Tuna company agrees to $6M settlement in worker oven death

LOS ANGELES — Bumble Bee Foods has agreed to pay $6 million to settle criminal charges in the death of a Los Angeles-area worker who was cooked in an oven with tons of tuna.

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Melena’s grisly death in a 270-degree oven three years ago led to a $6 million agreement by Bumble Bee on Wednesday to settle criminal charges in what Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said was the largest payout in a California workplace-violation death. The sum was four times greater than the maximum fines the company faced.

“This is the worst circumstances of death I have ever, ever witnessed,” said Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun, who noted that he had tried more than 40 murder cases over two decades. “I think any person would prefer to be – if they had to die some way – would prefer to be shot or stabbed than to be slowly cooked in an oven. ”

READ MORE: Charges laid after worker cooked in oven with 12,000 pounds of tuna

Melena, 62, perished at the seafood company’s Santa Fe Springs plant after a co-worker mistakenly believed he was in the bathroom and loaded six tons of canned tuna into the oven after he had stepped inside.

The company didn’t have safety procedures that would have required the equipment be turned off with an employee inside or provide an escape route or a spotter to keep watch with a worker in a confined space, Hoon said.

In a rare prosecution of a workplace fatality, Bumble Bee, its plant Operations Director Angel Rodriguez and former safety manager Saul Florez were each charged with three counts of violating Occupational Safety & Health Administration rules that caused a death.

Each party reached a different plea agreement Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Bumble Bee agreed to plead guilty in January 2017 to a misdemeanour of having wilfully failed to provide an effective safety program. First, however, it must complete several safety measures that include spending $3 million to upgrade ovens so workers can’t get trapped inside and providing worker training.

ARCHIVE VIDEO: Charges laid against Bumble Bee foods after worker cooked inside oven with tuna (April 28, 2015)

Florez, 42, of Whittier was sentenced to three years of probation and will face fines and penalties of about $19,000 after pleading guilty to a single felony count of violating a workplace safety rule that caused a death.

Rodriguez, 63, of Riverside, agreed to plead guilty in 18 months to a misdemeanour and pay about $11,000 after he completes 320 hours of community service and worker safety courses.

The two men had faced up to three years in prison and fines up to $250,000. The company had faced fines up to $1.5 million.

Melena’s family will receive $1.5 million under the settlement. It does not prevent them from also suing the company or receiving workers’ compensation funds, Hoon said.

“Certainly, nothing will bring back our dad, and our mom will not have her husband back, but much can be done to ensure this terrible accident does not happen again,” the family said in a statement.

Melena, 62, had been loading pallets of canned tuna into 35-foot-long ovens at the company’s Santa Fe Springs plant before dawn Oct. 11, 2012.

When a supervisor noticed him missing, an announcement was made on the intercom and employees searched for him in the facility and parking lot, according to a report by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

His body was found two hours later after the pressure cooker was turned off, cooled and opened.

The San Diego-based company is appealing $74,000 in fines by the state’s occupational safety agency for failing to properly assess employee danger.

“We will never forget the unfathomable loss of our colleague Jose Melena and we are committed to ensuring that employee safety remains a top priority at all our facilities,” the company said in a statement.

Workplace violation prosecutions are fairly uncommon – even after deaths. Of 189 fatality investigations opened by the state in 2013, only 29 were referred to prosecutors and charges were only filed in 14 cases that year, according to state records.

©2015The Associated Press

Police appealing to friends of victim in shooting near Toronto Marriott Hotel

WATCH ABOVE: Police are appealing to the friends of Kabil Abdulkhadir, who were allegedly with him when he was fatally shot on Sunday outside Toronto’s Marriott Hotel. The 27-year-old was Toronto’s 32nd homicide of the year. Peter Kim reports.

TORONTO – Toronto police are appealing to the associates of a 27-year old man who was gunned down early Sunday morning in front of a downtown hotel to come forward.

Police said they were called to the Dundas Street West and Bay Street area around 2:45 a.m. after reports of gunshots.

