February 24, 2022

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WestJet admits it was wrong to refuse customer refunds for rebooked flights

WestJet says it made an error when the airline rebooked thousands of customers on alternate flights and offered no refunds — only credit — to those who wanted to cancel their trip.

“We gave incorrect information or inconsistent information,” Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s vice-president of communications, said in an interview.

“[It’s] tremendously frustrating for the guests … and we are sorry for that.”

Bartrem said the Calgary-based airline is now taking steps to ensure that affected customers can collect a refund if they wish.

WestJet’s admission of error follows a CBC News investigation into complaints from customers who said they had been unjustly denied refunds for rebooked flights they didn’t want.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) says that since June 1, it has received 72 complaints from WestJet customers involving the matter.

Last month, CBC interviewed five customers booked on WestJet flights set to depart in July. In mid-June, they each received an email from WestJet — or their travel agent — stating that they had been rebooked on a longer flight that now included a stopover and, in three cases, departed on a different day.

The email informed the customers that if they rejected the flight change, they could cancel their trip and receive a credit for a future flight.

Each customer said when they asked WestJet for a refund instead, they were flatly refused. Read more on this story here.

Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. goes long, named All-Star Game MVP

(Prapan Chankaew/Reuters)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays watches the ball fly after he smashed a 468-foot home run during the 91st MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field last night in Denver, Colo. Guerrero, 22, became the youngest MVP in all-star game history as his American League team beat the National League by a score of 5-2. Read more here from the game.

In brief

RCMP say four men were killed when a crane collapsed at a work site in Kelowna, B.C., on Monday, with a fifth man buried in the rubble and presumed dead. Police confirmed the fatalities at a news conference yesterday. RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh said the four men confirmed dead were subcontractors working on site. The crane’s operator is believed to be among those killed. Two brothers were among the dead. The fifth man presumed dead was working in the office building next door and wasn’t associated with the construction project. He remains buried in the debris. Read more about the crane collapse.

WATCH | 2 brothers among those killed in Kelowna, B.C., crane collapse: 

Canada’s top soldier has written to current and retired soldiers to offer words of support and reflection following the fall of Panjwaii — the district in Afghanistan where so many Canadians fought and died. “Many of us have been watching the reports coming out of Afghanistan with dismay,” Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, acting chief of the defence staff, said in an open letter posted online. “The fall of Panjwaii, reported last week, has hit many of us particularly hard, and as we question our legacy, it serves as a harbinger for all Canadians who served in the country, regardless of when and where.” The Taliban swept through Panjwaii the previous weekend, handing Afghan Army troops a significant defeat and delivering a major psychological blow in the wake of the American withdrawal. On Friday, Taliban forces penetrated Kandahar City. Read more about Eyre’s message here.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office announced that Canada’s next governor general would be Mary Simon, there were approving nods across much of the country, but for many francophones, it also raised questions about their place in the federation. Simon, who is bilingual in English and Inuktitut, has a long-standing reputation as an advocate for Indigenous people. In Ottawa, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages said that as of Tuesday, it had received 59 complaints about Simon’s appointment. Many francophones seem to be conflicted about the first Indigenous person to hold the office of governor general. “We can rejoice that such a colonial institution will be held by an Inuit and also find it regrettable that a person who does not speak French was chosen,” wrote La Presse’s Patrick Lagacé, one of the most popular columnists in the province. “Two things can be true.” Read more on the francophone reaction to Simon’s appointment

The president of a group representing multiple churches across the country fighting COVID-19 public health orders in court is taking indefinite leave after admitting he hired private investigators to follow both a judge presiding over the case in Manitoba and some senior government officials. The board of the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said Tuesday morning that the group’s founder and president, Calgary-based lawyer John Carpay, was taking an indefinite leave, effective immediately. “Surveilling public officials is not what we do. We condemn what was done without reservation,” the board said in a release, apologizing to Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench “for the alarm, disturbance, and violation of privacy.” The group said all such activity has ceased and will not reoccur. Read more on this story here

WATCH | Lawyer takes leave from group after spying on Manitoba judge: 

While taking a summer breather is on the schedule for many students, others are tapping tutors or taking summer school to help bridge gaps that have arisen over the past year and a half of pandemic-disrupted schooling and a shift to virtual learning. North Vancouver high school student Kian Houle said his Grade 10 mark dropped significantly in the spring of 2020, soon after the pandemic hit. “I kind of slacked off toward the end, and then gave up completely after they put [classes] online,” he said. Since working with a tutor during this Grade 11 school year, he’s had a dramatic turnaround. Read more here on what families and educators shared about using summer school and tutoring to catch up — and why some students are feeling motivated to get back to learning

WATCH | Students need in-person connection, says Winnipeg educator: 

More electric vehicles are becoming capable of not only storing energy for driving, but also for powering buildings and the wider grid, thanks to a capability called “bidirectional charging.” It’s an emerging technology that could keep fridges, lights and the internet on in homes and other buildings during emergencies, eliminating or reducing the impact of most power outages. Bidirectional charging also has the potential to make the entire power grid greener and more efficient, enabling increased and better use of wind and solar power. Click here for a closer look at the technology.

Now for some good news to start your Wednesday: Saturday mornings start early for Iqbal Alimohd and his wife, Mumtaz. They’re at Real Canadian Superstore well before it opens, ready to buy and deliver groceries for dozens of Calgary seniors — just as they’ve been doing every weekend for more than 15 years. He said what started with two or three clients grew as the seniors started talking to each other. The operation now serves 20 to 25 people, and keeping everything organized is no small feat. During the week, Mumtaz takes phone orders and tracks them in a spreadsheet. Iqbal, who turns 70 this year, charges only what he pays for the groceries. “But my service, my daytime gas, I just charge nothing.” Read more on the family’s helping hand for seniors. 

Front Burner: Who killed Haiti’s president?

Following Hatian President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination last week, police have arrested more than 20 people and say they’re beginning to piece together a fuller picture of who carried out the killing — and who ordered it. But many people are questioning the official narrative.

Widlore Mérancourt, a Haitian journalist and editor-in-chief of the online news site the AyiboPost, joins us for an update on what we know, and don’t know, about Moïse’s assassination.

Front Burner19:43Who killed Haiti’s president?

Today in history: July 14

1933: Robert Bourassa is born in Montreal. He served as Quebec’s premier from 1970-76 and again from 1985-94.

1965: The Mariner 4 space probe begins a two-day flyby of Mars, taking the first close-up photographs of the red planet.

1976: The House of Commons passes a bill to abolish the death penalty. After debating the issue for more than two months, the bill was approved by a 130-124 vote. At the time, there were 11 men on death row awaiting the noose, although the last hangings had occurred in 1962.

2000: A tornado hits a campground at Pine Lake near Red Deer, Alta. Eleven people died, including a two-year-old child from Brampton, Ont. A 12th person died in hospital a month later.

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