JERUSALEM — Hollywood power couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are set to return to Israel as co-hosts of this year’s Genesis Prize ceremony.The Genesis Prize Foundation announced on Wednesday that the pair would co-host the June 18 event, where former Soviet dissident and Israeli politician Natan Sharansky is to be honoured as the 2020 laureate.Douglas, 75, was the 2015 winner of the prestigious $1 million prize, granted each year in recognition of professional achievement, contribution to humanity and commitment to Jewish values and Israel. He is recognized for his cinematic work and advocacy for disarmament as a U.N. Messenger of Peace.Douglas, whose mother wasn’t Jewish and who himself is intermarried, directed his award toward projects promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the Jewish world.“Catherine and I look forward to returning to Israel, a country our entire family loves so much,” Douglas said in a statement. “We are particularly honoured to have the opportunity to host the ceremony honouring a true Jewish hero, Natan Sharansky.”Douglas said the visit will also be a way for his family to honour the memory of his father, Kirk Douglas, who died on Feb. 6 at the age of 103. Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch and raised in a religious home, reconnected with his Jewish roots in his later years and had a strong connection to Israel.“His re-discovery of his Jewish faith, his passion for his heritage has been a guiding light for me, passed down to my children,” Douglas said.The foundation said that during Douglas’ visit, it will hold a special event honouring his father’s cinematic legacy.Douglas, who has acted and produced in dozens of films over a five-decade career, won the Academy Award for best actor for his role as ruthless financier Gordan Gekko in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” Other films have included “Fatal Attraction,” “Basic Instinct,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Traffic” and the recent “Ant-Man” superhero movies. He also won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his portrayal of Liberace in the 2013 HBO production “Behind the Candelabra.”Zeta-Jones, 50, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 2002 musical “Chicago” and collected the 2010 Tony Award for Lead Actress in a Musical for her work in the Broadway hit “A Little Night Music.” Her other films include “Ocean’s 12,” “The Terminal,” and “The Mask of Zorro” and “Traffic.”The Genesis Prize was inaugurated in 2014 and is run in a partnership between the private Genesis Prize Foundation and the chairman’s office of the Jewish Agency, a non-profit that works closely with the Israeli government to serve Jewish communities worldwide.Other previous winners include Michael Bloomberg, violinist Itzhak Perlman, sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The 2018 winner, actress Natalie Portman, pulled out of the prize ceremony because she did not want to appear to be endorsing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The same year, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received the foundation’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.Josef Federman, The Associated Press
As blockades continue to pop up across Canada, disrupting rail and road traffic to protest against the Coastal GasLink pipeline through Wet'suwet'en territory, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told a conference on Indigenous participation in large projects Wednesday that First Nations are key partners in pushing energy projects forward. In what has become a common refrain for Kenney, he said "green left militants" are hurting Indigenous communities by removing any potential for economic growth in their territories."These people in Toronto and Vancouver who say shut it all down and leave it in the ground, where is their concern?" he said. Kenney emphasized the Alberta government's commitment to supporting Indigenous communities financially through its Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, which offers a $1 billion backstop to allow communities to invest in projects.He said that represented the single biggest fiscal commitment of his government in an economic downturn. "There's been a change. There's been a coming together. That is the spirit of reconciliation, and I have never once been criticized by Albertans for making that choice," he said. "We did that because we know that for many of your nations, it is very difficult to obtain credit and equity and financing. The banks are not easily accessible for borrowing, because the anachronistic Indian Act makes it all but impossible for bands to use land or assets for collateral."Litigation fund for Indigenous communitiesKenney also announced the first recipients of the Indigenous litigation fund, meant to finance court challenges for groups that support resource development, which he says is needed to offset funding of opposition groups. The Woodland Cree First Nation will receive $187,688 to join the province's challenge to the contentious Bill C-69, which outlines new rules for resource projects in Canada."We really see this as creating uncertainty and vulnerability for Alberta, our nation, but also the country," said Chief Isaac Laboucan-Avirom of the Woodland Cree. He said his First Nation wants to be involved in development on their land because they're the ones left behind when companies leave."We don't want our children just living in poverty and then our grandchildren. We want our children to go to the universities," said Laboucan-Avirom.Chief Sharleen Gale, of the Fort Nelson First Nation in British Columbia, had another way of putting it. "It's no longer where you just come to a community and drop off a box of doughnuts [and] tell them what you're going to be doing," she said. "Nations are building up their capacity to be able to deal with these issues a little bit stronger by incorporating their own Indigenous values on how these projects should be laid out on the land and how they want to be involved economically."That view was shared by Stephen Buffalo, the president and CEO of the Indian Resource Council, which advocates for greater control over natural resources for Indigenous communities. "It's my view that no one in Canada should live in poverty with the resources that we have here in Canada," he said. Buffalo says they agree with a lot of environmental concerns, but have to find a balance with economic development. Both Laboucan-Avirom and Buffalo said they can't speak for other nations like the Wet'suwet'en and what's best for them. "Well, it's just really an assertion of our jurisdiction," said Buffalo when asked about the protest and blockades. "And, you know, we have to respect the fact that they still follow our hereditary clan system in B.C., and we have to leave it up to them to solve those issues. Until then, I'm hoping the rest of the Canadian First Nations can respect that and leave it with them to deal with it, because as Canada we still need to move together."Throne speechKenney's speech at the Indigenous Participation in Major Projects conference in Calgary came one day after a throne speech in the Alberta legislature that doubled down on the province's commitment to oil and gas development, with pledges to crack down on those who disrupt "critical infrastructure."Earlier in the day, he said the government may invest directly in energy projects.Kenney's speech was supposed to be followed by a panel discussion that featured the chief executive officer of Coastal GasLink, the company squarely in the centre of the national storm, but David Pfeiffer did not show up.
A meeting between the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, the federal government and the British Columbia government is set to take place Thursday after it was abruptly cancelled Wednesday, one of the leaders of the First Nation said.Chief Na'Moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, said the meeting is scheduled in the afternoon and will continue Friday."It was abundantly clear to us that both levels of government had cancelled the discussions we had planned," he said.By Wednesday evening, he said he and the other hereditary chiefs were told the cancellation was due to a "miscommunication."He said talks broke down after they refused to ask other First Nations and their supporters to remove rail blockades throughout the country."In our law, we can't do that," he said. "We can't tell another sovereign nation what to do and we would not expect them to do that to us."A spokesman for the office of the B.C. premier said Wednesday that the report of a rescheduled meeting was "promising," but the provincial government was not in a position to confirm it until Thursday morning.Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks as a show of support for the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, who oppose a natural gas pipeline project cutting across their traditional territory in northwestern British Columbia.Also Wednesday, protesters behind rail blockades in Quebec and Ontario ramped up their actions as government officials accused them of compromising public safety.In a video posted on the Real People's Media website, demonstrators in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory near Belleville, Ont., were shown standing on rail tracks as a CN Rail train approached, then jumping out of the way at the last second.Ontario Provincial Police said a handful of protesters also lit fires near and on railway tracks at a secondary camp that remained in place after a raid on another, larger blockade earlier this week.The latest disruptions were denounced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who called the protesters' actions unsafe."It is extremely concerning to see people endangering their own lives and the lives of others by trying to interfere with the trains," Trudeau said.Meanwhile, Quebec Premier Francois Legault suggested provincial police had not moved in to dismantle a blockade on the Kahnawake Mohawk territory south of Montreal because those on the reserve are armed, potentially with assault rifles. His comments, which came as protesters on the Mohawk territory south of Montreal reinforced a blockade that has been in place since Feb. 8, were rejected by the First Nation, which stressed the demonstration is a peaceful one.Kenneth Deer, the secretary of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, said the protesters are not armed and the suggestion that there are AK-47s at the site is "highly irresponsible and ludicrous."Earlier in the day, Deer spoke out against a possible intervention by outside police, saying any efforts to forcibly remove the site would be seen as an "act of provocation and aggression that will exacerbate an already volatile situation.""Ultimately, coercive state-sponsored force is the wrong way to make peace," Deer said in a statement.The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador also took issue with Legault's statements, urging him to be more careful in discussing the issue."Premier Legault is making very dangerous and offensive comments by suggesting the presence of weapons in Kahnawake," AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard said in a statement."He certainly did not consider the consequences of his words for community members who live with the memories of 30 years ago on a daily basis."The rail company obtained an injunction on Tuesday to end the blockade. Travel disruptions have continued in recent days after several high-profile blockades were dismantled by police in B.C. and Ontario earlier this week.The agency responsible for a major commuter rail service covering much of southern Ontario said Wednesday it was not anticipating any of the delays and cancellations that brought trains to a standstill during the previous day's rush hour.Metrolinx, operator of the GO Transit network, suspended service Tuesday on multiple routes as a series of protests sprang up in and around Toronto.City police said they arrested three people at the demonstrations. They said Wednesday morning that officers provided protesters with an injunction and began moving them from rail tracks.The federal governments could not immediately be reached for comment.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 26, 2020— With files from Liam Casey in Toronto, Dirk Meissner in Victoria, Amy Smart in Vancouver and Teresa Wright in Ottawa.Daniela Germano, Morgan Lowrie and Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Crews scrubbed everything from money to buses, military bases were on high alert and quarantines were enforced Wednesday from a beachfront resort in the Atlantic to a remote island in the Pacific, as the world worked to halt the fast-spreading virus that for the first time counted more new cases outside China than inside the country, where the epidemic originated.Worries over the ever-expanding economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis multiplied, with factories idled, trade routes frozen and tourism crippled, while a growing list of nations braced for the illness to breach their borders. Even the Olympics, five months away, wasn't far enough off to keep people from wondering if it would go on as planned.