Crown to cross-examine Alberta father charged in son’s meningitis death

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – The Crown is expected to cross-examine a father accused in his toddler son’s death from bacterial meningitis four years ago when his trial resumes on Tuesday.

David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet, 35, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for their son Ezekiel in March 2012.

David Stephan was the first defence witness called in the trial for the couple, formerly of Glenwood, Alta. The couple now resides in Nelson, B.C.

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    He told the jury on Monday that the nearly 19-month-old boy appeared to get better at times, even right up until the night he stopped breathing and had to be rushed to hospital.

    READ MORE: Alberta father whose son died from meningitis testifies at trial

    Stephan said there was nothing to indicate Ezekiel had anything worse than the croup or the flu so he and his wife didn’t seek medical attention.

    Instead, the boy, who had been sick for about 2 1/2 weeks, was given natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion.

    Stephan said Ezekiel seemed to be improving right up until the day he was rushed to hospital.

    “He had a good sleep that night. the next morning he was getting better. His energy level was better,” said Stephan.

    “The symptoms had subsided. Everything was absolutely looking up. There was nothing that would have said, hey, in three hours you’re going to have an urgent situation.”

    But later that evening the boy’s breathing pattern began to change and then he stopped breathing altogether.

    READ MORE: Parents of Alberta boy who died from meningitis thought he had cold or flu: defence

    After being taken to hospital in Cardston, Alta., Ezekiel was rushed to a Calgary hospital where he died a week later from bacterial meningitis and a lung infection.

    The Crown contends the couple didn’t do enough to ensure the toddler had proper access to medical care before he became seriously ill.

    In earlier testimony, a pediatrician said Ezekiel had less than a one per cent chance of surviving by the time he was rushed to an Alberta hospital.

    Dr. Shauna Burkholder, who works at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, said medical staff at the smaller hospital near their home were able to revive Ezekiel, but it’s likely he was already brain dead at that point.

    The jury has already heard that a friend who was a nurse told the Stephans that their boy might have viral meningitis and advised them to take him to a doctor.

VSB urged to take drastic measures to deal with budget shortfall

Teachers and support staff were among those on hand at a Vancouver School Board meeting Monday night to discuss ways to deal with a $25-million budget shortfall.

A $2.5-million funding increase announced by the Ministry of Education still leaves the board in a position where there are plans to cut special education programs, teaching positions and band and strings classes.

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“Sadly, right now the infusion of money isn’t going to enhancing the educational experience of students in Vancouver,” said Dan Graves of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association. “All it’s doing is making the cuts a little less deep, a little less hurtful. ”

READ MORE: VSB budget crunch means no easy solutions at overcapacity school

Many stakeholders have told the board they want trustees to make a drastic move.

“The only option that the board really has is to put forward a deficit budget,” said Warren Williams of CUPE Local 15.

Graves suggested the board needs to consider “passing a budget that’s not balanced, but one that will actually meet the needs of students in Vancouver.”

READ MORE: VSB votes unanimously in favour of plan that could lead to multiple school closures

That’s exactly what trustees did in 1984. They were then fired by the provincial government of the day.

Vancouver School Board Chair Mike Lombardi said he is willing to lose his job if that’s what it takes.

“Unless something dramatic happens I will be voting against the budget,” he said. “I am one vote amongst nine and we need a 5-4 vote to pass the budget but I see no reason to pass a budget which is going to make life difficult for our families and our kids. ”

– With files from Jill Bennett

Uber attracts interest in Kelowna

KELOWNA, B.C. – More than 50 people came out to an information meeting Monday night hosted by the ridesharing company Uber.

While the service is not available in B.C., those who came out to enquire about becoming Uber drivers said the service should be allowed to operate.

“I’m surprised there aren’t more students currently here right now because [Uber is] work your own hours, the ultimate part time job for someone like that,” said 23-year-old Geoff Webb.

“I’m a retired, almost, truck driver for 40 years and there’s gotta be something a little bit easier than chaining up on the Coquihalla and waiting for the road to open up,” said Dave Bare.

“I’m just here because I believe in free enterprise,” said Ralph Brisson.

Jeff Martin/ Global Okanagan

Uber said many B.C. residents want to use their service.

“A lot of people are really interested and really excited about ride-sharing,” said Michael van Hemmer, director of public policy for Uber. “We hope to give them more information about how they might be able to partner in the future.”

“Uber and ride sharing provides great opportunities for municipalities and cities like Kelowna,” said van Hemmer. “We hope to be here shortly.”

Uber said B.C. is the largest jurisdiction in North America without ridesharing.

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North Shore residents left in lurch after townhome complex sold

Finding a rental home that fits four growing boys isn’t easy.

That’s why Jenn Ohlhauser is glad her family is living in a large unit at the Emery Village townhouse complex in Lynn Valley.

