One of Japan's top academics says China is trying to create its own new world order — and leading Western democracies, Canada included, have started to look at their relationship with the rising superpower through that lens.For the last several years, Junya Nishino's research has been focused on his country's relationship with South and North Korea. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's outbursts gave him plenty to work on.But it has been hard for the demure, precise professor of political science to ignore an increasingly assertive Beijing, its provocative actions and the amount of time and political energy being expended by Japan's leaders on the China relationship.While acknowledging China is an "indispensable" economic power for his country and Western nations, Nishino said the policy of engagement based solely on trade and business interests has failed.A 'very different' regime"We have to keep in mind that China is a very different regime," he told CBC News in a recent interview. "China is not a democratic country. China is an authoritarian system. So we always need to pay close attention."Since the 1990s, Western countries — with Canada in the vanguard — have pursued a policy of helping Beijing build up an affluent middle class through liberalized trade and investment, in the long-term hope that it would lead to a more democratic country.Over the last several years, however, it has become apparent, in a variety of ways, that the Chinese leadership has no interest in moving in that direction.China's President Xi Jinping, with the full support of his party, rewrote the country's constitution in March 2018 and scrapped term limits, essentially allowing him to stay in office for life.The surprise move came as Beijing pressed claims over the South China Sea, built up its military and launched a global infrastructure plan known as the Belt and Road Initiative.The country also drastically enhanced domestic security and enforced ideological purity standards in schools and the media.Warning signsAt the same conference that extended his grip on power, Xi told Chinese lawmakers and political advisers that his country's brand of authoritarian capitalism is a "new type of political party system" that would benefit the rest of the world."From the Japanese perspective, clearly, China is trying to create its own new order, not only in East Asia, but the world," said Nishino.A year ago, writing in the Qiushi Journal, the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) main theoretical magazine, Xi insisted that his country "must never copy the models or practices of other countries."Western-style separation of powers — the bedrock of democratic institutions — held no appeal for China, Xi wrote, arguing that the party must remain supreme."We must never follow the path of Western 'constitutionalism,' 'separation of powers' or 'judicial independence,''' Xi wrote.Those sentiments made Nishino and other China-watchers sit up and take notice.The West grows wary"We and China have very different values and we need to keep this in mind," said Nishino, who has been speaking to Canadian officials and audiences over the past week.After an initial flurry of interest among Europeans in the Belt and Road Initiative, he said, there now seems to be a wariness among Western countries — and they'd do well to avoid the plan.During President Barack Obama's second term, the U.S. recognized that China had changed and began to take a harder line. Such an approach is more difficult for Japan to take because of geography.Relations between Tokyo and Beijing run hot and cold, thanks in large part to tension over eight uninhabited islands — little more than hunks of rock — in the East China Sea.Both countries lay claim to the islands, which are known as the Diaoyu islands in China and as the Senkaku islands in Japan.But China remains Japan's most important trading and economic partner and the business communities in both countries have tried to keep a positive and constructive relationship going.The challenge of keeping that constructive relationship alive is more intense in Japan than it is in Canada, but the problems facing both countries are not dissimilar. China is deeply embedded in the supply chains of Western democracies.And there lies the problem shared by Canada and Japan, Nishino said. Japan has been trying to strike a balance between a tough security policy and a healthy trading relationship. The Trump administration can afford to be bellicose and fight a trade war with China. Canada and Japan cannot.Japan has been working hard to find a way to "co-exist" with China without being pushed around, Nishino said.What's left unanswered — especially in light of Beijing's hostage diplomacy over Canada's detention and possible extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou — is how difficult co-existence will be going forward.
Late each night, a dozen women chat and share a meal before hitting the narrow streets of a Manila suburb where a death squad once roamed. Not long after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a war on drugs in 2016 and promised thousands would die, Pateros was being terrorized by attackers in hoods and ski masks, known locally as the "bonnet gang".
BEIJING — A recent speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping that has been published by state media indicates for the first time that he was leading the response to a new virus outbreak from early on in the crisis.The publication of the Feb. 3 speech was an apparent attempt to demonstrate that the Communist Party leadership had acted decisively from the beginning, but also opens up the Chinese leader to criticism over why the public was not alerted sooner.In the speech, Xi said he gave instructions on fighting the virus on Jan. 7 and ordered the shutdown that began on Jan. 23 of cities at the epicenter of the outbreak. His remarks were published by state media late Saturday.“On Jan. 22, in light of the epidemic’s rapid spread and the challenges of prevention and control, I made a clear request that Hubei province implement comprehensive and stringent controls over the outflow of people," Xi told a meeting of the party's standing committee, its top body.The number of new cases in mainland China fell for a third straight day, China's National Health Commission reported Sunday. The 2,009 new cases in the previous 24-hour period brought the total to 68,500.Commission spokesman Mi Feng said the percentage of severe cases had dropped to 7.2% of the total from a peak of 15.9% on Jan. 27. The proportion is higher in Wuhan, the Hubei city where the outbreak started, but has fallen to 21.6%.“The national efforts against the epidemic have shown results," Mi said at the commission's daily media briefing.Taiwan on Sunday reported its first death from the virus, the fifth fatality outside of mainland China. The island also confirmed two new cases, raising its total to 20.Taiwan's Central News Agency reported that the person who died was a man in his 60s living in central Taiwan. He had not travelled overseas recently and had no known contact with virus patients, CNA said, citing Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung.China reported 142 more deaths, almost all in Hubei, raising mainland China's death toll to 1,665. Another 9,419 people have recovered from COVID-19, a disease caused by a new coronavirus, and have been discharged from hospitals.Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an experts meeting to discuss measures to contain the virus in his country, where more than a dozen cases have emerged in the past few days without any obvious link to China.“The situation surrounding this virus is changing by the minute,” Abe said.Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said the country is “entering into a phase that is different from before,” requiring new steps to stop the spread of the virus.Hundreds of Americans on a quarantined cruise ship in Japan took charter flights home, as Japan announced another 70 infections had been confirmed on the Diamond Princess. Canada, Hong Kong and Italy said they were planning similar flights.Japan now has 413 confirmed cases, including 355 from the cruise ship, and one death from the virus.Xi's role was muted in the early days of the epidemic, which has grown into one of the biggest political challenges of his seven-year tenure.The disclosure of his speech indicates top leaders knew about the outbreak’s potential severity at least two weeks before such dangers were made known to the public. It was not until late January that officials said the virus can spread between humans and public alarm began to rise.Zhang Lifan, a commentator in Beijing, said it's not clear why the speech was published now. One message could be that local authorities should take responsibility for failing to take effective measures after Xi gave instructions in early January. Alternatively, it may mean that Xi, as the top leader, is willing to take responsibility because he was aware of the situation, Zhang said.Trust in the government's approach to outbreaks remains fractured after the SARS epidemic of 2002 and 2003, which was covered up for months.Authorities in Hubei and Wuhan faced public fury over their initial handling of the epidemic. In apparent response, the Communist Party's top officials in Hubei and Wuhan were dismissed and replaced last week.Hubei announced Sunday that all vehicle traffic will be banned across the province, expanding on an existing ban in Wuhan, in another step to try to stop the spread of the virus. Exceptions will be made for vehicles involved in epidemic prevention and transporting daily necessities.The fall in new cases follows a spike of more than 15,000 announced on Thursday, when Hubei began to include those that had been diagnosed by a doctor but not yet confirmed by laboratory tests.The roughly 380 Americans aboard the cruise ship docked at Yokohama, near Tokyo, were given the option of taking U.S.-government chartered aircraft back to the U.S., where they would face another 14-day quarantine. Around 300 of them left on buses Sunday night for flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Travis Air Force Base in California and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo said Washington was evacuating the Americans because the passengers and crew members on board the Diamond Princess were at a high risk of exposure to the virus. People with symptoms were banned from the flights.About 255 Canadians and 330 Hong Kong residents are on board the ship or undergoing treatment in Japanese hospitals. There are also 35 Italians, of which 25 are crew members, including the captain.Malaysia said it would not allow any more passengers from another cruise ship to transit the country after an 83-year-old American woman from the MS Westerdam tested positive for the virus.She was among 145 passengers who flew from Cambodia to Malaysia on Friday. Her husband also had symptoms but tested negative. The Westerdam was turned away from four ports around Asia before Cambodia allowed it to dock in Sihanoukville late last week.Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said that her country would bar cruise ships that came from or transit any Chinese ports from docking.Cambodia said earlier that all 1,455 passengers on the Holland America-operated ship had tested negative for the virus.___Associated Press writer Ken Moritsugu and researcher Henry Hou in Beijing and writers Yuri Kageyama and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Frances D'Emilio in Rome and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.Yanan Wang, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is warning that the federal public health agency's guidelines to protect front-line health-care workers from outbreaks of diseases like the novel coronavirus don't go far enough, and might be putting them and patients at risk.The standards, which the Public Health Agency of Canada updated last week, lay out the precautions health-care workers should take when assessing and treating a patient with a possible case of the coronavirus, including what protective equipment should be used.The public health agency has committed to updating the guidelines as they learn more about the disease the World Health Organization has named COVID-19, which has sickened more than 64,000 people worldwide.Linda Silas, president of the labour organization, says the safety protocols are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and some other countries.Silas said the standards assume the coronavirus can't spread through the air — rather than through droplets — but she contends the science isn't settled on that front and the government should be taking greater care until they can be 100 per cent sure."When we do not know, we have to go for the best precautions for workers," said Silas.Nurses, doctors and other medical staff who come into contact with patients must be protected, not only for their own health but to stop the potential spread of the virus, she said."We need to make it clear that if health care workers are not safe, then patients are not safe," said Silas, who has written to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu about her concerns.The Ontario government released its own guidelines calling for constant use of disposable respirators when interacting with a potential coronavirus patient, while the federal guidelines require only a surgical mask unless certain medical procedures are being done.The federal protocols are in line with the World Health Organization, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and its European counterpart have also recommended higher standards and a greater degree of precaution."In Canada the protection is much lower, and we will not accept that," Silas said.She recommends all health care workers, regardless of where they are, follow the CDC or Ontario standards rather than the federal ones.Other provinces are still developing their own protocols to respond to a potential coronavirus outbreak in Canada while others, like Manitoba, have opted to rely on the federal recommendations, leaving some health-care providers more protected than others, Silas said.Theresa Tam, chief public health officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said on Saturday there are eight people in Canada who have tested positive for the virus, following news on Friday that a new case was discovered in British Columbia.There have been three cases in Ontario and five in B.C., pending confirmation of the latest case by a laboratory.The Public Health Agency of Canada was created in the wake of the SARS outbreak in 2003.Mario Possamai, the former senior adviser on occupational health and safety matters for the SARS Commission, a judicial inquiry into how Ontario handled the deadly outbreak, said the federal public health agency is failing to learn from the experience of the province.Nearly half of the 247 cases in Ontario affected nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, cleaners or other front-line workers."The SARS outbreak was 17 years ago, and I can't believe they haven't learned," he said.The final report of the SARS inquiry described a tale of two cities — Vancouver and Toronto — with afflicted patients arriving at hospital within hours of one another.The Vancouver patient was put into isolation within two-and-a-half hours of being admitted and treated by health-care professionals with respiratory protection.In contrast, a similar patient in Toronto wasn't isolated for 21 hours, and doctors wouldn't start wearing respirators for weeks.The report concluded that the procedures in place helped to save British Columbia from a major outbreak, while Ontario was thrown into a full public health crisis.Millions of dollars have been dispatched by governments around the world so global researchers can answer some of the lingering questions about the coronavirus, but until the science is settled lives could be saved by preparing for the worst-case scenario, Possamai said."That's why I'm so passionate about this, and so concerned," he said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2020.Laura Osman, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had an outdated number of COVID-19 cases in Canada.
INCHEON (Reuters) - "Parasite" director Bong Joon-ho was greeted with cheers and applause as he returned to South Korea on Sunday after his historic four-Oscar win. About 300 reporters and fans were waiting to greet Bong as he arrived at the Incheon International Airport. "Parasite" became the first foreign-language film to win best picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards on Feb 9.
AMMAN/BEIRUT/ANKARA (Reuters) - Syrian government forces made significant advances on Sunday in the country's northwestern Aleppo province, seizing most of the rebel-held region, state media said, a day before a new round of talks between Turkey and Russia on the escalation in the area. The Syrian government's recent advances in the northwestern region have upset a fragile cooperation between Ankara and Moscow, which back opposing factions in the conflict but have collaborated toward a political solution to the nearly nine-year war. Turkey, which backs rebels looking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been outraged since Syrian attacks in the Idlib region killed 13 Turkish troops in two weeks.