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A man found with gunshot wounds was found in front of the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel at 525 Bay St. and was pronounced dead on scene, according to paramedics.

READ MORE: Police investigating after man, 27, fatally shot near Toronto Marriott Hotel

Police identified the man as Kabil Abdulkhadir and are requesting that his associates who were allegedly with him at the time of the shooting come forward.

Det. Sgt. Joyce Schertzer said in a news conference on Wednesday that Abdulkhadir was shot when he stepped out of a car outside the hotel, and that the suspects in the shooting also arrived by car.

Abdulkadir’s mother, Fouzia Hassan, also wants his friends who were with him in the car that night to come forward and talk to police.

WATCH: Police provide update after fatal shooting near Toronto Marriott Hotel

Abdulkadir’s brother and sister also spoke at a teary news conference, saying he didn’t deserve to die.

Schertzer says several people have spoken with investigators, but need Abdulkadir’s friends to speak with police in a “meaningful manner.”

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Tuesday that “good cooperation from witnesses” had helped investigators in the investigation, in stark contrast to the lack of information from the public in the Muzik nightclub shooting investigation that left two dead and three injured.

WATCH: Family of Kabil Abdulkhadir make appeal to public for information in his murder

“We have a high level of cooperation, we’re moving the investigation in a much more rapid manner. It’s still not over yet, but the level of success is dynamically different,” he said.

“With one case we have an absence of people coming forward and in the other we have people that have stepped up to the plate and exercised their due diligence.”

Police have not released a suspect description or the number of shooters involved. Police urged any witnesses to “take the initiative” and call 52 Division at 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.

With files from Andrew Russell, Lama Nicolas and

©2015

‘He’s still here in spirit’: Fathers open up about the loss of their children

Every morning, when Whistler resident Mark Edmondson walks to work, he takes the longer route through the forest.

This way he can visit the memorial garden and be with his son Owen Benjamin, who died five days after his birth in October 2014. He suffered from a loss of oxygen during an emergency delivery which caused severe, irreparable brain damage.

Edmondson and his wife said goodbye to their son under an oak tree on the grounds of BC Women’s Hospital on a rainy October night.

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“We weren’t in control of his birth and what happened there,” he said. “But we could at least be in control of his death and make it peaceful.”

When they were ready, doctors took out Owen’s breathing tube. “And they all left, except for this one nurse who stood silently behind us, holding an umbrella over us, while she was getting drenched for however long it was,” said Edmondson.

They told Owen it was OK for him to go. But for Edmondson and his wife, Owen will always be a part of their lives.

“He might not be here physically but he’s still here in spirit,” he said.

“We make every effort to include him in what we’re doing. We still want to parent him.”

The dads who spoke to Global News after either having experienced infant loss or a stillbirth said that afterwards, most of their attention was focused on their wives and partners, and that’s to be expected.

But they also found that their grief was often not acknowledged in the same way, and sometimes not at all.

“My initial automatic reaction was to protect [my wife] Robyn and that maybe wasn’t helped by the fact that A, that’s what society expected. And B, anyone that we would interact with, they interacted with Robyn and not me,” said Edmondson.

He said when a midwife came to check on the couple after Owen’s birth, she only talked to Robyn. “And the only thing she said to me was when she arrived and asked ‘is Robyn doing OK?’”

“For someone who’s trained in the profession, to kind of have that societal expectation as well, I’m sure some of it is nature, but I’m sure a lot of it is nurtured by this concept of the man being the strong pillow or model, kind of thing,” added Edmondson.

He said he understands the fact that the loss of the initial physical attachment is so much stronger for the mother.

“I was focused more on the loss of having someone to teach how to play football and to chase around in the garden and show wildlife to and that sort of stuff,” he said. “Which I realize is years away, but that’s how the loss hit me.”

