Amazon is facing the biggest unionization push in nearly a decade. And it’s happening in the unlikeliest of places: Alabama, a state with laws that doesn’t favor unions. (Feb. 12)
Amazon is facing the biggest unionization push in nearly a decade. And it’s happening in the unlikeliest of places: Alabama, a state with laws that doesn’t favor unions. (Feb. 12)
Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
Calgary is expanding its Adaptive Roadways Program to include more roads starting today in order to provide more space for residents to physically distance as the weather warms. The program was first introduced last year as more people spent time outdoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City pathways were widened by closing certain roads and parking lanes to motor vehicles. Today, the city is closing two eastbound lanes on Memorial Drive between Ninth Street N.W. and the lower deck of the Centre Street bridge to cars. The city will also close the entire lower deck of the Centre Street bridge between Riverfront Avenue S.E. and Memorial Drive N.W. "What we're trying to do is really target areas that are super congested. And certainly we saw in Eau Claire the pathway system was packed last weekend," said Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell on the Calgary Eyeopener. "We knew the weather was going to be beautiful on this weekend. And so we're sort of monitoring it. And because we're in a state of emergency, the administration is being incredibly responsive." Other roadways already widened include: Riverfront Avenue S.E. — The westbound parking lane is closed between Fourth Street and First Street S.E. Crescent Road N.W. — The parking lane is closed going east between 7A Street N.W. and First Street S.E. 12th Street S.E. — The parking lane going south is closed between Eighth Avenue and 21st Avenue S.E. Farrell said city council has "learned to be more nimble in a whole number of different ways" and said pop-up patios will also be making a return. "What I've been hearing is people are pretty blue right now … they're tired. And so anything that we can do to get them out to enjoy the fresh air, we'll try and do," she said. The roadways remain widened seven days a week. More locations will be added over the course of the spring and summer.
Muslim women and women from other faiths will gather online Saturday for a special event to mark International Women's Day, which takes place on Monday. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association is bringing together presenters from different perspectives under the banner "Women as Nation Builders." The organization says the event is about celebrating and fostering excellence, along with challenging misconceptions about the contributions of women from different backgrounds in establishing successful societies. "It's a very unique and extraordinary event for women, by women," said Maham Anna Malik with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Association. "Our goal is to provide a forum for women from diverse backgrounds to build connections with a shared respect and mutual understanding. "We have Christian speakers, Indigenous speakers, Sikh speakers, Muslim speakers and other guests with women attending from across the prairies." The virtual event takes place at 4 p.m. MST with hundreds of women expected to take part. The list of attendees includes dignitaries, faith leaders and academics. The program includes presentations from female faith leaders, elected officials, multimedia presentations and an interactive question and answer segment. "We feel it's important to empower women, to provide a safe, encouraging and educating dialogue to learn the essential role of women as leaders and nation builders across faiths," said Malik. "Despite our differences, we have so much in common." For more information on the webinar, click here.
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Dozens of Orthodox Christian faithful held up wooden crosses and sang Church hymns outside of Cyprus' state broadcaster on Saturday to demand the withdrawal of the country’s controversial entry for the Eurovision song contest — titled “El Diablo” — that they say promotes satanic worship. Some of the protesters, including families, held up placards reading in Greek, “We’re protesting peacefully, no to El Diablo,” “Repent and return to Christ” and “Christ saves, Diablo kills.” The broadcaster and the singer of the song insist it has been misinterprested and the song is actually about an abusive relationship between two lovers. The protest came several days after the powerful Orthodox Church called for the withdrawal of the song that it said mocked the country’s moral foundations by advocating “our surrender to the devil and promoting his worship.” The Holy Synod, the Church’s highest decision-making body, said in a statement that the song “essentially praises the fatalistic submission of humans to the devil’s authority” and urged the state broadcaster to replace it with one that “expresses our history, culture, traditions and our claims.” Last week, police charged a man with uttering threats and causing a disturbance when he barged