Get informed on the top stories of the day in one quick scan

December 30, 2021
Get informed on the top stories of the day in one quick scan

Good morning! This is our daily news roundup with everything you need to know in one concise read. Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox every morning.

RCMP says it cleared its backlog of complaints — but not before some of the complainants died

After years of criticism, the RCMP now says it has cleared its backlog of public complaints and is in the midst of implementing recommendations coming from its watchdog agency — but some of the complainants are no longer alive to see the results.

The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC) is called upon hundreds of times a year to investigate public complaints about RCMP activity, ranging from claims of bad behaviour to allegations of botched investigations.

When a member of the public has an issue with the way they were treated by Mounties, the local detachment investigates the complaint first. If the individual isn’t satisfied with the RCMP’s findings, they can turn the case over to the CRCC. Whenever the watchdog isn’t satisfied with the RCMP’s original actions, it sends a report to the RCMP commissioner for review. Only after RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and her team respond to the watchdog’s findings and recommendations can the CRCC’s final report be compiled and released.

Over the past few years, hundreds of those reports have been left in limbo awaiting the commissioner’s response — sometimes for years.

So far this fiscal year, the watchdog agency has finished more than 160 “adverse” reports — ones that came to conclusions that were unfavourable to the RCMP. As of Dec. 8, the watchdog had finished another 110 reports siding with the RCMP.

On its website, the RCMP says most of the CRCC’s recommendations have been fulfilled. But the delays affected how the force put some of those recommendations into action.

In a case involving “improper use of force, mishandling of property and improper arrest,” for example, the officer wasn’t able to apologize as advised because the complainant had died. The complaint was lodged in 2018 and the report was finished earlier this year.

Critics say far more is needed to improve police accountability and they’re hoping Ottawa finally tackles issues facing the CRCC in the new year.

“The commission remains both under-resourced and underpowered,” said Kent Roach, a law professor at the University of Toronto who is writing a book on policing in Canada. Read more on this story here.

Going to need a scraper

(Tatiana Meel/Reuters)

A woman takes a picture yesterday of ice-covered vehicles unloaded in the port of Vladivostok, Russia, from the cargo ship Sun Rio, which was caught in severe weather conditions in the Sea of Japan.

In brief

Most provinces, including B.C., Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, N.B., N.L., P.E.I., and the territory Nunavut, reported record-high single-day COVID-19 case numbers on Wednesday. Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said the territory is approaching a “breaking point” in terms of health-care capacity. He said he is working with staff to request additional workers and supplies from the federal government, noting that the territory also has an urgent need for more housing to allow people to safely isolate at home. Read the full story here.

WATCH | Canadians growing desperate amid COVID-19 testing crunch: 

Canadians growing desperate amid COVID-19 testing crunch

The men’s world junior hockey tournament  in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., has been halted after four days due to COVID-19 cases among some of the teams. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) cancelled the event yesterday after a third game was forfeited in two days. Positive COVID-19 tests put the teams from the United States, Russia and the Czech Republic into mandatory quarantine. “We saw it was impossible to continue this competition in a fair way,” IIHF president Luc Tardif said during a video media conference. He didn’t rule out the chance that the tournament could be played in Alberta later in 2022. Read more on the cancellation of the tournament.

WATCH | World Junior championships in Alberta cancelled over COVID-19 concerns: 

World Junior championships in Alberta cancelled over COVID-19 concerns

The 2022 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Alberta have been cancelled as more players test positive for COVID-19. 1:53

Human rights advocates are calling on Canada to intervene and provide diplomatic aid to Cantopop star and Canadian citizen Denise Ho, who was arrested Wednesday alongside six journalists in Hong Kong. Former federal justice minister and renowned human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler says Canada has a responsibility to take a stand. “What we’re seeing is a frontal assault not only on media freedom, not only on the safety and security of journalists, not only on the democracy movement — but on democracy itself in Hong Kong,” Cotler said. Ho was born in Hong Kong, but raised in Brossard, Que., on Montreal’s South Shore. After high school, she attended CEGEP in Montreal before moving back to Hong Kong. As a pop star and musician, she became one of the first local celebrities to come out as gay in 2012 at the Hong Kong Pride Parade, and has advocated for LGBTQ rights since, in addition to her involvement with the city’s pro-democracy movement for which she was also arrested in 2014. Read the full story here.

WATCH | Canadian singer Denise Ho arrested in Hong Kong police crackdown: 

Canadian singer Denise Ho arrested in Hong Kong police crackdown

The extreme cold snap is taking a toll on British Columbia’s littlest bird. Fifteen frozen or injured Anna’s hummingbirds were brought to the non-profit Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Tuesday alone, a record number for a single day. Staff also said the phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting advice about what to do with hummingbirds they’ve found that appear to be hurt. “Since the temperature dropped, we’re seeing all kinds of injuries from them being frozen in snow banks, sometimes actually getting their tongues frozen to bird feeders or even their feet or wings frozen to different surfaces,” said Jackie McQuillan, support centre lead at the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. Read more on the impact of the cold snap.

A jury in New York convicted British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell yesterday of helping convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse teenage girls. Maxwell is a former girlfriend and associate of the late financier. Jurors deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty on five of six counts. With the maximum prison terms for each charge ranging from five to 40 years in prison, Maxwell faces the likelihood of years behind bars. Read more on the verdict  here.

WATCH |Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty in sex trafficking trial: 

Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty in sex trafficking trial

It’s been four decades since Bernard Neumann left Montreal for Cremona, Italy, to study violin making. With its violin-making tradition on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, its 150 luthier workshops, the International Lutherie School, the Stauffer Centre for Strings and the Cremona Violin Museum, the town is defined by the instrument. Today, Neumann and his American business partner Bruce Carlson continue that tradition, among the most renowned luthiers in the world, working on the centuries-old instruments now valued in the millions and crafting their own for today’s most talented virtuosi. Read more from CBC correspondent Megan Williams.

WATCH | Bernard Neumann plays one of his instruments:

Master luthier Bernard Neumann in his workshop

Now for some good news to start your Thursday: An online jigging contest brightened lives in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., this holiday season. “It’s heartwarming,” said Tianna Gordon-Ruben, who submitted a 12-second video of her two-year-old son, Elias, dancing to the Red River jig with a green balloon in hand. “When he hears the fiddle music, he automatically knows it’s going to be fun, it’s time to dance.” Jigging competitions are a common component of festive community gatherings around Christmas, as are drum dances and square dances. For the second year in a row, the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk is organizing online versions of some of those traditions because of the pandemic. “I would say it’s not the same as being in the community hall and hearing live music,” said Gordon-Ruben. “But this [is] better than not having any events happening.” Read more on this story here.

First Person: Keen to avoid public transportation, a fair-weather cyclist re-evaluates winter biking

The pandemic convinced me to keep riding all through last winter. It was a challenge that I’m not sure I would have otherwise taken up, but I’m proud I did. Bring on this winter, writes Ele Pawelski. Read the column here.

Front Burner: How AEW changed the wrestling landscape in 2021

We all know what pro wrestling is: scripted stories, exploding barbed wire death matches, and very real athleticism and danger. And for the last four decades, WWE has stayed in the cultural lexicon as the biggest name in the pro wrestling world. But now, a new contender is rising. All Elite Wrestling, founded in 2018 by 38-year-old Tony Khan, is gaining serious momentum — thanks to the help of the new generation of Canadian wrestlers like Winnipeg’s own Kenny Omega. 

Today on Front Burner, managing editor at, Sean Ross Sapp, on the legacy of WWE and the changing face of wrestling with the rise of its adversary, All Elite. 

24:59How AEW changed the wrestling landscape in 2021

Today in history: December 30

1813:  British troops and Canadian militia raid Black Rock and Buffalo, N.Y. The raid is in retaliation for an attack 18 days earlier when Brig.-Gen. George McClure’s American troops burned the Canadian settlement of Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake).

1869: Humorist Stephen Leacock is born in Swanmoor, England. He taught economics and political science at McGill University, but is best remembered for his humorous writing. Leacock’s fame was cemented in two works, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich. The Leacock Medal for Humour was established in his honour. 

1981: Wayne Gretzky becomes the first NHL player to score 50 goals in fewer than 50 games in one season. In just his 39th game of the season, Gretzky notches his 50th goal on an empty-netter that caps a five-goal night as the Edmonton Oilers down the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 7-5.

1989: Canada bans smoking on domestic flights.

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