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Police discuss guarding war memorial sentries

Photo: Ian Hunter, CC,

Ottawa police are likely going to be guarding the National War Memorial come spring, according to a police spokesperson.

Supt. Scott Nystedt said discussions with the Department of National Defence are ongoing.

The announcement last week follows the Oct. 22 shooting death of reservist Nathan Cirillo as he stood guarding the monument.

Current sentries who are guarding the monument carry rifles, but they are not loaded in case someone were to manage to strip one from a guard on duty.

Though military officials have not commented, according to the Ottawa Citizen the defence department wants two armed police officers carrying at least handguns protecting sentries.

Nystedt said if a contract were to be signed, it would likely ensure police presence at the memorial for eight to nine hours a day from April to November. He also emphasized the service would be voluntary like other paid-duty contract work.

The defence department can’t assign military police to guard the monument, according to Nystedt, because of jurisdiction and “protocol within the military.”

After the October shooting, many officers willingly guarded the sentries which leaves Nystedt confident that there will not be a shortage of volunteers once the agreement is reached, he said.

—Moussa Sangaré-Ponce

Province to help students after Everest College closures

The Ontario government is adding an additional $7.6 million to help students impacted by the abrupt Everest College closures last month.

The Training Completion Assurance Fund posted by Everest College had already committed $3 million.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities said it will ensure “every student has the option to complete their training at a nearby institution without having to pay additional tuition,” according to the CBC.

The ministry will provide full or partial refunds for those students choosing to opt out of their career training at other colleges. The ministry assured that the debt ceiling for Everest students, including those who don’t apply for a refund, will be capped at $7,300 for a two-term academic year, and $10,950 for three terms, regardless of how much the student borrowed.

The popular career college had its license suspended by an independent regulating body that governs Everest and similar career colleges in Ontario.

Everest College has 14 campuses across Ontario, with one in Ottawa.

—Scott Baird

Report finds conflict in OC Transpo lost-and-found contract   

A report by Ottawa’s auditor general has found that OC Transpo’s contract for lost-and-found items from an outsourced company had an “actual or potential conflict of interest.”

From 2001 to 2014, the non-profit organization Heartwood House managed OC Transpo’s lost-and-found program. City auditor Kevin Hughes said the bus company spent more than $600,000 to run the program in the 13-year period.

In 2004, Heartwood House asked for a $19,000 increase to hire a full-time lost-and-found manager that was advocated for by a City of Ottawa employee. The employee potentially had a conflict of interest of a personal or familiar nature, according to the report.

The employee may have been involved in the agreements of the raise, said Hughes, but did not disclose the conflict to their manager, as required by the city’s code of conduct.

Hughes’ report also noted that some OC Transpo employees are keeping unclaimed items.

Twenty-six per cent of lost items were returned to their owners. Remaining items are claimed by employees or auctioned off at an annual charity event.

The report recommended the city develop better methods to deal with unclaimed items.

—Jessica Eritou