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Next Man Up: With playoff berth secure, short-handed Whitecaps visit FC Dallas

With a playoff spot already secure, the Vancouver Whitecaps want to create some positive energy over the final two games of the regular season.

That could be difficult when head coach Carl Robinson can barely fill out a team sheet.

The Whitecaps (15-12-5) visit FC Dallas (15-10-6) on Wednesday night in the back end of a home-and-home series that saw the clubs play to a scoreless tie at B.C. Place Stadium on Oct. 6.

The result was enough to clinch Vancouver’s second straight playoff berth, but a rash of injuries coupled with international call ups means that the Whitecaps travelled to Frisco, Texas, without a full compliment of players.

“Sometimes things are taken out of your hands. There’s only one thing you can do — role your sleeves up and work,” said Robinson. “We’re like that as a group, as a club. We don’t make excuses. We’ve got other players coming in. We’ve got a strong squad, I’ve said that from Day 1. The squad’s really being tested at the moment.”

Among the walking wounded for Vancouver is captain Pedro Morales and fellow midfielders Nicolas Mezquida, Mauro Rosales and Cristian Techera, while a host of others are also nursing various bumps and bruises.

“We’ve got guys hurting, but it’s no excuse at this point in the season,” said Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted. “The guys coming in for the injured players need to step up and show why they’re here.”

To make matters worse, Kendall Waston was away with Costa Rica for a friendly against the United States on Tuesday, while fellow defender Sam Adekugbe and midfielders Kianz Froese and Marco Bustos were with Canada for a game against Ghana. 

Robinson said he didn’t know if any of those four will be available to play for him on Wednesday, while striker Darren Mattocks was with Jamaica for that country’s friendly in South Korea.

“Without giving too much away, we’ve probably got 16, 17 healthy bodies,” said Robinson.

The Whitecaps are a pedestrian 2-4-2 in Major League Soccer since the middle of August, but still managed to get into the post-season with two games to spare thanks to some stumbles from the teams around them.

“I don’t think we want to coast into the playoffs,” said Vancouver defender Jordan Harvey. “We want to build some momentum. We’re without a doubt going for three points (on Wednesday). Are we disappointed if we get a draw? Probably not, but the goal is to get three points and build momentum.”

The Whitecaps have lost all five visits to Dallas in franchise history, including last season’s playoff defeat at Toyota Stadium.

“We’ve had some trouble there. My history there with other teams is we’ve won,” added Harvey. “With this team and the talent we have, it’s definitely possible.”

The Whitecaps currently sit third in the Western Conference, a point back of first-place Dallas, which has a game in hand, and the Los Angeles Galaxy, who also have two games remaining. Sporting Kansas City is two points back of Vancouver with a game in hand, while the Seattle Sounders are three points back with two matches to go.

The top two teams in each conference get byes in the first round, while No. 3 hosts No. 6 and No. 4 hosts No. 5 in one-game playoffs, meaning that Vancouver’s main focus is getting into at least one of the first four spots.

“Games at this stage of the season are very tight no matter who they’re between,” said Robinson. “With two games to go we’re in. Now we’ve just got to regroup, refocus, get our minds right and see where we go from here.”

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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Alberta climate panel has some reading to do with hundreds of policy submissions

CALGARY — Alberta’s climate change advisory panel asked — and energy companies, trade associations, unions, think tanks and every-day Albertans answered.

The panel received close to 500 submissions following their request for public comment on what the government should consider when drafting its climate change policy. Everyone from climate-change skeptics to diehard greens represented.

Suggestions from those in favour of stronger action on climate change included switching all traffic lights to roundabouts to reduce idling, banning motorized lawn mowers and leaf blowers and giving nuclear power a chance. 

The most common requests, however, centred around more government funding for research, a faster phaseout of coal-fired power plants, more renewables and a price on carbon emissions.

“Please, Please, Please find a way to establish a ‘SIGNIFICANT’ price on fossil carbon emissions in Alberta!,” suggested someone named Robert, whose full name was blocked out, as they were on many of the submissions.

Environmental groups made a variety of suggestions on what that carbon price should be, with the Pembina Institute recommending a $40 per tonne price next year, rising $10 a tonne every year for the first 10 years, while the Suzuki Foundation suggested a more modest $30 price, increasing by $10 a year for five years before a review.

Those advocating for a carbon price have allies in some oilsands companies, with Cenovus Energy, Shell, and Suncor among those supporting a widespread tax on carbon.

“A carbon price is the single most effective way to change the investment and operating decisions that drive real emissions reductions,” Suncor said in its submission. 

Other oilsands players like Nexen and Husky Energy instead expressed support for a continuation of the current specified gas emitter regulations, with Husky saying Alberta shouldn’t impose any more penalties until its competitors adopt an equivalent price on carbon.