As rallies spring up across Canada to support Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs fighting the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C., an increasing number of people are wondering: Why doesn't the company use an alternate route to avoid opposition?Former NDP MP Nathan Cullen raised the idea several times when he was still an elected representative for the region. More recently, Green Party MP Paul Manley returned from a January visit to the region with the idea — one he said came from the hereditary chiefs themselves."The Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs provided alternative routes to Coastal GasLink that would have been acceptable to them as a pipeline corridor," he said in a statement last month."Coastal GasLink decided that it did not want to take those acceptable options and instead insisted on a route that drives the pipeline through ecologically pristine and culturally important areas."The $6-billion, 670-kilometre Coastal GasLink pipeline would move natural gas from near Dawson Creek, in northeastern B.C., to a coastal LNG Canada export terminal in Kitimat. It is a key component of a $40-billion project announced by the federal and provincial governments last fall.Manley's statement has since gone viral, but little about the alternate path proposed by the hereditary chiefs has been reported. Here is what CBC has learned about that route, and the reasons given for its rejection.Coastal GasLink's selection processIn an interview with reporters on Jan. 27, Coastal GasLink president David Pfeiffer was asked why the company wouldn't move the pipeline's path in order to avoid conflict."We spent many years assessing multiple routes through the Wet'suwet'en Territory, about six years," Pfeiffer said. "The current route was selected as the most technically viable and one that minimized impact to the environment."He said the company explored multiple alternative routes after getting feedback from local First Nations and Indigenous leaders, including the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, a non-profit governed by Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and used to manage lands and resources throughout their territory.On its website, Coastal GasLink provides a timeline of its route selection process, including a decision to use the "South of Houston" alternate route, which redirects one portion of the pipeline approximately 3.5 kilometres south of the original path.The company says the detour was selected after receiving feedback from Indigenous groups in the area.The Wet'suwet'en alternativeDuring the planning stages of the pipeline, the Office of the Wet'suwet'en presented Coastal GasLink with an alternate route through its territory referred to as "The McDonnell Lake route."According to Mike Ridsdale, the Office of the Wet'suwet'en's environmental assessment co-ordinator, that route would have followed a path through Wet'suwet'en territory eyed for use by Pacific Northern Gas for an expansion and looping project.Manley has confirmed this is the route he was referencing in his statement. Ridsdale said the route follows "already heavily disturbed areas along the Highway 16 corridor, and away from highly known cultural areas, as well as away from the Skeena headwaters of salmon spawning areas that the Wet'suwet'en rely on."Why it was rejectedIn a letter provided to CBC by the Office of Wet'swuwet'en, Coastal GasLink says it explored the possibility of using the McDonnell Lake route through aerial and computer reviews, and by meeting with representatives of Pacific Northern Gas.The letter — dated Aug. 21, 2014 — also outlines reasons Coastal GasLink rejected the route, including: * It would increase the pipeline's length by as much as 89 kilometers, upping both the environmental impact and as much as $800 million in capital costs. * The pipeline's diameter, at 48 inches, is too large to safely be installed along the route. (Pacific Northern's pipeline is between 10 and 12 inches, and the proposed upgrade would be 24 inches.) * The McDonnell Lake route would be closer to the urban B.C. communities of Smithers, Houston, Terrace and Kitimat. * Re-routing the pipeline would impact an additional four First Nations who had not already been consulted by Coastal GasLink, which would add up to one year of delays to the construction process."From our perspective, the route was not feasible on the basis of those significant environmental and technical issues and therefore route examination ceased," said Coastal GasLink spokesperson Terry Cunha in a followup email to CBC.Those same reasons were laid out in the B.C. Supreme Court injunction issued Dec. 31, 2019, which allowed Coastal GasLink to proceed with construction of the pipeline.In a 2014 submission to Coastal GasLink and B.C.'s Environmental Assessment Office, the Office of the Wet'suwet'en cites Coastal GasLink's rejection of the McDonnell Lake route as a sign the company is unwilling to work with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.Other proposed routesRidsdale said the Office of the Wet'suwet'en also proposed a second route, known as the Kemano, because then the pipeline would have travelled through an area already damaged by flooding from the Rio Tinto Alcan project. He also said the route ultimately selected by Coastal GasLink travels a portion of terrain known as the "Icy Pass route," and provided documentation from another pipeline company rejecting the Icy Pass route because of the high risk of erosion, slides and the need to construct numerous new access roads.There is no mention of the Kemano or Icy Pass routes in either the 2014 submission from the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, nor in the B.C. Supreme Court injunction.In that same 2014 letter, which Coastal GasLink has now published on its website, the company suggested using a "Morice River North" alternate route for approximately 55 km of the pipeline, which it said would take construction three to five kilometers away from the Unist'ot'en healing centre established by the hereditary chiefs in 2015.In a statement posted on its website, Coastal GasLink said it never received a response to this offer, nor to any other aspects of the letter.The Office of the Wet'suwet'en also did not respond to CBC's query asking for a response to Coastal GasLink's reasoning for rejecting the McDonnell Lake route."The route that has been selected reflects the best engineering, environmental, cultural and economically feasible criteria possible" Coastal GasLink said in an emailed statement to CBC. "There is no route available to CGL that would avoid traditional Wet'suwet'en territory.… To change the route to avoid Wet'suwet'en territory at this date would require major environmental assessment work, which would not be feasible under the timelines to which we have committed."
Temperatures will be slightly above seasonal Sunday, ahead of a messy system that threatens the early part of next week
LONDON — The family that owns a house in southwest England where an artwork from Banksy appeared in time for Valentine's Day has covered the mural after it was defaced.Temporary fencing was also added Saturday to the home in Bristol and closed-circuit television has been installed to protect the artwork, which shows a young girl firing red flowers from a catapult.The elusive artist confirmed the mural as his creation on his official Instagram account on Feb. 14. It was later defaced with an expletive.Kelly Woodruff, the daughter of Edwin Simons, who owns the rented home on which the artwork appeared, said the family felt a “strong responsibility” to ensure that the artwork could be enjoyed by the general public.“Due to the mindless vandalism to the artwork, the family have taken the very difficult decision to cover the artwork to try to protect it,” she said. “All measures are temporary and we ask that the public are patient while we work out the best way to clean the damage, restore and protect it for the future, so everyone can enjoy Banksy's work.”___This story corrects the spelling of Banksy in the headline.The Associated Press
Miss something this week? Don't panic. CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.Couple arrested over scam calls from India Federal authorities have arrested a Toronto-area husband and wife accused of being Canadian accomplices to an enormous global scam involving overseas call centres, including the so-called CRA tax scam. RCMP Insp. Jim Ogden says Marketplace's 2018 and 2019 investigations played a big role in the arrests. "It certainly helped that CBC did their exposé … that highlighted this a little more for all Canadians," he said.Inquiry into flight-delay compensationOttawa requires airlines to pay up to $1,000 in compensation for flight delays or cancellations that are within their control and not safety related. But when an airline denies a passenger compensation, it must explain why, and complaints have been mounting from passengers that airlines aren't adequately explaining their reasons. The Canadian Transport Authority says it will "take appropriate action" if it finds airlines aren't playing by the rules.More police using facial recognition technologyPrivacy advocates are calling on all levels of government to create specific regulations around police use of facial recognition technology. Canada doesn't have a policy on the collection of biometrics, which are physical and behavioural characteristics that can be used to identify people digitally. Because of that, there are no minimum standards for privacy, mitigation of risk or public transparency, according to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's website. In that vacuum, some police departments have begun to use the technology.StubHub fined $1.3M Ticket reseller StubHub will pay a $1.3 million penalty for making it seem as though some concert and game tickets were available at prices that no customer could ever obtain once fees are tacked on. The Competition Bureau says StubHub was advertising misleading ticket prices across various websites and mobile apps because fees and other charges weren't included.What else is going on? Toyota's paint-peeling problem to be covered under 'unprecedented' extended warranty for certain models Extended warranty includes certain years of Camrys, Corollas, RAV4s, some as old as 2008.Malls experimenting with fancy food halls to lure back shoppers Shopping centres experimenting with new strategy in era when a growing number of people shop online.New Canadian standard developed to make BBQ grill brushes safer after ingested bristles cause injuries A new national safety standard for barbecue grill brushes will require a warning label and testing to reduce the risk of wire bristles becoming detached, embedded in food and accidentally ingested.Here's how produce stickers contribute to climate change The stickers are too small to be screened out in the waste sorting process, but don't break down during composting.The latest in recallsThese sexual enhancement pills have been recalled due to an undisclosed prescription drug and the potential for serious health risks.This can of aerosol has been recalled due to a flammability hazard.This peanut spread has been recalled due to a Listeria concern.This week on MarketplaceTo catch a scammer with David CommonJoin Marketplace for exclusive access to a police investigation connected to the scam calls that plague us all. For two years, we've zeroed in on scammers in Indian call centres targeting Canadians: posing as CRA agents, tech support workers or impersonating police and other government officials. Many of you have come forward sharing your stories and complaining about why authorities can't do more to stop the scammers. And we've always wondered: are there accomplices in Canada? We have exclusive access to the surveillance and arrest of alleged "super money mules" in Canada. Our cameras are there as it all unfolds early one morning. We have a full update on how the scammers are adapting, the likely impact of enforcement actions, and how police will tackle it going forward. Even the Mounties tell Marketplace our previous investigations helped push top brass to launch federal enforcement efforts. And they say, it's paying off now with arrests and the expectation of more to come. It's a fast-paced, exciting episode that we're really proud to show you all. Watch our full investigation and past episodes of Marketplace anytime on CBC Gem.
