Using a cooler on wheels and a set of Toronto Maple Leafs flags, this backyard rink is a great place for hockey.
Using a cooler on wheels and a set of Toronto Maple Leafs flags, this backyard rink is a great place for hockey.
The European Commission on Wednesday took a step towards improving the rights of gig economy workers with the launch of a public consultation to determine their legal employment status and how to improve their working conditions. Courts and regulators have meanwhile sought to correct the shortcomings in the gig economy. The UK Supreme Court ruled last week that Uber drivers are entitled to workers' rights, such as the minimum wage, and a Spanish court said in September that riders for Barcelona-based food delivery app Glovo were employees, not freelancers.
BERLIN — A former member of Syrian President Bashar Assad's secret police was convicted Wednesday by a German court of facilitating the torture of prisoners in a landmark ruling that human rights activists hope will set a precedent for other cases. Eyad Al-Gharib was convicted of accessory to crimes against humanity and sentenced by the Koblenz state court to 4 1/2 years in prison. It was the first time that a court outside Syria ruled in a case alleging Syrian government officials committed crimes against humanity. German prosecutors invoked the principle of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes to bring the case that involved victims and defendants who were in Germany. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the verdict represented a “historic juncture” that would send “real messages to all those who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people and gives hope to the victims and their families that right will prevail.” The group, which has documented the decade-long war, urged Syrian refugees in Europe to come forth with any evidence and documents to courts to help more such cases. Al-Gharib could have faced more than a decade behind bars, but judges took into account mitigating factors, including his testimony in court. The 44-year-old was accused of being part of a unit that arrested people following anti-government protests in the Syrian city of Douma and took them to a detention centre known as Al Khatib, or Branch 251, where they were tortured. Al-Gharib went on trial last year with Anwar Raslan, a more senior Syrian ex-official who is accused of overseeing the abuse of detainees at the same jail near Damascus. Raslan is accused of supervising the “systematic and brutal torture” of more than 4,000 prisoners between April 2011 and September 2012, resulting in the deaths of at least 58 people. During the trial, al-Gharib testified against Raslan, implicating him in more than 10 deaths of prisoners. A verdict in Raslan's case is expected later this year. The court also considered photographs of thousands of alleged victims of torture by the Syrian government. The images were smuggled out of Syria by a former police officer, who goes by the alias of Caesar. “Today’s verdict is the first time a court has confirmed that the acts of the Syrian government and its collaborators are crimes against humanity,” said Patrick Kroker, a lawyer with the European Center for constitutional and Human Rights, which represented multiple survivors at the trial. “Testimony by torture survivors and intelligence officers, as well as the Caesar photos, prove the scale and systemic nature of enforced disappearances, torture and sexual violence in Syria," he said. "The relevance of this evidence extends far beyond the proceedings in Koblenz.” Delivering the oral verdict, the presiding judge made it clear that al-Gharib's crimes were part of the Syrian government’s systematic abuses against its own population. Syrian officials did not testify during the 60-day trial. The court concluded that al-Gharib's unit, which was under Raslan's command, was involved in chasing down and detaining at least 30 people following a demonstration in Douma, and then bringing them to the detention centre where they were tortured. Al-Gharib, who had the rank of sergeant major until he defected, left Syria in 2013 and came to Germany in 2018. Both men were arrested a year later. Some rights groups have raised questions about the trial, noting that government defectors like Al-Gharib may not realize that statements they make during asylum applications may be used against them. Mohammad Al-Abdallah, director of the Washington-based Syria Justice and Accountability Center and a former prisoner in Syria, said Al-Gharib was a low-ranking officer with little value in the case against him. He suggested that putting defectors like Raslan and Al-Gharib in prison would please the Assad government, "because this will deter anyone else from defecting or joining the opposition or supplying information to human rights groups.” But Wassim Mukdad, a Syrian survivor and co-plaintiff in Raslan's trial, said while al-Gharib was "just one small cog in the vast Syrian torture apparatus” the verdict against him was important. “I hope it can shed light on all of the Assad regime’s crimes,” he said. "Only then will the trial really be a first step on this long road to justice for myself and other survivors.” The European Center for constitutional and Human Rights, which supports 29 survivors in the case against Raslan, of whom 14 are represented as co-plaintiffs in that case, is working to bring further cases against Syrian officials to trial in Germany, Austria, Sweden and Norway. ___ Sarah El Deeb in Beirut and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report. Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
Bruce Springsteen was fined $500 on Wednesday after the rock 'n' roll legend pleaded guilty to a charge of consuming alcohol at a federally run New Jersey beach in November, and prosecutors dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges. Springsteen, 71, whose songs have chronicled life in his home state of New Jersey and its shore scene for more than 50 years, entered his plea in an online arraignment before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Anthony Mautone in Newark. He admitted to downing "two small shots of tequila" on Nov. 14 at Sandy Hook beach, part of the National Park Service's Gateway National Recreation Area, where alcohol consumption is prohibited.
