• Canada signs revised North American trade deal, clearing way for ratification
    News
    CBC

    Canada signs revised North American trade deal, clearing way for ratification

    Canada has signed a new agreement updating the North American free trade agreement with Mexico and the United States, clearing the way for the contentious pact's long-awaited ratification.Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland travelled to Mexico City for the signing ceremony today following a last-minute flurry of conversations between the three countries to address lingering issues with the deal."This has been a long arduous and, at times, fraught negotiation. We made it to the finish line because we learned how to work together," said Freeland during her remarks."Today Canada, the United States and Mexico have agreed to improvements of the new NAFTA that strengthen state-to-state dispute settlement, labour protection, environmental protection, intellectual property, the automotive rules of origin, and will help to keep the most advanced medicines affordable for Canadians." Speaking to reporters after the official signing ceremony, Freeland said the amended deal was good for the whole country. But she singled out Quebec's aluminum industry as one that will benefit.The revised deal requires that 70 per cent of the aluminum in all North American cars come from NAFTA countries, with Quebec being the primary producer of the metal within the three countries. "These amendments will make the new NAFTA even better," Freeland said. "All three countries found a way to work productively and collaboratively together for the common prosperity of all of our people. And we achieved together a win, win, win, outcome."Freeland said that every single one of the last-minute amendments that were agreed upon are in Canada's national interest. The official amended text has not yet been released.After months of delays, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed the renegotiated deal on Tuesday, saying progress has been made on the Democrats' main areas of concerns: workers' rights, the environment and prescription drug prices.At a media conference Tuesday morning, the California Democrat called the revised trade deal "infinitely better" than the original text."This is a day we've all been working to, and working for on the path to yes," said Pelosi. "There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA, but in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration."Freeland signed the updated agreement — known in Canada as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement, or CUSMA — alongside U.S. President Donald Trump's trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, and Mexico's undersecretary for North America, Jesús Seade.The leaders of the three countries signed the agreement over a year ago in a well-publicized event on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.But the deal still had to be ratified by all three players, and congressional Democrats in Washington had been unwilling to move forward until now.New enforcement mechanismsLighthizer presented Seade with proposed changes on Saturday. The next day, Mexican senators met to consider the new text and signalled their approval.During his speech in Mexico City, Lighthizer called the amended deal the "best trade agreement in history.""You know that the U.S. and President Trump viewed the old NAFTA as being a flawed agreement. It clearly was an agreement that needed to be upgraded in very important ways," he said."It's nothing short of a miracle that we have all come together. I think that's a testament to how good the agreement is."White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement today praising the deal and crediting Trump's leadership for getting it done."Today the Trump Administration has reached a deal with House Democrats on the USMCA, the biggest and best trade agreement in the history of the world," she said. "This agreement, which was negotiated over a year ago, rebalances trade in North America and is historically strong on manufacturing, agriculture, labour, services, digital trade, IP, environment, and much more."According to a release from Richard Neal, Democratic congressman and chair of the U.S. House Ways and Means committee, the final tweaks to the deal close enforcement loopholes and bring in "new mechanisms and resources to ensure that the U.S. Government effectively monitors compliance."The Democrats also pointed to their work in removing some provisions on prescription drug prices. Neal said the changes they made, such as the clarification of provisions on patents, will help to make needed drugs more affordable.In Ottawa, Health Minister Patty Hajdu called changes to the pharmaceutical section an improvement."I think this is good news for Canadians. It allows us to keep control of a segment of the pharmaceutical industry in Canada that's very important to Canadians, and so I'm looking forward to speaking with Minister Freeland about some of the details," she said.Neal didn't say when the new deal will be tabled in the U.S., but Pelosi added they're hoping to get things in motion before the end of the congressional session on Dec. 20.Canada also has yet to ratify the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Trudeau government introduced an implementation bill in the previous Parliament, but it did not pass before this fall's election.Pelosi, surrounded by a team of Democrats, announced her support for the deal the same day they introduced articles of impeachment against Trump.

  • 'Huge risk' nuclear deal will let Ontario push N.B. aside, says consultant
    News
    CBC

    'Huge risk' nuclear deal will let Ontario push N.B. aside, says consultant

    The head of a provincially owned energy development corporation says he's concerned Ontario will try to grab the lion's share of the economic benefits from proposed small modular nuclear reactors at New Brunswick's expense.David Campbell says the recent agreement between New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan to work together on the reactors highlights the risk that Canada's largest province could use its size and clout to dominate the sector.Campbell, an economic development consultant and chair of the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corp., says Ontario has a long history of hoarding research, development and manufacturing, including when it involves federal funding."That's a huge risk," he said. "Do you see any aerospace plants in New Brunswick? Do you see any auto plants in New Brunswick? Do you see any of that stuff? No. Ontario will protect its own. "I think that's partly a concern here and you can quote me on that." N.B. companies get $10MTwo Saint John-based start-ups, ARC Nuclear Canada Inc. and Moltex Energy Canada, received $5 million of provincial money each through Campbell's organization to work on the reactors.But Ontario companies including Terrestrial Energy and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. are also developing their own versions and looking for their own deals.Ultra Safe has a partnership with Ontario Power Generation, a provincial Crown corporation, and is in talks with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., a federal Crown corporation. Premier Blaine Higgs and his counterparts, Ontario's Doug Ford and Saskatchewan's Scott Moe, signed a memorandum of understanding Dec. 1 "to work collaboratively in support of the development and deployment" of the reactors. The small reactors are intended to generate electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, helping Canada reach its 2030 reduction targets under the Paris climate agreement.The SMRs also represent the latest attempt to turn climate policy into job-creation opportunities."We're trying to wedge ourselves in so that when Saskatchewan buys three or four of these things, a lot of the work and a lot of technical expertise, will be done here in New Brunswick," Campbell said.Learn to shareBut New Brunswick will have to be vigilant, he added."We do get pushed around, and I really hope in this case, 'no.' … All three provinces are going to want some economic piece of this pie, and I want to make sure we get our share."Campbell said he was glad to see Ontario take part in the public announcement "because the other option is for Ontario behind the scenes to sort of squeeze us out." That concern was underscored at a media event Monday at ARC's Saint John office, where the company's Canadian CEO said it needs federal innovation funding that, so far, has not come this way."It's time for New Brunswick to get a little bit of it," Norm Sawyer told reporters. The company is looking for $20 million.Energy Minister Mike Holland said the Dec. 1 agreement between Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick represented "a commitment to bind together and work in unison to help ARC reach access to whatever resources they need within the federal government."The text of the agreement, however, doesn't commit the three provinces to supporting any particular company. Holland explained in a written statement later in the day that he meant companies in all three provinces will "have a voice" thanks to the agreement. At the Dec. 1 news conference, Higgs brushed off questions about New Brunswick companies being edged out by Ontario."There will be enough to go around," he said."It's bigger than any one province, so it's not about 'can I keep this in the corner of New Brunswick,' albeit we certainly need some economic growth. … It doesn't create concerns. It creates opportunities." Sawyer said Monday there are some things "that won't be able to be done in this province," but ARC is telling all its potential suppliers that it expects them to have a presence in New Brunswick.He pointed out Laurentis Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation, recently opened a Saint John office. "They're not doing any work for us but I think they got the hint," Sawyer said.Minister dismisses fearsEnergy Minister Mike Holland also dismissed the idea that Ontario would snatch away the bulk of the funding and activity surrounding the reactors. "I have no doubt there'll be other jurisdictions that will take advantage of it, but we'll be on an equal playing field," he said."Having a situation where we are an industry leader and compete on a level playing field is something that we haven't experienced a great deal in the past. We know this technology will develop and emerge in other areas, but it'll be awful nice for New Brunswick to be an industry leader." The non-binding three-province agreement says energy ministers and provincial utilities will agree on a feasibility report by next summer and a strategic plan for deploying reactors by next fall.Sawyer said that with ARC already through the first stage of a vendor design review, the company is aiming to have a reactor operating by 2028. Holland said the provincial government is committing to allow ARC to set up operations at Point Lepreau, adjacent to NB Power's existing nuclear generating station.

