The Conservatives and the New Democrats are against it, but the Bloc Québécois supports it, so should the throne speech be put to a vote in the House of Commons, it has enough support to pass.The Liberal government is not obliged to put the speech from the throne to a vote in order to seek confidence from the House.That's not stopping Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer from promising to put forward an amendment to the speech Friday to cover what Scheer called "missed opportunities."Scheer said he wants language included in the speech detailing his party's election promise to build a national energy corridor that would send oil east and electricity west, even though the Liberals, NDP and Bloc are firmly against the idea.Scheer also said his amendment will call for the government to repeal the tanker ban off the West Coast and the government's signature environmental assessment legislation that lays out conditions for approving national resource projects in Canada.Should the Conservative amendment contain those provisions, it's unlikely to get support from the Liberals, the NDP or the Bloc. Speaking after the speech, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said that while the speech did say the Liberal government would work to help energy sector employees across the country, it never mentioned any industry by name."The fact that it's so unclear about oil makes it so that it's hard to vote against something which is not even named in the speech, even if we understand well that this is the intention," he said.Blanchet said that if the speech comes to a vote, he could support it because there's enough ambiguity in it to suggest the government also supports Quebec's hydroelectric and forestry workers.Watch: Opposition leaders react to the throne speech:With the Bloc's support, the Liberals would have enough votes to pass the speech — if it comes to a vote."I'm going to support the speech because I see in that speech many opportunities for us to — not to take what is intended to be given, because it's not that clear, but to get things, to make some gains for Quebec," Blanchet said. The fact that the speech didn't mention oil or pipelines specifically did not go down well with Conservatives.Scheer said the speech contained "nothing about our energy workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Nothing about our forestry workers in British Columbia. No sense that decisions that were taken in the previous Parliament under this government have caused some of the very damage to our society and to Canada, and most importantly nothing really on national unity," he said.'Backroom agreement'While it's true that the speech did not mention Alberta's or Saskatchewan's workers, it also did not mention any other province by name.The speech did address growing regional divisions in Canada, saying "regional needs and differences really matter. Today's regional economic concerns are both justified and important."While the speech did not mention the Trans Mountain pipeline, it does say that while the federal government is committed to fighting climate change, "it will also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets, and offer unwavering support to the hardworking women and men in Canada's natural resources sectors, many of whom have faced tough times recently."Shannon Stubbs, the Conservative MP for the Alberta riding of Lakeland, said every reporter and citizen in Canada should be concerned about the absence of the the words "oil" and "pipeline" in the speech. There are so many things in there that reflected what our chiefs said we need to see. \- Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations"I think the question should be asked whether or not there was a backroom agreement between the Liberals and the Bloc to prop up the Liberal government and their throne speech contingent on their not mentioning the energy sector," she said.NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who also has enough votes in his caucus to help the Liberals survive a vote on the throne speech, said he could not support the speech because it only paid lip service to issues his party cares about."If the Liberal government thinks that this is good enough to deal with the struggles that people are facing right now, then they are wrong, this is not good enough. What we're seeing is a lot of pretty words but not concrete actions," he said. Singh said he was not closing the door to supporting the speech in any possible vote, but in order for his party to back Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals, his government would have to promise more specific policy actions.Praise for reconciliation agendaThose actions the NDP wants include a pledge to bring in a universal, single-payer pharmacare system, language strengthening Canada's climate change targets and more specific commitments on Indigenous reconciliation.National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde, meanwhile, heaped praise on the speech, noting that it was the first time that a speech from the throne contained its own chapter on Canada's Indigenous peoples. "I think that's a positive thing. But then when you start breaking the chapter down and you start looking at what is in the chapter … there are so many things in there that reflected what our chiefs said we need to see," he said.Bellegarde said he was particularly pleased with the commitments in the speech to introduce federal legislation to bring Canada in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to fund Indigenous health care and to end all boil-water advisories by 2021.The Indigenous chapter also was praised by Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, who said it was "excellent news" that the federal government will co-develop legislation with Canada's Indigenous people on implementing the UN declaration."It shows that that legislative piece is a focus of this government and that is an excellent sign for the continued reconciliation efforts that we are engaging with as First Nations, Inuit and Métis," he told CBC News Network's Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos.The Green Party's parliamentary leader, Elizabeth May, also praised the government's reconciliation agenda but had harsher words for the speech's approach to climate change."The House voted that it was a climate emergency on June 18 of this year and yet the speech from the throne doesn't speak to the urgency that is embedded in this issue," May said.Watch: Governor General Julie Payette delivers the speech from the throne:
MONTREAL — China's new ambassador to Canada is threatening "very firm countermeasures" if Parliament adopts a motion calling for sanctions over alleged Chinese human rights abuses against Muslim Uighurs and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.China has long warned against what it considers foreign meddling in its internal affairs, but Ambassador Cong Peiwu upped the tone Thursday in Montreal by saying there would be consequences if Parliament votes in favour of a motion set to be tabled in the Senate next week.Conservative Senator Leo Housakos recently announced he and Senator Thanh Hai Ngo will table a motion calling on the Liberal government to sanction Chinese officials under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, also known as the Magnitsky Act.The law, named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow lawyer who was tortured and died in a Moscow prison after uncovering fraud in Russia, targets foreign nationals who are "responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights."Following a speech to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, Cong said if the Senate or House of Commons adopts the motion, "It suddenly would be a very serious violation of Chinese domestic affairs under such pretext of human rights or democracy."He said "very firm countermeasures" would result. "It's not in the interest of Canada's side," he added. "We do hope they will stop this kind of dangerous activity."In an emailed statement, Housakos said the ambassador's comments illustrate why his motion is needed. "The real danger is that the more we appease them, the more emboldened they become," he said. "It's time for Canada to stand up for our values. We are either defenders of democracy, human rights and the rule of law or we are not."After his speech, Cong dismissed as "fake news" recent reports in international media that China is detaining hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the territory of Xinjiang, the Uighur homeland, in ideological and behavioural re-education centres.The Chinese government is conducting "preventative counter-terrorism measures" that are providing security to the country, he said. "Since the past three years (there has been) no single violent terrorist incident," he said.Classified documents leaked to a consortium of news organizations and published last month revealed a Chinese government strategy to lock up ethnic minorities before any crime has been committed to rewire their thoughts and the language they speak."They confirm that this is a form of cultural genocide," Adrian Zenz, a leading security expert on the far western region of Xinjiang, told The Associated Press. "It really shows that from the onset, the Chinese government had a plan."Cong rejected the reports outright and said "the facts speak for themselves." More than 2.4 million tourists visited Xinjiang last year, he said. "And they enjoyed that very much."The U.S. Congress on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill targeting Beijing's mass crackdown on ethnic Muslim minorities, less than one week after President Donald Trump signed separate human rights legislation on Hong Kong.The Uighur Human Rights Policy Act denounces the detention of an estimated 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and others in Xinjiang, home to the predominantly Muslim minority groups. It would require the State Department to evaluate whether Chinese officials would meet the criteria for sanctions for their roles in enacting oppressive policies.Canada-China relations have been strained since Dec. 1, 2018, when RCMP arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver's airport, at the request of the United States.Days later, two Canadians — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — were detained in China on allegations of undermining national security, and the two men continue to be held in that country."These two Canadians are arrested by competent Chinese authorities because they are suspected of endangering Chinese national security," Cong said. "Their legitimate rights have been guaranteed."This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 5, 2019.— With files from The Associated Press.Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press
In a wood-panelled hall of the ornate Peace Palace at The Hague, lawyers pressing a case against Myanmar for alleged genocide against its Muslim Rohingya minority will next week ask judges to order immediate action to protect them from further violence. Gambia, a tiny, mainly Muslim West African country, filed a lawsuit in November accusing Myanmar of genocide, the most serious international crime. During three days of hearings starting Dec. 10, it will ask the 16-member panel of U.N. judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to impose "provisional measures" to protect the Rohingya before the case can be heard in full.
