B.C. fire crews brace for windy weekend, potentially worsening conditions


With gusty winds in the weather forecast, the weekend could be a tough one for fire crews battling the many wildfires burning across B.C.’s Interior.

Although Friday saw new evacuation alerts and a new evacuation order, officials in British Columbia’s Cariboo region savoured a relatively calm day.

“Mother Nature cooperated again and the firefighters were able to get some work done,” Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond said. “The wind is potentially a concern.”

Richmond said regional officials are dealing with a host of new issues caused by the fires, such as disrupted garbage pickup, a lack of supplies in smaller stores and disconnected power in some communities.

Ashcroft reserve wildfire B.C. 2017

The church on the Ashcroft First Nation reserve remains standing. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb — whose city of about 11,000 remains under an evacuation alert — says while the weather has been calm, the city’s emergency centre has been busy.

“We’ve been getting all the logistics tied up as far as evacuation routes and bus lineups, whatever we need in case we have to go to evacuation,” he said. “We’ve got it as much in control as we can.”

Officials have set up family reunification services in Williams Lake and a centre for stranded travellers in the Lower Mainland at the Cloverdale arena.

The province also closed four lakes needed for water bombing.

Nearly 16,000 displaced

The current spread of fires — around 167 in total — took hold last Friday after a wind and lightning system sparked a spate of new blazes across the region.

A week later, the province is still under a state of emergency, with nearly 16,000 people displaced from their homes and thousands more under evacuation alert

Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said his No. 1 priority now is Saturday afternoon, when a cold front is expected to swing across B.C. and could bring significant winds.

July 14 B.C. Wildfire Map

“We’re keeping a very close eye on this moving front,” he said. “We’re expecting [wind] right across southern B.C.”

In a special statement, Environment Canada said widespread winds of 20 to 50 kilometres per hour are expected and will push into the Kootenays by early Sunday. In some Interior valleys and canyons, winds could reach up to 70 kilometres per hour. 

Meteorologist Matt MacDonald calls the system a “dry” cold front, which could create lightning but no rain. He says rain for B.C.’s Interior isn’t expected until at least next Thursday or Friday. 

Wind can spread wildfires further by lifting sparks out of previously contained zones into new ones. It can also increase the size of already-burning wildfires by increasing the flow of oxygen.  

Preparations underway

Fire crews are working hard to prepare before the expected wind storm hits on the weekend.

Skrepnek said crews have conducted some significant controlled burning around Williams Lake and 100 Mile House to turn off any lingering fuel supply. 

Pic 3 Controlled burns

A crew conducts a controlled burn in Fort McMurray, Alberta in April 2017. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Centres across the province are also preparing for a greater influx of new evacuees.

The emergency social services centre in Kelowna is securing 500 extra beds in preparation for the weekend. Vernon is taking a look at its inventory in anticipation of the weekend.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday the creation of a new ad hoc federal cabinet committee focused on the B.C. wildfires. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, one of the committee’s members, says it will group all the relevant ministers who can provide support for the province in one convenient area.

Since April, wildfires have destroyed 111,000 hectares in B.C. and the province has spent $66.6 million on direct fire costs.

Good news

Though the relief of rain did not come during the week, crews did make breakthroughs in some areas of the province.

There have been no major new fires over the last 24 hours, according to Skrepnek, and the evacuation alert issued for properties near Naltesby Lake, an area southwest of Prince George, was rescinded yesterday. 

Amidst reports of looters and scammers, thousands across the province and country have arrived to fight fires or help with emergency efforts. 

Prince George volunteers

Keith Kerrigan was one of several hundreds lined up to volunteer to help evacuees yesterday in Prince George, B.C. (Betsy Trumpener/CBC)

Prince George, for example, has welcomed more than 6,200 evacuees since the emergency began. And more than 1,800 volunteers in the city have signed up to help at evacuation centres, with many others opening their homes and gathering donations.

“We just have to do what we can to help,” said volunteer Keith Kerrigan.

Evacuees wait anxiously

As the fires rage on, fatigue is setting in for some of the evacuees who have been out of their homes for almost a week now — especially since there is no clear end in sight.

At the Kamloops evacuation centre, some evacuees said they were worried about what the situation is like back home. But they said they trusted fire personnel to do their best to protect homes and properties.  

Percy Minnavarriet, an evacuee from Ashcroft, is meditative.