As to phasing out coal-fired power plants, many environmental groups have called for their total elimination by 2025 or 2030, but power producers have put forth their own, more long-term solutions.

Power generators TransAlta, Atco Ltd., and Maxim Power Corp. have recommend that coal emissions be cut by 20 per cent immediately and then their reduction obligations should be considered met. The gap in energy generation would be filled by natural gas, and eventually replaced with renewables with a goal of 15 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2020 and rising from there.

Power-distributor Enmax recommends restricting coal power plant production to 25 per cent below capacity starting next year, and then allowing the full phaseout to run its current course of a complete elimination by 2066. Capital Power is calling for a 50 per cent emissions reduction from coal plants by 2030.

And while energy companies didn’t go so far as to question the premise of the need to reduce emissions, many members of the public did.

“Time will come you and your panel of shills shall be exposed. Treachery as this carries massive consequences,” wrote Ian.  

“There is nothing wrong with a wait-and-see approach to climate change,” wrote Pieter. 

Chuck said human-caused climate change is a theory with little hard evidence, and the government shouldn’t threaten investment because of it.

“Stable policy is essential for sustained capital investment. Don’t screw it up,” said Chuck.

Possibly the most common comment, however, amounted to expressions of gratitude for being invited to give input by the province’s first NDP government.

John, who wrote in to suggest that people should be able to sell energy from their personal solar panels back to the grid, said he had never given feedback to the government before.

“Thank you for the opportunity to provide input. I am 62 and this is the first time I have ever done so.”

___

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Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press

Neighbour testifies about Turcotte’s change in demeanour prior to slayings

SAINT-JEROME, Que. — A former neighbour of a Quebec man charged with killing his young children has testified that he showed a flash of anger in him as he discussed the breakup of his marriage.

“You don’t know me,” Johanne Leclair quoted Guy Turcotte as saying as they chatted in 2009, not long before the slayings.

Turcotte, 43, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of his son Olivier, 5, and daughter Anne-Sophie, 3, but has admitted to causing the deaths on Feb. 20, 2009.

She told jurors Tuesday the flash was a sudden change in his demeanour — one she’d never witnessed while living next door to him and his ex-wife since 2003 as well as often babysitting the two youngsters.

Turcotte had come to see her to ask if she could watch the kids on Feb. 21, 2009 — the day after they’d eventually be killed.

Leclair testified that Turcotte confided in her that his separation from Isabelle Gaston, the children’s mother, was difficult.

She said he described a run-in with Gaston’s new boyfriend, Martin Huot, at the couple’s former home, in which the latter was punched in the face.

Leclair said she tried to reason with Turcotte, reminding him he was a public figure with a career as a cardiologist at the Saint-Jerome hospital.

“I told him: ‘this isn’t possible, Guy, you are so nice,” she testified.

“He said, ‘You do not know me’ with a look I had never seen,” she said, describing an anger in him. “I didn’t know this look.”

She testified that Turcotte emphasized the words by pointing his finger at her, a gesture Leclair said frightened her and led her to back off.

Earlier on Tuesday, a police investigator who searched Turcotte’s laptop said the accused looked on the Internet for material related to suicide and methanol in the days leading up to the slayings.

Provincial police investigator Michel Dufour conducted the search, testifying the word ‘suicide’ did not come up prior to Feb. 15, 2009 — the same date Turcotte’s laptop was used to gain access to what was described as a discussion forum on suicide.

Dufour’s examination also turned up searches on methanol — a toxic alcohol — and thylene glycol.

The jury has heard Turcotte arrived at the hospital the morning after the slayings with an unknown level of toxic alcohol in his bloodstream.

A container of windshield washer fluid — which contains methanol — was seized by police in the bathroom of the family home.

Turcotte’s lawyer, Pierre Poupart, attempted Tuesday to discredit the information gathered as incomplete, error-laden and incomprehensible.

“Pages and pages of inexplicable scribbles,” Poupart said at one point about the computer records filed in evidence.

Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press

Wynne says Ontario may drop provincial pension if Trudeau’s Liberals win Oct. 19

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested Tuesday that her government would drop the idea of a provincial pension plan if Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau becomes the next prime minister.

Wynne couldn’t convince the Harper government to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, so her Liberal government introduced an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan that would mirror the CPP, essentially doubling deductions and benefits.

If Trudeau wins the Oct. 19 election and is willing to improve the CPP, that would address her concerns about people without a workplace pension plan not having enough money to live on when they retire, said Wynne.

“If we have a partner in Justin Trudeau to sit down and work out what they’re looking at as an enhancement to CPP, that was always my starting point, that was the solution,” she said.

