Tag Archives: David

Canadian striker Jonathan David sidelined for several weeks with ankle injury

Canadian international striker Jonathan David will be out for several weeks after rupturing the lateral ligament in his right ankle playing for Lille.

The 21-year-old from Ottawa went off after scoring the winner Saturday in Lille’s 1-0 win over defending champion Paris Saint-Germain in a top-of-the-table Ligue 1 clash.

David scored his 10th of the season in the 20th minute with a slightly deflected strike that had PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas going the wrong way. The Canadian exited 15 minutes later after a challenge from an opponent, with Lille offering the medical update Monday.

David has 11 goals in 12 appearances for Canada, whose next matches are World Cup qualifiers June 5 and 8 against Aruba and Suriname.

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Canada’s Jonathan David scores twice as Lille reclaims top spot in French league

Canadian forward Jonathan David scored two late goals as Lille beat Marseille 2-0 to stay top of the French league on Wednesday.

David, from Ottawa, scored in the 90th minute and again two minutes into injury time. The northern side remains two points ahead of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, which won 1-0 away to Bordeaux.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda kept out shots from United States forward Timothy Weah and David in the second half to frustrate Lille.

But the veteran France No. 2 spilled an angled shot from Jonathan Ikone in the 90th and David finished from close range.

Defending champion PSG was missing Kylian Mbappe through suspension and was without the injured Neymar, while striker Moise Kean was ruled out after testing positive for the coronavirus earlier Wednesday.

Winger Pablo Sarabia filled in and scored in the 20th minute when he turned in Idrissa Gueye’s cross from the left.

Bordeaux winger Hatem Ben Arfa should have equalized against his former club when he ran through in the 70th, only to shoot just wide of the left post.

The top three sides all won 1-0, with Lyon edging out Rennes at home to stay one point behind of PSG.

Lyon is now four points clear of fourth-place Monaco after it lost 1-0 at Strasbourg for a first defeat in 13 league games.

There are 10 rounds left.

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David Braley, owner of B.C. Lions, dead at 79

David Braley, who owned three Canadian Football League franchises including the B.C Lions, has died. He was 79.

The team said in a statement that Braley died in his Burlington, Ont., home Monday morning. A cause of death was not provided for the owner and chairman of the Lions.

Braley entered the CFL in 1987 as the owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The franchise became community owned in 1990 but he wasn’t gone long, returning to football ownership in 1997 when he bought the Lions.

Braley also owned the Toronto Argonauts from 2010 to 2015 when he announced the sale of the franchise to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. Braley served as the chairman of the CFL’s board of governors and as interim commissioner (March 2002 to November 2002).

“David has been a proud and fiercely loyal owner of our team, a champion of the Canadian Football League, and a leader for whom his love of our game and our country went hand in hand and spanned decades.  We share our deepest condolences with his family, friends and admirers,” Lions president Rick LeLacheur said in a statement released by the team.

“One of his final acts of devotion to Canadian football was a clear expression of his desire that the stability of our club be maintained through a smooth transition following his passing. We will work closely with David’s estate to follow that plan.”

McMaster athletics centre bears name

Braley’s football teams have won four Grey Cups. B.C. has accounted for three of them (2000, 2006 and 2011) while Toronto captured the historic 100th Grey Cup in 2012.

Braley is doused with champagne after winning his third Grey Cup title as owner of the Lions in 2011. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press/File)

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement Braley will “forever be remembered as a CFL legend.” He added Braley was “our champion in every sense of the word.”

“He also championed the CFL itself, as a member of its board of governors, its chair and as an interim commissioner,” Ambrosie added. “Most of all, though, he championed an idea with passion and purpose: that the Grey Cup, the CFL and Canadian football play an incredibly important role in Canadian life and culture, and they deserve to be supported and cherished.”

But Braley’s involvement in sport wasn’t limited to just football.

  • Braley also owned soccer’s Vancouver 86ers and later the A-League’s Vancouver Whitecaps, until 2000.
  • He served as chairman of the 2003 world cycling championship in Hamilton and was a director of Ontario’s successful bid to host the 2015 Pan Am Games. He was a member of the board overseeing preparations for the Games but was forced to resign upon being appointed to the Senate in May 2010 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

However, Braley resigned his seat in November 2013 without publicly stating a reason.

‘We have lost our greatest champion’

He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and the athletic centre at McMaster bears his name. He received the Order of Canada in 2019 for his contributions to the CFL, and for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic leadership in his community.