MULGRAVE – One might say it was an ambitious plan, to create a meal delivery service to support older, vulnerable adults in Guysborough County experiencing challenges related to food security during the pandemic. Given that the county is geographically large and has a population of whom half are more than the age of 55, the idea took some planning to get off the ground. But with government funding – from the federal New Horizon Program, N.S. Dept. of Communities, Culture and Heritage Program and N.S. Department of Seniors – the board of directors of the Mulgrave and Area Medical Centre and a project advisory committee got Community Food Connections on the road delivering meals free of charge to the kitchens of more than 160 program participants. The original program funding was expected to last until the end of February, but last week Medical Centre Board Chair Al England told The Journal that funding had been secured to keep the program running until the end of June, which “will allow for a greater impact with respect to those that are utilizing the program – or there may be others that may be in need as well that could find some benefit in signing up for the program. “We are really happy with that aspect of it, really grateful to our provincial and federal partners in respect to the overall funding of the project … the extension will allow us to exhaust the funds that were provided … There’s still a lot of concern, a lot of caution; people are fearful and anxious,” said England noting that along with providing quality meals, the program also offers a chance to socialize for people who may be reluctant or unable to leave their homes. The program started delivering meals to homes across Guysborough County – District of St. Mary’s, Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Town of Mulgrave – in November. England said they have delivered more than 4,100 meals; mainly to program participants identified by project advisory committee members who work with older adults and suggested the names of those who would benefit the most from the program. To be eligible for the program, participants had to be 55 or older, a resident of Guysborough County and have difficulty getting to a grocery store due to health or transportation challenges, mobility issues, financial concerns, or other barriers and difficulties. Brent Lundrigan is the program coordinator and spends a lot of time on the road delivering meals from the hub location in Mulgrave to areas as far afield as Liscomb and Canso. He delivers frozen meals to program participants and manages intake of people eligible for the program. Since November, Lundrigan, a native of Mulgrave, has become familiar with a lot of back roads and brought smiles to many as he made his deliveries across the county. For more information about the Community Food Connections program, call Lundrigan at 902-777-5685. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
TORONTO — The National Film Board of Canada is creating two key positions and improving hiring practices as part of new measures it says are aimed at eliminating injustice and systemic racism not just in Canadian society, but also within the institution. The diversity, equity and inclusion changes come amid a racial reckoning that has many in Canada's screen industry calling for an increase in funding and representation for creators from Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour communities. The announcement also comes just over two months after the film board released its strategic plan for 2020-2023, which was delayed from July 2019 as the NFB further consulted with stakeholders who were concerned about the institution's spending priorities. The new initiatives include the creation of a director of diversity, equity and inclusion position, to be filled by a candidate from an underrepresented community. The senior role will oversee equity and anti-racist practices, and will be a member of the NFB’s executive committee. The NFB is also establishing a new director of Indigenous relations and community engagement position, which will involve forging closer ties with communities. That role will be filled by an Indigenous candidate and help improve Indigenous representation among film board employees, and advise on issues related to production and distribution of NFB works. "One of the reasons I feel it's so important to have those two people embedded with us in everything is that we are a white, white, white management committee," Claude Joli-Coeur, government film commissioner and NFB chairperson, said in an interview. Having a director of Indigenous relations and community engagement working closely with the top brass will also be greatly beneficial in situations like what the NFB is facing with the documentary "Inconvenient Indian," he said. The NFB co-production is on hold for distribution after a CBC News report questioned director Michelle Latimer's claims of Indigenous identity. Joli-Coeur said the NFB and producers are still "assessing all the different possibilities" for the film, noting "it's a very complicated situation" their Indigenous Advisory Committee is providing guidance on. "That's an illustration of why we need change, why we need more Indigenous colleagues, and why we need also a champion of Indigenous (projects) to help us to navigate in those very turbulent waters." The NFB says the new measures were designed with the input of many internal and external partners, and are in addition to the government agency's Indigenous Action Plan, now in its third year, as well as its plan for gender parity. The two new positions will work closely together, report directly to Joli-Coeur, and work with other decision-makers at the organization on a daily basis. They'll "have an important influence on anything" the NFB does, from the way it thinks to how it approaches things and finds solutions, he said. "They will also be our eyes on the floor, because I'm expecting that they will be deeply connected with all of our employees. Anything that we don't see that is kind of hidden or not on the spotlight that we're missing, will be brought to our attention." Other new measures announced Wednesday include a pledge to make the NFB staff "fully reflect Canadian society" by March 31, 2023. Figures based on voluntary declaration from