Members of Toronto’s Jewish community rally to show support for Israel

TORONTO – Members of Toronto’s Jewish community rallied at a city synagogue Monday night in a show of solidarity with Israel as the country’s conflict with Hamas rulers in Gaza continues.

The Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue was packed with people voicing their support for Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Hamas, which seized Gaza by force in 2007.

Israel launched an air strike against the Gaza strip on Nov. 14, to deter Hamas from firing rockets into Israel.

In Toronto, Israel’s consul general to the city DJ Schneeweiss, federal Heritage Minister James Moore and journalist David Frum were among those who addressed the crowd.

Moore assured those gathered that Ottawa stands firm in its commitment to Israel.

“The government of Canada holds Hamas responsible for this violence,” he said.

His comments echoed a similar statement made by the Prime Minister on Friday, in which Stephen Harper said Canada recognized and supported Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.

Harper had also urged all sides in the conflict to “take all precautions possible to spare any innocent lives.”

Meanwhile, Frum, the event’s keynote speaker, spoke directly to Israeli citizens.

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“When the media condemns both those who commit terrorist atrocities and those who are the victims of terrorist atrocities, Israel asks, ‘are we alone?’” he said, and gestured to the room. “Take a look at this hall. Israel is not alone.”

In addition to the speeches, the Toronto rally featured the screening of a video which asked the crowd to “pretend” they were in the same situation as Israeli citizens, and showed pictures of ruined cities, mothers comforting distraught children, and people running away from danger.

“Now stop pretending,” the video intoned in the last minute. “Because it is happening in Israel. Every day.”

In the six days of conflict so far, the death toll in Gaza has risen to 111. Palestinian officials say 56 of those are civilians.

Meanwhile, Hamas fighters have launched more than 1,000 rockets into Israel. Three Israelis have died and dozens have been injured from Palestinian rocket fire.

Canada and Israel recently signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding covering defence and industrial initiatives, as well as information-sharing.

On Monday, Egypt, the traditional mediator between Israel and the Arab world, was at the centre of a flurry of diplomatic activity, trying to broker a cease-fire in the region.

Hamas – which is an offshoot of the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood – wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007.

Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt.

Israeli leaders have also repeatedly threatened to widen their offensive, saying an invasion is an option.

Israel has amassed troops on the Gaza border and begun calling up thousands of reservists. Still, an Israeli official emphasized that Israel hopes to find a diplomatic solution.

Over the years, Israeli governments have struggled to come up with an effective policy toward Hamas, which is deeply rooted in Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.6 million.

Neither Israel’s economic blockade of the territory nor military strikes have deterred the Islamists, weakened their grip on Gaza or their ability to fire rockets at the Jewish state.

Instead, the two sides have observed informal cease-fires over the years, interrupted by flare-ups of violence.

– with files from the Associated Press

Ex-political adviser Stobbe authors book after acquittal in wife’s murder – Winnipeg

He’s gone from political adviser to one-time murder suspect, and now, author.

Mark Stobbe’s book about being acquitted of his wife’s murder and his time in jail is about to be released.

“At one point in the trial, I remarked to Tim, my lawyer, that one could learn a lot from being on trial for murder. ‘It would have been cheaper to take the course,’ he replied,” Stobbe read aloud from Lessons From Remand, during an interview with Global National correspondent Crystal Goomansingh in Saskatoon.

Stobbe used to be a senior adviser to former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow. In 2000, Stobbe moved to Manitoba to work for Premier Gary Doer.

On October 25, 2000, Stobbe’s wife was found dead. The body of Beverly Rowbotham, 42, was discovered in the family’s sedan, parked near a gas station in Selkirk, Manitoba.

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Stobbe was always the prime suspect, but it wasn’t until May 2008 that RCMP charged him. “In the eight years between the time that Bev was killed and the time that I was arrested, there was always a nagging feeling that someday, the shoe would drop and I would have to undergo that,” Stobbe said.

The 53-year-old wrote in his book, “Being suspected, charged, and tried for the murder of your spouse is not an experience anyone would want to undergo. First, there is the murder itself. Someone you love is killed in a brutal violent way.”

At the murder trial, autopsy reports revealed Rowbotham had 16 head wounds. Blood, hair and bone fragments were found in the family’s backyard. But the case presented lacked physical evidence linked to Stobbe.

