Alberta man has brand new house demolished after court finds he built it without proper permits

A brand new house in the village of Carmangay, Alta. was torn down in just hours Thursday morning, after a court order was issued to demolish the home.

The village claims the Carmangay man who built the house did so without the correct permits.

READ MORE: Readers react with acceptance, vitriol after town tears down Alberta man’s house

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    Kym Nichols, the mayor of Carmangay,  said a development permit was taken out, as was a building permit, but the building permit was for a garage, not a house.

    “He just figured he could build however he wanted, to build wherever he wanted to build,” Nichols said.

    The homeowner was then issued several stop work orders in addition to orders from bylaw officers and RCMP to cease construction.

    After the homeowner failed to comply, Nichols said she felt she was left with no other choice than to take the matter to court.

    “We went to court to get a court order to get him to stop building,” she said.

    “He continued to build and continued to ignore the court order.”

    Members of the community told Global News the man built the house himself.

    A new house in Carmangay is reduced to rubble after the town issued a court order to demolish the home.

    Christina Succi / Global News

    “He was hand-digging the basement at first, then I seen him slowly put the concrete up, the walls up, the roof go on,” village resident Jan Haake said.

    Neighbour Wyatt Dahl sympathizes with the property owner, but agrees with the town’s decision.

    “It’s a shame that his hard work and money went into this,” Dahl said. “But the law is there for a reason.”

    Nichols said the homeowner was given ultimatums to move the structure or dismantle it. The court order stated three separate deadlines were set to comply, none of which were met.

    “This was absolutely the last resort,” Nichols said. “None of us wanted to see it come to this.

    “We were hoping he would comply at some point.”

    Global News was unable to speak to the homeowner and he was not on the premises when the demolition began.

    Carmangay is about a 45 minute drive northwest of Lethbridge and about an hour and 45 minutes southeast of Calgary.

Ziferblat’s ‘coffee office’ model charges for time, not food

On a Monday afternoon, the narrow street outside the Ziferblat cafe is quiet; but inside, the 6,000-square-foot coffee shop is packed with dozens of customers.

The cafe first opened in Manchester, England in 2014, and now serves around 12,000 customers per month. Part of its recipe for success: all of the cafe’s food, drinks and 100 MB of wifi are free.

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“When we first opened this, we were terrified,” recalls Ben Davies, the cafe’s marketing manager. “But I think this is something that isn’t currently provided.”

Here’s the catch: The cafe’s name, Ziferblat, is Russian for “clock face.”

Ziferblat’s customers only pay for the time they spend: six pence, or around 10 Canadian cents, per minute.

READ MORE: Addicted to coffee? Your DNA may be to blame, study suggests

They check-in and check-out, like a hotel. And during their stay, customers can eat and drink as much they like.

An array of fresh, locally-baked cakes, cookies and sandwiches are spread across a table buffet-style. There’s also tea, espresso and coffee machines, and customers are encouraged to help themselves.

“We have had some people who come in here with a spoon and eat two full chocolate fudge cakes. But generally they’re few and far between. And normally they don’t come back,” Davies laughs.

He says their average customer spends 83 minutes here. And most consume far less than you might expect.

“The fact that you have the free choice makes you not want to ‘take the mick,’ or take the entire jar of biscuits,” says customer Luke Halliwell, while sipping a latte and playing a board game with a friend.

“I just have a few (biscuits), because I’m here to relax and enjoy my time.”

Ziferblat’s real secret to success isn’t the customers who play cards or catch-up with friends; it’s the people who come here to work.

Web designer Mark Butler’s head is buried in his laptop. He comes here five days a week; He used to work from home, he says, but “you get cabin fever and you miss human contact.”

So he tried working in traditional cafes; “In a coffee shop you tend to get that vibe where the staff, after half an hour, are glaring at you, waiting for you to buy something else. Whereas it’s a lot more relaxed here. And the wifi is better.”

READ MORE: Caffeine doesn’t tamper with heartbeat, study suggests

Unlike some coffee shops, Ziferplat has no minimum spend. And once you’ve paid for five hours, the rest of the day is free.

In the United Kingdom, around 16 per cent of workers are self-employed. In Canada, freelancers represent around 10 per cent of the workforce. And the number continues to rise.

“You see a lot of people working freelance nowadays,” says Davies, who estimates that half their business comes from customers who use it as an office.

“We’re trying to solve that coffee shop office problem. And people do treat us like a co-working space.”

And that “coffee office” — or “coffice” — business is booming. The Ziferblat cafe is now opening branches throughout the U.K. And the business model is being adopted across Europe and North America, feeding the growing appetite from self-employed workers.