Braley was also a philanthropist and contributed $ 5 million to the athletic centre at McMaster. He has also made significant donations to the Cardiac, Vascular and Stroke Research Institute at Hamilton General Hospital, which also bears his name.

“We have lost our greatest champion. All of us associated with the Lions have personally seen, time and time again, David’s selfless commitment to our club and our fans,” LeLacheur said.

“But his example and inspiration, along with the direction he provided us all as his health failed, fuels our confidence in the Lions future. The B.C.Lions will continue to work hard to honour his memory by being the best we can be on the field, in the boardroom and in the community.”

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Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David left off Canada’s provisional Olympic soccer qualifying roster

Alphonso Davies had a coming-out party Tuesday in Bayern Munich’s Champions League win over Chelsea. Jonathan David scored a hat trick for KAA Gent on the weekend and leads the Belgium League in scoring.

It’s been a good week for Canadian soccer.

But success comes at a cost with demands on top players. And so while eligible to play, Davies and David won’t be part of the Canadian men’s upcoming Olympic qualifying campaign.

Olympic men’s soccer qualifying has been an under-23 competition since 1992. Beginning in 1996, teams that qualified for the Olympics were allowed to field three players over the age limit.

Canada named its 50-man provisional roster Wednesday for the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, which runs March 20 to April 1 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Davies, 19, and David, 20, were absent from the list after making headlines this week.

Davies, who has won 17 caps for Canada in a variety of positions, including wide forward, drew rave reviews for his pacey performance in Bayern’s 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge. The young Canadian was a standout at left back, setting up Robert Lewandowski’s third goal with an electric run that left defenders in his wake.

“In all moments of the game now, he’s just starting to show mastery — at 19 years of age,” said Canada coach John Herdman. “And he’s only been in [the left back] position for a period of time.

Scoring spree

“He’s a lot more than just a guy who can run 36 kilometres per hour,” he added. “He’s starting to become the full package.”

David, who has 11 goals in 12 senior appearances for Canada, went on a scoring spree against Sint-Truidense VV to up his Belgian league season total to 18. He has been linked to several big clubs in recent days.

Herdman, however, says there’s more to David than goals.

“People will see when you start to peel beneath the layers of what Jonathan offers, there’s flexibility in how he can play in a number of positions,” he said. “I know that’s what me and Mauro [Olympic coach and senior assistant coach Mauro Biello] had seen in the first camp. Just how smooth he was, whether he was a wide forward or playing as No. 9 or a false No. 9. He just has this football IQ.

“And I think when scouts and clubs are looking, they’ll see it’s the statistics of what he can do consistently in a game at a high level that will be really be attracting them as well as the goals.”

Canada’s Olympic team camp and part of the qualifying tournament falls outside the FIFA international window (March 23-31), meaning clubs don’t have to release their players for the entire stretch.

Complicating matters is the fact that Canada’s senior side has matches scheduled March 27 and 31 against Trinidad and Tobago in Langford, B.C. While they are friendlies, they are important because Canada is chasing El Salvador in the rankings in a bid to make the Hex, the most direct route of World Cup qualifying in the region.

Davies and David will feature in those matches.

‘Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’

So would Canada Soccer have named the duo to the Olympic qualifying roster had all the obstacles been removed or have the talented youngsters moved past the under-23 level?

“There’s an element of that progress, but the Olympics are the Olympics,” said Herdman. “It’s a pinnacle event. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for players, particularly with it being U-23.

“And it’s certainly something our country rallies around. Everyone gets excited when that Olympic period’s in. So there would be nothing better than to see a men’s team at an Olympics competing for Canada.”

It’s a tough competition to make, with just 16 men’s teams in the field.

Canada has taken part in just two of the 24 Olympic men’s soccer competitions and has failed to qualify for the last eight Olympics. Its last participation came in 1984 in Los Angeles.

Of the 50 players on the provisional list, 19 have been called into camp by the senior side and 16 have won a senior cap.

Vancouver Whitecaps defender Derek Cornelius leads with 13 caps while Liverpool’s Liam Millar has eight. Marcus Godinho (FSV Zwickau, Germany) and Kamal Miller (Orlando City) have five apiece.

Canada will name its 20-man Olympic qualifying tournament roster on March 11, two days before opening camp in Mexico. Canada opens against El Salvador before facing Haiti and Honduras.

