Australian snowboarder Pullin drowns while spear fishing

first_imgAustralia’s double world champion snowboarder Alex Pullin drowned while spear fishing off a Gold Coast beach on Wednesday, plunging the country’s winter sports community into mourning.Pullin, Australia’s flagbearer at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, was found by a snorkeller on an artificial reef just before 11 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) in waters off Palm Beach, state broadcaster ABC reported.Lifeguards and paramedics attempted to resuscitate the 32-year-old on the beach after pulling him from the water. Queensland Ambulance Service officer Justin Payne said he did not survive. Another diver had found Pullin on the sea floor in “very upsetting” circumstances, said Gold Coast Police District Duty Officer Chris Tritton.”He didn’t have an oxygen mask, we understand he was free diving and spearfishing out on the reef,” Tritton told Australian broadcaster Channel Nine.”It appears he was diving alone. There were other divers out there but he was not with a friend.”Brisbane-based newspaper the Courier-Mail earlier reported that Pullin was thought to have “suffered a shallow water blackout”. Pullin, nicknamed “Chumpy”, won world championship titles in snowboard cross in 2011 and 2013, competed at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and placed sixth in his event at the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea two years ago.”It is an incredibly sad day,” Geoff Lipshut, the chief executive of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia, told Reuters.Lipshut said Pullin had retired from his sport last month but had yet to announce it.”Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin was one of our great winter sports pioneers … He attacked every day with intensity and purpose,” he said.The New South Wales Institute of Sport wrote on Twitter: “Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin was an extraordinary individual who pursued his passions in sport and in life. This loss is tragic to everyone he inspired and loved.” center_img Topics :last_img read more

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil drops writ for May 30 election

first_imgHALIFAX – Nova Scotians will go to the polls May 30 as Premier Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government seeks its second mandate following a term in office largely marked by frugal spending and public sector labour strife.McNeil kicked off the campaign Sunday with a rally at a Lebanese cultural centre in the heart of a key Halifax riding, shortly after meeting with Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant at Government House.In a speech before a packed room of enthusiastic supporters and party workers, McNeil acknowledged his government had made some unpopular decisions since being elected in 2013.“We had to make tough choices, choices that weren’t always popular,” said McNeil. “I believe you either shape change or change shapes you. We had to shape our own change.”At dissolution the Liberals held 34 seats in the 51-seat legislature, the Progressive Conservatives had 10 and the NDP 5. There was one Independent and one seat was vacant.The election follows nearly two months of election-style spending announcements by the Liberals, and a budget tabled Thursday offering a broad, though modest tax cut to about 500,000 low and middle income Nova Scotians.It was the second consecutive balanced budget for the Liberals. The government has exercised strict wage restraint for public sector unions, including nurses and teachers, while making a series of cuts to programs affecting areas such as seniors’ long-term care and initiatives run by public service organizations.“Thanks to our choices the province is in better shape than it was three and a half years ago,” McNeil told the crowd.He also took shots at his campaign opponents, accusing the Tories of being “negative about the province’s future” and saying the NDP were ready to “write a blank cheque to big labour.”The government’s budget died with the election call, leaving McNeil to explain to reporters why it wasn’t voted on in the legislature before the writ was dropped. He said it’s a matter of letting the public decide.“I’m not presumptuous enough to believe that all of them (the public) agree with my vision,” McNeil said. “So let me present my vision to them, we will let the other two parties present their vision, and then Nova Scotians will decide.”McNeil also made no apologies for his government or its policies.“There will be some who obviously in the last three-and-a-half years have not been happy with us, he said. “I am not running from the record.”Tory Leader Jamie Baillie pitched himself Sunday as a sunny alternative to four years of Liberal austerity, which he said has hurt Nova Scotia’s rural communities, allowed infrastructure to crumble and sent doctors and young people away from the province in “droves.”“(Nova Scotians) will have to decide if they want to invest and jobs and in their communities, or if they want more McNeil cuts,” said Baillie, surrounded by Tory candidates. “Only the Progressive Conservative party has the plan to allow Nova Scotians to stand proudly on their own two feet once again.”Baillie said the premier’s heavy hand in dealing with public sector unions has resonated through the province, and said if elected, he would push for a “middle way” that would keep wages at roughly current levels but increase investment in public services.Baillie’s speech was replete with promises of prosperity, but when pressed for specifics, the Tory leader often pivoted back to attacking McNeil.Baillie has been sounding confident that his party, which hasn’t won an election since 2006, is poised for an electoral breakthrough. That’s critical for Baillie, who is leading the party through his second campaign — and may not get a third opportunity if expectations aren’t realized.Baillie has painted the provincial race as a referendum on McNeil. He said the Tories will release a party platform “very soon.”NDP Leader Gary Burrill told dozens of supporters at a west-end cafe Sunday that an NDP government would prioritize “investments in our people” over a balanced budget to tackle issues like hunger, access to education and hospital overcrowding.“All the evidence is that the McNeil Liberals are not the objects of anyone’s affection in Nova Scotia at the moment,” Burrill told reporters. “I think that the door has opened to any possibility now with the announcement of the election and we’ll see what happens in the next month.”Burrill said he’s putting “every ounce of energy” into his own race in the Halifax-Chebucto riding, having won his party’s leadership race last year without a seat in the provincial legislature.He aims to revive the fortunes of a party that had a dramatic fall from grace in 2013, when it was swept from government by the Liberals.The election call comes after spring polling that indicated the Liberals had fallen in popularity, although they were still in majority territory as of March, according to Cape Breton University professor David Johnson.Decided voter support for the Liberal party dropped from 56 per cent to 44 per cent, according to a survey of 1,210 adults conducted by Halifax-based Corporate Research Associates Inc. The Progressive Conservatives stood at 28 per cent, up eight points, and the New Democrats were at 23 per cent, up from 19 per cent, while five per cent supported the Green Party.“They are pretty much back to where they were in 2013,” Johnson said in an interview last month. “Forty-four per cent will win them a strong, healthy majority government if that number hold up during the election campaign.”Johnson said the key would be holding onto ridings in metro Halifax.“The Liberals dominate metro (currently) and whomever dominates metro, that’s the pathway into a majority government,” he said.— With files from Adina Bresge and Kieran Leavittlast_img read more