Tag Archives: role

Trump, Giuliani sued in federal court over role in Capitol riot

A Democratic congressman accused Donald Trump in a federal lawsuit on Tuesday of inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and of conspiring with his lawyer and extremist groups to try to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election he lost to Joe Biden.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson by Joseph Sellers, a Washington lawyer, and the NAACP, is part of an expected wave of litigation over the Jan. 6 riot and is believed to be the first filed by a member of Congress. Thompson, the Democratic chair of the House’s homeland security committee, could be joined by other members of Congress, lawyers said.

The case also names as defendants the Republican former president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, extremist organizations that had members charged by the Justice Department with taking part in the siege. The suit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

A Trump adviser, Jason Miller, said in a statement Tuesday that Trump did not organize the rally that preceded the riot and “did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6th.” A lawyer for Giuliani did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

The suit, filed in federal court in Washington under a Reconstruction-era law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act, comes after Trump was acquitted on Feb. 13 in a Senate impeachment trial that centred on allegations that he incited the riot that saw five people in attendance die, including a Trump supporter who was fatally shot and a Capitol police officer who was killed in circumstances that are still unclear.

Trump’s acquittal is likely to open the door to fresh legal scrutiny over his actions before and during the siege.

WATCH | McConnell highly critical of Trump despite vote to acquit:

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, excoriated Donald Trump on Saturday for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, but defended his vote to acquit him at the impeachment trial. 2:49

Even some Republicans who voted to acquit Trump on Saturday acknowledged that the more proper venue to deal with Trump was in the courts, especially now that he has left the White House and lost certain legal protections that shielded him as president.

“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one,” Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said from the chamber floor after the Senate voted 57-43 to find Trump guilty of the impeachment charge, a result that didn’t meet the threshold of a two-thirds majority for a conviction.

Riot a ‘foreseeable culmination,’ suit alleges

The suit traces the drawn-out effort by Trump and Giuliani to cast doubt on the election results even though courts across the country, and state election officials, repeatedly rejected their baseless allegations of fraud.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the suit says, the men portrayed the election as stolen while Trump “endorsed rather than discouraged” threats of violence from his angry supporters in the weeks leading up to the assault on the Capitol.

“The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence,” the suit says. “It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully co-ordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”


Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, where he encouraged a ‘trial by combat’ in his speech. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Presidents are historically afforded broad immunity from lawsuits for actions they take in their role as commander-in-chief. But the lawsuit filed Tuesday was brought against Trump in his personal, not official, capacity and alleges that none of the behaviour at issue had to do with his responsibilities as president.

“Inciting a riot, or attempting to interfere with the congressional efforts to ratify the results of the election that are commended by the Constitution, could not conceivably be within the scope of ordinary responsibilities of the president,” Sellers said in an AP interview.

“In this respect, because of his conduct, he is just like any other private citizen,” Sellers said.

Though the impeachment case focused squarely on accusations of incitement, the lawsuit more broadly accuses Trump of conspiring to disrupt the constitutional activities of Congress — namely, the certification of election results establishing Biden as the rightful winner — through a months-long effort to discredit the outcome and to lean on individual states and his own vice-president to overturn the contest.

The case against Trump was brought under a provision of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was passed in response to KKK violence and prohibits violence or intimidation meant to prevent Congress or other federal officials from carrying out their constitutional duties.

“Fortunately, this hasn’t been used very much,” Sellers said. “But what we see here is so unprecedented that it’s really reminiscent of what gave rise to the enactment of this legislation right after the Civil War.”

Defending use of ‘trial by combat’

The suit cites incendiary comments that Trump and Giuliani made in the weeks leading up to the riot and on the day of it that lawyers say were designed to mobilize supporters to work to overturn the election results and to prevent the Senate’s certification process. That process was temporarily interrupted when Trump loyalists broke into the Capitol.

Giuliani has said his exhortation to those in attendance for a “trial by combat” was a Game of Thrones reference to encourage investigations of voting systems used in the Nov. 3 vote.

Dominion Voting Systems, which has headquarters in Toronto, is one of two voting software companies to target Trump allies in lawsuits.

Trump told supporters at a rally preceding the riot to “fight like hell,” but lawyers for the former president adamantly denied during the impeachment trial that he had incited the riot. They pointed to a remark during his speech in which he told the crowd to behave “peacefully” that day.

Defence lawyers are likely to revisit those assertions in the lawsuit. They may also argue, as was done during the impeachment case, that Trump’s speech was protected by the First Amendment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that her chamber will move to establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the insurrection. Pelosi said the commission will “investigate and report on the facts and causes” relating to the attack and “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.”

