• 'It's none of their business': The Wet'suwet'en people who want the protesters to stop
    News
    CBC

    'It's none of their business': The Wet'suwet'en people who want the protesters to stop

    Another day of blockades across the country means more protesters with signs bearing slogans such as "Wet'suwet'en Strong" and "Stand with Wet'suwet'en."They're showing support for the heredity chiefs who oppose construction of a new pipeline through their territory in northern B.C.The protesters though are drawing the ire of many in the Wet'suwet'en Nation who not only support the project, but see it as a way for the community to flourish.The Coastal GasLink pipeline would move natural gas from northeastern B.C. to the West Coast for export, while creating jobs and other financial benefits.It's why 20 elected First Nations signed their support of the project. Calgary-based TC Energy is developing the $6-billion pipeline.Overall, the Wet'suwet'en Nation is divided over whether to support a new natural gas pipeline through its territory.A group of hereditary chiefs touched off the national protest by opposing the project, saying it violated their recognized rights over the territory. But on Wednesday, about 200 people gave up three hours of their afternoon to pack a movie theatre in the community of Houston, a town of about 3,000 people in northwestern B.C., in the heart of the Wet'suwet'en Nation.WATCH | Members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation speak at a pro-pipeline event:This was a pro-pipeline event as members of the Wet'suwet'en Nation explained why they support construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.The people who came out to the meeting say they want to see the natural gas pipeline built. They say the project will create well-paid jobs that will bring economic opportunities to their communities.Among the supporters was Robert Skin, who said he was elected to the council of the Skin Tyee First Nation, which is part of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, to move the community forward. He said the pipeline will mean a better life for the next generation."With the benefit agreement that [the Skin Tyee] did sign, I see us being in a better place even within the next five years," Skin said.Speaking to the crowd at the theatre, he said protesters "only get one side of the story" and don't understand the advantages this type of infrastructure project can provide.Similar sentiments were shared by others who want to see more people working and providing for their families, especially as the lumber industry struggles in the region.The Wet'suwet'en people at the event said they resent the protests because they aren't helping their community, which they say already has fractured governance. They say the protests have amplified the conflict in the community and distracted Wet'suwet'en people from resolving their differences.Others said they want the First Nation to be part of Canada, not separated from it.The nearby Witset First Nation, which is also part of the Wet'suwet'en Nation, is split almost evenly between those who want the pipeline to be built and those who resist it, according to Edward Tom, a community liaison and monitor of construction projects.Financial boostTom sees the project as improving the community's quality of life. When discussing the protesters, he grew agitated, describing them as liars who are causing more harm than good."They're very pugnacious and overbearing. They're professional protesters," Tom said.Many who attended the meeting said the protesters across the country don't understand the issue, and don't realize many of the Wet'sewet'en want the project to be built.Those who have spoken up about their reasons for backing the pipeline say they have faced intimidation and threats by other community members.That's why the event was the first time Marion Tiljoe Shepherd has shared her feelings. She owns her own trucking company in Houston. She's optimistic the project will be built and the economic benefits will provide a financial boost to her business and many others in the area.Shepherd said she's increasingly angered by the protesters across the country. She said they don't speak for, nor represent her community."It's none of their business," she said in an interview following the event. "All of these protesters don't have the right to close down railways and ships. It's not right. Go away. I want them to leave."The pipeline dispute is also splitting families, with some supporting the project and others opposing it.Chiefs to thank Mohawks"It's divided my family. It's just so sad," Shepherd said. Her father's cousin is a hereditary chief. At the Houston meeting Wednesday, he spoke in favour of the pipeline.On Thursday, four Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are scheduled to travel east to meet and thank the Mohawks of Tyendinaga behind a rail blockade in Ontario. The trip has raised doubts about when proposed talks with federal and provincial leaders could occur to settle the rail crisis.Currently, those chiefs are refusing to negotiate until RCMP leave the area. "The chiefs don't feel that we can possibly have any meaningful dialogue with any levels of government while there is still a huge RCMP force on our territories," Molly Wickham, a spokesperson for one of the Wet'suwet'en Nation clans.On Wednesday, Carolyn Bennett said in an open letter that she and her B.C. counterpart, Scott Fraser, will be available in northern B.C. as early as Thursday to meet with any of the hereditary chiefs who might be willing to talk.Some provincial premiers are demanding the blockades come to an end either by peaceful resolution or police action.

  • Flare-up in fighting in northwest Syria pulls in Russian, Turkish forces
    News
    Reuters

    Flare-up in fighting in northwest Syria pulls in Russian, Turkish forces

    AZAZ, Syria/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish forces and Syrian rebels fought government troops in northwest Syria on Thursday and Russian warplanes struck back in a sharp escalation of an intense battle over the last rebel bastions, Russian and Turkish officials said. The Turkish Defense Ministry said two of its soldiers were killed and five were wounded in Syrian government air strikes in Idlib, bringing Turkish military fatalities to 15 this month in the Idlib region.

  • 'Feels like prison': Palestinian family cut off from West Bank village by Israeli barrier
    News
    Reuters

    'Feels like prison': Palestinian family cut off from West Bank village by Israeli barrier

    AL-WALAJA, West Bank (Reuters) - Omar Hajajla may have a private gateway to his home in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but it is hardly a sign of luxury: it runs beneath an Israeli barrier that cuts him and his family off from the rest of their nearby Palestinian village. Israel began building its West Bank barrier in 2002 at the height of a Palestinian uprising, saying it aimed to stop attacks by bombers and gunmen in its cities.

  • Trump taps loyalist Grenell as nation's top intel official
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Trump taps loyalist Grenell as nation's top intel official

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced that Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, will become acting director of national intelligence, a move that puts a staunch Trump ally in charge of the nation's 17 spy agencies, which the president has only tepidly embraced.“Rick has represented our Country exceedingly well and I look forward to working with him,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.A White House statement Thursday said Grenell "is committed to a nonpolitical, nonpartisan approach'' to the job.Grenell follows Joseph Maguire, who has been acting national intelligence director since August. It was unclear if Maguire would return to the National Counterterrorism Center. “I would like to thank Joe Maguire for the wonderful job he has done,” Trump tweeted, “and we look forward to working with him closely, perhaps in another capacity within the Administration!”Grenell, a loyal and outspoken Trump supporter, becomes the first openly gay member of Trump's Cabinet. He has been the U.S. ambassador to Germany since 2018. He previously served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, including under then-Ambassador John Bolton.News of the announcement was quickly criticized by those who said the job should be held by someone with deep experience in intelligence. Trump named Grenell acting national intelligence director, meaning he would not have to be confirmed by the Senate.Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Trump had “selected an individual without any intelligence experience to serve as the leader of the nation’s intelligence community in an acting capacity.”Warner accused the president of trying to sidestep the Senate's constitutional authority to advise and consent on critical national security positions.“The intelligence community deserves stability and an experienced individual to lead them in a time of massive national and global security challenges," Warner said in a statement. “Now more than ever our country needs a Senate-confirmed intelligence director who will provide the best intelligence and analysis, regardless of whether or not it’s expedient for the president who has appointed him.”The Intellience Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 was signed by President George W. Bush after 9-11 to improve the sharing of information among all the intelligence agencies. The law states that the president shall appoint a national intelligence director with the advice and consent of the Senate. It also states: “Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.”Susan Hennessey, a fellow in national security law at Brookings Institution and a former attorney at the National Security Agency, tweeted: “This should frighten you. Not just brazen politicization of intelligence, but also someone who is utterly incompetent in an important security role. The guardrails are gone.”Trump named Maguire to the position after Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe removed himself from consideration after just five days amid criticism about his lack of intelligence experience and qualifications for the job.Maguire became acting director the same day that former National Intelligence Director Dan Coats' resignation took effect. It was also the same day that deputy national intelligence director Sue Gordon walked out the door. Democrats denounced the shake-up at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and accused Trump of pushing out two dedicated intelligence professionals.Zeke Miller And Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

  • RCMP's latest puppy recruits await names from kids across Canada
    News
    CBC

    RCMP's latest puppy recruits await names from kids across Canada

    The RCMP needs a hand naming the next generation of police dogs.In support of the RCMP's Name the Puppy contest, the Lower Mainland's Integrated Police Dog Service hosted an event Wednesday at RCMP headquarters in Surrey with two puppy recruits, four-month-old Mozart and two-and-half-month-old Midge, and police service dog Jago, to show what it takes to join the elite dog units.The contest is open to Canadian children between the ages of 4 to 14. Longtime dog handler Cpl. Mike Jordan said in a written statement the RCMP wants children who live in B.C. to take part and submit their favourite name. "B.C. kids have been winners in the past and those selected often get the opportunity to meet a dog team in their community," Jordan said in the statement. The names will be given to 13 German shepherd puppies born at the Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alta. The rules of the contest are: * Puppy names must begin with the letter N and have no more than two syllables and nine letters. * Contestants must live in Canada and be 4 to 14 years old. * Only one entry per child must be sent. * Entries must be sent no later than March 25, 2020.Entries can be submitted online or through mail. The RCMP said the 13 children whose names are selected will each receive a laminated photo of the pup they named, a plush toy and an RCMP water bottle.Contest winners and the winning names will be announced April 29, 2020, on the RCMP website and on social media.