onto the grounds of the public broadcaster to protest what he condemned as a “blasphemous” song that was an affront to Christianity. The state broadcaster insisted that the entry won’t be withdrawn, but its board chairman, Andreas Frangos, conceded that organizers should have done a better job explaining the core message of the song, whose lyrics include, “I gave my heart to el diablo...because he tells me I’m his angel.” Even the Cypriot government waded into the controversy, with Presidential spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos saying that although the views of dissenters are respected, the government cannot quash freedom of expression. “The Government fully respects creative intellectual and artistic freedom that cannot be misinterpreted or limited because of a song’s title, and unnecessary dimensions should not be attributed,” Papadopoulos said in a written statement. The song’s performer, Greek artist Elena Tsagrinou, said that the song is about a woman who cries out for help after falling for a “bad boy” known as “El Diablo” and coming to identify and bond with her abuser. Tsagrinou insisted that any other interpretation is “unfounded.” “The song sends a strong message, one against any form of abuse, such as the one conveyed in ‘El Diablo,’” Tsagrinou told The Associated Press in a written statement. “In these ‘Me Too Movement’ times that message is extremely relevant and can be felt not only in Cyprus but also across Europe and beyond.” She added that she is a Christian and her faith was very important to her. Addressing the song’s detractors, Tsagrinou said “we must all embrace the true and intended message of the song” and that people are now stepping forward with their own stories of abuse. “Music unites and empowers. Let’s focus on that and the important issues around us and leave misinterpretations and dark thoughts behind,” Tsagrinou said. Menelaos Hadjicostis, The Associated Press
CAIRO — A trailer-truck crashed into a microbus, killing at least 18 people and injuring five others south of the Egyptian capital, authorities said. The country’s chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement the crash took place late Friday on a highway near the town of Atfih, 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of Cairo. The Cairo-Assiut eastern road, located on the eastern side of the Nile River, links Cairo to the country’s southern provinces and is known for speeding traffic. Police authorities said the truck’s tire exploded, causing it to overturn and collide with the microbus. The victims were taken to nearby hospitals, the statement said. The truck driver was arrested. Traffic accidents claim thousands of lives every year in Egypt, which has a poor transportation safety record. The crashes are mostly caused by speeding, bad roads or poor enforcement of traffic laws. The country’s official statistics agency says around 10,000 road accidents took place in 2019, the most recent year for which statistics are available, leaving over 3,480 dead. In 2018, there were 8,480 car accidents, causing over 3,080 deaths. The Associated Press
Ivory Coast voted on Saturday in a legislative election, with President Alassane Ouattara's allies facing a combined challenge from opposition parties led by two of his predecessors. The poll comes only months after Ouattara won a third term in an election marred by unrest that killed at least 85 people, the country's worst violence since a 2010-2011 civil war. After boycotting the presidential election in October to protest Ouattara's decision to seek a third term, the parties of former presidents Henri Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo are fielding parliamentary candidates on joint lists.
Have you ever wanted to try biking part of the Yukon? Now you can give it a test drive of sorts before actually going. A Yukon museum has a new venture which is part exercise video, part tourism ad. Janna Swales, executive director of the Yukon Transportation Museum, filmed a bike ride down the South Klondike Highway toward the White Pass. And now, the Yukon Transportation Museum project is allowing that video to be rented online. The idea is for people to watch the scenery, as they pedal on a stationary bike. "It reaches out to people in other parts of the world and they get to experience our roads, and perhaps pique their interest in coming to visit us when they're able to," Swakes said. Videos like this are becoming more common as more stationary bikes incorporate screens or tablets. Janna Swales, executive director of the Yukon Transportation Museum, recorded her point of view bike ride in the fall, beginning a new series called Yukon Spin.(Philippe Morin/CBC) Two videos have been released by the museum online so far. They are available for rental between $1.50 to $5. Swales says she'd like to record more videos when conditions are right. Future runs could include bike rides form Carcross Corner to Mt Lorne, the Silver Trail into Mayo and more. Swales says the videos are a novel way to discuss roads and transportation at a time when the museum is closed for renovations and dealing with COVID-19. The series is called Yukon Spin.
