Beijing has condemned a House of Commons vote declaring that China's actions in its western Xinjiang region meet the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.
Beijing has condemned a House of Commons vote declaring that China's actions in its western Xinjiang region meet the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Wheatland County voted not to support the draft of a regional planning document that, if adopted, could shape development across 10 municipalities in the Calgary region into the future. The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) was established by regulation passed by the NDP-led provincial government in 2017 to promote the long-term sustainability of the region around Calgary. It is composed of 10 member municipalities, including Strathmore and (a portion of) Wheatland County. A requirement of the CMRB is the creation of a regional planning document to establish overarching planning strategies for the region, relating to such things as land use, infrastructure investment and service delivery. This document, called the CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan, is due to be submitted to the province by March 1. While a draft growth and servicing plan has been developed by an external consultant, HDR Calthorpe, a planning consulting firm, it has not yet been finalized. As such, the CMRB is requesting an extension of this deadline to June 1, but it has not yet publicly received a response from the province. HDR Calthorpe has been presenting an overview of the draft CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan to member municipalities. This plan was presented to Strathmore town council during its Feb. 10 committee of the whole meeting and to Wheatland County council during its Feb. 16 regular meeting. Following the Feb. 16 presentation, Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link raised several questions about the impacts of the proposed CMRB Growth and Servicing Plan on Wheatland County. An aspect of the draft regional growth plan could affect Wheatland County as it prohibits employment areas from rural areas, outside of hamlets and “joint planning areas” (of which there are three: between Calgary and Chestermere, Calgary and Airdrie, and Okotoks and High River). The plan thus aspires to shut down rural growth and mandate that most of the growth in the Calgary metropolitan region be directed into urban municipalities, said Link. “This entire plan is built on a basic premise that specific types of development are only appropriate in certain municipalities, and that’s really being delineated by virtue of whether a municipality is considered urban or rural – and that doesn’t capture the reality of Alberta,” said Link. “Our rural neighbours in the CMRB have demonstrated that effective, sustainable and efficient servicing can happen for industrial or commercial developments outside of urban centres.” With challenges in the oil and gas sector, Wheatland County has seen significant reductions to its linear tax assessment revenue. In response, its council has been looking to attract investment, diversify and maintain the sustainability of the municipality, said Link. But this new restriction could hinder long-term investment attraction. “This growth plan certainly constrains, if not completely sterilizes, our ability to (attract investment).” The CMRB draft growth and servicing plan honours existing area structure plans (ASP), planning documents for major developments (e.g. residential communities, industrial parks), passed by member municipalities. But if significant amendments to an ASP are required, approval from the CMRB will be required. Under the CMRB regulation, if a decision is to be made by a vote, it must be supported by at least two thirds of the representatives from member municipalities with at least two thirds of the population in the Calgary metropolitan region. As Calgary accounts for about 90 per cent of the Calgary metropolitan region’s total population, this essentially gives the City of Calgary veto power. This voting structure of the CMRB, together with the growth plan, will move decisions away from local democratic governments to a model where one municipality exercises authority over all others, said Link. “That voting structure is essentially based on the notion that authority is given due to the population of that certain municipality, and ignores the responsibility we as rural municipalities have for stewarding large masses of land and our local communities.” This dynamic could affect Wheatland County directly, which has an approved ASP for its West Highway 1 industrial park which currently requires developers to provide self-servicing for wastewater and stormwater. But as the county is considering providing servicing to the area, this would likely constitute a significant change, requiring CMRB approval, and may not be seen as aligned with the new plan. “I don’t think anybody could have anticipated that our local autonomy would be stripped, and another municipality would be making the decisions on those amendments,” said Link. Link also questioned whether public engagement for the growth and servicing plan was sufficient. “The public was only asked to comment on high-level concepts,” she said. “They were never given the opportunity to comment on policy that would give them an understanding of how the plan would impact them.” There was little to no participation by Wheatland County residents, she added. Later in the meeting, Wheatland County council passed unanimously a multi-part motion to not support the draft regional growth plan, stating it is concerned significant portions of the growth plan have not been submitted as required. “We just don’t feel that we can in good conscience support the growth plan as it stands with the impacts of the policy that it contains,” said Link. “It is potentially extremely detrimental to economic growth in Alberta.” The contract between CMRB and HDR Calthorpe stipulates the submission of the regional growth plan, as well as a regional servicing plan and a regional evaluation framework, the motion states. But Wheatland County is “greatly concerned” none of this work has been “satisfactorily completed,” despite the county contributing over $165,000 worth of staff and elected officials’ time over the past 13 months towards the project, it reads. As a result, county council is requesting an analysis of the time and money spent by all member municipalities as contributions toward the work of the consultant for review and discussion at the next CMRB board meeting. An accounting of all project costs to date and project work submitted should also be provided, according to the motion. The final part of the motion states the CMRB board should review the draft submissions while considering the provincial mandate of red tape reduction and other provincial economic strategies. An updated growth and servicing plan will be presented to the CMRB during its next meeting, on Feb. 26. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Businesses in Strathmore could start paying different licensing fees, depending on their size or other characteristics. A motion passed during the on Feb. 17 town council meeting directs town administration to explore whether Strathmore could adopt an approach used in other municipalities, where different license fees are charged depending on business size. Under the town’s current business license bylaw, passed in 2010, general business licenses cost $100 for residential businesses and $200 for non-residential businesses. Under this model, a large “big box” retailer pays the same fee as a small downtown storefront. Strathmore town Councillor Jason Montgomery said Canmore uses a tiered structure, where different businesses pay different amounts, depending on certain variables. In Canmore, license fees vary by square footage (for retail, commercial, wholesale and industrial businesses), by number of rooms (for hotels) and by seating (for restaurants), among other business-specific classes. Chestermere also employs a tiered approach for home-based businesses. It differentiates home businesses into two classes based on whether clients or customers visit, with a major home business (where customers visit) is charged $100 annually for a business license, compared to $50 for a minor home business (where customers do not visit). The intent of the possible change would not be to take in more revenue from business license fees overall, but rather to ease fees on smaller businesses that use less resources than larger ones, said Montgomery. Adopting the change would make the system fairer among different sized businesses in the community, said Mayor Pat Fule. Councillor Denise Peterson also spoke in support of the motion. “I think our community has grown to the point that it’s time for a review of how we operate,” she said. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