World AIDS Day: Saskatoon’s HIV rates more than twice the national average

In conjunction with World AIDS Day taking place on Dec. 1, the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) released a report that reveals the city’s HIV infection rates and what is being done to decrease the numbers.

The Saskatoon Health Region’s updated ‘Better Health For All’ report shows the city’s 2015 HIV infection rates were more than twice the national average, breaking a five-year downward trend:

Saskatoon: 14.6 in 100,000 in 2015Canada: 5.8 in 100,000 in 2014 (latest national data available)

READ MORE: World AIDS Day put spotlight on high Sask. HIV rates

Deputy health officer Dr. Johnmark Opondo said there was a 55 per cent increase in reported cases this year.

“We had come down to about 31 cases a year but last year, we went up to 51 cases,” he said from the Saskatoon Health Region office.

The increase in reported cases is mainly due to people not using clean needles for injection drug use and unprotected sex:

Injection drug use (IDU) accounted for 65 per cent of transmission in 2015Heterosexual sex accounted for 16 per cent of HIV transmission in 2015Male sex with other males also accounted for 16 per cent of transmission in 2015

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    According to the SHR, the key to decreasing infection rates is to educate the public on the importance of regular testing and providing those in need with access to ongoing treatment.

    “You can imagine if we’re able to do this across a large number of individuals who are HIV-infected, we’re reducing the amount of HIV that’s circulating in the community,” Opondo said.

    “This combined effort in testing and treatment probably explains the downward trend in the Saskatoon Health Region.”

    Seven out of 10 HIV-positive individuals identify as First Nation or Métis in Saskatoon, with contaminated injection drug use as the number one cause of infection.

    “We look at the mental health of the people and what is happening to them. Why are they self-medicating and using drugs?” All Nations Hope Network CEO Margaret Poitras asked.

    “It’s all (part) of the trauma that’s come from the residential schools and from colonization.”

    READ MORE: South African HIV vaccine trial could be ‘final nail in the coffin’ for the disease

    She has been working to find the root causes for the high rates of HIV among indigenous people for 17 years.

    However, HIV rates are now decreasing. Only 35 cases of new infections have been reported in 2016 and the Saskatoon Health Region said it believes that is due to an increase in testing, education and long-term treatment.

Montreal artists’ wooden mural looks to promote local talent

With the holiday season on the way, two Montreal artists have used the festivities to inspire their most recent artwork.

READ MORE: Espace Verre offers opportunities to learn about glass arts in Quebec

Patrick Monast and Diane Tremblay used different types of wood and branches to depict a village, mountains, a river and the holiday season.

The aim is to promote local artists.

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    The mural, which was made in a workshop in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, is 8 feet high and 24 feet in length.

    From there, it was transported in five pieces to its location at 1176 Bishop St.

    “We unified the five sections to adjust the texture and surface,” Monast told Global News.

    “It’s important to properly marry the sections together.”

    The artwork was made possible through 50 hours of work by 10 people.

    READ MORE: Montreal artist teams up with SPCA to counter anti-pit bull sentiment

    Since putting the piece up for display, Monast has visited the location to see how many people have stop to observed the work.

    “For artists, it is very important to see the traction that the artwork makes,” Monast said.

    The mural will be in place until the beginning of January, but the length of its stay depends on the weather.

    READ MORE: Syrian refugee photo exhibit portrays 4 families’ new life in Montreal

    Since publishing the mural on Facebook, several businesses have shown interest in having it transferred to their offices once its time on Bishop Street is over.

    “We would be thrilled to see this art piece have a second life,” Patrick Monast said.

    “There’s certainly a second life, but where? Not sure where it will end up.”

Tennessee wildfire: Gatlinburg man desperate to find his missing family

A Gatlinburg, Tenn., man says he hasn’t heard from his wife or daughters since Monday, when mandatory evacuations due to a wildfire separated him from his wife and daughter.

“My wife’s name is Constance Reed and my daughters’ names’ are Lily Reed and Chloe Reed,” Michael Reed said in an emotional interview with CBS affiliate WATE in Tennessee.

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    Reed said he and his son were separated from his wife and daughters when the wildfire, one of the largest and most devastating in U.S. history, began to threaten Gatlinburg.

    The wildfire grew in size Monday night when high winds blew trees onto power lines, sparking new fires and spreading embers over long distances, officials said.

    Hundreds of homes and other buildings, including a 16-storey hotel, were damaged or destroyed.

    READ MORE: Dolly Parton donating $1,000/month to every Tennessee family devastated by fires

    “We had seen on the news that there were fires on the spur,” Reed said. “So my son and I jumped in our van and drove … down the mountain to the Welcome Center on to the spur to see if it was close to our house.”

