• Canadian breakthrough that became the world's most expensive drug, then vanished, gets second chance
    News
    CBC

    Canadian breakthrough that became the world's most expensive drug, then vanished, gets second chance

    A made-in-Canada medical breakthrough that disappeared from the market because it wasn't profitable is being revived by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).It's the latest chapter in the saga of Glybera, the world's first approved gene therapy, which also became the world's most expensive drug after it was licensed to a Dutch company and priced at $1 million for a one-time dose.Glybera treats a rare and potentially deadly genetic disorder called lipoprotein lipase deficiency, or LPLD. Canada has the world's largest population of LPLD patients clustered in the Saguenay region of Quebec, where an ancestor with the genetic mutation settled several hundred years ago.People with LPLD lack a critical enzyme that helps their bodies process the fat from food. There is currently no available treatment and no cure. Those with LPLD must avoid most dietary fat to try to prevent painful and dangerous attacks of pancreatitis. The decision to re-develop a Canadian version of Glybera is the result of a serendipitous series of events, beginning when the NRC's director of research and development for translational bioscience happened to be watching CBC's The National  last November. Dr. Danica Stanimirovic was in the process of selecting the first project for a new federally funded program aimed at bringing rare gene and cell therapies to Canadians at an affordable price. Then she saw CBC's feature report telling the story of how Glybera was pulled from the European market after only one commercial sale. The drug was never offered for sale in Canada or the U.S."That really sparked some thinking," she said. "We really have the ability to advance that."So she picked up the phone and called Dr. Michael Hayden in Vancouver. He's the scientist at the University of British Columbia and the BC Children's Hospital whose team developed Glybera. Hayden said he was happy to get the call. "I was thrilled because this represented a unique response to solve a big Canadian problem, particularly for families in Quebec. And I was just thrilled that we could do something as a national effort to achieve this."Made-in-Canada medical breakthroughThe Glybera story started at UBC in the early 1990s, when Hayden and his team discovered the first genetic mutations that caused LPLD. The researchers then developed a method to fix the malfunctioning gene and allow patients to live a nearly normal life. After doing the preliminary research, the Canadian discovery was licensed to a Dutch company called uniQure, which took Glybera through the rigorous clinical trial and approval process.When the treatment was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2012, it made headlines as the world's first gene therapy — the first treatment that could repair a faulty gene.When it went on sale in Europe in 2015, Glybera quickly made headlines again, this time as the "world's most expensive drug," priced at $1 million for the one-time dose.Dr. Sander van Deventer, uniQure's chief scientific officer, told CBC News last year that the price was a business calculation based on the price of other drugs that treat rare diseases. Many of those drugs cost more than $300,000 per patient per year. Because Glybera is a one-time treatment that keeps working for years, the $1-million price seemed reasonable, he said.Less than two years later, the drug was pulled from the market after only one commercial sale. uniQure has no plans to revive the therapy.Although Hayden discovered the gene mutation and developed the early phase of the treatment, he had no role in the commercialization of his discovery. And that meant he also had no control over the price."You don't determine the outcome, you don't determine its costs," he said. "I'd say what went wrong is that it was very hard to be able to make sure that this got to patients at a reasonable cost."Stanimirovic said the fact that Canada has such a large population of LPLD patients was an important factor in deciding to give Glybera a second chance. "This gene mutation is very prevalent in Canada compared to other places in the world," she said. "For us, it was almost calling us to do something on the manufacturing side for this particular gene therapy."LPLD is rare, affecting one or two out of every million people around the world. But in the Saguenay region of Quebec, where the gene mutation has been passed down through generations, the numbers are 30 times higher. Up to one in 50 people in some communities are carrying the gene mutation. Both parents must have the mutation for a child to inherit the disease.'Astronomical' price in 'pharma-driven model'The ultimate goal of gene therapy is to fix a genetic problem by giving the patient a new gene. Specially engineered viruses are used to deliver the repair gene to the patient's cells. The cost of manufacturing those viruses is often cited as one reason for the high price of therapies. The need to generate pharmaceutical shareholder profits is another factor. "[Gene therapies] are usually targeted to very small patient populations," Stanimirovic said. "It's hard to make them in a typical pharma-driven model because it drives the price of these therapies to astronomical levels."At its facility in Montreal, the NRC has already developed expertise in producing viral vectors that act as the delivery system for gene therapy. Because the scientists will be re-engineering Glybera using new viral vectors, and improving the therapy, any remaining patents will not be an obstacle, Stanimirovic said. The ultimate plan is to develop public sector manufacturing capacity to create not just an affordable version of Glybera but other gene and cell therapies as well. The total federal funding for six projects including Glybera is estimated at about $80 million over seven years."Our goal is to create new partnership models that will create therapies that are more accessible and more affordable," said Stanimirovic. "We hope we can do that through public partnership or public/private partnerships. So the end goal is to really, through this project, develop Canadian capacity to take on subsequent gene therapies."Hayden called the plan a "beautiful Canadian story.""Now we have to translate this into something that will truly be effective for patients in a limited time frame and I'm so excited to do this." We've been fighting for 10 years with doors closed. The possibility that something is coming is encouraging, but yes, it's long. \- Brenda Potter, mother of a 10-year-old with LPLDFor patients suffering from LPLD, the wait is frustrating.Felix Lapointe, a 10-year-old from Repentigny, Que., was five weeks old when his mother learned the terrible news that her son had the potentially deadly genetic disease.Because there is no treatment available right now, he's managing the disease through a strict diet to reduce the risk of dangerous pancreatic attacks. He will have to wait another five years for the first clinical trials of the re-invented Glybera."We'd like it to happen tomorrow morning," said Brenda Potter, Felix's mother. "Still, we're a little used to this. We've been fighting for 10 years with doors closed. The possibility that something is coming is encouraging, but yes, it's long."

  • 'It's a better place to be': What immigration means for the N.W.T.
    News
    CBC

    'It's a better place to be': What immigration means for the N.W.T.

    Mohammed Abdi Hussien saw his first snowfall this week. "That's the difficult thing I'm having right now is the weather," he said. "We've never experienced anything like this, but we're [going to] get used to it."The soft-spoken 20-year-old from Nairobi, Kenya, landed with his 17-year-old brother in Yellowknife less than a month ago. They joined their father, who works at a mine in the territory.The family moved to the Northwest Territories "because it's a better place to be," said Hussien, who works at Savannah's Family Restaurant in downtown Yellowknife."People, environment, good jobs, everything is good," he said. "Canada is the place to be."It's not just immigrants who stand to gain from moving to the N.W.T. From customer service to medical caregiving, attracting and keeping workers in certain sectors in the Northwest Territories is a perennial problem, and observers say immigration is one solution.While the provinces and territories can nominate potential newcomers, it's the federal government that's in charge of immigration. The election on Oct. 21, could mean changes in the how — and how many — people move to the N.W.T.'A really high need' for entry-level workersStaffing is a chronic challenge for many business owners in Yellowknife, according to a recent survey by the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce. While the chamber doesn't have a position on immigration, Executive Director Deneen Everett, said "we firmly believe that population growth is critically important for Yellowknife's long-term economic and social success."Annik Théberge is the francophone immigration network coordinator for Northwest Territories under the Fédération Franco-Ténoise. Part of her job is to attract and retain francophone immigrants. Both territorial and federal institutions in the Northwest Territories need bilingual workers, said Théberge, and there's "a really high need" for entry-level service workers in the N.W.T. The territory benefits immigration, she said. "[Immigrants] can contribute positively to the community by bringing their diversity, their expertise."  Théberge said the Northwest Territories can offer a faster path to permanent residency than Ontario or Quebec, but the cold winters, the perceived isolation, and the high cost of living are often deterrents. High prices in the North mean most people who move to the territory for work in entry-level positions have to take on two or three different jobs, she said. What federal parties proposeThis federal election, immigration features prominently in each party's platform. Some candidates want more of it, some want less, and some want the whole process done differently.The Conservative immigration plan is aimed at attracting "highly skilled" workers, and specifically names the technology sector as one in need of them. The party also says it would encourage new immigrants to consider jobs in rural and Northern communities.The Liberals say immigrants can help support the aging population and fill gaps in the workforce. The party is promising "modest and responsible increases to immigration," with an emphasis on highly skilled workers. They also plan to introduce a permanent refugee program for human rights advocates and journalists at risk in their home countries. As part of the Green Party's 19-point immigration platform, it would eliminate the temporary foreign worker program and fill the country's labour needs by increasing immigration. The party also wants "environmental refugee" included as a refugee category. The People's Party of Canada says it would lower the total number of immigrants and refugees accepted into Canada each year from 350,000 to between 100,000 and 150,000. A People's Party government would assess every prospective immigrant for how well they align with "Canadian values and societal norms." It would also end the family reunification for parents and grandparents of immigrants. The NDP say they would get rid of backlogs in family reunification and refugee applications. The party would also create a tax credit for graduates who work in designated rural and northern communities.Training for people who already live hereNot everyone believes immigration is the solution to labour shortages in the territory.Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya says that with high unemployment in many communities outside Yellowknife, the focus should be on training people who already live here."There needs to be some strategy to have our people work," he said. "We need to look at providing some hope for people." There needs to be some strategy to have our people work. \- Dene National Chief Norman YakeleyaThe last territorial government saw value in attracting new immigrants and committed to working with Ottawa to increase their numbers in the N.W.T. It developed a five-year immigration strategy aimed at bringing in workers to meet labour needs, and at attracting investment through the purchase of local businesses by foreign buyers. Since 2015, 244 people have immigrated to the territory to fill critical labour gaps, said a spokesperson for the territory's Department of Education, Culture and Employment. The number grows to 397 when dependents are counted.In about the same period of time, another 11 people have immigrated to territory to operate businesses, and have brought with them 37 family members, said a spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.Ultimately, it's the federal department of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada that decides who gains entry.For Hussein at Savannah's Family Restaurant, getting here wasn't easy. He said the whole process took between five and seven years."The process was too long," he said, "but thank god we are here right now. We overcome everything."

