Headlines: March 15, 2023

· The Pulse
  • Five Canadian artists took home awards during the 2023 JUNO Awards ceremony at Rogers Place on March 13. Toronto-born singer The Weeknd won album of the year for Dawn FM but also earned boos for not appearing at the ceremony. The event was briefly interrupted by a protester who took the stage while Avril Lavigne was introducing a performance by singer AP Dhillon. Live cameras cut away from the woman, who was topless and had the words "land back" and "save the greenbelt" written on her body, but audience members captured recordings of the incident. Police say a 37-year-old Vancouver woman is facing mischief charges.
  • The province announced it plans to mandate all police officers in Alberta to wear body cameras in an effort to improve transparency and public trust. Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis provided no clear timeline but said a working group will supply a draft plan in the next "three or four months," which is after the May election. Chief Dale McFee of the Edmonton Police Service said EPS officers support the idea, adding that technology has improved since a 2014 study found cameras for officers would be $1,000 each on top of significant costs for data management. If it goes through, the policy would make Alberta the first province to mandate body-worn cameras for all police services.
  • The federal government announced a $3.7-million investment to support Edmonton's tourism sector through the Tourism Relief Fund administered by PrairiesCan. Fort Edmonton Park is getting $1.2 million to develop year-round experiences including exhibits focusing on Indigenous stories and culture; the Edmonton Valley Zoo is getting $1 million for various enhancements; the Muttart Conservatory is getting $1 million to create new exhibits and upgrade facilities; and the City of Edmonton is getting $500,000 for programming, interactive art, and downtown lighting.
  • City council has declared the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, observed annually on Sept. 30, a civic holiday in Edmonton. The move is part of the city's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Municipal Response Plan, which focuses on efforts to enhance inclusion and reduce barriers to city services and programs. Declaring a civic holiday does not create any legal requirement for businesses or employers to close or provide stat pay to employee. The day is already recognized as a federal statutory holiday.
  • Edmonton Journal columnist Keith Gerein drew attention to a potential "impending crisis" facing Edmonton's community league halls, many of which were built in the 1960s and 70s, fail to meet today's accessibility standards, and are seeing rising maintenance and construction costs that outpace revenue from hall rentals and casino nights. The city is helping the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues conduct site assessments over the next few years, after which it will need to "seriously consider what value these venues have" and potentially adjust funding, land use, and ownership frameworks, Gerein wrote.
  • The Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) released its 2023 platform priorities ahead of the provincial election in May and is asking the public to sign a letter calling on all party leaders to commit to the priorities, which include a $300-million investment over three years and a strategy to strengthen the non-profit workforce. In 2022, CCVO released Too Essential to Fail, a report that described the crisis in the non-profit sector and called on the province to provide immediate funding, which CCVO CEO Karen Ball said is still "desperately needed." The priorities are an extension of The Nonprofit Vote, an Alberta-wide advocacy campaign that also represents the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations.
  • Stephen Jones, CEO of Edmonton-based budget airline Flair, said the company is getting back to business as usual after the seizure of four of the company's planes by New York-based hedge fund Airborne Capital on March 11. Jones told reporters the company is caught up on payments, but if it can't recover the planes, it will need to procure more or reduce its summer schedule.
  • Leigh Ann de Ruiter, who is married to self-proclaimed spiritual leader John de Ruiter, was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual assault in relation to separate incidents from 2017-2022. Police said her charges are related to some of the same incidents that led to charges against her husband, who was arrested on Jan. 22 and released on bail on Jan. 27. Leigh Ann de Ruiter is scheduled to appear in court on March 15.