“We don’t expect a miracle in the short term,” said Kianoush Jahanpour of the health ministry in Iran, where an official tally of infections of 139 was doubted by some who thought the problem was far bigger.The World Health Organization, meanwhile, reported that the number of new cases outside China on Tuesday exceeded the number of new infections inside the country for the first time. The number in China was 412, while the tally in the rest of the world was 459.“The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday.About 81,000 people around the globe have been sickened by the coronavirus that kept finding new targets. With Brazil confirming the arrival of Latin America's first case, the virus had a toehold on every continent but Antarctica.In Europe, where Germany, France and Spain were among the places with a growing caseload, an expanding cluster of more than 440 cases in northern Italy was eyed as a source for transmissions. In the Middle East, where cases increased in Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq, blame was directed toward Iran. In Asia, where the crisis originated late last year in China, threats continued to emerge around the region, with South Korea battling a mass outbreak centred in the 2.5 million-person city of Daegu.And in the United States, which has 60 cases, President Donald Trump declared that the U.S. was “very, very ready” for whatever threat the coronavirus brings, and he put Vice-President Mike Pence in charge of overseeing the country's response. Shortly after Trump spoke, health officials in the U.S. confirmed a new case of coronavirus infection in California that could be the first instance of the virus spreading in a U.S. community. The patient in California was not known to have travelled to a country with an outbreak, or be connected to a known patient.The illness had now spread to at least 39 countries, said world health officials, who simultaneously cautioned against the risks of unnecessary fears or stigma.“We are in a fight that can be won if we do the right things,” WHO chief Ghebreyesus said.Though the virus pushed into countries both rich and poor, its arrival in places with little ability to detect, respond and contain it brought concern it could run rampant there and spread easily elsewhere.“We’re going to be trying to slow down the spread so that our hospitals are not overwhelmed in one big gulp, one big hit,” said Ian Mackay, who studies viruses at the University of Queensland in Australia.Saudi Arabia announced a series of precautionary measures, including temporarily stopping tourists from places with confirmed outbreaks from entering the country, as well as pilgrims coming for the Umrah or to visit the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.In South Korea, workers sanitized public buses, while in China, banks disinfected banknotes using ultraviolet rays. In Germany, authorities stressed “sneezing etiquette,” while in the United States, doctors announced a clinical trial of a possible coronavirus treatment.Around the world, as Christians marked the start of the holy season of Lent with Ash Wednesday, worshipers found churches closed and rituals changed by virus fears. Even in St. Peter’s Square, many of those gathered for Pope Francis’ weekly audience wore face masks and clergy appeared to refrain from embracing the pontiff or kissing his ring.Services in Singapore were broadcast online to keep people from crowded sanctuaries where germs could spread, bishops in South Korea shuttered churches for what they said was the first time in the Catholic Church’s 236-year history there, and in Malaysia and the Philippines, ashes were sprinkled on the heads of those marking the start of Lent instead of using a damp thumb to trace a cross of ashes.“We would like to be cautious so that the coronavirus will not spread,” said the Rev. Victorino Cueto, rector of the National Shrine of our Mother of Perpetual Help in Manila in the Philippines.Major gatherings were eyed warily, with organizers scrambling to respond in the face of the epidemic. Looming largest of all are the Olympic Games, whose opening ceremonies are scheduled for July 24 in Tokyo. A member of the International Olympic Committee, Richard Pound, sounded alarms a day earlier, saying the virus could force a cancellation of the games. The Japanese government, in turn, gave mixed signals, insisting they would go forward yet urging that sports events be curtailed for now.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for major sports and cultural events in the coming two weeks to be cancelled or postponed to stem further infections. Meanwhile, the top government spokesman said Olympics preparations would proceed and the games would go on as planned.Among the other crowded places that had officials worried: Military bases.The South Korean military announced additional infections among its troops, with 20 cases on its bases and some 9,570 people in isolation. The U.S. military, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, confirmed the first infection of an American soldier, a 23-year-old man based at Camp Carroll near Daegu, a day after the Americans said a military spouse also had contracted the illness. Bowling alleys, movie theatres and a golf course on four American bases in the country were closed.“This is a setback, it’s true, there’s no getting around that. But it’s not the end of the war,” Col. Edward Ballanco, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Daegu told troops in a video message. “We are very well equipped to fight this thing off.”Italy recorded 78 new infections on Wednesday and Greece, North Macedonia and Romania became the newest countries to see a case of the virus. South Korea announced 284 new cases, largely in Daegu, bringing its total to 1,261. China, still the epicenter of the crisis even as new outposts caught the world’s attention, reported 406 new cases and 52 more deaths. The country has a total of 78,604 cases of the virus and 2,715 fatalities.China said Wednesday that those sickened by the virus included 555 prisoners who officials said likely became infected by guards using the same bus station as a nearby pulmonary hospital. In a twist, China is now heavily regulating arrivals from abroad, with authorities placing South Koreans under monitoring, state broadcaster CCTV reported, after five people on a flight showed signs of fever.Indonesia said it evacuated 188 crew members from the World Dream cruise ship and planned to take them to remote Sebaru Island. The workers were released from quarantine in Hong Kong after finding no infections, but authorities mandated an additional observation period.And on the opposite side of the world, the MSC Meraviglia was denied permission to land in Grand Cayman, where it was due to arrive Wednesday, following a decision by Jamaica to refuse it entry. The cruise line expressed frustration with the moves, which came after it reported one crew member from the Philippines was sick with common seasonal flu.It brought reminders of the MS Westerdam, which was repeatedly denied entry to Asian ports before Cambodia welcomed its passengers.MSC Cruises said the Meraviglia was sailing onward to Mexico.___Sedensky reported from Bangkok. Associated Press writers Jim Gomez and Joeal Calupitan in Manila, Philippines; Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea; Stephen Wade and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; Nicole Winfield in Vatican City; Aniruddha Ghosal in New Delhi; and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.Kim Tong-Hyung And Matt Sedensky, The Associated Press
This column is an opinion from Eric Strikwerda, who teaches Canadian History at Athabasca University.Quaecumque vera. It's the motto of the University of Alberta, my alma mater. It means whatsoever things are true, and for more than a century, Alberta students and researchers and professors have engaged in a collective project in its pursuit. Quaecumque vera is not just a slogan or a pithy Latin phrase adorning the U of A's crest.It means to pursue truth no matter its implications; it means to follow evidence wherever it leads; it means to seek out deeper insights into our place in the world, into our place in the universe. Even if that pursuit is uncomfortable. Maybe especially if it's uncomfortable. It's on these principles that the bedrock of our very society rests. All universities, both here in Alberta and around the world, follow the same basic project. It's not a complicated one. Lately, however, we seem to be moving ever further from truth. In early September, Alberta's so-called Blue Ribbon Panel reported on the province's finances. With an analysis ranging widely over the main business of government, including health care, education, and social services spending, the Blue Ribbon Panel concluded that Alberta spends too much and suggested ways to save money.Evidence of this overspending was scant, and what evidence there was appeared more cherry-picked to support the panel's conclusion than it did to reveal the actual state of the province's finances. The panel's suggestions for savings came straight out of the now widely discredited austerity playbook.The panel's report was a political document, light on facts, and heavy on ideology.Whatsoever may be true? Not so much.By January, news reports made clear that the panel itself was far from the "independent body" meant to report honestly on the province's finances.The day before the panel's members were even publicly named, panel chair Janice MacKinnon received straight from the premier's office a draft op-ed meant to be published under her name."The op-ed is great," MacKinnon wrote back to staff in the premier's office, "Well done. I have no changes."The Calgary Herald ran the op-ed four days later, under the headline "Opinion: If We Make Measured Choices Now, We Can Avoid Draconian Cuts Later."Whatsoever may be true? Not so much.But whatever. These sorts of panels, after all, are usually cobbled together hastily and made up of panelists with a decided bias sympathetic to the governing party's ideology.They're PR agents meant to cast a generous light on the government benches. They ought not be used as credible blueprints for future policy directions.Nevertheless, 26 recommendations stood precariously atop the report's shaky foundations.One of them called for the implementation of a performance-based post-secondary funding model. It wanted the province to "link funding to the achievement of specific goals or priorities," including skills required for the "current and future labour market," the commercialization of research and technology, and, more vaguely, "achieving broader societal and economic goals."Not surprisingly, the minister of Advanced Education adopted the recommendation enthusiastically, announcing in January the imposition of a performance-based funding model on all public universities and colleges.The precise details of how it's all supposed to work remain as yet unclear. What is clear is that the ministry expects Alberta's post-secondary institutions to concentrate their efforts on serving the needs of the labour market (read employers), commercializing research to serve business interests, and measuring post-secondary success in terms of graduate incomes.The trouble is that all available evidence shows clearly that none of these performance-based metrics actually achieves the goals they set out.Researchers have carefully shown how the needs of the labour market are dynamic, and that trying to match today's university programs to tomorrow's labour market needs is folly.They have documented how efforts at commercializing research and technology in other jurisdictions have led to a narrowing of research and a strangling of innovation.And they have pointed out the obvious: that universities and colleges have no influence over the incomes of their graduates. Here's the thing, though. The ministry already knows all about the failure of performance-based metrics. It tried to make them work in the early 1990s here in Alberta, and then quietly shelved the idea when it became clear that it wouldn't work.So why push ahead with such an ill-considered scheme anyway? (This is where the attack on truth lies). Because improving Alberta's post-secondary system is not the goal. It never was.The goal instead is to coax a crisis out of nothing at all, reduce post-secondary institutions' autonomy by gutting their funding, and narrow researchers' fields of inquiry to ones supported by the government's ideology. Make no mistake. I'm deeply unhappy with the broader direction this government is taking our province. Unhappy, but not surprised. After all, austerity governments gonna austere. But I'm utterly disappointed in the senior leadership of our post-secondary institutions for their weak-kneed acquiescence to the minister's cynical directives. If ever there was a moment to stand up to bad methods that lead to worse outcomes, then that moment is now. Quaecumque vera. It means we don't truck in untruths here. It means we don't trade in falsehoods.Well, it's supposed to, anyway.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.