After the closing Thursday of the Assembly of First Nations annual December meeting In Ottawa, Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former federal justice minister and AFN regional chief, was honoured by First Nations leaders during a ceremony that saw her called a hero, a trailbreaker and an icon.Wilson-Raybould, who was kicked out of the Liberal caucus over the SNC-Lavalin affair, retained her Vancouver-Granville seat during the last federal election running as an Independent. Speaking after the ceremony, Wiilson-Raybould said pushing for an Indigenous rights recognition framework, along with legislated emissions targets to fight climate change, were two of her main priorities as she takes her seat as an Independent MP.She said she supported the Liberal throne speech promise to pass legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The declaration sets out minimum standards for how countries deal with Indigenous Peoples. However, she said that it was not enough. She said new legislation was needed to change policies and laws that respect Indigenous rights and allow First Nations to rebuild their governments outside of the Indian Act. "Saying you are going to make laws consistent with UNDRIP is one thing, doing it is another," said Wilson-Raybould. "Laws and policies have to change and I am hopeful that it will happen through a rights and recognition framework."The previous Justin Trudeau government, while Wilson-Raybould was justice minister, attempted to develop an Indigenous rights recognition framework, to enshrine section 35 constitutional rights in federal legislation. The file was led by Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, but it ultimately failed after facing opposition from First Nations leaders who said department officials weren't listening to their views as they developed the framework.The issue also created a policy stand-off between Bennett and Wilson-Raybould which drew in the prime minister. The seeds of the SNC-Lavalin affair — which ultimately led to Wilson-Raybould's expulsion from the Liberal caucus —were planted as the proposed framework was starting to fail.'They dragged you through the mud'In speeches during the ceremony honouring Wilson-Raybould, which was organized by the British Columbia and Yukon leadership, First Nations leaders referred to her role in the SNC-Lavalin affair and her pivotal testimony before the House of Commons justice committee. The SNC-Lavalin affair revolved around alleged attempts by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office to pressure Wilson-Raybould, while she was justice minister and attorney general, to consider giving the Montreal engineering firm a pass on a bribery trial in favour of a deferred prosecution agreement. Cheryl Casimer, who was representing the First Nations Summit from B.C., recalled watching Wilson-Raybould's committee testimony during a meeting with Canadian and B.C. officials."Canada in particular was feeling very uncomfortable sitting at the table with us," said Casimer. "When you sat there and you spoke your truth, I never felt such a great sense of pride in being an Indigenous person."AFN B.C. Regional Chief Terry Teegee praised Wilson-Raybould's strength as she faced the political machinery of the Liberal Party as it fought back while the scandal raged. "They dragged you through the mud a few times," said Teegee. "And you said, 'I have to be tough,' and you are. You are strong."AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek gave Wilson-Raybould a painting of an eagle crest and a silver bracelet engraved with a wolf and a crow. "When you lead from a place of integrity, a place of respect, a place of traditional values, that is what leadership is," said Adamek. "It's about how you show up and who you are."'We still need you in that House'AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde praised Wilson-Raybould's leadership, both as an AFN regional chief, and as a federal politician. Bellegarde said First Nations from across the country will need her help to push First Nations issues in the coming minority session of Parliament."You've made history, in so many ways," said Bellegarde. "You walk with truth and honestly; you walk with love and respect; you walk with courage, love and humility... We still need you in that House."Wilson-Raybould said she would be using her voice as a parliamentarian, "sitting in the very back corner" of the House of Commons to push for continued changes in the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.
WASHINGTON — Finger pointing and voice hoarse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday delivered a broadside to a reporter that might well apply to all of impeachment-era Washington: “Don't mess with me."It was a warning scarcely needed among the official set, least of all by President Donald Trump as he fights Pelosi and the Democrats in their drive to impeach him. Only a few hours earlier, Pelosi had instructed the Judiciary Committee to write articles of impeachment — formal charges — against Trump for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrat Joe Biden and resisting Congress' probe.The House speaker insisted she brought impeachment proceedings because Trump's conduct and the Constitution left the House no choice.“The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said from the speaker's office at the Capitol. “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”But as the California Democrat began exiting a news conference two hours later, James Rosen, a reporter for Sinclair Broadcast Group, asked, “Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?”What followed was a remarkable display from the famously poised Pelosi.She stopped near the edge of the podium, jabbed a finger and said tersely: “I don't hate anybody.”Pelosi went on to call Trump a “coward” on gun policy, “cruel” on immigration and “in denial” on climate change."This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president's violation of the oath of office. And as a Catholic I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me.''Trump tweeted that Pelosi “just had a nervous fit."“She says she ‘prays for the President.' I don’t believe her, not even close,” he added.Pelosi, a native of Baltimore, often speaks of her faith as a guide to matters ranging from legislation to life in general. Catholic catechism states that “deliberate hatred is contrary to charity” and urges believers to pray for those who hold animosity toward them, a teaching that Pelosi has invoked by saying that she prays for Trump.It's not the first time she’s confronted the challenging interplay between politics and her faith. In 2009, during her previous stint as House speaker, Pelosi, who supports abortion rights, met with Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, for a conversation that the Vatican later said touched on “protecting human life at all stages of its development.”On Thursday, she returned to the podium after the reporter's question about “hate," and finished by pointing a thumb toward herself.“Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”Moments later, Trump and House Republicans lashed out in heated personal tones.House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted, “Pelosi and the Democrats are clearly are blinded by their hate for the President."Pelosi has generally dominated confrontations with Trump all year in her second turn as House speaker, second in line to the presidency.In January, she forced Trump to re-open the government without the border wall he was demanding. She allowed him into the House chamber to deliver the traditional State of the Union speech, but stole that show by clapping sideways and smirking at Trump from her seat above and behind him.Trump knows her finger-pointing well. Most recently, during a White House meeting, she stood, pointed at him and said, “all roads lead to Putin," Russia's president — and walked out.___Associated Press writer Elana Schor contributed to this report.___Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellmanLaurie Kellman, The Associated Press
Associated Press Film Writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle name their choices for the best films of 2019.LINDSEY BAHR1\. “Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood": Quentin Tarantino’s movie business fairy tale, featuring all-time performances from two of our great living movie stars, and the shadow of one’s spirit, is his most warm-hearted and tender and a complete joy to watch and watch again. It’s hard to glean whether a film will stand the test of time, but “Once Upon a Time...” has the makings of a modern classic.2\. “Little Women": For a story so rooted in its post-Civil War time, it’s an astonishing feat that Greta Gerwig was able to make “Little Women,” a book with no shortage of adaptations, into something that’s downright modern. With an eye toward warm details and sharp dialogue, Gerwig, along with a terrific cast, makes the maturation of the March sisters more than just wistful nostalgia, but an urgent piece about the economics of being a woman and the worthiness of their stories.3\. “The Farewell": In an industry that favours safe bets (and fewer and fewer of them at that), it’s no wonder that a batch of smaller, intensely personal films stood out in 2019. But Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” a sensitive and wry account of the time her family decided to not tell her grandmother that she was dying of cancer, is at the top of the pack. Not only did we get to see Awkwafina in a different light and meet the phenomenal Chinese actress Zhao Shuzhen, but see ourselves and our own relationship with death and grief in the specificity of a different culture.4\. “1917": The whole “one take” construct of Sam Mendes’ sumptuous World War I epic “1917” is a neat trick, but that alone isn’t exactly a reason to see it. In fact, “1917” works so well because you're so wrapped up in the story of this impossible, real-time mission across across No Man's Land. Soldiers desperately race to stop an attack that the British have learned is doomed to fail. Immersed in their frantic sprint, you don't even notice the gears behind the engine.5\. “Marriage Story": The ugliness of the modern divorce industrial complex gets an achingly human face in Noah Baumbach’s tragicomic “Marriage Story,” which although it’s about the dissolution of a marriage is one of the funniest and most alive perhaps because it is so real — not to mention the wonderful turns from Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver and a crackling supporting cast.6\. “Maiden": A hidden gem of a documentary, “Maiden” is an exhilarating and uplifting adventure film about the first all-female crew to compete in a ‘round the world yacht race with harrowing archival footage and terrific present-day interviews with the women who raced and the men who doubted them.7\. “Honey Boy": I’d wager that the biggest sell of “Honey Boy” is also its biggest deterrent: That it’s Shia LaBeouf’s story. For those in the latter camp, I have one thing to say: See it anyway. This is a lyrical and immensely moving portrait of a child actor (Noah Jupe) and his complex relationship with his toxic father (LaBeouf) and a stunning fiction debut from director Alma Har’el.8\. “Parasite": Writer-director Bong Joon Ho keeps the audience guessing in this twisty, comedic and trenchant film about two families — one working class, one wealthy — whose stories become intertwined in a modernist palace. It’s a film that should be seen knowing as little as possible, but also one that gets richer with every view.9\. “Joker": Was “Joker” an agent of chaos? Sure, but not in the way people suspected. It didn’t incite violence; It was simply successful. And that’s not a bad thing! It’s a sneakily elegant film that dared to make something serious and adult out of a comic book character.10\. “The Nightingale": Jennifer Kent’s harrowing film about a young Irish woman on a quest for revenge in 1825 Tasmania contains one of the most shocking depictions of violence I’ve ever seen — so disturbing that I found myself looking for the door — and yet her film, which wants the viewer to be challenged by its violence, hate and ultimately empathy, is one that not only provokes, but sticks.Honourable Mentions: “Pain and Glory,” “I Lost My Body,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “Luce,” “Ad Astra”___JAKE COYLE1\. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”: In a year defined by mammoth masterworks, nothing took my breath away like Celine Sciamma’s exquisite, soul-shattering romance. A female painter (Noémie Merlant) in 18th century France is sent to paint, on the sly, the portrait of a spirited noble woman (Adèle Haenel) before her arranged marriage. The movie assembles itself as a series of stolen glances, as art and love mingle for a blissful but tragically unsustainable moment. The parting shot, a kind of portrait itself, is a devastation I won’t soon recover from.2\. “Rolling Thunder Revue” and “The Irishman”: A simply astonishing double feature from Martin Scorsese, one consumed with life, the other with death. Scorsese spoke urgently and eloquently about how movies should be more than they often are: a corporate-made product with little of the humanity that makes films worth debating, worth loving. But as well and as passionately as Scorsese argued for cinema, nothing made his case better than these two remarkable, colossal films.3\. “Honeyland”: Directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov were initially commissioned just to make a video about nature conservation in Macedonia, about one of Europe’s last wild-beekeepers. Instead, they spent three years and collected more than 400 hours of footage with Hatidze, a heroically indefatigably middle-aged woman who lives in an abandoned rural village in North Macedonia where she ekes out a meagre living for herself and her bedridden mother by sustainably harvesting honey. The filmmakers whittled their footage down to a 85-minute fable of startling intimacy (the candle-lit scenes of Hatidze and her mother are among the most stirring you’ll ever see) that reverberates with larger ecological allegory.4\. “Parasite”: There’s not a misplaced moment in Bong Joon Ho’s social satire, a so perfectly and intricately engineered genre