the NFB's fiscal year 2019-2020 show that out of 365 full-time permanent employees, the NFB staff base includes: 211 women, 52 visible minorities, three Indigenous employees, and eight people with disabilities. The organization says it wants to ensure its slate of directors and producers always includes individuals from underrepresented communities. And it pledges that at least half of all new hires will be drawn from people in those groups — Indigenous, Black, racialized, and LGBTQ2+, and people with disabilities. "It's a transformation of the organization," said Joli-Coeur. "We want to set up goals that, within the next two years, will have an important impact on the fabric of our employees and how we work with creators and how we fulfill our mandate." Joli-Coeur's second and final term as commissioner is done at the end of November 2022. He said he's "preparing the ground" for his successors with specific target dates to help ensure goals are met and the NFB makes significant and lasting changes. "When I leave the organization, I want see already that change happening, and that's something that is achievable," he said, "and after that the ambition should be that we exceed that representation." Other new commitments include prioritizing recruitment of individuals (two out of three people) from the aforementioned underrepresented communities for all other management positions as the positions open, "until the NFB accurately reflects the composition of Canada's population." The film board also vows to ensure its programming equitably includes the voices of creators from those underrepresented communities, and that those groups are represented within the NFB's Creation and Innovation committees. To help find a wide range of people and companies of diverse backgrounds for contract work, the NFB plans to establish "a respectful, clear, convenient and transparent method of data collection." The NFB also pledges to: - Continue to highlight creators and promote works from diverse communities in the NFB's distribution and marketing activities, focusing on themes of social justice, equality, intersectionality, and immigration. - Put described video and subtitles on each new film. - Work with organizations representing equity-seeking groups to develop greater sensitivity and openness. - Create annual action plans with measurable targets for matters of diversity, equity and inclusion at the NFB. - Issue independent quarterly reports to the NFB’s executive committee and its board of trustees on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, unconscious bias and systemic racism at the NFB. - Also issue annual reports on these issues and the progress made. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Filming a polar bear just inches from its nose, close enough to see its breath fog up the lens, was a career highlight for Jeff Thrasher. The CBC producer is part of the team behind Arctic Vets, a new show that follows the day-to-day operations at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg. "It was breathing warm air onto the lens. I was thinking, 'Wow, there's nothing between me and this polar bear,"' Thrasher said, who filmed the shot using a GoPro camera up in Churchill, Man. The show is also the first time cameras have been allowed in the Winnipeg facility, which houses Arctic animals like seals, polar bears and muskox. "I've filmed many, many things in my career and that's right up there," Thrasher said. There are 10 half-hour episodes in the new series that features expeditions to Manitoba's subarctic, emergency animal rescues and daily life at the conservancy. The first episode follows veterinarian Chris Enright to Churchill just as polar bears are starting to migrate up the coast of Hudson Bay. When a bear wanders too close to town, Enright works with the local Polar Bear Alert Team to catch it and lift it by helicopter to a safe distance away. In the same episode, back in Winnipeg, the team trims the hooves of resident 800-pound muskox, Chloe. Although being around Arctic animals is part of Enright's daily life, he hopes the show will help bring southern Canadians a little closer to the North. "This is our norm. But it's not the norm for a lot of people, so the show is a good opportunity to tell these stories," he said. "We have herds of caribou that rival migrating animals on the Serengeti, but people in the South don't necessarily know about that. And that's really unfortunate, because there's some incredible wildlife in the North." Enright also hopes the show will urge Canadians to think about protecting the country's Arctic ecosystems, which face the critical threat of climate change. "There's a lot of concern with the effects of climate change and over the next 50, 100 years what's going to happen. As southerners, there are things we can do to protect and conserve those ecosystems," he said. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit in the middle of filming, which Enright said prevented the team from travelling into Nunavut. Jackie Enberg, an animal care supervisor and Heather Penner, an animal care professional, are also featured in the show for their work with polar bears. "It's not just animal care or vet care, or conservation and research. It's all of it. We all have a great passion to educate and share and help inspire other people to make a difference, whether it's to make changes in your lives or just talk about," Penner said. Enberg said the bears featured in the show were rescued when they were a few years old. "They're here because they could not survive in the wild," Enberg said. "We just ultimately hope people will fall in love with polar bears as much as we have," Penner said. Arctic Vets airs Friday. Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem. By Emma Tranter in Iqaluit, Nunavut This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021. --- This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship The Canadian Press
Irisnaide Silva is female, Brazilian and indigenous. They kept digging even after Brazil in 2005 marked the land as indigenous territory, a measure that prohibited mining despite protests from her family and other wildcatters in her Macuxi tribe. Now, Silva has the ear of none other than Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's president.
