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Is your Abbotsford school closed today? – Abbotsford News

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Is your Abbotsford school closed today?

Inclement weather leads to several local closures


All campuses are closed for Abbotsford Christian School on Monday, with the school stating school will not be in session due to icy conditions.

All campuses for MEI have also been announced as closed.

St. John Brebeuf is also closed.

The Abbotsford School District has announced all schools will be open.

Dasmesh Punjabi School has also announced it will be closed.

The University of the Fraser Valley has announced it is closed today.

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John Turner, PM and Liberal leader who battled free trade with U.S., dead at 91

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John Turner, Canada’s 17th prime minister who spent decades in federal politics as a cabinet minister and Liberal Party leader during some of the most turbulent moments in modern Canadian history, has died at 91.

Turner led Canada for 79 days in the summer of 1984 — the second-shortest time in office of any prime minister.

Dubbed “Canada’s Kennedy” as a stylish, up-and-coming young MP in the early 1960s, Turner was Pierre Trudeau’s chief anglophone lieutenant in cabinet for years. Turner served as justice minister when the government decriminalized homosexuality and suspended civil liberties during the October Crisis in 1970, and was the finance minister as Ottawa struggled to control deficit spending and inflation during the oil crisis.

After a shock resignation from Trudeau’s government and a period of self-imposed exile on Bay Street, Turner eventually completed his climb to the Liberal leadership in the mid-1980s. But he inherited a party suffering from years of accumulated scandals and an electorate ready for change after more than two decades of nearly unbroken Liberal rule.

In the end, Turner’s most enduring moments in federal politics came once his short stint at 24 Sussex was over — namely, years of bitter battles waged with Brian Mulroney over free trade with the United States. They were fierce fights that Turner eventually lost, but the legacy of those debates continues to shape Canadian politics today.

On Saturday, Mulroney remembered Turner as a man “destined for great success” and a politician who “never believed in the politics of personal destruction.”

WATCH | Remembering former prime minister John Turner:

Once dubbed ‘Canada’s Kennedy’ as an MP in the early 1960s, the country’s 17th prime minister, John Turner, has died at 91. 3:23

Early life

Turner was born in the English town of Richmond upon Thames on June 7, 1929. When his father died just three years later, his Canadian-born mother moved the family to Canada, where they eventually settled in Ottawa’s posh Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood, surrounded by members of the country’s ruling political class.

After the Second World War, his mother remarried — to industrialist and future B.C. lieutenant governor Frank Ross — and the family moved west, where Turner attended the University of British Columbia. He became a track star, setting a national record for the 100-yard dash in 1947, and narrowly missed his chance to compete at the 1948 Olympics after smashing his knee in a car accident.

“Chick,” as the popular athlete became known, graduated from UBC in 1949 and received a Rhodes scholarship to study law at Oxford. He was called to the bar in London and started a doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris, but he returned to Canada in 1953 before it was completed, joining the Montreal law firm Stikeman Elliott shortly thereafter.

Meteoric rise

Turner’s first taste of national politics came when C.D. Howe, the storied “Minister of Everything” under Mackenzie King, recruited him in 1957 to help organize a Liberal re-election campaign. 

The young lawyer’s profile swelled within the Liberal ranks as he started speaking at policy conventions, but it truly took off after he made headlines worldwide for dancing with Princess Margaret during a 1958 royal tour of British Columbia. Letters from the princess published in 2015 revealed she “nearly married him,” and it was reported the pair only broke up after Buckingham Palace ordered an end to the relationship. 

Former prime minister John Turner and Princess Margaret made headlines in 1958 during the princess’s visit to Canada. Newly unearthed letters written by Margaret reveal the pair may have ‘nearly married.’ (The Canadian Press)

In 1961, with the Liberals languishing in opposition and eager to recruit young talent, Turner was wooed into running for the party in the 1962 federal election.

The 32-year-old lawyer accepted, winning his Montreal riding and joining a cohort of rookie lawmakers — including Herb Gray and Gerald Regan — that Maclean’s magazine called “probably the brightest group of MPs ever to appear simultaneously in a Canadian Parliament.”