contraption that it’s downright frightening.5\. “Marriage Story”: Noah Baumbach, too, is working at the very top of his game, telling a delicately, even profoundly constructed tale of divorce — a subject not so easy to be clear-eyed about — with a miraculous steadiness and compassion. For a horror story — and with lawyers breathing fire and brimstone to go with it — it’s remarkably funny, tender and true. A deeply humane masterpiece.6\. “Pain and Glory”: A master filmmaker looks back, rewarding us with one of his richest and most luminous films. Pedro Almodovar’s warm spirit vibrates throughout this time-skipping drama of self-reflection. Almodovar has never felt so close at hand, and the film’s final image is one of poetic summation.7\. “Little Women”: Greta Gerwig’s Louisa May Alcott adaptation is a feast of a movie. Every frame is alive. By remixing the book’s timelines and expanding Jo’s arc to encompass Alcott’s, too, Gerwig hasn’t just made “Little Women” contemporary, she’s made it sing.8\. “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”: Quentin Tarantino has said he aims to retire after making 10 films; he's disinterested in becoming an old filmmaker or doing anything to dull the vibrancy of his earlier films. He should rethink that. His radiant and poignant 1960s Hollywood fable suggests that Tarantino, when he slows down and soaks up the California sun, can be even better as he grows older.9\. “Last Black Man in San Francisco”: An almost-too-beautiful fable of displacement and gentrification that ultimately wins you over with the sincerity of its anguish and the soulful performances of Jimmy Fails, Jonathan Majors and Rob Morgan.10\. “ Atlantics ": Writer-director Mati Diop's feature debut is preternaturally assured. It's a ghost story, set in Senegal among grieving women after a boat of emigrating young men has disappeared into the sea. The film's mythic power is heightened by Diop's already fully-formed cinematic language.Honourable Mentions: “Dolemite Is My Name," “Apollo 11,” “Booksmart,” “Knives Out,” “High Flying Bird,” “Amazing Grace,” “Uncut Gems,” “The Nightingale,” “1917”___Follow Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr and Jake Coyle at http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAPLindsey Bahr And Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario's Catholic teachers will be in a legal strike position over the winter break, and while they don't have any job action plans yet, their union says it should be "another wake-up call" for the government.The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association said it has received a "no board" report, which puts them in a legal strike position on Dec. 21.The union requested the report on Friday, saying there was little prospect for further progress after a day of contract talks with the government assisted by a conciliator."This 'no-board' should serve as another wake-up call for Premier (Doug) Ford and (Education Minister Stephen) Lecce that it is time to get their act together," OECTA president Liz Stuart said in a statement."Unfortunately, while they claim to be bargaining in good faith and making reasonable offers, the reality is the Ford government continues to focus more on public posturing than reaching an agreement."Catholic teachers have two days of bargaining scheduled this week and two more next week.Lecce said he is disappointed OECTA has taken another step toward job action."Parents will have seen these types of practices demonstrated by teacher union leaders throughout a generation," he said. "I do think it is regrettable this is the path they have chosen.""I've been clear — I want to get deals that keep the children of this province in school," the minister said in a statement. "My team is ready to continue meeting to negotiate a deal that puts our students first and provides the predictability parents deserve."The development comes a day after public high school teachers staged a one-day strike.They were back in class Thursday, but are continuing with an administrative work-to-rule campaign and warn there could be more walk-outs if the government doesn't change course in contract talks.High school teachers are pushing back against government plans to increase class sizes and introduce mandatory e-learning courses. Lecce has said the key issue at that table is compensation, with the government offering a one-per-cent increase a year, but the union seeking around two per cent.Elementary teachers have also been conducting a work-to-rule campaign, saying their key issues are more supports for students with special needs, addressing violence in schools and preserving full-day kindergarten. They are also seeking higher wage increases than the government's offer.The difference between providing teachers and education workers across the major unions with two-per-cent raises instead of one per cent is $750 million over four years, Lecce said. That would be about $188 million a year.He said that money could build 92 new schools or heat every public school in the province for a year and a half.But opposition critics said the government has also recently "wasted" $231 million to cancel green energy contracts and $30 million to fight against the federal carbon tax."This is a question of priorities, absolutely," said NDP education critic Marit Stiles. "The government can spend hundreds of millions of dollars cancelling contracts and taking everyone to court...and yet somehow they don't have the money to invest in education."This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Dec. 5, 2019.Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba's Opposition wants to give the title of honorary first premier to Metis leader Louis Riel.NDP Leader Wab Kinew has put forward a private member's bill that would bestow the title and require Riel's contributions be part of the school curriculum.Riel is widely celebrated in Manitoba for leading a provisional government and paving the way for the province's entry into Confederation in the 19th century.There is a large statue of Riel behind the legislature and the Royal Canadian Mint issued a new coin in October that features his portrait.Riel was central to the Red River and North-West resistances to assert Indigenous rights, and was hanged in Saskatchewan in 1885 for treason.Kinew's bill would need government support to become law and it's not expected to come to a vote before March.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.The Canadian Press
Bickering between the governing United Conservative Party and the Official Opposition NDP on Thursday served as a symbolic cap to a bitter and divisive fall session of the Alberta legislature.Arguments over room bookings and participation in a non-partisan poll erupted hours after the eight-week session ended early Thursday morning.Staff in the office of Premier Jason Kenney refused to allow the NDP to hold an end-of-session news conference in the media room of the legislature at 10:45 a.m., even though no events were scheduled until noon. The NDP said they had permission to use the room, which is booked through the infrastructure department. The UCP said they had a block booking and that the NDP didn't follow the rules. Media were told they had to move to the nearby Federal Building 15 minutes before the start of the event. * Unions told thousands more job cuts coming to Alberta public serviceFor their part, the NDP refused to vote in a non-partisan poll conducted by Speaker Nathan Cooper to select MLAs in categories like "most promising newcomer" and "hardest working MLA."Two NDP MLAs were recognized by their peers — Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood MLA Janis Irwin (best community outreach) and Edmonton Northwest MLA David Eggen (lifetime achievement).But Richard Feehan, the NDP MLA for Edmonton Rutherford, said the contest wasn't accurate as no one from his caucus took part in the vote. "This is the UCP giving awards to themselves with the explicit aid of the Speaker," Feehan said in a tweet he later deleted. Asked why the NDP caucus didn't vote in Cooper's poll, NDP House Leader Deron Bilous said MLAs are frustrated by the actions of the UCP government, including the firing of election commissioner Lorne Gibson and moving control of the teachers' pension plan to the Alberta Investment Management Corporation."I appreciate that the Speaker did it in good faith for fun," Bilous said. "If MLAs decided not to participate in it, that was their own choice." Bilous said the NDP caucus discussed the poll but no direction was given for members to abstain. He said he didn't vote because he was tied up with other matters and there was a short timeline for voting.Government House Leader Jason Nixon denied his government was confrontational and said problems with decorum lie with the NDP. "The NDP in my mind, from what I see inside the chamber, and I sit in there a lot, still haven't learned the lesson or understand why Albertans terminated them from (government) and from our perspective continue to be angry at Albertans for that decision," he said. "The constituents of Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre did not send me up here to go out of my way to spend my whole time trying to figure out how to find common ground with the official opposition."The legislature will resume in February when the UCP government will introduce a budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Bilous said the NDP will release a "shadow" budget — an alternative version of the October budget — in the next few days.
When delivering the speech from the throne in Ottawa on Thursday, Gov. Gen. Julie Payette remembered the École Polytechnique massacre on the thirty-year anniversary of the deadly shooting, saying the government is committed to continuing efforts to combat gun violence.
SAN DIEGO — A company that claims to have the first drug to slow mental decline from Alzheimer's disease made its case to scientists Thursday but left them sharply divided over whether there’s enough evidence of effectiveness for the medicine to warrant federal approval.Excitement and skepticism have surrounded aducanumab since its developers stopped two studies earlier this year because it didn't seem to be working, then did a stunning about-face in October and said new results suggest it was effective at a high dose.During Thursday's presentation at an Alzheimer's conference in San Diego, the developers convinced some experts that the drug deserves serious consideration. But others were dubious.Changes made during the study and unusual analyses of the data made the results hard to interpret. And the newly released results showed the drug made only a very small difference in thinking skills in one study and none in the other.Alzheimer’s patients and families are desperate for any help, no matter how small, adding pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to approve something.But with conflicting results, "I don't see how you can conclude anything other than that another trial needs to be done," said the Mayo Clinic's Dr. David Knopman, who was involved in one of the studies.Laurie Ryan, a dementia scientist at the National Institute on Aging, agreed: “We need more evidence.”Other doctors who consult for the drug’s developers cheered the results. Dr. Paul Aisen, a dementia specialist at the University of Southern California, said they were "consistent and positive" in showing a benefit at a high dose — "a truly major advance."Aducanumab aims to help the body clear harmful plaques, or protein clumps, from the brain. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Biogen is developing it with Japan’s Eisai Co.In afternoon trading, the companies’ stocks were up roughly 4%.The stakes are high for approval or denial.More than 5 million people in the U.S. and millions more worldwide have Alzheimer's. Current drugs only temporarily ease symptoms and do not slow the loss of memory and thinking skills.But approving a drug that isn't truly effective could expose patients to financial and medical risks and give other drugmakers less incentive to develop better treatments.The makers of aducanumab undertook two studies, each enrolling about 1,650 people with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia from Alzheimer's.Those with a gene that raises their risk of the disease were started on a lower dose because they are more likely to suffer inflammation in the brain from medicines that target plaque.But as the studies went on and concern about this side effect eased, the rules were changed to let such patients get a higher dose.A Biogen vice-president, Samantha Budd Haeberlein, said more people got the higher dose in one study, and that helps explain why it succeeded and the other one failed.But the new analyses were done on partial results, and with methods not agreed upon at the outset, which makes any conclusions unreliable, independent experts said.Also, the drug’s benefits may have looked more impressive than they really were because patients in the placebo group worsened more in the positive study than in the one that failed."It's hard to know exactly what happened here," said Dr. Howard Fillit, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. "I don't see how the FDA could approve it."Questions also arose about the size of any benefit.The drug did not reverse decline, only slowed the rate of it compared to the placebo group by 22% in one study. Yet that meant a difference of only 0.39 on an 18-point score of thinking skills."It's a very small amount," Fillit said.Still, Maria Carrillo, chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association, said it was “the largest reduction that we've seen to date," adding: "It may mean that they remember their loved ones a little longer."The drug "is worthy of significant, rigorous exploration" and review by the FDA, she said. "This is an important moment for the Alzheimer's community."Some doctors and patients who helped test the drug are convinced it helped.One was Charles Flagg, 78, a retired minister from Jamestown, Rhode Island, who received aducanumab until the studies were halted in March. Since he was taken off the medicine, “his cognition, his alertness, his interactions have definitely diminished," said his wife, Cynthia Flagg.Biogen stressed the need for an effective treatment and suggested that delaying access to a drug that may work could deprive many people of help while further study is done.Dr. John Ioannidis, a Stanford University expert on research methods, said patients’ need should not drive the FDA’s decision."If we go down that path, we're likely to introduce a lot of ineffective treatments for diseases that are really common," he said. "It would be a complete mess."___Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAPThe Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
Angela Merkel will make her first visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial on Friday after 14 years as German chancellor, bringing a 60 million euro donation to help conserve the site where the Nazis ran their largest death camp, the museum said. Merkel has not shied away from admitting Germany's responsibility for its atrocities in World War Two, but her visit will ensure she follows in the footsteps of former chancellors by seeing the site before her term ends. "Auschwitz is a museum but is also the biggest cemetery in the world ... (memory) is the key to building the present and future," museum director Piotr Cywinski told Reuters ahead of Merkel's visit at the invitation of the Auschwitz foundation.
Hong Kong's police chief urged people to demonstrate peacefully on Sunday, when organizers expect a large turnout for a pro-democracy march intended to show the movement still has strong momentum. Police have given a rare green light to the demonstration, organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the group that called the largely peaceful million-strong marches in the summer. "We hope our citizens can show the whole world Hong Kong people are capable of holding a large-scale rally in an orderly and peaceful manner," police commissioner Chris Tang said on Friday before departing on a "courtesy visit" to Beijing.
On the morning of Jan. 30, 2019, Eg Walters woke up to the news that his life's work was on fire.Inside the Community Food Sharing Association's Topsail Road warehouse in St. John's, food was stacked floor to ceiling, more than $300,000 worth, bound for the dozens of food banks around the province that the Association supplies.But by dawn that day, there was nothing left. A fire had torn through the warehouse, leaving walls charred, supplies burned, and all the food contaminated. Later that morning, a visibly distraught Walters addressed the gathered media."We have absolutely no food. We don't even have one can of soup that we could distribute." he said.The new year was barely a month old, but the food bank fire was instantly one of the biggest news stories of 2019. Now, as the year draws to a close, CBC is raising funds for local food banks through its annual Warm Hearts campaign. Click here to learn more.'The worst thing that ever happened to me'Walters has long been the public face of food banks in Newfoundland and Labrador. He's served as general manager of the Community Food Sharing Association since it was founded in 1992. His long white beard puts you in mind of another well-known character who's famous for giving. But on that January morning, Walters hit rock bottom."I've been with Community Food Sharing for 27 years, and it's the worst thing that ever happened to me in those 27 years." he said. "I shake now when I get under stress.… To say that it was devastating and stressful would be an understatement.""My stomach was right up in my throat. To see that, and to know what was in the warehouse. And to wonder, what's going to happen tomorrow?"Walters wasn't the only person feeling that way."I think I burst into tears immediately," laughed CFSA board chairperson Wanda Hillier, who remembered being at work when Walters called. The first thing that came to her mind was that the following Tuesday was shipping day."This is like four days from then. So I'm thinking, how do you not have those doors open for a food bank that is out of food?" Hillier said.Those food banks were wondering the same thing. There are 56 groups in Newfoundland and Labrador that operate food banks that are part of the CFSA network. Each of them aims to stock its shelves with locally donated food, but all of them depend to some degree on CFSA to supplement the donations. If a food bank runs short, it's CFSA they call. The Single Parent Association of Newfoundland is just one of those groups. The day before the fire, it had collected a seemingly huge supply of food from CFSA. But SPAN's Elaine Balsom said it was barely enough to last for a couple of days. "We may have to scale back what we give in our hampers to make things go further or — hopefully it won't come to it, but we may have to have a day that we won't have the food bank actually open, until Community Food Sharing gets back on its feet again." Balsom said at the time.As a fellow food bank organizer, Balsom's heart went out to Walters."Just getting the news yesterday was heartbreaking, it was just such a shock." she said then. "I can certainly empathize with how Eg must be feeling, because it's devastating to know that you have these people depending on you, and maybe next week we might have to look at some people coming in for food hampers and say, we don't have food to give you."The fire was out, but the threat of thousands going hungry was hanging in the air.'Newfoundland and Labrador has our backs'The morning after the fire, a different kind of spark was kindled. All over the province, people sprang into action, looking to help out in ways big and small. Seemingly every town, every business, every club and association was looking for ways to raise funds, food or both.At the St. John's Farmers' Market, vendors donated proceeds from sales."I'm in the food business, you could say," said Jonathan Richler, owner of the Jewish Deli. "What better use of my resources than to help other people eat?"Public libraries started accepting food donations in place of fines for overdue library books. The corporate community broke out the giant cheques, handing over four- and five-figure sums as fast as the ink could dry.Two days after the fire came the biggest donation of all: a new warehouse, provided rent free by the provincial government. The space had just been vacated by Eastern Health, which had used it to prepare hospital meals — so it was already fully equipped with everything a food distribution centre needs. "All we had to do was change the phone number," said Walters.The sudden flurry of public appreciation was an emotional experience for longtime volunteers like Hillier. "We realized, 'OK, Newfoundland and Labrador has our back!" she said. "You've got Food Banks Canada calling, [saying] 'How many tractor-trailer loads can you take?' You've got companies calling that are not even in Newfoundland saying, 'We've got food, how much do you want?' To the point that we were delaying trucks because we couldn't accommodate all that was coming in."Just one week after the fire, after being left without a single can of soup, the Community Food Sharing Association was up and running again, the lost food more than made up for.The work of local food banks, and the people behind them, doesn't get celebrated every day. But in those hectic early days of 2019, people in this province showed how much that work means."I think what it did was it reawakened the generosity, the generous spirit of Newfoundlanders throughout the whole province and on the mainland as well." said Walters. "All we had to do was tell the story. We didn't say, 'We want this, we want that, we want something else.' All we did was say, 'This is what happened,' — and we kept the faith."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Black Santa is coming to town, and if enough children jump on his lap, he might ride his sleigh into one of Edmonton's biggest malls.That's the goal, at least.Instead of holding a Christmas party this year, the Zimbabwe Cultural Society of Alberta is hosting a holiday photo session with Santa at a photography studio in west Edmonton on Saturday.Board member Sharon Rusike pitched the idea after noticing a lack of diversity among representatives of the jolly old elf in Edmonton."Most of the people in our community don't usually take pictures with Santa Claus," she told CBC News."It's important for kids to have representation because then they can feel included." Santa stopped by CBC Edmonton on Monday and told Radio Active host Adrienne Pan he was excited to be participating in the event."Realizing that there's no black Santa and being the first one? Ho ho ho! What a pleasure," said Santa, who is also known as Michael Moyo.Polaroid photos will be free for kids under 10 during the first hour of the event. Couple and family portraits will also be available for $30 and $50, respectively.Proceeds from the photos will support the society's language and heritage programs.If the one-day event is successful, organizers hope to expand it and send Santa to shopping malls and children's hospitals."I think it'll open up kids' imaginations," Rusike said.The event, which is open to the public, runs Saturday from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. at The Photographer Studio, 17304 103rd Ave.
TORONTO — Sophie Deraspe says she did not set out to make a political film by examining the fallout of an immigrant young man facing deportation in Quebec, but the judicial and social commentary in the filmmaker's modern-day adaptation of the Greek tragedy "Antigone" are hard to avoid.The francophone tale unfolds through the soulful eyes of a teenage refugee named Antigone, a bright student whose life is upended when her older brother is shot by police and another brother is arrested on gang-related drug charges.The blow opens raw wounds for Antigone, her sister Ismene, and their bewildered grandmother who are still mourning the murders of Antigone's parents before they fled an unspecified war-torn country to resettle in a low-income Montreal neighbourhood.Played by newcomer Nahema Ricci, the unwaveringly principled Antigone cycles through despair, rage, anguish and desperation as she tries to hold her family together in the face of a callous and unrelenting judicial system.Deraspe describes the film, which is Canada's submission in the 2020 Oscar race for best international feature, as "very emotional" and "very human," rather than overtly political."I see that (there is a) political reading of it and I think it's a great conversation we can have," Deraspe said in September when the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to acclaim."It's great if it brings a conversation about that (but also) empathy. Film is one of the best vehicles for empathy and sometimes we see the differences we have with our neighbours like this family ... and we have very superficial judgments but we don't know what people have been through."Deraspe acknowledges some inspiration from real-life headlines about violent police encounters with racialized youth and headline-grabbing accounts of gang-ridden neighbourhoods, but says any references to current social woes are more related to her attempts to modernize Sophocles' ancient parable.Then there are the visual tricks Deraspe employs to further root the morality tale in today's world, which include images of news footage, shaky cellphone video and rapid cuts.This is especially so when bystander video of the brother's brutal police takedown goes viral online and sparks a public outcry.Ricci's smoldering portrayal of Antigone's raw emotion commands the screen in frequent close-ups, and the teen's face itself becomes a symbol of defiance for those who rush to support the family with posters, graffiti and online activism.Ricci says she recalls loving the play the moment she first read it at age 14, and then lobbying as a 19-year-old amateur thespian to work on it for her assignment in a classical theatre course.Two years later, she says she was gratified to be in a festival screening of her big-screen debut and hear audience members sobbing over her emotion-wrought performance, which she admits was a draining experience."It was very intense, and it was not only the shooting, it was the weeks before," says Ricci, whose father immigrated to Canada from Tunisia and her mother from France."I remember I was having a hard time just hanging out with my friends because I was thinking so much about tragedy all the time. All the time it was very monopolizing but it was an incredibly rich experience because she makes sense out of the tragedy."For me, I felt so powerful at that moment in my life because nothing could happen to me because I was so connected to Antigone.... It was a philosophical experience, it was a spiritual experience, it was something huge, very immense.""Antigone" opens in Toronto and Vancouver on Friday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
A man who touched a Vancouver bus driver's upper thigh for a few seconds has been found guilty of assault.It doesn't matter how long Surjit Singh Toor's hand touched the female driver's leg — the contact was not trivial or minor, and the protection of transit operators is considered to be of "special importance," Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Wilson Lee said in his ruling this month.The incident happened after Toor boarded the bus at Main and Hastings streets on Oct. 19, 2018. The man said he wanted to go to the area of Victoria Drive and 49th Avenue. He appeared unstable and possibly intoxicated, the driver testified. He touched the driver's shoulder, and she told him not to touch her.As the bus approached the intersection of Commercial Drive and Venables Street, Toor once again approached the driver and tried to talk. The driver told him she was aware of where he wanted to go and asked him to sit down.Toor then leaned forward and touched the driver's upper thigh for "two to three seconds," she said.She yelled at the man and told him to return to his seat.The driver called for help and stopped the bus at the Kingsway and Victoria Drive bus stop.Vulnerability of drivers an aggravating factor, judge rulesToor's defence counsel argued any contact between the man and the driver was "so minor and trivial" that he should not be charged.However, the judge found the fact this happened to a bus driver was an aggravating factor."I attribute this to the vulnerability that transit operators have during the course of their employment duties, and their interaction with an assortment of bus passengers," Lee said in his ruling.The driver was in a vulnerable position and would have had a hard time defending herself if she had to, Lee said. "Mr. Toor's contact with [the driver] was not a mere trifle or of a minor nature," he said."In my opinion ... [the driver] is entitled to the protection of the law."