  • B.C. to fight homelessness with 'navigation centres,' a first in Canada modelled after San Francisco
    News
    CBC

    B.C. to fight homelessness with 'navigation centres,' a first in Canada modelled after San Francisco

    B.C. will become the first jurisdiction in the country to build navigation centres as a way to combat homelessness. The 'enhanced shelter model' is a first-of-its-kind for Canada and modelled on similar programs in jurisdictions like San Francisco, according to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs Selina Robinson."We tailored [the idea] to B.C.," Robinson told CBC on Wednesday. "We've been looking for innovative ways to support people who are still in need of housing and this is an interim step."Each centre will house 60 beds in a shelter-like setting and will include wrap-around services to provide additional resources and support help people get off the streets."It's a way to bring all the resources to one location where we can continue to support people," Robinson said. "Whether it's making sure they have ID, getting them registered, getting health checks. It's helping to identify services that are available to them."New funding was unveiled in Tuesday's budget within the $50 million earmarked for homelessness initiatives over the next three years.The provincial government isn't yet revealing where the navigation centres will be located or the timeline of construction.'The need is far outpacing the response'The idea is applauded by a homeless advocate in Vancouver."Navigation centres, when done right, can be very positive," said Jeremy Hunka, spokesperson for the Union Gospel Mission. "It's not a silver bullet ... but it's a positive step."The extra supports proposed in the new program could meet some of the needs UGM staff see every day on the Downtown Eastside."You have people coming in with nowhere else to go and they're really struggling — and while they're there accessing needs like shelter, they can get quickly plugged in to services that can change their circumstances."He said the 2,000 modular housing units that have been built province-wide are helpful, but notes there are still roughly 7,000 homeless people across British Columbia."The need is far outpacing our collective response right now... We're still way behind the game in terms of the number of [homeless] people," Hunka said.He was pleased to see the NDP government continue with its 10-year pledge to build 114,000 units of affordable housing, but he says momentum needs to continue. "We've got a good chance right now over the next few years to really turn the tide and reverse the homelessness that's been rising for years," said Hunka. "Let's put the the pedal to the metal — that's really what our message would be."

  • News
    CBC

    B.C. mom upset at being asked to get out of the pool to breastfeed

    Williams Lake resident Brianna Stennes has been taking her 13-month-old son to the local pool for almost a year now.However, recently, she has become frustrated after being asked on two separate occasions by a lifeguard to not breastfeed her son in the pool at the Cariboo Memorial Recreational Complex.The lifeguard told her that they support breastfeeding anywhere at the pool, but that she couldn't do it in the water, and instead needed to move over to one of the benches on the deck, said Stennes."I think that you know as moms we should have the right to breastfeed our kids anywhere we want, any time we want," she told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce."My little guy loves going to the pool and I love being able to take him to the pool, but it's highly inconvenient for us to have to get out of the pool to go sit on the bench freezing on the side just to give him a little snack and then keep having fun."In B.C., nursing mothers have the legal right to breastfeed their children in a public area. It is discriminatory under the province's Human Rights Code to ask mothers to cover up or breastfeed somewhere else.Stennes said she spoke to the pool manager over the phone after the first time she was asked to get out of the pool to breastfeed, to share some of her concerns about being asked to move, and the isolation many mothers feel around breastfeeding."The manager had let me know that their concern is simply a baby spitting up in the pool," said Stennes."So I chatted with her about [how] breastfeeding your baby sitting in the pool isn't going to increase their chance of splitting up in the pool any more than going and sitting on the bench breastfeeding your baby and then getting back into the pool. There's still a risk that your baby's going to spit up in the pool."Stennes argued that if the concern is around babies spitting up in the pool, then staff at the pool should ask moms just to be mindful of that.After her conversation with the manager, Stennes said the manager agreed with her. However, since then, she been asked a second time by a lifeguard not to breastfeed while in the pool."I would like them to adopt the anytime, anywhere policy where moms can breastfeed their children when and where they'd like," said Stennes.Breastfeeding allowed in pool, says city"In this particular case, where our lifeguards saw the mom in the water breastfeeding, their concern was the risk of recreational water illness passed on to the users," said Ian James, director of community services for the City of Williams Lake.James confirmed that the manager at the city-run aquatic centre verified that the policy is clear, that parents can breastfeed in the water."But it's to be made known to the the parent, and it is stated here in the policy, that if there was any vomit of any kind, or bodily fluids that could potentially cause a risk, that we would have to close down the pool," said James.The pool has an incident response procedure, a procedure which requires people to vacate the pool if water is contaminated by either vomit, blood or fecal matter, he said.Breast milk does not not qualify as any of these three things, but James said there are two situations that can occur in relation to recreational water illness: the baby could get recreation water illness from swallowing water that was contaminated by someone else in the pool or the baby could vomit up some water they may have swallowed with the breast milk."So the lifeguard would have to make a decision based on what transpired."

  • News
    CBC

    Kelowna Rockets fire head coach Adam Foote, father of the WHL team's captain

    The Kelowna Rockets have fired head coach Adam Foote, three months ahead of hosting the Canadian Hockey League's 2020 Memorial Cup tournament in the B.C. city.Foote, a former NHL defenceman, has coached the Rockets since October 2018 and had a record of 24 wins and 30 losses so far this season. "He was classy," said Rockets' owner and general manager Bruce Hamilton when asked how Foote took the news Wednesday of his firing from Kelowna's Western Hockey League team."I've had the opportunity to do this a few times to different people when we have let them go and this was the most classy guy that I have ever dealt with."Foote's son Nolan is team captainFoote is also the father of the Rockets' team captain Nolan Foote.Hamilton said he had not yet spoken to Nolan about the coaching change. "I have quite a bit of sympathy for Nolan Foote today," Hamilton said. "I know he is going to come back and be a great player and a great captain for us."Memorial Cup host teamThe firing comes with just 14 games left in the regular season for the WHL club in a year the team is hosting the Memorial Cup tournament — a competition between the top teams in the Canadian Hockey League.As host team, the Rockets are guaranteed a spot in the four-team tournament, however Kelowna is at risk of performing poorly according to WHL scout and freelance hockey writer Larry Fisher."This is a pretty unprecedented for a host team struggle this badly," Fisher said in an interview with CBC News."A lot of people expect them to be swept in four games [in the WHL playoffs] and then sitting on the sidelines until they have to play the three best teams in the Canadian Hockey League."The Rockets named assistant coach Kris Mallette as Foote's replacement in an interim position.The 2020 Memorial Cup Tournament begins on May 22 in Kelowna.