  • Reports reveal new details of Westboro bus crash driver's earlier collision
    News
    CBC

    Reports reveal new details of Westboro bus crash driver's earlier collision

    One month before the OC Transpo double-decker she was driving slammed into an awning at Westboro station, killing three and injuring many more, Aissatou Diallo was involved in another crash that left five passengers injured.CBC has learned new details of that earlier incident from internal reports obtained through access to information, including that Diallo claimed to have lost control of her vehicle before it crashed into a parked bus. That earlier collision happened on Dec. 10, 2018, at St-Laurent station.According to the incident reports obtained by CBC, Diallo was behind the wheel of an articulated bus making its way up a ramp from St. Laurent Boulevard when she turned left toward the station and apparently lost control. The bus slid and collided with the parked bus. Paramedics and firefighters arrived a short time later. In one of the reports, Diallo told the investigator that "She wasn't able to [steer] it out of the slide and tried to brake, but the brakes were not responding," according to the report. She had been on duty for seven hours at the time of the collision.The investigator quoted Diallo as saying the "accident happened real quick." The other driver wrote in his statement that "all I felt was the hard [impact] then another when bus hit the concrete wall." In her signed account, Diallo wrote that the roads were slippery at the time of the collision, but the investigator and the driver of the parked bus reported dry roads. Environment Canada reported only a trace amount of snow had fallen that day. Split lip, hurt kneesThe other driver was the only occupant of the parked bus, but Diallo had 30 passengers aboard. Five were injured in the collision, including one with a split lip from striking a seat, another woman who hurt her jaw on a seat and others with sore knees or shins from the impact.Two of those injured passengers were assessed by paramedics, and one was transported to hospital.Diallo's bus suffered damage to its bumper, windshield and mirror, and the parked bus had broken windows and body damage.The city initially refused to provide any of the records from the Dec. 10 crash to CBC, which appealed to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. In early October, the city provided some of the records.The records still being withheld include Diallo's detailed notes about the Dec. 10 crash. None of the records obtained by CBC includes any mention of retraining or disciplinary measures taken against Diallo.'Refesher training'Earlier this year, CBC obtained data on the 140 OC Transpo collisions resulting in injuries during 2017 and 2018. In most of those crashes the injuries were minor with no one taken to hospital.When asked for comment, the city said it doesn't discuss labour issues involving specific employees, and declined to say if Diallo underwent retraining or faced discipline. When collisions occur, the city said it determines whether retraining is necessary on a case by case basis."Refresher training generally takes places on a one-to-one ratio with an operator and instructor that includes at minimum four hours of training and a road evaluation by a certified instructor," said Jim Hopkins, the city's chief safety officer, in an email. "Depending on the results of the investigation, additional communication, coaching, training, as well as disciplinary action may be provided to individual specific operators with the goal of preventing a re-occurrence."He confirmed the bus involved in the St. Laurent crash had received regular maintenance and inspection.CBC reached out to Diallo's lawyer, but received no response.Ten months after the crash, authorities haven't yet said what they believe happened at Westboro station, but some passengers later told CBC they felt the bus slide before it left the Transitway and collided with the shelter.Diallo has been charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death and 35 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm stemming from the Westboro crash. Her lawyer has appeared on her behalf and Diallo has been deemed to have entered a not guilty plea, but no trial date has been set.

  • 'See you at the polls': Trump and Pelosi have it out
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'See you at the polls': Trump and Pelosi have it out

    WASHINGTON — He said she's a "third-grade" politician. She said he's having a meltdown.And with that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chalked up the latest explosive meeting that ended abruptly with a walkout at the White House.It's a familiar ritual, with Trump and congressional leaders meeting on official business, only to see the session devolve into colorful, name-calling commentary that's a new kind of addition to the history books. But this time, against the backdrop of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry, Pelosi arrived not just as the leader of the opposing party but as the speaker who could determine Trump's political future.The administration called in congressional leadership to discuss the situation in Syria. The House had just voted, 354-60, to overwhelmingly oppose the president's announced U.S. troop withdrawal, a rare bipartisan rebuke. Trump's action has opened the door for a Turkish military attack on Syrian Kurds who have been aligned with the U.S. in fighting the country's long-running war.Trump kicked off the meeting bragging about his "nasty" letter to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it. In the letter, Trump warned the Turkish leader, with exclamation points, not to be "slaughtering" the Kurds. The person called Trump's opening a lengthy, bombastic monologue.Pelosi mentioned the House vote and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, started to read the president a quote from former Defence Secretary James Mattis on the need to keep U.S. troops in Syria to prevent a resurgent of Islamic State fighters.But Trump cut Schumer off, complaining that Mattis was "the world's most overrated general. You know why? He wasn't tough enough." Trump went on, "I captured ISIS."Pelosi explained to Trump that Russia has always wanted a "foothold in the Middle East," and now it has one with the U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Democratic aide who was also granted anonymity."All roads with you lead to Putin," the speaker said.Then it began.Trump said to Pelosi, "I hate ISIS more than you do."Pelosi responded, "You don't know that."Schumer intervened at one point and said, "Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?"Trump replied, "Our plan is to keep the American people safe."Pelosi said: "That's not a plan. That's a goal."Trump turned to Pelosi and complained about former President Barack Obama's "red line" over Syria. According to Schumer, he then called her "a third-rate politician."At that point, the genteel Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, interjected, "This is not useful."Pelosi and Hoyer stood and left the meeting. As they did, Trump said, "Goodbye, we'll see you at the polls."From the White House driveway, Pelosi told reporters Trump was having some kind of "meltdown" inside. She said they had to leave because Trump was unable to grasp the reality of the situation.Later, she would insist he even botched the insult, calling her "third-grade" rather than "third-rate."The impeachment inquiry never came up, she said.Trump insisted later on Twitter that it was Pelosi who had a "total meltdown," calling her "a very sick person!"He also tweeted pictures from the room. "Do you think they like me?" he asked mockingly about one, showing Pelosi and Schumer looking exhausted and glum."Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!" he tweeted with another.In that photo, Pelosi can be seen, surrounded by congressional leaders and military brass around a table at the White House, finger outpointed. She is standing up, literally, to Trump.Pelosi turned the photo into the banner on her Twitter page.Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press

  • Critics slam 'disappointing' recommendation to expand city's sidewalk snow clearing
    News
    CBC

    Critics slam 'disappointing' recommendation to expand city's sidewalk snow clearing