CONCACAF qualifier completes men’s field

Canada will play in Group B at the CONCACAF qualifier. Group A features Mexico, the U.S., Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

After round-robin play, the first- and second-place finishers in the two groups will advance to the crossover semifinals. The semifinal winners will book their ticket for Tokyo.

The CONCACAF qualifier will complete the men’s Olympic field.

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, France, Germany, the Ivory Coast, New Zealand, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Spain have already qualified and will join host Japan at the Games.

Should Canada qualify, Davies and David could still be part of the Olympic roster. But the July 23-Aug. 8 competition again falls outside a FIFA window. Most European teams will be in pre-season training.

Herdman recalls trying to pry players out of their clubs for the prestigious under-21 tournament in Toulon, France.

“It is very difficult. And ultimately the pro clubs will make the final decisions on player availability because it falls outside a FIFA window,” he said. “The tournament just overlaps the required window.”

“This is a challenge for every confederation, to try and fit tournaments into … a 10-day FIFA window,” he added. “You practically can’t do it to fit safely the games in.”

The Canadian women qualified for Tokyo by virtue of beating Costa Rica in the semifinal of their Olympic qualifier earlier this month in California.

Provisional Canada roster


  • Sebastian Breza, SSD Potenza Calcio (Italy)
  • Thomas Hasal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Academy
  • Matthew Nogueira, CS Maritimo (Portugal)
  • James Pantemis, Montreal Impact (MLS); Dayne St. Clair,
  • Minnesota United FC (MLS)


  • Diyaeddine Abzi, York 9 FC (CPL)
  • Zorhan Bassong, Cercle Brugge KSV (Belgium)
  • Gabriel Boakye, FC Koln II (Germany)
  • Robert Boskovic, Toronto FC II (USL)
  • Zachary Brault-Guillard​​​​​​, Montreal Impact (MLS)
  • Derek Cornelius, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS);​​​​​​
  • Kadin Chung, Pacific FC (CPL)
  • Julian Dunn, Toronto FC (MLS)
  • Marcus Godinho, FSV Zwickau (Germany)
  • Daniel Kinumbe, Halifax Wanderers FC (CPL)
  • Yohan Le Bourhis, Winnipeg Valour FC (CPL)
  • Emile Legault, unattached
  • Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Pacific FC (CPL)
  • Kamal Miller, Orlando City (MLS)
  • Terique Mohammed, Toronto FC II (USL)
  • Callum Montgomery, FC Dallas (MLS)
  • Rocco Romeo, Toronto FC (MLS)
  • Frank Sturing, NEC Nijmegen (Netherlands)
  • Karifa Yao, Montreal; Impact (MLS)


  • Clement Bayiha, Montreal Impact (MLS)
  • Tristan Borges, Oud-Heverlee Leuven (Belgium)
  • Mathieu Choiniere, Montreal Impact (MLS)
  • Aidan Daniels,  Colorado Switchbacks (USL)
  • Liam Fraser, Toronto FC (MLS)
  • Patrick Metcalfe, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS)
  • David Norman, Inter Miami CF (MLS)
  • Noble Okello, Toronto FC (MLS)
  • Harrison Paton, Ross County FC (Scotland)
  • Ryan Raposo, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS)
  • Shamit Shome, Montreal Impact (MLS)
  • Noah Vehoeven, Pacific FC (CPL)


  • Theo Bair, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS)
  • Charles-Andreas​​​​​​​ Brym, Lille OSC B (France)
  • Tajon Buchanan, New England Revolution (MLS)
  • Terran Campbell, Pacific FC (CPL)
  • Malik Johnson, Tampa Bay Rowdies (USL)
  • Aramis Kouzine, unattached
  • Liam Millar, Liverpool (England)
  • Jayden Nelson, Toronto FC (MLS)
  • Easton Ongaro, FC Edmonton (CPL)
  • Jordan Perruzza, Toronto FC II (USL)
  • Jacob​​​​​​​ Shaffelburg, Toronto FC (MLS)
  • Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla, Montreal Impact (MLS)
  • Kris Twardek, Bohemian FC (Ireland)
  • Dario Zanatta,​​​​​​​ Partick Thistle (Scotland)

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Emergency backup goalie David Ayres steals show in Canes’ win over Leafs

David Ayres was sitting by himself in the bowels of Scotiabank Arena when he got word Hurricanes goalie James Reimer had suffered an injury.

The on-call emergency netminder for Saturday’s game in Toronto, Ayers got half-dressed into his gear on the off chance something might happen to Carolina’s second option, Petr Mrazek.

Midway through the second period, Ayres noticed his phone started to blow up. What he didn’t realize was Mrazek had been hurt in a scary collision with Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford and was down on the ice.

Next thing the 42-year-old Zamboni driver by day knew, he was walking down the tunnel and into the spotlight.

And not long after, he had an improbable first NHL win.

Ayres allowed goals on the first two shots he faced before settling down and stopping the next eight directed his way in a suffocating defensive performance from his new teammates as Carolina picked up a stunning 6-3 victory over Toronto.

“I had a couple of text messages that told me to get in there,” Ayres said in front a throng of reporters. “I hadn’t seen the footage [of Mrazek’s injury]. I was in the media room by myself and a guy came in and said, ‘Get going. Get ready.’

“It was wild, it was fun.”

WATCH | Hurricanes down Leafs with help from emergency goalie David Ayres:

42-year-old emergency backup goalie David Ayres made 8 saves on 10 shots to help the Carolina Hurricanes double up the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3. 1:58

Ayres, who had a kidney transplant 15 years ago and wasn’t sure if he would ever play hockey again, has been a practice goalie with the Leafs and the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, for the last eight years.

The native of nearby Whitby, Ont., faces shots from professional players on an almost-daily basis during the season, but never thought he’d be called into service in an NHL game.

“These guys were awesome,” said Ayres, the oldest goalie in league history to win his regular-season debut. “They said to me, ‘Have fun with it, don’t worry about how many goals go in, this is your moment, have fun with it.”‘

He did more than that, and was greeted with raucous cheers from the Hurricanes in their locker room after finishing a post-game TV interview.

“I had no idea I was going to get a shower before I got in the shower,” Ayres, the game’s first star, said with a grin. “I got one.”

Not long after the final buzzer, the Hurricanes were hawking t-shirts on Twitter sporting the stand-in goalie’s No. 90.

“It’s pretty special,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I told the guys after the game, ‘Thank him because that just gave (us) an incredible memory.”‘

WATCH | Emergency goalie David Ayres reflects on NHL debut:

42-year-old Zamboni driver David Ayres stole the show after drawing into his first NHL game as an emergency backup goalie. 1:57

Warren Foegele scored twice, while Martin Necas, with a goal and an assist, Lucas Wallmark, Nino Niederreiter and Sebastian Aho provided the rest of the offence for Carolina (35-22-4).

“He probably dreams of playing in the National Hockey League,” Foegele said of Ayres. “What a moment for him. Something he’ll never forget, and something we won’t either.”

Alexander Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall and John Tavares replied for Toronto (32-23-8), which beat the Hurricanes 8-6 at home in another wild affair at Scotiabank Arena on Dec. 23. Kasperi Kapanen and Tyson Barrie picked up two assists each for the Leafs, while Frederik Andersen made 41 saves on a disastrous night for the home side.

Toronto was playing poorly before Mrazek went down with the score 3-1 for the visitors, and things didn’t get much better even though Tavares and Engvall scored on consecutive attempts to make it 4-3 through 40 minutes.

“The reality is that the game really just stayed the same,” said head coach Sheldon Keefe, whose players mustered just seven shots in the third. “When the goalie switch happened, I talked to the team and said, ‘If we don’t change how we’re playing, they don’t even need a goalie. There’re no chances, no shots, there’s nothing happening.’

“They didn’t need a goaltender the way the game was going.”

Reimer started for the Hurricanes against his former team, but left with a lower-body injury in the first after being bowled over in his crease. He was replaced by Mrazek, who made 31 saves in Friday’s 5-2 home loss to the New York Rangers. But Carolina’s second option went down after that thunderous encounter with Clifford as both players raced for the puck along the sideboards with 8:41 left in the second.

Ayres enters game

That forced Ayres, who’s been the emergency goalie in Toronto for about half the games this season and is available to either team, into action for the remainder of a matchup between two clubs battling for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

“You kind of think, ‘Oh well how’s this gonna end up?”‘ Brind’Amour said. “That’s incredible. That’s why you do this.”

After the bizarre second that saw Carolina score four times, give up two goals, lose Mrazek, and have Ayres pressed into action, the Hurricanes made it 5-3 just 53 seconds into the third after jumping on a turnover and beating Andersen in tight.

