Winnipeg police arrest parents after baby exposed to fentanyl

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Two parents are in police custody facing several charges after their baby boy suffered a possible overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl.

Const. Jason Michalyshen said paramedics were called to a Winnipeg home last week and found the nine-month-old in critical condition. Officers also found a powder which they believed to be fentanyl.

He said a search of the home found 285 grams of suspected fentanyl powder, along with a cutting agent and other contaminated paraphernalia, Michalyshen said.

The biological parents — a 33 year-old man and 32-year-old woman who police are not naming — have been charged with failure to provide the necessities of life, causing bodily harm by criminal negligence and drug trafficking, Michalyshen said.

The baby boy has been upgraded to stable and is in care, he said.

The child’s life was probably saved by officers, who immediately noted the presence of fentanyl in the home, which allowed him to be properly treated with an antidote, he said.

“Limited information was being provided to us,” Michalyshen said Tuesday. “This was not something that was divulged to officers, investigators, emergency personnel, that the child’s situation may be as a result of drug or a substance within the home.”

Although the baby’s condition improved immediately following the antidote, Michalyshen said police are still waiting for confirmation from Health Canada that the drug they found is fentanyl.

The investigation is continuing. Michalyshen said it’s still not entirely clear how the baby came into contact with the drug.

“Obviously a nine-month-old child is not walking around, typically, and would not necessarily have access to something like this,” he said.

“The child may have had inadvertent contact with what we believe to be fentanyl. This might be from hand-to-hand contact or clothing to the child or other items — a bottle, a toy.”

Police and health officials say fentanyl poses a serious threat to public safety across North America. The opioid is used as a painkiller for terminally ill cancer patients and is 100 times more powerful than heroin.

Just a tiny amount of residue would be enough to hurt a young child with developing lungs, Michalyshen said.

“The effects, potentially, are fatal,” he said. “It takes the risk to a completely other level where you have an innocent child who is subjected to and potentially has contact with such a potent and such a hazardous substance.

“The effects and the ultimate outcomes can be so incredibly tragic … Now young children are being impacted as a result of those poor choices and decisions.”

Matthew Young, a drug use expert with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, said a fentanyl overdose shuts down the area of the brain that controls breathing. It can then cause brain damage or death.

A smaller amount of fentanyl would be toxic for a child compared to an adult, he added. Depending on whether or not fentanyl is in its pure form, he said simply touching the drug could mean exposure.

Vancouver police said last month that three officers had experienced overdose symptoms after handling fentanyl or exhibits contaminated with the opioid. Officers and support staff were to start carrying the nasal-spray form of an antidote called naloxone.

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Dwight Ball meets with aboriginal leaders over Muskrat Falls protests

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Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier met Tuesday with aboriginal leaders to discuss controversial flooding at Muskrat Falls, as Ottawa signalled it is open to extending federal loan guarantees for the megaproject.

Security officials locked the main doors as protesters gathered at the provincial legislature, while Premier Dwight Ball met with Labrador aboriginal leaders over a planned reservoir that critics fear could pose health risks.

The project is upstream from 2,000 Inuit and other residents in the Lake Melville region, and critics are worried about methylmercury contamination when the 41-square-kilometre area is flooded.

Last week, Nalcor agreed to remove more forest cover from the area to address those concerns, but protesters say they also want all soil removed before the reservoir is created.

That would further delay a project that is already behind schedule and plagued by cost overruns.

Natural Resources Minister James Carr said in Ottawa Tuesday that the Trudeau government is open to extending a 2013 loan guarantee granted by the former Harper government.

“We’re dealing now with a request from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to extend the loan guarantees that were offered by the previous government in 2013, so we’re seriously considering their request,” Carr said.

Ball has already said Nalcor, the Crown corporation building the megaproject, wouldn’t increase water levels for a reservoir before Tuesday’s meeting.

Under questioning from NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in the Commons Tuesday about what Ottawa is doing to protect the Inuit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the provincial government is consulting with indigenous people.

“We are ensuring that the province continues to consult and engage on this project with the full respect that we all expect will be shown towards indigenous peoples in this country,” Trudeau said.