    Toronto's first snowfall of the winter could be around the corner, but to the dismay of some residents, it might not come with sweeping changes to the city's piecemeal sidewalk snow clearing policies.A new report heading to council's infrastructure committee on Thursday recommends conducting a trial program on 250 kilometres of sidewalks that aren't being cleared right now, with priority given to areas where seniors and people with disabilities can already request snow clearing.Coun. Josh Matlow, a critic of the city's current approach, which focuses on areas outside the downtown core, said the recommendation doesn't go far enough."It's awful; it's really disappointing," he told CBC Toronto.Right now, the transportation services department clears sidewalks in most areas outside the core, which leaves 1,400 kilometres — close to 18 per cent — of the city's 7,900 kilometres of sidewalks uncleared.The city's new report, based on outside consulting work from HDR Inc. and surveys from Ipsos Public Affairs, was sparked by a March request for a review of winter operations from Mayor John Tory, after his office received more than 150 storm cleanup complaints.The upcoming test run would cost $300,000 over four months, and could allow for "more timely services and improved reliability" for some residents, the report notes.Recommendation not 'sufficient,' says residentBut Matlow questioned why the city can't expand services to everyone, suggesting it's both an equity issue and a safety concern, particularly for vulnerable residents like seniors, people with mobility issues, and parents trying to navigate slick sidewalks with a stroller."A large swath of Toronto, including the old city of Toronto and parts of York and East York, do not have sidewalk snow clearing," he said.Deer Park resident John Plumadore lives in one of those areas and slipped and fell on a slick sidewalk back in February, aggravating an earlier dislocated shoulder."Amalgamation has taken place over 20 years ago, and now we're just addressing the sidewalk, snow and ice issue," he said, adding the latest recommendation isn't "sufficient."Extending service just to areas where seniors can already call for snow clearing simply doesn't make sense, Matlow and Plumador agree."That assumes that a senior only wants to walk to the end of their walk and back into their front door if they own a house," Matlow said. "That's absurd. They want to walk down the block and go places."The report suggests going beyond that increased level of service isn't possible yet because of "limitations" in the amount of equipment available and a lack of information about encroachments in unserviced areas of the city."This only creates further delays," said Plumadore. "What we should really be doing is moving on and buying the necessary equipment."Alongside the trial, the report calls for an inventory of the sidewalks not being cleared to confirm their sizes, suggesting these efforts could inform more recommendations down the line.The report also notes Toronto already meets or exceeds the winter maintenance service levels provided by other regional cities, including Brampton, Hamilton, and Mississauga.Snow clearing an 'accessibility' issueAfter requesting the full review, Tory said it's up to the infrastructure committee to decide the best approach on Thursday."The fact is, given the composition of the sidewalks and the way the neighbourhoods are set up physically in areas that don't presently received sidewalk snow clearing, there is a need to get different equipment," he said.It's clear, Tory added, that residents want the city to do a better job of clearing not only sidewalks, but roads and bike paths. "There are many, many cities where they don't do any sidewalk clearing," he added.But given the level of public outcry — with more than 2,000 people sending the city letters of concern over snow clearing through the website for Progress Toronto — the progressive advocacy organization's executive director, Michal Hay, says the city can do better."At the end of the day, this is an accessibility issue, and they should provide this service equally across the city," Hay said.

  • Researchers find little evidence of fake messaging during federal campaign
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Researchers find little evidence of fake messaging during federal campaign

    OTTAWA — Researchers combing through millions of social-media posts during the federal election campaign say relatively little disinformation has been swirling through cyberspace.The preliminary findings come from the Digital Democracy Project, a joint initiative led by the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University in Montreal.It is examining the media ecosystem by monitoring digital and social media and carrying out surveys.The researchers say social-media activity around Canadian politics has surged during the campaign, rising about 800 per cent on Twitter and 250 per cent on public Facebook posts.Taylor Owen, a professor at the Max Bell School, says examples of false or misleading content have not circulated as far as people might have expected during the campaign.He says one likely reason is the recently enacted federal legislation that limited the ability of foreign actors to spend freely on digital advertising and put curbs on third parties, helping Canada avoid "the Wild West of disinformation" seen in the United States."I think that's worth keeping in mind as part of this puzzle here, as we report on it and talk about it," Owen said."We are allowed to do what we are allowed to do in elections because of the regulations that are put in place, and it's possible that we've limited some of the nefarious behaviour we've seen in other elections."The researchers plan a final report in a few months that will look at the issue in more detail.People should be heartened by the comparatively low levels of fake messaging in the campaign, said Peter Loewen, a University of Toronto political scientist leading the survey analysis team.But he quickly added: "It's not clear that media consumption and exposure to traditional media is helping things in our democracy."Among the project's other new findings:— Even when exposed to news coverage from a variety of perspectives, audiences are still more likely to choose content that supports their political views;— Exposure to politicized messaging tends to harden views. Canadians are inclined to take stronger positions on key electoral issues when presented with statements aligned with their views, but also when they are exposed to both sides of an argument;— As partisanship increases, so does participation in politics, with the most politically active Canadians also being the most partisan.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 17, 2019.Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

  • As 'Cannabis 2.0' kicks off in Canada, industry strangled by limited retail outlets
    News
    Reuters

    As 'Cannabis 2.0' kicks off in Canada, industry strangled by limited retail outlets

    While that is expected to help sagging share prices, the crucial factor for a turnaround is a significant increase in the number of stores selling the products, investors, companies and analysts said. Share prices in the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF have slumped as companies' revenues missed expectations. Cannabis producers, investors and analysts have blamed Canadian regulations that have slowed the opening of new retail outlets, strangled sales and imposed higher costs.

  • Un-making the grade: The shift to multi-age classes
    News
    CBC

    Un-making the grade: The shift to multi-age classes

    Wooden block towers of various shape and size stand in a corner of Michelle Boreland's Kindergarten to Grade 2 classroom at Keswick Ridge School.They were built by teams of multi-age students as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activity."We all built it," said seven-year-old Jeralee Albert, sharing credit for the structure her group built.Jeralee is the oldest student in this class. Her five-year-old brother Calvin was also on her block-tower team. They get along well, said Jeralee -- better at school than they do at home.Multi-age learning groups are about to become much more common across the province.The education minister announced earlier this month that age-based grade levels will be gradually eliminated in New Brunswick schools, beginning next fall with K-2, in schools that are interested in doing it. "You can't force it upon someone," said Karen Howland, who teaches the class next door."We believe in what we do here and that's why it works for us. If you have a school that has that mentality and culture, I think they'll do very well with it."It's not clear how many teachers and administrators will get behind the initiative. The New Brunswick Teachers' Association is reserving comment until it has a chance to consult members at its next board meeting. Howland doesn't need much convincing. She read Dominic Cardy's green paper on education and saw many similarities to what she's already doing.Keswick Ridge School has had K-2 classes for 20 years now. Howland has taught there for 12 years. "What I like most is that it really celebrates differences. It's a natural environment where that can take place. Everybody's learning at their own pace. It's all accepted, respected."Howland has 14 students in her K-2 class aged four-and-a-half to seven. She team teaches with Boreland, who happens to be her sister. They meet once a week to discuss the strengths and needs of students.Groups are formed based on abilities and skills and they're always changing.Shediac Cape School and Terry Fox Elementary School in Bathurst are also using flexible learning groups, according to the education department.Multi-age classes are great environments for learning to work collaboratively, said Howland."Everybody has their own thing that they're good at."Sometimes all the students come together with both teachers in the same room. Other times students will move to a different class to work on an enrichment project. And they always split into regular grade levels for math.Howland has 18 students and one educational assistant during math class, but the rest of the time she has no EAs.Students with special needs "fit in seamlessly," she said.Keswick Ridge School won an award for inclusive education in its K-2 classes in 2017 sponsored by the Canadian Association for Community Living.But some parents and inclusion advocates worry when they hear about students being grouped "by ability.""It could definitely run the risk of segregation if not done very carefully with that inclusive lens," said Sarah Wagner, executive director of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living.She still has more questions than answers about what school without grade levels will look like. For example, will children with developmental disabilities find themselves always in a group with much younger students. Wagner would like to see clear leadership, accountability and a change-management strategy before anything is implemented.Another aspect of the plan that remains fuzzy is whether it will include French immersion.That program's entry point was recently moved back to Grade 1 from Grade 3, and the government has given assurances it would put an end to further politically motivated changes to the school system.It's not clear whether a combined K-2 French immersion class would be feasible with a Grade 1 entry point for the immersion program."I think it's doable," said Keswick Ridge principal Tammy Gee."But right now, I don't think it's considered best practice to blend the K, the 1 and the 2 together with the early French immersion just learning the language."Superior Middle School in Bathurst had a multi-age program that combined both English and French-immersion students. Interactive Education started in 1993 and lasted 25 years, until it was swapped out for a new experiment called Individual-based learning last year.Inter-ed students worked in base groups of six, said Scott Ferguson, one of the original teachers. Three members of a base group were students in the English program and three were in French immersion. The French immersion students did math and language arts in French, as well as all of their project work. And sometimes they were taken out of class for complete French instruction.Ferguson remains a devotee of Inter-ed, even though he retired this year.He said it allowed students to work at their own pace without drawing attention to anyone who was lagging behind. Struggling students or those with behaviour problems did benefit from peer mentoring. Students were motivated to get their work done in order to participate in out-of-class activities. And academic results were among the highest in the province. In math, for example, students in the Inter-ed program generally scored in the top 10 per cent.With that level of success, it begs the question, why hasn't the program taken off on a broader scale?Ferguson believes the answer is probably a natural aversion to change and if the shift is going to happen, it will have to be mandated.It seems that's what's about to happen. The green paper calls for all elementary schools and some middle and high schools to adopt flexible learning environments without grade levels within the next five years.

  • ‘Turkey is not afraid of US sanctions threat’
    BBC News

    ‘Turkey is not afraid of US sanctions threat’

    Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has said the country is not afraid of economic sanctions threatened by the US following the cross-border military operation against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria. The national security concern is the main priority for Turkey and they expected their allies to recognise this, Mr Cavusoglu told BBC Hardtalk’s Zeinab Badawi.

