Meet the Southern Alberta MLAs in Premier Danielle Smith's cabinet

WATCH: There will be some southern Alberta voices at the cabinet table. Jaclyn Kucey tells us who the local ministers are and the importance of having regional representation within Premier Danielle Smith’s inner circle.

The Lethbridge, Alta., region will see representation in Premier Danielle Smith’s new cabinet.

Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf, as well as Cardston-Siksika MLA Joseph Schow, will be among the 25-member group.

Neudorf, who was infrastructure minister before the May 29 election, will be taking on a new role as minister of Affordability and Utilities.

He will also become vice-chair of the treasury board, which political sociologist Trevor Harrison says will carry weight in the United Conservative Party’s provincial government.

“This is about as close as you get to the inner circle,” Harrison said. “So it is a prestigious position for him.”

Joseph Schow, meanwhile, will return as Government House Leader, and will take on his first cabinet appointment as minister of Tourism and Sport — a portfolio Harrison says has historically been linked to environment and parks.

“This is going to be an interesting thing for Schow,” Harrison said, “who will deal with … other ministers to massage some real concerns for Southern Albertans.”

Harrison believes regional representation also played a role in Smith’s appointments.

“Southern Alberta is very strong for (the) UCP,” Harrison said. “So they … pretty much needed to put some people in from here.”

Global News reached out to the offices of both Southern Alberta MLAs for comment on their new roles but did not hear back by press time.

The province says its newly appointed ministers will begin receiving briefings from their departments immediately.

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

B.C. to require license for asbestos abatement contractors by 2024

British Columbia will soon be the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a licensing requirement for asbestos abatement contractors.

The Labour Ministry says workers must be licensed by Jan. 1.

This comes following changes to the Workers Compensation Act last year, requiring that contractors who remove the cancer-causing material use only trained and certified workers.

The ministry says required training for worker certification is scheduled to begin this summer.

It says WorkSafeBC will begin to accept applications from contractors performing asbestos abatement work by September.

The ministry says the registry of those who are able to preform the work will be published by the end of the year.

“Bringing in stricter laws and controls around asbestos abatement work is essential for protecting people and the environment from the dangers of asbestos,” the ministry said in a news release Friday.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

Court documents reveal new details in Alberta sexual assault, confinement investigation

New details have emerged from the police investigation into a 59-year-old Alberta man who is accused of forcibly confining and sexually assaulting sex workers on a rural property east of Calgary.

According to recently-unsealed court documents obtained by Global News, four women — three of whom were described as sex workers — came forward separately to police with allegations of being attacked by Richard Mantha.

The attacks allegedly occurred between 2020 and March of this year.

The investigation into the alleged assaults began with an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.

Mantha is accused of pulling a gun on one woman in December of 2021 and assaulting her on a weekly basis, while providing her with drugs, in his trailer within a quonset near Langdon over the 16 months that followed. The woman told police that she saw what she thought were body parts or heads in the trailer at the opposite end of Mantha’s bed.

A second woman was allegedly driven to Mantha’s home in March 2022 and confined in his trailer. It’s believed she was stabbed during her escape from the property and was later found injured by police along the Trans-Canada Highway.

A third woman accepted a ride while waiting at a bus stop in April 2022 and was allegedly rendered unconscious and taken to Mantha’s home.

The documents indicate a fourth woman, who previously knew Mantha before he moved outside of Calgary, was allegedly assaulted by Mantha 15 times between September 2020 and January 2021.

Police seized numerous electronics from Mantha’s home in April and also seized a BMW belonging to Mantha from a location in Quebec.

Court files state Mantha drove the BMW from Alberta to his mother’s home in Quebec sometime in late December 2022 or in early January 2023, but left the car there and elected to fly back to Calgary.

According to investigators, the car had been cleaned in what appeared to be an attempt to remove bodily fluids including, but not limited to, blood and DNA. Police say they found a pellet pistol, a purse, women’s clothing and women’s boots inside the vehicle.

Police were notified of the location of the BMW by a family member of Mantha who saw a news piece on his original charges.

None of the allegations against Mantha have been proven in court.

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

Edmonton Elks' young secondary will be tested early and often in home-opener

Week 1 of the CFL regular season brings two things: plenty of excitement with a huge helping of uncertainty. The Edmonton Elks will host the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday to kick-off the 2023 season.

