Alberta briefs – January 12

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has hired a former spokesman for Waste Management of Canada as his new director of communications.

Stelmach hires communications director, Cam Hantiuk

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has hired a former spokesman for Waste Management of Canada as his new director of communications.

Stelmach says Cam Hantiuk has “an excellent background in strategic communications planning.”

Hantiuk’s career in both the public and private sectors date back to the early 90s, when he worked with Alberta Environment.

Hantiuk also worked in the pharmaceutical industry and since 2004, was working with Waste Management of Canada Corp. in its the Western Canadian office.

Hantiuk replaces Paul Stanway, Stelmach’s former communications director, who announced his departure from the $150,000-a-year gig in early December.

Stanway has been with the premier’s office since February 2007.


Sentencing hearing set for taekwondo teacher guilty of assaulting students

EDMONTON — A sentencing hearing date has been set for an Edmonton taekwondo instructor convicted of molesting six of his students.

The full-day hearing is set for March 6, a Saturday, because the judge involved is presiding over a four-week trial.

Last month, a jury found Tom Innerebner guilty of 13 of the 17 sex charges and not guilty of four.

Innerebner, 52, is currently out on bail.

The Crown says it wants Innerebner to go to prison for more than four years.

Six of the seven girls testified Innerebner put his hands under their clothing and briefly fondled their private parts during group classes.

One girl said he had twice penetrated her vagina with his finger when she was 12 and at his house doing chores for him.

Innerebner emphatically denied the charges.


Fiddle music part of evidence in Métis hunting trial; culture at stake

MEDICINE HAT — There was toe-tapping and knee-slapping in an Alberta courtroom as the trial of two Métis men accused of breaching provincial hunting regulations resumed Monday.

Garry Hirsekorn and Ron Jones are accused of hunting without a permit after the two took part in separate hunts in 2008 as part of a civil disobedience campaign to push for recognition of Métis rights in Alberta.

The men’s lawyer began with testimony and music from Alberta Métis musician Daniel Gervais.

However, Alberta Justice lawyer Thomas Rothwell objected.

“I don’t understand what the relevance is,” he said.

Judge Ted Fisher asked if the Crown was prepared to agree there is a Metis culture. Rothwell said he wasn’t prepared to do so at that time.

“. . . We are dealing with something a little more than just hunting,” Fisher told court.

In 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that Métis across Canada have the constitutional right to fish, hunt and gather food without a licence.

The ruling also set a legal framework to establish to identify who is Metis and “they have to prove there is a Metis culture in Alberta historically and to the present day,” said Fisher.

Gervais testified to the uniqueness of the aboriginal group’s style of music, then picked up his fiddle to demonstrate, to the delight of those in the court.

Joined by Joseph Blynd and Evelyn Willier, the trio played while many in the gallery tapped their toes, slapped knees and nodded their heads to the music.

Blynd and Gervais explained the meaning of songs such as “Red River Jig” and “Whiskey Before Breakfast” — a mocking tune dedicated to John A. MacDonald — as being an integral part of Metis culture in Alberta.

“It’s what keeps the tradition alive,” said Blynd.

In 2007, the Alberta government backed out of the Interim Metis Harvesting Agreement, which allowed Metis to subsistence hunt throughout the province.

The replacement provisions restricted that right to the northern half of Alberta and the Metis settlements located within that area. None are south of Edmonton.

Testimony from the defence is expected to end on Friday with the Crown’s case beginning next week.

A decision is scheduled for this spring.

A third accused Metis man, Bruce Bates, pled guilty and received a $700 fine.

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