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he would seek $37 billion in funding for legislation to supercharge chip manufacturing in the United States as a shortfall of semiconductors has forced U.S. automakers and other manufacturers to cut production. Biden also signed an executive order on Wednesday aimed at addressing the global semiconductor chip shortage that has alarmed the White House and members of Congress, administration officials said.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Joanne Valiquette used to love going out for walks and having visitors to her North Bay apartment. But now the 68-year-old is afraid to even go into the halllway of the Lancelot Apartments, which has become the centre of a COVID variant outbreak in the city. "It really hit close to home when it's in this building. It is scary," says Valiquette. "So I'm afraid to go out to to do my laundry or to go through the lobby downstairs." So far, over 40 tenants of the building have tested positive for COVID, about two dozen of them a confirmed case of one of the new fast-spreading variants of the coronavirus. Two of Valiquette's neighbours have died. "I have a feeling it's never going to end. We're never going to have freedom again," she says. "It's going to be like this maybe for the rest of my life." Over 40 tenants at the Lancelot Apartments in North Bay have tested positive for COVID-19, about 26 of them for one of the new variants. Two people who lived in the building have died. The Nipissing and Parry Sound districts are now approaching two months in lockdown and the health unit has extended the stay-at-home order until at least March 8. Unlike Toronto and Peel, which remain shutdown because of a high number of COVID cases, the North Bay and Parry Sound areas aren't re-opening in order to stop the spread of the variants. "It is nerve-racking. You feel like you're one swab away from a disaster," says Jamie Lowery, the CEO of the city-run Casselholme nursing home. "You're always wondering... if somehow it will get into your home." One visitor to Casselholme did test positive for a COVID variant and then there were 12 more positive COVID tests this week— two staff and 10 relatives of residents. Lowery says about half of them were re-tested and it came back negative. The health unit says that doesn't mean they don't have the virus and are consulting with experts about the test results. But Lowery says public health is refusing to re-test the remaining half dozen, mostly spouses of one of the long-term care residents. "I'm very upset," he says. "These are seniors. And every time you cough or sneeze or feel a headache, in your mind, you're like 'uh oh.' They're quite worried." Jamie Lowery, the CEO of the Casselholme nursing home, would like to see the health unit release more information about the spread of variants in North Bay. Lowery would also like to see the health unit sharing more of what it knows about how the variants are spreading in North Bay. Others took that frustration further, marching in the street outside the health unit office calling for an end to the lockdown and chanting "Chirico has got to go" referring to medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico. "I was surprised and disappointed by that. I think he's done an outstanding job," says North Bay city councillor Chris Mayne. "I think he's actually saved lives in our community by being prudent and I think most people in the community appreciate that." A few dozen protesters on the streets of North Bay this week called for an end to the lockdown and laid blame on medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico. Chirico has been the target of criticism for the past month, after the health unit went over and above provincial restrictions and ordered tobogganing hills, skating rinks and snowmobile trails in Nipissing and Parry Sound closed. That ban was lifted this week, while the stay-at-home order continues. Robb Noon, the mayor of the small town of Callander just south of North Bay, says public health is "showing leadership" by "making the tough decisions" but says they need to explain their thinking to frustrated citizens. "If we don't have anything to go by to understand that, it just leads to speculation. You never see a light at the end of the tunnel. You have no clue," says Noon. "The public is so thirsty for more information." Parry Sound Mayor Jamie McGarvey says he has yet to get an explanation why his town and others over an hour's drive from the variant outbreak in North Bay can't re-open along with the rest of northern Ontario. "There are a number of very upset people. They are certainly questioning the lockdown. There are businesses that are suffering," he says. "Why penalize absolutely everybody when you could isolate the severe situations?" No one from the North Bay-Parry Sound Public Health Unit was made available for an interview for this story and Dr. Chirico has not been made available to speak with CBC for several weeks now.
(Submitted by Ron Desjardin - image credit) Saskatchewan First Nations are rallying behind the Birch Narrows Dene Nation in its dispute with the provincial government and a uranium exploration company. Birch Narrows officials blockaded a road and issued a cease and desist order against Toronto's Baselode Energy, saying Baseload workers started conducting tests without the consent of the northern Saskatchewan First Nation. "We're not back in the 1800s anymore. They can't do this stuff to us," said Elder Ron Desjardin, who discovered a work crew on one of Birch Narrows' traditional trap line routes earlier this month. The blockade has been removed, but Birch Narrows members say they're conducting regular patrols. Little Pine First Nation Chief Wayne Semaganis is one of many leaders offering support to Birch Narrows. Semaganis said the issue is personal, as his wife is from Birch Narrows. He said similar violations are occurring across the province on First Nations territory, and they need to stop. "How you're treating First Nations when it comes to the lands and the resources and everything else, the whole relationship between First Nations and non-First Nations has been wrong," Semaganis said. Indigenous people aren't anti-development when it comes to resource projects, he said — they just want to be treated with respect. "We have to get back on the right track. If we've made mistakes, let's correct them and let's find the right way of working together." Little Pine First Nation Chief Wayne Semaganis says First Nations want economic development for their people, but must be treated as partners. Semaganis said the consultation rules set by the provincial government are unrealistic and unfair. A First Nation does not have the resources to reply in detail to a development proposal in the short time frames allowed. It takes time for First Nations to develop relationships, consult their members and collect accurate wildlife data or other information for proposals that could "affect the land permanently," he said. Other leaders echo concerns Other First Nations leaders voiced similar concerns in written statements Tuesday. "The province needs to provide the already underfunded First Nations with the financial resources to be able to participate at the table in a meaningful way," said Meadow Lake Tribal Council Tribal Chief Richard Ben. "Otherwise, many First Nations will be left out of the process. We can't undertake studies at our own expense in order to be consulted on resource development within our territory." Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief Heather Bear said such practices "won't be tolerated anymore, as our connections to the land, water, animals and environment is paramount." Treaty 10 leaders and others are demanding the provincial government harmonize its policies with recent court rulings on Indigenous rights, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as have British Columbia and other jurisdictions. "At a minimum, Saskatchewan is bound by its purported commitment to reconciliation," read the Treaty 10 statement. University of Saskatchewan law college lecturer Benjamin Ralston said this week that Canada's Constitution and emerging case law are clear: First Nations concerns must be front and centre on any development affecting them. Ralston said inherent and treaty rights override any provincial permit process. That's why provincial governments and resource companies are better off working in good faith with First Nations than risking a time-consuming, expensive court battle they may not win, he said. A Baselode official says the company obtained all provincial permits, but said consent of the communities affected is essential. He said the work will not proceed unless Birch Narrows agrees. The provincial government said Birch Narrows was given ample time to voice any concerns, and RCMP could be called to intervene in any illegal blockades. They said this is an exploration phase and there will be no drilling or digging.