The City of Surrey won't back away from banning plastic shopping bags, even though there will likely be much overlap with the B.C. government's own set of regulations that are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.A recent court ruling that struck down Victoria's ban on plastic bags also isn't making Mayor Doug McCallum reconsider the city's plan to introduce new bylaws on January 1, 2021."We need to be a leader," McCallum said at Monday night's council meeting. "We need to act quickly."More than 76 million single-use plastic items from Surrey wind up in landfills each year, about a third of which are plastic bags, according to a city staff report.Coun. Doug Elford says the city can't wait any longer for the B.C. government to take action."I firmly believe that Surrey, by initiating this bylaw, has nudged the province," he said. "There was a feeling, particularly regionally, that the province wasn't moving quickly enough."Lessons from VictoriaLast month, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to reconsider a lower court ruling that prevents Victoria from banning plastic bags.B.C.'s Environment Minister George Heyman says Victoria's bylaw wasn't sent to his office for review before it was implemented, which left the municipality susceptible to a legal challenge from the plastics industry."My advice to municipalities is, if you pass a bylaw, send it in for my review in the interim until we deal with the broader issue of their authority," he said.Heyman says he'll soon announce a broad range of initiatives to cut down on plastic use and he'll also lay out how the province plans to help municipalities introduce new rules."Provincial governments, they do not act quickly on this particular kind of thing, "McCallum said. "They take their time on all projects."How will it work?Plastic bags can take centuries to decompose but Canadian Plastics Industry Association spokesperson Craig Foster says other options are flawed, too — paper bags take too much energy to produce and many reusable bags aren't recyclable."Paper is a very expensive commodity from an environmental perspective," he said. "We consume so many resources to make it." He says improving Metro Vancouver's recycling system to better handle plastic bags would be more effective than banning them.Surrey's bylaws are still being written, but certain exemptions will be considered such as bags used for bulk foods or small hardware items like nails.The city will spend several months on public outreach and education before the ban — which also covers foam cups, plates and Styrofoam containers — is introduced.City staff say no decisions have been made on whether plastic straws and utensils will also be banned.Big businessMarissa Bergeron and Jean Michel Lajoie — whose food truck business Eat the Dishes serves meals out of edible cups — say more zero-waste businesses like theirs are popping up across Metro Vancouver."If there's an option that's available, we feel like people will be interested in that," he said."It's nice to see that cities are now involved in that."Leslie Cook — whose business Zip Zero Waste sells environmentally friendly products, such as bamboo cutlery and reusable dryer sheets at farmer's markets — says most people she meets are interested in her products as soon as they're educated about them."Once they understand what we're talking about, they say wow, I didn't know they had this," she said."People didn't have a lot of awareness, so part of what we do is education."CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email email@example.com.
More Canadians are choosing to get their meals delivered to their homes and workplaces through increasingly-popular apps like Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats — but they may not be able to satisfy every craving.Instead, a family of grocery store operators in Windsor, Ont. are looking to stand out in the highly-competitive world of food delivery apps by appealing to a niche market.Jatin Sharma's family runs India Food Market, just south of the city's airport. But two weeks ago, the family decided to take the business in a new direction — offering a subscription-based, tiffin service which delivers Punjabi food right to your door."We provide two sabzis and eight chapatis. That's good enough for two meals," said Sharma. "If you're non-vegetarian, we provide two non-vegetarian meals twice a week."He adds the service is for those who don't have time to cook — but also want to enjoy the experience of eating authentic Indian food."My parents wake up around five in the morning. By six, they're in the kitchen. They're making everything from scratch," he said.So far, the tiffin service has about 10 clients, including Shweta Dabholkar who said she signed up because the food is "delicious" and "nutritious." "I think it's an excellent service. I've had no complaints. It's on time — delicious food right at my doorstep," she said. "I've been growing up eating this kind of food. It really reminds me of my childhood days."Niche service operators like Sharma's family can be found throughout the country — but Sylvain Charlebois, whose chief research interest relates to food distribution, said popular food delivery apps like Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats are catching up."I think food delivery apps will become more sophisticated and will be more targeted as well," said Charlebois. "You may find apps at some point only offering Indian cuisine and have a list of different restaurants"He adds the list of eateries found on food delivery apps are "overpowered by American franchise chains that are well-known." Even though a small selection of independent restaurants can be found as well, they don't get all the attention. I've been growing up eating this kind of food. It really reminds me of my childhood days." - Shweta Dabaholkar"It's more the well-known brands that we know," said Charlebois.While Sharma's family is operating its delivery service without an app or website, he believes there is room for his family service to grow."It's about the quality. I think of it that way," said Sharma, whose tiffin service operates solely through word-of-mouth and social media advertising — no app."If you keep giving good quality food, eventually it will get better."
A few years ago, Shanti Gonzales started waking up in the morning with no voice.At the time, she was working a gig where she would sing to rooms of rambunctious children at libraries and schools, and it took a toll.No amount of honey and tea and lozenges helped. She often would wind up hoarse by the end of her shift, meaning she had to stop working — at that job, and at her other gigs."I didn't have anything to lean back on. I didn't have paid time off. I didn't have health insurance, I didn't have any benefits. I didn't even have someone to cover for me," she said."Without these protections, you feel trapped."Like many her age, Gonzales, 24, is working in what's called the gig economy. Though the term may bring to mind jobs that involve some kind of online platform (such as Fiverr or Foodora), it also includes those who work independent contracts for short, fixed periods of time.The rise of the gig economy has led to a problem: workers who are juggling several different contracts don't always have the protections, such as a human resources department, or a union, that salaried workers do.Gonzales graduated from McGill with a BA in English three years ago, and since then, she's never had a full-time job. She has worked as a musician, nanny, arts educator, administrator, copywriter and playwright.In some of those jobs, she has faced discrimination based on her gender, her race, and her age, she said. But she never had many avenues of recourse.A 'rolling back' of labour protections?According to John Paul Ferguson, a professor at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, the gig economy has less to do with the type of work people are doing and more to do with the relationship between the employer and the employee.Along with his colleague Matthew Corritore, Ferguson is surveying gig economy workers in Montreal to better understand their realities.Ferguson says while there are some good things about the gig economy — like how online platforms can make it easier for people to contract for work — he has concerns about the effect of the gig economy on workers' rights.In the past, policies were put in place restricting casual labour because of concerns about exploitation, underpayment and unfairness, he said."The worry that those of us who have studied employment for many years have is: how much of this is just a rolling back of some of these protections that we put on our employees in the past?"The province's major labour laws do not apply to people who are self-employed. However, Catherine Poulin, a spokesperson for Quebec's Ministry of Labour, said some self-employed workers in the gig economy may actually have an employer-employee relationship with their employer, and therefore are protected.Gonzales, for example, is considered an employee at some jobs, but considered self-employed at others.Those who face discrimination are also entitled to the protections under the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and can file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights commission, Poulin said in a statement.Relying on a communityGonzales says one of the most important aspects of the gig economy is knowing which gigs are good and which are not.She relies on a community of people who meet up in person or chat over the phone to give each other advice about jobs and employers to avoid.This tight-knit web of people also share opportunities with each other and recommend each other for jobs that may come up.Gonzales said being a part of the gig economy can be isolating and leave people vulnerable because they don't have co-workers."I think that's why these little micro communities form. It's the people: we're 'in it' for each other. We're in it to make sure that we can achieve each others' goals, together. The community aspect is the thing I am fiercely protective of and fiercely invested in."