  • AP Interview: Taiwan may help if Hong Kong violence expands
    News
    The Canadian Press

    AP Interview: Taiwan may help if Hong Kong violence expands

    TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s top diplomat said Tuesday that his government stands with Hong Kong citizens pushing for “freedom and democracy,” and would help those displaced from the semi-autonomous Chinese city if Beijing intervenes with greater force to quell the protests.Speaking to The Associated Press in Taipei, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu was careful to say his government has no desire to intervene in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, and that existing legislation is sufficient to deal with a relatively small number of Hong Kong students or others seeking to reside in Taiwan.But he added that Hong Kong police have responded with “disproportionate force” to the protests. He said that any intervention by mainland Chinese forces would be “a new level of violence” that would prompt Taiwan to take a different stance in helping those seeking to leave Hong Kong.“When that happens, Taiwan is going to work with the international community to provide necessary assistance to those who are displaced by the violence there,” he said.Chinese paramilitary forces have deployed to the Chinese city of Shenzhen, just outside Hong Kong, since the protests began in June. Neither they nor the thousands of Chinese military troops garrisoned in Hong Kong itself have been deployed to confront the protesters so far.“The people here understand that how the Chinese government treats Hong Kong is going to be the future way of them treating Taiwan. And what turned out in Hong Kong is not very appealing to the Taiwanese people,” Wu said.China’s Communist Party insists that Taiwan is part of China and must be reunited with it, even if by force. Modern Taiwan was founded when Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists, who once ruled on the mainland, were forced to retreat to the island in 1949 after the Communists took power in the Chinese Civil War.Beijing has suggested that Taiwan could be reunited under the “one country, two systems” model that applied to Hong Kong after the former British colony was returned to China in 1997. That agreement allowed Hong Kong to keep its civil liberties, independent courts and capitalist system, though many in Hong Kong accuse Beijing of undermining those freedoms under President Xi Jinping.Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has said that the “one country, two systems” model has failed in Hong Kong and brought the city to “the brink of disorder.”Government surveys earlier this year showed that about 80% of Taiwanese citizens oppose reunification with China.Wu spoke a month before Taiwanese voters go to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections on Jan. 11. Opinion surveys suggest that Tsai, a U.S. and British-educated law scholar who rejects Beijing’s claims to Taiwan, is on track to secure a second term over her more China-friendly rival, Han Kuo-yu of the Nationalist Party.China severed links with Taiwan's government after Tsai took office in 2016 because of her refusal to accept Beijing’s claims on the island. It has since been increasing diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan.That includes sending aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait — the most recent transit was last month — and peeling away Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies. Two more, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, switched their diplomatic recognition to Beijing in September.A second term for Tsai would see a continuation of Taiwan's tough stance against its much larger neighbour.“If President Tsai is reelected, we'll continue to ... maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. We'll continue to send out goodwill gestures to China," Wu said. “We want to make sure that the Chinese have no excuse in launching a war against Taiwan.”Taiwan, known officially as the Republic of China, lacks a seat at the United Nations. It counts on its 15 official diplomatic allies, which are mostly small and poor, to help bolster its claims to international legitimacy.Safeguarding diplomatic relations with those remaining countries is a top priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wu said.“I think our relations with these 15 countries are quite strong at this moment and we don't worry that much," he said.Taiwan also has unofficial relationships with several other countries, including the United States, which does not support its independence but is bound by law to ensure its defence.The Trump administration has increased support for Taiwan even as it is embroiled in a trade war with China. The U.S. this year agreed to sell 66 F-16 fighter jets worth $8 billion to Taiwan, prompting complaints by China.Wu said Taiwan's relationship with the U.S. is the best it has been in 40 years — a reference to the four decades since Washington formally shifted its diplomatic relations with China from the government in Taipei to the one in Beijing.The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China is creating both opportunities and challenges for Taiwan, Wu acknowledged. Taiwanese companies are big investors in China, and some are moving their businesses off the mainland as the trade war drags on, he said, citing $23 billion of investments pledged by companies relocating operations back to Taiwan.But he said Taiwan enjoys “strong bipartisan support” in Washington and is not concerned that its status with the U.S. could be used as a bargaining chip in the trade negotiations.“We are being assured ... by very senior Trump administration officials that their relations with Taiwan is independent of relations with any other country and to the United States, Taiwan is a very important partner," he said.Adam Schreck, The Associated Press

  • City approves 1.6% tax hike, sunsets Indigenous relations advisor job
    News
    CBC

    City approves 1.6% tax hike, sunsets Indigenous relations advisor job

    The city of Yellowknife's budget for next year raises the property tax rate by 1.63 per cent — far from the 8.5 per cent jump city officials initially pitched. The 2020-2021 budget comes in at an estimated $98.4 million, up nearly $10 million from last year's budget estimate.Cost-cutting measures in this year's budget include reducing the parks budget by $100,000, cutting firefighters' paid on-call program by $35,000, and removing a $75,000 city hall space study.The reduced budget follows the city's controversial decision to let its new Indigenous relations advisor position expire. The position was created 18 months ago using federal money, but that money runs out in February 2020. During budget deliberations, Coun. Stacie Smith, who is the only Indigenous person on Yellowknife's city council, proposed making the position permanent, and having the city pay the salary after the federal money dries up. Smith has said the role made Indigenous people more comfortable, and enabled their voices to be heard.The plan was rejected by a majority of councillors. 'Racism will continue to flourish'"I was incredibly, incredibly disappointed that … [the] city diminished the concerns that were expressed by Coun. Stacie Smith," Arlene Hache, a social justice advocate, told councillors Monday night.Hache, who has worked with Indigenous people for four decades, said she wanted to speak with council about what she believes are the right and wrong steps to reconciliation."Reconciliation is the responsibility of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people," said Hache, who said she is a non-Indigenous person.Hache did give the city credit for becoming more aware of complex issues related to reconciliation and Indigenous people.She said this city council appears to be more committed to reconciliation than any previous one over the past 40 years. However, she said she hasn't seen systemic change, and that's the problem. "If we don't transform these systems, racism will continue to flourish in Yellowknife," she warned. Councillors did allocate $50,000 to several projects in the city's Reconciliation Action Plan, though the plan isn't finished yet. Hache said she would rather the city put the money toward renewing the advisor position.Coun. Smith thanked Hache for speaking up. Smith said she would not approve the budget without renewing the Indigenous relations advisor position. "I've spoken loud and clear in regards to my feelings about this," she said. "I'm going to stand by that."Smith was the only councillor to vote against the budget.