“The thing about older units is that they’re larger and so having that larger space is good for families to grow up in,” she said.

She is not sure how much longer she will be in her spacious home now that the 65-unit complex has been bought up by a developer.

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READ MORE: B.C. real estate firm faces licence conditions

“My neighbours and I, we probably won’t be market housing material, so where will we go?” she asked.

The district’s rental vacancy rate is about 0.7 per cent and tenants say three and four-bedroom units are nearly impossible to find.

“A three-bedroom unit in the future is likely going to be significantly different than a three-bedroom townhouse with two levels that was built 50 years ago,” District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton said.

READ MORE: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: House price gains in Fraser Valley now rival Vancouver

Mosaic, the Vancouver-based company that bought Emery Village, said there are no immediate plans to develop the lands.

“We will continue to get to know our Emery Village residents, ensuring they are well communicated with,” Mosaic’s Geoff Duyker said in a statement. “We are committed to assisting residents through any future changes at Emery Village.”

Walton said Emery Village residents will have options if they have to move.

“There are places being built,” he said.

Ohlhauser is skeptical.

“I don’t know where everybody will go with such a low vacancy rate,” she said.

– With files from John Hua

Most voters unenthusiastic about the presidential field

WASHINGTON – Most American voters are enthusiastic at best about the 2016 field of presidential candidates in both parties.

That’s according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, which shows that a majority of Americans believe none of the remaining candidates for president represents their opinions at least somewhat well.

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At least half of Americans say they would be disappointed or even angry if either of the front-runners — Donald Trump for the Republicans or Hillary Clinton for the Democrats — are nominated, the survey shows. And a quarter said they would be disappointed or angry if both win nominations. Still another quarter would feel at best neutral if both are nominated.

Among all registered voters, 63 per cent say they wouldn’t consider voting for Trump and half say the same about Clinton.

READ MORE: Ted Cruz mocks Trump’s complaints on GOP, Democratic nominating process

About one-fifth of those surveyed say they’d either probably or definitely vote for a third-party candidate if Trump and Clinton are the nominees.

Roland Bauer, 64, a retiree from Winter Springs, Florida, doesn’t plan to vote if Clinton and Trump are nominated. “I don’t trust politicians,” he says. “Everybody is on the take.”

Bruce Bertsch, a libertarian and retired human resources director from San Diego, says the public’s lukewarm reaction to the major-party hopefuls doesn’t come from disinterest or apathy — quite the opposite. Here’s how his friends and family see the candidates:

“Hillary Clinton is a liar. Donald Trump is an idiot. And Bernie (Sanders)? He’s an old fool,” Bertsch, 78, said by telephone Monday. To Bertsch, the Republican and Democratic competitors look like this: “The Democrats want to spend my money. The Republicans want to tell me how to live my life — and then spend my money.”

READ MORE: Cruz ready for contested New York primary despite trailing Trump by double-digits

The AP-GfK poll suggests the general election, after the parties name nominees, will be less about emotional appeals and inspiration and more about getting actual voters to cast votes before the end of Election Day. It’s what insiders call the “ground game.” And much of it is played over the airwaves at enormous expense.

“In the general election, it’s an air war,” said former Republican strategist Rich Galen, author of a political blog. “The goal is to get not only your people out to vote, but to get these people who are maybe sitting on the sidelines excited enough to come out and join the game.”

Even within their own parties, neither Trump nor Clinton generates much enthusiasm. Only 26 per cent of Democratic voters say they’d be excited about Clinton being their nominee, and 27 per cent say they’d be satisfied. Another 23 per cent would feel neutral, 19 per cent would be disappointed and 5 per cent would be angry, the poll found.

Trump fares even worse among Republican voters, with 19 per cent saying they’d be enthusiastic, 19 per cent satisfied, 20 per cent neutral, 25 per cent disappointed and 16 per cent angry.

READ MORE: New York proving to be a critical battleground state for both parties

Less than half of Americans say any of the remaining candidates, including Vermont Sen. Sanders, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich, comes close to representing their opinions on the issues.

And in a year dominated by Trump-generated theatrics and the billionaire businessman’s so-far scant policy details, substance matters, most voters say. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans call a candidate’s positions on the issues extremely or very important to them.

Among all the remaining candidates, only Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic rival, generates significantly more positive than negative ratings from Americans, with 48 per cent saying they have a favourable opinion of him and 39 per centunfavourable. He’s also the only candidate described by a majority of Americans as at least somewhat likable, civil, honest and compassionate.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have an unfavourable view of Trump, nearly 6-in-10 have an unfavourable view of Cruz and a majority — 55 per cent — have an unfavourable view of Clinton, according to the poll.

Americans are fairly evenly divided on Kasich, with 34 per cent expressing a favourable view and 31 per cent an unfavourable one. Another 34 per cent still don’t know enough about him to say.

The AP-GfK Poll of 1,076 adults used a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.