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Protesters and counter-protesters clash, a disgraced teacher convicted, and a new plan for trash: Top 5 stories in Ottawa this week

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A "parents' rights" march is met by hundreds of counter-protesters, two Kingston sisters face fraud charges and the OC Transpo is deep in the red.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the top five stories on our website this week.

Protesters demanding schools cease LGTBQ2S+ lessons met by counter demo

A large protest took over Parliament Hill on Wednesday as hundreds of parents, their children, and various supporters and hangers-on voiced their displeasure with LGBTQ2S+ issues being taught in schools.

The "One Million March for Children" was billed as a "parents' rights" demonstration, with protesters saying the education system acknowledging the existence of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and teaching children and youth about gender diversity infringes on their ability to control their kids' moral and social upbringing.

Protesters carried signs with slogans such as "hands off our kids" and "pride comes before destruction."

Counter demonstrators turned out in equal number to oppose the message. Counter-protesters called the march homophobic and transphobic and came out to show support for LGBTQ2S+ youth. Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh led the counter-protesters on a march down Wellington Street.

Ottawa police said five people were arrested at the demonstration: three for public incitement of hatred, one for assault, and one for causing a disturbance. No other details were provided.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted to social media to tell LGBTQ2S+ Canadians that they are valued and appreciated. Two days later, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre told Trudeau to "butt out" of parents' affairs and accused him of "demonizing concerned parents."

Counter-protestors march at a demonstration against sexual orientation and gender identity programs in schools, in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. The protest was one of many across Canada, organized by "1MillionMarch4Children," as they protest against so-called "gender ideology" being taught in schools. (Patrick Doyle/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Kingston, Ont. sisters facing fraud charges after claiming Inuit status

Two sisters from Kingston and their adoptive mother have been charged by Iqaluit RCMP with two counts each of fraud over $5,000 following an investigation into allegations they falsely claimed to be Inuit in order to receive a benefit as adopted Inuit children through Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporation (NTI).

In April, NTI asked police to investigate the actions of twins Amira and Nadya Gill and their adoptive mother Karima Manji in applying for enrolment under the Nunavut Act.

The Gill sisters have been awarded scholarships and launched a business based on their Inuit status.

Between October 2016 and September 2022, RCMP allege the women "used this Inuit beneficiary status to defraud the Kakivak Association and Qikiqtani Inuit Association of funds that are only available to Inuit beneficiaries by obtaining grants and scholarships.

The allegations have not been tested in court.

The three are scheduled to appear in an Iqaluit court on October 30.

Sisters Amira Gill (left) and Nadya Gill. (Nadya Gill/Supplied)

Disgraced Orleans teacher found guilty of sex crimes against students

A former Ottawa high school teacher and basketball coach was found guilty Thursday of multiple sex crimes against young students including sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

Rick Watkins, who was also known as Rick Despatie, was a teacher at St. Matthew High School in Orléans.

Justice Ann Alder found Watkins guilty of four counts of sexual assault, four counts of sexual interference, two counts of criminal harassment and one count of sexual exploitation.

Watkins had originally been facing 54 charges but the Crown says it proceeded on 20 charges in total. Watkins was acquitted of 9 offenses.

In a statement, the Ottawa Catholic School Board said "Our top priority is always the safety of our students. We stand with those affected by these crimes against children and offer our unwavering support."

Rick Watkins, also known as Rick Despatie, was convicted Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023 of sex crimes against students. (@Montreal1963/Twitter)

OC Transpo's finances worse than imagined, mayor says

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe says OC Transpo is facing a "worsening financial situation" that is worse than he imagined when he decided to run for mayor.

Sutcliffe ran on a platform of fixing public transit in Ottawa, after numerous issues on the LRT and flagging ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

City councillors received a technical briefing on the transit system's long-term plan on Monday, which projected a dire outlook of $6.6 billion in budgetary pressures over the next 25 years, more than half of which is linked to lower ridership.

It also means the future of Stage 3 of LRT to Kanata, Barrhaven and Stittsville could be in jeopardy, though Sutcliffe says he believes it will eventually be built.

Construction on Stage 3 was set to begin once Stage 2—which is delayed—was complete, but staff said Monday that the city could delay Stage 3 until the financial situation stabilizes, only build parts of it—such as only connecting to Kanata or only to Barrhaven—or scrap it all together and run bus rapid transit instead.

To date, the city has not signed any agreements with other levels of government or any private sector partners when it comes to Stage 3.

A train passes under an overpass along the Confedration Line of Ottawa's LRT. (CTV News Ottawa)

City of Ottawa committee approves new garbage plans

A city committee has approved changes to how garbage will be picked up when a new contract is signed in 2026.

The city of Ottawa's environment and climate change committee has approved a plan to drop Fridays as a waste collection day.

Instead, workers will pull longer hours Monday to Thursday. Staff say this would eliminate the need for residents to set out waste for collection on weekends following a statutory holiday.

While the shifts for the garbage collection workers would be longer, Coun. Riley Brockington says the city believes the change would not impact the actual collection hours each day, so there wouldn't be garbage trucks running late into the evening.

Committee also approved a plan to redirect 60,000 tonnes of residential garbage per year to two private landfills.

The plan would help extend the lifespan of the Trail Road landfill by at least two years, staff say.

It would cost the city $8 million a year.

City council will vote on the plans on Wednesday. 

A worker rides on the back of a waste collection vehicle in Ottawa. (CTV News Ottawa)

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