Necas then made it 6-3 at 3:44 when he picked up a loose puck to finish off a chaotic sequence as boos rained down.

Carolina Hurricanes emergency goalie David Ayres comes out of his net to play the puck during the second period. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

The jeers continued on a Leafs power play later in the period and got louder as the period wore on, with some fans chanting “Let’s Go Raptors!” as the final minutes ticked down on an embarrassing performance from the home side.

“We obviously didn’t handle the circumstances of the game very well,” Leafs captain John Tavares said. “Might have been our poorest night of execution.

“We seemed like the team that played last night and travelled.”

Carolina trailed 1-0 after the first, but tied it at 5:46 of the second when Wallmark scored off a scramble. Niederrieter then blasted a one-timer on a power play at 9:43 before Foegele made it 3-1 at 10:49.

Mrazek was out of the game 30 seconds later.

Aho made it 4-1 with Clifford in the box for charging at 13:17, but Tavares scored on the first shot against Ayres through the five-hole 19 seconds after that.

Engvall buried a loose puck on Toronto’s next shot at 15:10 to make it 4-3.

‘The crowd in Toronto was unreal’

The Leafs, who were coming of an encouraging 4-0 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, then got a power play — fans screamed “Shoot!” almost every time a Toronto player had the puck anywhere near the opposition net — but the Hurricanes didn’t allow anything through.

Ayres, who got paid US$ 500 and his gets to keep his jersey, made his first save late in the second on Auston Matthews as Carolina led 4-3 through a wild 40 minutes and shut things down in the third.

“These guys,” Ayres said of what he’ll remember most. “How great they were to me. The crowd in Toronto was unreal. Even though I was on the other team they were so receptive. Every time I made a save I could hear them cheering for me.


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Q&A | David Common answers your questions about the Australia fires

Exhausted after a nearly 16-hour flight from the opposite side of the world, Canadian wildfire specialists were cheered by Australians on arrival this week at Sydney’s airport.

They’re the latest to join the growing Canadian presence supporting the battle against Australia’s destructive wildfires, in a season of record-shattering temperatures.

“It’s something we really have to wrap our heads around,” says Alberta’s Morgan Kehr, senior representative of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. “We have seen extreme fire behaviour in Canada. But not over the geographic area we are dealing with here. Or with the frequency.” 

The added Canadians arrived as the Australian state of New South Wales recorded a stunning milestone: the amount of area burned is now 20 times larger than an average year, consuming homes, farms and neighbourhoods. 

Q&A | Ask questions about the Australia fires

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, David Common is on the ground in Cobargo, New South Wales, answering your questions about the fires. Submit your questions and join the conversation by heading to the CBC News YouTube, Facebook or Twitter

CBC’s David Common is in Australia answering your questions. 0:00

They are not front-line firefighters, but specialists in aviation, logistics and fire behaviour prediction, to understand how the fires will grow, where they’ll move and how they might be contained.

The number of Canadian wildfire specialists in Queensland and New South Wales is fluctuating, but is believed to now be at 95.

Australia can use the help.

Firefighting force nearly all volunteers

Two strike teams from the Rural Fire Service prepare to move in to tackle hotspots and flareups after a fire as the battle against the flames in Australia continues. (David Common/CBC News)

The pace of this fire season, which started weeks earlier than usual, and has been sustained by tinder-dry conditions from three years of drought and unrelenting heat waves, is testing the Rural Fire Service, an almost-entirely volunteer force.

“It’s the largest voluntary fire service in the world,” group captain Will Lee says as he dispatches firefighters to douse a scorched forest where the insides of trees are still burning, and threaten to ignite a new bushfire.

“A fire came through here the other day, fairly ferociously, and it was stopped by a ton of heroes.”

The firies, as they’re known in Australia, form the largest volunteer fire organization in the world. Some have decades of experience with the service, but not all can take time away from their regular jobs as Australia fights its worst fires in years.

WATCH: Canadian volunteers extinguish spot fires in Australia

Canadian wildfire specialists arrived in Sydney, joining the growing Canadian presence supporting the battle against Australia’s destructive wildfires, in a season of record-shattering temperatures. 0:25 

As firefighter Rosemary Seberry uncoiled a hose to provide slack to her colleagues snaking through the forest, she pointed to the others on the firefighting team: three teachers (herself included), an arborist and an Uber driver.

“Today’s job is to prevent the fire from jumping across the road,” she hurriedly told a CBC crew.

To do that, the crew, ranging in age from their teens to well into their 60s, are using water and foam to cool still-burning trees, after the main front of the fire has moved through.

Australian law allows each volunteer 10 days away from their jobs to respond to fires. But many have gone well beyond that, some stretching their service into months. 

The all-volunteer crew of this firefighting team from Austinmer, Australia, is made up of three teachers, an arborist and an Uber driver. (David Common/CBC News)

For those who can, it’s meant another set of hands to confront flames that can sometimes tower over 40 metres. Fire crews told CBC News the water held in an external tank on one of their fire trucks boiled, after the truck itself was caught inside the fire, resulting in damage to the vehicle but no injuries. 

Some of the hottest fires have melted the aluminum and magnesium used in cars, leaving rivers of molten metal running from the burned husk of a vehicle.

Conditions about to get worse

All those suffering from the smoke and flames got a small respite this week as temperatures cooled into the 20s, and small amounts of rain were recorded along the eastern and southern coasts of the country.

It was not enough to extinguish the flames but, in some cases, did put the fires advance into neutral. But the explosion is coming.

By Friday, temperatures will soar once again into the 30s and winds will pick up, enough that seemingly-dormant or slow-moving fires will once again reach monster proportions.

Extra firefighters are being called in for the weekend, as 3,000 Australian military reservists join the front lines of the battle.

Teacher Rosemary Seberry is using her summer holiday to fight bushfires. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC News)

An enormous navy ship, HMAS Adelaide, is preparing to take in those expected to flee for safety toward the water. It has set up hundreds of cots on board, and has landing craft ready to ferry evacuees from beaches to the safety of the open water.

And the new batch of Canadians will be at work, just as the worst of it resumes. 

“I have been in the rural fire service for over 20 years and have never seen it to this magnitude,” Insp. Ben Shepherd explains from the RSF’s operations centre in Sydney.

Because it is summer during Canada’s winter, the two countries have long shared resources when the other doesn’t need them. But as the fires worsen, fire seasons have lengthened.

“Where traditionally we would have seen a quiet time of the year, we don’t have that anymore,” says Shepherd.

Some of the Canadians will be leaving Australia soon, in part to prepare for Canada’s annual forest fires and the mitigation work that happens in the spring, hoping to avoid catastrophes like the kind Australia is now experiencing.

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Former NBA commissioner David Stern dies at 77

David Stern, the basketball-loving lawyer who took the NBA around the world during 30 years as its longest-serving commissioner and oversaw its growth into a global powerhouse, died Wednesday. He was 77.

Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 12 and underwent emergency surgery. The league said he died with his wife, Dianne, and their family at his bedside.

“The entire basketball community is heartbroken,” the National Basketball Players Association said. “David Stern earned and deserved inclusion in our land of giants.”

Stern had been involved with the NBA for nearly two decades before he became its fourth commissioner on Feb. 1, 1984. By the time he left his position in 2014 — he wouldn’t say or let league staffers say “retire,” because he never stopped working — a league that fought for a foothold before him had grown to a more than $ 5 billion US a year industry and made NBA basketball perhaps the world’s most popular sport after soccer.

“Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand — making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time, but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation,” said Adam Silver, who followed Stern as commissioner. “Every member of the NBA family is the beneficiary of David’s vision, generosity and inspiration.”

Thriving on good debate in the boardroom and good games in the arena, Stern would say one of his greatest achievements was guiding a league of mostly black players that was plagued by drug problems in the 1970s to popularity with mainstream America.

He had a hand in nearly every initiative to do that, from the drug testing program, to the implementation of the salary cap, to the creation of a dress code.

But for Stern, it was always about “the game,” and his morning often included reading about the previous night’s results in the newspaper — even after technological advances he embraced made reading NBA.com easier than ever.

“The game is what brought us here. It’s always about the game and everything else we do is about making the stage or the presentation of the game even stronger, and the game itself is in the best shape that it’s ever been in,” he said on the eve of the 2009-10 season, calling it “a new golden age for the NBA.”

Adam Silver, left, took over as NBA commissioner following David Stern’s retirement in 2014. (Brad Barket/Getty Images)

One that was largely created by Stern during a three-decade run that turned countless ballplayers into celebrities who were known around the globe by one name: Magic, Michael, Kobe, LeBron, just to name a few.

Stern oversaw the birth of seven new franchises and the creation of the WNBA and NBA Development League, now the G League, providing countless opportunities to pursue careers playing basketball in the United States that previously weren’t available.

Stern turned the league around

Not bad for a guy who once thought his job might be a temporary one.

He had been the league’s outside counsel from 1966 to 1978 and spent two years as the NBA’s general counsel, figuring he could always go back to his legal career if he found things weren’t working out after a couple of years.

He never did.

After serving as the NBA’s executive vice-president of business and legal affairs from 1980 to ’84, he replaced Larry O’Brien as commissioner.

Overlooked and ignored only a few years earlier, when it couldn’t even get its championship round on live network TV, the NBA’s popularity would quickly surge thanks to the rebirth of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry behind Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, followed by the entrance of Michael Jordan just a few months after Stern became commissioner.

Under Stern, the NBA would play nearly 150 international games and be televised in more than 200 countries and territories, and in more than 40 languages, and the NBA Finals and All-Star weekend would grow into international spectacles. The 2010 All-Star game drew more than 108,000 fans to Dallas Cowboys Stadium, a record to watch a basketball game.

David Stern, seen here in this file photo from 2013, helped the NBA play over 150 international games during his tenure as commissioner. (Mandy Cheng/AFP via Getty Images)

“It was David Stern being a marketing genius who turned the league around. That’s why our brand is so strong,” said Johnson, who announced he was retiring because of HIV in 1991 but returned the following year at the All-Star Game with Stern’s backing.

“It was David Stern who took this league worldwide.”

He was fiercely protective of his players and referees when he felt they were unfairly criticized, such as when members of the Indiana Pacers brawled with Detroit fans in 2004, or when an FBI investigation in 2007 found that Tim Donaghy had bet on games he officiated, throwing the entire referee operations department into turmoil. With his voice rising and spit flying, Stern would publicly rebuke media outlets, even individual writers, if he felt they had taken cheap shots.

But he was also a relentless negotiator against those same employees in collective bargaining, and his loyalty to his owners and commitment to getting them favourable deals led to his greatest failures, lockouts in 1998 and 2011 that were the only times the NBA lost games to work stoppages. Though he had already passed off the heavy lifting to Silver by the latter one, it was Stern who faced the greatest criticism, as well as the damage to a legacy that had otherwise rarely been tarnished.

“As tough an adversary as he was across the table, he never failed to recognize the value of our players, and had the vision and courage to make them the focus of our league’s marketing efforts — building the NBA into the empire it is today,” the NBPA said.

David Joel Stern was born Sept. 22, 1942, in New York. A graduate of Rutgers University and Columbia Law School, he was dedicated to public service, launching the NBA Cares program in 2005 that donated more than $ 100 million to charity in five years.

League was thriving when he left office

He would begin looking internationally soon after becoming commissioner and the globalization of the game got an enormous boost in 1992, when Jordan, Johnson and Bird played on the U.S. Olympic Dream Team that would bring the sport a new burst of popularity while storming to the gold medal in Barcelona.

Stern capitalized on that by sending NBA teams to play preseason games against other NBA or international clubs, and opened offices in other countries. The league staged regular-season games in Japan in 1991 and devoted significant resources to China, and Stern’s work there would pay off in 2008 when basketball was perhaps the most popular sport in the Beijing Olympics.

Growth slowed near the end of his tenure. The worldwide economic downturn in the late 2000s all but wrecked his longtime hopes of expanding overseas and led to the second lockout, with owners wanting massive changes to the salary structure after losing hundreds of millions of dollars a year on their basketball teams, on top of losses in their personal businesses.

He helped get the changes, and the league was thriving again by the time he left office. Stern said he felt the time was right, confident that he had groomed a worthy successor in Silver, who had worked at the league for more than two decades.

Stern stayed busy, taking trips overseas on the league’s behalf, doing public speaking and consulting for various companies. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.

Stern and his wife had two sons, Andrew and Eric.

“It was rare to see a leader with such great vision, who then also executed it,” Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement. “Everyone who plays, works in or watches the NBA owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Stern. The league that we know and love would not exist without his dedication, his hard work, and most especially his vision.

“He was transcendent. He oversaw the expansion of our league to Canada. He knew there was basketball talent around the world and he saw opportunity for players and fans everywhere. He is a great, global giant in sports. We are proud of what he did, and his death pains us. On behalf of our entire organization and all basketball fans across Canada, we send plenty blessings to his family.”

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