  • News
    Reuters

    Fortress extends tender offer period for Japan's Unizo until November 1

    SoftBank Group's Fortress Group said on Thursday it would extend its tender-offer period for Japanese hotel operator Unizo Holdings, which is also an acquisition target of Blackstone Group but at a higher price, until Nov. 1. U.S.-based Fortress's 4,000 yen-per-share offer was originally set to end on Thursday. Fortress had emerged in August as a white knight for Unizo with a 137 billion yen bid when the hotelier was the target of H.I.S.. But Unizo later withdrew its support.

  • News
    CBC

    Coyotes in your community? Killing them isn't the answer, says expert

    As the Town of LaSalle prepares for a Thursday night open house aimed at educating residents about coyotes in urban areas, an expert from Coyote Watch Canada is reminding residents that killing the animals won't solve the community's coyote concerns.Instead, Lesley Sampson, the executive director of Coyote Watch Canada, says taking steps like removing food sources and preventing habitat loss are more effective at minimizing instances of coyote attacks.Residents of LaSalle have been wary about coyotes for several months, ever since a number of family pets in the municipality were the victims of coyote attacks earlier this year.Still, Sampson described coyote culling as a "quick solution," that doesn't necessarily solve the problem."We can kill coyotes, but because this habitat is viable and it's sustainable for other coyotes to move in, that's what's going to happen," said Sampson. "It's a lot better to work within the community, within the ecosystem and remove the attractants, provide accurate ecology and biology information … and then folks can make better-informed decisions about how their behaviour can impact these animals."Sampson acknowledged that it can be difficult to accurately measure coyote populations, since territories can range from five kilometres to 25 kilometres depending "on the resources available and the landscape availability."Nonetheless, her group attempts to measure coyote populations by taking photographs of individual animals and cataloguing markings and colourings."Then you identify how many members are actually living within a certain territory," Sampson said. She added that events like Thursday's open house are "fabulous venues to invite residents to come and discuss their concerns, or maybe they want to share stories that they have about coyotes that aren't negative.""Hopefully anybody that has those deep concerns and has an innate fear — and maybe they're fearful of dogs in general — maybe some of those questions can be answered tonight," she said. Representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Windsor Essex County Humane Society, LaSalle police and the Town of LaSalle will all be present at Thursday's open house.

  • South Korean soccer team tells of 'rough' match in Pyongyang
    News
    The Canadian Press

    South Korean soccer team tells of 'rough' match in Pyongyang

    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korea's national soccer team described their World Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang as a "rough" match played under strange conditions that may be raised with FIFA.The historic match ended in a scoreless draw Tuesday at huge Kim Il Sung Stadium, which was empty of spectators. The match was also under a media blackout, and the South Koreans first spoke to journalists about the playing conditions upon their return to Seoul on Thursday."The opponents were very rough, and there were moments when very abusive language was exchanged," Tottenham striker Son Heung-min said."It was hard to concentrate on the match because you were thinking about avoiding injury first ... It's an accomplishment that we returned from a game like that without injury," Son told reporters at Incheon International Airport.The team's general manager Choi Young-il said the South Korean soccer association, known as KFA, will discuss whether to submit a complaint to FIFA over what he described as North Korea's failure to properly accommodate the visiting team and decision to block media and spectators.North Korea kept out South Korean media and spectators and refused a live broadcast from the stadium.FIFA President Gianni Infantino also attended the match, and on Tuesday issued a statement saying he was "disappointed to see there were no fans in the stands.""We were surprised by this and by several issues related to its live broadcast and problems with visas and access for foreign journalists," Infantino said.Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency published only a brief match report, saying the "game of attacks and counterattacks ended in a draw 0:0."North Korea did provide a DVD recording of the match to South Korean soccer officials, but South Korean TV channel KBS cancelled plans to broadcast the game on tape delay because of the video's quality, according to the broadcaster and KFA."We probably won't get another video from North Korea," said Park Jae-sung, a KFA official, adding the video was unfit for South Korea's high-definition TV servicesThe North had been expected to have a unique home advantage in the 50,000-capacity stadium devoid of South Korean fans, but South Korean players and soccer officials were surprised to realize there would be no home crowd support, either.Son said it was regrettable that South Korea, which has a stronger team on paper, couldn't return with three points, but admitted that their opponents' physical play got into the players' heads.Choi, a former defender who played for South Korea during the 1994 World Cup held in the United States, said the North Koreans played like they were "waging a war," violently swinging their elbows and hands and driving into their opponents knee first when competing for balls in air."I have never seen something like this in soccer before," he said.When they weren't playing or training, South Korean players and staff were holed up at the Koryo Hotel, which appeared to have no other guests, Choi said. They had no outside contact, having left their cellphones at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing before entering the North. Choi said North Korean officials didn't inform the South Korean team the match would be played in an empty stadium."We got there an hour and a half early and kept thinking that the gate will open and a crowd of 50,000 would pour in," Choi said. "But the gate never opened until the end."The game was the first competitive meeting between the national men's teams in the North Korean capital, although the North hosted the South in a friendly in 1990.North Korea in recent months has severed virtually all co-operation with the South amid deadlocked nuclear negotiations with the United States, and repeatedly ignored the South's calls for discussions on media coverage issues and allowing South Korean cheer squads ahead of the game.South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul, Seoul's point man on North Korea, said during a parliamentary session on Thursday that the way the North handled the game was "very disappointing" and reflected the stalemate in inter-Korean relations.Some experts say the North was expressing its political displeasure with the South by shutting out rival reporters and fans, but opted to compete in an empty stadium at home in an effort to level the playing field and avoid questions about fairness.Others say North Korea might have been concerned about the possibility of its national team losing to the South in front of a massive home crowd, which would have been a humiliating development for leader Kim Jong Un, who has a passion for sports.The awkward buildup to the game "demonstrates the immense discontent North Korea has for (South Korea)" for its failure to break away from its U.S. ally and restart inter-Korean economic projects held back by U.S.-led sanctions, said Choi Kang, vice-president of Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies.During qualification for the 2010 World Cup, North Korea chose to host games against South Korea in Shanghai, refusing to hoist the South Korean flag and play the South Korean anthem on its soil.The fate of the game in Pyongyang was uncertain until last month when the governing body of Asian soccer informed the KFA that the North decided it would host the qualifier as scheduled.South Korea's two Group H matches against North Korea will be crucial in qualifying for the World Cup. The second match between the Koreas is scheduled for June 4 in South Korea.South Korea has dominated the past 17 inter-Korean matches with seven wins, one loss and nine draws.Group H also includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press

  • High-profile B.C. Mountie with PTSD says support system is 'broken' and 'in crisis'
    News
    CBC

    High-profile B.C. Mountie with PTSD says support system is 'broken' and 'in crisis'

