Rio 2016: Olympic pool back to blue for synchronized swimming

RIO DE JANEIRO – Goodbye, green. Hello again, blue. Hope you can stick around a while.

Synchronized swimmers were greeted by clear blue water in the competition pool Sunday at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center after officials worked through the night to replace murky green water that’s become a big embarrassment for Rio Games organizers.

FULL COVERAGE: Rio 2016

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    Olympic officials said the reason the pool turned green in the first place was because someone mistakenly added more than 40 gallons of hydrogen peroxide, which allowed “organic compounds” to grow, the New York Times reports.

    Replacing the water in time for the early-morning training and competition at 11 a.m. local time was a significant challenge – the pool holds nearly 1 million gallons.

    It was expected to take 10 hours to drain and replace the pool water, Gustavo Nascimento, the director of venue management for the Olympics, told the Times. 

    Rio Games spokesperson Mario Andrada apologized for the mishap at a press conference on Saturday.

    READ MORE:  What to watch in week 2 of the Olympics

    “Of course it’s an embarrassment,” he said. “We are hosting the Olympic Games and athletes are here so water is going to be an issue. We should have been better in fixing it quickly. We learned painful lessons the hard way.”

    Divers were training as expected Sunday morning.

    Organizers have insisted there are no health risks posed by the discolored water seen in the pool during an earlier water polo competition and in a different diving pool. Still, visibility underwater is a major issue in synchronized swimming, where competitors spend lots of time underwater and need to be able to see their teammates.

    WATCH: Canada’s synchronized swim team look to grab medal in Rio

    The synchronized swimming women’s duets event was completed on schedule. Canada’s Karine Thomas and Jacqueline Simoneau sit seventh after the free routine portion of the competition on Sunday at the Rio Olympics.

    The technical routine will take place on Monday morning, with the final on Tuesday.

    *Editor’s note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Jocelyn Simoneau was part of Canada’s synchronized swimming duet team. We regret the error. 

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Trudeau government reveals the 2017 federal budget

The Trudeau government has unveiled the 2017 federal budget. Here’s everything you need to know about how the budget will affect you.

Big investment in affordable housing, nothing to cool red-hot marketsFederal Budget 2017 in 3 chartsHow the budget will affect your pocketbookLiberals extend parental leave to 18 months, boost childcare fundingTrudeau government projects $28.5 billion deficit in 2017-2018What’s missing from the 2017 federal budget?Federal budget 2017 is a plan to train, but not retain, Canadian brains

Note: This story was published before the budget was released. For the latest information, please read the stories linked to above. 

The Liberal government is set to unveil its second federal budget on Wednesday.

The budget is expected to contain initiatives that would boost Canada’s “innovation economy,” with funds that could help some of the country’s young firms enter the next stages of their development.

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But it also comes at a challenging time for Canada’s economy.

U.S. President Donald Trump has promised a host of tax reforms down south that could erode Canada’s competitiveness.

That doesn’t give the federal government much freedom to raise taxes.

Analysts with RBC and Scotiabank have released budget previews that give Canadians some idea of what they can expect in Wednesday’s budget.

Here are seven things that may appear when the budget is released:

1) Deficits as far as the eye can see

This graph by RBC shows how much expectations for deficits have changed since the Liberal Party platform in the 2015 election campaign.

RBC Economics Research

During the 2015 election, the Liberal Party sold Canadians on a plan to run deficits of up to $10 billion per year, and reach a surplus in 2019.

But the Liberals revised their expectations in last year’s budget, when they projected a $29.4-billion deficit for the 2016/17 fiscal year, with a plan to bring the shortfall down to $14.3 billion in 2020/21, after their mandate ends.

WATCH: The Liberals promised their deficit spending would boost the GDP and create jobs. Has it? And how will ballooning deficits affect this budget? Vassy Kapelos reports.

RBC’s “Federal Budget Preview” envisions similar projections in Wednesday’s budget. Economists Laura Cooper and Craig Wright expect the deficit to hit $25.1 billion in the current fiscal year before it climbs to $27.8 billion in the next one.

By the end of its mandate, Cooper and Wright expect the Liberal government to post a $25.9 billion deficit, with a plan to reduce it to $14.6 billion in 2021/22.

2) The end of the Children’s Fitness and Arts Tax Credits

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spars at Gleason’s Boxing Gym in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 21, 2016.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Wednesday’s budget could spell the end for the Children’s Fitness and Arts Tax Credits, Scotiabank said in a Fiscal Pulse report.

The Children’s Fitness Tax Credit allowed taxpayers to claim fees for children enrolled in physically active programs, up to $500 in the 2016 tax year. They used to be able to claim $1,000.

The Children’s Arts Tax Credit, meanwhile, allowed taxpayers to claim fees for arts, cultural, recreational or developmental activities, up to $250 in the 2016 tax year. They used to be able to claim $500.

The Liberals proposed to phase these tax credits out in the 2016 budget. The Canada Revenue Agency website also says they will be phased out.

3) A worsening debt-to-GDP ratio

Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio will likely remain low, according to fiscal projections by the government.

File Photo

Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is a point of pride for the Great White North — it’s among the lowest of all G7 countries.

That status is unlikely to be threatened by the budget. But the government’s revised deficit forecasts could add $130 billion to its debt load, RBC said.

The debt-to-GDP ratio will remain low, but Canada won’t look as good compared to other countries with AAA credit ratings, it added.

Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio was estimated at 31.1 per cent in 2015/2016. It’s projected to hit 31.8 per cent in the two subsequent fiscal years, according to long-term economic and fiscal projections released by the government last year.

RBC did not provide an updated forecast of what the debt-to-GDP ratio could be with the new budget.

4) The comeback of the fiscal cushion

The Liberals may bring back the fiscal cushion in this year’s federal budget.

Wikimedia Commons user Danpape

A fiscal cushion is a tool that allows a government to guard against “unforeseen costs.”

The Liberal government dropped the fiscal cushion in last year’s fall economic update, but it’s expected to come back in this one.

The move would push the deficit up by about $6 billion, compared to what was announced in the fall economic update.

5) Little room to raise taxes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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The election of U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Canada with very little room to raise taxes.

While Trump has yet to roll out his tax reforms, he has promised to slash personal income taxes to the point that U.S. income taxes would trail those in every Canadian province by an average of 13 per cent, RBC analyst Matthew Barasch noted last year.

Trump also wants to slash corporate income tax rates from 35 per cent to 15 per cent, erasing Canada’s advantage.

In other words, Canada can’t do much as far as hiking taxes, if it wants to remain competitive.

There has been speculation that Canada’s budget could raise taxes on capital gains, but that could be “hard to square with the government’s billing of the document as an innovation budget, given that some sectors use stock-based compensation to attract talent,” the RBC report noted.