Six months after the tragic death of a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman at a Quebec hospital, the federal government's response to ongoing systemic racism in Canada's health-care system remains partial and ad hoc. The death of Joyce Echaquan, who bravely recorded her own racist encounter with two health-care workers, proves that cultural change is needed in Canada's health-care system to prevent further deaths and harm to Indigenous and other racialized patients. Unlike the absence of response in the death of Brian Sinclair, the federal government acted on pleas from Echaquan's family and community, as well as individuals and groups across Canada, to address racism in Canadian health care. Federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett hosted a series of national dialogues. The most recent, held in late January, brought together more than 400 people representing Indigenous partners, governments, educational and professional institutions, and health-care organizations to share calls to action and discuss plans, with the premise that substantial interruption of ongoing racism can only happen through dialogue. We acknowledge and value this national dialogue. However, the government of Canada's response remains tepid. Tangible commitments are minimal. WATCH | A Jan. 28, 2021, report on Ottawa's promise to address racism in health care: They include supporting the co-development of distinctions-based (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) Indigenous health legislation, $4 million to improve physician training, and $2 million to the First Nations governing authorities of Manawan Atikamekw Council and Atikamekw Nation Tribal Council in Quebec for training and education on the right to access equitable social and health services. These commitments are inadequate. First, distinctions-based legislation does not address jurisdictional issues and may not have helped someone like Brian Sinclair, who died in 2008 after sitting ignored for 34 hours in the emergency department at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre. Mr. Sinclair was a non-status Anishinaabe man who accessed services as a citizen of Manitoba. Second, all health-care staff share a responsibility to confront Indigenous-specific racism. Directing funding only to physician training misses the fact that the fatal racism suffered by Brian Sinclair, Joyce Echaquan, and many, many others occurred in encounters with nurses and other hospital staff. Furthermore, education, while valuable, is insufficient without broader structural transformation in conjunction with accountability mechanisms, policy directives, and organizational change. Enshrine anti-racism in Canada Health Act Alongside education, we recommend a direct and universal measure: adding anti-racism as a sixth pillar of the Canada Health Act. The act outlines five pillars that provinces and territories are bound by in order to receive health-care funding: universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, portability and public administration. We came together as the Brian Sinclair Working Group during the inquest into the 2008 death of Brian Sinclair, in which a judge ruled that racism would not be considered as a factor. We hosted provincewide discussions on structural racism and the inadequate provincial response. We also issued a report with recommendations. The Brian Sinclair Working Group released its interim report in 2017. The group also hosted provincewide discussions on structural racism and the inadequate provincial response. (Brian Sinclair Working Group) Since Joyce Echaquan's death, we renewed our efforts and proposed that anti-racism be a guiding value for all health-care systems, organizations, and providers. More specifically, we as a group asked that all stakeholders in the health-care system (including the federal government, the provincial government, health authorities, unions, professional organizations, and post-secondary institutions that deliver services and train the next generation of health professionals) adopt anti-racism policies and implement meaningful strategies. This will require resources committed to providing anti-racism training, accountability mechanisms, program review and independent investigations to hold institutions accountable to these mandates. We concur with the recommendations from recent inquiries, reports, and guidelines that eradicating racism in health care requires a national effort. We contend that adding anti-racism to the Canada Health Act would trigger the development of universal policies and programs to interrupt systemic and interpersonal racism in health care across health systems throughout the country. To date, more than 2,000 individuals and organizations have signed our open letter calling on the federal government to adopt anti-racism as a pillar of the Canada Health Act. (The letter can be found on the Anti-racism as a Sixth Pillar of the Canada Health Act Facebook group.) A denial of basic human dignity On Nov. 5, 2020, Sen. Mary Jane McCallum tabled a motion to call on the government to adopt anti-racism as the sixth pillar of the Canada Health Act, stating that "concerted action at the highest levels of influence and authority in Canada is required to disrupt racism in the Canadian health-care system." While Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has not officially ruled out this approach, his department maintains a "carrots over sticks" (education, not law) approach to addressing racism in Canada. Although every Canadian is entitled to constitutional and human rights protections against discrimination, the horrific treatment of Indigenous individuals within health-care systems demonstrates an ongoing denial of basic human dignity that is deeply rooted in Canada's history of colonialism and segregation. Measures to increase accountability to the Canada Health Care Act are needed to raise standards of care to existing commitments to public administration, accessibility, comprehensiveness, universality and portability. Enshrining anti-racism as a sixth core principle would acknowledge the cultural change needed to prevent further deaths and harm to Indigenous and other racialized patients.