  • Dallas Stars fire head coach Jim Montgomery for 'unprofessional conduct'
    News
    CBC

    Dallas Stars fire head coach Jim Montgomery for 'unprofessional conduct'

    The Dallas Stars on Tuesday dismissed second-year head coach Jim Montgomery due to "unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League."Stars general manager Jim Nill said he became aware Sunday of an act by Montgomery and that the decision to relieve the coach of his duties came after an internal investigation that included discussions with the team's general counsel. While not going into detail, Nill said it was not a criminal act, and had no connection to present or past players.Nill said he informed Montgomery of his firing on Tuesday morning and would not reveal anything else about their conversation.   "He's disappointed. We're disappointed," said Nill, who hired Montgomery in May 2018. "A very tough decision. I have got a lot of respect for Jim Montgomery. He's a very good coach. And unfortunately, you know, sometimes in life, the hardest decisions are the toughest. And this is one of them."Montgomery did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.Assistant coach Rick Bowness, who was brought aboard a month after Montgomery's hiring, has been named interim coach.'Everyone is surprised'"The Dallas Stars expect all of our employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behaviour while working for and representing our organization," Nill said in a news release.WATCH | Jim Nill discusses Jim Montgomery's firing:The players were informed of the move Tuesday morning."I mean, everyone is surprised, obviously. No one knew about this and it came as a shock," Stars defenceman John Klingberg said, according to NHL.com. "But like I said, we're professionals. We have a game here [Tuesday night against New Jersey] and we're going to have to focus on that and move on."Dallas is fourth in the Central Division with a 17-11-3 record and holds the top wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference after a 1-7-1 start to the season.Joining Bowness' staff is Derek Laxdal, who was serving as head coach of the Texas Stars, Dallas' American Hockey League affiliate in Cedar Park. Texas has also promoted assistant Neil Graham to head coach.The Stars earned a 2-0 home victory in their first game under Bowness on Tuesday.'Monty is a great coach, a great person'Nill hired three coaches in his first six seasons with the club and faces the prospect of doing it again next summer. He said the current coaching staff would remain in place for the rest of the season while the Stars try to live up to high expectations.Bowness will be the sixth coach in captain Jamie Benn's 11 seasons with the Stars."We didn't expect this one today," Benn said. "But Monty is a great coach, a great person and that's why this one's a little tougher. I had a great relationship with him. It's almost like when teammates get traded or you lose players within your organization. It's kind of the same feeling where it doesn't feel good."WATCH | CBC Sports' Jamie Strashin discusses Montgomery firing on The National:The 50-year-old Montgomery departs Dallas with a 60-43-10 regular-season mark and about a year and a half left on a four-year, $6.4-million US contract. He guided the Stars to their first Stanley Cup playoff berth in three seasons last spring, and watched the team lose Game 7 of a second-round series to the eventual Cup champion St. Louis Blues.Before his hiring in Dallas, Montgomery was 125-57-26 the previous five seasons at the University of Denver, including a national title in 2016-17. As a player, he was part of a national championship at Maine in 1993.'We will not tolerate abusive behaviour'On Monday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league would work swiftly to make changes to better deal with personnel conduct issues in the wake of incidents that surfaced in recent weeks.WATCH | Gary Bettman discusses Bill Peters incident:"Our message is unequivocal: We will not tolerate abusive behaviour of any kind," Bettman told reporters at the end of the first day of the board of governors meeting in Pebble Beach, Calif.Montgomery's firing is not related to that kind of misbehaviour, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team had not elaborated on the reason for Montgomery's dismissal.Bettman also made it clear there would be zero tolerance from the league moving forward.On Nov. 29, Bill Peters resigned as Calgary Flames head coach amid allegations of racial slurs and physical abuse of players in previous jobs.A few days earlier, former NHL player Akim Aliu alleged Peters directed racial slurs toward him while they were both employed by the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in the 2009-10 season.WATCH: Akim Aliu sees big changes coming to NHLBlackhawks investigate assistant coach Crawford"We don't like surprises," Bettman said. "The Bill Peters situation was a complete surprise."Head coach Mike Babcock was also accused of verbal abuse after he was fired recently by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Last week, Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford was put on leave while the team investigates allegations of physical abuse made against him by two other former players.Bowness, 64, has spent more than 40 years in the NHL as a player and coach.The Halifax native has been a head coach in Winnipeg, Boston, Ottawa, Phoenix (now Arizona) and with the New York Islanders, and compiled a record of 123-289-51. His last head coaching stint lasted 20 games with the Coyotes in 2003-04.In 2015, Bowness reached the 2,000-game plateau as a head coach and assistant/associate coach in Tampa Bay, where he passed the legendary Scotty Bowman for most games coached in the NHL.New Jersey fired head coach John Hynes on Dec. 3 and is 0-2-1 under interim coach Alain Nasreddine.

  • Merriam-Webster declares 'they' its 2019 word of the year
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Merriam-Webster declares 'they' its 2019 word of the year

    NEW YORK — A common but increasingly mighty and very busy little word, “they,” has an accolade all its own.The language mavens at Merriam-Webster have declared the personal pronoun their word of the year based on a 313% increase in look-ups on the company's search site, Merriam-Webster.com, this year when compared with 2018.“I have to say it's surprising to me,” said Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer and Merriam-Webster's editor at large, ahead of Tuesday's announcement. “It's a word we all know and love. So many people were talking about this word.”Sokolowski and his team monitor spikes in searches and “they” got an early start last January with the rise of model Oslo Grace on top fashion runways. The Northern Californian identifies as transgender nonbinary, walking in both men's and women's shows around the world.Another look-up spike occurred in April, when U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, got emotional while talking of her gender-nonconforming child during a House committee hearing as she advocated for LGBTQ rights legislation.Merriam-Webster recently added a new definition to its online dictionary to reflect use of “they” as relating to a person whose gender identity is nonbinary. In October, the American Psychological Association endorsed “they” as a singular third-person pronoun in its latest style guide for scholarly writing.“We believe writers should try to use a person's self-identified pronoun whenever feasible,” said Jasper Simons, chief publishing officer for the APA. “The singular ‘they’ is a way for writers to avoid making assumptions about gender when it is not known.”The American Dialect Society, which is dedicated to the study of the English language in North America, named “they” its word of the year for 2015, in recognition of its emergence among people who reject “he” and “she.”In September, Merriam-Webster experienced another big increase in look-ups for “they”when pop star Sam Smith wrote on social media that their preferred pronouns were “they” and “them." Smith said the decision came after a “lifetime of being at war with my gender."Sokolowski told The Associated Press that “they,” one of a handful of nonbinary pronouns to emerge in recent years, is “here to stay.” Nick Adams, director of transgender representation for the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, said Merriam-Webster's choice is a positive step in acknowledging nonbinary people.“There is a long road ahead before language, policy and culture are completely affirming and inclusive,” Adams said.The AP Stylebook allows the use of “they”as a singular or gender-neutral pronoun in some cases.And the Merriam-Webster runners-up to word of the year?They include “quid pro quo,” “impeach” and "crawdad,” the latter a word in the title of Delia Evans bestselling novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing.” The Top 10 also included “egregious,” “clemency" and “the,” a shocker of a look-up spike when Ohio State University attempted to patent the word to protect its turf. It failed.Also in the mix: “snitty,” which emerged on the lips of Attorney General William Barr in reference to a letter by Robert Mueller about a summary Barr wrote of the Mueller report.We have Washington Post columnist George Will to thank for “tergiversation.” The word, meaning an evasion or a desertion, was Merriam-Webster's top look-up on Jan. 24 after Will used it in a column in reference to Lindsey Graham.The words “camp” and “exculcate” rounded out the Top 10 list.Leanne Italie, The Associated Press

  • 'The community can rebuild': West Island Assistance Fund vows to rise from ashes
    News
    CBC