    For six years, she was the public face of Metro Vancouver's integrated homicide investigation team (IHIT), delivering bad news to British Columbians at the height of the province's murderous gang wars.Now, RCMP Staff Sgt. Jennifer Pound has emerged as the face of post-traumatic stress disorder, two years after mysteriously vanishing from the spotlight.She says firsthand experience has shown her the support system for Mounties with PTSD is "broken" and has to be rebuilt from the ground up."I can absolutely say that we are in crisis, and it's only going to get worse," said Pound, 46. "We can see that the crisis we're in is exploding."The 22-year veteran of the RCMP says she's sharing her story because she hopes to make funding for PTSD treatment a federal election issue in the final days of the campaign.'I was ... falling into the abyss'Pound says she first realized there was something wrong when she fell ill May 1, 2017."I was not able to get out of bed," said Pound. "I just felt like it was spiralling, and every day was not getting better. I was kind of falling into the abyss." She says she was diagnosed with PTSD— not from dealing with the relentless body count, 300 homicides by her estimate since she joined IHIT in 2011— but from the emotional toll of trying to comfort families of victims behind the scenes."I started to absorb the darkness and the pain and the tragedy," said Pound. "That, to me, is where I noticed my resiliency and that my guard was just not there anymore."'An incredible struggle'Her mental state started to take a toll on her husband, who's also an RCMP member, and her four children — something she has difficulty talking about."Having PTSD ... has been an incredible struggle," said Pound, her voice catching. "My family is affected. My kids are affected ... you're in the face of it every single day."But instead of getting immediate help from the RCMP, Pound says, she had to fend for herself for six months— searching to find a PTSD therapist on her own— because she "never received anything from RCMP Health Services to suggest therapy or a course of action."When she was finally directed to the force's Occupational Stress Injury clinic, she found there was a 12-month waiting list.   "It really just compounded and exacerbated my own injury," said Pound. "So,, falling further into the dark for me."She says she finally started to get the help she needed in mid-April, almost two years after she took sick leave.Despite the prolonged wait, Pound says, she has been pressured by the force to return to work or be pensioned out. She remains a Mountie, with the status "Off Duty, Sick.""You can't say to somebody, 'You have to get better in two years,'" Pound said. "I understand that two years does seem like a long time — if you're getting the treatment you need from the beginning."Jennifer Pound explains why Canadians need to care about struggling Mounties:'First responders are committing suicide'The former RCMP spokesperson believes she's not alone.Pound says the force has been good at removing the stigma of PTSD, but that's meant more members are coming forward seeking help — and hitting growing lineups."Our first responders are committing suicide, and that's because there is no help for them," said Pound. "We can't let any more first responders go without help. It's just going to end in complete tragedy."For some, it has.The latest numbers supplied by the RCMP show 12 members and 10 retirees have taken their lives in the past five years.Pound says the public deserves to be protected by healthy members, not walking wounded who might skip treatment because of delays."You cannot be having first responders that are injured, going out and trying to protect the public," she said.Action plan 'vital:' Ralph Goodale The federal government and the RCMP have repeatedly promised to do a better job of addressing post-traumatic stress, announcing new programs in the past 18 months.The 2018 federal budget set aside $21.4 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, to support the mental health needs of RCMP officers.   Then in March 2019, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced an "Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries," saying it was "vital" that Canada do a better job.But most of the $20 million was for studies and research — not treatment for those suffering from occupational stress injuries.Contacted by CBC News, the RCMP said $2 million has been spent on the first phase of a PTSD study.Public Safety says just under $11 million will go toward assessing Mounties for PTSD every three years, starting in April 2020.It also says 50 per cent of clients referred to Operational Stress Injury clinics, including RCMP members, "receive an appointment with a psychiatrist in two months ... 90 per cent within six months."'Walk the walk'Pound says that wasn't her experience, but admits when she was on duty she believed there was adequate help available.Before she took stress leave, the RCMP asked her to be an ambassador for its "Road to Mental Readiness" program, and she readily agreed.Pound says she encouraged fellow members to come forward if they felt they were suffering from PTSD, then walked away convinced she had placed them in good hands."I think people are thinking that we're doing a great job. And in fairness, I thought the same thing," said Pound. "But it took me having to come over to this side to be sick, to be injured and not get the help that I needed, to really, really understand how broken the system is."Pound is calling on the federal government to do much more."We need money to go towards resources," she said. "There needs to be more support. That means doctors, therapists, psychologists, so we're not backlogged."If you're going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk. It can't just be words anymore."Pound says fixing the problem will take a huge effort — and buy-in from top brass:'We need to do better'Pound knows her outspokenness could work against her. But she says she can no longer remain silent.And she still hopes one day to return to work serving the public as a Mountie."My loyalty is to the RCMP and to the fantastic people that I worked with for the last couple of decades," Pound said. "So, I place more value on creating positive change than I do worrying about what could possibly happen to me."Moving forward, we need to do better."

  • News
    CBC

    Richmond bans ads linked to vaping on city property

    The city of Richmond has moved to ban advertisements for vaping and vaping-related products on city property including transit shelters and benches.On Tuesday, city council voted unanimously to oppose advertisements for vaping products to draw attention to serious health risks associated with vaping.City of Richmond spokesperson Clay Adams said the ban is aimed at protecting the community.Vaping-related illnesses, which include coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain, have affected more than 1,000 people in the U.S. and has been linked to 26 deaths there.In Canada, Health Canada says the first confirmed instance was reported in Quebec at the end of September, and New Brunswick has seen two probable cases.  "We're seeing lung-related illnesses in the U.S. and even here now in Canada of vaping-related illnesses so we said let's not just target youth let's target the entire community," Adams said.He said said third-party agencies will be told vaping related ads on billboards and at bus shelters are not allowed."Vaping is a significant health issue. All the evidence suggests that, and this is at least one thing that we can do. We hope others will follow suit and do similar."Adams said city staff will be reaching out to TransLink and Pattison Outdoor Advertising to explain the new policy.Lack of information and warningsProfessor Christopher Carlsten with the University of British Columbia's faculty of medicine, said advertisements for vaping products do not provide enough warnings to address negative health effects and there is also misinformation about what products are causing problems.Carlsten said the first confirmed case in B.C. announced on Wednesday involved a young person who was using nicotine-based vaping products, not a THC-based product, the main compound in marijuana that induces a high."It's misleading and irresponsible to blame this just on THC-based products which is convenient for the nicotine-based industry to suggest that their product is not part of the problem," said Carlsten.Health Canada and B.C.'s Ministry of Health are looking into changes to rules dealing with vaping products.

  • Year 1 of legal cannabis a dress rehearsal for what comes next
    News
    CBC

    Year 1 of legal cannabis a dress rehearsal for what comes next

    As Canadians mark one year since the legalization of recreational cannabis, industry experts say more significant changes are coming down the pipe.Wearing a hat emblazoned with a large marijuana leaf and the word 'dope' in downtown Ottawa Wednesday, Billy Ladouceur has never hidden his enthusiasm for weed.Still, he said he's glad for the legalization which kicked in on Oct. 17, 2018."Instead of sitting behind a tree to smoke a joint, now we'll sit in front of a tree to smoke a joint," he said.There is also criticism regulated, legal supply in Ottawa has sometimes been inconsistent in both quantity and quality."The quality, I find, it's not good," said Crystal Curnock."It's old, it's been packaged, it's dry, when you bust it up it's just powder."But experts who work in the marijuana industry say the preceding 365 days have really been just a dress rehearsal.Beginning today, processors will start seeking Health Canada approval for a whole new range of pot-infused edible, topical and vape products that will change how Canadians consume cannabis.Jay Rosenthal is the president and co-founder of a marijuana news and analysis group called Business of Cannabis. "The industry and all levels of government have had a challenging time understanding how to go from 0 to 100 really, really quickly," he said, summarizing year one.He said the past year has shown that Canadians have a "fairly ravenous" appetite for cannabis and want more pot options than they've had.Wrench thrown into vaping hypeProcessors can now notify Health Canada of plans to bring a second wave of products to market.Sixty days after that notification, and pending approval, the cannabis companies are permitted to ship new products to their distributors.So, technically, a new wave of pot products will be on shelves by Dec. 17 — but realistically speaking, it's likely that licensing amendments, packaging, labelling and shipping details for a whole host of new products will need to be ironed out with the federal regulator.Most of the industry excitement is around beverages infused with cannabis and vapes, says Trina Fraser, an Ottawa-based lawyer who has become an expert on the business side of pot."I think it has been successful," she said, summarizing the past year. "The public-at-large has kind of acknowledged that the sky didn't fall, and a year later society hasn't decayed. We're not living in a fog of cannabis smoke," she joked.She called recent concerns over lung infections connected to vaping an "interesting wrench" thrown into industry predictions about the likely popularity of marijuana vaping.

  • News
    CBC

    Cruise ship industry responds to Victoria's motion to reduce cruise ship emissions

    The cruise ship industry says everybody has a role to play in response to a City of Victoria motion to regulate the industry's environmental impact.Victoria's mayor and two councillors have tabled a motion asking for, among other things, a limit on the number of cruise ships entering the city until a plan can be found to limit their emissions and waste.Lisa Helps and councillors Marianne Alto and Ben Isitt tabled the motion which will go before council Thursday. The city declared a climate emergency in February and has been looking at ways to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and zero carbon emissions by 2050.Barry Penner, the spokesperson for the Cruise Lines International Association — and a former B.C. environment minister, says everybody has a role to play."If you're expecting one particular sector to bear the burden for all of society you're probably not going to reach your goal," Penner said."What I've learned in my time in public life is you're much more likely to reach your targets if you have a number of people pulling in the same direction."Feasibility of shore power One of the suggestions in the motion is to implement shore power at Ogden Point. Shore power allows cruise ships to turn off their engines to reduce emissions while docked. Vancouver's Canada Place cruise ship terminal put shore power in place in 2009.Penner says that many of the ships that sail into the port aren't actually fitted with the technology to use shore power. Out of the 1,000 or more ports around the world, only about 16 are capable of providing shore power, he said.Still, Penner says the cruise industry is interested in having this conversation."Obviously more needs to be done [to reduce emissions] and that's where research and development money is being spent," he said. The Victoria cruise ship industry is an important one. According to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, cruise tourism to the region has grown from 212 ship calls carrying 440,000 passengers in 2010 to a record number of 243 cruise ships and 640,000 passengers during the 2018 season.

  • News
    CBC

    Wind warning in effect for P.E.I.

    The wind is expected to pick up in strength all across P.E.I. Thursday morning in advance of a storm coming to the Island in the afternoon.Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for all three counties."Some heavy bands of rain are expected to start pushing in around the noon hour," said CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin."That's when the winds will start picking up as well, when the rain starts."The strongest winds will be from 1 to 5 p.m., with gusts as high as 90 km/h. Simpkin is forecasting 20 to 30 millimetres of rain.There is a possibility of thunderstorms within this system, and those could bring heavier rain and even stronger winds. High surf along the North Shore could be a concern.Northumberland Ferries sailings between Nova Scotia and P.E.I. are cancelled until further notice. Confederation Bridge is warning of possible traffic restrictions between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.More P.E.I. news

  • Meet Paul Falvo, Green candidate for the Northwest Territories
    News
    CBC

    Meet Paul Falvo, Green candidate for the Northwest Territories

    Paul Falvo is 30 minutes late.In the loading bay of his downtown Yellowknife law office, his communications manager and self-appointed director of signs, Tom Wallwork, is spray painting the Green Party's latest witticism onto a sheet of plyboard.All around the N.W.T. capital, the handmade signs, occasionally cryptic, have popped up."The youth can't do it alone," reads one near a high school."Caribou don't get a vote," reads another.In theory, these signs are for Falvo, the party's nominee in the fall federal election.But on these signs, Falvo's name is mostly an afterthought, tucked in small lettering into the upper left-hand corner."We released a lot of these slogans first," before more traditional signs, says Wallwork, "partially to build suspense, partially because … we want to project the idea that Greens put ideas first.""And it's just a lot of fun to spray paint."'Always on the sidelines'10 minutes more, and Falvo arrives. He's still getting used to the Greens' newfound success."I thought I could walk everywhere in Yellowknife in a half hour, but I forget that everybody wants to talk," he says.On this day, Falvo campaigned on foot, with his exhausted husky puppy, Kanga, in tow. For the next few minutes, the dog anxiously trails him back and forth through the office, as he hurriedly updates maps, chats with campaign workers, and notes the names of volunteers he must remember to thank.Falvo's campaign, staff say, has benefited from a national surge in interest for the Green Party. And while polling in the North is often highly inaccurate, it seems to bear this theory out.The Greens started the campaign with a projected popular vote of just four per cent, according to 338Canada.com. Now, all four major parties are within the site's eight-point margin of error — and only the Greens have seen a noteworthy increase.It's a change of fortunes for a local party which has never before mounted a serious challenge in the North."Let's face it, in the past, the Greens were always on the sidelines," says Falvo, settling down with a mason jar of water. "We knew we were raising issues, we were spreading awareness, but we also knew we weren't going to win."Still, a few months ago, someone said to me 'we're in it to win it,' and I thought, sure, what did you smoke for breakfast? But then things started to change nationally."Falvo may not have thought the Greens were electable, but he is no stranger to environmental activism.A former national president of the Sierra Club and environmental lawyer, Falvo says he was an unconscious environmentalist even as a child."I would hook a wagon behind my tricycle, somehow, and I would go around picking up trash," he said. "I just thought garbage didn't belong on the ground ... Maybe kids just know that."But it was during a stint in the Canadian navy that he first reckoned with the idea of environmental stewardship."If a foreign power came in here and did the things to our land that we're doing to ourselves, we'd be up in arms," he said."For me, it was an extension of that. It was the same kind of work. You're protecting the land."The navy also brought him to Halifax, where he first met Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, then a member of the NDP and president of the Sierra Club."I said, 'Hey, I came to see what you people do, and I promised my girlfriend I wouldn't join anything,'" he said. He went on to start the Atlantic Canada chapter of the Sierra Club.'Running uphill all my life'That almost reluctant activism is characteristic for Falvo, whose career has swung between public advocacy and positions where activism is discouraged."I think I've been running uphill all my life, one way or another," he said.After leaving the navy for the Sierra Club, he went to law school and became a federal prosecutor, a job that places strict limits on activism."It can be stressful, when you're passionate about something," said Falvo."You have to keep your ethics about you," he said. "There were times when I exercised discretion not to continue a prosecution when it wasn't ethical or in the public interest."In 2007, Falvo started his own practice as a defence lawyer, a role he says allows him to "be more vocal""Sometimes it's like an endless parade of human misery," he said. "But that said, it's like being a paramedic … I don't think paramedics enjoy accidents, but they enjoy that they can make it better."'Twisting his arm'Falvo says he comes from an "NDP family" and is a former member of the Liberal Party. He acted as an agent for Green campaigns in Nova Scotia and the N.W.T., but voted Liberal in 2015 — a decision he's since become "disillusioned" with.He says he decided to run under a Green banner because he believes "in making decisions for the future.""I guess I never seriously was in a position to seek the nomination for one of the other parties," he added.Falvo takes a long time to answer when asked if he would've sought the Liberal nomination, had it been realistic."It's sort of a past hypothetical. Would I have run in the past?" he asked. "I wasn't really giving serious thought to any party … I kept coming back to the Greens."Over the years, Falvo said, May has asked him to run on a Green ticket several times.This time, he said, "I'd run out of good reasons not to do it.""I totally confess that I have been twisting his arm for years to run as a federal candidate for the Green Party," wrote May in an emailed statement. "Honestly, I need him in Parliament, where I know he'll be the best NWT MP you've ever had!"Falvo would sink gov't over 'climate action'As a Green MP for the North, Falvo could have a major influence.Because the Green Party does not demand its members vote as a bloc, an individual member could be the one to decide whether to sink or sustain a minority government — an increasingly likely scenario.For Falvo, "the dealbreaker is always going to be climate action.""You can have a great health or education policy, but if there are forest fires and floods and collapsing infrastructure… those are going to be distractions from your policies," he said.Falvo still faces an uphill struggle to get elected. As MP for the N.W.T., he would represent 33 widely dispersed communities. His party can't afford to send him to all of them during the campaign, and Falvo confesses he has only visited "about half" in his work as a lawyer.Regardless of what happens on Oct. 21, Falvo is guaranteed a role in the Green Party. As the Arctic critic in the Green Party's shadow cabinet, he says he's "not going anywhere."But with support coming from "very unlikely sources," he's still hopeful he can pull off an upset."My goal is to do better than any Green campaign has ever done in the N.W.T. Beyond that, the goal is to win."

  • News
    CBC

    First Nation wants N.W.T. gov't to enforce benefits agreement for oil and gas work

    The Acho Dene Koe First Nation says an oil and gas company that has been licensed to do work on its traditional land should be held accountable under a benefit plan it submitted to the Northwest Territories government in order to get that licence.But what exactly is in that plan? A lawyer for the First Nation said in N.W.T. Supreme Court Wednesday that he isn't quite sure — that's because the plan itself was redacted from the record, filed under "privileged information." This came out during a judicial review of the territorial government's decision not to enforce a community investment agreement Acho Dene Koe First Nation entered into with oil and gas company Paramount for work it carried out in the area around Fort Liard, N.W.T.  Last year, the First Nation asked the territorial government to enforce aspects of this plan.The government refused, saying the community investment plan is a private agreement between two parties, and the government does not have the authority to intervene. Crucial info not available, lawyer saysDouglas Rae, the lawyer representing Acho Dene Koe, argued the contents of the community investment plan must be in some way related to a benefit plan the company was required to submit to the government in order to get its licence to carry out work.Therefore, he said, the community investment plan should have been considered in assessing whether Paramount was in compliance with its licence.Rae argued in N.W.T. Supreme Court on Wednesday that he doesn't know whether the two plans are one and the same, or if the benefits plan submitted to the government was merely informed by what the company directly negotiated with the First Nation."We only know what we know, but we don't know what was submitted," said Rae.Plan not enforceableSandra Jungles, lawyer for the territorial government, said the community investment plan is completely different from the benefit plan, and is merely a plan — it's not enforceable. Furthermore, she said, the territorial government has power to revoke or suspend a licence, but that power is discretionary.This spurred Justice Karan Shaner to ask what the point is of requiring a benefit plan in order to secure a licence, as well as subsequent reports on its implementation."I can't answer that question," Jungles said.Shaner also asked why the benefit plan is considered to be privileged, pointing out the N.W.T. Oil and Gas Operations Act's definition of what constitutes privileged information doesn't seem to line up with this type of document."Community members, it would seem to me, would have an interest in what benefits might flow from … Paramount," she said.The lawyers will reconvene on Nov. 5 to discuss this issue.

  • Alberta cannabis industry readies for edibles, but details still murky
    News
    CBC

    Alberta cannabis industry readies for edibles, but details still murky

    One year after the legalization of cannabis, Alberta retailers and producers are gearing up for the introduction of edibles to the market but aren't sure what to expect."The regulations aren't very understood for us right now," said Jayne Kent, who co-owns a Spiritleaf cannabis store in St. Albert."We welcome the opportunity to get that literature to see what the products are and understand how they're going to work for consumers."Health Canada has released its rules surrounding potency, packaging and marketing of edibles, but retailers haven't seen the final products.  "It's a bit of a grey area," said Micheal LeBlanc, manager of a Canna Cabana store on Parsons Road in Edmonton. "The agency has regulations around flavouring and enticing children, so I'm still curious about how they're going to roll out products like gummy bears or flavoured cookies."While edibles will technically become legal on Oct. 17, they won't be available for purchase until mid-December, since licensed producers have to submit their products to Health Canada for a 60-day review. Despite the uncertainty, Aurora, an Edmonton based cannabis producer, has been investing in edibles for the last year. "We are extremely well-prepared for legalization 2.0," said Aurora chief corporate officer Cam Battley. The company is rolling out a diverse line of edibles, Battley said, ranging from vaping products to cannabis-infused beverages. "We are anticipating significant interest among adult consumers in the new product forms. It's a novelty."'Pioneering an industry'Edible products could translate into $2.7 billion worth of sales in the next year, according to Deloitte's June report on the country's cannabis industry.LeBlanc hopes the launch of edibles will be smoother than the introduction of legal cannabis in October 2018, which led to stock shortages and delayed licences for retailers. "It's a bit of a wild west," he said. "I know we're pioneering an industry, so hopefully it gets rolled out pretty well."Customers are excited, Kent said, and have been asking for more information. "People are curious, they really want to see what's coming." Regardless of the format edibles will take, providing accurate information to consumers will be crucial, she said. "It is a different way to consume cannabis and we need to be responsible about that," said Kent. Users should start with a small dose, LeBlanc said, and be aware of how cannabis can interact with other intoxicants, like alcohol."We make sure to pass that information along to the customers and always tell them 'start low and go slow.' " Industry tackles wasteHealth Canada's strict rules are meant to keep cannabis out of the hands of children, but have also had unintended consequences. The fledgling industry is grappling with the waste it generates through packaging, which must be child-proof and tamper-evident.It has motivated at least two companies, Canopy Growth and High Tide, to create their own recycling system, in partnership with recycling company TerraCycle. High Tide installed receptacles in its 25 Canna Cabana stores to collect empty packages, said chief operating officer Alex Mackay.Customers have embraced the program, Mackay said, returning about 210,000 pieces of recycling as of September. "With what's going on with climate change, and awareness around the environment, people are really trying to have an impact at the grassroots level."Restrictions around marketing are also perceived as excessive within the industry, said Battley. Producers and retailers are not currently allowed to advertise or promote their products.He hopes Health Canada will loosen its rules over time to reflect the public's acceptance of legal cannabis. "Cannabis has become mainstream, quite normal, and that's a healthy thing," Battley said. "You're going to see that trend continue and that will be reflected, I believe, in the regulations surrounding cannabis in the future."

  • Métis land claim could spark 'reset' in relations between Indigenous people and government, says prof
    News
    CBC

    Métis land claim could spark 'reset' in relations between Indigenous people and government, says prof

    University of Saskatchewan professor Ken Coates hopes this week's massive Métis land claim will spark a change in the relationship between governments and Indigenous people.Métis people from Saskatchewan and Alberta filed a 120,000 square-kilometre land claim in Saskatoon court Wednesday.Coates, a Canada Research Chair in the U of S Johnson-Shoyama graduate school of public policy, is an expert in Métis and First Nations economic development. He said Indigenous people have won most recent court battles over rights and resources and that governments and society will eventually realize it's better to negotiate and settle things out of court.The following interview with CBC News reporter Jason Warick has been condensed for clarity.CBC: What are your thoughts on the land claim?Coates: I'm actually really glad they've launched it. The Métis are putting their case forward. The government will have to respond. And maybe, just maybe we're getting to the point of realizing we need a national reset.We have a choice in Canada between a series of long, complicated, extremely expensive court cases, or negotiating over a common future. I'm a big fan of the common future approach. I'm kind of hoping this might be one of those sparks.CBC: How have things gone to this point?Coates: Aboriginal people win most of the battles when they go to court. They have for a long time, since the 1970s. You think people would look around and say "My goodness." You'd hope that we as a country would stop fighting with Indigenous folks. They are partners in Confederation, They are our friends, our neighbours. Let's take Indigenous rights as a given, as a fact and negotiate a shared future.CBC: How optimistic are you that it will happen that way?Coates: It is in everybody's clear interest to develop a common strategy going forward. Will it happen in the next six months? No. Will it happen in the next 2 or 5 years? No. Do we have this as a strategy for 10, 20 years down the line? I think very much so.CBC: Do you expect there will be resistance?Coates: Where we have modern treaties, groups opposed are now strongly in favour. Indigenous communities get stronger, and the regional economies get stronger as well.Business and governments realize they can work in these frameworks. The sky does not fall. We've seen this in Nunavut, Yukon, Northern Quebec, Labrador. I hope we get there soon.

  • Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn denounces new Brexit deal
    CBC

    Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn denounces new Brexit deal

    Corbyn the 'sellout deal' won't bring the country together and should be rejected.

  • Michel Vienneau fiancée says she wondered if Bathurst shooting was terror attack
    News
    CBC

    Michel Vienneau fiancée says she wondered if Bathurst shooting was terror attack

    The fiancée of an innocent man fatally shot by a member of the Bathurst Police Force four years ago says she thought the shooting was a terrorist attack. "I heard the gunshots — it didn't seem to want to stop," Annick Basque said in testimony in French. She testified she thought it was a terrorist attack because of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack that had happened days earlier in Paris.Basque was the first of 17 witnesses expected to testify at an arbitration hearing for Bathurst police constables Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau. The Bathurst police chief has recommended the two be fired, and the hearing will determine what discipline they face because of their actions Jan. 12, 2015, at the Bathurst train station. That's where Basque and her fiancé, Michel Vienneau, a 51-year-old Tracadie businessman, arrived by train from a weekend trip to watch a hockey game in Montreal. Boudreau and Bulger were at the train station waiting for Vienneau that day based on a Crime Stoppers tip that he was bringing "a load of drugs" back on the train from Montreal. The tip was false.She said that when they arrived from Montreal, they placed a backpack with clothes in Vienneau's vehicle, and he cleaned snow and ice off his car. She saw two men in a car next to them who appeared to be having an argument. When Vienneau got in his car and began backing up to leave the train station parking lot, the vehicle with the two men also began to move. She told Vienneau to allow them to drive away first, but she testified the passenger in the car jumped out. Basque said the man then fell. She then saw him again with a gun in his hand. "I said, 'Are they crazy? They have a gun,'" Basque said, adding she couldn't hear what the person was saying. Vienneau forced her down under his car's dashboard and started to move his vehicle to try to drive around the man and the other vehicle. Then she heard gunshots.She testified Vienneau accelerated the car and hit a snowbank.Boudreau's lawyer, T.J. Burke, challenged her recollection of events and had her read from her statement to police.Burke and lawyer Brian Munro, representing Bulger, said Vienneau ran over Bulger before Boudreau fired the shots. Basque said she did not see that and the only collision she recalls was hitting a snowbank.Photos were shown of Vienneau's damaged car, which Basque attributed to hitting the snow. The officers' lawyers asked if she saw flashing police lights or police badges. She said she didn't. Asked to identify the driver of the other car in the hearing room, she pointed out Bulger. Throughout the hearing, Bulger was said to be the passenger who stepped out of the car. An investigation found Bulger and Boudreau breached five counts of the New Brunswick Police Act: they didn't properly use and carry a firearm, they abused authority, neglected their duty and acted in a discreditable manner. They deny the allegations.Basile Chiasson, the lawyer representing the Bathurst police chief in the hearing, has said the hearing is necessary to air the facts about what happened that day and restore the force's reputation. In an opening statement, he said the two constables created an "urgent and mortal danger situation" to Vienneau and Basque based on their conduct. "They were — and only them — the authors of this entire tragedy," Chiasson said, adding if they felt they were in danger it was only  because they created that situation. Chiasson told arbitrator Joël Michaud that 17 witnesses are expected to be called during the hearing expected to run until Oct. 25. Gerald Jean of Petit-Rocher was the second witness Thursday. He was picking up his mother at the train station. He testified he saw a man who seemed to be trying to getting away from a white car in the parking lot before the car hit a snowbank and the man fired at the car four times.But it was revealed during cross-examination that his testimony departed from what he had told police just after the shooting. His police statement indicated he knew that the person firing was a police officer, and that it looked like the white car was trying to run down the officer.Joe Sutton, one of the two Via Rail engineers on the train, said he heard a commotion while standing on the platform. He looked over and saw people surrounding a white car. "'Stop, stop, don't move, stay right there,'" Sutton testified he heard before the white car started to pull away. Just before or as the car hit a snowbank, he heard gunshots, he said. Sutton in his police statement after the shooting said he realized the people around the white car were police before the shots because he saw a female with cuffs and a badge on another person.Chiasson also said that next week, he plans to call as witnesses three RCMP investigators involved in a subsequent investigation of the shooting. Other Bathurst officers who were at the train station at the time of the shooting are also expected to be called to testify. Testimony was expected to start Wednesday but was delayed a day after the officers fired their lawyers. They told Michaud they wanted an adjournment of the hearing to give them time to secure new legal representation.Chiasson opposed the request, and Michaud decided Wednesday afternoon the hearing would go ahead Thursday. It resumed with news the officers had rehired the lawyers after discussions with their union. Michaud will decide based on the evidence presented at the hearing what discipline the officers could face. His decision is binding, though it is subject to judicial review.Both Bulger and Boudreau were suspended with pay from the police force after the charges were laid. They returned to work in February 2018 but were suspended again with pay in June 2018 after a settlement conference.Chiasson indicated on Wednesday that a coroner's inquest into the shooting is also expected to occur after the arbitration hearing is complete.