Toronto police are appealing to the public for help in identifying a man accused of robbing an 87-year-old woman in a North York apartment building on Friday.In a news release on Sunday, police said the elderly woman entered the lobby of the building in the Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue West area at around 2 p.m. and was approached by an unknown man."She was thrown from her walker onto the ground," police said in the release.The man then robbed the woman of personal items and memorabilia from her late husband before he fled the area through the front door, police said.Police describe the suspect as being tall with a heavy build. At the time, he was wearing oval-shaped glasses, a black Northface winter jacket with the hood up, a grey Jordan baseball cap with a gold round sticker, a two-tone dark and light coloured scarf covering his face, white gloves, dark pants, and black and white running shoes.On Sunday, police released images of the man captured by CCTV.Anyone with information is urged to call police at 416-808-3100, or Crime Stoppers anonymously toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
WASHINGTON — Courts are not properly screening out unreliable psychological and IQ tests, allowing junk science to be used as evidence, researchers have concluded. Such tests can sway judges or juries and influence whether someone gets custody of a child or is eligible for bail or capital punishment.The scientists looked at hundreds of different psychological tests used in recent court cases and found that a third of those exams weren't reviewed in the field's most prominent manuals. Of those that were reviewed, just 40% were graded favourably. Nearly a quarter were deemed unreliable.“There’s huge variability in the psychological tools now being admitted in U.S. courts,” said Tess Neal, an Arizona State University psychology professor and co-author of the study published Saturday in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.“There’s a lot of stuff that looks like it’s junk and should be filtered out by the courts, but it’s not being filtered out," said Neal.Legal challenges to the validity of psychological tests occurred in less than 3% of cases, the researchers found.“This paper is highly significant, in part because many people’s fates are determined by these tests,” said Dan Simon, an expert on law and psychology at the University of Southern California Law School, who was not involved in the research.The new study is not the first critique of how science is used in the courts.In 2009, the National Research Council released an extensive report on courtroom science that found that "testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people."The critique prompted calls for reform, and only partial progress has been made, said Simon.“Courts are supposed to sift out the junk science from the good science, as laid out in the federal rules of evidence" — a set of national guidelines that require that “testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods.”“But that’s not happening,” said Simon.The new study examined 876 court cases in the U.S. between 2016 and 2018, and found the most commonly used psychological test was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which has generally positive reviews in the professional literature.The second most common was the Rorschach test — sometimes colloquially called the inkblot test. While the test, first developed in 1921, has its defenders, some scientists regard it as dangerously ambiguous and subjective.Robert MacCoun, a professor of law and psychology at Stanford University who was not involved in the study, said that he's received unsolicited catalogues advertising new psychological tests from vendors for many years. Those brochures used to include data about test effectiveness, but “by the end of the 1990s those numbers had disappeared.”Lawyers and judges, who are not experts in testing methods, must rely on the expertise of psychologists to perform due diligence on tests they present as evidence, said Harvey Fishbein, a criminal defence attorney in Manhattan who was not involved in the study.“If psychologists are not willing to regulate their own field, it’s a real problem.”___Follow Christina Larson on Twitter: @larsonchristina___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Christina Larson, The Associated Press
On a quiet Saturday afternoon over a long weekend, four women met up to learn how to make scrunchies at a workshop in north-end Halifax.But instead of paying for the class with money, they exchanged goods instead. In this case, the instructor requested earthy-coloured thread, unscented lotion or any healthy food item."It's always great to learn a new skill, but I really enjoy the social aspect of it, just getting out and meeting people with similar interests," said Jenn Prager, who brought honey and thread as her means of payment.The workshop was facilitated through an organization called Life.School.House, a co-operative non-profit.It was started by Jenn and Scott DeCoste in their Dartmouth, N.S., living room in 2018. In the first year, they held 60 classes."It's a network of barter-based folk schools that are running across Nova Scotia, offering space for people from the community to come and offer programs on any number of topics to other members of their community with no monetary exchange," Jenn DeCoste said.She said the space is made available at no charge and the people who instruct are local."They'll come in and teach anything from weaving to sewing to carpentry to car maintenance to leather work, anything that people have learned to do," she said.DeCoste said she and her husband wanted to create a community space in their home.The first year was a big hit, DeCoste said, with classes filling up minutes after being advertised. They found more people to host classes across the province who were willing to use the model.The bartering aspect of the classes made them accessible to more people, she said."The act of giving is so well-received by our facilitators, they feel so rewarded by that it's really different than exchanging a $10 bill ... It's been really quite lovely," she said.The scrunchie-making workshop on Saturday was hosted at Jodene Dunleavy's house and led by a sewing instructor.In the past, Dunleavy, has opened her home so classes can be held on topics including time management and bullet journal organizing, cooking, photography and macramé."Anybody can come to these classes." Dunleavy said. "It doesn't matter what resources you have because you can just pick up anything that the person wants for a barter item. You don't need money."Today, it didn't cost a penny for anybody to come. The barter allows more people to come. It takes away any kind of dynamic between teacher and student because everybody's exchanging something for their time and knowledge."DeCoste said swaps are hosted on a monthly basis, where people can exchange things they've made."People come and they bring whatever they have and they take whatever they need," she said."You can knit three or four scarves and go home with sourdough bread and go home with homemade soap and go home with all kinds of lovely things you'd see at a farmer's market."DeCoste said the program has reached newcomers to Canada. On Sunday, she said a woman from India has been offering cooking classes to share her family's recipes."Because it's offered on a barter basis, it allows people to really connect in with her on a different level and really get deeper knowing of Indian culture and that sense community that's built around those gatherings," she said.Life.School.House events and workshops are listed on their Eventbrite page.MORE TOP STORIES