Two senior members of the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Advisory Council have resigned in protest within the last month, claiming the provincial government is ignoring their advice on protecting important wilderness areas in Newfoundland and Labrador."We were no further ahead than we were when I started in 2014, and the entire 5.5 years that I had been at WERAC we had not made one single stride in protecting anything. And that's when I knew it had been a waste of my time," said biologist Victoria Neville, who quit last month as the council's co-chair.Formed in 1980, WERAC is a government appointed council which directly advises the province on its wilderness protection efforts.It's made up of private citizens from a variety of backgrounds, who are experts in their respective fields, and falls under the province's Department of Fisheries and Land Resources.In 1995 the council drafted its Natural Areas System Plan, a blueprint for protecting the environment and helping to identify other sensitive areas in the province.To date no government has implemented the plan."I began to feel embarrassed about chairing a council that wasn't doing what it was mandated to do," Neville said.The other WERAC member to resign — MUN biology professor Bill Montevecchi — had been spent nearly 30 years on the council.The seabird expert shares similar concerns to those of Neville."We don't make these things up. There are certain ecological areas of our province, they're defined by biology, they're defined by ecology, they're defined by science. We only have so many of them and they're deteriorating," he said."Let's look at the big picture, let's set something representative aside so that we can protect most of this." Paradigm shiftMontevecchi says he wants the government to change its priorities, shifting them from an emphasis on oil and mining.He said government needs someone who wants to protect the environment."We don't need another minister who is going to spin a happy time story about how committed he or she is. We need a paradigm shift. We need people who have courage," he said. "The environment in this province doesn't have a priority."Both Montevecchi and Neville hope their sudden resignations send a message about the seriousness of their effort to protect the province's delicate and fading natural wilderness areas.Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne wouldn't do an interview about the situation, but a spokesperson did respond with an emailed statement. "We understand their frustrations over the lengthy and challenging process to establish a protected areas network – a process that has spanned multiple administrations," it read. "WERAC's scientific advice and leadership is essential to striking a balance between the sometimes conflicting values of conservation and resource development, and establishing and managing the province's wilderness and ecological reserves."Both Montevecchi and Neville say they'll move on and focus their efforts elsewhere. "I would like to be on the WERAC council, but I can't be complicit any longer with a process that's failed, a process that's not doing what it's supposed to do for the people of this province," Montevechhi said."We have people write to us all the time about protected areas, areas they want to protect, and we can't even act. It's ludicrous and I can't be a part of that."Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Chantal Thanh De Alba of Shediac is speaking out and warning others after she alleges she was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver on Saturday night in Moncton.De Alba was looking forward to a relaxing night out with dinner and then dancing at a downtown club.On her way to the restaurant, she said she chatted with the taxi driver who picked her up at her friend's house."He gave me his card which he wrote his first name and his phone number," De Alba said. "He told me whenever I'm done for the night, when I need to go back to my friend's place, he can drive me back."She called the driver at the end of the night, but knew something was wrong when he missed the turn for her friend's home in the north end of Moncton."And then he started asking me, 'Do you want to have fun? Let's go have fun together? Let's go somewhere together. Just you and me, let's go have fun.'""I kept answering to him, 'No, I'm tired and all I want to do is go back to my friend's place."'I was really scared'De Alba said the driver eventually parked in a dark and isolated area."There were no lights, no houses, there's no traffic." "I had no idea where I was exactly, and I was scared that he would find me." \- Chantal Thanh De AlbaThat's when she says he told her to get in the front seat with him."I was scared that if I would say no or do something to resist that he was going to do something violent or something really bad to me."De Alba said when she got out of the back seat, she considered running and trying to hide."I had no idea where I was exactly, and I was scared that he would find me."She did get in the front seat and De Alba said that's when he started touching her."He was touching me in a sexual way and I just kept repeating, 'I'm really tired, please just drive me back to my friend's place,' and at some point he started continuing to drive as he was continuing also to touch me."Friend tried to help De Alba was texting her friend, Daniel MacLean, all night and when the taxi driver missed the turn to his house she asked MacLean whether there was a way for him to track where she was.At the time, MacLean said he assumed the taxi driver was lost."I didn't know she was in danger," he said.When he called De Alba, MacLean told CBC News he could only hear rustling, and then De Alba asking the taxi driver where they were.What he didn't know was that De Alba had him on mute, and was hoping he would be an "audio witness" to what was happening in the taxi.MacLean said he eventually realized his friend was in trouble."I heard the cab driver ask if she wants to go and have some fun, that's when I was really worrying, obviously."He said he also heard De Alba say, "Your hands are cold."MacLean said he stayed on the line and heard the taxi driver say the car was getting close to his house.He went outside and when the taxi pulled up he took a picture of the licence plate.Police investigatingDe Alba said the driver demanded payment, and despite her fear and confusion she obliged, then ran inside the house."I was just you know sitting on the floor and crying and hyperventilating, panicking," she said. "I just couldn't believe that that had happened."De Alba, who is a domestic violence and sexual assault social worker, knew she had to call the police to report what had happened in order to protect others. She said RCMP took her statement that night, while MacLean gave his statement to police on Tuesday.Sgt. Tyson Nelson told CBC News that on Feb. 23 at approximately 1:00 a.m. Codiac RCMP received a complaint of sexual assault and an investigation is underway. De Alba also reported the incident to White Cab."The woman who took my call was just horrified and could not believe that happened and was very supportive and then congratulated me for calling the police," said De Alba.Benny Cormier, the owner of White Cab, would not do an interview but confirmed that a complaint was received and said the driver has been suspended while the company, and police, look into it.
After a three-year legal battle south of the border that ignited a major controversy in evangelical circles, the charity Gospel for Asia has now become the focus of a class-action lawsuit filed in Canada.Plaintiff Greg Zentner of Woodburn, N.S., alleges the charity "defrauded or made negligent misstatements" to him and other donors. The statement of claim also said the "defendants civilly conspired to misrepresent the nature of donations collected."In other words, Zentner alleges the money raised didn't go where it was supposed to. He is seeking damages for the "misuse of donor funds in excess of $100 million."The statement of claim was filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Tuesday. Gospel for Asia (GFA) settled a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. with similar allegations last year for $37 million.GFA has been operating in Canada since 1980. It continues to have strong support and raises about $9 million through donations each year — on average, $25,000 a day. The proceeds are intended to go to the poor in India and surrounding countries. Some of the most popular gift items include farm animals, bicycles, blankets and drinking wells. Donors also give monthly to support child and missionary sponsorships. Zentner and his wife donated thousands to GFA between 2006 and 2014. He learned about alleged financial discrepancies through his pastor, Bruce Morrison, who meticulously researched GFA's money trail after hearing from former GFA staff members in the U.S.As part of a recent CBC News investigation, Morrison and 28 former staff and board members disclosed concerns of how they believe donations have been misused over the years.Some ex-staff, along with Morrison, uncovered that tens of millions were allegedly sitting in foreign bank accounts and millions more were being held in reserve funds.Morrison also found that between 2007 and 2014, Gospel for Asia reported to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that it had sent nearly $94 million to India. Meanwhile, financial records submitted to the Indian government showed the charity received no funds from Canada during that time period."I suppose the greatest impact I've had, or the greatest thing that has impacted me, is the denial that comes from Gospel for Asia that 'we've done nothing wrong,' when there is so much evidence to the contrary," said Morrison.Charity disputes allegationsGFA litigation spokesperson Johnnie Moore told CBC in a recent interview the charity is "misunderstood.""Not only [was GFA] not required to make an admission of guilt when they settled the [U.S.] lawsuit, but had the lawsuit actually continued in the court, they either would have won in court or certainly won on the appeal," Moore said in a recent interview with CBC.Moore said the allegations made in the U.S. lawsuit were "absolutely false" and the legal settlement proves it. "It explicitly states that all the funds that … were designated to go to the field went to the field," said Moore. GFA has not yet responded to the Canadian lawsuit filed on Tuesday.$20M 'anonymous' donationMorrison said the U.S. lawsuit provided him with new information about how Canadian money was being spent. In court, lawyers representing Gospel for Asia confirmed that $20 million was taken from Canadian donations to help pay for construction of the charity's $45-million headquarters in Wills Point, Tex."They said in the financial statements that were issued in the U.S. [that] … the money had come from an anonymous donor," said Morrison. "And then we find out through court hearings in the United States that this money was Canadian money and donors here had no idea that had happened."Gospel for Asia confirmed to CBC the money did come from Canadian donations, but said it was later paid back.In the Canadian court filing, Zentner is seeking the "return of $20 million in funds misdirected to GFA USA.""The plaintiff states that the transfers were made in order to hide the actual source of the funds and to mislead class members and the Canadian and Indian tax authorities," the document said.Marc Stanley, the lawyer who represented the plaintiff in the U.S. class-action lawsuit, is named as legal counsel on the statement of claim along with Halifax lawyer John McKiggan.MORE TOP STORIES
Chatham is getting some time in the Juno spotlight as a local musician vies for an award.Brooke Nicholls grew up in Chatham before leaving home to try to make it in the world of pop music. Now, she's a nominee for the upcoming June Awards on March 15 in Saskatoon. It's in the Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year category for her record called Persue."I feel really grateful. I feel excited," said Nicholls. "Just to be up against that kind of caliber, I was kind of shocked."She's facing off against four other nominees — Brian Doerksen, Dan Bremnes, Fresh IE and Matt Maher.Nicholls' shift to Christian music came in 2015 when writing about her faith after seven years of pursuing pop.Since then, she's toured across Canada, playing more than 300 dates — and she's been named Female Vocalist of the Year by the Canadian Gospel Music Association twice."I feel hopeful," she said about winning the award. "But even if I don't win, this feels like a win in my heart anyway."Nicholls' father is well known himself in the Chatham community, but for different reasons. Rich Nicholls is the PC MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington.He also happens to be his daughter's biggest fan, she said."I come home to Chatham, I feel so supported and loved. I feel it from my dad and I feel it around my dad too," she said.Her father has been a big supporter in the creation of her latest album, which Nicholls describes as "really authentic."It covers a somewhat difficult part of her family's life, with her husband also being Nicholls' manager and producer."When we first got married, we went through a season that was just really tough. We lost a lot of money, that can be hard on a newlywed couple that work together every time," she said. She hopes her album helps people during difficult or dark periods of their life.