Quebecers 85 years and older were able to register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Thursday, while seniors in Ontario will have to wait weeks to book in that province. The Quebec appointments are to begin next week in the Montreal region. Ontario’s vaccine distribution committee, blaming a lack of supply for the delay, has said seniors won’t be able to book appointments until March 15. Provinces are moving forward with their vaccine distribution plans as federal officials assure the disruptions that have plagued supply lines have been rectified. The vaccine appointment launch in Alberta on Wednesday left many frustrated when the government's online portal crashed after more than 150,000 people tried to get access to it about the same time. Some 230,000 people born in 1946 or earlier are now eligible to be immunized in that province. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, military commander in charge of the federal vaccine distribution program, said he understands that provinces may not have a lot of confidence in dose deliveries after a disappointing performance in February. But supply is already ramping back up, he said. The largest number of doses yet was delivered this week — 643,000 across the country. "Provinces are now in a position to fully deploy their immunization plans," Fortin said. Even with setbacks in recent weeks, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said more than 40 per cent of seniors over 80 have received one dose of the vaccine. About 5.5 per cent have received a second dose. Njoo cautioned it is not time for people to let their guard down. "For now, however, COVID-19 remains a serious threat” Concern over spread of the novel coronavirus in Quebec has prompted officials there to require primary school students in red pandemic-alert zones, including the greater Montreal area, to wear masks starting March 8. It won't apply to certain students with special needs or when children are playing outside. The more contagious B.1.1.7 variant — first detected in the United Kingdom — has become a significant concern in Montreal, where there is still widespread community transmission. The variant is making up eight to 10 per cent of new cases. Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal's public health director, said 40 per cent of cases linked to variants in the city involved children. Hospitalizations, however, are declining provincewide. Health authorities are reporting 858 new infections and 16 more deaths. Ontario was to release new COVID-19 projections later Thursday. The province has reported 1,138 new infections and 23 more deaths linked to the virus. There has been a total of 20,945 new cases across Canada over the past seven days. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Ce jeudi, les résultats d’une consultation sur l’autonomie alimentaire menée auprès des citoyens de la Haute-Gaspésie ont été dévoilés par le LAB Nourrir notre monde. Ils donnent une bonne idée des volontés de la population, et des infrastructures concrètes qui pourraient voir le jour dans cette MRC. Le LAB Nourrir notre monde est un projet d’innovation sociale et de revalorisation des savoirs d’antan qui vise à mettre en place des infrastructures bioalimentaires collectives en Haute-Gaspésie. Celles-ci permettront de produire, transformer et conserver des aliments locaux, et in fine d’améliorer la résilience de la population face aux changements climatiques. Pas moins de 275 personnes ont répondu à la consultation, qui a débuté en novembre : 113 l’ont fait en ligne, et 162 par le biais de cartes postales imprimées à cet effet et distribuées dans les commerces d’alimentation locaux. Agente de mobilisation pour le LAB Nourrir notre monde, Mireille Jalbert y voit la preuve d’« un engouement, un besoin et un désir de se mobiliser pour les projets du LAB ». Un participant sur deux s’est d’ailleurs dit intéressé à s’impliquer dans la suite du processus. Sur les cartes postales et le formulaire en ligne, plusieurs suggestions d’infrastructures collectives étaient données. Six d’entre elles ont été plébiscitées par la population, recevant plus de 90 votes chacune : pépinière, biodigesteur pour faire du compostage, poulailler communautaire, caveau pour conserver les légumes, serre solaire passive et fumoir à poisson. Les participants à la consultation y sont également allés de leurs idées personnelles, allant du rucher communautaire jusqu’à la cuisine collective de transformation et la bibliothèque de semences, en passant par des idées très originales comme l’achat de chaloupes collectives afin de pouvoir partir à la pêche au large. Une entrée dans le vif du sujet dès mars Au courant du mois de mars, l’équipe du LAB Nourrir notre monde va effectuer une tournée virtuelle des différentes localités de la Haute-Gaspésie. Dans chacune d’entre elles, la population sera informée des résultats de la consultation au niveau local. C’est à partir de ce moment-là que les choses sérieuses commenceront : les projets seront choisis puis mis en place en collaboration avec les citoyens. Ces derniers pourront s’impliquer à deux niveaux : soit dans les comités citoyens qui piloteront les projets de A à Z, soit plus ponctuellement lors de corvées. Selon la co-coordonnatrice du LAB Marie-Ève Paquette, « le comité citoyen qu’on va mettre en place après nos rencontres locales va être central pour aller fouiller : est-ce qu’on a un terrain ciblé pour le projet qu’on aimerait voir naître dans notre municipalité? Combien ça pourrait coûter? Est-ce qu’il y a des gens qui ont des connaissances sur notre territoire pour nous aider à construire cette infrastructure? Tranquillement, il y a des projets qui vont nous sembler de plus en plus viables. » Il faudra également s’assurer que toutes les règlementations municipales sont respectées. Le budget sera ensuite distribué entre les différents projets selon les besoins, donc pas nécessairement en parts égales partout sur le territoire. D’après Mme Paquette, des infrastructures pourraient être construites dès cet été. Lancé en octobre, le LAB bénéficie d’un budget de 800 000 $ pour trois ans, financé majoritairement par le ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, dans le cadre du programme Climat municipalités-Phase 2. Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
The United States has pledged to tell the world its conclusions on what role Saudi Arabia's crown prince played in the brutal killing and carving up of a U.S.-based journalist, but as important is what comes next — what the Biden administration plans to do about it. Ahead of the release of the declassified U.S. intelligence report, President Joe Biden was expected to speak to Saudi King Salman as soon as Thursday for the first time since taking office more than a month ago. It will be a later-than-usual courtesy call to the Middle East ally, timing that itself reflects Biden's displeasure. The conversation will be overshadowed by the expected imminent release of findings on whether the king's son approved the Oct. 2, 2018, killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's authoritarian consolidation of power, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. U.S. intelligence agencies concluded in 2018 that the prince likely ordered the killing, a finding reported by news media but never officially released. Biden pledged as a candidate to make Saudi Arabia “a pariah” over the killing. The prince's critics, including a rights group founded by the slain journalist, want him to make good on that pledge with sanctions or other tough actions targeting and isolating the prince. They fear Biden will go with condemnation instead, eschewing a lasting standoff with the likely future ruler of an important, but often difficult, U.S. strategic ally, valued both for its oil reserves and its status as a counterbalance to Iran in the Middle East. The killing drew bipartisan outrage. Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said Thursday he hopes Biden talks to the king ”very straight about it, and very emphatically, and says that this is not acceptable.” Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said he understood the administration to be considering new sanctions to accompany release of the report. “So it’s a day of reckoning, but one that’s long overdue.” The report's findings, and Biden's resulting next steps, at a minimum will set the administration's tone for dealing with the ambitious 35-year-old prince. Critics blame Mohammed bin Salman for the kingdom's imprisonment and alleged torture of peaceful rights advocates, businesspeople and other royals at home and for launching a devastating war in neighbouring Yemen and a failed economic blockade against neighbouring Qatar, among other actions. Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated power rapidly since his father, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, in his 80s, became king in 2015. Salman is one of the last living sons of modern Saudi Arabia’s original founder. Given his age and Saudi royals' longevity, the prince could rule for the next half-century, if he follows his aging father to the throne. "This was in the span of two or three years — just imagine what will happen in the next 40 years if they allow him to rule,” Abdullah al Oudh, a Saudi man who has received asylum in the United States after Saudi Arabia imprisoned al Oudh’s father in 2017 over a tweet urging Saudi reconciliation with Qatar, said Thursday. “This guy ... sees the world as a stage for his botched operations," said Oudh, a Gulf research director for Democracy for the Arab World Now, a rights group Khashoggi founded shortly before his murder. The Saudi Arabia Embassy spokesman in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. Saudi officials have said Khashoggi's killing was the work of rogue Saudi security and intelligence officials. The prince said in 2019 he took “full responsibility” for the killing since it happened on his watch, but denied ordering it. U.S. intelligence findings are coming out more than two years after Khashoggi walked hand-in-hand with his fiancee to the Saudi consulate in Turkey. He planned to pick up documents for their wedding. The errand was recorded by surveillance cameras that tracked his route and those of his alleged killers in Istanbul in the hours leading up to his killing. Inside the consulate, Khashoggi died at the hands of more than a dozen Saudi security and intelligence officials and others who had assembled ahead of his arrival. A Turkish bug planted at the embassy reportedly captured the sound of a forensic saw, operated by a Saudi military colonel who was also a forensics expert, carving up Khashoggi’s body within an hour of his entering the building. The whereabouts of his remains remain unknown. Much of the damage from the killing of Khashoggi, a gregarious and well-regarded Saudi journalist with influential supporters in the United States and around the world, has already been absorbed by the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Once in office, Biden said he would maintain whatever scale of relations with Saudi Arabia that U.S. interests required. He also ordered an end to U.S. support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and said he would stop the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia. He's given few details of what weapons and support he meant. Asked how the release of the findings would affect Biden's approach toward Saudi Arabia, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday, “He will speak out on the concerns he has about human rights abuses, about the lack of freedom of speech or the lack of freedom of media and expression, or any concerns he has." But she added: “We have a long relationship with Saudi Arabia” and said the U.S. would continue aiding Saudi Arabia's defence against regional rivals. Congress in 2019 demanded the release of the report's findings, but the Trump administration refused. The Biden administration agreed to release a declassified version. Saudi Arabian courts last year announced they had sentenced eight Saudi nationals to prison in Khashoggi's killing. They were not identified. —- Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Chicago contributed to this report. Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
Canada’s new border control measures for air travellers are turning into a nightmare for international students, said Languages Canada, a national non-profit representative for 203 accredited English and French language education programs. “The latest requirements imposed by government is taking away the ability to work for the 19,000 Canadians employed in our sector by unnecessarily choking the flow of international students,” said Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada. “The confusion, the lack of functionality, and the cost of new requirements associated with studying in Canada will result in [international] students postponing studies or choosing a competing destination,” he said. The new measures that went into effect this week, mandates that all non-essential air travellers take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and reserve a room at a hotel for three nights while awaiting their results. The measure would still be in effect regardless if the traveller’s mandated 72-hour pre-arrival test has turned out negative. The hotel stay will be at the expense of the traveller and expected to cost about $2,000. If the result turns out positive, the traveller would isolate at designated government facilities. Otherwise, they would complete the rest of their mandated two-week quarantine at home. Languages Canada said it has received a litany of complaints and questions from Canadian language education institutions and students. They include: Peralta said educational institutions have already spent millions of dollars to comply with COVID-19 readiness plan requirements as mandated by the government last fall. Strict policies have already been adopted for international students, including mandatory testing, tracking, and a 14-day quarantine. Systems costing millions of dollars have been set up to handle the logistics required to comply with these policies. “These systems have been working successfully from the beginning. In fact, Languages Canada’s Study Safe Corridor–Travel Safe program has not had a single COVID case among its students since it launched in October 2020, and it is designed to safely handle infections should any occur.” “It doesn’t have to be this complicated. We already have a proven, safe, cost-effective, and Canadian solution in place,” added Peralta. Canada’s language education sector is a vital segment of the nation’s $22 billion-a-year international education sector and attracts over 150,000 international students to learn English or French. Over one-third of language students go on to pursue post-secondary programs in Canada and many remain in the country as skilled immigrants. The University of BC said its working with Universities Canada and the Bureau for International Education to minimize the impact of travel restrictions on international students, according to the Ubyssey, the campus student paper. “Travel to Canada for UBC’s international students is considered essential. These are not tourists. Our hope in conversation with the government is to eliminate for students to be impacted by these changes,” said Michelle Suderman, director of international student development. Fabian Dawson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Canadian Media