KAMPALA, Uganda — A Ugandan student who played a memorable role in a 2016 Disney film about a local chess prodigy has died at the age of 15.Nikita Pearl Waligwa died on Saturday at a hospital near the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The cause was a brain tumour, according to the girls' secondary school she had attended since 2018.She was "a darling to many,” Gayaza High School said on Twitter.Local media reported that Waligwa had been in and out of hospital with a recurring brain tumour and had previously received treatment, including surgery, in India.Tributes were coming in for her on social media as Ugandans expressed sadness and recalled her role in the 2016 movie directed by Mira Nair and filmed in Kampala.“Queen of Katwe” follows the rise of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi as a chess player amid grinding poverty in the Kampala slum of Katwe, with her single mother barely able to support her and her two siblings. Mutesi falls under the spell of an unassuming chess teacher who encourages the teenager to learn the game despite the skepticism of her mother, who warns her not to dream big because “you will be disappointed.”The film was received favourably in Uganda, where young people with no acting experience shared the limelight with stars like Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o. One of those Ugandans was Waligwa, who played Gloria, a chess player younger than Phiona who memorably said in the movie that in the game of chess “the small one can become the big one.”Rodney Muhumuza, The Associated Press
Many businesses and services will be closed on Monday for Heritage Day in Nova Scotia. Here's a list of what's open and what's not across the Halifax region.GroceriesSobeys, Atlantic Superstore, Costco and Walmart are closed. Gateway Meat Market in Dartmouth will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.Beer, wine and liquorNSLC: Closed, but agency stores will be open.Garrison Brewing: The downtown Halifax location will be open from noon to 7 p.m., while the Quinpool Road location will be open from noon to 10 p.m.Propeller Brewing: The Halifax location will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., while the Dartmouth location will be open from noon to 8 p.m.Nine Locks Brewing: Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.Moosehead Cold Beer Store: Open from 10 a.m. to midnight.Private liquor stores Bishop's Cellar (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.), WestSide Beer, Wine and Spirits (noon to 8 p.m.), RockHead (noon to 8 p.m.) and Harvest Wines and Spirits (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) are all open.MallsThe Halifax Shopping Centre, Mic Mac Mall, Sunnyside Mall, Bedford Place Mall, Scotia Square and Park Lane Mall are all closed, although the movie theatre at Park Lane will be open.Halifax Public LibrariesAll library branches are closed.TransitHalifax Transit's buses and ferries will be operating on holiday service.Waste collectionThere will be no waste collection on Monday.RecreationSeveral city recreation facilities will be closed, so residents should call ahead to find out whether they're open. The Halifax skating oval will be open and will have free public skates throughout the day.Federal servicesThe designation of the third Monday in February as a statutory holiday is by provincial legislation and doesn't cover federal government employees, nor federally regulated industries such as telephone companies, railways and airlines.That means many federal services will still be offered on Monday.Service Canada offices will be open. Canada Post outlets will be open regular hours and there will be mail delivery.This year's Heritage Day honours the community of Africville. The black community stood along the Bedford Basin for more than a century before it was demolished by the city of Halifax in the 1960s.Decades later, in 2010, the municipality apologized to the African Nova Scotian families that lost their homes and their community. This Heritage Day, people will gather at the site for a day of dedication and celebration.MORE TOP STORIES
Former Blue Jays star shortstop Tony Fernandez, who won a World Series with Toronto in 1993 and four consecutive Gold Glove in the 1980s, has died at age 57 from a stroke and complications from a kidney disease.At the beginning of February, Imrad Hallim, the director and co-founder of the Tony Fernandez Foundation, said Fernandez recently developed pneumonia and was placed in an induced coma in an effort to stabilize him.Fernandez, a five-time all-star who won a World Series with Toronto in 1993, battled kidney problems for several years. He was first hospitalized with polycystic kidney disease in 2017. The Mayo Clinic's website describes the disease is an inherited disorder where cyst clusters cause the kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time.A native of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Fernandez spent 12 seasons with the Blue Jays over four stints during his 17-year MLB career and made his major league debut with the team as a 21-year-old in 1983.He tops Toronto all-time in hits (1,583), singles (1,160), triples (72) and games played (1,450). Fernandez is also fifth in franchise history in batting average (.297), fourth in stolen bases (172) and fifth in runs scored (704).Spectacular in the field, he won four straight Gold Glove Awards with the Blue Jays from 1986-89 and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., in 2008.
Tahltan author Cole Pauls has been creating graphic novels for 15 years, but he never dreamed he would see his work alongside that of some of his favourite artists and writers. "It's really humbling," said Pauls, who lives in Vancouver but is originally from Haines Junction, Yukon.Pauls, whose work aims in part to revitalize the Southern Tutchone language he grew up with, is one of many authors featured at the Vancouver Public Library's new Indigenous collection at the Central Branch.The collection includes fiction and non-fiction books, films and music from Indigenous authors, and about Indigenous issues. Most of the books previously existed at the library, but they're now featured in a prominent section near the front entrance of the downtown branch.The library says it began to introduce Indigenous collections at its smaller branches in 2018 as a contribution toward reconciliation. "It's a collection, but in truth what it really is is a space," said Inness Campbell, manager of collections and technical services at the Vancouver Public Library."It's a place for that reconciliation to start to happen, or certainly the learning that you might need to have that reconciliation." The launch of the collection comes at a time when Canadian readers have shown a voracious appetite for Indigenous authors and issues.Campbell says circulation of the collection tripled between 2018 and 2019. Libraries and publishers across Canada say they have seen a similar rise in readership on the subject. Top booksAt the Toronto Public Library, collections manager Michele Melady says she has noticed a spike in interest for books like The Marrow Thieves by Métis author Cherie Dimaline and Seven Fallen Feathers by Anishinaabe writer Tanya Talaga. Anna Comfort O'Keeffe, publisher at Douglas & McIntyre, says eight of her company's top 10 books are written by Indigenous authors like Richard Wagamese. "That's what people want to read right now," she said. O'Keeffe says there has been such a proliferation of Indigenous writing that BookNet Canada, which serves the book industry, is revising international standards to include new classifications like Indigenous poetry. 'Building up on each other'The demand for Indigenous authors is no surprise to graphic novelist Pauls. He says news and current events have covered a lot of Indigenous issues lately, and he thinks people are hungry for authentic voices. "With a story coming from a true voice, that makes it way more interesting and way more sincere," he said. When Pauls started drawing comics 15 years ago, he created work he thought he would have enjoyed as a kid. He says it's reassuring to see that his work resonates with so many people. It's also reasssuring for Pauls to see his books placed alongside other Indigenous authors who have chosen to share their culture."We're kind of like building up on each other," Pauls said.
This year, Snowking's Winter Festival celebrates its "silver jubilee" — the 25th castle built of snow and ice — with a stacked roster of events.The snow castle, built atop the frozen over Yellowknife Bay, officially opens on Feb. 29 with the Yellowknives Dene Drummers, and hosts events throughout the month of March. This year's castle theme is outer space. Festival organizers will no doubt be keeping their gloved fingers crossed this year, hoping the weather stays cool enough to keep the snow castle sturdy and dry.Last year's festival ended a week early after unseasonably warm temperatures caused pools of water to form around the castle's base. There had been talk at the time of starting the 2020 festival a week early, but organizers ultimately decided against it."The ice needs to be thick enough before construction can begin, so it's not realistic to start the build early," said Laura "LaurFrost" Busch, festival spokesperson, who has also worked for CBC North on a casual basis."And it's quite an undertaking to build — our hard-working crew works seven days a week from Jan. 1 to opening day."While ending last year's festival early was "extremely unfortunate," said Busch. "One extreme weather event is not enough to make us give up on winter." One extreme weather event is not enough to make us give up on winter. \- Laura Busch, Festival spokespersonBuilders this year changed the orientation of the castle among other measures to protect against the glaring sun. The castle will be monitored daily, said Busch. As an additional precaution, the lineup was set up so that only local bands play in the festival's final week.Acts from N.W.T. and beyondDozens of acts are slated to perform at this year's festival, from Northwest Territories and beyond.One group coming up from the South is Toronto punk band PUP."PUP is for sure our quote 'big band' of this festival," said co-ordinator Janna "Snowstorm Sally" Graham. The band is playing sold out shows across Europe, she said, and they're on the bill for this spring's Coachella Valley music and arts festival. Fun fact: the band's frontman lived with his family in Pine Point, the old townsite for Pine Point Mine in the South Slave region, when he was a kid, and wrote a song about it."That's probably one of their lower-energy songs," said Graham. "It's going to be a very high-energy show."Another band from out of town is Regina-based Brian Sklar and the Tex Pistols. "This band is a special request from the Snowking [Tony Foliot] because his partner, Ms. Brown, loves this band and I think everyone will," said Graham.Playing the Royal Ball, the festival's marquee event, is a western swing band out of Yukon — The Swinging Pines, a family band from Whitehorse.There will also be a strong showing of hometown talent, including performances from Leela Gilday, Wesley Hardisty, Baby Brian's Country Club, Miraj and Puppy and the Northwest Territories Creative Collective's showcase of young DJs.Ahead of the castle's official opening, Snowking's subjects are welcome to join a castle construction tour or check out the sixth annual snow carving competition, which begins Feb. 19.
When Candace Lafleur had a stroke at the age of 32, she couldn't recognize people, she couldn't hold a phone and she couldn't leave the hospital because there was no one to monitor her full-time at home.It was an unusual position for a woman in her thirties, but those challenges are hardly uncommon for elderly people experiencing dementia or Alzheimer's — the people Lafleur met as she recovered in hospital from her stroke.The event inspired the St. Albert native to develop a robot called Mylo. He's a hip-height companion who can take video-calls, monitor heart rates and generally check in on people who need to be monitored in their homes."When you have a stroke at 32, you tend to recover a lot easier. But the people I was on the ward with, they were going to have these challenges probably for the rest of their lives," Lafleur said earlier this week on CBC's Radio Active. Mylo is not able to replace human interaction, what he can do is make things easier. \- Candace Lafleur, founder of CR RoboticsLafleur wanted to create a robot that is as user-friendly as possible. Mylo will locate a user in their home if there's an incoming call, and will respond to simple voice commands if they want to call family or friends. The robot can be used to video chat with family members several time zones away; he can sense a fall and locate a user in their home; and he can trigger an emergency call to family members if a user's heart rate seems unusual."Mylo is not able to replace human interaction, what he can do is make things easier," said Lafleur. "He can start to relieve some strain and some of the stresses of caring for someone."Perhaps surprisingly, Mylo's main screen shows the face of a cat. While testing the technology, Lafleur and her team discovered that people didn't react well to a face that looked like a human or a machine. Instead, they hit the sweet spot with a feline face.Lafleur suffered her stroke six years ago and is now based in Ireland where she completed her MBA at Trinity College Dublin. Her background is in business, not robotics, so she assembled a team to develop Mylo over the past two years.Need to narrow the scopeThe prototype for Mylo got good feedback; so much, in fact, that Lafleur and her team had to consciously narrow the scope of its functions to focus on people living with Alzheimer's, dementia and stroke-related impairments. There were people asking for Mylo to be programmed to help people with autism or learning disabilities."If we hadn't narrowed our scope in some capacity, we would have kept developing here, there and everywhere and never been able to get anything out and live," Lafleur said.Mylo launched late last year, mainly in Europe where several hundred cat-faced companion robots are now zipping around homes in Ireland and Scotland. Lafleur's company rents out the robots for about $13 a day.The first Mylo in Canada is being used by Lafleur's grandmother, who lives in St. Albert. "I just feel a bit more connected to her even though I'm so far away. I can check in with Mylo, I can see how she's doing and I can speak with her much more easily."