Turner married his wife, Geills McCrae Kilgour, in 1963, at a time when he was quickly rising within the Liberal caucus. By 1965, he had joined Lester Pearson’s cabinet as minister without portfolio, and by 1967 he was minister of consumer and corporate affairs.

When Pearson stepped down as prime minister in 1967, Turner eagerly entered the race to replace him on an anti-establishment platform that pledged to lower the voting age and improve skills training for young Canadians.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, second from right, and, from left, cabinet ministers Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Jean Chrétien talk in Ottawa in April 1967.

“My time is now and now is no time for mellow men,” Turner told delegates at the 1968 Liberal leadership convention.

Trudeau emerged the victor at that convention, but Turner hung on until the final ballot. The 195 delegates who stuck with him until the bitter end were rumoured to have subsequently formed the “195 Club,” a secretive cadre of well-placed political organizers quietly waiting for his next leadership campaign.

Trudeau heir apparent

The promising Liberal would soon be considered Trudeau’s heir apparent and the natural choice to continue the Liberals’ traditional anglophone-francophone leadership rotation. 

Appointed justice minister in 1968, Turner championed key reforms to Canada’s Criminal Code that opened the door to LGBTQ rights and legal abortions. He also implemented, defended and eventually dismantled the controversial War Measures Act during the FLQ crisis and appointed Canada’s first Jewish Supreme Court justice, Bora Laskin.

Shuffled into the finance portfolio in 1972, Turner faced mounting economic pressures due to the global oil crisis. He also became the government’s main economic interlocutor with the White House, playing tennis with Treasury Secretary George Schultz and frequently ironing out bilateral issues over dinner with President Richard Nixon.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau explains federal proposals to deal with the energy problem as Finance Minister John Turner looks on at the Ottawa conference centre in January 1973. (The Canadian Press)

Successive Turner budgets prioritized low unemployment levels, but at the cost of double-digit inflation and soaring deficits. Still, some Liberals would later defend Turner as a voice of fiscal prudence at the Trudeau cabinet table, implementing the government’s policy in public but privately advocating restraint while other ministers clamoured for ever-bigger budgets.

In time, Turner and Trudeau developed a notorious rivalry, and after 10 years as a senior minister in the Trudeau government, Turner resigned from cabinet in 1975 with a terse, enigmatic letter.

Waiting in the wings

Turner formally vacated his seat in Parliament in 1976 and decamped with his wife and four children to Toronto. On Bay Street, he became a high-paid lawyer at McMillan Binch and joined the boards of some of Canada’s most powerful companies, including Canadian Pacific, Seagram’s and Holt Renfrew.

He remained in Toronto for the ensuing eight years, refusing to give interviews but maintaining a public profile as the Liberal Party’s leader-in-waiting.

Turner would also prove a thorn in the side for many former cabinet colleagues, pumping out corporate newsletters to clients that lambasted the Liberals’ economic policies. While Jean Chrétien, another of Turner’s bitter rivals, dismissed the newsletters as a “gossip column,” opposition MPs eagerly weaponized the missives in Question Period.

WATCH | Turner returns to public life:

After close to a decade of self-imposed exile, Turner the lawyer returns to public life to claim the title of Liberal leader – and prime minister. 5:59

1984 coronation

After Trudeau’s second resignation in 1984, Turner finally won the top Liberal job, becoming leader and prime minister at a convention many saw as a coronation.

But he inherited a party sagging and scarred from too many years in power. Turner’s decision to move ahead with over 200 appointments proposed by Trudeau in his final days as prime minister cemented the party’s image as out of touch and too comfortable in power.

During the ’84 televised election debate, Mulroney eviscerated Turner when the Liberal leader unconvincingly argued he had “no option” but to follow through with the appointments. In one of the most iconic exchanges in modern Canadian politics, Mulroney replied: “You could have said: ‘I am not going to do it. This is wrong for Canada, and I am not going to ask Canadians to pay the price.'”