Relatives of a man killed while working as a baggage handler for Air Canada say they're grateful the airline has pleaded guilty in connection with his death, but they still wonder why it took more than three years for the company to do so.Ian Henrey Pervez, 24, was killed on April 22, 2016 at Pearson Airport when a truck he was driving flipped and ejected him onto the tarmac.Air Canada pleaded guilty to a safety violation related to baggage tractors on Nov. 25. A court ruled the company had not developed a program to protect workers from the hazards of operating those vehicles at the time of Pervez's death."Them admitting to their mistakes can hopefully prevent this from happening in the future to someone's kid, brother, husband," said Mark Pervez, the victim's younger brother.Still, the family wishes the guilty plea would have arrived sooner."It took them almost four years to admit to their mistake," Pervez added.Air Canada was fined $100,000 in connection with the incident. The airline was also ordered to make a $100,000 donation to the Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support.The family said the dollar figures are relatively meaningless given the scale of the tragedy."No money can bring him back," Mark Pervez said. "In terms of it being sufficient or not, that's up to the court."Family recalls 'black day'While the family said the guilty plea has provided some measure of closure, the trauma is still fresh.Pervez Pervez, the victim's father, struggled through tears as he recounted the night he lost his third-born child, whom the family called "Babloo.""That day is a black day for my family," he said.Pervez Pervez vividly remembers driving his son to work on the afternoon of his death. He still regrets not saying goodbye because he was on the phone when he dropped him off. He expected to pick him up at the end of his shift later that night."So when I dropped him, I never said, 'OK Babloo, God bless you ...' Usually every day, I say the same thing. That day. I didn't do that," Pervez Pervez said.His son was also engaged to be married in 2017, he added."He was full of life, always smiling. So humble, so kind," said older sister Jacinta Pervez."There's not even a day that we don't think about him."Changes now in place, airline saysAir Canada says it has made significant changes since Pervez's death, including new training programs and retrofitting some vehicles to prevent further injuries or fatalities in rollovers."The death of our colleague Ian Henrey Pervez was a terrible tragedy that affected all of us deeply at Air Canada," wrote spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick in an email. "Safety is our top priority at all times and we view any workplace injury as unacceptable and preventable."Paul Lefebvre, an IAMAW representative who attended Air Canada's court appearance in November, said he was happy to see the airline plead guilty. He also said the larger workplace culture is putting airport workers at risk."Things are much busier out there and they push the workers a lot harder to do things a lot quicker," he told CBC Toronto.Lefebvre said his union, which represents machinists and aerospace workers, has asked the federal government to strengthen regulations around airport worker safety.The possibility of stronger punishments may also be helpful, he said."I have to think a $100,000 fine to multi-billion-dollar corporations isn't quite something compelling to them in terms of preventing these things from occurring," Lefebvre added.
An Alberta man awaiting trial for the murder of a Prince Edward Island man is facing more charges after a machete attack Monday.Quentin Strawberry, 38, of O'Chiese First Nation in west central Alberta, has been charged with attempted murder after a man was struck in the head with a machete in a Red Deer apartment.Strawberry was arrested and charged with attempted murder, obstructing a police officer and six counts of breach of recognizance.He had been granted bail on Nov. 20 after being charged with second-degree murder in the March 29 death of P.E.I. resident Joseph Junior Alfred Gallant, 45. His bail restrictions included a 24-hour curfew, keeping the peace and not having anything in his possession that he intended to use as a weapon.Strawberry was subsequently charged for breaching conditions on Nov. 20, 25 and 26.He has a history of violence, weapon and drug charges.Strawberry is being held in custody until his court date next Wednesday in Red Deer provincial court.
Telecom Italia (TIM) and smaller broadband rival Open Fiber traded blows on Thursday on how they do business, complicating plans for a tie-up to create a single fiber network. TIM's CEO Luigi Gubitosi criticized Open Fiber for being slow to roll out its fast fiber network and said it was building "fiber to nowhere".
Several vigils will be held in Edmonton on Friday to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre, where a gunman killed 14 women on campus.Since 1991, Dec. 6 has been commemorated as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women, known informally as White Ribbon Day. Along with various vigils, Canadian flags will fly at half-mast on federal buildings — including the Peace Tower in Ottawa — and Canadians are being urged to observe a minute of silence and wear a white or purple ribbon.The events honour the 14 victims killed in Montreal in 1989, as well as the other women who have died or been victims of violence. In Edmonton, people are invited to attend two public vigils taking place at noon. * Northern Alberta Institute of Technology at The Crossing, located on the first floor of the Centre for Applied Technology, 11763 106th St. This event will be attended by MLA Laila Goodridge. * University of Alberta at the Students' Union Building, 8900 114th St. This event is put on by various student and staff associations. The vigils are among various events held during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an international awareness campaign that starts every year on Nov. 25. In 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lépine walked into a classroom at École Polytechnique and separated the men from the women. He shouted, "You're all feminists and I hate feminists!" Then he started shooting.In less than 20 minutes, he killed 14 women, most of them engineering students, before turning the gun on himself. The suicide note found on his body spoke of his disdain for women and blamed feminists for ruining his life.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation's drug unit got a little help from Canada Post and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, resulting in the arrest Tuesday of two men.The three units searched a business in St. John's, seizing a number of cannabis and cannabis-related products, plus a large quantity of cash.The items seized in the bust included: * 5.6 kilograms of dried flower. * 3.2 kilograms of concentrates. * 22 vape pens. * 179 one-gram packages of shatter. * 255 one-gram concentrated oil syringes. * 40 30-millilitre bottles of cannabidiol oil. * 105 grams of cannabis edibles. * 16, 30-millilitre bottles of THC tincture. * 15 cannabis seeds. * 755 grams of cannabis topicals. * $24,974.15 in cash."To further its mandate of providing a safe and secure supply of non-medical cannabis, NLC will continue to work with its partners in law enforcement to disrupt the illicit market," the NLC said in a news release on Thursday.The two men arrested were released, pending an ongoing investigation, the NLC said.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Mayor John Tory says Toronto needs more streetcars "now" — and its one of the reasons the city needs to increase property taxes.The mayor revealed a plan Wednesday to extend and increase the city building fund — a special property tax levy dedicated to transit and housing projects. The plan will cost the average Toronto household around $43 next year, he said."We can't afford, as a city, not to do these things," said Tory, speaking on CBC's Metro Morning Thursday.The tax hike will help pay for the public transit and affordable housing that we "absolutely" must build, Tory said.Toronto needs 60 new streetcars: TTCToronto's streetcar network has a stark need for new funding, according to the latest report to the TTC board.The city needs about 60 new streetcars as part of its five-year service plan, said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green, and about 100 over the next decade.A new report says the TTC will need to find $414 million for streetcars by 2024 to enhance its network and keep pace with population growth.Without funding, the report warns, buses could stay on streetcar routes and the TTC might have to "forego service improvements for growth and reliability for multiple years.""We need new streetcars now. Now," said Tory on Metro Morning.Coun. Gord Perks says Toronto also needs 90 new buses to maintain current service levels."The problems that we're experiencing are epidemic and right across the system," said Perks."The bread and butter of transit is buying buses and buying streetcars. We haven't done that in 10 years and it shows."The TTC is decommissioning its fleet of old CLRV streetcars this year, which first arrived in December 1977. Green said the city needs 40 new streetcars to bring them back to all routes, and another 20 for a small amount of growth.$33B backlogTory said the tax hike will help bring down the TTC's $33-billion state-of- good-repair backlog.Earlier this week, a fire on subway tracks shut down part of Line 2 for hours — and Tory says it happened because wooden wire covers had not been replaced with fibreglass."Those are the kind of things that get spread out over a long period of time because people are trying to save money," he said.Most of the money from the city fund would go into infrastructure and repair work, said Green, but some could be used for new vehicles. The federal and provincial government may also provide money, he said.'It's the right thing to do'Tory said he'll launch an "aggressive campaign" to get money from other levels of government for housing and transit, but the city has to "put up our share."He expects that extending the city building fund for six more years will bring in more than $5 billion for transit and housing."I will be accountable for the decision because I think it's the right thing to do," said Tory, who says the city has "about two tools" to raise revenue."And I think people trust me to do the right thing."Beyond just streetcars, the report says the TTC's five-year service plan will require $779.5 million — $745.4 million of which is not currently funded.Perks said the mayor has "refused" to put money in the budget for new streetcars over the past several years."Maybe this signals a change," Perks said. "if so that's a great thing."Earlier this week, Tory also announced a plan to build 40,000 new affordable and supportive housing options.Tory's tax plan means the property tax levy would continue for six more years, and increase by 1.5 per cent in 2020 and 2021.City council still has to approve the tax increase.
HALIFAX — A nationwide clamp down on vaping continued Thursday as Nova Scotia announced a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes, while Ontario hinted that it may soon do the same.Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey announced the province will be the first to ban sales of flavoured e-cigarettes and juices in regulatory changes that take effect April 1, 2020."This decision is in response to our concerns about the growth in particular of youth vaping,'' said Delorey.Though Nova Scotia has drastically reduced youth smoking rates in the last 30 years, that progress has been stalled by the popularity of flavoured vaping products, he said."This is not just about reducing vaping access and use, but it's also a means to stem potential transfers into traditional tobacco usage as well,'' Delorey said.Between 2017-18, the number of young people smoking and vaping in Canada increased for the first time in several decades, Delorey said.A recent survey conducted by Smoke Free Nova Scotia suggested 95 per cent of young Nova Scotians who vape said they preferred flavoured juices — and 48 per cent of those surveyed said they would quit if flavours were banned.A 2016-17 survey suggested 37 per cent of Nova Scotia students in grades 7 to 12 had tried vaping at least once — one of the highest rates in Canada.Delorey said the province plans to roll out a public education campaign and more vaping legislation next year. Under Nova Scotia's current law, e-cigarette products cannot be sold to anyone under 19.Delorey wouldn't tip his hand on what further restrictive steps would be included in new legislation, but said he has taken notice of what's being done in other provinces. He said it's also important that any potential changes align with steps taken at the federal level."It doesn't make sense to duplicate the legislative and regulatory framework between the federal and provincial jurisdictions, so what's being done at the federal level will have some influence and impact on what we decide to do here provincially,'' he said.Also on Thursday, Ontario's health minister said her province is also considering a ban on flavoured vaping products. Ontario has already said it would ban the promotion of vaping products in convenience stores and gas stations beginning next month."We do know there is more to be done so we are taking a look at the flavoured vapes," Christine Elliott said. "We are looking at the nicotine content in vapes. We are looking at where vaping products should be sold ... we will be taking more steps, absolutely."Ontario Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the province should follow Nova Scotia's example and ban flavoured vaping products."Given the number of teens vaping now that's becoming a huge issue and we need to stop that," he said.New restrictions on vaping were recently adopted in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.The P.E.I. government passed legislation last month that sets the highest age limit in the country, raising the legal age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 19 to 21.The legislation also bans certain flavours of e-cigarettes and restricts where the products can be sold.In British Columbia, a 10-point plan is aimed at protecting youth from the health risks of vaping, including legislation that would boost the provincial sales tax on such products from seven per cent to 20 per cent.Earlier this week, Newfoundland and Labrador banned the introduction of cannabis vape products when pot consumables go on sale later this month.In November, several health advocacy groups called on the Nova Scotia government to take urgent action to curb what they called a youth vaping epidemic.Kelly Cull, of the Canadian Cancer Society, called Thursday's move an "excellent first step.''She said she'd like to see upcoming legislation raise the minimum age to 21, restrict where e-cigarette products can be sold, cap nicotine levels, and ban online sales.Robert MacDonald, president and CEO of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, said the province should also consider taxation as a means to reduce vaping."We've seen that in tobacco (and) it's reduced rates,'' said MacDonald.In the United States, 47 deaths have been attributed to vaping, and 2,000 cases of severe lung disease have been reported.Thirteen cases of vaping-associated lung illness had been reported in Canada as of Dec. 3. So far there have been no deaths.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press