He says he was confident that he would be acquitted. “I knew that if (friends and family) relied on what the media were reporting, they would worry unnecessarily about the way the trial was going.”

“I know I’m innocent.”

However, Stobbe points out his book has nothing to do with convincing others to accept the not guilty verdict handed down in March. “I would have hoped that there would be an acceptance of the verdict. Many people clearly don’t accept that verdict.”

“I’m not running around trying to convince people of my innocence… (The book has) nothing to do with the trial. The only connection it’s got with my personal situation, is the fact I was in jail for a period of time.”

Stobbe also says trying to find employment has been difficult since the trial ended. “There is an identification of me and an issue that I didn’t choose that I would much rather did not happen. But I can’t escape it, and it will probably be with me in some form for the rest of my life.”

Proceeds from the book will pay for his legal fees. In this case, the Criminal Notoriety Act doesn’t apply. Justice Minister Vic Toews said last week, “This individual is not a convicted criminal, and so, the provincial laws in respect to those who earn money off their crimes would not apply.”

Stobbe says he won’t use the profits to hire a private investigator to solve his wife’s murder. “I’ve got no idea where I’d ask the private investigator where to start.”

Rowbotham’s sister calls the book hurtful. “I think it’s a rather perverse avenue. I’m not sure what the purpose is,” Barb Kilpatrick said in a phone interview with Global News from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.

During the trial, Kilpatrick testified she saw two dark reddish stains on a wall of the garage belonging to her sister and brother-in-law. Kilpatrick also said the relationship between Stobbe and Rowbotham was strained after the family moved from Saskatoon to Manitoba for his job.

Kilpatrick is in disbelief at the verdict. “We’re shocked that 12 intelligent people came to this conclusion.”

Stobbe ends his book by offering “advice on how to stay out of jail if your spouse is murdered,” warning that anything you do or say can and will be used against you.

“Your ordeal will begin when you are told your spouse is dead… If your spouse is murdered, you will be the primary suspect. Particularly, if you are male. If the crime is not solved, you will be the subject of the most intense police scrutiny imaginable.”

He goes on to write, “The best way to avoid being wrongfully convicted is to not have anything that can be considered motive… Treat your spouse with respect and love. Live this way and police will have a hard time suspecting you.”

Lessons From Remand is the first of two books Stobbe is publishing, and will be released in the spring.

No release date has been set for the second book, which will consist of his daily journal that he wrote to his family.

Follow Crystal on Twitter: @cgoomansingh

Edmonton Police launch new domestic violence ads

A new campaign by the Edmonton Police Service is focusing on a growing problem: domestic violence.

The new ads could be disturbing to some.

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“We’re trying to get people’s attention, that’s all. In looking at these, I see this type of thing every day, so it’s not that shocking to me,” says Staff Sergeant Darcy Strang, with the Domestic Offender Crime Section. “However, it would be shocking to the general public, and it’s nice to be able to let the general public know that this is a crime that produces horrific effects.”

The statistics in Edmonton may be shocking as well. Police responded to 30 per cent more domestic related calls this year.

“The police service recognizes it’s a very concerning issue, and like I said before, when it comes to the victim leaving the relationship or the offender being released from jail those are sort of choke points when sometimes the most violence occurs,” says Strang.

The number of murders at the hands of domestic violence has also spiked. The Domestic Offender Crime Section, which deals with the most violent cases, handles about 100 cases a year.

“Someone who may not even have a much of criminal background before, but just due to the emotion, might end up doing something that he or she is out of character, but due to the emotion occurs,” explains Strang.

Last week, Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht made a plea to city council for more money. A portion of the added funds would be put towards having more people working in the Domestic Offenders Crime Section.

“You know on any given weekend we’re looking at six or seven serious domestic assaults,” said Chief Knecht.

Janine Fraser, who’s the executive director with Win House, a women’s shelter in Edmonton, believes the number of cases is increasing in the city because more victims are reporting domestic violence, not because more Edmontonians are being abused.

“I think that they know they’re being supported, that there are so many different resources in place that will work to support them,” says Fraser.

However, the number of victims and witnesses who aren’t reporting domestic related violence remains high; estimated to be at 70 per cent. Financial restraints, loss of custody of children, and leaving children in the hands of an abuser, are among the reasons victims don’t report violence.