The manager of the laboratory responsible for processing a huge spike in COVID-19 tests in the past week says staff are doing "an incredible job" of keeping pace with the demand. "Of course I'm biased here because I'm in the middle of it," said Charles Heinstein, the manager of the primary microbiology lab for the central zone. "It's been definitely some of the busiest times of my career here in Nova Scotia Health, but we're hanging in here." Staff have been scrambling to process thousands of tests. Records have been broken three times this week, culminating in 6,875 tests processed on Tuesday. Not bad for a lab whose testing capacity is about 5,000. 'It's hard to sustain' "What we have the ability to do is stretch our capacity on a given day," Heinstein said. "For us to sustain almost 7,000 tests ... it's hard to sustain that for any period of time. So we can sustain it for two or three days, but then it has to draw down back to a more sustainable capacity." Before COVID-19 hit, the microbiology lab would process about 600-800 tests per day, and in the particular section where the molecular COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are analyzed, "big weeks in there would be 150 to 200 samples in the whole week," Heinstein said. "The scale of what's going on … is pretty impressive." Heinstein said while the lab has the ability to analyze about 10,000 tests per day, it's the clerical work associated with processing tests — verifying names, health card numbers and dates of birth, as well as labelling the samples with a barcode that tracks that information — that slows the system down. But over the next month or two, some new technology may speed up that process, Heinstein said. The lab has been drawing from every available resource within the system, as well as recruiting new workers and training them quickly to tackle the work. "All hands on deck is really what we've been preaching." A swab is taken at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in November.(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press) As Nova Scotians continue to heed the calls from Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, to get tested, Heinstein's lab is always gearing up for the next big wave. He said after the lab saw a spike in testing last April and again in November, staff analyzed what worked and what didn't. The time will come for that again, but for now, lab workers are just trying to get through the current influx. "It's a bit of controlled chaos," Heinstein said. "So that's a little bit frazzled, but then on the opposite side of that is, staff are really proud, they're really happy, they're really invested in getting COVID tests out for Nova Scotians…. It's pretty neat to see the amount of teamwork." Testing FAQ Do daily stats of tests completed include rapid tests? No. The rapid tests completed at pop-up sites across the province are not included in the daily or cumulative figures. To date, 27,760 rapid tests have been conducted. Does the daily testing statistic reflect how many people were tested, or how many tests were processed in the lab? The daily stat shows how many PCR tests (non-rapid tests) were finished being processed in the lab. Does the number of new positives announced each day necessarily reflect swabs that were collected the day before? No. The number of positive cases is not necessarily based on the tests collected the day before, but rather the tests that were finished being processed in the lab the day before. So, for example, if 6,551 tests were processed on Wednesday, and on Thursday three new cases were announced, it doesn't mean the three positive swabs were collected on Wednesday. They may have been collected before Wednesday, but the lab only got around to processing them on Wednesday. Is the processing of tests prioritized in any way? Yes. Staff prioritize tests for people who need results urgently — for example, people who are about to be admitted to hospital or undergo surgery or be transferred to a long-term care facility. Why do test results sometimes come back at different times — even days apart — if two or more people got tested at the same time? The lab uses different systems to process tests so they can use a variety of reagents and not be limited to one supplier. Since the systems function differently — for example how the samples are loaded and how many samples can be loaded at the same time — the results can come back at different times. Why do some negative test results get delivered by email, while others get delivered with an automated phone call? If there is an error in the email address, if an email hasn't been opened after 24 hours, or if someone doesn't have a Nova Scotia health card, an automated call will be used instead. MORE TOP STORIES
SYDNEY, Australia — Sydney’s annual iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras went ahead on Saturday, only in a different format due to coronavirus restrictions. It was being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where people can socially distance in their seats rather than on the traditional route down Oxford Street. Up to 23,000 spectators will be allowed in the stands while the performers will be on the pitch. Organizers say this year’s parade will move away from the traditional large floats and instead focus on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props. Face masks will be mandatory for participants and there will be temperature checks and screening at entry points. Meanwhile, LGBTQI rights protesters have been given the green light to march down Oxford Street in a separate event before the parade. Health officials in New South Wales state agreed to make an exception to the 500-person limit on public gatherings after organizers agreed to enhanced contact-tracing processes. The marchers are protesting social issues including transphobia, the mandatory detention of asylum-seekers and the criminalization of sex work. The Associated Press
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan handily won a vote of confidence from the National Assembly on Saturday, days after the embarrassing defeat of his ruling party’s key candidate in Senate elections. Khan secured the votes of 178 members of the lower house of Parliament, which is comprised of 340 lawmakers. The 11-party opposition alliance — the Pakistan Democratic Movement —boycotted the assembly’s special session. Khan needed 172 votes to show a simple majority and dispel any suggestion he had lost the support of the majority of lawmakers in the National Assembly. In the National Assembly, Pakistan's lower house, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party has the support of 180 members, including 157 members from Khan's party and 20 members from allied parties and two independents. The need for the confidence vote arose after former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Senate elections Wednesday defeated Hafeez Sheikh, the finance minister in Khan’s Cabinet. The Senate vote was seen as a test for Khan, who came to power in the 2018 parliamentary elections. It boosted the number of Senate seats for the opposition, which has a slight, 53-47 majority over Khan and wants Khan to step down. Responding to the opposition demand, Khan decided to seek the vote of confidence, noting that it was the democratic right of lawmakers from his own party to vote against him if they oppose his policies. Frustrated over the defeat of Sheikh, Khan criticized election authorities who he said failed to ensure a free and fair vote. Earlier, he claimed that 15 or 16 lawmakers from his party “sold” their vote but they could not be identified because the vote is done by secret ballot. “In August 2018 Imran Khan got 176 votes to become prime minister and today he secured 178 votes to show his majority in the house,” said Asad Qaiser, the speaker of the lower house, after the vote. Khan said his party members went through agony after the Senate vote but now he wants to make the country great. “We have to apprise our young generation about the purpose of the creation of Pakistan,“ he said. “Pakistan was created to make a welfare Islamic state and not made to generate politicians like (former president Asif) Zardari and (former Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif, who have been accused of corruption. The resolution of confidence was presented to the assembly by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Members who voted in favour of Khan signed a register and then entered the Parliament building lobby. Outside Parliament, opposition leaders from the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League argued heatedly with Khan’s supporters. Zarar Khan, The Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland — A bus carrying dozens of Ukrainian citizens rolled off an embankment into a ditch in Poland, killing six people and injuring 41, Polish media reported on Saturday. The accident occurred around midnight on the A4 motorway near the town of Jaroslaw, which is in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine. TNV24, a private all-news station, reported that the bus had a Ukrainian license plate and was travelling with 57 Ukrainian citizens, including two drivers, who were travelling from Poland to Ukraine. A large rescue operation early Saturday involved dozens of firefighters, paramedics and helicopters to transport the injured to hospitals. There was no immediate cause given for the accident. Many Ukrainians travel regularly for work to Poland, a European Union state on Ukraine's western border. Ukrainians fill gaps in the labour market in Poland, which has experienced fast economic growth in recent years. The Associated Press
Juliana Aguero of London, Ont., knew she was going to have a tough time buying a house after she separated from her husband. "Every time, I lost the offer for $100,000 or something like that. It was crazy," said Aguero, who made about 10 offers on homes within a span of three months. The average price of a home in London is now more than $600,000. Aguero, who moved to Canada from Colombia 11 years ago, has two children with her ex-husband. The couple decided they wanted to live in the same neighbourhood — near Victoria Hospital — and raise their children together. Aguero is shown with her ex-husband, David Cuellar, and their children, Valeria and Santiago, when the couple was still married.(Submitted by Juliana Aguero) That's when Aguero found a three-bedroom condo listed for $330,000. It seemed like a good deal; other units in the building were listed for $20,000 more. Aguero offered $375,000. Paying it forward "When my realtor came, she actually started with Juliana's offer," said Damian Devonish, a London-based therapist with three children. "[She] said, 'This is a really touching story. I know your heart and I know that you will want to give it to her.'" Without her knowledge, Aguero's realtor had included a letter with her offer, detailing her client's backstory. Devonish, also a recent immigrant, arrived in Canada eight years ago from Barbados and believes strongly in paying it forward. "We don't know how life will treat us 10, 15, 20 years from now. So the best thing to do is to live it well today." Devonish, who moved to London from Barbados eight years ago, is shown with his three children, Destiny, Caden and Dasha. (Submitted by Damian Devonish) "I really didn't have a lot of money when I came to Canada," He said. "I was having difficulty getting a job because I needed a vehicle." Devonish found a car on Kijiji and remembers how the seller agreed to take $500 less for it, and he also threw in a set of winter tires. And that's why when Devonish reviewed all of the offers on his condo, and Aguero's was the lowest by about $50,000, he still accepted it. "I just feel so blessed," said Aguero, who takes possession of the home on May 6. "I've cried. I cannot believe there are people like Damian," she said. During an interview on CBC's London Morning, Aguero spoke directly to Devonish: "I'm absolutely sure you will receive many, many blessings in different ways. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
After a stalled rollout, Ontario is aiming to approve dozens of cannabis retail outlets each week with the goal of hitting 1,000 stores across the province by the fall. But the prospect of more competition, especially during a pandemic, has some in the industry predicting a shakeout in the marijuana marketplace. Vivianne Wilson, the founder and president of GreenPort Cannabis on College Street in the heart of Little Italy, opened her story on Oct. 17, 2020 after waiting almost a year to get it approved. "We opened during the pandemic, so we don't know what normal is. As soon as we opened we were on lockdown again so people can't come into the store," she said. Wilson added that the retail experience is how she hoped to differentiate her store. GreenPort Cannabis employees fill orders during the store's grand opening on Oct. 17, 2020.(CBC) By last summer, Ontario had authorized just 100 cannabis retail stores, fuelling criticism that the slow rollout was hurting legal sales and helping the black market. Now the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates the cannabis industry, is aiming to approve 30 retail store authorizations per week. But with in-store shopping curtailed in many regions due to COVID-19 restrictions, Wilson says it's been tough times for cannabis startups like hers. She's concerned about the impact all those new stores will have. "We opened a brand new business in a brand new industry during the pandemic, so those are huge strikes against any new business to begin with," she said. "It's inevitable that independent stores will feel that impact and I guess we'll have to wait to see see how dramatic it truly is." Trevor Fencott. the CEO and president of Fire and Flower, Canada's largest cannabis retail chain, says despite adding so many stores, Ontario's model doesn't work. He says having the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), the Crown corporation that manages online retail also handle the wholesale distribution to private retailers, is a mistake. "There's an attempt to change the narrative, but really we're still where we were before, which is that the government is operating a monopoly in direct competition with private retailers." Trevor Fencott, president and CEO of Fire & Flower, says Ontario's private cannabis retailers must compete against a Crown corporation with a monopoly on wholesale distribution.