WATCH | Behind the scenes at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention:

A behind-the-scenes look at the drama and bitterness behind John Turner’s win at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention. 21:09

In the end, the Liberals suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the Progressive Conservatives, receiving just 40 of 282 seats — at the time, the party’s worst-ever showing. 

Turner had been prime minister for little more than 11 weeks. Only Charles Tupper held the country’s top job for less time — 68 days in 1896. 

Turner hung on as Liberal leader, however, rebuilding the party and duelling with Mulroney over the Meech Lake Accord and, most memorably, Canada’s trading relationship with the U.S. — a battle he called “the fight of my life.” 

He also weathered the firestorm created by Reign of Error, a searing biography by journalist Greg Weston that portrayed Turner as a heavy-drinking, hypocritical loose cannon. One CBC reporter said it was “written with acid.”

Free-trade fight

Fearing the impact Mulroney’s Free Trade Agreement would have on Canadian sovereignty, Turner made the controversial move in 1988 to instruct Liberal senators to block legislation that would have ratified the deal. 

Turner was accused of misusing the powers of the unelected Senate, but he told CBC’s Bill Cameron at the time, “I believe if Canadians are given a choice to vote on this trade deal, people will reject it.”

WATCH | Mulroney battles Turner on free trade in 1988:

An invigorated John Turner takes on Brian Mulroney over his controversial free trade deal with the U.S. 4:36

The decision triggered an election dominated by Canada’s trading relationship with the U.S., during which Turner, with the support of Canada’s labour unions and arts community, fiercely fought the future agreement. In another iconic live TV election debate, Turner told Mulroney “You’ve sold us out” with “one signature of a pen,” and argued the deal would “turn us into a colony of the United States.” 

In the end, although the Liberals increased their share of the House of Commons to 83 seats, Canadians returned the PCs to power with a second majority. The FTA was successfully ratified in Parliament, and after surviving an attempted caucus putsch, Turner eventually retired as Liberal leader in 1990.

Retreat from public life

In an exit interview with CBC Radio’s Dale Goldhawk in 1990, Turner said the trade agreement was “a bad contract for Canada,” adding “history will prove me right.”

He also said that he wished he’d done more to create opportunities for education, protect the environment, promote gender equality and “[bring] Aboriginal people back into the mainstream.”

Former prime ministers, right to left, Pierre Trudeau, John Turner and Kim Campbell applaud former parliamentarians who were honoured at a plaque unveiling ceremony in the House of Commons in May 1996. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

Turner retained his seat in the House until 1993 but largely retreated from public life after stepping down as Liberal leader.

In 1994, he was named a companion of the Order of Canada and, in 2004, led the Canadian delegation of election monitors in Ukraine.

After leaving full-time politics, he returned to practising law in Toronto but remained an outspoken advocate against the centralization of power in Ottawa, the manipulation of House of Commons debates and bills and the diminishing role of parliamentary committees in the legislative process. He also showed a particular interest in speaking about politics with young people.

Turner stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in November 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“Democracy doesn’t happen by accident, you’ve got to work at it,” he told the Globe and Mail in 2009. “At the moment, Canadians are getting a little lazy about it, a little inattentive, and we’ve got to revive it.”

Turner is survived by his wife and four children.

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Staffing to be adjusted in some Regina schools as online teacher-to-student ratio hits 1 to 67: trustee

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Teachers in some Regina schools are being shuffled due to significant demand for online learning, according to Regina Public School Board trustee Adam Hicks. 

Hicks posted a Facebook video Thursday evening talking about the changes, saying they will start to come into effect on Monday.

In the video post, Hicks said 2,200 students have registered for e-learning, with 33 teachers assigned to online teaching — a ratio of 67 students for every teacher.

“With 2,200 students in e-learning, our allocations of staff were, unfortunately, not enough,” Hicks said in the video.

Just over 25 staff from 22 schools will be reassigned to accommodate e-learning — a move made necessary by budget constraints, he said.

“We hired as many new teachers as we possibly could [for online teaching], but when it came down to it, we don’t have additional funding to hire all the rest.”

Education Minister Gord Wyant said Public Health was involved in the decision, and that the safety of staff and students is the top priority in this shuffle.

The Opposition NDP says the staff shuffle shows a failing in the Saskatchewan Party government’s back-to-school plan, but Wyant defended his government’s overall pandemic response as “exceptional.”

“I think that the response that the government has made … has been sufficient to support children and teachers in the classroom,” Wyant said. “I discount the criticism we’ve received for that.”

Children are safe in classrooms and getting the education they deserve, he said.

Earlier this month, Wyant and his ministry announced $51 million for school divisions as a first round of government money to deal with additional costs associated with schooling in a pandemic. Of that, $9.5 million is allocated to address additional distance-learning capacity, including funding 102 teachers and staff.

Hicks said in his video that the Regina Public School Board’s projections for the number of students attending classes in school were off. Fewer children are in school than they had originally thought, which means that funding — which is based on in-school enrolment — will be less than anticipated.

Wyant said he expects more students will return to in-class learning as the school year goes on.

But NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the government should ensure that funding remains consistent. 

“They’re still having to provide that teaching to people online but they are basically not … sure that they’ll be able to fund the number of teachers they have in place,” Meili said.

“We should absolutely have a commitment from this government that no money will be pulled back because of enrolment changes.”

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More than 1 in 10 Quebec schools have at least one case of COVID-19

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A total of 272 schools in Quebec have at least one positive case of COVID-19, be it a student or staff member, according to the province’s Friday update.

That’s 25 more schools affected since Thursday’s report. 

That means more than 10 per cent — or one in 10 — of Quebec’s 2,685 schools are affected by the pandemic.

In all, 189 classes have had to be shut down since the start of the school year.

The Education Ministry is gathering data from all 72 service centres and school boards from across the province as well as 260 private schools. In all, it adds up to just over one million students.

A total of 401 students and 106 staff members have tested positive since the start of school — increasing by 54 in 24 hours.

Montreal remains the most affected region with 81 schools having at least one case of COVID-19. The Quebec City area has 41, Montérégie has 38, Laval 24 and the Outaouais has seven.

The list is not complete, the government says, as some schools are undergoing audits.

As for the rest of the province, there were 297 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death reported Friday.

Some worry substitutes will worsen situation

Wit the situation appearing to worsen, some substitute teachers fear they will become vectors of COVID-19 as they move between schools.

Amélie Beaulieu says she has filled in for teachers at seven schools since the year’s start.

“There are regularly situations where teachers are absent as they are waiting for results,” she told Radio-Canada.

And even though she wears a mask on the job, Beaulieu worries substitutes like her will create a situation like that seen in long-term care homes and hospitals this spring.

Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge says it is a mistake to compare health-care workers to substitute teachers when it comes to spreading the disease. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Staff moving between health facilities or even between hot and cold zones in hospitals did lead to outbreaks.

After witnessing the tragic results of migrating health staff, Beaulieu isn’t the only one who is worried.

“We do not want to repeat what happened in the spring in the health network,” said
Marc-Étienne Deslauriers, a parents’ committee member in Montreal.

“If people move, we have to make sure that all the conditions, the sanitary measures, are respected.”

Catherine Beauvais-St-Pierre, of the Alliance des professors de Montréal, said teachers see more than students as they change schools. They bump into other adults as well.

“It is worrying for these teachers and it is also worrying for the spread of the disease from one establishment to another,” she said.

Roberge says substitute teachers aren’t a risk

Neither public health nor the workplace safety board (CNESST) have enacted specific measures concerning the movement of substitutes between schools.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said substitute teachers are not the same as health-care workers and it is a mistake to make the comparison.

Employees of long-term care homes or hospitals must get close to residents and patients, he said.

“That’s nothing like a Secondary III math teacher who moves from one school to another, but who has no direct contact with students, who stays two metres from students and who rubs shoulders with students who are more than 99.5 per cent negative [for] COVID-19,” he said.

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