“Domestic abuse is about power and control, so as soon as an abuser knows that they can have some power and control, and they use the children, they’re right back in the cycle, and victims know that. They know that from living with the abuser. So generally speaking, they may not report because what they’re trying to do is mitigate their own risk,” says Fraser.

The new ads are part of an effort to urge victims and witnesses to have a voice.


David Beckham says MLS Cup will be his final game with the Los Angeles Galaxy

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – David Beckham will play his final game for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS Cup next month.

Beckham and the Galaxy announced the English midfielder’s decision Monday, a day after the defending MLS champions advanced to their second straight league final. Los Angeles faces Houston for the MLS title on Dec. 1.

The 37-year-old Beckham isn’t retiring, but the superstar he gave no hint of his next move.

“I’ve had an incredibly special time playing for the L.A. Galaxy,” Beckham said in a statement. “However, I wanted to experience one last challenge before the end of my playing career. I don’t see this as the end of my relationship with the league, as my ambition is to be part of the ownership structure in the future.”

Beckham has played in Los Angeles for six seasons since his groundbreaking move from Real Madrid, reaching three league finals and winning one MLS title last year during his best stateside campaign.

He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Galaxy in January after playing out his initial five-year deal, turning down potential moves to wealthy Paris Saint-Germain and other clubs – including at least one Premiership team, according to Beckham.

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Beckham hadn’t given any overt indications he was planning to leave the Galaxy after this season with a year left on his deal. Last week, the longtime England captain pointedly denied rumours linking him to a short-term stint in Australia.

Beckham has been the star player for MLS’ highest-profile franchise during his tenure, which began with a handful of rocky seasons before the Galaxy became a power under coach Bruce Arena in recent years. As Beckham indicated in his news release, his MLS contract includes the option to purchase a league franchise when his playing career ends, and Beckham has long been keen on an ownership move.

“In my time here I have seen the popularity of the game grow every year,” Beckham said. “I’ve been fortunate to win trophies, but more important to me has been the fantastic reception I’ve had from fans in L.A. and across the States. Soccer’s potential has no limits in this wonderful country, and I want to always be part of growing it.”

Beckham’s announcement indicated the MLS Cup will be his final “competitive” match with the Galaxy, which means he might participate in lucrative overseas friendlies often played by the Galaxy in recent years. But Los Angeles has no overseas exhibitions currently scheduled, so the championship game might be his final bow.

“Seldom does an athlete redefine a sport,” said Tim Leiweke, the president of Galaxy owners AEG. “David not only took our franchise to another level, but he took our sport to another level It has been an honour and privilege to be a part of his world, and more importantly, to have him be a part of ours.”

Beckham has been among MLS’ top players when healthy throughout his contract, and the gifted playmaker has meshed well with fellow international stars Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan during the Galaxy’s past two seasons. Los Angeles got off to a slow start this year, but has played splendidly down the stretch and into the post-season, rolling to a first-round elimination of the Supporters’ Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes and a two-game victory over the Seattle Sounders in the Western Conference finals.

MLS has grown exponentially during Beckham’s tenure as the league’s face, expanding to 19 North American teams with record attendance and much-improved broadcast deals. The Galaxy reached the most lucrative television deal in MLS history last year with Time Warner Cable Sports.

“There is no doubt that MLS is far more popular and important here and abroad than it was when he arrived,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “David has achieved great things on and off the field during his time with the Galaxy, and he will always be an important part of our history. We look forward to his continued involvement with the L.A. Galaxy and the league.”

Beckham began his pro career with 12 years at Manchester United before his move to Real Madrid. He left for the Galaxy in 2007, building on a worldwide fame that reportedly produces more than $40 million per year in endorsement income.

Beckham played in three World Cups and made a record 115 appearances for England, but wasn’t chosen for the Olympic team at the London Games last summer. Beckham still played a role in the Olympic festivities, including a prominent part in the lighting of the Olympic flame in his native east London during the opening ceremonies.

Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria, seem comfortable in Los Angeles, where their three sons – Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz – attend school. Beckham is a fixture in the Los Angeles Lakers’ courtside seats, attending his most recent game with his three sons last Friday.

Canucks’ Schneider says he will consider playing in Switzerland more seriously

VANCOUVER – Cory Schneider’s patience is starting to wear out.

The Vancouver Canucks goaltender said Monday he will look to play in Europe if the NHL lockout lasts much longer. Schneider plans to go home to the Boston area for American Thanksgiving and then explore his options in Switzerland, where he would be considered a domestic player because his grandfather was born there.

“It’ll be another week, so we’ll see if the talks have gone anywhere, and if not we’ll have to open the door to that possibility again,” he said Monday after skating with some of his teammates at the University of British Columbia.

Players have been locked out since the previous deal expired Sept. 15.

Schneider, who displaced Roberto Luongo as Vancouver’s starter in the Stanley Cup playoffs, said a couple of Swiss clubs have expressed interest, based on his dual citizenship.

Like most of the Canucks’ core players, he has waited to see how negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement played out rather than head overseas. While some players, such as Daniel and Henrik Sedin, have chosen to stay in Vancouver because they have children in school and do not want to disrupt their routines, Schneider remained on the West Coast even though he had more flexibility.

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But as the lockout period lengthens, the Marblehead, Mass., native is becoming more anxious to stay in top form by playing meaningful games rather than working out informally with his teammates.

“If the season’s cancelled, then it’s hugely important, because I’m at a point in my career where I can’t really sit around for 18 months and not play any games,” he said. “Just as an athlete and as a professional, you want to compete and do your job. If that’s the only available option, then I think you have to take it pretty seriously before (the collective bargaining agreement) gets fixed.”

Schneider, a member of the NHL Players Association’s bargaining committee, made the comments before league and union representatives were to meet in New York City later Monday. He was glad to see the discussions being held after the NHL had proposed a two-week moratorium on talks, but he was not overly optimistic that the latest negotiations would produce meaningful results.

Noting the final version of the deal won’t be much different than what’s been proposed thus far, he said progress must be made “before it’s too late” and a full NHL season is scrapped for the second time since 2004-05.

“It’s fun being around your teammates,” he said. “That’s what a lot of guys miss the most, being in the locker-room, being with your friends and teammates, and having a big group like we have here makes it easier to motivate yourself and push and get better. But at the same time, I think we’re all going a little mad doing these scrimmages and practices. We want to get back to competing.”

Trooper, Bruce Cockburn, Deadmau5 among musicians honoured at SOCAN bash

TORONTO – No Trooper song is more famous than the arena-ready rallying cry “Raise a Little Hell” and, as it turns out, no Trooper song is much older, either.

As the Vancouver group claimed the national achievement award at an annual gala put on by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada on Monday, they reminisced on the origins of their most enduring hit.

Even though the fist-pumping rock tune wasn’t released on an album until the group’s 1978 double-platinum smash “Thick as Thieves,” the song – which gave Trooper its only Hot 100 hit Stateside – actually dates back to vocalist Ra McGuire’s teen years, standing as one of the very first songs they wrote.

As for its inspiration? Well, anyone with a teenaged child could probably take a pretty accurate guess.

“I was pissed at my mom,” McGuire recalled as he stood next to the group’s founding guitarist Brian Smith at the SOCAN bash Monday, noting that a “major part” of the song’s lyrics dated back to when he was 14 or 15 years old.

So, what exactly did his mother do to earn his tuneful scorn?

“It was my mother,” he replied, shrugging. “You never got mad at your mother?”

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Of course, at these SOCAN Awards – a celebration of songwriters, not necessarily performers – not all musical origins traced back quite so far.

Niagara Falls, Ont., producer Deadmau5 nabbed international achievement honours for his dancefloor domination over the past year, while Ottawa-bred folk guitarist Bruce Cockburn claimed the lifetime achievement award.

Meanwhile, a spate of recent hits were celebrated for reaching radio ubiquity over the past year.

Honourees in the pop/rock category included Three Days Grace of Norwood, Ont., for “Lost in You,” Vancouver pop outfit Hedley for the swelling ballad “Invincible” and Edmonton’s 19-year-old Alyssa Reid for her piano-pop earworm “Alone Again” – a tune that’s racked up 12 million-plus views on YouTube without tiring its creator, who said she still turns up the volume and sings along each time she hears it on the radio.

“I forget that it’s my song sometimes,” she said, smiling.