(Fire & Flower) Fencott prefers the Saskatchewan model, where the government is the regulator, but not the wholesaler and retailer. He predicts that the OCS "taking gross margins from private retailers" will make them less competitive. "They are going to end up with fewer stores and perhaps that's the clarion call if these mom and pops are not able to sustain themselves. So it might take some business failures." Daffyd Roderick, the Ontario Cannabis Store's senior director of communications, says the cannabis sector is not immune to the factors that affect other retailers. "You see a real range of creative expression about what a cannabis store should look like across the province and that's the real gain in having the private sector involved. And that means some will be very successful and some are going to struggle." But Roderick says the last report for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2020 showed gains for the industry and healthy margins for private retailers. Ontario hit a high with $251 million in legal sales in the fourth quarter of last year. That's about about 32 million grams of weed, up 23 per cent over the previous quarter. That means the legal market has now captured 40 per cent of all cannabis sold in Ontario, up from 36 per cent. Daffyd Roderick, Ontario Cannabis Store’s senior director of communications, says COVID-19 has hit the cannabis sector hard, just as it has all other retailers. (Zoom) As for bankruptcies, consolidations and failures, he says the figures don't show there's a problem. "You're still seeing some stores changing hands. There will be successes there will be failures, but that's the nature of an open marketplace," he said. "We have yet to see a store close its doors since legalization occurred." Jay Rosenthal. the co-founder and president of the research and analysis firm Business of Cannabis, says while many stores are clustering in some Toronto-area communities, there are still many parts of Ontario where getting legal cannabis is still inconvenient. "Even with the ramp up ... saturation of cannabis retail stores is a long way off," said Rosenthal. He says where there is strong competition, retailers with capital and experience, such as, Value Buds, Fire & Flower, High Tide will thrive, but there is room for neighbourhood stores rooted in the community. Jay Rosenthal, co-founder and president of the Business of Cannabis, says while some communities in the Toronto area have complained of too many stores, there are still many parts of Ontario that are underserved.(supplied) In fact, even though the OCS offers lower prices online than private retailers, $6.40 per gram versus $9.45 per gram, customers seem to prefer their local stores. Almost 90 per cent of all legal cannabis in Ontario is bought from private retailers. "If consumers prefer buying from private retailers and COVID has shown that private retailers can responsibly and responsively offer products through e-commerce and delivery, why does the OCS have an e-commerce function at all?" asked Rosenthal. Back at GreenPort, Vivianne Wilson says OCS is appreciated by small and medium operators. "Having the OCS as a wholesaler negotiating for us, especially as an independent, is fantastic," she said. "I don't think that if they took that away we would be able to get the same price as a lot of wealthier corporations with more stores."
Cecile Joan Moosomin walks across the land her ancestors have walked across for centuries. For Moosomin and her family the land is precious — it's life. Coming to a clearing in the woods, her partner Gale and her daughter Angel-Sky listen intently as she reads about the history of the land and the hangings that took place in the North Battleford area in 1885, and talks about what that history means for her. Now, as a member of the Mosquito Grizzly Bear's Head Lean Man First Nation, she's wondering what kind of history she and her band will write in the years to come. The band's leadership has just ratified a land-settlement claim over a century-old breach by the federal government involving 5,800 hectares and worth $127 million — but now, the 40-year-old grandmother is wondering if it was worth it. "If this land is gone, then it's gone. We can't get it back," she said. Calls for a referendum Cecile Moosomin and her daughter Angel-Sky near the Battlefords on Feb. 25, 2021. Moosomin, who says land is life to her and her family, says she's trying to start a dialouge with band leadership to hold a referendum on a $127-million land settlement reached earlier this year, as she wants to ensure the land preserved for future generations like her daughter.(Morgan Modjeski/CBC) Moosomin stressed her intent is not to spur division within her community, and shr is approaching the situation from a place of "peace and reconciliation." She now wants to see a referendum, giving each band member a chance to have a say in the decision, which she says will affect the bands for generations to come. "Everybody should have had an equal opinion about where this settlement was coming from exactly," she said. "Not just consultation with only certain groups of people — we're all people — our kids growing up, we should be informed." Cecile feels the land settlement, which was announced and published earlier this year, is a "band-aid" solution to a complex violation of the treaties that needs to be properly justified, noting she feels the current settlement does not go far enough. She says with land, people can teach future generations to become self-sufficient, leading to more stable and long-term growth. "Our children, the ones in the future, what are they going to think about $127 million," she asked. "That's going to go away. It's not about the money. We just want something good for our people." Decision reached but work not over: Chief Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman, who was elected to the Mosquito Grizzly Bear's Head Lean Man council in 2019, said in an interview that the aim of leadership is to be as transparent as possible with its members around the settlement. She acknowledged there should have been a referendum held among membership in 2012 when then leadership were in the early stages of bringing forward the claim, but says she does not know why it did not take place, noting that leadership had signed a trust agreement, which usually lays out the specifics of a claim, on behalf of the bands was "never, ever shared with our people. "What normally would have happened is, yes, absolutely, there would have been a community referendum, there would have been some dialogue and some sharing of information, however that never happened," she said. I've always said as a leader, as the chief, I will not fight my people." - Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman Aguilar-Antiman explained band leadership was only made aware of the trust agreement in November, causing leadership to wonder why a community-wide vote never took place. She also noted while the tribunal has ruled on the matter, community leaders are still looking at exploring amendments to the trust detailed by past leadership, which includes "amendments of how we can engage and involve our membership." Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman says there should have been a referendum held in 2012, but is not sure why leadership at the time did not take the steps to hold one. However, she says the current aim of leadership is to be transparent and accountable to its members, noting they'd be willing to explore the possibility of a referendum.(Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs) She stressed while she cannot explain "why former leaders in 2012 did what they did without telling the people," but says the leaders of today, while ready to consult with community elders, will operate in an open and straightforward manner, even as they have to make some tough and timely decisions. "Moving forward, it's 2021 and as leaders of today, that's something we want to continue to do, is to be transparent, be accountable to our members and work with our people," she said. "I've always said as a leader, as the chief, I will not fight my people." She noted the band is actually in the process of appealing portions of the decision, noting band leadership weren't satisfied with all of the tribunal's finding and she says that work continues. For her, she said the option of a referendum is something they'd be willing to explore, as they want to try and set a good example for the generations to come, but noted elder voices in the community must be considered and heard, as they were instrumental in making the land claim a reality. "It's the little ones that we're molding," she said. "To become stronger and better leaders than what we are today." Moosomin said she feels the chief's willingness to have a discussion about the land settlement as it proceeds is "really wonderful," calling it a communication breakthrough between band members and their leadership. Officials from the specific claims tribunal said it has to decline comment due to the fact tribunals and courts do not speak to decisions or matters proceeding before them, but confirmed the matter is now before the Federal Court of Appeal.
Instead of buying a new remote, the most common problem occurs when the connector inside gets dirty. The hard part is snapping the plastic housing. A little bit of rubbing alcohol to clean things up and it'll be back in business in no time!
YANGON, Myanmar — Security forces in Myanmar again used force Saturday to disperse anti-coup protesters, a day after the U.N. special envoy urged the Security Council to take action to quell junta violence that this week left about 50 peaceful demonstrators dead and scores injured. Fresh protests were reported Saturday morning in the biggest city of Yangon, where stun grenades and tear gas were used against protesters. On Wednesday, 18 people were reported killed there. Protests were also reported in Myitkyina, the capital of the northern state of Kachin, Myeik, in the country’s far south where police fired tear gas at students, and Dawei in the southeast where tear gas was also used. Other places included Kyaikto, in the eastern state of Mon, Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state in eastern Myanmar, and Myingyan, a city where one protester was killed on Wednesday. The escalation of violence has put pressure on the world community to act to restrain the junta, which seized power on Feb. 1 by ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule that led to international isolation and sanctions. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party led a return to civilian rule with a landslide election victory in 2015, and with an even greater margin of votes last year. It would have taken a second five-year term of office last month, but instead she and President Win Myint and other members of her government were placed in military detention. Large protests have occurred daily across many cities and towns. Security forces responded with greater use of lethal force and mass arrests. At least 18 protesters were shot and killed last Sunday and 38 on Wednesday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office. More than 1,000 have been arrested, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said. U.N. special envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said in her briefing to Friday’s closed Security Council meeting that council unity and “robust” action are critical “in pushing for a stop to the violence and the restoration of Myanmar’s democratic institutions.” “We must denounce the actions by the military,” she said. “It is critical that this council is resolute and coherent in putting the security forces on notice and standing with the people of Myanmar firmly, in support of the clear November election results.” She reiterated an earlier appeal to the international community not to “lend legitimacy or recognition to this regime that has been forcefully imposed and nothing but chaos has since followed.” The Security Council took no immediate action. Council diplomats said Britain circulated a draft presidential statement for consideration, a step below a legally binding resolution. Any kind of co-ordinated action at the U.N. will be difficult because two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, are likely to veto it. Schraner Burgener earlier this week warned Myanmar’s army that the world’s nations and the Security Council “might take huge, strong measures.” “And the answer was, ‘We are used to sanctions, and we survived those sanctions in the past,’” she said. When she warned that Myanmar would become isolated, Schraner Burgener said “the answer was, ‘We have to learn to walk with only a few friends.’” The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies urged immediate protection for all Red Cross volunteers and health workers. The statement came after video from a surveillance camera that was circulated widely on social media showed members of an ambulance crew in Yangon being savagely beaten after they were taken into custody by police on Wednesday. “We express profound sadness that Myanmar Red Cross volunteers have been injured while on duty providing lifesaving first aid treatment to wounded people, in line with fundamental principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality. Red Cross volunteers should never be targeted," the federation said. The Associated Press
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Saturday for a binding deal by the summer on the operation of a giant Ethiopian hydropower dam, as he made his first visit to neighbouring Sudan since the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir. Egypt also signalled support for Sudan in a dispute with Ethiopia over an area on the border between the two countries where there have recently been armed skirmishes. Both Egypt and Sudan lie downstream from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which Addis Ababa says is crucial to its economic development.
The village of Chester wants to replace its 60-year-old firehall, located on Central Street, because it can no longer accommodate modern firefighting equipment. "The problem is the height of the doors," said Bill Nauss, the village commission's chairman. "It's hard to buy a fire engine that will fit in." So the village commission is using $625,000 from its reserves to buy the Windjammer Motel property, which is on the outskirts of the community, in hopes that a new facility can be built there. The site is about a kilometre from the current firehall. Nauss said it will provide easier access for volunteer firefighters. The move concerns John Redden, a fire consultant based in New Brunswick, who is familiar with the Chester Fire Service. "What they've done is move their firehall from the highest risk area to the outskirts," said Redden. "I think they're adding issues to the whole response curve of the fire department." The Windjammer Motel property is a possible location for a new firehall.(Steve Lawrence/CBC) Chester resident Tom Mulrooney, a former member of the village commission, said he is not happy with how the issue has been handled so far. Mulrooney is worried about it becoming a multi-million dollar project. "If they really believe that we needed this, they should have gone out and priced the whole thing, land, building, everything, and then have a meeting and present the whole package to the public," he said. According to Redden, Mulrooney's concern is valid because he's seen firehall projects that end up costing up to $5 million. But Nauss said a new firehall project will need approval from local residents and the Municipality of Chester as well as the blessing of the Municipal Affairs department before it can go ahead. "We're not trying to hide anything, everything will be transparent," said Nauss. "We are taking the most fiscal approach that we can possibly take." A new firehall will need approval from local residents and the Municipality of Chester as well as the blessing of the province before it can go ahead.(Steve Lawrence/CBC) The village commission has posted a list of questions and answers about the firehall issue. Nauss said even if the project is approved a new firehall won't be completed before 2023. Mulrooney is also concerned about the timing of the land acquisition, given that since 2019 the Municipality of Chester has been conducting a review of all fire stations in the area, including the one in the village. "It makes no sense," said Mulrooney. "Why is this study being ignored?" But the municipality's warden does not believe the new location for the village firehall will impact the assessment. "It's so close to where the firehall is now that it's insignificant," said Alan Webber. "In terms of responding outside of the village core it may even have a positive impact." The assessment is still in a draft form, is under review by a steering committee and has not yet been presented to the public. MORE TOP STORIES
A Northwest Territories committee is changing its process for determining species at risk with the goal of better reflecting Indigenous and community knowledge. The N.W.T. Species at Risk Committee (SARC) made the announcement in a news release Tuesday. It says it will now use two separate sets of criteria based on Indigenous and community knowledge, and scientific knowledge, respectively. The final species assessment can be supported by criteria from either, or both, knowledge systems, depending on the best available information, the release says. "Around the world, accepted standards for species at risk assessments are based strongly in western science," Leon Andrew, chair of the Northwest Territories Species at Risk Committee, said in a statement. "However, there is increasing acceptance that Indigenous and community knowledges are systems of knowing in their own right that do not need to fit within a model of, or be verified by, western science." Both knowledge systems to exist as equals The release says it became "clear" to the committee that the assessment process needed to be "rethought and rebuilt" so that it "recognizes the local, holistic, eco-centric and social-spiritual context of Indigenous knowledges." The new guidelines are consistent with the Convention on Biological Diversity, it says. "Through a more balanced and holistic approach to species assessment, SARC hopes to provide room for both knowledge systems to exist and interact as equals," the release reads in part. The committee's assessment process and objective biological criteria now significantly differ from those used by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, according to the release. The new assessment process will be applied for the first time to the re-assessment of polar bears in April 2021. The committee says it will regularly review the effectiveness of the new assessment criteria.