    'The community can rebuild': West Island Assistance Fund vows to rise from ashes

    The West Island Assistance Fund has already started the arduous task of rebuilding after a fire ripped through its headquarters Monday — destroying toys for children, computers and a thrift store."We lost everything yesterday," board chair Michael Labelle told CBC Montreal's Daybreak Tuesday morning."Our computers, our servers, our records — everything. So we need to get back up and running just on that level, and then we'll look through what we need to do to go forward."Located in the Montreal borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro on Centre Commercial Street, the organization has been helping families and individuals in need for more than 50 years.It offers food relief and other social services to an estimated 650 families.Its food bank, located a block away from the office, was spared. However, the office was destroyed, along with a thrift shop which sold clothing and other goods at discount prices — revenue which accounted for half of the agency's operating budget.What was left of the two-storey commercial building was demolished Tuesday for safety reasonsToys were to be handed out next weekThe loss couldn't have come at a worse time. The West Island Assistance Fund has an annual tradition of collecting hundreds of new toys for Christmas — toys that are donated by businesses and individuals throughout the year. Hundreds of donated toys were on hand, waiting to be distributed to about 100 families next week. All were destroyed."You never want it to happen in the first place, but the timing is really horrible," said board member Yves Leroux.Leroux said it's still not clear how the fire started, but it is known it originated in the basement around noon, when the building was evacuated.The fire was quickly extinguished by Montreal firefighters, who have a station right next door to the office. Firefighters told staff it was safe to return to work, and everybody went back inside, Leroux said.At around 2 p.m., the smell of smoke again permeated the air. The flames spread quickly, roiling out of the building and sending up a thick, black cloud of smoke. The fire wasn't back under control until roughly 5 p.m."The whole building was engulfed," Leroux recounted. "The fire was in the walls."Now with the help of the borough, the community and partnering non-profit groups, the West Island Assistance Fund (WIAF) is working to get back on its feet in time for the holidays."Not even 12 hours later, we've set up temporary offices right next to our food bank," said Leroux.Cash needed in months to comeMaking sure the food bank and food basket program are up and running will be the priority, said Labelle.He said staff backed up the contact information of those who signed up for the Christmas food baskets distributed every year, but certain systems, like their phones, still aren't operational.While varying types of donations have been pouring in, food is not on the organization's immediate wish list. "My big preoccupation is: where are we going to be in February or March?" he said. "[Cash] donations are really what we need, because we just lost half of our operating income to pay salaries."Leroux said the organization also needs non-food items, such as diapers and other household goods. Borough, charities stepping inPierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Jim Beis said the city will also make sure WIAF has space in the Gerry-Robertson Community Centre that it can use, at least in the short-term, as it gets back on its feet."Standing in front of the old building this morning and seeing it completely destroyed is a terrible sight for us to see," he said."This will be something that we'll look back on as being a sad moment but, like we've done before, I think that the community can rebuild."Beis said that residents have already been "bombarding" the borough on social media asking what they can do to help.The borough has partnered with West Island Community Shares to organize a toy drive to replace those that were lost.They are asking for new toys, intended for kids six and younger, and which don't require batteries. The toys can be dropped off at the WIAF food bank (21 Centre Commercial Street), the West Island Community Shares headquarters or at CEGEP Gérald-Godin.The drive will run until Dec. 16.Beis also said the borough is ready to streamline rebuilding efforts and permits, should the WIAF decide to rebuild in the same location.

  • New group in Humboldt meant to answer questions for parents of LGBTQ youth
    News
    CBC

    New group in Humboldt meant to answer questions for parents of LGBTQ youth

    Parents of LGBTQ children will have a new place to go for support in small town Saskatchewan. Parents of the Rainbow is a new peer-led support group run by the Humboldt and Area Pride Network. Its first night is Dec. 10. "Parents can ask questions to other parents and feel supported," Andrew Matheson said. Matheson founded Humboldt Pride, now the Humboldt and Area Pride Network, about five years ago. When he came out as gay himself, his parents had a lot of questions. "When I came out I had x amount of years to come to terms with myself," he said. "Parents, they're just there to take that information."The idea for the parents group started when a family member of an LGBTQ youth saw a need for peer support."We just want to give parents that chance to also feel as though they're in the same book," Matheson said. The group gives adults a place to go and ask questions while their kids take part in their own group meetings. "'The 'how to respect pronouns' conversation is quite popular," Matheson said."Questions are great, because it's showing that support for that individual."The first Humboldt Parents of the Rainbow meeting is set for Dec. 10th at 7 p.m. CST at the Humboldt District Health Complex. The Youth Rainbow Coffee Group runs at the same time in a different location.When the youth group started five years ago, they had one regular attendee. Now, they typically have more than a dozen typically at their events. Matheson hopes to see the parent group grow the same way.Matheson hopes to empower parents and caregivers to have open conversations with youth and recognize that talking shows youth they aren't alone, he said. "It's common concern for youth that are coming out that they feel so alone in such a small community," Matheson said. "In a way parents seem to be feeling the same."

  • For Paris train driver, strike action is a family affair
    News
    Reuters

    For Paris train driver, strike action is a family affair

    Most days, Yannick Stec drives a Paris metro train through tunnels beneath the Arc de Triomphe, but on Tuesday he was on strike and marching above ground to protect France's public services from a government he said is bent on undermining them. Stec, a 37-year-old whose father, great-uncle, wife and sister-in-law have all been Paris public transport employees, joined thousands of strikers protesting against President Emmanuel Macron's planned pension reforms. A day earlier, in the apartment in a public housing project he shares with his wife and three young children, he said the public service his family served for generations was being wrecked by a relentless drive to cut costs.

  • Yorkton family worries after city left without pediatrician
    News
    CBC

    Yorkton family worries after city left without pediatrician

    Rachel Gregoire's daughter, Alice, has been through a lot in her first year of life. Alice has esophageal atresia, which means her esophagus hasn't developed properly. She was born unable to swallow and has digestive problems as a result. The one-year-old has endured multiple surgeries.Now, the Gregoire family, who live in Yorkton, are facing another hurdle: spending extra time and money to see a pediatrician in Regina, about a two-hour drive from home. It's the only option they've had since the end of September when Yorkton's only pediatrician, Rikash Jokhan, left the city for a job in Kelowna, B.C. Gregoire said Jokhan's departure also meant there wouldn't be a physician to oversee the three pediatric beds at Yorkton Regional Health Centre. Gregoire, whose daughter saw Jokhan on a regular basis, said after Jokhan told her he was leaving, she assumed the position would be filled. She's puzzled why a city of Yorkton's size — just over 16,000 people — wouldn't have access to a pediatrician."I remember thinking ... Yorkton's always had a pediatrician," Gregoire said. "Then the middle of September came and he said, 'I have to refer you to a Regina pediatrician.'" The next day she was told it would be over four months before she could get an appointment with the pediatrician in Regina.Although she was able to see the pediatrician much earlier than expected, she now has to spend more money and time travelling to Regina and back to Yorkton every two weeks for appointments. "It was very difficult at first," she said, adding she tries to be as flexible as possible.The Gregoires aren't the only family affected by the loss of the city's pediatrician.Rachel Gregoire said her family doctor told her Jokhan had nearly 200 patients in Yorkton and the surrounding area. She worries parents who don't have adequate transportation may not be able to get their children care in Regina or Saskatoon like she does. "If anything is wrong with your child, you are two hours away from a hospital," she said. "We created our life here." \- Rachel Gregoire Their doctor has recommended they move to a larger centre to be closer to care, but that's something they aren't keen on doing. "Easier said than done," she said. "We relocated here from Saskatoon. We [wanted] a smaller city ... housing is cheaper."We created our life here." In a statement sent to CBC News, the Saskatchewan Health Authority says the government has committed to funding the health authority to recruit up to three contract pediatricians for the city.The statement goes on to say the SHA is also working to provide pediatric clinic coverage on a scheduled basis in the Yorkton area while it recruits permanent positions. That coverage is not yet in place. A spokesperson for the SHA said there is no timeline for when the work will be complete.During a recent trip to Regina, Gregoire said she met a pediatrician who visits First Nation communities around Yorkton. He told her he would try to stop in Yorkton to see Alice if he had time. It's not clear if that pediatrician is the same one the SHA is looking to provide clinic coverage, as it can't give out the doctor's name.In the meantime, Gregoire will continue making the trips with Alice to Regina.She hopes the SHA will see the need for pediatric care in Yorkton."There's a lot of people who live here who ... would've assumed that their child would be totally fine if something happens and they present at [Yorkton's] hospital," she said. "That's not the case."