Shares on Wall Street ended higher on Wednesday, as a selloff in technology-related stocks eased and a rotation into cyclical shares continued after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's comments calmed inflation worries. The Nasdaq index, which traded as much as 1.3% lower earlier in the session, regained its footing by early afternoon and closed up. The Dow hit a record high earlier in the session.
(Mackenzie Scott/CBC - image credit) Although Pink Shirt Day is this coming Friday, that didn't stop some students who are out of school this week in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T., to celebrate the day a little early. Last Friday, students at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School posted reminders to be kind throughout the community in honour of the day that is celebrated nationally with people wearing pink shirts to show they are against bullying. "The kids have come up with some great ideas and some great positive words and blurbs and quotes to be put out there. Together we've all created some pink ice bricks, put some posts in them, so these positivity signs spread kindness throughout all of Ulukhaktok," said Sandra Summers, a teacher at Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School who, along with her fellow teachers, is on professional development this week. Two students from Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T. show the signs they made to celebrate Pink Shirt Day. Each sign the students made were in English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases of kindness. Summers and Kathy Blouin both teach kids in composite classes of grades two to four. Pink Shirt Day started in Nova Scotia in 2007 with one small act of kindness. For the teachers, it was important that the kids be educated about the day and celebrated it even though they aren't in school. "It fits in really well with our health unit right now with mental health and emotional well being ... our goal is to bring kindness to these kids and then for these kids to then go on and spread kindness throughout the community." 'Our words are powerful' The pink signs were written in both English and Inuinnaqtun and included phrases like "throw kindness around like confetti" and "kindness is among us." Students worked on it throughout the week, and posted them throughout the community on Friday with help of the RCMP. "So ideally, when somebody when someone walks into the Co-op or the Northern [store], they are going to see one of the signs and it will make their day," said Summers. Eight-year-old Sarah Joss said she had fun making the sign but was really looking forward to "bringing kindness around the town." "Our words are powerful, they can make people sad or happy." With bright smiles, the kids delivered the messages with their classmates and teachers. "The biggest thing we want them to take from this is we want to inspire them to inspire others," said Summers. "We want to let them know if they are in a tough situation that they can always choose kindness."
President Joe Biden's nominee to be director of the CIA, William Burns, told a Senate committee on Wednesday that he saw competition with China - and countering its "adversarial, predatory" leadership - as the key to U.S. national security. Burns, 64, a former career diplomat during both Democratic and Republican administrations, is expected to easily win confirmation to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Burns has already been confirmed by the Senate five times for his stints as ambassador to Jordan and Russia and three senior State Department positions.
Human rights campaigners hope the landmark ruling will set a precedent for other cases.View on euronews
(Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press - image credit) When Iain Rankin was sworn in on Tuesday as Nova Scotia's new premier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became something very few prime ministers become, something none of his predecessors became at such a young age — the person with the most experience at the table. With the retirement of former Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil, Trudeau is now the senior figure in the federation. No provincial or territorial premier has been in government as long as Trudeau has been prime minister, even though he started in the job little more than five years ago. That makes Trudeau just the sixth prime minister ever to become the longest-serving sitting government leader in the country. It also puts him in a club with some accomplished members: the other PMs who hit that longevity mark before leaving office were John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier, Mackenzie King, Pierre Trudeau and Stephen Harper. Unlike those five, however, Trudeau hasn't had to wait very long to become the last person standing. No other prime minister (with the exception of Macdonald, who by default was the senior figure nearly from the start) has served for less time than Trudeau before becoming the most seasoned leader in the country. Trudeau has been in office for just 5.3 years. Harper — who previously had been the prime minister who had the shortest wait to seniority — was starting his seventh year in office when he became the longest-serving leader in the federation in 2013. Trudeau's father had to wait over a decade. Pierre Trudeau was also nearly 60 when he took over the mantle of Canada's senior political figure, while both King and Laurier were over 60 when they reached the milestone. Justin Trudeau is just a little over 49 years old — a few years younger than both Harper and Macdonald when they achieved seniority. Since 1867, the average age of the senior figure around the first ministers' table has been around 55 years old, making Trudeau one of the younger oldest-hands in Canadian political history. Even in the current context, it might seem a bit odd that Trudeau's longevity is greater than that of his provincial colleagues. Only Rankin (37), Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey (45) and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe (47) are younger than Trudeau. Few premiers have reached seniority faster than Trudeau In fact, for most of Canada's history the longest-serving sitting government leader has come from a provincial capital rather than Ottawa. That makes Trudeau's quick rise to seniority even more of an oddity. Only two provincial premiers have served for less time than Trudeau before becoming the most experienced leader — and the last one served nearly a century ago. Former British Columbia premier John Oliver waited just 4.9 years before becoming the senior figure in the federation in 1923, while New Brunswick premier George E. King did it in just under three years in 1875. On average, premiers and prime ministers have had to wait about nine years to achieve senior status — enough time to cover at least two governing mandates. Trudeau is only a third of the way through his second term in office. Former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa had to wait the longest before getting to the head of the table. He became the senior figure in 1990, about 20 years after his first election win in 1970. Of the 43 people who have held senior status since Confederation, only eight premiers were younger than Trudeau when they reached the top of the mountain. They include New Brunswick's Frank McKenna and Richard Hatfield and Alberta's Ernest Manning. Seniority is fleeting On average, Canada's "senior statesman" (and it has only ever been a man) has held the title for just 3.7 years. Trudeau will have to hold on to his job until November 2023 to pass Harper and avoid becoming the prime minister who has been the senior figure for the least amount of time. Macdonald, of course, holds the record — nearly 19 years spread over two non-consecutive periods in office. No provincial premier has broken that record, though Manning came the closest. He was the senior political figure for nearly 15 years between 1954 and 1968. Manning was also the last figure to hold the title for more than seven uninterrupted years. Why? The past few decades have seen a lot of turnover among premiers and prime ministers. The last person to be the longest-serving governing leader for more than three years was Alberta's Ralph Klein, who stepped down as premier in 2006. Iain Rankin was sworn in as Nova Scotia premier on Tuesday, replacing Stephen McNeil, who previously had been the longest-serving sitting premier in Canada. Trudeau is the 12th person to hold the senior status title since Klein retired from politics. Compare that to the relative stability in federal and provincial leadership between 1927 and 1968, when only four leaders sat as senior figures: Quebec's Louis-Alexandre Taschereau, Nova Scotia's Angus L. Macdonald, King and Manning. Trudeau has seen his fair share of turnover during his relatively short time in office. Rankin is the 27th provincial or territorial premier Trudeau will get to know. That might sound like a lot — but King, Macdonald, Harper and Jean Chrétien each saw at least 40 premiers and territorial leaders come and go. Trudeau might still have to make it through another election or two to get into that company.
(WAHA Communications - image credit) The number of cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities reached a grim new milestone over the weekend, surpassing 20,000 cases since the pandemic arrived in Canada over a year ago. According to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada, the number of active cases on-reserve has been on the decline. There were 1,481 active cases as of Feb. 22. But new infections persist. Outbreaks have occurred primarily in the Prairies, the most reported in Alberta with 348 new cases on-reserve in the last week. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to Pimicikamak after visiting the First Nation in Manitoba last weekend to assess the COVID-19 outbreak there. Members of the Armed Forces are also assisting with outbreaks and vaccine distribution for Pauingassi First Nation in Manitoba, Fort Nelson First Nation in British Columbia, Hatchet Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan and Muskrat Dam Lake in Ontario according to a Feb. 17 update from Indigenous Services Canada. Since the pandemic began, there have been a total of 20,227 cases on-reserve. Fourteen people have died from the virus since last week, bringing the toll to 218. The total number of hospitalizations rose to 925. The number of First Nations people who have recovered from the disease is now at 18,528. Total cases in First Nations communities per region reported as of Feb. 22: British Columbia: 2,184 Alberta: 5,918 Saskatchewan: 5,477 Manitoba: 5,225 Ontario: 853 Quebec: 560 Atlantic: 10 Vaccinations As of Feb. 18, Indigenous Services Canada reported 433 First Nations and Inuit communities have vaccination plans underway. A total of 91,927 doses have been administered, representing a vaccination rate six times higher than Canada's general population. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? New or worsening cough. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Temperature equal to or over 38 C. Feeling feverish. Chills. Fatigue or weakness. Muscle or body aches. New loss of smell or taste. Headache. Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting). Feeling very unwell. If you think you may have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic. CBC Indigenous is looking to hear from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have contracted or lost a loved one to COVID-19. If you would like to share your story, please email us at email@example.com.
(CBC - image credit) Despite early signs of overheating in Canada's housing market, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem so far has no plans to raise interest rates until the economy and employment are back on track following the slump caused by COVID-19. Speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, Canada's top central banker said that the economy would continue to need monetary stimulus, likely until 2023, even though there are already signs it could be distorting the residential real estate market. "In that low-for-long world, there are risks that housing could get carried away, so that is something we will be looking at very carefully," Macklem said in response to a question from a member of the remote audience. Some observers have already expressed worries that the Canadian housing market is rising at an unsustainable pace, leaving critics — including some in the real estate industry — nervous of a boom, followed by a devastating bust once interest rates finally start to rise. Women and youth hardest hit But while Macklem also expressed concern, he said that even though the bank predicts the economy will begin to surge by the end of this year, high unemployment among Canada's most vulnerable groups means the economy will continue to need a helping hand. "Because women and youth hold so many of the jobs in the hardest-hit sectors, they have borne a disproportionate share of the job losses," Macklem told his audience, and he said that many of the jobs that have disappeared will not come back. Already, long-term unemployment — measured as people who want to work but have not found a job in more than 26 weeks — is currently holding at more than half a million people, a level not seen in the economy in 30 years. Macklem said failure to get those people into jobs will lead to what he called "labour market scarring." In other words, it would result in permanent damage to the Canadian workforce. He suggested that while the bank is holding rates at rock-bottom levels, in return employers in his audience need to contribute by helping to train the types of employees they needed. That applied especially in the digital economy. WATCH | COVID-19's unequal economic recession in Canada: Low-wage jobs were hit the hardest. Not only did technology-related employment not fall as far, but the demand for tech workers has bounced back to levels higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. And he said that employers must help create their own workforce in an economy that is increasingly digital and automated. "Technology is no longer a sector," Macklem said. "It's every sector." But he said that rebuilding the workforce and the economy in that new form will be a process of months and years, and he reiterated that there is little fear of inflation and thus rate hikes because there remains plenty of slack in the economy. Beware 'extrapolative expectations' But just as low rates have led to increased borrowing by businesses that has helped spur expansion and share prices, low mortgage rates have made it easier for prospective homeowners to bid up the price of houses. So far, Macklem said, the move toward bigger houses further away from city centres has not been speculation so much as the need for more working — and learning — space for employees who no longer have to commute to the office. Part of the evidence for that is that larger, more distant homes are rising in value, whereas inner-city properties are attracting fewer buyers and renters. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem, speaking remotely to the combined Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce on Tuesday, said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. But there are signs that the practical motivation for rising prices may be changing to the kind of speculative frenzy seen in 2016 and 2017 that the government tried to quell with tax measures and stress tests some of which were relaxed last year. "What we get worried about is when we start to see extrapolative expectations, when we start to see people expecting the kind of unsustainable price rises we've seen recently go on indefinitely, and they're basing their decision on those kinds of assumptions," he warned. And while he did not describe what kind of actions he would take to stimulate jobs without overstimulating housing, Macklem said the bank would keep a close eye on the housing market and think about how to contain a housing bubble that could lead to future trouble. "When we see people starting to buy houses solely because they think prices are going to go up, that is a warning sign for us," he told the audience. "We are starting to see some early signs of excess exuberance." Follow Don Pittis on Twitter: @don_pittis
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) The co-chair of an Ontario task force on court e-hearings says the Zoom-bombing of a Brampton virtual courtroom on Tuesday is rare, but troubling. The court was trying to hear a civil matter between Kelly Donovan and the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board. As the defense began to address the court Tuesday morning, the session was interrupted by people attending over Zoom, who disrupted the proceedings by sharing their screen to show pornographic and hateful images. "It's obviously shocking, because if you're in a courthouse for an in-person hearing, nothing of the sort could happen because you're not on the internet," lawyer Kathryn Manning told CBC News. Anyone who interrupted an in-person hearing in a similar way could be found in contempt of court, Manning said, and may face a fine or even jail time. In theory, this could happen during a virtual court hearing as well. The problem is the practical matter of tracking down the person responsible. Arrested on the spot "Figuring out who that person is could be tricky," said Manning, who is also a litigator with the Toronto firm DMG Advocates LLP. "As opposed to a person who's physically in a courtroom doing something [and] could be arrested on the spot if police felt that was necessary." In a statement to CBC News from the Ministry of the Attorney General, a spokesperson said videoconferencing platforms create "unique challenges that do not present with in-person hearing." The ministry said there are ways to prevent the people attending a remote hearing from sharing unauthorized and offensive material. It committed to "reviewing these mechanisms with the courts and court staff to ensure the dignity and integrity of court proceedings are not subjected to unauthorized and offensive interruptions." Since the pandemic began, Manning said thousands of court cases have proceeded virtually without incident. This is a good thing, she said, because otherwise the justice system would have "ground to a halt" and it's important to provide public access to the courts. "Our court system is really important and it needs to be open and accessible to the public but it also needs to proceed in the way it would've in the courthouse the best it can." But, she said, there remain several issues that have yet to be fully resolved — from Zoom bombers to the question of how to prevent people from recording or taking screen shots during sensitive virtual hearings.
BANGKOK — Regional diplomatic efforts to resolve Myanmar's political crisis gathered pace Wednesday, while protests continued in Yangon and other cities calling for the country's coupmakers to stand down and Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government to be returned to power. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the Thai capital, Bangkok, as part of her efforts to co-ordinate a regional response to the crisis triggered by Myanmar's Feb. 1 military coup. Also making the trip to neighbouring Thailand was the foreign minister appointed by Myanmar's new military government, retired army colonel Wunna Maung Lwin, said a Thai government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release the information. Another Thai official said Wunna Maung Lwin met with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai as well as Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former army chief who first took power in a military coup. That official also spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release the information. There was no immediate word whether Marsudi also met the Myanmar diplomat. Indonesia and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are seeking to promote some concessions by Myanmar's military that could ease tensions before there is more violence. The regional grouping, to which Thailand and Myanmar also belong, believes dialogue with the generals is a more effective method of achieving concessions than more confrontational methods, such as sanctions, often advocated by Western nations. Opposition to the coup within Myanmar continued Wednesday, with a tense standoff taking place in the country's second-biggest city, Mandalay, where police holding riot shields and cradling rifles blocked the path of about 3,000 teachers and students. After about two hours, during which demonstrators played protest songs and listened to speeches condemning the coup, the crowd moved away. On Saturday, police and soldiers shot dead two people in Mandalay as they broke up a strike by dock workers. Earlier the same week they had violently dispersed a rally in front of a state bank branch, with batons and slingshots. Also Wednesday, about 150 people from a Christian group gathered in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, to call for restoration of democracy and the release of Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders held since the coup. International pressure against the takeover also continues, with more than 130 civil society groups issuing an open letter to United Nations Security Council calling for a global arms embargo on Myanmar. The letter released Wednesday cited concerns about Myanmar’s citizens being deprived of a democratically elected government and ongoing violations of human rights by a military with a history of major abuses. “Any sale or transfer of military-related equipment to Myanmar could provide the means to further repress the people of Myanmar in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” the letter said. In addition to a sweeping arms embargo, the letter said any Security Council measures should make sure there is “robust monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.” There have been past arms embargoes on Myanmar during periods of military rule but not on a global basis. China and Russia, both members of the security council, are among the top arms suppliers to Myanmar, and would almost certainly veto any effort by the U.N. at a co-ordinated arms embargo. How effective the regional efforts at resolving Myanmar's crisis could be remains unclear. If Indonesia's Marsudi met in Thailand with her Myanmar counterpart it would have allowed them to talk face-to-face while sidestepping possible controversy stemming from a visit to Myanmar by Marsudi. Critics of the coup, especially in Myanmar, charge that such a visit would be tantamount to recognizing the military regime as legitimate and its takeover as legal. There had been news reports that such a visit was imminent. Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Wednesday that Marsudi left open an option to visit the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw, but had put off any plan for the time being. A statement from his office said that taking in account current developments and following consultations with other ASEAN countries, “this is not the ideal time to conduct a visit to Myanmar.” Demonstrations were held outside Indonesian embassies in Yangon and Bangkok on Tuesday in response to a news report that Jakarta was proposing to fellow ASEAN members that they offer qualified support for the junta’s plan for a new election next year. Faizasyah denied the report. Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – What should have been a routine point on the monthly Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) council meeting agenda, a report on the recent Eastern Counties Regional Library (ECRL) library board meeting, spurred a long discussion about the fate of the libraries in Canso and Guysborough. At the Feb. 17 meeting, councillors voiced concerns about the hours at each library branch and the fear that those few hours may be reduced as the ECRL creates a budget for the coming fiscal year. The ECRL has asked the MODG to increase its funding. At this time, the MODG has no plans of doing so; they provide the ECRL with $35,990 per year and own and maintain the buildings ECRL uses in the municipality at a cost of approximately $40,000 a year. Council put forward and passed a motion to send a letter to the ECRL board about their concerns. Warden Vernon Pitts told the media after the council meeting, “ECRL are looking for a major increase in funding but they’re also, in the same breath, they’re also looking at cutting services…. We have 16 hours of service here in Guysborough and we have 24 hours of service in the community of Canso; to me that’s substandard anyway. If they’re going to cut services what’s left to cut? Is the next thing to close the libraries? “What we are trying to do is get ahead of this. We’re trying to make them realize that … the municipality does the maintenance, the lights, the phone; we do all the bills in regard to that so I can’t see where these costs are coming from,” said Pitts, adding that an ECRL board meeting set for Feb. 18, would hopefully result in some answers to questions council has about funding and service. In regard to last month’s meeting with representatives from Emergency Health Services (EHS), Pitts said council has not received any additional response to their questions about availability of ambulances and response times. He added, “I noticed watching CTV news that there are major problems in other areas. So, we’re not the only one bucking the trend, shall we say. Let’s see where it goes. It’s not good news, what you’re hearing; be it equipment issue or manpower issue. We are going to have to get that sorted out. The only way we can do that is to have an exchange of ideas … Until they contact us, our hands are basically tied.” Council has also filed a freedom of information request in regard to plans for the Irving Oil property in Guysborough and a former gas station property in Boylston. Pitts said, “Council is not going to slacken off on this. This is a priority for our council. It is not only the property in the Guysborough area it is also the old service station in the Boylston area. We want them all cleaned up. This day and age there’s no need of it.” In the coming month, the MODG will formulate the budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Pitts said of the budget planning to date, “As everyone through the municipality knows, likely province wide, the last number of years we’ve taken a $3 million hit in regard to property assessment commercial (due to decommissioning of Sable Offshore Energy Project). We have a plan in place, a five-year-plan … as long as we stick to the plan; I think we are going to weather this alright. “We are not looking at any major tax increases going forward. We just went through our preliminary budget meeting planning session at the CLC a number of weeks ago. Things aren’t too bad. We are very comfortable. Let’s not rock the boat,” said Pitts. When asked if there would be an increase in taxes he said, “I believe we are still going to have the lowest tax rate in the province of Nova Scotia when we get through the budget process … I anticipate perhaps, maybe there will be a very minimal increase.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal