The National Today

Canadian team on pace for its best-ever Winter Games

A deeper dive into the day's most notable stories with The National newsletter's Jonathon Gatehouse.

Newsletter: A deeper dive into the day's most notable stories

Canada's Winter Olympians added two gold and one silver to their medal haul in Pyeongchang, South Korea on Monday. At left, Patrick Chan, Gabrielle Daleman and their teammates won the figure skating team event. Snowboarder Laurie Blouin, middle, captured slopestyle silver. Freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury, right, took gold in men's moguls. (Getty Images/CBC Sports)

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  • With seven Olympic medals at the end of the third day of competition, Canada is on pace for its best-ever Winter Games
  • A sex scandal has triggered the resignation of Oxfam International's deputy chief executive, and puts the future of the organization's substantial government funding in question
  • Russian passenger-jet crash a tragic end to record safety streak for international airlines

Canada on a roll at Olympics

Mikaël Kingsbury has finally filled out his trophy case.

The 25-year-old from Deux-Montagnes, Que., has dominated the sport of freestyle mogul skiing, winning six overall world cup titles and seven career world championship medals, including two golds.

Mikael Kingsbury, seen here in the moguls finals at the Phoenix Snow Park at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on Monday, took gold for Canada. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
But at his first Olympics in Sochi four years ago, he had to settle for silver behind fellow Canadian Alex Bilodeau, who had also topped the podium in Vancouver.

Today in Pyeongchang, Kingsbury continued the podium tradition, handing Canada its third-straight men's moguls gold.

And the win came in dramatic fashion, with a spectacular off-axis 720 jump and a superb landing in his final run to take the gold.

Laurie Blouin celebrates her silver medal in the women's snowboard slopestyle final in Pyeongchang on Monday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
It was Canada's second gold of the Games, and third medal of the day. On Monday morning local time, Canada won the team figure skating event after a clinching performance by Gabrielle Daleman in the women's free skate. And Laurie Blouin bounced back from a horrific crash in training to take silver in a windswept women's slopestyle final.

With seven medals at the end of the third day of competition, Canada is on pace for its best-ever Winter Games.

The top five Olympic medal-winning nations in Pyeongchang as of Monday. (CBC)
At Vancouver 2010, where the hosts finished with 26 medals, including a record 14 gold, Canada had a total of four podium finishes at the end of Day Three.

In Sochi, where Team Canada captured 25 medals, Canuck athletes had captured six medals by the close of business on the Monday.

And in Pyeongchang, there is at least one more medal on tap early tomorrow, with a guaranteed silver or gold from Kaitlyn Lawes and John Morris in mixed doubles curling.

Canada's Kaitlyn Lawes sweeps as John Morris watches the rock's line during their mixed doubles semi-final match against Norway. They play in the gold medal final on Tuesday. (Aaron Favila/Associated Press)
Follow all the results and get a full broadcast schedule at CBC's online Olympic hub.

Tonight on The National, watch for Nil Köksal's report on the wild winds and freezing temperatures that have been wreaking havoc in Pyeongchang. The National can be found at its regular time on CBC News Network, as well as streamed on YouTube and Facebook, for the duration of the Games.

Oxfam sex scandal

A mushrooming sex scandal may end up costing Oxfam International all of its U.K. government funding, along with what's left of its reputation.

Representatives of the British-based international development organization have been summoned to a make or break meeting in London today, to try and explain an alleged cover-up after several Oxfam workers were accused of paying Haitian earthquake survivors for sex.

Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring, left, and its chair of trustees Caroline Thomson, leave the Department for International Development (DFID) in central London on Monday. Oxfam announced a new raft of measures to tackle sexual abuse cases after being ordered to meet the British government today. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)
Penny Mordaunt, the U.K. secretary for international development, has demanded that the charity hand over all its files on the 2011 case and show "moral leadership," or she says she will cut off its $56 million in annual funding.

Although Oxfam did inform British authorities of the misconduct allegations at the time, Mordaunt says the organization lied to the government by denying that any aid beneficiaries were involved.

"They still have information they should be giving to the authorities," Mordaunt told the BBC yesterday. "We were not told about the nature of these events. They initially said they were investigating misconduct."

This morning, Oxfam's deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence resigned, saying she takes "full responsibility" for the scandal.

Oxfam's deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned Monday. She says she takes, 'full responsibility' for the scandal in which Oxfam workers were accused of paying Haitian earthquake survivors for sex. (Nick Ansell/Associated Press)
"I am desperately sorry for the harm and distress that this has caused to Oxfam's supporters, the wider development sector and most of all the vulnerable people who trusted us," she said in a media release.

Oxfam is one of the world's largest charities, offering programs in more than 90 countries in partnership with 3,500 other aid organizations. Its latest annual report says 22.2 million people directly benefited from its assistance in 2016, and that 55 per cent of them were women or girls.

The U.K. government money is just a small portion of Oxfam's $1.86 billion budget, but if the funds were to be withdrawn, it would set a potentially disastrous precedent. The organization received almost $740 million from the UN, EU and various national governments in 2015-16.

Britain's Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, says Oxfam lied to the U.K. government by denying that any aid beneficiaries were involved in the Haiti sex scandal. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)
Oxfam Canada has a well-established relationship with Canada's International Development Agency, and has received millions in federal funding over the past decade, including a $17.5 million grant last November to aid women in the Philippines with sexual and reproductive rights and health services.  

But the U.K. allegations now threaten to overshadow their good works and taint the entire development sector.

The Times of London is reporting that 120 workers from leading British charities, such as Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid and the Red Cross, have been accused of sexual abuse over the past calendar year.

The bulk of those cases — 87 — were from Oxfam.

On Saturday, former Oxfam employees told the Observer newspaper that one of the men embroiled in the Haiti scandal held similar "parties" at a team house in Chad in 2006, and that another senior staffer was fired for his inappropriate actions in the African nation.

A woman walks in a slum of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Feb. 6. The World Bank says almost 60 per cent of the country's 10 million citizens live below the national poverty line of $3.03 a day. (Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters)
And amidst reports that Oxfam gave glowing references to some of the seven workers it fired or allowed to resign after the Haitian allegations, the charity is vowing to clean up its internal vetting procedures and set new standards of accountability.

"Our code of conduct now stipulates: 'I will also not exchange money, offers of employment, employment, goods or services for sex or sexual favours.' In 2011 the code only prohibited sex with beneficiaries and anyone under 18," the organization explained in a statement released over the weekend.

Oxfam has been operating in Haiti since 1978. But it is hardly the only aid or government organization that has faced accusations of inappropriate, or even criminal, behaviour there. Others include:

Eight years after the devastating earthquake that killed upwards of 200,000 people, and with the country still trying to recover from the effects of 2016's category-five Hurricane Matthew, Haiti remains one of the poorest nations on Earth.

According to the World Bank, almost 60 per cent of the country's 10 million citizens live below the national poverty line of $3.03 a day, and 2.5 million people subsist on less than $1.55 per day.

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Politics and passenger safety

When a Saratov Airlines flight crashed on takeoff from Moscow's Domodedovo airport yesterday, killing all 65 passengers and six crew aboard, the world had gone 439 days without a fatal passenger jet accident.

For fliers, 2017 was the safest year ever, with 10 major accidents involving commercial aircraft and 44 deaths. It was a record safety streak that U.S. President Donald Trump tried to take credit for last month.

A Russian Saratov Airlines An-148 at Moscow's Domodedovo international airport in May 2017. A Saratov An-148 crashed shortly after taking off from the same airport on Sunday, killing all aboard. (Marina Lystseva/Associated Press)
Airline safety has improved dramatically since the peak accident year of 1972, when 2,469 people died in 55 different crashes. During that time, the number of commercial flights has almost quadrupled, from 9.5 million per year to 36.8 million.

The industry credits better technology and training, although increased government oversight and better post-crash investigations have surely played a part as well.

Russia's airlines haven't always been part of that global trend.

Russian rescue workers search the crash site of the AN-148 near Moscow on Monday. (Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters)
In the days of the old Soviet Union, the state-run Aeroflot, which carried more passengers than almost anyone else on its aging fleet, had one of the world's worst safety records. That problem was passed on to the so-called "Babyflot" airlines that took over many of its routes as the Russian empire came undone.

Yesterday's accident was the 519th Russian crash, bringing the total number of fatalities to 8,424. This is second only to America's 821 crashes and 10,714 deaths — although U.S. carriers operate roughly 13 times as many flights each year.

The investigation into the Saratov Airlines tragedy is only beginning. Russian authorities will look at the possibility of pilot error or a mechanical failure, and have temporarily grounded all other An-148 aircraft.

Russian Emergency Ministry personnel transport victims from the site of the plane crash on the outskirts of Moscow on Monday. (Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images)
The twin-engine jets have had problems before. In March, 2011, six people died when a wing separated during a test flight.

However, it could turn out that politics was the crucial factor at play.

The Russian-assembled An-148 was a joint venture with Ukraine's Antonov State Company. The relationship came under great stress following the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The Ukrainian-made Antonov-148 takes off for its first flight at Kiev airport on Dec. 17, 2004. The An-148 medium-range jet can seat 80 passengers, and has a range of 5,100 kilometres. (Gleb Garanich/Reuters)
The program was officially cancelled last June, and there are reports that Saratov and other Russian carriers have had difficulty sourcing parts.

There are only 38 remaining An-148s. Russia's ministry of defence operates 12 of them.

Quote of the moment

"We have questions, and we want answers."

- Jade Tootoosis, a cousin of Colten Boushie, who has travelled to Ottawa along with other relatives for a meeting with federal ministers today. The family is seeking changes to Canada's justice system following a not-guilty verdict for Gerald Stanley, the Saskatchewan farmer who shot and killed the 22-year-old.

Jade Tootoosis, right, and Debbie Baptiste, Colten Boushie's mother, hold a photo of him at a 2017 rally outside North Battleford Provincial Court in Saskatchewan. (Jason Warick/CBC News)

What The National is reading

  • Chinese takeover of Aecon delayed for national security review (CBC)
  • Hundreds of fire deaths may be linked to skin creams (BBC)
  • International Criminal Court probes Duterte regime's 'drug war' (Asia Times)
  • Winnipeg woman gives eggnog and gingersnaps to burglar (CBC)
  • Nigerian official blames snake for missing state funds (Africanews)
  • Lack of an Oxford comma costs dairy $5 million (CNN)

Today in history

Feb. 12 1990: The Hagersville tire fire

The blaze started at 1 a.m., courtesy of five teens with a jerry can of gas and some matches. By the time firefighters arrived there was little they could do. The 20-acre site — home to 14 million old tires — burned for 17 days, and the toxic smoke forced 4,000 people from their homes. In the end, four of the kids went to jail. And Ontario found a way to recycle old tires.

A massive pile of tires is ablaze, and crews from 11 different fire departments are battling it. 3:00

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About the Author

Jonathon Gatehouse

Jonathon Gatehouse

Has covered news and politics at home and abroad, reporting from dozens of countries. He has also written extensively about sports, including seven Olympic Games and a best-selling book on the business of pro-hockey.