Five things you need to know about the Canada manhunt
The manhunt for 18-year old Bryer Schmegelsky and 19-year old Kam McLeod rages on. Their alleged murder of one couple and University professor has provoked a high-profile RCMP investigation that spurs stories of its own.
From book-writing to Nazi paraphernalia, and an environment so dangerous it strikes fear even into the heart of locals. These are five elements of the search for McLeod and Schmegelsky that you need to know.
1. Schmegelsky’s father has already written a book
Alan Schmegelsky, the father of 18-year old Bryer, has written a 132-page book to shed light on the events that shaped his son’s life. Surprisingly, the book comes only a week after his son was implicated in three killings. Schmegelsky sent his book to reporters’ after deciding not to self-publish because of his unwillingness to make profits from the story. The book is not wholly based on real-life events, and the pages are mixed with truth and fiction. In it, the father describes his mental health issues and harassment convictions, and his attempts to raise a son through personal turmoil.
2. A citizen patrol group located the suspects
This will be the first time members of the Bear Clan Patrol travel to areas like Fox Lake and York Landing, where the teenagers have been spotted. The Bear Clan Patrol is housed in Winnipeg, usually surveilling the inter-city area, but is making the trip up to act as “ambassadors” to the RCMP, as it continues its investigation. The mandate for the indigenous-led crime prevention group comes after the acting grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs asked for “some teams to provide security for some of the First Nations that don’t have RCMP service.” The Bear Clan Patrol’s diligent efforts have led to the most recent tip that McLeod and Schmegelsky are near the Cree community of York Landing.
3. The dangerous Manitoba wilderness
“If you don’t have the means to be in there, you’re not going to make it,” commented a fireman who handled the wooded area where Schmegelsky and McLeod were believed to be travelling through, after their vehicle was found in Gillam, Manitoba. The bug spray the boys would require for their journey into the mosquito-infested forest, the sense to avoid poisonous mushrooms, and the wit to not drown in dangerous peat moss, hinted at low chances of survival. There is no path in the forest, meaning it is easy to get lost in circles as hunger and fatigue kicks in. Yet, the fugitive pair may have avoided the experience if reports of their recent siting 90 kilometers southwest in the Cree community York Landing.
4. Heat sensors and high-powered cameras
July 27, CBC reported the arrival of the Canadian military into Gillam. The military has clarified that the effort to find Schmegelsky and McLeod will remain RCMP-led. However, that has not stopped them from shocking local residents by bringing in the CC-130H Hercules aircraft. The aircraft will help survey the dense forest and waterways. It is equipped with high-powered cameras that may prove useful in finding the fugitive friends. The Hercules will be assisted by drones carrying heat sensors.
5. Schmegelsky’s apparent fascination with Nazism
Photos released by The Globe and Mail, show 18-year old Bryer Schmegelsky wearing a gas mask, and another of a Hitler Youth knife he allegedly owned. Schmegelsky’s praising of Hitler forced an old video-game friend to apparently discontinue their relationship. These reports are particularly disturbing considering the violent nature that old classmates of Schmegelsky from seventh grade and before, have disclosed. Although his father does not believe his son to have been a Nazi sympathizer, older Schmegelsky has said he believes Bryer will go out in a “blaze of glory.”
The Social took the opportunity last week to get behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after he was caught making fun of US President Donald Trump to other world leaders, framing it as Trudeau facing “a bully”, and that we, as Canadians like to “play clean”.
“Sometimes you have to face a bully with a squad,” said Melissa Grelo on the show. She referenced French President Macron’s attempts to push back against Trump’s comments on Isis fighters.
Do Canadians believe that Trudeau’s jokes about Trump were part of a meeting of leaders, coming together to face off against an unfair adversary?
It’s hard to paint talking behind someone’s back as the act of confronting a bully. On the flip side, it isn’t hard to imagine President Trump as a schoolyard bully while watching him troll French President Macron about Isis fighters. Just watching their body language provokes the image of one kid trying to get a rise out of another.
Self-described gossip expert and The Social co-host Lainey Lui commented that “what they were doing was exchanging information… gossiping is a form of communication… I’m so tired of gossip being given this bad name.” While it would be easy to dismiss this as nonsense, gossip does, in fact, create bonding among the people who share in it. Creating an “us” and a “them” brings the “us” closer together. Trudeau’s little schoolyard circle of gossip may very well have strengthened relations between Trudeau and the foreign leaders he shared it with.
Of course–there’s a reason why gossip has a bad name. It’s risky, in that it will damage the relationship with the person being gossiped about, if it is found out–as Trudeau has discovered. As far as strategy goes–it’s probably not a good idea to take any risks with our single largest trading partner.
Then there is the high road–the refusal to take part in gossip. If you’ve ever met someone with this level of character, you’ll know that there isn’t the easy bonding that comes from sharing cheap shots on someone who isn’t there to defend themselves. But, when it’s clear that you both have the same frustrations with that other person, it’s not hard to develop a deep respect for those who abstain from gossiping. After all, with that comes a trust that they won’t be talking behind your back, when you’re not around.
Hence Trump’s comment about Trudeau being “two-faced”.
At the end of the day, all world leaders need to be strategic in their relations with one another. They each need to behave in whatever way best serves the interests of their countries. Whether they choose trolling or gossiping or stately reverence, what matters is managing relationships in a way that enables them to get the job done.
But aside from all that–what was even said? I think Melissa Grelo summed up the whole issue best when she said, “this is not particularly salacious stuff–although when videos like this leak out, it sure becomes salacious.”
Perhaps it was the giddy tone in which Trudeau talked about Trump behind his back that caught the attention of top Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign team so much so that they decided to use it in an attack ad. It also probably didn’t help Canada’s relations with the US that Saturday Night Live–which Trump claims he doesn’t watch, but feels the need to trash on Twitter from time to time for its routine lampooning of him–did a whole opening sketch on Trudeau (Jimmy Fallon), French President Emmanuel Macron (Paul Rudd) and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (James Corden) belittling Trump (Alec Baldwin) in a high school cafeteria.
Without mentioning 71,000 jobs the Canadian economy shed in November, Finance Minister Bill Morneau stood in the House of Commons’ West Block foyer on Monday to announce a measly tax cut that would provide earners of $50,000 “with tax savings of close to $300 in 2023.”
Twenty million Canadians would benefit said Morneau, of the Liberals proposed increases to allowable personal income before taxes from $12,300 to $15,000.
In the wake of disastrous fall job figures reported last week by Statistics Canada, the minister touted “the lowest levels of unemployment we’ve seen in a very long time, but as we know, there continues to be economic anxiety and economic challenges.”
Asked about Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s demand for A Fair Deal for Alberta within Canada, banner advertisements purchased for the front page of today’s Ottawa Sun and Citizen editions, Morneau said he hadn’t read them yet, “but I will have a meeting with the Alberta Minister of Finance this afternoon and we will listen.”
“It’s important to listen, to consider their challenges. Their challenges are true. So we will listen and work together to improve the situation across the country, including Alberta,” said Morneau.
Across the street from Parliament, Kenney was about to address the Canadian Club in specific terms about the anxiety and challenges his province faces, having shed 175,000 jobs since 2015–18,000 in November alone – on the cusp of meetings with Morneau.
“There cannot be a strong Canada without a strong Alberta… our ability to play that role in the future is at risk. That puts Canada’s prosperity at risk,” Kenney warned during his speech, reiterating the province’s “net contribution(s) of $630 billion to the rest of Canada since 1961”, by way of federal income tax transfers.
By Kenney’s estimation, this wealth transfer from Alberta, which the federal government redistributes to other provinces in the federation equalled $55,000 for each man, woman and child in Alberta.
The Alberta premier went on to outline “the fair deal” his province seeks includes “a firm and fast deadline for TMX… and to make it a priority to bring First Nations into the project as an equity partner as soon as possible.”
As three separate indigenous groups are lined up to buy a stake in the existing 1,150 km pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. and a proposed $7.5 billion expansion, Morneau and the government have been silent on such a deal, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise last June for unlimited Indigenous ownership.
On this front, the Alberta premier lines up squarely behind federal Conservatives; either want more tidewater pipelines and new environmental legislation (bills C-69 and C-48) repealed, what Kenney and his Ottawa cohorts label as pipeline killers.
Scrapping this legislation–C-69 that revamped resource project assessments and 48, the northwest coast oil tanker ban–said Kenney, would allow the province a freedom “to develop our resources at a fair market price.”
Kenney has been beating the TMX drum for some time and shortly before Trudeau’s summertime green light for the project, the premier issued his demands in another ad-buy, this one splashed on the front pages of the Globe and Mail.
“Let us take seriously these challenges in a province that has done so much (for Canada). Let’s not make the mistake of diminishing or deriding (them),” Kenney told the Canadian Club on Monday morning.
Less than an hour earlier at Morneau’s tax cut scrum, the overall benefit was cut down to size in a brief back-and-forth with Mona Fortier, the Middle Class Prosperity minister and associate minister of Finance.
Reporter: “Have you looked at how much it’s going to save a person on their pay cheque? It’s at $300 a year. What’s that per pay cheque?”
Fortier: “Well, you know with this pay cheque will help to–with the $300 or $600 for families it will help ends meet and help families have access to more activities after school.”
Reporter: “It’s $11.50. Everybody knows…”
Fortier: “Well it’s still money that is combined with all of the measures that we’ve put in since 2015. It will help families cover some costs that they want to send their kids to camp or to put money aside for retirement.”
The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) has spent $352,975 on Facebook ads since June, $49,457 of which was spent in the last seven days as they battle out negotiations with the Ontario government.
The pre-bargaining of the new contract between the OSSTF and Premier Doug Ford’s government started in May, but the two sides haven’t been able to see eye to eye on prospective contract changes in the past seven months.
On top of the $352,975 spent on Facebook ads, the OSSTF also purchased a large TV ad buy in late August attacking the Ford government’s proposed education changes, which are meant to find savings in order to help tackle the large annual provincial deficit. Ontario’s debt has ballooned to well over $300 billion and is projected to reach $325.9 billion by the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
The Ontario high school teachers’ union also spent money on a postcard mailing campaign back in May, targeting Ontario Progressive Conservative MPPs who only narrowly won their ridings.
Due to backlash from unions, media and the public, Premier Ford has repeatedly backed off of finding so-called “efficiencies” he claimed he would find once in power during the 2018 election. Most of the time the Ford government has tried to make cuts it has backed off; it’s to the point now that his government is increasing annual overspending instead of getting the budget under control.
“This is a government that was elected on a strong mandate for fiscal responsibility, and they’ve brought spending to a higher level than Kathleen Wynne,” Ontario communications director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Jasmine Pickel told Maclean’s this month.
On Monday, OSSTF President Harvey Bischof responded to the Ontario Debt Clock Twitter account asking where he thought the money for the raises to teachers would come from by saying, “Here’s a start. $3B in foregone revenue for cancelled cap and trade.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce so far isn’t caving to the demands of the teachers’ union, which went on one-day strike last week and is threatening to do the same this week, too.
“Most problematic is that they opted to strike last Wednesday irrespective considering that option. And then on Friday say, ‘Well we’ll consider private mediations so long as the government gives us all three of our top demands, which one of which includes to make the case… the [raise] for the second highest paid teachers in the country,” Lecce said on Monday in a press conference.
The OSSTF didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“His suggestion that the government should fund bigger raises by making life more expensive and unaffordable for the average Ontarian is more than just out of touch, it’s callous and shameful,” said Pickel to The Post Millennial. “Ontario teachers are amongst the best paid in the country and in the world. When you add in the value of taxpayer-funded pension contributions and benefits to salary, top earning teachers in Ontario bring home more than $120,000 per year. Meanwhile, Ontario is the largest subnational debtor on the planet. Ontarians can’t afford to pay more in taxes or to go further into debt to fund bigger raises for already well compensated teachers.”
A carbon tax causes the cost of living to go up almost across the board, including food, which is already expected to go up by four percent in Canada in 2020.
Despite Lecce already lowering the number of proposed high school online courses from four to two and reducing the proposed increase to class sizes from 28 to 25 (they’re currently at 21), the OSSTF still hasn’t budged, looking for it’s top three demands to be met.
The average Ontario high school teacher makes $92,000 a year currently, $37,000 more than the average Ontarian makes. The OSSTF wants them to get a two percent raise, which would cost taxpayers an estimated $1.5 billion annually.
Lecce’s and Ford’s offices also did not respond to request for comment.
Alberta’s unemployment rate, especially for young men has rapidly shot up since April.
According to Statistics Canada, over the last few months, the province has seen the rate of unemployment for young men shoot up from one in ten to one in five. Meaning that roughly 20% of Alberta young men have become jobless, outside of a recession. The gender split between men and women for job loss has largely been due to the drop in the oil and gas sector, an area commonly dominated by men.
This high level of youth unemployment has not been seen in the province since the early 1980s.
While the oil drop is important, the rate could get far worse for both genders.
A recent study by Statistics Canada revealed that Alberta has lost 18,000 jobs in November alone. The decline in jobs was across numerous industries but was affected most in wholesale and retail trade, according to the Labour Force Survey.
While Statistics Canada does warn against looking at monthly rate changes, the consistent change since April makes this matter extremely important, and potentially long-term.