“I think there has been a lot of patience, because I think a lot of people realize the scope of the danger that is back there now.  It’s Mother Nature … what do you do.”

‘We want this bear alive’: Thousands rally to save grizzly that’s chased humans

The grizzly has charged a man pushing a baby stroller, chased hikers and wandered through a high school rugby practice, but thousands of people in Banff and Canmore have petitioned the Alberta government not to consider killing the animal tagged as Bear 148.

Earlier this week, provincial officials said they might have to put down the female grizzly if it displays any further aggressive behaviour while in Alberta parkland — a comment that prompted Banff residents Bree Todd and Stacey Sartoretto to start a petition against killing the animal. It has already garnered about 4,000 signatures.

Todd and Sartoretto defend the bear’s recent aggressive behaviour.

“If she wanted to kill people and dogs, she could have killed people and dogs already,” said Todd.

“We want this bear alive, we want this bear protected.

“She is just as much of a local as I am, or Stacey is, or anybody else in this town,” said Todd, who has lived in the area for 11 years. “And she deserves the same respect as everybody else.”

Bree Stone Bear 148 petition

Bree Todd helped create a petition to protect Bear 148 from being put down. (Kate Adach/CBC)

Alberta Environment and Parks has softened its stance in recent days.

“Our intent isn’t to euthanize her,” said Brett Boukall, a senior wildlife biologist with the province.

“We share the public’s concern for maintaining bears on the landscape. At the end of the day, our No. 1 priority is public safety.”

The bear was captured earlier this month and moved to the Sunshine turnoff area in Banff National Park.

“That’s a great place for Bear 148 to be,” said Boukall, adding the animal is wearing a GPS collar that broadcasts its location every two hours.

A recent study by Parks Canada suggested the population is healthy.

Boukall said there are “roughly 100 bears or more” in the area.

Banff bears rugby

Lee Garrett, an assistant coach with the high school girls rugby team in Banff, took this photo of Bear 148 as it visited their practice in May. (Lee Garrett)

Scientists expect ‘significant’ algae bloom on Lake Erie

A “significant” harmful algae bloom is expected to form in western Lake Erie this summer, though it probably won’t be as large as some previous formations that posed health risks and hampered tourism, scientists said Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and research partners released their annual algae forecast for the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes, where massive algae formations are a recurring threat to the environment and the economy.

Toxic contamination from a 2014 bloom prompted a two-day shutdown of tap water systems for 400,000 people in Toledo, Ohio, and southeastern Michigan.

“It’ll be large, green and ugly and will cause the same kinds of issues it has in the past for charter boat captains trying to get people out to fish,” said Don Scavia, a University of Michigan scientist.

Unlikely a drinking water crisis

It’s unlikely to create another drinking water crisis like the one three years ago. It resulted from a rare combination of factors, including high levels of toxins generated by the bloom and its location near Toledo’s offshore water intake facility, NOAA oceanographer Rick Stumpf said.

Monitoring has been stepped up since then and early-detection devices installed, he added. Still, the situation underscores the need to reduce the flow of nutrients into the lake that feed algae and similar bacteria, primarily from farms but also sewage treatment plants and other sources, Stumpf said.

Researchers have developed a scale for rating the severity of a bloom based on how much algae it contains over a sustained period. They predict this year’s will register a score of 7.5, though it could range anywhere from six to 9.5.

A rating above five indicates a potentially harmful level, meaning such blooms could do damage by producing toxins or sucking enough oxygen from the water to cause fish kills.

Wet weather a factor

When they developed the scale, researchers thought the maximum score would be a 10. A 2011 bloom reached that mark and a 2015 bloom exceeded it, registering a 10.5 as the biggest on record. It’s worth noting that a bloom’s size doesn’t necessarily reflect its toxicity.

satellite algae

Scientists expect a “significant” harmful algae bloom in western Lake Erie this year, scientists say. (NOAA/Associated Press)

The 2016 bloom rated a mild 3.2, which experts credited largely to dry weather. Spring and summer rainfall plays a key role in bloom formation by washing fertilizers from croplands into streams and rivers that flow into the lake. Phosphorus in chemical fertilizers and livestock manure promotes algae growth.

The weather has been significantly wetter this year, and the bloom size is expected to reflect that.

Recent algae formations in western Lake Erie have taken shape in late July and grown bigger in early August. A similar pattern is expected in coming months.

“A bloom of this size is evidence that the research and outreach efforts currently underway to reduce nutrient loading, optimize water treatment, and understand bloom dynamics need to continue,” said Christopher Winslow, Ph.D., director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

But he added that despite its anticipated size, “much of the lake will be algae-free throughout the bloom season and the lake remains a key asset.”

Michigan, Ohio and the Canadian province of Ontario have agreed to cut phosphorus going into the lake by 40 per cent over the next decade.

Andrea Giesbrecht gets 8½ years for concealing remains of 6 infants

Andrea Giesbrecht has been sentenced to 8½ years in prison for concealing the remains of six infants in a storage locker in Winnipeg.

With time already served factored in, Giesbrecht will spend another seven years and 10 months in prison.

“Giesbrecht’s moral culpability is extremely high,” Judge Murray Thompson said at Friday’s sentencing hearing.

The 43-year-old was convicted in February of hiding the bodies of six infants in a U-Haul storage locker she rented. The remains were found Oct. 20, 2014, by employees at the facility after the woman failed to pay her bill.

By concealing the bodies, Thompson said Giesbrecht thwarted the ability of police to determine whether their deaths occurred before or after birth. 

Thompson said each of the six infants represented six separate offences and Giesbrecht’s moral culpability increased after the first offence. He sentenced her to six months for the first infant, one year for the second, and two years for each of the four other infants found, for a total of 9½ years.

A sentence of that length would be “crushing” to Giesbrecht, Thompson said. He therefore reduced the sentence by one year, minus time served.

​Sentencing arguments were presented earlier this month. The Crown sought an 11-year sentence for Giesbrecht, while Brodsky requested she be spared any further jail time beyond the 168 days spent on remand between the day she was arrested and being granted bail.

Sentencing decision sends message

When delivering Giesbrecht’s sentence, Thompson said denunciation and personal deterrence took paramount importance. 

“These were newly delivered infants, our most vulnerable,” he said.

Thompson acknowledged the existence of mitigating factors, including a pre-sentence report that assessed Giesbrecht as a low risk to re-offend, a good record of employment, and her relationship with her two surviving children. These were outweighed by aggravating factors, including that these were repeated offences committed over a long period of time, and that Giesbrecht didn’t seek help at any time during or after her pregnancies.

He also said Giesbrecht has shown a lack of remorse for the offences. 

The judge also dismissed the possibility of a non-custodial sentence, noting Giesbrecht has a history of deceiving others, including convictions for fraud.

Giesbrecht’s lawyer, Greg Brodsky, said he was surprised at the severity of the sentence and said his client didn’t kill anyone. He said he would advise Giesbrecht to appeal the sentence.

Request to dismiss case

The sentencing happened after the judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case due to the length of time it took to conclude.

On Wednesday, Brodsky filed a delay motion to have the case thrown out because it has taken 33 months to work its way through the courts, beyond the 18-month time frame set out by the Supreme Court of Canada last summer.

Counsel has a responsibility to file in timely way and there are no emergent reasons why a motion was filed at the last possible moment, Thompson said.

“If this motion were of such importance to the defence, it would not have been withheld,” he said.

All of these actions speak to the lack of seriousness with which the defence has presented this motion, Thompson said.

“Raising the spectre of a motion for unreasonable delay for the first time on Friday at 3:30 p.m. when a conviction was entered months ago, a sentencing date has been set for months and distracting a judge writing an important and detailed decision is unacceptable,” he said.

Thompson asked Brodsky why he waited five months after the conviction to bring the motion. Brodsky replied by saying he didn’t know he was going to do it until the Supreme Court ruled on another case recently — one that he believes has implications for Giesbrecht.

He didn’t elaborate on the case or its relevance to Giesbrecht.

As for delays up to this point, Brodsky blamed the Crown for laying and staying several charges before the trial began, which caused setbacks for setting court dates.

Greg Brodsky - Sept. 2, 2016

Greg Brodsky, Giesbrecht’s lawyer, tried to argue his client’s case took too long to conclude and should be thrown out. The judge disagreed. (CBC)

Brodsky has previously said he also believes the courts did not set aside enough time to complete the trial.

“It was set down, then it was set down again, and it was set down again. They kept not adequately determining how much time is necessary,” he said.​

Complex evidence presented

There’s little question the case against Giesbrecht was complex, which the Crown has said contributed to the length of the case. Technical medical expert opinion evidence and DNA science featured prominently.

Giesbrecht was arrested the same month the infant remains were found. Due to the decomposition of the remains, no cause of death could be determined.

Medical experts testified the infants were Giesbrecht’s, were at or near full term and were likely to have been born alive.

Andrea Giesbrecht gets 8½ years for concealing six infant remains

Andrea Giesbrecht has been sentenced to 8½ years in prison for concealing the remains of six infants in a storage locker in Winnipeg.

With time already served factored in, Giesbrecht will spend another seven years and 10 months in prison.

“Giesbrecht’s moral culpability is extremely high,” Judge Murray Thompson said at Friday’s sentencing hearing.

The 43-year-old was convicted in February of hiding the bodies of six infants in a U-Haul storage locker she rented. The remains were found Oct. 20, 2014, by employees at the facility after the woman failed to pay her bill.

By concealing the bodies, Thompson said Giesbrecht thwarted the ability of police to determine whether their deaths occurred before or after birth. 

Thompson said each of the six bodies represented six separate offences and Giesbrecht’s moral culpability increased after the first offence. He sentenced her to six months for the first infant, one year for the second, and two years for each of the four other infants found, for a total of 9½ years.

A sentence of that length would be “crushing” to Giesbrecht, Thompson said. He therefore reduced the sentence by one year, minus time served.

The sentencing happened after the judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case due to the length of time it took to conclude.

Counsel has a responsibility to file in timely way and there are no emergent reasons why a motion was filed at the last possible moment.

“If this motion were of such importance to the defence, it would not have been withheld,” Thompson said.

All of these actions speak to the lack of seriousness with which the defence has presented this motion, Thompson said.

“Raising the spectre of a motion for unreasonable delay for the first time on Friday at 3:30 p.m. when a conviction was entered months ago, a sentencing date has been set for months and distracting a judge writing an important and detailed decision is unacceptable,” he said.

Earlier story below


A Winnipeg woman convicted of hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker has returned to provincial court to argue for her case to be thrown out, owing to the length of time it’s taken to conclude.

But a constitutional lawyer has urged the judge to reject Andrea Giesbrecht’s request, calling the lateness of the motion egregious.

Michael Bodner said the defence filed its supporting paperwork late and didn’t give the Crown any time to respond to their arguments.

“This application has been brought after the trial, after the verdict, after sentencing submissions,” he said.

Giesbrecht, 43, was convicted in February of hiding the bodies of six infants in a U-Haul storage locker. The remains were found Oct. 20, 2014, by employees at the facility after the woman failed to pay her bill.

Sentencing arguments were presented earlier this month with a decision scheduled for Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT. Whether that goes ahead now is unknown.

On Wednesday, Giesbrecht’s lawyer Greg Brodsky filed a delay motion to have the case thrown out because it has taken 33 months to work its way through the courts, beyond the 18-month time frame set out by the Supreme Court of Canada last summer.

Judge Murray Thompson asked Brodsky why he waited five months after the conviction to bring the motion. Brodsky replied by saying he didn’t know he was going to do it until the Supreme Court ruled on another case recently — one that he believes has implications for Giesbrecht.

He didn’t elaborate on the case or its relevance to Giesbrecht.

As for delays up to this point, Brodsky blamed the Crown for laying and staying several charges before the trial began, which caused setbacks for setting court dates.

Greg Brodsky - Sept. 2, 2016

Greg Brodsky, Giesbrecht’s lawyer, tried to argue his client’s case took too long to conclude and should be thrown out. The judge disagreed. (CBC)

Brodsky has previously said he also believes the courts did not set aside enough time to complete the trial.

“It was set down, then it was set down again, and it was set down again. They kept not adequately determining how much time is necessary,” he said.

Bodner said that even if the case took longer than the 18-month timeframe imposed by the Supreme Court last year, it occurred prior to that law being changed.

The case should fall under the “transitional exceptional circumstances” period before the Supreme Court ruling, he said.

Thompson has adjourned court until 1 p.m. local time for a decision on the delay motion.

If he accepts it, the case against Giesbrecht will be tossed and it will be as if she was never charged.

However, there are two other options. He could reject it and sentence Giesbrecht immediately afterward, or call for a hearing on the motion and delay sentencing.