Owen Bejamin

Mark Edmondson

Mark with his son Owen

Mark with his son Owen

Mark with his son Owen

Elizabeth Blake

Dave Shannon, whose daughter Elizabeth Blake Shannon died in utero due to a knot in her cord, said he knew he had to assume the role of being ‘The Strong One’ in order to keep life going. He and his wife Caitie also have two other children.

“One of the big things that stuck out for me was I sort of had to put my own grieving on hold,” he said. “Caitie obviously needed my support. She knew Elizabeth far more than I did. I only got some glimpses in some monitors and then I only got to hold her for a day.”

Shannon said he didn’t mind assuming that role to give his wife and his family time to grieve. But he knew he would need some time for himself and in the beginning, his grief manifested itself as anger.

“For the first month or so I was wound pretty tight,” he said. “I was pretty angry and I couldn’t express myself because it was a very odd time.”

“My anger was more about the fact that how dare they take my Elizabeth away from me. We went through all of that time and effort and money to have it just stripped away from us and that made me so angry. That made me more angry than anything else.”

Dave holding his daughter Mila, who is holding Elizabeth.

Caitie Grange and her family with baby Elizabeth.

The Grange family

Caitie and her husband with baby Elizabeth.

Valley

Eric Hill’s daughter Valley was stillborn last June. She passed away in his wife’s womb a couple of days before she was born.

As a grieving father, he also struggled with how to support his wife and family and allow himself the time and space to mourn the loss of his daughter.

“I knew I had to be emotionally strong,” he said. “Yes, I held my ground for a bit, but I knew if I blacked out those emotions to be strong for my wife, I knew I would be losing out on those emotions.”

He said, from his experience, men feel like they have no one to talk to sometimes and may feel like they are left behind in their bereavement.

He approached his grief by talking about his daughter as much as possible, even though the pain of mentioning her name was sometimes overwhelming.

“Every day I wake up, I see her face on the wall,” he said. “Every day I go out to work, I always see her.”

“I keep living, breathing for her. And as long as my heart’s going, she’s going with me.”

Rebekah, Eric and their daughter Valley.

Rebekah, Eric and their daughter Valley.

Eric and his daughter Valley.

Rebekah and her daughter Valley.

It’s no secret that some men find it difficult to talk about their feelings and emotions, especially to other men.

“I feel like, as a guy, we kind of feel almost shy about exposing how vulnerable we could be,” said Shannon. “There are [mens’ grief groups], but it’s almost like ‘I gotta be a big strong guy, I can’t go to this.’”

“It would be a group of guys sharing their feelings and guys aren’t exactly known for that. We don’t naturally go around and have a big group discussion about our feelings.”

But all the fathers say talking about their children and being acknowledged in the fact that they lost a child helps them and others in the grieving process.

READ MORE: Stillbirth and infant loss: Your stories

Faith

Hung Nguyen’s wife had a stillborn daughter, Faith, in 2011.

He said they were lucky in the fact that they were able to spend four days with her in the hospital before they had to say goodbye.

Families and groups around B.C. are now raising money to get hospitals a cooling cot or a cuddle cot, which is a device that keeps the deceased baby cool, allowing the family to spend more time with the baby.

Nguyen said he and his family still mark Faith’s birthday every year and still talk about her as often as they can.

“I just talked about it a lot,” said Nguyen when Faith died. “I just found for myself the more I talked about it, the better I felt about it. Different times I’m up and down about it. It’s easier to deal with on certain days.”

“It never gets easy, but it’s a matter of talking to people and just educating people.”

Faith Tien Chambers-Nguyen

Faith Tien Chambers-Nguyen

Faith Tien Chambers-Nguyen

Faith Tien Chambers-Nguyen

Edmondson agreed, saying he has found that acknowledgement is one of the most powerful and important things someone can do in dealing with grieving parents.

He said the worst experience is seeing people who know what happened but do not even try to acknowledge it.

“We live in a small community obviously and we know a lot of people, and even people on our street just almost blank us,” he said.

“We feel it’s very selfish for someone to not be able to overcome their own fears when they can probably, at least partially, know what we’re going through and that it’s way worse than them just saying something or feeling bad.”

However, Edmondson knows that if the tables were turned, he and his wife would struggle to say the right thing to comfort someone in their deepest grief.

He said the support of people just willing to sit with them, or hug them, helped immensely. “They’ve helped us get to a point where we can do day-to-day things and survive,” he said.

Help raise money for a Cuddle Cot in a B.C. hospital.

Hill said he wants to see the government do more to help grieving families who are going through the loss of a child. He had to drop out of school when Valley died and even though they received financial help from their family, he knows many other families are not awarded the same opportunity.

“Some of us males aren’t always in the best financial position and it feels like you have to suck it up, go back to work, when we’re already fragile losing a child,” he said.

“I can tell you, no parent should go through the passing away of a child, it’s one of the biggest fears of anybody I think. Even passing away yourself is not as scary as losing a child.”

A spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Health says there are care teams in hospitals throughout B.C. that are trained to support families through the loss of a child through stillbirth or infant loss.

“Health authorities provide access to social workers to provide comfort and support during this time. Families are also provided with information, including resources they can use.”

The hospitals also support the family by taking pictures and footprints so they can take home some memories of their child.

“Parents can also receive services and support through a family doctor, midwife, nurse practitioner, nurse or mental health professional,” said the ministry in a statement.

Through the Provincial Health Services Authority, parents can access services such as the Early Pregnancy Assessment Centre, the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Clinic, and the B.C. Reproductive Mental Health Program.

While nothing can ever take away the pain of losing a child, these fathers agree that no one should be afraid to ask about their children or talk about them.

“I had to be strong, I had to be the one to go to the neighbours to explain to them what was going on,” said Shannon. “In a weird way I almost looked forward to doing it because it made me feel more pain so that I could kind of get a little closer to Caitie’s level of pain.”

“It was almost like a self-infliction so that we could somewhat get a little bit closer.”

“Also in a way, because I was reaching out, to neighbours and friends and family and stuff like that, I was able to heal a little bit faster as well because I was able to start having connections with people.”

“I could talk about her.”

©2015

Kraft Heinz layoffs in Canada join long list of job casualties

The merged food giant Kraft Heinz Co. said Wednesday it plans to cut 2,500 positions from its North American workforce, or more than 10 per cent, as part of an effort to shave billions in annual expenses.

The axe will cut deep in the United States, where much of Kraft Heinz’s operations reside. But Canadian white-collar workers face layoffs, too, while remaining factory positions will be spared for now, a spokesperson said.

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    Heinz-Kraft merger by the numbers

The move mirrors recent cuts at other large food companies that have been acquired or merged together under the direction of 3G Capital, including Tim Hortons late last year.

3G, a Brazil-based investment firm, completed the merger of Kraft and Heinz last month in partnership with Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s investment company.

Operations footprint

Company filings show the newly formed packaged food behemoth operated 36 food processing plants in North America as of the end of last year. Two are located in Canada.

Kraft Heinz also owns or leases 36 distribution centres, three of which are located north of the border. Kraft Canada’s head office is located in northeast Toronto.

Of the 22,100 employees in North America, approximately 2,000 work in Canada, company documents filed with securities regulators on Aug. 10 said.

Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said affected workers in U.S. and Canada were to be notified in person. About 700 of the cuts, or 28 per cent, were coming in Northfield, Illinois, where Kraft had been headquartered.

The company would not specify where other cuts were taking place but said that all the jobs were salaried.

It said none of the job cuts involved factory workers.

Layoffs elsewhere

As it’s taken control of an increasing number of companies, 3G has become infamous for its belt-tightening tactics, such as its “zero-based” budgeting approach. The financial firm, which installs its own executives to run the companies it acquires, also hasn’t hesitated to cut costs by closing facilities outright.

In mid-2014, 3G shuttered Heinz’s iconic ketchup and food processing factory in Leamington, Ont., after acquiring the company in 2013, affecting approximately 800 jobs.

In total, Heinz’s new owners have culled 1,600 positions and closed five facilities in North America.

3G is also the majority owner of Restaurant Brands International, which merged Burger King with Tim Hortons last year. The company cut about 350 white collar jobs in January.

MORE: Tim Hortons’ new owners done cutting ‘at this time’

More to come?

Analysts have recently suggested Restaurant Brands — which won approval for the merger from federal authorities by committing to maintain minimum employment levels – is likely looking at ways to further trim costs at the Canadian coffee chain.

“[Restaurant Brands] is probably not done with cost cutting at Tim Hortons,” CIBC analysts said in July 27 research note. Tims’ distribution network, which includes five distribution centres located across the country, is a likely target, they said.

“The next big step is probably the distribution system, which we expect to see RBI make some move to re-structure either later this year or in 2016 at the latest,” the CIBC analysts said.

“That restructuring will probably take the form of a sale of all or part of the system to a third-party operator.”

WATCH: The merger of Kraft and Heinz will create a North American food giant that owns many of the brands found in Canadian kitchens today.

— With files from The Associated Press 

©2015

Notorious Cecil Hotel slated for demolition but sign to be saved

WATCH ABOVE: The sign from the Cecil Hotel is set to be removed on Friday morning. Jenna Freeman reports.

CALGARY – The historic Cecil Hotel in downtown Calgary will be demolished instead of being redeveloped.

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that while they were aware some Calgarians hoped the landmark could be saved, salvaging it just isn’t possible.

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“Following decades of neglect plus the ravages of fire and flood, rehabilitation and restoration simply aren’t feasible options,” said CMLC President & CEO Michael Brown in a news release.

“We will apply for a demolition permit this fall after an abatement program has been completed on the building and all hazardous materials have been properly removed.”

Local historian Harry Sanders said the hotel “filled a need” in the city when it first opened.

“It was a working man’s hotel, and always was,” he said. “It didn’t always have the reputation that it came to be known for in the later years.”

Situated on the corner of 4 Avenue S.E. and 3 Street S.E., the Cecil Hotel is one of only six pre-First World War hotels still standing in Calgary. It was built in 1912.

The CMLC is making efforts to keep elements from the building of historical value, such as the hotel’s large neon sign.

“The hotel is a landmark, but so too is the sign, and perhaps more so,” said Sanders. “As a drive-by landmark, the sign is the visible part.”

The Cecil Hotel sign was removed on Friday morning.

The sign atop the Cecil Hotel is removed on Friday, August 14, 2015.

Global News / Tom Reynolds

“It will be restored to its original colours and condition and then placed into storage until such time as a community use can be identified,” said Brown. A CMLC spokesperson on site said the sign would be used in the East Village redevelopment.

With files from Carlos Prieto

Sandals hopeful about reaching new contracts with teachers before school begins

WATCH ABOVE: Provincial Education Minister Liz Sandals says a lot of bargaining is underway to avert a province-wide September strike. Lama Nicolas reports.

TORONTO – Education Minister Liz Sandals issued a warning to Ontario teachers Wednesday while expressing optimism about reaching new contract agreements before the start of classes Sept. 8.

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    Meeting between premier and Ontario teachers’ unions leave parents of students with little assurances

  • Teachers’ unions agreed to resume stalled contract negotiations: Liberals

  • No contract talks scheduled to avert possible teachers’ strikes in Ontario

The four big teachers’ unions are, or soon will be, in legal strike positions, and that means any job actions they plan if there are no agreements by September would amount to a limited strike, not a work-to-rule campaign, said Sandals.

The unions, which represent 115,000 teachers, have talked about refusing to supervise extracurricular activities or to participate in parent-teachers meetings as possible protest actions if there are no agreements when classes resume.

READ MORE: Two Ontario teachers unions set to hold talks

They’ve been without contracts for a year now, and once they are in legal strike positions they can’t unilaterally decide on work-to-rule campaigns, said Sandals.