On Tuesday in St. John’s, demonstrators hung a sheet spray-painted in black reading “Don’t poison Labrador” on the railing of the legislature building. Angus Andersen of Nain stood with a sign saying “Make Muskrat Right.”

He said a court order for the arrests of people occupying the Muskrat Falls site undercuts the meeting’s purpose.

“Why even meet with aboriginal leaders if you’re going to start arresting people who are protecting the land peacefully?”

About 50 protesters entered the central Labrador site on Saturday and occupied an accommodation complex, prompting the company to remove at least 700 workers from the grounds.

On Monday, the company obtained an injunction naming 22 people occupying the site for potential arrest. The head of Nalcor said in a statement that protesters are risking serious injury, and has urged them to depart the site.

“You cannot break into or trespass on your own land,” demonstration organizer Denise Cole of Goose Bay said to applause from about 40 people gathered at the legislature.

She also led a moment of silence and prayer for those occupying the Muskrat Falls site and blockading its entrance.

Three hunger strikers, including Inuk artist Billy Gauthier, who says he has not eaten since Oct. 13, have issued four conditions before they’ll eat again.

They include:

  • An evidence-based approach based on peer-reviewed science to mitigate the effects of methylmercury contamination.
  • An independent assessment of Nalcor Energy’s science and engineering reports on the necessity of imminent, first-phase flooding by the end of this month. If flooding is necessary, height and duration is to be kept to a minimum.
  • Removal of soil to minimize methylmercury contamination, as suggested by independent scientific research, during the second phase of reservoir flooding.
  • A commitment from the federal government that it will participate in a joint monitoring program and fulfil its regulatory obligations related to Muskrat Falls.

The list of conditions is signed by Gauthier, Delilah Miriam Saunders and Jerry David Zack.

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Federal government set to launch competition for Canada’s next warship design

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The federal government is poised to fire the starting gun on the long-awaited, multibillion-dollar race to design and build the navy’s newest warships.

The competition, which involves 12 of the largest defence and shipbuilding companies in the world, is expected to be launched on Thursday after years of debate, delays and hand-wringing.

Companies will be given six months to submit designs for a new warship which will replace the navy’s 12 frigates and its three recently retired destroyers.

The winning design, pegged by one source as worth upwards of $10 billion out of a project that’s expected to cost between $26 billion and $40 billion, will be built by Irving Shipyards in Halifax, with the first ship scheduled to hit the water in 2024.

“This is the product of close to a decade of hard work to get to this point, which is hopefully going to lead in short order to actually cutting steel on warships for Canada,” said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

But some companies have already been grumbling about the process, raising fears the competition could hit rocky waters and produce further delays and problems.

Among the complaints is the role of Irving Shipyards, which is actually running the competition.

That has sparked allegations the competition will be biased in favour of designs put forward by companies with which Irving has a pre-existing relationship.

Irving and the government have pushed back against such allegations, saying the navy will be watching over Irving’s shoulder and that the entire process has been approved by an independent fairness monitor.

There has also been unhappiness about the government letting a British company compete even though its design is still only on paper. Some have drawn comparisons to the F-35 stealth fighter.

It’s hoped that some other potential stumbling blocks have been resolved, though that won’t become clear until all the bids are in six months from now.

Those include balancing the government’s decision to buy a pre-existing design from another country with its desire to include Canadian-made components and equipment.

Companies also pushed back on the government’s demand to have the full blueprints for whatever ship design it chooses.

The two sides have instead agreed that whatever company has the top design will enter into negotiations with the government over intellectual property rights before a contract is awarded.

If an agreement can’t be reached, the government can go to the next company.

Even after the competition is over and a design is chosen, there are questions over how many ships will actually be built and what the cost will be.

The previous Conservative government had promised 15 ships for $26 billion when it announced the warship project in 2010, but naval officials pegged the cost last year at closer to $40 billion.

The Liberal government has since said it will not decide on a budget or number of ships until later.

“This isn’t the end of things,” Perry said of the design competition. “This is just the next critical step.”

The warship project, known in government and military circles as the Canadian Surface Combatant, is the backbone of the federal government’s national shipbuilding procurement strategy.

The strategy, launched by the Conservatives in 2010 and originally earmarked at $35 billion, was intended to provide the navy and coast guard with new fleets while building up a sustainable shipbuilding industry on the east and west coasts. But it has since been buffeted by delays and cost overruns.

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Saskatchewan community upset after beaver beaten to death with chair

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Some people in a small Saskatchewan community say they are disgusted and disappointed after a beaver was beaten to death with a chair.

Residents say surveillance video from a bakery in Wolesley showed four men leaving a bar on Friday and going after the rodent.

Resident Joselyn Linnell says the beaver had been hanging out around the village for about a year.

Linnell says the animal appears to have hissed at the men before it was killed.

She says it’s sad to think there are people in Wolesley who would do that sort of thing.

RCMP say they’re investigating.

Animal Protection Services says anyone found guilty of inhumanely killing an animal faces a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

“Very ashamed. This is a good town with good people in it,” said another resident, Candice Malo. “Doing that to an animal is disgusting.”

Linnell said the beaver was considered to be “a friendly guy.”

“We have beavers in town because we have a lake and a dam,” she said. “They are here naturally.”

The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals has written a letter to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall asking him to come out strongly against what happened.

“Although your government would never condone such actions, we fear that attitudes leading toward such behaviour (are) endorsed by policy,” the letter says.

“Promotion of ongoing beaver culls, and a lack of humane education or compassionate planning options have, even if subconsciously to the public, encouraged the idea that beavers are disposable pests or commodities.”

The national organization says it will offer a reward to anyone who can help identify the culprits and is willing to work with the province to develop educational material about beavers.

Linnell said the community is divided over the beaver’s death, but she felt strongly about speaking out.

“I think you have to be pretty hardened to … not feel that this was unjustly done.”

Wolesley is about 100 kilometres east of Regina.

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Nomination of student ‘absolutely not’ backlash for sex-ed flip-flop: Brown

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Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown insists the election of a 19-year-old student as the PC candidate for an upcoming byelection was not revenge from social conservatives for his flip-flop on Ontario’s sex education curriculum.

Brock University student Sam Oosterhoff defeated PC Party president Rick Dykstra and regional councillor Tony Quirk for the nomination in Niagara-West Glanbrook, which was vacated when former PC leader Tim Hudak resigned.

Brown says Oosterhoff’s nomination for the Nov. 17 byelection was “absolutely not” an anti-establishment vote, or payback from supporters angered by his change of position on the sex ed update passed by the Liberal government.

He says Oosterhoff backs the party’s decision to support the sex ed curriculum, an issue that caused Brown grief in a Scarborough byelection last month after a letter was sent to voters saying a PC government would scrap the changes.

Brown later disavowed the letter and said it should not have been sent out.

Oosterhoff has not made himself available for media interviews since winning the Tory nomination last Saturday, but had been critical of the sex ed curriculum on his campaign website.

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We don’t know the details behind the Ontario nursing home deaths

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Elizabeth Tracey Mae Wettlaufer was charged Tuesday with . That a nurse – a nurse! – could deliberately kill a patient, never mind eight frail elderly nursing-home residents who were under her care, is a stomach-churning thought. The revulsion is already palpable and it will grow as the details behind the spectacular headlines sink in.

Carer turned killer makes for a spectacular narrative, in a movie-of-the-week kind of way. Angel of Death makes for a powerful image.

But let’s be careful here. The details released by police are vague as they are scant.

We should not jump to conclusions, nor assume that all nursing home residents are at risk. (They’re not.)

We should also dispense quickly with the hackneyed notion of “mercy killing,” that some self-appointed saviour is freeing people from their misery by knocking them off. That type of killer is delusional, and extremely rare.

Real life rarely plays out like an episode of Criminal Minds, where mass murderers are foiled and justice served with razor-like efficiency.

History tells us that police investigations and prosecutions can go terribly wrong, and that what goes on in health-care facilities is not always as nefarious as it may seem.

The case of Susan Nelles is a haunting example.

On March 25, 1981, the 24-year-old cardiac nurse was charged with the murder of a three-month-old baby who died of an overdose of the drug digoxin, which is used to treat congestive heart failure.

Ms. Nelles would soon be charged with three other murders and, after a case that gripped the nation, she was discharged in May, 1982.

An exhaustive review eventually revealed 36 suspicious baby deaths at the Hospital for Sick Children, which sparked an inquiry headed by Justice Samuel Grange.

He concluded that Ms. Nelles should never have been charged, but blamed neither police nor the Crown, whom he deemed to have acted in good faith. The inquiry ultimately determined that eight children had been murdered but identified no murderer.

To this day, the baby deaths remain a tragic whodunit.

But, over time, the most commonly accepted theory has come to be that there were no murders. Rather, a chemical, MBT, that was used in the rubber seals of syringes and IV lines likely triggered fatal anaphylaxis in the very sick children, and digoxin spread in their bodies postmortem, giving the false impression of overdose.

So what does this have to do with the case of Ms. Wettlaufer? It reminds us that damning evidence may not always be what it seems.

That eight patients, aged 75 to 96, would die over a seven-year period while being cared for by the same nurse is not in the least bit unusual. The mortality rate for long-term nursing home residents is close to 100 per cent.

Seniors, and institutionalized seniors in particular, get a lot of drugs. Drug interactions and drug-related medical errors are commonplace.

Giving people a prescribed drug before they die is not the same thing as deliberately setting out to kill them in a premeditated fashion. And, again, it needs to be stressed that we don’t yet know the details of what Ms. Wettlaufer is alleged to have done.

What we do know is that everyone – even someone who has had alcohol problems, someone who quit their job the day after suspicions were reported to police and whatever other dirt will be dredged up in the weeks to come – is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

While the Crown’s case proceeds at the snail-like pace at which the justice system operates in Canada, we must resist the temptation to fill the void with speculation.

Prosecution is appropriate; persecution is not.

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A history of nurses charged with killing patients

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They are sometimes called “angels of death,” health-care professionals accused of serial murders in hospitals or care homes, most often against weak or vulnerable patients. The cases are rare, but when they emerge they make headlines around the globe.

In June, investigators in Germany reported that Niels H., a nurse who had been sentenced to life in prison for killing two patients with intentional overdoses of heart medication, was a suspect in 33 other patient deaths. That same month, a Danish court sentenced nurse Christina Hansen to life in prison for the murders of three patients and the attempted murder of a fourth, using deliberate overdoses of sedatives and morphine.

On Tuesday, Canadian nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, was arrested and charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of elderly patients at long-term care homes in Ontario.

It is believed to be only the second case where a nurse in Canada has been accused of multiple murders of patients, and is among the largest alleged serial killings in Canadian history.

Ms. Wettlaufer is accused of killing the patients by administering drugs.

In the early 1980s, Canada was rocked by investigations into the deaths of babies at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, and allegations that 36 babies may have been victims of homicides. A young nurse, Susan Nelles, was charged with murder in the deaths of four infants, but the charges against her were stayed after a preliminary hearing, and she later received financial compensation.

A royal commission that looked into the deaths ultimately concluded eight babies were murdered at the hospital and 15 others may have been, but no suspect was ever identified. Theories later emerged that the deaths may not have been homicides at all.

A small number of single homicide charges against nurses in Canada have also ended with charges being dropped or stayed. There have also been charges against nurses and doctors in individual cases of assisted suicide or mercy killing.

In one such case, Toronto nurse Scott Mataya was charged with first-degree murder in the death of terminally ill 77-year-old Joseph Sauder in 1992, but later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of administering a noxious substance.

In April, 2015, Ontario nurse Joanna Flynn was charged with manslaughter for allegedly taking 39-year-old patient Deanna Leblanc off life support without authorization, after Ms. Leblanc went in for pain caused by a knee surgery. That case is still before the courts.

A 2006 research paper entitled Serial Murder by Healthcare Professionals called multiple homicides in a medical environment “a poorly understood but increasingly identified phenomenon.”

The study looked at 90 criminal prosecutions of health-care professionals since 1970 that fit the serial murder definition, and excluded assisted suicide cases, individual murders and “the occasional physician or nurse” charged after administering lethal narcotics to the terminally ill. The study noted that in some cases, euthanasia was used as a defence in serial murder.

The study found that nurses were the accused killers in 86 per cent of the health-care serial murder cases. Doctors and other hospital staff made up the remaining 14 per cent of accused.

The study found motivations for the murders included the excitement of trying to revive a patient, or a kind of “professional version of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.” In the recent case in Germany, the nurse, Mr. H., admitted to inducing cardiac arrests in about 90 patients, because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them.

Other motives included getting “sadistic satisfaction” from killing certain patients, or, in a small number of cases, financial profit.

Very few of the accused health-care serial killers had a previous criminal record, but many had histories of “falsifying credentials or other aspects off their background,” the study found.

By 2006, New Jersey nurse Charles Cullen had pleaded guilty to killing 29 patients while working in hospitals and care homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mr. Cullen estimated he may actually have killed 40 patients over a 16-year period.

He said he hoped his crimes may eventually be seen as mercy killings, though not all of his victims were terminally ill.

In July, an appeal court in England upheld the convictions of a 49-year-old nurse found guilty of killing two patients, attempting to seriously injure another and trying to poison 20 more with insulin. In that case, nurse Victorino Chua described himself as “an angel turned into an evil person.”

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Justice Rowe tested in Supreme Court nomination hearing

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In his first opportunity to speak directly to Canadians, Supreme Court nominee Malcolm Rowe staked out a liberal position on Charter rights, impressed a Quebec separatist with his spoken French and displayed his greatest passion on questions related to indigenous peoples and the law.

“You have to look at it through the eyes and experience of indigenous peoples,” he said, referring to indigenous rights cases, “otherwise you don’t understand it. The first thing you do is listen.”

The comments from Justice Rowe, who stands to become the first Supreme Court judge appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the first ever from Newfoundland and Labrador, came at a fast-paced nomination hearing before a panel of Parliamentarians and an audience of 150 law students at the University of Ottawa. The Liberal government allotted just five minutes for each of 14 MPs and Senators to talk to Justice Rowe. Conservatives used their time to draw out the 63-year-old jurist on why he said on an application form that judges in a constitutional democracy make law rather than simply interpret it.

Replying to Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper, Justice Rowe said that in Charter cases, “It is our responsibility to encroach upon the authority of Parliament.”

When Conservative Senator Bob Runciman of Ontario tried to pin him down on how deferential he would be to legislators – citing a case where the Supreme Court struck down a mandatory minimum penalty for illegal gun possession – Justice Rowe did not answer precisely, but said judging Charter cases is “an exercise in favour of the rights of Canadians.”

The issue of making rather than applying the law is as close as Canada has to a litmus test for judges. Ever since Conservative Stephen Harper declared while he was prime minister that judges should restrict themselves to applying the law, some Canadians have used that to put judges into two camps, liberal or conservative. In the United States, the issue of abortion is a similar dividing line. Justice Rowe’s comments place him squarely in the liberal camp, an impression reinforced by the Supreme Court judges he said he admired – mostly those known as the great liberals from the Charter’s early period, such as Bertha Wilson and Brian Dickson. (His favourite, though, was John Sopinka, who as a lawyer wrote a major text on criminal law before becoming a powerful presence on the court.)

The 24 legislators at the session (10 had no speaking parts) were not legally constituted as a Parliamentary committee and had no legal power to create their own terms for questioning the nominee. The Commons justice committee will meet on Thursday to decide whether it supports the nomination. If the Prime Minister wishes to go ahead, the judge could be sworn in as early as Monday, a justice department spokesperson said.

Justice Rowe is the first candidate chosen under a process in which the Liberal government invited applications from across Canada.

Mr. Harper in 2006 created the first hearing at which a Supreme Court judge, Marshall Rothstein, answered questions from Parliamentarians. Mr. Harper cancelled the hearings after the Supreme Court rejected one of his nominees, Justice Marc Nadon of Quebec, as legally unqualified. His last three picks (justices Suzanne Côté, Clément Gascon and Russell Brown) had no hearing, and no introduction to Canadians apart from brief news releases from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Justice Rowe, tall and long-haired and dressed in a blue suit, blue shirt and blue tie, painted a portrait of his father growing up in the fishing community of Seldom-Little Seldom, Nfld., with no roads or electricity, and his mother in Lamaline. He spoke of his experiences with Canadians of diverse backgrounds in a leadership development program, Action Canada, in which he took part for 15 years.

The hearing was respectful, but did not have the same deferential tone as the one with Justice Nadon. Some sparks came when Conservative Senator Denise Batters, and later New Democrat Tom Mulcair, questioned Justice Rowe about his majority ruling in a sexual-assault case in which he criticized a trial judge for allowing inappropriate questions of the complainant, but refused to overturn a jury acquittal. Justice Rowe said he could not discuss specifics, but called sexual assault and harassment “revolting behaviour,” and added that “effective judicial intervention” is important.

Justice Rowe also said his knowledge of Quebec’s civil code was limited, and that he would be comfortable speaking in French with his Quebec colleagues.

Independent Liberal Senator Murray Sinclair, who was chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, asked about his knowledge of indigenous issues. Justice Rowe replied it that his base comes in part from criminal cases in Labrador in which he saw “social disintegration.”

Justice Rowe fielded several questions in French without difficulty, and received praise for his French-language abilities from Bloc Québécois MP Rhéal Fortin. Mr. Trudeau made functional bilingualism a job requirement.

Justice Rowe also said, in response to a question about why he wants to be on the Supreme Court, that he hesitated before applying because of the enormous responsibility: “I wear it heavily.” But the country has been “darn good to me,” he said, and he wished to give back.

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Canada-EU deal in question after Belgium declines to sign on

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The path to the finish line for the Canada-European Union trade agreement disappeared on Monday after Belgium informed EU officials it cannot sign the deal.

Plans for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to wrap up the ambitious trade deal with a splashy signing ceremony in Brussels this week appear to have fallen through after Belgium conceded it cannot win approval for the treaty from its French-speaking region of Wallonia. All five regional governments in Belgium have a veto over international treaties.

European officials say they hope to keep negotiating with Wallonia.

But the risk to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, now that Wallonia has stalled it, is that it begins to unravel – that other regions or countries in the 28-member European Union are emboldened to come forward with their grievances.

Belgian President Charles Michel said the Brussels region of his country has also said it cannot support the agreement, bringing the number of opposing authorities in Belgium to two. The Brussels region represents Flemish- and French-speakers in the region of the city of Brussels.

He informed European Union President Donald Tusk on Monday of Belgium’s inability to back the deal. Belgium had been given until late Monday to overcome opposition. All 27 of the other member states have said they will support signing CETA, a deal that was seven years in the making.

Mr. Michel said it is up to Canada and the European Union leaders to decide what happens next.

The leader of the largest Belgian regional government said this minority rejection of CETA makes Belgium look ridiculous.

“It’s a real shame,” Flanders Premier Geert Bourgeois said after meeting with Mr. Michel. “We’re the laughing stock of the whole world. It’s bad for Wallonia, for Flanders, for Belgium, for Europe, for the whole world.”

On leaving the meeting, Walloon Premier Paul Magnette said he is not against free trade with Canada, but still worries the deal could undermine health and safety standards and allow big business to undo Belgian policies.

He lashed out at the deadline the European Union had imposed on Wallonia.

“Every time people try to set an ultimatum, it makes a calm discussion impossible. It makes a democratic debate impossible. There shouldn’t be ultimatums and we’ll never decide anything under an ultimatum or pressure,” the Belgian news website reported.

“We are not opposed to a treaty with Canada, but we don’t want it to jeopardize social and environmental norms, the protection of public services. We reject private arbitration that allows multinationals to attack states.”

International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland insisted CETA is not dead, saying Canada is willing to sign if the opposition in Belgian can be overcome.

Ms. Freeland refused to say the Oct. 27 summit is off, saying Canada will show up to sign a deal that day if an agreement exists.

She also defended Canada’s refusal to reopen the deal, pointing out that the leaders of 27 out of 28 European Union member countries back the existing version.

“This deal is done. It’s time to move on. Get it signed and get it ratified,” she told reporters in Ottawa.

Ms. Freeland said the Trudeau government already renegotiated the deal to make it “more progressive” – changes that restricted the power of businesses to sue Canada or European states for policies that affect their investments.

She said a failure on the part of the European Union to clinch a deal with Canada would be a blow to the credibility of the political-economic union.

“If Europe cannot sign a trade agreement with Canada … a country that very much has shared values with Europe, then I think that certainly does call into question European trade policy more generally.”

The Canada-EU deal would be the European bloc’s first trade agreement with a Group of Seven country, and would eliminate duties on tens of thousands of products, covering more than 95 per cent of everything Canada now sells to Europe, and dismantle many non-tariff barriers to commerce. It would give Canada’s auto assemblers and beef and pork producers significant access to EU markets.

Failure to approve CETA, only months after Britain voted to quit the European Union, would be a blow to the EU’s efforts to demonstrate it is still moving forward as a viable entity.

With a report from Reuters

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Appeal court overturns Dennis Oland murder conviction, orders new trial

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An appeal court has granted Dennis Oland a new trial less than a year after his conviction for second-degree murder in the brutal 2011 killing of his father, Richard, a prominent Saint John businessman and former member of the Moosehead brewing empire.

The New Brunswick Court of Appeal ruled on Monday that the original trial judge erred in his instructions to the jury by failing to warn jurors against making inferences of guilt from a misstatement by Mr. Oland about what kind of jacket he was wearing on the day of his father’s death.

Mr. Oland’s wife, Lisa, and mother, Connie, held hands and wept when the verdict was announced. Moosehead Breweries executive chairman Derek Oland, uncle of the accused and brother of the victim, said in a statement he was “very pleased” by the ruling. “We continue to believe Dennis is innocent,” he wrote.

The case has obsessed New Brunswick, and especially Saint John, an economically hard-hit city where Moosehead was a source of local pride and a significant employer. The prominence of the family and the gruesome nature of the killing led many to call it the “Maritimes’ O.J. trial.”

Dennis Oland will have a bail hearing on Tuesday and is expected to be released pending his new trial. Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau noted from the bench that Mr. Oland has regained the presumption of innocence with the quashing of his conviction. He has been serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 10 years and was led out of the courtroom in shackles on Monday, but received bail between his 2013 arrest and his conviction in December, 2015.

The bludgeoning death of Richard Oland has haunted the Maritime imagination since his body was discovered on the morning of July 7, 2011. He had 45 wounds on his head, neck and hands, and his Saint John office was spattered with blood.

No weapon was ever found, but police zeroed in on Dennis Oland after learning he was the last person known to have seen his father alive, and that their relationship was strained by money, high paternal expectations and Richard’s eight-year affair with a local real estate agent.

Investigators also noted Dennis’s false statement in a police interview that he wore a navy blazer on the day his father was killed. Surveillance footage showed that he was wearing a brown sports jacket, which was sent for dry cleaning the day after Dennis learned he was a suspect in his father’s murder. Forensic testing found four small blood stains on the jacket, three of which contained Richard Oland’s DNA.

Dennis’s defence portrayed the discrepancy as an honest mistake, while the Crown called it a lie designed to mislead prosecutors. In his jury charge at the end of the trial, Justice John Walsh told jurors to decide which version of events to believe in light of all the evidence. The defence told the court Richard Oland habitually chewed his cuticles and had scabs on his scalp from a skin condition and may have touched Dennis at some time when he was wearing the jacket.

The appeal court’s three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the evidence had no value towards a verdict unless it could be proven independently that Dennis was lying, and that Justice Walsh should have said so in his instructions.

“Significantly, the trial judge did not instruct the jurors that even if they found the appellant’s erroneous statement was a lie, it had no probative value unless they concluded on the basis of other evidence independent of that finding, that the lie was fabricated or concocted to conceal his involvement in the murder of his father,” Justice Drapeau said.

“The jurors might well have found the appellant lied about the jacket he was wearing and, in the closing moments of their deliberations, distilled from that … the clinching element for their verdict.”

Nicole O’Byrne, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick, acknowledged that the appeal court ruling might seem “very semantic and confusing” to a lay person, but said she was not surprised the conviction was thrown out.

The court did not enter an acquittal, she noted. And since the judges found a legal error in a crucial part of the original proceedings, ordering a new trial was a natural step.

“That’s not surprising – that’s the remedy one would expect,” she said.

Since Mr. Oland has regained the presumption of innocence, Ms. O’Byrne said she expected him to receive bail on Tuesday, although he will face the judge who denied him bail at an earlier hearing in February.

Arranging a new trial may be more complicated, especially finding an unbiased jury.


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Dennis Oland found guilty of murder in death of father
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