  • Man kills 6 in Czech Republic with illegal gun, wounds 3
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Man kills 6 in Czech Republic with illegal gun, wounds 3

    PRAGUE, Czech Republic — A man with an illegal gun fatally shot six people and wounded three others at a hospital in the eastern Czech Republic on Tuesday, the prime minister and officials said. The gunman later killed himself as police approached his car.Prime Minister Andrej Babis told Czech public television the shooting took place around 7 a.m. in a hospital waiting room. The attacker opened fire at people's heads from close range, Babis said.The prime minister cancelled an official visit to Estonia and headed to the scene of the shooting at the University hospital in the eastern city of Ostrava, 350 kilometres (220 miles) east of Prague.“It's a huge tragedy,” Babis later said. “It's an unfortunate, individual act.”He said the suspect had been treated in the hospital, but didn't offer details.“Nobody understands why the attacker was so ruthless,” Babis said.Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said police found the suspect's car and he shot himself in the head as they approached and died from his injuries about a half-hour later. Hamacek said police will be investigating his motive.“I'd like to assure the public that there's no danger anymore,” Hamacek said.Police identified the attacker as a 42-year-old man. Several hundred police officers had launched an extensive manhunt, using two helicopters.Regional police chief officer Tomas Kuzel said the suspect used an illegally held Czech-made 9 mm gun. He said police believe the suspect, who had a criminal record, acted alone.Police published a photo of the suspect, having withdrawn an earlier photo of a different man. They said that man was now considered to be a witness.Clinic director Jiri Havrlant told media the dead were four men and two women. Another man and a woman had to be operated on, while one person had less serious wounds.All the victims were adult patients waiting for treatment.The nation will honour them with sirens wailing all across the country on Dec. 17, Babis said.It was the second-largest number of Czechs ever killed in a mass shooting after a man opened fire during lunchtime in southeastern town of Uhersky Brod, killing eight before he fatally shot himself in 2015.Karel Janicek, The Associated Press

  • Privacy commissioner questioned on what happens if government doesn't adopt his recommendations
    Global News

    Privacy commissioner questioned on what happens if government doesn't adopt his recommendations

    Global's David Akin questioned Privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien Tuesday about what would happen, in his opinion, should the federal government not adopt the recommendations tabled in his annual report.

  • National Spelling Bee will have fewer wild cards next year
    News
    The Canadian Press

    National Spelling Bee will have fewer wild cards next year

    The Scripps National Spelling Bee will have fewer participants next year. Whether it will have fewer champions remains to be seen.Six months after the bee ended in an unprecedented eight-way tie because organizers ran out of words that were difficult enough to trip up the best spellers, Scripps on Tuesday announced the first in a series of reforms to the competition. While bee organizers aren’t saying how they’ll come up with a more challenging word list, the bee is reducing the number of wild-card entrants, which ought to streamline an event that was becoming unwieldy.The bee will have roughly 140 wild-card entrants, down from nearly 300 this year. That means the competition would top out at about 400 spellers. This year, there were 562 kids in the bee, which is open to students through the eighth grade.And unlike in previous years, wild cards will be available only to seventh- and eighth-graders. There were dozens of first-timers and younger spellers among this year’s wild cards, and current and former spellers said they were concerned the program had strayed from its intended purpose and was letting in nearly anyone able to pay the $1,500 entry fee, plus travel, lodging and expenses. Spellers who qualify via the traditional route, by winning a regional bee, have their trip to nationals paid for by sponsors.There were 17 wild cards age 9 or younger this year, and none survived to join the 50 spellers who made the finals. The preliminary rounds featured wild-card spellers who were clearly overwhelmed by such words as "tendon," ''vestibule," ''allocation" and “gyro.”Fourteen-year-old Simone Kaplan of Davie, Florida, who just missed being part of the octet of champions in this year’s bee, said she noticed the struggles of some younger wild-card spellers.“The change gives the students in sixth grade and below who don’t win their district bees more chances to hone their skills for next year,” said the eighth-grader, who is hoping to return for her fourth bee. “I think that making the bee smaller is also going to make it more competitive, so yes, I think it is a good thing.”Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director, told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement that older kids ought to be the focus of the wild-card program because they are running out of chances to make the bee. She said Scripps will take into account applicants' performances in past bees and the difficulty of their regions.Scripps also announced a financial aid package for spellers who apply through the wild-card program, known as “RSVBee.” The bee will cover the entry fees and expenses of up to 18 wild-card spellers who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches, a common measure of poverty.“We have always been sensitive to the financial need aspect of RSVBee,” Kimble said. “We look forward to helping spellers and their families who are in need make it to the national stage.”The wild-card program began with the 2018 bee in a bid to give opportunities to kids who live in highly competitive regions or in areas without sponsored bees, and it paid off immediately when Karthik Nemmani, a wild card from the Dallas area, won the bee. Dallas and Houston are home to some of the strongest fields of spellers at the regional level, and Karthik had lost his county bee to the girl he ended up defeating for the national title.None of this year’s eight champions was a wild card.The bee did not announce any further changes to the structure or rules of the competition. The rules are generally shared with the spellers about a month before the bee, which is held the last week in May at a convention centre outside Washington and televised by ESPN. Spellers will be eager to know whether Scripps decides to bring back a written tiebreaker test, which was added to the competition after three consecutive ties. The test was unpopular and didn’t prove necessary in 2017 or 2018, so Scripps got rid of it. Then it ended up with eight champs.As for the word list, its creation is a yearlong process, the details of which Scripps has always kept secret. Kimble would only say that the process is on schedule. But she maintains that the eight-way tie did not reflect poorly on the bee.“We will present a competition that is challenging and that also honours the achievement of these spellers who have worked so very hard to master the ins and outs of the English language,” Kimble said. “Our focus more than anything else is on celebrating that achievement.”___Follow Ben Nuckols at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckolsBen Nuckols, The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    Environment minister's comments on carbon credits 'frustrating,' says CAPP boss

    The Calgary-based head of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says he's frustrated with comments made by Canada's environment minister ahead of this week's global climate conference in Madrid.Speaking to the Globe and Mail, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson appeared to pour cold water on the energy industry's hope that clean-burning liquefied natural gas (LNG) exported from Canada will count toward Canada's emissions targets through international co-operation provisions under Article 6 of the 2015 Paris Agreement.However, the details of Article 6 weren't finalized in Paris or the subsequent 2018 meeting in Poland, but instead were left to be hammered out at this year's conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25) in Spain.Wilkinson said the Liberal government's aim is to reach Canada's emission reductions targets through domestic cuts, not by relying on credit-trading within Article 6.But Tim McMillan, head of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), says Article 6 represents an important opportunity for Canadian energy to be part of the global fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."You know, I found his comments somewhat frustrating," he said."We've done a lot of work with his officials and with former ministers of the government, some of which were very positive."McMillan said that because Canada can boast of the lowest-emission natural gas and liquefied natural gas in the world, the country is uniquely positioned to help China, India and other countries transition away from much dirtier coal-fired electricity production."As Minister Wilkinson comes to this conference of the parties here in Madrid, I hope he gets a strong briefing and positions himself as a real advocate for enabling Article 6 and enabling Canadian natural gas to be a global solution," he said.McMillan added that it's vital for the 200 or so countries taking part in the climate talks to come up with globally-based solutions."If there is a flaw to the Paris Agreement, it is that each country has a box around it. And no matter what you do inside your box, you can't have a global view," he said."Globally, we're building one coal fired power plant a week. If they have access to natural gas, they most certainly would want not just the gas but access to some of those credits."McMillan said if the delegates in Madrid are unable to agree to a framework for Article 6, Canada should take the lead in negotiating an international set of rules for sharing in emissions reductions."They would have to be strict in how they assess what is a real carbon credit, they'd have to be credible in how accounting is done so that others can follow the work," he said."But without it, we are going to lose globally. And to look at this problem just within Canada's borders is somewhat myopic because Canada only makes up 1.5 per cent of global emissions."Speaking at the Canadian Club in Ottawa on Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also touted the possible benefits of Article 6 in combating climate change."I understand that, if we were to fully satisfy the future demand for LNG in China and India, to allow them to convert off of high-emitting coal, to much lower-emitting natural gas, that the incremental reduction in their CO2 output would be equivalent to the entire Canadian economy's GHG output," he said."I hope that the federal government will seek to get credit for that kind of export through Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. We'd like to work with them on that."

  • News
    CBC

    Satisfaction with Liberal government up, according to latest political poll

    More than half of eligible voters report satisfaction with the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal government under Premier Dwight Ball, according to the results of a new poll.The approval rating for the Liberals has gone up to 52 per cent, from 47 per cent this summer, in the latest quarterly results from Narrative Research's quarterly telephone survey.However, 42 per cent of respondents reported being either mostly or completely dissatisfied by the performance of the Liberal government.Party support has remained steady, with Liberals maintaining 42 per cent support among decided voters if a provincial election was held today.The Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats have both increased by a single percentage point among those polled, to 33 and 24 per cent, respectively.Twenty-two per cent of people polled said they were undecided on which party they would vote for.Approval for Dwight Ball has remained essentially unchanged, with 36 per cent of people polled saying they would choose him as premier from among the party leaders.Tory Leader Ches Crosbie's approval was down three percentage points to 23 per cent, while Alison Coffin's approval was down two percentage points to 19 per cent.Ten per cent of people asked replied they would prefer none of the current leaders, while another 11 per cent said they didn't know or had no answer.The Narrative Research quarterly results were taken from from a telephone sample of 800 adult Newfoundland and Labrador residents, between Oct. 31 and Nov. 22, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 95 times out of 100.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Rapper treated for opioids during police search of plane
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Rapper treated for opioids during police search of plane

    CHICAGO — A federal agent who was at a Chicago airport to search a private plane that rapper Juice WRLD and his entourage had arrived in administered the opioid antidote Narcan to the performer, who briefly woke up incoherent but later died, authorities said Monday.The plane carrying the 21-year-old rapper, who was named top new artist at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards in May, and about a dozen other people landed at Midway International Airport at around 2 a.m. Sunday. Federal agents and city police officers, acting on a tip that a private plane coming from Los Angeles to Midway was carrying guns and drugs, were waiting, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Monday.During a search in a private hangar, a drug-sniffing dog made a “positive alert” on luggage carts that were loaded with bags from the plane, Guglielmi said. Inside, they found multiple bags of suspected marijuana, several bottles of prescription cough syrup, three guns, metal-piercing bullets and a high-capacity ammunition magazine, he said.The rapper, whose real name was Jarad Higgins and who was from the Chicago suburb of Homewood, went into convulsions during the search. One of the agents administered Narcan after the rapper's girlfriend said he had been taking Percocet, an opioid painkiller, Guglielmi said, confirming a report in the Chicago Tribune. Higgins woke up but remained incoherent, the paper reported. He was rushed to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead at about 3:15 a.m. Sunday.An autopsy was completed Monday but the toxicology test results were still pending, the medical examiner's office said. Foul play is not suspected in his death.None of the dozen or so people on the plane admitted to carrying the drugs, but detectives were conducting a forensic analysis to determine which bags belonged to which passengers, he said, adding that two security guards who on the plane were arrested on misdemeanour gun charges.Don Babwin, The Associated Press

  • International Christmas Potluck Ideas That Don't Involve Turkey
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    International Christmas Potluck Ideas That Don't Involve Turkey

    But there is cheese. Lots of cheese.

  • The bus cancellations OC Transpo isn't telling you about
    News
    CBC

    The bus cancellations OC Transpo isn't telling you about

    On Saturday, Dec. 7 — a bright, sunny day in the capital — Ottawa's public transit service alerted its customers to dozens of bus trip cancellations through its Twitter account, @OCTranspoLive.In a statement, the city blamed "the very high number" of cancellations that day on a current shortage of drivers on weekends."We are working to minimize these cancellations," said OC Transpo's Jim Greer.But according to images of an internal OC Transpo computer screen obtained by CBC news, those cancellations were only the tip of the iceberg.216 cancellationsOC Transpo's public alert system tweeted out a total of 71 trip cancellations on Dec. 7, all between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. According to OC Transpo, that accounted for about five per cent of all bus trips that day.But the six images obtained by CBC, and verified by three bus drivers who explained what the codes on the computer screen mean, there were in fact 216 trips cancelled on Dec. 7. More than half — 125 — were cancelled because there was no one available to drive the bus.The data shown on the screens is available to both management and employees, but not the public. The bus routes are listed on the left, while the reason for each cancellation appears on the right. They cover the entire day of Dec. 7, and include both full and partial route cancellations.The 125 trips cancelled Saturday because of "No Operator" included 29 different OC Transpo routes: 46, 44, 64, 51, 53, 57, 5, 6, 7, 10, 170, 88, 75, 80, 85, 93, 985, 96, 97, 12, 14, 11, 86, 40, 25, 81, 16, 111 and 168. Traffic, collisions, assaultsAccording to the data, a Route 97 trip from Hurdman station to the Ottawa International Airport was taken off the road at 10:47 a.m. at South Keys due to an "Operator Assault." It remained out of service for nearly six hours because no replacement driver could be found.A Route 63 trip from Kanata to Tunney's Pasture station was cancelled because the driver was involved in a collision.Other reasons for trip cancellations included: * "Adjustment Heavy Traffic." * "Adjustment Passenger Volume." * "No Relief." * "Code 4," or a bus breakdown.'A bigger problem'CBC showed the images to city councillors Carol Anne Meehan and Riley Brockington, both of whom expressed frustration that the public doesn't appear to be getting the full picture when it comes to bus cancellations."I think there's a bigger problem than [OC Transpo] wants us to know about," Meehan said. "Every one of those bus cancellations means people are inconvenienced on the weekend, waiting hours for a bus. They get no notice. It's unconscionable. We have to stop doing this.""The public should see all the performance metrics that are being collected. The transit commissions needs this info as well to hold OC Transpo management accountable, but also to make decisions," Brockington added.Brockington, who sits on the city's transit commission, said he plans to table a motion at the next meeting of city council calling on OC Transpo to be more transparent about bus cancellations.Cancellation 'a last resort'Appearing on Ottawa Morning Tuesday, the city's director of transit operations, Troy Charter, apologized to customers for the high number of cancellations on the weekend.Charter explained there sometimes simply isn't enough time to alert customers to all those cancelled trips. "A trip cancellation is a last resort for us." he said. "Our control centre is always working right up to the very last minute to provide every trip possible. It's a bit of a balance between what we communicate in advance with our customers so they so they have time to make alternate plans, but at the same time our control centre is working up to that minute to reallocate resources, move buses around and try to fill every single trip."He admitted the communication could improve."With this year's budget there's been a slight increase in the number of staff dedicated to social media and issuing alerts," Charter said. "We've been hearing our customers clearly that they want more timely information. so we'll keep evolving and improving."He said staffing the 40 buses brought in to boost service since the launch of the Confederation Line, plus the 20 replacement buses held on standby in case of LRT breakdowns, has put a strain on the entire system.Frustration growingKari Glynes Elliot of the advocacy group Ottawa Transit Riders says during her bus ride from Vanier to her office downtown, she often hears dispatchers pleading over the radio for drivers to take on additional shifts.Elliot says her advocacy group is hearing from angry passengers across the city."If [OC Transpo] were to improve communication then the frustration levels would be dialled down," said Elliot, who believes OC Transpo would give passengers a better chance to make other plans if it alerted them to all cancellations.She said the lack of transparency validates the concerns she's heard from customers, particularly the most vulnerable."It disproportionately affects low-income people, it disproportionately affects teenagers who don't drive, it disproportionately affects seniors.... It affects people with disabilities," Elliot said."Up until now those people haven't had a voice. They've been shouting into a void."Charter told Ottawa Morning OC Transpo doesn't want to leave anyone in the lurch.The Amalgamated Transit Union did not respond to requests for an interview.

  • Local MP applauds as coast guard works to secure derelict ship from N.S. river
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Local MP applauds as coast guard works to secure derelict ship from N.S. river

    BRIDGEWATER, N.S. — The Canadian Coast Guard has secured a listing navy vessel from a Nova Scotia river, in the latest major case to occur in the riding of a federal cabinet minister who has championed the cause of removing derelict vessels. The agency said in a briefing Monday that a federal environmental team arrived at the site on the LaHave River in Bridgewater, N.S., on Dec. 1, and contractors began work on the Cormorant the next day."I'm quite pleased to see the amount of work," said federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, who has made addressing the problem of abandoned and derelict vessels a personal priority since her election in 2015."It's nice to drive by and see people actually working on this issue."Jordan introduced a motion in Parliament in 2016 requesting action on removing derelict vessels abandoned in Canada's coastal communities. Former NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson also authored a private member's bill. Ottawa later towed the MV Farley Mowat, the one-time flagship of an environmental group that had long since become a derelict, polluting eyesore, out of Shelburne harbour, to great fanfare.On Monday, the coast guard said it had removed 19,000 litres of oily bilge water and improved the moorings of the Cormorant, and was planning a "permanent solution" that could include removal.Jordan, who is the MP for South Shore-St. Margaret's, announced an assessment of the Cormorant in the summer.The review found the former naval diving vessel, constructed in the early 1960s, hadn't been maintained: its mooring lines were in poor condition, sea valves weren't sealed and the ship was listing noticeably to one side.David Yard, Atlantic regional superintendent of the coast guard's environmental response unit, said in an interview that the first week of work focused on securing and stabilizing of the vessel at the dock.This included the installation of eight new 60-metre mooring lines and two large fenders."The vessel was rubbing against the dock, taking pieces of concrete out ... The vessel is now secure at the dock and that objective is completed," he said.The contractors then removed bilge water to assist in the righting of the ship from a notable list to "a minor list," said Yard. The team also removed 13,000 litres of water from the accommodation spaces.They also secured leaking valves and used divers to weld on plates under the hull to prevent water entering some sea water storage areas referred to as "sea chests." There is no cost estimate yet on what the coast guard has spent, though Yard says under the principles of the Canada Shipping Act, the coast guard will attempt to recover costs from the vessel's owners.If the owners are unable or unwilling to pay, the coast guard will send a claim to the Ship Source Pollution Fund for reimbursements of its costs, he said.The fund's website states it is "an independent fund under the Marine Liability Act, which is responsible for the investigation and payment of claims for oil spills from all classes of ships in Canada."Yard said the fund can attempt to eventually recover costs from the owners when claims are made. He said a Federal Court decision has identified the owners as the Port of Bridgewater and a numbered Canadian company.Jordan said abandoned, derelict vessels like the Cormorant are a major headache to communities across the country. She said when she was researching legislation several years ago there were about 600 such vessels.After the initial motion she brought forward, the Liberal government brought in Bill C-64: the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act.It passed earlier this year, making it illegal to abandon boats in Canada.She said she expects her new legislation, which wasn't in force when the Cormorant was tied up at the dock, will reduce instances of vessel abandonment in the future."It used to be that you could park one wherever you wanted and walk away from it and not be responsible for it. The new legislation actually changed that," she said.— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.The Canadian Press

  • 'The Mandalorian' gives female directors a chance to shine
    News
    The Canadian Press

    'The Mandalorian' gives female directors a chance to shine

    LOS ANGELES — “Star Wars” has faced criticism for having a lack of female directors, but the popular franchise is making an effort to place more women in the prominent role starting with the new series “The Mandalorian.”The Disney Plus series, which airs Fridays, broke new ground for “Star Wars” when Deborah Chow became the first woman during a Nov. 22 episode to direct a live-action story in the 42-year history of the franchise. She had company this season from Bryce Dallas Howard, who later directed an episode.The lack of women directors has drawn criticism not only to "Star Wars'' but to the film and television industry as well. The selection of Chow and Howard is a move by the Lucasfilm property to show its commitment to put more women behind the camera.“It feels like respect. We’re given a chance to show up,” said Howard, who directed the fourth episode of the series, which follows the journey of a Mandalorian bounty hunter along with an adorable green alien infant dubbed “Baby Yoda,” who wields Jedi-like powers. The series takes place about five years after the events of the 1983 film “Return of the Jedi.”Howard has been around film sets all her life as the eldest daughter of actor-director Ron Howard, who directed 2018’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The actress knows “The Mandalorian” is her biggest directing project to date, but the opportunity powered her to show that women can handle the pressure of directing a major franchise as well as any male counterpart.“A movie set can seem like a rough place. It can seem like there’s a lot of pressure. It can be very intense,” said Howard, who starred in several films including “Jurassic World” films and “Rocketman.” At times, it can feel a little dangerous. Sometimes, people would feel like we would need to protect a female director in that circumstance. But no, you don’t have to protect. Just respect them. This is a sign of respect.”Chow said directing a splashy Star Wars property was a “challenge and privilege” at the same time. The Chinese-Australian filmmaker —who previously worked on “Better Call Saul” and “Mr. Robot” —believes her and Howard’s directorial efforts on “The Mandalorian” can show a woman’s worth at the helm of a big project like Star Wars.“It’s important to see that we all have a fair chance at this, and we can all do this well,” said Chow, who directed two episodes including one that airs Dec. 18. She’s also tapped to direct the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series on the streaming service. “I’m hoping this first season of ‘The Mandalorian’ opens everybody’s minds to realize that we’re capable of doing it.”Based on the numbers, there has been some progress. The television episodes directed by women grew to a record 31%, more than doubling in the past five years, according to the Directors Guild of America’s Episodic Television Director inclusion report covering the 2018-2019 season.Disney/ABC companies gave the most directorial opportunities to women. Of their episodes, 40% were directed by women.Howard gave credit to “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau for opening doors for many in the industry and to Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, who she says has been working for years to create more behind-the-camera opportunities for women.“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” director J.J. Abrams hopes the increase in TV can translate into film, which had only 8% of women directors in 2018, according to the San Diego State University report. The number was a 3% drop from the previous year.“When you look at the statistics of how few female directors are actually working, it’s shocking,” he said. “You keep thinking ‘Oh it’s going to get better.’ It is, but not to the degree that it should.”Abrams applauded Disney for hiring more female directors in the past year. He said diversity is needed to deliver a different and sometimes better perspective“I know I’m a white dude who’s directed a bunch of movies. But to have women and people of colour directing, there is a life experience and point of view that someone like myself cannot communicate, because I don’t know,” said Abrams, who chose Victoria Mahoney — who is African-American — as his second director on “The Rise of Skywalker.”“I can understand it and intellectually embrace it,” he continued. “But that is something that audiences I think are increasingly demonstrating hunger for. It’s only good for business. It’s only good for storytelling. So obviously, I think it's a terrific thing.”Gina Carano, who plays Cara Dune, praised Howard for bringing balance to her character, who is a tough-minded former Rebel shock trooper, and a feminine perspective."I’m a tough and strong woman, but I don’t want to look like a box,” she said with a chuckle. “I don’t want to look like a tank with no curves, no complementary thing. Bryce was really instrumental. ... Hopefully things will even out to the point where we’ll just say, ‘She’s a damn good director.’”___Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press

  • Authorities: Someone illegally shot Luke Bryan's red stag
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Authorities: Someone illegally shot Luke Bryan's red stag

    COLUMBIA, Tenn. — An exotic red stag owned by country music singer Luke Bryan was shot and killed on his private property outside of Nashville last week, Tennessee wildlife officials confirmed.Investigators think the deer was shot from the road, state Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman Barry Cross told The Tennessean on Monday.The wildlife official said Bryan’s farm manager reported the shooting, which investigators think took place between last Wednesday and last Friday. The Maury County Sheriff's Office is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible, according to a bulletin posted to Facebook on Saturday.Red stags are not native to the U.S. — they're a species of deer similar to elk, and are typically found in mountainous regions of Europe and Asia.Representatives for Bryan couldn't immediately be reached for comment by The Tennessean.Bryan and his wife Caroline help operate Brett's Barn on one of their properties, a petting zoo founded by the couple in memory of their niece, who died as an infant. Children can come there and interact with horses, pigs and more exotic animals such as kangaroos and an alpaca. Its unclear if the stag was involved with the zoo.The Associated Press

  • News
    CBC

    Compton says 'there is still work to be done,' after meeting with status of women counterparts

    P.E.I.'s minister responsible for the status of women says meetings with her counterparts from other provinces last week in Victoria, B.C., were productive.Darlene Compton said it was a good opportunity to discuss how to move forward on issues impacting Canadian women. There was also an agreement made to develop a plan to advance gender equality across the nation, she said.Compton said society has not come far enough when it comes to dealing with gender violence."We hear it every day, issues regarding violence and we are not there yet and we need to continue the good work that is being done," she said.However, Compton said she feels there has been some progress made over the last 30 years."But day-to-day issues, there is still work to be done," she said.Work on P.E.I.Compton said some work to advance gender equality has already begun here on P.E.I.Last month it was announced Women's Network of P.E.I., the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government, East Prince Women's Information Centre and Justice Options for Women will each receive $20,000 in annual operating funding for three years.The funding comes from the Interministerial Women's Secretariat, which provides funding for community organizations that support awareness and prevention of violence toward women."The really good thing, I think, is because the Island is small we realize how we can really get things done," she said. "We have a good relationship with all of the women's groups on P.E.I. and we're able to address the issues they face."More P.E.I. news

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  • Manitoba and Saskatchewan more likely to see race relations as worsening: survey
    News
    CBC

    Manitoba and Saskatchewan more likely to see race relations as worsening: survey

    People living in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are more likely to see race relations as worsening, a new national survey suggests, which is in contrast to a brighter picture painted across the rest of the country.But advocates say the rosy results overall imply Canadians believe the state of discrimination and racism might be better off than it actually is."Some of the stuff that's going on in Winnipeg, and in Manitoba more broadly, is a really good example of what's sometimes called the 'racism without racists' or 'colour-blind racism'," said Dr. Marcia Anderson, a Cree-Anishinaabe physician and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba.That means individuals avoid explicitly identifying the group they are talking about, she said, which tends to draw a brighter picture than the reality.Compared to other provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have the highest Indigenous populations per capita, as well as what the survey identified as a widening gap when it comes to perceived racial relations.At the heart of it all sits Winnipeg, dubbed ground zero for a continuing conversation in Canada on Indigenous discrimination, and where Mayor Brian Bowman has created an advisory circle to improve the state of racism in the city.Anderson, a former member of the Indigenous advisory circle, said while good things are happening in Winnipeg in spite of current circumstances, they're not always being amplified across society."I do think that there are different conversations and deliberate attempts to try to disrupt and change discourses," she said. "But I think any of us would be hard-pressed to point to meaningful structural changes that are actually creating more equality of opportunity."Instead, she said, some communities are taking the struggle for solutions into their own hands, pointing to grassroots initiatives in Winnipeg, like the Bear Clan Patrol, Meet Me at the Bell Tower and the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre.1st study of its kindThe survey suggests that while Canada's history of tensions tied to racial and ethnic differences are generally perceived as still happening today, Canadians, as a whole, are overall optimistic.Seventy-one per cent of survey respondents indicated race relations were "generally good" when it comes to how well people from different races get along, with just 17 per cent indicating the situation is "generally bad."  Those figures differed in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where about 60 per cent of respondents said relations were "generally good" and another 31 per cent said they were "generally bad."And nearly two-thirds of Canadians (64 per cent) said things were "generally good" when it came to equal opportunity for success for racial groups, though that figure was again lower in the two Prairie provinces, at 55 per cent.The public opinion poll — entitled Race Relations in Canada in 2019 — was conducted by Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.The survey aims to fill a gap in research about the current situation, and how relations between racial groups have evolved over time. The researchers behind the survey claim it's the first of its kind.Public opinion appears to be divided on whether the state of race relations has improved or worsened over the past decade. About one-third (32 per cent) of Canadians say relations have improved in the last 10 years, with one-quarter (24 per cent) saying they have worsened. The plurality (39 per cent) say things have stayed about the same.Compared to the rest of Canada, residents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan were more likely to perceive the situation as getting worse, with 31 per cent responding as such.The results also say people who identify as Indigenous or black were most likely to report experiencing racial discrimination. And Indigenous people were noticeably less likely to see race relations as "good" or having improved.Better in Canada?The survey also examines beliefs about race relations in Canada compared to those in the United States, with 67 per cent of respondents saying things are "generally better" here.Canadians will often "look down their noses at Americans" when it comes to racism, said Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman, a Winnipeg psychologist who specializes in diversity and inclusion.But counter to the survey's narrative, he is among the advocates who assert Canada has its own problems when it comes to race. "But we're not talking about them," said Abdulrehman. "And I'd say we're one step behind."The online survey of 3,111 adult Canadians was conducted between April 17 to May 6 and weighted to reflect the makeup of Canada's population based on the most recent census data.Researchers collected oversamples from the country's four largest racial groups — Chinese, black, South Asian and Indigenous, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis people — to ensure sufficient representation of each group for analysis.Out of those four groups, Indigenous populations are most likely to be perceived as experiencing frequent discrimination in society today, the survey said, particularly by people living in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.That's largely what drove the creation of Ikwe Safe Rides, a group that offers rides to women and families around Winnipeg as an alternative to taxis. It began as a ride-sharing service on Facebook in 2016 when a group of Indigenous women raised issues around experiences of being frightened to take a cab."I had hoped that just by existing and offering an alternative that the taxi industry might respond by becoming more safe feeling to Indigenous women and their families, or all women and their families," said group co-director Christine Brouzes.According to the survey's executive summary, respondents across various populations and racial groups indicated prejudice and actions of individuals — as opposed to the country's laws and institutions — are the more likely source of tensions.Yet most Canadians recognize people of colour are systemically treated less fairly due to ongoing discrimination and unfair treatment, it said.Watch Tyrel Genaille's story of experiencing racism: