days when the risk of a seizure is heightened.

Medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) can also help fight fever.

“It is a matter for debate whether the choice of separate versus combination vaccine is a policy decision or a choice for parents to make in consultation with their vaccination providers,” MacDonald concludes in her paper.

READ MORE: How do you treat the common cold? Here’s what works and what doesn’t

In the meantime, she hopes her findings are reassuring to parents. The risk of seizures are low in the MMR and MMRV vaccines, and doctors are being transparent and forthcoming about the potential side effects, she said.

Read her full findings here.

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Brian Sinclair inquest: Minor complaints not causing high ER crowding – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG – One of the country’s leading emergency department experts says Canada’s hospital waiting rooms aren’t being clogged by people coming in with the flu, earaches and sprained ankles.

Grant Innes told an inquest into a man’s death during a 34-hour wait at a Winnipeg hospital that backlogs occur when admitted patients are stuck on stretchers because they can’t get a hospital bed or the specialist treatment they need.

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Innes, head of emergency medicine at the University of Calgary, said emergency room overcrowding is a problem across Canada. But contrary to popular belief, studies show patients with minor complaints don’t take up a lot of hospital resources, he said.

Click here for full coverage of the Brian Sinclair inquest

Real problems occur when there are delays in discharging patients or because of poor planning by hospitals to deal with the busiest times, he said.

“If we don’t address that, the system will never get better,” Innes said Monday at the inquest into the death of Brian Sinclair – a double-amputee who died almost six years ago while waiting for care at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre.

Someone walking into an emergency department at 3 p.m. on a weekday would be forgiven for thinking it was a “war zone,” Innes said. That same ER at 2 a.m. is quiet and virtually empty.

Hospitals often close beds in the summer or over Christmas because staff take time off, but that’s when demand is highest. Discharges plummet on weekends and are often delayed because patients can’t get a long-term care bed, he said.

It can take hours or days for some patients to be discharged because arrangements have to be made for home care, Innes said. In the meantime, patients are taking up beds while someone is suffering from a heart attack in the emergency waiting room.

Even scheduling some elective surgeries at off-peak times when most surgeons would rather not work would ease the pressure on emergency rooms, Innes suggested.

“Most people think this problem is so big, we cannot solve it. But small improvements when multiplied by large numbers of patients make a huge difference.”

Sinclair was referred to the hospital by a clinic physician because of a blocked catheter. The 45-year-old aboriginal man spoke to a triage aide before wheeling himself into the waiting room where he languished for hours. As his condition deteriorated, Sinclair vomited several times, but no one asked if he was OK or was waiting for medical care.

Sinclair had been dead for hours by the time he was discovered and rigor mortis had set in. He died of a treatable bladder infection.

Although many hospital staff testified they saw Sinclair, no one thought he was waiting for care. Some assumed he had been triaged already and was waiting for a bed. Others assumed he had been treated and discharged. Others thought he was drunk and was waiting for a ride or just needed a warm place to rest.

While many had hoped the inquest would delve into why such assumptions were made about Sinclair, Judge Tim Preston is focusing on how to unclog emergency waiting rooms.

Canada has a very low number of hospital beds, physicians and nurses per capita compared to the rest of the developed world, Innes testified. But adding beds wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem, he said.

“We probably do need new capacity in the system, probably most in long-term care. But if there are available beds, the physician may not be very aggressive about discharging patients.”

Many emergency departments choose to divert ambulances and “close the door” when a waiting room becomes too crowded rather than try to address the problem, Innes said.

“If you can solve the issue by closing the front door … those patients are out of sight, out of mind,” he said. “There is no need for them to find solutions. It sustains dysfunction.”

Sandi Mowat, head of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said Innes’s recommendations echo those of emergency room nurses. Those who work in emergency departments recognize the importance of planning better for peak periods and moving patients out of the waiting room quickly, she said.

“The emergency department seems to be the stop-gap for everyone and nobody takes accountability for those patients that are admitted that need to be moved elsewhere,” Mowat said.

Two more witnesses are scheduled to testify this week regarding emergency room overcrowding. The inquest is scheduled to wrap up Thursday after the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, the nurses union and the Sinclair family have made their recommendations.

©2014The Canadian Press