“The things that they’re proposing to do in the event that there are no agreements would be a partial withdrawal of services, so it is a form of strike,” she said. “The teachers can’t simply decide that as a work to rule they won’t do EQAO testing, as an example. That’s a strike action.”

However, the minister said all sides are ready to reach new agreements after negotiations resumed Wednesday with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers for the first time in three months. Talks with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation are scheduled to resume next week. The government is also in “informal” talks with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation about a resumption of negotiations.

“I really do get a sense that … everybody’s very focused on making sure that we do get agreements and there won’t be disruption in the fall,” said Sandals.

“I have a sense of a good feeling coming back from the table.”

There was already a lot of bargaining with the teachers’ unions, even if it was “in fits and starts,” and many issues have already been resolved, added Sandals.

“It isn’t like we only have a few days and we have to do everything,” she said on her way into a Liberal cabinet meeting.

Part of the difficulties in this year’s round of negotiations with the teachers is a new two-tiered bargaining process, with talks at both the local and provincial level, which Sandals said is like trying to negotiate a first contract.

READ MORE: Teachers’ unions agreed to resume stalled contract negotiations: Liberals

“There’s never ever been a central agreement with any of these organizations before, so it’s really like we’re negotiating a first central collective agreement with each and every one of the unions,” she said. “The first time you do a collective agreement is always the most difficult because you have to figure out absolutely everything as opposed to just modify a few things from the last time around.”

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association launched a website called teachersmatter杭州丝足 which lists workload, fair hiring as well as wages and benefits as key issues for the union in the talks. It notes teachers had their salaries frozen for two-years and the Liberals are insisting on a net zero increase in new contracts.

“We would all like to avoid a labour disruption, but not at any cost to public education,” said OECTA President Ann Hawkins.

©2015

Politics in print: Why candidates write their memoirs before an election

It’s not enough to be a politician these days – you also have to be a published author.

At least, that’s the conclusion you could draw from some of the titles released over the past year: Common Ground by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Who We Are by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and the just-released Strength of Conviction by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

QUIZ: Which politician wrote it?

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    One-on-One with Justin Trudeau

All three of these books trace the personal story of their authors, from childhood to federal politics. Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s 2013 book, A Great Game, is the exception among the political oeuvre: it covers the early history of hockey in Toronto.

But party leaders are busy people and writing a book takes time, so what are they getting out of it?

The writing process

Well to start with, they might not write everything themselves. According to Jennifer Lambert, editorial director of HarperCollins Canada, which published Trudeau’s memoir, “he had a few writers that worked with him, and his political team as well. His wife was very involved. Sophie was very involved, she read a lot of drafts and contributed.”

However, she said, Trudeau was involved in every word on the page, in both the French and English editions. “Justin was constantly revising and adding and rewriting, ensuring that it really was his voice, his choice, his words.”

And, the book went through a normal back-and-forth with the editor too, so that revisions were made.

Branding the leader

Having an autobiography on the shelf serves an important political purpose, said Alex Marland, associate professor of political science at Memorial University of Newfoundland. “It’s a way to get information out that may otherwise get missed.”

It’s all about building a leader’s brand and image control, he said. “In branding you have to have a story. You have to have a narrative. So it allows you to say well, this person is a human being, this person has an interesting story, here’s their background, here’s their values and their beliefs and where they’re coming from, but they’re ultimately a human being and a person.”

Building a brand is especially important for Mulcair, according to John Crean, national managing partner for National Public Relations. “I think for Mr. Mulcair, more than perhaps the other candidates, he’s less well-known to Canadians. And part of their broader strategy I think is going to be to introduce him and create a brand for him that will appeal to a broad swath of Canadians and perhaps be seen to be informing the policy directions and motivations that he might have for Canada.”

And so, candidates write their life stories and try to look like an ordinary, relatable person. “Ordinary is exactly what they’re trying to communicate in some ways. You’re trying to suggest you’re not an elitist,” said Marland.