    After getting caught in the traffic of the massive evacuation – more than 14,000 people were evacuated from Sevier County according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) – Reed had what would become his final contact with his family in several days.

    “[My wife] called us about 8:15 and said that there were flames across the street from our house,” Reed told a WATE reporter while fighting back tears. “She didn’t know what to do. So I told her to call 911, and that was the last time that I talked to her.”

    WATCH: Tennessee firefighter captures dramatic video as he drives through Gatlinburg wildfire

    Reed says he’s been trying to learn more from emergency officials about his family’s fate, but no one has been able to give him any information.

    “We’ve snuck back into Gatlinburg, and a friend of mine went to the other shelter in Gatlinburg and they said she wasn’t there,” Reed said. “I’ve called the other shelters here, they said she isn’t there.”

    “[I’m] just hoping for a miracle.”

    Meanwhile thousands of people in Gatlinburg are preparing to get their first look at what remains of their homes and businesses Friday morning.

    READ MORE: Cats survive months in the wild following Fort McMurray wildfire

    Local officials, bowing to pressure from frustrated property owners, began allowing people back into most parts of the city and affected parts of the county for the first time at 10 a.m.

    Gatlinburg city manager Cindy Cameron Ogle says residents have to pass through a checkpoint and must show some proof of ownership or residency. She says the city is not implying that private property is safe and that people may encounter downed power lines and other dangers.

    The wildfires killed 11 people and damaged hundreds of homes and businesses.

    -With files from the Associated Press

Canada’s top political stories of 2016

It was another year of big headlines on Parliament Hill. The new Liberal government tried to find its feet, a bromance bloomed and — as usual — more than a few people found themselves in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Here, in no particular order, are the top political moments of 2015. Elbows up!

Bromance with Barack

Whether real or imagined, the friendship between incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing President Barack Obama was the subject of endless chatter in 2016.

A visit to Washington, D.C. in the spring featured the like-minded leaders cuddling babies and posing for photos, and culminated in a glittering state dinner.

The goodwill continued when Obama showed up over the summer to address Parliament, prompting (some said embarrassing) chants of “four more years!” in the House.

There were hugs. There were high-fives. The word “dude-plomacy” was uttered. It all ended too soon.

Mulcair gets rejected. Hard.

If Tom Mulcair thought he was going to get a pass from his party’s membership after a dismal showing in the 2015 federal election, he got a very rough dose of reality at the NDP convention in April.

Pundits speculated that Mulcair would need to clear 70 per cent support in order to stay on as leader. He didn’t even hit 50.

Then, because things just weren’t awkward enough, he confirmed he’ll be staying on until a replacement is chosen sometime in 2017. So far, nobody has officially entered the race.

Elbowgate

By international standards, our House of Commons is downright serene, so a brief moment of contact between the prime minister’s elbow and a fellow MP’s upper body qualified as an all-out ruckus.

Trudeau apologized three times for the elbow-to-the-chest heard around the world. Politicians rose to express their shock and dismay, media went nuts (sorry), and average Canadians just wanted the whole thing to blow over. Eventually, it did.

Assisted death

Canada’s new assisted-dying law was arguably the
most contentious and sensitive piece of legislation handled by the House of Commons this year, but it was the Senate that really threw a wrench in the government’s plans to get the law in place before everyone went home for the summer.

Once the bill was in front of them, the Red Chamber tried passing an amendment to give Canadians who aren’t terminally ill access to doctor-assisted death (which is more in line with a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada), but the House of Commons rejected that amendment and sent the bill back again.

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Complicating matters was the growing crop of independent senators who were not compelled to vote along party lines. The legislation was widely seen as the first major test of how a truly independent Senate might work.

In the end, the Senate yielded. The more restrictive legislation became law in June, to the relief of some Canadians and the dismay of others.

Expenses

It cost taxpayers $200,000 to move two top Trudeau aides from Toronto to Ottawa, $3,700 to cover limo rides for the health minister, and $6,600 to pay a photographer to follow our environment minister minister around.

Scandals involving government expenses are nothing new in Canada ($16 orange juice, anyone?), but the Liberals set a new record for the sheer number of damaging headlines in August and September.

The prime minister promised, each time, that his government was reviewing how expenses are handled.

Values screening

Kellie Leitch was barely a blip on the political radar when she launched her campaign to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, but all that changed with an email sent to her supporters in the fall. Leitch wanted to know if they thought screening immigrants and refugees for “anti-Canadian values” was a good idea.

What followed was weeks of controversy, debate and speculation about what, exactly, an “anti-Canadian value” might be.