SAINT-LÉONARD-D’ASTON. Les efforts de l’entreprise étudiante Service royal ont été reconnus. En effet, les élèves de la classe de cheminement continu de l’école la Découverte ont remporté le prix du public dans la catégorie 12 à 17 ans du Concours vidéo « Coopérer, c’est faire ensemble!» du Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité. «Je suis très fière de mes élèves qui sont dévoués depuis le début de l’année dans le projet Service royal. Merci à toutes les personnes qui ont voté pour eux. Ils méritent ce prix avec tous les efforts déployés à désinfecter dans l’école dans le but de réduire les risques de transmission du virus de la COVID-19. En plus, notre projet prend vraiment de l’envergure. On est très actif dans l’école. Je pense qu’on vient de partir une tradition», se réjouit l’enseignante Laurie Descoteaux. Les 11 élèves de la classes décideront sous peu à quoi va servir cette somme. La décision sera prise démocratiquement et dans l’esprit de la coopération. Rappelons que le projet Service royal vient d’une initiative des élèves de la classe de cheminement continu qui souhaitaient faire de la désinfection dans le but de réduire les risques de transmission du virus. Ainsi, entre autres, les élèves lavent les poignées de portes de toute l’école deux fois par jour. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
There has been much community engagement and debate over the proposed Cardston recreation centre through recent letters to the editor and social media posts. The Temple City Star conducted interviews with municipal CAO’s this week in an effort to get straight to the facts, and tidy up any confusion. When a municipality has a large capital project in the works, it can take years to work from conception to completion. During the process, administration inquires with different vendors for preliminary pricing, gets an idea of community need (town halls, surveys and discussion), and researches where to best elicit funds (grants, partnerships, reserves, levies, or a tax increase) before council makes any concrete decisions about the project and approves the tendering process in which companies can bid for the job. As CAO Jeff Shaw shares, the indoor recreation facility project has been somewhat different because “we have a community champion in Gibb Schaffer, and council wants to support the project while we have the momentum.” Still, there are processes that legally have to be followed by any municipal level of government, and the red tape can be confusing to untangle. Town councillors have been interested in building a recreation center since the 2018 election, and a committee of council began pursuing this idea in 2019 with a very large indoor recreation center in mind. The intention of the committee was to commence public consultation in 2020, but due to COVID, the public consultation had to be cancelled. In the fall of 2020 major discussions on the specifics of an indoor recreation building were resurrected around the council table when Mr. Schaffer asked council to pursue it more assertively. As it stands, the Cardston Town Council has made very few official resolutions regarding the project, only those resolutions which direct administration to seek information regarding community need, project scope and size, and preliminary pricing. The recreation center is still just a proposal, but one council is actively seeking more information about before committing fully. Council recently created a short survey gathering community interest in a general use indoor recreation center which includes questions about potential user fees and tax impacts. The potential project scope and size has yet to be determined, as discussions around the council table have ranged from the building being an 8,000 square foot structure to a 19,000 square foot structure. According to CAO Jeff Shaw, the “survey attempts to grasp at basic community need and interest… we can shape what the building will look like once we understand the need better.” Hasegawa engineering group has been consulted as a third party to help determine preliminary costs of a larger building, and these were presented in a public meeting. Cardston town council has publicly, and informally, committed 1 million dollars to the capital funding (or building costs) of the proposed recreation centre, contingent on other funding covering any capital expenses over and above their contribution. At this time it is expected that $700, 000 of the town’s portion of the funding will come from reserves that have been put away for the recreation department, and $300,000 will come from Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) dollars. MSI is funding received from the provincial government to support local infrastructure projects, but has recently been on the chopping block in provincial budgets. Every year town councils wait to set their municipal budgets depending on the ramifications of the provincial budget, so these numbers are not yet set in stone for the year. Even if the 2021 provincial budget does not decrease council's expected MSI dollars, the recreation center would still require other funding in order to go ahead as Shaw has shared that “council isn’t willing to extend themselves past the first million.” In discussions with Mr. Shaffer at council meetings, much has been mentioned about easing the financial load by working with local contractors who are willing to donate time and materials, soliciting funds from other partners, and from private donations. However, Cardston Council first needs an idea about the total scope of the project, and the potential price, then they will make a decision about tax rates for the year, all before they will start to officially solicit funds from other partners. As previously reported, Westwind school division has already declined the invitation to become a financial partner this year. In last week's front page article, it was reported that the County was “willing to set aside $250,000 for the project.” Clarification on this point comes from Cardston County CAO Murray Millward, who says that “the County has not received any official funding requests from Cardston, and they will not act until a request comes through the official line”. If they do receive a request, Cardston County may also want to conduct a survey of citizens to gauge the desire for county support. The County has heard Mr. Shaffer’s presentation on the matter and would consider recreation donations for the project. Their recreation funding to any adjacent municipality is determined by an Inter-municipal Collaboration Framework (ICF), and such an agreement with Cardston has been underway and will soon be signed by both councils. Any donations to the recreation center would be over and above the ICF agreement. However if county council votes to not assist in funding the project, and the town of Cardston decides to go ahead with it anyways, the county would not be on the line for future operational costs for the center. Operating costs for most recreation centers make building restrictive to many small municipalities, which is why you don’t find a full sized swimming pool and gym in every single small town. There is sometimes an assumption that the charges to enter a recreation facility cover the operational costs for that facility but this is often not the case. Estimating the operational costs of the facility cannot be done until size and scope are determined, which will not be decided until council receives feedback from the survey about community interest.Once feedback is received, and the taxation levels for the year decided in the budget, then the council can go ahead and solicit funds from partners, knowing more precisely how much capital and operational help they require in order to get the project off the ground. Once enough capital funds have been gathered, it would be time to go ahead with the tendering process, which is when commitments become real and cannot be backed away from (without major financial consequence). It is mandated by trade agreements that council go through a formal process to get bids on jobs that are above a certain price threshold, and this project will inevitably be above the threshold. It is the hope that, if the project goes forward to tender, local contractors would bid for the job, and include the very generous donations of time and labour that some have discussed with Mr. Shaffer during his initial legwork attempting to reduce costs. Contractors willing to donate some of their time and supplies because they believe in the project could score favourably in the evaluation process. However, the financial magnitude of the job disallows the town from favouring any bids by local contractors. The financial magnitude of the project is heavy on the council's mind and has kept them from jumping in with both feet at this point. Time will tell, and budgets dictate, what the future is for this proposal. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
SAN DIEGO — President Joe Biden on Wednesday lifted a freeze on green cards issued by his predecessor during the pandemic that lawyers said was blocking most legal immigration to the United States. Former President Donald Trump last spring halted the issuance of green cards until the end of 2020 in the name of protecting the coronavirus-wracked job market — a reason that Trump gave to achieve many of the cuts to legal immigration that had eluded him before the pandemic. Trump on Dec. 31 extended those orders until the end of March. Trump had deemed immigrants a “risk to the U.S. labour market” and blocked their entry to the United States in issuing Proclamation 10014 and Proclamation 10052. Biden stated in his proclamation Wednesday that shutting the door on legal immigrants “does not advance the interests of the United States." “To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world," Biden stated in his proclamation. Most immigrant visas were blocked by the orders, according to immigration lawyers. As many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost largely because of the pandemic-related freeze in the 2020 budget year, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Immigrants could not bring over family members unless they were U.S. citizens applying for visas for their spouses or children under the age of 21. It also barred entry to immigrants with employment-based visas unless they were considered beneficial to the national interest such as health care professionals. And it slammed the door on thousands of visa lottery winners who were randomly chosen from a pool of about 14 million applicants to be given green cards that would let them live permanently in the United States. The blocked visas add to a growing backlog that has reached 473,000 for family-based visas alone, said California immigration lawyer Curtis Morrison, who represented thousands of people blocked by the freeze. “I’m thrilled for my clients who are now in a position that they can now enter the U.S.," he said. “But that backlog will take years if the administration does not take ambitious measures." A federal judge last year issued a ruling that all but lifted Proclamation 10052 by allowing temporary foreign workers to enter the United States if their employers are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or several other large organizations that represent much of the U.S. economy. But Proclamation 10014 continued to block thousands of immigrants. Immigration lawyers said they were surprised Biden did not immediately lift the freeze like he did with Trump's travel ban imposed against people from mostly Muslim-majority countries. As a result, some immigrants blocked by the travel ban found they still could not come to the United States because of the freeze. Biden's actions come only days after thousands of visa lottery winners at risk of having their visas expire won a court order that put their visas on hold by the judge in the case. Now they will be allowed to use their visas to enter the country. The United States makes available up to 55,000 visas a year for immigrants whose nationalities are underrepresented in the U.S. population. The visas must be used within six months of being obtained. Meanwhile, Biden has proposed legislation that would limit presidential authority to issue future bans against immigrants. The president has not said whether there will be any redress for visa lottery winners who lost out because of the pandemic-era policies. But he is calling for the U.S. to increase the number of diversity visas available via the lottery each year from 55,000 to 80,000. ___ This story has been corrected to reflect that the name of an organization of lawyers is the American Immigration Lawyers Association, not the American Immigrant Lawyers Association, and that the number of backlogged family-based visas is 473,000, not 437,000. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The number of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases reported at the military service academies dropped in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 school year, the Pentagon said Thursday. The report, which is required by law annually, comes as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that reducing sexual assault is one of his top priorities. He was recently briefed on the military service's programs to counter the problem. “We have been working at this for a long time in earnest, but we haven’t gotten it right,” Austin said last week at his first Pentagon news conference. He promised stronger efforts. “You can look for us to take additional steps in looking in detail at ourselves and what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what measures we need to take going forward to ensure that we provide for a safe and secure and productive environment for our teammates,” he said. “Any other approach is, in my view, irresponsible.” Thursday's Pentagon report said the number of reported sexual assault cases at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy fell to 129 from 149 in the previous academic year. Sexual harassment reports dropped to 12 from 17. The report said the reason for the declines is unclear, but it noted that in-person classes at the military academies were suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials altered most academy activities, including holding graduations virtually and postponing commissioning ceremonies. Thus, it said, the academies offered only about three-quarters of normal levels of interaction. Separately, an in-person survey of military academy students that is normally conducted to give the Pentagon a better understanding of the sexual assault problem and its prevalence was cancelled because of the pandemic. Robert Burns, The Associated Press
Three cousins from Garden River First Nation were the most recent winners of a hack-a-thon competition. Teams were asked to come up with a plan on how they would spend $500,000 over three years to encourage electric vehicle use in Indigenous communities. This online competition was open to teams of youth ages 18-30 and was hosted by Indigenous Clean Energy and SevenGen. Chris Seymour, Aaron Jones and Megan Young are first cousins who took the time to participate in the hack-a-thon, all while pursuing their own academic excellence. Seymour is a fourth year aerospace engineering student. Jones is a junior researcher for the Firelight Group which supports the rights and interests of Indigenous and local communities. Young is a biology graduate from UBC and is currently working as a wildlife biologist at the Toronto Zoo. The cousins were up against 7 other teams in this competition. All teams were asked to come up with a 15 minute presentation over the 5 day e-gathering. The winning idea the team came up with was to purchase two 15-seat electric passenger vans that could transport Garden River First Nation members back and forth from Sault Ste. Marie. This would allow members of the community who do not have their own vehicles to travel into town for the necessities. With the excess money, they proposed installing electric car charging stations in Indigenous communities along Lake Huron. The trio won $5,000 for their idea, which they split between them. In an interview with Anishinabek News, Seymour states “I’d like to certainly present it to the Chief and Council someday.” Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com
