Calgary businesswoman to meet the Queen Consort as part of new military role

Calgary entrepreneur Manjit Minhas has been named the new honorary lieutenant-colonel for the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and will be meeting with the Queen Consort this week.

The co-founder and CEO of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries and Winery is well known for her appearances on Dragon’s Den but she has no military experience on her resume — until now.

“When the Armed Forces and the Queen’s Own Rifles reached out, I first thought it was spam. I didn’t think it was real,” Minhas said.

On January 22, Minhas was was appointed to the role of Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel at a ceremony in Toronto.

Minhas will promote the unit’s welfare and provide mentorship to its leaders.

“There definitely is a lot going on, and I look forward to communicating that and being an ambassador for not only the Regiment but for the Armed Forces,” Minhas said.

She’ll also help with recruitment — in an effort to make the Armed Forces look more like Canada does.

The Canadian Armed Forces, which has long struggled to boost the number of women in its ranks, hopes to have them represent one-quarter of members by 2026.

“Choosing an incredible representative like Manjit as our honorary lieutenant colonel, I’m very hopeful that we can we can attract and retain more female members as well as members from the various different communities within Toronto,” said commanding officer of QOR Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Moody.

“Specifically, I recall when I was in Afghanistan we were doing work with women’s groups, having women who could support us that were serving with us was critically important in building those relationships, and working with the women in Afghanistan at that time,” Moody said.

The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada is a Primary Army Reserve infantry regiment based in Toronto. Founded on April 26, 1860, it is the oldest continuously serving infantry regiment in Canada.

Moody said the regiment has some roots in Calgary.

“There was a point where we were a full-time unit and we were stationed both in Calgary and in Victoria,” Moody said.

Minhas said she hopes to bring positive change during the time in her new role.

“I think the armed forces are very open to understanding how they need to change and how they have to do so consciously not only to include Canadians of all types, but also to take responsibility and accountability for the past,” Minhas said.

Her Majesty Queen Consort Camilla is the colonel-in-chief of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.

Less than two weeks into the job, Minhas has a audience with the Queen Consort at Buckingham Palace on Feb. 1.

“I’m excited. It’s an opportunity to talk about things not only as a Canadian but as a woman. I’m interested to talk and ask her questions and for her to have questions of me,” Minhas said.

In fiscal year 2022-23 to date, the CAF Regular Force has enrolled 471 females, representing 14.62 per cent of total enrolments. That is comparable to the last fiscal year that saw female enrolments representing 14.4 per cent of total enrolments.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

As Fredericton creates more housing than ever, affordability is a challenge

The City of Fredericton says it has surpassed most previous records for development in the province’s capital.

It issued $257 million in building permits for 2022, an additional $70 million from the previous year. The construction has led to 938 new housing units.

“Relatively, we’re meeting the demand and we’re seeing development happen in the right places in those designated growth areas,” said Frederick VanRooyen, a planner with the City of Fredericton.

VanRooyen said the residential development has increased by $31 million alone, which is double the 10-year average.

Affordable housing a challenge

Despite 737 new apartment units and townhouses, the city said affordable housing does remain a challenge.

Mayor Kate Rogers said, in an interview on Friday, while the development is positive, including the growth that is double what was originally predicted, only 25 per cent of the units built in 2022 were considered affordable.

She said she knows the private sector isn’t the whole solution to the affordable housing issue. One of the biggest challenges identified by council was land acquisition for the non-profit sector.

“It’s the unlocking of land to make their developments doable,” Rogers said. “They don’t necessarily have liquid funds to buy the land.”

The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights said it feels the city's policies are moving in the right direction, but more urgency is needed.

The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights said it feels the city's policies are moving in the right direction, but more urgency is needed.

Nathalie Sturgeon / Global News

On the other hand, the private sector said funding through federal and provincial partners is slow and likely not enough to keep up with the increased costs of building.

“The funding is delayed given what the actual costs are,” Rogers said.

The city did consider creating bylaws that would require new developments to have a minimum number of affordable units, but said inclusionary zoning wasn’t the right solution after a study.

“We were shown from that study it might not be the most effective tool we could use and we should maybe put our focus in other areas,” Rogers said in an interview Friday.

She said speed is also a part of the equation.

“We need housing now,” she said.

More urgency and co-operation required

The New Brunswick Coalition for Tenants Rights said in an emailed statement that it feels the city is moving in the right direction on some of its policies.

“They’ve discussed a variety of inclusionary zoning tools (and are now focused on densification bonuses), seeding and supporting community organizations, providing land specifically for affordable housing, and advocating for enhanced renter protections,” said Angus Fletcher, who is with the coalition.

“We think there is potential in some of these policies, but that the city is not treating this affordability crisis with the urgency required.”

Fletcher said the city’s data shows that government concerns over the rent cap possibly deterring development are not founded.

In late November, the minister responsible for housing, Jill Green, said the rent cap “wasn’t having the desired effect,” and when pressed further by reporters, she said it was deterring developers.

“The current environment results in a lot of housing being built, and very little of it being affordable,” Fletcher said.

The city has a housing affordability implementation plan for 2023 that does include zoning flexibility. Rogers said she understands the urgency of the crisis.

“It’s (a) crisis,” she said. “The pricing, even when we looked at the jump of costs in Fredericton, it’s too much for a person to bear – really given that salaries are not keeping up with the increased costs of housing.”

She said the next step is to hire a housing development specialist. The position will help the planning and development offices, which are dealing with record levels of development.

For Rogers, all levels of government must be on the same page.

“We have to pay attention to unintentional consequences,” she said.

“Because some things that are being done are then going to have a negative ripple effect. So, I would say all three levels of government have to be very cognizant that every move we make in this sector impacts another.”

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Faculty at Cape Breton University go on strike to back demands for higher wages

Global News at 6 New Brunswick from Jan. 27, 2023.

Some faculty members at Cape Breton University have walked off the job.

Their strike started Friday, with the faculty’s union saying the administration has disrespected it at every turn, leading to a large number of labour grievances.

The union issued a statement saying it is seeking pay raises to deal with the soaring cost of living, but it is also calling for changes to how the university is dealing with a rapidly growing population of international students.

The Cape Breton University Faculty Association represents librarians, lab instructors, writing centre advisers, archivists, research chairs and nursing practice educators.

The administration issued a statement assuring students that no Canadian university has ever lost a term to strike, though it confirmed that most classes have been cancelled.

The university’s latest wage proposal offers an an increase of eight per cent over the next three years, in addition to existing annual step increases. The administration says the union is seeking a 14 per cent raise over the next two years.

Meanwhile, the union says the university is dealing with more grievances than any other university in Canada

Faculty members voted 92 per cent in favour of a strike in September.

In October, the Association of Atlantic Universities issued a report saying that as of this fall, nearly 4,000 international students were enrolled at Cape Breton University out of about 5,900 total students.

That was up from about 2,400 international students in 2021, when the school had about 4,200 students.

In 2017, the university had fewer than 900 international students among a student body of about 2,600.

Last month, the university’s administration said it was limiting enrolment to a popular business program following concerns the school is not equipped to handle the recent influx of international students.

The university has limited admissions to its two-year post-baccalaureate diploma program starting May 2023.

Based in Sydney, N.S., the university in the fall semester held classes for that program at the downtown Cineplex cinemas — about nine kilometres from campus — because of a lack of teaching space.
All but two of the 2,681 people enrolled in the post-baccalaureate program are international students, and 85 per cent of those foreign students are from India.

The recent spike in international enrolment follows targeted recruitment in India that began in 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2023.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Calgarian Abigail Strate podiums at World Cup for ski jumping

Canada’s Abigail Strate climbed her first World Cup ski jumping podium on Saturday, capturing bronze.

The 21-year-old from Calgary scored 236.3 points over two runs, posting a pair of celebratory pictures on Twitter afterword with the word “Happy” and a smiling emoji.

Katharina Althaus of Germany won the gold with 258.8 points, while Ema Klinec of Slovakia was second (237.6).

Strate’s medal comes two weeks after teammate Alexandria Loutitt made Canadian ski jumping history, becoming the first Canadian woman to reach the top of the World Cup ski jump podium. It was also the first time a Canadian ski jumper had won World Cup gold since Horst Bulau in 1983.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

First-ever BCHL Pride Night held in Coquitlam, B.C.

The BCHL's Coquitlam Express are preparing to host the league's first Pride Night. General Manger Tali Campbell discusses the importance of bringing Pride to the ice rink.

A major milestone was reached Friday night as the first-ever British Columbia Hockey League Pride Night was held in Coquitlam.

More than 900 fans were in attendance, showing their support for the event and the Coquitlam Express, team officials said.

The Coquitlam Express sent their fans home happy with a decisive victory over the Cowichan Valley Capitals 6-2.

More importantly, Tali Campbell, the Coquitlam Express chief operating officer and general manager, said seeing the community’s support for the event and team is encouraging for future events.

“It’s a night that we get to show our love for everyone in the community,” he said. “It’s big for us as the largest sports team in the Tri-Cities to be very clear everyone is accepted here. Tonight is about acceptance, love, and inclusion while enjoying some great hockey.”

The Express will be heading to Chilliwack on Sunday to take on the Chiefs for a 5 p.m. puck drop.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Taliban double down on barring women from taking university entry exams

WATCH: Afghanistan women barred from working at foreign, local NGOs by Taliban

The Taliban on Saturday doubled down on their ban on women’s education, reinforcing in a message to private universities that Afghan women are barred from taking university entry exams, according to a spokesman.

The note comes despite weeks of condemnation and lobbying by the international community for a reversal on measures restricting women’s freedoms, including two back-to-back visits this month by several senior U.N. officials. It also bodes ill for hopes that the Taliban could take steps to reverse their edicts anytime soon.

The Taliban barred women from private and public universities last month. The higher education minister in the Taliban-run government, Nida Mohammed Nadim, has maintained that the ban is necessary to prevent the mixing of genders in universities _ and because he believes some subjects being taught violate Islamic principles.

Work was underway to fix these issues and universities would reopen for women once they were resolved, he had said in a TV interview.

The Taliban have made similar promises about middle school and high school access for girls, saying classes would resume for them once “technical issues” around uniforms and transport were sorted out. But girls remain shut out of classrooms beyond sixth grade.

Higher Education Ministry spokesman Ziaullah Hashmi said Saturday that a letter reminding private universities not to allow women to take entrance exams was sent out. He gave no further details.

A copy of the letter, shared with The Associated Press, warned that women could not take the “entry test for bachelor, master and doctorate levels” and that if any university disobeys the edict, “legal action will be taken against the violator.”

The letter was signed by Mohammad Salim Afghan, the government official overseeing student affairs at private universities.

Entrance exams start on Sunday in some provinces while elsewhere in Afghanistan, they begin Feb. 27. Universities across Afghanistan follow a different term timetable, due to seasonal differences.

Mohammed Karim Nasari, spokesman for the private universities union, said the institutions were worried and sad about this latest development.

“The one hope we had was that there might be some progress. But unfortunately, after the letter, there is no sign of progress,” he told the AP. “The entire sector is suffering.”

He expressed fears that if education did not restart for girls, then nobody would take entrance exams because student numbers would be so low.

Also, Nasari said private universities want the authorities to waive land taxes for universities built on government property, and waive taxes on universities in general, because they are suffering huge financial losses.

Afghanistan has 140 private universities across 24 provinces, with around 200,000 students. Out of those, some 60,000 to 70,000 are women. The universities employ about 25,000 people.

Earlier this week, U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths and leaders of two major international aid organizations visited Afghanistan, following last week’s visit by a delegation led by the U.N.’s highest-ranking woman, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed. The visits had the same aim –to try and reverse the Taliban’s crackdown on women and girls, including their ban on Afghan women working for national and global humanitarian organizations.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Petr Pavel, former NATO general, wins Czech presidential election

WATCH: Winner of Czech presidential election, Pavel, thanks supporters

Petr Pavel, a retired army general, decisively defeated populist billionaire Andrej Babis in a runoff vote Saturday to become the Czech Republic’s new president.

Pavel, 61, will succeed controversy-courting Milos Zeman in the largely ceremonial but prestigious post. His election is expected to cement the country’s Western orientation following Zeman’s decade in office.

With all the ballots counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Pavel had 58.3% of the vote compared with 42.7% for Babis. Turnout was just over 70%, a record high for a presidential vote.

“We can have different views of a number of issues, but that doesn’t mean we’re enemies,” Pavel said in a message to voters who cast ballots for Babis after what was considered a nasty presidential campaign period. “We have to learn how to communicate with each other.”

Babis conceded defeat and congratulated Pavel on his victory. He called on his supporters “to accept that I’ve lost and accept we have a new president.”

Pavel, who ran as an independent, is a former chairman of NATO’s military committee, the alliance’s highest military body. He fully endorsed the Czech Republic’s military and humanitarian support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion and stresses the importance of the country’s membership in the European Union and NATO.

“Foreign policy is his strong point,” Petr Just, an analyst from the Metropolitan University Prague, said. Just noted that Pavel’s NATO experience and views would “boost” the country’s Western leanings.

The president picks the prime minister after a general election, one of the office’s key responsibilities, and appoints members of the central bank. The office-holder also selects Constitutional Court judges with the approval of Parliament’s upper house.

Otherwise, the president has little executive power since Czechia is run by a government chosen and led by the prime minister.

President Zuzana Caputova of Slovakia, who beat established politicians to win his country’s 2019 presidential election, joined Pavel on a Prague stage Saturday to congratulate him in front of his supporters.

“Your victory is a victory of hope, of hope that decency and honesty is not a weakness but a power that could lead to victory even in politics,” Caputova said.

“Personally, I’m happy that we have a new head of state in our region and Europe who respects democratic values,” she said.

Pavel said he planned to travel to Slovakia and Ukraine for his first foreign trips as president, and also to Poland to assure President Andrzej Duda that his country fully respects its NATO commitments and the alliance’s principle of collective defense.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated Pavel in a tweet written in Czech, adding he looked forward to their close cooperation.

Czechia has been a firm supporter of Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion. The Ukraine war was a core campaign issue. Babis presented himself as a peacemaker and labeled Pavel a warmonger due to his military past.

In his most controversial statement, Babis said he wouldn’t send troops to Poland or the Baltics if the NATO allies were attacked. He later backtracked.

Losing the race to Pavel was another major defeat for Babis 68, a former prime minister. His centrist ANO (YES) movement ended up in opposition after losing the 2021 general election.

Zeman, the outgoing president, had backed Babis, one of country’s richest people. The two men share euroskeptic views and the habit of using anti-migrant rhetoric.

While Babis has been a divisive figure, he maintained his popular support with older voters. He accused Pavel, during a campaign marred by false accusations, of having been a KGB-trained communist spy. He provided no evidence for the claim, and went on to compare his opponent to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zeman, who took office in March 2013, was the country’s first president elected by popular vote. His second and final five-year term expires in March. Lawmakers elected the previous two presidents, Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus.

Before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Zeman divided the nation with his pro-Russia stance and support for closer ties with China.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

AASAS calls for more funding as sexual violence cases continue to climb

WATCH: The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services is calling on the province for more attention and funding ahead of Alberta’s next budget. As Jaclyn Kucey reports, it comes as stakeholders share their concerns about rising cases of sexual violence in the province.

The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Service (AASAS) said cases of sexual violence are on the rise in our province.

A survey of 1,500 people conducted by AASAS in 2020 found 43 per cent of respondents have experienced sexual violence — at least once in their lifetime.

Thirty-four per cent of those respondents said it occurred when they were children.

“Survivors are everywhere — they’re your friends, your family, your colleagues, and they’re coming forward, and they need help and we don’t have the capacity to meet the level of demand we are seeing now,” said Deb Tomlinson, CEO of The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.

Tomlinson highlights in parts of the province, survivors are waiting more than a year to receive counselling.

AASAS presented a business case to the province in 2020 to outline the need for increased funding.

“Recently, we got our first response which was for only one year of funding with no help for prevention, no help for justice; that’s just not workable,” said Tomlinson

The province, in a statement to Global News said: “Sexual assault centres provide critical supports to victims impacted emotionally, mentally and physically from sexual violence. Alberta’s government is committed to combatting sexual violence and ensuring proper care is available to victims.

“Following Budget 2020, we increased budgets for sexual assault centres over three years, bringing our ministry’s sexual violence prevention funding to $13.8 million in 2022-23. Overall government provides over $17 million across four ministries.

The proposal from AASAS will be reviewed over the coming months.”

“We can’t wait for this to be even more of a crisis than what it is already,” said Kristine Cassie, CEO of the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre.

AASAS is asking for an additional $13 million in funding to offset the need for continued care and early prevention resources.

Cassie said it’s a growing need in southern Alberta.

“We’re just in our fourth year of operations,” said Cassie. “Even last year, we saw a 37 per cent jump in people seeking help from our agency, so we know this is just going to continue to grow.”

It’s a reality advocates hope is top of mind for the government ahead of its next budget.

“Survivors are counting on you,” said Tomlinson.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Winnipeg police find missing senior safely

Winnipeg police have safely found a male senior who disappeared from the St. Vital area Friday night.

The man, 75-year-old Elmer Shrumm, was last seen around 9 p.m. driving a red 2008 Ford Escape with Manitoba license plate H-N-S-463.

Police said he was likely in rural Manitoba and might be parked or stuck on less travelled roads, back lanes, or on a rural property.

Police said he was found safely at 3:13 p.m. Saturday.



Photo of Elmer Shrumm and his vehicle.

Photo of Elmer Shrumm and his vehicle.



© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Winnipeg police car crashes into building after collision on Friday

A Winnipeg police car crashed into a building after a collision on Friday.

At 11:23 p.m. officers were travelling on Marion Street at Kenny Street when they were involved in a crash with a car travelling perpendicular to them.

After the impact, the police car struck a nearby building.

One officer went to the hospital for treatment but is not believed to have serious injuries while the other officer did not require any treatment at the time.

Additionally, the two occupants of the other car did not report any injuries.

The intersection was temporarily closed due to the collision but reopened an hour later.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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