6) Skills development

A production line worker assembles an automobile at a Chrysler plant in Windsor, Ont., in January 2011.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

The budget may include some initiatives designed to broaden workforce participation, according to Scotiabank.

That could mean the adoption of a “FutureSkills Lab,” which could help boost training so that workers could adjust to technological changes.

It could also mean the implementation of the “Global Skills Strategy,” which would establish a “two-week standard for processing visas and work permits for low-risk, high-skill talent for companies doing business in Canada.”

7) More claims that the budget will lift Canada’s GDP (even though it’s not clear that happened last time)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fields questions at a town hall meeting during a visit to the Cultural Centre in Fredericton on Jan. 17, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

It’s not easy for a government to boost its economy using fiscal policy.

That much is apparent from last year’s budget, which the feds said would grow GDP by about half a percentage point in 2016 and 2017.

There is “scant evidence that this occurred,” the RBC report said.

Canadians may be told to expect more economic growth this year, or see it spill into 2018, it added.

8) More details on Canada’s infrastructure bank

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 7.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

In the fall economic update, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the creation of a Canadian infrastructure bank that would help to fund construction projects across the nation.

The Liberals promised to kick $35 billion into the bank with the hope that they would attract $4 to $5 in private sector funding for every $1 of federal cash.

The Wednesday budget may provide more clarity on the infrastructure bank, Scotiabank said.

It may also offer more details on delays that have plagued projects announced as part of Phases 1 and 2 of the Liberals’ 12-year, $187-billion infrastructure program.

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WATCH: Edmonton International Fringe Festival reviews

One of Edmonton’s most popular summer festivals is underway in Old Strathcona. The Edmonton International Fringe Festival will bring Edmontonians 11 days of shows, food and fun.

This year’s festival theme is “That was Then, This is Fringe.”

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    “We’re hoping to inspire audiences to take a chance and really experience all of the vibrancy the festival has to offer,” Fringe artistic director Murray Utas said when the theme was revealed earlier this summer.

    READ MORE: By the numbers: a closer look at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival

    The festival brings Edmontonians together with 1,600 live theatre performances in over 40 venues. The fringe runs from Aug. 11 to 21.

    As always, Global Edmonton’s Todd James will bring you nightly reviews of a number of shows. This year, Todd is set to review upwards of 41 shows.

    Todd will give each show a rating out of five. You can read what James had to say about the shows and watch his reviews below:

    Epic Tragedy: 3/5

    It’s date night in Ancient Athens in this send up of Greek mythology as Dede and Ed meet on a literal blind date at the struggling Cafe Hubris. A Greek chorus looks on and offers commentary as the fates and the oracle play matchmaker, but this is a couple with baggage, only the ancient Greeks could imagine in this hammy but fun production.

    The Taxi Driver is Always Listening: 3/5

    Sean Proudlove is a comedian who moonlights as a cab driver, or perhaps it’s the other way around? This multimedia production, including pre-taped vignettes shown onscreen along with illustrations of various types of passengers, reveals the secrets of the hack. Turns out fares aren’t invisible to this observant cabbie as he tells of one strange encounter after another. It feels light on actual content, with the hit and miss filmed pieces filling in the gaps but there are a few good laughs and Proudlove works hard with occasional help from ‘dispatch’.

    Little Orange Man: 4/5

    Ingrid Hansen is a one woman dynamo as Kit in this wacky, but highly original play about an outcast little girl who lives in her own fertile dream world. Kit acts out fairy tales as told to her by her grandfather, whom we meet in the form of an orange puppet. Hansen is a marvellous entertainer, employing a variety of props songs, puppets, fruits, vegetables, sandwiches and the audience to tell this manic and fun story.

    Diamond Girls: 3/5

    Anyone who has seen the 1992 film ‘ A League of their Own’, will already be familiar with this story of The All American Girls Professional Baseball League. Formed by Chicago Cubs owner Phillip Wrigley while the boys were overseas fighting Hitler, Diamond Girls focuses on some of the sixty players called up from Saskatchewan. Inspiration for the movie, Regina’s Mary Baker, and some twenty other players, managers and husbands are played well by Malia Becker, but some of the characters and the plot get lost in the lights.

    With You: 4/5

    Anyone who has dealt with the mental health issues of a loved one can relate to this story from Shawn Pallier, as he recounts his relationship with his mother before and after her suicide. Coming to grips with her death, Shawn looks back, as many do, with some degree of guilt. Was there something he could have done to prevent her suicide? With You gets to the heart of the difficulties a child has in dealing with a parent whose behaviour could be mystifying and frightening. Pallier tells this story with heart, humour and the understanding that only someone who has experienced a tragedy of this magnitude can have.

    The Panto Girls: 4/5

    The Panto Girls takes the audience into the dressing room of two veteran actors, brilliantly played by Andrew Cullum and Oliver Hume, as nightly they apply their makeup and costumes to become ‘The Ugly Sisters’ in a Christmas run of Cinderella. They play sisters, but as they learn backstage after cavorting in front of the audience in garish makeup and outlandish dresses, they have more in common than either could have imagined. Poignant and funny, the script is tight and intriguing and these skilled actors make these complicated performances look effortless.

    Zeppelin Was a Cover Band: 4/5

    Zeppelin Was a Cover Band makes a strong case that much of Led Zeppelins mighty catalogue contains covers of blues and folk songs often uncredited to the original writers. It’s not a shocking argument: it’s long been accepted that guitarist Jimmy Page mined material from traditional songs — but a good artist borrows; a great artist steals. Writer and performer Stefan Cedilot gives a passionate discourse and Zeppelin primer, starting with its predecessor The Yardbirds. Track-by-track comparisons of Zeppelin tracks against songs by Ledbelly, Willie Dixon and Robert Johnson only give further evidence of the bands power and mission to become the loudest, most aggressive band of all time, and the importance of constantly exposing traditional blues and folk songs to the next generation. As Cedilot air guitars and sings along, it’s impossible not to feel the Thunder of the Gods.

    What Gives?: 4/5

    Teatro La Quindicina revives the thirty-year-old musical from Stewart Lemoine. Set in a Manhattan Loft, two struggling songwriters get inspiration from the Canadian gals next door. Songs from Lloyd and Smart performed by this tough-to-beat cast (Jocely Ahlf, Rachel Bowron, Jason Hardwick, Andrew MacDonald -Smith) are infectious and fun. With a companion piece called ‘Stump the Panel,’ featuring a condo meeting hijacked by game show host Deems Willoghuby, it’s another Teatro production that shouldn’t be missed.

    Papa Squat: 3/5

    Paul Strickland’s one-man show is set in the trailer park town of Big Fib, and Strickland tells a whopper about Papa Squat: a soft-spoken musician and the owner of a store of sorts where he dispenses songs and forecasts the future thanks to a wonky kneecap. The real story is his love for a girl named Rue Merazit, and why he’s left her and the quirky characters of Big Fib behind. Strickland is a wonderful storyteller and musician and does not fail to entertain with this family-friendly story.

     V.R. Dunne: 3/5

    Howard Petrick, a performer from San Francisco, sets this spoken word piece in 1969, 35 years after the Minneapolis Truckers strike. Petrick portrays Vincent Raymond Dunne, one of the pivotal figures in the American labour movement as he tells his story leading up to the massive and violent strike that eventually lead to The Teamsters forming a powerful national union. It’s a story worth hearing, but Petrick’s dry delivery makes for a tough sell for most Fringe audiences.

    Asking the Internet: The Yahoo Answers: 3/5

    Travel the Internet of the 90s and wax poetic about dial up! Online forums are addressed through dance, answering actual Yahoo responses to questions such as, “How do you unbake a cake?” Or “Why won’t my dad let me own any Steve Urkel objects?” It’s an oddly intriguing concept performed well by the four female members of Occurdance over an operatic soundtrack and featuring an excerpt from the podcast, “My Brother, My, Brother and Me.”

    Jesus Master Builder – A Divine Comedy: 3/5

    His followers love the way of the Lord, but his customers are less than pleased. Sure, Jesus can turn water into wine, but his wiring and drywall skills leave much to be desired. Jebediah is getting pressure from his wife and the first ever condo association when the son of God, his twelve subcontractors and even Michael Hutz from ‘Hutz on Huts’ can’t get Jesus to finish the job. It’s a pun filled script that occasionally hits the nail on the head capably performed by this large cast.

     Prepare for the Worst: 4/5

    Guys in Disguise hit their high-heeled stride in this comedy set in the 1950s, when the threat of nuclear annihilation was on the minds of two housewives in the ‘burb of Willow Way. Jenny and Arlene are hosting a Nuclear Preparedness Women’s Committee meeting, but Arlene is distracted by a philandering husband and Jenny’s new bomb shelter. This script from Darrin Hagen and Trevor Schmidt is smart and funny, and performances from Schmidt and Paul Welch are altogether enjoyable.

     Nighthawk Rules: 4/5

    After a 10-year absence, this Sterling Award winner returns to the Fringe and it’s not to be missed. Berry and Dick are as close as friends can be, but Berry’s new girl has demands. Topping the list is the removal of Dick from their lives. But Dick won’t let go unless Berry can best him at an epic drinking game. Collin Doyle and James Hamilton’s script is certainly ‘dude’ relatable and the battle of the bottle and bong is gut-busting. But there’s a tenderness to the story that goes deeper than the bottom of a shot glass with hilarious performances from Chris W. Cook and Christopher Schulz with direction from Taylor Chadwick.

    Get Lost: 5/5

    British Fringe veteran and spoken word artist Jem Rolls non-stop delivery on stage mirrors his style of travel. The ever manic Rolls dives into exploring the world with such gusto and lack of forethought that anything can and does happen. Last year Jem gave an enlightening discourse on the oft overlooked scientist Leo Szilard in his brilliant ‘The Inventor of All Things,’ and this year he strings together his travel tales from the far flung corners far away from anything remotely tourist-friendly. As an ignorant world traveler who finds himself in one harrowing situation after another, Jem has learned to cope reciting his own mantra, ‘The Human Race, Don’t you Just Love It? Yes I do!’ You will too.

    An Evening with The Heaven’s Gate Singers: 3/5

    Two priests walk into a comedy club… it sounds like the set up to a bad joke, but it’s the premise of this three person comedy. Father Bob and Father Delgheti get the performing bug while singing songs together at the bedside of a dying nurse and hit the road with help from a booking agent, landing gigs in the most unlikely of places for two men of the cloth, including prisons and gay weddings.

    The Flying Doctor: 3/5

    Based on the 17th century play from French playwright Moliere, this absurd comedy is set in Edmonton in the 1920s. Lucy is betrothed to the aged but wealthy Mr. Ottercreek, but in love with Valentine. A valet steps in to pose as a doctor, giving Lucy and Valentine time to run away and be alone before she’s forced to marry. Rory Turner ignites the proceedings in a dual role and the rest of this cast keeps pace in this light hearted, if somewhat yellowed by age farce.

    Drunk Girl: 4/5

    Thea Fitz James who presented Naked Ladies at last years Fringe bellies up to the bar with Drunk Girl, a challenging piece about women and alcohol and its implications on young women who have embraced a culture of drinking. Fitz James takes us through a brief history of alcohol and its effect on feminism and its contribution to sexual assault. It’s eye-opening and entertaining as the actress and playwright engages the audience with drinking games and even sing-a-long’s, but there’s a serious undertone and hard questions asked.

    Blindside: 4/5

    Stephanie Morin-Robert was diagnosed with retinal blastoma at age two, but losing her eye to cancer was a blessing for this talented comedian and storyteller. At age seven, coping with bickering parents and the loss of her beloved cat, Stephanie attempts to at first hide her disability, then embrace it in this very funny bit of storytelling that features contemporary dance and a too close for some look at Stephanie’s glass eye. It’s quite literally an eye-popping experience.

     The Ballad of Frank Allen: 5/5

    Fringe veteran and favourite with past shows, Zachary Adams and Trampoline, Shane Adamzcak is Frank Allan, a janitor at a science lab accidentally shrunk to microscopic size and now living in the beard of Al, a lonely slacker with relationship problems. For the next year and a half, Frank will try and protect Al from himself, guiding him with the tweak of a nose hair as he stumbles through life unaware of Frank’s presence in his bristles. Brilliantly written by Adamzcak, the script riffs on beards, relationships and desire paths and features wildly funny performances including hilarious songs from Adamzcak and the bearded St. John Cowcher.

    Bella Culpa: 4/5

    “A Little Bit Off,” a duo from Portland, Oregon presents Bella Culpa, a slapstick comedy featuring two peculiar servants, who turn buckets, broom, a sponge named Stewart and other props into broad physical humour that had the crowd in stitches. There’s some audience participation as well in a very silly but irresistibly funny scenario with this award winning pair prat falling and clowning through a series of physically challenging gags.

    The Air Loom: 4/5

    This gripping and well produced drama explores schizophrenia in dual stories while the two person cast literally weaves a perplexing contraption on stage. It makes for an intriguing prop as the audience is addressed by 19th century doctor John Haslam and his patient James, considered to be the first documented case of schizophrenia. The doctors diagnosis is brutal, cold-hearted and unflinching. Fast forward to the present and a daughter struggles to live with her mother’s disease with similar attitudes from doctors and others. It’s a riveting probe into the disease and its misconceptions with part of the box office donated to the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.

    N.O.N.C.E.: 4/5

    British slam poet Steve Larkin is a force to be reckoned with, with his rapid fire delivery and a story taken from his time as a poet in residence at a high security prison. In an experimental program to help rehabilitate prisoners through poetry, Steve finds himself teaching dangerous criminals, including pedophiles; men so hated by other inmates that they’re referred to as NONCE: Not On Normal Courtyard Exercise. Larkins spouts in prose and poem with intensely funny stories of his incarcerated students and his unsatisfied girlfriend and even takes a jab at Fringe critics and their reviews.

    (I-m) Position: 5/5

    It’s the first time at the Fringe for Luciterra, a Vancouver based, all-female dance company — and what a treat it is for Edmonton audiences. This beautifully performed production explores the connection, misconnection and disconnection of society in a sensual and dynamic work from nine talented performers, set to hypnotic electronic music. Thrilling and inspiring!

    Legally Lemoine: Two Comedies in Search of Justice: 4/5

    Two one act plays from Stewart Lemoine performed by the Novus actors, a troupe of lawyers with acting chops. Romantic foibles are explored in two very different eras. Lemoine directs a revival of his Widow’s Crimes set in a 1920s Balkan Spa and a new piece finds Lemoine sending up a speed dating event that gives the cast a chance to tear into some witty and wise Lemoine dialogue.

    Feather Fall: 5/5

    A highly original concept from Edmonton’s Campfire Tales, set during the War of 1812. Kendrick Hackett (Oliver De La Harpe) runs the Upper Canada Gazette with his new reporter Lucy (Morgan Galavan). Both are non-human celestials who live amongst humanity in a constant unseen war with demons. Lucy does the forbidden and falls in love with a young soldier exposing herself to a malevolent demon who delights in human suffering. The script from director Ricardo Espinoza is crisp and the drama unfolds with passionate performances and swordplay to boot in this otherworldly war story.

    Basic Witch: 4/5

    From Toronto comedy troupe Fomosapiens, Basic Witch is set in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts where they have a bit of a witch problem. A series of sketches from these Second City-trained comedians and actors lampoon the 17th century and 2016, with comedy bits ranging from witch hunts to the Vagina Monologues and Donald Trump with sketches that tap into fear and paranoia then and now.

    The Seminar with Madge and Taffy: 3/5

    If your comedic taste leans to wacky, take in this seminar for a Dream Dump device that promises to rid yourself of dreams that only cause unhappiness when they ultimately are unfulfilled. From the makers of Fringe hit Camel Camel, it’s at its best when this funny duo is trying to sell seminar attendees but gets lost when they open the portal to an otherworldly demon casino that threatens Madge and Taffy’s friendship. We need more Madge and Taffy and less of the underworld in this madcap symposium.

    Bat Boy: The Musical: 5/5

    Inspired by the famous image and headline on The Weekly World News this musical about a half bat half boy is a blast from the moment of capture with rollicking tunes and outrageous performances. The townsfolk of Hope Falls call for the death of Bat Boy after he’s discovered in a cave, taken in and taught to behave like a human boy. There are deep themes underneath the irreverent and funny script with high energy songs belted out by a talented cast and band in this quirky rock opera.

    Everybody Says Sondheim: 2/5

    Three Grant MacEwan Theatre Arts graduates pay tribute to the legendary Tony, Grammy and Oscar award winning composer, Stephen Sondheim. With songs from Sweeney Todd to Into the Woods,it’s an earnest but light on content production.

    Vasily Djokavich: Russia’s Number 1 State Approved Comedian: 4/5

    Played by Victoria comedian Morgan Cranny in a show written by Cranny and Mike Delamont, best known for the Fringe favourite God is a Scottish Drag. Vasily lumbers onto the stage under the watchful gaze of a portrait of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s democratically elected president for life on his first tour outside mother Russia and attempts to learn about Canadian and Edmonton culture while delivering jokes that won’t get him shot in the face in his homeland. This is a character that has legs and with any luck Cranny and Delamont will explore this Russian bear further.

    Wolfman Crossing: 2/5

    Set in the small northern Alberta town of Wolfman Crossing, a courier, mechanic, and cop discuss the mysterious disappearance of several hitchhikers. There may really be a wolf man according to the local legend that gave the town its name. An appearance by an L.A. reporter seems to prove the point but the town has secrets yet to be revealed. This would-be psychological thriller plods along with out getting to the point or the wolf man.

    Call Me Kirk: 4/5

    Californian Michael Schaldemose squeezes into a tight, Star Fleet Captain uniform and goes where many a fringe play has gone. One actor, multiple characters. But his Captain Kirk is the planet that the crew and guests on board the Enterprise for a United Federation of planets conference, orbit. You’ll marvel at Schaldemose’s weaving of angry alien races of lizards, Klingons and Kahn into this nod to the original series and The great Shatner himself. Hear Shatner sing his version of Bohemian Rhapsody, recite his “I am Canadian” rant and deftly captain the Enterprise as James Tiberius Kirk.

    Radio Star: 3/5

    It’s a 1940s radio drama with New York actress Tanya O’Debra in full period costume behind the microphone in a mock radio studio. O’Debra provides the voices of several characters and many of the sound effects during The Iron Lung Cigarettes Mystery show featuring the adventures of the hard boiled private dick, Nick McKittrick. The inventor of the snuggles blanket has been murdered and McKittrick is on the case with plenty of raunchy double entendres and one line zingers. Detective spoofs have been done to death, this one stands out thanks to its unique setting in a radio studio. It makes for a static presentation but O’Debra’s masterful voice work that includes advertisements for the shows sponsor helps makes up for a tired pun filled script.

    Cowboy: A Cowboy Story: 5/5

    I saw the debut of Cowboy five years ago, since then Accidental Humour Co. has taken its multimedia shows to a new place in productions such as Happy Whackin’ Jim McCrackin. William Banfield returns in the role of the prospector and the local lady of the night who has stolen the heart of the mysterious Cowboy. Cliff Kelly, channeling a steely eyed Clint Eastwood, now embracing an outlaw life, is a thorn for a conniving sheriff when his love for Lucy awakens his heroic tendencies. The rock solid cast and crew is on top of their game and they have to be to make this blend of multi screen visuals, featuring lush location footage and onstage choreography work together, and it works well while being blazingly funny.

    Big Bayou Black: 4/5

    A one-person play from Melissa Murray of Portland Oregon, she tells her story of growing up in the Louisiana Bayou on a plantation with her brothers and sisters and oft pregnant stepmom Debbie. An outcast thanks to an unfortunate hair incident at age seven, Melissa regales with her southern charm on tales that involve her pet rock Rupert, sibling mischief and old fashioned punishments involving switches and having ones mouth washed out with soap. Melissa’s deep southern accent is laid on thick and so are the stories of a childhood that left scars but encouraged kindness.

    Lolita a Three Man Show: 5/5

    For the First time at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, Minneapolis troupe Four Humors ( or Humours for a Canadian audience) presents Lolita a Three Man Show, based on the Nabakov novel and the Stanley Kubrick film as told by three idiots (their words not mine). It’s the story of forbidden love as Humbert, played in the Kubrick film by James Mason and here by Ryan Lear doing his best Mason impression, falls for the 12-year-old Lolita, played by Jason Ballweber squeezed into an oh-so-tight bikini. It’s a sight that once seen can’t be unseen. It’s laugh-out-loud funny as the casts non sequiturs and sudden realization of just what’s happening in Nabokov’s still-controversial story begins to sink into this very funny trio of actors. Inspired and altogether fun!

    The Guitar Teacher, an Arctic Romance: 4/5

    San Francisco storyteller Randy Rutherford is back with guitar in hand and a well told yarn to spin about his life in Anchorage, Alaska where he meets a bronzed guitar god at the Crazy Moose bar who becomes his guitar teacher and opens up a world of love and betrayal. Randy is a wonderful storyteller and musician, all the more impressive as he’s afflicted with profound hearing loss. It’s unnoticeable though as he tells of his life changing encounter with a six string master and his girlfriend, a wounded angel who takes Randy’s heart.

    Working: 4/5

    Described as a non-fiction musical, this production from Plain Jane Theatre honours the working man and woman with songs by Stephen Schwartz, Lin Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame), James Taylor and more. Based on the Studs Terkel bestseller; Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, the story is best described in the title as the talented six person cast with musical accompaniment tell their stories of toiling away at various jobs through lively and often emotional songs such as “Brother Trucker,” “Just a House Wife,” and “Cleaning Woman.” Directed by Kate Ryan, it’s a poignant, relatable and funny musical featuring some stand out vocal performances.

    Seance: 4/5

    A sheet of paper, a string and a paper clip are handed to audience members as a means to tap into each persons psychic energy. Soon after, the audience is spellbound by the telepathic feats of ‘The Greatest Medium Alive,’ Ava Fournier played by a brilliant Clare Mullen. With her ‘honourable assistant and host,’ played by Phil Zyp, this surprising story of two grifters who have the tables turned upon their two-bit con celebrates its 20th Fringe anniversary, filled with unnerving special effects and audience participation that includes awkward hand holding. Solid work from this veteran cast, in a well crafted production that has the power to ‘creep out’ its audience.

    Nashville Hurricane: 5/5

    At times Portland, Oregon musician, actor, writer, and street performer Chase Padgett has an otherworldly look about him, as he slips into the various characters that occupy the at-times tragic life of the world’s greatest guitar player you’ve never heard of, The Nashville Hurricane and his rise to infamy under the tutelage of a Svengali-like blues mentor. Padgett is brilliant again with staggering six string skill demonstrated in a tour de force acoustic performance of “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and this boy can tell a story too! If you liked his Fringe hit, 6 Guitars Nashville Hurricane is a must see.

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Feds preparing for potential effects of U.S. election

WASHINGTON – The Canadian government has begun a wide-ranging exercise to plan for the potential effects of the American election, including the possibility of a President Donald Trump threatening to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The government is mapping out a complex array of outcomes for various results including a Democratic presidency; a Republican presidency; and either a Congress where both parties split power, or one dominates.

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The process involves the embassy in Washington, Canada’s dozen consulates in the U.S., numerous federal departments, and it is being centrally co-ordinated by the ministers on the cabinet committee for Canada-U.S. relations.

READ MORE: Donald Trump continues pattern of blaming others for uproar over his comments

“If I tried to show you an organizational chart it would take up an entire wall,” Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, said during an interview in his office overlooking Capitol Hill.

“It’s a big enough job that there’s lots of work for everybody to do.”

There are two broad components to this quadrennial exercise in planning for the transfer in power of Canada’s next-door neighbour, and behemoth of a trading partner. The first is researching the issues and players.

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The second is outreach – building contacts with campaigns, congressional power-brokers, state governments, industry, and labour groups. Amid a surge of protectionist sentiment, the government is seeking allies.

In trips to Colorado, Massachusetts and California, MacNaughton is spreading the word about the nine million U.S. jobs he says rely on trade with Canada. He cites agriculture as an example, with that industry’s $25 billion a year in exports to Canada.

He’s also listing the implications of different election results for important files.

WATCH: Donald Trump acknowledges he may lose to Clinton

Some issues will be deeply affected – the ones where U.S. parties disagree. Climate change is an obvious example. A Trump win might end some joint climate projects; on the other hand, it could spell a new start for the Keystone XL pipeline which he favours. Other issues aren’t partisan. For instance, the election is less likely to affect pilot projects to reform border-crossing.

“We have to be well-prepared for any eventuality,” MacNaughton said.

“And we have to be realistic about what the opportunities are and what the problems are going to be.”

WATCH: Does Trump mean trouble for Alberta’s economy?

Looming over everything is the continental trade deal.

Both presidential candidates favour revising NAFTA. Only one, however, has explicitly threatened to rip it up if he doesn’t get what he wants: “A total renegotiation,” Trump said last week. “And if we don’t get a better deal, we will walk away.”

The government is considering the potential results of:

NAFTA being renegotiated. MacNaughton avoided being pinned down on Canada’s willingness to talk. No document is eternal, and improvements are always possible, he said, but added: “Is a renegotiation a renegotiation? Because if a renegotiation is a real renegotiation, (that) means it’s give and take on both sides.”NAFTA being cancelled. It’s unclear if the original 1987 Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement would snap back into place. MacNaughton said he’s attempted to get that question answered five times – and received five different answers.
“Trust me – I’ve asked,” the ambassador said. “It is a complicated piece of machinery… If Mr. Trump wins I’m sure there will be more than one legal expert opining on that.”NAFTA being a non-issue. It wouldn’t be the first time NAFTA got discussed during an election, then ignored. That’s one reason the government is reluctant to make any drastic noises during the campaign.

“Let’s wait until after the election and see how much of the rhetoric is rhetoric and how much is serious,” MacNaughton said.

“In the meantime, we have to prepare for any eventuality and do our homework.”

A Toronto trade lawyer agreed that cancelling NAFTA would be confusing. He cited different ways it might end up in court: “This election and Brexit are keeping trade lawyers on our toes,” Mark Warner said.

READ MORE: Trump says he’d ask TransCanada Corp. to reapply for Keystone pipeline if elected

NAFTA is now part of web of trade and tariff rules that would be difficult to disentangle, he said. Warner said the U.S. president could certainly withdraw from it, therefore ending its dispute-settlement panels.

But he said it’s unclear what would happen to ongoing cases – like the Keystone XL suit against the U.S. government.

Tariffs are another story. Warner said it would be up to Congress to reintroduce them, with no guarantee they’d pass. On top of that, he said, some product tariffs could not be restored because they were eliminated in other international agreements that followed NAFTA.

Finally, there’s that question that vexed MacNaughton: Could the original 1987 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement just be re-introduced? It’s not an issue most Americans are aware of, or care about, and it hasn’t been raised in this campaign by Trump or anyone else.

Canada lists the old agreement as suspended, not terminated. It’s unclear what the U.S. position is, Warner said. Ultimately, he said, the president would make the call – “and that could also easily be the subject of litigation.”

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Charges in ‘sexting’ ring a quandary for Nova Scotia town – and for experts

BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – When 14-year-old Jillian speaks of her generation’s widespread practice of sending naked selfies to others, she describes both its inherent dangers — and what for some is an irresistible allure.

The dark-haired girl in a ball cap, meeting with friends at a Bridgewater youth centre, says she doesn’t send “nudes” herself, but adds that some girls see it as a sign of self confidence in their bodies — and a normal part of a close relationship.

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When the image is passed along without permission for others to ogle, however, it crosses the line of what’s acceptable and “it’s difficult to trust again,” she says.

“I think it’s a good thing that they’re bringing the cops into this,” she says.

On Wednesday, six local teenaged boys are scheduled to appear in Bridgewater youth court, in one of the country’s early tests of a new law designed to combat illegal sharing of images.

Images of more than 20 teenaged girls were circulated after allegedly being shared without consent in a Dropbox account.

Two 18-year-olds and four 15-year-olds whose identities are protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act have been charged with both distributing intimate images without consent and possession and distribution of child pornography, following a year-long investigation.

Police Chief John Collyer says it’s an important test of the new section 162(1) criminal code provision on intimate images, which allows prosecutions for sharing a wider range of images, including breasts, than traditional child porn laws.

That law was brought in amidst the searing memories in Nova Scotia of the death of Rehtaeh Parsons.

The 17-year-old attempted suicide and was taken off life support after a digital photo of what her family says was a sexual assault was circulated among students at her school in Cole Harbour, N.S.

“From a policing perspective, we needed some legislation,” said Collyer in an interview. “Whether it’s hit the right balance or not in terms of severity, and keeping in mind we’re dealing with young people … time will tell.”

Since the case broke, terms like sexting and “revenge porn” have become coffee-shop topics in this commercial and industrial centre bisected by the tranquil LaHave River.

The teens at the youth centre describe harsh consequences when smart phone images circulate — and then erupt in high school taunts and cruelty.

“People shout out opinions of how they look … They say, ‘What a slut!’ … or they start to criticize their bodies,” said Bailey, a 14-year-old who asked not to have her family name used.

Michael Langille, 18, recalls how he sat outside a friend’s room after images of the boy’s body were passed around.

“I would hear cries,” said Langille. “I would sit outside his door just waiting. He was exposed to people he didn’t want to be exposed to.”

Some experts on teen sexting view the Bridgewater case with concern, saying that solutions other than the heavy hand of the law may be preferable.

McGill University education professor Shaheen Shariff studied the “digitally empowered” generation of kids in a 2013 project that used surveys and focus groups involving 1,088 tweens and teens in two Canadian and two U.S. cities.

Shariff estimates that over half of participants confirmed receiving or sending intimate images, adding that the figures on the prevalence of sexting will vary among studies.

She also said only about half of participants agreed that a girl who sends a boy a sexually explicit photo has the “right to object” to his sharing the photo with others without permission.

“I don’t believe that the child porn law … and Bill C-13 laws that the Harper government brought in are as effective with the kids,” she said in an interview.

“We need to work with them, dialogue with them … on why this kind of total disregard of the privacy of people … is just not appropriate.”

The Montreal university’s “Defining the line” project calls for training in schools, police forces and courts to deepen adult knowledge of the central medium of communication among youth.

The young people at the Bridgewater centre agree that more dialogue is needed among young people themselves in classrooms, at home and elsewhere, but don’t rule out the need for police involvement when unwanted sharing occurs.

Bailey and Langille described their sense of unease when friends had either shown them a photo of someone else or offered to show them, without permission.

In addition, the pressure to provide the images can also become intense, says Bailey.

“Compliments lead to demands,” she said. “He was being discreet and then he suddenly said, ‘Just send me nudes.’”

Claire, a former student at Bridgewater High School, says it can create corrosive and widespread distrust among students.

She argues the focus needs to shift from the moralistic condemnation of girls who are sexting — consensually sharing images — to those who choose to misuse the images.

If boys gather and hoard photos as “a show of masculinity,” that’s the misbehaviour that should be the focus, rather than young women exposing their bodies and sending images to intimate friends, she said.

“I don’t think it’s an issue of whether you should think twice or not … You shouldn’t have to worry about that,” she says during a telephone interview.

Bridgewater Mayor David Walker, a teacher for over two decades before becoming a municipal politician, says the reality is that police and schools in towns across Canada are struggling to find ways to deal with cases where teens are deemed to have crossed a line.

“I’ve heard arguments, ‘Nail them as hard as you can,’ and I’ve heard other arguments, ‘No, you’ve got to work with them.’ Maybe it’s somewhere in between,’” he said during an interview.

“On the 17th (Wednesday), it becomes very, very real when this gets to court.”

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Rio 2016: Ashton Eaton, American decathlete, attacked on Twitter for wearing Canadian gear

Ashton Eaton, the American husband of Canadian bronze medal winner Brianne Theisen-Eaton, fought back after receiving criticism for wearing a hat with ‘Canada’ written on the front.

Eaton, a top-ranked Decathalete who’ll be competing this week for the U.S., was cheering on his wife when photos of him decked out in Canadian gear started circulating – much to the dismay of American fans.

Eaton didn’t stand for it: tweeting out asking if he hadn’t “represented the USA well” in the past. He’s previously won the gold medal in London 2012 and holds the world record for decathlon and indoor heptathlon.

Theisen-Eaton thanked her husband for the support saying he is her biggest fan.

Eaton and Theisen-Eaton, who have been married since 2013, train together under the same coach: Harry Marra.

Before the Olympics started Eaton told the New York Times that he’s more focused on his wife’s career than his own.

“I’m more obviously wanting her to accomplish her goals and dreams because I feel like I have,” Ashton said. “I see the time and energy she puts in it, and we’re in a unique situation where we very much understand what it costs a person to try to get that gold medal.”

READ MORE: What to watch in week 2 of the Olympics

“I think sometimes as an athlete you feel, like, very alone,” Theisen-Eaton told The Times. “I’m lucky I have Ashton because when stuff happens, we have these very separate lives from the regular world.

Theisen-Eaton came through for Canada and won bronze Saturday night. Eaton will compete against Canadian Damien Warner when the decathlon gets underway on Wednesday.

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Edmonton police release composite sketch of Saskatchewan Drive assault suspect

Edmonton police are asking the public for help identifying a man wanted in connection with an assault of a woman along Saskatchewan Drive earlier this month.

At around 11:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, police were called to the area of 116 Street and Saskatchewan Drive.

Police said a woman was walking along Saskatchewan Drive when she was grabbed by a man, choked until she was unconscious and dragged into the bushes north of the walking path. Bystanders in the area came to help the woman and the man left the area on foot.

The woman was taken to hospital with serious injuries. She has since been released from hospital.

The suspect is described as a dark-skinned man between the ages of 23 and 35. He is about 5’7″ tall with short, black hair and a thin, black beard. Police said the suspect has an average to stocky build.

He was reportedly wearing dark pants and a white or grey tank top with blue trim and a design on the front, a red zip-up hoodie with white piping, black shoes and a red and black Chicago Bulls baseball hat.

Police have released a composite sketch of the suspect and a still picture from nearby video surveillance in hopes of identifying the man.

Edmonton police are asking the public for help identifying a man wanted in connection with an assault of a woman along Saskatchewan Drive on Friday, Aug. 5, 2016.

Courtesy, Edmonton police

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to contact the Edmonton Police Service at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.

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Donald Trump struggles for support in Great Lakes region on road to 270

DES MOINES, Iowa – The numbers are stark for Donald Trump. Down in Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina.

Hillary Clinton is starting to spend a little money in Georgia and Arizona, states that any Republican running for president ought to be able to count on.

The road to 270 electoral votes – the threshold to clinch the presidency – increasingly looks to be a series of uphill climbs and dead ends for Trump in the usual collection of most competitive states.

The GOP nominee needs a place to reset the electoral map, and stops this past week in Michigan and Pennsylvania suggest he’s looking at the industrial heartland states on the Great Lakes. It’s a part of the country where he has said he can compete with Democrat Hillary Clinton.

WATCH: Donald Trump acknowledges he may lose to Clinton

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Trump will find the going there no easier than anywhere else.

“Trump has to start making some moves,” said Stephan Thompson, a senior adviser to Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis. “We need to see a positive week out of him to create a positive trajectory. You’re not seeing that anywhere, whether it’s in Wisconsin, Ohio or elsewhere.”

With three months to go until the Nov. 8 vote, the map for Trump is foreboding.

Early voting will not begin until next month, giving people ample opportunity to change their minds. But Clinton has a clear advantage in national and state preference polls at a critical moment in the campaign – after the conventions and as voters start paying serious attention to the race.

WATCH: Robert De Niro says Trump unfit for presidency

If Clinton claims states such as Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina, where recent polls suggest she has a significant lead, Trump would need to win most of the states bordering one of the Great Lakes to have any chance at reaching 270.

That’s provided he wins in Florida. A loss there, and he’ll need to sweep all but Illinois and New York, states firmly in Clinton’s column.

Right now, Trump doesn’t have a lead in any of the states where he will need to win and where recent polling exists, and in several states, he’s significantly behind Clinton.

Trump in running against history, too.

While Ohio has tipped back and forth in recent decades, a Republican presidential nominee has not carried Wisconsin since 1984, and Pennsylvania or Michigan since 1988. It was in Michigan where Trump delivered his indictment this past week of trade measures enacted under recent Democratic presidents, especially the North American Free Trade Agreement.

WATCH: Donald Trump pauses for protester says she’s “going home to mommy’

“Every policy that has failed this city and so many others is a policy supported by Hillary Clinton,” Trump told the Detroit Economic Club. “Trade deals like NAFTA, signed by her husband, that have shipped your jobs to Mexico and other countries.”

Clinton is quietly banking that voters once angry about NAFTA have accepted it or have retired since the pact was enacted two decades ago. She opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asian trade agreement she backed as secretary of state, but said at her own Michigan event this past week that “the answer is not to rant and rave and cut ourselves off from the world.”

Paul Maslin, a Democratic pollster in Wisconsin, said, “People have moved beyond trade, and fixing some old problem. They actually look for and respond more to future plans.”

WATCH: Hillary Clinton gaining ground in polls

Trump angered suburban Milwaukee’s Republicans in April when he sharply criticized Walker before losing the presidential primary. Last month, Trump toyed with not endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., before the state’s Aug. 9 primary, when Ryan walloped a little-known challenger.

“In Wisconsin, Trump’s negatives are deeper and fresher,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas. An independent poll released this past week by Marquette University found Trump down 15 percentage points among likely voters in the state.

Though Clinton’s team isn’t advertising on television in either Michigan or Wisconsin, she is hardly ignoring the states. The campaign has staff in both, and Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, was in Milwaukee this month.

WATCH: GOP senate majority leader says he wants a ‘Trump free day’

Clinton followed Trump to Michigan this past week, making a stop in the Detroit area that was more tactically precise than the billionaire’s speech to the city’s well-heeled business leaders. She spoke in Warren, the heart of working-class Macomb County, northeast of Detroit, at a former auto parts manufacturing plant now being used to make military aircraft equipment.

“The door is closing fast,” said Michigan Democratic strategist Amy Chapman, President Barack Obama’s senior Michigan adviser in his 2008 and 2012 campaigns. “If the numbers look like this in a month, I’ll feel better.”

Trump was playing to a wider industrial audience during his economic address in Detroit, promoting “American steel” and “energy mined from American sources” – obvious signals to nearby Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Winning there will require motivating an overwhelming number of white, working-class voters in places such as western and central Pennsylvania and southeastern Ohio. And overcoming his current gap with Clinton. While polls show Clinton with an edge in Ohio, they peg her with an outright lead in Pennsylvania.

Ray Zaborney, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based GOP campaign operative who advises most of the state’s Republican legislative candidates, said Trump is doing the right things in Pennsylvania, adding staff and making smart travel decisions. Still, he said, Trump “has got to find his groove and stay on his message.”

“It’s on his shoulders to turn it in the right direction,” Zaborney said.

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Canada-wide warrant issued for prisoner who escaped while on day leave south of Edmonton

RCMP have obtained a Canada-wide warrant for the arrest of a prisoner who failed to return to a minimum security federal institution south of Edmonton Saturday night.

Officers said Darell Moosomin was granted day leave from the Pe Sakastew Centre in Maskwacis on Saturday to attend the Samson powwow. He was escorted by an elder, but sometime Saturday evening the elder lost sight of Moosomin. He has not been seen since.

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The Correctional Services of Canada said Moosomin, 54, is a dangerous offender who is serving an indeterminate sentence for sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm, assault with a weapon, failing to comply with a probation order, operating a motor vehicle while disqualified and obstruction of a police or peace officer.

“Typically an offender will get a very specific end date. A judge will say, ‘you’ll have to serve seven years, six months, 14 days,’ something like that. In his case, he’ll be reporting to CSC or in CSC custody for the rest of his life with an indeterminate sentence,” Jeff Campbell, regional communications manager with CSC, explained Sunday morning.

“In his case I don’t have his entire case history but that’s the sentence that the court applied.”

Campbell said Moosomin’s current sentence started on Nov. 15, 1994 after he was convicted in Swift Current, Sask.

“He also had sentences previously for escape lawful custody, assault, break enter and commit and common assault,” Campbell said Sunday morning.

The CSC was notified of the prisoner’s absence at around 8:45 p.m. Saturday.

“Every temporary absence is only granted after a thorough assessment’s been done and it’s found that an offender could be managed safely in the community. Otherwise they would not be granted a temporary absence,” Campbell said.

The Pe Sakastew Centre in Maskwacis Monday, August 15, 2016.

Global News

Moosomin is originally from Mosquito Lake, Sask. RCMP say he has no known family or friends in the Edmonton area. Officers do not know where Moosomin may be headed.

Moosomin is described as a First Nations man who is about 5’9″ tall and 217 pounds. He speaks with a lisp and has the number 11 tattooed on his right hand. He also has a Playboy Bunny tattoo on his upper back. RCMP say he has a slash scar on his throat.

The Pe Sakastew Centre is a minimum security facility located about 95 kilometres south of Edmonton. The facility has the capacity to house about 60 inmates who live in residential houses. It promotes a healing process based on aboriginal culture.

“The idea here is to have offenders taking on more and more responsibility and accountability and get ready to safely reintegrate into a community,” Campbell said. “They use traditional teachings from indigenous cultures to assist offenders to get ready for eventual release.”

Campbell said because Moosomin is serving in a minimum security facility, he is considered to be a low risk to public safety. However, if anyone sees him they are asked to contact police.

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Ontario automakers faced more pain in ’09 than Alberta’s ongoing oil woes: federal memo

OTTAWA – Ontario’s auto sector absorbed a far greater economic wallop during the financial crisis than the damage low oil prices have inflicted on Alberta, says an internal federal analysis.

The February memo, prepared for Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, examined the two economic crises after some observers had called on governments to help Alberta’s energy industry — much like the 2009 bailout of the automotive sector.

The auto sector’s situation was much more dire, the document concluded.

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“With the current downturn in worldwide oil prices, some have advocated a similar type of assistance be made available to support the oil and gas industry,” said the briefing note, obtained by under the Access to Information Act.

READ MORE: Why contract talks with the ‘Detroit Three’ automakers are so critical for Canada

“However, the context differs considerably. The impact on the Ontario automotive industry was far more acute than what has been seen so far in the Alberta economy.”

The federal and Ontario governments spent a combined $13.7 billion to rescue automakers Chrysler Canada and General Motors Canada from potential bankruptcy.

At the time, consumers had difficulty securing car loans because of a credit crunch. Sliding sales stung the car companies, which could no longer generate enough cash to finance their operations.

WATCH: Ailing Alberta economy triggers mass sale of possessions

They couldn’t seek help from flagging financial markets, so they knocked on government doors.

Fast forward to today and Alberta’s energy-dependent economy remains hobbled by stubbornly low oil prices, which started their plunge about two years ago.

Cheaper crude has pushed once-booming Alberta into recession, leading to big drops in business investment in the energy sector as well as large-scale layoffs in the industry and along the supply chain. The fallout has also been felt at the national level.

The memo compared the two situations.

READ MORE: Canada’s trade deficit is widening, but expert says there’s more to the picture

The unemployment rate in Alberta’s oil sector climbed to 7.9 per cent in 2015, up from 2.9 per cent in 2011. By comparison, the analysis found, the jobless rate in Ontario’s auto manufacturing sector peaked at 21.9 per cent in 2009, an increase from 8.4 per cent in 2007.

It also noted that the 2008-09 recession was an international economic crisis, while the current context represents slowing global growth — but not a recession.

The 2009 bailout came amid concerns Canada could lose auto-sector jobs “at an accelerated pace” due to lower-wage jurisdictions in the southern United States and Mexico, the document added. Since oil and gas resources aren’t mobile, there was a lower risk of jobs being moved out of Canada, it noted.

The analysis also underlined the importance of GM and Chrysler to the entire automotive supply chain. A bankruptcy, it said, could have had a “ripple effect” across the country.

When it came to Alberta’s energy sector, the document said some “smaller highly leveraged” oil firms may have been at some risk of default. But it argued that major oil companies had yet to approach governments for assistance and remained in relatively good financial shape.

Since February, when the federal memo was created, Alberta’s economy has faced even more challenges.

READ MORE: Alberta unemployment rate now higher than Nova Scotia’s

Not only have crude prices remained low, the provincial economy suffered another hit when huge wildfires forced the temporary closures of critical production facilities. The blazes also destroyed more than 2,000 structures and triggered the evacuation of 90,000 people from Fort McMurray.

The latest labour market survey said Alberta’s overall unemployment rate climbed last month to 8.6 per cent — its highest mark in nearly 22 years.

Statistics Canada said the jobless rate in the province’s oil and gas sector peaked at 12.3 per cent in February. It fell to 11.8 per cent in March and was 9.7 per cent in July.

Alberta, however, has also received some help from Ottawa.

The federal government announced earlier this year that Alberta was eligible for an automatic payment of $251.4 million in financial relief through its seldom-used fiscal stabilization program.

In their March budget, the Liberals also boosted employment insurance benefits for hard-hit regions of the country, which included some parts of Alberta. The changes, however, were criticized for omitting Edmonton.

Mike Moffatt, a Western University economics professor, said the biggest difference between ongoing struggles in Alberta and 2009 was that, unlike today, the credit system back then had broken down.

He said the unusual set of circumstances had left banks unable to provide capital even when it made financial sense. So, if automakers couldn’t make their payrolls, they couldn’t turn to the banks for help, Moffatt added.

That made the “exceptionally rare” decision to provide an industry bailout necessary, he said.

“There was this underlying understanding that if we weren’t at the table, we could kiss the entire industry goodbye.”

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