At the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president supports the formation of a commission. Biden “backs efforts to shed additional light on the facts to ensure something like that never happens again,” she said.

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CBC | World News

Canadian women’s rugby 7s coach Tait removed from role after players’ complaint

A complaint from members of the Canadian women’s sevens team has prompted Rugby Canada to call in an independent investigator and revamp the team coaching staff.

The sevens side is coached by John Tait, a former Canadian international who serves as Rugby Canada’s director of women’s high performance. The 47-year-old coached the sevens women to a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and gold at the 2015 Pan-American Games.

In its five-paragraph release Friday, Rugby Canada did not name Tait, say who was the subject of the investigation or specify the complaint. But Tait does not figure in the new-look coaching setup.

“Of course, matters of employment and confidentiality are really important to us. I would ask you to draw your own conclusions,” Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said in an interview when asked if Tait was involved in the complaint.

In a subsequent email, he said: “matters related to employees are confidential.”

Vansen said he could not provide further details about the complaint other than to say: “I can certainly share that the complaints are from multiple individuals.”

Tait, in a text to The Canadian Press, said he can’t comment at this time but hoped to be able to speak on the matter in the coming weeks.

“It’s surreal,” he said.

Additional responsibilities

An imposing figure, the six-foot-eight Tait won 37 caps for Canada from 1997 to 2002. He played professionally in Wales with Cardiff and France with CA Brive.

He has been a coaching constant at Rugby Canada for more than a decade, having served as an assistant coach with the men’s 15s team and head coach of the women’s 15s team prior to taking over the sevens women. Last August, the father of three was given additional responsibilities, handed the high-performance role on the women’s side in addition to his sevens head coaching duties.

WATCH | Charity Williams using platform to inspire young Black Canadians:

Team Canada Rugby 7s player and Olympic bronze medallist Charity Williams is looking to use her platform to inspire young Black Canadians through sport. 3:20

Team captain Ghislaine Landry confirmed that the complaint was made by members of the team but declined further comment.

In the statement, Vansen said: “Rugby Canada is taking these concerns very seriously. We are following our internal policies and procedures that are in alignment with established national response guidelines, and in a manner that reflects our values.”

He said he hoped the investigator’s report will be completed by the end of March. “And we have been assured it will be no later than mid-April.”

The clock is ticking. The Olympic rugby sevens competition is scheduled for July 26-31 in Tokyo. And reputations are at stake.

The Canadian women are a medal threat. They were third in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings when the season shut down after five events last year, having finished runner-up at three events and third at a fourth.

April tournament

Canada was third overall the previous season, lifting the trophy at the Kitakyushu Sevens in Japan in April 2019. It marked the first cup win for the Canadian women since 2017.

Sandro Fiorino, head coach of the women’s 15s team, has temporarily moved from Ontario to Langford, B.C., to serve as interim sevens coach with help from Maria Gallo, an assistant coach with the 15s team.

Mick Byrne, a specialist coach with both New Zealand and Australia who has consulted remotely with the Canadian sevens side since 2012, “will assume the role of national senior women’s sevens interim head coach through to the Olympic Games.” Rugby Canada said in the statement.

Byrne is not currently in Canada. Vansen said Rugby Canada is working on the necessary paperwork to get him into the country.

“We remain united and focused on our goal of winning a medal at the Olympic Games.” Landry said in email to The Canadian Press. “We are training together and are confident in the interim plan. We look forward to working with Mick, Sandro and Maria.”

The World Series ground to a halt when the pandemic stuck. Rugby Canada says the women are expected to travel to a tournament in early April with Byrne expected to join the team on the trip.

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CBC | Sports News

Alexei Navalny’s return to Russia solidifies opposition leader’s role as ‘anti-Putin’

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returned home from Germany to challenge President Vladimir Putin and now faces the possibility of years of hard labour because of it.

His supporters are also confronting the existential question of how his political movement will survive with him sidelined, in all likelihood for a very long time after he was detained in Moscow on Sunday.

“Russia will continue with our struggle for freedom, becoming the Russia we are all dreaming of,” said a 33-year-old woman who called herself by the nickname Hotaru.   

She went to meet Navalny at the airport where he was originally scheduled to land dressed in a traditional red and blue Russian folk dress. 

She said using her last name would make her a target as Russian police are using any excuse to arrest Navalny’s supporters and smother his political influence. Indeed, at the airport that day, more than 70 people were taken into custody.

In St. Petersburg on Tuesday, one supporter claimed he was arrested for the simple act of clapping his hands in support of Navalny.

WATCH | Navalny is arrested after he returns to Moscow:

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested upon his return to Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering from an apparent assassination attempt. Navalny maintains he did nothing wrong and several countries are demanding he be released. 1:57

Russian media reports also say flight attendants who posed for selfies with Navalny on his flight back to Moscow are being investigated by police.

The young woman in the colourful dress also shared a basket filled with Russian blini, or pancakes.

“Pancakes for our president,” she said, insisting that the vision of a “new life for Russia” with Navalny in charge will continue to energize his supporters whether he’s in jail or not. 

Navalny, 44, is a lawyer who has built up a countrywide political organization fighting corruption in Russia’s government.  

Banned from running for office

His videos focusing on the extravagant spending and lifestyles of Russia’s most prominent figures, including former president Dmitry Medvedev, have been viewed by tens of millions of people.   

Even today, with Navlany behind bars, his anti-corruption foundation released a nearly two-hour video billed as an investigation into Putin, which focused on what it claims is the president’s $ 1.35-billion US mansion on the Black Sea.

The Kremlin has repeatedly banned Navalny and his candidates from running for elected office.  

Still, opinion polls suggest he has only single-digit support and the notion of Navalny replacing Putin has rarely seemed more fanciful than it does now, with the Kremlin pulling out vast resources to try to mute his influence.


A still image taken from video footage shows law enforcement officers speaking with Russian opposition leader Navalny before leading him away at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow on Sunday. (Reuters)

Navalny had been recuperating in Germany after an assassination attempt while he was campaigning in Siberia last August.

He accuses Putin of ordering the hit using the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent and having it carried out by members of Russia’s secret police. 

An extensive investigation by journalists with the collective Bellingcat uncovered flight manifests, addresses and phone logs that all pointed to the existence of a secret nerve agent program run by the FSB (Russian Federal Security Service) designed to eliminate the Kremlin’s enemies.


People, including supporters of Navalny, gather outside a police station where the Russian opposition leader is being held following his detention in Khimki, outside Moscow, on Monday. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

Russian authorities have repeatedly denied any such program exists and warned Navalny that he could be arrested for treason just for accusing Putin of the crime.

Navalny chose to board the plane Sunday in Berlin and return to Moscow anyway.

A few moments after stepping off the plane, he stopped and explained to the media that he never considered living the life of a political exile outside Russia.

“It was never a question, not for a single second. It shows that we need to fight here because, my God … some ugly thieves are in power.”

No intention of giving up his fight

In an earlier Instagram post, he said he only ended up in Germany because he arrived there in intensive care after “they tried to kill me.” He said he never had any intention of giving up his fight against Putin.

Russia’s prison service, however, clearly indicated that if he returned, Navalny should not expect to be a free man for long. 

It published an order for his detention, claiming he violated parole terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction — a case that the European Court of Human Rights said was politically motivated. 


Riot police try to keep supporters of Navalny away from Vnukovo airport in Moscow on Sunday. (Chris Brown/CBC)

In anticipation of his arrival, police told his supporters not to come out to greet him and if they did, there would be mass arrests.  

Throngs of riot squad police were deployed at Vnukovo airport, where he was supposed to land, to drive home the point.

Nonetheless, hundreds if not thousands of people braved the –20 C temperatures and transportation officials finally diverted his aircraft north to Moscow’s main airport, Sheremetyevo.

As Navalny waited at passport control, police made their move, putting him under arrest. 

He kissed his wife, Yulia, goodbye, and was taken into custody, becoming what human rights group Amnesty International called a “prisoner of conscience.” 

Makeshift court

Less than 18 hours later, as he waited in a cell, Navalny was told he was going to meet with his lawyer, but instead was taken into a room in the police station that had been turned into a makeshift court.

With only invited Kremlin-friendly media present, he was ordered held for 30 days in jail for violating the terms of the probation, even as he reprimanded the judge for taking part in a sham proceeding.   

He will appear in court again Jan. 29 to deal with the alleged parole violation but his legal team has said they expect more charges will follow. Last month, Russian investigators opened a “fraud” investigation, claiming he misused money from his foundation.

‘No immediate threat of a mass revolt’

Political observers say there’s nothing to prevent Putin from treating his nemesis as harshly as he wants.

“There is no immediate threat of a mass revolt,” said Moscow-based political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann, noting that aside from Navalny’s followers, Russians en masse are unlikely to take to the streets in his cause.  

She said most people are indifferent or do not want to get involved.

“At the moment, Putin can get away with almost anything.”


Navalny and his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, are seen on board a plane during a flight from Berlin to Moscow on Sunday. (Maria Vasilyeva/Reuters)

Putin and senior Russian officials contort their language to avoid uttering Navalny’s name, using terms such as “the Berlin patient” instead. State TV rarely makes mention of him.   

As Navany’s plane was landing, more than five million people were watching Russian-language live feeds of the event on the internet, whereas Kremlin-controlled television news ignored his arrival completely.

Nonetheless, Schulmann said the Kremlin has been only partially successful at marginalizing Navalny and his decision to return to Russia has cemented his status as the second-most important political figure in the country.

“There is Putin, and there is the anti-Putin, which is him,” said Schulmann.  

“He has voluntarily returned to the country that will imprison him.

“This is a very brave action. He is acquiring a certain type of moral authority as a person who has demonstrated that he is a person who is ready to suffer for his convictions.” 


Law enforcement officers detain a participant of a rally Monday in St. Petersburg to protest Navalny’s detention. (Anton Vaganov/Reuters)

Navalny’s fate has been compared to that of former billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Once one of Russia’s richest men, Khodorkovsky oversaw a vast oil empire but ran afoul of Putin in the early 2000s, lost his businesses and was sentenced to a hard labour camp before being pardoned.

Unlike Khodorkovsky, however, who now lives in the United Kingdom and wages his ongoing fight against Putin from London, Navalny left a safe life in the West to return to Moscow.

Moscow-based lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant was the lead counsel for Khodorkovsky during his trial almost two decades ago.

“It’s absolutely unfair,” he told CBC News of Navalny’s treatment by Russia’s judicial system, noting that his first “court” appearance at the converted police station broke every rule of jurisprudence.

“There is no rule of law — it’s just repression to delete the main opposition guy from public life.”

Klyuvgant said Navalny’s legal situation is worse than what he faced, but he said the only option for his lawyers is to build a case for his release that is grounded in law, even if the scales of justice are tilted against him.

“Don’t expect innocence — maybe parole or a pardon or a decrease in prison terms,” he said.

Even though he’s behind bars, Navalny has so far managed to stay connected with his supporters by recording short video blogs during breaks in the court proceedings.

He has called for mass protests in cities across the country on Saturday.

“There’s nothing these thieves in their bunkers fear more than people on the streets,” Navalny said in a video posted by his press secretary.

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CBC | World News

Quinton Byfield ready for a bigger role at world juniors

In Quinton Byfield’s Instagram bio, he has a smile emoji and a link to the
definition of the word smile.

The use of emoji’s are everywhere, sometimes overused in today’s world, but it certainly defines
Byfield as he tries to make a positive impact and embrace every experience given to him.

Last year, as the youngest player on Team Canada, Byfield was primarily used as a 13th forward
during the tournament and didn’t play a single minute in the gold medal game, but that didn’t
phase Byfield — he embraced it.

“I didn’t play much, but I really felt it helped me develop in my hockey career. I got to see what it
takes to perform on the world stage,” said Byfield earlier this week from his hotel in Edmonton.
“Going into the tournament (last year) it was really iffy if I was going to make the team or not. I
wanted to take any spot just to play and be part of the team and embrace any role given to me.
My focus was on the team’s success, and that was an experience I’ll never forget.”

This year, Byfield is still the youngest player on Team Canada, but the 18-year-old centre is
ready to make a bigger impact in is second chance with Team Canada.

Byfield is expected to take on a much larger role with Canada — especially after Canada lost the
services of captain and Chicago forward Kirby Dach to a wrist injury for the entire
tournament in Wednesday pre-tournament game against Russia. Byfield will be relied on even
more.

“The coaches talked to each one of us before camp started and they expect more out of me.
“They want me to be a bigger part of the team and take on more of an offensive role and I’m
ready for it.”

Expectations have always been big for the six-foot-five, 220-pound centre who was tasked in
turning around the Sudbury Wolves organization that had fallen on hard times.
He helped turn Sudbury into a contender again and his impact spread further than just on the
ice it was felt throughout the city with his charitable efforts helping sick kids.

WATCH | Quinton Byfield discusses being the highest-drafted Black player in NHL history:

Quinton Byfield, from Newmarket, Ont., has become the highest-drafted Black player in NHL history going to the Los Angeles Kings as the second overall pick. 2:03

Last year, before COVID-19 shut down the sporting world, Byfield put up 32 goals and 80 points
in 52 games and was poised to help the Wolves go on a Memorial Cup run, just two years after
the team drafted him with the first overall pick in the 2018 OHL draft.

“We knew he was going to be special from the moment he stepped on the ice for his first practice
with us, he had that wow factor,” said Wolves GM Rob Papineau.

“He’s always had a positive attitude and a leader who’s willing to take on any challenge. He’s an
amazing young role model for people. He’s been huge for our team and the city. He’s going to go
down as likely as the greatest Wolves player in our franchise history.

“Every single time he was on the ice you would get to the edge of your seat. Every shift was
anticipated and he delivered for us. We’re proud that he will always be a Sudbury Wolve.”

In a year, where the 18-year-old faced the pressures of the NHL draft in the middle of a global
pandemic, that didn’t stop him from becoming the highest-drafted black player in NHL history
after the Los Angeles Kings selected him with the second overall pick.

‘I want to use my platform to have a positive influence’

When the NHL returned to play this summer, Byfield watched Minnesota Wild defenceman
Mathew Dumba show incredible courage before the national anthem of the opening game by
delivering a heartfelt speech about racism and social injustice, and that sparked others around
the NHL to speak up and take action.

Making history is special for Byfield, but he wants to use his platform to help create change in
a sport that is working hard to fix issues of race and equality.

“Down the road, that is definitely something I want to be a part of. I want to use my platform to
have a positive influence on the game,” said Byfield.

“I was always welcomed and never really faced anything like that, but I want everyone to have
the same dream, no matter their skin colour or where they come from.”

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CBC | Sports News

Flames legend Jarome Iginla plays role of beleaguered motorist during Boston TV segment

“We’re from Canada, so, it’s not too crazy. We’ve got some winter tires,” said a man interviewed by Boston 25 News on Saturday night. “We’re used to this growing up.”

It was a typical local news piece, reporting on poor visibility and poor road conditions in Massachusetts.

The man’s comments wouldn’t typically seem out of place in such a piece, except in this one instance — when the man on the street just happened to be Calgary Flames legend Jarome Iginla.

“I like the winter, but not necessarily — this might be a little too much,” Iginla told Boston 25 News.


On Twitter, Nicole Oliverio, the weekend evening anchor with the station, said she didn’t immediately recognize Iginla, who played a stint with the Boston Bruins.

“In my defence, it wasn’t my interview!” Oliverio wrote. “I was anchoring though, and didn’t pick up on it right away.”

In the interview, Iginla was turned to for his driving tips for the typical Boston driver in times of inclement weather.

“It’s not great, I tell you, you get some tough stretches,” he said. “But if you don’t go too fast, it’s doable.”

Iginla announced his retirement in 2018 after 20 seasons in the NHL. He scored 525 goals and 570 assists for 1,095 points in his 1,219 games with the Flames, before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013.

Iginla also played for the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings, finishing his career with 1,300 points.

He also won two Olympic gold medals and was named to the NHL All-Star team six times.


For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.


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CBC | Sports News

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma pleads guilty, admits to role in deadly opioid epidemic

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty Tuesday to three criminal charges, formally admitting its role in an opioid epidemic that has contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths over the past two decades.

In a virtual hearing with a federal judge in Newark, N.J., the OxyContin maker admitted impeding the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to combat the addiction crisis.

Purdue also acknowledged that it had not maintained an effective program to prevent prescription drugs from being diverted to the black market, even though it had told the DEA it did have such a program, and that it provided misleading information to the agency as a way to boost company manufacturing quotas.

It also admitted paying doctors through a speakers program to induce them to write more prescriptions for its painkillers.

The guilty pleas were entered by Purdue board chairperson Steve Miller on behalf of the company. They were part of a criminal and civil settlement announced last month between the Stamford, Conn.-based company and the U.S. Justice Department.


Members of the Sackler family, who own the company, have also agreed to pay $ 225 million US to the federal government to settle civil claims. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Hundreds of thousands of deaths attributed to opioids

The deal includes $ 8.3 billion US in penalties and forfeitures, but the company is on the hook for a direct payment to the federal government of just a fraction of that, $ 225 million. It would pay the smaller amount as long as it executes a settlement moving through federal bankruptcy court with state and local governments and other entities suing it over the toll of the opioid epidemic.

Members of the wealthy Sackler family who own the company have also agreed to pay $ 225 million to the federal government to settle civil claims. No criminal charges have been filed against family members, although their deal leaves open the possibility of that in the future.

“Having our plea accepted in federal court, and taking responsibility for past misconduct, is an essential step to preserve billions of dollars of value for creditors and advance our goal of providing financial resources and lifesaving medicines to address the opioid crisis,” Purdue said in a written statement after pleading guilty.

“We continue to work tirelessly to build additional support for a proposed bankruptcy settlement, which would direct the overwhelming majority of the settlement funds to state, local and tribal governments for the purpose of abating the opioid crisis,” the statement read.

Purdue’s plea to federal crimes provides only minor comfort for advocates who want to see harsher penalties for the OxyContin maker and its owners.

The ongoing drug overdose crisis, which appears to be growing worse during the coronavirus pandemic, has contributed to the deaths of more than 470,000 Americans over the past two decades, most of those from legal and illicit opioids.


Purdue has admitted that it impeded efforts to fight the deadly opioid crisis and paid doctors to prescribe more of the painkillers. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Opposition to settlement

There were an estimated 16,364 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada between January 2016 and March 2020, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. 

Cynthia Munger, whose son is in recovery from opioid addiction after being prescribed OxyContin more than a decade ago as a high school baseball player with a shoulder injury, is among the activists pushing for Purdue owners and company officials to be charged with crimes.

“Until we do that and we stop accusing brick and mortar and not individuals, nothing will change,” said Munger, who lives in Wayne, Pa.

The attorneys general for about half the states opposed the federal settlement, as well as the company’s proposed settlement in bankruptcy court. In the bankruptcy case, Purdue has proposed transforming into a public benefit corporation with its proceeds going to help address the opioid crisis.

The attorneys general and some activists are upset that despite the Sacklers giving up control of the company, the family remains wealthy and its members will not face prison or other individual penalties.

The activists say there’s no difference between the actions of the company and its owners, who also controlled Purdue’s board until the past few years.

Last week, as part of a motion to get access to more family documents, the attorneys general who oppose the deals filed documents that put members of the Sackler family at the centre of Purdue’s continued push for OxyContin sales even as opioid-related deaths rose.

Company tried to ‘supercharge’ opioid sales

The newly public documents include emails among consultants from McKinsey & Corp., hired by the company to help boost the business.

One from 2008, a year after the company first pleaded guilty to opioid-related crimes, says board members, including a Sackler family member, ” ‘blessed’ him to do whatever he thinks is necessary to ‘save the business.’ “

Another McKinsey internal email details how a mid-level Purdue employee felt about the company.

It offers more evidence of the Sacklers being hands-on, saying, “The brothers who started the company viewed all employees like the guys who ‘trim the hedges’ — employees should do exactly what’s asked of them and not say too much.”

The documents also describe the company trying to “supercharge” opioid sales in 2013, as reaction to the overdose crisis was taking a toll on prescribing.

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CBC | World News

New Canadian women’s soccer coach Bev Priestman diving head-first into new role

It’s Bev Priestman’s first week on the job as head coach of the Canadian women’s soccer team and she’s already jumping in with both feet.

With the Tokyo Olympics nine months on the horizon, there’s really no other way.

Between the Rubik’s cube schedule of virtual one-on-one meetings with players and staff, to watching more than a handful of matches, Priestman has barely had time to let the news of last week’s appointment sink in. If anything, she says, she’s even more excited to get going.

“Initially, it’s to understand a little bit,” she told CBC Sports of her most-immediate priorities. “It’s been two and a half years since I left Canada. To understand where [the players] are and merge that with where I feel the group can go and ultimately get us focused short term on this Olympic Games.”

In Priestman’s hire, Canada Soccer went with a coach with strong ties to the national program. The 34-year-old native of Consett, England, returns after spending the last two seasons as an assistant with the Lionesses under Phil Neville. Prior to that, she spent five years serving as director of Canada’s EXCEL developmental program as well as head coach of the women’s under-17 and under-20 teams. She also served as an assistant with John Herdman at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics, where the team won its second-straight Olympic bronze medal.

WATCH | Canada’s new coach Bev Priestman has her eyes set on the podium in Tokyo:

Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team named a new head coach just nine months out from the upcoming Summer Olympics. Bev Priestman tells Signa Butler her plans for Tokyo and the future of the program. 6:01

It’s no secret the Olympics have been this team’s signature tournament. And while the Canadians made history by winning bronze medals in back-to-back Games in 2012 and 2016, just being on the podium isn’t good enough anymore, Canadian winger Janine Beckie told this reporter in September.

“Definitely it’s gold. It’s No. 1. We’ve made history going back-to-back podiums. And that’s become not good enough in our minds” Beckie said of the team’s objective for Tokyo.

“All of us have that deep dream to be world champions and we believe we have the quality and talent to do it.”

Priestman agrees.

“To get anyone excited – and some of our players have two bronze medals already – you have to change the colour of the medal. You’ve got a really experienced group merged with the hungry, young group. You put those together and you’ve got a key ingredient for success. The key now is getting them crystal clear on what we’re going after. Really simplifying things, we can’t do everything in nine months.

“We’ll give it a real good crack, that’s for sure.”

Preparations for Tokyo and beyond

Along with the ominous Tokyo deadline on the calendar, there is the reality that some tough roster decisions have to be made. Only 18 players (plus four alternates) can be named to the Olympic squad. Canada has a “long list” of 35 players that will be submitted to FIFA in December and the team will be chosen from that list.

“I’m realistic in the sense that there’s definitely a group of players on the radar, as well just outside of that,” Priestman said. “It’s being clear about what’s for now, what’s for the next nine months and then what’s for moving toward 2023 and 2024. It’s about getting that blend right.”

That also goes for her support staff, who have yet to be named. There is a current group of staff that she says she’s had a great relationship with in the past, singling out former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson.


Bev Priestman, left, looks on during a 2019 England training session while serving as an assistant coach to manager Phil Neville, right. (Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Wilkinson, who has vaulted up the coaching ranks and was also believed to be in the running for the head coaching job, was Priestman’s assistant for a period of time. The two-time bronze medallist with 181 caps to her credit has done a lot of legwork while the team was without a coach after Kenneth Heiner-Møller stepped down to rejoin the Danish Football Association as head of coach education.

Of the current staff, Priestman said she first needs to know where they want to be and marry that with what she needs around her to succeed, but that “they understand what it means to be Canadian, they’ve experienced some massive highs with that group and some massive lows, and I think you can’t buy that experience. It’s not a case of taking what I’ve got in England and dumping that in Canada. It’s working with that group that’s in place.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Priestman won’t get to see the core group of players together in a training environment anytime soon. Earlier in October, Canada Soccer cancelled a planned camp in England on the advice of federal public health officials.

Accelerating the learning process

With the current reality, Priestman says you have to find ways to adapt, but one thing she’s realized during her time in England is the role the players’ professional teams play.

“We only have the players together for a short amount of time, so having our best players in the best leagues is really important,” she said. “How you work with the player in their own environment, work with their coaches and then when you do come together as a group, just being really clear about what it is we’re going after.”

She’s had the opportunity to take in some of her European-based players in person and on television. She’s been in London this week to watch Jessie Fleming’s Chelsea defeat Shelina Zadorsky’s Tottenham 2-0 and, this past weekend, she caught Beckie’s 3-1 goal to seal Manchester City’s FA Cup win.

“[Beckie] got on the pitch for a short period of time, made the absolute most of that moment, delivered when it counted and I was absolutely thrilled to see her score with such a tough finish.”

For the moment, Priestman is navigating the early days of her tenure from Warrington, England, a town midway between Liverpool and Manchester. Plans are in the works to move back to Canada with wife Emma and two-year-old son Jack in early 2021.

As for where she’ll be based?

“I love my skiing, so Vancouver is high on the list.”

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Meghan McPeak has better grasp on role of trailblazer as female Black broadcaster

When Meghan McPeak considers where she is in her broadcasting career, against the backdrop of racial unrest and the bleak employment numbers of Black people in her business, she says she feels like Tom Hanks’ character in the movie “Castaway.”

Alone on an island.

The 33-year-old from Hamilton calls games for both the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and the Capital City Gogo, the G League affiliate of the Washington Wizards.

While the NBA, WNBA and G League are among the most racially diverse leagues on the planet, McPeak, who is biracial, is the lone play-by-play broadcaster who’s both female and a person of colour.

“I’ve never really had a Black woman that does play-by-play that I can honestly say I look up to because I didn’t grow up with one,” McPeak said. “And now it’s kind of me in a weird way. And I don’t mean that in an ego way or a conceited way. It’s just realizing that I’m doing something that in men’s sports that is not known.

“In women’s sports it’s acceptable to be a woman that does play-by-play, because for whatever reason in society, that’s where we are accepted in sports — and even then, we’re kind of not accepted in a weird way.”

McPeak is one of less than six play-by-play announcers of colour in North America’s biggest pro basketball leagues, including fellow Canadians and brothers Mark and Paul Jones. Mark works for ABC and ESPN, while Paul calls Toronto Raptors games part-time for TSN and is an analyst for Sportsnet 590 The Fan.

It’s disappointing there isn’t more of us, male or female, especially when you think about the fact the NBA is like 70 to 75 per cent Black.— Canada’s Meghan McPeak on Black play-by-play announcers

Eric Collins is the voice of the Charlotte Hornets for their TV broadcasts, while Adam Amin is a Pakistani Muslim who got his start at ESPN and was recently hired as the voice of the Chicago Bulls.

“I feel like we’re now on an island by ourselves. And trying to get more people to join us on our island,” McPeak said. “I’ve gone from ‘Castaway’ to now being part of the cast of ‘Lost,’ where at least I’m not by myself, but we’re still trying to figure out how to live and how to maintain a civilization with just the [few] of us.”

“It’s disappointing that there isn’t more of us, male or female, especially when you think about the fact that the NBA is like 70 to 75 per cent Black, and the people who cover the league, whether it’s writers, analysts, play-by-play, doesn’t reflect that.”

Called NBA game in 2018

McPeak chose broadcasting over interior design while at Toronto’s Humber College. Her athletic director Doug Fox nudged her in that direction, good-naturedly pointing out she never stopped talking. As a former point guard, doing play-by-play fits, as she likes to control the direction of the broadcast.

McPeak played point guard for Humber’s women’s team, and after games would take a quick shower before sliding into the broadcast seat to call the men’s games.

She became the only female play-by-play announcer in the G League when she was hired by Raptors 905 in 2015. She was hired by Washington in 2018 and that same year became the first woman in more than 30 years to call an NBA game when the Wizards played Detroit in the pre-season.

Female Black role models in broadcasting were virtually non-existent when McPeak started out. She knew of veteran female broadcasters Hannah Storm and Doris Burke, who are white.

“They didn’t look like me,” McPeak said. “I knew Robin Roberts [who’s Black] existed, but didn’t see her a lot we never really we never got ‘SportsCenter’ in Canada on ESPN. But I knew she existed.

“For me, I only partially had someone to look up to, and funny enough that was Paul Jones because he was the only Black voice of the Raptors after the late great John Saunders left. … And I say ‘partially’ because Jonesy is a man. But I can look at him and see the resemblance because of the complexion. So that at least resonates.”

Jones’s early days in the business ran parallel to his education career. The three-time Ontario university basketball champion with the York Lions became a teacher and then school principal before leaving in 2004 to focus on his broadcast career.

‘Never had a Black teacher’ in school

He credits his Jamaican dad Hugh (Vern) Jones, who died last June at 94, days after the Raptors captured the Larry O’Brien Trophy — for his persistence.

“They always say that the pioneers get the hardships, the settlers get the land,” Jones said. “I went through all of school and never even had a Black teacher. Our dad, though, he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and a Jackie Robinson fan, and his thing was: don’t look at the obstacles, just be better.

“No matter how much we did that, we always found there were things that made it tough. And he would say ‘No, I don’t want to hear about it. Don’t tell me how rough the water is, just bring the ship in.’ So, that’s kind of the environment that we grew up in.”

The NBA and WNBA are considered the most progressive leagues in North American pro sports. The league commissioners have encouraged their players to use their platform for social and racial justice. Players like LeBron James are among the world’s most vocal on such issues. And when both leagues tip-off later this month after the lengthy delay caused by COVID-19, racial justice will be a major theme.

Still, considering the diversity among pro basketball players, Jones says the NBA has plenty of work left to do.

“If the whole thing is a marathon, and a marathon 26 miles 385 yards, the NBA has run about 10 miles,” Jones said. “They still have a long way to go.

Daily protests across U.S.

“But they’re further ahead than hockey, who’s run around the block, and Major League Baseball and NFL football, who have run a mile-and-a-half. As much as they’re in front, there’s still a really, really long way to go.”

The past few weeks have seen daily protests across the U.S., erupting after the killing of George Floyd by a police officer, just the latest in an agonizingly long list of Black people killed by police.

The Black Lives Matter movement has since shone a spotlight on the lack of diversity across businesses, including the media.

It’s made McPeak better grasp her role as a trailblazer.

“I’m kind of realizing that I am becoming someone’s Doris, someone’s Hannah, someone’s Robin Roberts [former ESPN sportscaster who’s now an anchor of ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’]. And hopefully one day I get to meet that little Black girl who might look like me and sees me on TV and says to her parents ‘I want to do what she does,”‘ McPeak said.

“Hopefully I have a chance to meet that little girl one day. But with what’s going on in the country right now, it’s starting to hit me that I’m a castaway on an island by myself right now as a woman.”

According to a recent report from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, just 18 per cent of NBA players and 17 per cent of WNBA players are white, while 85 per cent of sports editors, 82 per cent of sports reporters and 80 per cent of sports columnists are white.

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