A western Quebec school board has cancelled a Gatineau, Que., high school student trip to Japan over what it says is uncertainty in the region created by the coronavirus outbreak.About 40 students at L'école Polyvalente Le Carrefour were planning to leave Friday on an 11-day tour, but school officials decided the risk was too high.Elena Kettenis, a 14-year-old student who was to participate in the trip, said she had been saving up money for two years for the adventure."We were all super excited. There were three days left. Quite a few of the students had already packed their bags. We were all ready," said Kettenis.In a letter sent to parents on Monday, the Draveurs school board said it decided to cancel the trip due to uncertainties over the health risks in Japan amidst the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19."We were recently informed that the United States raised the level of risk [for] Japan, unlike Canada, which maintained the same level of risk as before," wrote school principal Sylvie Chénier. "However, due to the uncertainty, the [school board] takes no risks with the safety of the children and its staff and has decided to terminate its travel contract to Japan."The letter said that parents who purchased travel insurance for the trip will be reimbursed. Those who did not will be granted a transferable travel voucher of an equivalent cost.The flu-like disease has infected more than 80,000 people worldwide and killed about 2,700. Like other illnesses, it can have a more severe effect on people with weaker immune systems. There is no vaccine.In Japan, 176 people tested positive for the virus within the country, while another 691 contracted the disease on a cruise ship that was quarantined off the port of Yokohama.Global Affairs Canada has not issued a travel advisory warning against travel to Japan due to the coronavirus, but encourages travellers to exercise normal safety precautions.The U.S. Department of State, however, issued an advisory on Feb. 22, warning potential travellers to Japan to exercise increased caution due to the coronavirus outbreak.Tour company rerouting tripsA spokesperson for the company organizing the trip said it has been rerouting or postponing tours that are scheduled to visit certain areas most directly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, including northern Italy, where the number of cases has spiked in recent days."The health and safety of the students, educators, and parents who travel with us is always our top priority, and we are closely monitoring the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus around the world," said the statement from EF Educational Tours Canada."We are allowing groups who were scheduled to travel to the most significantly impacted regions through March 31 to rebook without penalty."The company added that it is allowing groups to delay or change their plans, including to domestic options, or take a refund in the form of a travel voucher right up to the day of departure. Travel industry takes a hitSome businesses in the Ottawa-Gatineau region have reported a decrease in business and an increasing fear among customers.Mario Poulin, owner of Rockland Travel in Ottawa, said people have been phoning in or stopping by his agency to ask questions."They want to go on their trip, but they are worried, they wonder where it will stop and what will happen," he said.In total, more than 30 countries or regions have reported cases of COVID-19, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The federal government continues to monitor the situation closely and reminds travelers to avoid areas at risk."Canadians who are considering travelling abroad need to be inquiring about the situation because this is evolving almost hour by hour now," said Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne Tuesday."My best advice to Canadians would be [you] better check before you travel."
Bruce McArthur spent his childhood frolicking in the West Vancouver woodlands known as the Eagleridge Bluffs.So when a major infrastructure project ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics threatened to bulldoze part of the beloved forest, he was among the first to take a stand."There was a proposal to upgrade the highway to get to Whistler," said McArthur, 82, who was among the members of the Coalition to Save Eagleridge Bluffs. "I gathered all sorts of information, brought it to our membership ... and we decided it wasn't the best option."The Sea-to-Sky Highway project was met with protests from environmental activists and residents of the North Shore, largely because part of the proposed expansion would plow through sensitive ecosystems.There were large demonstrations, court injunctions, and even arrests, but the upgrades eventually went through. Those at the forefront of the fight have mostly moved on, some even commending the job that was done.But the finished product has opened the door for a host of new challenges, like increased traffic — and swelling costs of living in communities along the highway."It made communities like Squamish near to Vancouver," said former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Kevin Falcon. "A lot of people are now living and commuting back and forth along the corridor. That was not a realistic option under the old highway."Necessary upgradesPrior to its expansion, the Sea-to-Sky Highway was known for its hazards. The bulk of it was two lanes, undivided and without no outside barrier."That was the most dangerous sections of highway in British Columbia, where terrible tragedies, injuries, deaths occurred," said Falcon.In the mid-2000s, Falcon was B.C.'s transportation minister tasked with overseeing upgrades to the highway as part of its 2010 Olympic Bid."We had a major rockslide just a few years prior to the Olympics that got international attention," he said. "It was unsafe, it was a very narrow road .... the Olympics just gave us a reason to accellerate what needed to be done."The project ended up costing upwards of $600 million, but a major point of contention was the Eagleridge Bluffs area of the corridor, now the site of the Nelson Creek Bridge.Residents rallied against construction plans, which they said would destroy sensitive habitat to native species including the red-tailed frog. Former West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones was among those calling for the province to build a tunnel rather than cutting through the wetland.Protests blockaded construction, but a court eventually ruled against them and ordered them to leave. Indigenous rights activist Harriet Nahanee, and environmentalist Betty Krawczyk were arrested for violating the court injunction. Krawczyk was subsequently sentenced to ten months in prison.Watch: the highway is safer, but that's brought new challenges to SquamishNew problemsShortly after the upgrades were complete, the highway enjoyed a significant drop in crashes. Between 1998 and 2007, 63 people died on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. There were upwards of 200 crashes per year. But by 2010, after the upgrades were complete, the number of crashes dropped by 66 per cent.Communities along the corridor have grown significantly in the years since — Squamish and Whistler are among the fastest growing cities in B.C. According to the Ministry of Transportation, more than 19,000 commuters drive the Sea to Sky highway each day — up 24 per cent over a decade.According to Squamish's recently passed Official Community Plan, the district could double in the next 20 years.Mayor Karen Elliott says the renewed highway has made her community a far more attractive living option for people who work in Metro Vancouver."It's brought some big city problems that with grappling with for our community," she said. "The cost of housing, it went up very quickly. Our vacancy rate has been near zero since 2015."The streets of Squamish are lined with new developments, with many more in the pipeline. The municipality is currently working toward an affordable housing plan to in part address the issue. The benchmark price for a single-family home in the community has risen to about $1 million.Elliott says traffic has also become a big issue."Probably about 25 per cent of our population is going north or south on the highway right now," added "Now we see that highway with the tourism traffic and commuters, on busy weekends — it starts to fail."She's hoping to see improved regional transit to help address some of the congestion."We're working with the mayors in the corridor and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, and we're working with the province on a funding model that will work for regional transit," said Elliot.A bittersweet legacyFor those looking back, they admit there were some positive changes. Pamela Goldsmith-Jones says West Vancouver adopted a more eco-friendly approach when it comes to approving new developments following the Sea-to-Sky Highway upgrades."Now, through processes that we put in place, the streams come first, the trees come first, and development will try to put on as small of a footprint as possible," she said.Meanwhile protesters like McArthur say have no regrets over their demonstrations and court challenges. After raising concerns to the province, he says contractors were able to preserve a swath of wetland near White Lake.Crews even installed passageways onto the road for frogs to cross through."I'm pretty convinced because we did make a stance that we got a better job than we would have if we just were quiet," he said. "It appears that they were more sensitive to the environment because we spoke out.""[But] it still bothers me to look at all the concrete and asphalt," he added.