The country category celebrated songs including Dean Brody’s “People Know You By Your First Name” and “Trail in Life,” American crooner Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” (because it was co-penned by Ontario songwriter Terry Sawchuk) and Johnny Reid’s upbeat “Let’s Go Higher.”

Meanwhile, Michael Buble’s strummy single “Hollywood” won for international song (while also being honoured in the pop/rock category), Dragonette’s inescapable club smash “Hello” took the dance music award, and Halifax-based singer/songwriter David Myles snagged the folk/roots music trophy.

These songwriters know how elusive a hit can be, but there’s no agreement on whether there’s anything to be gained from establishing a songwriting routine.

Halifax-reared R&B singer JRDN, who won the urban music prize on Monday for his gold-selling single “Like Magic,” says he can write a song anywhere – but it helps to bring a little romance to the occasion.

“Some candles, some wine and dim the lights a little bit and set the mood,” said the singer, born Ralph Jordan Croucher.

“Kind of like if you were taking a date out I guess, and you wanted to make her feel good – you want the music to feel good too.”

Deric Ruttan, honoured Monday for co-writing Jason McCoy’s “She’s Good for Me,” said that sticking to a rigid writing regimen was crucial.

“All the great writers that I admire, with few exceptions, most of them write the same way: they show up at the same place at the same time and they treat it like a job,” said the Bracebridge, Ont., native, whose regular writing spot is his office on Nashville’s famed Music Row.

“To me, that’s the secret – the regularity with which you do it helps sharpen the axe, so to speak, in your toolbox.”

And yet, his country-music peer Brody might beg to differ.

“I have no routine, man … but sometimes I find the best way to be inspired songwriting-wise is to actually not write any songs for like a month,” he said from under the brim of a straw cowboy hat.

“Just leave it alone, leave my guitar and don’t try to be creative … A lot of times, getting inspired requires me not writing.”

Meanwhile, B.C. Latin pop singer Alex Cuba said he merely needs a positive frame of mind to spur a songwriting session.

“To most songwriters, they write when they feel depressed or angry and writing is a relief for them. For me, it’s the opposite,” said Cuba with, appropriately enough, a grin.

“I need to be happy before I grab my guitar.”

Well, all Trooper needed was a familial spat to get the creative juices flowing.

McGuire no longer recalls what the fight was about, but he and Smith sure remember crashing around his house as teenagers, hammering away at their instruments.

“We used to practise in my living room,” McGuire recalled.

“It was not a large house – a few dishes rattled off the kitchen counters for sure,” Smith added.

Added McGuire: “(So) my mother was not all bad.”

Moody’s downgrades France’s government bond rating 1 notch citing weak growth prospects

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Moody’s Investors Service on Monday downgraded France, stripping it of its prized AAA credit rating due to concerns over its prospects for economic growth and its exposure to Europe’s financial crisis.

Moody’s lowered France’s rating one notch to Aa1. It kept the rating’s outlook at negative, meaning it could face future downgrades.

The ratings agency said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict how resilient France will be to future euro-area shocks.

But the agency noted that the country’s rating remains high compared with many other European countries. It cited for this France’s diversified economy and “a strong commitment to structural reforms and fiscal consolidation.”

The downgrade will heighten fears that Europe’s debt crisis is spreading from the so-called peripheral nations like Greece, Portugal and Ireland to the core of the euro region. Standard & Poor’s, a rival rating agency, lowered its rating on France’s debt one notch from AAA to AA+ in January, citing the deepening political, financial and monetary problems within the eurozone.

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Pierre Moscovici, the French finance minister, blamed the downgrade on the policies of previous governments that had failed to restore the competitiveness of the nation’s economy.

“French debt still remains among the most liquid and safest of the eurozone,” said Moscovici, a member of the ruling Socialist government. “The French economy is large and diversified and the government has shown proof of its serious plan to implement structural reforms and restore public finances.”

The yield on the French 10-year government bond fell 1 basis point, or 0.01 percentage point, to 1.96 per cent on Monday. That’s 60 basis points more than equivalent German government bonds, suggesting that investors see them as riskier.

West Division champions coming into Grey Cup on impressive win streak

TORONTO – The Calgary Stampeders head into the Grey Cup as the CFL’s hottest team but certainly had their trouble this season with the Toronto Argonauts.

Calgary will look to cap its season with a seventh straight win when it faces Toronto in the 100th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre on Sunday. However, the Argos swept the season series 2-0 and have won the last five head-to-head matchups.

However, that’s of little solace to Scott Milanovich, Toronto’s first-year head coach.

“Once the playoffs start the records, head-to-head competitions, I think it’s all out the window,” he said Monday. “This is one game, it’s 60 minutes for the 100th Grey Cup.

“I don’t think any of that matters at this point.”

Calgary advanced to the Grey Cup with a 34-29 road win over the defending-champion B.C. Lions in the West Division final Sunday after a hard-fought 36-30 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the conference semifinal. The Stampeders posted the second-best record in the CFL at 12-6 and their last loss was a 27-22 decision at B.C. on Oct. 6.

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“Calgary has been hot and has played as well if not better than anybody the last 10-to-15 games,” Milanovich said. “As we’re getting more familiar with them we’re going to know what’s in store for us.”

Toronto finished second in the East Division with a 9-9 mark, then defeated the Edmonton Eskimos 42-26 in the East semifinal before travelling to Montreal on Sunday and defeating the Alouettes 27-20. The Argos head into the Grey Cup having won four straight.

Toronto defeated Calgary 39-36 at Rogers Centre on July 7. Stampeders starter Drew Tate suffered a shoulder injury in that contest that forced him to miss 14 starts. The Argos then earned a 22-14 victory at McMahon Stadium on Aug. 18, a game that saw linebackers Brandon Isaac (a former Stamp) and Marcus Ball fined for illegal hits on Calgary running back Jon Cornish.

Backup Kevin Glenn led Calgary to nine wins during Tate’s absence before returning to the bench gracefully when Tate earned the start in the Stampeders’ semifinal win over Saskatchewan. But Tate suffered a fractured forearm in that contest, putting Glenn under centre against the Lions.

The veteran quarterback – obtained in the off-season trade that saw Henry Burris head to Hamilton – threw for 303 yards with three TDs against one interception (which was returned for a touchdown) against B.C.

“I think everybody as a Calgary Stampeder fan feels the same way, very pleased that he had the game that he did, that he responded to a pressure situation the way he did and led this football team to a very important win,” said Calgary head coach/GM John Hufnagel. “I said the day I made the trade how pleased I was that Kevin was involved with the trade.

“I always had a great amount of respect for his ability.”

Glenn finally gets to play in a Grey Cup game in Toronto five years after suffering a broken forearm in Winnipeg’s East Division final win over the Argos. With Glenn unable to play, Ryan Dinwiddie got the start for Winnipeg in its 23-19 loss to Saskatchewan at Rogers Centre.

Glenn has developed a well-earned reputation of being a streaky player, a fact not lost upon Milanovich.

“He gets very hot, as hot as anybody,” Milanovich said. “You have to disrupt him just like you would any other good quarterback.

“He’s playing well right now. He has waited a long time for this moment, too, and I’m glad for him that he’s getting this opportunity.”

Toronto starter Ricky Ray enjoyed a lot of success this season against Calgary, completing 51-of-73 passes for 723 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Glenn was 37-of-52 passes for 464 yards with three TDs and three interceptions.

The Argos did a good job against Cornish, holding the CFL’s leading rusher to a combined 82 yards on 19 carries. But Milanovich said Toronto will have to again be stout against the run because Calgary will definitely give Cornish the ball Sunday.

“They’re going to run the football,” he said. “I say it every week, you’ve got to start defensively by stopping the run.

“But they’ve got a ton of talent . . . they’ve got everything you’re looking for on offence. I think (Calgary offensive co-ordinator) Dave Dickenson does a tremendous job. We’re going to have our hands full.”

This will mark the third Grey Cup meeting between the two franchises. Calgary earned a 14-11 victory in the ’71 final before Toronto captured a 36-21 win in the ’91 contest.

Toronto is the second team in as many years to play in the Grey Cup as the host city as the Lions defeated Winnipeg 34-23 at B.C. Place last season.

There will be plenty of enticing storylines this week.

Toronto defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones will garner plenty of interest. He left the Stampeders in the off-season to join Milanovich and Argos GM Jim Barker – a former head coach and front-office executive with Calgary. Trouble was, Toronto didn’t ask for permission to speak with Jones and was fined $5,000 by the CFL for tampering.

Some of the former Stampeders on Toronto’s roster include linebackers Isaac and Robert McCune, tackle Tony Washington, receiver Ken-Yon Rambo and defensive back Ahmad Carroll.

“That definitely brings a little bit of a twist to the game,” Hufnagel said. “There’s a lot of familiarity between the coaching staff and the players.

“It should make a good story leading up to the game and I think it’s going to be a very, very good football game.”

Hufnagel said the Stampeders don’t have an advantage being familiar with Jones’s defences.

“There’s always some help to it but obviously it didn’t help enough in the previous two games in the regular season,” he said. “We know we have our work cut out.”

But Hufnagel has won in a hostile environment before. In 2008, he led Calgary to a 22-14 victory over the Montreal Alouettes before over 60,000 spectators at Olympic Stadium.

“I’ll go back and feed off our 2008 campaign and the procedure we followed in that Grey Cup week,” he said. “Hopefully with the same results.”

McCain-Sobey private equity firm scoops crane company in first deal

HALIFAX – A private equity firm launched this year by two well-known Atlantic Canadian business families has scooped up a crane company in its first deal.

Rob Normandeau, chief executive of SeaFort Capital Inc., said the firm closed a deal Monday to buy A.W. Leil Holdings Ltd. of New Glasgow, N.S., for an undisclosed amount.

SeaFort Capital was set up in late March by the Sobey and McCain families with the aim of purchasing companies established in fields such as manufacturing and heavy equipment in smaller Canadian centres.

Normandeau said the construction equipment company created in 1958 by Al Leil was a good fit with the investment firm’s goal of acquiring profitable family-run operations whose owners are retiring.

A.W. Leil Holdings operates about 50 cranes under trade names of A.W. Leil, Sagadore Cranes and Cape Breton Cranes.

Normandeau said SeaFort Capital provided the owner with a succession plan that allows him to sell for a good price while knowing his company will keep its head office in Nova Scotia.

He said SeaFort Capital will keep injecting capital into its acquisition with the intention of gradual expanding into new markets in Western Canada, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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SeaFort Capital will continue purchasing businesses that are “a bit too small” to interest Canada’s largest private equity firms at a rate of two or three per year until eight to 10 investments are completed, Normandeau added.

“One of the challenges that people who own businesses of this size have is liquidity,” said Normandeau.

“If you’ve got a good business that is too large for the management team to buy, but too small to attract the attention of the largest private equity firms in Canada, it can be a challenge.”

SeaFort Capital invests in Canadian companies with earnings of between $2 million and $10 million. Its board of directors include Scott McCain, a senior executive at Maple Leaf Foods (TSX:MFI).

He is joined by Donald Sobey, who helped build the Sobeys Inc. (TSX:SBY) grocery chain, and his son Rob Sobey, who sits on the Sobeys board of directors and is the chief executive of Lawton’s Drug Stores Ltd.

Hockey talks resume in New York

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr are back at the bargaining table.

The leaders of the NHL and NHL Players’ Association resumed negotiations Monday night on a new collective bargaining agreement with a large supporting cast at their sides.

The two men discussed the possibility of taking a break from talks last week, but Fehr thought it would be best if the sides continued to meet. The NHLPA’s executive director initiated the gathering at the NHL’s New York office and was responsible for setting its agenda.

The union held internal meetings on Monday afternoon. The evening bargaining session was expected to include owners, general managers and players along with the key negotiators for each side.

It will be the first time they’ve sat down together since Nov. 11, when talks broke off after the fifth formal session in six days.

The sides have been unable to agree on proposed changes to player contract rights and how to share revenue, and will also need to sort out how they pay for the damage of a lockout.

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With the labour dispute dragging on, players continued to take public shots at the NHL’s leadership. In an interview on TSN Radio 1050 on Monday afternoon, Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg invoked strong language while suggesting Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly should be fired.

“You’ve got to look for the cancers and you’ve got to cut out the cancers,” Versteeg told the radio station. “I think when you look at Bill Daly and Gary Bettman they’ve been looting this game for far too long.”

On Friday, Detroit Red Wings defenceman Ian White told reporters that he thinks Bettman is an “idiot.”

Players missed their third paycheques last week and all regular-season games have been wiped off the schedule through Nov. 30. Further cancellations are expected to come off the schedule this week.