  • Still unclear who will investigate councillor's expenses after 4-hour closed-door meeting
    News
    CBC

    Still unclear who will investigate councillor's expenses after 4-hour closed-door meeting

    A special meeting of Calgary city council was held Wednesday to address concerns with Coun. Joe Magliocca's expenses but after a four-hour closed-door session, there was still no clear answer on who will investigate the complaint.Coun. Joe Magliocca expensed $6,400 — about double that of his colleagues — during a trip to the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Quebec City last spring, the Calgary Herald first reported.His expense claims include meals and alcohol he said were purchased for people he claimed to have met with, but many of those people deny those meetings ever took place. A situation like this would usually be investigated by the city's integrity commissioner but Sal LoVecchio recused himself because he said he dined with the councillor and the meal was expensed by Magliocca without his knowledge.Council voted 11-2 Wednesday in favour of discussing the matter behind closed doors, with only Councillors Druh Farrell and Jeromy Farkas voting against the motion. The closed session began shortly before 1:30 p.m., with councillors forbidden from bringing their cellphones into the meeting — an unusual stipulation. Coun. Magliocca absentCoun. Magliocca was not present for the meeting. Nenshi said in a scrum following the meeting that the councillor wasn't prevented from attending the meeting but did not show up or dial in, and he doesn't know where he is.Magliocca hasn't spoken publicly about the situation since he apologized to council for what he said were "mistakes" two weeks ago.When council returned to the chambers around 5:45 p.m., it was made clear council had met with the city's integrity commissioner."We want the public to know that we take this matter extremely seriously. We've been wrestling with it for two or three weeks now," said Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart. But few other details were provided. Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the matter has shown a gap in policy — where there's no person designated to investigate a complaint if the integrity commissioner has recused himself. Council voted 12-1 to keep the meeting confidential, citing personal privacy, confidential evaluations, advice from officials and privileged information, with only Farkas voting against. Council also voted to ask the mayor to act as a spokesperson on the matter of Magliocca's expenses, with Sutherland, Chu and Farkas voting against."Part of the discussion that we had really was around the need for a lot of clarity on this issue," Nenshi said.And council voted unanimously for Coun. Jyoti Gondek's notice of motion to be brought forward for discussion on Monday. That motion calls for the city auditor to conduct a forensic investigation into Magliocca's expense discrepancies and for a better governance model for council oversight."I feel like the investigation's kind of been done … the question is where do we go from here," Nenshi said.

  • Bestselling young adult authors are aiming at older readers
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Bestselling young adult authors are aiming at older readers

    NEW YORK — After gaining millions of young readers for her “Divergent” fantasy series, Veronica Roth decided she and her characters were ready for the next phase — a novel for adults.“I grew up on stories like ‘Dune’ and ‘Harry Potter,’ and ‘Ender’s Game' about people who shoulder burdens when they’re too young to bear them,” says Roth, who tells the story of Sloane Andrews and her fellow fighters against the havoc of the Dark One in “Chosen Ones,” scheduled for April. “So the question of what comes after those stories just kept nagging me. ‘Chosen Ones’ is about that ‘after’ — about a group of 30-somethings who saved the world when they were younger, and they’re still dealing with the repercussions of it.”Roth, Tochi Onyebuchi and Sarah J. Maas are among several writers popular with young people who have books out this year intended for older readers. Some have never written for adults, while others move freely among teens and older readers. All are navigating one of the more complicated paths in publishing — how to consciously appeal to different audiences for different books, from the use or absence of profanity to the choice of subject matter and how to present it. The history is mixed: Judy Blume and Neil Gaiman are among those who have succeeded well, while others, including Daniel Handler and Stephanie Meyer, never fully caught on with adults.Roth's first “Divergent” book came out in 2011, and she reasons that enough of her original readers have reached an age that they'll be open to a mature approach. She considers her new work a “pretty natural” moment in her career, when you "get curious about other genres, other types of writing,”Onyebuchi had published “Beasts Made of Night" and “Crown of Thunder” before completing his first book for adults, “Riot Baby.” It is set in part around the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the acquittal of policemen who beat Rodney King. "Riot Baby'' is a dystopian fantasy about Kev, who has been jailed in Rikers Island, and his sister Ella, who holds the power and the horror of seeing the future.A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, among other schools, Onyebuchi has worked in private and government law and thought a long time about a book that could draw upon his education and background. He considers adult books his first passion, but he found that writing for young people strengthened his storytelling, forcing him to write clearly and not “to obfuscate.” For “Riot Baby,” he was able to expand upon that discipline.“I could be straightforward and short and concise, and I could have a lyrical style that abounded in subjunctive clauses," he said. “I didn't just have to be Hemingway. I didn't just have to be Faulkner. I could be both.”Maas, whose bestsellers for young people include the “Throne of Glass” fantasy series, has her debut adult book out in March. Her “Crescent City” series begins with “House of Earth and Blood,” in which protagonist Bryce Quinlan — with the help of a fallen angel — seeks to track down the killers of her closest friends.Maas told the AP that the new series had been a secret “passion project” for years, an idea came to her when she was on a plane during a book tour, listening to the soundtrack from “Gravity.” The “epic scene” that came to her became the ending of “House of Earth and Blood.” Bryce's age compelled Maas to think about a different readership."The moment Bryce Quinlan walked into my head, I knew she was in her early to mid-20s — an age that placed her story firmly in the adult range," says Maas, adding that the main difference between writing for younger and older people is in the language. “I will admit that I can now get away with quite a bit more swearing!”V.E. Schwab, who writes adult and young adult novels, says she doesn't change her style or vocabulary: The difference is in her mindset. For her “Monsters of Verity" duology, she inhabits her 17-year-old self, a “pretty angry teenager.” For “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue," an adult story coming in October about a woman who endures and is forgotten for centuries, she is closer to the person she is now.“One of the primary themes in the book is this concept of 30 as a threshold for true adulthood, the feeling like you look down for a moment, and when you look back up, everyone else has raced ahead, and you're still trying to get your bearings,” she said. “I wrote it essentially for a version of myself who never found writing. If I hadn't become an author, these are the questions I'd be facing, this is how lost I would feel.”Over the past decade, Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings have combined to write bestselling adult and young adult novels under the name “Christina Lauren.” They started out with romance books, among them such very adult stories as “Beautiful Bombshell," “Wicked Sexy Liar" and the upcoming “The Honey-Don't List." Meanwhile, for young adult novels such as “Autoboyography" and “The House," they adapt the themes of love and desire for a more impressionable and sensitive audience.“We want to give our adult readers a literal escape, like when they turn on a Netflix show," Billings says. “When we are writing of teens, we are trying to be entertaining, yes, but we also want to be more careful that they feel seen and understood. You want to make sure you're writing a story for them and that it doesn't feel like a grownup talking down to them."___This story corrects the title of V.E. Schwab’s series mentioned in the 11th paragraph to “Monsters of Verity.”Hillel Italie, The Associated Press

  • Canadians from coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan to fly home Thursday: Champagne
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Canadians from coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan to fly home Thursday: Champagne

    Canadians who have spent weeks on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan will board a government-chartered plane to take them home Thursday evening, the foreign affairs minister says.Thousands of passengers who'd been taking a cruise on the Diamond Princess have been stuck aboard the ship, docked in Yokohama while the illness dubbed COVID-19 has sickened hundreds.Japanese authorities will test Canadian passengers for the virus before allowing them to leave the ship, where they'll be taken by bus to the airport to board the chartered plane, Francois-Philippe Champagne said Wednesday.Passengers received messages from the Canadian government laying out the departure plans, including masks, wristbands, restricted use of airport facilities, and warnings that it's much colder in Canada than in Yokohama.Anyone who wants to come home and is been cleared to fly will be checked out again at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in Ontario, where the evacuation flight is expected to land at about 1:30 a.m. local time. Passengers are then to be moved on to quarantine at a hotel and conference centre in Cornwall, Ont., a few hundred kilometres east.But those passengers who have tested positive for COVID-19 will remain in Japanese health facilities, Champagne said.Forty-seven of about 250 Canadian passengers had been struck by the bug at last count, according to Canadian authorities."The best approach to dealing with Canadians who have been infected with the coronavirus in Japan is for them to be treated locally," Champagne said in Ottawa after question period Wednesday.Health Minister Patty Hajdu added that not only would transporting sick patients home to Canada pose a risk to others on the same plane, a long flight without the necessary health care on board could cause an infected person's condition to deteriorate.COVID-19 is thought to have an incubation period of about two weeks, and the evacuees will wait out that period in quarantine once they arrive home to make sure they don't get sick and spread the illness in Canada.But if patients have tested negative for the virus, have had no contact with infected patients and show no symptoms, Canada's chief medical officer has the discretion to release passengers from quarantine early, Hajdu said.The much-criticized quarantine of the cruise ship was to end later Wednesday, though Canadians bound for the evacuation flight were given strict instructions to stay aboard. The Diamond Princess's 542 virus cases are the most in any place outside of China, and medical experts have called its quarantine a failure.Canadian officials were waiting on final authorization from those in Japan before the plane ferrying people home was able to take off, according to Champagne, who added that the government wanted to make sure every Canadian on board the ship had been contacted and was fully aware of the options.He said the plane landed in Japan after some unforeseen technical issues prior to takeoff Tuesday. The Canadian evacuation had previously been scheduled for earlier in the week.One healthy Canadian passenger said she's eager to go home and the departure date's being moved is "discouraging.""We'd like to hear what the explanation might be instead of being left in the dark once again," said Trudy Clement of Callander, Ont.Lolita Wisener of Red Deer, Alta., who is also looking forward to coming home, said she was not happy."The smiles are getting a little bit more brittle now, you know," she said via Skype.The "hope" they had when it was announced last Saturday that the government would take Canadians from the Diamond Princess is now fading, she said."It's a good thing we're not drowning, eh?" Wisener said."I'm starting to feel bad for me."Evacuees from the centre of the coronavirus outbreak have spent nearly two weeks at CFB Trenton under quarantine are preparing to return home.They were placed in isolation after they returned to Canada from Wuhan, China. The government is now working to help them make their final travel plans once they are released from quarantine.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2020.— With files from Jordan Press and The Associated PressLaura Osman and Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

  • Promising sign for longtime 'blight' on Old Ottawa South
    News
    CBC

    Promising sign for longtime 'blight' on Old Ottawa South

    The former West Coast Video in Old Ottawa South, held up for more than a decade as an example of city hall's lax regulations for derelict buildings, could soon be listed for sale.A sign indicating an impending real estate listing was recently posted on the long-vacant building at 1123 Bank St.The two-storey brown brick building, which also housed a spa, was gutted by fire in 2009 and has sat empty ever since. Over the intervening years, numerous city councillors and community activists have invoked West Coast Video as they urged the city to toughen its property bylaw and force owners to either sell or redevelop empty buildings within a reasonable length of time.Valerie MacIntosh, owner of The Clothes Secret across the street, said the building has long been a blight on the neighbourhood. She said news the property might be sold makes her cautiously optimistic, but she's not quite ready to celebrate."Until there's actually a for sale sign and until there's actually a sold sign on that sign, I don't believe anything," MacIntosh said.MacIntosh said it's been frustrating to watch the city could do nothing as the burned-out building sits vacant in the middle of an otherwise popular commercial strip. She said she's worried there may be vermin in the building, and hopes it's torn down."I think everybody has learned a long, hard lesson on this one. I hope the city has. This has been quite painful, and I hope people do something about it."Rules too lax, neighbours sayVince Caceres, owner of The Cyclery bike shop next door to the empty video store, said he hasn't had any issues with the building. He rents parking spaces from the current owner.However, Caceres agrees the city needs rules with teeth because empty properties are being left vacant in different parts of the city."You start seeing reminiscences of Detroit in the late 80s or early 90s, where buildings were crumbling down around you," Caceres said."You never want to see that, especially in the nation's capital. But you can't yell at people if they are following the bylaws and the laws in place."A representative of the owner of the property, Gor-Fay Realty, said no one would be available to speak to CBC News on Tuesday.Bylaw review underwayCapital ward Coun. Shawn Menard said it's good to see movement on the property, and said he encouraged the owner to put up the sign to show they're interested in offers."We've had unfortunately in the last 11 years really hateful graffiti spray-painted on the building. There's a lot of bylaw complaints. We've had garbage issues," Menard said."That ownership group is having to pay for all those things. Residents are having to put up with those things. It's a real blight on the neighbourhood."Menard said the city phased out the 30 per cent tax break for owners of vacant properties last year, and is reviewing bylaws related to vacant and derelict buildings."We see this in many other places in the city where there's really highly active neighbourhoods on these streets, but boarded-up buildings where ownership groups are not taking action. Let's hope we see these action from these folks."He said the city may consider tools used in other cities, such as escalating property taxes for vacant buildings, or even expropriation, to address the problem.The bylaw review is expected to come back to council this fall.

  • Farmers see both sides of rail blockade
    News
    CBC

    Farmers see both sides of rail blockade

    With no trains running on CN Rails in eastern Canada for a week, many farmers are becoming anxious about the potential impact on their livelihoods. It's been nearly two weeks since Tyendinaga Mohawk protesters set up camp along the tracks near Belleville, Ont., in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en opponents of a natural gas pipeline in B.C. Their actions prompted CN Rail to suspend service, and Via Rail to cancel dozens of passenger trains.Keith Currie is president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He's also a hay and sweet corn farmer near Collingwood, Ont., whose operation relies on propane."When it runs out, I don't know what I'm going to do," Currie told CBC's Ottawa Morning.Currie said farmers are now planning for spring and are worried about the supply of fertilizer, which is normally shipped by rail. He said the shutdown will also affect farmers' ability to ship livestock."There's a lot of moving parts here, and certainly at the core of this is rail transportation," he said.Currie says the OFA acknowledges that "Indigenous Canadians have fundamental issues that we need to deal with, especially in order to reach full reconciliation ... [but] these protests that are paralyzing the country are not helpful in that process."Canadians are getting upset," he said. "We are humans. We do get emotional. And it certainly is crippling the economy."Tactics from the farmers' playbookBut not all farmers are blaming the protesters. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has come out publicly in support of them. Ayla Fenton runs a small organic vegetable farm near Perth, Ont., and is the Ontario vice-president of the NFU. She recognizes the rail shutdown is hurting some farmers, but told CBC's Ontario Morning "land defenders are also suffering from 500 years of colonization and removal from their land." In fact, Fenton said, the blockade and similar tactics are from the farmers' own playbook."Farmers in Canada … have a very long history of using non-violent direct action to assert our rights and defend our economic interests." To farmers who are speaking out against protestors, Fenton had this to say: "Other people who are suffering are not your enemy. The anger that exists among farmers … about the rail blockades needs to be directed at those with the power to resolve the situation."On that point, Currie and Fenton agree."The federal government needs to step up here and resolve this as soon as possible," Currie said. "They can debate it in the House all they want. The reality is they need to get on with having discussions with [the protestors] to finally resolve this situation."

  • The TTC is cracking down on fare evasion. But why is its fine so hefty?
    News
    CBC

    The TTC is cracking down on fare evasion. But why is its fine so hefty?

    The TTC is defending what critics are calling exorbitant fines as the system grapples with mounting losses from passengers not paying for rides — saying the fines are necessary because of its heavy dependence on the fare box for revenues.The transit agency lost an estimated $70.3 million due to fare evasion in 2019, which the agency largely attributes to riders deliberately skipping out on fares."They are doing it almost to try to beat the system," said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green. "Some have quite a cavalier, laugh-it-off kind of attitude."Penalties for fare evasion on the TTC range from $235 to $425, which is the highest range among major Canadian cities. According to some researchers and the TTC itself, those penalties are among the most severe of any city in North America.Here are fare evasion fines in other Canadian cities: * $150 at OC Transpo in Ottawa. * $150 at Calgary Transit. * $173 at TransLink in Greater Vancouver. * $150 to $500 at STM in Montreal (The agency says the highest fine is generally reserved for repeat offenders). * $250 at Edmonton Transit Service.Toronto Mayor John Tory agreed that many fare evaders are deliberately cheating the system."Some of them I will acknowledge are doing it because they're finding themselves in difficult financial situations, many others are not," he told reporters on Wednesday. "They are doing it because they think they can."However, people calling for lower fines say the TTC's penalties are disproportionate when considering other fines commonly issued to Torontonians."It's really outsized in comparison to, for instance, a parking infraction," said Coun. Shelley Carroll, who sits on the TTC board and represents Ward 17, Don Valley North."Why is it $30 for someone to park a heavy vehicle in the wrong place and it's $400 for slipping through a rear door of the TTC without tapping?"She said growing losses to fare evasion suggest the TTC's hefty fines are not successfully encouraging riders to pay their fares.The TTC estimates that fare evasion rates range from 15.9 per cent on streetcars, 6.3 per cent on buses and 2.4 per cent on subways.Campaign ignores 'systemic failures'The current penalty rates were set in 2009, but the fines have been under increased scrutiny since the TTC unveiled an advertising campaign that calls out riders who evade their fares.Critics have called the messaging aggressive and accusatory.Carroll pushed back against claims that many riders are deliberately cheating the system. She pointed to unresolved flaws with the Presto system, such as broken gates and the complicated online system to reload cards, as larger issues than dishonest riders."Those are key, daily systemic failures and we need to address those," Carroll said.The TTC also announced a new fare increase this week, which will go into effect in March. Most fares are being raised by 10 cents, while the price for a monthly adult pass is now $156, or $201.90 including the use of downtown express services.High fines needed due to low subsidiesThe TTC has acknowledged that its fines are unusually high, but Green also pointed to the system's longstanding funding challenges as an important aspect of the fare evasion problem."We know we're high, if not the highest," Green said, noting that fares account for around 60 per cent of TTC revenue."[Fare evasion] hits us in a way that perhaps other cities don't experience."TTC bylaws that include set fines for fare evasion are approved by a court before going into effect, Green added. The money collected also goes into city coffers, and not towards the TTC itself.The TTC said it also levies the $235 fine much more often than the $425 fine, though the TTC did not provide figures showing how often the most severe penalty is handed out.A person who attempted to tap an empty Presto card would likely face the lower fine, Green said, while an adult fraudulently using a child Presto card might be subject to the highest penalty.When asked if he would support lower fines, Tory said he has not seen any evidence that smaller fines would reduce fare evasion."I would encourage [TTC CEO Rick Leary] and others to revisit that if they wish," he said.

  • The way to get Trump re-elected
    CBC

    The way to get Trump re-elected

    Mike Bloomberg says the best way to re-elect Trump is to have him listen to the Democrats talking about the economy.

  • Coronavirus is keeping Chinese travellers at home — and it's hurting European tour operators
    News
    CBC

    Coronavirus is keeping Chinese travellers at home — and it's hurting European tour operators

    Travel and tourism operators around the world are bracing for more difficult times ahead as the coronavirus outbreak chokes off demand from China and leads to cancellations from other international travellers."We don't have any tours coming because of this virus," said Alex Xu, managing director of U.K.-based Kaleidoscope Travel, which arranges European group tours for travellers from Asia. "Mainland [China] cancelled all the tours."The Chinese government ordered domestic travel agencies and tour operators to temporarily suspend sales in late January in an effort to slow the global spread of the coronavirus, which can lead to the disease known as COVID-19. This caused a sharp drop in business for many European operators that have come to rely on the fast-growing Chinese market. Xu's Kaleidoscope Travel makes about three-quarters of its revenue from Chinese tourists, so it immediately felt the impact. Xu said he hopes tours will start operating again soon as he has to support a staff of 20 in the U.K. and China."We have a family to support, we have kids to raise, we have mouths to feed. I also have staff and I have [tour] vehicles, which are empty … It's very difficult," he said as he stood in front of his parked mini-bus outside his office.WATCH: U.K. tour operator Alex Xu explains the effect of fewer Chinese visitorsOthers are hurting as well.The popular Galeries Lafayette luxury shopping mall in Paris is also feeling the impact, said Xu, who visited last week."Lafayette shopping centre is a favourite place for Chinese people. But this time, just last week, the Lafayette shopping centre was empty. No people inside at all," he said. The parent company of Galeries Lafayette declined to comment for this story. Other popular tourist hotspots and retailers, including the London Eye attraction and Madame Tussauds, were similarly unavailable for comment.European tourism businesses are uniquely vulnerable, since the continent is a popular destination for Chinese travellers, who are known for splashing out on luxury goods on their trips. In the U.K., Chinese tourists on average spend nearly three times more than other visitors, according to the government-backed agency VisitBritain.China 'in severe difficulty'In March and April last year, nearly one-quarter of Chinese air travellers headed to Europe, making it the most popular destination outside Asia-Pacific, according to data from the international flight-tracking firm ForwardKeys, which is based in Spain. But the latest airline data shows bookings to Europe are down by 37 per cent in March and April this year."The world's largest and highest-spending outbound travel market, China, is in severe difficulty," said Olivier Ponti, a vice-president at ForwardKeys, in a new research report. "Cancellations are growing by the day and the trend is now spreading to surrounding countries." Mainland China is the single most important source of international travellers in the world, based on traveller numbers and revenue. People from mainland China spent more than $277 billion US ($366 billion Cdn) on international travel in 2018 alone, according to the UN's World Tourism Organization. That's nearly double the amount spent by American travellers in the same year.In the U.K., many businesses are suffering."Even though it is currently low season for Chinese visitors to the U.K. ... some of our tour operator members that depend wholly on the market, and some of our accommodation members, are experiencing substantive cancellation levels," said Joss Croft, head of the British tourism association UKinbound. The U.K.-based Centre for Retail Research predicts any future bounce-back in business won't compensate for short-term losses."For U.K. retailers, caterers and hoteliers, as well as those in Western Europe, the absence of most Chinese tourists this spring, summer and autumn will prove to be a great financial loss with hoped-for room bookings, meals, admission fees and purchases of branded items and luxury goods gone forever," said the Centre for Retail Research in a new report.Hoping for a bounce-backVisitBritain, which posts daily coronavirus updates on its website, said early this month that it was encouraging U.K. tourism companies to be accommodating to Chinese tourists who were forced to cancel their trips.In a letter addressed to Chinese travel operators in early February, VisitBritain said it had seen examples of "accommodation providers and train operators … offering free cancellations to Chinese guests whose plans have been impacted, easing some of their worry and helping to support their future plans to visit Britain." In Italy, the loss of Chinese tourism is considered an emergency situation."It's seen as on par with an earthquake, a situation of emergency," said Mattia Morandi, a spokesperson for Italy's ministry of culture and tourism, in an interview with the New York Times.The spreading virus is now convincing would-be travellers from outside China to reconsider their international vacation plans. International flight bookings for March and April from other parts of the Asia-Pacific region are down nearly 11 per cent compared to last year, according to ForwardKeys. Others who still want to travel have found their plans changed. For example, the tech industry group GSMA decided to cancel its high-profile trade show, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which was scheduled for the end of February.The business show typically brings in more than 100,000 attendees from around the world. The organizers said they made the decision due to "global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak."Back in London, Alex Xu said he himself decided to scrap plans for a family holiday to Sweden this week, in part because of concerns about contracting the coronavirus while travelling abroad. Instead, he said he's staying in the U.K.He's using this slow time as an opportunity to renovate his offices. He hopes tours will start operating again soon."We don't have any hope if this virus is not sorted out," he said.

  • Mom pleads for consistent treatment to deal with son's violent outbursts
    News
    CBC

    Mom pleads for consistent treatment to deal with son's violent outbursts

    The mother of a seven-year-old boy whose violent outbursts have repeatedly gotten him kicked out of school is pleading for consistent treatment for her son instead of the hodgepodge of therapy he's been receiving, often with mixed results.Since September, Ben Cappello has been suspended eight times from Regina Street Alternative School in Ottawa's Britannia neighbourhood, where he's in Grade 2, for attacking other children, throwing furniture and running away."It was really dangerous for Ben, the teachers and the other kids. He could not function in school," said Ben's mother, Natalee Rubec.At home, Ben's outbursts were often directed toward his two older brothers and sister. When he lashes out, Rubec often has to restrain him on the floor. She's suffered broken fingers and bruised ribs as a result. We got on this treadmill of waiting for more treatment, and Ben would trash the house. We have a graveyard of broken televisions in the basement. \- Natalee Rubec"We've been struggling to manage as a family for a long time," said Rubec, who is divorced.  Ben's violent behaviour began three years ago, Rubec said. When he was in Grade 1, a psychological assessment revealed he was gifted, but also had attention deficit hyper-activity disorder. He was prescribed medication to control his outbursts, including an anti-psychotic drug. In December, he was diagnosed with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, a condition characterized by frequent, angry outbursts. "Ben is cheerful, creative and really smart," Rubec said. "But he struggles with controlling his anger, which can turn violent."Fight or flightWhen CBC visited Ben at home recently he rarely sat still, jumping around the living room from couch to floor, stopping only to hug his mother tightly around her neck. When Ben wanted to open a bag of soup noodles, Rubec reached up to a kitchen cupboard for a locked box containing several pairs of scissors.When he gets worked up, Ben can crawl into his blue "body sock," a sensory cocoon made of stretchy fabric that's typically used by children with autism or anxiety disorders."He goes inside and can push really hard against the sock with his legs, hands and feet," Rubec explained. "Ben is in fight-or-flight [mode] 100 per cent of the time, so I think the sock has a calming effect on him."Ben receives weekly home visits from a worker with Crossroads Children's Mental Health Centre who spends several hours working through strategies to de-escalate his violent impulses and help him deal with his anger. The visits, which began in January after Ben was fast-tracked for the treatment, typically end after three months.A dark timeThe home visits follow an especially difficult period for Ben and his family, and not just at school.Last summer, Ben's tantrums escalated to the point where Rubec had to take him to CHEO on seven different occasions. When his rage became uncontrollable, she called police."We got on this treadmill of waiting for more treatment, and Ben would trash the house. We have a graveyard of broken televisions in the basement," Rubec said.That was in stark contrast to the previous nine months, which Ben spent in CHEO's Steps to Success, a day program run out of St. Luke School where he had consistent access to a counsellor and psychiatrist. Rubec said her son thrived in the small-class setting."Ben really settled and he had all the elements to get through the day," she said. But the program ended last March, once Ben was deemed to have reached all the behavioural goals that had been set out for him.In June, CHEO told Rubec her son was on a wait-list to see a psychiatrist as an outpatient, but as recently as January she was told the wait would be another four to six months.She's worried whatever benefits her son gained from the Steps to Success program and the Crossroads visits will be lost as he bounces from one form of therapy to another, with long gaps in between."This all started when he was four, and now he's almost eight and we haven't really started treating him yet for what's really wrong with him," Rubec said. "There's a lot of people who want to help Ben, but there is a bit of passing the buck."Waiting game "The wait time is so stressful," said Natasha McBrearty, associate executive director at Crossroads Children's Mental Health Centre, where the typical wait for in-home treatment is now eight months to a year, and where the number of families waiting for that treatment has nearly doubled to more than 1,900 in just five years."It breaks my heart because I know how frustrating it is for a parent who is really trying to cobble the best they can for their child."Crossroads, which is 90 per cent provincially supported, has not had a significant funding increase to meet the rapidly growing demand for treatment, McBrearty said."The secret formula or the magic is early identification and early intervention," she said. "But do we have the capacity to intervene when we need to? Well, I still think we have a ways to go."        According to a report released last month by Children's Mental Health Ontario, which advocates for more government investment in quality mental health services, there are currently 28,000 children and youth waiting for mental services across the province, compared to an estimated 12,000 in 2017. The agency recommends increasing annual funding to community child and youth mental health services by $150 million to ensure young people wait no longer than 30 days for mental health treatment.  Walking in their shoesJoanne Lowe, executive director of Ottawa's Youth Services Bureau, couldn't comment on Ben's case specifically, but said the family's circumstances are all too familiar."Sadly, that happens, and it would not be atypical for a young person in our system which continues to be fragmented," Lowe said. "It requires us to actually do things differently because access is a huge, huge problem." Lowe is leading a new service model called Kids Come First, announced by the province in December to improve access to mental health and addiction services for children. She said there's currently a patchwork of 17 different organizations providing treatment options in the Ottawa area, but they need to be better integrated — and they need to do a much better job at keeping tabs on kids like Ben."This is something that we heard very loudly from caregivers," Lowe said.  Rubec said she's already exhausted her workplace benefits for private psychological care, and is reaching the end of her rope. "It's super isolating, and nobody can walk in our shoes and understand the fatigue and the emotional toll it takes every day," she said.Ben, squirming inside his body sock, offers a suggestion "I know how you can get someone to believe it — make them live with us for a month and they would see."

  • New and enhanced training for flagpersons, supervisors launching April 1
    News
    CBC

    New and enhanced training for flagpersons, supervisors launching April 1

    The training requirements for flagpersons in Newfoundland and Labrador will double April 1, while a new voluntary course for those who supervise or design traffic control plans at highway construction sites will also be launched."We still see risks from excessive speed, distracted driving," said Dennis Hogan, CEO of Workplace NL, the provincial agency responsible for workplace health, safety and compensation.Hogan said the new training will bring "a more robust set of standards" to highway work sites."It will make it safer for the people who work on those sites. But also for the travelling public."Controlling traffic at a road construction site can be dangerous work, and has proven deadly in this province in recent years.Three road construction workers have died on the job since 2011, and many more have been hurt."I would put this line of work at very dangerous," said Roger Motty, regional manager of Safety First contracting, one of 43 companies in the province certified to administer training for traffic control workers.So two new courses are being launched by Workplace NL.One is a mandatory and enhanced flagperson's course, doubling the minimum training from four to eight hours, which is more in line other provinces. And for the first time, there will be a common curriculum for all private training providers.The second is a training course for workers who supervise or design traffic control plans for construction sites.It's voluntary, but Hogan said he anticipates it will become mandatory.Companies like Safety First support the changes, which will likely mean higher revenues for their operations, since the cost of training will also increase.But Motty says the training will also benefit people who work in road construction."More training comes with more knowledge. [It] creates a safer employee, a safer workplace," said MottyThere are more than 9,000 certified traffic control workers in the province, and they will have to take the new training after their current three-year certification expires, while anyone new entering the industry after April 1 will have to complete the expanded training.The training overhaul came out of a review undertaken by the government, road builders, unions and trainers."To the best of my knowledge I do think there is widespread support for these changes," said Hogan.Whether the province's road builders support the initiative is not clear, since the Heavy Civil Association of Newfoundland and Labrador would not agree to an interview.Hogan, meanwhile, says a higher upfront cost for training will benefit contractors and workers … down the road."We fully expect that through a reduction in injury and lower risks and a greater safety on those sites, there will actually be a cost savings in the longer term," said Hogan.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Are old downtown buildings arson magnets or the answer to the city's housing crisis?
    News
    CBC

    Are old downtown buildings arson magnets or the answer to the city's housing crisis?

    After a series of suspicious fires at vacant downtown buildings, Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam is calling for stricter rules governing developers.Wong-Tam's motion, passed by the housing and planning committee last week, calls on staff to research possible new rules that would make developers keep tenants in their newly-acquired properties as long as possible.In a letter to the committee, Wong-Tam maintained that too many developers are pushing tenants out as quickly as they can, "accomplishing demolition by neglect."Wong-Tam, who represents Ward 13, Toronto Centre, called it a form of "renoviction" in an interview with CBC Toronto."The developers and land speculators have purchased older properties with sometimes vulnerable tenants and asked them to leave early."Keeping buildings occupied not only protects against vandals, she said, but can help ease the housing shortage."I don't think it's good city building for properties to sit vacant while we're in the midst of a housing crisis," said Wong-Tam, whose downtown ward has seen a great deal of condo construction and redevelopment. Her motion was inspired in part by a series of fires in derelict downtown buildings over the past two years.   In the most recent incident, in November of 2019, two firefighters were injured at 85 Shuter St. Two months earlier, the heritage home known as the Sheard Mansion was damaged in a suspicious fire, and in March of 2018, a firefighter was hurt while helping extinguish a fire at 189 Mutual St."All three vacant buildings were part of consolidated development sites," Wong-Tam said in her letter."They were allowed to remain empty for years, growing ever more neglected over time. The protections required by the City were minimal; boards on the windows to prevent trespass. Enhanced security measures, such as bricked-up or barred windows and high fences, were not imposed until after the incidents had occurred."But not everyone agrees that the problems posed by derelict buildings can be solved by forcing developers to keep them occupied."Sometimes you're buying buildings that are so dilapidated, and you're planning to redevelop them anyway, so you can't really afford the money required to keep them up," said Bernard Luttmer, co-founder of Podium Developments. Luttmer, who emphasized he has little experience with the redevelopment of vacant downtown properties, said it makes sense to keep buildings habitable as long as possible, "however if the buildings aren't safe, you don't have the financial means to bring them up to standard when you're planning to tear them down a year later."Wong-Tam is also suggesting that if a building can't be kept habitable, the developers should go to greater lengths to ensure they can't be broken into. She's suggesting high fences, and bricked up or barred windows."Absolutely agree," Luttmer said. "It's very unsafe to have people squatting ... So if it's not already a bylaw in the city, it should be one for sure, to keep the public safe."Wong-Tam said she hasn't looked into the number of vacant buildings downtown; that's something she wants staff to find out in the course of their research.The motion calls on staff to return to the committee with research and recommendations by the end of 2020.

  • Cree leaders work to calm fears over massive $4.7B infrastructure deal
    News
    CBC

    Cree leaders work to calm fears over massive $4.7B infrastructure deal

    Cree leaders in Quebec are focused on reassuring a jittery population after announcing a far-reaching economic development agreement with Quebec regarding massive infrastructure improvements in the territory over the next 30 years and, very likely, more resource extraction projects.The $4.7 billion Grande Alliance project was signed Monday by Cree Grand Chief Abel Bosum and Quebec Premier François Legault. It proposes a deep sea port, an improved and extended road network and a railway to be built up to the most northern reaches of Cree territory.The deal came as a surprise to many Cree and had people expressing suspicion, worry and support for the deal on social media. People raised questions about what it will mean, how the land and animals would be affected, and how they will be consulted moving forward. "I think people are still concerned about what happened 1970s [when] Quebec started building dams without Cree consent or even clear acknowledgement of our rights. But times have changed," said Bill Namagoose, executive director of the Cree Nation Government. When there are projects there will be total community consultation. \- Bill Namagoose, Cree Nation Government executive directorHe was referring to the unannounced attempt by Quebec to construct a massive hydro-electric dam in the 1970's — known as the James Bay Project, which led to the ensuing legal battle and eventual court-ordered signing the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, which is considered the first modern treaty in Canada. Namagoose said the Cree are now in the driver's seat with Quebec as a partner."There were no projects decided on Monday. When there are projects there will be total community consultation," said Namagoose. On Facebook, Cree Grand Chief Bosum sent the same message. "Every project will still be subjected to an environmental and social assessment as set out [in] Section 22 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement where consultations are mandatory and projects must meet social acceptance," wrote Bosum. Fears over more damsOther Cree expressed concern that new infrastructure all the way up to Whapmagoostui — more than 1,000 kilometres by plane from Montreal — points to a desire to resurrect the Great Whale River hydroelectric project.The project was shelved in the 1990's after a long and international protest by Cree and Inuit who live beside the Great Whale River and Hudson Bay. In 1992, New York State cancelled a billion-dollar electricity contract with Hydro Quebec as a result of a hard-fought public pressure campaign by Cree and Inuit who live beside Great Whale River, along with environmental groups. "No government gives anything for free. They want something in return. The Great Whale River? Wake up people!" wrote Danielle Mukash, a Whapmagoostui resident, on Facebook.Cree Nation Government's Namagoose said the Cree have no intention of reviving the Great Whale project."The Quebec government tells us, Hydro Quebec tells us that Great Whale will not be built unless the Cree agree," said Namagoose. "It's a Cree decision and the Cree decided no Great Whale so there won't be a Great Whale." Chief Bosum and other leaders will also be taking part in a phone-in on Eyou Dipajimoon, a CBC North Cree-language radio show, on Thursday to answer people's questions about the deal.

  • N.S. nursing home goes to Kenyan refugee camp to solve staffing shortage
    News
    CBC

    N.S. nursing home goes to Kenyan refugee camp to solve staffing shortage

    A New Glasgow, N.S., nursing home believes part of the solution to a staff shortage is found at a Kenyan refugee camp.Lisa M. Smith, the CEO of Glen Haven Manor, and several other representatives from Pictou County travelled to Kenya in November on the recruiting mission. They conducted job interviews in Nairobi and at the Dadaab refugee camp, one of the largest such camps in the world."The calibre of the candidates was truly amazing. It was certainly more than we ever expected," said Smith.Glen Haven extended 11 job offers during the trip to Kenya. The home also made four offers to refugee candidates who were interviewed by Skype from Jordan and Lebanon, for a total of 15 new offers.All the candidates have backgrounds as nurses or doctors, and will be working as continuing care assistants until they can get their Canadian credentials assessed."They were very excited and very emotional," said Smith. "There were a few candidates that said they were thankful not only that we made the trip to Nairobi, but that we gave them their dignity back."The job offer includes the opportunity for candidates to move their families to Canada. That wasn't something all the candidates knew about during the initial application, said Janice Jorden, the home's employee relations specialist."There was a lot of tears of excitement. It's not something I get to experience every day," she said. "Of course, I make job offers all the time, we hire all the time, we're a big organization. But to see that it makes that much of a change in their life, to see that excitement in their eyes, I don't get to see that very often."The job offers depend on each candidate successfully applying to enter Canada through an economic immigration stream. That paperwork is underway right now, and Smith said she expects the first candidates will start arriving in New Glasgow within a few months.Glen Haven is owned by the towns of New Glasgow, Stellarton, Trenton and Westville. It has 222 residents and 300 staff, but more staff members are required.Although recruiters search locally and within Canada to attract continuing care assistants, the home hasn't been able to fill 20 positions.Five years ago, Glen Haven started to recruit internationally to fill the staffing gaps. So far, approximately 20 people have chosen to move from other countries to the Pictou County area, coming from as far away as the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.Noel Lagumbay moved to New Glasgow in 2015 with his girlfriend after researching Canada for about a year.Both of them worked as registered nurses in the Philippines and became continuing care assistants at Glen Haven, and have transferred their credentials to become registered nurses in Canada. They have since married and are expecting a baby girl.He said the move was a big change for himself and his wife, but the people were friendly and his aunt who lives nearby helped them adjust. Lagumbay dreamed of being a registered nurse as a child."I like talking to people and I get attached to them, so I think it helps a lot for me to pursue my profession," he said. "I like my job and I like working with different kinds of people, hearing their stories and connecting with them."Lagumbay has some thoughts for the 15 new staff members who will soon be arriving from other countries."My only advice is just believe in yourself and continue to pursue your dream," he said.'Unmistakable joy and gratitude'That's a point that isn't always foremost in refugee resettlement, said Simar Singh, the senior programs manager at RefugePoint, the international organization that worked with Glen Haven to put together the longlist of candidates to interview.Singh said refugees are often asked about painful memories that caused them to leave their homes.She noticed many of Glen Haven's candidates came out of the interviews pleasantly surprised they weren't asked to talk about the difficulties they've endured, but about their skills and training."There was this unmistakable joy and gratitude that we felt, just sort of talking to all of these refugee candidates, where it seemed as though they had, even if it was just briefly, a moment to revisit aspects of their lives that they often are not asked about, or had to in some ways leave behind," she said.Singh said one man came up to her after his interview and told her that "Even if this process doesn't go further, this 30-minute interview has been the highlight of my year."Glen Haven is using economic immigration instead of sponsorship, which is the method many community groups traditionally use to bring refugee families to Canada.Economic immigration doesn't require the care home to give supports to their new employees, but Glen Haven has made plans for extra support anyway. It has leased one house and recently purchased another seven-bedroom home, so that all new employees arriving from outside of Pictou County will have a furnished home a few minutes walk from work.Singh said if the Glen Haven model is successful, it could be used elsewhere in Canada. The project is being backed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.MORE TOP STORIES

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    Yellowknifer wins $100K award, hopes to study ocean science

    A Yellowknife high school student has won a prestigious scholarship valued at $100,000.Adithi Balaji has been named one of 36 Loran Scholars in 2020. She says when she got the award, her reaction was one of "complete disbelief.""You know there's so many amazing people I met over the final selections ... I can't believe they picked me," she told Trail's End host Lawrence Nayally on CBC. The Loran Scholars Foundation cited Balaji's work in environmental activism, including her work as leader of St. Patrick High School's Green Team and organizer of climate strikes. She also spearheaded a composting program.Balaji hopes to do similar activism where she goes to school. "I think a lot of that's going to depend on ... where I end up moving and what kind of issues I see there," she said. She says now that she has this award, she will be able to focus on school and on community service instead of getting a part-time job, like she thought she would have to do.Balaji is also the squadron commander with the Yellowknife Air Cadets. And she volunteers with several youth clubs, the local food bank and the Yellowknife Public Library.Balaji hopes to pursue ocean sciences at a university in British Columbia.But before that, Balaji hopes to earn her private pilot's licence this summer.Balaji says the most rewarding part of the scholarship process has been the opportunity for self-reflection. "This process has involved a lot of thinking about why I do the things I do," she said. "Whether or not I ended up getting it, I knew that I was going to come out of it and I kind of understood myself a little better."

  • Former N.B. politician honoured for work on democracy around the world
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    CBC

    Former N.B. politician honoured for work on democracy around the world

    Elizabeth Weir's job after politics has brought her around the world, but now it's her hometown of Saint John that will honour Weir for her work increasing the effectiveness of democratic institutions abroad.Weir will be the first recipient of the Spirit of Ella Hatheway Award, to celebrate a Saint John-area woman who has demonstrated leadership in working toward positive social change.Weir stepped away from provincial politics at home after spending years in the political spotlight, and after winning four elections in the 1990s. Weir was leader of New Brunswick's New Democratic Party for 16 years, stepping down from leadership in 2005.She said she made that decision so she could reclaim her private life and give space for other voices. "I firmly believe that it [was] time for other people to have, you know, public space to talk about their views for the future," Weir said in an interview with Information Morning Saint John on Thursday.Training MPs in 28 countriesFor the last several years, Weir has spent her time travelling around the world — to some 28 countries — training others in democratic governance and oversight with parliamentarians, political party activists and social leaders.Weir has been working with the United Nations and with the National Democratic Institute, an international non-governmental organization based out of Washington that works in 55 countries globally. She has just returned from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she was leading strategic planning sessions for political parties in advance of the country's upcoming election in AugustWeir said, when she first began work in other countries, she was wracked with guilt. "I thought, 'Here I am a parliamentarian from a small province in Canada and they're just emerging from 30 years of civil war. What can I offer them that's of value?'"Weir said she quickly learned that the job of member of parliament is essentially the same, regardless of the country she travelled to. But when training politicians elsewhere in the world, she emphasizes that working in parliament is a job they'll pick up on over time. "If you want to be a member of parliament there's no university, there's no degree. This is a job that you have to learn by doing so."Politicians in other countries are often elected with little or no staff, no offices and no support in the community, Weir said. "They're working with very limited resources,"she said, adding that her experience as a New Brunswick politician has been valuable in helping her train others who also don't have the vast financial resources and support that a politician would get in the British House of Commons. Weir said she's had the chance to work with female MPs in other countries who face immense challenges and violence because they're women."I've worked with a member of parliament who was assassinated as she was gassing up her car," Weir said. "There's such a hunger for them to be able to do their work well."Political concerns at homeAt home in New Brunswick, Weir said she has noticed a depth of partisanship in the relationship between MLAs, and she said committees are becoming less bipartisan."I'm somewhat concerned because I think we're losing some of that and that's really not to the benefit of having healthy public debate."South of the border, Weir is concerned about the state of the U.S. democratic system. "It's just shown to be absolutely hollow," she said."Many of my good American friends are heartbroken about what's going on in their country and they recognize it's going to take years for them to try and recover."The award Weir is receiving is named for Ella Hatheway, who campaigned for women to have the right to vote in New Brunswick in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The award presentation will take place at Lily Lake Pavilion in Saint John from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 20.

  • Cabin seized by Sask. gov't 'integral' to trapper's way of life, First Nations leaders say, urging its return
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    CBC

    Cabin seized by Sask. gov't 'integral' to trapper's way of life, First Nations leaders say, urging its return

    First Nations leaders are calling on the Saskatchewan government to return the cabin of a northern trapper in the province so he can continue living a traditional way of life.Indigenous trapper Richard Durocher learned of the seizure of his cabin, originally located about 40 kilometres north of Pinehouse, Sask., after a contractor hauled it away in early February.Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said the province should put it back and grant him full access to his trap line. The province's Ministry of Environment maintains that despite the cabin seizure, "there are no restrictions on Mr. Durocher accessing his trap line." "Many members from our First Nations still rely on their inherent and Treaty right to hunt, fish, trap and gather for their sustenance and health," Cook-Searson said in a written statement.Cook-Searson spoke in a joint-statement issued by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) and LLRIB released on Wednesday. Erecting a cabin is integral to the traditional method of hunting and trapping. \- Brian Hardlotte, grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand CouncilShe said leaders want to resolve this to ensure the livelihood, health, and well-being of band members like Durocher. Durocher is a sustenance fur harvester and his application to build his cabin was denied. He said he was encouraged by local Métis officials to "go ahead and build it because we have rights. We're going to take our land back." A Ministry of Environment spokesperson said it had attempted to work with Durocher about relocating his cabin in the past.The spokesperson said cabin builds aren't allowed within eight kilometres of either side of the Key Lake, Cigar Lake, McArthur Lake, Cluff Lake and Rabbit Lake roads. The Durocher family is known to have used the land for traditional activities long before the highway to the mine site was built. The province also said the site is "popular with other users for camping, fishing and other recreational activities." For the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan, Durocher's case raises concerns about the priority of recreational us over traditional land use.Second trapper's cabin removed A second trapper's cabin was recently removed from the north shore of Dore Lake. It belonged to Travis Laliberte, a Métis trapper from Beauval who's now unsure if he'll be able to have a cabin ever again. "I feel that not being able to ever have a trappers cabin now is like taking one of my Aboriginal rights away," he said in an emailed statement to CBC.Laliberte said his original lease application was denied three years ago, because it was too close to the beach. He said he chose a different spot on a map — about 500 metres from the beach — and was approved. However, he said that when he saw that location in-person the land seemed unsuitable, so he built closer to the beach.It appears that location runs afoul of Crown land guidelines which stipulate cabins must be more than a half-kilometre away from a beach which could serve a recreational purpose.However, Laliberte says "a guideline that was created without consultation makes me believe it is only in place to benefit the person or people who created it."Ministry of Environment defends decisionBrant Kirychuk, executive director of the Fish, Wildlife and Lands branch for the ministry, said Laliberte's cabin was indeed built on an unauthorized location on a pristine, sandy beach in a "very, very, very actively used area." He said complaints of the cabin came in "almost immediately."The local land manager made attempts to help Laliberte choose a new "appropriate" location; "all resulting in non-compliance, so ultimately an order was issued under that Provincial Lands Act," according to Kirychuk.Kirychuk said anyone who applied to build at the two sites would be denied. He added 100s of traditional resource cabins are approved yearly, but most are located in remote parts of northern Saskatchewan, and therefore face no "conflict." When asked whether recreational activities were taking precedence over traditional practices, Kirychuk said "traditional rights are to conduct traditional activities: hunt, fish and gather" on Crown land. He added they "consider all users in the area to determine if there is a conflict" when considering disposition.Leaders says education requiredFirst Nations leaders in the joint statement also argue that "building and maintaining a trapping cabin is reasonably incidental to the Treaty right to trap.""Erecting a cabin is integral to the traditional method of hunting and trapping," said Brian Hardlotte, PAGC grand chief, in a statement. "[B]uilding a cabin is protected by Treaty and ... the [Charter of Rights and Freedoms], and I fail to see which authority the province based its decision on removing this cabin," he argued.The Ministry of Environment said in a statement on Wednesday that Durocher's cabin now belongs to the contractor who removed it, as it was forfeited to the Crown. Durocher can apply again for a traditional resource use cabin and that Ministry staff are prepared to work with him to find a location they say is OK. There are no other cabins under removal order by the Provincial Lands Act, at this time.