Leitch doubled (and tripled) down, in spite of opposition from within her own party, then added fuel to the fire with praise of president-elect Donald Trump.

Expect the controversies to continue. The Conservatives aren’t set to choose a new leader until next May.

Liz may resign

Elizabeth May has been the face of the federal Green Party and its sole MP for a decade, so when she began talking about stepping down, people took notice.

May found herself in direct conflict with her party’s membership in August when the Greens voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel during their convention.

After a week of soul-searching and a meeting with top party brass, she stayed. The party’s support for the BDS movement has since been retracted.

First Nations suicide crisis

The third-world conditions in many First Nations communities across Canada were once again laid bare in April when 11 people tried to take their own lives in a single night in the remote town of Attawapiskat.

Local chief Bruce Shisheesh pleaded for help from Ottawa, highlighting the overcrowded and substandard housing situation plaguing Attawapiskat and many other reserves across Canada.

Eight-year-old Shakira Koostachin plays on a swing in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

“I’m homeless, leading my own community,” Shisheesh told Global News.

“I sleep on a couch, how would you feel if you were leading Attawapiskat and you didn’t have a home or a place to sleep?”

The government responded with emergency aid and a visit from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. In June, Shisheesh and youth from the community met personally with the prime minister.

Phoenix payroll meltdown

The Liberals inherited a disaster-in-the-making with the roll-out of the Phoenix payroll system in February. The new program, which handles the paycheques of around 300,000 federal public servants, came with a steep learning curve and an already deep backlog of files waiting to be processed.

It promptly flamed out.

For some employees, the money simply dried up, while others failed to receive back-pay or overtime pay. As the crisis deepened and families struggled to pay their mortgages, the government opened new call centres to handle pay files and hired new staff to man the phones. As of December, the backlog still hasn’t been cleared.

Loss of Jim Prentice and Jean Lapierre

Canada’s Parliament lost two former cabinet ministers in 2016, and shockingly they both died in plane crashes. Jean Lapierre, who became a respected Quebec political analyst after leaving federal politics, was killed on March 29 while en route with his family to his father’s funeral in eastern Quebec.

Then, in October, former Alberta premier and federal minister Jim Prentice died in a similar crash at the opposite end of the country, in British Columbia. He had also been travelling with family.

Both deaths shook the federal political scene, with tributes to the two men pouring in from across the country.

5 Montreal stories you must read this week: December 2

From an ethics scandal at the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) to meeting a Great Montrealer whose mission is to give dogs a second chance at life, these are the top five stories Global News covered in Montreal this week:

Holiday heist

“I tell my kids we can’t buy another one. It’s like that. Someone stole it.”

It appears a Grinch-like character is striking the off-island town of Notre-Dame-de-L’île-Perrot.

READ THE STORY: Holiday light heists hitting Montreal’s off-island town

Auditing Quebec’s English school boards

“They have a code of ethics that they have to respect.”

Quebec education minister Sébastien Proulx has appointed an auditor to look into breach of ethics allegations and growing tension between commissioners at both the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and the Lester B. Pearson School Board(LBPSB).

READ THE STORY: Quebec appoints auditor to look into English school board scandals

Riverside rezoning

“Ultimately, my daughter will probably end up going to French school close to home.”

This year could be the last for some students at St. Lawrence Elementary in Candiac as the Riverside School Board looks at re-zoning.

READ THE STORY: Parents considering French schools if Riverside School Board re-zones

Giving dogs a second chance

“[Anne Dubé is] the epicentre of this rescue, she’s the heart and soul of this rescue. She has the ability to inspire people.”

Anne Dubé found her true calling in life 15 years ago — simply because she has a love of dogs.

READ THE STORY: #GreatMTLer: Rosie Animal Adoption’s Anne Dubé, saviour who gives dogs 2nd chance at life

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    LBPSB ethics scandal

    “I can assure you one thing positively, I have the utmost respect for all of our administrators, always have.”

    Since the beginning of the school year, the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) has been embroiled in an ethics scandal.

    READ THE STORY: Calls for resignation of LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day date back to at least December 2015

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Nova Scotia teachers work-to-rule: What does it mean for you?

As parents and guardians, teachers and administrators prepare for work-to-rule job action to begin Tuesday, questions are still swirling about what this will actually mean for students and for parents.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia schools to reopen Tuesday, work-to-rule still in place

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Schools were closed Monday after the government said original work-to-rule directives from Nova Scotia Teachers Union compromised student safety. Monday afternoon, Education Minister Karen Casey announced the schools would reopen after learining the union had changed their directives regarding principals’ duties.

Here are answers to some of parents’ biggest questions heading into next week:

Will classes go ahead as usual?

Yes. Regular classroom instruction won’t be interrupted.

Will there be supervision for students before and after school?

Yes. Principals will be able to arrive on school property earlier than 20 minutes before class time starts, and stay longer than 20 minutes after the last bell rings.

They are also permitted to supervise during lunch and recess breaks.

Teachers, however, will are only required to show up at school 20 minutes before classes start, and to stay for 20 minutes after the school day ends.

How will breakfast programs be affected?

Breakfast and lunch program operation at schools across the province depend on each school, therefore there’s no definite yes or no.

READ MORE: With work-to-rule days away, NS students worried about breakfast program

With teachers and principals not arriving at schools until 20 minutes before the start of the school day, some breakfast and lunch programs may be affected. Any changes will be communicated to parents.

What about my child’s fundraiser?

Unless facilitated by a parent or volunteer, no fundraisers will be going ahead.

Here is a list of expectations for teachers during a work-to-rule campaign:

Teachers will arrive at school 20 minutes before start time and leave 20 minutes after the end of the school dayTeachers won’t communicate about school matters, including with parents, outside the teaching dayNo collection of money for, or organization of fundraisers with studentsInformation, including assessments and attendance, won’t be entered into PowerSchool or TIENTNo external assessments or diagnostic instruments will be completed by teachers, unless they’re required by lawNo department or board assessments will be administeredTeachers won’t participate or support extra-curricular activitiesTeachers won’t update websites or e-newslettersNo attendance of staff meetings, program planning or student success meetingsTeachers won’t take part in department or school board professional developmentTeachers won’t give extra help to students before or after lass or at lunch timeStudent teachers won’t be acceptedSchool administrators won’t participate in advisory council or parent group meetings, unless it’s due to an appeal of student disciplineSchool administrators won’t do classroom walk-throughs to supervise teachersTeachers and school administrators won’t attend board and department staff

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Cancer patient claims she was initially turned away by car rental service for not looking like her ID

A California woman who lost her hair as a result of radiation therapy says  she was humiliated by a staff member at a rental car service at the Sacramento airport when she was told she didn’t look like the photo on her driver’s licence.

Leah Cook said she was wearing a wig at the airport on Thursday when she presented her driver’s licence, a credit card and her Alamo rental car reservation at the counter.

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READ MORE: Police mistake breast cancer patient for woman wanted for killing her own baby

“He held up my ID and he said ‘Who is this? Who is this?’ and I said, ‘That’s me,’” Cook told NBC.

“He said, ‘No, that’s not you’ and I was like, ‘Yes it’s me, I have cancer’ and he was like, ‘No that’s not you’. I took off my wig and said, ‘See, I have cancer.’”

She wrote about her experience on Facebook.

Alamo’s parent company, Enterprise, responded saying they are looking into the matter. Alamo told Global News they offered Cook a free upgrade at the airport and she eventually got her rental car. They later called Cook to apologize, making the rental free.

Alamo Rent a Car released this statement to Global  News:

“We have carefully and thoroughly looked into this, and express our sincere apologies.  Our employee at the counter was not sensitive to the customer and mishandled the situation entirely after checking her driver’s license.  However, the employee immediately asked for another Manager’s assistance – and once that Manager was able to resolve the issue, she authorized a free upgrade for the customer.  An Area Manager then personally called to follow up with the customer and apologized profusely again.  The Area Manager even talked to the customer’s daughter and offered to make the weekly rental free.  We understand that great sensitivity is required in situations like these, and we certainly appreciate that the customer was willing to share her story and teach all of us how to better handle such interactions.”

As for Cook, she said on Facebook the whole situation really made her feel minuscule.

“I’ve never been more humiliated in my life! In the moment, I felt like he stripped me of everything I’ve gone thru to beat cancer and made me feel so small.”

Your guide to New Year’s resolutions: How to quit smoking for good

It’s been seven months since Jessica Thierren had a cigarette. The 29-year-old smoked for a decade of her life up until May 2016.

“In over 10 years, it went from a social thing to a habit. I was addicted to it and did it with certain things – wake up, have a coffee, have a smoke, break time at work, have a smoke, go out with friends for drinks, have a smoke,” she told Global News.

Her whole family smokes and so does her fiancé. But with a May 2017 wedding date looming, Thierren knew she wanted to make changes.

“I wanted to be healthier, start walking and running and eating better. Each week got easier because I didn’t feel like smoking, I didn’t feel like crap. It was nice not having to plan out when I’d be smoking next,” Thierren said.

READ MORE: Smokers who quit before 40 save a decade of their lives, study suggests

January is a busy time for smokers’ hotlines across the country. Quitting smoking for good is always one of the top New Year’s resolutions for Canadians.

“We find here, it’s our busy season. A lot of people view [the New Year] as a time for a fresh start to make powerful changes in their lives,” Terri Schneider, a senior co-ordinator for the Smokers’ Helpline, told Global News.

The Smokers’ Helpline, operated by the Canadian Cancer Society, is offered across the country to Canadians, and for free.

Here, Schneider and Thierren offer their tips on how to quit smoking – and to make the switch last for good.

Carve out a realistic plan

What’s feasible for one person who’s been smoking for a year may not be realistic at all for another who’s relied on cigarettes for three decades, Schneider said.

Some people can pull off going cold turkey, but others are simply interested in cutting back.

“It all depends on the individual, how many years they’ve been smoking and how many times they’ve tried to quit in the past,” she explained.

READ MORE: US is marking 50th anniversary of surgeon general report that turned the tide against smoking

“Someone may be smoking for 40 years and to simply say, ‘I’m going to stop today’ may not be a realistic goal. They need it to be realistic so they feel empowered and motivated,” she said.

People could try to quit smoking for 24 hours, learn from that experience and try it again a week later. They could also try cutting back from 40 cigarettes a day to 20.

WATCH: A look at tips on how you can quit smoking

Call the Smokers’ Helpline

Use the tools that are readily available to you, such as the Smokers’ Helpline. On your cigarette pack, there’s a provincial number that’ll guide you to regional resources. The helpline can be accessed over the phone, online or via text.

Coaches, most of whom are former smokers, offer advice around the clock to those who call in.

It’s a resource Thierren still turns to.

READ MORE: Woman featured in graphic anti-smoking ads dies of cancer, hailed as hero

“We’d set a date for them to call me and it kept me accountable even though it was a complete stranger,” she said. The coach took notes from old talks and followed up – if Thierren said she was worried about an upcoming family camping trip because everyone smokes, the counsellor would follow up to see how she did.

Schneider said she fields calls from smokers who are starting to quit, months into the process and even years in. The coaches can relate because they quit at some point, too.

“It’s such a powerful addiction, so it’s helpful to find support in someone who has been through that journey and knows how challenging it is,” she said.

Rely on nicotine replacement therapy

There’s nicotine gum, the patch, sprays, lozenges, inhalers, and even prescription medication doled out by your doctor – these are tools that’ll ease the cravings and withdrawals you’ll initially grapple with.

The patch releases a steady dose of nicotine into the body, while gums, lozenges and inhalers can help with in-the-moment cravings, for example. They give you nicotine without all of the other chemicals that cause the harm.

“We strongly encourage people to explore these options. We know it’s much more effective than quitting cold turkey,” Schneider said.

Find a new habit

If you’re used to a smoke break to relieve stress during the workday or you smoke during a lunch break, you need to find new ways to channel your energy.

When Schneider talks to people calling in, and they’re dealing with a craving, she suggests they chew nicotine gum, take a walk, or start to prepare dinner to keep their hands and mind busy.

READ MORE: Should smoking bans extend to public parks and beaches? Debate sparks controversy in Canada

In Thierren’s case, she swapped her 15-minute smoke break with reading a book.

“I’d whip out a book and I’d be satisfied I didn’t give into my craving,” she said.

After work, she goes for a walk or jogs. Before, when she’d try to quit, she’d snack on junk food more. Getting into better shape was the other half of her goal before getting married. She’s lost 40 pounds since quitting in May.

Take advantage of rewards

Thierren won a $1,000 cash prize for quitting by a set date and taking part in a five-kilometre run in the Run To Quit program. There are handfuls of prizes up for grabs for quitting – another option is the First Week Challenge Contest.

If you quit smoking for the first seven days of the month, you could win $500.

You save plenty of money, too. Thierren said she saves at least $25 a week from not buying cigarettes.

After Thierren won $1,000, which paid for her wedding photographer, she ran another five-kilometre race.

WATCH: Cash incentives can help you quit smoking.

Create a positive environment

Cleaning up your home and workspace goes a long way, according to Thierren.

“The biggest challenge people often face is the exposure to stimuli,” she said.

Get rid of cigarettes and ashtrays around the house and in the car. Make sure there’s no indication of smoking that may prompt you to light a cigarette.

“Set up your environment to facilitate a clean start,” Thierren said.

Create a support network

While Thierren’s whole family smokes, she told them about her commitment so they’d keep the cigarettes and smoke away from her.

Thierren told Global News she told everyone she knows. That way, it’d be harder for her to go back to her old ways.

She also leaned on her fiancé and friends for support. Eventually her fiancé quit smoking, too. He gave up cigarettes in early November.

READ MORE: Could plain packaging for cigarettes help Canadians quit smoking?

Finally, the Smokers’ Helpline coaches helped her identify her triggers and how to address them. The hardest part of quitting for Thierren is driving by the gas station without stopping for cigarettes. With some counselling, she’s able to run errands without second guessing.

If you fail, just try again

Quitting isn’t easy, but each time you do, you further your cause. If you make it a week, you’re nine times more likely to quit for good, according to research.

Thierren tried a handful of times until it finally stuck.

READ MORE: How health officials helped 120,000 people quit smoking

“You make the commitment but Saturday rolls around and you think you’ll just start again on Monday,” she said.

“It’s not super easy. There are lots of challenges, but I’ve never been more proud about doing something before,” she told Global News.

Read more about the Smokers’ Helpline.

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Former Ontario teacher charged with another sex offence involving young girl: police

A 48-year-old former teacher from Kitchener, Ont., faces an additional sex offence charge related to a young girl and police say they believe there may be more victims.

Geoffrey Burnet was charged with eight other people in southern Ontario last month, following an investigation police said was triggered by the sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl who was being made available for sexual services on Craigslist.

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“It’s a very unique case because we’re not used to a victimization of this nature —; it’s really graphic,” Dunbar told last month.

“It’s one of the worst, most heinous crimes we’ve seen because we’ve got multiple offenders and one young victim.”

READ MORE: Nine charged with child porn offences after Ontario sexual assault investigation

Burnet was initially charged by Waterloo police with making and possessing child pornography, then re-arrested by Hamilton police and further charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching in September.

Hamilton police announced Friday that another young girl had come forward and Burnet has since been charged with an additional count of sexual exploitation.

Burnet is a former teacher with Columbia International College, Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board, Upper Grand Distric School Board and the Toronto District School Board.

Investigators were alerted to the sexual assault by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society on May 3. Police said they interviewed the seven-year-old girl that day and arrested her mother’s boyfriend later that night.

WATCH: Hamilton man facing 40 charges in child sexual assault case of 7-year-old girl

The 34-year-old Hamilton man, who police did not identify to protect the identity of the child, faced close to 40 charges including sexual assault, sexual interference and making and possessing child pornography.

The girl’s mother was also charged with failing to provide the necessities of life. Officers then raided their home and seized several items including electronics.

“This young female victim had been sexually assaulted by more than one person and she was also being made available to be sexually assaulted by others through Craigslist,” Hamilton Police Det.-Sgt. David Dunbar said during a press conference Nov. 17.

“This work requires sensitivity and time, it is about supporting victims and intervening before there are additional victims,” added Hamilton Police Chief Eric Girt. “It remains a tragedy.”

WATCH: Multiple charges laid across Ontario cities in child sexual assault case

Investigators said they then discovered another young girl, the 16-year-old sister of the seven-year-old girl, had also been sexually assaulted by more than one person.

Police expanded the investigation, dubbed “Project Links,” and joined forces with police forces in Niagara, Waterloo, Chatham-Kent, Hamilton and the Ontario Provincial Police to execute 14 raids, 15 production orders and seized more than 100 electronic devices.

Burnet was also further charged after police said they also discovered a link to a historic sexual assault case in Hamilton unrelated to Project Links.

Anyone with further information in relation to any sexual assault occurrences involving Burnet are encouraged to contact Det.-Michelle Wiley at (905) 546-3856 or Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 222-8477.

With files from and Leslie Whyte

Sonia Benezra speaks about life as a bilingual TV personality in Quebec

Having spent 30 years in the broadcast industry, Quebec TV personality Sonia Benezra joined Global News Morning as a guest host alongside anchor Laura Casella and weather specialist Kim Sullivan.

Benezra was the first person hired as a VJ on MusiquePlus in 1986, winning four People’s Choice Awards and three Gemini Awards in her career.

She hosted the Sonia Benezra Show on TQS and over the course of her career, has interviewed a long list of celebrities that include Al Pacino, Mick Jagger, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Elton John, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Tina Turner.

Benezra has hosted shows in both English and French.

Global News asked Benezra a few questions to get to know her a little better and find out what she’s up to now.

What projects are you working on now?

I released my autobiography a year ago called Je ne regrette presque rien.

I took a sabbatical after being on air for 30 years straight.

WATCH BELOW: Global’s Laura Casella and guest co-host Sonia Benezra to talk to Denis Vokmirovic about La Récolte, a Montreal restaurant featuring seasonal and locally-sourced food.

Are there any differences between hosting shows in French compared to English?

It takes a lot more words in French to say what you need to say compared to English.

I always felt like a bridge between the two communities.

I always thought it was so unfortunate the French were not aware of what the English community was doing and the English community is not aware of what the French community is doing.

What is it like interviewing celebrities? How do you stay focused?

I think that the best way to do a good interview is to go in prepared and be ready to go somewhere the artist takes you.

To do a good interview, you have to listen to what the person tells you.

I’ve never gone in with general questions, I’ve gone in with specifics and that appeals to the artist, being prepared is really appealing.

WATCH BELOW: Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire from the École Polytechnique de Montréal Corporation talks to Global’s Laura Casella and guest co-host Sonia Benezra about choosing the Order of the White Rose.

What have you learned from interviewing so many people?

Most people, no matter what they’ve accomplished, are actually very fragile.

Most artists that I’ve interviewed have insecurities.

I always try to talk about human aspects.

There’s a fragility, insecurity that exists in most artists, which everyone can relate to.

I’m much more interested in what’s perceived as flaws.

WATCH BELOW: Global entertainment columnist Jay Walker joins Kim Sullivan and guest co-host Sonia Benezra to talk about Cirque du Soleil and Merry Montreal.

Celebrities do a lot of interviews. How do you keep it interesting for them?

I like to be specific. I’ll find something that I can relate to, I always find that makes the interview interesting.

If they’re going through something that’s really delicate, I broach it before the interview so they’re not blindsided and they really like that.

My style is not an aggressive style, it’s more heartfelt.

ChangSha Night Net

Related

  • Musician Karl Wolf guest hosts Global News Morning in Montreal

  • Radio personality Cat Spencer guest hosts Global News Morning in Montreal

  • Guest host chef Antonio Park joins Global News Morning in Montreal

Michigan election board to hear Donald Trump’s request to block recount

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s elections board on Friday will consider President-elect Donald Trump‘s request to block a hand recount of all 4.8 million ballots cast in the state he won by about 10,700 votes over Hillary Clinton.

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Lawyers for the Trump campaign argued Thursday that Green Party nominee Jill Stein, a “bottom-dwelling candidate,” cannot seek the expensive, time-consuming recount because she was not “aggrieved” to the point where potential miscounting of votes could have cost her the election. She garnered just 1 per cent in Michigan.

They also said in their objection that Stein waited until the last minute to file her recount petition Wednesday, making it impossible to finish by a Dec. 13 deadline.

Stein countered that Trump’s “cynical efforts to delay the recount and create unnecessary costs for taxpayers are shameful and outrageous.” His objections suspended the planned Friday start of the recount until next week.

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know as vote recount set to begin

A recount is already underway in Wisconsin, which Trump won by roughly 22,000 votes and where the first reporting of numbers was expected Friday. In Pennsylvania, a hearing was scheduled for Monday on Stein’s push to secure a court-ordered statewide recount, a legal manoeuvr that has never been tried, according to one of the attorneys who filed it.

Recounts were not expected to flip nearly enough votes to change the outcome in any of the states.

WATCH: The first candidate-driven statewide recount of a US presidential election in 16 years was set to begin Thursday in Wisconsin – a state that Donald Trump won by less than a percentage point over Hillary Clinton after polls long predicted a Clinton victory.

The Wisconsin recount doesn’t carry nearly the same drama as the Florida recount in 2000, when the outcome of the presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush hung in the balance.

“This is certainly not Bush v. Gore,” said Mike Haas, Wisconsin’s chief elections administrator.

Even so, the campaigns for Trump, Clinton and Stein all had observers spread throughout the state to watch the process.

The recount will have to move quickly. The federal deadline to certify the vote to avoid having the fate of Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes decided by Congress is Dec. 13. Even if that were to happen, the votes would almost certainly go to Trump, since Republicans control both chambers of Congress.

READ MORE: Green Party-backed group pushing for a Pennsylvania recount

Stein has argued, without evidence, that irregularities in the votes in all three states suggest that there could have been tampering with the vote, perhaps through a well-co-ordinated, highly complex cyberattack.

“Verifying the vote through this recount is the only way to confirm that every vote has been counted securely and accurately and is not compromised by machine or human error, or by tampering or hacking,” Stein said.

Stein’s critics, including the Wisconsin Republican Party, contend that she is a little-known candidate who is merely trying to raise her profile while raising millions of dollars.

The Wisconsin recount was estimated to cost about $3.9 million. Stein paid $973,250 for the requested recount in Michigan. Michigan’s Republican secretary of state, Ruth Johnson, has said a recount could cost $5 million total.

—;

Associated Press writer Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.