Harper had different goals for his book, he said. “It still fit the brand narrative about him, in that even though it wasn’t his story, it was about hockey, which connects very much into his image. It’s kind of policy wonkish and intellectual in that respect, which kind of goes along with his image. And then there’s the conservative, traditional aspect and the potential connection to Toronto, which is all things that they want to communicate.”

Harper wanted to expand his brand, said Crean, and did it in the most Canadian way possible: by writing about hockey. “So Mr. Harper, who’s well-known to Canadians, well-established, I think they’re probably trying to broaden his brand a little bit, to demonstrate that he has interests and knowledge and abilities that transcend the political sphere.”

It’s no accident that Mulcair’s book was coming out during the early days of the campaign either, said Marland. “It’s a long campaign, they’ve got to come up with, what do we talk about today? This is a good way to show him sitting there, signing books. It’s going to take a few days of news coverage where they don’t have to make spending promises, they don’t have to make policy commitments. It can be light, it keeps the story out there. It’s kind of smart.”

Who’s reading?

HarperCollins, which published both Trudeau’s and Olivia Chow’s autobiographies, doesn’t release sales figures, said Lambert. “I can say that they’re both Globe and Mail bestsellers,” she said. “I’m very, very pleased with both of their performances.”

“I think there’s a strong market of people who are curious to know what the people are really like behind the very public face,” she said, people like diehard party supporters, people who might be on the fence, and people who buy the books as gifts for friends and family.

Marland disagrees. “The ultimate audience in many ways is journalists. Even though the publisher won’t say that, the end game, the real goal, is to try to influence how the media may report on them.”

Crean also thinks that the audience is the media, as a conduit toward reaching the broader public. “Their hope is that journalists will go through the book as part of their research to try to find snippets into his personality and his life history that in a sense informs why he’s saying the things he’s saying today.”

Maybe not a page-turner

The big question though is, are the books any good?

“I flipped through a few of the books and I find many of them, I have a hard time keeping my attention on the entire book,” said Crean. “I don’t really have a strong opinion on the quality of the books per se other than I’m not one of the many thousands who are buying these books.”

Marland was more definitive: “Usually in my experience, the better books are the ones that come out when they’re done. They write reflections once they’ve left office.”

Although you can never fully trust an autobiography, he said, those written by retired politicians are more revealing and more willing to tackle controversial topics. On Mulcair, he said, “Really what adventures does he have that are so interesting? But if Mulcair was prime minister for ten years, and produced a book after that reflecting on ten years, that would be pretty interesting.”

At least 50 dead after massive explosion rocks Chinese city of Tianjin

Please note: This story is developing and details could change as more information emerges.

Officials and state media outlets say at least 50 people have been killed and over 700 more injured after two blasts, one of which was reported to be the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT, shook the Chinese port city of Tianjin late Wednesday night.

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The explosions, which lit up the sky with a fireball and sent a shockwave across the area, happened just after 11:30 p.m. According to the BBC, the Chinese Seismological Network registered magnitude 2.3 and 2.9 tremors.

Police in Tianjin said an initial blast took place in shipping containers at a warehouse for hazardous materials owned by Rui Hai International Logistics Limited, a “large transit distribution centre” that handles the transport of hazardous and dangerous goods.

Twelve of the dead were from among the more than 1,000 firefighters sent to fight the blaze set, the official Xinhua News agency said. It said over 520 people were being treated in hospitals, 66 of them with serious injuries.

The shockwaves were felt kilometres away, according to local media, knocking out windows in several buildings.

“I thought it was an earthquake, so I rushed downstairs without my shoes on,” Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu, told the Associated Press. “Only once I was outside did I realize it was an explosion. There was the huge fireball in the sky with thick clouds. Everybody could see it.”

Reports on social media sites such as Weibo indicate the doors and windows on homes and buildings kilometres away from the blast site were blown or shaken off, while power to many high-rise buildings in the area was knocked out. Meanwhile, Tianjin Public Security reported the East China Sea Road light rail station was damaged in the explosion.

“At the time of the explosion the ground was shaking fiercely, nearby cars and buildings were shaking, a few buildings’ glass all broke and everyone started to run,” BBC reported an eyewitness identified as Ms. Yang saying. “Now all the residents are gathered in the street.”

“Lu Yun, head of the nearby Taida Hospital, said they have received more than 50 wounded people, and more are coming. The injuries were mainly from broken glass or stones. Some of the injuries are serious,” Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

Videos and still images circulating on social media show a massive fireball filling the night’s sky followed by a shockwave seconds after the initial explosion.

A plume of flames and smoke rose several dozen metres into the air and was reportedly caught on a Japanese weather satellite.

Ruihai Logistics said on its website – before it was shut down – that it was established in 2011 and is an approved company for handling hazardous materials. It said it handles 1 million tons of cargo annually.

Tianjin, with a population of about 15 million, is about 120 kilometres east of Beijing on the Bohai Sea and is one of the country’s major ports. It is one of China’s more modern cities and is connected to the capital by a high speed rail line.

-With files from The Associated Press.

©2015

57 animals seized by BC SPCA in Surrey

WATCH: Nealy 60 animals have been seized by the BC SPCA from a farm in Surrey. All of the animals were found in poor health and in terrible living conditions. Catherine Urquhart reports

The BC SPCA has seized 57 animals following an investigation into animal neglect complaints in Surrey.

In total, 35 dogs of medium and small breeds, 16 horses and six cats were taken from a property. The animals were kept in substandard living conditions without proper access to water, food or shelter, and were found suffering from severe malnutrition. The horses found on the property also had chipped, cracked and overgrown hooves.

WATCH: Meet Leonard and Nicholas, two of the dogs now up for adoption

An animal cruelty investigation is also underway by the SPCA.

Among the 57 animals removed from the property were 16 horses with chipped, cracked and overgrown hooves

BC SPCA

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According to BC SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty, the dogs had been transferred to the Vancouver SPCA shelter and hospital for initial care Tuesday, but will be distributed to SPCA shelters across the Lower Mainland this week for further care and adoption.

The cost for rehabilitating the animals is estimated at $20,000.

“Whenever we have a large seizure of animals it puts added strain on our financial and staff resources,” said Moriarty.

The SPCA will be relying on donations and possible adoptions for the rehabilitation of the animals.

“The BC SPCA would be grateful for any donations to help support the ongoing care and treatment for these animals and we hope that new, loving homes can be found for them as soon as possible,” said Moriarty.

She noted that it is particularly challenging to find homes for horses, given the specialized needs and costs associated with equine care.

©2015

Boil water advisory issued for North Battleford, Sask.

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. – A boil water advisory has been issued for North Battleford, Sask. A city-wide precautionary drinking water advisory (PDWA) was issued following an operations failure at the water treatment plant.

According to officials, partially treated water bypassed one of the treatment processes and flowed into the treated water reservoir of the surface water plant.

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The water quality alarm at the water surface plant sounded six minutes later and the plant was shut down. They say the incident, which happened Tuesday, occurred due to an operational error.

In a release, officials say an evaluation of the situation indicate “that in all likelihood the partially treated water remained within the water treatment plant.”

Crews are flushing the water main closest to the surface water treatment plant “as an additional precaution to reduce the risk in the event water had somehow escaped the plant before shutdown.”

Officials say water should be boiled for at least one minute at a rolling boil before consumption or for other purposes including brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables or making ice cubes.

They also say no one should drink from public fountains supplied with water from the public water supply.

Under most circumstances, water does not need to be boiled for other household purposes. Adults, teens and older children can still shower or bathe using tap water, but should avoid swallowing the water. Younger children and infants should be sponge-bathed.

The PDWA will remain in place until further notice.

READ MORE: North Battleford fined for waterworks violations

The last time there was a city-wide boil water order in North Battleford was in 2001 when Cryptosporidium parvum was detected in the system.

Between six- and seven-thousand people became ill after consuming water but no fatalities were reported.

©2015