Two Nova Scotia men who defrauded the Department of National Defence out of about $2 million have each received two-year conditional sentences, meaning they aren't going to jail.The Crown had been asking for federal prison terms for Bry'n Ross, 65 and Harold Dawson, 60, following their convictions for fraud.But Justice James Chipman dismissed that idea and gave them two years of house arrest."I am of the overwhelming view that it would not be in the interests of justice to commit Messrs. Ross and Dawson to a prison environment," he wrote in his sentencing decision..The convictions followed a six-week trial last year in which 37 witnesses testified and 47 exhibits were introduced. The court heard that, as a purchasing agent for Canadian Forces Base Shearwater in Eastern Passage, N.S., Ross repeatedly steered contracts to his friend Dawson.For his part, Dawson created four companies to make it appear as though there was competitive bidding on the contracts for parts for a heating plant at the base.In arguing for prison terms, the Crown said this was a sophisticated fraud and compared it to the Knowledge House case, one of the longest and most complicated trials in Nova Scotia history in which two men were convicted of fraud of about $86 million.However, Justice Chipman said Ross and Dawson's fraud was not that sophisticated."While it is true that Mr. Ross and Mr. Dawson committed the offences over a relatively lengthy period of time, I do not regard their scheme as being very complicated or sophisticated. Indeed, I venture to say that had the late 2011 file reviews been carried out earlier, and in the same fashion, I have no doubt that the crimes would have been detected much earlier."The judge also noted that both men are first offenders and had very positive pre-sentence reports.Four people were initially charged as a result of the investigation dubbed Operation Aftermath.Wayne Langille, who was a former manager of the heating plant, entered a guilty plea before the trial started. A charge against Dawson's wife, Kimberley Dawson, was dropped.The heating plant has since been replaced.MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — Anniversaries matter to high school sweethearts Cassandra Engineer and Mackenzie Cleveland. They remember the date and exact time — down to the minute — that they became a couple.And when Cleveland proposed last year, he did it exactly 10 years after he first asked Engineer to be his girlfriend on April 3, 2009 at 3:23 p.m.Engineer says they send each other reminders of that anniversary whenever they happen to see a clock strike 3:23."We sort of just announce it to the other, or text it to the other," says the 28-year-old resident of Vaughan, Ont.When it came time to choose a wedding date, the duo rejoiced when they realized their winter plans coincided with a calendar quirk: a leap year. They're set to marry Feb. 29 at an art gallery north of Toronto, and because it's a day that only rolls around once every four years, Engineer says it'll be all the more special when the "anniversaries" land."We looked at the calendar and were looking for unique dates — there was the 02/02/2020 this year and (then) we found that Feb. 29th actually fell on the Saturday this year," says Engineer."Which was ideal and something that we thought was really unique, because we're sort of unique and quirky like that."They don't expect to mark their wedding between leap years, but each Feb. 29 would likely warrant a vacation "or something a little bit bigger to celebrate." Their annual marker will remain April 3.Engineer says February is already packed with other special days anyway: Valentine's Day, Cleveland's birthday on Feb. 7, and Engineer's birthday on Feb. 8.Saturday leap days occur just once every 28 years, making them a rare candidate for most weddings, even after discounting the general preference for summer and fall weather.The namesake behind Rebecca Chan Weddings and Events says she's never thrown a leap day wedding and suspects such nuptials are not widely sought-after, even if they arguably make a special day more special.But there are other advantages to considering February nuptials, she notes, pointing to the winter discounts many venues and vendors offer when business dips.That was certainly the case for Engineer, who credits her unusual date with allowing her and her boyfriend to snag a scenic venue with less than one year's planning.Once the big day passes, the question becomes: Do leap day couples mark the big traditional anniversaries, which are celebrated every five years?Bride-to-be Elizabeth Antonucci, who has a destination wedding in Jamaica this Saturday, says the anniversary will always be leap day — even if it doesn't capture a traditional milestone like the crystal 15th, platinum 20th or silver 25th."I'm reasonable about it. I don't feel this big need to celebrate traditionally," says Antonucci. "It's very much whenever we have time. Our lives are very hectic."Attachments to such widely regarded milestones are ultimately arbitrary, anyway, says York University psychology professor James Alcock."People will see the 10th as special — what's special about it? If we didn't work on the decimal system, if we worked on a mathematical system based on eight, then eight would be the special year."He reminds us that leap day is meant to correct a calendar that cannot account for the fact the Earth rotates slightly more than 365 times a year.That extra day in February once every four years allows us to mostly "catch up" to the seasons, although there are other rules that kick in every 100 years and 400 years to align things even more.This is all to say that if leap day couples appear out of sync with their "real" anniversaries, the truth is we're all misaligned with the calendar — except on Feb. 29, says Alcock."The fact of the matter is, it's the rest of us who are off right? If you celebrate every 365 days, you're off by a little bit," he says."The people who married on leap year and celebrate every four years, at least at that point they're right on."Leap day groom Josh McConnell may have found a workaround by marrying Feb. 29 in New Zealand, which would still be Feb. 28 in his hometown of Toronto.Unlike the Canadian couples, McConnell says he and his Kiwi bride faced tough competition for the date because it fell during the summer high season there. They began nailing down the venue and vendors two years in advance."When we started calling around (to) photographers, and venues and caterers, they all said the same thing. They're like, 'Actually, even though it's two years away, that's the one day I have booked in 2020 right now, just because it's a novelty day,'" recalls McConnell, who turns 32 on Thursday. "Things were just going crazy."The upside is that flights are cheaper this time of year for Canadian guests flying in for the wedding, says McConnell. And because they each have roots in different time zones, he believes they can legitimately celebrate on either the 28th or 29th."We liked that added element (in which) we can highlight we're from two different countries," he says.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2020 Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
A former member of a Liberal riding association says he spent about two hours chasing after MLA Hugh MacKay as the politician allegedly drove while drunk on Nov. 22, 2018, before his vehicle crashed into a lamp at a shopping plaza in Upper Tantallon, N.S.MacKay, a former Liberal backbencher who now sits as an independent MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's, was charged with impaired driving, this time relating to the alleged Nov. 22, 2018, incident. MacKay has said he has no knowledge of the specifics surrounding the newest impaired driving charge.CBC News has obtained a copy of an email dated May 6, 2019, that was written by the former riding association member. His name was redacted from the email that alleges a "conspiracy to cover up criminal activity."None of the allegations in the email has been proven in court. MacKay was not at Province House on Tuesday and could not be reached at his constituency office.The email was sent to Andre Veinotte, the president of the Chester-St Margaret's Liberal Riding Association, as well as to a regional caucus officer and a member of MacKay's campaign team in 2017.The author tells Veinotte and the others he's resigning from the association and includes an account of the alleged incident.'Frantic' phone callAround 3:30 p.m. that day, the writer said he received a "frantic" phone call from Penny Lawless, who works in MacKay's constituency office, saying MacKay was "very drunk, texting and calling her while he was driving."The writer said this was the "third or fourth time" this had happened to Lawless over the previous few months. He said Lawless instructed him to go to New Ross, N.S., to find MacKay. He said Lawless knew MacKay's location because of the iPhone's Find My Friends feature.He said he eventually found MacKay approximately 10 kilometres south of the intersection of Highway 12 and Forties Road.The writer said MacKay was sitting in the driver's seat, the engine was running and there was a bottle of vodka on MacKay's lap.The writer said he told MacKay he was there to take him home, but MacKay refused to go with him and drove off, and ran over his foot in the process. The man wasn't injured.'It was clear he was extremely drunk'He followed MacKay in his car south on Highway 12. He said he flashed his lights at MacKay's SUV, but MacKay kept driving."It was clear he was extremely drunk. My observations consisted of erratic driving, the smell when I opened the door (I am very sensitive to alcohol smells), his speech and his apparent lack of awareness of his situational surroundings," he wrote.The chase continued, the writer said, from New Ross to Chester Grant, and then MacKay began driving on Highway 103 toward Halifax and alternated between driving at estimated speeds of 30 to 150 km/h. It was then that the weather changed from light snow to ice pellets, the author said.At Exit 5, MacKay pulled off and headed toward the Tantallon Shopping Centre, rolled through a red light, lost control of the SUV and plowed into a "lamp stand" at the entrance of the plaza's parking lot around 5:20 p.m., the writer said.He said he ordered MacKay to get out of the vehicle and had to physically remove him. After a brief struggle, the author said MacKay got out of the vehicle. The man said he removed a bottle of vodka from the vehicle and then drove MacKay home.He said MacKay's SUV was left at the site and was towed away three days later for repairs.Throughout the entire chase, the writer said Lawless discouraged him from calling police."This was done to protect Hugh's reputation, his seat in the legislature and Penny's income," the writer said.The letter was brought up by Opposition Leader Tim Houston during question period at Province House on Tuesday. He repeatedly asked the premier if he knew about the alleged 2018 incident before the charge was filed last Wednesday. McNeil said he did not, and didn't take questions from reporters about MacKay after question period.Houston told reporters on Tuesday his caucus received a copy of the email on Monday night. "The email is appalling," he said. "This is describing a situation that should concern every single Nova Scotian, anyone who drives, anyone who walks on the sidewalk, anyone who is around vehicles."Houston said it's his understanding the email has been shared with police.CBC News contacted Lawless and Veinotte for comment on Tuesday evening, but did not hear back.MacKay pleaded guilty late last year to operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit in relation to an incident on Oct. 13, 2019. He was fined $2,000 and prohibited from driving for a year.In a Nov. 13, 2019, CBC News story, MacKay was asked if this was the only time he had driven drunk."I can't think of any circumstance where that's occurred," he said.MacKay is due in Halifax provincial court on March 16.MORE TOP STORIES