Trudeau is campaigning on a promise to expand the CPP and to return the age of eligibility for old age security to 65 from 67, and said he’d begin talks with the provinces on improving the CPP within three months of taking office.

New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair also promises to enhance the CPP, and says he’d convene a First Ministers’ meeting on improving the pension plan within six months of forming government. Like the Liberals, the NDP would also return the age for OAS eligibility to 65.

Ontario’s pension plan, scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2017, will require mandatory contributions of 1.9 per cent of pay from employers and a matching amount from workers — up to $1,643 a year — at any company that does not offer a pension.

As Wynne campaigned with federal Liberal candidates in the Toronto area Tuesday, she insisted she was not worried her attacks on Stephen Harper’s Conservatives will make it hard to work with them if they’re re-elected.

“Well, you know, it seems to me that before the federal election campaign started there was a little bit of a challenge working with Stephen Harper, but obviously I will continue to try to do that if Stephen Harper is the prime minister,” she said to cheers and laughter from Liberal supporters.

Wynne, who has been the most vocal premier in the federal campaign and has clashed repeatedly with Harper over the Ontario pension plan, said the provinces need a government in Ottawa that will work with them on retirement security, climate change, infrastructure and the Syrian refugee crisis.

“I will work with whomever is the prime minister, but I really believe that in this country, at this moment, we have an opportunity to elect a prime minister who understands that working with the provinces and territories is in the best interests of the country,” she said.

Ontario voters historically have supported different parties in government at the federal and provincial levels, but Wynne isn’t worried about campaigning herself out of a job in the next provincial election.

“I think the opportunity we have right now is to have a federal government and a provincial government that are on the same page, that are actually pulling in the same direction, and that’s exactly what I’m looking forward to,” she said.

Wynne also defended her decision to campaign heavily for her Liberal cousins in the federal election as “standing up for the people of Ontario,” and said she didn’t need to take a vacation day from her duties as premier to do it.

“I work seven days a week, so this is part of the work that I do.”

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Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press

After starting season with groin strain, Sens goalie Hammond cleared for duty

OTTAWA — Finally cleared for action, Andrew Hammond is looking forward to proving he’s still the goaltender that backstopped the Ottawa Senators during last season’s improbable run to the playoffs.

The 27-year-old missed the first two weeks of the season with a groin strain, but he took part in practice Tuesday morning and declared he was ready to play should he be called upon on the Senators’ two-game road trip that features stops in Columbus and Pittsburgh.

“To be honest I was surprised when they told me probably two weeks, but I think we’re coming in a little shy of that,” Hammond said of his injury. “I feel like I’ve always been someone who kind of heals quickly so to have it drag on longer than I thought (was hard). In my mind I thought I was going to be ready for the opener, and obviously when it comes to be the day before and you’re really not close you kind of get a little discouraged.”

The Senators (2-1-0) know this two-game road trip will be a good challenge, as Pittsburgh and Columbus will be hungry after slow starts to the season.

The goaltender nicknamed “Hamburglar” rose to prominence last season after compiling a 20-1-2 record in relief of Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, who were both injured. He was instrumental in the Senators advancing to the playoffs and was rewarded for his performance in the off-season with a three-year contract.

Hammond suffered the injury Oct. 1 and was expected to miss at least two weeks. Having never experienced a groin injury, Hammond admits it was difficult to play the waiting game.

“That was maybe part of the reason I didn’t know really what to expect,” he said. “It really is the first time going through a groin injury and it is more common for goalies, but for me it’s something that I’ve never had to deal with.”

Hammond is confident that with the time and work done over the past two weeks he can keep from getting injured again.

“We have a regimen for me now going forward, and I’ve been sticking to that over the last two weeks,” Hammond said. “To be perfectly honest I feel a little bit better now than I did before and just putting a little bit more emphasis on those muscles in your body. Obviously I’m kind of seeing the benefits of that now.”

Senators coach Dave Cameron didn’t say exactly when he expects to give Hammond his first start, but with the Senators playing back-to-back against the Blue Jackets and Penguins he said, “he’ll probably get a game somewhere.”

With Hammond ready, the Senators reassigned rookie Matt O’Connor to Binghamton of the American Hockey League. O’Connor made his NHL debut Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Notes — Forward Curtis Lazar’s status was unclear after he was seen hobbling after blocking a shot during Sunday’s game. He missed Tuesday’s practice for a maintenance day, but is expected to travel with the team. Shane Prince would get an opportunity to play his first game of the season should Lazar be unable to play on the upcoming trip. … Cameron said he would also like to see defenceman Chris Wideman get his first game.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press

Canadian women’s hockey team young in goal for Four Nations Cup tournament

CALGARY — Canada will be green in goal at the Four Nations Cup women’s hockey tournament.

Hockey Canada has announced the country’s 22-player roster for tournament Nov. 4-8 in Sundsvall, Sweden.

Canada is the defending champion having beaten the U.S. women 3-2 in a shootout in last year’s final in Kamloops, B.C. Finland and host Sweden round out the field for the annual tournament.

Goaltenders Emerance Maschmeyer of Bruderheim, Alta., and Erica Howe of Orleans, Ont., have fewer than five career starts for the national team between them.

Canada’s roster includes seven players who won Olympic gold in 2014 in Sochi, Russia: Marie-Philip Poulin, Meghan Agosta, Natalie Spooner, Jennifer Wakefield, Rebecca Johnston, Laura Fortino, Lauriane Rougeau.

Those players minus Agosta, along with forwards Jillian Saulnier, Bailey Bram, Jessica Campbell, Emily Clark, Sarah Davis and defenders Courtney Birchard, Brigette Lacquette and Halli Krzyzaniak, won a silver medal at the women’s world championship in April.

Maschmeyer, 21, dressed for two games at the world championship, but did not play in the tournament.

Defencemen Sarah Edney of Mississauga, Ont., and Renata Fast of Burlington, Ont., as well as forwards Sarah Lefort of Ormstown, Que., Sarah Nurse of Hamilton and Sarah Potomak of Aldergrove, B.C., will make their national-team debuts in Sweden.

Agosta, Canada’s leading scorer and tournament MVP at the 2010 Winter Olympics, returns to the national team after taking police training in Vancouver last winter.

Left off the Four Nations roster were Sochi veterans Hayley Wickenheiser, Haley Irwin, Jocelyne Larocque, Brianne Jenner, Melodie Daoust, Tara Watchorn and goaltender Charline Labonte. Those players participated in the national team’s September camp.

Goaltender Shannon Szabados, Canada’s winning goalie in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic finals, is playing men’s pro hockey for the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Columbus Cottonmouths.

Canada will be coached by 1998 Olympian Laura Schuler of Toronto.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Baseball fan critically injured in fight outside Dodger Stadium following playoff game

LOS ANGELES — A fight outside Dodger Stadium after a playoff game left a fan critically injured and police searching for suspects in the latest round of violence at the ballpark.

The victim was hospitalized Tuesday, but few other details about the Friday night brawl were available, including the person’s age and gender, Los Angeles police Officer Ricardo Hernandez said.

The fight broke out around 10:30 p.m. in a parking lot after the Dodgers lost the opening game of the National League Division Series to the New York Mets, 3-1.

An argument between fans quickly escalated into violence, Hernandez said. It wasn’t clear whether those involved were fans of rival teams. Detectives were interviewing witnesses and reviewing stadium surveillance footage, Hernandez said.

Dodger spokesman Steve Brener said Tuesday that the team had no comment.

Security at Dodger Stadium came under national scrutiny after a 2011 attack in the parking lot on opening day left San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow with brain damage. Two men — Marvin Norwood and Louie Sanchez — pleaded guilty in the beating and went to prison.

Stow sued the Dodgers and their former owner Frank McCourt, blaming them for the attack because of insufficient security and lighting. A jury faulted the team, along with Sanchez and Norwood, and awarded Stow nearly $18 million after a six-week trial in 2014.

The Associated Press

Turcotte murder trial resumes with more Crown testimony following brief hiatus

SAINT-JEROME, Que. — A former cardiologist on trial in the stabbing deaths of his two young children searched the Internet for material related to suicide and methanol in the days leading up to the slayings.

Guy Turcotte’s jury trial is hearing today that his laptop computer was searched by provincial police investigator Michel Dufour, who noted the search terms.

Dufour says the word ‘suicide’ did not come up prior to Feb. 15, 2009 — the same date Turcotte’s laptop was used to gain access to what was described as a discussion forum on suicide.

Turcotte has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his son Olivier, 5, and daughter Anne-Sophie, 3, but has admitted to causing their deaths on Feb. 20, 2009.

The trial resumed today after sitting for just a few days last week due to jurors being unavailable.

Dufour’s examination of the computer also turned up searches on methanol — a toxic alcohol — and on ethylene glycol.

The jury has heard Turcotte arrived at the hospital the morning after the slayings with an unknown level of toxic alcohol in his bloodstream.

A container of windshield washer fluid — which contains methanol — was seized by police in the bathroom of the family home.

Turcotte’s lawyer, Pierre Poupart, attempted Tuesday to discredit the information gathered as incomplete, error-laden and incomprehensible.

“Pages and pages of inexplicable scribbles,” Poupart said at one point about the computer records filed in evidence.

The Canadian Press

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