Family of Oakridge home invasion victim speaks out as questions surround person of interest

Five days after a brutal attack, police continue to watch the Hayer family home in Vancouver’s Oakridge neighbourhood.

Inside, Jasbinder Hayer recovers from an attempted home invasion.

“She’s suffering, she’s 86 years old. But we’re lucky she survived,” son Gurpreet Hayer told Global News.

Police say Jason Anthony White is a person of interest in the assault that left the elderly woman with a broken hand.

White has 34 convictions to his name and spent eight years in jail for violently sexually assaulting a 74-year-old woman.

WATCH: Convicted sex offender arrested near UBC

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The courts recognized he was at high risk of committing more offences, but he was released anyway.

“It’s this incredible hypocrisy in the system,” Angela Marie MacDougall of Battered Women’s Support Services said. “On one hand the system recognizes how dangerous this man is. On the other hand, we’ll let him go and it’ll be an experiment — truly gambling with the lives of girls and women.”

White was designated a dangerous offender, a status that could have kept him in jail for life. But he appealed and won because — despite his lengthy criminal history — there was no evidence proving White couldn’t be controlled in the community.

“They just had to put some evidence before the court for the court to consider,” lawyer Paul Doroshenko said. “The court might have rejected that evidence or accepted that evidence, but it was a failure to put that evidence before the court that led to the court of appeal overturning the original decision for dangerous offender status.”

White was arrested on UBC’s Point Grey campus over the weekend after he breached a condition of his release. The Hayer family said he never should have been let out of jail. They have high praise for police, but feel the justice system let them down.

“This kind of guy, they should be keeping him inside somewhere,” said Gurpreet Hayer. “The system is soft. The judge should keep an eye on this guy.”

Experts say it will take another serious crime before White can be considered a dangerous offender again.

– With files from Tanya Beja

$367 million investment to repair Quebec’s schools

MONTREAL – Quebec Education Minister Sébastien Proulx has announced a $367 million investment destined for school repairs.

It’s much needed money for some – especially Montreal’s biggest French board, the Commission Scolaire de Montréal, which insists it needs about $1.3 billion for repairs.

“We can’t tolerate schools that are in a state of disrepair or are closed, it’s unacceptable,” said Proulx.

“It’s why our government, in agreement with school boards, will multiply its efforts to prevent, detect and correct problems in learning centres.”

According to a spokesperson for the Education ministry, most of Montreal’s school infrastructure is over 50 years old.

Lester B. Pearson School Board Chairperson Suanne Stein Day told Global News the money will go to fixing windows, doors and replace bathrooms, as well as take care of mould and other general maintenance issues.

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    Focus Montreal: QCGN: More funding needed for English schools

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    WATCH ABOVE: Global Montreal’s Senior Anchor Jamie Orchard speaks to Walter Duszara with the QCGN on why eight institutions that represent Anglophones in Quebec have sent an open letter to Premier Philippe Couillard asking for more funding for English schools.

    The school boards apply for grants to get funding for infrastructure maintenance every fall.

    Stein Day said the amount her board is receiving is about the same as last year’s grant.

    Nevertheless, she is very happy about the news.

    “Obviously we’re very pleased, this is an annual process, so we’ve been waiting to hear the final numbers,” she said.

    “Each year in the fall, we prioritize our projects, we send them into the Ministry of Education and around this time of the year we get an answer so that we start planning.”

    “A lot of the work is done over the summer, when children are not in the schools.”

    Here is a breakdown of the investment:

    School Boards

    Investments

    Number of projects

    CS de Montréal

    $79.1 M

    118

    CS de la Pointe-de-l’Île

    $10.2 M

    36

    CS Marguerite-Bourgeoys

    $21.6 M

    92

    CS English-Montréal

    $9.1 M

    36

    CS Lester-B.-Pearson

    $7.2 M

    11

Kate Middleton and Prince William feel earthquake tremors while on safari

Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge hopped into a jeep Wednesday morning and trekked out to see orphaned baby elephants and rhinos at Kaziranga National Park, a remote region in northeast India.

About 800 kilometres away, a strong earthquake struck Myanmar.

“We felt the tremor very strongly, but all is fine,” said British Deputy High Commissioner Scott Furssedonn-Wood, who was staying in the same 12-cottage jungle resort as Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton.

A security personnel stands outside the hotel where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are staying near the Kaziranga National Park, east of Gauhati, Assam state, India , Wednesday, April 13, 2016. A strong earthquake struck Myanmar on Wednesday night and was felt in parts of eastern India and Bangladesh, causing residents to rush out of their homes in panic. The tremors were felt in the eastern Indian states of Assam and West Bengal, including in the area of Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.

AP Photo/ Anupam Nath

Accompanied by wildlife rangers, the royal couple used large bottles of milk to feed the animals in Kaziranga National Park.

Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge feeding baby rhino and elephants during their visit to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation in Kaziranga National Park

Photo by REX/Shutterstock

The park is also home to water buffalo, endangered swamp deer, tigers and two-thirds of the world’s population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses.

Embed from Getty Images

Prince William and Kate saw rhinos, wild boars, buffalos, hog deer and a variety of birds, according to V.S. Bhaskar, a top Assam state government official.

Embed from Getty Images

“They enjoyed the trip quite a lot. They were very happy,” he said.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Prince William reportedly asked the forest rangers about the conservation challenges they face.

The couple has already visited Mumbai and New Delhi on a week-long tour of India, which included a game of cricket.

Catherine Duchess of Cambridge playing cricket at Oval Maidan recreational ground, South Mumbai Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to India – 10 Apr 2016.

Photo by REX/Shutterstock

MORE PHOTOS: William and Kate Middleton in India

Their visit has sparked a lot of excitement in India and even a viral campaign started by a 93-year-old.

WATCH: #WillKatMeetMe: 93-year-old Indian man asked the internet to help him meet Kate Middleton

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The royal couple is set to spend Wednesday night in the Kaziranga National Park area, and will leave for neighbouring Bhutan on Thursday.

READ MORE: Royal Family shares first vacation photos with Princess Charlotte and Prince George

They are travelling without their two children, two-and-a-half-year-old Prince George and 11-month-old Princess Charlotte.

They had taken Prince George to Australia with them in 2014 on their last royal tour.

-With files from Wasbir Hussain, The Associated Press

Prince William and Kate Middleton lunch with PM Modi on India tour

NEW DELHI – The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined India’s prime minister for a private lunch Tuesday at a former palace in New Delhi.

Before going indoors, Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, strolled on either side of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They were seen chatting and smiling, before posing for cameras. Kate wore a full-sleeved gauze green dress, while William donned a blue suit and Modi was clad neck-to-toe in white.

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  • Prince William and Kate Middleton in India: photos of their royal visit

  • Prince William, Kate take Princess Charlotte and Prince George to their country home

    READ MORE: Prince William and Kate Middleton in India: photos of their royal visit

    The British royal couple are in India for a seven-day tour that also includes a trip to neighbouring Bhutan. They’ve already visited Mumbai, and were to travel later Tuesday to a wildlife park in the northeastern state of Assam that is home to various endangered animals.

    They’re visiting Kaziranga National Park specifically to focus global attention on conservation. The 480-square-kilometre (185-square-mile) grassland park is home to the world’s largest population of rare, one-horned rhinos as well as other endangered species, including swamp deer and the Hoolock gibbon.

    READ MORE: Kate Middleton describes queen as doting granny

    The royal couple will also take a one-day trip to neighbouring Bhutan at the invitation of the Himalayan kingdom’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema.

    William and Kate will then head back to India, where they’ll wind up their tour with a visit to the Taj Mahal, retracing the steps of a 1992 visit to the monument of love by William’s mother, the late Princess Diana.

    Catherine Duchess of Cambridge playing cricket at Oval Maidan recreational ground, South Mumbai
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to India – 10 Apr 2016.

    Photo by REX/Shutterstock

    Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at Oval Maidan recreational ground, South Mumbai
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to India – 10 Apr 2016
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge meet children from Magic Bus, Childline and Doorstep; three NGOs who will benefit from a charity Gala, and join a game of cricket at Mumbai’s iconic recreation ground with a local cricket academy

    REX/Shutterstock

    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at Oval Maidan recreational ground, South Mumbai
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to India – 10 Apr 2016
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge meet children from Magic Bus, Childline and Doorstep; three NGOs who will benefit from a charity Gala, and join a game of cricket at Mumbai’s iconic recreation ground with a local cricket academy

    REX/Shutterstock

    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit the Mumbai slums
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to India – 10 Apr 2016

    Photo by Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

    Britain’s Prince William gets out of a car upon his arrival at Hotel Taj in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 10, 2016. William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, visited this iconic hotel which was one of the prime targets of the 2008 terror attacks on the city.

    AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

    Britain’s Prince William, left, along with Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge speaks with hotel staff (not seen in picture)as they arrive at the hotel Taj in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 10, 2016 .

    AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, and his wife, the former Kate Middleton lay a wreath on the martyrs memorial at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 10, 2016. The royal couple began their weeklong visit to India and Bhutan, by laying a wreath at a memorial Sunday at Mumbai’s iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where 31 victims of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks were killed.

    Mitesh Bhuvad/Pool via AP

    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge lay a wreath at Taj Hotel, scene of Mumbai terror attacks
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to India – 10 Apr 2016

    REX/Shutterstock

    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William
    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge visit to India – 10 Apr 2016
    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William meet Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai at the Bollywood Charity Gala at the Taj Palace Hotel

    Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock

    Britain’s Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, participates in an event on young entrepreneurs in Mumbai, India, Monday, April 11, 2016. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on a weeklong visit to India, their first royal tour in two years.

    Danish Siddiqui/Pool Photo via AP

    Britain’s Prince William, and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge,cut a cake to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday, which is April 21 at the residence of British High Commissioner in New Delhi, India, Monday, April 11, 2016. William addressed a large gathering of prominent Indians at the reception to speak about his grandmother, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

    Vijay Verma/Pool Photo via AP

    Prince William and Catherine Duchess of Cambridge at the official garden party reception celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday at the British High Commission, New Delhi, India.

    Credit: Photo by REX/Shutterstock

Loblaw to invest $1B in major store expansion, create 20,000 new jobs

TORONTO – Loblaw said Tuesday it is planning to build 50 new stores and renovate 150 others this year in its latest effort to adapt to a rapidly evolving food retail sector.

The grocery and pharmacy giant said the $1.3 billion revamp and expansion project would cover stores of various banners. It is not yet releasing information on where the new stores will be located.

The number of new stores announced is not unusual, said Edward Jones analyst Brittany Weissman, though Loblaw (TSX:L) plans to renovate slightly more outlets than before.

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    Loblaw made a similar announcement early last year, when it said it would build 50 new stores and improve more than 100 others. Later, in July 2015, Loblaw said it was closing 52 locations across Canada that had fallen short of expectations – more than the 10 to 15 stores it would typically shut down.

    READ MORE: Canadian grocers’ move to cage-free eggs an ‘important commitment’

    “They close some stores each year, they open some new stores each year,” Weissman said.

    Catherine Thomas, Loblaw’s director of external communications, said in an email that the expansion would add about 5,000 new store employees while creating roughly 15,000 construction jobs.

    The new jobs would beef up Loblaw’s employee base by 2.6 per cent. Loblaw employs about 192,000 full- and part-time workers, according to its most recent annual information form.

    The company plans to invest $1 billion in the expansion, while Choice Properties REIT (TSX:CHP.UN), a real estate investment trust, is expected to contribute $300 million.

    “We continue to invest in our business in ways that matter for the Canadian economy and the millions of Canadians who shop with us each week,” Galen G. Weston, the company’s president and executive chairman, said in a statement.

    READ MORE: French’s ketchup ‘cannibalizing’ President’s Choice’s: Loblaw memo

    The announcement is the company’s most recent move to compete in an industry that has seen waves of change in recent months.

    Inflation and the dropping value of the Canadian dollar earlier this year triggered sharp increases in some food prices, and both Loblaw and rival Metro have dipped their feet into the waters of online shopping and pickup services.

    Just last month, Loblaw announced that it was expanding its Naturally Imperfect line of discount produce.

    Thomas said the completion and success of multiple IT and supply chain investments over the past few years now allows Loblaw to increasingly focus its capital on stores. The investment announced Tuesday would also go towards increasing Loblaw’s e-commerce, IT infrastructure and supply chain projects, the company said.

    Loblaw will likely expand its click-and-collect program, said Weissman. The service allows customers to shop online and pick up their order at a participating store.

    In February, Weston said the company planned to accelerate the program’s rollout beyond its current 39 stores.

    Loblaw already operates more than 2,300 stores. They include Loblaws, No Frills, Shoppers Drug Mart and Joe Fresh apparel outlets.

    The company’s most recent quarterly results in February showed profits slipped more than a third compared with the previous year. However, the decline was primarily due to costs and accounting items associated with unusual items, rather than store performance, Loblaw said.

    It will release its first-quarter results on May 4.

Canadian turtle smuggler snapped with 5 years in U.S. prison

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A Canadian man who repeatedly entered Michigan to buy and ship thousands of turtles to his native China only to be caught with 51 of them strapped to his legs was sentenced Tuesday to nearly five years in federal prison for smuggling.

It was a tough punishment for Kai Xu, who has been locked up for 19 months since his arrest and had hoped to be released. The 27-year-old expressed remorse to a judge and thanked agents “for stopping the darkness of my greed and ignorance.”

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Ahead of the hearing, Xu wrote a letter to U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara, saying he sold turtles partly to make money for college. He said he was a semester short of an engineering degree.

The government said Xu shipped turtles to China from Canada and the U.S., or hired people to fly with turtles in their luggage to China, where they are coveted as pets. He was apprehended with 51 of them on his legs at the Ontario, Canada, border in 2014.

It’s not illegal to buy turtles from breeders in the U.S., but Xu’s crime was shipping them overseas without a federal permit.

Xu was not a “sophisticated international dealer,” defence attorney Matthew Borgula told the judge, adding that hiding turtles under his pants was “not a good way to get them across the border.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward said Xu’s remorse was genuine, but described his smuggling scheme as one of the largest in recent years.

Woodward asked for five years in prison, near the low end of the sentencing guidelines. O’Meara could have gone lower than the guidelines, but settled on 57 months without an explanation, though he praised Xu for becoming fluent in Spanish while in prison and helping Hispanic inmates.

“We don’t have a whole lot of cases exactly like this every day,” O’Meara said of turtle smuggling.

The guidelines were enhanced by the value of the reptiles as estimated by the government. Prosecutors said shipments intercepted at airports were worth more than $1 million.

Borgula objected to the government’s conclusion and asked that O’Meara hear testimony. The judge declined, saying he was pressed for time. An appeal is planned.

“The sentence is very severe,” Borgula told The Associated Press.

Inadequate and under-funded services continue to afflict Attawapiskat

Chelsea Jane Edwards was deeply saddened when she heard her remote northern Ontario First Nation of Attawapiskat had declared a state of emergency over a recent spate of suicides attempts.

But she wasn’t surprised.

Edwards, who’s now studying policing in New Brunswick, knows first-hand how hard life can be in the James Bay community of about 2,000, particularly for young people.

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“It’s not surprising at all; it’s devastating,” the 20-year-old said of the news that has put Attawapiskat in the national spotlight this week.

READ MORE: Attawapiskat: Flying in crisis teams after suicide attempts doesn’t work, expert says

“When you’ve been living your entire life in poverty it comes with many issues. They will range from mental health, to inadequate housing, to not having enough to eat because you have to share the food with everyone in the household … I just feel like the action was long overdue.”

The federal health minister said Monday that five mental health workers have arrived in the community to address what she called “one of the most serious and pressing tragedies that our nation is facing.”

The state of emergency was declared by Attawapiskat’s chief and council on Saturday evening after the community’s 11th suicide attempt in the month of April and 28 suicide attempts in March.

For Edwards, the community’s plea for extra resources to deal with the situation was one she understood.

“The services provided are really inadequate and under-funded,” she said. “I was depressed every time I would go back. I had a hard time readjusting coming from off the reserve to back on the reserve.”

Edwards’ family moved to Attawapiskat, where her mother’s side is from, when she was a baby. She left the reserve to go to high school but went back and forth between the reserve and cities in northern Ontario as she had trouble finding families who would board her.

READ MORE: Attawapiskat’s suicide emergency is no surprise to anyone paying attention

She still considers herself lucky because her family supported her through high school and she was also able to get involved with Shannen’s Dream, a youth movement calling for better education for First Nations children.

Her activism took her to Ottawa, Toronto and even Switzerland, where she led a delegation of aboriginal youth before the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

After graduating high school, and despite the adjustment issues that resulted from going back and forth, she returned to Attawapiskat for an entire year before starting her post-secondary degree. She continues to call the community home.

Attawapiskat declares state of emergency after 11 suicide attempts on Saturday

01:40

Attawapiskat declares state of emergency after 11 suicide attempts on Saturday

01:54

“What’s it going to take to end this cycle of crisis and death among young people:” MP Charlie Angus on tragedy in Attawapiskat

01:25

Attawapiskat could be ‘any northern community’

01:47

State of emergency in Attawapiskat after 11 suicide attempts



“I was really exhausted. I needed to be around my family,” she said of her decision to return. “I needed to be home.”

Attawapiskat is a place, however, that comes with its challenges, she said.

There was a time when Edwards had to sleep on a couch because there was no room for her to have her own bed, she once had to wait months to see a counsellor and even when she did, it was uncomfortable to open up because the person she was speaking to was part of the community where everyone knows everyone.

READ MORE: Attawapiskat Chief says he’s homeless, needs more resources after spike in suicide attempts

The need for counselling and mental health support, particularly for the reserve’s young people, is significant, Edwards said.

“Honestly, there’s no social activity,” she said. “For myself, I felt isolated, I couldn’t really interact with other people, I just felt like I was in my own little bubble and it was hard to talk to other people about certain things.”

For all its problems, however, Edwards still plans to return to live in Attawapiskat in the future because she believes the community still has its merits.

“Attawapiskat is a very beautiful place. We have a lot of land and we’re very rich in our language and culture,” she said.

“I lived in Attawapiskat almost my entire life and the things I got to do, I want to bring back and show other youth they can do it too. I lived in the isolation and I’ve overcome the barriers. I feel like if they had other people who had overcome those challenges and they came back, they’d feel more hopeful.”