  • P.E.I. pastor helping to supply water in Bahamas
    News
    CBC

    P.E.I. pastor helping to supply water in Bahamas

    More than a month after Hurricane Dorian, a P.E.I. pastor is in the Bahamas helping to distribute water there.Aaron Reimer, with the Island Wesleyan Church in Hampton, is currently in Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands volunteering with World Hope International. He's part of a team that's distributing clean water and helping with water filtration."People drive in the cars that they can drive into the site with five gallon [19 litres] water jugs. Some of them will show up with one or two or five or 10," said Reimer."We'll be filling them up either with chlorinated wash water or reverse-osmosis filtered water that is for drinking. We have to ask them is this for drink or for wash, and make sure that they understand that they're not supposed to drink the wash water. They're still very much concerned about contaminants in that."Reimer said he is still seeing downed power lines that haven't been fixed and homes that still don't have roofs.More P.E.I. news

  • When it comes to politics, it's not disagreeing that's the problem — it's that we like each other less
    News
    CBC

    When it comes to politics, it's not disagreeing that's the problem — it's that we like each other less

    Everyone's talking about polarization. We're more divided than ever, commentators say. Politics is so divisive these days! But is this true? And what does "polarization" even mean?There are at least a couple of ways to understand the term.Defining 'polarization'One way to understand polarization is a shift in the distribution of public opinion such that there are fewer people in the middle and more people at the ends of the ideological spectrum.Think back to the "bell curve" you learned in your statistics class. A normal distribution of opinion would look like a bell with a single peak in the middle. An ideologically polarized distribution would have two peaks on either side and a valley in the middle.Another way is "affective" or emotional polarization ("affect" being another word for feeling or emotion). This means partisans are growing more negative toward parties other than their own.This type of polarization can happen regardless of whether the parties disagree with each other. In fact, research shows partisans dislike supporters of other parties, even if those other partisans have the same policy positions as they do. Conversely, they still like partisans on their own team with whom they disagree on policy.In Canada, we're mostly seeing the latter form of polarization. The parties are being increasingly differentiated by the positions they take and the preferences held by those who identify with them. And those who identify with a party are also becoming more negative toward other parties. What we're not seeing is an exodus from the middle to the extremes of the ideological spectrum.Looking at dataLet's look at some data from the Canadian Election Studies (CES). These are surveys conducted by a team of political scientists during and after each federal election campaign. As public opinion polls go, these are the gold standard, and they are used widely in academic research.(Note, because politics works a bit differently in Quebec, I only look at results from the English-speaking provinces.)The CES has a question that asks voters to place themselves on a left-to-right scale, ranging from zero to 10. Zero means very left-wing, ten means very right-wing, and five means centrist. If Canada has become more polarized over time, what we should see is fewer people placing themselves in the middle of the spectrum and more people placing themselves on the extremes. This is not really the case, as we see in the following graph.Between 1997 and 2015, the proportion placing themselves dead in the middle of the spectrum (five out of 10) went from 33 per cent to 30 per cent. The proportion placing themselves at the farthest left position on the spectrum increased from six per cent to 10 per cent. And the proportion placing themselves at the farthest right position of the spectrum decreased from 14 per cent to 11 per cent. All of these changes are within the margin of error.The picture is clearer when we "fold" the spectrum and combine the far left and far right into one category, combine the left and right into one category, and keep the centrists as a third category. See how that looks below.The proportions of people in each of these three categories is roughly the same over this period. The centre has not collapsed, nor has there been a significant increase in the proportion of people placing themselves at the extremes of the political spectrum.Where things have become polarized is that partisans of one party dislike the other parties more and more. This is affective polarization.Partisans don't like each otherThe CES also collects data on individuals' partisan identities and evaluations of other parties. Someone has a partisan identity when they have an enduring psychological attachment to a party — so much so that their bond to their party is a part of how they see themselves. In turn, this identity colours how they perceive reality, and can even shape their values. Evaluations of other parties is measured through a "feeling thermometer" question. This asks a survey respondent to rate each of the parties on a zero-to-100 scale, where zero means very negative and 100 means very positive. We can look at how partisans of the different parties rate each of the parties over time. If partisans are becoming increasingly positive about their own party and/or increasingly negative about the other parties, then we can say affective polarization has taken place. (Richard Johnston from UBC and Christopher Cochrane have written about this before in much more depth than I cover here. Anyone interested in polarization should read their work.)It is no surprise that partisans of all stripes rate their own party higher than they rate other parties. But, the love of their own party does not seem to be increasing over time. What has changed is how partisans feel about the other parties. Looking at Liberal identifiers, we see a mixed picture of affective polarization.Since 1988, Liberals have become more positive toward the NDP (43 points in 1988 to 54 points in 2015) and more negative toward the Progressive Conservative Party and, later, Conservative Party (43 points in 1988 to 34 points in 2015). Liberals were even more negative toward the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties in the 1990s than toward the Progressive Conservatives of that time. And, they have been quite positive about the Green Party since the CES started asking about feelings towards the Greens in 2011.The picture is similar with NDP identifiers.They have become more positive toward the Liberal Party (42 points in 1988 to 56 points in 2015) and more negative toward the Conservative Party (36 points in 1988 to 24 points in 2015). New Democrats were also more negative toward the Reform and Canadian Alliance in the 1990s than the PCs. And their feelings toward the Greens are similar to their feelings toward the Liberals in 2011 and 2015.The picture is a bit different with Conservative identifiers.They have had consistently negative impressions of the NDP (32 points in 1988 and 31 points in 2015). Their feelings toward the Liberal Party have gone from slightly negative (41 points in 1988) to neutral (51 points in 1993) to negative (33 points in 2015). By 2015, Conservatives dislike the Liberal Party as much as they dislike the NDP.Interestingly, they were more positive about the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties than their own party in the 1990s. And they are even more negative toward the Greens than either the Liberals or the NDP in 2011 and 2015.This analysis is not complete without looking at non-partisans.Their evaluations of the parties form a boring graph with relatively stable lines that hover between neutral to slightly negative (50 to 40 points). Non-partisans rate the parties similarly, with slightly less negativity toward the Liberals.There is change among the non-partisans, yes. Of course, there would be fluctuations over nine elections spanning 27 years. But the differences are not stark, nor are there clear trends over time.On one hand, non-partisans' ambivalence is not surprising. On the other hand, it challenges a popular notion that everyone is more negative about politics these days.One might be tempted to assume non-partisans are non-partisans because they are equal opportunity haters — folks who say, "a plague o' all your houses!" But the data do not show that. Non-partisans are neutral to all the parties. This suggests that the increased animosity in politics these days is mostly a partisan-on-partisan affair.So what?OK, so there isn't an exodus to the extremes of the political spectrum and people just like each other less. So what?For parties and partisans, this should be a wake up call to dial back the rhetoric and resist the temptation to call the people on the other side a bunch of ideologues who are un-Canadian and hate Canada. These are cheap ploys designed to press individuals' psychological buttons for political gain.Short of calling for people's rights to be taken away, most political disagreements should be within the acceptable boundaries of debate. It should not be considered un-Canadian to have a discussion on whether there should be more private delivery of health care services. Nor should it be considered un-Albertan to question if more should be done to promote industries other than oil and gas.The whole point of living in a democracy is to be able to disagree and to have a way to resolve those disagreements without resorting to violence.It should worry all Canadians when politicians receive death threats. Most of these threats do not come to fruition and there is a mental health aspect to many terrorist attacks, but an affectively polarized, us-versus-them political environment can encourage radicalization, which is a step along the path toward politically motivated violence.For non-partisans, this should be a call to hold parties accountable when they take those cheap political shots. The evidence from the CES suggests non-partisans are ambivalent toward the parties and are not biased for or against them. But that doesn't mean individual non-partisans are not susceptible to having their emotions manipulated for partisan gain on a particular issue.So, when it comes to polarization, it's not disagreeing that's the problem — it's being disagreeable about it.