Complex evidence presented

There’s little question the case against Giesbrecht was complex, which the Crown has said contributed to the length of the case. Technical medical expert opinion evidence and DNA science featured prominently.

Giesbrecht was arrested the same month the infant remains were found in a locker she was renting. Due to the decomposition of the remains, no cause of death could be determined.

Medical experts testified the infants were Giesbrecht’s, were at or near full term and were likely to have been born alive.

The Crown is seeking an 11-year sentence for Giesbrecht, while Brodsky has requested she be spared any further jail time beyond the 168 days spent on remand between the day she was arrested and being granted bail.

Andrea Giesbrecht sentenced to 8.5 years for concealing six infant remains

Andrea Giesbrecht has been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for concealing the remains of six infants.

With time already served factored in, Giesbrecht will remain in prison for almost seven years and 10 months.

The sentencing happened after the judge rejected a motion to dismiss the case due to the length of time it took to conclude.

More to come

Previous story below.


A Winnipeg woman convicted of hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker has returned to provincial court to argue for her case to be thrown out, owing to the length of time it’s taken to conclude.

But a constitutional lawyer has urged the judge to reject Andrea Giesbrecht’s request, calling the lateness of the motion egregious.

Michael Bodner said the defence filed its supporting paperwork late and didn’t give the Crown any time to respond to their arguments.

“This application has been brought after the trial, after the verdict, after sentencing submissions,” he said.

Giesbrecht, 43, was convicted in February of hiding the bodies of six infants in a U-Haul storage locker. The remains were found Oct. 20, 2014, by employees at the facility after the woman failed to pay her bill.

Sentencing arguments were presented earlier this month with a decision scheduled for Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT. Whether that goes ahead now is unknown.

On Wednesday, Giesbrecht’s lawyer Greg Brodsky filed a delay motion to have the case thrown out because it has taken 33 months to work its way through the courts, beyond the 18-month time frame set out by the Supreme Court of Canada last summer.

Judge Murray Thompson asked Brodsky why he waited five months after the conviction to bring the motion. Brodsky replied by saying he didn’t know he was going to do it until the Supreme Court ruled on another case recently — one that he believes has implications for Giesbrecht.

He didn’t elaborate on the case or its relevance to Giesbrecht.

As for delays up to this point, Brodsky blamed the Crown for laying and staying several charges before the trial began, which caused setbacks for setting court dates.

Greg Brodsky - Sept. 2, 2016

Greg Brodsky, Giesbrecht’s lawyer, says his client’s case has taken too long to conclude and should be thrown out. (CBC)

Brodsky has previously said he also believes the courts did not set aside enough time to complete the trial.

“It was set down, then it was set down again, and it was set down again. They kept not adequately determining how much time is necessary,” he said.

Bodner said that even if the case took longer than the 18-month timeframe imposed by the Supreme Court last year, it occurred prior to that law being changed.

The case should fall under the “transitional exceptional circumstances” period before the Supreme Court ruling, he said.

Thompson has adjourned court until 1 p.m. local time for a decision on the delay motion.

If he accepts it, the case against Giesbrecht will be tossed and it will be as if she was never charged.

However, there are two other options. He could reject it and sentence Giesbrecht immediately afterward, or call for a hearing on the motion and delay sentencing.

Complex evidence presented

There’s little question the case against Giesbrecht was complex, which the Crown has said contributed to the length of the case. Technical medical expert opinion evidence and DNA science featured prominently.

Giesbrecht was arrested the same month the infant remains were found in a locker she was renting. Due to the decomposition of the remains, no cause of death could be determined.

Medical experts testified the infants were Giesbrecht’s, were at or near full term and were likely to have been born alive.

The Crown is seeking an 11-year sentence for Giesbrecht, while Brodsky has requested she be spared any further jail time beyond the 168 days spent on remand between the day she was arrested and being granted bail.

Judge rejects motion to dismiss Andrea Giesbrecht case, sentencing underway

The judge in the trial of Andrea Giesbrecht has rejected a motion to dismiss the case of the woman convicted of hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker. Sentencing will now continue.

More to come.

Previous story below.


A Winnipeg woman convicted of hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker has returned to provincial court to argue for her case to be thrown out, owing to the length of time it’s taken to conclude.

But a constitutional lawyer has urged the judge to reject Andrea Giesbrecht’s request, calling the lateness of the motion egregious.

Michael Bodner said the defence filed its supporting paperwork late and didn’t give the Crown any time to respond to their arguments.

“This application has been brought after the trial, after the verdict, after sentencing submissions,” he said.

Giesbrecht, 43, was convicted in February of hiding the bodies of six infants in a U-Haul storage locker. The remains were found Oct. 20, 2014, by employees at the facility after the woman failed to pay her bill.

Sentencing arguments were presented earlier this month with a decision scheduled for Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT. Whether that goes ahead now is unknown.

On Wednesday, Giesbrecht’s lawyer Greg Brodsky filed a delay motion to have the case thrown out because it has taken 33 months to work its way through the courts, beyond the 18-month time frame set out by the Supreme Court of Canada last summer.

Judge Murray Thompson asked Brodsky why he waited five months after the conviction to bring the motion. Brodsky replied by saying he didn’t know he was going to do it until the Supreme Court ruled on another case recently — one that he believes has implications for Giesbrecht.

He didn’t elaborate on the case or its relevance to Giesbrecht.

As for delays up to this point, Brodsky blamed the Crown for laying and staying several charges before the trial began, which caused setbacks for setting court dates.

Greg Brodsky - Sept. 2, 2016

Greg Brodsky, Giesbrecht’s lawyer, says his client’s case has taken too long to conclude and should be thrown out. (CBC)

Brodsky has previously said he also believes the courts did not set aside enough time to complete the trial.

“It was set down, then it was set down again, and it was set down again. They kept not adequately determining how much time is necessary,” he said.

Bodner said that even if the case took longer than the 18-month timeframe imposed by the Supreme Court last year, it occurred prior to that law being changed.

The case should fall under the “transitional exceptional circumstances” period before the Supreme Court ruling, he said.

Thompson has adjourned court until 1 p.m. local time for a decision on the delay motion.

If he accepts it, the case against Giesbrecht will be tossed and it will be as if she was never charged.

However, there are two other options. He could reject it and sentence Giesbrecht immediately afterward, or call for a hearing on the motion and delay sentencing.

Complex evidence presented

There’s little question the case against Giesbrecht was complex, which the Crown has said contributed to the length of the case. Technical medical expert opinion evidence and DNA science featured prominently.

Giesbrecht was arrested the same month the infant remains were found in a locker she was renting. Due to the decomposition of the remains, no cause of death could be determined.

Medical experts testified the infants were Giesbrecht’s, were at or near full term and were likely to have been born alive.

The Crown is seeking an 11-year sentence for Giesbrecht, while Brodsky has requested she be spared any further jail time beyond the 168 days spent on remand between the day she was arrested and being granted bail.

Andrea Giesbrecht fights to get concealed infant remains case tossed

Andrea Giesbrecht

Andrea Giesbrecht was convicted of six counts of concealing remains. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of two years. The Crown is seeking an 11-year jail sentence in her case. (CBC)

A Winnipeg woman convicted of hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker has returned to provincial court to argue for her case to be thrown out, owing to the length of time it’s taken to conclude.

But a constitutional lawyer has urged the judge to reject Andrea Giesbrecht’s request, calling the lateness of the motion egregious.

Michael Bodner said the defence filed its supporting paperwork late and didn’t give the Crown any time to respond to their arguments.

“This application has been brought after the trial, after the verdict, after sentencing submissions,” he said.

Giesbrecht, 43, was convicted in February of hiding the bodies of six infants in a U-Haul storage locker. The remains were found Oct. 20, 2014, by employees at the facility after the woman failed to pay her bill.

Sentencing arguments were presented earlier this month with a decision scheduled for Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. CT. Whether that goes ahead now is unknown.

On Wednesday, Giesbrecht’s lawyer Greg Brodsky filed a delay motion to have the case thrown out because it has taken 33 months to work its way through the courts, beyond the 18-month time frame set out by the Supreme Court of Canada last summer.

The court must determine what length of delay, if any, is attributable to the defence and subtract that from the total time.

From there, it’s up to the Crown to prove any delay beyond the timeline set by the Supreme Court is justified due to it being either unavoidable or due to the complexities of the case.

Brodsky previously said he believes the courts did not set aside enough time to complete the trial.

“It was set down, then it was set down again, and it was set down again. They kept not adequately determining how much time is necessary,” he said.

Bodner said that even if the case took longer than the 18-month timeframe imposed by the Supreme Court last year, it occurred prior to that law being changed.

The case should fall under the “transitional exceptional circumstances” period before the Supreme Court ruling, he said.

Complex evidence presented

There’s little question the case against Giesbrecht was complex. Technical medical expert opinion evidence and DNA science featured prominently.

Giesbrecht was arrested the same month the infant remains were found in a locker she was renting. Due to the decomposition of the remains, no cause of death could be determined.

Medical experts testified the infants were Giesbrecht’s, were at or near full term and were likely to have been born alive.

Greg Brodsky - Sept. 2, 2016

Greg Brodsky, Giesbrecht’s lawyer, says his client’s case has taken too long to conclude and should be thrown out. (CBC)

The Crown is seeking an 11-year sentence for Giesbrecht, while Brodsky has requested she be spared any further jail time beyond the 168 days spent on remand between the day she was arrested and being granted bail.

If Judge Murray Thompson accepts the defence’s delay motion, the case against Giesbrecht will be tossed and it will be as if she was never charged.

If he rejects it, Giesbrecht will be sentenced at 1 p.m. The third possibility is he could call a hearing on the motion and delay sentencing.

Lawyer for Andrea Giesbrecht fights to see concealed infant remains case tossed

Andrea Giesbrecht

Andrea Giesbrecht was convicted of six counts of concealing remains. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of two years. The Crown is seeking an 11-year sentence in her case. (CBC)

A Winnipeg woman convicted of hiding the remains of six infants in a storage locker returns to provincial court this morning, where her lawyer will argue her case should be thrown out owing to the length of time it’s taken to conclude.

Andrea Giesbrecht’s defence lawyer, Greg Brodsky, is expected to argue the 33 months it has taken so far to hear the case is too long and her convictions and charges should be set aside.

Canada’s Supreme Court ruled last summer a provincial court trial taking longer than 18 months to conclude is presumptively unreasonable and may trigger a stay of proceedings.

The court must determine what length of delay, if any, is attributable to the defence and subtract that from the total time.

From there, it’s up to the Crown to prove any delay beyond the timeline set by the Supreme Court is justified due to it being either unavoidable or due to the complexities of the case.

Complex evidence presented

There’s little question the case against Giesbrecht was complex. Technical medical expert opinion evidence and DNA science featured prominently.

Giesbrecht, 43, was arrested in October 2014 after the infant remains were found in a U-Haul storage locker she was renting. Due to their decomposition, no cause of death could be determined.

Medical experts testified the infants were Giesbrecht’s, were at or near full term and were likely to have been born alive.

Greg Brodsky - Sept. 2, 2016

Greg Brodsky, Giesbrecht’s defence lawyer, will argue the case has taken too long to conclude and should be thrown out. (CBC)

She was convicted in February of six counts of concealing newborn remains. Judge Murray Thompson was to decide her sentence today, but Brodsky told CBC News this week he will argue to have the case thrown out.

Brodsky previously said he believes the courts did not set aside enough time to complete the trial.

“It was set down, then it was set down again, and it was set down again. They kept not adequately determining how much time is necessary,” Brodsky said.

The Crown is seeking an 11-year sentence for Giesbrecht, while Brodsky asked Thompson to spare her any further jail time beyond the 168 days spent on remand between the day she was arrested and being granted bail.

Thompson could elect to rule on Brodsky’s delay motion and proceed directly to sentencing. If the sentencing goes ahead, Thompson’s decision will be live streamed by CBC News and other media.

Republican governor says NAFTA brings benefits on ‘both sides of the border’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make his NAFTA pitch to U.S. governors today — but several state leaders, including some Republicans, are already signalling that they see significant value in ensuring trade ties stay strong.

The early stages of renegotiating the decades-old trade deal could start as early as next week.

U.S. President Donald Trump has routinely said NAFTA is a “disaster” for American workers, promising to rip up the deal if he can’t squeeze concessions out of Canada and Mexico. Trudeau, meanwhile, has indicated a willingness to renegotiate some parts of the deal, while insisting it works, on the whole, for both sides.

The governors are in Rhode Island for their annual summer conference, and Trudeau’s appearance will mark the first time a Canadian prime minister has spoken to the group.

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New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, left, said in an interview with CBC News he will be an ally of Canada if impending NAFTA talks go sideways. (Canadian Press)

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said in an interview with CBC News that he will be an ally for Canada if impending NAFTA talks go sideways, vowing to stand up “100 per cent” for the trade relationship in the face of protectionist sentiments from some elements in the U.S.

“We’re going to keep pushing this administration so it knows the benefits for countries on both sides of the border,” Sununu said.

“Canada remains one of America’s strongest partners both economically and strategically, whatever the Trump administration does moving forward,” he said ahead of the National Governors’ Association conference. “We’re not just going to throw [NAFTA] out.”

His openness to Canada is not simply to maintain good relations with a neighbour. Last year, New Hampshire sold nearly $650 million worth of goods to Canada. Some 40,000 New Hampshire jobs depend directly on U.S.-Canada trade, including around 4,600 employees hired by 48 Canadian-owned companies in the state.

“This is critical for the state,” he said.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, also said she’s willing to go to bat for trade with Canada, a key source of wealth for her small coastal state.

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Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said Trudeau is smart to make his trade pitch at the National Governors’ Association conference because Washington policymakers are “deadlocked.” (CBC News)

“I would hope the Trump administration doesn’t do anything to harm the longstanding relationship,” she said in an interview with CBC News.

“It’s very smart of the prime minister to want to be here [at the governors’ conference] … because it’s no secret that there’s a great deal of gridlock in Washington. We, the governors, are actually making things happen.”

Tough talk has ‘forced people to the table’

The stakes couldn’t be higher for Trudeau, as annual trade between the two countries is worth nearly $600 billion, or $1 million a minute, according to the Canadian government. In Ontario alone, 70 per cent of the province’s global trade is with the U.S. 

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a strong Trump supporter, said the president’s tough talk is part of the negotiation.

“That’s how businesspeople do business, and he’s not kidding. Canada should not expect a better deal than America,” Bevin said. “But what he’s really saying is that it needs to be updated, and it does. He’s not saying we’re going to get rid of it in its entirety, he’s created, however, a dialogue that has forced people to the table and that’s healthy.”

Bevin, a Tea Party Republican who grew up not far from the Canadian border before becoming a multimillionaire investment banker, said officials in Ottawa shouldn’t be too fearful. “You’re a huge partner, our best ally,” he said. “Nobody is looking to get a leg up.”

Matt Bevin

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said Trump’s tough talk is “just negotiating.” (CBC News)

Sununu, too, said while his support for NAFTA runs deep, he sees no reason why these renegotiations can’t be an opportunity for the countries to “update and refine” some aspects of a deal that was penned some 20 years ago. “It’s a very friendly partnership but that doesn’t mean we can’t boost it,” he said.

The Republican governor said he’d like to see reciprocal work visas for Canadian and U.S. citizens be simplified, for example. Under the terms of the current deal, nationals from either country can apply for NAFTA immigration status if they work in a number of highly skilled fields. He said there is simply too much paperwork, and too few people can actually qualify.

“All the rules and regulations, and the bureaucracy, really bogs these things down,” he said, adding he’d like to see a greater flow of people over the northern border, in both directions, for employment purposes.

States are where ‘the rubber hits the road’

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is also in New England to make her own pitch to her state-level counterparts in an effort to stave off major economic disruptions. 

Despite some obvious political differences — many governors are conservative Republicans — Wynne said respect for Canada “actually crosses those partisan boundaries. We all agree that the interconnected economies are benefiting both of us.”

Kathleen Wynne

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said U.S. governors have been very receptive to Canadian policymakers and their message on NAFTA. (CBC News)

Gitane Da Silva, Alberta’s trade representative in Washington, said outreach to state leaders is at the heart of Canada’s approach to securing a good deal despite threats from Trump.

“The state level is where the rubber hits the road, governors really understand the implications to jobs if we are to have challenges at the border,” she said in an interview.

Governors are the perfect interlopers because they typically have positive relations with their state’s Congressional delegation, the people who will eventually authorize changes to a trade deal, she said. “They can really carry our message back. We have to speak to them, and get them to speak up in favour of Canada.”

Canada will get a better sense of how well its lobbying efforts have worked next week when the U.S. will reveal its position on NAFTA, and which aspects of the deal it hopes to renegotiate. Its self-imposed 90-day deadline to hold consultations, before beginning talks with Canada and Mexico, will come to an end next week.