Osawa Kiniw Kayseas grew up in a traditional Nahkawe-Anishnaabe way, by going to ceremonies and learning how to pray. Since she was young, she has started her day the same way: smudging her home and herself to protect her energy.Now, the Indigenous woman from Fishing Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan has a new person to include: her Muslim husband, Mohamed Hassan."He understands the teaching about cleaning your energy and cleaning the air. He understands that aspect of it," Kayseas said. Their backgrounds are worlds apart — literally, as Hassan is from Ismailia, Egypt — but the way in which they approach their lives, informed by their vastly different cultural and religious backgrounds, has turned out to be refreshingly complementary for the two of them. And their cross-cultural love story has been an education for the two of them as well."I am connected to this land and I know who I am as an Indigenous person. My husband also knows who he is as a Muslim man," said Kayseas, pointing out the two of them have traditional Indigenous and Muslim names, respectively."So we as people understand our value system and we came together based on that, not on whether we were religious or not."Aligning on valuesGrowing up on Fishing Lake First Nation, Kayseas tried dating Indigenous men — not that that she was under pressure to do so. The only warning her mother gave her was not to date within her community because they might be related. "She always thought you should date somebody who is good for you, somebody who's kind, somebody who has good values, so that's what she encouraged me to do," said Kaysea.But Kayseas had trouble finding a partner whose values and direction in life aligned with hers. She wasn't interested in started a family at a young age and also wanted to live a "sober life."It was that latter goal that prompted her to start dating Muslim men in her mid-twenties.After marrying, then divorcing, a Muslim man from Morocco, she gave herself some time to heal. After a few months of focusing on herself, she returned to a method that she grew up with: praying.Finding love across the worldShe joined an online Muslim dating site and went "husband hunting" (she's only a little joking) with her mother alongside her. They both watched the messages pour in. Although her mother encouraged her to delete her profile because she was getting too many messages, the first day on the site she met Hassan. There was a language barrier, so they used apps like Google Translate to communicate. Seven months later, they were married and Hassan made the decision to move to Canada to start a life with Kayseas in the small town of Wadena, Sask. Culture shock — and educationKayeseas said that her husband experienced culture shock moving from Egypt."He had struggled with the fact that he was no longer working. He had to wait for his permanent resident card before he could start working and still he was in shock based on language, and the weather, the environment, being away from his family."She said it took him almost a year to adjust to Canadian culture, including learning about Indigenous people here. Hassan had only seen and heard of Indigenous people in Western movies and Kayeseas was quick to teach him about the historical context that affects Indigenous people today. He also sees that I experience racism on a daily basis and that's my Canada, that's my experience with Canada for me. \- Osawa Kiniw Kayseas"They took them to residential school and it affects their life, even until now ... some of them are struggling," Hassan said. "Her mom worked hard to give them a good life and she [taught] them how to ... be good people in the community. This is what I've seen from my life because I have been here two years and I can see the difference between her family and different families. "Hassan said that he noticed the deep cultural roots his wife's family has and their respect for the land. "They follow nature and the stars, the sky — with nothing else. So I believe that what they learn about medicine, and about the nature, it's true."Kayeseas added the two also found common ground in being from oppressed cultures."So I could see the parallel of behaviours and I could understand that," she said. "And it was easier for both of us to understand each other on that front."'My husband gets treated better on my homelands'Despite that common ground, Kayseas feels as if her and Hassan's coupling shows the inequality between the two, highlighting issues of prejudice and discrimination against Indigenous people in Saskatchewan."I do experience racism and my husband actually sees that he gets treated better than me in my own homeland because of the colour of his skin or because of the way he looks," said Kayseas."He also sees that I experience racism on a daily basis and that's my Canada, that's my experience with Canada for me."She said that when they go shopping or out to restaurants, she feels service people will only address her husband.Her husband isn't immune. Kayseas said Indigenous people have discriminated against him as well."It's been subtle, but he has experienced that," she said.Hassan chalks it up to people misjudging something they don't understand."I saw some people don't understand the relation between us, because they don't know. They don't know me, they don't know her and that's it." For him, though, their successful partnership is easy to understand: "we have common morals or principles, like there is respect and being honest with each other."
Chinese Canadian organizations have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars across the country to help medical staff treating patients with the novel coronavirus in China, but they're scrambling to find medical supplies they can send.Their supporters began raising funds as soon as news broke that Chinese hospitals in the affected region of Hubei province were running out of basic protective supplies — including masks, gloves, protective body suits and goggles. Our experience and our reality has been like hunting for water in a desert on a time limit. \- Al Lo, Oasis Global PartnersBut all those items are in limited supply."It's very frustrating," said Andi Shi with the Chinese Professionals Association of Canada (CPAC), one of the largest groups to raise donations for supplies. He said the organization could easily raise $500,000, but has stopped accepting large donations.To date it's only managed to find $60,000 worth of supplies. Turning away donations"There are people who want to give us money, but we can't accept it because we can't guarantee that we can find enough supplies," he said, adding that a Boston organization, frustrated in their own search, offered CPAC the $100,000 it had raised to date, but CPAC had to turn them down.CPAC did manage to get a shipment of protective body suits to two hospitals in Wuhan, China, last week.This morning, it sent out another shipment of gloves, goggles, medical masks and more suits. They are expected to arrive in a few days to a hospital in Wuhan, but that could be the last for a while, he said. 'They will not sell to us'Shi said suppliers have warned the group they could not fill any more orders."We are told that they will not sell to us," said Shi. "They want to keep the inventory for Canadian hospitals."A spokesperson for one supplier, Medical Pharmacies Group, said each operation makes independent decisions about filling large orders."Everyone is managing inventories for their own needs in case of urgent requirements," wrote Petra Storm in an email, "There is no overstock."Shi wonders whether a formal inventory should be taken to make sure Canadian suppliers are doing all they can to help China control what is now feared to be a global epidemic.'We gave up on Canada'Al Lo, the Canadian CEO and founder of the equity firm Oasis Global Partners, said he stopped looking for supplies in Canada at the beginning of the month. "We gave up on Canada given the difficulty we had even sourcing quantities in the U.S., with a market 10 times larger," said Lo. "Our experience and our reality has been like hunting for water in a desert on a time limit."Lo has turned the business of Oasis to sourcing medical supplies full-time because of the crisis.He said the supply problem comes with high stakes: "I would definitely say it's costing lives." Like Shi, Lo said his company has focused on helping medical staff in China, where hospitals in the affected area are reporting having to improvise without effective medical grade supplies. Should Canada stockpile?On Friday, Lo was in Portland packing up Oasis's fourth shipment, to be escorted by an employee using Air Canada, en route eventually to Shenzhen, China, on Sunday. Lo said the experience has been eye-opening about the vulnerability of the medical supply chain, and wonders aloud whether Canada and the U.S. are prepared if such an outbreak happened on this continent."Everyone today, even in the medical field, they expect things to work like Amazon. They go to their computers, they place an order online and the supplies arrive within days," said Lo, "But this current coronavirus of 2019-2020 is showing that the market will break down."He also suggests that since so much production for medical supplies takes place in China, it could leave Canada vulnerable if it had its own emergency. Perhaps this country should consider formally assessing how much it should stockpile, he says.
Over 20 women of colour gathered in Charlottetown to share their experiences and come up with solutions to address issues affecting them. The event, Creating A New Dynamic: Connecting Women of Colour Luncheon, was put on by the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. and coincided with Black History Month.Tamara Steele, the society's president, said identity, advocacy and resiliency were among the topics discussed."There [was] really a lot of beautiful sharing — a room full of strength and resiliency and colour," she said."It was really an empowering space to be in all day."Steele said the group found they all had similar lived experiences — including feelings of isolation."There's this feeling of isolation among women of colour where we feel this happens to me and nobody understands," she said."So this is really just bringing us together to recognize that we are sharing these experiences and we don't have to go through these things alone." 'It may not be solutions in policy, but it's solutions in our homes, in our personal lives, which is just as important."' \- Kendi TarichiaKendi Tarichia attended the event and said this was the first time she had been in a space entirely of women of colour since moving to Prince Edward Island. "You know, when you're not in these spaces, I don't think you always see how important they are, and then when you're in it, there's a tension that's released," Tarichia said."You're able to be your authentic self and you feel it once you come in. It's like taking off a weighted blanket."Tarichia said the event gave her the opportunity to talk openly about her experience as a young, black woman living in rural P.E.I."When you're able to gather like this, you can share those experiences and start to find solutions."It may not be solutions in policy, but it's solutions in our homes, in our personal lives, which is just as important."'This space is needed'Ama Lawson said it was valuable to be in a room of women who could provide mentorship. "Having this is like a really amazing opportunity for me to express myself and … talk to women that would have gone through what I'm going through."Lawson said she's also felt the loneliness echoed by many in the room and pointed to an incident where a little girl told her her hair "looked crazy.""I just had my braids on and I think unconsciously that kind of sat with me."She said she's felt the need to wear her hair differently since then. Steele said some of the solutions the group came up with include establishing a black hair salon, advocacy and collaborating with the Canadian Mental Health Association.She said one of the most important things about the day was that it occurred solely by and for women of colour. "I think that it's important for people to know that this space is needed,' she said.More from CBC P.E.I.
Yohanan and Shifra Lowen sat in a Montreal courtroom this past week, listening and taking notes, straining to understand the testimony given in French — a language they were never taught in school.They heard how the Quebec Education Ministry had been aware, for decades, that religious schools were operating without permits in Tash, the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community in Boisbriand, north of Montreal, where they grew up.They heard how bureaucrats and youth protection workers had visited on numerous occasions and launched an investigation in 2014.Their lawyers questioned why more hadn't been done sooner to make sure children in those schools were being taught subjects like history, math and science.Then it was their turn. Yohanan and Shifra described their own experience growing up in Tash: the strict adherence to Jewish law; the long days, particularly for Yohanan and other boys, studying religious texts in Aramaic and ancient Hebrew — and the difficulties they faced adapting to the outside world once they left.On Wednesday, Shifra spoke of what leaving meant for her own four children. It was "a dream come true" to enrol her children at a school with a gym, she said — a school that offered a full range of subjects. The three youngest are still in a Montreal public school.The eldest, she told the court with pride, is studying mathematics at the University of Toronto on a scholarship.Quebec Superior Court Justice Martin Castonguay asked Shifra how she is able to help her children with their science homework."They teach me," she replied, then broke into tears.Castonguay called a short recess.'A different planet'On Thursday, it was her husband's turn in the witness box.Yohanan, who was born in England and moved to Tash at age 10, walked the courtroom audience through a typical school day. He'd rise before 6 a.m. and study from then until past 9 p.m., pouring over Jewish scriptures — day in and day out, except on the Sabbath.Boys in Tash received only two years of limited, secular education, he testified.Yohanan didn't even get that."Your soul is much more pure if you don't have any outside knowledge," his mother had told him, so he stopped his secular learning after just one year.Later, while still living in Tash, Yohanan secretly took English courses at the Montreal YMHA.When Yohanan was 18 and Shifra 17, their marriage was arranged. In 2010, after a simmering dispute with the community over his refusal to use corporal punishment on his own children, they left.When they got an apartment in Montreal, they did not know then how to speak French (Shifra later took courses), and they had only a rudimentary knowledge of English, according to court filings.Yohanan told the court learning to adapt was a struggle."I'm still working on it," said Yohanan, now 42, who is unemployed."It's hard because you always feel like you don't belong here — not just a different country, but a different planet."Yohanan said his reason for launching this civil suit against the province and the community is to ensure other children in religious schools get a proper secular education and don't have to go through what he did."I believe there is a saying, that if you have a lemon you have to make lemonade from it," he said."I feel that I'm suffering so much, that I don't want it to go to waste."Rather than money, the couple is seeking a declaratory judgment from the court. They want the judge to find Quebec "violated its obligations of monitoring and protection to these children and deprived them of their right to a public education in French."If successful, it could mean the province will need to take additional steps to ensure children in Tash and those attending other religious schools receive a secular education.What's changed?A question hanging over the trial is whether the necessary measures are already in place.Tash was founded in 1962 by Hasidic Jews who left Montreal to escape the influences of the city, to give their children a religious education. About 3,000 people now live there.For decades, Tash's schools operated without permits because the Education Ministry didn't have the tools to address the issue. But that's changed over the past three years, the court has heard.The attorney general's sole witness in the case, Barbara Gagnon, is the Education Ministry director overseeing private schools.In her testimony, Gagnon pointed to a 2017 law passed by the previous Liberal government that gives the government greater powers to track children in religious schools and gives school boards the authority to oversee their secular education.The current Coalition Avenir Québec government further strengthened the law last year, requiring that students learn a subject in the same year as their peers in public school and take part in mandated provincial exams.Gagnon said the Education Ministry has already taken action in two separate cases, one involving the Rabbinical College of Canada in Montreal and the other, a fringe religious sect known as Mission de l'Esprit-Saint, or Mission of the Holy Spirit.The Lowens' lawyers pointed out during cross-examination that the religious schools in Tash still do not teach secular subject matter.Gagnon said the roughly 830 students in Tash are now home-schooled, with the oversight of the Sir Wilfred Laurier School Board. Another ministry official — a witness called by the plaintiffs — said the home-schooling program has been successful.A 2019 report prepared by the school board, however, noted parents in Tash often have difficulty teaching their children the curriculum, given they aren't familiar with the material themselves.The report also said parents were averse to teaching the "sexual reproduction component" in the science curriculum."It is considered a highly offensive topic to include in an educational document," the report said, while stating it would not be removed because it "was important to present the entirety of the program."Je veux savoir documentaryYohanan Lowen has become a well-known figure in Quebec. His experience was the subject of a Radio-Canada documentary, Je veux savoir, by journalist Émilie Dubreuil, whose reporting was submitted as evidence by the plaintiffs.Yohanan even appeared on the popular French-language talk show Tout le Monde en Parle a few years ago, where he criticized the government and his home community.His arguments have been seized upon by commentators opposed to all religious accommodation.The CAQ government, which has already made clear its commitment to secularism with its controversial religious symbols law, may not be opposed to a push for stronger rules.The Lowens' comments have angered many Hasidic Jews, who say the couple's struggles aren't representative of their own experiences. Many Hasidic schools in Montreal already meet the provincial curriculum requirements.For those that don't, Abraham Ekstein, a spokesperson for Quebec's Jewish Association for Homeschooling, said outside the courtroom this past week the arrangement with the school boards has been positive."At this point, all the children in the community and overall in Quebec, they are registered," he told reporters."They are followed very closely by the government, so everyone is getting an education which is necessary to succeed in life."David Bannon, the lawyer for the schools in Tash, is expected to call one or two witnesses from the community when the trial resumes Monday.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller joined The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson following his meetings with the Mohawk Nation on Saturday, and discussed the need to take the time to have important conversations now – as Canadians press for a resolution to the rail blockades.