In some respects, both teams have a lot of familiarity from 2022. The biggest change might be in the Elks’ secondary and the Riders’ offence.

Veteran quarterback Trevor Harris signed with the Riders in the off-season. The Riders named Kelly Jeffrey offensive coordinator, the first time he’s ever held the position in the CFL.

The Elks’ secondary features three first-year players in Kai Gray, Darrius Bratton and Dwayne Thompson. With Aaron Grymes still trying to get fully healthy from an ACL injury suffered during the 2022 pre-season, the only veterans in the Elks’ secondary are Ed Gainey and 2022 Western Division All-Star Loucheiz Purifoy.

Elks head coach Chris Jones says he fully expects Harris to test the three rookies in his defensive backfield.

“The reality is we have three guys who have never played a game and they struggled at times today (Thursday) collectively,” Jones said. “We have to do a great job in man coverage, so it’s a matter of us playing our technique and having a good belief system.”

Thompson is doing his best to learn the CFL game, especially with the wide field and the unlimited motion from the receivers. Thompson, a product of Valdosta State, has watched the film on Harris and feels he has a good read on his mechanics.

“He’s a good spot thrower,” Thompson said. “I’m looking forward to playing an experienced quarterback for my first game. I know it’s going to be an experience and there will be and ups and downs. I’m definitely looking forward to a battle.”

O-line banking on experience as catalyst for improvement

Sunday’s matchup will feature the two teams who gave up the most quarterback sacks in the CFL in 2022.

The Riders surrendered a whopping 77 sacks. The Elks gave up 24 fewer sacks but were still not happy with giving up 53.

The Elks chose to stay the course with the offensive line instead making wholesale changes. Four of the starting five from the O-line are back in 2023. Andrew Garnett, David Foucault, Mark Korte and Tomas Jack-Kurdyla. The one new edition on the starting group is 2016 first overall pick Josiah St. John. Korte became the Elks centre mid-way through the 2022 season after David Beard was traded to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Korte says keeping the group together should allow the group to get better.

“When you look at offensive lines around the league and you look at the ones who are really playing well, it’s the groups that have been together for two, three and four years,” Korte said. “Having a group that finished last year together and adding Josiah, who has been with this staff before and was drafted by this staff. It’s a group that really all know each other.”

Edmonton Elks offensive lineman Mark Korte on the new-look offence and the flipping the switch from training-camp to regular-season mode

One other factor that will improve the offensive line, according to head coach Jones, is that the snap-to-throw ratio from Taylor Cornelius has been faster compared to last season. A quicker release should relieve some pressure off the O-line. A strong running game will help as well if Kevin Brown can get back to 6.5-yard average per carry he recorded last season.

Elks bring in punter with a big leg

The Elks made their final roster cuts last weekend. They also brought in a new kicker in Canadian Jake Julien, who was 2021 fourth round pick of the Ottawa Redblacks.

Julien spent time with the New England Patriots in 2022 and played in one pre-season game. Julien recorded a 44-yard punt average in five seasons at Eastern Michigan.

Jones says he will rely on Julien’s hang time for his cover unit to get downfield. Julien during practice recorded hang times in the 4.5 to 4.75 second range. Overall, Julien is just happy to play football again.

“Really excited to play ball after a year off last year and bouncing between teams,” Julien said. “I’m really excited get another season under my belt and play with the guys.”

Jones becomes a social media star

When I first met Chris Jones, he was the defensive coordinator of the Calgary Stampeders in 2009. Five years later, Jones would become a first-time head coach with Edmonton and helped the team to a Grey Cup in 2015. Jones lives and breathes football, sometimes I worry it’s to extreme levels but that’s his element.

The longer I got the chance to know Chris Jones, you learn he has a fun side to him, which is one of many reasons players gravitate to him. That being said, no one ever thought he would take it to the next level by reading mean tweets.

The post has been viewed over 72,000 times on Twitter alone. It’s simply brilliant.

The Elks will open their regular season schedule at home on Sunday afternoon against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Kick-off on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium will be at 5 p.m. 630 CHED will have live coverage starting with Countdown to Kick-off at 3:30 p.m.

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

Vancouver group that helps violence survivors flee their abusers 'urgently' needs volunteers

A Vancouver non-profit that offers free moving and storage services to domestic violence survivors fleeing their abusers is in urgent need of volunteers as demand outstrips capacity. Laura Darch of Shelter Movers talks about the capacity issues, while Neena Randhawa of the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society talks about the value Shelter Movers provides to the women she supports. 

Warning: This story deals with domestic abuse and violence against women, and may upset and trigger some readers. Discretion is advised.

A Vancouver non-profit that helps domestic violence survivors and their children flee their abusers “urgently” needs volunteers as the demand for its services outstrips its capacity, post-pandemic.

Shelter Movers is a free moving and storage service that meets families at their homes, helps them pack up and transition to a life without violence, elsewhere. Its executive director said that while other activities were disrupted during COVID-19, it had a health supply of drivers and movers, but that number has since dwindled as people resume their regular routines.

“When the pandemic hit, the demand for our services was significant — so many women and children living in isolation and not having the resources to leave their abuser,” Laura Derch told Global News.

“The demand still exists, there are still survivors needing our services … but so many people are out socializing again and travelling and all of those things. Particularly in the last few months, we just haven’t had the interest in volunteering for our organization that we’ve seen in the past.”

Shelter Movers currently has about 230 active volunteers. In order to meet the demand, Darch said it would need about 400.

It completed 102 moves in the Lower Mainland during the 2020 fiscal year, 272 during 2021, 288 during 2022, and 276 during the fiscal year ending in March of 2023. That number decreased due to lack of volunteers, Darch said.

Right now, the organization is averaging about 18 moves a month.

“When we had enough volunteers, we were doing about 25 to 30 moves a month, so almost a move a day,” she explained.

“I think if we called up all of the transition houses and shelters that we work with and said we could do 100 moves a month, they would say, ‘Amazing, we’ll give you a hundred survivors that need your service.'”

Shelter Movers partners with more than 50 women’s shelters, transition houses and other referral agencies in the Lower Mainland.

Last year, the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, Battered Women’s Support Services and the University of Victoria released the disturbing results of a pandemic-era survey of Indigenous women and gender diverse people in B.C.

Eighty-five per cent of 95 respondents reported an onset of intimate partner violence during the pandemic, and 77 per cent reported an increase in that violence during the pandemic.

According to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, at least 88 women and girls were killed in Canada in the first half of 2022 alone, 15 of whom were in B.C.

Last December, three women were killed in the Lower Mainland within a week. A family member or intimate partner was suspected in each of the murders of Stephanie Forster, Harpreet Kaur Gill and Dominga Santos.

Neena Randhawa, director of women’s programs and initiatives at the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society in B.C., said she has observed a spike in domestic violence, based on the number of calls for help to her organization.

The society has two transition houses for women in Surrey.

“It’s like every day we have to turn down women and families, like sorry, we are full,” she told Global News, “and it’s so hard to move these families, you know, into their own housing because it’s so expensive.”

The Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society has used Shelter Movers multiple times in the past, calling it a “practical” service that lowers helps remove barriers for women trying to flee. Before Shelter Movers started in Vancouver in 2019, Randhawa said there was much more red tape in coordinating a move, particularly if women were accessing certain emergency government funds.

“They needed three different quotes from the moving companies and to find movers who would come in. It was a lot of trouble,” she explained.

“The families, they’re moving from their place, it’s such emotional timing — then to try and coordinate it would take so much of the staff time and a lot of running around.”

Shelter Movers volunteers are also trauma-informed and respectful, she added, which makes a difficult experience a little easier for the women. She said she hopes the organization is able to find the volunteers it needs.

More information on volunteering for Shelter Movers is available on its website. Shelter Movers has chapters in Calgary, Edmonton, Greater Moncton, Greater Toronto, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, and the Waterloo region.

Women and gender diverse people experiencing violence can access support from Battered Women’s Support Services by calling the 24/7 crisis line toll-free at 1-855-687-1868.

VictimLinkBC provides toll-free multilingual support, including referral services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, at 1-800-563-080.

A map of safe shelters for women and children experiencing violence in B.C. is available online through

More local resources and information can be found on the B.C. government’s website.

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

Wildfire just 4 or 5km from Tumbler Ridge, B.C. could reach town by end of day

Officials provide an update on the Tumbler Ridge and Cameron Bluffs wildfires on Fri. June 9, 2023, as locals evacuate their homes. Meanwhile, B.C. Premier David Eby responds to the latest wildfire developments provincewide. 

An “incredibly intense” wildfire burning in British Columbia’s northeast is now just four to five kilometres from the community of Tumbler Ridge, and could reach the outskirts of town at some point Friday, according to the BC Wildfire Service.

The fire prompted an evacuation order Thursday afternoon, forcing the community’s 2,400 or so residents to flee.

Despite the dangerous situation, fire information officer Karley Desrosiers said the West Kistkatinaw River fire hadn’t behaved quite as fiercely as expected Friday morning, and crews are hopeful an early wind shift may still stall growth towards the community.

“The ignition point was about 21 kilometres from Tumbler Ridge, so since Tuesday afternoon we’ve seen it move about 15 kilometres,” she said.

“From my understanding about eight or nine of those were yesterday.”

The fire has more than doubled in size from 9,600 hectares on Thursday evening to 23,000 hectares on Friday afternoon. A crew is currently stationed along Bearhole Lake Road at the bottom of a ridge just east of town, hoping to block the fire’s westward spread.

However, Desrosiers said it has been unsafe for crews to attack the fire directly at its head due to its volatility and intensity. The fire has been so hot and conditions so dry that it is growing on all flanks, even grown against the wind, she said.

“The area of most concern is if that fire crosses the Bearhole Lake (Road) it will likely make its way upslope towards the community of Tumbler Ridge,” she said. “Unfortunately we are still seeing those easterly winds pushing that fire west.”

Earlier in the day, BC Wildfire Service forecaster Matthew MacDonald warned there was a “pretty good” chance the fire could reach the community at some point Friday.

Desrosiers said there were 60 structure protection personnel stationed in Tumbler Ridge with more on the way, along with more unit crews and aircraft to be deployed as they became available.

Tumbler Ridge Fire Chief Dustin Curry, who is also leading the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), thanked the bulk of residents heeded the evacuation order issued Thursday.

About 150 people have opted to remain in the community, he added. A few are working at the EOC, he said, but the rest have ignored the order.

“At this point of time, our message to those individuals who have chosen to stay and are not part of the EOC, is that our sense right now is to public safety, and really the best way you can help us and help the public and the responders and everyone in town here is to evacuate yourself,” he said.

“We understand that that’s not an easy decision for everybody to make, but we really want to stress the importance of having everybody leave so that we can make sure that we’re focusing our efforts in the right places.”

Curry said RCMP had warned people still in the community that there was no BC Ambulance crew in town in the case of an emergency, and that there may be no one to help them if it turns out they need to flee in a hurry.

Desrosiers said wildfires can be so damaging to infrastructure that by the time they reach a community, the option to get out may be gone.

“It can come down to it being too late to be able to escape safely,” she said.

Evacuees have been directed to a reception centre at the Ovintiv Events Centre in Dawson Creek. Anyone evacuating is being asked to register and stay put once they have do so, so officials can keep track if anyone is missing.

Fire has forced the closure of Highway 52 to the north and east of the community, and all evacuees have been directed to take Highway 29 instead.

Evacuees are also being advised that hotels are fully booked in Dawson Creek and Chetwynd, and that if they need accommodations they can find them in Fort Saint John.

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

Feel-good Friday: Global BC's highlights of the week

Each week at Global BC we highlight our stories to bring a bright spot to your Friday and into the weekend.

Here are the five stories we want to share:

Bachelor of Nsyilxcn language fluency sees first graduates cross the stage

Osoyoos Indian Band citizen Mourning Dove Hall started her Nsyilxcn language journey when she heard it spoken on the phone, in public.

“It just kind of just stopped me in my tracks,” said Hall. “I’m the first generation that never went to residential school, so in my family there are fluent speakers, but they never spoke, and when they did it was in secret.”

She said hearing her language spoken in public blew her mind and she knew she needed to learn.

“I wanted to be able to call somebody, and now I’m able to, I can call my classmates in our language.”

Hall is one of the first graduates of the bachelor of Nsyilxcn language fluency that walked across the stage Thursday; it’s Canada’s first bachelor’s degree of Indigenous language fluency.

2 winning tickets sold for Tuesday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

Two lucky lottery ticket holders in British Columbia and Ontario will split the $70 million Lotto Max jackpot.

The winning ticket in Ontario was sold somewhere in Windsor, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said Wednesday.

The winning ticket in British Columbia was sold in Victoria, according to the B.C. Lottery Corporation.

Two tickets — one in Kitimat, B.C., and one in Quebec — also won $564,874.20 each after matching six of seven numbers.

Font gives fresh look to B.C. Indigenous languages while working on reconciliation

A new font to typeset Salish Indigenous languages means so much more than just the words that it will be used to write, one of the people behind its creation says.

Vanessa Campbell, a Musqueam band member and staff member in its Language and Culture Department, was part of a team from the University of British Columbia that designed a new font which allows characters from the Musqueam language to not only be easily typed on a computer, but to match the formal institutional font used on university documentation and signs.

‘One in a million’: Deer photobombs killer whale in waters near B.C.-U.S. border

Thousands of social media users on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are marvelling at a “one in a million” photograph of a deer swimming next to a mammal-munching killer whale earlier this month.

Marine biologist Sam Murphy snapped the image of the Bigg’s killer whale on Sunday near a small island northwest of the San Juan Islands, by British Columbia’s border with Washington. The naturalist, who works for Island Adventures Whale Watching, didn’t even realize the deer was in the photo at the time, according to a colleague at the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

“I have definitely never seen it before. Neither had Sam, the photographer here,” executive director Erin Gless told Global News.

Ryan Gauld nets winner as Vancouver Whitecaps beat Montreal to claim Canadian Championship

Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini jumped to chants in front of supporters while players and coaches streamed on the field at B.C. Place, tearing off their shirts and hugging one another to celebrate a back-to-back Canadian Championship win.

Ryan Gauld scored the matchwinner off a penalty in the 65th minute as Vancouver beat CF Montreal 2-1 to ensure the Canadian Championship trophy stays on the West Coast for another year.

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

Public consultation seeks legal encampment options for Hamilton

A Hamilton city councillor says if a majority of residents vote ‘no’ to sanctioned encampment sites in the city, they’ll need to offer up “other solutions” to mitigate the growing homelessness problem.

As of this week, Hamiltonians can make their feelings known about legal tents in designated areas across the municipality via an online survey and how the city staff should handle some 1,600 people experiencing homelessness.

“The fact is that encampments and homelessness exist in our communities and we need to find out what residents think are the best ways to deal with those problems,” Ward 8’s John Paul Danko told 900 CHML’s Scott Radley Show.

A housing services idea seeking the creation of sanctioned encampment zones, of up to five tents in parks and other city properties, was sent back to the drawing board in mid-May.

City staff have since been asked to report back in August on the idea of a sanctioned encampment that could allow sites of up to 50 tents where individuals would have access to washrooms, running water and support services.

The online survey generally focuses on two issues: support for a sanctioned encampment program and a protocol mitigating encampments that pop up outside of sanctioned sites.

“And that’s kind of when somebody shows up in a park, and sets up a tent, should we allow people to camp overnight in a tent at a park or city property?” Danko explained.

Director of housing services Michelle Baird says so far no locations have been identified as suitable yet and is hoping the reach out to the community will give some hints on where and how the city can provide a place of stability.

“This is not a solution to homelessness by any means, however, we have individuals who are sleeping outside and we need to provide a solution in the meantime,” Baird told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton.

Ultimately, Baird says affordable housing is the solution to the problem and that the prospective encampment plan won’t be permanent.

The launch of the survey comes the same week the Hamilton Encampment Support Network accused officials of facilitating a “voluntary eviction” of people at the so-called “Whitehern” tents near City Hall.

On numerous occasions, Hamilton staff have in the past few months issued trespass notices in the hopes of vacating the city’s largest encampment.

Despite spending some $70 million over the past year on support programs and adding hundreds of supportive housing spaces, the crisis continues and time is running out to find “better solutions,” Danko said.

A Hamilton group hoping to build a small community of tiny shelters for those experiencing homelessness was also sent back to the drawing board in January after failing to find a suitable location.

The Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS) couldn’t push through any of the three proposed sites to house a community of eight-by-10 cabins.

Danko admits that is part of the complex puzzle with the sanctioned encampment initiative suggesting it would “not be fair” for council to impose a site in “somebody’s neighborhood park.”

“So I think that is a consideration, and this is a city-wide issue,” he said.

“This is not an issue that’s just affecting one area of the city, it’s not just downtown … it affects residents and businesses and those that are visiting our city.”

Danko will join peers in other Mountain wards on June 19 and hear directly from constituents via an engagement session from 7-9 p.m. at the auditorium in the Hill Park Recreation Centre.

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

Murdered Airdrie man’s legacy lives on through fundraiser supporting children in sport

WATCH: The first ever Kalix Foundation Golf Tournament was held Friday, north of Calgary. It’s organized by the family of an Airdrie teen who was murdered in 2020, as a way to honour his legacy by helping more kids get involved in the sports and activities they love. Michael King reports.

Loved ones of Kalix Langenau are keeping his memory alive by raising funds to ensure children from families facing financial challenges in Airdrie, Alta., are able to play amateur sports.

Langenau, 19, was last seen alive in February 2020. Two days later, his body was found in a rural area southeast of Airdrie. A 21-year-old man was found guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the death.

“The Kalix Legacy Foundation was set up to fulfil Kalix’s wish of providing financially challenged families with support to access sports as well as proper fitting, safe equipment within Airdrie,” Betina Fillion, Kalix’s stepmother, told Global News.

This weekend’s Kalix Legacy Foundation Charity Classic will include a celebrity charity golf tournament Friday with Stampeders and NHL alumni at the Apple Creek Golf Course in Rocky View County, a celebrity charity hockey game Saturday at the Ron Ebbensen Twin Arena in Airdrie and a Saturday night celebration banquet at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino in Calgary.

“To us, it’s really important to keep his memory alive through positive aspects (that) promote what he believed in, which is helping others to be able to participate in sports,” explained John Langenau, Kalix’s father.

“We’ve had so much support here in Airdrie and I don’t know without them if we would be in the positive place we are today.”

“I want Kalix to be remembered for who he was, what he brought to this community, how he touched those around him, and that’s something we have control over on days like today,” added Fillion.

Kalix Langenau, 19, was last seen in northeast Calgary on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Kalix Langenau, 19, was last seen in northeast Calgary on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Courtesy: Airdrie RCMP

To date, the Kalix Legacy Foundation has helped children join taekwondo, dance, hockey, soccer, and lacrosse and equipped them with the necessary outfits and gear.

John Langenau says the foundation helps bridge gaps in affordability between what other children’s charities provide and the total cost families face to register in sports and secure equipment.

According to Fillion and Langenau, to date, the foundation has assisted 26 Airdrie youth and they have no plans of slowing down.

“We know that there are families out there who need us, but don’t know of us yet,” said Fillion. “It’s not only raising money today, but it’s accessing and getting our name to the families who we can help.”

For more information on the initiative visit Kalix Legacy Foundation.

— with files from Global News’ Michael King

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

Montreal sees spike in violent crimes in 2022: police report

There has been a marked jump in the number of crimes against individuals on Montreal police territory between 2017 and last year, according to the service’s  2022 annual report released Friday.

“This crime category increased by nine per cent between 2021 and 2022, and by 21 per cent over the last five years,” explained Insp. David Shane during a press briefing.

Included in that category are homicides, which were 41 last year compared to 37 in 2021; and firearm infractions which numbered 563 in 2022 as opposed to 516 the previous year.

Reported hate crimes numbered 212 in 2022 versus 194 in 2021, with most having to do with ethnicity or skin colour.

According to Shane, the trend mirrors other jurisdictions in North America and could be a fallout of the pandemic.

Property crimes also went up by 13 per cent in 2022 compared to the average for 2017 to 2021, after a dip during the pandemic lockdown. The vast majority were motor vehicle thefts which showed a huge jump. In 2022 there 9,583 stolen vehicles reported, up from 6,527 the year prior.

Shane said the spike in car thefts is being seen worldwide, largely due to supply chain issues and the shortage of new cars.

“Theft for resale on foreign markets has therefore become a much more attractive business for criminal networks,” he said.

The report suggests, however, that there are some encouraging signs.

Police brass note that despite the jump in crimes against individuals in 2022, the vast majority were simple assaults that resulted in little or no injury, and that the number of attempted murders last year dropped.

Also, although guns were used in half the homicides in 2022, the number of crimes in which guns were discharged, fell.  Shane said that trend is continuing so for this year.

Alain Vaillancourt, the City of Montreal executive committee member responsible for public security, believes those reductions are steps in the right direction.

“It’s not a victory by any means,” he said, “but it’s an encouraging sign that shows that some of the things that we’ve put in place are helpful.”

Community groups admit that more police officers are needed, but are calling for more emphasis on prevention.

“(It’s) the social and economic indicators related to crime, related to violence, that we all should be talking about,” said Fo Niemi, head of the civil rights organization, Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.

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

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