A 105-year-old who lives on her own in London, Ont., is wondering why her personal support worker's home care visits were cut back from three times a day to once a day. Salomeya Pargauskas was born in Lithuania in 1914. In 1949, she fled to Germany when Russians threatened to send her family to Siberia. In the early 1970s, she moved to Canada, eventually finding work on the province's tobacco farms. She's outlived two husbands and her children, but she wants to remain in her home in London's Westmount suburb. But she may not get her wish after the Local Integrated Health Network (LHIN) cut back her personal support workers' hours because, they say, she already has a caregiver to help her. Pargauskas' struggle is emblematic of a chronically underfunded home care system and a shortage of personal support workers which has made the situation even more dire, one politician says. "It's absolutely unacceptable and frankly, appalling, that this woman's services are being reduced just because she has a friend who is willing to come in and shoulder some of the burden of caregiving," said NDP MPP Peggy Sattler, who represents the riding of London West, where Pargauskas lives. Pargauskas has survived cancer and has severe arthritis that have left it very difficult for her to use her hands for detailed tasks such as taking her medication. But she is able to get off her bed and chair, watch television, and eat her meals alone. Until this weekend, a personal support worker came to see her three times a day, in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, to help her take her medication. The PSWs also sometimes helped Pargauskas heat up her meals. Those meals are prepared by a friend who used to be Pargauskas' PSW, but has since changed jobs. The two have remained close. The friend, who doesn't want her name used because she is worried it might affect her job prospects, buys Pargauskas' medicine, helps her get to the doctor, and checks in on her. She also prepares meals so the assigned PSW can just heat them up. She has learned to say "I love you" in Lithuanian, and the two share a comfortable rapport. "It's not fair that they say, 'You're coming to help Salomeya, so we are going to cut back her care. The reason why I am coming is because her care is so lacking and inconsistent in the first place," the friend said. Pargauskas' grandson has been trying to get to the LHIN to reconsider his grandmother's level of care since it was clawed back on the weekend. CBC News has reached out to the Ministry of Health and the LHIN about Pargauskas' care. The LHIN has said it needs more time to look into the case. Sattler says it's not uncommon for home care patients to contact her office for help. "Home and community care have really been underfunded for years and the problem as recently been exacerbated by a shortage of PSWs, so we have a system that already was not funded to provide the support that people need to remain independent in their homes, and now we have a labour shortage," Sattler said. "I hear frequently from people who are concerned about cutbacks to the home care they are receiving, the lack of consistency regarding the staff of the people who come to their homes, and the number of services people are getting. If we don't fix this, this will mean more people in emergency, in the alternative level of care beds in the hospital because there are no long-term care beds for them to go to, and eventually in long-term care homes even though that is a much greater cost to the system." The provincial government unveiled a plan Tuesday to change how publicly funded home care is provided across Ontario, aimed at making it easier to have come care needs assessed and resolve confusion. If passed, a key part of the legislation would allow 4,000 nursing staff known as "care coordinators" to work from hospitals or family doctors' offices.
Stacy Buckland and her husband moved to Vancouver last summer from Alberta with hopes of having their son Spencer enter kindergarten close to their Kitsilano apartment this September. Now, their plan of staying in the area and eventually buying an apartment of their own is up in the air, after Spencer was placed low on the wait list in the lottery for nearby General Gordon Elementary."We walk or bike everywhere and that's what we want for our family," she said. "Now we have to reconsider my career plan if I don't want to put a five and a half year old on a school bus."Much has been made of the kindergarten crunch at Crosstown Elementary and the lack of a elementary school in Olympic Village, creating stress for some parents entering kids in Vancouver's school system for the first time. But Vancouver's school imbalance is even more geographically pronounced than you might think. Two VancouversIf parents don't have a child already enrolled in a school and there's more demand in the catchment area than available kindergarten spaces, they have to go through a lottery, which took place in Vancouver this month. The Vancouver School Board provided CBC News with the 12 elementary schools that had to go to the lottery process; half of them were located north of 16th Avenue and between Macdonald and Main streets. And in that area, only one elementary school — that isn't an annex or French immersion school — had no wait list (Lord Roberts). Just six of 67 schools in the rest of Vancouver with the same criteria have a wait list for kindergarten. "We've added a lot of housing in the core areas," said Jens von Bergmann, a Vancouver resident who runs a data modelling and visualization company."But enrolment is dropping in other schools. And that's basically because the development is fairly focused on some geographic areas."One government plans, the other fundsWhile Vancouver city council has spent the last 40 years prioritizing density in the city's core area, it's up to the separately elected school board and provincial government to manage the school system and approve funding for new buildings. "It's certainly frustrating," said Coun. Lisa Dominato. She's lobbied for approval of an elementary school in Olympic Village, and in October spearheaded a motion asking for city staff to expedite the necessary permits and explore the construction of a modular school if the government doesn't approve funding in a timely manner. "Absolutely planning between the [Vancouver School Board], the city and province is critical. However I am looking for short-term options, and that's what I was proposing as part of the motion," she said. "We need to get creative."No course correction soonIn the short-term though, the city's geographic discrepancy for kindergarten lotteries won't be going away. "We appreciate that with certain areas there are challenges with student numbers," said the Vancouver School Board in a statement.They added that completion of the new Coal Harbour Elementary will alleviate some pressures, and that during last year's lottery, the number of kindergarten students on a wait list went down from 269 in February to 115 by September. As for the province, there's no money in its capital plan for any new schools in Vancouver, only replacing existing ones. Education Minister Rob Fleming told local politicians last year that its priority in Vancouver was seismically upgrading current schools — while building new schools in other areas of the province with population growth. A spokesperson with the ministry said that strategy hasn't changed. Which means people like Buckland will have tough choices to make for some time to come. "I'm just feeling overwhelmed. I said to my son that he may have to go to a different school than most of his pre-school friends," she said."That's not what Vancouver is for our family. It's supposed to be walkable city."
"It's fun," says Eddie Doucette of his decades-long hobby of collecting local artifacts.Doucette lives in Skinners Pond, P.E.I., and for the last 30 years or so he's been scouring his local beach with a metal detector to find treasures — at least, to him."There's lots of times you don't find anything but there's quite a few times you do — majority of it is right after storms," he said.Doucette looks for anything unique or with historical value, most of it coming from the community he lives in and from what he calls the "lost settlement" known as Frog Pond."It's not on the maps so no one really has heard of it much anymore," Doucette said.Doucette said many of the buildings that made up Frog Pond have been repurposed or hauled away to become what is now Skinners Pond.That's why around the side of Doucette's home is a shed that he's dubbed the Frog Pond Museum.Inside are hundreds of artifacts he has uncovered by combing the beach or looking through abandoned barns in the area: everything from old P.E.I. coins, Chinese currency, antique locks, fishing equipment and dolls that he said date back to the 1800s."You just never know what you're going to find. There's no two days going to the beach that are alike."'Trying to fill in the gaps'In part, the hobby is inspired by Doucette's love of history. But he said it's also an attempt to connect with his grandfather, who once ran a now-defunct lobster factory in the area."Never got to meet him. Just trying to fill in gaps."At this point, Doucette estimates he's picked to 45 kilograms of lead from the beach. If he finds a metal object that he's sure has no historical value, he melts it down and makes it into art.Doucette said his hope is to see an official museum built in the area to which he could donate his findings, to preserve the community's history.Until then, he said, "It'll be hobby till I die, that's for sure."More from CBC P.E.I.
It had been almost a decade since he'd sexually abused her as a teenager. But there he was, out of the blue, reaching out and wanting to meet.The Halifax woman, by this time was in medical school, wondered if after all these years her former paddling coach at Maskwa Aquatic Club would finally admit what he'd done was wrong and apologize.Instead, she said Donald Paul Hendserson wanted assurances she would never tell anyone.For two more decades, she didn't. Not even her husband. It would be many more years before she would gain the courage to finally share her story with police.Now, 30 years after she was abused, she is speaking out with the hope that more light will be shed on abuse in sport and that athletic organizations will put more safeguards in place.As many sports groups try to tackle the issue of abuse, she and others say that for years, power imbalances between coaches and athletes have been allowed to go unchecked."You look up to your coach so much, so you might feel flattered. They're in a position of authority over you, so I think it's a much more vulnerable situation," said the women, who cannot be identified due to a court-ordered publication ban.While the woman was initially hesitant to speak to police about her experience, she ultimately decided to do so in 2018 because she said she heard Henderson was coaching hockey teams that involved children."I can't let him have access to young girls anymore," she said in an interview. "I did it for that reason."On Jan. 8, Henderson, 54, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, to be served intermittently, after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual touching for incidents involving the woman between Dec. 31, 1988, and Dec. 31, 1990.The victim was 14 years old when Henderson became her coach at Maskwa, a canoe and kayak club on Kearney Lake in suburban Halifax that has over the years produced elite paddlers. He was 10 years older than her.She was just starting out in the sport, and like many young people, she was eager to train hard and maybe some day go to the Olympics. She spent a lot of time at the club and said sometimes Henderson would drive her home after practice."There was some alone time, but that was fine, because he was my coach and I trusted him and I looked up to him," she said.One day, Henderson invited her to his family's cottage at Martinique Beach on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore.The woman said she believed other people would be there for a party and to do some surfing. When they arrived and were alone, she said she wasn't upset or worried because she trusted her coach."But I guess things evolved that day and we had intercourse," she said. "At that point, I hadn't really had any real boyfriends, I was very inexperienced. So that was something that I certainly didn't plan and would never think would happen. But it did."Over the next year, it continued."Looking back on it, pretty much every time we would meet it was for sex. There was no kind of relationship," she said.The woman said it became a constant stress in her life at the time, and she worried someone would find out. Toward the end of the ordeal, she began to feel taken advantage of and embarrassed.It changed her relationship with her teammates. She was labelled a slut. She eventually stopped going along with Henderson and switched paddling clubs. Henderson himself stopped coaching at Maskwa in 1997.But what had happened would stick with her for the next 30 years."I always thought you couldn't trust men, they really just want sex. They really don't care about you. I had that wrong idea that developed from that time," she said.The woman said she experienced shame, guilt, feeling "dirty" and felt she was guarding a secret for years.But protecting that secret changed when she saw that the Atlantic Division of Canoe Kayak Canada had launched a complaints process in the winter of 2018.On its website, it lays out prohibited conduct for coaches, officials, volunteers and administrators, including sexual relations, criminal convictions and driving while impaired. There is also a form for individuals to report a concern that allows people to remain anonymous.More safeguards comingAbout a year and a half ago, Canoe Kayak Canada, the governing body for paddling in the country, implemented at the national level a safe sport officer — an independent group to evaluate complaints.But Ian Mortimer, the director of development at Canoe Kayak Canada, said more changes are coming next month that will streamline the complaints process from different branches across the country."We need to ensure that when athletes walk into a canoe club, they know that it's going to be an environment where they're safe," he said.So far, Mortimer said the system has been working: people are coming forward, although he wouldn't offer details.But the organization wants to make sure that complaints will go directly to an independent person, who will then review and respond accordingly without any conflict of interest. That new streamlining comes into effect March 1.Along with the reporting, Canoe Kayak Canada is also rolling out mandated training and making sure that coaches who are already in the system have gone through appropriate training."The beauty of sport is we have role models and leaders and we build meaningful relationships to develop athletes," Mortimer said."But what comes with that is a great deal of responsibility to ensure that those power relationships, those positions of trust, are used responsibly and that no one is taking advantage of that position inappropriately."The woman said she's glad to see that some sports groups are creating formal complaints processes. But she hopes people will speak up even if those don't exist.While she did not file a complaint through Canoe Kayak Canada, it did prompt her to think more about her experience. She was also seeing more news stories about victims of abuse in sport and hearing things that sounded similar to her own.Then, she was contacted by Halifax Regional Police, after another woman told police that she had also suffered at the hands of Henderson.Police have said they received multiple complaints in the spring and summer of 2018, although spokesperson Const. John MacLeod would not specify the number or how many individuals.'His name is out there'Henderson is now married and has teenage daughters. At his sentencing hearing earlier this year, a psychologist's report stated he had told the psychologist he would not allow someone in their 20s to date his children.The report also said that while Henderson now understands what he did was illegal, he struggles with the extent to which he did something wrong.His victim said she hopes Henderson will one day realize that what he did was indeed wrong."His name is out there. It's on the record. So for me, that's enough. I know for some people that wouldn't be enough, but for me that's all I needed," she said.Henderson still faces a sexual assault charge related to another woman, who was also a teen at the time of the alleged incident between Dec. 31, 1987, and Jan. 1, 1989. He has pleaded not guilty and will appear in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday.Charges involving a third woman were dropped earlier this year.The victim in the case where Henderson has been sentenced said she has heard from other women in the paddling world since the charges were first laid.Some just reached out in solidarity, something she wasn't expecting."It feels very good," she said. "To hear people say they're glad that I've come forward and said something, it means a lot to me."
Glen Savoie says it was "shocking" when he learned, as a child, that there was another way to pronounce his last name.He had learned to pronounce it as "sa-VOY," the English way. But then he heard his father Louis, who had moved from the Neguac area to Saint John for work, speaking to his own parents back home. "I remember very clearly," Savoie said. "My father was talking to his parents on the telephone and he was speaking French, and I had never heard him speak French before, so it was almost shocking to me."In those days, Savoie says, "you had to sort of fit in" when you relocated from the francophone north of the province, so Louis Savoie had let the English pronunciation take hold "because it was easier for his children, he felt."But young Glen's curiosity about his Acadian relatives, and his three years in French immersion from Grades Seven to Nine, gave him enough of a hold on the language to become bilingual, even though he acknowledges his French isn't perfect.As one of only two French-speaking Progressive Conservative MLAs--the other is Education Minister Dominic Cardy--Savoie now finds himself provincial minister for La Francophonie.He was shuffled into the job last week after MLA Robert Gauvin, who had been the only francophone member of the PC caucus and cabinet, quit the party to sit as an independent.Savoie's duties don't include all language issues--the Official Languages Act comes under the premier's responsibilities--but he will represent New Brunswick at the international French-speaking organization and play a role at francophone events in the province.And that's where his name comes in. By any other name...Since becoming an MLA in 2010, Savoie has always pronounced his name the English way when speaking in English, and the French way when speaking in French.But last week, when Premier Blaine Higgs announced his cabinet shuffle, the premier adopted the French pronunciation, "sa-VWAH", even while speaking English.That led to some questions about which version Savoie preferred. The CBC's policy is to use the pronunciation preferred by the person in question. Savoie says that's the English way in English and the French way in French. "I'm comfortable with whatever people are comfortable saying. … 'sa-VOY' or 'SA-vwah,' it's fine. I've certainly been called a lot worse. It's kind of like those cards when you walk into a government office: 'It's your choice, c'est ton choix.' The same would apply here." Higgs referred to Savoie last week as a francophone, though the minister himself says he considers himself a typical New Brunswick mix, with Acadian and Indigenous roots on his father's side and English, Scottish and Irish ancestry on his mother's. "If I were to try to choose one or the other, or say that I identify myself as one or the other, what I'm doing is denying one half of my heritage," he says."I don't think my situation is unique, but I certainly feel that because of my cultural mixture, I have a good appreciation of what it is to be a New Brunswicker."
The family of a toddler killed by a falling air conditioning unit at a Toronto Community Housing (TCH) building last fall says they're disappointed but not surprised by the news that many of the units are still in TCH apartments, their lawyer says.In a report last week to the TCH board, chief operating officer Sheila Penny states that about three per cent of the 6,840 air conditioners — more than 200 — remained in place. The city-owned corporation had promised to have them all removed by Christmas of 2019.Crystal Mirogho died in November after she was crushed by a window-mounted air conditioner that fell from an eighth- floor ledge outside her Lawrence Avenue East building."They're not very surprised but they're very saddened," her family's lawyer, Slavko Ristich, told CBC Toronto."They had figured that with such a tragic incident that happened with their daughter that the TCHC would be moving extremely quickly to ensure that something like this couldn't happen in the future."The social housing agency had been warned at least twice before — once in a 2007 report to the board and again in 2017 — that the window units were dangerous and should be replaced.TCH pledged shortly after the toddler's death that it would have all the window-mounted units removed from multi-storey buildings by Christmas, unless they were suspended over balconies. At the same time, TCH announced it was accelerating a swap-out program that would allow residents in buildings three storeys or higher to exchange their window-mounted units for portable floor models at no charge.But not everyone has bought into the plan, according to TCH tenancy resolutions officer Richard Grotsch.He said some tenants won't allow TCH to remove their window air conditioners because they're required to help treat medical conditions. Others are refusing to allow TCH into their units.He said TCH staff are working to overcome those hurdles.As well, an initial TCH assessment pegged the number of window-mounted AC units in its taller buildings at 5,400. But as TCH contractors began the job of cataloguing and removing the units, they discovered the number was actually much larger — closer to 7,000, according to Penny's report.That new, larger number has meant it's taking the TCH longer to get to all the AC units.Grotsch said the agency is moving to finish the job as quickly as possible."Starting in the next week or so, we'll be doing some swap-outs and installing some of the portable units, and it'll continue throughout the summer," he said."We anticipate that the 7,000 units will be swapped out and in place in time for the summer cooling season," which starts in June.TCH plans on expanding its replacement schedule to cover window-mounted AC units in its townhomes and smaller buildings this spring as well, the report says.