DENVER — Months after protesters tore down a statue of a U.S. soldier who took part in the slaughter of Native Americans, tribal members and descendants of those who survived the Civil War-era attack urged Colorado lawmakers on Thursday to replace it with the likeness of an Indigenous woman at the state capitol. The new statue would replace the one depicting a Union Army soldier who helped carry out the Sand Creek Massacre of 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho people in 1864, one of the worst mass murders in U.S. history. It was toppled over the summer amid the national reckoning over racial injustice and the movement to remove symbols from public spaces that are tied to military atrocities against people of colour, typically the Confederacy. The proposed new bronze statue would depict a young woman sitting on a white flag, wearing a native Cheyenne dress, with her left arm extended. She has cut off her braids and the joint of a finger on her left hand in signs of mourning. Ryan Ortiz of the Northern Arapaho Tribe testified virtually in favour of the new statue for the Capital Development Committee. He said the massacre is the origin of historical trauma for the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes and that the statue would be a chance to right previous wrongs. “It’s not very often in history do we have a chance to atone for our ancestors’ mistakes,” Ortiz said. Otto Braided Hair, a Northern Cheyenne tribal member and descendent of a Sand Creek survivor, has worked on education surrounding the massacre for the last 20 years. He shared details passed down by his great-grandfather. “He was part of a recovery crew to go down and look for survivors and couldn’t get near the village because the whole valley permeated with burnt bodies,” Braided Hair said. “And so that’s what the soldiers did and the soldier represents for us.” On November 29, 1864, Col. John Chivington led around 700 U.S. volunteer soldiers to a village of nearly 500 people camped along the banks of Big Sandy Creek. Chivington ordered his men to attack and kill mostly women, children and elderly at the camp. The village had believed they were under the protection of the U.S. Army, and people even approached the unit with white flags. Over the next two days, the troops shot and hunted fleeing women and children in a 35-square-mile (90-square-kilometre) area. Chivington never faced a trial for his actions. The Sand Creek Massacre site is tucked away in rural southeastern Colorado and honours the victims. “We should be your neighbours. We should be living amongst you. But we were forced out of the area,” Ortiz said to the committee. State Rep. Susan Lontine, a Democrat and chairwoman of the Capitol Building Advisory Committee that reviews art, memorials and architectural designs, said she supported the statue after hearing from tribal members. “We are at a moment of social reckoning, and we have, as a state, our own sins to atone for,” she said. Lontine, whose committee approved the replacement in November, said the statue’s placement is important to the tribes because after the massacre, soldiers came back to Denver, displaying the victims’ body parts as trophies and ended their parade at the steps of the Colorado Capitol. “We’re also dealing with Indigenous people to our state who have suffered numerous broken promises, and I feel that the approval of the committee is a step toward a promise to fulfilling and placing their memorial on the Capitol grounds,” Lontine said. The Capital Development Committee, which is in charge of reviewing funding requests for projects, will deliberate the new statue and make a decision over the next few weeks. ___ Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Patty Nieberg, The Associated Press
Weyburn, Bismarck, N.D., Regina, – The Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show committee is still planning on holding its bi-annual event this June 2-3, but things are still up in the air due to public health restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. And it’s not the only oil show affected. “We are hopeful and optimistic,” said Tanya Hulbert, Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Show manager, by phone from Weyburn on Feb. 25. She said they’ll know more March 19, when the provincial government announces its plans for public health restrictions beyond that date. As Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 numbers have been dropping, the committee was hopeful the provincial government would have started lifting restrictions in mid-February, as North Dakota and Montana have done. That has not been the case. “If anything, we are still going to go through with our golf tournament, because we know that last summer, golfing was allowed,” she said. It may have to be done differently, such as not using a shotgun start, but they intend to find a way. The golf tournament would be held on June 1, but that could change, depending on what happens with the show. And no matter what, they will be announcing this year’s Oilman of the Year, Southeast Saskatchewan Oilman of the Year, and Saskatchewan Oil Patch Hall of Fame inductees. The layout of the show may be changed, and the committee is looking at options for suppers which would allow for more spacing. “We're looking at an all-outdoor show which wouldn't have the same restrictions, but right now we're exploring every possible avenue and we're hopeful and optimistic,” Hulbert said. Williston Basin Petroleum Conference If the global pandemic hadn’t come along in the spring of 2020, the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference would have been held in Bismarck, North Dakota, with this year’s edition to be held in Regina. However, nothing has been normal for the past year, and that schedule was kyboshed a long time ago. However, the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) is planning on going ahead with the convention, live and in person, this May 12-13. Traditionally, for over 30 years, the show has alternated between Saskatchewan and North Dakota, with participation from Manitoba, Montana and South Dakota, all of which have parts of their land area in the Williston Basin. For Saskatchewan, that means the southeast corner of the province. The NDPC has announced that registration is open. “We appreciate your patience as we navigated the uncertainty over the past year - North Dakota is open for business and we want you to join us this May,” they said in an email. “We are firming up our agenda and look forward to making announcements about keynote speakers in the coming weeks. Our trade show is also filling up, over 150 exhibitors so far, and we expect a busy and engaged exhibit hall!” That’s a far cry from Saskatchewan, where this weekend’s TeleMiracle will have no audience, and substantial portions of its show will have been pre-recorded separately. Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 new case numbers have come down somewhat, with seven-day average now 155, and 211 new cases reported on Feb. 25. Saskatchewan had 1,493 active cases. But North Dakota, which saw a tremendous spike in new cases in the late fall, has seen its COVID cases plummet. On Feb. 25, it had 91 new cases, but only 706 active cases. As of Feb. 24, its seven-day average was 90 new cases. In Saskatchewan, the Petroleum Technology Research Centre heads up our version of this event, in conjunction with the Minister of Energy and Resources and the Saskatchewan Geological Survey. Norm Sacuta, spokesperson for PTRC, said they’ve heard recently from North Dakota and talked about their sponsorship. “We will not be going,” Sacuta said on Feb. 24. The Canadian board is meeting this week to discuss what they’re going to do in terms of sponsoring the event. One thing being considered is providing a virtual morning session focused on Saskatchewan, with the PTRC, University of Regina, International Carbon Capture and Storage Knowledge Centre and one other group making presentations. They will be discussing the Canadian version in 2022, which, hopefully by that time, will occur after borders are opened and public health restrictions have eased. Sacuta said it helps in that Saskatchewan’s version of the WBPC is more focused on presentations than the trade show, while the North Dakota version has a heavy emphasis on its large trade show. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
WASHINGTON — Antony Blinken will meet virtually Friday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau in a day of online diplomacy for the U.S. secretary of state. Blinken will meet with Trudeau, Garneau and other members of the federal cabinet as part of a "virtual trip" to Canada and Mexico, Blinken's first bilateral video conferences since taking office. The visit follows up on Trudeau's own virtual summit this week with U.S. President Joe Biden, which produced a "road map" for plans to collaborate on issues like climate change, the economy and COVID-19. The pandemic made an in-person visit impossible, said Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. "We decided to do this virtually instead of waiting for the time when it would be safer to travel," Chung said. "This is the new world we live in through virtual platforms, but we thought it was really important to engage with both Canada and Mexico early on." Agenda items for the two "neighbours, friends and allies" also include "defending human rights in the Western Hemisphere and around the world, and bolstering our shared defence and security," said State Department spokesperson Ned Price. That means the conversations will likely include the plight of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians who have spent the last two years in custody in China. Spavor and Kovrig — the "two Michaels," as they are known in Canada — were swept up in the weeks that followed Canada's arrest in December 2018 of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei and daughter of the company's founder. Meng is facing extradition to the U.S., where she has been charged with violating sanctions against Iran — a case some observers believe is sure to keep the two Michaels behind bars indefinitely. On Tuesday, Biden vowed to work with Canada to secure their release, but offered no clues as to what specifically the U.S. is prepared to do. Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi would only say the U.S. will "continue to seek extradition" of Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver and due back in court Monday. Earlier this month, Canada, the U.S. and a coalition of 56 other countries collectively denounced the state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes. "We've been consistently for the past year talking about the two Michaels … and calling for Beijing to release these two individuals and stop the arbitrary detention," Chung said. "Human beings should not be used as pawns. And we stand by Canada, our strong friend and partner, in the issues of arbitrary detention and for the release of the two Canadian citizens." The followup work after Tuesday's bilateral meetings continued this week in other departments as well. Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson spoke Wednesday with John Kerry, Biden's special envoy on climate, to shore up plans for more stringent emissions-reduction targets in advance of a climate summit in April. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra committed to more stringent vehicle pollution standards to push both countries toward a zero-emissions future on roadways throughout the continent. They are also collaborating on new standards for aviation and for seagoing vessels, as well as efforts to develop new clean-tech solutions with an eye toward the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Blinken is also scheduled to meet with a group of Canadian students, as well as with Mexico's foreign secretary and secretary of the economy during a "visit" to a port of entry facility along the southern U.S. border. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
A dairy producers' lobbying group is asking farmers to consider alternatives to palm supplements in livestock feed pending the results of an investigation launched in response to consumers' concerns about perceived changes to the consistency of butter.In a statement Thursday, The Dairy Farmers of Canada said academics and industry experts will soon convene to examine the use of palm oil and its derivatives to boost cows' diets, while maintaining that the common practice doesn't raise health or safety concerns.The inquiry comes in response to anecdotal reports that butter has gotten harder, but some experts question whether spreadability is a widespread issue.Quebec Dairy Producers released a statement Wednesday calling on farmers to stop supplementing cattle feed with palm-based products as part of a broader look into the use of these ingredients in human food.The association says while the use of dairy feed supplements is in line with federal standards, there are concerns about the environmental impacts of palm oil production.The Quebec Dairy Producers said it will follow the recommendations of the Dairy Farmers of Canada's working group, which will set out to assess the issue based on scientific literature and feedback from consumers."It is essential that decisions be made on a factual basis and that science guide our sector," Dairy Farmers of Canada said."Notwithstanding this announcement, we stress that all milk produced in Canada is as safe as always to consume and is subject to Canada's robust health and safety standards."At the centre of the churning controversy, which some have dubbed "buttergate," is Calgary food writer Julie Van Rosendaal, whose investigation into the issue has garnered international media attention.Van Rosendaal said her deep dive into the dairy sector began in her own kitchen, when she noticed that it seemed to be taking longer for her butter to soften.She took to social media to see if other bakers were having similar struggles, and was flooded with responses from users who had also detected a change in texture."The fact that it was people across Canada, the fact that it kept coming up throughout the season, indicated to me that it wasn't just me," Van Rosendaal said by phone."A lot of people are asking this question, 'What's up with butter?'"After consulting with experts, Van Rosendaal homed in on a possible explanation for why the spread seemed to be stiffer.Her theory, which she laid out in an article for the Globe and Mail, posits that dairy producers have increased use of palm supplements in cattle feed to keep up with demand for butter amid a pandemic-fuelled baking craze.For about two decades, famers have added palmitic acid, a saturated fat found in palm oil, to dairy rations to boost milk production and fat content. This can affect the makeup of milk fat to increase the melting point of butter, according to researchers, which would make it harder to spread.Van Rosendaal said it's hard to find exact figures on the prevalence of palm supplements in cow feed, but industry stakeholders she spoke to say their use is widespread."Butter isn't something that you really look at the ingredients on, because it is an ingredient," Van Rosendaal said."I think people are always surprised to learn about how the food system works ... and how consumer demand affects how our food is produced and made."Alejandro Marangoni, a food science professor at University of Guelph, said in the absence of solid data, he's skeptical of claims about a sector-wide stiffening of butter."You have a sensationalist statement that is completely based on zero data, just some feelings," Marangoni said. "And now the dairy industry is launching an investigation, for what? It might not be true."Marangoni, who researches fats in food, said it wouldn't take much effort to see if "buttergate" stands up to scientific scrutiny. All one would need to do is take samples of butter, measure their hardness and see if it correlates to palmitic acid content.In recent statements, the Dairy Farmers of Canada said industry data suggests that the proportion of palmitic acid in milk fat has been within the range of expected variations over the past year.The group notes that the use of palm fat in dairy feed has been approved by Health Canada, and dairy farmers in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand have also adopted the practice.David Christensen, a professor emeritus of animal and poultry science at the University of Saskatchewan, said if the consistency of butter has changed, the use of palm supplements could be a contributing factor.But he said there's too much uncertainty to rule out other possible explanations, such as new processing methods that can affect the formation of fat crystals in butter.Christensen said of the 75 million metric tonnes of palm oil produced annually, 90 per cent is used by the food industry.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Canada's Auditor General Karen Hogan on Thursday delivered her 2021 report, including five performance audit reports to the House of Commons. Hogan's report found that Canada's ship building strategy was slow to deliver combat and non-combat ships.
(CBC - image credit) Helen Lanthier's message to provincial politicians Thursday about housing problems in rural Nova Scotia had a sharp focus. "Rural Nova Scotia is really experiencing an affordable housing crisis," she told members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development. Lanthier is a member of the South Shore Housing Action Coalition. The coalition includes representation from six municipal councils, as well as local women's shelters and individuals interested in housing issues. She said although "more than 65 per cent of Nova Scotians live in rural communities," there is a growing concern that housing programs, projects and services aimed at those most at risk of becoming homeless are more centralized in Halifax. Helen Lanthier is a member of the South Shore Housing Action Coalition. Lanthier told the committee that rural homelessness is often not as visible as it is in the city, nor as well documented. "But because it is hidden and not easily measured doesn't mean that it doesn't exist," she said. Martin Laycock, a senior official in the just renamed Department of Infrastructure and Housing, outlined what the province has pledged to do. That includes "spending $7.5 million to support the creation of 156 new affordable housing units [and] an additional $2 million to help even more low-income Nova Scotians keep their home safe or make adaptation." Nova Scotia and Ottawa have pledged to do more, but Lanthier said it hasn't been easy for rural-based groups to tap into the millions of dollars that have been promised, simply because of a lack of data to back up their requests. She pointed to the Rapid Housing Initiative announced late last year by Ottawa for projects that had to be completed within a year of financing. "There was no way that we were prepared to do that," she said. "We didn't have the data. "We have all kinds of ideas. We are innovative in our thinking in small communities because we have to be and we were not able to access that funding at that time." 'Almost like it's a two-tiered system' She also pointed to public transportation as part of the criteria for accessing funds. "So many communities in this province don't have transportation for people who don't have cars," said Lanthier. "There are so many barriers that urban centres don't have. "It's almost like it's a two-tiered system." New Democrat MLA Claudia Chender asked Lanthier if short-term rentals have also created a problem. Lathier said they have in communities such as Lunenburg, near her home. "The number of short-term rental accommodations has skyrocketed, from our perception," she said. "We don't have data, and so we can't we cannot actually prove that. "But it is, it appears, to be a real issue in impacting the availability of affordable housing, affordable rental housing." Dalhousie University assistant professor Ren Thomas, co-chair of a new provincial affordable housing commission, told the committee Nova Scotia needed to look to other provinces for inspiration on how to tackle the problem. "We need to share data and information, learn from each other and collaborate on projects more than we're doing now," she said. "We also need to protect the affordable units that we have already built. "There is, as we know, a lot of good work being done across Canada that we can learn from." MORE TOP STORIES
Le bilan lavallois pointe désormais à 781 cas actifs selon les données émises par le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Laval. Cela représente une hausse de 57 cas actifs par rapport à la veille. On décompte aussi 113 nouveaux cas confirmés en date du 25 février. Ils s'ajoutent au total lavallois de 24 367 cas confirmés depuis le début de la pandémie. Le nombre de décès augmente à 868 (+1). Parmi les personnes porteuses du virus, 31 sont hospitalisées, dont 10 aux soins intensifs. Le CISSS de Laval confirme que 15 employés de son réseau sont présentement absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Seulement deux secteurs lavallois ont connu une baisse de cas actifs en date du 25 février, soit Pont-Viau/Renaud-Coursol/Laval-des-Rapides (-13) et Sainte-Dorothée/Laval-Ouest/Laval-Les Îles/Fabreville-Ouest/Laval-sur-le-Lac (-9). Ce dernier est d'ailleurs le secteur lavallois le moins affecté du territoire, que ce soit en chiffres absolus (86 cas actifs) ou en taux d'infection (124 cas par 100 000 habitants. À l'inverse, Chomedey (+9) est toujours le quartier qui compte le plus de cas actifs à Laval avec 185 personnes porteuses du virus. Vimont/Auteuil (+15) constate quant à lui la hausse de cas actifs la plus importante du jour. De leur côté, Duvernay/Saint-François/Saint-Vincent-de-Paul et Fabreville-Est/Sainte-Rose présentent huit et cinq cas actifs de plus sur leur territoire respectif. *** Prendre note que tel qu’indiqué sur le site Web du CISSS de Laval, ces données par secteur incluent l’ensemble des cas des citoyens testés positifs à la COVID-19, qu’ils résident dans des milieux fermés ou ailleurs dans la communauté. Les milieux fermés incluent des milieux de vie comme les centres d’hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD), les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA), les ressources intermédiaires (RI), ainsi que les centres correctionnels. Les données présentées sont calculées en fonction du lieu de résidence. Le CISSS tarde à déterminer le foyer de 50 cas jusqu’ici, dont 6 actifs. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval