CALGARY – Penn West Petroleum Ltd. has agreed to sell its properties in the Greater Mitsue area of central Alberta for $192.5 million cash.

Money from the sale will be used to reduce the Calgary-based company’s debt.

It’s the first major sale of non-core assets for Penn West since it announced two weeks ago that it was cutting its workforce by 400 full-time employees and contractors, suspending its dividend and cutting compensation for its directors.

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It also announced on Sept. 1 that it would sell a number of non-core assets, including the Mitsue properties, to reduce overhead costs. It said at the time that the Mitsue properties produced the equivalent of 4,500 barrels per day.

Penn West didn’t disclose the buyer but a second company announced about the same time that it has acquired properties in the same area that produce 3,300 barrels per day of crude oil and liquids.

Cardinal Energy Ltd said it would pay $129 million for its acquisition of light oil producing properties in the Mitsue area. It said CIBC and RBC would lead a syndicate of underwriters to provide $100 million towards funding the purchase, with the remainder coming from its credit agreements.

Penn West has said it’s aiming to keep its capital spending within cash flow generated from operations, despite the dramatic decline in oil and gas prices since the end of 2014.

It says the sale of the Mitsue properties will raise total proceeds from asset sales since June to $605 million.

Rock-bottom interest rates combined with sustained exuberance among buyers and an assist from a steady flow of foreign cash, according to experts, propelled the Vancouver and Toronto housing markets to new heights in August.

The country’s real estate association said Tuesday benchmark prices in those centres jumped 12 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, posting “by far” the biggest price increases among housing markets across the country.

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Aided by low rates, a shortage of detached homes in those regions compared to the number of interested buyers is driving the rapid price inflation, the Canadian Real Estate Association said.

“Prices continue to rise in Ontario and British Columbia, where listings are either in short supply or heading in that direction,” Gregory Klump, CREA’s chief economist, said.

Subdued elsewhere

Price growth was more subdued in other markets, notably in areas hit by lower commodity prices. In Calgary, which continues to feel the effects of sharply lower oil, benchmark home prices were flat – the first time index prices have notched zero growth in four years.

Other markets outside the Vancouver and Toronto areas are also responding in kind to a mild slowdown in the economy, which has registered back-to-back quarters of contraction, or a technical recession.

MORE: ‘Best. Recession. Ever.’

The health of the country’s housing market has become a talking point in the federal election, the leaders from the three major parties promising reforms if elected.

MORE: Complete 2015 federal election coverage 

But outside of the country’s two biggest and priciest regions, sales data shows a balanced market, experts say.

Excluding the Vancouver and Toronto markets, the jump in national average prices would be cut in half, CREA said. “The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto.

Click here to view data »

Bubble behaviour?

“Overall, while most markets are responding logically to softening domestic economic conditions, Vancouver and Toronto continue to exhibit bubble behaviour,” David Madani, economist at Capital Economics said in a research note this week.

Several media reports in recent months have suggested a steady and rising tide of foreign cash is propping up price growth in big markets. Madani said that is only part of the story, while much of the demand remains from local buyers.

“While foreign investors are no doubt playing some role, we think this explanation is overblown,” the economist said. “Low interest rates and self-fulfilling expectations of higher prices continue to inflate actual prices independently of fundamentals,” he said.

“Over the longer-term, we still believe that these housing markets will experience major price reversals.”

WATCH: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau suggests ‘potential tools’ the federal government has to step in and help regulate runaway housing prices.

©2015

TORONTO – The information commissioner is taking the Prime Minister’s Office to court, accusing it of refusing to release documents about four senators embroiled in scandal.

filed an access-to-information request to the Privy Council Office, the central bureaucracy serving the prime minister and cabinet, in August of 2013 asking for any records created since March relating to senators Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Patrick Brazeau or Pamela Wallin.

The PCO identified 28 pages of responsive records, but withheld 27 of those pages, releasing just two emails in which its staff discussed similar access-to-information requests.

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PCO claimed every single word on every single one of those 27 pages might jeopardize solicitor-client privilege, or reveal personal information, or third-party information, or details on secret deliberations.

went to the federal information commissioner, who found the complaint well-founded and recommended the prime minister release “a significant amount” of additional information.

But the Prime Minister’s Office withheld the “vast majority” of the records and the information commissioner is now asking Federal Court to order the prime minister to disclose any records that don’t warrant being withheld under certain sections of the Access to Information Act.

In-Depth: Federal Election 2015

The Prime Minister’s Office “erred in fact and in law” in relying on the aforementioned sections of the act to withhold the records, the information commissioner said in the court application.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper deferred comment to the PCO, but a spokesperson there was not immediately available to respond on Monday evening.

Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy were suspended over their expense claims while Harb resigned.

Duffy, Brazeau and Harb have been charged with fraud and breach of trust. Duffy pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery at his trial, which is set to resume in November.

Brazeau’s trial is scheduled to begin March 29, 2016. He has already pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Brazeau is also facing a separate set of charges – assault and sexual assault – arising from an alleged incident two years ago in the western Quebec city of Gatineau and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

That trial resumes Tuesday when he is expected to testify in his own defence.

Wallin has been under lengthy RCMP investigation but has not been charged.

©2015

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in part blamed the construction giant Saudi Binladin Group for the collapse of a crane at Mecca last week that killed at least 111 people and injured over 390 ahead of the hajj.

The crash came just days before millions arrive in the kingdom for the pilgrimage, which is required at least once in the life of every able-bodied Muslim.

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Friday’s collapse came amid high winds and a rainstorm, but a royal decree from King Salman said the Binladin Group should not have left the crane’s arm up when it was not in use.

An Arabic version of the decree, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, said the Binladin Group was partly to blame for the collapse. The news agency’s English service did not report that detail, but did say leaders of the company have been banned from travelling abroad.

The Binladin Group has not released any statements about the crane collapse and its representatives have not been made available for comment. The royal decree also blamed the group for not using up-to-date safety measures and failing to co-ordinate with meteorlogical officials.

WATCH ABOVE: At least 107 people are dead and hundreds other injured after a crane fell on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Jennifer Tryon has the story.

Dozens of cranes surround Mecca’s Grand Mosque, part of the massive construction effort headed by the Binladin Group. The Binladin family has been close to Saudi Arabia’s ruling family for decades and runs major building projects. Al-Qaida’s late leader Osama bin Laden was a renegade son disowned by the family in the 1990s.

Salman also ordered 1 million riyals ($267,000) be paid to the relatives of those killed, and the same amount to those permanently injured. Others injured will receive half that amount.

The Health Ministry said Sunday that 394 people were treated after the collapse, and 158 remain hospitalized.

©2015

Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 9, will officially be available for download Wednesday for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users. And although the update won’t look very different from iOS 8, Apple has added quite a few changes to how it works.

For example, iPhone users will get a new caller ID function that will try to predict numbers that aren’t saved in your contacts using information from emails. iPad users, on the other hand, can take advantage of new multitasking features.

Apple has been allowing the public to test iOS 9 in beta since July – but Wednesday’s release will be the real deal.

But there are a few things you should keep in mind before updating your device:

Check if your device is compatible

Generally, if your device is running iOS 8 you are able to upgrade to iOS 9. To check the version of iOS your device is currently running, open the “Settings” app, then tap on “General,” then “About” and look at the number on the Version line.

Or, you can just refer to this handy guide Apple put together:

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Back up your data

Backing up your device is always a good idea before running any sort of software update – you never know what might happen during the update process.

To make sure all of your pictures, videos and data are safe, do a back up to iCloud or your computer. Apple offers instructions on backing up devices here.

Make sure your device has enough room for the update

Last year, some iPhone users ran into a big problem when trying to upgrade to iOS 8 – they simply didn’t have enough room on their device.

iOS 8 required at least 5.7GB of free space in order to be installed on most iPhone and iPad models. Previous iOS updates have only required about 1GB of free space. Users with 8GB or 16GB devices had problems as the update took up a large chunk of their devices’ storage.

Someone even filed a class action lawsuit against Apple for the issue.

READ MORE: Apple sued for making iOS 8 update too big

Users shouldn’t run into the same problem with iOS 9 – this update isn’t nearly as substantial as iOS 8 and shouldn’t require that much space. However, a 1GB update can still take up a lot of space on a smaller capacity phone.

Try backing up some of your pictures and deleting them from your device to make room.

How to update

Once the update is available, users will be notified on their devices. You can either download the update directly from your iPhone, iPad or iPod (make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi), or plug you device into a computer with iTunes to start the process.

On your device, tap “Settings,” then “General,” then “Software Update” to download and install the update.

Be prepared for bugs

While some users may be eager to upgrade right away, it’s important to note that the first version of iOS is often buggy and users may run into a few flaws or hiccups. Users with older devices may also notice their devices slow down when using the newest OS.

©2015

Amber Heard gave her mom some advice on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival Monday night and it wasn’t exactly a nice kind of advice.

The star’s mom was standing beside reporters waiting for her daughter when she was asked who she was, “I’m her mom,” she told Kiss 92.5’s Maurie Sherman with a big smile on her face.

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Before she could say anything else, in came the actress with some advice for her friendly mom, “never make eye contact,” the star said loud enough for everyone around her to hear.

The whole incident was of course caught on camera, which comes as no surprise really because it was a busy red carpet event.

MORE FROM ET CANADA: The Best Bite-Sized Red Carpet Moments at TIFF

You’d think Heard would have turned down the volume a bit.

WATCH: Amber Heard gave her mom some red carpet advice – “never make eye contact” – and it was all caught on camera!

©2015Entertainment Tonight Canada

California has been battling record drought conditions for the past few years, making it extremely vulnerable to fire.

Now, some of the worst fires are spreading across the state.

An apartment complex lies in ruins, burned by the Valley Fire on Sept. 14, 2015 in Middletown, California.

David McNew/Getty Images

WATCH: Escaping Anderson Springs fire
WARNING: Some language may offend some viewers

The National Interagency Fire Center reported that residents in The Valley and Butte areas are still unable to return to their homes after fires quickly spread in the regions. More than 750 homes have been destroyed.

Napa Strike Team firefighters Mike Holmes and Dan Stith cover their eyes from the smoke during a controlled burn on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Adams, Calif.

Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat via AP

A pair of burned cars sit outside the remains of several homes destroyed by fire along Highway 175, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, near Middletown, Calif.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

And things aren’t expected to improve: Authorities are forecasting above-normal fire potential across the mountains of southern California from September through to December.

A firefighter stands near a wildfire in Middletown, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

A wildfire burns along a ridge near Sheep Ranch, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. Two of California’s fastest-burning wildfires in decades overtook several Northern California towns, destroying homes and sending residents fleeing. (AP Photo/Rich

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Deanna Hingst, right, embraces her mother Shirley Leuzinger as they stand at the family’s destroyed home Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Middletown, Calif.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The National Interagency Fire Center has reported that eight fires are burning over an area of 381,430 acres as of Sept. 15. One fire alone, in the Rough region, is burning over 139,133 acres.

Firefighters monitor flames while battling the Butte fire near San Andreas, California on September 12, 2015.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

A firefighter douses flames from a backfire while crews continue battling the Butte fire near San Andreas, California on September 12, 2015.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile fires also continue to rage across large parts of six other states, with Washington being the worst hit so far this year with 912,510 acres burned.

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©2015

Employees at a Colorado pizza restaurant were surprised to discover an unexpected customer in the store’s back room Monday afternoon.

But after the kind of day she had, you can’t really blame her for wanting some comfort food.

Experts at Colorado Parks and Wildlife believe the bear had been orphaned or abandoned by its mother. In addition, the cub had a broken paw, which authorities believe may have been caused by an automobile accident.

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After being sighted several times Monday morning in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the cub eventually made its way through the propped-open door of Louie’s Pizza, where it caused quite a commotion amongst staff and customers.

“We asked [employees] what was up and they said there was a bear in there and it was eating all the icing,” customer Andy Shinholt told KOAA News in Colorado. “He was soft and he had icing all over him. He was eating all the icing.”

READ MORE: Family confronts bear cubs terrorizing their car; discover mother bear inside

According to employees, after helping herself to all the icing she could handle, the cub did what many of us do after a big meal: she took a nap.

The staff at Louie’s Pizza called police and wildlife officers, who tranquilized the bear so it could be safely removed from the restaurant.

In addition to its injured paw, the bear was found to be underweight, an even more significant problem this time of year as bears try to fatten up in advance of hibernation season.

WATCH: Injured bear cub removed from back of Colorado pizza shop

Wildlife officers say the cub will be sent to a rehabilitation facility to treat its injured paw and help stabilize its weight before being released back into the wild.

As for the icing, well, let’s just say the staff at Louie’s is likely more than happy to have the bear owe them one.

Startling image of emaciated polar bear: Sign of climate change?

©2015

WINNIPEG — A health-care aide’s alcohol addiction qualifies as a disability, and her employer was wrong to fire her for drinking off the job, a Manitoba human rights adjudicator has ruled.

Linda Horrocks is entitled to be reinstated, receive three years back pay and an additional $10,000 for injury to her dignity, independent adjudicator Sherri Walsh said in a report released Tuesday.

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“The issue for determination in this matter is not whether the complainant was drinking on a given day but rather whether (the employer) made reasonable efforts to accommodate the complainant as soon as it was aware that she had a disability and special needs associated with that disability,” Walsh wrote.

Horrocks was suspended from work at a personal care home in Flin Flon run by the Northern Regional Health Authority in June 2011 after a co-worker complained that she was drunk at work, according to evidence presented at the human rights board hearing.

She signed an agreement that allowed her to return to work on several conditions, including that she abstain from alcohol both on and off the job and seek counselling.

Horrocks was fired a year later when her employer received two reports that she had been drinking outside of work — once in a grocery store and once during a phone call with a manager.

Horrocks denied consuming alcohol and said she had been undergoing addiction counselling. She eventually filed a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, which appointed Walsh to hear the matter.

The regional health authority told the hearing that it had tried to accommodate Horrocks but also needed to protect the safety of people in the health care system.

Walsh ruled that alcohol addiction amounts to a disability under the human rights code, citing a 2013 ruling in a similar case.

She also ruled the health authority failed to accommodate Horrocks’ disability because it did not seek advice from experts in drawing up conditions for her return to work in 2011.

“Instead, I find that members of the (health authority’s) staff relied on their experiences with other staff who had required accommodation relating to addiction and on their own personal experiences,” Walsh wrote.

“Information of that sort is precisely the type of information that cannot be relied on as the basis for accommodating an employee. Each individual is entitled to an accommodation which is based on an individualized assessment of his or her specific needs.”

A spokesperson for the health authority said there would be no immediate comment.

©2015

NEW YORK – Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca died Monday evening after being diagnosed with leukemia two years ago, the company said Tuesday. He was 67.

DeLuca’s death came weeks after the 50th anniversary of Subway, which has become the world’s biggest restaurant chain by locations.

DeLuca decided to open a sandwich shop at the age of 17 to help pay for college after graduating high school. The idea came from a family friend, Peter Buck, who was co-founder and provided the $1,000 to start the business.

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READ MORE: Subway failed to investigate ‘serious’ complaint about Jared Fogle

“I knew nothing about making sandwiches, nor the food industry,” DeLuca later wrote in a book.

DeLuca and Buck opened their first store in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in August 1965 under the name “Pete’s Super Submarines,” with the priciest sub selling for 69 cents. The name was changed to the snappier “Subway” in 1968, and the pair decided to start franchising to fuel the chain’s growth.

By 1988, the company had 2,000 locations. By 1990, it reached the 5,000-store mark. And by 1994, it had more than 8,000 locations.

Subway, based in Milford, Connecticut, is privately held and has given the public few glimpses into its inner workings. But in July 2013, the company announced that DeLuca had been diagnosed with leukemia. It said DeLuca was in regular contact with his management team, but on a reduced basis as he received treatment.

READ MORE: Subway’s latest challenge; getting out from Jared’s shadow

Earlier this summer, Subway announced that DeLuca’s younger sister, Suzanne Greco, would take over as president and oversee day-to-day operations.

In his book “Start Small Finish Big: Fifteen Key Lessons to Start – and Run – Your Own Successful Business,” DeLuca recalled living in public housing in the Bronx as a child. His father hadn’t graduated high school, but his mother had stressed the importance of education while growing up.

After he graduated high school, DeLuca had planned on becoming a doctor. That was why he started the sub shop with Buck – to support his college education.

“It wasn’t intended to support me forever,” DeLuca wrote.

DeLuca is survived by his wife, son and sister, according to Subway.

©2015

Phyllis Whitsell was always told her biological parents had died of tuberculosis, but she never really believed it.

“Throughout my childhood I was convinced, somehow, that my mother was alive. I told myself that one day, when I was old enough, I would track her down,” the 59-year-old told the Birmingham Mail.

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Abandoned at eight months old and adopted at age 4, Whitsell was raised in Birmingham, U.K., and grew up to become a nurse.

Determined to find her birth parents, she tracked down her original birth certificate and even found a staff member at the orphanage where she was left as a baby.

“She was reluctant to tell me much about my mother but it was clear that she disapproved of her,” said Whitsell. “I had no idea why – I thought it was just because she had handed me over to the orphanage at such a young age.”

After more investigating, Whitsell found her mother, Bridget Ryan. She was an alcoholic living in the red light district of Birmingham, known locally as “Tipperary Mary.”

“She wasn’t the fairy-tale figure I had imagined, but she was still my mother,” said Whitsell.

As a district nurse, Whitsell decided on her own to include Bridget in her daily visitation route, taking care of her ill mother.

“I took her clean clothes, bathed her wounds and got her to talk about the five children she had given away, including me,” said Whitsell.

“The day she spoke affectionately of ‘little Phyllis’ and told me my birth date accurately was the best, and the worst, day of my life.”

From 1981, Whitsell took care of Bridget until her death in 1990. She never told Bridget who she really was.

Whitsell continues to take care of others in a nursing home and has written a book called Finding Tipperary Mary about finding and getting to know her mother.

©2015

Stephen Colbert asked tennis star Novak Djokovic – fresh off his U.S. Open grand slam win – to help him start Monday night’s show and you might get a kick out of how Colbert protected himself.

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“Champion Novak Djokovic is going to fire tennis balls at me,” The Late Show host explained as he headed to the rear of the stage to retrieve a hidden object. “While I protect myself with Captain America’s shield.”

“In this scenario, I’m the new Captain America and you’re the captain of Hydra’s tennis team.”

‘Cap’ went on to ask the world’s top-ranked male player how hard his serve can be.

“130 miles per hour,” Djokovic replied. That’s 209 kilometres per hour.

The Serbian nailed Colbert with his first shot. And even though it looked like he took some steam off of it, that’s much better than having to look for a new Late Show host…again.

©2015

EDMONTON – An Edmonton Catholic School Board meeting got extremely heated Tuesday evening as trustees were expected to vote on a proposed policy regarding gender identity and inclusion.

After several hours of back and forth, the topic was eventually put off until next month’s meeting. That decision had a member of Edmonton’s transgender community calling on Alberta’s education minister to step in.

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“I call on the Minister of Education, David Eggen, to immediately address this issue by imposing an appropriate policy or desolving (sp) the ECSD Board of Trustees. Further, I call on the Minister to set guidelines for all school boards in Alberta to follow in such cases,” Marni Panas wrote in a blog following the meeting Tuesday.

The proposed policy, which Panas was involved in drafting, would allow students to use the washrooms and change rooms with which they identify, play on sports teams of their choosing and change their school records to align with their gender identities.

Panas said via 桑拿会所 she was in tears watching the meeting online from overseas.

READ MORE: Majority of Alberta Catholics support gay-straight alliances: poll

The policy was developed after controversy arose over a transgender elementary school student who wanted to use the girls’ washroom. She was told by a teacher that she had to use the school’s gender-neutral bathroom instead.

Education Minister David Eggen said Wednesday morning he found the comments made by some of the trustees. to be “entirely unacceptable and quite disturbing.”

“What is a sensitive, important issue in regards to human rights broke and dissolved into acrimony,” said Eggen. “I don’t expect that I will see that again and if it does so there will be consequences.”

“I expect a higher standard from all elected officials here, generally in Alberta, and specifically with Edmonton Catholic.”

Eggen said he spoke with board chair Debbie Engel Wednesday morning and she assured him the board “will move forward to build a coherent transgender policy.”

Eggen said he will be monitoring the situation very carefully and expects it will be dealt with as soon as possible.

READ MORE: 16×9’s “Gender Identity”

“We know that it is our responsibility under the School Act and the responsibility of Edmonton Catholic under the School Act to ensure that we have safe, caring and secure places for all students.”

The girl’s mother, who has asked her name not be published, spoke before the meeting Tuesday to say she was there “not only for my child but all the transgender children in the Catholic system.”

“Today is not only about the rights, responsibility and obligations of care of all children, it’s also about accountability of our actions,” the mother said before getting cut off due to a three-minute time allowance.

READ MORE: Local mother accuses Edmonton Catholic School Board of discrimination

Before discussions on the policy began Tuesday, Trustee Cindy Olsen hoped to pass an amendment to drop the topic from the agenda. Olsen said the board needed more time to discuss the draft policy and consult with parents.

“My intention was to give the board time to discuss and provide an opportunity for consultation on an inclusion policy.  My comments and intent last night was to remove the item temporarily from the agenda which would give us time to discuss and consult with our community,” Olsen said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

After pushback from other trustees – Vice-Chair Marilyn Bergstra in particular – a vote was held and the discussion went ahead as planned. Tempers in the room and on social media quickly flared, with a clear divide on the topic.

In the end, trustees voted in favour of referring the vote on the policy until Oct. 15 with the hope that more discussion and consultation can take place.

The trustees then voted to end the meeting. All other issues on Tuesday’s agenda were put on hold.

Parents of transgender Edmonton student search for answers

02:38

Parents of transgender Edmonton student search for answers

02:26

Washroom decision up to school

05:08

Supports for transgender people

04:01

Marni Panas on gender identity

04:29

Local transgender woman talks about the journey of going public

02:49

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04:17

Transgender woman recognized




Following the meeting, Archbishop Richard Smith released the statement below, saying in part, “The Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta has approved a resource document intended to assist Catholic school divisions in formulating policies and procedures to address the needs of students around gender identity and expression.”

The Archbishop encouraged trustees to consider CCSSA resources when drafting district policies.

Read the full statement below. 

View this document on Scribd

With files from Kent Morrison, Slav Kornik, Global News.

©2015